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AF's tactical advice

This article is more for my reference. Sometimes it seems like the tactics forum is just the same twelve topics over and over again, so I'm just going to put my responses and reasoning here so I can do some cutting and pasting in the future. I recognize that some of my opinions are.... errrrr.... divisive. That's fine. I'm not claiming an all-encompassing knowledge of the game, or that I'm a 10 time ard boyz champion. All I'm trying to do is argue persuasively for my point of view. Alot of people won't be convinced. That's fine.

Question: I'm thinking about taking XYZ unit. It doesnt look that bad. What do you think? Answer: I think you should take units that are good, not units that are "not bad." If you choose mediocre units you're going to end up with a mediocre army. "not bad" isn't good enough. Every single guy in your army should be a hard core, ruthless killer. Maximum offense. Don't take units to "counter" other units, "support" other units, "counter assault", "distract", "soak up fire" "tar pit" or for any other reason than to kill the enemy. It just cannot be said often enough. There is 1 and only 1 objective. If you're thinking about including a unit, always ask yourself, "do I have any options that are even deadlier?" If the answer is yes, take that.

Question: XYZ unit looks really tough. Is it a good buy? Answer: Maybe. Depends on what it's offensive potential is. Being hard to kill is nice, but it's not a good reason by itself to take a unit. What really matters isnt how hard the unit is to kill, but how good it is at killing other stuff. You don't win by not dying. You win by killing stuff.

Question. Are Chaos Space Marines Good? Answer. No. They are not. Here's why:

1. inferior mobility options. the current codex gives chaos players only two mobility options: mech up and try to rhino rush your opponent, or dont take transports at all. why is this a problem? because chaos space marines are a close combat army first and a shooting army second. as a chaos space marine player, you aren't going to outshoot dedicated shooting armies, so you must deliver your marines into close combat to win against them. can rhinos get you there? no. against opponents who can force you to reroll your cover saves, can drop them, or can take them away all together with the right artillary piece, chaos rhinos just dont have a chance. compare chaos' mobility options to those of blood angels, space marines, space wolves, dark angels, eldar, dark eldar. even imperial guard can put an entire army in fast skimmers if they want to do it. chaos space marines are just too slow to compete.

2. inferior close combat options. if your rhinos deliver your marines, it's probably because your opponent wants to fight you in close combat. what the chaos space marine codex offers is a wide selection of solid units like terminators, berserkers, and plague marines. they're solid, but they aren't excellent. even the vaunted plague marines arent actually very good at *killing* the enemy; they're just good at *not dying*. well you don't win by not dieing, you win by killing. anyway against the best close combat units in the game, like thunderwolves, nobz, and assault terminators, these guys dont have any chance at all. without a bone-crushingly good close combat unit, chaos space marines are more or less committed to a strategy that they dont have the tools to excel at.

3. inferior shooting options. so if you can't get into assaults unless you'll most likely lose them, can you shoot your opponent? yes and no. you do have shooting options in this book but they don't compare to the options that the shootiest armies have and they aren't going to be enough to stop dedicated assault armies, which usually combine lightning mobility with excellent close combat abilities. the one bright spot here is obliterators. however they have their own problems - they're expensive, they suffer from instant death, and they don't have ablative wounds. essentially against a dedicated shooting army there's just no reason any of these guys should be alive past turn 3, if your opponent decides to go after them.

4. minor irritants. no psychic defenses, no control over reserves, inferior land raiders, a completely useless fast attack section, no strategy-level special rules (like trading chapter tactics for X or Y)

If you have chaos space marine models I'm not saying you shouldn't use them. They're awesome models, and for just casual play you can do fine with these guys. There are even people who continue to place in national tournaments with this army with a combination of bluff, balls, flexibility, and the all-around solidness of certain units like plague marines, berserkers, demon princes, and obliterators. But this is the exception not the rule. No one thinks its worth commenting on when guard win a national tournament. because its expected. But when chaos does it, it's news. The point is, though, that you really should consider, for the sake of your own enjoyment of the game, choosing a new and better codex to run your chaos space marines out of. There have been three new space marine codices released over the last year, and they're all strong. There's no reason to handicap you just because GW is married to the codex system and can't maintain play balance. People will understand.

Question: Are lesser demons good? Answer: No, they aren't. Time and again the same explanations are advanced for why this is a "not bad" unit. Not that you want to take units that are "not bad" anyway. Actually you want to take units that are "good", but whatever. These are the reasons you hear(read) for taking summoned lesser demons:

1. "they're cheap" No actually they aren't cheap at all. Guardsmen are cheap. Ork Boyz are cheap. They cost 13 points a piece, which is 86% of the cost of a chaos space marine. No one thinks chaos space marines are cheap, but a unit that costs almost as much is? That just doesn't make sense. Summoned Lesser Demons *look* cheap because they're the *least expensive* thing in an expensive codex. cheap implies that it doesnt cost you much to bring them and that they're expendable, that it's no big deal if they die. If you're paying 13 points a model to bring a unit, they have some serious weight to pull.

