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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Defensive 40K and Sisters

I'm still trying to take time off from the 40K smashing army that is the Grey Knights. Part of that is looking for a new way to play 40K. One thing I have truly realized about playing the top tier armies is that they are all very, very good at just smashing the opponent. More often than not, the easiest solution to most of their problems is to simply crush it. A great grasp of rules and tactics makes these armies go from good to great. In the few times where you can't just smash your way out of a problem, you generally have just enough tools to think your way out instead. One thing I noticed right away as I have started play testing new army ideas both on the table and off, is that I often look at a problem and go, "you know, if I had my Grey Knights right now, I would just kill those threats and there wouldn't be a problem." Alas, when you step down into the murky waters of non-top tier armies, eliminating threats isn't always an option.

This very idea has led me down a road, more like spiritual journey, towards a new play style model... new to me not to 40k of course... that I refer to as the defensive model of play. Speaking to the basics, the entire concept is to turn the power of the top tier armies against themselves by blunting their ability to just GREY KNIGHTS SMASH! their way out of a problem. If one can somehow prevent themselves from getting swatted away, you can drag them down into the murky depths of tactical play and hopefully onto a more level playing field.

If they can't break down the wall, they'll have to think of some canny way to get past it, and let's face it, Guard and GK players rarely have a reason to sharpen their skills at thinking around a problem!

I'm not really sure if walking this path will bear fruit at the end of the day, but I'm giving it the college try. A lot of this thought process came from writing that long series of articles for the RALPH project on the podcast.

One of the things that I know Guard and Grey Knights, more than Wolves really, will struggle with is a defensive style horde. When you simply don't care about the Vendettas, Manticores, Psybolt Dreads, and Melta Vet squads, that will turn the majority of power lists on their head. So, how do you go about not caring about these things?

But not just superior numbers, you need superior durability too. (See the RALPH articles).

The explanation is actually quite simple! If I have 100 models on the board, and you fire at me with a Vendetta, you will likely cause 2-3 wounds. I will get the same cover save as any other model. You will kill 1 model per Vendetta. If you have 3, firing at me for 7 turns, you'll get 21. That's a very slow return! You are hoping that I don't kill your Vendettas before then!

The reality of most top tier lists is they gear themselves to fight other top tier lists. This generally includes a healthy dose of anti-tank. Taking something from the Horde Ork play book, you know that army that everyone always says you should worry about but nobody secretly does because no one actually takes that army to a tournament, you can defeat anti-tank measures simply by not having any useful targets for them to shoot at.

We live in a good time in the meta for this. The reason is that the most effective anti-infantry armies generally fall on their faces trying to fight heavy mech armies. Thus, the meta has driven them into near obscurity on the tournament scene. Further, because Grey Knights are so adept at annihilating hammer units with Paladins, Purifiers, Death Cultists, and Psyko-broke grenades, those lists are trailing away as well. The fact is, Blood Angel terminators in a Storm Chicken actually kind of suck pretty bad now when a Psybolt Dread or 5 can take out the chicken and a pack of 10 Death Cultists backed up by a grenade battery will cut through your Terminators like a ginsu.

So, I'm going to give this concept a shot and put my money where my mouth is. (Also because the Necron codex is just frustrating me to no end because of lack of an FAQ and lack of models!!!!!)

I'm going to be play testing some Sisters of Battle list ideas along with my 'Crons. Why Sisters? Two reasons. First, because it's the army nobody plays. Second, because they can horde up pretty well with infantry which is a cross between Imperial Guard foot lists and Space Marine armor saves.

