Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Caledonian Revolution 2016: White Scars Army Review

As is customary after any tournament that I attend, I like to take a look at how my army performed to see which units worked well and which units could be improved in the next iteration of the list. For the context of my army review, check out my battle reports for the tournament in the Tournament Battle Reports tab above.

As a reminder, my army consisted of:
Scarblade Strike Force
Hunting Force
Khan- Moondrakken
Command Squad- Bikes, Apothecary, 4 grav guns, 4 storm shields, Banner of the Eagle
6 Bikers- 2 grav guns, sergeant with power axe and meltabombs 
6 Bikers- 2 grav guns, sergeant with meltabombs 
Attack Bike- Multimelta
6 Scout Bikers- 2 Grenades launchers, sergeant with meltabombs and homing beacon

Stormbringer Squadron
5 Scouts- bolt pistols, combat weapons, sergeant with meltabombs
Landspeeder Storm- Heavy Bolter, Cerberus Launcher 
Landspeeder- Multimelta, Typhoon Missile Launcher

Combined Arms Detachment
Chaplain- Bike, Hunter's Eye, Meltabombs
5 Scouts- Bolters, sergeant with meltabombs
Landspeeder Storm- Heavy Bolter, Cerberus Launcher
3 Bikers- 2 meltaguns, sergeant with meltabombs 
3 Centurions- Grav cannons and grav amps, hurricane bolters
Drop Pod 
Stormhawk Interceptor- TL assault cannon, Skyhammer missile launcher, Las-talon

I will now take a look at each component of the army and see how it performed. 

Scarblade Strike Force
For one of the first times with my White Scars, my tournament army did not solely consist of a Combined Arms Detachment. This time, I decided to use the Scarblade Strike Force (the White Scars' Gladius-type formation). I figured that the bonuses from the formation would be extremely beneficial to my army. 

Lightning Assault:
The re-rolls to failed Hit and Run rolls were useful in this tournament, as there were a few instances over the course of the tournament where I failed these rolls. Unfortunately, the Grav Cannon Centurions were not a part of this formation, as they were the only unit that repeatedly failed Hit and Run rolls (as per usual). 

Ride the Wind:
This allows vehicle and bikes to move an extra D6" after moving flat out or turbo-boosting. I always completely forget about this rule and can't think of too many instances in my games where it would have come in useful. 

Maximum Impact:
Gain hammer of wrath if charing 8" or over (or re-rolls if you already have HoW). Never once came up in my games. The only time I risked a charge that was over 8", I failed the charge. With the mobility of my bike squads, I can pretty much guarantee that I will be charging less than 6" most of the time. I would be unlikely to risk a charge of 8" or over, possibly taking overwatch wounds and failing the charge, unless it was absolutely necessary to win the game. 

Hunting Force
This is where the bulk of my army came from, costing over half the points of my 1850 list. I took the hunting force as it has several great special rules that I could see being of great benefit in the tournament. 

Hunter's Prey:
Get re-rolls to hit and to wound and furious charge against three selected target units (only applies to one unit at a time in a selected order). 
I thought that this was the rule that was going to dramatically boost the damage output of most of my army. In all honesty though, it rarely came into effect. 

Only in game 2 against the Necron Wraithstar did I really utilise the re-rolls to cause significant damage on the enemy target. 
In the rest of the games, I don't think it had any effect, the primary HQ target was either kept well away from the bulk of my army or was too heavily protected for me to risk shooting at them. 

I very powerful rule, but not really used to much effect in my games. 

Thunderous Assault:
Bikes get double hammer of wrath hits if squad is 5 models or over. 

This was the rule that was most utilised in my games. Getting 10-12 automatic S5 hammer of wrath hits in each combat was a huge bonus to my bike units from the Hunting Force. 

It was key to killing units in my games against the Necrons, Dark Angels and Tyranids. Against the Black Knights in game 3, it was actually the hammer of wrath hits that were causing most of the casualties in combat, and it was absolutely brutal against the Gaunts in my final game. All four bike units charging in to combat was able to decimate 2 units of Hormagaunts in the second turn of my game against the Tyranids.

