Still Learning the newest Chaos Codex

Whew... I'm relaxing with my second pint of Killkenny at Cafe Barney on Main Street after a hectic day of gaming at Darren's neigh Strategies. I had no chance to win the campaign and little chance to win my games but I continue to get a feel for how plague marines, dreadnoughts, and Beasts of Nurgle perform under the rules in the latest codex. I also tried out my various HQ models to see which are the most effective. Though I'd like to play every weekend, this is probably my last weekend of gaming till after June 1st. I may get talked into a board game and BarBQ night though...

I played three games, well two and a half really. I don't much care for Darren's "Cardhammer". I would have rather had time to play all three games. I don't think I technically won any of my games but the last two were moral victories if nothing else. I definitely had the weakest army list and often times my opponent had more points than me on the table and possibly dubious recollections of the rules or spurious math...

My Army List

After my glorious victory with the footslogging Nurgle list I decided to go with the crazy random list, consisting of: three dreads, three rhinos worth of Plague Marines, and three Beasts of Nurgle: Sluggie, Slimey and Esmeralda. My commander was a sorceror (McFly the Malevolent) meaning I've fielded the basic three HQ choices now. I ended up with two squads of eight and one of nine because I basically just bulked up the basic seven man squads to use up all 1500 points.

I used the same army list for all three games and I played at least 1500 and possibly 1750 points worth of Orks, Tau, and Guard. I've used my now six games of experience with the new Chaos Codex to alter my Astronomi-con Vancouver army list to hopefully be more effective. I need to paint at least three models prior to the tournament but I also hope to paint some of the many models I've converted up to finish off squads so that they are versatile or at least have a purpose if not are effective under the current rule set.

Game One VS Orks

After the Cardhammer was out of the way and Darren hearded the cats I mean overly hyper youth in to something resembling order I challenged Zane the Ork player who was at the top of the standings. The army I know best next to Chaos is Orks or Imperial Guard. However I underestimated a few of the new rules in the Ork Codex and the power of massed powerfists. Zane had to have about a dozen which is a substantial amount of hits that ignore armor and instant kill. Combined with big blocks of orks that hide them and getting to charge and move more than the forces of Musk lead to yet another massacre.

Ork and Nurgle forces arrayed for battle

The game started with the Ork Horde surging forward. The big guns did little, but the fast vehicles, the three squadrons of one wartrak, the one truck, and the Nobz Bikers did plenty. The truck allowed for the delivery of the Elite Ork H2H troops as did the Nob bikes. Zane likes his Nob bikers but a squad of three, one of which is a painboy is overly expensive in my oppinion. It is true the one powerfist did kill stuff, but powerfists generally kill stuff. I think a mob of trukk boyz with a powerfist could accomplish the same thing if not more. The wartraks got a little lucky as their gun isn't that powerful, but their ability to zip behind my vehicles hurt. I can't deploy like a coward because my dreads frequently move randomly.

After One Complete Turn

After one turn, things were pretty even, but once my dreads started acting strangely and I got into dakka and then charge range of the ork horde combinded with some terrible rolling particularly by one squad which failed to kill a single ork in H2H later in the game, lets just say the next time I play against the new orks, I'll do a lot better.

Mega Nobz VS Plague Marines

One of my minor successes against Zane was seeing off his much feared Mega Armored Nobz. They did kill their share of Plague Marines, but their Warlord left them after one round, whereas I finally got my sorceror into H2H. His three or four power weapon attacks at WS 5 and Initiative 5 definitely helped. The fact that the Nobz have two wounds gives them staying power but with a small squad you can take them down with massed small arms fire or just weather their charge like I did and drag them down once you can bring more of your forces to bare.

The Orks hit the Nurgle lines

Although there was some hand to hand combat prior to the third turn, it was in turn three that Zane called upon the Waaagh. The extra movement combined with the large squads and of course plenty of powerfists and some less than stellar rolling by myself lead to a lot of dead Plague Marines. Once again any weapon that ignores the toughness and now Feel No Pain is bad for plague marines. In future as much as it pains me I might have to either start out of my rhinos and use my bolters or just use them as bunkers, make the Orks crack them to get into H2H. The same goes for 'Nids or any army that is mostly H2H. Of course I plan to have more heavy weapons, including heavy weapons I have total control over of at Astronomi-con. This will lead to fewer enemy troops getting to charge. Of course if you can outmaneuver your opponent and get the charge yourself all the better.

H2H on the right flank

Zane is a big fan of his Big Mek with Kustom Force Field and I guess it helps when you have large mobs of footsloggers but as someone whose army primarily gets defensive bonuses, I can tell you that maximizing your defense is not the strategy to employ in Warhammer 40,000.

