This week we’ll take a look at the various Eldar lists in Epic: Armageddon, from the Aspect Hosts of Biel Tan to the cruel raiders of Commorragh.
The Craftworld Eldar are a powerful and competitive set of armies in Epic: Armageddon with fantastically potent engagement troops, huge amounts of mobility, a whole array of movement and deployment tricks, titans, spacecraft and powerful shooting attacks. They aren’t the toughest troops out there but they’re not all that fragile if you make use of good positioning and some of the tougher units available to you. They do however have a variety of special rules from Webway Gates to Farseer retaining and require a good deal of practice to get your head around the different rules and how to make the different elements work in concert with one another to bring you victory. You’ll need to be comfortable with moving troops into supporting fire positions and how to prep your targets for your scalpel cuts and when to dash away for cover.
The Dark Eldar are in many ways an even more extreme version of their Craftworld cousins. With some faster units, even more deployment tricks and even less durability. Knowing when and how to use your resources and when to sacrifice them to the Archon’s will is paramount. They are an extremely flavourful force, feeling like both pawns to Archon’s schemes for victory as well as sudden raider forces appearing from nowhere.
There is only a single Dark Eldar list and 6 Craftworld Eldar from most of the ‘core’ named Craftworlds and each of these has a different style and emphasis allowing for plenty of choice in your preferred flavour and playstyle. There isn’t really a generic list that would thematically cover what the others can do (you just won’t get enough jetbikes in Biel Tan to satisfyingly mimic Saim Hann for example) so it’s a good idea to work out what interests you and spend some time fiddling with the lists to see if you can find one that suits what you want.
The aspects hosts of Biel Tan are a sight to behold, sweeping rapid attacks rolling from one engagement to another with potent aspect warriors leading the charge backed up by skilled vehicles and reliable guardians. The intended focus here is on using the support elements to deliver your Aspect Warriors right into the heart of your enemy and through a few decisive activations (that are usually Engagements) breaking the back of their resistance.
The aspect warrior formations of Biel Tan are quite large and can be expensive if you mount everyone up in transports but they are also incredibly flexible. You can mix and match the aspect warriors freely so a formation with 2 firedragons, 2 striking scorpions, 1 swooping hawk and 3 shining spears with 2 wave serpents is perfectly fine and this flexibility allows you to both tailor them to a specific role and to control your point expenditure on them (hint: Wave Serpents can be costly to transport the slow infantry aspects but taking a few infantry and wave serpents and mixing in the faster hawks or shining spears to fill in the rest of the formation means you can be both fast and cheaper than fully mounted). The general use of these formations can vary based on what you put into them – 8 Swooping Hawks is a very different formation to 8 Fire Dragons but broadly these are what you use to crack the hardest enemy formations so need to get there in one piece. Wave Serpents are one way of doing this but can be comparatively vulnerable on the approach. Instead making use of the fantastic deployment options in the Eldar can deliver these guys where and when they are needed. Using the Webway to be able to come onto the table from further up than the deployment zone or using the Webway gate on a Storm Serpent to appear anywhere or using the Vampire Raider to fly and air assault from safety.
Typically the CC focused aspects are less popular – Banshees and Scorpions – while the Firefight focused ones are seen more often. This is mostly due to the huge rolling engagement potential of the Eldar with their hit and run rule meaning that Firefight focused formations can deliver all of their specialist attacks multiple times over a single turn while a CC formation is far less effective at delivering its specialist threat multiple times a turn. Of these the Firedragons and Dire Avengers (with exarchs!) are popular and very common and entire formations of Warp Spiders are frequently used in Vampire Raiders. Because Warp Spiders have the Infiltrate ability they can land in a vampire, wipe out a foe and remain a threat out to 45cm meaning they suffer considerably less from the lack of transports that air assaulting necessitates. This is not to say the CC aspects are bad, just that they don’t play as much to the strengths of the rolling engagement style play.
Another key point of the aspect formations is the Exarchs. You can have up to 2 per formation and – unless you have a very specific plan that doesn’t need them – you will be taking 2 every time. They increase both the attack power and also provide the Inspiring ability twice to their formation which can be a huge advantage when it comes to combat resolution and seeing as you will mostly want these guys to be Engaging that helps a lot.
Outside of aspect warrior shenanigans the list has a set of other strong options. Rangers are great scouts (keep them cheap at 100pts, you’re better with 2 4 strong groups than 1 8 strong group), falcons with firestorms for air defence and for destroying enemy vehicles (key targets are rhinos, chimeras, etc. that transport infantry as destroying one can slow the down the entire parent formation or the enemy risks leaving troops behind to keep up their speed). Void Spinners and Night Spinners for barrage and the ability to put blast markers where you need them or to break smaller enemy formations. Your aircraft are among the best in the entirety of Epic, they pay for it but they can lock down enemy air assaults or cause punishing damage on the enemy. Using your ground troops to eliminate (or suppress) enemy ground based AA weapons to give you freedom of the skies is advised. Guardians are also great – if they have some cover to hide in! – and bring the critical Farseers to enable some of your nastiest tricks. jetbikes also work great for support fire and bringing along one Vyper in the formation (so it can shoot and put blast markers where you want them) is a good idea too.
Tactically you need to get comfortable with how the supporting fire rules work and how you can use the fantastic Hit and Run rule in concert with the triple retain capability of your Farseers to allow you to keep reusing your troops combat ability in a single devastating attack. A common example would be if your opponent has two formations within 15cm of each other A and B. You double some jetbikes (with their Vyper) to sit between both A and B within 15cm of both, they shoot the Vyper at formation A (dealing no damage but placing the blast marker). You retain initiative and assault A with your Firedragons, their pair of exarchs and their Wave Serpents making sure to get at least one member of enemy formation B within 15cm of your firedragons (so that they receive a blast marker when A loses), the firedragons (with the jetbikes support firing as they are within 15cm!) shatter formation A (and this places a blast marker on B) then the firedragons use the hit and run rule to move up to 15cm to make sure they are within 15cm of B with as many models as possible. You then retain a third time (which only the Eldar can do!) and engage B with a formation of guardians (or something, anything really) and this time you get the jetbikes, firedragons and your third formation all attacking B (because you have the jetbikes and firedragons in support fire positions) to annihilate B too. Using three formations to annihilate two enemy ones and getting to use those jetbikes guns three times in a row, the firedragons get to use their twice in a row (which CC focused aspects could not do) and your third formation got to use their once…but could use hit and run to move to another good position to support an attack elsewhere on the table (or just duck for cover!).
Commentary here is provided by StevekCole from the Taccomms forum:
This list is all about speed and the 35cm consolidate move. Saim Hann look great on the tabletop with wave after wave of jetbikes screaming across the board. They need to make maximum possible use of hit and run tactics by hiding behind cover and engaging units from up to 50cm away then consolidating 35 freaking cm to lend support fire to another assault. When they’re played right they can use the elder rolling assault like no other army in the game. They’re also great at picking off isolated units and using their 35cm consolidate to redeploy and threaten somewhere new or get back to a place of safety.
Key units are the Wild Rider hosts with 9 jetbikes and the potential to add 3 more plus a mounted farseer and a single wild rider chieftain per army. Both characters are must haves in order to give you the all-important supreme commander reroll plus farsight and the ability to summon the avatar. While the latter isn’t as strong as in Biel Tann he can really tip the balance for your big jetbike units when assaulting tougher targets like dug in imperial guard or big units of tyranids. You can (and should) add vipers for the all-important ability to place blast markers and their better 4+ armour. Wild riders will make up the core of your army.
