Thursday, 2 January 2020

White Scars Tournament Army Review: Warfare 2019

I recently attended Warfare 2019 with my White Scars army. I have been developing the force since the release of the new codex and supplement, and it was proving to be a powerful force on the table top. The event was 1750 pts, and featured 5 missions from Chapter Approved 2018, a mixture of eternal war and maelstrom missions. 

My army consisted of:
Battalion Detachment
Captain on Bike- Twin Bolter, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield, Chogorian Storm, Master of Snares, Wrath of the Heavens
Librarian- Jump Pack, Force Stave, Mantle of the Stormseer, Ride the Winds, Storm-wreathed
5 Intercessors- Bolt Rifles, Bolt Pistols
5 Intercessors- Bolt Rifles, Bolt Pistols
5 Intercessors- Bolt Rifles, Bolt Pistols
5 Scouts Bikers- Twin Bolters, Shotguns, Combat Knives

Battalion Detachment
Captain- Jump Pack, Master-crafted Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Lieutenant- Jump Pack, Power Axe, MC Bolter
5 Scouts- Bolters
5 Scouts- Bolters
5 Scouts- Bolt Pistol, Combat Knives

Spearhead Detachment
Chaplain- Jump Pack, Crozius Arcanum, Bolt Pistol, Litan of Hate
10 Vanguard Veterans- 5 with 2 Chainswords, 5 with two Lightning Claws
5 Vanguard Veterans- Chainswords and Plasma Pistols
5 Devastators- Bolters, 2 Missile Launchers, Heavy Bolter
5 Devastators- Bolters, 2 Missile Launchers
Thunderfire Cannon- Techmarine Gunner with Flamer, Plasma Cutter, 2 Servo-arms

I'll take a look through the army and see what worked and what did not.

Captain on Bike
The Captain on Bike is one of the hard hitting combat units of the army. With the Wrath of the Heavens relic, he has incredible mobility on the battlefield, able to advance up to 22" and ignore intervening models and terrain in the movement phase.

With the ability to advance and still charge, this gives the Captain an incredible threat range on the tabletop. This allows him to get a first turn charge in most games, if I want him to. With the Chogorian Storm warlord trait and Shock Assault rules, this gives him between 6-8 attacks on the charge. This gives him incredible combat potential with the Thunder Hammer.

He was able to do a lot of damage on the charge in combat, dealing with many threats in the enemy army.

The Master of Snares ability is also very useful in games. It allows you to prevent enemy units from falling back from combat, keeping the Captain safe from enemy firepower in the enemy turn. You can also use his abilities to fall back and charge in your subsequent turn, thereby getting the most out of the Captain.

With using the Captain so aggressively, he can be slain by enemy army, giving up slay the warlord. However, he has a decent level of durability with the Storm Shield and T5, and can take on most threats in combat with ease.

Jump Pack Captain
In my last tournament army, I took a second Biker Captain with the Teeth of Terra. In this iteration, I took a Jump Pack Captain with Storm Shield and Master Crafted Thunder Hammer.

This Captain has the potential to do a lot of damage in combat with his damage 4 Thunder Hammer, which goes up to damage 5 when the Assault Doctrine is active, and he charges. This allows him to take on a lot of tough threats later in the game, with 5 attacks on the charge at S8, AP-4 and 5 damage on the charge.

The slower speed of the Jump Pack over the Bike, as well as the random advance roll, means that he generally can't be guaranteed to get a first turn charge. This allows him to be a back up unit for going after threats in later turns.

He was also useful to hold back and support the Thunderfire Cannon, improving the accuracy of the shots.

This was the first time I had fielded a Chaplain in my White Scars army. He was a valuable addition to the list for many reasons.

I took the canticle of hate for his second ability. I actually played this one wrong during the game. I misread it and thought that it only affected one unit in range, rather than all units within 6". This is annoying, as it may have helped me make a few more charges during my games.

I also never really took advantage of the ability to consolidate 6" instead of 3", which could have been useful in a few instances.

