List Building 101 by Reece Robbins

This was an article I wrote for Bell of Lost Souls a few years back and that has proven to be popular ever since. I still see it referenced on 40K related sites all over the internet. Hopefully it can also provide you with some useful information. 

This article is intended to help new players build effective army lists in 40K, over the course of a 4 part series. This is the inaugural piece. Lets forge ahead.

Each codex has a multitude of options in it and I often see new players simply taking units seemingly at random and are disappointed when they underperform. Please note that this article will often reference army strategy as in this game strategy predominantly takes place during list building. Tactics, the actual unit by unit decisions you make in game, will not be covered. After the theory is presented, we will examine actual lists and talk to the gamers that play them to gain their insights as to what makes them work. Lastly, as player skill is not a quantifiable, it will not be considered for the sake of this article.

Every army in the game has one basic function: to win games. Even a themed, fluff list still has one purpose on the table top and that is to defeat the other player (perhaps not ruthlessly), unless of course the fluff of your army is to lose. The game is played for fun of course, but it is not fun to be destroyed with no chance of victory because of list building errors.

So, any army, even an army that is not designed for tournament play, should still be able to win games with a reasonable degree of consistency or it will not be enjoyable to play or play against. In order to do this a player must first understand the basic principles of list building in order to construct an effective list.


The first and most important question you should ask yourself with any list is: how will it win the game (please note, this does not mean how can I be a WAAC player, or a jerk, only how will this list effectively achieve victory conditions in a given mission)? To answer this question you must look at the conditions for victory. In 5th edition standard missions you win 2/3’s of games by scoring more objectives than your opponent and 1/3 of games by destroying more of his units than he destroys of yours.

With that basic knowledge in place you can now begin to determine which units you will take to achieve these ends. Each army in the game is significantly different from the others but when boiled down to their most basic elements each army has three types of units in the context of 5th edition basic missions: scoring units, damage dealing units, and support units.

These types of units can appear in different force organization slots, and often times a unit may be a hybrid of the two or even all three, but these are essentially the roles all of the units available to you will fill.

Scoring Units have the following priorities in order of greatest to least importance:

Scoring Objectives.


Preventing enemy scoring units from scoring.

Destroying enemy units.

Damage Dealing Units have the following priorities:

Destroying enemy units.

Preventing enemy scoring units form scoring.


Note: There is a sub category of the damage dealing unit that also fulfills the same basic function but is different enough to warrant note. This is the super unit, or Deathstar unit as it is sometimes called. These units primary function is to destroy enemy units but they are powerful and hard enough to kill that they require special attention or they can theoretically win games on their own if not dealt with. Their downside is that typically they are very expensive and neutralizing or destroying them often means you will win the game. Examples of this are Nob Bikers, full Thunder Hammer Assault Terminator squads, Swarmlord with full Tyrant Guard, etc.

Support Units have the following priorities:

Enabling other units to perform their functions to a greater degree.

Preventing enemy scoring units from scoring.


Destroying enemy units.

You can then place each unit in your codex into one of these categories and its function on the table top will become clear. In order to achieve victory, you must choose units that best fulfill the requirements for their unit type. In a fluff oriented list or non optimized list you may have self imposed restrictions against taking the most efficient unit which is fine, but you must still try to achieve these objectives with your units or you will have very serious weaknesses in your list.

Overall List Strategy:

The next step to designing an effective army is to decide what your overall strategy is going to be. This is important because an army with a controlling strategy means that all of its units work in concert with one another and create synergy, as opposed to a collection of random units that operate independently, do not support one another and are easily destroyed. Again, there are a multitude of different types of builds, but in general what you have are the following:

Assault list. Whether through close combat or close range firepower, the army advances with the majority of its units to engage the opponent at close range.

Shooty list. This army destroys enemies at range and tends not to advance if possible, only doing so late game if necessary.

Hybrid list. This army can shoot and assault well, or contains a mix of both types of units. This army can advance if needs be, or sit back and shoot.

No matter which type of list you take you need to be able to do a number of things if you want to be able to take on all comers with your list.

Score objectives

Stop your opponent from scoring objectives

Destroy hordes of infantry

Destroy monstrous creatures and heavy tanks

Destroy large numbers of transport vehicles

If you can do all of the five things listed above, your army will be able to go toe to toe with any other and have at least a reasonable chance of achieving victory. The rest of this article will be focused on doing just this.

