Tutorials in Gaming – Warhammer 40,000 Army List Construction 101


A common feature of most miniatures games out there at the moment is that models are assigned a value, games are played with a limit placed on how much stuff you can take and this is to aid balance in the game. Theoretically if you are playing to a points value and you both have the same number of points the armies should more or less be balanced against one another, although this does create the arguments that, points for points, some army lists find it easier to create “more powerful” armies than others. This is a line of thought heavily prevalent in the Warhammer world right now.

However, with this weekend now on the horizon and the mouth-watering Saturday event of 3000pts of new Tyranids spawned from the gene-vats hidden away in Gribblin’s bedroom (I’ve seen this firsthand, he has a live brood of Genestealers stashed under his bed, true story) facing off against the arrayed (much more heroic) forces generalled by none other than Servitob and myself. Below are the general rules we are using for this fight and then I’ll explain where this post is going.

Tyranids; 3000pts maximum with 2 Force Organisation charts available

Allied forces of Servitob and ZombiePirate; 1500pts per general using a single Force Organisation chart each

All normal Force Organisation rules apply. Battle will commence on a 6′ * 4′ table using Hidden Deployment (basically section off the table halves and each army deploys at the same time not having any idea what the opposing team has done). We will roll for mission type at the start of the game before deployment. Variable game length and all other special rules will be used.

Considering that this is something I’ve been looking forward to for a while now I thought it provided a great time in which to prepare an article on how to craft a 40k army list. Afterall, I’ll be needing one, although the example I will use here will be around the army I know best (Orks) the basic principles will apply to any army you collect. I’ll be throwing in units and their upgrades but will also give reasons why they are there. Most armies don’t have the option of their basic troops choice being 30 strong, however, I will be going into battlefield roles and the concepts behind why you build a list the way you do considering what you want to achieve. For new players it is relatively easy to just create a list of the stuff you like and chuck it out there to see how it goes, however, for other players with a reasonable collection of stuff you’re going to want to consider taking one over another or just what do you spend those spare few points on.

The concepts presented here will describe my preferred style of army list, the “all-comers” list, something with a little of everything. If you know what you are facing then it is possible to tailor your list to counter a specific enemy (most tournament armies are designed around taking out MEQ armies, T4 with a 3+ armour save, as that is what is prevalent in that environment), however, I much prefer to write a more generic list and have fun without than take something specifically that I know will decimate my opponent. Afterall, we’re both there to have fun as the main thing, having the perfect counter-force to my friend across the table just doesn’t seem very friendly. I’m not a tournament player where I’d expect this to be the case, games at home with my pals, although we challenge each other, we don’t tend to bring out the most broken combination of cheese that we can, although, I do own a Daemons of Chaos army for Warhammer…

So here we go, 1500pts of list construction tutorial;

The first place to look is at the Force Organisation chart itself, on the left is the chart for standard missions, if you are playing Planetstrike or Apocalypse then this will be either different or removed altogether. As we are concerned here with a standard mission we’ll follow the one shown. The chart is split into various sections, each troop, vehicle, creature and character fits into one of these slots and can be found in that section of the relevant army’s Codex, different armies have differing numbers of options in each of these areas as well. In total there are two HQ slots, three Elites slots,six Troops slots, three Fast Attack and three Heavy Support. Each unit occupies one of these slots and you cannot take more units of a particular slot that there are available, for example, in a normal mission you could not take four Heavy Support elements. You also have a couple of compulsory choices as indicated by the shaded boxes in the picture. These are one HQ choice and two Troops choices, there is no leeway here you have to take at least these slots for a legal army. It is logical therefore to start with these units when planning your list.

If you are anything like myself and my playgroup you probably don’t roll for a mission until you turn up, therefore you have no idea if you are going to hunting for objectives or trying to wipe out the opposition. Someone may even have written a special mission for fun. Therefore you are going to want to be able to cover either of these scenarios, you’re going to want to be able to grab objectives and be able to give the enemy a pounding, this will mean you’ll be taking a balance of units. Let’s take a look at those Troops choices first.

