List Building: Competitive Jump Packs?

My Nova list is a win big or lose big list with some major strengths and some equally major weaknesses.  There are some opponents that I will gobble up like a hand full of Jelly Bellies, and others that I don't have a prayer against.

Now, I don't intend on changing up my list this year.  My list as it is now will be the list I play at BFS and with the subtraction of one of my characters, Mechanicon.  That will bring me into January and The Conflict GT. So my army is what it is.  It looks great and will have me competing for top painting honors. But struggling with mediocrity on the tables.

I'm going to stick it out. So, before I can try to figure out how to win with it, I need to figure out why I lose with it.

Lets break down my list. And understand, I created this army for the look good factor, not to win tournaments, so I won't be changing it any time soon. It is definitely not optimized, very HQ heavy, and vulnerable to dakka. I accept it. But I think I can get more out of them.

The Sanguinor

10 man RAS with jump packs
PW, Melta Melta

10 man RAS with jump packs
PW, Flamer, Melta

5 man Close Combat scouts
PF, Combi Melta

5 man Snipers

3x Priests
2x Jump PW
1 naked

5x terminators
4x claws
1x hammer
Land raider Crusader
multi melta
extra armor

Elite Chaplain

My list plays pretty straight forward. Roll up my land raider, use it to gather behind with all of my assault marines, then jump out in one single burst and cut down any thing in sight.  Fun!  But competitive? Not against an army that has the tools/know how to avoid it... which is most dudes I face in tournaments.

Problem one:
The Sanguinor and Mephiston in the same army.

I love both models. My Mephiston is a cool conversion. The character is a terrible beast on the table. The name Mephiston strikes fear and sometimes annoyance in the hearts of all comers.  But he costs 250 points.  Alone he is a point sink. But add to that The Sanguinor, and yah, I am competitively shooting myself in the foot before I even start playing.

At 525 points, they are probably one of the most expensive HQ duos in the game.  Top five? I know there are some pricey characters out there and this is an interesting topic. But not too important here. The problem is that both are assault monsters and as such have to be in assault to be useful.  Which means that in some games, particularly the ones that don't go the full time due to slow playing etc, they will only get in 2 or 3 rounds of assault.  Provided that they live, they will only kill 10 to 15 models each.  It could be more, can definitely be less.  Granted, those will be some of the badest models on the other side of the table, but the point is that over a quarter of my army is tied up in two flashy models bouncing around the table ganking a couple squads.

They are VERY fun to play, and look great. But require the perfect storm of assaults to be useful. Throw in psy defense, Rune Priests, Eldar BS, tyranid nastiness etc, and Meph gets shut down, reducing him to merely super human.

So, my HQ choices, made because of fun models that look great at the cost of a balanced list are issue number one with my list.

Options? Drop them both of course.  I don't need them.  I won Mechanicon with just a Librarian in my list.  That would free up 425 points!  Dropping the two characters and playing a Libby in my land raider, and adding say, 3 auto las preds back in... now we are talking.  I pick up lots of long range, and don't really lose all that much. I can give the Lib the same powers as Meph so he can still wreck face.  But now can reach out and touch some one again.

So I figured out why they are weak, and a great alternative. But can we come up with reasons to keep them? Plus I already said I was not changing my list for this GT season, ending probably in Jan.

Well, how bout battle field control?  In a couple of games, I plopped Meph behind LoS blocking terrain in the center of the table.  His mere presence there kept my opponents at bay.  There is something to be said about having a high probability of your opponent lining his stuff up on the edge and completely avoiding the middle.

Now how do I exploit this?  Lets start with one constant. I need my opponent clustered for maximum carnage. I can use Meph to help make this happen.

In Dawn of War for example, by placing him behind LOS blocking terrain, in the middle, but off to the left so that he can reach all of those board edges, my opponent will likely place his stuff in the right corner when it comes on.  Of course this depends on my opponent doing what I want and I would be a fool to think this would always happen.  But it has been my experience, that in most games, this would happen reliably. Most players would simply bring his stuff onto the table OUT of Mephiston's assault range.

When/if that happens, I will hopefully have every thing clustered for my boys to pounce on.

