List Review: Attack of the Fluffy Fists

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This week in List Review we’ve got a Crimson Fists army (based around Pedro Kantor, natch) looking for some serious help. The author wants it to be fluffy more than powerful, but we’ve got some pretty big hurdles to leap over before we can even qualify for that much.

The Original

Space Marines 1815pts

10TH COMPANY TASK FORCE

5 Scouts (Land Speeder Storm)

5 Scouts (Land Speeder Storm)

5 Scouts (Land Speeder Storm)

1ST COMPANY STRIKE FORCE

10 Sternguard (Rhino w/Dozer Blade)

10 Sternguard (Rhino w/Dozer Blade)

10 Sternguard (Rhino w/Dozer Blade)

STRIKE FORCE COMMAND

1 Pedro Kantor

8 Honor Guard (Chapter Champion)

So obviously this list needs a lot of help- for one, unless you’re playing in an environment that allows Unbound armies it’s straight-up illegal because the Strike Force Command is a choice for a Gladius Strike Force, but not actually a formation in its own right. Furthermore, Pedro’s ObSec ability only works on Sternguard that area part of his detachment- which currently there are none of. Also, it has a fair number of points unspent (something we will remedy easily) and lacks good ways to deal with vehicles, flyers, and a variety of other targets. While it’s not aiming to be a top-tier army, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot we can do for it- because, quite honestly, there is a pretty solid core in here we can make good use of.

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However, there is an upside here- nothing in this list is truly bad. Set up wrong, yes- but everything is eminently salvageable, so we have a good starting point to work from, which is always a plus. With some changes, most notably a shift to a CAD (as we aren’t getting a lot of benefit from the formations) we can turn this into a much more functional- and legal- list that will at least make for some interesting games, rather than just getting its clock cleaned by most everything it comes across.

So here’s the big issue with Sternguard lists: they have low body counts and rely heavily on the alpha strike to win. While Sternguard themselves give you a pretty good toolkit for dealing with different types of units, a list composed entirely of them is VERY expensive and can suffer heavily in battles of attrition, as they’re no tougher than a regular Marine. With that in mind, our goals for this army are twofold: add some more bodies to it (so it has a bit more staying power) and shore up its ability to deal with other types of targets (as right now it can only realistically kill infantry.)

However, we want to do all of this while remaining as fluffy as possible, so let’s take a gander at the Crimson Fists section of Lexicanum for ideas. Most folks already know the basic story- fight Orks, Fortress-Monastary destroyed by missile, small-but-resilient band of survivors, etc- but one detail that is not as well known stands out here: the Crimson Fists are closely allied with the Inquisition and often work hand-in-glove with them to the point that some other chapters consider them little but lapdogs. And just like that, we have a solution to several of our problems!

An Inquisition force is not only cheap (the detachment can go as low as 25pts if you want), it also brings several very important qualities to our army: abundant and effective bodies combined with good synergy for Deep Striking. Inquisitional Warbands can range from the utilitarian one-Psyker-two-Acolytes squad (clocking in at a mere 18pts for a Warp Charge, a Psychic power, and a scoring unit) up to kitted-out melee deathstars or specialist kill teams. The wide variety (and cheap price) of henchmen mean that we can add a lot of functionality for a very low price while also having the option to perform any sorts of tasks (melee, shooting, support, etc) we may need.

Beyond that, we need to look at the core list we’ve been provided with and figure out what to do with it. Obviously, keeping it as-is right now is completely untenable- the list is illegal by most tournament (and casual) standards and doesn’t really do what the author wants very well, I think. So we’re going to drop the current setup and take a basic Combined Arms detachment for it- this doubles down on our strategy of putting Objective Secured units on the table and frees up a detachment slot for us to use on the Inquisition. It would be possible to run the Combined Arms while also keeping the 1st Company Task Force, but I lean away from it- we get Preferred Enemy against a single unit of our choice and a -2Ld bubble when within 12″ or more of three units (note that Drop Pods from the formation count for this), but we give up Pedro’s ObSec, +1 Attack, and Preferred Enemy (Orks) to do so. However, since we can swap between the two without other consequence, it essentially just comes down to preference in the end- you could do either one if you wanted.

