Warhammer 40,000/Tactics/Weapons (9E)
This page is a guide to help people understand the weapon matchup between various units.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Factions
- 2.1 Imperium
- 2.2 Chaos
- 2.3 Eldar
- 2.4 Orkz
- 2.5 Tyranids
- 2.6 T'au
- 2.7 Necrons
- Cannon Fodder For Cannon Fodder: Wet tissure paper. Useful to occupy space and be cheap enough to let you spend enough points elsewhere. Usually it's not good to spam them, since they are so weak that even throwing waves of them at the enemy is not worth it. Examples of this are Grots, Nurglings, Spore Mines... (T1 and T2)
- GEU: Guardsmen Equivalent Unit. A lightly armoured infantry unit with weak attacks and little staying power on the board, but that can be spammed very easily. Examples of these are imperial guardsmen, admech skitarii, chaos cultists, Eldar rangers, tau fire warriors, Tyranid termagants... (S3 T3, W1, Sv between 6+ and 4+).
- MEU: Marine Equivalent Unit. A moderately armoured unit that has a decent amount of defense and power, and usually multiple wounds. It can't be spammed as easily as GEUs, but its improved staying power makes up for that. Examples of these are space marines, chaos space marines, ork nobs, tyranid genestealers... (S4 T4 1 or 2 wounds, Sv4+ to 3+)
- TEU: Terminator Equivalent Unit. A heavily armoured unit with increased defense and power, usually with either FNP or invulnerable saves. Considerably expensive, but much more difficult to take down. They are also slower due to all the armour. Examples of these are space marine terminators, chaos space marine terminators, or Crisis suits... (S4 T4 or 5, 2 or 3 wounds, Sv3+ to 2+)
- Character: Important individuals, usually an improved single model version of another Unit Archetype with increased stats, multiple attacks, and aura abilities. Usually make the backbone of the armies due to their abilities to buff or improve other units. Their greatest feat of durability comes from the "Lookout Sir!" rule that makes them un-targetable to most shooting weapons when near most other non-character units. A frequent target of deepstrikes or snipers.
- Bikes Motorized infantry that can move fast and are slightly tougher than their regular infantry equivalents. Good for taking ground from the beginning, but usually will need fire support to deal with most enemies. It's important to take into account that, even though these units are riding bikes, they don't count as vehicles, thus they can't be healed by units that can repair vehicles, but can be healed by medics.
- Light Vehicle: A lightly armoured vehicle, usually to accomplish a scouting or skirmish role. Its main strength will be speed and maybe a single big weapon, but otherwise will fall against anything that can deal with above average toughness and 3/4+ saves. If they can transport stuff, expect them to be quite limited in unit amount and transportable class. Examples of these are land speeders, imperial guard sentinels, admech walkers...
- Vehicle: Sturdier vehicles, much tougher and stronger than their lighter counterparts. Vehicles are very varied in their use and function, though we can probably distinguish between tanks, artillery, transports, and a mix between the three.
- Tanks: Combines a good mix of speed, firepower and toughness to deal with most units. Usually focused on either maximizing damage per shot or anti-spam. Usually around T7 and slightly above 10 wounds. Examples of these are the space marine predator, the Leman Russ Tank...
- Artillery: Sacrifices mobility and toughness for range and sheer firepower. Usually they are slow (or even static) vehicles that can shoot practically anything on the map, but they'll be fucked if something gets into melee range, especially deepstriking units.
- Transport: Sacrifice firepower in order to bring units to the frontlines. Mostly used to take slow or vulnerable units to close combat, since they would otherwise be wiped out before coming in contact with the enemy. Because of this, transports can only offer fire support and nothing else, baring some examples like the fucking drill. Examples of transports are the Rhino, the Chimera...
- Hybrids A mix between the previous three.
- Superheavies: Massive vehicles of war, incredibly tough and resilient, that can wreak havoc on anything they attack, but require a big point investment. They will usually be the vehicle that spearheads their army, so they will attract a lot of the enemy's firepower.
- Titanic: The ultimate step in war vehicles. More weapon platforms than proper vehicles, these things are ridiculously tough and powerful. Takes the concept of the superheavies to its ultimate conclusion, but there are more moderate versions of titanic units so as to not spend 2000p on a single model.
- Aircraft: Flyers with supersonic speed. It's important to take into account all units with the FLY keyword aren't aircraft, just like Bike units aren't Vehicles. Usually they'll need to move every turn following certain move restrictions, but in return regular units have a -1 to their BS against them.
Shooting Weapon Archetypes
- Lasgun/Autogun: S3 AP-0 D1. Cheapest and weakest Archetype. Their effectiveness only comes from being wielded by cheap spamable models, assuming it's not a support unit given one for the sake of having a weapon. Even then they're only ok against other GEU, and anything better only comes from buckets of dice rolling.
