Listhammer: Being The Alpha

posted by TheRascalKing13
Mar 16

alpha_maleWelcome back to MI40K! Today we’ll be taking a look at a list that inkzoo and I have been trying to get working for a while now. We’ll take a look and then figure out what is and is not working for us. We’ll play through a few test games and see how it stacks up. Without further ado, here’s the list.

Show/Hide Alpha Strike List

Now that’s just about the spammiest thing I’ve ever seen! inkzoo built this specifically to try out a bunch of new Drop Pods he had purchased. After putting them into a list, he ran with the alpha strike theme and built the rest of the list around some of the many Terminators he has.

This list was also built with the idea of solving a problem. The current metagame is utterly dominated by a handful of units. The big problems are Eldar spamming Wave Serpents, Imperial Knights, and Tyranids spamming monstrous creatures and Lictors. This list attempts to solve all three of those problems at once. It does so via the perennially-powerful Meltagun.

If there’s a Knight causing trouble on the board it will find itself rapidly surrounded on the first turn. If more than a few Wave Serpents show up, hopefully the weight of the Assault Marines’ Meltaguns will knock a few of them out of the air. The Tyranids tend to fly or come in from reserves, so they are a bit different of a matchup. In theory the abundance of AP2 should help out, but the utter lack of anti-air is working against us. Additionally, ranged Tyranids tend to fight by using the weight of small arms fire, which is good against our Terminators. As 40k is exceedingly more of a rock-scissor-paper game, we did not expect to be the best against everything.

inkzoo wanted to run this list against a few test lists to see where it stands. He was interested to see if the idea was sound, and if dropping a houseful of meltaguns from the sky is any fun. I didn’t know that he was bringing this list the first time I lined up against it, so at his behest I just took something “beat-face-y”.

The Terminator and The Hare

I ended up running a full-tilt Eldar army against him. I very rarely take the Eldar any more, as Wave Serpent spam really isn’t much fun to take. This general idea has been done to death by the internet. Take a pile of Wave Serpents full of Dire Avengers, trim it with preferably some Wraithknights, and then win every game effortlessly. My list isn’t purely spam, as I like the models on the Crimson Hunter and War Walkers, but at it’s core, this is it. I also like adding a Bastion full of low-pointed guys as well. Loaded down with Dire Avengers the whole building, gun, and occupying force is around 300 points, and it mows down flyers or hordes. It’s a very useful tool for any one-trick pony.

Once the game began, the awesome power of the Eldar began to shine. inkzoo won initiative and plopped his Drop Pods around my army. Even though he was positioned nearly perfectly and got off several of his Meltagun shots, it didn’t matter. The Wave Serpents and the other hovercraft all have Jink. Jink saved almost every hovertank, and that left the rest of his army nearly powerless. My turns were a simple matter of moving away from the Drop Pods and shooting whatever has the scariest looking thug at the time being.

The Terminators, despite some coming in on all turns, faced a similar fate. As soon as they hit the board, they are walking six inches a turn. The huge number of mid-strength shots and formidable number of AP2 lances coming off the Eldar side was too much for the Terminators. The Drop Pod and Terminator idea is just too painfully slow to make anything happen.

Once we finished that game up, we didn’t want to scrub the idea completely. We wanted to throw the list a bone, and so we wanted to line it up against something that might demonstrate the inherent fun of blowing up six tanks on the first turn. So, at inkzoo’s behest, I created a 2000-point Space Marines gunline army.

The Honor and Chivalry of a Repear Chainsword

Gunline lists are some of my favorite, so this was a fun challenge knowing that I’d be coming up against a nasty army. I also agreed to take an all-comers-style list, so I still worried about things I knew I would not be expecting, such as flyers.

I ended up with a rather varied Space Marine list. I had an Imperial Knight and an Imperial Bastion full of Scouts. I had a full Heavy Support slot, with a Hunter, a Vindicator, and a Lascannon-covered Predator. I had a few other pieces, too, mostly based on the rule of cool. The mission was one of the goofy Tactical Objectives ones where you have 15 things to do at once.

I deployed in a very tight formation on one side of the board. I seized the initiative staring down an empty board. This let me expand my bubble and also let me snag several of the objectives. inkzoo landed on me and started peeling open tanks. He got through the Vindicator and a Rhino. He used most of those Assault Squad shots on the Imperial Knight, however. There’s enough hatred for the Knights in my mind to justify an entire article, but let’s just say that he took his licks and did not fall. He had four of his hull points gone after weathering the entire salvo except the shots meant for the Vindicator and Rhino. And once the Knight starts losing hull points, the Knight gets pissed.

knightTurn two for the Marines involved continuing to expand the bubble, at this point claiming four of the objectives with sights on the others. The problem with landing everything in the opponent’s backfield is that the units will be in range of everything. The gunline did what it was designed to do and shot every unit nearby. The damage was pretty severe, and cleared out almost any threat that had landed. There was a single Meltagun left on the board after the return fire.

At this point, with not a lot going on. Left with only the Drop Pods, a few straggling Terminators, and a smattering of other guys, the war was basically over. The Terminators landed on the opposite side of the board, behind cover, on two of the objectives. They managed to take those objectives without losing a ton of bodies, but it was too little too late. By the fourth turn all that was left was the entrenched Terminators, who found themselves slowly being whittled down by ranged fire. They could only retort with a Psycannon or two, which was not enough to really slow down the expanding blob of guns. The game ended in a massacre, with the Space Marine gunline winning handily.


The Alpha-Strike Meltagun Terminator-and-Drop-Pod list proved very underwhelming. There’s a few things to blame on that.

First, and I don’t think I’ll be ruffling any feathers here, is that Terminators are just not as good as they used to be. The Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield Terminator used to be an all-star unit. Now, with the nerfs to the assault phase and the increased point value, they just aren’t as good. This is particularly noticeable with the Grey Knight Terminators. These guys used to be an entire list by themselves, and are now just a heavily-armored slightly-weak Psycannon platform. It’s really sad to see such an iconic unit so desperately underpowered.

The second part, and the one that really surprises me, is that the alpha-striking Assault Squads are a bit underwhelming. I would have thought that the 200 or so points paid for three Deep-Striking Meltaguns would be absolutely worth it. In both games, however, they were hit or miss, and were quickly taken off the board after their landing. That should be fairly obvious, since leaving active Meltaguns in your backline is a bad idea. Since the only points inkzoo had on the board were these guys, and they were always in range, they never survived. The problem then is that they have to kill 200 points on landing to be worth it. They very rarely do, as Land Raiders are also terrible for their points nowadays, so no one brings them.

The last problem isn’t even a problem with this list. This is a fun list that has a unique gimmick and has the benefit of using a ton of exciting, iconic miniatures in a new way. The problem is that the inherent imbalance of the game will pick some winners and some losers every edition. As this list has a big problem with mobility and also relys on a healthy portion of assault, it’s just not going to hang with the current meta’s big hitters.

inkzoo also regrets that he was not more aggressive with his Terminators. The siren’s song of the Psycannon convinced him to leave the Grey Knights as a shooting unit in both games, and both times it failed him. Standing back with a unit of that size is not a great idea, and he lost that gamble both times. There’s some lessons to be learned from playing games that are not always directly attributable to Games Workshop, after all.

So, that concludes our foray back into list examination on MI40K. Let me know what you think, and if you have any further ideas for this feature or any other, let us know in the comments!

Thanks to inkzoo for letting me get ideas and post them here!

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Categories: Lists ,Warhammer 40000

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