Aspects are a little different, basically they have to be fast (ie hawks and spears) or mounted up in wave serpents. If you’re mounting up you gain access to stronger aspects like dire avengers and fire dragons but only a maximum of 6 with one exarch. If you’re spears or hawks you gain 8 and the excellent double exarch (so double inspiring) and they become a core choice. Spears give some much needed armour busting capability to the list with lance. Hawks I find less useful as their key strength is speed and the ability to strike almost anywhere and the whole of your army can already do that. The mounted aspects are always solid and give you a slightly tougher BTS than a wild rider unit.
Saim hann get access to all the usual eldar support units including the wonderful rangers for screening, stall activations, late game objective grabbing and sneaky sniper shots on enemy characters. Falcons with firestorms are a must as always. Saim Hann are fragile and need AA cover plus they lack long range shooting so falcons ago-go.
Eldar aircraft with Macro-weapon? Yes please! At least one vampire hunter is a must they’re great for dealing with better armoured targets but also for sniping out small fragile units such as scouts.
So why aren’t they trouncing all comers at tournaments? Well… even by eldar standards they’re fragile. The bike units are 9-13 strong with 5+ armour, they can’t make use of cover like infantry and (unless you’re running storm serpent webway gates) have to start on the table so they’re extremely vulnerable to artillery, air assaults and ranged shooting in general. Their assault power and ability to activate reliably dies away quickly with blast markers and casualties. On the subject of assault power, Saim Hann lack numbers, macro weapon, and good armour in assaults so can struggle to take down really solid targets (tip using commander from your farseer or chieftain to combine an assault can help). Lastly, they struggle to have a sturdy BTS. Essentially, you have 3 options; bikes, mounted aspects, or revenant titans. Of these the latter are the toughest but by far the most expensive and give you great shooting but less on the assault front. The aspects are always on the board, and once the jetbikes are on board (if they deploy via a gate) they are also always on the board (lacking the Biel Tann BTS safety in vampires option) so very vulnerable to being broken and then, due to not being fearless simply picked off.
All in all, a really fun, really thematic army that are hugely enjoyable and occasionally very frustrating army to play.
The wraithhosts of Iyanden are different from the other eldar in that they are absolutely rock solid and very difficult to destroy. They pack a huge punch and can almost look after themselves with much less need for supporting formations in engagements (though you should bring those along anyway). However they are a list that really suffers at lower point games and only really come into their own at closer to 4kpts where they have the points to buy both the wraith formations and the transports to deliver them to the enemy.
You can rely on your core Wraith formations to win most battles. They benefit from having support fire and want to see their targets prepped with blast markers before going in because – while tough and powerful – an engagement has a lot of dice being rolled both for and against you and the end result is usually pretty decisive so don’t take a risk if a little bit of support can cut that risk dramatically. A lot of the time you’ll be looking for suitable ways of delivering these guys to the table – Storm Serpents, Webway Gate, Vampire Raider are your best bets – and getting them stuck into the fight. Slogging across the table with a 15cm speed is not recommended and will likely leave them unable to every actually fight as they can be easily delayed with scouts or enemy maneuver. Unfortunately this transport requirement can get costly.
Luckily you still have access to the cheap core Guardians (in a less attractive configuration with the heavy weapons by default) to bulk up your activations and the great Eldar support formations like Falcons (with firestorms!), Jetbikes, Rangers, etc. while also having access to the cheaper (and smaller) aspect warrior host. These aspects lose the ability to take double Exarchs (take the single!) and generally you’ll want to choose the aspects that are faster by default – swooping hawks for example or Warp Spiders (due to their Infiltrate ability) that allow you to remain combat effective whilst not having to invest in a lot of supporting mobiliy infrastructure (remember also that you can only have 3 formations in the webway and each gate can only be used once per turn so there is a limit that can’t be overcome with just more points and if your Wraith troops are in there then less room for your aspects in the first place).
Remember though that your support formations are also actually pretty strong in a fight. This isn’t a case of shepherding your wraith troops in as your only attack options. There are a lot of useful formations and attack stats mixed amongst those support formations so you can build a good attack with just those while you wait for the opportune moment to launch your Wraith troops into the fray. They just take a bit more finesse to use to that effect.
All in all this list really there if you love the Wraith troops. It revolves around them and has a lot of powerful options with them. It’s competitive but struggles at lower point totals whilst coming into its own at slightly higher than normal (3k is normal, 4k is where this list really shines).
A pretty different experience here, focused heavily on scouting forces and relying on the smaller (smaller than Biel Tan anyway) aspects and support formations to do the work of actually breaking the opponent’s forces. They also sacrifice the flexibility of being able to drop lots of small 100pt ranger formations for the larger ones (which normally you’d not take in the other lists). In return you’re gaining access to Ranger and Ranger+War Walker formations (11 scouting models with mostly anti infantry guns for 275pts) as well as Pathfinders.
Remember, your rangers and War Walkers can garrison forward near the midway line so they can be right in the thick of the action immediately and u to two garrisoned formations can go onto overwatch during deployment.
The ready access to so many scouts gives you huge area control, able to spread out and have layers of scouts rendering any possible advance or landing point for the opponent a slog to fight through. This gives you the ability to dramatically slow your opponent for your more impactful elements to get into their supporting positions and destroy the enemy piecemeal while they have little ability to coherently organise a response. It also means that you can contest and block enemy contesting of objectives extremely well in the later stages of a game. Played well this means you can r=turn a loss on turn 3 into a turn 4 and a draw by just being extremely frustrating and not allowing them to score their objectives.
The unique unit here is the Pathfinders and they’re fantastic…in a different army. Being teleporting scouts is hugely potent, able to utterly stop an enemy critical attack or break up a firebase in a way that’s almost impossible to stop. (Hint: if your opponent has weapons that fire indirectly you can teleport a Pathfinder so that the enemy formation has a model inside your 10cm zone of control, this means those indirect fire units can’t sustain to fire indirect as they have to move out of your 10cm zone or engage you, either way you can silence those big guns for a turn). The first strike is also helpful, especially considering their low armour and limited attack stats (6 stands, 5+ to hit, average 2 hits). The issue they face in the Alaitoc is that…do you really need more scouts considering how many you’ll have from your core formations?
Broadly just by taking your core ranger formations (and some Pathinders, they’re still useful, just notably less so than they would be in other armies) you should have a massive ability to control the board, but generally lack the hard hitting elements to actually attack the enemy effectively. That’s where your selections in the support slots come in to give you your attack power. Pick formations that will be able to get into position to attack and support each other to take advantage of your scouting ability to cut the enemy table positioning apart and then retreat to safety. Don’t neglect your air defence – having someone air assault a formation into your scouts, break them and punch a huge hole in your defence field is not advisable. This also gives you the benefit of being able to use your own air assaults more freely.
Two things to pay careful attention to due to the abundance of scouts. Spread out into a long string scout formations can be very vulnerable to clipping engagements where only one of your stands can fight against a whole enemy formation, making a defeat very likely. Pay attention to your opponent setting up for clipping engagements (usually by placing a blast marker on the scouts and engaging them with a formation of their own that doesn’t have any blast markers, especially if the enemy formation outnumbers your scouts and/or has Inspiring). Second thing to pay attention to is intermingling your formations – if your formations have models within 5cm of each other the enemy can engage one formation and force the other to fight and break as one which you might not want. This is double the case with stringing out a scout formation. Having the enemy engage one scout on the far end of the tail, intermingling a formation 60cm away that you left too close to the scouts and watching as that one clipped scout breaks a core part of your army is eminently frustrating.