Stormbringer Squadron
My Stormbringer Squadron consisted of a unit of Scouts (close combat weapons and bolt pistols) in a Landspeeder Storm and a Landspeeder with multi-melta and typhoon missile launcher.

Locate and Secure:
Only the Scouts have Objective Secured. It is annoying to lose Objective Secured on the Landspeeder Storm, but it wasn't too bad in my games (only because the Landspeeder Storm rarely survived the game).

Outrider Support:
The Storm gets +1 jink save if within 6" of the Landspeeder. I only used this rule once during the tournament, where it did help keep the Storm alive. Generally it won't get used as I rarely keep the two Speeders together as they fulfil different roles on the battlefield.

Rapid Deployment:
The Scouts can disembark if the Landspeeder Storm moves up to 12". This rule is very effective for the Scouts and why I equipped them for combat. I actually utilised this rule in several of my tournament games, giving my Scouts an extra 6" threat range. It allowed me to perform quite a few longer range charges to take out enemy units and seize objectives.

The Stormbringer Squadron was quite effective in many of my games.

Formation Review
I am quite torn about how the Scarblade Strike Force performed in my games. The double Hammer of Wrath hits greatly increased the damage output of my bike squads in the tournament games and the Hit and Run re-rolls are always useful to have when stuck in combat. The Hunting Force re-rolls were not particularly effective, but I think this was due to my opponents and how I played my games rather than it being a less effective rule.

In all honesty, I think just taking a Combined Arms Detachment for my army would have been better in my games. This would have given my bikers objective secured, which would have won me more maelstrom points and end of game objectives in many of my games. The Necron game and Tyranid game would have ended very differently if my bikers were objective secured.

I would have missed the double hammer of wrath hits in combat, but I think my army would have been ok without them. Not taking the Scarblade would also have meant that I could have changed up my army composition or not included other units in my army.

Unit Reviews
I will now look at each unit in the army and see how they performed in my games.

Khan is always a great addition to a White Scars army. The almost army wide Scout is great in an army and came in useful in a couple of my games.
Khan also performed pretty well in combat during my games and his morale check re-rolls came in handy too.

I would definitely take Khan again in a tournament army.

The Chaplain on a bike with the Hunter's Eye was a great addition to the force. Obviously, the Hunter's Eye is a great addition to any competitive force. I used the Chaplain in combination with the grav command squad and Centurions to take out many enemy threats in my games.

The Zealot re-rolls in combat and granting Fearless to the unit were also very useful for the Command Squad. It increased their damage output in most combats and prevented the unit from fleeing for much of the game.

It's only a shame that I cannot take an Interrogator-Chaplain in my list, as the extra wound and attack on the Interrogator-Chaplain would have been very useful.

In my original list, I had planned to take a Librarian rather than the Chaplain. I think the Librarian would have been much less effective, especially as I went up against three psychic-heavy armies in my tournament games.

Command Squad
This unit is very strong and belongs in any competitive list. The Storm Shields and Apothecary make the unit extremely durable and able to survive a lot of enemy firepower without jinking, thereby keeping up their own firepower level. The four grav guns also cause a lot of damage, putting out 12 ignores cover grav shots each turn (thanks to the Hunter's Eye).

The Banner of the Eagle was quite useful too. Furious charge is great for boosting the combat effectiveness of the Command Squad in the first turn (especially when combined with Zealot). The +1 strength makes a big difference when going up against other bike armies and gave a good bonus against the Black Knights (in addition to the S5 hammer of wrath hits). Fleet was also useful for ensuring that I almost all of my charges in and also for ensuring that the maximum number of bikers got into base contact for their hammer of wrath hits. I would probably take the banner again, especially if I no longer took the Hunting Force formation and lost the double hammer of wrath hits.

Bike Squads
These are the mainstay of my White Scars army and always perform well in my games.

The Bike units were really boosted with the double Hammer of Wrath hits, making the units very potent in combat. I liked the two 6-man bike squads. The addition of only a single additional biker does add to their durability, to what is already a durable unit.