A Note on Redundancy and Efficiency

Before we dig into the nuts and bolts of unit selection, this is a concept that is important to understand. Redundancy is sometimes referred to as spamming, which has negative connotations. In reality, unit redundancy is hugely beneficial for a number of reasons. If you have multiples of a critical unit, the loss of one won’t devastate your force. For example, if you are facing an army heavy with Armor value 14 vehicles and you have only one unit capable of destroying them at range, the loss of that unit puts you at a tremendous disadvantage. Having two of these units makes them twice as destructive and twice as resilient, therefore you increase your effectiveness four fold. Redundancy also means that you can achieve what is called critical mass. If you have more of a certain unit type than your enemy has tools to destroy that unit, then you will achieve your goals without giving him the ability to stop you. For example, if you take an all infantry list, and your opponent has only a limited number of effective anti infantry units, he will be unable to destroy your units before your units destroy his ability to hurt them. Another example is taking more AV14 vehicles than your enemy has anti heavy tank weapons. He cannot possibly destroy them all in one turn thereby ensuring you have the ability to take away his ability to hurt you. You never want to have a situation in which a single unit is the lynch pin for your list strategy if you can avoid it. By having multiples of key units you ensure that your army will function even if it takes damage.

Counter to this is the concept of efficiency. Frequently new players will take too many upgrades available to a unit, bloating their points cost. More often than not, it is better to have more units than to spend points making units marginally better. Design units to fulfill a function in your army and then spend only enough points on them to achieve that end. For example, in a foot Eldar list it is usually better to have four units of Dire Avengers with no upgrades than to take three squads with an Exarch and Bladestorm. Why? Because four units means more bodies, another scoring unit, and they put out eighty shots a turn as opposed to the ninety every other turn that three units with Bladestorm put out.

Scoring Units:

Choose scoring units first, as they are the most critical units to achieving victory in 2 out of 3 games. You must look to what you have available to you and then purchase units that fulfill the requirements of your army type (unless you play an army with only one troop type; sorry Necron players).

The two objective missions are quite dissimilar from each other in that one of them only has two objectives, one of which you may place in your own deployment zone; the other having up to five objectives. You must take enough scoring units to ensure that you hold more than your opponent. Theoretically this number can be one, but in practice if you have only two scoring units, unless they are extremely durable, you will have a serious weakness as a canny opponent will focus on killing those units first in an objective mission and ensure that the worst outcome for himself will be a draw.

Therefore, you need to take enough scoring units—or scoring units durable enough— to score at least one more objective than your opponent. Each army is different in what it has to offer, but this is a good rule of thumb to go by when choosing your scoring units. Since in seize ground missions the maximum number of objectives is five, a good rule is to not take less than three scoring units (allowing you to control the majority of the objectives). The exception to this is if you are playing a small point level game or your scoring units are extremely durable, such as those available to armies like Orks. That said, in almost no cases is having a large number of scoring units a bad thing.

Assault List Scoring Units

There are many types of assault scoring units and they are characterized by the desire to get into close range and attack the enemy. They typically fulfill the dual role of scoring unit/damage dealer. In some armies these units are very effective at both, such as Ork Boyz and Nobz, Chaos Space Marine cult troops, Space Wolf Grey Hunters, Black Templar Crusader squads, Tyranid Genestealers, etc. When you have a situation such as this, you can make a very powerful army by simply taking a large number of these units. This gives you the triple advantage of multiple scoring options, effective damage dealing units and redundancy to ensure that you will be able to win games even when sustaining heavy casualties.

These units usually function best when used en masse to engage the enemy at close range and hit them hard with close range firepower or in assault. This also has the benefit of an army that likes to be mobile and engage the enemy, meaning that you will be coming for him and his objectives. With this type of list, you want to place all objectives as close to one another as possible and usually in center board or in your opponent’s deployment zone as you will be coming at him. You can make an excellent list by taking 4 to 6 scoring units, such as with Grey Hunters, or Ork Boy Mobs for example, and then filling out the other roles specifically to support this core.

Shooty List Scoring Units

Some armies or build strategies do not use effective assault scoring units and as such they must be built using different guidelines. Examples of this are Eldar Guardians, Eldar Rangers/Pathfinders, Tau Fire Warriors, Necron Warriors, Imperial Guard Infantry Platoons (in most cases, they can be built to be effective in combat), Space Marine Sniper Scouts, etc. These units want to engage their targets at medium to long range as they usually do not want to be in assault. Therefore they must be able to maximize the amount of time they can sit and shoot, but they must also be mobile enough to go and get objectives, or at the least have support units that can contest enemy objectives. This type of army plays a more defensive game, preferring to castle and defend their own objectives while destroying the enemy as they come in.

Therefore, you must consider several factors when building this type of army. Can you shoot an assault army enough to defeat them before they get to you? Can you outshoot another shooty list? Can you reach out and at the least contest enemy objectives while keeping them off of your own?

If you answer no to any of the above questions, you will find yourself regularly losing. Why? Because if you are unable to shoot up an assault army enough before it gets to you then those armies will defeat you in combat. If you cannot outshoot another shooty army, then you will obviously be defeated as you will either stand and get shot to death or turn into a pseudo assault army and try to rush across the board to engage. If you cannot score objectives or at least contest them, then even if you shoot the pants off of your opponent and he has more objectives than you do, you still lose.