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We also are going to add some firepower to the Sternguard Veterans. While their normal guns are excellent for killing off most things with a Toughness value (bar a Wraithknight or Riptide, perhaps), they have no real options against vehciles- and we aim to shore that up. Depending on points, it might also be nice to slip a melee weapon into the squads as well; not only is it good fun to get into a punchin’ match, Power Fists are also pretty thematic for the army and benefit greatly from Pedro’s +1 attack- a sergeant swinging four times is no joke.

Beyond going CADdish, we are also going to need to drop a few points in order to make room for other stuff in the list. Not a lot, mind you- the main virtue of Inquisition is that it is cheap, after all- but some. With four squads of expensive Marines in the army this won’t be terribly difficult, however. One big point of possible contention, however, is the Honor Guard in the Land Raider. On the one hand, Honor Guard are actually quite good- 2+ armor and a Power Weapon make them quite dangerous in a fight and they are cheap enough that they compare favorably against a lot of things. On the other hand, the unit is a HUGE pointsink as it stands and presents itself as an easy target for enemy guns. So, we have a couple ways we could do this without completely breaking theme- first, we could keep everything and just trim it down for effectiveness (LR becomes LR Crusader, Honor Guard mix up weapons somewhat); we could winnow it down to a cheaper threat unit (drop LR entirely, add a Drop Pod for them, bring squad to ~5 bodies); or we could drop the unit entirely and use those points elsewhere. I’m most inclined towards the second option and that’s what I’ll be using in my version below- however, either of the others could be acceptable solutions as well.

The last question is what we want out of our Inquisitorial forces. As mentioned earlier, they are very flexible and can do many different things, so it’s more a matter of choosing your focus than being limited to specific roles. We’ll be looking to add a significant number of bodies in total (ideally 20+) with the detachment and to help shore up the strength of the alpha strike (as it really only takes one bad roll to screw us over.)

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The List

CRIMSON FISTS COMBINED ARMS

1 Pedro Kantor (195)

5 Honor Guard (2 Power Sword, 2 Power Maul, 1 Power Axe)

10 Sternguard (2 Combi-Melta, 2 Combi-Grav, Drop Pod) (295)

10 Sternguard (2 Combi-Melta, 2 Combi-Grav, Drop Pod) (295)

5 Sternguard (2 Combi-Melta, Drop Pod) (165)

5 Scouts (Meltabombs, Land Speeder Storm w/Multimelta) (110)

5 Scouts (Land Speeder Storm w/Multimelta) (105)

5 Scouts (Land Speeder Storm w/Multimelta) (105)

1 Drop Pod (35)

1 Drop Pod (35)

INQUISITIONAL

1 Malleus Inquisitor (Terminator Armor, Psycannon, Psyker, 3 Servo-Skulls) (119)

8 Acolytes (5 Storm Bolters, 3 Plasmagun, 1 Psyker) (87)

8 Acolytes (5 Storm Bolters, 3 Plasmagun, 1 Psyker) (87)

7 Acolytes (5 Storm Bolters, 3 Plasmagun, 1 Psyker) (82)

So the idea here is relatively simple- with five Drop Pods, we have our choice of three squads arriving first turn along with three Scouting/Infiltrating squads to put pressure on the enemy early. The Honor Guard and one Acolyte unit typically get the empty Pods, but by not taking them as dedicated transports we have a bit more flexibility in that regard. The abundance of Boltguns across the list (all of the Marine infantry, for example) means that we take good advantage of the Crimson Fist’s tactic and with four psykers in the army we can get Prescience as much as we need to ensure good hits on the turn we arrive. The addition of Combi-Weapons, Psycannons, etc, mixes up our weapon profiles a bit more and gives us some flexibility in shooting, which was sorely needed, and Combat Squads means that we can have anywhere from nine to eleven Objective Secured units on the table.

