Friday, March 11, 2011

4th Edition Codices and Bottleneck Builds

I touched on this a bit back when discussing Black Templar lists, but I wanted to go further into it today.  I was lamenting the lack of heavy support choices in the Templars' codex, and how the limited choices constrain the way the whole army is played.  Essentially, what you have is a list building bottleneck.

The issue for Templars is that your heavy support choices are Land Raiders (bad), Vindicators with PotMS (mediocre-to-bad and expensive), and Predators (mediocre but appropriately costed).  There are no Devastators, nor do Dreadnoughts get moved to heavy support.  

The problem: all your HS choices are mech.  We all know the theory that with each additional chassis you bring, the previous ones get better and more survivable due to armor saturation.  The first tank you bring is melta-bait.  The 12th tank you bring might survive until the end of the game.  All well and good.  So assuming we are playing 2k - 2.5k we will be filling our FoC up in any MSU army.  This means we will have at least three AV13 chassis in your list no matter what.  The codex commits you to a heavy mech element against your will.

The solution: finding units in other parts of the FoC that can play the same role.  This is tough, because troops and fast attack are largely spoken for.  So it's Elites and HQ.  Elites have fierce competition.  Tank hunting dreads, assault terminators, cyclonators.  All three want to be played, and you only have three slots.  HQ is an expensive option.  Three Predator Destructors with lascannon sponsons is 375 points.  Castellan with tank hunting command squad cyclonators is at minimum 330.  4 missile shots per turn, even tank hunting ones, isn't going to replace 6 autocannon shots and 6 lascannon shots for similar points.  So this solution doesn't really work, either.

What options, that are good, exist?  You could run a drop pod list with dreads and melta that largely ignores long range firepower.  That isn't everyone's cup of tea, nor is it really proven to be a competitive option.  My suggestion: throw in the towel and play full mech.  The codex is a square peg, don't try to force it into round holes when perfectly viable square holes exist.  Or someone go through the trouble of rigorously playtesting a drop pod list that is good enough to win a GT and let me know what it is because I don't see it.

So closing thoughts: what bottlenecks exist in other old codices?  Heavy Destroyers in Necrons?  Fire Warriors in Tau?  How do the other armies deal with the 4th edition books' FoC limitations?  Are there any 5th edition books with a bottleneck in the FoC?  The closest I can think of is Tyranids and the Hive Guard, but are there others?


  1. Really like the way you put the Heavy Support issue faced by Black Templars. Of course, there will be those that argue the merit of Vindicators w/ PotMS regardless of cost and one-gun-syndrome.


  2. The Chaos one, I think, is that so much of their best stuff is resident in Troops, restricted to an expensive and underwhelming Rhino, and their best Heavy Support is of a footslogging persuasion, and their Fast Attack is overpriced and limited. It's the exact opposite of the Templars' problem, really; they're barged towards a foot build, or an expensive hybrid. There'd be a decent walker-based build in there if their Dreadnoughts weren't gimped by the rules and the Defilers weren't gimped by the model.