Tutorials in Gaming – Warhammer 40,000 Army List Construction 102


Yesterday I went into the start of constructing an army list for 40k. These same principles do translate into Warhammer with some adjustment. We looked at the basic Force Organisation chart and picked out units that matched these slots fulfilling what core Troops do as well as picking up some punch in the form of an HQ unit. Today we will delve into some of the other unit choices available and the various other slots. While I am using Orks as an example as these are the lists I am more familiar with building the basic concepts I am trying to convey work on any other army list too.

In brief we picked two Troops units to fulfill the compulsory selections, these units we designed around taking objectives as well as survivability for Kill Point scenarios. Out HQ was picked as being able to add some punch to a squad but we will also add something else to this selection as we go through options today.

Following the selections we took yesterday we are now left with 1 HQ, 3 Elites, 4 Troops, 3 Fast Attack and 3 Heavy Support. I also mentioned that we were going to tackle the questions of army selection so, to start, before we build the rest of our army, what are these questions? These are questions that I like to ask myself when seeing if I have all the bases covered when creating a list, I’ve already stipulated I make “all-comers” lists rather than tailoring against specific opponents, answering these questions allows me to make sure I am covered against any eventuality. Here are my questions;

  1. How do I deal with large units? (Usually low T, low AS units like Orks and Gaunts)
  2. How do I deal with armoured infantry? (Terminators and their like)
  3. How do I deal with high Toughness? (Monstrous Creatures)
  4. How do I deal with Armour 14? (Not everyone has Land Raiders but if I can cover this other vehicles will naturally be catered for)
  5. How am I going to claim and hold objectives?

These questions are not in order and some units will be able to cover more than one question. If you build an army around covering all of these bases you should have a strong list that can cope with whatever is thrown at it, it won’t guarantee that you can win every game you play but you’ll certainly be in a better place than if you just take a random bunch of models. Luckily in the Ork army the way I answer a lot of these questions is my 40k catchphrase “Moar Boyz!”. Ork Boyz are excellent for a number of reasons, they are cheap, there are lots of them and a Nob with a Power Klaw can total pretty much anything in the game given time, the number of bodies in his mob is what buys that time (normally).

Firstly, let’s take a look at Elites, for Orks we have a large number of selections in this regard, Nobs squads, Mega-Nobz, Burnas, Lootas, Kommandos and Tank Bustas. Nobs can be changed into the feared (and expensive) Nob bikers too so that gives us a fast-moving attack element to go with our Elites options. Each of these units performs different roles, however, now we can also see that our chosen HQ fits something nicely here. In an Ork army a Warboss allows a unit of Nobz or Mega-Nobz to be taken as a Troops choice rather than Elites, not only does this release an Elites slot we could choose to fill with something else it also means that the units taken as Troops is a scoring unit and can therefore claim objectives. It is worth looking deeply into an HQ units special rules as often it will mean you might look into one choice over another because of those options. As you can see above one of the questions I have is for taking and holding objectives. For this purpose I’d be looking at the Mega-Nobz, normally afflicted by “Slow and Purposeful” foot-slogging them to an objective might not be a good idea, luckily they have a couple of transport options; a Trukk or a Battlewagon. Personally I take a Trukk, its cheap and gets them where the action is quicker than if they were on foot. I can fit 12 models on a Trukk but Mega-armour units count as two models, perfect, I can take 5 Mega-Nobz and the Warboss and fit them all in the Trukk. This gives me a fast-moving element and the open-topped nature of the vehicle means I can assault out of it. I’ll throw in a Red Paint Job to grab an extra inch of movement per turn. This unit will rip through most heavy armoured troops but needs to watch out for monstrous creatures and anything with a power fist as they will get eaten up. This unit will also help with questions 1, 3 and 5 due to their own resilience (2+ AS , 2W and T4) and their combat prowess (3 attacks on the charge at S9). Because they are only S9 on the charge they have difficulty with number 4, however, the addition of the Warboss means that they can actually pop armour 14 as he is a mean S10 normally and puts out 6 attacks on the charge. Question 4 is the hardest for me to answer with Orks as they lack a lot of high strength weaponry, the most powerful things you can get are either random (Zapp gun and Shokk Attack Gun) or vehicle mounted (Boomgun and Kill Cannon).

So far we have a lot of infantry, even if one of those units is charging across the battlefield in a ramshackle Trukk. We could really do with some support for these guys as well as looking into what happens if we have an objective in our own back field that the enemy are going to be coming for? While shooting isn’t the Orks forte so to speak they normally chuck out enough bullets to hit something. So to add some fire support we’re actually going to take two units, one that can claim our own objective and another to give additional fire support. A unit of 10 Lootas will put out up to 30 shots per turn and we can back them up with another mob of 20 Boyz, this time armed with Shootas and as they will be sitting back we can throw in up to 2 Big Shootas to give addtional firepower, for a mere 10 points I see no reason not too, we will add the obligatory Nob to the group to help them out if they get attacked and might as well give him a power klaw too. The Shoota Boyz can take on armoured infantry (huge number of attacks still if they charge or are charged means enemy has more chance of failing saves) and their firepower should put dents in light infantry, their Big Shootas also allow them to pop light vehicles as you have 6 tries per turn. The Lootas meanwhile can pop light vehicles and light infantry as well as picking off lone characters.

