List of 40K Cheese
|This article or section covers stupidly cheesy and/or broken crunch that gives powergamers and munchkins a serious hard-on at the expense of everyone else. It is extremely likely to cause Rage in whoever goes against it. So don’t use it, you dick.|
See also: 40K Rules Blooper Reel
The history of Warhammer 40,000 is a history of violence. . . well OK yes it's part of the setting, but it's history of 40k's balance is almost as violent as the grim dark future it takes place in. No matter what people will tell you, the game has always had excessive problems with imbalance, min-maxing and blatant bullshit - From the days of Rogue Trader to modern day 9th Edition, the game has fostered many cheesy units, army lists or deathstars, who have changed the meta and repeatably broken the game - Not through players maximizing their gear or people abusing unclear rules, but by simply being awfully balanced and written.
Fortunately, many of these, if not all of them, are the very concept of "The flame that burn twice as bright dies twice as fast", as they all got their reckoning at some point or another. Being either nerfed to the ground, changed to the core or completely removed from the game, this allowed the next-cheesy thing to step in with a silly hat and a way too small point-tax.
But life will go on. New codices will be under/overpowered and grind the others to dirt, the meta will change to deal with what-ever is the most powerful at the moment, and the forums will be white-hot with rage over the unbalance present, but life will go on, and as soon as you accept this eternal struggle for our fun and wallets, you will be at peace.
As time goes on, this list will grow, to encompass more and more cheese as it gets released. If you feel that a unit, model or deathstar needs mentioning in the list, feel free to add to it with your own experiences and knowledge.
- 1 2nd Edition
- 2 3rd Edition
- 3 4th Edition
- 4 5th Edition
- 5 6th & 7th Edition
- 6 8th Edition
- 6.1 T'au
- 6.2 Eldar/Ynnari Soup
- 6.3 Imperial Guard
- 6.4 Space Marines
- 6.5 Iron Leviathan
- 6.6 Chaos Daemons
- 6.7 Adeptus Custodes Doombike
- 6.8 Autarch Skyrunner
- 6.9 Imperial Knights
- 6.10 Tyranids
- 6.11 Renegades and Heretics
- 7 9th Edition
When their Codex hit, Tyranids in their entirety were absolutely insane. Units like the carnifex, which had 10 wounds(!), the equivalent of Terminator Armor in chitin (!!) and could regenerate even from a negative total of hp (!!!), meaning it was nigh-on unkillable and would shred even a fucking Greater Daemons in tiny pieces given the chance (due to how CC worked back then only one combatant would get the chance to wound the other each turn, but since the 'fex regenerated the GD would have major trouble killing it for good even with a very good roll. Whereas on a poor roll, it would get cut to pieces.) Lictors were a nightmare to deal with (being basically undetectable until they entered CC), genestealers were already the genestealers we love (aka. fragile if spotted early, but close combat monstrosities able to butcher about anything in melee) and hive tyrants were just absolute beasts: about as tanky and choppy as a carnifex, with decent dakka to boot and level 4 Psychic Mastery... On top of that, beyond how fast and tanky the models were in general, there came the army special rules. Tyranids didn't use wargear or strategy cards (comparable to what you could do during the game with CP in 8th edition), but they got something worse: Instead of buffs, each enemy model/unit had to roll for which negative effects they got right before the game started. Special mention to Jones is acting Strangely, which could instantly kill off the whole enemy unit (there is also no rules to say that certain units were immune to the debuff,so anything from a Baneblade to a Bloodthirster or a whole squadron of Marines could theoretically be oneshot at the start of your enemies turn if they rolled the debuff and failed the check, Which could cripple entire strategies that were carried by specific units and tilt the game in your favour) if they didn't pass a dice roll and could entangle fellow squad members. Needless to say they were more than well equipped to curbstomp Chaos and Imperial armies AND go toe-to-toe with the other armies like the Eldar and Necrons that were also incredibly strong.
Assassins (and anyone else with the access to the wargear) used to be able to magically appear in the middle of a squad via Polymorphine (killing a troop when you exploded out of his body, leading to such shenanigans as a Guardsman hiding a dude in power armor on a bike). Then Jump Pack over and throw a Vortex Grenade and killing anything on a 2+.
The Virus Grenade was 50 points for a grenade with a 2 inch blast radius. Any model that was hit by the Virus Grenades (partial hits were on a 4+) was not explicitly stated to be immune (Space Marines, Terminators, Aspect Warriors and vehicles were immune) to said Virus Grenade would die on a 3+. So far, not to bad right? The problem with the Virus Grenade was that when a model was killed by it, every other model not immune that was within d6 inches would have to test, dying on a 4+ and recursively requiring every other model within d6 inches to test not to die on a 4+. Thus, a Virus Grenade could become something of a Grey Goo situation where the more enemy models are bunched up, the easier it was to spread out and kill them all. However, the real rage-inducer was the Virus Outbreak stratagem card, which acted like a Virus Grenade template that you just placed anywhere on the board without restriction; the writers went so far as to recommend that players tear up their Virus Outbreak cards from the Dark Millenium set since they hadn't intended on it being so powerful.
Wolf Guard Crisis Suits
Back in 2nd edition, the Cyclone Missile Launcher required the Terminator to replace his Power Fist with a laser targeter. However, when the Space Wolf codex first came out, it was entirely possible to make your army nothing but Wolf Guard Terminators, and to give each Terminator an Assault Cannon **and** a Cyclone Missile Launcher. Add in the fact that Terminators made their armor saves on 3+ on 2d6 (this game did use save modifiers), and it was possible for them to teleport in, weather most overwatch, fire all missiles and assault cannons, and only have to mop up the remnants from the burning wreckage. When the Space Wolf codex was reprinted, it explicitly banned Wolf Guard Terminators from going with Assault Cannon and Cyclone Launcher.
Deathspinners were a flamer template in 2nd edition, that had a "save or die" initiative check. Imagine an entire squad of Warp Spiders with Jaws in flamer form. Yeah.
Eldar Exarchs with the unique ability to "Build your own Exarch." You could have a bright lance that shot twice with warp spider pack that allowed you to jump all over the field, then add a Powerfield that gave you a 2+ invulnerable save). This was just one of many cheese custom Exarchs that were possible; however, they were also the only thing keeping Eldar on the table - those customizable Exarchs, though cheesy, were expensive in an army with nerfed and expensive units and weapons. Eldar were largely bottom-tier in 3rd edition.
In general, 3.5 had 3 specifically cheesy armies, two of which belonged to Chaos.
Necrons were introduced as a stand-alone codex army for the first time in 3.5. Their release was met with immediate hostility once neckbeards read their codex; here's why: is a video of their grand debut
- Basic infantry guns that could kill a Land Raider with a lucky shot.
- "We'll Be Back!" made infantry immune to death as they basically had a 4++ that could be rolled after they failed their 3+ armour save and after your opponent was done shooting.
- Compounding that, the Resurrection Orb that ignored any of the restrictions previously applied to the WBB rule like instant death or bypassing armour saves in CC.
- Warscythes in abundance that ignored all saves and rolled 2D6 for pens.
- Veil of Darkness which allowed you to Deepstrike hop a unit all over the board.
- The fucking Monolith - immune to anything that wasn't S9/10 and/or ordnance, could deepstrike and never suffer a mishap, fixed your broken troops and could deepstrike in any from reserves. Oh, and Melta/Ordnance rules that gave better chances to penetrate armor? Into the trash they went thanks to Living Metal. And for that extra little rub of salt in the wound, if you managed to damage it and get an "immobilized" result it would land but remain active (if immobile) unlike any other skimmer in 3rd that crashed and burned and got removed.
Necrons lacked the mind-boggling amount of possible unit and wargear combos that Chaos had access to (in fact, they were pretty light on both unit choices and wargear) but they earned the title "n00bcrons" for another reason: the cheese was so prevalent, so built into their army's very identity (i.e. "We'll be back!" and Gauss weaponry) that it was easily used (and occasionally abused) even by complete beginners more or less by accident.
Going into third edition, Chaos was... unremarkable. Bland. Decent crunch-wise, but without the wealth of options to field Daemons/Cultists/Mutants/Fallen/Renegades/... they had in 2e. Pete Haines listened to the players (yes, GW did that back then) and Chapter Approved articles in White Dwarf did provide those variants over the years. Eventually GW decide to bring out a 3.5 Codex updated with all those options and a couple extra added on top... and that's where it went horribly wrong. A wealth of options meant a wealth of possible combinations and some were just... too much. They went from 'strong but expensive' to 'outrageous'. Here's a smattering of what CSM had in 3.5:
Young cheese (things that were a-okay on their own but could combine into ungodly monstrosities.)
- Khornate chain axes: Being one of the only things that could outright modify armour saves, reducing them to 4+ unless worse, across the board - that's right, your terminator's save is no better than carapace armour against them. Ork Choppas did the same on an army-wide level for free back then.
- Unit Champions could take Psy Powers and even Daemon Weapons. Strong, but with only 1 HP it could turn very ugly very quickly both ways.
- Possessed were expensive but they could buy their powers instead of rolling for them, which included rending, fleet and a magical bolt pistol shot, making them point-for-point one of the killiest assault units in the game, but with a 3+/5++ and a single HP they didn't last long if the enemy had any occasion to shoot/strike back at them.
- The World Eaters army list in general: Tough motherfuckers full of RAEG that would murder the fuck out of everything they got their hands upon on the charge, giving the opponent the easy to understand but hard to solve problem of "shoot me before I reach you!" The only thing that kept them from being completely broken was their lack of firepower, jump packs and assault vehicles and the unpredictability of their special 'rage' rule that would give them a free "run" move on a dice roll of "1" (tested each turn, roll 2 dice with the correct wargear) but they had to rush toward the enemy even if it meant disembarking or leaving cover. It would leave them helpless in the open to be shot to death just as often as it allowed them to get into charge range to murder shit, which kept the army manageable (if unpredictable) to play both with and against.
Aged cheese (This is where it started to get really ugly, although those things were still within hailing distance of manageable.)
- Chaos Lords that could out-punch anything, point-for-point.
- Vehicle upgrades that could regrow lost weapons and become mobile again on a 4+, ignore crew shaken/stunned and grant +1 AV on all sides.
- Bloodletters that wore the equivalent of Power Armour and wielded the equivalent of Power Swords. Basically an evil deep-striking Space Marine Honour Guard (albeit without guns).
- Sonic Weaponry - anything with a Mark of Slaanesh could exchange their guns for sonic weapons (and get access to the Slaaneshi armoury if they were characters). This lead to Rhinos, Dreadnoughts, Defilers, Lords, Lieutenants, regular Marines, Chosen, Possessed, Aspiring Champions, Bikers, Havocs, Terminators and Predators all sporting Sonic Weapons. They weren't as good as they would become in later editions, but they were better than the Bolters and Autocannons they replaced (almost) for free.