In the case of the Orks I have two basic choices listed under the Troops section of my Codex, these are Ork Boyz and Gretchin. If I have to take two units worth of something to satisfy my compulsory components my best bet is looking at stuff that can grab objectives and be meaty enough to have a go at the opposition, luckily for me Boyz units fit this bill nicely. For the bargain bucket price of 180pts I can get 30 Boyz armed with either Shootas or a Slugga and Close Combat weapon. Both are awesome in close combat but one has a slight edge when it comes to shooting. Orks aren’t renowned for their marksmanship but those 30 Boyz can put out 60 shots a turn with their basic gun and charge into assault afterwards. Here is my first choice, do I want to increase their shooting potential at the expense of the extra attack I get from the Slugga and Close Combat weapon. Normally I am figuring that I will be charging towards the enemy to fulfill either the capturing of objectives or the annihilation of whoever is on the other side of the table and therefore kit stuff out with the Slugga/Close Combat weapon however, either loadout for your Boyz is good. These are my compulsory choices and also, because they are troops, are the only slots I have for capturing objectives. Now, Orks aren’t loaded out with armour therefore to compensate for this I am going to need numbers, therefore I am going to add in two units of 30 Boyz armed for assault. That’s 360pts for now.

However, every unit in a Codex normally has a number of options to bolster the basic unit. In the Boyz case there is the option for a Nob unit leader as well as various heavier weapons to add to the squad. Not all army list construction is down to the maths though, some things will be personal preference. In this case I will forego the option of the heavier weapons, I want my guys to be running into the jaws of the enemy so stopping and shooting isn’t what they are designed for. If I have a role for them to do I should stick to equipping them for that role. I always take a Nob in the unit as this unlocks some  much-needed wargear options to power up my squad. With Orks it is considered to be a must-have upgrade to have a Nob and a Power Klaw, this guy packs strength 9 on the charge and can therefore take on monstrous creatures or vehicles with relative ease giving the unit a multi-tasking role as Orks lack much in the anti-armour department so I need to get it where I can take it. As the Nob is a unit leader he cannot be picked out from the unit which means ramming a unit of 30 Boyz with a Power Klaw Nob into something like a Carnifex is a pretty safe bet, yes the Carnifex will kill some Orks but the return attacks from the Nob will be wounding on 2’s and ignore its armour save.. ouch.

Taking options like this is an example of knowing what your unit is there to do. This is a basic tenet of army list building, every unit should have a role, now that we’ve chosen the two Troops slots we need to fill let’s have a quick look at the HQ options.

In most armies your HQ options will have a few generals to perform different kinds of roles and a plethora of special characters. In general Special Characters are very expensive for what they do and you can normally come up with something that will perform better for less points creating your own character. If we ignore special characters then for our Ork example we have three options, the Warboss, the Big Mek and the Weirdboy. Each have their specialities, the Warboss is a combat beast and will massacre stuff in combat, the Big Mek has access to some pretty weird wargear (mobile cover save and potentially one of the most devastating guns in the game) and the Weirdboy gives you access to psychic powers. The Warboss allows you to take a single Nob or Mega-Nob unit as a Troops choice (this could be a compulsory choice but I’m ignoring that for the sake of this article), the Big Mek allows a Deff Dread as a Troops choice. This is pretty redundant as he is a vehicle and therefore cannot claim objectives, however, if you are taking a lot of Heavy Support choices then this could free up a slot. The Deff Dread might be quite killy but for the cost to load him out I’d probably take another unit of 30 Boyz for the Troops slot as they will soak more damage, do more damage themselves and can claim objectives.

Our options here are really the Warboss or the Big Mek, both are cheap and unless we take a Shokk Attack Gun will not blow themselves up like the Weirdboy can. The Warboss has more wounds, is tougher, has higher Weapon Skill and has the best possible strength available to the Ork army (Str 10 with a power klaw). As we could take Nobs of Mega-Nobs as a Troops slot we’ll pay 60 points for the Warboss and take some upgrades to make him do more damage in close combat. Wargear is a personal choice but keep in mind what you want to do with the character and kit them out accordingly, don’t waste points on stuff, keep things simple as you’ll have more points to spend elsewhere.

To recap so far we have filled our compulsory selections, below is the army as it stands showing wargear loadouts. Obviously unless you are playing Orks (and even if you are) your list may look different but for now we have only filled things we have to take.

Warboss with Mega-Armour, Bosspole, Attack Squig and Cybork Body

2 Mobs of 30 Boyz with Sluggas/Choppas Nob with Power Klaw and Bosspole

For a total of 575pts which is just over a third of our army, but we have 61 models already. As this article is already getting long we’ll move into the other aspects of our list tomorrow when we will discuss the roles of Elites, Fast Attack and Heavy Support, choosing roles for things and what I like to call the “Questions of Army Selection”.

See you tomorrow.

Advertisements

One thought on “Tutorials in Gaming – Warhammer 40,000 Army List Construction 101”

Comments are closed.