CSM Power Fists vs Power Weapons

I’ve seen a few people debate which weapon to pick out of the power weapons, so I thought I should write up a quick CSM tactica for Power Weapons, Power Fists, Lightning Claws, Chainfists, and Melta Bombs.I’d also like to apologise immediately for the inconsistencies with GW writing Chainfist as one word and Power Fist as two.


There are three main things to consider when arming your men. The unit’s role, Initiative order, and point cost, and a minor point is paying special attention to little rules, like Unwieldy, Armourbane, and especially Specialist Weapon. Are you hunting vehicles, MEQs, or TEQs? Or are you opting for maybe a bit more utility? Are you fighting Eldar with excessively good Initiative? Or are you maybe pressed for points?

As far as roles are concerned, against vehicles Melta Bombs are better than Power Fists/Chainfists per hit due to AP1, but you only get one hit with the Melta Bomb, whereas the two latter have several more, especially if paired with another Specialist Weapon. The fists also benefit from MoK in the form of Furious Charge, and while each hit is still less likely to get a penetrating hit, you should have a lot more attacks to get hits with. This works out that you’re less likely to explode vehicles due to AP2, and thus less likely to kill your own guys. On the plus side Melta Bombs are MUCH cheaper, though can’t be used against Infantry as opposed to the Chainfist. The Chainfist can also be combined with the Lightning Claw for an extra attack, allowing you to make attacks, albeit at a much higher point cost.

Now let’s take a look at the Power Weapons. The Power Axe is +1S, AP 2 and Unwieldy, so it goes at I1, same as the Power Fist, so it’s simply a weaker variant of the Power Fist. It does have a role in taking out TEQs, as the double strength you get from the fists is required if you’re already wounding on 2+. The Power Maul has +2S and Concussive, but only AP4, so unless you’re fighting IG, Orks, or wanna wade through Necron Warriors, I don’t see why you’d take it. The Power Sword is the gold standard as far as I’m concerned – Sure, no S bonus, but it has AP3. Lightning Claws are Power Swords with Shred and Specialist Weapon, so for the sake of utility, the Lightning Claw/Chain/Power fist combo isn’t bad as it gives you the option of going risky with a S8 AP2 weapon at I1, or going at I4 (5 with MoS) with S4 Shred AP3, allows you to hunt vehicles with loads of S8 AP2 Armourbane attacks, and as all have the Specialist Weapon special rule you still get +1A for fighting with two weapons.

So in summary:

Melta Bombs
Role: Vehicle busting and killing MCs.
Pros: Cheap.
Cons: Can’t be used against Infantry, only one attack, risk of explosions, Unwieldy.

Role: Vehicle busting, killing MCs, TEQs.
Pros: Armourbane, AP2, several attacks.
Cons: Expensive, Unwieldy, Specialist Weapon.

Power Fist
Role: Killing TEQs, light vehicles
Pros: Can be used to threaten characters without Eternal Warrior wielding Unwieldy weapons.
Cons: Expensive, Unwieldy, Specialist Weapon.

Power Axe
Role: Killing TEQs.
Pros: Cheaper than Power Fists, not a Specialist Weapon, +1 S.
Cons: Unwieldy.

Power Sword
Role: Killing MEQs.
Pros: Perfect for killing MEQs, +2 S.
Cons: Expensive.

Power Maul
Role: Niche vs. Necrons, potentially combined with a Power Fist in a challenge.
Pros: Concussive, AP4
Cons: Expensive

Lightning Claw
Role: Partner for Power Fists and Chainfists for an extra attack and anti-MEQ utility.
Pros: Shred, AP3
Cons: Expensive, especially net when combined with a Power Fist or Chainfist.

Then we’re talking about which units should perform which roles.

Melta Bombs and Power Swords > Power Fist for Aspiring Champions every day of the week. The combination costs less and has more utility. If your Aspiring Champion is in a challenge with something in artificer armour, you’ll be dead before your Unwieldy, Specialist Weapon gets to strike anyway. You’ve got a decent shot at winning a challenge against a SM Sergeant if you’re armed with a Power Sword, especially if you go at I5 (MoS) and re-rolling missed To-Hit rolls from Hatred (SM) (VotLW). You could bring the Power Fist if your enemy is also bringing them, as if their Independent Characters don’t have Eternal Warrior you have a decent chance of killing them. Something that was pointed out to me in the comments by Castigator was taking MoN and a Power Axe. You go last, but +1T and FnP might just see you through.