Overall a very different army to play. Not necessarily the strongest you’ll see, especially as the point totals increase but at lower values (1k-2k) it is very difficult for an enemy to deal with so almost the opposite of the Iyanden. Better the fewer points there are!
Guardian focused and potent (because Guardians are a great unit) due to shenanigans with Strategy Ratings. Your Guardians are slightly more expensive than normal as you get a second farseer unit in the formation, this is mostly a good thing. Looking at the list on paper and there’s not a lot that jumps out as particularly exciting. The unique unit is having an extra farseer stand in the Guardian formation and 6 aspects is not a stand out unique thing as the non-Biel Tan all have that too.
The selling point for Ulthwe is the combination of fairly cheap core Guardian formations, not losing access to the general tools of the Eldar (rangers not forced to 8 man units, guardians not forced to use heavy weapons), cheap (due to 6 stand units) aspects (remember mixing in infantry ones mounted in wave serpents with fast movers like hawks or shining spears to keep costs down and mobility up) and the ability to get the equivalent of strategy 5 for one turn (and strategy 5 for deployment tricks like teleports and spacecraft).
It’s not a particularly exciting list one must admit, more fiddling around the edges but the overall effect is to allow you to often squeeze in another formation or a few more upgrades and by using the core tools of the Eldar and their skill at rolling engagements you can often win fairly healthily.
The biggest advantage you have is consistency on Turn 2 Strategy. For most lists going first on Turn 2 is a fairly major advantage – you’ve spent turn 1 getting into good attacking positions and weakening your opponent for your attack to start – and the Strategy 4 with +1 from summoning the Avatar (which should be in range to attack effectively on turn 2) means you have a very good chance of getting to go first and launch your attack decisively before your opponent can launch theirs. It’s a small difference but it can be game winning.
I have never played with nor against this list so I have only limited insight, though from those who have played it I have heard it suffers from lacking a decisive attacking element.
Yme Loc gives you all the vehicles, all the time, flights of elder skimmers hit and running into range, firing and withdrawing back out again, swift moving mounted infantry and access to a few units no other eldar have (Hornets, Lynx, Warp Hunters, Large Webway). In return though you’re losing flexibility in your formations make up, lose the ability to have cheaper foot based infantry and thus losing many of the special table entry options – no teleports, planetfall or air assaults with the units you’d normally want to do that with.
At first glance the weight of firepower you can bring is fearsome, able to badly damage formations at medium and close range while you then move your mounted infantry into position to launch your finishing blows. The intention for the list is a combined arms style with the vehicles doing a lot of the heavy lifting early on to be followed up by the mechanised infantry forces to defeat the crippled enemy and seize the objectives at the end.
However. The essentially skirmishing your vehicles are doing early on, relying on hit and run, means that you’re frequently doubling your vehicles (not always, but often if you’re not doing that you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to return fire) which can dramatically cut your firepower effectiveness, especially against infantry due to the ease with which they can claim cover. Remember a 5+ to hit on a double becomes half as effective. 5+ is 1/3 hits, while 6+ is 1/6 hits.
For the Yme Loc I suspect you’ll be taking on a challenge. Forced mechanisation costs more points and limits your deployment options and the fragile nature of your vehicles means that you can be forced to use double orders a lot to keep them safe, which cuts your effective firepower. You’ll probably look fantastic on the table though!
The dark pirates of Commorragh. Fast, deadly and oh so squishy. I love the Dark Eldar, it’s an extremely well designed list from a thematics point of view and plays in a pretty unique way but suffers from some fairly major weaknesses and has a larger than normal contingent of questionably useful formations.
Broadly the list shares many of the features of the Craftworld Eldar just turned up to 11. You’re blisteringly fast, have some powerful (though CC focused) shock troops and die when someone looks at you funny. You can have an entire army that is only on the table in the place and time it needs to be there to maximise its offensive potential (and then dies once it has done its job).
A big contributor to this is the Raider. A 35cm move light vehicle skimmer transport. It’s really quick and quite vulnerable as being a light vehicle anything can hurt it (so a passing scout formation with heavy boaters for example can blow it out of the sky and cripple the speed of your formations). One thing that is special though is that being a light vehicle means it can use the Webway Portals (and note the plural!) that you can bring. This means your 35cm movement skimmers can enter the table form a portal that is potentially all the way up on the half way line of the board (or even deeper on with the portable one). Raiders in the web way should give you the ability to reach almost anywhere at almost any time and deliver your troops where you want them.
Some people consider the list restriction that requires you to have the Archon’s Kabal as the BTS a disadvantage but personally I’ve always ended up with that Kabal as the most expensive formation anyway so it barely registers. The Lord’s Kabal has Incubi and can run with 6 of them (and some warriors too) for a healthy 12 CC 3+ attacks and a 3+ MW CC attack from the Lord, has inspiring and 4+ saves and the speed and deployment options of your army mean that you can usually guarantee these guys arrive on target when you want them and never be vulnerable to enemy attacks until that point. These guys are the best your army has to offer in the shock department. They do however only work on the offence due to their CC focus (they’re terrible at FF) so expect to see them suffer badly if the opponent counterattacks them. They’ll want to make their attack and then run to hide as they will be a key target for the opponent to finish them off.
Your ability to deploy on the table from off table is second only to the Necrons, meaning your pirate raiders can literally come from nowhere, launch their attacks and then run to hide to enjoy their stolen prizes. This is achieved by having the Webway (which means up to 3 formation off the table), Scourges (a fantastic FF unit with great mobility) can teleport onto the table, Mandrakes (great at seizing ground, blocking movement due to being scouts, CC and FF) can teleport in and you have the absolutely fantastic Slavebringer to do either planetfall or air assaults. I commonly leverage these heavily and will have maybe 2 formations on the table at the start of turn 1 (both of which are Vessels of Pain as they’re able to do useful work and keep themselves safe while doing so) and then bring units onto the table as and when they are needed.
When playing a list with this much off table materiel your early work should be to clear the way for your formations to enter the table. Find and destroy or suppress ground based AA, fight their aircraft out of the sky (and if you can’t manage that the Slavebringer is still pretty tough due to the Shadowfields making it hard to hit and ablating the first hit anyway) and with anything spare place blast markers on your targets (to make your attacks when you launch them more likely to succeed) and get into supporting fire positions.
When selecting your targets you need to think about how attacking it will secure you objectives at the end of turn 3. A sad fact of the way th list is designed is that you need to be laser focused on those right from the off if you want be winning. That does’t mean start standing on the objectives on turn 1. That means think ahead about how what you’re doing will secure the objectives you need to win. Sometimes that means not attacking a powerful enemy at all or isolating them so they can’t stop you scoring. For example you might see a potent enemy formation that could move to contest an objective and thus stop you scoring it – teleport those Mandrakes in to block their ability to move like that, even if that means the mandrakes die or never get to fight anything at all, if they secure that objective by blocking a key enemy unit for a few C centimetres then they’ve done their job.
The Mandrake example above also leads to another key point. Everything is sacrificial to the goals of the Archon. Any formation can and should be thrown into the jaws of death so long as they achieve what you needed of them first (which is eminently thematic for a Dark Eldar Lord!). A good example of this is Wyches+Warp Beasts+Succubus in a Slavebringer (that’s two formations for 500pts). These guys are great, able to surgically strike a target, land 6 CC3+ first strike, 4 CC4+ first strike and 1 CC3+ first strike macro attack (plus shots from the slavebringer) and hopefully win before the foe even gets to strike. These are almost a suicide missile, find your target, destroy it and run! They are a premier strike force and if you’ve done things right they come swooping in on a target that has blast markers already and your guys come in without them giving you a +3 to combat resolution right from the start (the succubus is inspiring!). They’re almost certainly going to die afterwards though and because they came in from the sky don’t have their raiders to rapidly move elsewhere to help out other fights.