The unlucky plague marines before they get beaten down

Although I didn't have 30 plague marines in this 1500 point army, I still had 25 but most of them died pretty damn quick. One with a pink mohawk managed to last the longest, longer than McFly the Malevolent or even Bob the Necessary Evil who has accomplished a lot in some games, often more than the official army commander. All of them died under the weight of ork numbers and repeated blows to the head with power klaws.

The final plague marine gets surrounded and beat down

Game Two VS Tau

For my second game I chose to play Tau. Not that I enjoy playing Tau but I don't know their rules well and I need practice. I know marines loyal or otherwise, orks and guard pretty well, but I can't even remember the names of the Tau tanks. He had a lot of stuff, possibly more than 1500 points worth and he seemed to worry too much about certain things. I also chose a table quarters mission though I wasn't happy to be stuck on the same side of the same table two times in a row. The army list I was using lacked much in the way of static shooting and with all the randomness would not excel at holding the quarter I started in. Ultimately one little fast attack vehicle again cost me the game, though I beat down all the Tau in their starting quarter and killed every single Kroot. It was only the vehicles I couldn't handle.

The Beasts of Nurgle finally get into H2H

On the first turn I got the Beasts of Nurgle into H2H. This was a result of the Tau flying forward. I gave James Majors the first turn because I had my army bunkered down pretty good and I don't have an army that can blow the enemy off the board in the opening volley. After first checking if it was possible I rolled the six I need to make a 12" charge. Of course once I realized that my dozen attacks would never hurt the Tau tank's front armor I realized just how useless Chaos Spawn truely are.

Everyone I've played worries about them, they've never seen the models and they think they'll be great in H2H but their complete lack of an armor save combined with their sometimes less than blazing speed means they will not see a lot of game tables, maybe if they were cheaper... Three spawn is 120 points. I could have 5 Plague Marines or some Chaos Renegades even a dreadnought for that, basically almost any other use of 120 points you can think of will be better than three spawn in the current Chaos Codex. I can't pull a Zane and have three squads of one, nor can they hold quarters or take objectives. Making a troop type that can't achieve missions is just dumb when you goal is to achieve a certain task. I doubt many chaos spawn will be seen at Astronomi-con, maybe someone is crazy enough to use 10 or more in a regular game of 40K, but 1, 2, even three never killed a single thing.

Some plague marines assault the Kroot in a forest

James was really worried about my Rhinos as was my next opponent. When did Rhinos become good? Razorbacks are better, Chimeras also have guns and I'm pretty sure the flying APCs clean the table with the lowly rhino. Even the Ork Trukk is probably better than the Rhino at delivering 10 or less models into close proximity to the enemy.

I've started to get better at using my rhinos. My favourite tactics include roaring forward 12 inches on the first turn then popping smoke. I also like to disembark before moving the rhino, this can allow you to move the rhino out of the way of the squad so it can shoot. I generally drive up and shoot. With the way Plague Marines are armed now they can kill almost everything. All you have to do is give them a decent champ or a couple mealta guns. Everyone and their dog seems to be pro-Plasma gun but I've got zero in my Astronomi-con army list and had zero in all my games today.

One pattern that emerged was troops dropping from the sky or otherwise suddenly appearing behind my vehicles, particularly my dreads. This didn't always pay off for my opponents. Zane got lucky with his big shootas, but James forgot to shoot his Crisis Suits and my next opponent rolled ones to hit with his mealtas. Yet another reason to have two mealtas in a squad.

The Beast Rabaan learns some Tau not to sneak up on him

Besides the Beast Rabaan proving himself to clearly be the best armed and most useful of my dreadnoughts the highlight of this game was Bob the Necessary Evil or actually his cousin who also had a powerfist charging and leaping and dragging down a Tau Hammerhead with his powerclaw after the squads mealta gun had failed to destroy the tank...

I could still change my mind, paint some more models, or just repaint some kneepads yet again, but I'm leaning towards three different plague marine squads, each with two of one of the four options available to plague marine special weapons troopers. I'm leaving Syphilis and their plasma guns at home, but they'll be back...

This game ended in a draw after one Devilfish managed to fly across the board, shoot the Beast Rabaan in the back and simultaneously claim my home quarter. The other flying tanks and some stealth suits shot down Gangrene after they had seen off the Kroot holding the extreme left quarter. No one had the right quarter, I just didn't have the squads for it. Table quarter missions are hard for Nurgle. I did have two scoring units in the Tau home quarter but if I'd had more confidence and retreated one of those squads or even one of my dreadnoughts had managed to live I'd have won outright.