Chosen… A Chosen with a Power Sword costs more than a bloody Terminator, which has TDA, can Deep Strike, and has a Power Weapon included to boot. Seriously, it’s a wonder Phil Kelly is still alive after the insane substance abuse he endured while writing the CSM codex. Disclaimer: In my own games (I try to play semi-competitively in a semi-competitive meta) I run Cypher with friends, which tend to be 10 Chosen with 2x Meltaguns, 3x Power Swords, and Melta Bombs and Power Sword on the Champion. While they rarely make their points back (roughly 500pt), Gladius Strike Forces don’t like Hit & Run at I8, Power Sword-wielding Chosen with 2+ Cover saves that once in a while become Invisible.

Terminators are too expensive, don’t have the options Loyalist Terminators have, and lack a reasonable delivery method to  really be a deathstar, and have thus been competitively relegated to Termicide squads (Take with Combi-Meltas, melt something, then go into distraction-Carnifex mode). You’ll thus want them as cheap as possible, so don’t bother with upgrades. If you really wanna go tank busting you could consider Melta Bombs on the champion and Chainfists on the rest. I’m not convinced you’re getting value for points though.

Sorcerers? Maybe consider a Power Fist or Chainfist if he’s sporting TDA and Biomancy. Still better to have Melta Bombs and a Force Sword or Force Axe (Insant Death from Force) unless your S improves through Biomancy.

What about Chaos Lords then? Maybe, but what are you using him for? I’d take the Axe of Blind Fury and make him a Juggerlord. Murder Sword if you’re hunting anyone specific or want a specific enemy character to stay away from your Murder Sword-wielding maniac, and then you can take Melta Bombs as well. The Lightning Claw/Chainfist combo isn’t too bad though.

Daemon Prince? Black Mace, wings, MoN all the way, though Axe of Blind Fury ain’t bad if you go MoK.

What Power Swords wish they were

These are what I see as the most optimised ways, and Power Fists, with high costs and bad utility, are awful. There’s a reason Power Fists are cheaper in 30k, and my Alpha Legion Sergeants take Artificer Armour, Melta Bombs, a Power Fist, and a Power Dagger (Specialist Weapon for 5 pt!) for a 2+ save, 4 S8 AP2 As on the charge, possibly with Furious Charge. Last game he got sniped by SM Scouts – 6 to hit, 6 to wound though, but 30k is a story for/from another time…

Ideas on how to improve wh40k tournament play

I play both Magic; The Gathering and wh40k casually, and I’ve been considering writing a post about how MtG’s tournament/format/restrictions on rules could and should inspire official wh40k tournament rules. Then I saw this week’s Sit and Talk from MiniWarGaming (IMHO, the best wargaming site there is for casual wh40k) where the exact same thing is touched upon, and I’m playing a casual tournament in 6 weeks, so I thought it would be a good time to touch upon the topic.

Grand Prix Richmond Crack Style

The tournament organiser came up with a set of restrictions to balance things. No more than 2 formations, no super heavy vehicles, Battleforged, maximum 3 dice for casting Invisibility etc. It tries to address the main issues without overreaching such as unit point costs etc. Sure, if someone wants they can bring the Wind Rider host or the Decurion detachment, but at a glance it seems much more balanced than “normal” wh40k. Tournaments require more balancing than friendly games and campaigns, because the goal for each player isn’t to ensure a close game, but rather to win. That they’re between players who don’t necessarily know each other so they can balance internally doesn’t help either.

MtG has worked around this by having several official formats, originally introduced to reduce price increase in the barrier to entry. From Modern, which is the current “blocks” or released cards, to EDH/Commander (Elder Dragon Hill), which is centred around each player having a Legendary commander (Separate from the draw deck) determining the colour(s) their remaining cards may have, with 1 of each card with as opposed to Modern’s maximum of 4 of each card, to Legacy, which allows 4 of each card ever printed, but with restrictions on what cards are legal. You have many more formats as well.

