Thursday 12 November 2015

Rapid Fire 2015- White Scars Army Review

Having posted all my battle reports from Rapid Fire 2015, I thought I would take my usual look at how the army performed at the tournament and what could be improved next time. For context on the army review, check out the battle reports from Rapid Fire 2015 in the Tournament Reports tab if you have not already.

Almost an auto-include in a White Scars army, Khan did very well in my list. His ability to give Scout to bike units was extremely useful in game 6, allowing me to close with the Eldar army very quickly and cause huge casualties in the first turn. Outflanking was less useful, the outflanking unit generally being surrounded and destroyed by the enemy army quickly after arriving, or not getting to arrive at all (such as in Game 3). I will probably avoid using Outflank in the future, but it all depends on the game and objectives.

He joined the Command Squad in every game. I think this was a good choice as he boosted their combat potential. I tried not to put him in combat too often, but they few times he did get in to combat, his AP3 sword and (sometimes) instant death attacks proved quite useful.
His new Warlord Trait allowed morale check re-rolls was also very useful, saving my units a few times during the tournament.
I would probably use him again in a tournament list (depending on whether the new White Scars formations grant Scout without him).

Over the course of six games, the Librarian manifested 9 psychic powers; Prescience three times, Psychic shriek 4 times, Misfortune twice and Invisibility once.
I think splitting the psychic powers over two disciplines was the right call, allowing me to get Prescience and Psychic shriek automatically if I didn't like the table rolls.
Psychic shriek was a bit of a bust. Out of 4 manifestations, I hit with three of the attacks and managed to do a single wound in total out of all the attacks. In theory, it is a nice power for taking on 2+ armour and multi-wound models, but the armies I was facing were generally leadership 9 or 10, so struggled to roll high enough to cause any significant damage (it would have been great against Necrons if their leadership was not so high).
Prescience is an always useful power, but I frequently struggled to get it cast on 4 or more dice each game.
I periled a few times during the tournament, but no major damage was caused either time.
Overall, I think the Librarian was wasted with the Centurions. The unit was targeted for destruction very early on in most games, meaning the Librarian generally only got a turn or two casting powers before he was killed. In six games, I only managed to cast Prescience on the Centurions twice (the main reason I put the Librarian with them), so don't think he lived up to his full potential. I think that next time, I would mount him on a bike and put him with the Command Squad. The prescience re-rolls would be very useful with their grav guns and in combat and putting him with the Command Squad would most likely keep him alive for longer.
Command Squad
The newest addition to my army, the Command Squad performed very well in the tournament.
Armed with four grav guns, the unit could put out a fair amount of firepower and could take on many threats. The extra attack on combat was also useful, helping the squad if they failed their Hit and Run roll (which I did a lot) or got charged.
The Apothecary was a useful addition, I recall making quite a lot of Feel no Pain rolls to help the unit out during the course of the weekend. I just need to remember to keep him central so he does not need to be removed as the first casualty.
The Storm Shields were not too useful, I only remember one instance where the save came in handy (against the Wraithknight's destroyer shots in game 6). Most of the time when I needed an invulnerable save I would Jink, as the volume of fire meant that if I failed one Invulnerable save and lost the model with the Shield, I would lose most of the unit as well if I had not Jinked. ]

One thing I did forget during the tournaments is that the Apothecary is a character. He therefore gets a 4+ look out sir roll. This may have come in handy to save him in a few games to allow me to keep my feel no pain roll.
I could perhaps do with adding some Meltabombs to the unit or even a power weapon or power fist to give them a boost in combat.
Grav gun Bike Squads
The meat and potatoes of my army, the grav gun bike squads performed pretty well, as expected. What I like about this unit is that they have a great deal of mobility for grabbing objectives and closing with the enemy quickly, as well as having a decent level of firepower.

Grav guns are great for taking on a wide variety of opponents and vehicles, whereas in game 1, they were able to switch to their bolters for more accurate fire for taking out the Orks (my grav guns were pretty useless in this game thanks to the Orks' poor armour saves).