- That enemy crab thing gets introduced as both a monstrous creature and a walker, which made it pretty much invulnerable in melee against anything without Power Fists (or equivalent Strength-doubling CC weapons).
- Obliterators. Back then they were fucking GOD-TIER - S/T5, two wounds, 2+/5++, loaded with heavy and special weapons they could freely choose from, Fearless, deep-striking and with slow and purposeful (that was supposed to limit their mobility but just allowed them to fire heavy weapons all the time). Even engaging them at close quarters wasn't a great option with their absurd tankiness and the fact they strike back with S10 Power Fist blows. Luckily for your opponents you could only take a single squad of up to three of them. Eventually they got FAQ'd down to T 4(5) which made them more vulnerable to meltagun/lascannon/power fist 'Instant Death' but they were still hard customers and an auto-take.
Premium cheese (The really retarded things that could break the game. Never mind those costed arms and legs in points, unless the opponent knew what was coming and went to great lengths to avoid them, those things were "I-win" buttons.)
- A Daemon Prince with Power Armour, Wings and the Dread Axe. Tough, moved like jump pack infantry, a beastly statline, 3+/5++ and the really cheesy part: the Dread Axe ignored invulnerable saves and wounded on a 4+ unless better. Combined to the fact the DP was a monstrous creature that ignored armor saves; and you had a tough, fast motherfucker with a truckload of attacks that hit/wounded easily, ignored all saves and could easily consolidate from unit to unit, remaining locked in CC and untargetable the whole game as it solo'ed the enemy army. (And I wish I was exaggerating...)
- Siren. A Slaaneshi minor psychic power that made a model immune to shooting and blocked line of sight. Spam generously. Worst of all, it combo'd way too well with the Daemon Prince load-out above - hell, this thing could actually take on and defeat a Nightbringer back in the day with some luck.
- Veteran skills - ranging from 1-3 pts. per model, could be taken on any squad (only 1 skill for marked units) with higher costs for independent characters. You could load up whole squads that infiltrated, moved through cover and furiously charged.
- Chosen. Chosen were... absurdly powerful since you could make any member in the squad an aspiring champion, giving them access to the armoury. If they were marked and if you took a chosen squad in a multiple of the number of that god (Slaanesh 6, Nurgle 7, Khorne 8, Tzeentch 9), then the 10 pt. upgrade cost was free! Deathstar of 8 Khornate champion TERMINATORS that could butcher through anything (and I mean anything). A truckload of exploding dice S7 attacks ignoring armor saves on the charge coming out of a Land Raider to chain-rape unit after unit anyone? Or maybe a squad of 6 Slaaneshi Chosen all with Doom Sirens, plasma pistols and power weapons? If you prefer, 9 Tzeentchian Sorcerers auto-succeeding on psychic tests thanks to the Mark of Tzeentch with psychic Heavy Bolters and Lascannons unleashing some next-level mind-bullet dakka (or alternatively turning everything into those things or throw down templates that wounded on a 4+ and ignored armour and glanced vehicles)? Yeah, it was kinda like that back then...
- The Emperor's Children Legion list. Sirens, sirens you can't shoot and that will demolish you in CC everywhere.
- The Iron Warriors Legion list. Remember above where it said you could have only one unit of god-like Obliterators? Well, nope! Take as much as you can! Oh, and you can exchange two Fast Attack slots on the FOC for one more Heavy Support choice! More Obliterators? Well, nope, since they were elite but here came the second best thing: the only ones amongst the Chaos Legions, Iron Warriors had access to both the Vindicator from the loyalist armoury and the Basilisk from the Imperial Guard's armoury. You know, just in case the nine Obliterators ran into some trouble and needed some long- and/or close-range fire support!
Now, you'd think that with that generous amount of cheese, GW would get the message and stop piling it on... But then the world-wide "Eye of Terror" campaign happened and Chaos got another toy to play with - the Lost and the Damned army list. Veteran Chaos players actually rejoiced when it was announced as it meant they could go back to the 2nd ed days of fielding traitor Guard, Beastmen, mutants and other dregs supported by a very small number of traitor Marines. Sadly enough, while it did allow to do that, the army list came with its own rapetrain of cheese:
- The list allowed players to take units from the 3.5 CSM and Imperial Guard Codices in various FOC slots, as was announced. In practice, the (lack of) limitations amounted to taking the best of all worlds.
- A cheap HQ choice (Chaos Lieutenant) that was point for point even more killy than the 3.5 Chaos Lord and way too good for the measly points paid.
- Mutants could be taken in huge cheap hordes that could tarpit pretty much anything forever.
- Big Mutants were awesome dakka blobs with 3 wounds each and great Chaos mark effects - basically, better Ogryns!
- Traitor guardsmen had better stats than loyalists, access to chaos marks, veteran skills here and there (Infiltrate ahoy!) and could wield 'Bolters'. Yes, said slapdash 'Bolters' had the same "Gets Hot!" rule as plasma weapons which meant you'd lose some traitors each time you fired but it was a very small price to pay to unleash an ungodly amount of dakka.
It's really no mystery as to why Chaos won the Eye of Terror campaign. Games Workshop, concerned with their future revenue streams from Spess Muhreen fanchildren, decided to basically reset the crunch and shift the timeline away from the event while attempting to balance (read: nerf to the ground) what it could in 4th edition.
Blood Angels were tied with Khornate Berzerkers for the title of most killy fuckers in glorious melee. The 'zerkers were just a bit killier thanks to their chainaxes but the BA enjoyed better mobility thanks to being able to equip jump packs everywhere. That almost assured they would get that precious charge bonus of +1S and + 1I (on top of the +1A) from the army-wide Furious Charge, ensuring whatever they got their hands on would be brutally dismembered. For extra lulz you had the option to go for a full Death Company army that would forego any firepower for an army-wide FnP save on top of the righteous fury at the death of Sanguinius. This said, each mini costed a premium when kitted-out, so it was an army of extremes: when things went right they'd table the enemy in three turns but when they went wrong they'd get tabled themselves in little more time, with few compromises due to the low model count.
Imperial Guard Armored Division
This one deserves an honorable mention as well, even if it quickly disappeared after the arrival of Necrons and their vehicle-killing Gauss everything and "We'll be Back!" shenanigans. Back in 3rd ed., vehicles were much less prevalent, as were the ways of dealing with them. Most armies had a couple of heavy weapons like Lascannons, some power fist equivalents and a melta-bomb here and there, and it was more than sufficient to deal with the occasional armoured behemoth. This list? It was vehicles only! HQ? Leman Russ variant. Troops? Leman Russ variants. Anything else? Leman Russ variants (with the token Infantry Squad in a Chimera). Park together covering the vulnerable rears, point battle cannons and let fly, all guns! Due to the lack of heavy weapons being able to affect the Russ' frontal AV, "all-rounder" armies stood little chance of doing anything. Basically, fluff Imperial Guard tactics.
- Assault Cannon Spam: Rending in 3rd and 4th edition Edition was far more powerful than in 5th through 7th. Instead of a 6 to wound ignoring armor saves, a 6 to-hit automatically wounded and ignored armor saves. Combine with the fact that Terminator Squads could take two of them at minimum size, and it was quite common to run a lot of them.
It has its own page, but the basic gist involved using a semi-invulnerable troop transport as a mobile bunker for the otherwise assault-prone Fire Warriors.
The tactic died when errata changed how skimmers worked.
Imperial Guard 500-Point Assholery
Take minimalist choices for the bulk of your mandatory force org setup. Use the remaining points to buy a Leman Fucking Russ and absolutely butt-fuck the balance of low-point games. The personification of being That Guy.
Imperial Guard Unit Deletion Barrage
In the 4th edition codex, the Hunter-Killer Missile cost a mere 5 points. Because of this, an insanely common strategy was to load basically every single vehicle you fielded that could fit one with one, and with many guard armies that could be 6-7 vehicles on a 1000-point list at the time. Once loaded, the tactic was simple: find the single most threatening enemy model on the board that could be reliably penetrated with a Krak Missile, acquire line of sight, and hammer the shit out of it with all your Hunter-Killers in one go. Even with guard accuracy being what it is, the fact that you could potentially obliterate a lynchpin unit or pesky independent character meant that this was often used to secure early dominance.
When the 5th edition Tyranid codex came out, this tactic was very often used to flat-out cripple 'Nid players by taking out their DISTRACTION CARNIFEXES and Hive Tyrants from standoff range, fucking over attempts to counter.
The tactic ended when 5th edition cranked the cost of HK Missiles to 15 points each.
- 5th edition was generally known as "Mechhammer" or "Box Hammer" due to how relatively hard it became to kill vehicles. Compared to 4th edition, the vehicle damage became more forgiving, being consolidated into a single damage chart where vehicles were destroyed on a 5+. Glancing hits subtracted 2 from this modifier, AP - weapons subtracted another -1 from this and AP 1 weapons simply added 1. Hull Points did not exist in 5th, and a vehicle that moved more than 6" in a turn was only hit in 6s on melee (stand still). Thus, most lists gradually became "Parking Lot" builds, where sheer quantity of cheap Rhino and Rhino-equivalents could jam up the board, form armored convoys, or otherwise make your enemy hate your life.
- 5th edition was also known for Musical Wounds. The owning player had to allocate wounds to each model that took a hit, with wounds allocated as evenly as possible: For example, a 5-man Tactical Squad with Combi-Melta Sergeant, 3 Bolter Marines, and a Meltagun Marine takes 9 wounds and needs to make 9 armor saves. You would need to allocate at least 1 hit to the Sergeant, 1 to the Meltagun, and 3 to the Bolters. 3 of the remaining 4 hits could be allocated to the Bolter Marines, and the last one would have to be allocated onto either the Sergeant or the Meltagunner. The problem with this system was that certain "multiwound" units (Most notably: Nob Bikers and Grey Knight Paladins) could be equipped so that each model had a unique loadout. One Grey Knight Paladin would have a Halberd, one would have a Hammer, one would have a Sword, one would have a Psycannon, one would have a Psycannon and Hammer, one would have the Standard, etc. The end result was that versus attacks that couldn't inflict Instant Death on this unit, the unit effectively got its model count's worth of ablative wounds.
- On a tamer yet more comedic note, 5th edition also had the "50% cover rule." If at least half of a unit was considered to be in cover, the entire unit was treated as being in cover. What was viewed as an amusing abstraction could quickly be gamed, either with vehicle squadrons (2 Piranhas, one Disruption Pod) or large units of light infantry. Imagine the rage a Thousand Sons player must have faced versus Guard: A Guard player could get 30 Guardsmen for the cost of 4 Rubric Marines and an Aspiring Sorcerer...and this was before the Sorcerer spent points for a mandatory Psychic Power! By combining squads into a single unit of 30, you could keep 15 models in cover and the other 15 proudly advancing in the open with 4+ saves (or 2+ saves if they use Incoming)...
