First off, I didn't get past the 2nd cut for the Games Workshop position.  Sad face.  Long story short, I was told I was "over-qualified" and that my desire to own a game store in the future gave them concern (yes, they found Implausible Nature via Google).  Oh well, I gave it my best shot and that is all I can ask of myself.  No regrets.  :)

Anyway, I was thinking about Nova Open's terrain setup today.  The discussion on this started out in this post, with MVBrandt even commenting on it (which was awesome-sauce).  As he mentioned, I can reliably assume that there will be at least 3 BLOS pieces of terrain on the board, with the biggest being featured in the center.  Which may give me an unique opportunity.  But first, some points of discussion regarding this setup.
  • Because there will be a large percentage of cover on the boards themselves, long range weaponry won't play as much of a factor in games.  People will have plenty of opportunities to gain cover, thus marginalizing the effectiveness of my shooting at those ranges, as was discussed in the above linked post.
  • Three BLOS terrain pieces, plus all of the other terrain, makes it quite easy for a close combat army to close the distance quickly, and safely, to wreck face.  Which is bad news bears for static armies.
  • Lots of cover means the limited free-moving areas of the board are easily clogged with vehicles and units.  In addition, the few clear fire lanes available will covered with lots of guns.  That means players will be more apt to drive or move through terrain to get from Point A to Point B.  Dozer blades are crucial to help prevent immobilization; unfortunately, the Black Templar version sucks.
  • Adding to the previous point, so much terrain diminishes maneuverability of several armies.  It makes it more difficult to reach objectives, opposing table quarters, or even "hiding" enemy forces.  Depending on the mission type, that could be a huge problem.
So what does that mean?  It means that even my "Hybrid" list might find itself having difficulties, though, I'm pretty sure it will be much better off than my 2011 list.  I am reminded that, even with only 4 Rhino-chassis in my list last year, only a single opponent killed them all.  And it took him 7 turns to accomplish that task.  I'm not too concerned with having only the four to get the job done for that reason.  Having more than that clogs up the board too much and with all of the terrain, it gets messy (i.e. hard to deploy, move, etc).  However, 6 troops opens more doors tactics-wise.

Using what I know about the upcoming Nova Open tournament, I needed to figure out a way to take advantage of the "environment".  I know that mobility that ignores (or at the very least benefits from) the terrain, will have a much better shot at winning games.  Armies that are able to put threats in the choke points on the board will create beneficial situations for that player.  I also know that any shooting I do, especially anti-tank, needs to be very effective at what they do.  Thus, a new list was born; one that may be able to take advantage of these "environmental" traits.  Of course, this is assuming we're still playing under 5th Edition rules, which is about 50/50 right now.  We don't yet know how 6th Edition is going to affect our codex.

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

* Sword Brethren Terminators: 5 Terminators w/ 2 Cyclone Missile Launchers, 5 Storm Bolters, 5 Power Fists, and Tank-Hunters. [265]
* Sword Brethren Terminators: 5 Terminators w/ 2 Cyclone Missile Launchers, 5 Storm Bolters, 5 Power Fists, and Tank-Hunters. [265]

* Crusader Squad: 5 Initiates w/ 3 Bolt Pistols and Close Combat Weapons, 1 Meltagun & 1 Multi-Melta. Mounted in a Rhino w/ Smoke Launchers. [153]
* Crusader Squad: 5 Initiates w/ 3 Bolt Pistols and Close Combat Weapons, 1 Meltagun & 1 Multi-Melta. Mounted in a Rhino w/ Smoke Launchers. [153]
* Crusader Squad: 5 Initiates w/ 3 Bolt Pistols and Close Combat Weapons, 1 Meltagun & 1 Multi-Melta. Mounted in a Rhino w/ Smoke Launchers. [153]
* Crusader Squad: 5 Initiates w/ 3 Bolt Pistols and Close Combat Weapons, 1 Meltagun & 1 Multi-Melta. Mounted in a Rhino w/ Smoke Launchers. [153]
* Crusader Squad: 5 Initiates w/ 3 Bolters, 1 Plasmagun & 1 Lascannon. [101]
* Crusader Squad: 5 Initiates w/ 3 Bolters, 1 Plasmagun & 1 Lascannon. [101]

Fast Attack:
* Biker Squadron: 3 Bikers w/ 3 Plasmaguns, Krak Grenades, and Frag Grenades; 1 Attack Bike w/ 1 Multi-Melta and Frag Grenades. [182]
* Biker Squadron: 3 Bikers w/ 3 Plasmaguns, Krak Grenades, and Frag Grenades; 1 Attack Bike w/ 1 Multi-Melta and Frag Grenades. [182]
* Biker Squadron: 3 Bikers w/ 3 Plasmaguns, Krak Grenades, and Frag Grenades; 1 Attack Bike w/ 1 Multi-Melta and Frag Grenades. [182]

Total Points: [2000]

Pretty interesting, no?  Besides the pretty much required (in my opinion) core of 2x dual CML Terminator squads, it makes use of the 4+2 theory, MM bunkers, and a trio of non-traditional units:  Biker squadrons.  Hehehe.