Now onto the downsides. There are 3 main ones. 1. CC focus, 2. you die super fast and 3. uncompetitive units.
The CC focus on your shock units means that they can’t do a lot of supporting of each other as their support fire attacks aren’t all that great it also means that on the defensive they will never get to use their CC values unless they’re worse than their opponents. I.e.: if an opponent engages your CC troops they will FF them and position to make sure you can’t get into CC so your super elite Incubi will be stuck in a firefight with a guard infantry company or space marine devastators or fire dragons or something (look at the Haemonculi coven, if the enemy engages it in a FF the bulk of the units literally cannot fight as they don’t have a FF value!). The other major issue they will face is an opponent with Skimmers. You can never CC a skimmer unless the owner wants you to (which will only be when it’s to their advantage!) and canny players of things like Eldar will hide their troops behind a screen of skimmers forcing you to get at least a few of your models engaged with those first, wasting their CC potential.
Dying really fast is a fairly major weakness! It’s an exaggeration to say it but it can at times feel like if your units are on the table they’re dead. If your formations are in a position close to the enemy they can easily come under attack and if they do they will die or lose effectiveness very quickly. The CC focus above compounds this as the units can be very mono focused and thus can have their ability to do their focus degraded rapidly making the formation very little use except as fodder, blocking or contesting. Frequently your formations making their surgical strikes will kill a lot of enemy and take crippling casualties afterwards (another reason the Incubi with their 4+ armour and Wyches with First Strike are so good, they’re less likely to suffer this!) making them one use only. You have to choose when and where you expose your formations to danger because if they are in danger they will likely collapse under the weight quickly. This weakness also manifests in the base of Dark Eldar everywhere. Overwatch. An enemy formation on overwatch is a thing of fear – able to place blast markers on your engagement troops weakening them in the fight resolution at best or destroying many models before they ever get to attack at all at worst a few well positioned formations on Overwatch can stymie your attack entirely. Overwatch combined with the light vehicle nature of Raiders is also a nasty double whammy. Random scouting forces on Overwatch can shoot your Raiders as they pass and stand a not insignificant chance of blowing one out of the sky in passing, potentially killing the guys mounted and even if they don’t stranding the infantry on the ground slowing the rest of the raiders in the formation. You may want to carefully plan your moves to avoid this happening to you.
Number 3 is not a unique problem to the Dark Eldar. Everyone will have a few duds in their list or units that just don’t do their job as well as other units. It however feels a bit more extreme for the Dark Eldar as so many formations have the same use – CC shock units. This means you’re often selecting your units for a role critical to the Dark Eldar way of war and then ignoring many of the units supposedly for that role. I know I only use Incubi and Wyches for this role and when trying the Haemonculi and Talos out they always disappoint. The Kabal Flotilla with the Ravagers is scary on paper but usually does very little of use and competing against the excellent firefight support capability (something the list sorely needs) of the Warrior Kabal (which is also cheaper!) it’s hard to justify. It’s unfortunate but many of these characterful formations are just not making their way into armies that see the table.
Overall the Dark Eldar are great fun to play, tense and cautious play until you unleash havoc and suicide your way to victory. You will need to know how to handle placement and movement routes, how to block and corral your foe, when to sacrifice something for victory and when to conserve your strength. Pay attention to supporting fire form your own formations and those of your enemy, know how you’re going to get into CC and above all focus on how you’re going to score objectives on turn 3!
The Imperial Guard are the most diverse human military forces in the galaxy, covering trillions of fighters from cultures and worlds more diverse than anything seen today. As a general trait they lack many of the table entry and mobility options of other factions, have few special rules or exceptions and instead they bring the gear. With a broad range of weapon options and different chassis to deliver them as well as bulky formations and lots of customisable upgrades the Imperial Guard play as almost the ‘core’ experience of Epic: Armageddon. Using the core game rules with few exceptions and few of the exotic tools they are fantastic as a beginner faction and are very easy to find proxy models for, have huge options for conversions and unique colour schemes.
There are five different lists available for them in EpicUK, with each one focussing on a different style of warfare giving you options to pick the one that favours your style. Further with much of the equipment being shared you can often reuse your models to play as numerous different lists. If in doubt the Steel Legion list functions as a great ‘all-rounder’ that can be readily built to approximate the style of other Imperial Guard lists.
The grandaddy of all Imperial Guard lists in Epic: Armageddon. It has been barely changed since the original printing (mostly changes to how commissars are provided and the price of Griffons going down). This list has great potential with the core formations allowing for infantry hordes, armoured lists, artillery companies and so on to let you build the lists you want. The list also epitomises a core Imperial Guard design conceit in Epic: Armageddon. Rigid flexibility. The list requires taking the large, often expensive core formations to allow you to take the small, cheaper specialists. Then you can add on lots of upgrades but only to the already large expensive core formations. This tends to mean you will end up with a few big, powerful companies and a cloud of smaller supporting elements and the trick to using this well is to know when and how to deploy your hammer blows and when the specialists should step to the fore to do their jobs in concert with the rest of the army.
One key detail to remember. Imperial Guard Infantry in the open is rubbish. Imperial Guard Infantry in cover is a nightmare to shift.
The Steel Legion list, despite the allrounder potential, specialises in Mechanised Infantry and has access to some very good formations. The basic Mech. Inf. Co. plus a single Hydra upgrade is 450pts and gives you 8 tanks, 1 commander and 12 infantry for 21 models. Add in a Commissar. This now gives you a powerful, fast formation that brings its own anti-air cover with it. Get these guys forward, get the infantry into the hardest cover you can find and sit on objectives. Use them as the engaging hammer blow to drive enemies off the objectives. While it also has a lot of firepower in the volume of dice it can throw the to-hit rolls aren’t great, especially against armour. If you really must smash the enemy then an Engagement with proper support (and placing blast markers on the enemy first!) is often a better option than sitting back and hoping for 6s.
Another little trick when attacking with these Mechanised Infantry Companies is to make your Engagement move to get as many models into 15cm of the enemy as possible but always place the Chimera as the front rank closest to the enemy and not the infantry. the Infantry has no save while the Chimera have a 5+. That can make a big difference to the combat resolution when you’ve taken 1/3 fewer casualties than if you had the infantry at the front!
You will be taking the Regimental HQ. It’s just so essential to have the Supreme Commander ability for the Initiative 2+ guardsmen, that reroll can win you games or lose them at the critical moment. It helps that the Regimental HQ is also a fantastic mechanised infantry company!
The steel legion list has issues getting the number of activations it wants onto the table. The high cost and necessity of the core companies means fewer points for support formations (and some of those aren’t that cheap either!) and even fewer points for upgrades. Generally you’ll want to aim for 10-11 different activations at the start of the game so some of those cheaper formations are very helpful for this (as well as being good in their own right). It is a rare Steel Legion list that doesn’t take at least 2 sentinel formations deploy them forward early, hidden as best you can but covering as much width as possible. This should give you space to rush up to the half way point with your attacking elements while the opponent spends time and activations clearing away the sentinels. Where possible take Warhounds as solo machines, not as a pair, solo they work much better as a mobile strike piece and are really good at supporting your Engagements by running to the enemy, shooting them and sitting within 15cm, then you engage with the Mech. Co.