- Bolter: Steps up to S4 AP-0 D1. Better than a Lasgun but only sightly. A pure bolter gun rarely in the front of a player with many weapons being an improved variant with higher AP, firerate, or other special rules. Often a middle of the road weapon the wielders are usually not spammable bodies but are more likely to wound most infantry types and light vehicles.
- Heavy Bolter:Much better than a bolter, but it usually is a heavy weapon type, with all the drawbacks it has in comparison to rapid fire or assault, better at killing MEU and TEU then normal Bolters. S5 AP-1 D2
- Frag Grenade: d6 S4 AP-0 D1 Blast. Common Grenade and also is a longer range launcher variant. Takes out a bigger number of enemies.
- Krak Grenade:S6 AP-2 D1. Anti-tank and anti-heavy infantry grenade. Takes tough single enemies.
- Flamer: It has a very short range of 12" and relatively low strength, but it compensates it by automatically hitting the enemy. S4 AP0 D1. When in range, will deal a reliable number of wound rolls even if the unit had advanced, Overwatched, or is a vehicle in combat. Can dissuade GEQ, and less resilient MEQ from being near the given unit.
- Heavy Flamer: An improved flamer, a bit more range, strength and AP at the cost of making it heavy. S5 AP-1 D1
- Plasmagun: The classic plasma gun, great against armoured units, with two shooting modes. A safe mode and an overcharged mode that increases strength and damage but kills the user if it gets a roll of 1. Regular S7 AP-3 D1 can reliably take down 1 wound infantry if not more often overkill for the price. Overcharged S8 AP-3 D2 reliably kills MEQ and TEQ and inflicts moderate damage to vehicles.
- Plasma Cannon: Usually plasma mounted on vehicles or fixed platforms. Pretty much identical to the plasmaguns, but with more strength, base damage of 2 or more, and with the fails on overcharge making mortal wounds instead of automatic kills (imagine losing a full dreadnought because of a single roll of 1...). They often have blast and are multi shots, letting them take down a number of TEQ and below while dealing a significant chunk of damage to a vehicle on overcharge.
- Melta: The cheapest way to deal with heavy armour fast. Very low fire rates, but if it hits it can do D6 damage. For the most part it requires to get close enough to the enemy in question, so it's a very "high risk, high reward proposition", but at least it has some nifty abilities when close enough. Meltas are one of the more efficient ways of killing single models, preferably vehicles and monters but often more of a waste against most units as their excess killing damage doesn't transfer to other models.
- Autocannon: Big guns that have a lot of strength and damage output, but not that much AP.
- Lascannon: The big brother of the lasgun. A lot of AP and higher strength than the melta, but without the nifty abilities of the melta when up close. Preferably used to snipe vehicles over long distances.
Also, take into account that most of these archetypes have a pistol equivalent (laspistol, bolt pistol, hand flamer, erradicator pistol, plasma pistol...) and a version with a greater rate of fire(Multilasers, Storm Bolters, Hurricane Bolters, Multi-melta).
Melee Weapon Archetypes
- Weaponless: When you have no melee weapon, but still you need to go to melee. No AP and no special bonus, you better have MEQ strength or else you won't do anything anyway.
- Chainsword: The bare bones, but it gives you an extra attack. Good to deal with hordes but will falter against heavier objectives. Similar to chain axes, combat knives...
- The Astartes chainsword also gives you -1 AP, so that's a plus.
- Lightning Claws are similar, as they add +1 attack for each claw equiped, plus some wound re-rolls.
- Power Weapon: Special weaponry with increased stats. Usually great against most things due to the increased stats, but depending on what's buffed, it will best suited to different targets.
- Power Sword. +1S AP-3. Better against infantry, from TEQs and below, but it will faulter against units with more toughness.
- Power Axe. +2S AP-2. The best equilibrium. Good against tougher enemies and enemies with high toughness.
- Power Maul. +3S AP-1. You will wound great against tougher enemies, but then you may lack ap to get the wound in.
- Hammers and fists: Weapons that have a lot of stopping power, but they are so heavy that they will decrease your WS (-1 to hit rolls).
- Power Fist: x2S Ap-3 D2. Fuses the strengths of Power Sword and Maul into something that can reliably wound infantry(if not overkill) and reliably damage vehicles.
- Thunder Hammer: x2S Ap-2 D3.
- Stomp Weapons: When a model is big enough, sometimes its sheer size is enough to be a weapon in and of itself.
- Shields: Technically a weapon (a defensive weapon, but a weapon nonetheless), it offers no offensive capabilities, but it usually increases the unit's save and adds invulnerable saves. Great when you need to throw your unit against things that can hit back hard.
