Monday 26 March 2018

GFTW Tournament- White Scars Army Review

I recently attended the Greetings From the Warp 40k tournament with a new style of White Scars army than I am used to playing. This new army focuses on massed infantry and board control in the force, and lots of Jump Pack units to take advantage of the White Scars Chapter Tactics. 

As is customary after a tournament, I'll take a look through the army to see what worked and what didn't in my games, and how I could modify the army to make it a bit more successful in the future. 

My army consisted of:
Brigade Detachment
Captain on Bike- Thunder Hammer, The Shield Eternal, Twin Boltgun, Iron Resolve Warlord Trait
Captain with Jump Pack- Lightning Claw, Combi-Melta 
Librarian with Jump Pack- Force Stave, Boltgun, Null Zone, Psychic Fortress 
Lieutenant with Jump Pack- Power Axe, Master-Crafted Boltgun, Bolt Pistol
5 Scouts- Boltguns 
5 Scouts- Boltguns, Sergeant has Bolt Pistol and Combat Knife
5 Scouts- Bolt Pistols and Combat Knives 
5 Tactical Marines- Bolters, Heavy Bolter 
5 Tactical Marines- Bolters, Heavy Bolter 
5 Tactical Marines- Bolters, Missile Launcher 
Company Ancient- Standard of the Emperor Ascendant, Chainsword 
5 Vanguard Veterans- Jump Packs, 5 Pairs of Lightning Claws 
5 Vanguard Veterans- Jump Packs, 2 Chainswords each
5 Assault Marines- Jump Packs, 2 Plasma Pistols, Bolt Pistols, Chainswords, Sergeant with Plasma Pistol 
5 Assault Marines- Jump Packs, 2 Plasma Pistols, Bolt Pistols, Chainswords, Sergeant with Power Fist and Meltabombs 
5 Assault Marines- Jump Packs, 2 Plasma Pistols, Bolt Pistols, Chainswords, Sergeant with Power Sword 
6 Scout Bikers- Twin Boltguns, Astartes Shotguns, Combat Knives 
Thunderfire Cannon. Techmarine Gunner with 2 Servo-arms, Plasma Cutter, Flamer, Bolt Pistol 
5 Devastator Marines- 2 Heavy Bolters, Plasma Cannon, Bolters 
5 Devastator Marines- 3 Missile Launchers, Bolters

I'm going to take a look at each unit and see how they performed.

Captain on Bike
The Captain was armed with a Thunder Hammer and the Shield Eternal. He was a solid combat character, able to put out a lot of damage in the fight phase. His Bike allows him to get into combat very quickly, especially when combined with the Born in the Saddle Stratagem.

He is fairly durable, with 7 wounds, a 3+ invulnerable save and halving the damage thanks to the Shield Eternal. He was able to take on entire mobs of Orks and some tough combat characters in my games.

The extra wound from the Iron Resolve warlord trait was nice, but I don't think I ever made one of the 6+ FNP saves over the course of my three games. I would consider swapping it for one of the other Space Marine warlord traits, such as the Imperium's Sword (re-roll charges and +1A on the charge), Storm of Fire (extra AP on shooting attacks for nearby units) or Champion of Humanity (+1 to hit and wound against enemy characters).

The Captain probably performed best in game 1. He was able to use the Honour the Chapter stratagem to attack twice in a turn and kill off the Bloodthirster before it could do too much damage.

I would definitely take the Captain on Bike again. The only change is that I would probably not be so aggressive with him all the time. I tend to rush him at the enemy army, so it is easier for him to be killed and give up warlord in my games.

Captain with Jump Pack
This Captain came with a Lightning Claw and Combi-Melta. This Captain did reasonably well in my games. A lot of the time I held him back to benefit from his re-rolls with my Devastator Squads. This doesn't really use his mobility too well.

I think he should be armed with a Thunder Hammer as well. The Lightning Claw is nice, but lacks the high strength and damage of the Hammer. With the Hammer, he might have been more of a threat to the Grey Knights in my second game and able to go after enemy characters or vehicles with the Combi-melta and Thunder Hammer. Alternatively, I could arm him with the Teeth of Terra to give him more attacks, but still be able to cause a fair bit of damage.

I would take the Captain again, but swap the melee weapon to give him a bit more punch in combat.

The Librarian was armed with a Bolter, Jump Pack and Force Stave. He had the Null Zone and Psychic Fortress.

In the first game, he was fantastic. He was able to cast Null Zone to remove the Bloodthirster's invulnerable save, allowing the Captain to take it out with his Thunder Hammer. In the next two games, he was a bit lacklustre. He was easily countered by the Grey Knights, then didn't really have the powers or abilities to do much to the Orks.

