Monday, October 29, 2012

Post-RockCon thoughts on the Chaos Codex

So as I said in earlier posts I am going to talk about my impressions on the Chaos Codex as it relates to my experiences playing my Iron Warriors at RockCon.

Number one, I am not to big to admit that sometimes I am wrong.  Before RockCon I had extolled the virtues of Warpflame Gargoyles.  They are a 5 point upgrade to a vehicle that gives all the weapons on the vehicle Soul Blaze.  I thought that for 5 points for the possibility of continuous damage for multiple turns seemed like a no-brainer.

After playing 4 games with them at the 'con I dropped them from my final list against the Eldar.  I had noticed as the games went on I either forgot about them, fired the tanks that had the Gargoyles at vehicles which then don't get the Blaze counter because its not infantry, or they simply didn't do any damage.  I had one game where I killed a terminator and another where I killed a Grey Knight power-armored marine, but right now i can't say they are an upgrade that I will continue to use.

One of the other reasons for not using them is that 5 points over 5 vehicles is 25 points.  Which may not sound like a lot but you could potentially use those points elsewhere.  One thing I have noticed about building lists with this codex is that you can build an army with a lot of infantry and a lot of vehicles and a lot of guns if you keep the upgrades to a minimum.  Stick with the basic chaos marine with no frills (no veterans of the long war, no marks, no icons, no additional bolter) and all of a sudden the amount of units that fit in the points size of the army increases dramatically over the previous codex.

Another thing I noticed is that the Warlord traits from the codex are actually not that interesting.  You may have noticed in my battle reports I barely mentioned the traits I had.  The Warlord trait in the codex that is the best, IMHO, is the one that lets you infiltrate d3 infantry units.  This trait of course is rolled for before the game and therefore you have only a 1 in 6 chance of rolling it.  In other words its not a reliable thing and not worth building a list around.  I think in the future rolling on the personal warlord traits from the main rulebook is something I will do.  I think the personal traits are better at least for my army.

The Burning Brand of Skalathrax is an Artefact that I will be taking in every game.  I took it once in my final game and while that's not a large sample size as far as statistical analysis is concerned, it fried a whole unit of Warp Spiders.  That unit can be incredibly abnoxious if not dealt with and the Brand did one shot and smoked em all.  It can be a very potent weapon in the army.

The amount of firepower that you can put out with this codex is much larger than the previous one.  When I build my lists I try to have one heavy weapon per 100 points.  This codex easily allows you to do that.  In every game I felt I had as much firepower as I needed.  I was able to wreck Landraiders in 2 games by simply firing lascannons and missile launchers at them.  While melta guns are still king at killing vehicles, long range firepower in the form of lascannons specifically, should not be discounted because now you can glance a vehicle to death.

Helbrutes are indeed much better than their Dreadnought predecessors from the previous codex.  The fact that they no longer have the possibility of going crazy every turn is huge.  If kitted out with long range fire like a missile launcher and a twin-linked lascannon, you will rarely be shot at because you will be out of range of most of the enemy guns.  If you stay out of range, you don't get shot and don't lose a hull point and don't go crazy.  And if you do go crazy you never attack your own units.  In fact, if you roll a 2 on the d3 chart when it does go crazy the only difference between it being normal and 'crazy' is that it has rage, which doesn't mean you have to move towards the nearest enemy it only means you get 2 attacks on the charge IF you charge.  If you have a long-range Helbrute then you can move and shoot normally.

Veterns of the Long War (VothLW), Champions of Chaos, and Challenges are three rules that can dictate how you play 6th edition with the chaos codex.  By not taking VothLW my champion's leadership is 9 and I don't have Hatred (Space Marines).  This is a good thing for a shooty 10 man squad.  By combining the requirement that my champions always issue and accept challenges with the Champion of Chaos rule and having a lower leadership, against any dedicated assault squad my basic marine squad will not only lose combat but also then be at a lower leadership.  This is seemingly a bad thing in that I won't win a whole lot of combats with those squads.  It is; however, a good thing.

