As many of you know, I've long stated that I'd be bringing my Black Templars to Nova Open.  I've also said that it'll be a gunline list that is going due to my belief that it is the most competitive archetype available to the Black Templars right now. 

As an aside: If I had the Drop Pods available, I'd likely bring my Defensive Drop Pod list instead, as it is quite good as well.  It'd be perfect for the mission set that Nova is running this year.

Now that MVB has released the preliminary mission pack for the tournament, I've come to the realization that perhaps my gunline list could be optimized a bit more for the missions and opponent's at hand.

The current list that I plan on using has an overwhelming amount of firepower that can easily blast away most of an opponent on the first turn, given average rolling.  Very much an Alpha Strike list, albeit the list is quite balanced in its design.  There is quite a few separate units with the ability to destroy vehicles; sixteen to be exact.  I even have several dedicated AI units.  Against 98% of my opponents, this will be plenty to take care of anything my enemy puts against me.  Even still, I fear that my firepower is too fragile.

Not counting the Tactical Terminator squads, which will keep firing until they are dead, I have 4 minimally sized crusader squads that suffer from "Kill Them All" and "Righteous Zeal".  Not only can those special rules be manipulated by a smart opponent to their advantage, the troops units can taken out of action quickly with focused fire or an unlucky RZ roll.  I also have 4 fragile Razorbacks and 3 Typhoons.  If I get the first turn, I'm not worried about what is firing at me, as its probably dead already.  But if I don't have it, or I'm facing SW Razorspam/IG Parking-lots, I could be in trouble.  I also lack a true, cheap-bubble wrap unit to protect my line against my opponent's dedicated assault or out-flanking units.

In addition to the list's problems, the first round scenario for Nova is Dawn of War deployment, with a primary mission goal of Kill Points.  This puts a gunline list at an extreme disadvantage, as I have to move onto the board, potentially losing a turn of shooting between movement and Nightfighting rules.  Losing a turn of shooting with a gunline list is bad, especially when going for Kill Points.  I need to find something that is relatively durable to put in the list, or else something that will cause an extreme distraction to my opponent so that they don't target my vulnerable firepower early on.

So I spent some time tonight thinking about what I could do to fix these potential issues, as I really do want to field the best list possible against my opponents at Nova.  I have the time to adjust my lists as needed, at least for a few more months (painting is coming along).  I cannot really touch the 4 Crusader squads, as they provide a lot of the firepower in the list.  I really would like to keep the Typhoons as well.  But looking at my Predators, I'm a bit concerned.  Sitting still, they will be quite effective against footbased infantry or Monstrous Creatures.  They can even put light vehicles out of commission.  However, I'm concerned with their ability to take out rock units.  Much like I had difficulty killing Jeremy's tricked out Thunderwolf Cavalry unit a while back, when I thought I'd have plenty of firepower to deal with them.  In the end, I didn't do enough damage, and it caused me to lose the game.  They also don't exactly scream "threat" to my opponent, so they'll put all their AT firepower into my vulnerable stuff.

Realizing that my biggest opportunity was probably the predators, I thought about what I could do with them.  I don't think simply making them AC/Las or Tri-Las Preds are the answer.  Sure they present a much more durable and credible AT threat, but they still suffer from having to stay stationary to fire at full effect.  Power of the Machine Spirit is an option for these now, giving me some opportunity for mobility, but I think they'd just be too expensive for what they do at that point.  So the only other legitimate option was the Vindicator.

Now don't get me wrong:  I've always said that Vindicators have problems.  And they still do.  They are expensive, relatively easy to eliminate once you cross into mid-field (melta/side armor shots), and only have one real weapon of consequence.  However, no player can deny the distraction value of 3 Vindicators flying straight at them.  They WILL soak up shots, which is quite beneficial to my list, as my opponent isn't shooting at my vulnerable long-range weaponry.  And if my enemy somehow decides that they don't want to shoot at the Vindis, they'll get Demolisher Cannon shots to the face.  Against Long Fangs, this is bad.  Against mob infantry, this is bad.  Against Deathstar units (TWC instant death?!?), this is bad.  Obviously cover saves are likely here, as my opponents won't allow open ground shots on infantry often.  In addition, a wise opponent will spread their units way out to minimize the effect of the blast.

Fortunately, with the new FAQ, this unit got a little bit better than before.  Previously, we put PoTMS and Extra Armor on a Vindicator so that it couldn't simply be chain-stunned by shooting.  Not only does PoTMS still prevent the chain-stunning, it has improved BS, and allows you to move a full 12" and still fire the Demolisher Cannon.  That effectively allows you to have a 36" range with the weapon.  Only the Blood Angels can do that.  This could potentially put it in range for 1st turn shots with the right deployment.  The Demolisher Cannon also gives me a more reliable tool to use against AV14, as my list is lacking any melta currently.  If I'm able to keep the 3 Vindicators close together, with my front armor facing my opponent's fire support, they should survive long enough to fire.  And if they didn't, they achieved their distraction role in the list.

