40K: 6th ed, the Extreme Edition?

Yo, yo, yo! Reecius here form Frontline getting extra jiggy this week! Feel my flava!

So yeah, the intro line and the picture have nothing to do with this article, I just wanted to mix things up from my normal introduction.

Well, I guess the picture does have something to do with my article this week: Extremes. Vanilla Ice was extremely talented, a visionary musician who will be remembered for his pioneering style and innovative lyrics.

Not really. He was extremely lame.

But we do find ourselves in an edition of this game that does seem to encourage extremes. In these early days of 40K we see a lot of really out-there lists, and the internet is awash with crazy builds (of which we have been playing a lot, ourselves) but why? 6th was initially hailed as the Fluff gamer’s edition (and in many ways it is!), but I would counter by saying that this, more than ever, is the Power Gamer’s edition, too.

The core rules of the game now make these types of extreme lists appear to be uber powerful. Below I will list some examples.

The ultra assault units of doom and gloom! Due to the easily abused Wound Allocation rules, you can now create units that become as close to unkillable as you can get in this game. Apparently a rerollable 2+ save is the hot new thing in 40K. There are a number of ways you can do this with varying degrees of effectiveness and reliability. From Fateweaver/Chaos combos, the Dark Harliestars (or regular Harliestars), Necron rerollTeks with Overlords, Space Wolves with Termie Characters and a Wolf Standard, mysterious Terrain effects, etc., etc.

You can get quite a number of units that will quite literally take everything you throw at them and shrug it off, marching up field implacably, munching everything they touch in combat and often with powerful shooting, too.

If not a reroll 2+ save, these units will often have resiliency in massive numbers and stacked USRs such as the IG blob squad with Marine support. Nob Bikers too, as well as Paladins. They also have the added benefit of being able to easily abuse the challenge and Look Out, Sir! systems to be even more powerful…and annoying!

These units, by themselves, can quite literally win the game on their own against “normal” lists. They have a mathematical advantage in both their offence and defense that can be too much for a typical army to take on. Add to this the fact that these armies are typically cheap to buy, fast to build and paint, easy and straightforward to play, and you have a recipe for a relatively simple way to get into the game or build a second army that is very powerful. When only 1/36 wounds gets through a units defenses, it doesn’t take much to see that fighting these head on will result in disaster.

It isn’t a ton of fun to watch a single unit stomp a new mud-hole in your butt as your army fall to it one unit after the other like grist for the mill. A perfect example: my Ork Nob Bikers (The Sons of AnOrky!) was in combat with Frankie’s ENTIRE Nurgle CSM army (which won several tournaments in 5th) and WON. Yeah.

Then, the much feared Airforce Lists, of which Necrons and IG can make the best use of so far. These armies present the unique, and very frustrating, prospect of only hitting the Air Force units on 6’s without Skyfire. Even if you do have a Skyfire unit or 2, the Flyers will focus on killing this and then they own the skies. They simply overwhelm your defenses.

This means you effectively take ground assault elements out of the game and dramatically reduce the effectiveness of ground based shooting. A lot of folks are worried about these lists, us included. They present a situation in which a large portion of a “normal” army literally can’t contribute at all to the game until the content of the Flyers are dropped onto objectives (and in some missions, they don’t even have to do this, Purge the Alien for Example). This can be VERY unfun for the player that sits and watches his opponent roll dice while he picks up models, unable to fight back effectively.

Add to this speed, hitting power, and redundancy and you have an army that is very easy to be good with.

A favorite from 5th ed: MSU vehicle spam! Yummy!

Now that vehicles actually gained in offensive output (can’t stop them from shooting nearly as easily), these types of units have arguable gotten better. Venom Spam is a good answer to many of the Deathstars out there, and Razorspam with twin linked weapons is a solid response to an Air Force list due to twin-linked weapons and volume of fire. You also have mobility, and the very simple mathematical advantage MSU lists provide: too many targets that can each target an individual unit of yours.

Even with squishy troops for taking objectives, they have so many of them it is hard to get at them. Toss in that some missions make fast and heavy support units scoring and these units can easily dominate objective missions, of which 5/6 book missions are! With only a single KP mission, there really is no reason to not go MSU. Why take a single vehicle that will get smoked when you can take 10+ that will have dramatically increased durability and hitting power through strength in numbers?