This takes us up to 4 Troops choices filled, 1 HQ and 1 Elites. This adds up to around 1100pts with the various options we have and 106 models already. We have nothing from Fast Attack or Heavy Support yet, however we are managing to fit our units into the questions posed earlier. As mentioned you will find that sometimes units will fit the bill to answer more than one question, the Orks certainly do that but their weakness is with question 4. Various armies have strengths in certain areas and weaknesses in others, playing to your strengths is something that you want to do naturally and all the Nobz I have are S9 on the charge and they can pop AV14 but the Warboss is best placed to do it (unless it’s a Monolith and ignores the power klaw strength bonus of course, but that thing is evil in and of itself).

Looking at our current selections shows that we have a horde of foot-slogging infantry and one unit that will be zooming out across the battlefield. What we do not want is for isolated units to be picked off by the enemy before they can do some damage, we need something to backup those Mega-Nobz and give the enemy something else to worry about. While we could take more Boyz and pop 12 of them in a Trukk we only have 2 Troops slots left and have 3 Fast Attack. So, here come 10 Stormboyz, they are Jump Infantry so can move fast and their rocket packs allow them an extra d6″ movement per turn, so they can zoom up to 18″ in the movement phase and still assault 6″ in the assault phase, not bad at all. We’ll upgrade them to have a Nob with Power Flaw so we can pop vehicles if we have to and have a solid unit that can jump between terrain and support our Mega-Nobz. This unit comes in at almost 200pts leaving us with around 200pts left on the army. we haven’t taken anything from Heavy Support and to be honest I tend to find this a bit lacking for the Orks, sure there are some nice options like Deff Dreads and Battlewagons but I like boots on the ground. In any army there are a number of ways to answer the questions posed earlier and therefore I am not giving you a definitive way of building an army, if you like a unit then by all means take it, you have options with building an army, that is why each of the various Force Organisation slots has a number of choices, knowing what to take and how it will perform will help you to balance your army. Blast templates will rip apart a foot-slogging Ork army, but I know this and therefore will try and use cover to my advantage to reduce the casualties that my Boyz take on the way in. The Waaagh! I can call should help me get in combat by turn 2 or 3 and the sheer number of models I have is designed to overwhelm the enemy. Most things will be killed by the sheer number of attacks I can put out, that’s the way this army is designed to work. In your own forces think about what you want to achieve and design a list that sticks to that theme, think about how you are going to play on your advantages while trying to play down your weaknesses. Going in half-hearted is a surefire way to gimp your army selection.

To round off then I’m going to ignore Heavy Support, other armies have much more interesting choices, Space Marines have Whirlwinds and Vindicators that are well worth looking at for taking out Question 1, Daemons have Soul Grinders and Daemon Princes that can answer 1,2,3 and 4 so really it all depends on what you are taking. Finishing my army is going to stick to my old adage and fill in that fifth Troops slot, another unit of 30 Slugga Boyz, with a Nob armed with Power Klaw. Yes I have three units armed the same way but very few armies are going to enjoy 90 Ork Boyz running at their lines when backed up by Stormboyz and a Trukk-load of Mega-Nobz.

Is this the best army list I can come up with? Probably not, I know I can fit 6 squads of 30 Boyz into 1080pts and that’s evil as it is. However, hopefully reviewing what we’ve put together and the reasons why I’ve chosen what I have chosen give insight into the principles behind army selection. I could have argued for and against Tank Bustas, chucked in an extra Warboss and taken two units of Nobz in Battlewagons and all kinds of other options that would have produced viable army lists. Experiment with what you have but always keep in mind the roles that you have for your units, throwing into something they are not designed to do is a sure-fire way of getting them killed and edging you towards defeat.

This is our final army list;

Ork Warboss with Power Klaw, Mega-armour, Attack Squig and Bosspole

5 Mega-Nobz in a Trukk with a Red Paint Job

10 Lootas

30 Ork Boyz with Slugga/Choppa, Nob with Power Klaw and Bosspole

30 Ork Boyz with Slugga/Choppa, Nob with Power Klaw and Bosspole

30 Ork Boyz with Slugga/Choppa, Nob with Power Klaw and Bosspole

20 Ork Boyz with Shootas, Nob with Power Klaw and Bosspole and 2 Big Shootas

10 Stormboyz with Nob armed with Power Klaw

Approx 1500pts with 136 models.

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