The unit is not the best in combat, but the S5 hammer of wrath attacks can actually cause quite a few casualties. They will tend to suffer if stuck in a protracted combat, especially against power weapons, but with Hit and Run they should (in theory) be able to escape combat a fair amount of the time (though not with my Hit and Run rolls). A great unit that is a main fixture in my White Scars army.

Meltagun Bike Squad
I did not face too many tough vehicles in my games at Rapid Fire. The biggest threats over the six games were probably the Battlewagon in game 1 and the Sould Grinders in game 5. As a result, there was not much need for the meltaguns in the bike squad.

Any big threats were targeted by the multimeltas on the attack bikes or by the Centurions, meaning that the meltaguns were left to fire at Trukks or infantry models. With only two shots, I could only reliably count on one of the meltaguns hitting each turn (sometimes not even that), if they were even in range of the enemy unit.

The squad was still useful, having good durability and mobility on the board; I just don't think the meltaguns added much to the unit as I had plenty of longer range anti-tank shooting capability in the rest of the army. It might be worth swapping them out for flamers in a future list. This would give me more anti-horde firepower and potentially help with supplying additional overwatch fire.

Attack Bikes
The attack bikes provided a good supporting role in the army, their main purpose was to hunt down heavy armour with their multimeltas. They were frequently targeted early on in the game, but with two wounds each, they could take a fair amount of damage.

My only change to the unit might be to add a third bike. Even with two multimeltas, you are not always guaranteed a hit (sometimes we all have very poor rolling). A third multimelta should at least provide one hit, or additional hits, increasing the odds of blowing up the target vehicle.

Landspeeder Storm and Scouts
Another good unit in the army that serve a variety of roles.
The Landspeeder Storm is fast- able to move up to 30" per turn, and has decent firepower with the Cerberus launcher and heavy bolter. I was able to use Blind a couple of times during the game to diminish the enemy firepower. I didn't get the chance to use the jamming beacon as I did not face any deep striking armies.
The Scouts are useful in their role as a combat unit (with three attacks each on the charge) and their grenades can help to take out enemy vehicles, with meltabombs on the sergeant.

The unit performed well in the tournament games and I would include them again in the army.

Tactical Marines
I don't feel that the Tactical marines achieved too much in the tournament, at least, nothing that stands out in my mind. I mostly recall the unit missing with its meltaguns frequently and failing to achieve much in combat.

The best function of the unit was with objective secured and an objective secured drop pod. This was able to deny objective scoring for my opponent on a few occasions.

I spoke in the last tournament review on my White Scars that I should add a multimelta to the unit. I actually looked into doing this for Rapid Fire, but was unable to purchase a cheap one online and didn't have the time to get it painted up before the tournament. I think an additional melta weapon would help the squad have a clearer goal (and a chance of destroying enemy tanks). I was under the impression that a multimelta was an assault weapon, but it is a heavy weapon, so would only be able to fire snap shots the turn it arrives. This may decrease the utility of the unit on the first turn.

Combat squadding them in most games was the right decision. I had not considered this tactic before facing Luke at Blog wars 9. It is a useful tactic, allowing 5 bolters to focus on another enemy unit rather than being wasted while the meltaguns are firing at a specific target. It also gives another unit for the enemy to shoot at.

I think I would probably keep the unit in the army. The objective secured pod is nice for contesting objectives or gaining linebreaker. I should add in a multimelta to the unit to give it more tank hunting potential, possibly even decreasing the unit to a 5-man squad.

A solid addition to the army, this unit tended to function as a backfield objective holder and long range firepower. The missile launchers are a great utility weapon, able to take on tough armour with krak missiles and able to take on hordes with their frag missiles.

I think I used the frag missiles more in this game than krak missiles, mostly using the blast markers to get additional hits on weaker armoured opponents such as Orks and daemons.

The Rhino was pretty useless in the games, I mostly took it for thematic reasons (all White Scars should have a transport unit). It gave up easy victory points in many games, but actually stopped me from being tabled in game 4. I would probably still include it as it is useful for grabbing objectives and annoying the enemy.