In order to build an effective list of this type, you can get away with taking less scoring units than in an assault list as you will typically be playing defensively and holding only one to three objectives and looking to contest the rest. In Kill Points your damage dealing units will be doing the heavy lifting. Although if your scoring units put out the same or better damage than your damage dealing units, then by all means, maximize them as this improves your redundancy and ability to win games.

You need to at least take a core of shooting units that can survive what the enemy throws at them. For different armies, this means different things. Some units like Space Marine Scouts and Eldar Pathfinders are very difficult to destroy due to cover save benefits. Other units, such as Imperial Guard Infantry Platoons, can be made very numerous and difficult to shake with leadership upgrades or similar abilities. No matter the list though, you need to be able to defend your objectives for seven turns while still adding the unit’s firepower to your army’s total output.

Hybrid List Scoring Units

A hybrid list can take many forms. It can be an army built of scoring units that are good in both assault and shooting such as Grey Knights, Grey Hunters, Shoota Boys, Plague Marines, etc. or it can be made of equal parts assault units and shooting units. Lastly, it can be a combination of units that allow them to function in either role, such as putting an assault unit in a transport vehicle that shoots well as with Bladestroming Dire Avengers in a Wave Serpent with anti tank weapons.

These types of armies have the benefit of being very flexible. However, that flexibility usually comes with a hefty price tag and at the expense of specialization. You will typically find that a dedicated assault army will defeat you in combat while a dedicated shooting army will outshoot you.

Therefore, in order to win with this type of army you will have to take one of two paths in most cases. You will either have to swarm your opponent with numbers or take units that are very resilient. Examples of this are a shooty Ork foot army, an Eldar foot list, Monstrous Creature heavy lists or a heavy tank based list, such as a Land Raider, Battle Wagon or Eldar Skimmer list. All of these lists get over their shortcomings by eliminating a portion of the other player’s army. An Ork horde ignores anti tank weapons, rendering those points wasted, and a Monstrous Creatures or heavy tank list ignores most if not all of the other player’s anti infantry weapons. You therefore level the playing field.

Scoring units in these types of lists must be able to either perform both an assault and shooting role or be complimented by a unit that does what they do not. Typically these types of lists will rely on their scoring units to fulfill multiple roles, typically that of scoring unit and as damage dealing unit. You therefore need to take a large number of these multi role units as they will need to be able to engage the enemy and survive with enough numbers to still score objectives.

Nonconforming Scoring Units

Some lists are built around an unconventional concept that does not exactly comply with the archetypes listed above. These lists will still fit into one of the three basic list types; however they will utilize scoring units in a different role. Typically they use scoring units to only score objectives and then to engage enemy units only if necessary. Examples of this are armies that rely on small, fast scoring units to pounce on objectives late game such as Eldar Jetbikes, or 5 man Chaos Lesser Daemon squads. Another example of nonconforming scoring units are filler squads that are chosen only to allow the use of a dedicated transport such as a 5 man Black Templars Crusader Squad in a Land Raider Crusader or a 5 man Dire Avenger Squad in a Wave Serpent. All these units do is make their transport vehicle scoring and typically play almost no part in the battle themselves.

These types of lists rely on their damage dealing and support units to do all the heavy lifting and only have scoring units to achieve victory. They have the advantage of focusing points on sheer kill power, but they have the weakness of scoring units that are easily destroyed which means easy kill points or a lack of scoring ability. These types of lists require skill to keep the scoring units alive but can be very powerful.

Support Units

These are the units that make the rest of your army perform at a higher level and are often referred to as force multipliers. Every army has them to varying degrees, and often these units are what take a list from good to great. However, they must be wisely chosen as often it is better to take more units than to make the units you have, better. In most cases simply doing a points analysis (comparing how much your unit is improved by the support unit for its points cost versus what you get by simply taking another unit) will often tell you which is better, but not in all cases. Experience will be your best guide.

The most obvious example of this type of unit is the Eldar Farseer. A Farseer is not very intimidating on his own, but will greatly increase the effectiveness of units in an Eldar Army. You in effect get more than the unit’s points worth when they are affected by a Farseer buff or when an enemy unit is made easier to destroy. Many other armies have similar units such as an Ork Mekboy with a Kustom Force Field, a Space Marine Techmarine, Space Marine Chaplain, Tau Markerlights, Necron Lords, Tyranid Venomthropes, Tyranid Hive Tyrants, etc.