But what if that does not happen?  What if he thumbs his nose at Mephiston and sends his stuff right into his range.  Do I jump right in and punish him?  Perhaps.  Most of the time the answer is no.  I sit on Mephiston and wait. An unsupported Mephiston is a dead one.  But there are times when I send him.  For example, Mephiston, while costly and taking up a huge portion of my army, is not vital to my army.  Losing him does not really hurt my chances of sweeping through my opponent's ranks.  So if my opponent does come onto the table in Mephiston's assault range, I quickly analyze what is at stake.  Sometimes there will be a model that needs to die that is much more important to his army than Meph is to mine.  Space Wolf Rune Priests and Logan for example. Who is that guy that grants all special rules to SW? Yah that is a juicy target. So on.

In those cases I will send in Meph. Even if I fail to kill the character, he has a good chance of surviving the round in close combat and I may get swipes next turn. The best part is that he is a single base unit, on a small infantry base. That means that he will usually be able to run through little spaces and assault stuff in the back ranks if screeners are being used. It is easy to get him into base to base.  Also, it is hard for guys to pile on squads.

If Meph charges a large squad, but fails to kill it all, the survivors must pile in and surround him, meaning they have to get base to base if they can and must move up to 6" to do so.  I believe it only takes 5 models to completely surround him. This is important because you don't want more squads to assault him on your opponents turn.

This also makes a difference if Meph is open on the table and getting charged.  I had a guy try to assault him with three squads of Grey Knights.  He wisely tried to use difficult terrain to slow down his guys and disable them from completely surrounding him thus leaving a portion of his base open for more squads, but I had to put a stop to it at two.  Trying to get a third squad in base contact with Meph simply was not, and should never be, possible.  When you move assaulting squads, you start with the first squad, and move the closest to closest model, then move in all the rest of that squad, then go to the next squad. Opponent's cannot for example, move the closest model from three different squads, then try to squeeze in the rest of the models.

Wise selection of targets with these uber HQs is also important.  Mephiston is my most reliable tank killer for example, and has a 24" threat range on the assault. He loves dreadnoughts, and clustered IG vehicles.  He is great at running down Vendettas. (I know he needs a 6 to hit them. He will usually get at least one STR 10 shot on them...)  I will take that gamble.  Clustered tanks are sweet because if they don't explode they limit the amount of return fire by blocking LoS.  Once I get him into a mass of IG armor, it is pretty much a guaranteed 3 or 4 tank kills, even without his psy powers, and definitely a disruption to his plans.

As for Sanguinor, I will always keep him near my assault squads.  He provides the high initiative punch that they need.

Time to wrap this one up.  Next time I will talk about my troops.  Battle for Salvation in just a few days!



Neil Gilstrap said...


Can't remember exactly the wording, but might be worth a look. Does Unleash allow you to reroll or grant preferred? If it allows a reroll, you might be able to reroll successes too. Sounds dumb but not if you want Mephy to get stuck in for a turn.

mathhammer said...

I'm sorry to tell you this but Mephiston doesn't strike fear into any tournament player. I love seeing him on the table because I know he is a huge point sink that a cannonade of missile launchers cut through his save.

also it's 6 models in bases to base

And you can get up to 6 squads in to base to base if you move them correctly. (Tyranid players practiced this in 3rd)

Reid said...

I think you should continue to include both and win painting awards.

Jawaballs said...

Meph reroll is preferred enemy which says no vehicles.

And Mathhammer, I was speaking more... you know... colorful. But please, keep on shooting those missiles at Mephiston. Especially if I were to be playing Razorbacks. (I'm not in this list but I would love it if I were and you fired all your missiles at Meph.) He gets a save, AND a FNP against them. By all means. Fire away.

Thanks for clarifying the base to base model count. I knew it was 5 or 6. But I have to say that while it may be possible, it would be a work of genius to get 6 squads into b2b with Meph. It would take 2 hours to move every model perfectly, and I would be lording over your movement with a laser caliper.

First of all, it would mean that you placed all of your models so that the closest model in each squad was at least 5" away and the rest of his squad at the limit of their coherency. Mind you, you are not allowed to pre-measure range. So I won't allow you to check just how far from Meph you are. Make sure your ICs are far away. Etc. You get the point.