The three-man squad with the two meltaguns actually worked quite well. They weren't so much of a threat that my opponent's focused on them initially. This was useful as they were one of my few objective secured units in the game.

I upgraded one of my biker sergeants to carry a power axe. This wasn't really used well in my games, as I think this sergeant only got to use it in combat in one round of combat in all 5 of my games.

My bike squads will definitely make the army again. I think I may keep the two 6-man squads and one three-man squad as I liked the combination of these three units in my army, or I could go with two 5-man squads and two three-man squads for an additional unit.

Scout Bikers
This is a unit that I have only recently started taking in my army and I have really enjoyed using them.
Their main purpose is as a homing beacon carrier to allow my drop pod Centurions to come in on target and not scatter off the board or too far away from my opponent.

The grenade launchers in the unit were also useful. The S6 rapid fire shots from the grenade launcher were great for taking out units such as Necron Scarabs and Nurglings, able to instant kill these units that can be annoying to clear out with regular weapons.

I ran the unit as 6 strong due to the benefits of the Hunting Force. If I was not running the Hunting Force, I may consider taking two 3-man bike squads, giving me an extra unit with a teleport homer to keep my opponent guessing (or to help if one unit is wiped out if I don't get first turn).

I like this unit and would probably take them again.

Attack Bike
The attack bike was a necessary addition to the Hunting Force. I would generally run at least 2 multi-melta attack bikes for redundancy, as one multi-melta will always miss when you need it to hit.

The only thing I remember the attack bike doing in all my games was popping a single void shield. As a result, the Attack Bike was not so effective in my tournament games. This most mostly due to the fact that I did not come up against many tough vehicles that would require the multi-melta to take out. The only vehicles that it would have been useful against were the Imperial Knights in game 4, but the Knights were inside the void shield on turn 1 and the attack bike died after firing once.

Scouts and Landspeeder Storm
Another mainstay of my White Scars army, this was the first time that I ever fielded two of these units in a tournament list.

The Landspeeder Storm is a great unit for me. Cheap and fast, it is very useful for grabbing objectives thanks to its potential 30" move per turn (12" move and 18" turbo-boost). It is also useful as an assault vehicle for the Scouts. The jamming beacon was also quite useful in the game against the Dark Angels.
The Cerberus launcher didn't get too much use in my tournament games. They would have been most useful against the Tyranids, but most of the army was getting a 2+ cover save on the first turn, limiting how useful the weapon was.

The Scouts were also useful. I always arm the Sergeants with meltabombs, and they were able to take out a drop pod in my game against the Dark Angels. Other than that, their firepower and combat ability was useful in several games. One standout moment, was holding up the Wraithstar in combat for an extra turn in game 2. This meant that they could not go after my Command Squad that turn, allowing me to put some distance on them and target other units.

I would probably take both units again in another tournament list, as they bring a lot to the table for only 200 pts for both units.

The Landspeeder was a requirement of the Stormbringer Squadron. I armed it with a multi-melta and typhoon missile launchers to act as a vehicle hunter in my list.

I was not expecting much from the Landspeeder, but it actually did quite well in most of my games. I think it did best in Game 5, instant killing two Venomthropes and one Tyranid Warrior with its typhoon missile launcher.

I may take it again if I have the points to spare, but my army generally doesn't have a problem dealing with vehicles, as I rarely see many tough vehicles in tournament armies.

Centurions and Drop Pod
This unit always performs well in the army. I think I was a bit more cautious with this unit than I have been in my other tournament lists. I didn't feel the need to shove them down the throat of my opponent in all my games, instead utilising the 24" range of their grav cannons to better effect.

They were wasted in game 1, when I chose to deploy them too far back in my deployment zone as objective holders. This essentially took them out of the game until they were killed with the enemy guns.

They performed well in games 2 and 3 (despite being locked in combat in game 3 for most of the game).