Basically every formation on the list is great. Taking the Regimental HQ, another Mech Co. or two (substitute in the Leman Russ for a Mech. Co. if you prefer) a few sentinels and that will be a strong, reliable core then whatever else you choose will be a good, strong investment.
There are, however a few duds in the list. The Artillery Company (not the small battery, the big company) and Baneblades. the Artillery company is very, very powerful but is also very vulnerable to any passing shot and can only hit one area at a time. For the cost it’s vulnerable and needs even more points to babysit it and while it has huge damaging potential it is fickle with a failed activation ruining its day and being one big hit. Multiple smaller batteries can be more successful. The Baneblades suffer from a lack of focus. They have guns for all ranges but really need to get within 30cm to make that worthwhile but they also only have a speed of 15cm so they need to do a lot of marching (which means no shooting!) or doubling (which cripples the firepower output with to-hit rolls) to ever really get a chance to use those guns. They’re no tougher than the Shadowsword (hint: put a commissar into a Shadowsword or Baneblade!) and the Shadowsword brings a unique and extremely potent weapon along as well as great range. The issue isn’t that the Baneblade is particularly bad, the issue is that it competes against the Shadowsword.
Vanaheim Air Cavalry
The air cavalry. By the time you’re done playing with these guys you’ll be sick of Ride of the Valkyries…
These guys are a difficult list, very different to basically anyone else out there in EpicUK land, they have some very major flaws and some very major shock and awe moments available to them. Maybe don’t expect to come away to consistent wins but to instead come away with a few glorious and uplifting victories and rather a few more of those losses that we’ll politely ignore.
The list really only has a few options and even fewer to deal with enemy armour (so take the Vendettas where you can!). Your core will be the regimental HQ again and then a few Air Cavalry Companies. These carry a hefty amount of firepower with their rocket pods, heavy bolters and multilasers, are extremely mobile but also quite vulnerable (hint: attach your free Commissars to the Valkyries not the infantry stands). You want to be able to find an optimal moment to fire your rockets which means not taking casualties before doing so and avoiding picking up blast markers too (as if the blast markers suppress your valkyries that’s a dramatic cut in firepower). Learning how to hide your Valkyries early on to be in position for a single big rocket attack to break and drive your opponent before you is a key skill.
Generally the core tactic is to use your sentinels and other light forces to buy you time and block the enemy advance. Your turn 1 should be fairly low activity, you’re trying to get your formations into a single advance+missile range of the enemy without taking any damage or coming under fire. Then early on in turn 2 you advance and fire every rocket you can to break as many enemy as you can. Then you need to keep the pressure up and prevent them from rallying and getting back into an organised counterattack. You get one shot at this and it can be vulnerable to being disrupted early and if you’re forced to double to fire those rockets you will likely find your attack power dropping dramatically.
But when it works it’s glorious. Shock and Awe in Epic form and extremely satisfying.
Defensively you also have a lot of tools with the huge abundance of scout on your forces you can cover and contest ground very easily, added to the mobility yo can bring to bear you can focus on turning a loss into a draw by just making it near impossible for your opponent to actually get to and control the objectives on the board.
Early on you want to keep your troops safe and you have a critical unit for doing this. Vultures. Any list with access to them can do this but for the Vanaheim it’s very very important. The Vultures have 2×2+AT rockets with 1 shot and 120cm of range on a skimmer chassis. Start them on the table as one of your Garrisons, hidden right at the back and popped up. Put them on overwatch. Any enemy unit with vehicles that dares come into the open (even if only briefly) can eat itself those rockets. Blowing apart tanks or transports, crippling small titans, whatever. Once the rockets are fired the Vultures remain a very fast, decently armed scout unit. A pair of formations will do nicely thank you very much!
The list lacks ground based AA and ground based AA is usually better than aircraft AA due to the passive area control effect. Instead you have access to an abundance of aircraft including the Lightning which makes a great anti-armour formation for very cheap as well as having long ranged AA weapons allowing it to snipe out other enemy aircraft outside of their own defensive AA range (it does lose volume of fire for that range though). A mix of Lightnings and Thunderbolts is advised.
Overall they’re kind of like what happens if the Imperial Guard tried to be Eldar for a day. Fast, powerful impact but little ability to sustain the attack. take them because they appeal to you, not because you’re looking to claim victory after victory.
Ulani Tank Regiment
Blitzkrieg! Struggles a bit at lower points totals, even 3k can be a stretch but as you climb to 4k they really come into their own. Designed as a very aggressive armoured assault force the idea is to get your guns into range and just drown your foe in so many heavily armoured bodies and so much concentrated firepower they wither under the hail.
The core advantage you have here is the smaller and thus cheaper Leman Russ companies that can be equipped in varied ways. They also have access to cheap, tough, tanks and tougher scouts than is common.
You still want the Regimental HQ despite the cost for the reroll on activation then probably a pair of Leman Russ Cos. Pick their armament carefully for whatever role you want them to do and don’t forget the 4+ firefight value they have making them a very effective engagement force.
Despite not being as fast as the skimmers of some factions the army as a whole can be fairly mobile, especially with the long range on the guns giving you a great deal of threat range.
In your support slots you can bring the Salamander Scouts for control and keeping people away from your Leman Russ and artillery support who should really focus on removing the smaller and mobile elements of the enemy army. On attack your Leman Russ are great, they do lack the ability to be everywhere at once though and sending something as potent and expensive as a Leman Russ Co. after a small scout formation is a waste, artillery can strike those for you without needing to expose themselves. You also have access to the Leman Russ Conquers, fairly cheap, bulky well armed and armoured make great forces for holding objectives after your core Leman Russ have rolled over them.
Particularly interesting though are the small 100pt Griffon batteries, good for bulking up the activation count but getting them halfway up the board, hidden out of sight on turn 1 means they can then spend turns 2 and 3 dropping shells on the entire table or have them double or march for 90cm of objective grabbing and contesting.
All in all a fun list that grows more competitive as points become more readily available.
Baran Seige Masters
Do you like having friends? Then maybe don’t look here 😉
The Baran are an almost purely defensive force, relying on waves of infantry, bunkers, trenches and emplacements to form an impenetrable line behind which huge amounts of indirect firing artillery blast your opponent from the table. When, and only when, all enemy resistance has been blasted to the dust do the infantry climb out of their bunkers and make their way to claim enemy objectives.
It’s an appealing thought and I know many a person who dreams of running a perfect defence in this way. It however runs into the problem of often being a fairly static and dull game. You won’t be doing a lot much of the time and your opponent may well find themselves with few options aside from getting hit by artillery again and again or throwing bodies into your reinforced bunkers (guardsmen with 3+ saves!?!). If the list operates as designed it can be a fairly negative play experience. This is not guaranteed though. The highly air mobile enemy (like Marines or Eldar) or skimmer happy (Eldar, Tau) etc. can play all sorts of havoc with your carefully arranged battlelines and you’ll be facing a tense game where you have to balance chasing down those mobile forces in your backfield but having your infantry abandon their bunkers to do so.
Let’s look at the cool toys you can bring 🙂
First up the standout feature of the list is that you can buy fortifications. Giving you loads of razorwire and trenches (50cm) and bunkers for 100pts. basically these are your ‘transport’ options. Steel Legion buy Chimera, vanaheim ride in valkyries, you turn up in a dozen tonnes of reinforced concrete. Typically you’d take 4 of these fortifications (which means taking 4 core companies too) as that gives you enough width to form a line across the entire table, then you garrison your infantry (as they all move 15cm) inside the trenches and bunkers half way up the table to form your impenetrable wall. You might add the 6 additional infantry to these companies to make them bulky enough to survive and occupy the ground.