Arguably the only army in 5th that got a stratospheric Cruddex buff, the rest getting nerfed into uselessness as Robin Cruddace hates you:
- This was the first time Guard could field vehicle squads, particularly for Basilisks and Leman Russes allowing players to cover the field in pie plates.
- Master of the Fleet, which subtracted 1 from your opponent's deep strike rolls. Particularly nasty against the above two lists which relied on deep-strike spam to get close enough to shred armies.
- Master of Ordnance, which came with its own pie plate attack.
- Hellhound squads and variants get introduced, especially the bane(wolf) of all MEQs, the banewolf.
- Veterans - particularly melta-vets. They are legend when it comes to vehicle busting.
- Valkyries and Vendettas - fucking hell, where do I even begin? Super fast chimera, identical armour and a shitload of guns; Vendettas take it to the next level with 3 TL Lascannons.
- Hydra flak tank debuts in this list outside of FW and is amazing at taking out bikers and fast skimmers with its super-long range autocannons that bypass Jink saves. Eldar tears flow unstoppably.
- Orders are introduced here as well; they weren't OP per se, but combined well with other buffs to the list for horrifying efficacy.
- Up until the release of the GK codex in 5th, Guard could still take allies with Daemon or Witch Hunters leading to the construction of the infamous Guard leaf-blower list, so named for how fast it removed your opponents models from the board. Mind, when GK came out with their Wardex, this didn't really put too much of a damper on the blower but now they had competition at least.
The Space Wolf codex became an infamously powerful tournament army due to having ruthless point-efficiency all around. While the Blood Angels got speed and flashy toys, and the Grey Knights would get mass Force Weapons and Psybolt weapons, the Space Wolves were able to look at those armies and shut them down by pure attrition. Notable reasons for the Space Wolf hate include:
- Space Wolf Psykers: Compared to the other Marine codexes, the Space Wolf Rune Priests caused rage for several reasons.
- Good Blastiness: Rune Priests got Living Lightning instead of Smite, a Strength 7, D6+1 shot, infinite range gun. Rune Priests could also buy a Chooser of the Slain, a "counter" placed that served as a +1 BS marker when targeting enemies near it. However, the real fondue was Jaws of the World Wolf. Jaws was a 24" beam, and all non-Jump/Jetbike/vehicle models underneath had to take an Initiative Check or be removed outright. No Invuln, no Feel no Pain, no Eternal Warrior, just death. Monstrous Creatures got +1 to the test, but since many Tyranid Monstrous Creatures were only Initiative 1 anyway, Jaws meant that you had a 66% chance of losing a Carnifex, Tervigon or Tyrannofex in one go!
- Good Denial/Defense: Rune Priests also had access to good defense auras, with Storm Caller acting like a psychic Kustom Forcefield and Tempest's Wrath shutting down Bikes and Jumpers in its 24" radius bubble. Compared to regular Marines, they were arguably more reliable at shutting down Psykers; while a standard Psychic Hood required beating your opponent's Psyker's Leadership on an opposed roll, the Rune Staff would simply stop any incoming power within 24" on a 4+. You could include an allied Inquisitor if you so desired, allowing for a chance to double-deny. And remember that Chooser of the Slain? When it was placed down during deployment, no enemy units could Infiltrate near it.
- Njal Stormcaller: Njal took the strengths of the Rune Priest and amplified them. Although he didn't get the anti-Infiltration effect of the Chooser, he automatically knew every Space Wolf power, could cast two per turn, and his staff could deny any incoming powers on a 3+. However, his real claim to fame was that as the Stormcaller, you would roll a D6 at the start of each turn, add the turn number, and consult a chart to see the effects. Some were innocent yet annoying enough (the enemy suffers -1 BS for a turn), but the real fondue was rolling Chain Lightning. EVERY enemy unit within 18" of Njal would take D6 S8 AP - hits. At Nova 2011, this Chain Lighting went off against a Dark Eldar Venom Spam list with predictably destructive results.
- Wolfwolfwolf: This is the edition that saw the introduction of Canis Wolfborn, Thunderwolves and Fenrisian Wolves being their own units. The Thunderwolf in particular garnered a lot of hate at the time since it increased its rider's base Strength and Toughness (in 5th, Bikes and Marks of Nurgle were not counted for purposes of checking Instant Death), meaning you now needed S10 to inflict Instant Death, while you could Instant Death T5 models in turn. Combined with super-cheap wolves to act as rapid-moving bullet catchers and you could get into melee.
- Long Fangs: Long Fangs were the Space Wolf equivalent of Devasatators. However, while Devastators were considered inefficient and fragile, Long Fangs were the peak of efficiency. Sure, they didn't get regular Bolter bullet-catchers, but when deployed well into your deployment zone while the rest of the Space Wolf army midfielded, they weren't a reliable target anyway. Instead, Long Fangs had a single throwaway sergeant and 1-5 heavy weapon guys as needed; Missile Launchers only cost 10 points, making them the default Heavy of choice. But the real kicker was that Long Fangs had Fire Control; this was the ancestor to Split Fire and superior overall. As opposed to 6th and 7th where Split Fire meant "one model in the unit can shoot at a different target unit," you could divide the Wolves to shoot at two targets however you wanted.
- Loganwing: Loganwing was and arguably the only viable foot marine list in 5th. See, taking Logan Grimnar let you take Wolf Guard as troops. Back in the day, Wolf Guard were a single customizable unit of 3-10 models, individual models being able to switch for Terminator Armor, Jump Pack or Bike; you could intentionally make your squads smaller by having Wolf Guard detach from their squad at deployment in order to lead another non-Wolf Guard unit. However, the real advantage of Wolf Guard in Loganwing lists is it let you take units each of a Cyclone Missile Launcher Terminator and 4 power-armor bulletcatchers. You would run Lone Wolf Terminators as anti-heavy support, Thunderwolves as chasers, and Long Fangs as support; Logan himself usually joined a unit of Lascannon Long Fangs to either grant them Tank Hunters or Relentless for the turn.
- Razorwolf: Space Wolves could spam Razorbacks more cost-effectively than other Marines. Compared to Tactical Marines, 5 Grey Hunters were only 75 points instead of 90. Space Wolves didn't get Sergeants, but they instead got Wolf Guard. The kicker of course was that there was no restriction that stated that a Wolf Guard squad actually needed any models. Thus, you could buy 6 squads of 5 Grey Hunters, each with Razorback, buy two units each of 3 Wolf Guard and Razorback, attach them all among the six squads, and have two "spare" Razorbacks. Since Long Fangs didn't need to stay in a transport for the most part, you could also buy even more Razorbacks, points permitting.
- Wolf Scouts: Wolf Scouts by themselves were unassuming. They could Outflank from their opponent's deployment zone and bring a Wolf Guard alongside. Their real danger came from their usage alongside mechanized Wolves and Long Fang support, as they could be used to eliminate or tie up backfield threats. It was common to equip them with a Meltagun and Combi-Melta Wolf Guard for neutralizing backfield Guard artillery.
- An honorable mention goes to the Saga of the Warrior Born, an upgrade only available to Wolf Lords. If you think this bonus gives an extra attack like the Mark of Khorne, oh you're sadly mistaken for the Wolves outbless the God of War. Rather than +1 attack, the way the Saga of the Warrior Born worked was you kept track of how many models the Wolf Lord killed in an Assault Phase, and the Wolf Lord would gain that many bonus attacks in the *next* Assault Phase. There was no theoretical cap to how many extra attacks you get if you were able to keep your Lord in assaults. In practice, the number of bonus attacks would reset if your Wolf Lord missed an Assault Phase.
Cheesy for the exact same reason as Grey Knights. Here are just a few things they received:
- Furioso Dreadnoughts in general. Their FA13 made them immune to Krak grenades prevalent on most infantry; coupled with Blood Talons which generated more attacks every time you caused a wound. With S6 and WS6. Fuuuuuuuuck!
- In addition to regular Furiosos, you could also take a FLYING. LIBRARIAN. DREADNOUGHT. Jesus Christ...
- Death Company Dreadnoughts were also outrageous - taking up a fucking Troops slot, they were Furiosos with a more offensive focus, their WS and FA lowered by a point in exchange for fleet, more attacks and furious charge and rage.
- Blood Angels Dreadnoughts could also take a Magna Grapple on top of their arm weapons, an S8 AP2 assault 1 weapon with a 24" range that, should it pen a vehicle or wound a monstrous creature, could then drag it closer to the dreadnought.
- Mephiston - basically a captain with the stats of a monstrous creature and with psychic powers. He could also fly, and reduce his opponent's WS/I to 1.
- The Stormraven gunship debuted in this list - a flying landraider with weaker armour but immune to melta weapons that could transport a squad AND a dreadnought. Oh, and it's an assault vehicle ffs. Given how powerful in CC Blood Angels infantry is as well as just how deadly their dreadnoughts are, getting them where they needed to be in a fast skimmer that was immune to melta weapons AND was heavily armed was the cherry on top of this particular cheesecake.
Seriously, there's a shitload to explain here for the noobs:
- First and foremost, Psycannons - S7 AP4 rending on models that could otherwise always shoot them.
- Psybolt ammunition, leading to the creation of the much feared Psyfleman Dreadnought, pumping out 4 S8 AP4 twin-linked shots a turn.
- Kaldor Draigo outcreeding Creed and just generally being a monster (unless and until he fought Abaddon).
- EVERYTHING ARMED WITH A FUCKING FORCE WEAPON SERIOUSLY WTF - in particular, Force Halberds. Auto-take, granting all the bonuses of a nemesis force weapon and +2 Initiative, meaning your silver armoured Mary Sues struck before most Eldar units.
- Librarians with a flamer template that removed models from play - not just instant death, they took an initiative test or were removed from play doling out auto-pens to vehicles.
- The only list that could take Assassins or Inquisitors, which both got buffed into the fucking sky.
- The goddamn Nemesis Dreadknight debuted here - absolutely broken if not expensive (MC w/ 2+ save, psychic powers).
- Oh hey, they also got stormravens - on top of being immune to melta weapons and transporting an OP squad plus an OP dreadnought, the GK stormraven could also take psybolt ammo for its heavy bolters, assault cannons, etc.
- They were more point efficient then normal marines. A tactical squad cost 90 points, giving you 4 bolters boys and a sergeant. A GK strike squad cost 100 points, for 5 guys with force weapons, storm bolters, and a psychic power. For 10 points, they could move, unload 10 bolter rounds at full range, then assault with weapons that ignored armour and could inflict instant death or strike at S5.
People hated the Grey Knights - even longtime GK players hated them. A list that was built to destroy daemon armies got buffed into a list with units that were just flat-out better than anyone else could field. And this was during a time when you didn't even need a special list to destroy daemon armies because they were so bad - seriously, it wasn't uncommon for GK players to fight demons without suffering so much as a wound! In protest, some GK players took to making lists that used none of the staples mentioned above in order to give themselves a challenge.
