Monday, October 31, 2016

List Building Strategy: Analyzing a List

List Building Strategy: Analyzing a List

As a follow-up to Play Your Game and Analyzing Your Units, I decided to take a list and explain how and why it works.

An easy and obvious example, I figured we could breakdown the army I took to NOVA this year.

Ravenwing Strike Force:
Librarian, Bike, Eye of the Unseen, Auspex
6 Black Knights
6 Black Knights
6-Man Command Squad, Banner, Apothecary, Grenade Launcher

White Scars Librarius Conclave:

Level 2 Librarian, Bike, Hunter's Eye, Sword
Level 2 Librarian, Bike, Axe
Level 2 Librarian, Bike, Sword
Level 2 Librarian, Bike, Axe

White Scars Combined Arms Detachment:

Chaplain, Bike, Auspex
3 Bikers
3 Bikers, 2 Grav guns, combi-grav
Attack Bike, Multi-Melta
Attack Bike, Multi-Melta

What’s interesting about this list, compared to the original version which used an inquisistar, is that there are no gimmick units here. This list has very few chances to “go big” and get everything I need (psychic powers, perfect match-up, etc) but also a lot more room to outplay opponents and few situations where most of the army is useless, which is a very real problem for any gimmick unit.

The black knights are the core of this list, and going by my own definitions they are a generalist unit. They’re survivable against most shooting, have excellent shooting, scout, hit and run, can bully weak melee units, and can be taken with no tax units thanks to the Ravenwing Strike Force. Like scatterbikes in an Eldar list, these guys form a core for the army that other units can be added around, or can support other units. In this case, other units will be added around them.

The librarians are also a generalist unit, and the most important thing about them is their adaptability. Depending on the matchup I can look for invisibility or veil of time if I need defense, or things like psychic shriek or technomancy for offense. Identifying what psychic powers are needed and when to use them is the most important part about learning to use this army, but librarians can plug the holes that black knights are missing like melee defense or quantity shooting.

The first niche unit of this list is the darkshroud, and it is a powerful unit. It folds like wet paper in melee and has a mostly useless gun, but it is nearly invulnerable to shooting that doesn’t ignore cover, is incredibly fast, and provides a bubble of defense for my army. When my list is completely relying on the black knights, the support for them that the darkshroud provides is worth the points (and it doesn’t take up a contested force org slot or require a tax).

The regular bikes fill a strange niche. The White Scars Combined Arms Detachment does not actually need to be in this list. I could easily take more black knights. However, in NOVA you give up 2 secondary points every game if you have no troops units. These regular bikes help prevent this and also give me a source of objective secured that are fairly durable. Generally I keep them far away or hold them in reserve so they can show up once the black knights are stuck in.

The attack bikes fill a similar role to the regular bikes. They exist to give me units that can be thrown away to screen for charges, suicidally grab objectives, or be held in reserve to stop my opponent from dropping cheap units into my deployment zone. The multi-meltas occasionally help out against vehicles as well.

Finally, the chaplain boosts my black knights in melee. While this sounds like a utilitarian option, black knights are at their weakest in melee, and taking a unit who improves their melee isn’t necessarily a boost I will always want or need. However, I already have 5 librarians in the list and the chaplain’s built-in invulnerable save is helpful against things like baleflamers or some melee weapons.

I hope this list breakdown makes sense. I may do another later in the week with my friend’s Eldar army because it has more examples of different kinds of units. As always, let me know if you have any questions, and don’t forget about the painting competition.


  1. Hi, been trolling around the internet lately trying to find decent competitive dialog with little luck and stumbled across your blog. I've been trying to formulate a Battle Company list for Adepticon, and would really appreciate some analysis if you can provide it.

    1. Of course! Feel free to email me your list/questions or message me on reddit (/u/rpnightsend)

    2. I'm feeling pretty dumb right now, I never use google and I'm not seeing a email option anywhere. I'll try Reddit later.