A couple of the decision points in the army: I chose not to push the Drop Pod theme any further than I did because of the dollar-bill cost of bringing large numbers of Pods (as well as the hassle of assembling and transporting them.) For those looking to avoid bringing even this many Pods, bringing three Pods and three empty Rhinos in FA (dropping the Psyker upgrade on the Inquisitor and the Meltabombs on the Scout sergeant to afford the third one) would could also work and might even be a better strategy overall, since it diversifies the game plan more and gives you a stronger plan for going second. The loadout on the Acolyte squads is also open to interpretation; Meltaguns on them could take some pressure off of the Sternguard and free up points from Combis (or switch them over to Grav instead to have better anti-MC tools.) I also was unable to afford one of my favorite recent discoveries, Combi-Gravs on Scout sergeants; they give you an excellent and often-unexpected tool to hammer tough units for a relatively low price, and with Scout and Infiltrate you’re pretty much guaranteed to get them into range turn 1 if you want it (or come in off a board edge and cause havoc.)

In fact, the Scouts and Land Speeder Storms deserve some special attention here- equipped with a Multimelta, a Large Blast with Blind, and the Jamming Beacon, they are brutal little utility vehicles (albeit really fragile ones), able to hunt tanks and weak troops with equal proficiency while being mobile ObSec units that will send Deep Strikers careening all across the table. For a few points more, kitting the sarge with the aforementioned Combi-Grav and/or Meltabombs makes the unit into a legit threat to most things and one that is surprisingly hard to get rid of. Those wanting to focus more on that aspect of the list could easily trim down an Inquisition squad or two to give the Scouts more kit or even drop five of the Sternguard to add a pair of extra Scout units.

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Keeping to Theme

However, all this discussion of the functionality of the list is actually secondary- our main aim in all of this was actually just to create a passable army that keeps to theme for the Crimson Fists. So how does it do in that regard? Well, theme is always subjective, but taking the original list as a guideline of how the author viewed things, I think it succeeds pretty well. We have Pedro the Man himself leading things and a hardened core of veterans (the survivors of the initial disaster) backed up by a tough and loyal cadre of new recruits, already well on their way to being full-fledged Space Marines.

The heavy Inquisitional support is also appropriate, and while stealing transports maybe isn’t the fluffiest thing in the world, if we run the Rhinos version of things it’s actually pretty appropriate (as Inq get access to Rhinos anyways.) An Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos or Hereticus might be more fluff-appropriate, but neither of them get access to the Psycannon or other tools that we’d like to use and at the end of the day it’s a pretty minor quibble. The Fists don’t have any particular grudge against psykers or anything else (and we’re not using outright-heretical stuff) so we’re also safe in that regard.

So all in all, I think I would rate this list a success on both the functional and thematic levels. It has enough moving parts to be fun and flexible to play with and it’s not wholly dependent on any one unit (not even Kantor, honestly) so things can be switched out as one pleases to try out other options. If you’ve got a list you want help with, send me an email at AbusePuppy (at) gmail dot com and I’ll see what I can do for you. Some will get posted here, others a reply via email itself. If you want assistance, please make sure your list is included in the body of the email itself (not as an attached document) and is in a plain-text format that is easily readable- I don’t want to have to grind through ten pages of Army Builder outputs informing me that every Space Marine in your army carries Frag Grenades and wears Power Armor. Please also include any special requirements or restrictions for the list- for example, if it needs to be a specific point level, if you want to use particular models (or want to draw on an existing collection), whether you are aiming for a competitive or friendly list, etc.

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About abusepuppy

AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

14 Responses to “List Review: Attack of the Fluffy Fists”

  1. David September 7, 2015 12:30 pm #

    Another good article from the puppy. I’m finding this series a really refreshing take on 40k!

    Thanks for the work you’re putting in on these.

  2. westrider September 7, 2015 12:33 pm #

    OK, where’d I put those Scouts I traded for? I need to get some Combi-Grav Conversions going 😀

    That was a nice shaping-up on the list, but the Combi-Grav Scout Sergeants are my real takeaway here. Definitely going to have to get some of them on the field. Thanks!