In game 4 against the Knights, I could have been more aggressive with them and targeted the Librarius Conclave on turn 1. However, had I not taken this unit out, they would have been wasted, most likely being charged and destroyed by the Knights in the following turn.

The Hurricane Bolters were the most effective in game 5, where they made short work of any Gaunt unit in front of them.

This unit would definitely be included again in my army.

Stormhawk Interceptor
Without a doubt, the biggest disappointment in my list. I took the Stormhawk Interceptor as my source of Skyfire in an army that doesn't have any other form in it. Previously, I would have taken the Stormtalon, but the new Death From the Skies supplement takes Skyfire from the Stormtalon.

Even in its anti-flyer role, it was not too effective. In game 2, if fired at the Necron flyers and did very little damage to them. In game 5, it did not even target the Flyrants, as it only came in on turn 4.

When not targeting flyers, the -1 BS to target ground units did make some impact. The Stormtalon could put out more damage on ground targets, even though it has fewer guns thanks to Strafing Run making it BS5 against most targets.

The only thing of note I remember the Stormhawk doing was blowing up the Void Shield Generator in game 4, which it was lucky to do.

I would probably not take the Stormhawk Interceptor (or any other flyer) again in a tournament list.

Evolving The List
Based on my review above, I took a look at evolving my army list. I think in the ETC format, I would probably drop the Scarblade Strike Force. The objective secured for my bikers will be of more use than the Hunting Force bonuses I think.

A new tournament list for my White Scars could be as follows:

Combined Arms Detachment
Khan- Moondrakkan
Chaplain- Bike, Hunter's Eye, Meltabombs
5 Command Squad- Bikes, 4 Grav Guns, 4 Storm Shields, Apothecary, Banner of the Eagle

5 Bikers- 2 Grav Guns, Sergeant with Meltabombs
5 Bikers- 2 Grav Guns, Sergeant with Meltabombs
3 Bikers- 2 Meltaguns, Sergeant with Meltabombs
5 Scouts- Bolt pistols, combat weapons, Sergeant with Meltabombs
Landspeeder Storm- Heavy Bolter, Cerberus Launcher
5 Scouts- Bolters, Sergeant with Meltabombs
Landspeeder Storm- Heavy Bolter, Cerberus Launcher

5 Scout Bikers- Grenade Launcher, Sergeant with Meltabombs and Homing Beacon,

Devastator Centurions- Grav Cannons and Grav Amps, Omniscope
Drop Pod

Librarius Conclave
Librarian- Mastery Level 2, Force Axe, Bike
Librarian- Mastery Level 2, Force Stave, Bike
Librarian- Mastery Level 2, Force Sword, Auspex, Meltabombs

This army is smaller than what I am used to fielding with my White Scars tournament armies.

I decided to see what adding a Librarius Conclave would do to my army. This would dramatically improve my psychic output. I envision the two bike-mounted Librarians going in the Command Squad and the Librarian on foot with the Centurions. The Bike Librarians would roll on Telepathy and/or Librarius, hoping to get Invisibility and/or Veil of Time. This would greatly increase the durability of an already pretty durable unit.
The Librarian with the Centurions would most likely roll on Divination for Prescience, with the hope of getting Forewarning or Perfect Timing. With the mobility of the Command Squad, I would probably be able to get in the 12" range to use all three Librarians in the conclave. If not, manifesting on a 3+ is still a decent bonus for the army.

The rest of the army is very similar to what I normally field for my White Scars. This would give me 7 objective secured units, some great firepower from the Centurions (now with split fire) and a solid, durable command squad with very good firepower and good combat potential with all the attached characters. This would make the Command Squad a prime target, but it always has been in my games.