Honourable Mention: Chaos Daemons
Daemons were not a very broken army in 5th Edition, but they had one strategy that really was agony to play against; FateCrusher. FateCrusher revolved building an army around Kairos Fateweaver. Fateweaver was a Lord of Change whose main draw was that any Daemon Unit within 6 inches of him could re-roll all failed saves - including cover.
Chaos Daemons at the time did not encourage mono-god armies as it did in 6th, 7th and 8th. Daemons could freely ally with each other (but couldn't join units). So Fateweaver's abilities affected tough, non-Tzeentch units like Plaguebearers (who at the time of 5th ed, still had a 4+++ FNP) and Bloodcrushers (which had a 3+ armour save).
The tactic was simple; surround Fateweaver with Bloodcrushers and Plaguebearers, and your enemy would weep. Not only were your Plague Bearers now getting 3 saves (since all Daemons were Immune to Instant Death, Plaguebearers almost always got their FNP), but your Bloodcrushers could re-roll their 3+ armour save. The weakness of the strategy came from the fact that Fateweaver himself had to take a leadership check every time he suffered a wound; if he failed, he would be removed from play. Considering he had a re-rollable 3++, though, this wasn't too likely to happen.
With the arrival of Codex: Daemons 6th edition, this strategy ceased to exist.
Honourable Mention: Chaos Space Marines
Only one thing was truly busted in the otherwise unremarkable 5th Edition CSM codex (that was really released in very late 4th edition): The Daemon Prince of Slaanesh with Wings and Lash of Submission. See, Lash of Submission was a psychic power that let you move an enemy unit. It didn't have a long range, which is one of the reasons you took wings, and it didn't move them very far, but this power could pull scout units out of cover or pull critical HQ into a chargeable position. This combination would reliably get your Daemon Prince into close combat on your first turn and, with the ability to consolidate into combat, could keep you in combat and safe from shooting the entire game. Another popular stategy was taking 9 obliterators and 2 lash princes; this allowed players to lash 2 units into close quarters with a 3rd and then fire 9 plasma cannons (small blast template) into the massed bunched models.
6th & 7th Edition
7th edition came out barely two years after 6th and in many ways could be called 6.5 or so. There were differences of course, such as the reworked Psychic Phase, and shooting phase resolution, but most of the changes were small enough tweaks that it's sane enough to include entries for both editions in here.
A mechanic that got a mixed reception when it hit, and one it was never able to truly shake. Listed below are some of the most infamous examples that resulted from exploiting this mechanic.
- Allies of Convenience: 6th edition categorized alliances into four distinct tiers: Battle Brothers, Allies of Convenience, Desperate Allies, or Come the Apocalypse. Battle Brothers was the most straightforward and allowed allies to share buffs, use each other's transports, etc. On the other hand, Allies of Convenience meant that your allies treated each other as "enemies" for all intents and purposes, except that you could not intentionally target your own Allies of Convenience with Warlord Traits, shooting, charging, or Psychic Powers. However, all other abilities remained in theory able to interact with each other (barring exceptions like the Genestealer Cult ruling stating that Tyranid Allies of Convenience did not cause Shadow in the Warp/hinder Return to the Shadows). This meant that Allies of Convenience could activate "passive buffs" that triggered by enemy proximity, while it was "technically legal" to target your allies of convenience with "miscellaneous" powers.
- The Barkbarkstar: This combination came from allying Dark Angels and Space Wolves. Fenrisian Wolves were relatively cheap, at 8 points per model for a Beast unit with Marine statlines, but with a 6+ armor save. By themselves, they were mostly an escort of throwaway bodies for a Thunderwolf Lord. However, the real cheese came from the Fenrisian Hunting Pack, which allowed for 5 units of Fenrisian Wolves to be merged together into a blob of up to 75 Wolves. Such a huge unit could gain incredible mileage from stacking buffs on it, but the real piece de resistance was attaching Grand Commander Azrael of the Dark Angels to the unit. Azrael granted the entire unit a 4+ Invulnerable Save, while being able to choose a Warlord Trait that granted the unit Feel No Pain while within 3" of an Objective. Azrael's ability was designed around buffing a small squad of Dark Angels, but this unit was large enough to practically cover the entire map, since each wolf was mounted on a Terminator base, meaning with coherency, this unit was more than capable of locking down half the gameboard.
- ChaosCrons: In 7th edition, Chaos Space Marines and Necrons were considered Allies of Convenience. Notably, Anrakyr's special ability "Mind in the Machine" was RAW none of the above and in theory could be used on your own allied Typhon to have it fire its gun twice. More amusing however was a Black Legion Spearhead using Turn 1 Deep Strike while triggering Ethereal Interception from Allies of Convenience Deathmarks for a front-loaded alphastrike that required no Drop Pods to pull off.
- TauCrons: Necrons had a lot of good mid-strength ranged weapons that could drown enemy units in saves or strip Hull Points off enemy vehicles, but most of their weapons were confined to the 24" range-bracket. Thus Tau were popular for providing longer-range: The Firebase Support Cadre added 36" threat projection via Tank-Hunting Missile Broadsides and the Riptide was always appreciated. However, the real comedy came from the fact that Nemesor Zahndrekh had the special rule Adaptive Tactics: Whenever an enemy unit with one or more USRs from a bucket list (Counter-Attack, Furious Charge, Hit & Run, Split-Fire, Stealth, or Tank Hunters) was within 24" of Zahndrekh, Zahndrekh's unit also benefitted from that rule as well. Many Tau wargear options (mainly, Vectored Retrothrusters and the Puretide Engram Neurochip) made it shockingly easy to acquire said USRs and provide them to Zahndrekh; perhaps he thought Puretide was actually a Necrontyr prodigy?
- TauDar: Allies Abuse was not entirely uncommon in 6th and 7th Edition, however the combined cheese from these two Codexes - each very powerful in their own right - resulted in a combination of Cheddar so potent it practically warped space and time. In short, imagine the best parts about both the Tau and Eldar Codexes, and fuse them together into a potent strike force. The even worse part? In 6th Edition, the two Factions were considered Battle Brothers - meaning there was no penalty for taking either one as Allies.
- Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation: Includes units from Cult Mechanicus, Skitarii, and and Imperial Knights. Everything has Canticles of the Omnissiah, all wargear is free, and nothing Gets Hot. You like winning? Use this formation and literally pay to win.
- Heldrake: The Heldrake was added to the 6th Edition Chaos Space Marine Codex as a new unique flier. It could Vector Strike like a Flying Monstrous Creature and was incredibly resilient due to numerous stacked defensive rules, but these ultimately played second fiddle to the real reason it was so powerful: the Baleflamer. Sure, you could give the Heldrake a Hades Autocannon, but as it only hit on 4+ and didn't ignore Marine armor, it was pointless considering both weapons cost the same. Imagine the Inferno Cannon of a Guard Hellhound, able to project a Strength 6 flame template anywhere within 12", but make it AP 3 so even regular Space Marines don't get an armor save. 7th edition brought a series of nerfs to the Heldrake, the most notable one being to limit the fire arc of its Baleflamer to a 45-degree arc, as well as Vector Strikes only doing one AP 2 hit (instead of D3+1 AP 3 hits) versus ground targets. However, the real reason the Heldrake lost its viability was an indirect one: Whereas only disembarked troops (and certain specific unit types, depending on scenario) could score objectives in 6th edition, 7th edition allowed any units to score and gave Troops Objective Secured.
- The Screamerstar: a combination of artifacts and psychic powers that gives a unit of Screamers a rerollable 2++ Invulnerable Save, making them effectively invincible.
- Magnus the Red: Magnus the Red is one of the cheesiest units to grace this section. He got a plethora of special rules (including Eternal Warrior, It Will Not Die, and Fearless) and is a Flying Monstrous Creature. But, wait! There's more! As befitting the Demon Primarch of Tzeentch, Magnus was a psychic powerhouse. He was the only Mastery Level 5 Psyker in the game, and knew the complete Lores of Tzeentch and Change. He could cast these powers without needing line of sight, and possessed at least two Strength D powers. His Horus Heresy incarnation wasn't much off from this, becoming able to completely avoid attacks if he had Invisibility cast upon himself and able to boost his psychic attacks to Strength D with a 2D6 roll -- for fewer points than either his 40K incarnation or Horus himself!
- The Entirety of 6th and 7th Edition Eldar: No really. Eldar were pretty much the pet army of Phil Kelly, and it showed in how their army consistently managed to be the top or damn close to it. To include a few notable crimes against balance:
- Battle Focus:
- Serpent Spam: From 6th Edition, the Wave Serpent gained a massive upgrade in power from 5th Edition. Aside from getting a bump to Ballistic Skill 4 (as opposed to 3 in the previous Codex) for a pittance of point-costs, and all Shuriken Weapons gaining the Bladestorm upgrade (6s to wound ignore armor saves), the Wave Serpent's Shield was changed so that rather than capping the strength/removing bonus dice to penetrate it, it would downgrade Penetrating Hits into Glancing Hits on a 2+. However, the real the Serpent Shield could alternately be used "in extremis" as a glorified wave motion gun: It would fire D6+1 strength 7 shots with infinite range, ignoring cover, and wrecking enemy vehicles. Since the Serpent Shield was wargear and not a weapon, you couldn't destroy it with Weapon Destroyed. The real fondue was taking a Twin-Linked Scatter Laser for "Laser Lock;" You got 4 S6 shots, rerolling to-hit, and if you hit with at least one, you could reroll to-hit with all other weapons being fired by the Wave Serpent. Thus, the Wave Serpent was transport, anti-aircraft, anti-everything in one go. Although Serpentspam got suitably nerfed in the 7th Edition update, it got replaced by the below:
- Scatpack Spam:
- Warp Spider Spam: Warp Spiders got a notable upgrade in 6th Edition, receiving a point drop and innate Hit and Run/Deep Strike, while their Deathspinners gained the Monofilament rule, making them deadlier against low-initiative models and vehicles. Although 7th Edition reworked Monofilament so they weren't innately stronger versus vehicles, they got upgraded in two additional ways: First of all, Monofilament was changed so they wounded enemy models on Initiative instead of Toughness, and very few models had Initiative greater than 5. However, the real issue was Warp Spiders gained the ability Flickerjump: If targeted by enemy shooting, the Warp Spiders could immediately move 2d6 inches, and if they ended up out of range/line of sight, the enemy attack was wasted. Aggressively spamming Warp Spiders allowed an Eldar player to win Maelstrom objective games on your turn, after they dropped in to slag any real resistance otherwise.
- Wraithknights: "And you thought the Riptide was Big." The Wraithknight was the penultimate step (after the Riptide) to the reintroduction of Knights to 40k that Games Workshop was going to continue making the game revolve around giant models. It was powerful enough in 6th edition, where it cost like two Wraithlords while having twice the wounds, and extra mobility while sharing the same slot to boot, but 7th edition went and turned them from Jump Monstrous Creatures to Jump Gargantuan Monstrous Creatures, giving them Stomp, Feel No Pain, immunity to Instant Death (only taking D3 extra wounds instead), and the ability to fire an unlimited (rather than two) number of guns, split-fired at different units. This came with a point increase that was less than the price of an unupgraded Razorback, still making it cheaper than the Imperial Knight which it was vastly superior to.