The rest of the list is really toys for you to take to spice things up. You’ll want to bring large amounts of artillery to give you the reach and threat that you otherwise lack. Scatterings of the AA guns all over your deployment to provide air cover are advisable. Siegfried as your scouts to cover ground inside your half to make it so they can stall out any breakthroughs long enough to get your guns on target.
A few things to bear in mind with the Baran. Enemies can take your entrenchments and claim their benefits too! The Hellhounds, Sappers and Bombards Ignore Cover rule can be very helpful for digging the enemy right back out again. Also be careful with stringing your formations out in a thin line in their trenches, this can make them very vulnerable to being hit by a clipping engagement, think carefully about where your formations will sit and how they will cover one another with supporting fire without stringing out and becoming vulnerable. Placing the bunkers just behind the trenchworks means you can concentrate your formation into a block rather than a thin line whilst still enjoying the benefits of all that concrete and razorwire.
There’s probably some ingenious super aggressive Baran build out there to take the world by storm but it really is designed with the intention of absorbing and repulsing any attacks and blowing the opponent away with artillery (hint: destroying their BTS scores you 1VP, controlling two objectives in your opponent’s half scores 1VP, if you place two objectives just past the halfway line you can garrison in control of them at the start and just need to make sure they remain clear end of turn 3). Then casually walking onto objectives at the end of turn 3.
Death Korps of Krieg
The list is borderline to overpowered. This is the guard in ‘siege breaking mode’ and it’s damned good at the job.
The heart of the list is the Infantry mounted in Gorgons (avoid adding the extra in the upgrade, while 30 and 3 Gorgons is great it’s also very expensive). These guys roll forward as an unstoppable tide around which the rest of the army moves. Keep them alive, keep them safe and prevent them getting bogged down by enemy scouts or other blocking units. Focus on getting them into the objectives or right into the heart of the enemy. The trick in Engagements is to make sure that your Gorgons get into base contact with at least one enemy before disembarking the infantry (arguably the infantry should not be dismounted until the last possible minute!). Because the Gorgon is in base to base it will always be the closest model to the enemy and when you assign hits in an Engagement and it’s damned tough so can weather the hits your infantry can’t. The pair of Gorgons in base to base means the first 6 hits on the formation are going to their rock hard armour which can make a big difference to winning those fights.
The support formations are filled with war engines and artillery adding to a very ‘heavy metal’ kind of feel and the list runs well when focussing on these elements.
The list can also be run as a defensive entrenched force though if this is your plan the Baran are probably better ay it. There is also a cavalry focus build available using the big death rider company and the smaller scouts, it’s a more unique build and arguably not hugely competitive but well piloted it can pull off some stunning engagements – it does suffer when it can’t get into base to base though (such as enemy skimmers of the opponent engaging you in a firefight).
An aggressive army that revolves around the Gorgon mounted infantry companies, focus the rest of the army on making a path for the Gorgons to get where they need to go and preparing the targets to get run over by a hundred tons of steel and Imperial vengeance!
The World of Twilight is a skirmish game set in the unique fantasy world of Anyaral.
It has got some innovative features to the gameplay and generally quite small forces so gives a fun day of games. There are quite a few Twilight players in the club, so it’s easy to find somebody to give you an intro game, or you can just come along on the day and try it out.
In previous years this has been a well attended event with plenty of players turning up from across the UK (and even the US last year!) for a day of themed games and scenarios.
Mike (the creator of Twilight) will be there, organising everything, with a mix of introductory games and a campaign for the experienced players – this year the campaign will focus on the Kedashi swarms of the Naralon forests, but you can try any force you like.
If you don’t have any models, or want to try something new then there are plenty of painted forces available for you to try out! Mike has also promised a chance to see some previews of his latest sculpts.
There will be a few freebies for everybody, plus prizes on the day.
Ghazgkhull’s Horde is an all arms, flexible list, in fact it is noteworthy for being the most varied and flexible list in the game! Here’s why it can be so much fun!
The most important aspect of any army in EA are the race specific special rules, and the Orks have some gems, these two being the best:
Orks believe that as long as there are a bunch of them still fighting together (slightly more than they can count up to is ideal!) then there’s always a chance that they’ll prevail, no matter the odds. To represent this, Ork formations with more than five units, not including Grotz or Big Gunz units, receive a +1 modifier to any rally rolls they make, and formations with more than ten such units receive a +2 modifier. For the purposes of this rule, war engines count each point of starting damage capacity as a unit.
Power of the Waaagh!
Orks are not noted for their organizational abilities, and thus usually have a pretty low initiative rating. However, if there is one thing that will galvanize an Ork warband, it’s the thought of a good punchup! Because of this, Ork formations that are attempting to take an engage or double action receive a +2 modifier to their action test roll. Ork flyboyz similarly relish the chance to shoot things up, and receive a +2 modifier to their action test roll when attempting to carry out interception or ground attack actions
These special rules also apply to all Ork lists including Speed Freaks and Feral Orks.
Orks are born for war, it’s instinctive, so as long as you play aggressively as is natural for Orks they will carry out orders with a reliability on a par with Marines, just don’t expect the outcome to be quite as reliable! The results of Ork shooting, engages, and armour saves are volatile in the extreme!
But even the unpredictable nature of how Orks react to coming under fire or being in a fight can be used by a wily Ork player … moving an ‘Uge Mob of Boyz up to an enemy formation and shooting them a little will cause little to no damage, but it will put a blast marker on them and leave them with the tough decision as to what to actually do about that mass of Orks taunting them, the Mob Up rule makes them surprisingly difficult to shift and it can be tough predicting the outcome of a toe to toe fight with Orks!
Variety and Adaptability
Ork players also have access to a massive variety of units and key word abilities such as sneaky Scouts and Infiltrators, Disposable Grots, Supa Gunz with Titan Killer or Barrage, Stompas with Reinforced Armour and so on. This pick and mix of units are available in battlefield formations which are highly adaptable, Ghazgkhull’s Horde is one of the few list where players are encouraged to upgrade and beef up the base formations through discounts when doubling or tripling the size of the formation as listed so no two Ork formations or armies will be alike.
Ork players are able to take advantage of synergies like few other lists can.
Your Boyz getting shot up? Add some “Disposable” Grots as a bullet screen or heavy armour and mobile cover in the form of Dreads and Stompas, or both!
Need some more firepower? Add Big Gunz or Odd Boyz!
Trouble with aircraft? Speed around the table with an entire formation of Flak Waggonz or take a squadron of 20 Fighta Bomberz!
Almost any grand strategy or crazy tactic is possible with the list, you can build a force of purely infantry or armoured vehicles and watch your opponent weep as all their las-cannons or heavy bolters are rendered useless, you can take hordes of light vehicles giving you un-paralleled speed and manoeuvrability, a whole army which Garrisons on the objectives from turn one and still retains and enormous amount of variety, go for an air assault list with five Landas…. Ork players always have the opportunity to do something really surprising, and/or a bit mad!
Both in game terms and hobby terms Ork armies are cheap to build, they have a huge variety of useful and cheap upgrades with handy key word abilities which can be easily knocked up out of parts from your bits box! Keep in mind those unreliable aspects of using the Horde list can be remedied by taking lots of models to ensure the job gets done!
Hint: Getting more than one of anything for 25pts in EA is a bargain and you can’t go wrong taking advantage of it, be that shots or units…. beware getting carried away though as you’ll risk getting timed out in tournament play as you’ll have lots to do each turn!