The way I envision this synergizing with my army is as such:  If I don't have the first turn, I'll set up the Space Marine box.  The Vindicators take their place in front of my more vulnerable Razorbacks to block LOS/grant cover saves, while those Razorbacks block LOS to my infantry.  Remember that the TL-Lascannon turret can fire straight over the top of the Vindis.  Once its my turn, I zoom the Vindis forward towards opportune targets, firing if in range.  All the while, hopefully opening up firing lanes for my other units to fire on my opponent's fire support and transports.  In the first round at Nova, this will be especially effective, while providing me with a legitimate source of KP.  Of course, this needs some playtesting to fine-tune, but I feel that the idea at least holds water.

Unfortunately, to make room for the Vindicators, something had to go.  Ultimately, that meant an unit of tactical Terminators.  Yeah I'll miss their firepower potential, but I think that I can make some of that back up.  How?  By taking everyone's favorite unit:  ISTs.  Instead of taking a single unit of 5 in a Rhino with dual melta (when I can only fire one out of the hatch anyway), I'll take two 5-man units with dual-plasma.  This way, I gain two more troops units that can deploy closer to midfield and cause more distractions for my opponent.  Plus, they can prevent those blasted scout moves, which are devastating for gunlines.  They can act as bubblewrap, objective holders, insurance policies for out-flanking units, or simply an anti-MEQ/Tank weapons platform.  Your opponent certainly won't want to bring AV10-11 or MSU MEQ units in range of their plasma.

So this is what the list looks like after tweaking it with all of the above.  I'd like your thoughts, ideas, concerns, etc.  Maybe there is something I'm missing here or something I've not thought of.  I gained my needed distraction units, as well as more troops, additional target saturation, and 2 legitimate bubble-wrap units.  I did lose the torrent of fire from the Predators, as well as one unit of tactical terminators, but I didn't end up losing too much in the way of firepower when you account for the 4 plasmaguns and 3 Demolisher Cannons that I picked up in exchange.  The more I look at the list, the more I believe I'm on to something here.

* Emperor's Champion w/ Black Sword, Bolt Pistol, Armor of Faith, and the Vow: "Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch." [110]

* Sword Brethren Terminator Squad: 5 Terminators w/ 2 Cyclone Missile Launchers, 5 Storm Bolters, 2 Chainfists, 3 Powerfists, and Tank-Hunters.  [275]

* Crusader Squad: 5 Initiates w/ 3 Bolters, 1 Plasmagun & 1 Lascannon. Mounted in a Razorback w/ Twin-Linked Lascannons, Smoke Launchers, and Searchlights. [195]
* Crusader Squad: 5 Initiates w/ 3 Bolters, 1 Plasmagun & 1 Lascannon. Mounted in a Razorback w/ Twin-Linked Lascannons, Smoke Launchers, and Searchlights. [195]
* Crusader Squad: 5 Initiates w/ 3 Bolters, 1 Plasmagun & 1 Lascannon. Mounted in a Razorback w/ Twin-Linked Lascannons, Smoke Launchers, and Searchlights. [195]
* Crusader Squad: 5 Initiates w/ 3 Bolters, 1 Plasmagun & 1 Lascannon. Mounted in a Razorback w/ Twin-Linked Lascannons, Smoke Launchers, and Searchlights. [195]
* Inquisitorial Stormtrooper Squad {WH}: 5 Troopers w/ 3 Hellguns, 3 Targeters & 2 Plasmaguns. [70]
* Inquisitorial Stormtrooper Squad {WH}: 5 Troopers w/ 3 Hellguns, 3 Targeters & 2 Plasmaguns. [70]

Fast Attack:
* Land Speeder Squadron: 1 Land Speeder w/ Heavy Bolter and Typhoon Missile Launchers. [70]
* Land Speeder Squadron: 1 Land Speeder w/ Heavy Bolter and Typhoon Missile Launchers. [70]
* Land Speeder Squadron: 1 Land Speeder w/ Heavy Bolter and Typhoon Missile Launchers. [70]

Heavy Support:
* Vindicator w/ Demolisher Cannon, Power of the Machine Spirit, Extra Armor, and Searchlights. [161]
* Vindicator w/ Demolisher Cannon, Power of the Machine Spirit, Extra Armor, and Searchlights. [161]
* Vindicator w/ Demolisher Cannon, Power of the Machine Spirit, Extra Armor, and Searchlights. [161]

Total Points:  [1998]

Continue the list analysis and thought process in the next blog post!


03/04/2011 4:08am

You say you want a durable unit that can bubblewrap and guard your gunline vs CC threats. 10 terminators with SS and hammers would do the job. They can also slogg forward on a midfield objective and stay there all day long. What do you think?

03/04/2011 4:25am

I considered that option, but to do so would cost me 400+ points and would force me to sacrifice both of my tactical terminator squads, which provide an important bulk of the firepower in the list.

