Monday, September 19, 2016

A New Kind of Tier List

A New Kind of Tier List

This tier list may not be quite what you expect, but I think it will ultimately be more useful than lists by codex.

I see a lot of requests for “tier lists” or similar where players are asked to or try to rank all of the 40k armies by codex. There’s a lot of fundamental flaws to this approach, especially in the age of allies. Additionally, I’ve found relatively few voices of authority on the competitive meta who want to make these lists, probably because trying to rank armies by the power of their codex isn’t a very good idea. Instead, I’d like to introduce an alternative tier list, talking about some of the top-tier units and formations, rather than trying to rank them by codex. If people like this concept I can definitely write a more extensive tier list. This is a quick description of some units I consider to be near the top of the competitive meta at the moment. In no particular order:

Skatach Wraithknight
"In no particular order" wasn't entirely truthful. This guy is a strong contender for best unit in the game and I would personally rank him at the top of the list if we were going from best to worst. Combining the already criminally undercosted wraithknight with two absolutely ridiculous weapons or a shield, I’ve rarely seen regular wraithknights in games since this monster emerged in Doom of Mymeara. The hellstorm weapon is probably the best choice, giving Eldar access to ignores cover without psychic powers, but the melta cannon is also strong and a 5++ is great with toe-in-cover for gargantuans being removed in a lot of formats. You have to make a strong case for not including a wraithknight in any Eldar army, and the Skatach is the best choice for one.

Another no-brainer. They’re absurdly fast, have ridiculous range, get obsec in a CAD and fill a troops tax (and really aren’t a tax anyways). Take them, unlock a LoW slot for your wraithknight and you’ve got the core of most competitive Eldar lists. The range is really what cranks scatterbikes up from good to amazing, because they’re still very weak in close combat, and even with their assault move if they had to stick to 12 or 18” weapons they’d be pretty vulnerable. With 36” range? Their opponent needs a lot of units or very careful positioning to lock them down.

Riptide Wing
Score another one for the xenos. Tau have a reputation of being overrated thanks to their pub-stompy nature but the riptide wing is the real deal. Rerolling nova reactors removes one of the major weaknesses of the units, and getting to stand still and shoot twice is something they’ll usually use before enemies have had a chance to kill any of them. Each model being their own unit is huge as well, making them harder to wipe out or lock up. It doesn’t surprise me that plenty of Eldar armies ally in a riptide wing to supplement their already ridiculous range, firepower, and mobility.

Librarius Conclave
Imperial armies have a ton of options for deathstars, but the librarius conclave is a core part of all of them. More psychic dice, a few 2-wound characters who can carry relics, and the ability to all-but guarantee your important psychic powers will go off makes this formation one of the most powerful in the game. The conclave has uses outside of deathstars are well, as my own list from NOVA can attest. As far as Space Marine formations go, you won’t find one more versatile than the conclave.

Battle Company

A lot of people get this detachment wrong. Free units is powerful no doubt, but what elevates this detachment to the incredible level of power it has is the objective secured on EVERYTHING. Most opponents will be hard-pressed to push you off of more than one objective a turn, let alone all of them. Doctrines (or full BS overwatch for the Dark Angels) are just icing on the cake that let you give this detachment some teeth. You could see this as the opposite to the conclave. One is the core of deathstars, this is the core of MSU spam, and both are powerful.


A great unit buried in an otherwise weaker codex, the wyvern would be in almost every imperial player’s army if there was a more easy way to access them. Just two of them in a squad can wrack up enough hits to kill most small units, and ignores cover deprives a lot of weaker units of a better save. While the Imperial Guard version of the wyvern is locked behind some bad units, it really shines when run as part of a Renegades and Heretics army, who can not only get it with less of a tax, but actually pay ten points less for this already very cheap and effective unit.

Daemonic Incursion
Last but certainly not least, the incursion is a great example of something that is more than the sum of its parts. Claiming objectives is good in the same way that objective secured is good, rerolling instability tests is great, and adding or subtracting one from the warpstorm table can be game-changing. Daemons’ biggest weakness is the inherent randomness of their army, and incursion does a lot to mitigate those weaknesses and reveal how powerful a lot of individual daemon units are.

This is far from an exhaustive list. Plenty of great units/formations like WarCon or Fateweaver have been left out, but I wanted to avoid making this post too long. I hope this can set an example for similar tier lists in the future, and I may revisit this idea myself if there's demand for it.

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