Not only are the power levels and combinations available radically different in each format, the general strategies and usefulness of each card changes. In the standard 60 card deck of Modern, you can put in 4 of each card, centering the strategies around a few core tactics and combinations as the predictability allows this. This isn’t possible in EDH, as the deck consists of 100 cards, with only 1 of each. You can of course include “tutor” cards – cards that allow you to draw specific cards from your deck – but these still need to be drawn. So rather than organising your play around a few combinations, you arrange it around several win conditions and possibilities where your predictable Commander maximises a variety of different cards. I know there are many more differences to the formats, but for those unfamiliar with MtG this should suffice, so don’t crucify me!

Woe to the Conquered.

GW used to do something similar with their Grand Tournaments, and with Battleforged you have a way of organising a list in somewhat restricted manner by following the CAD, and obviously the Apocalypse format suited for much larger games. However, GW could, with a lot of thought, create a set of much more balanced rules in tandem with tournaments, making it easier for their players to organise balanced lists in friendly games. Depending on the points involved, you could prevent the amount of the flyers, super heavy vehicles, Lords of War etc in a similar way to the restricted and banned card lists in Magic. Nobody wants to play a 1000pt pick-up game in your local GW where your opponent turns up with an Unbound Imperial Knight and semi-Smashfucker list with a single painted model (this happened to me). I was thoroughly disappointed with my match up, especially when I was then told miniatures following FW rules wasn’t allowed – this was more due to the hypocrisy than that me actually using any. I’ve been somewhat vocal about being tabled the last 4 of 5 games, but I enjoyed those games – I didn’t enjoy that game though the game wasn’t finished due to time constraints; admittedly, my Endurance-boosted CCW MoS Cultists had just taken out an Iron Hands biker command squad, complete with Smashfucker.

Naturally, this is more of a tournament problem than a casual problem. Most LFGS/GWs have some way of putting players in touch before the game, allowing them to agree on an even match-up. Most normal, well-adjusted beings are capable of saying no to WAAC players and TFG as well, but in a tournament setting you have to play them.

I’m also aware this is the problem many people had with the introduction of heavier tanks in common play, such as the Land Raider. This was addressed gradually by making high S anti-tank more available, and nowadays the Land Raider is often considered an overcosted Rhino with extra space. Then you had the arrival of flyers, which lead to AA. The appearance of things like the Accelerator Cannon has led to an increased importance for cover. Then Jink led to a much higher incidence of cover-ignoring weapons, such as the Sicarans and Markerlights. Back in 3rd edition, Power Armour was good, but with the advent of ubiquitous anti-MEQ weaponry, is no longer worth the points.The current edition, and the previous, definitely favoured shooty armies, leading to a higher amount of ranged units.

However, the meta is constantly changing, but that’s not a problem – the meta should be changing. In a game as wide and vast as wh40k, this is expected. Problems do arise when players can’t counter things fast enough, as in video games, all you need to do is change your tactics or get a new weapon. In wh40k this process is a lot slower as you’ll need entirely new miniatures, and then paint new miniatures, just to generally test a new tactic or strategy (You can of course proxy). Extra Credits did an absolutely amazing piece on game balance and design which I recommend you check out.

The problem is the wide range of combinations available which aren’t balanced against each other. This creates issues in balancing armies as there are so many combinations available. Sure, it might seem somewhat balanced on paper, but in effect it’s not. That’s why having formats that would limit flyers, heavy vehicles (Land Raiders etc), super heavy vehicles, LoWs, psyker levels etc. while at the same time adjusting the balance of the codices, while still flawed, would make things a lot easier and give different units different uses at different points.

As an example, you could have these formats:
Skirmish (Best suited for <1001): Restrictions are 0-1; lvl3 Psyker or Heavy Vehicle, no flyers, SHVs, LoWs etc.

Armed Engagement (Best Suited for 1001-1999): Restrictions are 0-3; lvl3 Psyker, HV, flyers. No SHVs or LoWs.

Additionally, you could limit Formations, 0-2 of any given non-Troop unit, and SCs, and even mess around with scoring. These could be separate from Battleforged and Unbound as well. These are just examples as to how wh40k could take a few steps toward a more balanced and easy approach for most players.