The rules of wounding will depend on the attacker's strength and the defender's toughness:
- Attacker's strength is half or less of the defender's toughness: Like trying to take down a tank with a wooden stick. You will rarely wound with this, as you need a 6+ to succeed. Only really feasible with massive spam.
- Attacker's strength is below the defender's toughness: A little bit better, but the chances are still against the attacker. You need a 5+ to succeed, which can still be done, just don't rely on it much.
- Attacker's strength is equal to the defender's toughness: A perfectly balanced match, the attacker needs a 4+ chance to wound, which is exacly 50%. The dice gods will decide your fate here. Frequent between marine fights, as the S4 bolters match T4 marines.
- Attacker's strength is above the defender's toughness: The attacker has the advantage here. The attacker needs a 3+ chance to wound, meaning you will reliably wound here.
- Attacker's strength is twice or more than the defender's toughness: When the difference in power is overwhelming, the attacker needs a 2+ chance to wound. Pretty much guaranteed to wound, but you always know there's the chance for 1s...
This doesn't take into account wound modifiers, like Special Issue Ammunition, Transhuman Physiology or other stuff that can add or substract to the wound roll.
- AP 0: No armour penetration abilities to speak of. Present in the most basic weapons of the game or in weaponless melee. It will allow pretty much any unit a good chance to survive unless they are 6/7+ save. Will only wound MEQ and higher with a lot of spam.
- AP -1: The most basic AP possible. Will dent the enemy's save enough to slightly increase your killing potential but still won't guarantee anything against MEQ or higher, and a bunch of special rules blocks it specifically to boot.
- AP -2: Now we're going somewhere. AP -2 will make a dent on MEQs, TEQs and Vehicles, giving you a good chance of wounding them. Will probably go through the save of most GEQs and definitively will blow up anything weaker than that.
- AP -3: Great armour penetration. This level of penetration, most frequent in plasma or power weapons, is usually enough to deal with most things since even 3+ saves will barely survive most attacks with this ap. From this point on, expect invulnerable saves to stop anything higher, because otherwise, this is enough to kill most units.
- AP -4: Melta and lascannon tier. This will go through 3+ saves with no problem. Most weapons with this kind of ap have a lot of damage output but will have very few attacks to compensate.
- AP -5: "Fuck my shit up" levels of damage. Extraordinarily rare levels of armour penetration, nothing without invulnerable saves can stop this level of raw power. Expect it on rare weapons, in heavily buffed weapons, or titan grade weapons.
- AP -6: The maximum level of AP logically allowed by the rules, straight up denying the enemy any armor save and forcing them to rely on invulnerable saves or forcing them to hope that the attacker flubs the wound rolls. Does anything even have this level of ap?
The damage a weapon can deal is usually tied to its fire rate. If a gun can only shoot a couple of times, expect bigger damage outputs, and viceversa. This doesn't apply to melee weapons, since their rate of attacks comes from the model's rules, and not the weapon's rules. You can have a captain with 4-5 attacks with no melee weapon, or you can have it with a heavy thunder hammer or a relic blade. The damage output of the latter will obviously be superior to the former. But in general we can find these kinds of damage:
- Plain damage: The attack does a fixed amount of damage. The most common and most reliable kind of damage.
- Damage 1. The most frequent kind of damage by far. Will kill light units well enough but it will need a lot of attacks to deal with multiple wound models.
- Damage 2. In general the most reasonable damage output for most occasions, able to kill MEQ models in one shot and it will hurt bikes, characters and light vehicles, but it will still take a long time to put down heavier vehicles. Still, it's possible to spam weapons with damage 2 easy enough through plasmas or heavy melee weapons.
- Damage 3. It will go through TEQs like butter, and will take down characters and light vehicles in a couple of hits. Even heavier vehicles will struggle to stop many of this. Rare outside of heavy or relic weapons. It will start to show diminishing returns on lighter units, since most of that damage output will be lost.
- Damage 4 and above. Designed to put down vehicles and heavy units fast. Against anything else it will be overkill.
- Dice based: The attack does a variable amount of damage. Their damage output will depend on the results of the dice.
- D3. The damage output will be between 1 and 3 depending on the result. Good to deal with stuff like MEQs and TEQs, but not reliable enough against vehicles that will shrug off the lower results.
- D6. The damage output will be between 1 and 6 depending on the result. Present in weapons like meltas, which can be cheap ways to deal with armour, but there's always the risk you get only 1 or 2 damage from the shot.
- Dice based with minimum damage: Some weapons will allow you to thow a dice for the damage output, but with a minimum damage established. For example the Neutron Laser does D6 damage, but it will always do at least 3 wounds. This means results from 1 to 3 will do 3 damage anyway, and higher results will do their appropriate damage.