Over the course of six games, the Centurions destroyed a Battlewagon, two-thirds of a Destroyer Lord, half a Wraithknight, 6 Necron Warriors, a Soul Grinder, 5 Havocs and 7 Warp Spiders. Not a huge tally for a unit with so much damage potential, but they did play an important role in many of my games.
Given the insane amount of damage the Centurions can put out when they fire their grav cannons, most opponents focused on them pretty early. meaning that they acted as a great distraction unit in my army (albeit, a very expensive one). When locked in combat, they don't actually do a great deal of damage with only one attack each and no AP value on their attacks- it would be great if they came armed with power fists as standard. They are actually quite tough to take out in combat with T5 and a 2+ save, so can normally be relied on to survive to attempt to Hit and Run out at the end of the enemy turn (so glad they changed this in the new codex).
The only problem is that they lack an invulnerable save, so any character wielding a high strength AP2 weapon will make short work of the unit in combat. Lacking the ability to Overwatch also means that there is generally little risk in assaulting the Centurions, as least to potentially tie them up in combat.
The biggest change from my last tournament list was the inclusion of the drop pod to act as the Centurion's transport. This addition gives two bonuses; the ability to get close to the enemy and use their (relatively) shorter range grav cannon and the ability to ensure that they cannot be eliminated before they get to fire (barring any Interceptor units).
In three of the games I played, the drop pod was essential for the unit. The first was game 1 against the Ork army. By deploying the unit behind the Ork lines, I was able to destroy the Battlewagon and divert the Meganobz from my main line, long enough for the Meganobz to have no real influence on the game. It meant losing the Centurions and Drop pod, but I think that was a fair price to pay.
The second was in game 6, where I needed the pod to get in range of the enemy army for a synchronised alpha strike on the enemy.
I still need practice deploying the Centurions in the pod, particularly in the areas of target priority and survivability. The unit only survived to the end of the game in two of my six games. It might be worth deploying the tactical marine's pod first, using the Centurions to come in later in the game when the enemy is a bit more spread out and cannot focus on only the Centurions for one turn.
The other issue with the Centurions is that once they are deployed, they are pretty static as they lack the ability to run. This was shown in game 6, where the unit was pretty much out of the game after turn 2; lacking the range to target the highly mobile Eldar jetbikes and not wanting to spend several turns moving to engage the Wraithknight to face its Destroyer shots each turn as it jumped away.
I would probably keep the Centurions in another tournament list. Their damage potential and threat to the enemy army is simply too great to ignore in most cases. The only change would be to utilise the Librarian elsewhere in the army, as mentioned above.
Another very useful unit in the army, providing some anti-flyer firepower in my list (not that I needed it much in the tournament).
Armed with a twin-linked assault cannon and the Skyhammer missiles, the Stormtalon can put out a lot of accurate (thanks to Strafing run bonus) and high strength firepower. The Rending shots on the assault cannon proved to be particularly useful in many games.
The Stormtalon was great for targeting and killing lone models such as the Tomb Spider or both Farseers in my two Eldar games. For these kills alone, the flyer performed much better at Rapid Fire than at Blog Wars 9.
Hover mode can be useful for grabbing objectives late in the game or ensuring that you can get extra shots at an enemy unit in range, but I prefer the added survivability of zooming mode. I entered into Hover mode late in game 2 with the hopes of getting Linebreaker and counting that the +1 to my Jink save in Hover mode would help it survive, forgetting that the Tomb Blades had Ignores Cover and easily blew the flyer out of the sky.
Overall Thoughts
In hindsight, it is easy to see what units worked and did not work after my tournament games. Going in to the tournament, I put together what I thought was a balanced and tough list, able to take on many armies  and many mission types.
I think the modifications to the army improved it over the force I took to Blog Wars 9. The only place my army still struggles is against AP2 in combat (not in shooting, I have more than enough Grav to take care of that). It might be worth taking a power fist or two in the army if I can spare the points.
Revised List
So based on my thoughts above, my revised White Scars tournament list would look something like this:
Kor'sarro Khan- Moondrakken
Librarian- Mastery Level 2, Auspex, Meltabombs, Force Sword, Bolt Pistol, Space Marine Bike
5 Command Squad- Mounted on bikes, 4 grav guns, storm shield, Power fist, Apothecary, Meltabombs x 1
5 Bikers- 2 Grav guns, sergeant has meltabombs and power sword
5 Bikers- 2 Grav guns, sergeant has meltabombs
5 Bikers- 2 Flamers, sergeant has meltabombs and power sword
5 Tactical marines- Meltagun, sergeant has combi-melta and meltabombs
Drop Pod- Storm Bolter
5 Scouts- Bolt pistols, close combat weapons, sergeant has meltabombs
Landspeeder Storm- Heavy Bolter, Cerberus Missile launcher
Drop Pod- Deathwind missile launcher
Stormtalon- TL assault cannons, skyhammer missile launcher
3 Attack Bikes- Multimeltas
5 Devastators- 4 Missile Launchers
3 Centurions- Grav amps and grav cannons, hurricane bolters
The major changes to the list are:
  • Mounting the Librarian on a bike to join the Command Squad (or another bike unit)
  • Removing a Storm Shield from the Command Squad, adding a power fist and one set of Meltabombs
  • Decreasing the Tactical Squad from 10-man to 5-man
  • Adding power swords to two of the bike squads
  • Replacing the meltaguns with flamers on a bike squad
  • Increasing the attack bikes to 3-man
  • Losing the Devastator's Rhino