This’ll be completely balanced and ensures everyone has a great time, right?

When I was starting out I would ask my opponents to leave out flyers, and they’ve never really had a problem doing that, as I just didn’t have any sort of counter. People are okay with this, but that’s a casual format, not a tournament tournament (Captain Obvious is a good friend of mine).

Having better and tighter rules would not just improve tournament play – it would ensure less time spent on making sure lists are balanced against each other and more game painting, buying toy soldiers, and playing with toy soldiers.

Hopes and predictions for a new CSM codex

Now that only Chaos, Tau, and the forgotten Sisters of Battle don’t have 7th edition codices, I think it’s likely that Chaos will receive a new codex in the next few weeks, or months at most. I’ve outlined my hopes and dreams for the new codex, but I’ve also compiled my realistic expectations for it.

First of all, I have a sneaky suspicion they’ll issue a Legion/Warband codex.This is because of the Khorne: Daemonkin codex suggests they’ll release god-specific codices.

OP’s hopes and dreams.

The main problem with the current codex is the lack of Legion/Warband/god-specific flavour, poor internal balance, lack of formations, and expensive units. Sure, there are Special Characters that grant some flavour, but they’re limited to boosting sub-par Elites (I’m looking at you, Rubric Marines) to the Troop choices, or giving you access to Plague Zombies. There’s no Chaos Undivided for Night Lord or Alpha Legion players. Essentially, it’s a very dated codex from when flyers were making their entry.

My hopes and dreams are to see Legion/Warband/god (Including Undivided) tactics, similar to Chapter tactics for Space Marines. However, in view of the new Space Marine/DA/BA formations, I see this being dropped for formations instead. This isn’t awful, but not exactly what I want; I’m a big fan of the CAD, as I feel it gives me more freedom to construct my own forces.

I hope Chaos Undivided makes a return, certain restrictions on Marks are imposed, moving Cult troops to either dataslates (I like them, they’re reminiscent of Index Astartes articles) or restricting them depending on your Chapter tactic (or formation if that is the case). If they go with Chapter tactics it could be something like this:
Black Legion: No restrictions on Marks.
Night Lords: All units may take Chaos Undivided for free, 0-1 for all other units.
Thousand Sons : Units may not take other Marks than Mark of Tzeentch, which they can take for free. Thousand Sons become a Troop Choice.

However, I can see how this’ll be formations instead, e.g.
0-2 Sorcerers
2-3 Units of Thousand Sons
Rhinos free and Mark of Tzeentch invulnerable save increases (decreases?) by 1. 

I hope point costs for Thousand Sons/Rubric Marines by 1-2, Berzerkers by 1, Possessed by 2, general drop for Predator and Havoc lascannon cost. This is mainly because discopreds (Predator’s with three lascannons) rarely make up their point cost, Thousand Sons are frankly overpriced, and 7th edition follows 6th edition in being a “shooty” edition, thus limiting their usefulness.

Realistically? I see Thousand Sons dropped a point, maybe. Helbrutes/Dreadnoughts to be improved to the SM statline.

My hopes for new kits are multi-part Cultists, Havocs, Obliterators, and Chosen, maybe a new HQ. Realistically, I see certain Finecast models being redone; Obliterators/Mutilators is a multi-part kit waiting to happen, and new multi-part Havocs as well, especially in lieu of the new Devastators, and a new HQ. Also I find it likely Legion-specific upgrade kits will be available, similar to what the SMs have. Replacing resin Plague Marines with plastic ones also seems likely.

CSMs are currently suffering from lack of good transport options (The Rhino isn’t too shabby mind). Specifically drop pods. Currently the only ones CSMs can take are FW, which isn’t kind on the wallet, and I think it’s likely they’ll be included.

I’m hoping they include Cypher (not strictly Chaos) and the Helbrute formations in some form, or reissue them for people who’ve already bought them – I sure as Hell want to keep playing my Helcult (I said I preferred CAD, not that I hated formations – the the fine script)!

In short, I think CSM players will get formations, some minor rules changes, drop pods, and retooled Havoc and Obliterator multi-part kits.

What’s people’s thoughts on this though? Will Tzeentch change our codex into something fun and good, or will Papa Nurgle leave it to fester and rot?