- Dice based + plain damage: A plain damage plus the result of a dice. Remember that d3+3 is better than d6 (avg. 5 vs 3.5).
- Mortal Wounds: Mortal wounds are special wounds which ignore saving throws altogether. Unless you have some special ability (like FNP) that allows you to stop mortal wounds, it will damage the unit.
The Emperor's Space Marines are a jack of all trades army, since they have BY FAR the biggest amount of unit choice in the game. Seriously, you could add together the units from the three smallest armies in the game and marines would still have more stuff altogether. As such, variety is the name of the game with them. However, their standard units will be the regular/primaris marines, T4 S3+ W2. They are the outliner for the MEQ stats, and as such, every army will have dozens of ways to prepare against them in one way or another, and the same for the marine terminators and the TEQs (T5 S2+/5++ W3). They can always use cheaper and weaker units by using scouts (less viable in 9th since they are Elites for some reason), sevitors (hah!) or allying with other imperial factions. Thus, you won't have to deal with hordes against them, though their regular infantry is strong enough to get entire lists made out of them and still pose a threat. Plasma weaponry is usually recommended against them, alongside anything that makes D2 damage.
In the offensive, their standard weapons are mostly bolter based, with either the bolter (Rapid Fire 1, S4 AP0 D1) or the bolt rifle (Rapid Fire 1, S4 AP-1 D1) being the most common out there. Outside of that, fuck, they have access to so much. Just look at their tactics page for that.
It's also important to take into account the SM's variety doesn't just come from their units, but also from the amount of chapters and their abilities, some with their own codexes and unique units. Some of the most frequently used chapters are:
- Ultramarines: The boys in blue are the posterboys of the faction, and are the essential jack of all trades on an army that's already a jack of all trades. They can work on any possible strategy, but they will never excell at it. Also they can use Guilliman, so take into account all the buffs the Primarch gives them.
- Blood Angels: The sons of Sanguinius, they are one of the most powerful melee armies in the game as of right now. Expect to suffer charges with melee-centric marine units like vanguard veterans, assault intercessors and their fucking dreadnoughts. You counter them by either shooting at them from afar (something very difficult now that secondary objectives are so important) or by having tough as nails units that survive and fight back.
- Space Wolves: They are also a melee centric faction, similar to the above, but with a couple of exclusive units to worry about.
- Dark Angels: They have very scary gunlines since they have a lot of bonuses while static, not to mention a lot of cool option with terminators and bikes.
- White Scars: Use and abuse of bikers and fast moving units like vanguard veterans. They will have a lot of mobility and will take ground fast.
- Deathwatch: La crème de la crème from the Adeptus Astartes, chosen from all chapters to fight the aliens. Highly customizable veterans and kill team formation means they will have a lot of strength and defense (storm shield spam is frequent), thus will make for very tough infantry that can be combined with terminators and other units to create special effects. This comes at the cost of being slightly more expensive than regular marines.
- Grey Knights: Daemon killers extraordinaire, they are specialized in the fight against Chaos. Also, most of their units are psykers in one way or another, so they'll have a lot of buffs and access to easy mortal wounds. Storm Bolters and multi-damage Power Weapons are very common. Great against smaller, more elite armies, but very weak against hordes that can easily take mortal wounds and keep going.
|Unit||Good for||Countered with|
|Tactical Marine/Intercessor||flexible all-rounded units, hard to take down||high volume shooting, multi-wound attacks|
|Space Marine Terminators||powerful melee/shooting, deep strike, very hard to take down||high volume shooting, multi-wound attacks, mortal wounds, charge nullifiers|
|Vanguard Marines||High movement, powerful melee, deep strike||multi-wound shooting, mortal wounds, charge nullifiers|
|Space Marine Bikes||High movement, high-rate of fire||multi-wound attacks|
|Space Marine Dreadnought||powerful melee/shooting, very hard to take down, distraction carnifex||multi-wound attacks, horde charges, mortal wounds|
Sisters of Battle
SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES. The Bolter Babes are here to give glory to the Emperor and destroy the abominations of the heretic, the alien and the mutant. The Sisters are a halfway house between the Marines and the Imperial Guard - Bolter-equivalent guns are standard, hit like trucks in close combat with the right buffs, decent armour saves and widespread access to invul saves of at least 6++, sometimes up to 4++. Now, having the benefits of both armies means you also have the weaknesses of being basic humans (T3) and fewer numbers than most other armies (like Marines). Unlike Marines however you lack Bolter Discipline so you'll actually put out fewer shots than the Astartes most of the time. They also lack sources for mortal wounds. Really, shooting is there to help your ladies out, but it's not your main killing power.