2. "they hold objectives" that's true, but one of the few bright spots of the chaos space marines codex is that alot of your best units are scoring anyway. you don't need a special unit just to hold objectives in that book - you're not playing space marines or eldar where your normal troop choices aren't the best things you have going for you. you're taking lots of scoring units anyway, so why do you need a special objective holder? you don't.

3. "they can charge right off of a banner" again that's true, but you can't choose when they arrive from deep strike. Unless you're running a specialized delivery mechanism, there's a 50/50 chance they're going to show up before you're ready to deploy them. when that happens their primary advantage is lost. but look on the other side. let's say you do get the charge. so what? on the charge they have three meq attacks a piece. they don't have power weapons, rending, high strength, high initiative, a particularly high volume of attacks, no special rules to help them. The best you can expect out of them is that they'll murder stuff like guard or grots that are going to die in close combat anyway, or that they'll do OK but not great against meq squads that they outnumber 3:2 or 2:1. against any dedicated assault unit, they have no chance at all. And all of that assumes that they get to charge off of the banner, which is 50/50 at best.

4. "so and so took them and he won a tournament" sure. but look at all the people who *didnt* take them and who also won tournaments. For every person who wins a tournament with a list that includes summoned lesser demons, there are at least three who win a tournament with a list that doesn't. the consensus among competitive players is clear: summoned lesser demons are junk.

Question: I'm thinking about making a thousand sons army. any advice? Answer: Sure I have some advice: don't do it. These guys fight from a position of real weakness in 5th because they're overpriced, they're bad in close combat, cover tends to negate their ap 3 bolters, and their anti-vehicle options suck (sorry bolt of tzeentch just doesnt cut it). But if you just can't resist, my advice is to mech up and spam gift of chaos on everything. at least with gift of chaos you'll have a chance to assassinate their best characters, and there isnt anything they can do to prevent it if the power goes off.

Question: Should I run a demon prince with mark of tzeentch or mark of nurgle? Answer: Depends. What do you think is more likely to kill your demon prince? If you're more worried about bolters, mark of nurgle. If you're more worried about lascannons, mark of tzeentch. Both of these marks make you tougher, but in different and non-complimentary ways. Mark of Tzeentch wont help you against bolters and mark of Nurgle wont help you against lascannons. so you need to know what you want to protect *against* before you decide what kind of defenses you need.

Question: Are demon hunters as bad as everyone says? Answer: Yes. Actually they're worse. I know they have cool fluff. Just wait for the new codex, it's coming out soon.

Question: I'm playing out of a codex that sucks and I keep losing to a guy who has a good codex. What shoul I do? Answer: You should stop playing out of a codex that sucks. If you're still losing after that, you should re-evaluate your army lists and your tactics, but the first and most important thing to do is level the playing field by taking a good codex.

Question: What's the best configuration for a Land Speeder? Answer: Multi-Melta and Heavy Flamer. Every other configuration is limited as to what kind of targets it can engage. Only the MM/HF speeder can engage absolutely anything. It's cheap, fast, and deadly to everything.

Question: Should I take a land speeder or an attack bike? Answer: Land Speeder. Deep strike + the skimmer rules make it more mobile than the attack bike. Also it can't be caught in close combat like an attack bike can. It can be assaulted, but the opponent will usually have to roll 6s to hit it and the next turn it can just leave the combat. The heavy flamer makes it more flexible - there will be times when you don't need or want a multi melta, but having a heavy flamer could make all the difference. Having an armor value makes it more resilient, because heavy weapons that cause instant death to attack bikes merely roll on the damage table for land speeders. If you're running them in squads that means you only have a 50/50 chance of losing the speeder if a str. 8 or higher shot gets past your armor and your cover save, as opposed to a 100% chance of losing the attack bike. A MM/HF speeder is 20 points more expensive than an attack bike but has an enormously better set of capabilities. the upgrade is well worth it.

Question: Eldar keep beating my face in. What do I do? Answer: Stay in cover, deprive them of their mobility by shooting their transports. If you try to chase them you won't catch them, but you probably will be out of cover where their long ranged firepower can really hurt you. But if they dont have the mobility to run away, you can catch them in close combat and rip their pointy little ears off, or annihilate them with close ranged firepower. Until then though, you really need to concentrate on blasting the transports.

Question: What kind of weapon should I take on XYZ squad? Answer: Depends on what you want to kill. There are basically four kinds of targets in this game. Light infantry (4+ save and up), heavy infantry (2+ or 3+ save), monsters (high toughness multiple wounds), and vehicles (has an armor value). Flame throwers kill the 1st, plasma weapons kill the 2nd and 3rd, meltaguns kill the 4th. Once you know what you want to kill, you'll know what gun you want to take.

Question: I'm thinking about making a special weapon squad that has 2 of gun A and 2 of gun B. what do you all think? Answer: Don't mix your weapons. Once you've decided what you want to kill, spam that weapon in the squad. If you mix your weapons inside a squad, then no matter what kind of target you shoot at, part of your squad's shooting will be wasted. For instance, if you take a flame thrower and a meltagun in a squad, if you shoot against a vehicle the flamer is useless. If you shoot at a squad of orks, the meltagun is useless. Make full use of your squad's capabilities - take complimentary guns.


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