OP’s thoughts.

My favourite alternative miniature sites

Forums are quite often bogged down somewhat with requests for different miniatures, especially for Imperial Guardsmen, so I’ve decided to compile a list of my favourite sites. This list doesn’t aim to include every single little webstore for alternative miniatures for Warhammer, but rather my favourite ones, based on the following criteria:

  • Compatibility
  • Quality

I’ve decided to not really include price, as that’ll be very subjective. Hell, I buy ForgeWorld.

First off, Mad Robot Miniatures. They do modular commissars, squads, you name it. I’m currently planning on using them for creating Cultists and Lost and the Damned for my Alpha Legion. Additionally, I’m gonna use their modular commissar for my Arkhan Confederates.

Secondly, for the resinsexuals out there, Victoria Miniatures is the creation of the Slayer Sword-winning Victoria Lamb. They have excellent, high quality resin models, especially the later ones. I’m using them for my Arkhan Confederates as well, with their heavy weapon teams being indispensable for creating an ACW feel. They also have the easiest way for creating Rough Riders, which I’ll be using for my Arkhan Confederates!

Victoria Lamb’s Slayer Sword-winning diorama, famous for its early use of Object Source Lighting (OSL)

Third, but not least, is Kromlech. I’m mainly using them for their Confederate heads, but if I played Orks, these guys would be getting large parts of my paycheck. They do some Imperial Guard equivalents, but I feel both the aforementioned stores do them better. They also have some nice female Inquisitors worth checking out. They also have Evil Craft, who make fantastic CSMs for Sorcerers, Havocs, and Chosen, especially if you want a more daemonic Word Bearer-look. How they got around GW’s IP I have no idea.

What have I been up to? #1

I’ve recently been keen on painting some of my old miniatures from the 90’s. Sadly, most of them have been given away to flea markets while I was abroad, but I’ve still a lot of Dark Elves, a fair amount of Orcs, High Elves, some Bretonnians, and some Lizardmen. I’ve also wanted to repaint my first CSM squad – their colour scheme for my Alpha Legion has changed, so they look out of place in addition to being poorly painted. I also received a limited edition metal Dark Angel from Wartrader, and as he was clotted with so much white paint all detail was lost, I dug out the paint stripper and and stuffed them all in the jar!

Fabius Bile’s scrub tank

I’ve included a few photos of the pre-scrub and post-scrub miniatures as well!

90’s Orc Shaman, Skink Champion, and High Elf Swordmaster.

The two that have been repainted so far, two more plasma gunners incoming.

I haven’t decided any painting schemes yet, but I’m wondering if I’ll paint my High Elves and Dark Elves the same colour. Lizardmen will be vibrant, and the Orcs… No idea yet, though I kinda want to build a Savage Orc/Forest Goblin army, so likely to be colourful as well.

I’ve also done a bit of work on my Lost and the Damned force; here’s almost a full squad of Renegade Guardsmen and their Rogue Psyker (who still needs based)! This force also includes my first attempt at painting black skin tones (Mournfang Brown, Nuln Oil, highlight with Skrag Brown)!

This weekend I’m going to see if I can get some headway on my next 5 Alpha Legionnaires from the MKIV FW minis I have. I somehow lost two metal GW Alpha Legion shoulder pads, leaving me two short for the 10-man squad, but they’re sold out. I’m currently trying to get my American cousin to ship me a bunch, because they’re not sold out in the US for some reason.

I’m also trying to get some more of my CSA-inspired Imperial Guard done, but I’m more keen on completing more Alpha Legionnaires and Lost and the Damned Guardsmen for now!

Choosing and starting a Warhammer 40k army

If you are completely new to wh40k and have yet to pick your army, I hope this will spare forums and yourself some hassle while helping you pick an army which will stand the test of time. I have split this blog post into two parts, choosing your new army and starting the army you picked.

In picking your force, I’d consider 4 main topics. Fluff, aesthetics, playstyle and other. These four topics are of different importance to different players – some are fluffier, some are more keen on tournament play. Neither of these priorities are wrong, and hopefully my approach will allow you to get a much better idea of what you want to play!