|Units||Good for||Countered with|
|Battle Sister Squad||Taking and holding objectives and supporting other squads||High volume shooting, mortal wounds|
|Celestian Squad||Flexible all-rounder squad, decent in melee or range||High volume melee, mortal wounds|
|Repentia Squad||Vicious close combat infantry, high volume of melee attacks, 5++ FNP negates mortal wounds||High volume shooting, blast weapons|
|Immolator||Transport armed with flamers. Frequent with repentia squads or retributor squads for an up close one-two punch, good at moving units and offering close support||Anti-vehicle units, multi-wound attacks|
|Exorcist||Main artillery of the Sisters of Battle, with a level of firepower capable of one-shot small titans, great against heavy units and vehicles||Anti-vehicle units, multi-wound attacks|
THE WALL OF GUNS. The hammer of the Imperium. The Astra Militarum. The IG is the regular army compared to the ultra-elite marines. They are the posterboy for GEQs, with the regular guardsmen having T3 5+ W1. Easy to take off the map, but easily spammable, you could also take a big variety of infantry choices, from even more spammable units (conscripts), more elite units (stormtroopers) or very specialized units (ogryns for melee). Also, no IG list will be complete without tanks. The IG uses all kinds of tanks to compensate for the lack of firepower of their infantry, and since most of their units are quite cheap, they'll be able to have a ton of them in a single list. They can also abuse artillery to high degrees of success.
They are a very adaptable army, but usually can be dealt with by using units that can get up close and personal against them to deny the lasgun abuse and take advantage of their poor defenses, or with a lot of anti-horde firepower. Their tanks alone can't really hold objectives, and while they can shoot in melee now, keeping them bogged down in there against units that can take the losses (ork boys, genestealers, chaos cultists...) is a good way to suppress their firepower.
|Unit||Good for||Countered with|
|Imperial Guardsmen||flexible all-rounded units, high number of models, high rate of fire, good table control||high volume shooting, melee attacks, morale modifiers|
|Conscript||very high number of models, very high rate of fire, great table control||high volume shooting, melee attacks, morale modifiers|
|Ogryn||powerful melee, hard to take down||multi-wound shooting, mortal wounds, charge nullifiers|
|Tempestus Scion/Kasrkin||flexible all-rounded units||high volume shooting, high volume melee attacks|
|Leman Russ Battle Tank||cheap tank, heavy shooting, flexible loadout||multi-wound attacks, horde charges, mortal wounds|
|Basilisk Artillery Gun||long range, powerful shooting, blast||attacks in close range, horde charges, deep strike|
The machine worshipers are quite a flexible army, especially since 9th edition gave them the units they required to increase their mobility, something they lacked in previous editions. The Mechanicus are a very balanced army, but with a tendency to be very relient on powerful gunlines that combine both high volume shooting and heavier guns with high damage output per shot. The fact many admech characters have an invulnerable save and can heal vehicles and other units is great to increase their staying power, and the addition of fast and cheap units can make very competitive lists. The drawback of all this is the fact their units are very specialized: they are either slow heavy units with powerful and long shooting or fast light units that won't be able to resist melee. Focusing on shooting will make admech lists become static within their deployment zone, and more dinamic lists can be quite badly mauled if pittied against hard-hitting melee or defensive lists. Combining this two styles can be a problem, but the admech has enough unit variery to make up for that.
|Unit||Good for||Countered with|
|Skitarii Rangers/Vanguards||cheap GEQ with decent rate of fire, access to the transuranic arquebus||high volume shooting, melee attacks, morale modifiers|
|Kataphron Battle Servitors||heavy infantry with high rate of fire, great plasma spam, multiple wounds||high volume shooting, multi-wound attacks, melee attacks, morale modifiers|
|Fulgurite Electropriests||very good combination of invulnerable save and FNP, can convert its attacks into mortal wounds||range attacks, high volume shooting, morale modifiers|
|Skitarii Seberys||fast cavalry||multi-wound shooting, mortal wounds, charge nullifiers|
|Sydonian Dragoons||melee walkers, difficult to shoot at||high volume shooting, multi-wound shooting|
|Castellan Robots||incredible rate of fire, invulnerable saves against ranged attacks||multi-wound attacks, deep strike melee,|
|Skorpious Disintegrator||fast moving artillery, access to a lot of firepower||attacks in close range, horde charges, multi-wound shooting|
The Imperium's big walkers (or the smaller version of titans dependind of your point or view) will usually have a very small army model-wise, but oh boy what models. They are all heavy vehicles with 10+ wounds, 2/3+ saves with different degrees of invulnerable saves, T7+ or higher, and a lot of customizable firepower (both ranged and in melee, their units are so big that even shooty units will be really strong in mele). Also due to their small body count most of them will have the "objective secured" rule, otherwise they would be pointless capturing objecties.