The key to selecting these units is to find those whose abilities mesh with your overall list archetype. If you are creating an assault list, then chose support units that will enhance this aspect of your army. For example, if you are creating an assault oriented Eldar foot list, two characters that will dramatically enhance your ability to perform this function are a Farseer and an Avatar. The Avatar is a potent assault unit on his own, but he also makes your units near him fearless. The Farseer then adds to this by being able to enhance your units or weaken your opponent’s. Either of these two makes for a great force multiplier but the two combined elevates all of the units near them to a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Look for these combinations in your codex such as the Space Wolves’ Ragnar Blackmane who gives any unit he is attached to an enormous boost in assault (Furious assault and +D3 attacks to himself and his squad). Attaching him to a squad will make them deadly plus he is a powerful damage dealing unit himself. Read the special rules for all of your units and see how they will enhance what you are trying to accomplish with your overall strategy then choose those support units that will fulfill this role best. This can be as simple as a distraction unit or a screening/tar pitting unit for some lists (such as shooty lists who need to buy all the time they can against assault armies), or as little as a fast unit capable of reaching out and contesting an objective for others.

Some examples of this are using an Ork Mekboy with a Kustom Force Field to make an Ork horde far more resilient than it would otherwise be. It is tempting to take a Warboss for sheer kill power, but when you consider that a cleverly placed Mekboy can give literally hundreds of Orks 33% better durability, he is suddenly an amazing addition to a list. Another example is using Imperial Guard officers to bolster the effectiveness of a shooty Imperial Guard list or using a Psyker Battle Squad to lower a target unit’s leadership to 2, then shooting that unit with pinning weapons. Now those are fairly obvious examples, but no less effective for being obvious. What they do is give you more bang for your buck with the units they are able to enhance.

The best support units to take in many lists, especially shooty lists, are units that increase the durability of your scoring units such as those that improve your units’ leadership abilities or make them harder to kill such as a Space Marine Techmarine or Master of the Forge. Also, those units that improve your shooting such as Tau Pathfinders (or any marker light equipped unit), Imperial Guard Officers, Eldar Farseers, etc.

Support units that give you defense against outflanking or deepstriking are also very useful as many armies, particularly shooty armies, are very vulnerable to these types of attacks. Units such as Daemonhunter Inquisitors with Mystics, Imperial Guard Officers of the Fleet, etc. fill this role well.

Conversely, amazing support units for nearly any army are units that have the ability to outflank, deep strike, infiltrate or scout. These types of units can cause huge amounts of disruption for the opponent. By forcing them to be wary of a unit coming in from a flank or behind their lines, you disrupt their battle plans. Examples of these types of units are Imperial Guard Vendettas, Eldar Striking Scorpions (and remember, a dedicated transport can outflank with its squad), Eldar War Walkers, Ork Kommandos (particularly with Snikrot), Space Marine Drop Pods, Tyranid Spores, etc. All of these units enable you to disrupt your enemy’s plans and to put your units where you need them at a critical point in the game.

Another fantastic support unit in nearly any list is something fast to reach out and contest enemy objectives. Unless your army is able to incapacitate your opponent in the first three to four turns of a game and then move onto objectives in the final turns, or advances towards the enemy en masse, you need to be able to reach out and contest. The best units for this are fast movers such as skimmers, bikes, out flankers and deep strikers. Typically you will want to keep these types of units off board for as long as possible so that they will not be destroyed before they can fulfill their mission.

The skill of using support units comes in knowing when they will benefit your list enough to be worth their points cost and when you would be better off with simply taking more units of another type.

Damage Dealing Units

These are typically the fun units in a codex and exist to do the hard work of actively engaging and destroying the enemy. It is easy to get carried away with these units and just pack in all of those that you like as opposed to those that will compliment your list best. That is why I always choose my scoring and support units first as these are the units that will win you the game. With the points left over you should then choose your damage dealing units. Remember, a lot rides on these units and they must compliment your list’s overall strategy. All kill power and no scoring ability is fine in Kill Points but a serious liability in 66.6% of your other games.

If you have an assault list most often your damage dealing units will fill the role of adding a super unit to be the backbreaker in assault, or as a long range damage dealer to cover your units as they move to engage. Look at your list and think about where the gaps are. If you have no way of dealing with monstrous creatures or heavy tanks at range, then it may be prudent to take several damage dealing units that are capable of taking on these types of units. If your scoring units also double as damage dealers but have no way of taking on super units, then you may want to take a super unit of your own, or a support tar pit unit to take that Deathstar threat out of the game. For example, if you have a Space Wolf Army built around a core of Grey Hunters, who can take on most units in assault with no problem, but see that you have no way of dealing with the most powerful assault units, taking Thunderwolf Calvary will be a good way to compliment your Grey Hunters. In a Daemon list, if you have units that can shred all types of infantry and monstrous creatures, but has trouble with heavy tanks and transports, take units capable of engaging those units such as Screamers or Soul Grinders to fill that gap.

