Lock and load, boys and girls, Reecius here from Frontline Gaming to show you how to properly Pew Pew in the 41st millennium.
So, we covered assault a few weeks back, but also check out the addendum I wrote after some additional play testing.
While assault can and will win you games, it is less reliable now than it was. Shooting, on the other hand, got a boost pretty much across the table. Building an army that shoots well will yield you more consistent results.
What are some of the key points that make shooting better in 6th ed?
Cover saves: While it is still pretty easy to get a 4+ cover save, it isn’t nearly ubiquitous as it was in 5th. This means a general reduction in protection from shooting.
Focus Fire: Awesome rule. This allows you to really maximize your shots by choosing to shoot those models which you can hurt most easily. You can also shoot models that you are LESS likely to hurt. That sounds ass-backwards, but sometimes you want to soften a unit but not wipe it out. Before a charge for example where you are afraid to take yourself out of charge range or you need the extra movement from the charge and subsequent consolidation.
Rapid Fire Weapons: by far the most common weapon type in the game, rapid fire weapons now fire out to max range regardless if the unit moved or held still. This is fantastic! I love this change as it makes regular infantry into true skirmishers, which is super fun.
Movement: You can now move parts of your squad to reposition while leaving some weapons stationary, such as heavy weapons. That is a sweet change that I really enjoy. Being able to move and fire heavy weapons is another really fun change that encourages dynamic play and favors the shooty army. If you need to reposition, you don’t totally lose your firepower.
Pre-Measuring: Pre-measuring is made for the shooty army. You can keep your units at maximum effective range. Just remember order of operations is important. If you have multiple units firing on the same target, don’t shoot one unit out of range with another. Start with the furthest units away from the target and work your way in unless one unit has a weapon that needs to fire first, such as a blast or template weapon.
Overwatch: Overwatch allows one more shot before getting charged, which is yet another advantage to the shooting army. While it is only snap fire, it is still a nice little benefit and it really aids larger squads or units with a high RoF and/or the ability to reroll misses.
Vehicle Changes and Hull Points: Vehicles are more reliably destroyed. This means your shooting units are going to be more dependable in taking out enemy vehicles. Conversely, Vehicles have also gotten more reliable offensively, as glances no longer stop them from shooting, and penetrating hits needs to either destroy the vehicle or the weapon itself to fully shut it down. This means that vehicles that serve as a weapons platform will be putting more shots downrange, more often. Again, both reasons the shooty army got a boost. The only negative to the shooty army due to vehicle changes are the changes to transports. Transports now confer shaken and stunned onto their occupants, which stinks. Plus, not being able to disembark if you move over 6” means that the old standby of: “Drive up, Jump Out, and Shoot” has largely gone the way of the Doe Doe.
Barrage Sniping: A ridiculous rule (the most accurate sniper weapons in the universe: indirectly firing heavy artillery….) that is ridiculously powerful. As there is no longer a minimum range on firing indirectly (again, what? Fire straight up and the shell comes down on a unit right in front of you, weee!) you can reliably take key models out of a unit at range. Need to kill that speeding Jetbike Sarge in the middle of a unit that you can’t see, behind a building, across the battlefield? No worries, bro, your mortar team’s got it!
Blast Weapons: Now that the entire template is full strength these weapons got a significant boost. Great for clearing parking lots!
Random Charge Lengths: My favoritest rule, evar!!!! But seriously, this makes assaulting less reliable, which is an indirect boon to shooty armies. Shooty armies simply remove this variable from the equation leaving you with much more predictable results.
The other factors you must always consider when talking about units that are good, are how they function within the parameters of fulfilling victory conditions. Something that people miss a lot in this game is that units do not exist in a vacuum. I always see folks discussing the efficiency and power of a given unit without placing it in the contest of winning missions. One of the best investments you can make in a list is a cheap, reliable scoring unit. We jokingly call them the Grot Squad: a unit whose function is only to take objectives. While they may never even fire a shot, they will consistently win you the game. Particularly in 6th ed where 5/6 missions are about taking objectives, this is particularly true. Must you have one? No, of course not, but it is an example of ways to spend points on units that may look weak but will win you the game.
So, the objective is not to JUST pack in raw firepower (although that can and does work, particularly on tables with insufficient terrain) but to build a shooting army that can pour on the heat while also taking objectives and denying your opponent of them. This typically means mobility. A static SAFH can still win the game but mobility and firepower will give you infinitely more flexibility and they’re a lot more enjoyable to play, in my opinion.
What does that mean?
It means that a well constructed shooty army will be where it’s at. This also means that you need to build a list that has the tools to fight every type of army you’re likely to come up against. Planning for the meta is a big part of making an effective list.
Here’s a really fun Space marine list I have been using to good effect against powerful armies. I’ve been calling them the TAC Marines (Take All Comers). Now, before the haters start chucking rotten tomatoes (although I know they will anyway) I am not saying this is THE list. There isn’t a THE list. This is just a list I have been having a ton of fun with and that I think is a great example of the principles put forth in this article.