Null Zone has the potential to be a fantastic power, but it is a bit too hard to cast and has an abysmal range. If you could use it from Deep strike without having to charge, it would be very useful, but as it is, it only rarely works.

I would probably drop the Librarian from a future list. He rarely has any effect on the effectiveness of the army, so the points could be better spent elsewhere in the list.

The Lieutenant had a Jump Pack, Power Axe and Master-crafted Bolter. The Lieutenant was great, providing some great re-rolls to wound for the Devastators. The Lieutenant was a great buffing character for the army.

I would definitely take him again. In fact, I should probably take two for the army; one to sit with the Devastators, the other to tag along with the Biker Captain and ensure his Thunder Hammer attakcs are used to maximum effect. I might even put him on a Bike so that he can keep up.

Scout Squads
The three units of Scouts are a key feature of the army. While their damage output may not be great, their ability to control the board on deployment is amazing.

I think I used the Scouts to good effect in all three games, acting as key screening units for the army, as well as pushing back enemy deep strikers in all three games. I would definitely take the units again.

Tactical Squads
The three Tactical Squads provided some nice board control for the rest of my deployment zone where the Scouts could not cover.

The Missile Launcher and Heavy Bolters were useful for giving me some additional firepower, as well as allowing me to use the Hellfire Shells and Flakk Missile stratagems during my game. While their damage output was not brilliant, it did prove to be useful at times, and they also served as effective screening units for the army.

I would probably take the Tactical Squads again. They are a nice and cheap troops choice for filling out the Brigade.

Company Ancient
I actually didn't get that much use out of the Company Ancient in my practice games and tournament games. The majority of my games were against assault armies, where the power of the Banner is a bit more limited. He did get used to some effect in my game against the Grey Knights, allowing many of the Devastators to fire again and do some damage to the enemy army.

I am a bit torn about the Ancient. He does provide some nice alpha-strike countering abilities, but I just did not get much benefit from him in my games, though I do see where he would be useful. I think I would drop him from the list. However, I know I would play a game against a firepower heavy army and miss him from the list once more.

Vanguard Veterans
I was a little disappointed with the performance of the Vanguard Veterans in my games. They did ok in the first game, dealing some damage to the Khorne Berzerkers.

In the second game, they were a bit wasted. One unit failed their charge on a unit, while the other made the charge, but weren't needed in the combat. In the third game, they lacked the volume of attacks to do much damage to the Ork horde.

The unit of Veterans with Lightning Claws is useful, but generally lacks the volume of attacks to be effective against hordes

I think I would take one unit of 10 Vanguard Veterans armed with dual Chainswords. This would give the unit 40 attacks on the charge, hopefully enough to deal with massed enemy models. I'm not sure putting them in reserve is the best option, as a single failed charge means the unit is pretty much isolated and destroyed.
The bigger unit is also useful for using the Honour the Chapter stratagem for attacking again.

Assault Marines
I was actually pretty impressed with the three units of Assault Marines in my army. These units really benefit from the White Scar Chapter Tactics, able to fall back and still shoot and charge.

Two or three Plasma Pistols in each unit was also great for causing a fair bit of damage to enemy characters and units. I would probably take three Plasma Pistols in each unit. I only took the two melee weapons on the Sergeants as a necessity for the models I had available.

These units were great for grabbing objectives or targeting enemy characters. I would definitely take them again. Alternatively, I could use them as Vanguard Veterans, as only 2 pts more for an extra attack is a nice bonus.

Scout Bikers
These are a great unit in the White Scars army. They are incredibly fast and have some great firepower.
They didn't do too well in the tournament games, as they were simply targeted early by the enemy army and eliminated before they could do much in my games. In this way, they were useful in the army and saved some of my other units from harm in the first turn.

I would take the Scout Bikers again.

Devastator Squads
These were taken to fill out the Brigade, but did serve a useful purpose in the army. They provided some great firepower for the army, and worked well when buffed with a Captain and Lieutenant. The buffing characters really boost the damage output of the army.

I would probably take the Devastators again, possibly adding more Heavy Weapons to the squad to boost their firepower.

Thunderfire Cannon
This is a key unit in the army, and was crucial in my game against the Chaos Space Marines and Orks. The ability to slow down a single enemy unit each turn is brilliant and really helps out the White Scars army.

In game 1, I was able to neutralise a unit of Bloodcrushers and Khorne Berzerkers, allowing my firepower to take care of these or other, faster units before they could become a threat to the army. In the third game, it was able to halt an entire flank of the Ork army and stop them from venturing far from their deployment zone.

I would definitely take the Thunderfire Cannon again.

