Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vanilla Marines in the current Space Marines metagame

        Since the release of the Vanilla Marines codex back in the beginning of the 5th edition, we have seen some huge updates according the Space Marines in general. At first, there was the release of the new Space Wolves codex, which rapidly developed to one of the most competitive codices in the 40k scene, due the large amount of quality choices it contains. Then we had the release of the Blood Angels codex. The philosophy of this codex defers to the typical marine play-style. Here we see some really fast and mobile units supported by a very decent assault punch. Then we also made the first acquaintances with the FAQ concerning the Black Templars and the Dark Angels codices, which brought them dynamically, back in the competition. At last, we had the Grey Knights Codex, which develops a unique and more “elitist” play-style, which finds itself in favorable position against the other Space Marines armies. Suddenly the Vanilla Marines codex seems weakened and pretty much out of date after the releases of the other Space Marines codices, not only because of all the options of the new codices, but also because its tactics are by now “well-known” to each player. The critical question therefore is: “Are the Vanilla Marines able to compete in such a hard Space Marines metagame?”

First of all, I would like to point out the main difference between the Vanilla Codex and the other Space Marines codices is the fact, that the HQ choice in the Vanilla Codex plays a huge rule according the muster of your entire army. Thing is, that the special characters of the codex in most cases  come along  with a “combat tactics” rule that influences your whole gameplay and consequently the decisions you will make for your army list. For example, if you choose Pedro Kantor as an HQ then you will most likely play around Sternguards, in order to enhance them with his “combat tactics” ability. Same goes also with Vulkan, Khorsarro Khan and Kayvaan Shrike. However, maximizing certain units, in order to get full benefit of your HQ’s ability, leads in my opinion to focused, but also very inflexible and fragile army lists. Additionally, those play-styles are pretty straight forward with no surprise elements to count on. As a result of this, the list you will create will be very "HQ-oriented" and also very one-sided, because it will be built around a single ability. This means that you will only have good matchups against certain lists that are not tooled out to face your specific play-style. However, you will have to make ends meet against each other possible matchup, because you will not have enough variety of units, who can distinguish in different roles, others than the one they are destined for.

If you don’t choose a special character like those stated above, you will probably create a balanced army list, but also a mediocre one. Fact is that the choices of the Vanilla Space Marine codex have nothing special from their own. They are just balanced units, that don’t have notable highlights in order to make your army list competitive enough for the current metagame. By adapting to this balanced play-style, you are adapting to the typical Vanilla philosophy. You will not have large weaknesses against each possible opponent, but at the same time you will not have a certain special element to rely on. Many units, that in the Vanilla Codex count as “solid” are inferior to the same units of the other Space Marines codices regarding both their points cost and their performance on the table. For example the Rifleman Dreadnought is inferior to the Psyfleman Dreadnought of the Grey Knights, the Typhoon Speeders are inferior to the Typhoon Speeders of the Black Templars, the Devastators are inferior to the Long Fangs of the Space Wolves, The Predators and the Vindicators are inferior to the Predators and the Vindicators of the Blood Angels and finally the Tactical Marines are inferior to all the respective Marines of the other codices. Therefore the latter play-style is very disputable, due to the lack of efficiency in your units.

Finally, I believe that the solution for a decent army list lies somewhere in the middle between the above stated play-styles. One the one hand, you will need a special character, who can improve your units in order to make them more capable and give them certain advantages, in which only the Vanilla Marines codex has access. On the other hand, you must also look after variety in your units in order to be flexible and don’t lack in any aspect whatsoever. The current Space Marines metagame is undoubtedly really tough for the Vanilla Marines, but having a balanced army combined with specific elements as well as a good grasp of its capabilities, can still ensure you notable efforts in the competitive environment.

Thanks for reading

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