- Note that despite the rage about the Wraithknight having access to D-Weapons, the most common variant was actually the Forgeworld Skatach Wraithknight. The Skatach cost a few more points than the vanilla one, but rather than having two Wraithcannons, it had two Deathshrouds. Imagine a Nightspinner's gun, but as a Hellstorm. The Skatach became a tournament staple because it had innate cover-ignoring and crowd control that the rest of the Eldar army lacked, while being able to operate at optimal efficiency without needing a Farseer to buff it.
Necrons technically got their codex update at the end of 5th Edition, but 6th really made them shine for awhile. Their 7th ed codex toned down a lot of that in exchange for adding the Decurion.
- ScytheWing: This was a build that was overpowered at the start of 6th Edition, and would only be slightly reduced in strength as 6th Edition continued. Essentially, ScytheWing (also known as Croissant Spam, 'Cron Air and a variety of other colourful names) was a build based around how many Doom Scythes and Night Scythes could be squeezed into a list - and the 'Crons could squeeze in a lot of these two units. It didn't even have the traditional weaknesses of Flyer-Heavy armies of 6th Edition usually had, as Scarabs and Canoptek Spiders were very easy to hide, minimising the odds of the army being tabled on turn one. As 6th Edition continued and factions gradually got access to actual Anti Aircraft options this died down, but it remained strong for the rest of 6th. 7th Edition finally put the Scythewing to a gradual rest, as changes to how objectives were scored, and the 7th ed codex upping the cost of Nightscythes/making Tesla no longer work on Snapshots put an damper on Necron destruction.
- Necron Pimpmobiles: The Catacomb Command Barge was infamously durable and only got moreso at the start of 7th. Due to numerous rulings, taking a Phase Field gave both the Necron Lord AND the Barge a 3++, While making a successful Reanimation Protocols would bring back both the Lord, as well as the Barge at full Hull Points! Changes to how the Phylactery and Phase Field worked in 7th did a lot to tone the Barge to more realistic levels though it still remained a powerful unit so long as it did not come up against Destroyer weapons.
- Stormteks: The Storm Harbinger was a "free" swap for a Cryptek, that traded out its Staff of Light for a Voltaic Stave. As opposed to the S5 AP 3 3-shot weapon that the Staff of Light was, the Voltaic Stave was a 4-shot 12" Haywire projector. In 5th edition, this wasn't too dangerous but was annoying for stunlocking enemy vehicles. When 6th edition added Hull Points and changed how Glancing Hits worked, the Voltaic Stave became better than a Meltagun for tearing apart enemy vehicles; it was common for a Scythewing to run as multiple units of "5 Warriors, 2 Storm Harbingers" for them to drop down and zap enemy units to pieces. The Stormtek was eradicated with extreme prejudice with the 7th Cron codex.
- The Decurion: The 7th Edition Necrons got largely toned down from how they were at the start of 6th Edition. However, they would go back up to complete cheese in the same book. You see, GeeDubs had this great idea - what if we let people take armies that consisted...of nothing but Formations? Enter the Decurion, a force organization that would forever change the face of warfare for all the 7th Edition Codexes going forwards. This formation offered several, powerful bonuses to the Necrons - with individual formations granting rules like enhanced Reanimation Protocols for example. It would also make every Codex released prior to Necrons suffer from being severely underpowered for the rest of the Edition. The worst part was that every book after the Necrons had Decurions of their own, some more powerful than others but all of them making more traditional forces obsolete.
- The Orikanstar: The assorted changes to Reanimation Protocols and the introduction of the Decurion were both powerful upgrades for Necrons, but Orikan the Diviner also got a nice buff. Aside from being able to transform to have the statline of a C'tan Shard, his main ability was that he granted all models in his unit that had the Reanimation Protocols rule the ability to reroll 1s on all their Saves. Not just Armor Saves, but all Saves. Combined with Lychguard getting a point reduction and their Shields granting a 3++, this became a notoriously difficult unit to remove, and one whose defenses couldn't be debuffed by a Culexus. However, it wasn't until this unit took Zahndrekh that it became notoriously more powerful: "Hit and Run" was a common ability used by tournament armies and Orikan effectively gave his unit Initiative 4 for the test, letting what should be a "slow" and frail unit pinball across the map to cap objectives and slay backfield units like. However, it was also common to swap out the Lychguard for Wraiths from a Canoptek Harvest, for extra threat range and the ability to destroy Knights with a pile of Rending attacks.
- Chapter Master Smashfucker: Smashfucker is a character build for the Iron Hands that went through several revisions as 6th and 7th edition came along, starting from 6th ed Codex: Space Marines, getting a proper birth in Clan Raukaan, but ultimately reaching his ultimate form in the 7th edition Space Marines/Angels of Death codex and supplement. Smashfucker was a beatstick, an immovable rock and irresistable force in one that with enough buffs could beat most things into a pulp.
- Grav Weapons: After sitting out core 40k for three editions, Grav Weapons came back with a Vengeance. In an edition that introduced ever-tougher Monstrous Creatures, Grav reversed the normal rules of combat, as it rolled to wound versus the target's armor save instead of Toughness, while ignoring Armor Saves. Thus, a Guardsman in cardboard was wounded on 5+, but a Riptide was wounded on 2+. By itself, this seemed "ok," except Grav was an excellent troubleshooter weapon, and Bolters could reliably destroy most enemies that Grav struggled against. While the 6th Ed Marine codex became known for Grav Bikers and Centurions (the infamous "Centstar"), the real fondue came in 7th when Grav Cannons with Grav Amp became a Heavy choice for Power Armor Marines, so even a few Tactical Squads could reliably tear holes in the enemy.
- Lest you think vehicles were safe, think again. Versus vehicles, you rolled a d6 per hit. On a 6, you inflicted a Penetrating Hit that automatically Immobilized the vehicle in question. This was FAQed to clarify that two 6s meant doing 3 Hull Points of damage...when the Leman Russ had 3 Hull Points. Since a Grav Cannon had 5 shots and could reroll to Penetrate...really, only Superheavy vehicles stood a realistic chance, or the odd vehicle with resilience versus Immobilization.
- The Skyhammer Annihilation Force, a Space Marine dataslate formation. Two Devastator squads in drop pods that ignore Drop Pod Assault, and two Assault Squads with jump packs. The devs are Relentless on the turn they Deep Strike, and the assault squads can charge immediately.
- Gladius Strike Force: Space Marines' detachment-size formation. Anything in a Battle Demi-Company is Objective Secured, and any Drop Pods, Rhinos and Razorbacks taken as dedicated transport have their base cost reduced to 0 if you take two demi-companies.
- Iron Priests: These models by themselves were simply Space Wolf Techpriests, right? Wrong! See, while you "could" run them on foot with Servitors and try to repair things, that misses out on their ability to mount them on a Thunderwolf. Not only that, but they could take a retinue of Cyberwolves, which were upgraded Fenrisian Wolves...and they retained Independent Character on top. Iron Priests could therefore lead their own mini-squad of souped-up wolves, joining or leaving squads as necessary like an amorphous blob of death; even Guardsmen could only combine squads during deployment, and thus Iron Priests were incredibly capable of skirting around the squad rules of 40, being able to Deathstar or MSU as needed. Extra rage came when two Iron Priests, their Cyberwolves, Celestine, and her Geminae all joined to a Fenrisian Hunting Pack, stacked defensive buffs for a turn, then split off to deal with individual threats, circumventing multicharge penalties.
- The Entirety of 6th and 7th Edition Tau: Sure, Tau had weak troops (not that anyone used them en mass, and Farsight had his Crisis suits as troops) and bad leadership with almost no access to Fearless/Zealot, but this was made up for by numerous items detailed below and generally great synergy. Minimaxed mono-Tau lists were great at wiping the table of almost any list, making them the bane of the local game store, if not necessarily the tournament scene due to lack of psychic powers/defense from those (as of 7th, because they were Battle Brothers with Space Marines/Eldar in 6th, with all that ensued).
- Markerlights: The Tau Empire had access to cost effective cover removal and Markerlights, allowing them to do things like increasing their to hit rolls for Overwatch (though they were chiefly used to remove cover). The fact that Markerlights only required a To Hit roll to apply their effects cheesed the onions of many players on the receiving end. Not a game-breaking mechanics per se, but it compensated the only thing holding Tau horrendous firepower back - their mediocre BS. Oh, and with so many Ignores Cover options (not all of them from Marketlights) it was sometimes faster to just remove marked unit that had no invulnerable without resolving the hits from an actual attack - most Imperial Guard infantry squads, for example, had virtually no chance to survive.
- Interceptor: 6th Edition brought back Overwatch...as a weakened form of WHFB Stand and Shoot. It also made Interceptor a Special Rule available to some units: A unit with Interceptor could at the end of the opponent's Movement Phase, shoot at an enemy unit that had entered from Reserves. Unlike 2nd Edition, this did not require forfeiting shooting during your prior Shooting Phase, but your *next* Phase. Very few armies got access to this, but Tau could give each and every one of their Battlesuits this ability for the price of a Melta Bomb, thus letting said Suits shoot in their turn, shoot when the enemy tried to appear from Reserves, then hightail it to safety in the Tau player's next turn. Oh, and it combined nicely with the ability to give those battlesuits Skyfire, blasting enemy aircraft from the sky the moment it entered play. Thanks to this, Tau were the only army able to reliably table dreaded Flytyrant list.
- Riptide: The Riptide was introduced in 6th Edition, as a Jetpack Monstrous Creature. It came with a Primary and Secondary, and was about as tough as a Dreadknight on paper. However, while the Dreadknight was primarily a melee unit (with some gun options), the Riptide mainly existed as a shooting platform that could give Tau the option for the occasional Linebreaker or finisher assault. Its main draw however was the Nova Reactor: You could pick a bonus from four options and roll a D6. On a 3+ you got the bonus, while you lost a wound otherwise. In practice, since one of the four options was to upgrade the Riptide's Invulnerable Save from 5++ to 3++, you statistically took less wounds from Nova-Charging your Shields than from your opponent shooting you unshielded. In addition, the Riptide's Drones allowed it to be treated as a Unit, thus making it a Monstrous Creature that could be joined by Independent Characters, such as a Buffmander (a Tau Commander optimised to hand out supporting buffs to Units he joins) or perhaps more infamously, a character like a Space Marine Librarian or Eldar Farseer, who got a big meat shield to protect themselves while they in turn buffed the Riptide with access to the Divination table, or Space Marine Captain (eliminating close combat weakness) with Storm Shield that allowed him to tank wounds with 3++ using Riptides T saving Nova reactor of the latter for more dakka. All of this for a relatively paltry sum of points that made it cheaper than a squad of Terminators, and it didn't cost much more due to the inexpensiveness of it's upgrades. As a result, the "Triple Riptide" (or Triptide) became a common 6th Ed build, becoming less prevalent in 7th due to general scoring changes. However, the Riptide would be largely untouched for 7th Edition, remaining a very strong unit that practically made all other options in the same slot obsolete (At least until the Ghostkeel became a thing).
