List Building: The Way Forward with Warhammer 40K 7th Edition

I absolutely love list building. Putting list theories to the test and the refinement process is just something I enjoy. That being said, nobody would ever say I build competitive lists. Most would probably say I don’t build strong lists. As much as I enjoy the process of list building, there’s always something I’m lacking, a consideration I didn’t take into account, and whatever that flaw is tends to be exploited by strong players.

List Building
Not really top secret. I just liked the picture.

Ultimately I feel my failure is in not playing to the current edition of the game. I always feel like I’m an edition behind in my list building. It’s not really a model limitation, I keep up on that pretty well, it’s more the mentality of building the list. I touched on this the other day when talking about reinvigorating my Daemons as allies for my Chaos Space Marines.

Allies aside, I need to work on building more balanced lists…sort of. I’ve always said that I love the assault phase and my lists reflect that. By balanced I don’t necessarily mean that my list has a counter for everything and has all game phases covered. That’s a shortcoming of mine that I accept and it’s fine. I’m not out playing in huge 40K tournaments, I’m playing locally for fun. Balanced for me is investing appropriately in my units. Warhammer 40K 7th edition, if you’re playing Maelstrom of War missions (which I almost always do), is a very different game than before. You need a mobile army that is flexible and able to adapt as needed. In addition, you need a fair amount of units on the board to try to cover six objectives. I very often build top-heavy lists. It’s not uncommon for me to invest 500pts into an HQ and the unit it joins in a 1,500 game; basically a deathstar and deathstars don’t pan out all that amazingly in Maelstrom missions. It’s not always a deathstar unit either and sometimes just a couple of very pricey units.Duh

I need to start wrapping my head around building lists for 7th. I know what I need to start doing; I just have to start doing it. The last game I played I went into building the list with this in mind. The list needs work but the single most expensive unit I had were three Obliterators with the Mark of Nurgle and Veterans of the Long War. They weigh in at 237pts but it’s the one point heavy unit that is worth it every time it’s fielded. The big thing I was working on was curbing the spending on the units. My Chaos Lord I fielded was only 155pts, which is easily 30pts under what I normally spend on him. My Chaos Bikers were unmarked, saving me 30pts had I gone Nurgle or 45pts had I gone the Slaanesh route I also like. The savings in just those two units bought me a squad of Cultists.

I don’t mind investing in units that are worth the increased cost, like giving Obliterators Mark of Nurgle and Veterans of the Long War. It’s a rare day that unit doesn’t make back its points and has proven to be worth the investment. However, units where the investment becomes more a novelty than actual return is what I’m working on curbing. If I can get my points spent more efficiently then I can get more units on the table and more units help score objectives and accomplish other things.

It’s going to take a bit to determine where spending points is useful and where it’s a waste – it’s not always cut-and-dry, but my test run the other night was a good start. I felt much better about my list when I was playing and fought hard for a draw. A draw isn’t a win but it’s not a loss either and losses are what I’ve been piling up as of late. It’s a start.

How about you? What changes have you made for 7th edition in your list building?

  • Remember to make tiny changes and play a few games with them. List building and theory hammer is great, but only when tempered by experience.

    • Agreed. Initially it will be stripping things down and then seeing where those points should go based on experience.

  • That sounds like an interesting process. From my limited experience with the CSM book, overgearing seems like an easy pitfall to fall into. Space Marines have the luxury of only getting wargear upgrades and Veteran Sergeant bumps. CSM have all the wargear, plus a bunch of various marks and icons. Another added level of complexity to muddy the waters.

    • They can get out of control quickly for sure. My Raptors are a great example. Giving 10 of them Mark of Slaanesh and then the Icon of Excess, giving them I5 and FNP, adds a cost 50pts to the unit. Add in the dual meltaguns for 20pts more, power sword on the Champ (he’s I5 so worth it), and it’s another 15pts. Oh, let’s not forget Veterans of the Long War for +1 LD, also hatred SM but I take it for the LD boost, and that’s 20pts more.

      So, now a unit that’s a base cost for 10 goes from 180pts to 285pts. This is a prime example of when I said some upgrades are really just a novelty. Having I5 Raptors with FNP is cool but it has never been worth the investment. By stripping off the mark, icon – and likely power sword, I save 65pts. Sixty five points buys 10 Cultists with autoguns or even two more Spawn.

      • That’s a good assessment. You figure that the meltaguns are worth it, as with one shot they can turn a game. But the I5/FNP probably isn’t. They’re a melee unit with limited access to melee upgrades, a lot like my Assault Marines. Because of that, they are used to bully weaker units. You figure even if you throw them at something like a Tactical Squad, they’ll be relying on massed attacks to get through the Marine statline. The attacks back will be minimal (9 at best), meaning you don’t even need to go first, and the wounds you take through armor probably won’t be majorly reduced by FNP anyways.
        However, I’s keep the power sword on the Champion because the Challenge Handicap you’re stuck with. If you don’t have it, the sergeants he’ll go up against will either stalemate him with armor saves or knock him out with their own power sword. If they have an axe or fist, the advantage is yours. I actually need to build a new ASM Sergeant for that reason. My old one has a power fist, which results in him getting killed before I1. If he gets to a vehicle, I save 20 points by using meltabombs instead. I can save 5 by taking sword and meltabombs over the fist. When he’s in there with a full squad and two flamers, the powerfist just doesn’t match the threat they’ll be tackling.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    Quantity has a quality all of its own as they say. The CSM codex is way overpriced so we have to be ultra economical with the points to stand a chance.

    Something I try to do is fill the good slots in however many FOCs I’m using. Lone spawn and lone Oblits in any spare FA or HS slots are a great use of points and with 6 objectives an easy to hide, mobile resilient unit is aways useful.

    Of course some upgrades are good, MoN on bikes or Oblits is a worthwhile upgrade I think.

    I haven’t played a game with it yet, but IA13 seems a great way to prop up CSM’s power level. Rapier Weapon batteries for CSM are great and can be cheap models (I am using Tarantulas from Space Crusade off Ebay), as are Sicarus and the Heretics and Renegades list has some real gems, cheap fearless blobs of mutants (make fearless with HQ) and cheap artillery units for the backfield.

    • I really need to look at IA13. I hear nothing but great things about it.

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