An alternative army could also be:

Combined Arms Detachment
Khan- Moondrakkan
Chaplain- Bike, Hunter's Eye, Meltabombs
5 Command Squad- Bikes, 4 Grav Guns, 4 Storm Shields, 2 Power Axes, Apothecary, Banner of the Eagle

5 Bikers- 2 Grav Guns, Sergeant with Meltabombs
5 Bikers- 2 Grav Guns, Sergeant with Meltabombs
3 Bikers- 2 Meltaguns, Sergeant with Meltabombs
5 Scouts- Bolt pistols, combat weapons, Sergeant with Meltabombs
Landspeeder Storm- Heavy Bolter, Cerberus Launcher
5 Scouts- Bolters, Sergeant with Meltabombs
Landspeeder Storm- Heavy Bolter, Cerberus Launcher

5 Scout Bikers- Grenade Launcher, Sergeant with Meltabombs and Homing Beacon,

Devastator Centurions- Grav Cannons and Grav Amps, Omniscope
Drop Pod
5 Devstators- 4 Grav Cannons and Grav Amps, Sergeant with Combi-grav
Drop Pod

This army gives my Command Squad a bit more punch in the form of two power axes to give me some way to deal with AP2 in combat. I have also added another 4 grav cannons in the form of a Devastator squad in a drop pod. This unit will obviously not be as effective as with a Kataphractii Terminator Captain, but will still put out 12 grav cannon shots on landing and 20 shots each subsequent turn (assuming they all survive). The only downside of the second drop pod is when they will arrive, it is a lot of points to not show up until turn 4.

I could always lose the Devastators and take a full unit of Sternguard with combi-meltas, or go for more units with another bike squad and/or tactical squads.

It will be interesting to try some of these armies for another tournament. The suggested new armies are based on what I currently have in my collection and would not require me to have any additional models.
What do you think of my army's performance and the suggested new tournament lists?


  1. Still reading but the hunter prey rules, maybe its target selection that's an issue? Targeting HQ units and the like might be good but it might just be worth targeting other lesser units, such as objsec units?

    1. The Primary target of the Hunting Force must be an enemy HQ unit. Would be great if you could just pick any 3 units though.

    2. Personally would not bother with the devi squad but take a sternguard with combi weapons, prob meltas but also maybe plasma, as there good for character or monster hunting. Otherwise your vanguard vets is another option, prob not as effective but a lot more mobile.

    3. That's annoying it has to be a HQ but can understand why.

    4. With the Hunting Force you are going to have problems if the enemy only has support HQs.That's pretty rare though, usually at least 1 HQ is a combat build or at least someone that advances up field. I always pick the guy that I think they will play more aggressively with. It also makes them break up their deathstar as they don't want to give you rerolls against the command squad and retinue by attaching the character. That can neuter a deathstar without firing a shot which I think is great.

      Also I would go geomancy over librarius. Earth's blood is great for all the multi wound models you'll have with the conclave. It also gives your deathstar IWND. Phase form is much better than Perfect Timing and Shifting Worldscape is great for extracting camping characters hiding in terrain by bringing the terrain into the center of your army and multi assaulting it.

    5. Yeah, the re-rolls were useful against the Wraithstar. I can see how they would be useful in most games, they just weren't too good in most of the games I played.

      Phaseform is great. My Command Squad already gets Ignores Cover thanks to the Hunter's Eye, but ignoring line of sight is also useful. I will need to read over the new psychic powers again to get the best use out of them.

  2. I personally wouldn't include the two big grav units, I prefer the grav devs and cataphractii captain option (especially giving the cap the shield eternal). I do face daemons quite a lot though, who tend to render grav annoyingly useless.

    1. Yeah, both the Centurions and Devastators seem like a bit much. The Cataphractii Captain and Devastators is a powerful combo, might have to invest in one of them.

  3. For the list list it might be worth giving hunters eye to a librarian and swapping the chaplain for more bikes.

    With the second list I definitely agree with the above in only having one grav-cannon unit. Maybe use the points for a second command squad? I've seen some using them with power fists instead of and as well as the grav guns to great effect though they are pricey points wise :/

    1. I was thinking that myself, drop the Chaplain for more models such as the Land Speeder or a few more bikers.
      I don't think I'd go with 2 Command Squads, way too many points eaten up out of a standard list.

