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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Foot Opportunity

As 5th ed winds to a close, the release of both GKs and Necrons has seriously had me thinking now about the general power of an infantry heavy list.

Both GKs and Necrons have brought some serious anti-light armor fire power to the game of 40K. This is so much so that AV 11 vehicles are often becoming quite a liability, especially in kill point games.

Even Imperial Guard, the champion of AV 12 armies, is starting to seriously feel the pinch. Psycannons and Telsa Destructors abound as do Wraiths, Psybolt Dreads, Scarabs, and more. A Psycannon, believe it or not, is generally more destructive against a Chimera than a missile launcher just due to the volume of shots, further exacerbated when the GK player negotiates his way into side armor which will eventually happen in a given game. This is also true of the Tesla Destructor which also has the ability to contribute a little anti-infantry firepower in the form of Arcs even while it is attempting to shut down Av 12 vehicles.

A lot of people dislike the term "meta", and I'm not sure why. That aside, if you consider that the game of 40K is ever-evolving when a new book comes out, if you don't like the concept of a meta, then I prefer to call it an arms race.

New codex brings new tools. News tools (for a good release) are leveraged against the current arms race. They work. This causes players to adjust their strategies or technique to now engage the new threat.

Best example: the searchlight! Nearly worthless until Necrons came out, now every vehicle takes them. Arms race.

If you have your finger on the pulse of the arms race, there are often small windows of time, usually a tournament season or so, where you can use knowledge of that race to utilize some previously dismissed tools and techniques to leverage an advantage in a GT setting.

(This is basically the definition of meta-gaming, but call it what you will)

With so many armies now geared up to destroy the light-armor threat, I think there is a brief window where you will start getting a little more success out of your old foot-oriented lists. This doesn't mean that you should drop all your vehicles, but I think, at least until 6th comes out, that you will see a slight advantage being gained in the overall durability of foot infantry.

In thinking about it, though, you will need to address a few critical issues which differ from what normal foot strategy looks like. As with any army in 5th ed., you will need some kind of speed element, preferably something that can outflank or deepstrike. This helps out tremendously in objective style missions.

Overall, though, the biggest reason why foot is going to be very powerful in the twilight of 5th ed. is the kill point mission.

A couple of years ago, the Kill Point mission was actually pretty hotly debated topic. The reason is that a lot of players consider the Kill Point mission to be an obtuse way of balancing MSU armies while others thought it was a critical design to 5th ed., placed there for a reason.

My personal belief, being that this is my blog, is that Kill Point missions were poorly designed for 5th ed. I hope, if we continue them into 6th, that some thought is put into how Kill Points missions balance out when the opponent brings a Draigowing with only 4 kill points it, most of which are impossible to get. The reason for that is to avoid the oh so fun mission of "I kill 3 transports then run for the rest of the game! I win 3-0!"

It's almost as fun as roll dice and tie!

That being said, since the past 3-4 years of competitive 40K have been all about "MOAR VEHICLES!", the last year or so of 40K has seen that a foot based, kill point denial list can be extremely competitive when the opponent is inundated with easy to claim transports.

This is further exacerbated now since the last 2 releases have handed out anti-AV 11 weaponry to no end.

In the waning days of 5th ed., we have also seen a rise in what I call the "combo-mission" to make fun, competitive GT games of 40K. This generally involves some combination of book missions which includes objectives and kill points in some fashion in every mission.

One of the other balances that the "kill points were designed to be a balancing act" don't address is that when we start including objectives and kill points in the same missions, where you can win one element but not both, it's much easier to contest objectives and win on kill points for a kill point denial list than it is for an MSU list to tie on kill points and win on objectives.

Just some thoughts for list builders out there as we work our way into 6th ed.


  1. I was looking at foot lists since I didn't want to do vehicle spam and only bringing a few would make them easy to get focused by the prolific anti-tank out there. Seems to be an all or nothing kinda thing.

    1. I agree. If you took just a few vehicles, you would need a very good reason for them. Things like taking them to get into position with the expectation that afterwards, the vehicle will die.

  2. I do not think you can win without going full mech. 5th edition is the Mech edition. I can't see myself playing without all my vehicles.


  3. With respect to Eldar, do you think a hybrid army could work? I really enjoyed your recent podcast with blackmore when you reviewed the codex again. I was thinking of using wave serpents with star engines to provide mobile cover saves to foot elements of the list (ie allowing for enhance to be taken on a unit of wraithguard over conceal). Over on the Spirit Chamber I've read about the success of such armies.

    1. I absolutely think it's viable. Out our GT last year, our top table had an Eldar player (very good player mind you) running the Wraithguard foot list but backed up by Falcons rather than Wraithguard. I think this is something I would consider heavily as well given the nigh invulnerable nature of Falcons and the advantages that could give you with Dire Avenger upgrades and late game contesting.

  4. Some armies can do hybrids but you have to be very careful with them.

    The reason why is the way that a lot of armies work. Mech armies work because you overload your opponent's ability to kill that many vehicles. Foots lists work because you do not have anything vital to shoot at, and all of your opponent's anti-tank is wasted.

    If you take a hybrid list you are losing both of the elements that make those lists work. They will easily dispatch your tanks with their anti-tank and go do work on your infantry.

  5. I think one of the things that is causing a resurgence of foot lists is that a lot of tournies are going with either the NOVA format or the all 3 objectives in one game format. This means KPs are always on the table. Earlier in 5E when this was not the case those KP denial lists would often fail early on in a tourney losing to a mech list in one of the objective based missions, or drawing that mission, effectively putting them out of the running. I also think win loss formats help foot style lists as often I think it is difficult for those lists to massacre MSU armies, but if all you need to do is win...that they can do.


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