Before you lose interest right there and click away, thinking I've lost my marbles (entirely possible actually), let me explain my reasoning.  First off, granted we're assuming large amounts of cover.  As MVBrandt put it, its safer to assume that EVERYTHING has cover at long range.  Even though the Typhoons are 70 points, even though they do pack a helluva punch for their price, their weaponry does not do nearly as well against targets in cover.  Which are, more often than not, AV11-12.  However, while the Typhoon is easy to grant cover to as well, they are not easy to hide.  Thus, your opponent will see them and if they have even terrible luck, a shot or two will get through their AV10 armor eventually.  Making the Typhoon a liability in a situation where long range shooting does not cause much damage for either player.

But that doesn't explain why I chose the biker units.  First, bikers certainly can hide from the opponent.  Easily, in fact.  I'm not sure if you've ever seen a Space Marine bike, but its pretty darn small.  With the amount of terrain being thrown around, it will be simple to arrange BLOS for them, giving the small unit some manner of protection while they advance forward.  Second, unlike the Typhoon, there is ablative wounds available in the biker units.  While each death reduces the damage the unit can put out, but the same can be said for Dark Eldar Trueborn Blaster squads and they are still taken without a second thought.  It was also important to make sure that these normally fragile, yet expensive, units were redundant.  Having three squads makes target priority much more difficult for your opponent, especially when all three units are suddenly in their face.

Next up, we have the biker's armaments.  Traditional thinking would say that triple melta is the way to go, and I would normally agree, but only if I was facing pure mechanized armies.  Unfortunately, this is often not the case.  Not only will there be lots of MEQ and terminators running around (some footslogging), there are horde armies that need to be dealt with.  The meltagun is poorly suited towards dealing with each of those things.  The plasmagun, however, isn't half bad.  They are cheaper than meltaguns, do acceptable AT damage (especially when combined with a biker's mobility/rapid firing), and has the ability to knock out a bunch of infantry of all varieties in one swoop.  Add in the AB's MM and you have a legit tank-hunting squad, infantry killer, and/or mobile fire-support platform.  Lastly, they are extremely mobile.  They have the ability to go just as fast as the Typhoon, while also ignoring terrain effects (unless you end up in it!).  Perfect for cover-loaded boards.  This allows them to get up close and personal with relative safety, at least until you get into the 12" kill range.  Being so close also helps you negate some of your opponent's manufactured cover saves for themselves, thus upping your kill potential.  If all else fails and you need a quick speedbump unit, you've got yourself one.

All of these things would not be nearly as applicable for bikers on a typical board.  This is not saying that the Nova Open boards are bad in any way, just different from the norm.  This list would not function as well on such a board.  It has the chance to be successful in the Nova Open environment, pending play-tests of course.  Just like how Drago-wing came to be popular after last year's Nova Open (due to its ability to take advantage of the Nova Open boards/rules), I'm going to attempt to do the same.  List tailoring against my opponent?  No.  I am, however, tailoring for the event.  My list is still balanced, but normally sub-par units become okay (and even decent) in extreme environments.  We'll see if these theories hold water.  They may not.  ;)

EDIT:  Accidently put "1" plasmagun per Biker squadron.  There is actually supposed to be 3.  The points were correct though, just didn't correct the copy/paste.  :/


05/11/2012 7:23am

I genuinely think you Yanks are overeacting dramatically, and missing the point of the lists and general playing vastly over terrain.

In the UK we have a fair ammount of terrain on our boards (25% ranging from small peices to large peices, some LOS blocking etc etc) but this does not ditract the list working. If a list works, you can make it work in ANY terrain setup.

Now as far as your comment on Speeders go, that is completely false. You do realise only one of those typhoon missiles needs to see to shoot right? well this makes them one of the best anti-tank units in the game for their price for Black templars. Mobile (can move 12 and shoot so it doesn't matter about LOS blocking), you can almost always shoot someone whilst retaining a cover save (only 1 of the speeders needs to be covered for a squadron of two to get a cover), and long range.