  4. a good review.

    interesting to hear about the storm hawk, sounds like it is has similar issues as your librarian. not points affective and needs more of them to do anything useful.

    i love the stormbringer squadron. a great cheap aux choice to work in the storm lance. having a object sec unit that can assault up to 30" and is still object sec is pretty potent. i personally would have just kept the typhoon but armed with just with missiles and heavy bolter. then have it sit in the back field grabbing objectives and still being a thread 60" away

    same with the attack bike, save the 10pts and use it as a back field unit.

    i like the hunting force. 2 HoW attack on the charge combines with a St5 is very good. and i think for the cost well worth it. the reroll stuff is just a bonus.

    also combined in to the Stormlance it is very cost effective.

    the command squad, i'm not sold on them. they are a lot of points, 270 (?). yes they are tough (T5 3++ 5+FNP). also that price doesn't include the chaplain and khan, which can bring it to nearly 500pts (?) for that you could get another 3 bike squads with grav and still have points left over. or another squad of cents in a pod and something else in a pod and more bikes!

    scout bikers are good and i have had fun with them.

    cent dev a solid choice and performed well. unfortunately teh last games i have played with them i have faced nids (with no high armour), inquisition (with loads of acolytes) and daemons! the best my gravs rolled on was 4+.

    i use them like i used my squad of 10 stern guard, drop them right on the enemy turn 1. that puts them on the back foot and they have to deal with them. yes they generally died but my opps usually focused a load of fire power on them and so the rest of the army moved up relatively unhurt (probably not the best use of my chapters veterans but i have not yet been removed from office as chapter master tactician)

    i mainly like the ETC missions. i am playing eternal war and maelstrom at home. i am still not convinced by KPs as a secondary, as it always punishes large armies and helps small "deathstar" armies. i'll have to have a further look at their missions as some of the ones i saw look good

    over all i liked your army (paint, style and composition). i look forward to seeing how the changes to it go when you next play

    1. Cheers Toonboy.

      I really am torn about the Hunting Force. The double Hammer of Wrath attacks are brilliant, but objective secured is just as good. I think it would depend on tournament missions and style. I think for the ETC, I would prefer the objective secured.

      The one good thing about the Command Squad is that it tanks a lot of firepower and becomes a choice target for your opponent. It's one of those units they can't afford not to deal with. Plus, every unit shooting at them is not going after the rest of my army.

      Don't forget about the Hurricane Bolters on your Centurions. I find them as one of the best ways of dealing with horde armies such as Tyranids, Orks and Guard. Any grav cannon wounds are just a bonus on the damage the bolters normally do. I am normally quite suicidal with the deployment of the Centurions, but I was a bit more cautious in this tournament for some reason and they actually survived several battles.

      My next big games with the White Scars will be at Nick's Hero for a Day. It's not really an event for tournament lists (at least not to me), so I might try some more unusual army compositions there.

  5. Good writeup, such a post-tourney analysis is always super useful! I definitely think you should've won at least one more game - bad luck and an opponent that didn't know the rules to his own army prevented that however.

    So your list is pretty strong already. The chaplain was a great choice and I will follow your lead here in future games. Shame about the flyer, I really thought it'd do more. The nerf to the Stormtalon rules that one out as well.

    I'm not sure if I'd go for Grav Devastators - I think they're a bit squishy and don't bring their full firepower when they come in. The Libby conclave might be the stronger choice especially with the new powers.

    I'd also have a look at the Shadowstrike Kill Team - coming in from reserves when you decide and being able to directly assault is pretty nice, but the formation isn't cheap.

    I'm sure I could think of more stuff but I think I've already written a massive wall of text haha. Again, thanks for writing all these batreps and articles, it is much appreciated! Your blog is basically the first website I check out every day.

    1. I think the Chaplain was well worth the inclusion, he boosted the Command Squad a lot more than I think the single Librarian would have done. The flyer was a big disappointment.

      I am planning to try out more of the newer formations in the future, would be nice to see what works and what does not.

      Very nice of you to say about the blog. Be sure to check out Frontline Gaming for more of my ramblings. I'm writing some Space Marine unit reviews there at the moment and have several articles coming out over the next week. I need to create a tab linking to them.