The units don’t look stellar on paper but they’re cheap, can be mixed into formations how you like for brutal combinations of attributes and abilities, and most of them have the excellent mob up rule making them extremely reliable. The challenge of using Gaz’s Horde is capitalising on those reliable command and control aspects of the army without falling foul of how fickle it can be close up.
Authors view: When it comes to winning games and tournaments the key for the Ghazgkhull’s Horde list is surprise and invention, if you want to build one optimised list and get to know it inside out for best results, a Horde may not be for you.
Kults of Speed and Feral Orks
These variant lists both sacrifice a little variety in favour of slightly more reliable performance when getting to grips with the enemy making them far more straight forward. The Horde is a mid-tier list which will always have something to bring to the table, both Speed Freaks and Ferals are top-tier lists but are far more predictable and can come unstuck verses some armies and opponents. Neither Freaks nor Ferals are seen as frequently as Gaz’s Horde lists at events as they’re both most effective as Horde lists requiring a lot of repetitive painting (up to 120ish mostly red or brown tiny models!) and the models are slightly more difficult to cobble together from your bits box!
The Speed Freak list sacrifices access to slower and/or heavier units in favour of more fast light vehicle units at a discounted price. Whatever Speed Freaks do is fast and on mass, their usual tactic is to overwhelm one section of their opponents’ battle line and then sweep through before any coordinated response or plan can be put into action. Its great fun moving formations of dozens of Buggies and Bikes a meter at a time whilst making engine noises but it can take some time! Speed Freak players need to play as quickly as their army moves in order to finish games at tournament (and to avoid annoying their opponent). On some occasions Speed Freaks will come across an opponent who know exactly what they’re doing or have a formation that a massed assault of light vehicles just can’t crack (Hello Warlord Titans!) and the main thrust of the army will bounce, at that point it’s anyone’s game!
Hint: Boyz mounted in Truks are exceptionally good value…..
Feral Orks sacrifice access to anything which looks much more sophisticated than a kettle in favour of numbers and a few oddities. The main tactic will always be a general advance which is just tough to stop as there’s either a tide of typically enthusiastic Orks, or the army is riding on a menagerie of armoured dinosaurs! Often both! Opponents are limited by their ability to manoeuvre around so many bodies, even aircraft have a tough time as Feral or Weird Boyz have the ability to swat aircraft out of the sky with a devastatingly powerful psychic attack (say goodbye to your fully loaded Thunderhawks and Vampires!). Again, with certain builds Feral Ork player run the risk of having too much to do if they’re not focussed and they will sometime meet opposition they just can’t overwhelm by force of numbers.
Hint: Junka Truks are great value and hordes and hordes and hordes of Boar Boyz can make for a really tough list!
Author’s view: In contrast to Gaz’s Horde a Freak or a Feral player will do really well building a list they love and works for them and sticking with it, play well and to the Orks’ strengths and they will perform consistently well…. Also you don’t want to have to paint even more brown or red right?!
An Ork list with lots of Gargants at its core, including the majestic Mega Gargant! Still in development this list is frequently played casually but not yet legal in all tournament formats, it will be though so don’t be put off! I can’t really say much about this list as it is still a bit in flux, sufficed to say it’s the shootiest of the Ork lists……
Thank you Matt for your input! Hopefully this will inspire someone to give the Orks a try or dig them back up out of that dusty box and give them some table time!
Epic: Armageddon Factions 101 – Imperial Space Marines
When starting out (or expanding!) people often like to have some idea about the factions in the game. How they play, what strengths and weaknesses they may have, if they have a style or theme that will fit with their personal preferences. Additionally whether there are units or options that are popular or not can be important (after all, if you like a faction because of a unit or two on their list and then find those units are generally not useful it can make it a lot less fun to play as that faction).
I want this article to explain each of the army lists in some brief detail to give you a starting point to selecting who you want to play and maybe giving you some ideas of the different kinds of strategies people use in Epic.
I plan on putting up a sequence of articles looking at the different faction groupings in Epic: Armageddon and giving a brief overview of them. This will be from my own perspective and experiences and I have not played with nor against every permutation of every faction so there are guaranteed to be bits I miss of get wrong (though, I will try to reach out to broader community voices and expertise where I know I am sorely lacking in useful information). However, I should hopefully be able to provide an at least generally accessible point to begin looking at and assessing the different – EpicUK – factions for Epic.
But first a note on how Epic: Armageddon designs army lists. The game tries to avoid ‘generalist’ lists where it can and instead tries to have lists that focus on a playstyle. For example there is no ‘Imperial Guard’ list, instead there is a Steel Legion, a Baran Siegemaster, Ulani Tank Regiment, etc. list. This is because the relative value of certain units changes within the context of building a list that is trying to rely on aerial attacks or swarming heavy armour or scout dominated play. Remember that just because a list is called the ‘Blood Angels’ doesn’t mean it can only be used for playing Blood Angels and successors. Instead it’s a list for more close combat and aggressive engagement based play and anyone who wants to play their space marines that way would be well served in giving it a look. Consider the case of a Space Marine chapter that has recently fallen to worship of Khorne…Blood Angels with a different lick of paint all of a sudden makes a lot of sense for your marines!
The Imperial Space Marines
The Imperial Space Marines. Bioengineered warrior monks and crusading knight analogues in the sci-fantasy future! The razors edge on the blade of Imperial might. Keepers of dark secrets, wild ravaging nomads, crusading brethren and much more.
There are several chapters with their own lists as well as a basic Codex Marines list. Dark Angels, White Scars, Blood Angels, Space Wolves and Black Templars. The Codex Marines list may appear at first glance as a more ‘generic’ list but it focuses on an aerial assault playstyle so may not be the best pick for how you want to play.
Space marine lists tend towards having larger numbers of smaller formations. They tend to roll fewer dice but have better to hit values and armour values in return as well as the And They Shall Know No Fear special rule to overcome some of the weaknesses their smaller formation sizes can lead to. They also have good access to a lot of mobility options and ways of entering and leaving the table.
Space marines are a finesse force, requiring a firm grasp of how to get your models into positions to support one another, focusing their force in a small area of the table, destroying the opposition there and then often leaving the table again to rapidly shift the focus of attack to a different point. This makes them less beginner friendly than might be expected from Warhammer 40k but it does mean they play more like a group of special operative teams finding ways to overcome far larger numbers of opposition.
The Codex Marine list generally favours use of aerial assets and scouting forces. Using landspeeders, scouts and warhounds to create space on the table and to control how your opponent can move around the board whilst also placing blast markers on the enemy. Then, once an opportunity presents itself (or has been engineered by your scouting forces) you land a hammer blow with your aerial assets and destroy a part of your opponent’s army. Then ideally you extract the hammer blow formations back from the table and repeat the process next turn.
This is mostly achieved through the use of a pair of Thunderhawks and a formation of Terminators. Terminators are extremely powerful and their weakness in mobility is overcome by using the Thunderhawks to land them on the table and then have the second (empty!) one land and pick them back up again to fly off the table. Cycling them on and off the table each turn.
The list also supports more traditional ‘marines in rhinos’ rushing about the place though this exposes your smaller numbers of models to greater risk than the aerial approach. Or use of spaceships for orbital drops – which plays similarly to the aerial circus approach but lands more powerful assets in a single strike in exchange for losing the ability to recycle them for later turns.
Codex marines also have many options and a very flexible army list allowing a great deal of freedom to make skew lists and play themes of your own devising. Taking nothing but Terminators or an armoured division with predators, vindicators and land raiders everywhere is…while not particularly advised from a competitive stand point probably a lot of fun to play.