What you have done completely kills your list, what are those bikes doing that your troops arn't? Your making a BT list...which isn't utilising the strengths of the codex. Your bassically putting overcosted mariens in the front lines in rhinos...why? Black templars can create a formidable gunline, but what makes it so strong is it's punching ability when anything gets close (prefered enemy power fists left right & centre), and its mobility for that firepower (relentless terminators & speeders).

The terrain plays no different role to this fact, it just means alpha striking is reduced (which a clever general can easily do in most terrain boards in the UK, so we never see that bullshit happen very often).

No game should be gunline on an open board, it kills the point. You have to create firelanes, covering objectives with solid firepower and pushing for them late game with Templars. the main thing this army has it's its suprisingly vast mobility with it's firepower, and your list is the complete opposite on what it should be.

Bare in mind, you say the LOS and terrain will give out coversaves delpleting the chance of typhoons and such hurting enemy mech, but doesnt clever posityioning and smoke already provide this in 40k games?

05/11/2012 10:28am

I have to make some clarifications and comments. :)

1) When I play games of 40k, there is A LOT of terrain on the board. ALWAYS 25% coverage (but more often closer to 30-35%) with at least one BLOS piece of terrain. You're preaching to the choir about terrain. I don't think I'm conveying my point in these posts very well, apparently. It isn't the terrain, as I accept the fact that things will get cover. Hell, I make sure that I have it almost 100% of the time unless playing extremely aggressive and making a push to take advantage of a situation. I don't gunline things down. The original BT gunline list that I created back when did well because it could simply overpower you with how many LR shots it had, cover or not.

My point in this is that last year's Nova boards contained at least THREE large line-of-sight blocking terrain pieces. And the one in the center, dominated the board...making it near impossible to see anything on the other side of the board until it was too late if your opponent deployed worth a damn. Long range shooting does jack if you can't see anything, even after moving.

2) What you said about the BT Typhoon is correct, but I know their virtues. I would argue that I'm one of, if not THE, largest supporter of the vehicle. A year and a half ago, when I did my review on the updated FAQ...I laid out all of the strengths that they had. I know them. You're basically repeating what I've said over and over and over again to other people. There are whole tactics articles dated way back then on the discussion. I've pounded both DCML Terminators and Typhoons down the collective BT community's throat since the FAQ.

What I said was not false, however, based on the terrain from last year. Consider this: a Typhoon has a 10.956% chance to kill a Rhino in cover. A SINGLE missile shot against a Typhoon as a 7.408% chance to kill it when its in cover. And we all know there is few solo shot missiles in competitive lists, its always two or more. My point? Its easy as hell to kill a Typhoon in the same BLOS/cover plentiful environment, for relatively marginal gain. However, with that being said, 98% of the time that marginal gain is 1000% better than the next option for the points cost. They are AMAZING in so many ways 98% of the time.

3) The reason the Typhoons were not in this list, was for the reasons I spoke about in the post: I wanted to try to take advantage of the BLOS terrain by taking bikers, who can advance relatively unscathed until they get in range of their target. Then they'd be able to torrent through my opponent's cover/defenses with their weaponry, which does FAR more damage than the Typhoon could. Even if I took 2 Typhoons in a squadron (Bikers: kill 30.478% of time; 2x Typhoons: kill 21.314 of time), I get more "oomph" out of the bikers for close to the same points. IN THIS SITUATION. But of course, the downfall is that the unit is more expensive and taking wounds will reduce their efficiency. Though, you can say the same about shaking/stunning the Typhoons. Because the list hasn't been playtested yet, I don't know if that extra point investment is worth it.

My current 2k list (the top list on my list page) does well in any environment, cover or no cover. I simply wanted to explore whether or not it would be beneficial for me to take advantage of what the board gave me. A great many of the top players are doing the same thing, so why shouldn't I? Doesn't mean I have to go with it or even use the list. I tried to make that clear in my post...that the list above was an idea, that it MIGHT work. All I've done thus far is theoryhammer it based on experience.

05/11/2012 10:45am

4) You mentioned that I'm not taking advantage of what the BT does best. Do I not have DCML Terminators? Do I not have 2x 5-man Las/Plas squads? Do I not have 4x MM Bunkers? Looks to me like the only questionable unit in the list is the Bikers, and I have explained my reasoning for them already.

The Black Templars are a lot of things, but a close combat threat is no longer one of them (unless its TH/SS Terminators). You mention having AAC and Powerfists, but also mention them in a gunline force. You can't have both. Its one or the other, unfortunately. We simply cannot afford it with this codex, nor do we have the wide-open unit choices. If you delegate your Crusader squads towards CC, you put a significant points investment to make a marginally effective unit. Even at only 5-man units, as I do in my current list, you make the choice to use their weaponry for close combat, not shooting. Which is exactly where a "good" BT gunline needs to take those AT weapons. So to make the BT gunline good, you need as much shooting as possible.