Game Three VS Imperial Guard

Even though I hadn't won a single official campaign game, I'd slowly managed to move up a spot or two in the standings. So much so that one of the loud, sugared up kids challeneged me denying me my game against the other top player. I wasn't looking forward to playing his nine attack bike army, but he wanted a chance at Nurgle. Instead I had to play a horde of Imperial Guard on the crappiest table. We only had one hour and fifteen minutes to play the entire game. And despite my patience and the fact I was organized and prepared my opponent could barely decern which models went in which squads. His army was also far from photogenic, thus I didn't take any pictures mainly to save time.

I got to choose the mission and chose the one where you have to occuppy the center of the table. I sped directly towards it and despite plenty of Imperial Guard fire including two Russes and a Landraider I made the mistake of finishing off one guard squad in the bottom of turn three instead of just pilling my models into the middle. I also advanced pass the objective in order to get into pistol and charge range with some models.

I thought McFly the Malevolent's Nurgle Rot psychic power would work well, but I rolled an 11 the first time I used it. The second time I cast it but it didn't kill much. It is only a Toughness three hit and the opponent get their full armor save. I think sorcerors are worth taking but I think the 18" Assault 3 or 4 power is more likely to get cast and kill stuff in most games. The vomit power and the one that turns the enemy into spawn are also probably better than Nurgle's Rot.

However, as a long time loyal pure Nurgle player I know how to make Nurgle's Rot count. Doubling up and taking two sorceror's of Nurgle might come as a nasty shock to someone. You could also try a jump pack or deepstriking a terminator armored guy. But the best use of one of my existing painted models as a Sorceror is Isaacous, who needs a better name along with the tiny line treatment. Roaring across the board and into H2H, then counting on the various saves and toughness six, while luring the enemy into ganging up on you then casting Nurgle's Rot in the middle of a big H2H hoedown is the way to go. I'll definitely be trying it out and I'm tempted to try it at Astronomi-con if I didn't have an even bigger badass that I plan on unleashing.

The game officially ended in a loss for me, but I had the most stuff near the objective, we played that everything that scored within 12" counted which I don't think is quite right. All I had to do is move one squad of plague marines instead of shooting their bolters 24 inches and I would have won outright. Of course I don't think my opponent did their math right. They borrowed my calculator and had a large pile of dead guys which they claimed was worth only 336 points. But I think the dude forgot he was using 1750 points. Because he wrote down 1100 something points then subtracted 1500 from that to get is 336 number. He should have subtracted 1750... I didn't say anything because I didn't care if I won the game or even the campaign. I just wanted to get in a couple games with the new codex.

Lessons Learned

Onward to Astronomi-con

I've converted up a lot of models for the Diseased Sons, more than I planned to, I may even build a few more, who knows when I'll get on to the other powers or Chaos Undivided. I really think the newest Chaos Codex is good for the Diseased Sons and good for the game. There is a lot of versatility and options particularly in your troop, elite and heavy support options. Characters should not dominate, they are one lascannon or other big gun away from being dead. Warhammer Fantasy Battle is the game to play if you want to use a several hundred point character and try to dominate the game with one or two models.

I like my chances at Astronomi-con Vancouver. I plan to take an army list I think can actually win a few games, sure it isn't optimal, sure I've limited myself beyond what the game designers saw fit to require, but with the now tougher Plague Marines, as well as some actual heavy weapons I should be able to at least give a decent game to most army lists and hopefully be versatile enough to accomplish most missions. My consistantly high standard of painting, along with my unwillingness to abuse the rules or act like a prick should ensure decent soft scores. I'm not guaranteeing victory, but I should finish ahead of Rob, especially considering he got massacred by one of my silly army lists...

Malcolm seems to have an irrational fear of some armies as well as too much belief in the invincibility of certain players. Anyone can be beaten, especially if they stick with one army and one army list. If you are trying to massacre your way to tournament glory you should optimize for killing marines, but today I didn't play any, and you could very well face a horde of infantry or a shooty Tau army. Once army selection starts to become a factor in scoring, such as at Astronomi-con and West Coast Mayhem these extra killy lists start to become counter productive if your goal is overhall tournament champion. alcolm is already thinking about how to alter his list and James has fallen under my spell as well.

Eldar players of course are beyond redemption. They have fallen and will be eclipsed by the Imperium, Tau, Orks, or Tyranids in time. A new marine Codex is supposedly on the horizon and that will undoubtably give them some extra cool, killy stuff, the Eldar will be revised eventually but historically they seem to be a little better than the average army in every edition of 40K, we'll see how fifth edition treats them.

Words and Images © Andrew "Muskie" McKay.
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