- The Riptide Wing: And then the Riptide Wing came out for 7th. This Formation simply required you take 3 units of Riptides, with no extra tax. In exchange, the Formation got three obscene bonuses: If a Riptide unit from the Formation was near its buddies, it could reroll the Nova Reactor, it could get +1 BS when shooting an enemy unit shot at by another Riptide unit from the formation in the same Phase, but the real fondue was that once per game, the Formation could perform a Hailfire Attack: Any Riptides that did not move in the preceding Movement Phase could shoot twice in that Shooting Phase. This formation was "no tax" for already-good units while eliminating two of their only real weaknesses (marginal damage without Markerlight support, unreliable Nova Power). That said, the sheer power of the Riptide Wing meant that this Formation was commonly used to support an Eldar army.
- Farsight Enclaves: This was the next logical step for Tau Cheese. It had access to several very good formations (most notably The Eight, a Formation of Independent Characters unique in that you could take some or all of it's members, who in turn got some of the best relics from this supplement and the OG Tau Empire Codex and allowed you to have two unique relics in a single army as members of the Eight didn't count for 1 per army relic limitation. Bears mentioning Riptide was also an Independent Character, so even in 7th edition it could be joined by Buffmander) as well as removing a key weakness of the Tau on paper, its weaksauce selection of Troops Choices. Instead of Fire Warriors or Kroot, now you could take Crisis Suits as Troops choices! This allowed for even further Min-Maxing, which capitalised on some of the other problems listed above. Compounding this, in 6th Edition it was perfectly legal to take a Tau Empire Force and a Farsight Enclaves force, and the two treated each other as Battle Brothers (meaning there were no penalties).
- The Firebase Support Cadre: Introduced in 6th, the Firebase Support Cadre was the OG Formation. Two units of 3 Broadsides and a Riptide teamed up, getting Tank Hunter and Preferred Enemy(Space Marines). This was a popular Formation for Necrons.
- The Optimized Stealth Cadre: The last real rage-inducer, the OSC had a Ghostkeel unit and two units of Stealth Suits. Any units from the Formation near the Ghostkeel got +1 BS, Ignore Cover, and automatically hit the Rear Armor of enemy vehicles. The OSC basically said "Flanking? Meh." That said, Stealth Suits were generally seen as a tax for this formation, which was mostly taken for the upgraded Ghostkeel(s).
Well, you see, Tyranids had bad codexes back in 6th and 7th edition. They were so bad Tyranid players still hate Treadhead's guts, but they also had the power to create one list to rule them all...
- Flytyrant list: aka Flying Circus. You take 3 Tyrants with wings and Devourers with brainleech worms, 3 Crones, Spore Mines as Troops and Venomthrope to allow them to live through the first turn. The trick is Flying Monster Creatures were able to start on the board in 6th and 7th, but not begin in Swooping mode, therefore being hit not only on 6's. However, they still could Jink, and Venomthrope upped that save to 2+, enabling you to live through first enemy turn, reach to the sky and blast enemy below with impunity, while also being virtually unhittable, and even Invisibility-spam couldn't save from Vector-strike autohits. It was not unheard of for people to outright refuse to play with this list on tournaments. Shield of Baal even introduced formation that was basically this list, but weaker.
- For The Greater Good: Your entire army gets shared overwatch and with the T'au sept trait can overwatch on 5+. This is pretty much a 2nd shooting phase, and pretty much ensured that T'au armies remained static firewarrior gunlines for the entirety of 8th edition
- Savior Protocols: No T'au player worth his salt (or the more fun oriented ones) shows up without at least 20 Shield Drones these days, and you have to kill every single one of them before you can even hope to scratch their precious Rapetides.
- Darkstrider: Oh what's that? Your charge actually made it through a solid wall of overwatch shooting? Hold up a minute while I move my entire gunline back 6" and gun you down. Also Structural Analyser.
- Fusion Blaster Coldstar Commander: Oh what's that? 4 fusion blasters BS2+ that can advance swoop 40" across the board? Combined with Mont'ka you'll have 4 point blank melta shots on demand for that pesky armour. Having the Farsight Enclave Sept will also allow wound re-rolls of 1 within 8 inches, which will never be a problem getting within.
- Modulated Weaponry: Oh, I can only have one Riptide have max shots AND an Invuln save? Hold my beer while I spend a cp and a few extra points to give this guy an Ion Cannon with max shots, AND the Invuln save from the base abilities of the Riptide, essentially creating two super buffed Riptides. This stratagem works on anything with randomly rolled heavy weapons BTW. Longstrike hitting anything with 6 S8 shots and wounding on two's? Iron Hands and Imperial Fists, move over! T'au are taking back the award for best cheese!
Ironically, in what may be a case of "is it the army or is it the tournament format," the Eldar did better at LVO 2018 than they did in any 7th edition LVO tournament. Although many other aspects about why they are so powerful are being debated, there is a general consensus on what is problematic:
- Hard to Hit: The Alaitoc Craftworld grants the "-1 to be hit vs attacks >12 away" bonus that is associated with Alpha Legion and Raven Guard. Unlike Space Marines, however, their entire detachment gains this bonus including vehicles; not only that, but Eldar, in general, have a Psychic Power to grant a -1 to-hit buff, a Stratagem to do the same, and several of their units have such an ability just because. Further making Alaitoc harder to actually hit is the fact that their unique Stratagem can be used on Rangers (which normally get taken anyway to "push back" the deep strike deployment bubble) to make it so you can only hit them on 6s.
- Not as Penalized going Second: Eldar is currently the only "main" faction (excluding Thousand Sons and Custodes or other "secondary" factions) with a codex that has a Reserve stratagem that is not dependent on taking a specific subfaction. Rather than having to take Tallarn or Alpha Legion or Jormugandr, any Eldar can Webway Assault without issue. Furthermore, they have a superior equivalent of the Auspex Stratagem, which helps further protect them against Deepstrike. Said stratagem can be used against any DSer and not just those that land within 12", and does not have a -1 to-hit penalty; however, said penalty is moot since it the Stratagem tends to be used by the below.
- Dark Reapers are reliable when other units aren't: Dark Reapers are the only long-range unit that innately ignores all hit modifiers in the game while having two firing modes that can either reliably mow down 2-wound models or blow up heavy armour. Their leader is armed with the equivalent of two Guard Mortars if those Mortars could hit on an unmodified 3+ rerolling ones and had a -2 save mod. Furthermore, a Stratagem exists that lets an Eldar unit make a 7" move after shooting.
- Soup and Free Actions: Ynnari are infamous for getting extra "out-of-phase" actions, and despite Strength from Death being nerfed so you can use each type of action once (and only once) on your game turn, they give Eldar extra utility in general. However, the real issue with Ynnari is that if you take at least one battleforged Craftworld Detachment, the Craftworld Ynnari gain access to Craftworld Stratagems, including all Craftworld-specific ones. This means if you took an Alaitoc Craftworld Eldar detachment, Saim-Hann Shining Spears in a Ynnari detachment would have access to the Saim-Hann Stratagem, a Biel-Tan Spiritseer could take the Spirit Stone of Anathlan, etc. Thankfully this got put down for the count in the 8th Edition Ynnari White Dwarf Index where strength from death was changed from free actions to a universal "Always Strike First" rule for an entire round should any unit die.
- The Fondue: All of this resulted in a scenario where an Alaitoc army took several small units of Rangers to screen several two Wave Serpents, lots of small Dark Reaper units, and an allied Ynnari detachment which took a block of 10 Dark Reapers. If going second, the Eldar player could hide the Reapers in the Serpents and wait it out; alternatively, the large block of Reapers could pop out of a Wave Serpent, shoot twice (the equivalent of 20 Krak Missiles or 40 Starshot Missiles), then Fire and Fade back into the Serpent before they could be targeted. Soulburst could let a Ynnari caster use Quicken to reposition an Eldar unit as well, while a unit of Shining Spears ran inference while acting as the equivalent of Bike Terminators (Protect turning their save into 2+/3++). Whereas in the 2016 LVO (which gave the "Strength 6 Intensifies" meme), 3 of the top 8 lists were Eldar, 5 of the 8 were Eldar in 8th. Oops.
- The Tournament Format itself: It's no big secret that the ITC Format and Mission packages heavily favour armies like the Eldar due to how the scoring for missions works. Eldar has always been one of the better armies for "just playing the mission" and over the years they have become very good at this alongside being able to eliminate scoring units very efficiently (Ynnari are effectively a hard counter to MSU lists in general thanks to all of the bonus actions). It's very easy to pick a bunch of Secondary Missions that the Ynnari can very easily and reliably score, and with all the extra actions that the Ynnari get? It's very easy to build up an insurmountable lead. Compare to playing just a regular pick up game of 40k with a list designed to exploit and abuse the ITC format? The lists tend to be far less dominant compared to the armies that are strongest when playing the regular Warhammer 40k format. Would an overhaul of the Format cripple the Ynnari for ITC Tournaments? No, of course not, but it would be disingenuous to ignore the Tournament Format as a reason why the Ynnari were so dominant at the 2018 LVO, especially when combined with the above.
Imperial Guard during the first year of 8th Edition. Remember Eldar and Tau in 7th Edition? That was the Imperial guard of the early 8th (though Eldar soup was still better). Between blobs of dirt-cheap Conscripts flooding the board (which was so bad they had to be nerfed hard into being near-useless), sheer volume of fire in rapid fire range will handily whittle away big targets, or deep-striking Scions shoved full of Plasma or Melta as well as the best tanks in the game, and most point efficient troops choice in the game in the Infantry Squad.
Oh, and Guilliman buffs the guard like nobodies business. Hell, you can leave the smurfs at home and just enjoy a 12" reroll 1s and spam plasma for days;
Let us see the highlights of 8th ed Guard codex:
- Bullgryns in general. They changed the wording for slab shields - instead of giving the unit a flat 2+ armour save, they give you +2 to all your save rolls. So if you field A Custode Vexilla, who has an aura that gives 5++ invuln, slab shields improve it to a 3++. So now they are a 2+/3++ unit. And you can take it further, with the psychic power psychic ward they get an additional +1 saves so now they are at 1+/2++ and finally with the 1CP stratagem Take Cover they get an additional save in the enemy shooting phase. Enjoy your 0+/1++ (it is important to note that ones always fail, however) Bullgryn-Custode deathstar of doom that requires two Smites per Bullgryn to wear down. Good luck getting anywhere though.
- It is worth it to mention that Bullgryns have almost the exact same statline as the Custodes, proving who the true Emperor's finest are.