A shooty list will often have its teeth in its damage dealing units. This is where a shooty list needs to pack in the kill power and must address the question of whether or not to include counter assault capability at the expense of more firepower. This is a double edged sword though as every point spent on a counter assault unit is a point not spent on more firepower. You will be glad you have them when facing an assault army but they will be a liability in most cases against a shooty or hybrid list. If you have a cheap counter assault unit available to you, such as Imperial guard Rough Riders, or Tau Kroot (who are basically a necessity in most Tau lists), or a unit that can reliably get into combat such as fast moving out flankers, then they can be a good choice in certain builds.

You should take units which also compliment the shooting of your scoring units. If your scoring units excel at destroying infantry, take damage dealing units which can destroy monstrous creatures, heavy tanks and super units. Determine which units provide the most firepower for you and take multiples of them to ensure that those guns are firing all game. For example, if you have a Witch Hunter list built around a core of Battle Sister Squads and see that you have a lack of long range anti tank punch, taking two or three Exorcists allows you to fill that gap in your list.

A hybrid list will often supplement their scoring units with a blend of shooting and assault units here. Typically if your scoring units are better at one aspect of the game than another, your damage dealing units will fill the other role. For example, if you play Grey Knights who are effective at both shooting and assault, but poor against Heavy Tanks, you should look to take some ranged tank killing units such as Land Raiders and Las Cannon, Missile Launcher Dreadnoughts.

As always, look to compliment the weaknesses left by your other units and be mindful of the five things a good list must be able to do. Review your list and see where you fall short and rearrange your units to make sure that you have no glaring weaknesses.

Example Lists at 2,000 points

Please note that the lists below are not meant to be my idea of the end all by all lists that will never lose (such a list does not exist). These are lists played by competent players who perform well with them.

Practice and fine tuning will be the best way to build a list that fits you and your play style in your gaming environment. There is no substitute for experience.

Assault List

Army: Orks by Shane Hubbard


Warboss: Bike, Cybork Body, Power Klaw

Big Mek: Kustom Force Field, Burna, Ammo Grot, Cybork Body, Eavy Armor


Lootas x 6

Lootas x 6

Tank Bustas x 12, 2 Bomb Squigs, Nob, Power Klaw, Boss Pole, Eavy Armor


Slugga Boyz x 30, Nob, Boss Pole, Power Klaw, Rokkits x 3, Eavy Armor

Slugga Boyz x 30, Nob, Boss Pole, Power, Klaw, Eavy Armor

Slugga Boyz x 30, Nob, Boss Pole, Power Klaw, Eavy Armor

Shoota Boyz x 30, Nob, Boss Pole, Power Klaw, Eavy Armor, Big Shootas x 3

Shoota Boyz x 30, Nob, Boss Pole, Power Klaw, Eavy Armor, Big Shootas x 3

Heavy Support

Kannon x 3, Runtherd, Ammo Grot x 2

Kannon x 3, Runtherd, Ammo Grot x 2

Reece: You play this list competitively, correct?

Shane: Yes, definitely

Reece: What types of events have you played it at?

Shane: RTT’s, ‘Ard Boyz

Reece: How have you done?

Shane: Very well. I’d say I win about 80% of the time, draw 15% of the time, lose 5%.

Reece: You played a list like this at the Ard Boyz, right?


Yes, I added:

-15 Kommandos w/2 Burnas and Snikrot

-2 Deff Koptas w/ Buzz Saws (individual)

-More Lootas

Player Q&A

Reece: Briefly, who did you play and how did you do?


Round 1: Don’t remember armies, tabled two opponents, one draw.

Round 2: Lost to Daemons, Tabled Vulcan + 17 TH/SS terminators, Drew Dave’s 6 razorback shooty marines (by 1/2 an inch).

Reece: What was your overall strategy when building this list?

Shane: Remove the effectiveness of my opponent’s anti-tank weapons. Put more models on the table than most armies can destroy. Kill stuff in close combat.

Reece: What do you feel are its strengths?

Shane: Very effective in close combat. Decent shooting vs. mech. Resilient as heck

Reece: What do you feel are its weaknesses?

Shane: Templates that ignore cover saves. Very mobile armies

Reece: Are you considering changing anything about it?

Shane: Sometimes I swap out Stormboyz for the Tankbustas, but lately the Tankbustas are outperforming the flyboyz. I think it’s because the Tankbustas seem lame because of the lack of control, so my opponents give them less attention than they deserve. They can’t Run (well, unless they’re fighting Tyranids Razz), so they don’t do much for the first turn or two. Still, they’ve all got Rokkitz and Tankbusta Bombz. They really help against Ironclads, which can really tarpit my big mobs of boyz. The bomb squigs can’t hurt my stuff, as I have no vehicles (except the kannons…).

Reece: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, we need to get a rematch after that last butt kicking you game my IG with this list!