The Litany of Hate is also a great power for the White Scars. The ability to re-roll hits in combat within 6" is great for a number of my units, especially the Captains. Once you activate the Assault Doctrine, his ability really boosts the damage output of the White Scars. However, he rarely survives that long, as he is a potent target for the enemy army, to remove his buffs.

I will definitely take the Chaplain again. He provides some strong buffs to the nearby units and has some decent combat ability to add to this.

The Librarian provides two very strong psychic powers for the army; Storm-wreathed and Ride the Winds.

Storm-wreathed blocks enemy units from firing overwatch at one of your units. This pairs really well with the Biker Captain, allowing you to charge and potentially tie up several enemy units without having to worry about enemy overwatch. I used this tactic to great effect during many of my games.

Ride the Winds is also great for the army, giving one unit +2" to charge moves. This works really well for getting the squads into combat, especially if the Chaplain's Litany fails.

The Mantle of the Stormseer makes casting these powers much more reliable, allowing you to cast them on a 5, rather than a 6. I think the Relic is still worth taking, as it is key for getting the powers off. It would be nice to have some sort of invulnerable save on the Librarian to keep him alive for longer, as he is frequently targeted by my opponent to shut down his useful powers.

I was less aggressive with the Lieutenant in many of my games. I often used him to back up the Thunderfire Cannon and Devastators in the backfield, helping to improve their damage output.

I might add a second Lieutenant on foot to stay with the Thunderfire Cannon and Intercessors, while the Jump Pack Lieutenant can support the forward push with the faster elements of the army.

This was my first time using the three squads of Intercessors with my White Scars, and I have to say, they proved to be very useful.

The extra wound per model makes them much more durable than the Tactical Squad. Stick them in cover and the squads actually proved quite difficult for my opponent to shift in many games without some strong firepower.

The increased range and AP of their Bolt Rifles was also a big boost, allowing them to contribute firepower from the first turn in most of my games. Once the Tactical Doctrine is active, the AP-2 of their weapons was great for boosting their firepower.

The extra attack and benefits of the Assault Doctrine were also useful on the Intercessors if they survived till turn 3. Getting 3 attacks each on the charge at AP-1 and 2 damage means that they can threaten a number of enemy units.

In some of my games, I also chose to outflank one unit of Intercessors. This was useful for going after objectives or using their firepower late in the game to do some damage.

I will definitely take the units of Intercessors again in my future lists. They provide a nice backfield objective-holding unit that has some decent firepower with Bolter Discipline.

The Scouts are a great unit in a Space Marine army. They give you a lot of potential for board control, as well as the strong possibility of getting off a first turn charge with the White Scars Chapter Tactics.

Conversely, they are also the unit most likely to give up First Strike and kill points. I mostly used these in my games to either get a first turn charge in, or to sit on objectives in maelstrom games. They are a useful unit to provide some supporting fire with their bolters, or going for kills with the combat knives and bolt pistols.

The Scout squads are a very useful unit to add to the force, as well as providing a cheap Troops choice for filling out the Battalion.

Another modification to my last tournament list, I included two squads of Devastators with two Missile Launchers each and one Heavy Bolter in one squad. The Missile Launchers were there to provide some long-range firepower to the army, as I found it suffered in my last list. The Heavy Bolter was there to allow me to access the Hellfire Shells stratagem if I needed to do so.

I found the Devastators to be a bit lacklustre in my games. Most of the time when they had a decent target for their firepower, they were hampered by high toughness, such as against the Leman Russ tanks, or decent saves, such as against the Plague Drones in game 5.

I think the army could use some high strength firepower, but I'm not sure the Devastators fulfil this role well. They suffer from some low durability when targeted and the variable damage of the Missile Launcher can be a liability in some cases.

In my last tournament list, I used a unit of Devastators with Grav Cannons in a Drop Pod to provide some anti-tank firepower, but this had little effect.