List Strengths
After playing a few games with the army, there are a few strengths that the army has in the game. The first is board control. Between the number of units I have, the Scouts and the deep striking units, this army can control large swathes of the board straight from deployment.

The force can shut down enemy deep strikers for the first couple of turns until I start to lose units. This can push them back and make them less effective, as was seen in many of my games. I can also use the Scouts to block enemy movement, giving my gunline even longer to accomplish their mission of whittling down the enemy army.

The MSU-style army is also great for grabbing objectives, giving me many small units to sacrifice if needed to take grab and hold objectives.

List Weaknesses
One of the biggest strengths of the army is also one of its greatest weaknesses. The MSU-style army gives up a lot of kill points in missions that use them. In most maelstrom missions, this is not a problem, but as you say in my second game, this mission was really lost on kill points for me, with maelstrom points almost coming as an afterthought.

In any sort of combined mission that uses kill points and maelstrom points, this army can really suffer.

Another weakness is that I don't have a single hard-hitting unit. The characters can do damage in combat against smaller, elite units or vehicles/monsters, but they do struggle against horde units. In some ways, not having a single powerful unit means my list cannot be neutralised by destroying a single unit, but means I have to devote more resources in the army to killing a single enemy unit.

I liked how the army played in the tournament. It's one of the first times I've had 12 command points in an army and I really liked having so many points to use. It means I can use a lot more stratagems and have key re-rolls in my turn. I re-designing the army, I would still try and maximise the number of command points I have in the force.

If taking the army again, I would probably go for 2 Battalion detachments. This would only give me 9 command points, but wouldn't force me to fill all the slots. This would also allow me to take the Assault Squads and Devastator Squads in 10-man units. This would allow me to combat squad them where kill points were not an issue in the game. In missions with kill points, I could run them as a single unit of 10.

It was a fun force to try out and a very different play style to what I am used to. I think in maelstrom missions or eternal war missions that don't use kill points, the army is pretty solid. It presents a lot of targets for your opponent to try and take out, while also using the Scouts and jump infantry to stall the enemy movement and stop them from easily getting to the gunline.

I hope you enjoyed the tournament battle reports and the army analysis. 


  1. Great breakdown, food for thought

    1. Cheers Siph! It was actually a lot of fun to try a very different army from normal.

  2. I always like reading these, lots of good advice/thoughts... The downside is the "oh yeah, I should paint some of those, and those, and those" effect.

    1. What are you doing wasting time writing comments then?!? Get painting!!! ;)

  3. i have enjoyed reading your reports and now this summary.

    i am going to run a very similar list to this, taking on your points.

    if you are taking 2 battalions would it be worth taking 2 different chapter tactics? one for the fire base and one for the assault?
    did you upgrade your captain to chapter master at anytime?
    you had 12CPs was that too many? or was it a time limit issue that you had some left as you only played 4/5 turns?

    1. Cheers Toonboy, glad you enjoyed it.

      - I think taking two different Chapter Tactics is definitely worthwhile. I simply don't do it as I've painted them up White Scars and it would be too confusing for me. I think White Scars works for the forward elements, especially the Jump Pack troops. For the firebase, I think Raven Guard or Salamanders would be really strong. The -1 to hit and 2+ save for being in cover makes them incredibly durable. The "free" re-rolls for Salamander is also very strong.

      - I didn't bother. For me, it is too many command points for little benefit with the way I play him. For the Biker Captain, he wouldn't get to re-roll 2's to hit anyway. It might be worth it for a Captain sitting with the Devastators, but I'd rather have the command points to spend elsewhere.

      - I actually burned through most of the command points in the first couple of turns. Twelve is great and gives you a lot of options on what to spend them on. White the Space Marine stratagems are not the strongest overall, they do have some very nice individual ones to use. After using 12, I don't think I could go back to 6 for my Marines. I think two Battalions for 9 would be pretty good too.

      I tend to spend them early, as I think it gives the most benefit in the first few turns. It's hard to remember to save them for the Born in the Saddle and Tremor Shells stratagem to use in later turns.

  4. 10 man devastator squads are very likely to flee after a failed morale test. They would need some extra buffing.

    But the biggest thing that needs addressing is the lack of an unit capable of dealing massive wounds to bigger models/hordes etc. I would be tempted to use large units of reivers instead of the veterans.

    1. Yeah, morale will be an issue in larger squads for sure. I guess its a toss up between kill points and the potential of a failed morale tests.

      As I noted above, the list does lack the big damage dealer you would see. I think the Captain with Combi-Melta and Thunder Hammer could do a fair bit of damage to a single model, but you would need to get lucky with your rolls.

      What is it that Reavers bring for the damage dealing, in your experience?