I think these changes improve the army for the better. It may be better to arm the Bike Sergeants with power axes for more AP2 attacks, but the choice of power swords was based on what I currently have in my collection. The only thing I would need to add to the army are a bike-mounted Librarian and a third attack bike.
This list may change again based on the new formations and Relics for the White Scars (at the time of writing this, I am still waiting on the expansion book to arrive). I plan to review the new White Scars Relics and Formations from War Zone Damocles: Kauyon in a future post.
What are your thoughts on my army analysis? Anything to add or think my new list is an improvement?


  1. I do like the list, though there's a few things I'd comment on.

    1. Centurions. I know the grav cannons put out an horrendous amount of fire, but like you pointed out I had concerns about putting such a unit in harms way, particularly since they're so easy to tie up in combat. Have a look at the combination of lascannons and missile launchers - I've always found them to be extremely efficient, though they are perhaps more specialist than the grav cannons, they can at least sit back out of the way and apply their firepower across most of the table for the whole game. I should point out that I do take mine with Imperial Fists chapter tactics though for the tank hunter rule.

    2. Librarian. I'm generally speaking underwhelmed by space marine librarians most of the time - their relatively limited in terms of putting powers on the table unless taken in multiples and as you discovered, against psychic armies they tend to get outclassed. If you do take one, consider a storm shield to give an invun to your centurions...

    3. You've already picked this up, but I'd definitely go for power axes on the bike sergeants, you can protect them relatively easily and the added punch is always useful.

    4. Storm Talon - try the typhoon missile launcher - it may be the most expensive option but the added strength of krak missiles against the tougher flyers helps - as well as giving it more utility.

    5. Tactical marines - I definitely find them most useful when taken in numbers. In this list, I'd consider dropping them perhaps for some sniper scouts, which are far more useful now they're BS4.

    Just my thoughts, and trying not to suggest you simply end up with an army that in composition looks very much like my own!

    1. Thanks for the comments Nick, a lot to take on board.

      1. I think the fear factor of the grav centurions is enough to warrant their inclusion (plus the fact that they can put out a lot of firepower). A lot of people focus on them and leave my bikers alone in the first turn. They are in the list as my Wraithknight/Riptide/Imperial Knight counter.

      I think I am just a bit too cavalier with them, putting them in situations where they die quickly. They can get locked in combat, but this is mitigated a bit by having Hit and Run.

      2. I agree with you. My Librarians never really seem to achieve much. I think a Chaplain may be the way to go, giving me re-rolls to hit with Khan and the Command Squad. My Ravenwing Interrogator-Chaplain is awesome, he was a real bonus at Blog Wars.