I'll need to have a think about whether I want to add some long range firepower to the army, and what form this will take.

Vanguard Veterans
I thought I would give the Vanguard Veterans another go in my White Scars list, after the last tournament.

I think they performed ok in the list, but I think they were too expensive for what they achieved. The problem is that I wanted to keep them in reserve till turn 3 to get full effect from the assault doctrine. However, in tournament games, turn 3 is sometimes all the game turns you get, so they only have a single turn to get their full effect. Also, by turn 3, many of the buffing characters required to get maximum effect in for them are already dead or in poor positions on the tabletop.

I can't think of a single game where the Vanguard Veterans had a game changing impact, so will probably be dropping them from the list going forward. Of all the units on in the army, the Plasma Pistol Veterans probably had the most effect, as I could count on their firepower, even if they did not make the charge from reserve.

Thunderfire Cannon
Another star unit in the army, this was well worth the cheap price of inclusion. The Cannon provides some long range, anti-infantry firepower and can be great for getting First Strike against weaker enemy units, even if they are hidden.

The Thunderfire Cannon is not really targeted that often, and was only destroyed in one game during the tournament.

This is a great unit when buffed by a nearby Captain and Lieutenant, really maximising the firepower that I can put out. Over the course of my five games, I did fire it twice using the stratagem when it was useful, but did not do so in every game. I don't think I used Tremor Shells at all during the tournament. I think this is a really useful stratagem, but I don't find myself really using it much in my games.

This is more a factor of the armies that I am playing against, rather than the stratagem not being useful.

The Army Overall
I like the way the army plays overall, it has a lot of strong anti-infantry firepower and some very strong assault elements in the force.

This time, I didn't waste as many CP on the Scout Bikers as I did on my previous tournament games. I was frequently spending 3CP to use Born in the Saddle and Skilled Riders on the Scout Bikers and not really getting much effect from it. This time, I didn't use Skilled Riders at all, and used Born in the Saddle infrequently, only when I need the firepower of the Scouts to clear an enemy screen, rather than just firing for the sake of it.

There were a few stratagems that I need to possibly use in the future, particularly some of the new Primaris ones. The ability to get Rapid Fire 2 on the Bolt Rifles can be strong in some situations, allowing a unit of 5 to fire 20 shots at long range. This could be very useful when the Tactical Doctrine is active, giving you a lot of strong backfield firepower.

I also used the Outflank stratagem to better effect in this game, allowing me to send a unit of Intercessors after the enemy army, either to grab objectives or getting into a close range firing position.

The Army going Forward
I have a number of tournaments early in the new year that I am considering taking the White Scars along to, with modifications to the army.

I am planning to paint up a unit of Infiltrators for the army. This will give me two units of 5 Infiltrators to add to the force. Not only will this give me some more elements for board control in the force, but will also give some much tougher units to hold objectives than the Scouts.

I am also planning on adding two units of Eliminators to help me snipe at enemy characters or do mortal wounds tough enemy units. These should provide some useful long range firepower.

I also have an Impulsor that I was planning to paint for my White Scars. This will give me a way to transport my Intercessors into combat faster. I was thinking of giving one squad of Intercessors auto Bolt Rifles to allow me some more firepower as they get in close. This also gives me access to the stratagem to allow them to hit automatically when at half range, giving 15 automatic hits with their firepower. If I can use this on turn 2 with the Tactical Doctrine, this should provide some powerful firepower for the army as a follow up squad.