Shooty List

Army: Imperial Guard by Jay


Company Command Squad w/ Straken, 2 x Meltagun, 2 x Flamer

Chimera w/ Dozer Blade, Hull Heavy Flamer


Ordo Malleus Inquisitor w/ 2 x Mystic


Veteran Squad w/ 3 x Meltagun, Power Weapon

Chimera w/ Dozer Blade, Hull Heavy Flamer

Veteran Squad w/ 3 x Meltagun, Power Weapon

Chimera w/ Dozer Blade, Hull Heavy Flamer

Platoon Command Squad w/ 3 x Flamer

Chimera w/ Dozer Blade, Hull Heavy Flamer

Infantry Squad w/ Autocannon, Power Weapon, Commissar w/ Power Weapon

Infantry Squad w/ Autocannon, Power Weapon

Infantry Squad w/ Autocannon, Power Weapon





Heavy Support

Leman Russ Executioner w/ Sponson Plasma Cannons, Hull Heavy Flamer

Leman Russ Executioner w/ Sponson Plasma Cannons, Hull Heavy Flamer

Manticore w/ Hull Heavy Flamer

Player Q&A

Reece: What was your overall strategy when designing this list?

Jay: It’s important to note that I don’t consider myself a great list designer. In fact, I didn’t just sit down one day and design the list above. I have actually been evolving my 2000 point IG list since the 5th edition codex came out last May. This was its incarnation as of Jan 2010 (has changed since then.)

First and foremost I wanted a shooty list, because that’s what Guard has always done well. Now when the codex first came out, I had drank the Melta cool-aid and abandoned the mass Lascannons/Plasma Guns of 4th Edition to favor Meltagun Veterans in cool new Gunships. As you can see from the list above, that mindset didn’t last as I am back to lots of Lascannons and Plasma Weapons (Cannons now).

Secondly I wanted mobility. I firmly believe mobility is key because of the objective nature of the 5th edition missions. Not only does mobility allow you to control/contest objectives easier, but mobile SHOOTERS let you shift and concentrate your firepower at will. 2000 points of IG shooting at 1000 points of an opposing list is win in my opinion.

This kind of brings me to my next point. One that I only gradually came to realize. If half my units are anti-tank specialists and the other half are anti-personnel specialists, and my opponent is either all vehicles or all infantry, then right away I could never bring 2000 “relevant” points to bear against my opponent. I’d always be playing with a self imposed handicap (half my units are useless in the match-up).

With this in mind, I wanted each of my units to fill multiple roles as much as possible. Another popular internet term for this is, “duality.” That is, I’d like for each unit to excel at both anti-tank AND anti-personnel. Now or course, it didn’t work out that way for every unit in the list, but that’s something I was aiming for.

To play the list, know that the Executioners are the killers. Everything else supports them (for the most part) by disembarking or slowing down my opponent’s units. Then the (appropriately named) Executioners kill them at range. That is “The Plan.” Of course, no plan survives contact with the enemy, and terrain, opposing army, mission, etc. will affect “The Plan,” but that is the over arching strategy of the list.

Reece: What do you see as the list’s strengths?

Jay: Killing things, mostly at range. Although the list does contain mostly mobile elements, as mentioned above, that mobility is used to bring overwhelming firepower against opposing units at range. As the opponent closes, it just gets worse for them as I add Meltaguns, Heavy Flamers, Flamers, triple-tapping Lasguns and finally Furious Charging Power Weapons into the mix.

I think one of the mistakes I make during some games is not realizing that sometimes it would actually be easier for me to table an opponent than to play the objective game. Killing is the name of the game for this list

Reece: What do you see as its weaknesses?

Jay: If my opponent can get multiple Close Combat threats into my vehicles then I’ll fold. If my 30-man tar pit or Straken can’t handle them, or if there are just too many units hitting my lines at the same time, I’m done.

Going second against a similarly shooty list is also a weakness (one that I hope I’ve compensated for in my current list). All you need to do is shake my shooters all game long and that cuts my firepower down immensely.

Reece: What armies do you like to play against, with this list?

Jay: Armies with small numbers of high priced units and/or models will typically go down easier.

Reece: Which armies do you have trouble with?

Jay: Although I actually haven’t played a TRUE horde army with the list, I imagine they would give me trouble. I’m actually also curious how it would do against a mass Space Wolf Thunderwolf Cavalry charge or the new Blood Angels. I’m talking about extreme, to the exclusion of all else, assault oriented armies that can weather my shooting and arrive largely intact.

I’d also like to see how I fair against a horde foot Space Marine army with 3+ cover saves. I may need to play the “block line of sight with dead Chimera” game against that one.

I don’t, however, believe I have any “auto-lose” match-ups.

Reece: Have you taken this list to a tournament or league?

Jay: Been taking a version of it to Leagues (and evolving it) ever since the current Codex came out.

Reece: How did you do and what armies gave you trouble?

