Thursday, April 7, 2011

How Fantasy Baseball Made Me a Better 40k Player

Q: What Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees Captain and a Space Marine Captain have in common?

A: They are both average in their respective games.
In the 2010 season, I had the misfortune to have Derek Jeter on my fantasy team.  The average batting average in my league was .264.  Jeter hit .267.  His other statistics were decidedly average, too.  This wouldn't be so bad, had he been a middle to late round draft pick.  Unfortunately, Jeter was highly overrated and I used an early round draft pick on him.  Jeter in the 8th round would have been an excellent draft pick.  Jeter in the 2nd round is a tremendous bust, since your second round draft pick should be someone with tremendous production who is going to be among the league leaders in several statistical categories.  The mistake, however, is that Jeter is the most popular baseball player in America.  His name value greatly exceeds his on field performance, and thus people will draft him as a .267 shortstop earlier than they will draft a lesser known shortstop from another team who actually has better stats.

This is a lesson that directly applies to 40k: don't overrate your HQ choices, and thus overspend on them.  Most veterans instinctively know this, but it does need repeating after the release of a new codex from time to time.  A Space Marine Captain is the Derek Jeter of Warhammer 40k.  He is considered awesome, but really isn't that impressive in actual gameplay.  As a close combat monster, he is a bit of a failure since he dies like a chump to every Power Klaw on the scene.  You can give him a 2+/3++ save, but that just costs more points and makes the inevitable failure hurt all the more.  Much like Jeter, part of what makes him good is being a good team leader, and in the case of the SM Captain, he makes his bike units much better team players.

So generally, unless your HQ has a 2++ save, or is an eternal warrior with at least a 4++ chances are it is never going to be a combat monster.  So don't pay hundreds of points for it.  This is a very basic lesson, but we all were newbies at one point and back then we loaded our HQs (probably a SM Captai with every wargear option available.  That is the equivalent of drafting Derek Jeter in the 2nd round.

And yet, I still see it happening all over the internet currently in the form of Grey Knight Grandmasters.  So many GK lists are packing these guys at the same points cost as a land raider, for marginal benefit.  2+/3++ save with a relentless psycannon and grand strategy and Rad Grenades!  OMG!  I agree, that is all good stuff.  But it well over 200 points, and the guy is one Power Fist/Klaw away from circling the drain.  Like Jeter, he has great name value, and he is a generally great ball player who can add a lot to your team.  But you have to look at the value in total.  An Ordo Malleus Inquisitor, for less than half the points can take Terminator Armor and a Psycannon and provide the same relentless firepower.  No, he isn't nearly as bad ass in close combat, but thanks to hidden power fists and claws, neither of them really should be in close combat.  You can't fire a Psycannon in close combat.  Plus, the ability to bring an Inquisitorial Warband isn't nearly as potentially gamebreaking as Grand Strategy, but unless your list is built around breaking Grand Strategy, chances are you aren't maximizing your value for the points you are spending on it.  It's much easier to maximize the value of a IWB in a standard list.

So before you spend a gang of points on your Grand Master, ask yourself, "am I really buying him for a relentless pyscannon, or am I buying him for grand strategy?"  If the answer is the former, get an inquisitor instead.  If it's the latter, ask yourself if that grand strategy upgrade is going to be a game changer, or simply "useful."  Most lists with Grand Masters I've seen don't really need Grand Strategy to win, and they would be much better off with a Librarian, and pocketing the extra points.  Stay humble when buying HQs!

So in 2011, I somehow ended up with Jeter on my team again.  This time, I drafted him in the 6th round.  Some would say that is still rather high, but I expect he will bounce back a bit from last year and 6th round isn't a bad place to pick up a decently productive shortstop.  Also in 2011, I would still buy a Space Marine Captain, but the most important upgrade is the bike, not the Storm Shield or Relic Blade.


  1. In some ways you are very right. In my list, I have a different reason for purchasing the HQs: Rad Grenades. Only Brother Captains and Grand Masters are able to purchase them, and they enable a ton of close combat potential from attached units.

    In fact, my list runs one Brother Captain and one Grand Master at 2000 points. It is definitely a lot of points to spend, but the mixture I have there with my combat-squadded 10-man terminator unit creates 2 close combat beasts with plenty of active fire support.

    With most of the field being marines in some fashion, wounding them on 2s (S5 vs T3) at initiative 6 is just really good. Also, vs Xenos, it allows you to not have to risk the hammerhand cast, as you usually will wound on 2s and inflict instant death.

    Those factors are huge in how my list play, and won't necessarily be typical (we'll have to wait and see how things unfold).

    Overall, though, great advice for aspiring generals. Don't spend more than you have to!

  2. Also, Inquisitors soak up wounds from shooting that you would normally take on random guys. 3 wounds with terminator armor is amazing for its defensive capabilities. And while -1 to shooting wounds done to your squad each turn from each unit firing at them isn't amazing, for an 80 pt model with a relentless psycannon, its a pretty amazing tacked on benefit.

    Currently in my opinion, best buy in the codex is a very close toss up between:

    Dreadnought, 2x Autocannon, psybolt ammo
    (also known as "and you thought people complained a lot about vendettas")

    Inquisitor, Terminator armour, psycannon

  3. Yeah. How about this core of an army

    2x Inquistors w/ Termi psycannon 160
    3x techmarines w/ conversion beamer 330
    3x TLAC Dreads 405

    895 points leaving 1105 for troops, which is plenty for 6 msu strike squads in razors. Or cut down to 5 squads and add some henchmen units to bring a chimera or two for the techmarines to sit in. Min/Max to hell.

  4. I think the Librarian with shrouding is really helpful, more so than the 2nd inquisitor. Also, I am not sure about techmarines yet, I think they look better on paper than they actually are.