My first stab at this is going to be as follows:

7 x Death Cult Assassins

Saint Celestine

10 x Battle Sisters w/ Multi-Melta and Melta Gun and Power Weapon
10 x Battle Sisters w/ Multi-Melta and Melta Gun and Power Weapon
10 x Battle Sisters w/ Multi-Melta and Melta Gun and Power Weapon
10 x Battle Sisters w/ Multi-Melta and Melta Gun and Power Weapon
10 x Battle Sisters w/ Multi-Melta and Melta Gun and Power Weapon

10 x Dominion Squad w/ 4 x Melta Guns
10 x Dominion Squad w/ 4 x Melta Guns

10 x Retributors w/ 4 x Heavy Bolters + Simulacrum
10 x Retributors w/ 4 x Heavy Bolters + Simulacrum
10 x Retributors w/ 4 x Heavy Bolters + Simulacrum

I know, it looks crazy, and crazy bad to boot. Here's the notes, and I'll report back once I get some play testing done.

- Kyrinov is a requirement to keep my girls from running away, especially due to shooting casualties or the likes of psychic abilities like PBS or FotD. Yes, I really want little Jake for the faith reroll, but unfortunately, I only have 2 slots and right now, Saint Celestine is really just to awesome to pass up.

- Saint Celestine is the ultimate harass and contest unit in the game. Hard to pass her up.

- Dominions can scout or outflank and provide also an emergency suicide melta unit to take out things like Land Raiders.

- The small DCA is there for counter-punch only. The goal with them will be to hide behind terrain and only come out of their hole when a now fearless battle squad ties something up.

- Retributors can roll their faith before they choose a target. So, if they succeed, shoot a tank, else shoot infantry.

Remember, the idea is to overwhelm objective with bodies and in KP missions, to simply deny KP while plinking away to get my own.

I'll report back to let you know how it goes!


  1. So what about the Purifier spam list that go kookoo for hordes? These are out there and most of the GK's that are GK's bring a squad.

  2. So, purifier spam has a claim to be good against horde lists because of cleansing flame. Against Sisters, this doesn't apply because of the 3+ save.

    That being said, a squad of Purifiers assaulting sisters will kill them anyways, just from sheer combat res and sweeping advance. This is why I think Kyrinov, although on paper the less superior choice to Jake, is going to be critical. It will be critical to be able to dictate when your squads break and when they don't.

    That also being said, would require the GK player to now switch up from his normal gig as a shooting list with Purifiers to now having to come assault me which is generally outside of the basic Purifier spam strategy, thus throwing him off his game which is the goal of the whole exercise. So, here's to crossing fingers and won't have a good answer on that one till I get to play test.

    Purifiers generally want to hang out at the 24 inch line and lay down Storm Bolter and Psycannon fire. The thing here is that I will gladly trade shooting blows with them at 24 inches as I can lose models at a 2:1 ratio with them and come out on top.

    Forcing him to come forward and assault with proper positioning will then introduce him to a whole new world of weakness that a GK player isn't used to which is the whole "I win combat but every time I do I now suffer a round of an entire army shooting at me with everything they have to whittle me down".

    Keeping this in mind that @ 2k, the spammiest Purifier list will have at most, 40 Purifiers. The only way he is chopping through 100+ Sisters is if I let him.

    I get more concerned in this scenario about working around objectives. Only way I will get an answer as to who is tougher is to try it out.

    I'll let you know how it goes.

  3. Curious about the two Rhinos. Going up against "I will destroy your vehicles" lists they should go *poof* in the first opponent shooting phase. Am I missing something?

  4. Dominions have scout, so they can scout move if I have turn 1 or outflank if I don't, which I probably won't because I'm thinking this army functions best going 2nd. Only reason I am considering the rhinos was to extend their range coming on the board to more effectively use their melta. Rhinos will most likely die right then and there.

    I'm still not sure on it myself because they give up kill points which I don't want to do with this list. Won't know till I play test a little.

  5. Took a quick look at the options and it seems like the other option is Seraphims. Swoop in and hit with two dual inferno pistols. Would remove the kill points the rhino puts up and would increase mobility. Then again, it might just be a poor choice:)

  6. Been looking at Seraphim as well. I'm getting hung up on them because they are mondo expensive and don't bring much damage potential to the table outside of those pistols.

    That being said, I may end up with them anyways! STill working it out.


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