Their strength is obvious, being able to fight almost everything and come out on top, and being resilient enough to resist the entire match without dying, even if the enemy focuses fire on one. However, that's also their biggest weakness: their smaller body count means that they will be outmanouvered by pretty much every faction (even Custodes will have more bodies than a purely Knight list), so they need to either tread lightly or get some allies. Also, due to ther insane point costs, the enemy could dedicate a couple of their heavy hitter units and kamikaze them against the knights and still be cost-effective. The loss of a big knight can cost the game.
Custodes and Sisters of Silence
The God Emperor's caretakers are the most elite army in the game, for better or worse. All of their infantry is between TEQ or higher (T5 2+/5++ 3W as the bare fucking minimum), which means you'll need massive amounts of spam or a lot of stopping power to deal with them. However, this means they will be a relatively small army, since everything they have is incredibly expensive, and they are not particularly fast either (thus golden bike spam is their most common strategy). Also, their ranged fire power is not that impressive, at least not compared to their melee prowess. This is a melee army, so expect to fight them up close and personal.
As for the Sisters of Silence, they make up in one of two areas two Custodes badly lack: Psychic defenses (the other being "cheap" manpower).
Imperial Minor Factions
- Officio Assassinorum: The most popular of the minor factions, the assassinorum has access to only four character units thus far, but oh what units they are.
- Vindicare: The most popular by far. A long range sniper that can pretty much take down a character per turn, due to its high accuracy, strong weaponry and its ability to nullify invulnerable saves.
- Astra Telephatica
Chaos Space Marines
Toontown-meets-Metalhead's Nightmare, Chaos Daemons are both the beating heart of the GrimDark universe, as well as one of the harder armies to play well. Daemons were only available as summoned units for Chaos Space Marines during the first three editions of the game. However, they became a fullk-fledged, stand-alone army in mid- to late 4th Edition. As with every other GW army, Daemons consist of different sub-factions within the main Codex, each with its own play style and tactics (in order to stimulate the purchase of more models). However, Chaos Daemons take this factionalism to an extreme, having essentially four fundamentally different armies, each dedicated to its patron Chaos God. The commonality is an army-wide invulnerable save, and the ability to summon reinforcements in the psychic phase instead of moving.
Renegades and Heretics
The "good" elves. Eldar have a lot of potent firepower, and even the humble Shuriken catapult can threaten MEQs, basically a Bolter that shreds armour with AP-3 on 6+, though with reduced range. One thing of note is the sheer specialisation of the army's Aspect Warriors: unlike Space Marines or Imperial Guard squads who might have a grabbag of weapons, every model of an Aspect Warrior squad barring maybe the Exarch has the same gun, which can be a blessing or a curse; for example Fire Dragons are all armed with a meltagun, which means they will likely be shot to pieces by anything outside their pitiful 6" range and cut to pieces in melee combat, however any tank or armoured baddie that gets within that range is dead meat; conversely Swooping Hawks get a lasgun-type that puts out an impressive 4 shots, so a fusilade of 20-40 S3 shots will mow down squads of GEQ with contemptable ease but against MEQ or tougher, you just have a harmless laser light show. This is an army where you really need to do your research and figure out what each unit is capable (or incapable) of, whether you are playing with them or against them.
Generally speaking, their ranged options are shorter range than their Imperial counterparts, which means the units often have to expose themselves to charges and rapid fire range - seeing as most Eldar units are GEQ (T3, 5+), this is very bad news. The exception being the Wraith units which are basically magitek golems boasting some really nice statlines (T6, 3+, 3W), requiring a lot of firepower to take down.
|Unit||Good for||Countered with|
|Guardian Defenders||Large numbers, limited utility on offense, good for screening and holding objectives||High volume shooting, blast weapons, melee attacks|
|Dire Avengers||Flexible all-rounder infantry, decent against GEQ and MEQ, passable in melee||High volume shooting and blast weapons|
|Howling Banshees||Very fast, armour-piercing melee attacks with power swords, effective against GEQ and okay against MEQ||High volume shooting, high wound/high toughness models|
|Vyper||Heavy attack bike, mobile and resilient by Aeldari standards, strong heavy weapon options||High strength anti-armour shooting, mortal wounds|
|Dark Reapers||Long-range, all-purpose firepower, effective against MEQ, TEQ and vehicles alike especially multi-wound models, great for holding objectives and chokepoints in the back||Horde charges, melee attacks|
The bad elves. Like the Asuryani, the Drukhari consist of mostly GEQ-type units. Even the humble lasgun can threaten Drukhari vehicles, and bolters will smear these evil elves across the landscape, to say nothing of even more high-power weaponry. They rely on cover, positioning and magic shields and the like to avoid being hit in the first place, rather than heavy armour. Fortunately, everything in the Drukhari army flies or skims or at least can be shoved into something that does, so mobility is not an issue.