Jay: The Jan 2010 version went 5-2-1 in the last league. Both losses coming against the same Chaos player (once during the season and once in the league finals). I definitely think that my list was stronger than Dave’s Chaos list, but he was able to outplay me both games. His two fast (winged and biked) HQ’s hit my lines intact on both occasions.

Most MEQ (Marine equivalent) armies go down pretty easily after their Rhinos are craters and they have to foot slog into 10 Plasma Cannon blasts, cover or no. Whatever is left that has made it across the board eats 16 str4 Power Weapon attacks at In4 or just gets bogged down for the rest of the game.

Handily beat a few variations of the new ‘Nid dex. I believe ‘Nids still have problems with vehicles at range, the new Hive Guard and Zoanthropes are nice, but their lack of range still makes it an uphill battle for them.

Earlier versions of the list were not as successful, I remember losing to a Mech Ork army that doesn’t worry the current list. Too many Meltaguns before, not enough anti-transport weapons (i.e. weapons that can kill a transport at range, otherwise, its too late).

Reece: What are you considering changing?

Jay: The Manticore was a disappointment. I’ve finally figured out why. You need to plan and think about your shooting during the Movement phase, that way you can shift and bring the proper amount of force to bear upon a specific target. The random nature of the Manticore and the improbability of hits with small numbers of scatter dice makes planning with the Manticore difficult. I.E. Do I point a Vendetta at the Manticore’s target just in case? What can I count on the Manticore to do? Should I dedicate more shooting at the Lootas in case I roll a 1 for the number of shots I get and scatter completely off target?

I will be replacing the Manticore with 2 Hyrdas as soon as I get the second converted.

I’ve also removed the Power Weapons from Veterans. I know, an obvious mistake, but at the time I wanted every unit to at least try to be a close combat threat. Unlike the Power Weapons in the 30-man blob squad, however, the Veterans just don’t have enough ablative wounds (or Stubborn) to stick around long enough for the Power Weapons to be effective.

With the points saved from those two changes, I’ve added Heavy Bolter Sponsons to each Vendetta. For 10 measly points I get six additional Str 5 shots at 36″. Great for helping to take down Trukks, getting additional weapon destroyed/immobilized results on Rhinos, and shaking Preds (on their side) and Razorbacks. They also make the Vendetta a viable threat against Infantry, thus granting it multi-role status.

The Inquisitor w/ Mystics was replaced with an Astropath. I decided that if my opponent was a mass Deep Striker (Daemons, Drop Pod Marines), I could just reserve, come in turn two after they’ve landed, and still get to take the first shots. The additional bonus is that against shooty armies that I don’t get to go first against, I can again reserve everything (or everything that they can reliably threaten at range) and still get to take the first shots when I come in.

Against armies that just had a few Deep Striking elements, I figured I’d be able to handle them without the crutch of the Inquisitor w/ Mystics.

With the 5 points saved from that change, I added a 4th Flamer to the Platoon Command Squad.

The net change to the Jan 2010 list’s long range shooting is -1D3 str10 scattering shots, +8 twin-linked str7 shots, +18 str5 shots. A marked improvement in my opinion.

Reece: Thanks for your input, Jay, I appreciate it.

Hybrid List

Army: Space Wolves by Brad Townsend aka Hulksmash


Logan Grimnar


Wolf Guard:

-2xPower Armor w/Combi-Melta

-Power Armor w/Combi-Flamer

-2xTerminator Armor w/Wolf Claw and Storm Shield

-2xTerminator Armor w/Combi-Plasma

-Terminator Armor w/Cyclone and Chainfist

-Terminator Armor w/Cycolone

-Terminator Armor w/2 Wolf Claws

-Assault Cannon Razorback


Grey Hunters x 5: Melta Gun, Wolf Standard, Razorback

Grey Hunters x 5: Melta Gun, Wolf Standard, Razorback

5 Grey Hunter Pack w/Flamer and Standard Razorback

10 Grey Hunter Pack w/2 Melta Guns, Mark of the Wulfen, and Rhino

Heavy Support

Long Fangs w/5 Missile Launchers and Assault Cannon Razorback

Long Fangs w/5 Missile Launchers and Assault Cannon Razorbacks

6 Long Fangs w/5 Multi-Melta and Drop Pod

Player Q&A

Reece: Hi, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and share your knowledge with the community.

Hulksmash: Not a problem, Reece.

Reece:You took this list to the Broadside Bash Grand Tournament, correct?

Hulksmash: Yes I did.

Reece: How did you do with it?

Hulksmash: I won 3 games with Massacre results and narrowly tied 2 others.

Reece: Run me through your opponents and their, armies and how you did.