      3. I will need to consider converting some for my White Scars. Axes seem very fitting for the Scars.

      4. Might be worth a shot for the extra strength and options to use blast markers. I guess I just liked the cheapness of the Skyhammer and the extra shot (wish it was twin-linked though).

      5. Sniper scouts would be good for taking on a variety of foes. I would need to give them a landspeeder though, as I firmly believe all White Scars units should move 12" or have a transport. I'm just sad that tactical marines, the most iconic marine unit, take a backseat in most armies.

      Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed and useful reply!

    2. One of the really nice things about the Storm Talon model is that the weapons are incredibly easy to make swappable. I didn't even bother with magnets, just added a tiny bit of blu-tac, because they almost pressure-fit. Means that the cost of trying out different options is very low, even in situations where WYSIWYG is required.

      That said, the SkyHammer is my favorite there.

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  3. Your current proposed Librarian load-out is as follows:

    ***Librarian- Mastery Level 2, Auspex, Meltabombs, Force Sword, Bolt Pistol, Space Marine Bike

    For the same points, you might consider this instead:

    ***Librarian- Force Sword, Grav Pistol, Space Marine Bike, The Hunter's Eye (New WS Relic)

    The new WS Relic is from the White Scar "supplement" in the new Kayoun campaign book that just came out. If you are unfamiliar with them, the Hunter's Eye gives the Librarian +1BS and gives him/his entire unit Ignore Cover (i.e. basically automatic Perfect Timing, with no need to roll for it).

    Attach the Librarian (or should I say Stormseer ;) ) to your Command Squad and suddenly all those Relentless Grav Guns Ignore Cover automatically and you can still have access to either Psychic Shriek (at BS5) or Prescience, giving you lots of potent options to make the squad even more dangerous. His BS5 Grav Pistol adds another highly accurate Grav shot at 12”, which can be game changer at the right moment.

    You do lose PML(2) and the Melta Bomb, but I think the trade is worth it, especially for guaranteed Ignore Cover on your Command Squad (AP2 Grav Guns and Ignore Cover mean that the only thing that can stop your shooting is Invul saves and FNP rolls).

    1. Thanks! I wrote this post before I had the new book (my review of which is now currently on the blog!), so will definitely be including the Hunter's eye in any future tournament lists.


    Go to post #464 to see the new White Scar rules and Relics that I reference above.

  5. It’s always good to have a review of your army and look for improvements after a few games.

    I think the base of the army is good and some of the changes you have made are understandable.

    My changes would be:

    1. Leaving the devs without a rhino doesn’t seem very White Scars. While this may be a better suit of the army it doesn’t fit well with the fluff (and new formations). Drop them.

    2. Drop the flamer bikes and make the 2 other squads full 8 man squads. Additionally take 2 AB and put them in the bike squads. Upgrade the sarges to have power fists. This gives greater flexibility of your bikes (3 MM at any one target is a bit over kill) and reduces the amount of KP available to the enemy. You can still combat squad if you need to.

    3. With the free points take some support speeders. Typhoons are my favourite. You can either drop the AB or split the army in to 2 CADs

    4. Not sure how many points you have left (if any), but maybe try and get the tactical to 10 man or take some scout bikes (useful with the drop pod cents)

    1. Cheers for the input. For the points you raised:

      1. The Devastators were added after initial playtesting of the army. My force lacked much long range firepower and I didn't find myself doing much in my first turn (this was before Centurions could drop pod). I like the long range firepower, but am not sure they achieve much for the points.

      2. I didn't consider this. Would give me two strong units (handy with some of the new formation rules) and give me an extra unit if I combat squad them.

      3. I have purchased a speeder to use with the new formation rules. I am impressed with them in my Ravenwing army and may get a few more.

      4. I have bought a unit of scout bikes for the new White Scars formations. I will be using them soon hopefully.

  6. Hey mike. i think that the grav centurions are an absolute steal. They are a lot of points, but they have to be used quite well. Tbh I get accused of using them as a bit of crutch by my mates!

    1. They are a very powerful unit, I just need to learn to use them better!