Thursday, June 3, 2010

Codex Ranking--Part I of II

In this post I am going through my choices and explaining why they are ranked where they are.

Imperial Guard
Mech IG has absolutely ludicrous fire power. It can blast half of an enemy army off the board on turn 1. Additionally, it has all the small things that can really help in some games. Part of this is from allied DH inquisitors which will no longer be available a few months from now. There is also the reserve manipulation abilities of the army which make reserving your entire army against an alpha-strike a very risky manouvre. On top of all that, IG has the ability to field rediculous amounts of AV12 vehicles, making it one of the most resilient armies because it can take losses and still deal out the pain.

Space Wolves and Blood Angels
I haven't done enough playtesting yet with the Blood Angels to really know if they are better than Space Wolves. I am planning on doing a comparison between these two excellent codices in a later post. Both armies combine speed, shooting and assault into their game. From the lists I've seen on the interwebz, BA tend to be faster while SW are usually shootier.

I may have ranked these guys too high because they are a bit of a one-trick pony. With everyone gearing up to kill the AV12 spam of IG, Eldar mech got caught in the crosshairs. However, mech Eldar still excels at objective games because of their speed and the durability of DAVU Holo-Falcons. They are also a hard counter to assault-based armies because they have the speed to zoom away from most deathstar units. Foot Eldar is similar to Tau: good at killing but awful at moving out and holding objectives.

Orks have, in my opinion, the most durable troops in the game. They can pack more T4 wounds into an army than anyone else. They basically have two very strong builds: Battlewagon and Foot. I used to play Battlewagons but I sold that army because I didn't like the style of play, and now I'm working on my Foot army. Trukks are easy Kill Points and don't carry enough Boyz to be effective, while bikers are overcosted. Ghazghkull is a beast in CC. People will argue that he is only effective for the one turn where he Waaaghs but my response is that he only needs one turn. Anything else he kills during the game is just gravy.

Space Marines
The Vanilla Marine codex has only a couple advantages over the Wolves and Vampires. First off is Null Zone, which is IMO the best of any Chapter's psychic powers. Then they have combat tactics which is an underrated but extremely useful special rule in the hands of a good player. Combat tactics is what makes foot marines an actually decent army. Not amazing but it can still compete. There are also a couple little things like the Ironclad and thunderfire which are not available to the other codices.

Chaos Space Marines
Like it or not, Lash of Submission is still an excellent psychic power. I'd say it's still the best psychic power in the game. Combine it with Oblits, one of the best (if not the best) long-range unit in the game, and Chaos are a great shooting army with decent CC punch. We all know the list; not much else to say here.

Witch Hunters
Ahh, witch hunters. There are two ways to play them: shooty with 3 exorcists and inducted guard, or Immo/rhino rush. Then you can also do a hybrid army involving exorcists and sisters with rhinos. All are decent builds but all have their weaknesses.

Dark Eldar
DE epitomize the term "glass hammer". They can give a punch but can't take one. The only way for them to survive is to fill up the FOC with 12 vehicles. Lately we have seen Dashofpepper do very well with Dark Eldar, showing that they can still compete with those brand new 3rd and 4th edition codices.

I've never played Nids and never will, but I feel sorry for the die-hard Tyranid fans. They still only have one viable build (Nidzilla), and it got slightly better than the old codex. It retains its classic weakness, lack of long-range anti-tank. Hive Guard are the one exception which means everyone is taking them. So now we are back to where we started with every Nid player running the exact same thing.

Chaos Daemons
Daemons are the best close-combat army in the game, with a variety of tough units. They also have decent support fire to pop tanks for the CC-beast to eat the guys inside. So why am I ranking them so low? You've probably guessed, Daemonic Assault. To be honest it cripples them too badly. Deep striking is a fairly easy tactic to defeat if you have good bubblewrap units, and any shooty army should have them. Others, like Eldar, can just fly away because they're too fast for most Daemons to catch them.

Black Templars
Ahh, the good old Black Templars. The codex is still held afloat by their Furious Charging, Prefered Enemy assault terminators and their ability to spam land raider crusaders. If you can handle the LRCs, you win. If you can't, you lose.

With DH you pretty much have to go down the route of LRC-spam. Sometimes an IG platoon is included for bubblewrap and additional firepower. The classic smoke launchers (weapons can only glance) are a nice bonus and DH get a better crusader for 258 points than marines get for 275.

The Crons are still kept alive by 3 units, The Deceiver, Monoliths and Scarabs. Those three units are fantastic, while the rest of the codex is pretty much crap. The Crons have some glaring weaknesses in the tournament metagame. Among other things, they cannot deal with lash+oblit chaos or seer coucils.

Tau Empire
I like the Tau a lot but they really got screwed by 5th edition. While they can pump out a lot of firepower, it isn't enough to beat the really shooty armies like IG, CSM and Eldar. It's also very easy to pin them down in a corner, because they have no counter-charge units (kroot are too weak) and no real way to move out and capture objectives. The whole army suffers from morale problems so you'll often see vast amounts of units run off the board after taking a few casualties. BS3 is a big problem, along with lack of psychic defense. They need a new codex badly.

Dark Angels
Dark Angels are like codex space marines, minus everything fun and interesting. Their assault termies suck, they have crappy psychic powers, no chapter tactics and everything is 10% more expensive. Their only good unit is the AV14 land speeder. While awesome, it doesn't compensate for the rest of the codex. Their bikers can get a first turn charge but for 40-50 points per model it isn't worth it.

Part II will answer the comments and explain why I don't like the tier system and a couple other details.


  1. Space Marines and Tyranids are a lot better than you give them credit. SM have TH/SS Termies, a good array of SCs opening up alternative builds (Bikers, scoring Sternguard, fleetinators, Vulkan). They don't have the flashy toys that BA or SW have, but everything is cheap, flexible and useful.

    Tyranids have quite a lot of variety, but they're trickier for people to figure out so they label them bad without delving much further. Nidzilla is hardly the only good build, and AT isn't a problem if you build your army properly.

    Orks and CSM are overrated. Lash is overrated. Mech doesn't care about it and CSM have problems with mech. Orks also have problems with mech as well as a critical lack of speed (or weak vehicles), too many good units competing for the same FOC slot and the fail that is no retreat.

  2. I agree with Chumba, both SMs and Nids need to be above Orks. I also think Necrons have the worst codex, the phase out rule, pretty much determines what type of army you can build. At least dark angels have a few options, fielding a deathwing, ravenwing, or mixed wing army. I do still think they are second to worst for the reasons you described.

    nice list. look forward to reading the rest.

  3. Have to admit, I can't see how DA can be lower than Necrons...player bias? :p

    As for describing Eldcar as shooty - the true problem with Eldar is that they can't outshoot proper gunlines, or even semi-static IG, EVER.
    Even Razorspam is a BIG threat, as they have much more cheaper armour. :(
    Ours may be better, but they get about 10 for our 7. (Give or take)
    Oblits are great, I think Stelek rates them too lowly - but PMs are the true linchpin. Without them, Oblits would always have to deploy, and that would make them predictable. Still, Mech armies, esp with PsyDef, laugh Lash off. Better to use Kharn.

  4. Having won several tournaments with my Khorne daemons against some very tough competition I have to say your assessment is wrong. Daemons are top three, it just takes someone who knows what they are doing to win with them.