Drukhari firepower is also every bit as impressive as their good cousins. The basic gun is the splinter rifle, which has no strength stat and instead wounds all non-vehicle targets on 4+ irrespective of the target's toughness. This makes them hilarious against Necrons, Asuryani Wraith troops and tougher Tyranids, and means troops in rapid fire will pile on wounds very, very fast even though the enemies will still likely get to make their full armour save. Remember another thing about Drukhari Heavy weapons is that they count as Assault if mounted on vehicles, allowing them to move fast and hit hard without compromising accuracy (and like all Aeldari they are pretty good shots to boot).
Various melee weapons and Combat Drugs allow these skinny elves to hit a lot harder in close combat than their across-the-board S3 stats would suggest, and they will often be packing anti-tank firepower like Blasters (one of the best anti-vehicle guns in the entire game for the points cost), Dark Lances and Heat Lances up the wazoo. A common fan adage goes that if Drukhari turn up to a table, somebody is going to be curbstomped, it's just a question of who. Handle with care.
|Unit||Good for||Countered with|
|Kabalite Warriors||Very strong anti-infantry or anti-armour firepower from a small squad, great harasser, decent board control||High volume shooting, horde charges, high volume melee attacks|
|Raider||Very fast and decently-armed troop transport, protects fragile squads while allowing them to shoot out||Mid-strength shooting, high-strength melee attack|
|Wyches||Very fast close combat infantry, excel at tying up enemy squads with 4++ invul in melee||High volume shooting, blast weapons, overwatch|
|Grotesques||Very dangerous and durable heavy assault infantry, very good against MEQ and GEQ||High-strength shooting, D3 or D6 damage attacks, mortal wounds|
|Reavers||Very fast and decently tough, superb tarpit unit, good source of mortal wounds||Medium strength D2 shooting|
The ugly elves. No actually, forget the reference. If you ever play against a Harlequins player, make sure to shake their hand before the game, for you are up against a gentleman and a connoisseur! Second, you need to know about these guys is that you DO NOT want to tangle with them in close combat. Their basic troops can have 4 attacks in melee - the super-elite Custodes have three, and most troops in other armies might only have one or two, leaving four attacks to be the domain of special characters geared for melee combat. And it isn't just weight of attacks either, the clowns get a good choice of armour-piercing melee weapons and powerful close-range shooting. And to top it all off, these clowns are every bit as mobile as their brethren but also ignore intervening terrain on the charge and vault over your screening troops. Clowns may be a common phobia, but is it a phobia if the fear is rational?
It's a good thing then, that these jokers are as delicate as they are pretty. Even with widespread 4++, the name of the game is T3 and 6+ armour saves (the Shadowseer even gets a 7+, which is just a pisstake), so any kind of concentrated anti-infantry fire or counter-punches will splatter them even easier than Guardsmen. They also have few options for retaliating against long-range fire - seriously, a handful of Shuriken Cannons is the best they can do.
Generally speaking, any kind of high-volume anti-GEQ shooting will threaten most Harlequin units, as will mortal wounds. The few exceptions are their vehicles, like the Voidweaver (a clowny version of the Asuyrani Fire Prism tank), which require something a bit stronger. The trick is just getting clear shots as the dodgy bastards.
The big green boyz. Unless you run a very spammy Guard or Tyranid list, Orks will often have you greatly outnumbered; this is an army where you can easily have upwards of 100 models just from troops. Orks are usually S4 and T4, though generally only the truly big ladz have multiple Wounds. Melee with Orks stings like a motherfucker and this is the bread and butter of most Ork lists. The Ork armoury features ramshackle equivalents of nearly every Imperial melee weapon choice, and practically every unit can take the basic Choppa (the classic extra attack weapon, a welcome thing considering most Orks get three attacks in melee).
However you must also not underestimate a green gunline as they will drown you in lead despite the crummy accuracy of the individual shooters. The vast majority of Ork guns are Assault weapons, meaning they can Advance and still shoot at a -1 penalty to-hit, and some don't even have that penalty. However they tend to lack reliable long-range anti-vehicle firepower; there is very little that hits anything past 36", and high AP guns tend to be stuck on a few key units that are also prohibitively overpriced for what you get.