In addition, for them to be effective in that bubblewrap role, they would have to stay nearby my lines, where they would be no threat to my opponent's army (due to not being in range to charge/no ranged weaponry). So they would not prevent my opponent from shooting my vulnerable fire support units.

They would be more of an option if we could take Librarians, but since we cannot, they don't really fit this style of list because they can't shoot. :(

Fortunately, that is why I put the IST units in there. They are cheap, fairly durable while in cover, and have ranged weaponry. Basically the definition of a speedbump unit. Also, the one CML Terminator unit that I still have in the list can act as an emergency bubblewrap unit as well if needed. :)

I think the goal of tweaking the list was to try to provide a legitimate threat to my opponent that they had to deal with, as to distract them from my fragile firepower. Finding an unit to bubblewrap was a secondary-goal that I ended up finding an unit for. :D

03/04/2011 10:34am

I thought ISTs weren't available at NOVA this year since allies bit the dust...

03/04/2011 2:56pm

Perhaps they aren't. Lemme check again. If so, that is one of the reasons I posted this up. :D

03/04/2011 3:09pm

If ISTs aren't allowed, then the tournament is violating the rules. Witchhunters are allowed to field:
0-1 HQ
0-1 Elite
0-2 Troop
0-1 Fast Attack
NO Heavy Support (Ahh, no Exorcist)

From their codex as Allies (IIRC, only WH and DH still have that capability).

03/04/2011 3:24pm

Well, allies still are available to the Witch Hunter codex, which is where I took mine from. Nova correctly allowed them last year, and I cannot find the rules yet for this year's Nova to say one way or the other. I have, however, emailed MVB to make sure this is a valid option. I'll be sad face if it isn't.

03/04/2011 4:29pm

To clarify, this is the message that I received from Mike Brandt (MVB) this afternoon:

"WH should still be legal as allies by then, provided you have a copy of the print WH codex. DH allies will no longer be legal by the NOVA."

As I do currently own the Witch Hunter codex, I'm good to go on that front. But I'm glad I clarified this now. :)

03/05/2011 7:37pm

How static do you intend to play, ML?

03/06/2011 2:26am

Depends on the opponent. Ideally, I'll be sitting still most of the early half of the game (besides the Vindis), then picking up and moving towards objectives as required.

03/06/2011 3:55pm

Watch that "should". If they keep within a couple of months of the schedule mentioned at the end of the years, Inquisition Codex should be out this month (or early next) and Sisters this summer sometime. Oh, Necrons at Halloween, but we will see what GW does.

I split the codices the way I did because if the leaked Inquisition one is close, it looks more like an actual Ordos Inquisition plus Grey Knights, which would make for an Ecclesiarchy Codex with the Sisters.

<sigh> I cannot see the reason to exclude allies from the rules. Yes, they can list them as optional and not use them at tournaments (because there are some seriously abusive builds), but that way they would still be official....

03/06/2011 11:10pm

Jes Goodwin has already said that he's looking at getting his minis done for the Sister's codex for next they are a long, long way off.

03/07/2011 3:18am

About that drop pod list you mentioned:

How do you play/drop against armies with good CC units like Tyranid Death Stars or TWC?

03/07/2011 3:45am

I'm assuming you've read my "How To" article on the army? If not, it is here:

Close combat armies are the easiest armies for me to beat with that list, because no matter what, it takes a large amount of time for such units spread around the board to compete with MSU units (none of which are worth attacking). With the exception being DE armies. CC-armies are particularly easy to manipulate and that list is well-suited to the role.

If you have read the above linked article, and still have questions, feel free to ask. I'll attempt to answer the best as I can.

03/07/2011 5:27am

THX for the link. I will also read the BnC thread, thats a lot of stuff ;)

I was wondering how 3*5 terminators with cycones and tankhunters would work with drop pod troops.

15 terminators with huge range can hug cover or play LOS shenigans and kill some enemy vehicles the first 2 rounds. Because of their range enemy backfire wouldn't be too hard. Also this 3 squads can stay together, so combat is a no go for the enemy.

When the scariest shooting vehicles or transports are wrecked, your reserves come in: 3 typhoons and 4-5 troop drop pods (5 man with bolters and melta, DP with template thingy). Drop pods land on objectives or blasted transports to fry the deembarged units.

A terminator castellan with LCs with terminator squad, with 2 Asscannons, furies charge, sarge with LCs could land with your troops to protect them against assaults.

What do you think?

03/07/2011 11:57am

D'oh. Tying to post from my phone during a boring class.

ML, I think you should either drop the termies and add typhoons, or drop the ISTs and a vindictor and add more termies.

I also think you're going to want some melta. Demolishers are almost as effective as meltaguns vs AV14, however meltaguns don't have to deal with cover as often.

Without a transport i think the ISTs will just give up easy kill points. Maybe a dread instead?
Perhaps hunter killer missiles on the vindictors.
You only need searchlights on two laserbacks for that first game.
I see the point of plasmaguns, but would prefer to see flamers.

In general, I really like the list.


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