Thursday, 6 March 2014

Rich's Thursday Ramble : 30K vs 40K

Howdy Folks!

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.

Fair enough.
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!


  1. When I attended a talk from FW at Gamesday a couple of years ago (the year betrayal was released) the writers said that normal Marine lists did not fair well against Heresy whilst Xenos tended to do pretty well. I always thought that this was because everything is designed to kill marines so even if it's not high AP it high rate of fire or high strength, meaning that they will win a war of attrition but die just as easily to the marine killer alien weapons.

    I don't have a problem with the Legion lists any more than I have a problem with standard codices. There are combos in most armies that simply aren't fun to play against for me so I avoid doing so. Oddly Kill Team I'm not bothered about facing filth as it will be over in 10 minutes so not a problem, whereas I feel bad calling games at turn three or four to avoid drawing out another hour of unfun but I figure it's better to use the time to play something else as there is little challange either player.

    1. That is an interesting point as i'd have thought that, naturally, it would be xenos players that would be most concerned. What with a relatively cheap squad with 20 bolt guns able to shoot twice in a turn and all those volkite weapons that can really pile up wounds on love save units. But that is a fair point, if im playing legion and im paying basically 12.5 points a guy and youre playing codex marines and paying 14 or whatever it is, that would rankle i guess.
      But on the flipside, that 14 points per guy tactical squad has got the ability to take 1 melta gun and a sergeant combi-weapon and make it able to threaten any vehicle whereas the legion list would only be able to field that combi weapon.

  2. We have had plenty of 30k legion vs legion games down here in Cardiff which are normally swift and bloody. What works for it is that everyone is using the same army list so if one week someone shows up with a Lvl 3 Libby casting precience on a 20 man bolter squad (gross!!!) we either find everyone has one the week after or it is outlawed as a house rule (as that one was).

    On the flip side, like Rich said, awful units can be ignored/avoided due to heresy games being 2000pts minimum. Cries such as 'Ignire the spartan, kill everything else!' are fairly common.

    Against other Dex's we have seen it very one sided depending on who they fight. Eldar ruin legion lists while Tyranids have been reduced to chuncks of meat by Tom's WE a few times.

    So as said above it could go either way...I feel the bigger problem is not in the legion list but where 40K is going in general. Too many unbalanced books going either way:
    Tau/Eldar = Good
    Bugs/Chaos = not so much (excluding the heldrake)
    The company seems to be run by selling tactics more so than ever right now and it is hampering what little balance we had left.

    A 40k tourny down here the other weeks results had the top 3 as Eldar and the next 2 as white scar grav gun lists.....what is the point in playing let alone owning one of those armies aside from removing the fun from your game? While playing Orks for example is a lesson in self abuse as you remove your toys from the table in comparison.

    Its a rant, I know, I'm sorry but I miss the fun balance(ish)d game we once had.
    Killteam is definatly a safe escape until they sort their act out or kill the game utterly.

    As a side not, I did underestimate the lists some of us brought up with us......and have developed a 'shame complex' for it. As a punishment I mentioned to Will that I would send him a list of models I have and he could write my army list for next year or if we are doing killteam I will be running kroot.... there is almost no way in hell they can hold their own but I have some great conversions in mind for them :)

    And to conclude, as I finish rereading this message I notice all the students have gone home....hmmm, hometime!


    1. Funny you mention the Lvl 3 librarian as the game i had against Tom the other week was the first time either of us had fielded a legion libby so far (albeit a lvl 2 divination libby) and he did mention you guys had house ruled that guy out of existence which i found surprising until i saw even the lvl 2 in action. He was pretty solid. My hunch is the lvl 2 might be okay..ish. but i dont think id ever stoop to a lvl 3.

      At a casual glance i could well agree with you on the selling tactics ruining the balance issue. But if you really sit down and look at it, that doesnt really seem to play out. I genuinely think its more down to either incompetence or negligence caused by rushing things out.
      There have been some very strong units in 6th ed books, but theres also been some utter guff. How many of the new things theyre releasing are actually worth picking up? Picking a book i can speak about from experience, Eldar, theres no doubt its a very good book with one incredible stand out option, the Wave Serpent.
      Was this a new kit? No.
      Did they beef it up on purpose to shift the book? Possibly, but if they intentionally made the Serpent strong, why did they then literally run out of stock of Wave Serpents mere weeks after the Codex was released? Surely you'd make sure you had a stock of them to keep up with demand if you were making it strong on purpose.

      Finally, a thought i had in response to your point about missing the balanced(ish) games of days gone by, for casual games of 40K, is it maybe worth sitting down with your opponent beforehand and thrashing out your lists together with the intention of making the game interesting? Might mean you have to lug a few more models about in your case so youve got the options, but if it means you enjoy your game its probably worth it, right?

    2. Oh, also, i might be bonkers, but i think kroot could actually make for quite a cool kill team.
      15 Kroot with sniper rounds, 4 kroot hounds and 3 krootox riders? 200 on the nose.

  3. Yeah, I see what you mean about the wave serpant example and specifically the phrase 'incompetence or negligence' when you put it like that.

    Although I do feel the knights to be a massive money spin being they haven't been seen in our fair game (fluff or table top...aside from Mechanicum) for at least 15 years.

    Either way the casual game should go uneffected if like we have both said you veto anything too gamey.

    And finally, as for my kroot I'm trying not to find anything too broken. Last time we played I ran about 14 gun drones and a battlesuit thinking it was a nice themed recon group then after 4 very strong wins I decided against drones. All those shots (even on low BS) twin linked combined with the jump packs.

    I was thinking:

    12 kroot (pulse rounds)
    1 kroot ox
    3 lesser knarloc riders

    Table wise it shouldn't play too baddly if they can stay in cover or don't have to take any moral checks :/

    Toying with modelling them as native Americans with feathers and the like....but we'll see, Vespid could be cool too.