To start off with, the fluff, or lore, behind an army can be very important to both aesthetics and playstyle. I strongly suggest you go onto either lexicanum or warhammer wiki to research the armies that appeal to you. For example, you might find the Blood Angels to be too reminiscent of a certain Romanian of the Transylvanian persuasion, but you really enjoy some of their descendants’ stories, like the Flesh Tearers’ (probably) doomed fight against the Black Rage yet fierce loyalty, or the Lamenters’ staunch resilience in the face of total annihilation. I favourited all the pages of the armies whose lore I liked and put them in a folder in my browser until I finally decided on the Alpha Legion, yet I considered everyone from the Night Lords to Orks to Eldar Corsairs.

Rogue Trader-era Blood Angels

Rogue Trader-era Blood Angel

In wh40k, there are certain armies that have clear real world inspirations behind them which might also appeal to you, be it the Catachan Jungle Fighters (Vietnam War), Praetorians (Colonial Britain), Death Korps of Krieg (WWI Imperial Germany) or Space Wolves (Vikings).

As a last note on fluff, remember you can always make up your entirely own fluff! Here’s a link to creating your own Space Marine Chapter or Warband, without creating something that doesn’t fit the background setting. A further link for Warband and Chapter creation is here.


Colour scheme, models, and room for conversions are all aesthetic reasons that might make an army appeal to a player. Maybe you really like the Space Marine models and the want purple and gold marines, but you do not feel confident in your converting skills, especially if you are a newbie, so you pick the Soul Drinkers. Or maybe you feel like painting a variety of different colour schemes, so you pick Biel-Tan Eldar with loads of Aspect Warriors, or even you feel like doing some minor conversion work and decide to pick Eldar Corsairs and glue on their wings and pick your own scheme! Whatever appeals to you and you feel you can do justice is what you should pick. When picking my first army I decided to not overestimate my converting skills nor my painting skills.


When considering how you want to play, you really want to think how you want your tactics to be. Does a fast, small, hard-hitting army appeal to you? Then Eldar or Dark Eldar, or maybe Tau, might appeal. Do you want to overwhelm your opponents in close combat? Then your first choices might be Tyranids or Orks. Even within the different codices there is a plethora of playstyles available; the different regiments of the Imperial Guard is a great example of this. The Elysian droptroopers, the mechanised Armageddon Steel Legion, the Catachan Jungle Fighters etc. all offer a great variety of playstyles. Bear in mind a lot of people enjoy fluffy playstyles; if you play Thousand Sons you are likely to want to take Rubric Marines and Sorcerers, regardless of whether Thousand Sons are considered a good choice from a play-to-win mentality. Fritz (see below) put it this way: I don’t care how it plays, I love the Changer of Ways.

It is also worth bearing in mind with Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines you can use a variety of codices to represent your army. As an example, the Alpha Legion players use codices as varied as Sentinels of Terra, Chaos Space Marines, the Lost and the Damned, Space Marines and Imperial Guard represent their, in addition to the various dataslates available. As long as your miniatures are What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWG), your codex does not matter and it will be tournament legal.

Ork bomma, which according to the rules, never has enough dakka, so it’s WYSIWIG!

The very clever guy behind the bomma!

It is obvious, but you do not need to stick to the fluffy style of play most typical of your force. There is nothing stopping you from playing a foot-slogging White Scar Terminator army, or a Biel-Tan force without Aspect Warriors!

Other issues

There are a few other issues to consider when picking an army. Not everyone wants to play Ultramarines, contrary to Matt Ward’s beliefs, so maybe you want to rock up at your local GW or LFGS with an obscure (or homebrew) Space Marine Chapter or a lesser-known Craftworld, or maybe even just make your own Chapter, Chaos Warband, Eldar Corsairs etc. This is also known as homebrew. There are a few pitfalls here; certain things have become clichéd, like Loyalists from Traitor Legions etc., which is thus worth looking out for.

Let us be honest; wh40k is not the cheapest hobby around, but I do not think price should deter you from choosing an army, even if it is a ForgeWorld or a horde army. There is always eBay as well, so you can often get people’s unwanted miniatures significantly lower than RRP! If your army’s cost per unit is expensive relative to your economic situation, this should encourage you to take even more care with painting them to ensure they are painted to the highest possible standard. This will ensure longer time between each purchase, making it less expensive, and making them look even better!