This can again provide a not-so-fun experience for the other player who faces the steel curtain of Razorbacks, Chimeras, Venoms, etc. Plus, a lot of guys out there already have these models so I foresee a lot of these style lists.

So what’s the Average Joe to do in the face of all this hyper powered craziness? Should he just throw in the towel and forget about his well rounded list?

I don’t think so, at least not yet. In 5th edition we had powerful units and combos, (not nearly on the level we have now, admittedly) and while the game gives these types of armies very big advantages, there are also built in limitations.

For example, you can’t hold two objectives with a single unit now. That goes a long way to mitigating some of these units. You can also purchase terrain which helps to counter Flyers. Quad Guns with interceptor can help out so long as they survive long enough. Using a Bastion for example can really help against Necron Flyers, most of which can’t hurt it. Vendettas and Doom Scythes will have to focus on it, which takes the heat off of your more important units. Also, the movement restrictions on Flyers and FMC’s helps a lot. They allow you to maneuver so that you only get hit once by a Flyer before it must fly off the board.

The Multi Assault rules also help to mitigate Deathstars hitting multiple units as hard as they could. Conversely, making it easier to hit vehicles also makes it easier to take on multiple light vehicles in assault and destroy them, balancing out MSU somewhat.

Barrage weapons also help a lot for getting around abusive Wound Allocation units (although I still can’t get myself to like the sniper barrage weapons, so silly). Very simple tactics of movement blocking and redirection also help to contain Deathstars, as well.

Maneuver, more so than ever before in 40K, really, really sets apart the more skilled player from the less skilled. Where you put your models is going to be the single most important skill in the game. I think this, and clever play will be what allows the well rounded list to compete against the extreme list. However, this also means that you will have to be highly skilled in the game to pull it off. I think this is why these extreme lists are going to cause a great deal of frustration for a lot of people as they won’t see how to beat them. The advantage is definitely with the extreme list players now, more so than it ever has before.

The downside to the extreme list though, is that they often have a hard counter. And when you bring this type of list to a tournament, particularly larger events with many rounds, the odds of pulling that hard counter go up. My Bjorn Missile Wolf list I played frequently in 5th was an extreme list. It dominated the shooting phase and I won a lot of tournaments with it. However, my hard counter was Battle Wagon Orks (or an army like this) which I struggled to beat. A list like that could munch me and there just wasn’t much I could do outside of luck to win these match-ups. That, and the army was a tad boring to play, lead me to stop playing it.

My Footdar by comparison, while looking weak on paper, particularly in comparison to my Wolves, had a much better chance against almost every army in the game. Why? They had a tool for everything, were extremely flexible and well rounded. That army allowed me to win more consistently, but by slimmer margins. Where my Wolves would often win big or lose big (although the losses with that type of list don’t come often) my Footdar would win by small margins but more often, and lost by small margins as well when it did. I also found this to be a lot more fun for me, and my opponent. The games were more challenging and engaging and I rarely felt straight out-matched.

I think with clever play, experience and knowledge of the game, the best players will win more consistently with well rounded armies. As we learn more tricks for dealing with the extreme lists, it won’t be such an advantage to take them. At first though, I anticipate plenty of tournament wins with the crazy lists, but I expect to see that fall off as we go further into 6th edition and skill catches up to pure power.

What do you all think? Is this the X-Games edition with extreme, gnar gnar lists dominating, or will skill and balance take the day?


About Reecius

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

18 Responses to “40K: 6th ed, the Extreme Edition?”

  1. Avatar
    edwin July 18, 2012 9:46 am #

    I think this is more an edition of.communication rather then extremes. As long as people talk about their wants, you aren’t gonna have an extreme edition

    • Reecius
      Reecius July 18, 2012 2:44 pm #

      Yeah, that is a very good point. People need to be on the same page.

      • Avatar
        edwin July 18, 2012 6:03 pm #

        What I am curious about is how flyers will effect the game. I don’t see them playing the roll players are gonna need them too and that they honestly will have problems. I wonder if the meta will change to bring more anti flyer and I wonder how people will do if the specifically build for no flyers (your footguard+ battle tanks being a prime example). Tons of s7 or lower shots to take birds out of the air won’t do Crap to a big old tank.

