Its Thursday again already so here is my latest little discussion topic for the week, are Space Marine Legion armies unbalanced when used outside of the context of heresy only play?
This is something that came up a few times during the Devastation Doubles Weekender and it did make me stop and ponder the topic. I'm going to put forth a few f my own thoughts on the matter and would love to hear any of the thoughts on it that the rest of you have.
I suppose the sensible place to start is assessing what is the intended context of the Legion army list. The obvious answer to this is that it is primarily intended for games against other Legion lists, fans of the heresy want to recreate battles and scenarios from their favourite story lines.
But that cant be the sole intention, can it?
Surely some of those great tales also involved great swathes of space marines fighting off Orks, Megarachnids and the Eldar amongst others throughout the Great Crusade and the lead up to 'The Heresy'.
It does state in the Betrayal FAQ that its perfectly okay for a game between friends of Legion vs a regular codex, just that you may find a few inconsistencies with certain interactions. Which could work either way, as they state in that very same FAQ entry, Legion units tend to pay a hefty premium for stubborn.
So, if you hadn't already managed to ascertain, I'm quite a fan of the Legion list and i generally don't think I'd have a problem pitting any of my 'regular' armies against an opponents Legion army.
But that also doesn't mean i think its all roses, there does seem to be a few problem areas.
First up is quite an obvious target, the Legion Heavy Support squad. Everyone loves Long Fangs, right? Lets make a unit like Long Fangs but BETTER!
So that's probably a pretty good place to start the comparison.
A unit of 6 Long Fangs with 5 missile launchers comes out around 140 points, a unit of 5 Legion Heavy Support marines with 5 missile launchers comes out at 160 (for completions sake, a unit of 6 guys is 185, but that's a bit skewed as the 6th guy has a missile launcher rather than a bolter).
So you are paying a fair chunk more per guy for the Legion equivalent, the problem of course arises from the fact that you can make that a ten man squad all with missile launchers. Still more expensive in points than taking 2 full squads of Long Fangs despite there being 2 less legion marines in that comparison, but that surely is more than evened out by the fact that the legion list has only spent 1 heavy support choice.
Another problem unit in my experience is the Legion Centurion with Master of Signals. Universally considered a near-auto include in many Legion lists from what I've seen. Not only is he a relatively cheap marine HQ choice, clocking in comfortably under 100 points he gives you the ability to drop an orbital barrage and can give any unit he joins BS5.
When used in conjunction with the previous unit under discussion this makes for quite a nasty little unit indeed, no doubt. I cant really make any excuses for it and I don't think there's really any unit in a 'regular' list we could compare to with any degree of fairness. My thinking when it comes to this guy might be to just use sparingly.
Possibly the biggest offender to come out of the Devastation weekend will be the last unit i wanted to mention. The Legio Cybernetica Castellax Battle Automata. Most folks who attended either got to see them in action or at the very least heard horror tales of what the unit is potentially capable of dishing out (and what its capable of surviving!). I don't think i could credibly offer any counter-argument to how strong these guys are, so I won't attempt to.
They are certainly very tough. They have a very solid primary weapon as standard (particularly in the intended field of heresy play).
They are also cheaper than I'd have anticipated in terms of points.
They also happen to be troops.
Do they have any downside?!
I guess you would have to say no, not really. But i will add myself and Tom played a two thousand point game with my legion list versus his legio cybernetica list in which he fielded a unit of six castellax, so i just ignored that unit as much as i could and played for the mission. I managed to distract them for a turn or two with a unit of assault marines which took them away from the meat of my force. Meanwhile I concentrated on everything else (including the attached Imperial Knight) and downed most of it and won the game.
So the things that apply to most big nasty units apply to these guys too. Try and engage them on your terms or not at all. I think the thing that would irk me most about this unit in games of 'regular' 40K is how it just doesnt seem to fit into any of the rough moulds that most monstrous creatures currently fall into in 40k codexes. I don't really understand why its toughness 7 with an invulnerable save, surely toughness 6 would have been fine? Still higher than the other tough ad mech guys, but not tougher than say...a carnifex.
And that, dear readers, is kind of the pointing i was attempting to steer towards.
Yes, there are some quite nasty little units and combos available in the legion list.
But are they any worse than a regular Eldar list fielding four or five Wave Serpents at 1500 points? (three Wave Serpents in a list is okay. Honest. I wrote to Jervis and he said it was fine and that I'm definitely not a massive douche).
Are they any worse than two Helldrakes with Baleflamers?
Are they any worse than whatever the other cheesiest units are currently?
I'd argue no, they probably aren't.
So we're kinda of back to our old 'social contract' discussion in a way. Sometimes we want to put something strong on the table and go hammer & tongs at it to see who comes out on top. Sometimes we want to field a few units we like and just enjoy the playing of the game.
Working out what each player taking part wants beforehand is kind of important.
Thanks for reading!