    • Reecius
      Reecius September 8, 2015 8:10 am #

      Darkwynn uses those Combi Grav scout sarge for a nice alpha strike in his very successful scout list. It works very well.

      • abusepuppy September 8, 2015 9:49 am #

        Yeah, he was the one who originally introduced me to the concept- but I think it has applicability in a lot of lists of different types.

        • Reecius
          Reecius September 9, 2015 10:33 am #

          Yeah, totally agree. With Infiltrate and Scouts, they can get into position to make good use of them!

  3. Gonka Koff September 7, 2015 11:35 pm #

    Really good! These are the best “list doctor” arcticles I’ve seen so far. Already looking forward to the next one.

  4. Deuce11 September 8, 2015 6:58 am #

    That was awesome. Keep em coming

  5. winterman September 8, 2015 11:34 am #

    List is illegal as a single CAD isn’t it? Honor Guard are elite choices now not free HQs, so you have 4 elites here. Still doable via the formation but looses obsec.

    Also something new with the 7ed update — is they removed the caveat with Pedro’s +1 attack stacking — it stacks with the banners now as far as I can tell. So that is something to consider leveraging if taking honor guard — +2 attacks on them is pretty nifty. +2 attacks for any IF marines within 12″ of both relic standard and pedro is also pretty nice. Too bad deathcult aren’t affected.

    • abusepuppy September 8, 2015 3:33 pm #

      Ah, crap, I thought they were HQs, not Elites. That makes the decision a lot harder- losing ObSec is very unfortunate. Might have to go with it, though.

      Pedro can really stack up the bonuses, yeah, and throwing out six attacks on the charge is no joke. Might be worth looking into freeing up the points for it.

      • Kartr_Kana September 9, 2015 10:50 am #

        That’s why the original list had 8 Honour guard with the banner, for 40 power sword attacks base, 48 when charging out of the land raider.

        • abusepuppy September 9, 2015 10:55 pm #

          Yeah, working the Banner back in could be a solid option (assuming you keep the HG, what with the slot problem and all.)

  6. Kartr_Kana September 9, 2015 11:18 am #

    This is close! I’m really liking what you did with my idea, but it needs a little tweaking. I’m thinking switch the Malleus for Xenos with Rad grenades. Adding a priest for 2+ re-rollable, and a Chaplain for zealot/hatred, make a death ball out of the unit.

    I also like the combi-grav scouts and will be using those. I’ll probably drop the 5 man Sternguard unit to fit the honour guard.

    Now would the Gladius Strike Force count as a single detachment? Because min squads in the demi-company, with 10 man 1st Company squads and the 10th company would still be thematically sound. Handful of regular marine survivors, a bunch of veterans and novices lacking heavy support.

    • WestRider September 9, 2015 12:44 pm #

      The Gladius does count as a single Detachment for purposes of Kantor’s Rules. I was looking into that the other day.

    • abusepuppy September 9, 2015 11:00 pm #

      Remember that the Inquisitorial Priest is part of a henchmen unit and not an Independent Character, so he can’t join the Honor Guard. And, contrawise, if you make your Inquisitor into a Xenos rather than Malleus, he can’t get Terminator Armor anymore.

      You could potentially do a Gladius force with Pedro instead, but it would need to be a bit more trim on the Sternguard (3×5, likely) and some other stuff. Honestly, I don’t really think it’s needed, but you certainly could do it- however, you’re needing another HQ and a bunch of other stuff at that point.

      I would avoid over-investing in the Honor Guard unit- they aren’t a deathstar by any measure. Their big advantage is that they are very cheap for how tough and damaging they are; 25pts for 2+ and Power Weapon is a fantastic deal. But when you start stacking in characters, psykers, etc, etc, the unit loses its main advantage (i.e. cheapness) and you start to realize that, at the end of the day, they’re still just T4 one-wound guys with no invuln. Don’t try and fight a squad of terminators or Thunderwolves or anything like that, you’ll get your ass kicked- leverage your strengths and instead prey on the enemy’s troops and support units, forcing them to dedicate excessive firepower to getting rid of you.

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