But the fact of the matter is, unless your list is cc-oriented (thus weak in AT...bad competitive list), your crusader squads will be small. Which means, anything that gets close enough for you to counter-attack as you mention, is going to be likely CC-oriented. Let's be honest with ourselves here and know that most dangerous CC-units have initiative 4 or higher, with some exceptions (i.e. TH/SS termies). Or they are in such great numbers that the losses you inflict on them don't matter. Because of that, they will kill every last one of your dudes before you strike. So why take a power fist that will only die? Why not spend less points and actually possibly kill something back at I4?

My point? In a perfect world, where everything we have was at the cost of Space Wolves...then I'd agree with you that we could do some wicked things with gunlines and CC at the same time. But this is reality; it simply isn't possible to put both things into a list without reducing the efficiency of one or the other.

05/11/2012 8:56am

Just a couple of notes for you.

First, while some of the center LOS blockers this year will be taller than the hills were, none of them will be as wide as those large Figure 8-ish ones that dominated some boards in 2011. All of the center blockers will be based off 1'x1' (or very faintly smaller due to rounding edges/etc.) bases, and so you won't have quite the crazy blockage. That's not to say people can't hide things ... much the contrary, the point is to enable at least a little of that.

Contemporary 40k at the higher levels of play involves cover saves always in ANY tournament setting, and ANY terrain format (presuming 20-25% coverage, regardless of terrain type). This is enabled with SMF, smoke, daisychaining smokers/SMF'ers, liberal cover save granting for non-Vehicle/MC, etc. etc. etc.

Armies in contemporary-hammer have adjusted to the point that they are able and prepared to torrent through cover saves if they must. Some can do this simply via codex design (triple-melta veteran squads with orders to back them up), and some can do this via list design (taking 12 twin-linked S8 shots and 18 twin-linked S6 shots in a GK list for only 877 points - counting Coteaz).

It is therefore a significant component of the game to be able to not simply cover yourself (that's going to be a given with the cover rules of 5ed), but manage to prevent components of the enemy's army from being able to shoot at all at components of yours ... or else peoples' adjusted lists will simply torrent your key units or combat units or ... really whatever units ... out of the game via torrenting through your cover saves.

A great example of this was a game I played at BFS against a GK army, where I was able to cover all my Chimeras/etc. no matter what, but the game became a heck of a dogfight simply b/c there was no way to prevent GK psyfledreads from throwing 3-4 glance/pens on them per round of fire regardless.

Long and short, and supported by the BRB's explanation of terrain requirements and purposes ... cover alone is not enough to enable a wide enough range of balanced lists to routinely compete well.

That all said, I will honestly say I don't tweak my list for the situation in this regard ... I can tell you many other playres do not as well, and the ones I mostly refer to all do well regardless of tournament setting.

This may be a little more difficult with BT (or not), I won't pretend to be the expert you are ... but it IS a generally good idea to work within the parameters of excellent list build regardless of situation.

To the point above - clever positioning and smoke already provides cover against Typhoon fire NO MATTER the terrain situation, if you are playing and preparing against an appropriate level of competition - the guys you'll eventually have to face one way or another.

I like the use of the bikers, bee tee dubs ... though 2 meltaguns are more effective than 1 plasmagun if the points/loadouts permit.

Good to see your thought processes, but hoped I could poke in and add some value ... there are a lot of players out there, including myself, winning or going undefeated in an enormous variety of events with basically the same lists (battle points, nova style, nova open LOS blockage inclusive, nova style not los blockage inclusive, etc. etc. etc.). It can be a problem for the mind to suddenly start second guessing your list building approach for the worse, by thinking it's format dependent, and not game-as-a-whole/resiliency-dependent.


05/11/2012 11:18am

As I mention in my comments to Killswitch, I routinely play against opponents with the amount of terrain that was featured at Nova Open last year. Nor is my opponent's ability to manufacture cover for themselves (i.e. smoke, deployment, movement, etc), as well as me doing it for myself. That isn't my concern...the amount of that terrain that has LOS blockage is. Based on what I've seen from the pictures of boards from the other large tournaments, there is one, MAYBE two, BLOS pieces on the board. Not three or more like Nova Open had. Thus, why I'm having this discussion. The ability to take advantage of that terrain, whether in the game or in the list building stage, is important wouldn't you say? Else why would you post pictures of the terrain or boards in advance, if you didn't think the transparency was important?