Hulksmash: Well…..Let me preface by saying I didn’t have the option to go first all weekend and never once stole the initiative. So on to the games…

Battle 1: Grimgob’s Orks

He had 3 battlewagons covered by a KFF and a squad of Loota’s in the rear of his deployment zone. 2 Buzzsaw toting Deffkoptas as well. He had a large diversified Nob squad in one wagon and the other two were large Boyz squads. Basically I manage to wiff hard with my deep striking heavy tank killers and the Nobs made it to my lines. I managed to eventually dig them out but not before losing a lot of my models. At the end of the game it came down to a re-rolled leadership test for me to win but he made the test and we pulled a tie for holding the same number of table quarters.

Battle 2: Mech Eldar w/Eldrad, Seer coucil in a Serpent, and Yriel

Basically he didn’t have a chance from the start. This mission required that you be on an objective at the end of a game turn to get a number of points (gain a point for each round you control the objective) w/the objectives being in a perfect diagonal between the deployment zones. Scenario and lists were major contributors to this win. He moved up to try and take the points and I shot him off of them while claiming the one he didn’t go for and sitting on it all game. Basically the game became: can his seer council, Eldrad, and Yriel kill enough of my stuff before I got the number of points needed for a massacre and the answer was no.

Battle 3: Dual Landraider Salamanders

This is a really bad match-up for me but he didn’t play agressive enough and I managed to immobilize a Landraider early. Since he didn’t want to feed me one Termie squad at a time he ended up sitting still for most of the game and just taking the shots. He was just hoping pretty much not to get massacred which he almost managed. It was a good game but if he’d just come for me with intent it could have gone another way entirely. As it was it was a modified KP mission that resulted in a massacre for me.

Battle 4: Charlie’s Space Wolves

Much softer build than mine but had an element which I have problems with. Grimnar leading a band of Bloodclaws is just gross. He basically had a Space Wolf horde army w/around 60 marines w/mobility. Add in my inability to kill a venerable dreadnought w/a Chainfist armed Lone Wolf for 7 rounds of combat and you can see where this went. It came down to a tie in the final turn due to some crazy rolling on both our parts but again showed my weakness against a heavy cc unit that I don’t get to soften up with bullets.

Battle 5: Mech Eldar w/Eldrad, Farseer and a Seercouncil on Bikes

Same effect as game 2 really. Slightly modified rules for the markers but Eldar just can’t hold objectives in the face of the firepower my list could put out. He was a good sport about it and really pushed to see if he could pull out anything but it ended in turn 4 with a massacre for me when he only had a single biker left as a troop choice.

Reece: Have you taken this list to any other tournaments or played it in any leagues? If so, how did it perform?

Hulksmash: I’m currently using the SCGWL (Southern California Games Workshop League, typically 48 players a season) to tweak my list and have so far gone 3-0 in the league. As for Tournaments I tried a slight tweak on it the week after the Bash and it didn’t work out. I wound up going 1-1-1 which showed me I had shifted the list too far.

Reece: So tell me what your overall strategy was when you built this list?

Hulksmash: I was going for survivability, firepower, target saturation, and mobility. I also like to see how many models I can normally get on a table.

Reece: What do you see as the strengths of your list?

Hulksmash: 15 Missiles that can target 6 different units is huge against armor spam. Anything that isn’t AV14 just isn’t safe. Add in the 2 Libbies w/Living Lightning and you wind up with a lot of ranged anti-light mech. There is also a lot of Twin Linked anti-infantry firepower that goes a long way towards thinning out hordes just enough that counter attacking Grey Hunters can do some damage (in theory).

Reece: What do you see as the weaknesses?

Hulksmash: The weakness of the list I took to the Bash was a lack of solid counter-attack element and the actual terrain itself. The 2 games I tied, I tied simply because they managed to get to my lines with a hard enough unit that took out a large percentage of my force. Didn’t hurt that they were pretty good players too ::laughs:: Also with almost zero elevated terrain on all the tables most of the time I was fighting for LOS for my Missiles because of my own vehicles.

Reece: What types of armies do you hope to see in a tournament with this list?

Hulksmash: I don’t really have a type I hope to see. Mech Eldar is kinda nice for me to run into but otherwise I don’t have a list I hope to draw.

Reece: What types of armies do you want to avoid? I know I would have loved to have drawn your list with the 3 Land Raider list I brought to the BSB.

Hulksmash: That was pretty much the dreaded list. I didn’t realize I was that light on anti-AV14 until I played a 2 LR army and it took forever to take them out. Without a solid close combat element I wouldn’t have been able to stand up to that many full units hitting my line.

Reece: Thanks for the input, see you at the SoCal Slaughter.

Hulksmash: Thanks, I’ll be there….but without bells…

I hope you have enjoyed this series and gotten a few new perspectives on the armylist creation process. Your thoughts and comments on the lists and the series in general are welcome everybody.


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

One Response to “List Building 101 by Reece Robbins”

  1. mitch December 27, 2011 9:21 pm #

    hey man i have just started Blood angels and i am wondering how you would configure a list

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