In this case, you better hope that not a single model is in difficult terrain, or that you roll well, and hope that as you move them they don't block the other squads movement, forcing them to move around. No need to go on. I relent that it is possible.

Possible, but not likely to happen in game and less likely if they are on foot having to move over, through and around terrain and other models. But also, once again, if you are using 6 squads to assault Mephiston instead of the rest of my army, that is a win for me.

While trying to pile on 6 squads may be more out of respect than fear, (for those of you who don't fear Mephiston) it certainly reinforces my point about Mephiston forcing battlefield control. He is a 250 point sink, but he is there, and you have to deal with him, or he will deal with you. As opposed to other huge point sink characters like Calgar who can be completely ignored.

Jawaballs said...

I am curious though. Maybe you can hammer out the math on this. How many missile shots does it take to kill Mephiston with NFP as per probability? Assuming of course that every missile on the table can both reach and see him.

Michael Hogan said...

Well, let's see if I can do some quick mathhammering.
Mephiston has 5 Wounds, with a 2+ Save and Feel No Pain. That means, upon taking a Wound, he has a 1/6 chance of failing the save and a 1/2 chance to make a Feel No Pain, meaning he has a 1/12 chance of failing any save he takes. That means if it takes 12 wounds to fail one wound, it would be 60 wounds to get all 5, right?

What is the chance a Missile will wound Mephiston?

Well, hitting on a 3+ (2/3 chance to hit) wounding on a 2+ (5/6 to wound with a hit) means one missile will cause a wound 10/18ths of the time, or 5/9 chance. In order to cause 60 wounds with that, it would take... 108 shots, according to what I just calculated.

I feel like my "rule of averages" there might be off. Can anyone confirm that?

But yeah, looks like 108.

Fritz said...

Mike needs to be out new numbers man in the war cave when we are building out our lists....

Michael Hogan said...

Haha. If you recall, you said something along the same lines of that with rules when you were doing some of the JawaFritz ustream casts of games.

Not gonna lie, I miss those.

Mike Brandt; mvbrandt@gmail said...

I think that fella thought Mephiston has only a 3+ save and no FNP ... so I guess he's not much of a tournament player.

Meph is not hard to gank when he gets close, if you have a ton of melta or whatever ... but it can be real tricky if he hits around the same time as a couple dozen assault marines, sanguinor, and a land raider full of terminator loving.

I'm just sorry someone had to spend the time on mathhammering a response to a newb comment.

Jawaballs said...

I think the actual math is cool. Add to the discussion that I am a master at hiding Mephiston, as Fritz and many of my opponents will attest, and it is not likely that missile fire will take him down before he goes all emo vamp on your face.

Michael Hogan said...

Well, it honestly didn't take much time at all to just do that real quick (took more time to check Mephiston's wounds, heh). It's kind of interesting. 108 shots? I mean, I know he's tough, but that's just a scary number. I'm not going to even think of the number of bolter shots you need!

Of course, the math assumes that you roll each die equally, not 4 ones for every other dice number.

Jawaballs said...

Bottom line, Missile Launchers are not the answer for Mephiston. :)

Michael Hogan said...

Anyway, you talked a lot about Mephiston in this. What about Sanguinor? Is he worth the points or is he just a pretty model to put on the field? +1 Attack is never bad, but is he just a really big Pedro Kantor?

Jawaballs said...

I started typing and realized I had a lot more to say then I thought. Decided to break it into several posts. Sanguinor coming soon!

Michael Hogan said...

Haha, alright. I won't get too upset as long as you eventually teach me how to paint Grey Knights.
Good luck at BFS!

artstthms said...

1st off, LOL @ Standard Missiles vs Mephiston. maybe he is stuck in some older edition of the game.
2nd, i am anxious to see your thoughts on The Sanguinor. i REALLY like the model, i REALLY like his abilities/buffs, and i REALLY have no idea how to use him. Like me getting on a brand new Ducati with zero experience and knowledge of how to ride a motorcycle. A Fancy-pants Suicide.

Nutzin23 said...

I use Mephiston and he usually is worth the points for me.
The only time he gets rolled is when I come up against Grey Knights and their lame Psychotroke grenades. And even only then because they have so many power weapons.

Finger Cut said...

Yeah, my BA JP list was WAY better. right jawa?

Yeah i know it sucked!

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