Even last year, with my entirely gunline army, I managed to make all but one of my losses extremely close. I handily beat my opponent in the 3 games I won. I made some mistakes early in the tournament and paid for them. However, I adapted to the terrain, but let's face it, my list was not suitable for what we were playing on. And that is okay. I freely admit that my list was too slanted towards shooting, making it slightly unbalanced. Which is something I have since corrected (shortly after the Nova Open 2011 tourney, mind you) and have done very well since with my current list. Its much more balanced and is still the list I'll be taking this year, unless my play-testing with the above list proves fruitful and I'm willing to make that "risk" on the national scene.

Nor am I second-guessing myself, though I can understand how that looks. My main competitive lists have traditionally changed very little over time. Even the GT's that I've attended in recent years have essentially the same exact list, with some minor tweaks. I dream up different styles and playtest them all the time, but that doesn't mean I would actively use them in a tournament setting. With how old the BT codex is, that is the only way we're able to discover little combo's here, balance there. Familiarity is key and you don't break what isn't broken.

With that being said, as I mentioned, the point was to attempt to use the terrain to my advantage. It may turn out to be a waste of time, but I'll have play-tested it and put in the work to discover it. With the changes to the BLOS terrain you mentioned in your comment, it very well may not work. But I already have hundreds of games played with my current list (with well over half using almost exact terrain configurations as Nova Open 2011 had), so it doesn't hurt me to attempt something new. If it doesn't work, it doesn't. I'll have my "old reliable" on standby and have a truly balanced list that works in all environments.

The Black Templars are quickly becoming dated, even with the FAQ. Any edge, however slight, could make the difference between victory and defeat. Assuming equal skill levels (something the Nova Open tournament takes great pains to ensure), a Black Templar player is almost always at a disadvantage due to efficiency issues in the codex. That is the main reason for this "experiment". :)

Oh, and by the way, thank you for noticing my mix up on the Biker weaponry. There should be 3 plasmaguns in that squad, not only 1 like you saw. Which should now make the unit look much more effective to you. ;) The points cost for that unit was originally right though.

05/11/2012 2:33pm

Yes! 3 plasmaguns / squad does indeed dramatically improve their value. Keeping them alive by blocking LOS to them is something you could also do in a more mech-heavy list btw ... though I'm glad to see you exploring outside-the-box options!

05/11/2012 6:09pm

Speaking of Yanks Company of heros is like 5 euros for 3 games for a week on steam.

No worries Laeroth. They mainly want people who are like * If I tell you to dig a hole, you'll dig a hole.. if I tell you to get a can of beans, you get a can of beans.

05/15/2012 4:41am

Hi ML, since there are lots of BLOS terrain in the match, how about using Assault Termie with TeleHomer? Just a simulation of Dual-Wing table. I know the weakness of such army are uncertainty of deep strike and lack of troops. But can you explain more?

05/19/2012 11:27am

The problem is cost. Against an opponent with any sort of mobility he will be able to get two full turns of shooting on you before you get the charge (when you hit the ground and after he moves any threatened squads away).

So you need a squad large enough to survive those two turns of shooting which will raise the cost of the unit up towards something like 300 points. Plus you need an Independent Character to carry the Teleport Homer, which will be around another hundred or so, depending on other upgrades.

What could you drop in the above list (or even Marshal Learoth's Gunline list) to find 400 extra points? One of the Terminator squads would get you more than half of the way there, but then (in the list above) you could really only afford to drop a Crusader squad, but those two units will be a better option than a deathstar which relies on a single Rhino getting close to the opponent in order to wreck havoc, assuming that your opponent is not prepared to deal with something like an Assault Terminator squad, which he should.

Add to that the loss of redundancy and utility of the regular Terminator Squad as well as the problems you mentioned and it's just not a very good idea.

05/15/2012 5:40pm

Don't have the time now for commenting on the list, but I'll note that according to MVB's comment in response to the NOVA April Fool email, we will be playing with 5th Edition for NOVA 2012. Which makes sense rather than leaving him and his staff open to all kinds of abuse with new rules.

05/17/2012 4:24pm

As an interesting variation, it doesn't look too bad. "Witch" isn't a bad vow for a mech force, but it gives up all hopes of any viable melee capability, even defensively. IMO, a huge problem for NOVA style terrain where you have to have some kind of viable CC threat even if it is only defensively.

As for Typhoon Speeders vs Bikes: First issue is cost, Second is range. Sorry, a 48" range makes it a whole heck of a lot easier to "peek" around a BLOS terrain bit and blast than for 24" range.


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