TAC Marines 1500pts
Libby: Gate Null Zone
Tac Marines x 10: Plasma, Missile Launcher
Tac Marines x 10: Plasma, Missile Launcher
Tac Marines x 10: Melta Gun, Mult Melta
Dreadnought: Twin Auto Cannon x 2
Dreadnought: Twin Heavy Flamer, Heavy Flamer
Attack Bikes x 3: Multi Meltas
Vindicator: Siege Shield
Aegis with Quad Gun
I know a lot of the pundits will scoff at that list, but that’s fine. A lot of folks scoffed at my Footdar and we all know how that worked out!
Why this army showcases a lot of what makes a good shooty 6th ed list in my opinion, is that it is highly flexible and has a tool for everything and some redundancy. For example, the Quad Gun is good for AA and so is the Storm Talon (Little Bird!). They aren’t the same unit but they fill almost the same roles and give me flexibility while also being great against ground units as well. The Rifleman (dual Auto Cannon Dread) is also a passable AA unit if it needs to be, while giving me another excellent shooting unit. The Aegis itself is also very useful and helps to keep your units well protected when playing defense.
The Whirlwind! Haha, I pulled that bad boy out of the display case, blew the dust off of it and have been LOVING it. It’s great for Barrage Sniping. I play against the Dark Harliestar (Eldar/Dark Eldar) combo a lot, and against them or any army which uses light infantry (we’ll be seeing more and more of that as we go further into 6th) they’re just great. Once they get Flak Missiles I think we’ll be seeing the little buggers in nearly every Marine list. We may even be hearing people crying cheese at Whirlwinds, haha! Awesome!
The Vindicator is the beat stick, and I take him for anti Nob Biker and Paladin duty, as well as for taking down vehicles. I also just love the model! With strength 10 under the entire template, the Vindie got deadly against parking lots that aren’t spaced properly.
The Attack Bikes are there for anti heavy armor and heavy infantry. They are also great for getting me Line Breaker and contesting objectives. In a pinch, they can assault non-dedicated shooty units such as Long Fangs and pin them down reliably.
The Flamernaught (dual H.Flamer Dread in a Pod) is a really useful tool. He is there for taking out units like Lootas and such turn 1, as well as keeping Flyer armies on their toes and forcing them to put multiple units on the table to avoid a turn 1 tabling. So far, I have found him to be very useful even against light armor, but after some theory with friends, an Ironclad may be a great substitute. The assault launchers give him stealth under 8” which is really cool! Plus the AV13 means Krak grenades aren’t a worry in assault.
The Libby is also a great tool. Null Zone, when it comes in handy, can be game winning. Gate is fantastic for getting away from trouble, and for taking Line Breaker and grabbing or contesting objectives. Plus, he’s cheap as chips and his hood, while diminished, can be really handy for stopping some of the better debuffing powers that can really take the guts out of one of your units.
Lastly, the good old Tac Squads. I have always loved Tactical Marines, it’s just a shame they have been eclipsed so much by some of the other troops out there (looking at you Grey Hunters and Purifiers!). If only they had a close combat weapon they’d be amazing! However, the combination of changes to Rapid Fire, ATSKNF and Combat Tactics has made these guys just awesome scoring units which is what wins games. Being able to run away on purpose and then auto-rally makes them slippery as hell, and while their firepower isn’t anything to get too fired up about it is useful and in assault they are OK, but can destroy vehicles and take on non-dedicated assault units reliably. However, they are excellent at taking objectives (up to 6 scoring units with Combat Squads) and with Combat Tactics they are hard to pin down and can stay mobile. The Naked Sarge is great for making and taking challenges to help protect the unit. Plus, being able to skirmish with them out to 24″ on the run, means you really don’t need a transport, and the points you save on that and on sarge means they are a good value, too.
So as you can see, the list has a tool for every job, but doesn’t specialize in anything and is rather weak in assault. However, when used correctly, it can fight any other army and find a path to victory by playing to the mission. It shoots on the move, largely ignores assault (by not assaulting, and using Combat Tactics to escape assault), it can reliably take objectives and it has a relatively low KP count. It also does something in almost every phase of the game, which makes it very engaging.
Also, it is SUPER fun to play. I honestly haven’t had this much fun playing Marines since 4th ed. It cracks me up that playing with an army that seriously looks like it came right out of the color section of the codex yields the most challenge, flexibility and enjoyment. Seems like it would be obvious, but up until now these types of lists have been pretty bad. Eat that, Spam! It warms my heart to see this kind of thing happen as (I know many of you will laugh at this) I started out as a pretty hard core fluff gamer! I am just also very competitive by nature, and the two previously were often incompatible.
Here are some video battle reports on the army in action. Also, fair warning, there’s a little bit of adult language and a lot bit of immature humor in the videos as we like to goof off a lot while we play. If you don’t like that kind of thing, you may want to pass! Enjoy. (Note, I couldn’t find all the Aegis Line bits so I was using 6 long parts which is roughly equal to 4 long and 4 short, sorry for not clarifying that in the video!)