        • Reecius
          Reecius July 18, 2012 9:58 pm #

          Yeah, we’re going to see some really wonky lists as people adjust and try to figure out how to play the game against some of the crazy stuff coming our way. My Footguard/Russ list got a lot better this edition, and you throw in a Quad Gun and I think it can stand up to Flyers through durability. Take an OoF too, and you should be good, to go.

  2. jy2
    jy2 July 18, 2012 9:40 pm #

    I feel balance and an understanding of the game will beat out extreme lists. The hard part for most is understanding the game. With that, your really have to be knowledgeable about the game and the different types of builds. You need to understand the strengths and limitations of deathstar armies or flyer armies or MSU, etc. Only by doing so can you build a balanced army that has some ways to deal with these army types. And not just building lists, but developing strategies to handle such armies as well.

    Unfortunately, against some armies, you will never know how to play against them until you actually play against them. And not all codices can build a balanced enough army to handle every extreme build to come up against. So until you can gain such experience, or insight, you’re just going to have to learn the hard way….by losing some of those games.

    • Reecius
      Reecius July 18, 2012 9:56 pm #

      I agree 100%. I think that is going to cause a lot of folks to get mad about the game and cry cheese louder than ever before. People need to be patient and try to see the path to victory, but as you said, it will take a LOT of skill with a balanced list to do that in the face of the pure power the extreme lists can put out.

      • Avatar
        edwin July 18, 2012 10:20 pm #

        Wait, I thought that was how we learn from all games. I got good with my orks cause I learned not to blatantly hurl units at people. I was tabled by black templar assault cannon spam 43 times in a row before finally not being tabled. I had to learn the hard way to play. I got better and I feel a better player because of it. It also instilled a sense of challenge. I could take on the world if I was good enough. I took on battle wagon blitz orks to thunder wolf star long fang spam wolves. I never considered beyond victory even with under performing armies like warrior spam Necrons.

        • Reecius
          Reecius July 19, 2012 1:22 pm #

          That is how most of us learn, the hard way! I think that so long as people have the same attitude you do, they will be good to go. However, I think a lot of folks will run into one of these lists once, get beat badly, cry cheese, and be angry.

  3. Avatar
    Cameron July 19, 2012 2:13 pm #

    Another article went up on BoLS in the last couple of days talking about Look Out Sir! rolls that made a very persuasive argument that you are not allowed to re-roll armor saves in mixed armor units by using Look Out Sir! I’m sure you’ve already read the article because you’re always on top of the internet, but here’s the link:


    Was this rules interpretation what you were referring to when talked about hammer units that take 1 out of every 36 wounds, or was it something else that makes a unit that hard to kill?

    You might have already addressed this somewhere, so sorry if this is repetitive =/

    • Reecius
      Reecius July 19, 2012 4:04 pm #

      Yeah, Kirby has done an excellent job of breaking the rule down for folks. That is a good example of how it works.

      And no, that was not how I was talking about getting a reroll 2+, that is as a result of certain unit combinations that allow that such as Fateweaver/Chaos, DE/Eldar, etc. There are certain combinations of armies and Wargear that allow people to reroll saves, which combined with a 2+ really becomes annoying, fast.

      As for bringing up a topic that may have been covered, no worries! It is never a bad thing to cover things again, but in this case, you didn’t.

  4. Avatar
    Warren July 19, 2012 4:22 pm #

    Hey guys I just have a general question because I must have misread something. With regard to characters and LoS! what is considered a character. Independent characters obviously, but I read it as upgrade characters to the “Unit”. So in a unit of nob bikers there would be no characters, in a unit of ork bikers with a nob the nob would be the character.

    What have I overlooked here. Thanks!

    • Reecius
      Reecius July 19, 2012 4:26 pm #

      pg.410 of the BRB defines what are Characters (Ch), Independent Characters (IC) ans such. All Nob Bikers, Paladins, Wolf Guard, Chaos Champions. etc. are Characters (Ch) and thus have LoS!.

  5. Avatar
    Red Corsair July 19, 2012 7:59 pm #

    Ok so this isn’t my catch and I forget who had this idea on dakka but apparently mad dok grotsnik can upgrade any allied units to cybork bodies do to the wording…..which is hilarious, I don’t even know if it is points efficient in any book but cybork guardsmen or fire warriors would be so fucking hilarious I had to state it. Now this clearly was not GW’s intention but hey, they left the door open 😉


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