Another thing to be mindful of is the lack of armour on most Ork units. Boyz have only a 6+ save, compared to the 5+ Guardsmen get. Despite being T4, concentrated fire will mow the ladz down in short order. Blast weapons especially make Orks suffer in 9E, becoming lethally effective against large squads, but the sad truth is many Ork units simply need to be taken in big squads just to be worth it.
On a more aesthetic note, Orks are an army of looters so you have a lot of options for modelling weapons on your units. You can have Boys brandishing Space Marine chainswords, ornate Aeldari blades, and the severed arms and legs of T'au Fire Warriors, and they all equally make as much sense.
Tyranids are a very mobile army and like to stay in your face with shorter-ranged assault weapons. Many of their melee weapons rely on the base strength(your high strength attacks come from monsters) of the user and many have high AP and/or reroll wound rolls.
KNOW YOUR BUGS:
- Gaunts are GEQs, come in units of 10-30, and carry Fleshborers (Assault 1 Bolt Pistols).
- Termagants can mix in Devourers (the 18" Assault 3 version).
- Warriors are MEQs, come in units of 3-9, and carry Deathspitters, which are single-damage Heavy Bolters.
- Can also carry Venom Cannons (Assault d3 Krak Missiles), or Barbed Stranglers, a carbon copy of the Valkyrie's Rocket Pods.
- Hive Tyrants and Carnifexen are essentially light vehicles, and when kitted for shooting will usually carry either two pairs of Devourers with Brainleech Worms, which are twin-linked Multi-Lasers, or one pair and a Heavy Venom Cannon (think AP-2 Lascannon).
- Can rarely be seen carrying Deathspitters with Slimer Maggots or Stranglethorn Cannons, both higher-volume Autocannon equivalents.
Of Special Note: Any semi-serious list will include at least one Exocrine and a unit of 6 Hive Guard, for good reason: these are the threats! You will see them in a Kronos detachment for the reroll 1s to hit when stationary, and under the effect of the Symbiostorm power for generating additional hits on 6+. Each shooting phase will likely see your opponent popping the double-shooting strat on the Hive Guard.
- Hive Guard use Impaler Cannons (Krak Missiles on crack), but most importantly don't require LoS; you'll likely never get a wound on them if using proper terrain, so stay out of 36" range or just take the pain and target something else.
- Exocrines have native double-shoot and +1 to hit when standing still, with a 6-shot Plasma Gun, so try to take them out T1 if you love your multi-wound models.
|Unit||Good for||Countered with|
|Gaunts||numbers, taking terrain, horde pressure, blocking units in melee||high volume melee attacks, high-volume shooting, blast weapons|
|Genestealers||lots of CC attacks, rending, distraction carnifex||heroic intervention, fight-first abilities, shooting|
|Warriors||often ignore AP-1 and AP-2||multi-damage shooting, blast weapons|
|Zoanthropes||3+ invuln, being damage sponges||weight of fire|
|Biovores||move blocking, being annoying||multi-damage shooting|
|Exocrines||spamming plasma||alpha strike, concentrated fire|
|Carnifex||high damage melee, distraction carnifex||concentrated fire, multi-wound attacks|
The new Codex and changes to 9E means that T'au are effectively Imperial Guard (S3 T3 1W 1A WS5+ BS4+) with Aeldari-tier ranged weapons. There is a lot of S5 AP0 shooting available which means you can easily deal with MEQ and T8 tanks and monsters, and heavier weapons like Destroyer missiles and Rail weapons are a potent source of mortal wounds. What does this mean? It means combined with overwatch changes and markerlights, charging a T'au gunline is tantamount to suicide and the T'au player can easily focus down your big units in no time at all. Not all hope is lost however, as T'au have many key weaknesses: their army-wide BS4+ means without markerlight support they shoot like Guardsmen as well (that is, not brilliantly), and their absolutely pitiful close combat performance means mobility and shutting down anything before it gets close is paramount (seriously you WILL die against anything remotely optimised for close combat if it gets there). And anybody bringing psykers is going to have a field day as apart from a single Enclaves-exclusive relic, T'au have literally nothing that can counter that shit. Overall T'au are kind of a one-trick pony, but they get by because they do that one trick really, really well.
Generally, what works against T'au is close combat. Drown the blue bastards in bodies and melee attacks. If you run Imperial Guard then fighting T'au is one of the few instances where affixing bayonets is actually a good idea. Hug terrain like its your grandmother and take any modifiers that protect your troops you can; the days of -4 to shooting are over, but -1 to-hit on units with BS4+ is nothing to write off. If you can force the T'au to burn through CP then that is also good as they are highly dependent on it. As nearly everything in the T'au army has the FLY keyword and is vulnerable to it, AA is always a good idea. And remember, the T'au's chances of killing anything in melee is always low but never zero!
You cannot defeat them. They are legion.
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