Monday, February 11, 2013

Building Better Allies in Blocks

Working through small ally contingents for use with my Space Wolves has led me to thinking about a system of putting together ally forces in a concept of building blocks. The concept of building blocks follows a simple format that creates a single ‘base block’ being your primary detachment. The’ base block’ starts at a bare bones 1,000 point list with no frills and no gimmicks, just wholesale pain at discount prices. To this base block we add detachments of allies that are preformatted into ‘task blocks’ depending on the situation. These ‘task blocks’ fall into three categories: offensive, defensive and operational. In my system ‘task blocks’ only requirement is to be less than 750 points, this gives you a package at the most common point value of 1,750 points.

If you think in terms of 1,000 points and 750 points it gives you a baseline to start with, that can be modified as you build individual blocks. If your ‘base block’ swells to 1,150 points, then your task block would shrink to 600 points. If the tournament you are playing in, or the game you have scheduled, is 1,850 or 2,000 points you can go back and plus up your blocks to reach the new point levels. When you start thinking in terms of ‘blocks’ it makes it easier to think through scenarios in your head and put together ideas and thoughts in a more thoughtful manner when building your lists. It also forces you to whittle down your primary and ally detachments to the ‘meat & potatoes’ rather than taking too many of the shiny toys.

In my example I have built my 1,000 point Space Wolves ‘base block’ thusly:

Rune Priest, Runic Armor

Wolf Guard with Power Weapon, 10 Grey Hunters double Meltagun

Wolf Guard with Power Weapon, 10 Grey Hunters double Plasmagun

Wolf Guard with Power Weapon, 5 Grey Hunters Meltagun

6 Long Fangs, 5 Missile Launchers

6 Long Fangs, 5 Missile Launchers

Vindicator with Dozer Blade


Coming in at 999 points this Space Wolves ‘base block’ provides all the resiliency and fire power you could hope for in a 1,000 point list. The list packs plenty of durable scoring units with the ability to engage a wide variety of targets from vehicles and heavy infantry to gribbly little critters. What it lacks in creativity it more than makes up for in redundancy and firepower, an excellent ‘base’ on which to add our offensive, defensive or operational blocks.

In this case I have decided to compliment the Space Wolves list with some heavy specialized fire power from the vanilla marine codex. I am looking for a highly adaptable unit that can fulfill a myriad of battlefield rolls and can do so reliably both with and without support. In this case I am looking to build a compliment to my Wolves, adding to their destructive force while adding an element of speed and flexibility like I have discussed previously in my Strike Package article.

Space Marine Librarian

10x Sternguard with 3x Combi-Melta and double Plasmagun

Scout Squad with 8 dudes, sniper rifles and cammo cloaks

Thunderfire Cannon

Like Ninja's - the Sternguard leave no trace!

Coming in at 610 points this ‘operational block’ leaves me 140 points that I can then put back into my base block, adding Drop Pods or additional Grey Hunters to the already strong ‘base block’. I can shave a few points by dropping the Grey Hunters to 9 to fit in Drop Pods or I can drop the Wolf Guard to make them fit. Shaving those points allows me to ‘plus up’ the 5 man Grey Hunter squad and make them more resilient. I can also use leftover points to add an Aegis if necessary.

Another idea for an ‘offensive block’ uses Codex Blood Angels like this:

Reclusiarch with Combi-Flamer

11 Death Company, double hand flamer

Death Company Dreadnought with Blood Talons and Heavy Flamer


Coming in at 725 points this ‘offensive block’ adds some flyer defense and provides a strong distraction that can strike into the heart of your opponents lines without fear. With a few tweaks of some units you can easily fit in two Drop Pods full of Grey Hunters and really take the fight to your opponent while your Long Fangs and Vindicator cause havoc on their lines. A Death Company dreadnought with double Blood Talons getting off a charge on an IG blob in the third turn is enough to make even the hardest IG commander think twice about where he places his forces.

Offense: You're doing it right!

A very simple idea for creating a Sisters of Battle ‘defensive block’ might look something like this:


10 Sisters of Battle, double Meltagun

10 Sisters of Battle, double Meltagun

Retributor Squad, 10 sisters, 4 Heavy Bolters

Coming in at exactly 500 points this ‘defensive block’ provides you with a high density of power armor screening units that can sit in your backfield and screen your Long Fangs while securing objectives and pumping out mid range fire that can take advantage of rending with the Retributors, adding to your already potent base of fire. This also frees up 250 points to go back into your ‘base block’ giving you additional HQ, Grey Hunters, Drop Pods or Terminators to help take the fight to your opponent while the Sisters hang back and secure your backfield taking advantage of their cheap cost, ballistic skill of 4, power armor and boltguns.

In allies there are no right or wrong answers, there are only ideas about what can and can’t work for you. Breaking up your primary detachment into a large ‘base block’ and potential allies into ‘task blocks’ is a good way I have found to help organize my thoughts and create more cohesive lists that complement each other and take advantage of each others strengths while minimizing their inherent weaknesses. Thinking in terms of ‘offensive, defensive and operational’ tasks for your blocks helps me to keep things balanced in my lists and helps me have a plan going into the fight rather than making one up on the fly.

still practicing_


1 comment:

  1. I like this. I've been tending to think in terms of whole-list capability and taking stuff that can fulfil particular roles from the parent and allied forces, but I can see how this is sort of tidier, and lets you think "all the stuff that looks like THIS will be doing THAT." Pretty useful in the fray, I'd imagine.