The challenge will probably kill my champion (the guy with just a meltabomb), the squad will get beat and I will have to test, with modifiers, against a lower leadership of 8 or the assaulting squad will simply wipe out my squad.  If I break and run away and don't get swept, then that leaves the enemy assault squad high and dry out in the open the next turn.  With 6th ed, my squads will almost always have a reasonable chance to regroup and the rest of my army will then be able to fire on the threat and eliminate it.  Obviously this is a better result than what would happen with the old codex, where my guys would stay locked in combat much longer than they should and I wouldn't be able to then use my armies greatest strength, shooting, to kill the assaulting unit.

By upgrading to VothLW, you better equip that unit for hth or you will be locked in combat at the wrong times.  This army which I am playing as a shooting list does not want to be in combat at all unless absolutely necessary.  If my game has no or few combats in it, I generally win.

Lines of Fire in some of the games was poor at best.  This may not be a symptom of 6th edition because I have always preferred more terrain over less, but I have also listened to many podcasts and blogs on the subject and seen tournament reports about this.  It seems more terrain is the norm now in 6th edition.  In one game in particular I couldn't get good lanes of fire on a rhino (the Death Guard game).  The rhino was able to move too close to my lines and I couldn't stop it.  This is why I believe a unit like bikes or raptors or flyers or indirect fire is essential now to be able to get around that terrain you can't see through.

With the above points in mind, I built a list to use as a base for all of my lists in the future, or at least a baseline list that could stimulate ideas for other lists.

I was going for 1500 points, but when I finished it I was at only 1371.

HQ -
Warpsmith with Burning Brand of Skalathrax.
140 points

Elites -
5 chosen with 2 flamers
in rhino with havoc launcher
147 points

Helbrute with twin-linked lascannon and missile launcher
135 points

Troops -
9 marines autocannon and plasma gun
1 champion with meltabombs
in rhino with havoc launcher
217 points

9 marines autocannon and plasma gun
1 champion with meltabombs
in rhino with havoc launcher
217 points

9 marines missile launcher and flamer
1 champion with meltabombs
165 points

Fast attack -
4 Raptors with 2 meltaguns
1 champion with meltabombs
120 points

Heavy Suport -
Predator with autocannon and 2 lascannon sponsons

Predator with autocannon and 2 lascannon sponsons

The above list addresses all of the issues I brought up above.

The Burning Brand of Skalathrax in the Warpsmith gives him and his unit (the chosen) 4 flamer templates.  The Warpsmith can deal with vehicles with his meltagun shot and his Master of Mechanisms rule.  He also boosts the shooting of my army by being able to downgrade a cover save of a piece of terrain.

This army has none of the upgrade that can be taken except for the havoc launchers, which add quite a bit, honestly.  An extra template at 48" range at strength 5 is quite useful.

There are 14 heavy weapons (including the Havoc missile launchers) in a list that is under 1400 points which hits my goal of one heavy weapons per 100 points.  All of the heavy weapons, it should be noted, are 48" range.  This allows the army to stay out of range against a vast number of foes.  This puts it in line with the fire power from the vanilla marine codex and also in line with the 3.5 edition chaos codex.

I also have 6 vehicles and 41 infantry in this list, which is pretty decent for only 1371 points.  It gives a lot of targets to the enemy and a lot of units that can work together and combine their fire to take out enemy units.  The vehicles allow the army to be very mobile if need be.  Any of the vehicles except the Helbrute can move 18" in a turn in case last minute objective grabbing is needed or if a flank is compromised.

The raptors in particular add something desperately needed in the ability to ignore terrain and get to that pesky rhino that is hiding behind a hill of ruin.  The raptors also have fear and can do some damage in assault if need be.  They only move forward if there is a spot that they will need to be to counter a hidden transport, otherwise they stay back and are used as counter-attack.

Issues Remaining:

One of the issues with the above list is still the issue of moving up to grab objective outside of the deployment zone.  This issue is again mitigated somewhat by how fast many of the units can move.  Also the point is to blow away the scoring units of the enemy with firepower so they can't score the objectives in their half of the board.

Another issue is flyers.  Right now the above list can either ignore them or try to shoot them down by firing everything at them.  Neither option is very good.

But with the above being only 1371 points there are plenty of points left over to address these issues.

I hope this post was useful and I wanted to bring you all into my line of thinking with how I build and play the Iron Warriors in 6th edition with the new codex.

I will be expanding on this post in the future with lists that build off of the 'core' list I presented above.

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