- This has been updated by the FAQ. Bullgryn slab shields only give +2 to armour saves. You can still stack the psychic power (which, remember, you have to actually get off in the first place) and the Take Cover! stratagem (which costs CP).
- HQ units can take a Relic that lets them regain spent CP on a 5+. Remember that the Imperial Guard is second to Chaos Daemons in cheapest Brigade Regiments in the game so if you are somehow below 12 CP you are optimizing your list wrong (or just realize that you will never spend all the CP that you have). Remember, on the other hand, that IG's characters are the frailest in the game, t3/5+/5++ won't save you.
- The Tactical Restraint rule has capped how many CP can be refunded per turn, so this is not as cheesy anymore.
- Cadians. General Rerolls of 1 for standing still, having a 2 pt stratagem that boosts their hit rate by 1 for targeting one thing of your choice so amazing for Superheavies and 40man boy squads, and then there are the Leman Russes, as not only do they also get rerolls of 1 but also have Pask who for only 10 Points more than a regular Tank Commander can do an additional order, including one for the tanks that allow them to re-roll the number of shots they get with the turret, hits on fucking 2s.
- Pask is no longer 10 points more expensive than a standard Tank Commander, though this is because they got a points cost, not because Pask got a points increase.
- Mordians: The Mordian Strategem "Volley Fire" is written similar to other abilities that grant exploding 6s to-hit, but due to bad RAW, lets you shoot your weapon again instead of getting an extra shot. This means that a Mordian Guardsman under FRFSRF can "potentially" get 20 shots. However, the real fondue occurs when said Guardsmen are being assisted by a Forgeworld Searchlight, which grants a unit a flat +1 to hit (meaning shooting again on 5+s); enjoy watching your Guardsmen throw out a truly insane amount of dice. They also have an Order that lets units with lasguns target characters directly.
- Valhalla can fire into melee combat without any penalty other than hitting friendly units on a 1 to-hit. Flamers don't roll to hit. Or you could just issue the order to a heavy Weapons team and use your Conscripts like Skavenslaves... Conscript blob died? You can spend 2CP to bring them right back in an army where you are guaranteed a Brigade detachment for most games. It was FAQ'd and you have to spend reinforcement points to do this in Matched Play, so absolutely useless as of post-FAQ.
- Vostroya has an order that allows them to shoot any weapon in close combat. They this includes Grenades, Flamers, you heavy Weapons teams...Oh, and they can spend CP to add +1 to their hit rolls in the shooting phase meaning that all Plasma Weapons are safe to supercharge. How didn't you wipe a squad of Guardsmen in a round of close combat though?
- Crusaders, teamed up with a Primaris Psyker and Ministorum Priest, packed into a Valkyrie. This combo will have them dumped as far as 29 inches away (though no closer to enemy models than 3 inches), essentially giving you a virtually guaranteed first turn charge. Furthermore, when buffed by a priest they will have 3 attacks each, rerolling hits on the charge. A full squad will be delivering an average of 27 hits per turn (though at only Strength 3). They also have significant staying power with Psychic Barrier adding 1 to all saves, giving these guys a 2++ save.if you fail the psychic power you can also use Take Cover! to get the 2++ from shooting attacks. Use a Command Point Re-Roll and Grand Strategist re-roll to save the couple casualties you may eventually take or just heal one back next turn with AoF.
No doubt He had a part in this.
At least, unlike all the other cheese in the game (cough cough IMPERIAL KNIGHTS cough cough), the Guard has been FAQed into the ground. The fact that they are still a solid choice demonstrates just how awful it was to play against in the first few months of 8E.
You see, this is a weird one. At the start of 8th Edition, Marines just couldn't pull their weight against most armies without...unusual lists of stand-and-shoot armies buffed by Guilliman. Now that they have a new and improved codex, THEY'RE the ones who can now one-up Imperium armies such as Guard and confidently go toe-to-toe with Imperial Knights, Xenos, and Chaos who they traditionally struggled with. It should be mentioned almost every supplement threw a bone to a corresponding Chapter, ranging from good and fluffy to overpowered.
Have all of the best Marine toys plus a number of game-breaking Chapter abilities. First, all Ultramarine units can literally walk out of Close Combat and keep firing, making assault orientated armies useless against them. Second, they can regain any spent Command Points on a 5+ so really can spam those Re-Rolls. This is before we even get into what Rowboat can do to your army.
Any keyword Imperium unit within 12" adds 1 to advances and charges, re-roll hits of 1 and can re-roll failed morale tests, meaning you can spam the fuck out of stupidly cheap Imperial Guard Plasma.
Ultramarines units within 6" re-roll all hit rolls, and to-wound rolls of 1 as of the Ultramarines codex supplement. Guilliman himself is affected by his own aura, allowing him to add 1 to charges and advances as well as re-roll hits and 1s to wound. If all that wasn't enough if your army is battleforged you get 3 extra CP.). It's not unusual to see him sat in the middle of a pile of Assault Cannon Razorbacks with Lascannon Squads inside, and Stormravens tossed in for good measure. Or sat behind a huge wall of Hellblasters.
Guilliman himself is a beast in close combat, with a 3++, 9 Wounds and 6 S8, AP-4 3 Damage attacks with 6's adding d3 Mortal Wounds. He also has a Power Fist with no to hit penalty and flat 4 damage because of course he fucking does. He also revives on a 4+ with 1d6 Wounds back so good luck killing this fucker for good unless you literally send hordes of Fire Dragons or Scions after him. And even then he's just going to get back up and murder whatever downed him next turn.
So for all of this, he must be expensive, right? Even Wraithknights must be cheap compared to-what he only costs fucking 350 points as of the new Ultramarine supplement?! Yeah. So, barring restrictions, it's very possible to take him in 500 point games... and is one of the few LoW choices that can be. There are countless batreps out there of him taking on entire armies alone and just crushing them.
Basically, Ultramarines, and Imperium by extension, shoot better than any other army, fight better than any other army and are all but immune to morale thanks to this unbalanced cunt.
Anything shooting at the Raven Guard is shooting at -1 to hit if outside of 12" (this was changed to only apply while in cover, 12" away, and only to non-vehicles, as well as giving the cover armor bonus while outside of 12" regardless of being in cover or not), and they can spend CP to allow infantry to Deep Strike just before Turn 1 (this was changed in the April 2019 update, you still set up after normal deployment during turn one but instead of anywhere on the board you set up in your deployment zone and move up to 9".). This pretty much guarantees that you will always be going first with your Aggressors dropping in right next to an opponent without having counted as moved.
Oh, and their Warlords are immune to Overwatch so MURDERWINGS is back, and it's cheaper to do than just taking Shrike.
Dear lord, where do we begin with their current supplement? They can make Dreadnoughts Characters, they have T'au-level overwatch, and they're hardier than the usual Space Marines. Their combination of relics is beyond busted, able to make the castle of all castles where you can't target rifleman dreadnoughts, as well as healing any damage you may have inflicted if you got lucky enough to do so. Friendly reminder that Iron Hands meta chasers are the reason why doctrines automatically change now for everyone, and as such ruined the game for dedicated Imperial Fist and Dark Angel players.
Smashfucker is back and broken as ever. Take an Iron Hands Captain on Bike with a Thunder Hammer and Shield Eternal and the Iron Resolve Warlord trait. The result is a stupidly mobile Beatstick with 7 Wounds and a 3+/3++/6+++/6++++. Plus unlike Girlyman, an Apothecary can heal him. The FAQ ruling on I-can't-believe-it's-not-FNP abilities nerfed him down to "only" a 3+/3++/6+++, but he's still dead 'ard.
Well known Murderwings variant exclusive to the Blood Angels. Take a Captain with Jump Pack and give him a Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield and Angel's Wing. It comes in at 129 points, making him cheaper than Dante. Toss in Black Rage for 1 CP you get 5 S8 AP -3 3 Damage attacks that will wound all infantry in a 2+ due to Red Thirst, and Wounds T8 on a 3+, all ignoring Overwatch. Taking Artisan of War puts him up to 4 Damage per attack which means even Knights and Spiritual Lieges aren't going to be safe. Or you can throw in Gift of Foresight so he's sitting at a 3+/3++/5+++ (3+/2++/5+++ with Celestine around). What else can be done to break him further? Well Throwing in Unleash Rage and Red Rampage for 1 CP puts him at 7-9 Attacks which are S8, Ap-3 and 4 Damage, and having a Sanguinary Priest around buffs those attacks up to S10!. If the Sanguinor is around you get another bonus attack. Did we also mention that if he's fighting Chaos marines, those attacks Explode on a 6+ with the use of Vengeance for Sanguinius? 4+ against Black Legion? Have fun! If that is still not enough damage take "Honour the Chapter" or "Only in death does duty end" for a second fight phase. Enjoy barreling over Chaos Terminators in one charge.
Leviathan Dreadnoughts are legal for 40k. Any space marines can take them, and they are good.The Iron Hands Levi dread is without a doubt the best, despite a number of attempts by GW to take it down (turns out it was just as resilient to nerfs as it was to damage). When the supplement was first released, this T8 2+/4++ 14 Wound monster now got a 6+++ on top of it and any damage was halved due using a stratagem, then reduced by a further 1 due to the Iron stone Relic, although this only came into play if the Iron Hands player didn't simply hand the wounds off to a nearby Intercessor squad since Iron Hands had a stratagem that let anything 'look out sir' for anything else (the intercessors also got feel no pain against the mortal wounds, this could be improved to a 5+++ with a stratagem). At it's peak, 100 lascannons fired at space marine BS would not even get it down to it's first bracket (and if they did by some miracle reduce it below half health, it's stats would still not degrade because Iron Hands vehicles double their remaining wounds for the purpose of bracketing), and of course, any damage done would not necessarily stick. Because on top of this, the stupid thing could then be healed for: not D3, not 3, not 6, but 6+D3 wounds EVERY TURN, since an Iron Hands librarian could cast a power that healed them for D3 on top of the 6 wound repaired by the fresh new Primaris release: Iron Father Feirros who as a master of the forge could heal a flat 3 instead of the d3 a normal techmarine could, and could do it twice EVERY TURN because GW wanted to push sales.
T8 14W 2+/4++/5++ 20 ablative wounds to look out sir, all damage halved, then reduced by 1, and 6+D3 wounds restored each turn
We don't even need to talk about what happened when the Leviathan got to return fire, where it got an additional -1 to the ap of it's already insane main guns due to doctrines, and as an Iron Hand and it could move full speed and fire it's guns with no penalty for moving and firing heavy weapons (using that sweet sweet 2+ BS), all this before we add auras.
Thankfully, GW finally managed tone it down, first nerfing Feirros so he couldn't heal the same vehicle twice, and later releasing a sweeping series of nerf that finally made a difference. They nerfed the halve damage strat to instead only reduce damage by 1 and making it no longer stacked with the Iron Stone, and nerfing the look out sir stratagem so only non-vehicle characters could benefit. They also nerfed doctrines, so the Iron Hands could only stay in Devastator doctrine (and get the move and shoot without penalty and additional -1 ap for heavy weapons) for the first turn. (This doctrine nerf affected all Space Marines, some like the Dark Angels really didn't need it, but they were acceptable lossess to anyone who'd seen an Iron Hands Levi dread in action).