As you are starting out, I would also suggest playing Kill Team until you get a decent grip on the rules. Kill Team is probably the best way to learn the rules, as there are fewer models on the field (less mistakes), it takes less time to play a game (learn to use your models faster), you get to use the ones you have painted rather than the more frowned-upon grey plastic armies, and gives you more time to paint up a full army while still giving you a nice mix of both playing the game and painting. Trust me, a fully painted army looks a lot better than just the grey plastic soldiers.

I would strongly suggest not picking the “best” army from the current tournament netlists; armies drop and rise through the tiers rapidly, even more so with GW’s release schedule. It is much better being happy with your army’s playstyle (which you can control) than harbouring a Win At All Costs-mentality (WAAC). A good example is when flyers were being introduced and not all codices had anti-air or flyers themselves, giving them a handicap against armies with flyers. This updates constantly with the release of each codex and edition. Whether your army is “good” or not does not matter one whit in the long term. At the time of writing this, Chaos Space Marines have gone from being powerful due to receiving the first flyer early on in 6th edition, but are now arguably the weakest codex.

Just a quick note on WAAC; if you only want to win and you are willing to spend considerable amounts of money, who I am to judge? Do what you enjoy, not what anyone says is the “right” way to play. However, my humble opinion is that most armies will go through good and bad periods, and the more you play, the better you will get. More on this in the starting your army section. If your goal is to win tournaments you shouldn’t try playing

Building Your Army

So once you have picked your army, I have a few suggestions for choosing units. Some older and more experienced readers will recognise a fair bit of Stillmania, named after Nigel Stillman (see below). Now you have an idea of how you want to play, you pick the units. Pick units you like and feel are suitable for your style of play, then build an army list of 1000, 1500, and 2000 points. Build up your forces to 1000 points, and then buy the next 250/500 points or unit, and keep going. Also, never, ever, buy 2000 points worth in one go. The amount of plastic sitting there is going to be overwhelming and kill your paint buzz. Wargamer Fritz did a good vlog on this.

You also need to construct squads of the “correct” size and load out. What do I mean by this? Currently, specialisation and synergy is the name of the game. Each unit should perform one duty, such as anti-tank, anti-TEQ, anti-MEQ, anti-horde, Securing Objectives etc. While some units’ role will overlap somewhat; a plasma gun is best within 12″ against Terminators, while a meltagun is optimally used at 6″ away from tanks before charging in with meltabombs if it survived. However, the meltagun will also take out Terminators, but at a lesser rate. To this end, MSU (Multiple Small Units) is often used with a high degree of specialisation. I tend to lean more on the Stillman School of Thought, with larger units with a slightly wider range of uses.

Certain equipment synergises better as well – e.g. a Lightning Claw and a Chain Fist/Power Fist are both Specialist Weapons (You only gain an extra Attack if both CCWs are Specialist Weapons), thus it grants you anti-MEQ, anti-TEQ, and potentially anti-tank abilities.

Then you have saturation. Essentially, saturation is bringing enough of one type of units, e.g. MEQs or AV12, to prevent the enemy from utilising most of their weapons. If the enemy has paid points for lascannons and you bring an army of footslogging Imperial Guard, those expensive lascannons are going to be killing 5-point Imperial Guardsmen. If your entire army is sitting in AV12, the enemies small arms are universally useless (until you step out at least).

Nigel Stillmann, a very wise man!
Nigel Stillman is known for his wisdom

Remember, this is not the end-all of building and choosing an army. This is compiled from my experience and tips and tricks I’ve read on the internet, and should not be taken as anything more than guidelines.

Good luck with building your force!

Other sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PXaEUwAZSc – MiniWarGaming’s “Where to start with Warhammer 40k”

I’d also like to recommend a few pages to follow

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGUiN6uLh5r_KQfHrGutjtg – Fritz 40k vlogs about wh40k, D&D and some X-Wing.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2mQ7x6K74NBfmxBoMwZCnw – Miniwargaming do fun Battle Reports and guides to various things.

http://givemlead.blogspot.no/2014/09/a-quest-for-stillmania_5.html – Nigel Stillmann is a legend in the wargaming community due to his unique approach to gaming.