However the Codex marines have a general lack of good anti-Titan tools and dealing with large numbers of, or particularly powerful forms of, War Engines will take care and the correct use of the support fire rules to get enough models to be involved in the fights to overcome them. You will also likely find that your shooting phases are not a game winner, the combination of smaller numbers of models and shorter ranges overall means you won’t be defeating your opponents hordes of Boyz with raw firepower, instead the shooting should be looked at as a way of setting up your decisive Engagements.
Playing successfully with the Codex Marines will likely require a good understanding of how to use the blast marker, Engagement and Supporting Fire rules so brushing up on those will probably help your play considerably!
Very similar to the Codex Marine list in playstyle. It sacrifices access to the Titan Legion and Imperial Navy assets (because Dark Angels need to keep their secrets, can’t have some nosy guardsman stumbling across something…) to gain better Devastators, Nephilim and Ravenwing formations.
The advice for Codex Marines holds true here, scouting forces and aerial assets will be your bread and butter but the Devastators can make your orbital attacks more powerful (their better shooting is well worth the slow firing penalty because generally you’d want to shoot once and then be stuck in Engagements rather than standing off and firing multiple turns over) and the particular stand out is the Ravenwing formation. It mixes Bikes with Landspeeders and because of the Garrison rules allowing a formation that has at least half the models with the scout rule (the landspeeders have scout!) to Garrison that means you can have a strong combat formation on the half way line before the first turn even start!
Dark Angels are arguably an even better version of the Codex Marines list. Due to their cost and list skewing impacts the larger Titans are not a common sight so their loss here is not really felt and the Ravenwing compete for the same role the Warhound would have taken. Nephilim are better – but more expensive – substitutes for Thunderbolts too.
Incidentally the Ravenwing formations and other mobile assets of the list in general mean that they could make a different spin on the lightning warfare role the White Scars are famous for. If the sacrifices the White Scars list makes for its unique toys are too much for you perhaps consider the Dark Angels with a different paint job 😉
The White Scars diverge from the template laid down by the Codex and Dark Angels with larger bike formations (with Walker!), loss of Dreadnoughts and an element that changes the list the most from the Codex list is the loss of the ability to mount Terminators in a Thunderhawk. Instead the larger more powerful Bike formations will need to pull their weight. These formations do fit inside a single Thunderhawk though so you can double dip on mobility while also having the ability to retreat formations off the table to safety.
Another point to note is that the 8 strong bikers (they also gain the Walker rule to deal with rough terrain well) with ‘And They Shall Know No Fear’ are extremely tough to completely remove from the table and can form a real battle line.
The supporting elements are still small and vulnerable to casualties though so playing intelligently is key. Rushing headlong forwards might at first glance appear a good idea but the Khan would shake his head in shame to see it. use your speed to get your marines where they need to be in support of one another. Make sure every fight is in your favour and crush your opponent piecemeal while your mobile support assets hinder their ability to counterattack.
Retaining the flexibility and mobility options of the Codex marines but gaining access to some (expensive) fearless CC focused units in the Death Company and Dreads as well as larger assault formations (6 stands rather than 4) your focus should be on getting your excellent fighters right into the enemy as rapidly as possible – whilst still paying attention to getting supporting fire elements in place first!
The aerial, orbital and ground based transport options available to the Marines should make delivering your powerful fighters fairly reliable too.
The main risk here is that you are forced to take the expensive death company and without some supporting elements (transports for example) they can be difficult to get into a position to do anything meaningful making them a larger points sink. Furthermore many of your unique units are CC focused which means enemy skimmers can render them notably weaker and their CC ability only really comes into play on the offensive as the enemy can engage you and remain outside of your CC range and force firefights (bear in mind the attacker will only ever go for CC if they stand to gain from doing so while the defender can be stuck in firefight unable to use their fantastic CC ability). The Baal Predator however is fantastic and use of Landing Craft to deliver right into the thick of the enemy is recommended.
Wether Baals make up for the loss of Devastators is debatable as is the inefficiency of transporting Assault Marines in Thunderhawks (because they are 6-strong you can only fit one formation in a Thunderhawk while you can fit 2 of the 4-strong ones inside meaning you can deliver 8 in one go rather than only 6). Assault Marines with added Vindicators can be a good option, bringing meaningful firepower alongside potent CC troops. Also very thematic to have the bunker busters breach a hole that the assault marines then pile into and pry open!
Overall I’d consider the Blood Angels to be a very potent list, it loses some Codex options in return for a few other unique options of its own. Arguably stronger than the Codex list but with enough stuff lost to make it a conscious choice to play this way.
Black Templars are a tweaked form of the Codex Marines list that can be played in the same way as them, if so desired. They are intended to be a space ship and orbital drop oriented faction being required to take at least a Strike Cruiser (which many lists would want to take anyway) and gaining access to more ways of transporting tanks to the board and access to larger tactical formations. In return they lose a bit of flexibility and lose Scout formations (instead gaining the neophyte option to bulk up Tactical Formations).
Their unique strengths are in the ability to bring on and deploy more assets by either air or planetfall and retaining mobility while doing so through use of Thunderhawk Transporters. A Tactical Company with Neophytes and Rhinos can planetfall out of a spaceship mounted inside a pair of Thunderhawk Transporters and retain their tactical flexibility and mobility through bringing their transports with them. They’d also gain the ablative toughness of the Transporters for their initial landing. This option is not cheap however, costing 275pts for the Transports on top of the marines themselves.
Overall I’d consider this list slightly inferior to the Codex or Dark Angels list in overall competitive power but adding in more options to make orbital drops effective. If you want to run an Orbital Drop focused list however this is probably better than what you could build from the Codex list.
A fairly major divergence from the Codex here. Almost every formation is different, either larger, lacking certain options, gaining others and so on. While the army as a whole remains focused on engagements and mobility to get your fighters where they need to be for support it’s less likely to be hitting and leaving the table again, instead relying on their greater numbers in their formations to power through and keep their assault going.
Be careful with the upgrades, taking too many will reduce your overall activation counts but taking a few in the right places can make for some decidedly tough formations. The Grey Hunters with additional Grey Hunters in Rhinos can rush forward early and take up a major position and hold it against most enemy threats or be used as part of a broader assault to provide a huge amount of quality supporting fire. try to engineer scenarios where you have your Grey Hunters within 15cm of two different enemy formations and then have two separate smaller formations engage those enemy one by one. The 10 additional 4+ firefight shots from the Grey Hunters is extremely effective especially if you can use it multiple times in a single turn.
Due to the way army construction works for Space Wolves you will almost certainly be taking 2 Grey Hunter companies so learning how to effectively bring their numbers to bear is valuable as they will need to be proactive to get into firefight support range or CC engagement ranges as the loss of their missile launchers means they don’t have quite the ability to drive up to a position and reach out to threaten in the same way a tactical company can. If you can’t get a handle on getting into that 15cm support range bubble you may struggle with having a sizeable portion of your army unable to attack efficiently.
What you lose however is missile launchers on your grey Hunters so you need to find other ways of placing your blast markers to set up your engagements. Luckily you retain access to Land Speeders who are fantastic at doing exactly that.
Overall the Wolves of Russ play differently to the rest of the marine armies, able to bring greater numbers to bear and being generally more resilient due to formation size they can be more forgiving and playing to their particular strengths can mean skipping out on some of the more common Codex elements due to costs. They do however retain the ability to play like a Codex list and air dropping a pair of Grey Hunter companies can be a fearsome sight and challenge for your opponent to deal with!