The monster is gone, but his reign of terror will be remembered
Chaos Daemons are one of two armies in the game that can fill multiple Brigade Detachments in a normal match thanks to Brimstone Horrors (the other is Imperial Guard). Plus they can cherry pick the Guard's best units via the Renegades faction, and the Chaos Space Marines best toys and characters due to the Chaos keyword.
- Daemons and thousand sons with 60 plague bearers, some sorcerers and the dreaded skullreaver khorne daemon prince is one of the most infuriating and powerful lists in the game as all the lists true damage dealers can't be targeted normally, at least not without killing 60 Plague bearers. Or, if you have spare Vindicare Assassins or Snipers laying around...
Adeptus Custodes Doombike
Adeptus Custodes are very hard to kill in general, but if you're really intent on feeding off your enemy's impotent rage then you can build a nice little Doombike. Take a Shield Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike as your warlord and give him the Auric Aquilas Relic which gives him a 3+ Invulnerable save (as well as the ability to re-roll failed charge rolls). Next, give him the Superior Creation Warlord Trait which gives him a 5+ FnP. Top that with the Victor of the Blood Games Stratagem right at the start of the game that allows him to re-roll a failed hit/wound or save roll per turn!
This results in a highly mobile character (which means he can't be shot at if he's not the closest target, so with clever positioning as with all characters, it will take an eternity until he even gets hit once) that has 7W, 6T, 2+/3++/5+++ with the ability to re-roll one save per turn outside of command re-rolls. Besides that he is extremely mobile, meaning he will extremely hard to outmanoeuvre by your enemy and he's in an army that already soaks up firepower like nothing... If he is caught in a bad fight for him, he can always disengage using his FLY keyword. Against Mortal Wounds, in the Psykic phase, he has his Custodes standard 6++ save as well. And with all that, he is very good in close combat and very good at shooting too: His natural aura gives him reroll 1s to hit, and as he has BS and WS 2+, it means he will miss an attack once out of thirty-six. And if that wasn't enough, his interceptor lance allows him to reroll all failed wound rolls on the charge, and as he has the FLY keyword, he can shoot, charge, attack, fall back, shoot again, and then charge and fight again. So, let's recap: 5 attacks that hit on 2s, rerolling ones, that are S6, rerolling all failed wound rolls on the charge, with an AP that makes anything without a decent invuln cry, and D3 damage per failed save. And he has an extra Misericordia attack (S5, AP-1, D2). And as he has the fly keyword, he can fall back and charge in the same turn, meaning he always gets to reroll failed wounds. We weren't joking when we said this page was for the cheesiest units in the game. Oh, and if you were thinking about swarming him, think again, because he can take hurricane bolters. Fucking hell.
But at least if you kill him you get Slay the Warlord right? WRONG! Your opponent can simple use the Shoulder the Mantle stratagem for 1CP and make one of their other 2+/3++ Bike Captains their new Warlord who also gets to generate a new Warlord trait (which you'll obviously just choose 5+++ save again). This new Captain won't have VotBG but still. Fucking. Hell.
For about 180 points quite a steal...
Get out of here, Smashfucker, you've been dethroned!
On the opposite end of the Spectrum, the Eldar are able to make an obscenely fast character that is less durable than the above, but is more mobile and hits even harder. 125 Points (using the Xenos 1 Index - this loadout is no longer available in the Codex) gets you a Jetbike character with 6W, T4, and 4 S6 AP3-, D2 Attacks (Hitting on 2+, Re-Rolling 1's) on the Charge (only S3 when not on the charge) that is immune to Overwatch, has a 3+/4++ (Can be boosted to 2+/3++ if a Warlock Protects them) 16" movement. They also have 4 Shuriken shots, a Meltagun shot (that they can snipe characters with, with the right trait) as well on top of all of this, as well as access to a stratagem that lets them Fall Back and Charge for one turn (for 2 command points). They also can pick a Relic that gives them a blanket -1 to hit with access to a Stratagem that can make that -2 (costs 2CP and lasts for a single shooting or fight phase) with the potential to boost that up to a -3 with a warlock casting conceal or even -4 if 12" away for Alaitoc. You can also make him more effective at shredding infantry with the Blazing Star of Vaul if you swap out the wargear that gives -1 to hit.
So let's look at how silly the Variants are:
- Saim-Hann: With the Right Warlord Trait and Novalance, (you lose your -1 to hit, though), but you are now up to 5 S8 AP-2, D2 attacks, D4 on any 6's to wound, 5's if a Warlock casts Enhance on them. Combine this with the Supreme Disdain Stratagem and they also Explode on 5's. Oh, and you can advance and charge for 1CP though you are likely reserving that strat for the huge Shining Spear blob with them. Cast Empower on him for a flat +1 to wound and even Imperial Knights are suffering critical existence failure.
- Ynnari: Everything the default Autarch gets but the ability to move twice, charge again, shoot twice or attack twice. As mentioned in the Soup section, these free actions are incredibly powerful themselves, and the Autarch can benefit from the majority of the Bonus actions that Strength from Death can grant. There's a very good reason why lists at LVO basically spammed these guys. With the Shuriken Catapult and Laser lance hits after charging, and they can easily charge twice per turn.
Looks like MURDERWINGS didn't vanish, he just ran off to race the Space Elves.
This is partly debatable, unlike Guard. Knights are an enormous point-sink and don't have quite as much firepower for their point-costs. However, the following Household-specific stratagems can make these big boyz infuriatingly hard to kill, or infuriating in general. This being said, many of these stratagems were slapped with an additional Command point tax due to how cheesy they were.
- Rotate Ion Shield: Watch how I turn this 24W with 5++ behemoth into a 24W 4++ behemoth, at the cost of 1 CP. Or 3CP for a Castellan. When combined with 'Ion Bulwark' it gives your 24/28W Knights a 3++ (CA 2018 nerfed this to a maximum of 4++). For maximum cheese, the Knight player can use the House Hawkshroud trait so that the Knight's wounds count as double for the purposes of the damage table. NOW have fun taking it down.
- Order of Companions: House Raven stratagem which makes your knight reroll every hit rolls, wound rolls, damage rolls, number of shots rolls of 1 in the shooting phase for 2 CP. The aforementioned Castellan with Cawl's Wrath relic (S8/9; AP-4; D2/3) make sure that not only your big boy is not going down easily, but he can just pop any vehicle without invul save or with negative hit modifier in a single turn of shooting using the overcharged profile. Or just point the Lance in the general direction and let it go. One of the reasons why 3 of the top 4 players in NOVA Open played what is basically the same stuff: AM battalion/brigade for CP and board control - BA battalion with Slamguinis and a lone Raven Castellan. After the 2nd big FAQ bomb, this had been nerfed to 3 CP. Some lists simply drop the Blood Angel Battalion to keep the CP and fuel the knight instead.
- In our darkest hours: House Taranis stratagem. On a 4+ your Knights get back up with D3 wounds remaining if it didn't explode. Your opponent thought they finally killed the raid boss, only for it to unleash hell next turn thanks to 'Machine Spirit Resurgent'. Fun times inbound.
- Death Grip: You and your opponent roll a d6 and each add your respective strengths, if your opponent rolls equal to or greater nothing happens otherwise they take d3 mortal wounds and YOU KEEP ROLLING UNTIL THEY DIE OR WIN. Given you're strength 8, this means you can effectively auto kill certain character's like Creed and Eldrad unless you roll a 1 and he rolls a 6. Not so obscene now that your opponent auto-escapes on a 6 but can still infuriate your opponent if he rolls badly.
- Sonic the Genestealer: As covered in the rules bloopers page, Genestealers can potentially reach a top speed of 66". Tyranids have a Stratagem called Metabolic Overdrive that lets a unit move a second time in the Movement Phase in exchange for not being able to Charge that turn. Hive Fleet Kraken Tyranids roll 3d6 and pick the highest roll for determining their Advance move, while their Opportunistic Advance Stratagem lets them double their Advance distance for that movement phase. The initial issue was that RaW, Advance added to your Move Characteristic for that phase, instead of increasing your characteristic for that specific move. Thus, a unit of Kraken Genestealers could move not 8 + 12 + 8 + 12 inches in the Move Phase, but 8 + 12 + 8 + 12 + 12. Combine with a Swarmlord's Hive Commander ability for an effective top speed of 66", and a unit of Kraken Genestealers could outrun a supersonic aircraft on foot. Gotta go fast!
Renegades and Heretics
Renegades and Heretics are probably one of (if not the) weakest armies in the game right now. They are significantly worse than Guard with nothing to make up for it, but at the start of the edition they did have access to one notably broken list, featuring the one, the only...
- The Malefic Lord! At the start of 8th, he was a mere 30 points. With no Rule of 3 or Smite casting value increases, you could take 12 of these, stuff them in a Valkyrie, run it across the board, drop them out, move them each of them closer and spam Smite. Didn't care too much about Perils, because if they survive, they become S8, A5, WS2+, and their Bare Hands becomes AP-1, D1. They got hit hard in the early FAQs and Chapter Approved. Became 80 points each, then the Rule of 3 limited how many you could take, then the Smite nerf happened. Can't quite be run to the same effect anymore
- Chaos Spaw-- Those things shared similar statlines here as they did with every other entry, except for BEAST being swapped with INFANTRY. Meaning, you could stack 12 of these in a Valkyrie (as one unit, mind) and well, you can guess the resTAUGHFUCKAWFIGJDSGDISWJ- *BLAM*
Obviously not much can be said yet, but we are monitoring the situation as things develop.
- Eradicators: New special sue marines who carry 24" melta rifles that can fire twice if they dont advance. They are infantry, so they can benefit from that keyword, and can get in the Primary Stu transports, and to add insult to injury are literally Fire Dragons but better, which rubs Eldar players the wrong way. Oh don't forget your captain and Lieutenant to buff your suicide shooty unit, just to make sure those hits come through.
- Salamanders: Your eradicators wound even knights and thunderhawks on at least 3's, reroll a single wound roll per unit shooting, and with a captain and lieutenant you're guaranteed to nuke just about everything in the game. Oh, and you ignore AP-1, just to tell Heavy Bolters where they can stick it.
- Scarab Swarms: Scarabs are pretty good on their own, but with spam and some buffs, get ready to have your last game with your opponent. Here's the recipe: Novokh +1 to charge and -1 AP, Blood Rites Stratagem for +1 Attack, Technomancer with Fail-Safe Overcharger Arkana for +1 Attack, and Spyders for Reanimation Protocols. Congratulations now one 9 unit of scarabs have 6 attacks, hitting on 4s, autowounding on 6s = 54 attacks on the charge. -1 AP.