Thinking of a 1750 pts list, I was thinking of the following:

Battalion Detachment
Captain- Jump Pack, Storm Shield, Master-Crafted Thunder Hammer, Imperium's Sword, Chapter Master stratagem
Librarian- Force Stave, Jump Pack, Bolt Pistol, Ride the Winds, Storm-wreathed, Mantle of the Stormseer
5 Intercessors- Bolt Rifles, Bolt Pistols
5 Intercessors- Bolt Rifles, Bolt Pistols
5 Intercessors- Bolt Rifles, Bolt Pistols
3 Eliminators- Bolt Sniper Rifles, Camo Cloaks
3 Eliminators- Bolt Sniper Rifles, Camo Cloaks
Impulsor- 2 Storm Bolters, Ironhail Heavy Stubber

Battalion Detachment
Captain- Bike, Twin Bolter, Storm Shield, Thunder Hammer, Master of Snares
Lieutenant- Jump Pack, Power Axe, Master-Crafted Boltgun
5 Scouts- Sniper Rifles, Camo Cloaks
5 Infiltrators- Marksman Bolt Carbines
5 Infiltrators- Marksman Bolt Carbines
3 Scout Bikers- Twin Bolters, Shotguns

Battalion Detachment
Chaplain- Jump Pack, Crozius Arcanum, Bolt Pistol, Litany of Hate
Lieutenant- Master-crafted Boltgun, Chainsword
5 Scouts- Bolters
5 Scouts- Bolters
5 Scouts- Bolt Pistols, Combat Blades
Thunderfire Cannon- Techmarine with Flamer, Plasma Cutter, 2 Servo-arms

I have gone for a triple Battalion, thanks to the introduction of the Infiltrators and another Scout unit. After the extra relics and stratagems, this will give me 13 command points to start the game (5 spent pre-game).

For the Biker Captain, I have decided to not make him my warlord and only go with Master of Snares. His role is to advance with the Scout Bikers and other characters and tie up key enemy units or strike at them quickly. The loss of the D3 attacks should not prove to be too much of an issue, as he generally doesn't want to kill everything he gets into combat with.

This means my warlord will be the Jump Pack Captain. I have given him Imperium's sword to allow him to re-roll charges, and get +1 attack and strength on the charge. With the Master-crafted Thunder Hammer, he is a potent combat threat. My plan is to hold him back till later in the game. By supporting my backfield units (Intercessors, Eliminators, Snipers and Thunderfire Cannon) with his Chapter Master re-rolls, he should really boost their damage output when paired with the second lieutenant.

The Eliminators and Sniper Scouts should provide me with some durable backfield units, that will be useful for targeting enemy characters to try and block enemy buffing units. The Eliminators have a number of useful fire modes to get the most out of their weaponry. With the support of the Thunderfire Cannon, this provides a solid firebase for the army.

I am going to try the Infiltrators in my army list. I can use these more aggressively than the Scouts, thanks to their extra wound and 3+ armour save. This will hopefully allow my Bolter Scouts to camp out on objectives and get left alone for a little while. The Infiltrators should be able to get a first turn charge off with the Biker Captain if I get the first turn and can position them correctly.

I also want to try the Impulsor in my list to give one unit of Intercessors some more mobility. I can perhaps outflank it with a unit inside for later in the game. I didn't have enough points to take the Shield Dome, so this may be the target of a lot of enemy firepower, as there aren't really any other vehicle targets in my army.

So, those are my thoughts on the list going forward. I've got a few tournaments in January and February, so will need to get painting up the new units to try and got some practice games in before the events.

On expanding the army to 2000 pts, I might add another unit of Scout Bikers. I was also toying with the idea of taking a Stormtalon to give me some decent firepower, or some multi-melta attack bikes for some close range anti-tank firepower. 


  1. Lascannon Devs instead of ML and an extra Thunderfire Cannon, dropping the Vanguard Vets perhaps? And if expanding to 2000pts recommend sniping an enemy Character in first turn, or a Tank Commander using Dual Lascannon/Assault Cannon with the StormTalon, but if you go second, hide it at rear, they die easy.

    1. Thanks for the flyer advice. I think they can be strong, but am worried about the durability.

  2. A relic contemptor with four lascannons and a cyclone missile launcher puts out a heap of anti-tank firepower on a chassis that's very resilient once you use Duty Eternal. I think one dreadnought is worthwhile in very marine army just to take advantage of that strategem, it makes them so defensively efficient