Conscripts and The Value of Large Units in 8th Edition

In response to some of the recent debates on this site, Kirby asked me to write an article about the usefulness of, and the reasons to take, Conscripts in 8th edition. I originally declined the invitation, but decided to write it in a long form of response to questions Kadeton posed in one of the discussions.

I took an army with 83 conscripts and about 50 other infantry to the Southern Hemisphere Open tournament this last weekend, a massive and highly professional event held in WA. The field was extremely varied as opponents included Forgeworld’s most hardcore deamons (see image above), massive ork hordes, the Tau Supremacy suit with ablative drones and a Dark Angel list centred around the impressively powerful Relic Falcion Tank-Destroyer boosted with the traditional DA -1 to hit, reroll all shots and 4++.

I managed to win all 6 games in a row, some were touch-and-go till the last moment, and a lot of that comes down to simply volume of boots on the ground and the usefulness of large volumes of infantry.

Kadeton: “I’m curious about the “more survivable” aspect of allowing units to join up – I’m just not sure how that works, exactly. Small units can more easily gain cover, ensure that any overkill is wasted, lessen the impact of falling back, can ride in transports, etc. The big advantages of large units would seem to be their efficiency in benefiting from Orders, and only taking one casualty from a Commissar.

Am I missing something important? Do the Commissar casualties spread across multiple units make that much of an impact that it outweighs all the survivability advantages of smaller units? Genuinely curious.

If Conscripts were no longer able to benefit from characters (Commissars, Orders etc), would they still have any advantage over the equivalent points of Guard infantry units?”


I’ll attempt to answer the several questions contained. Yes, there are advantages that may not immediately be apparent, and they’re mainly related the way unusually large units can be used.

Starting with the assumption that nobody reading 3++ needs to be convinced of the value of screens, scoring units or ‘bubble wrap’ around more sensitive units, the question becomes why take Conscripts over basic Infantry units. Not everybody does choose the conscripts over infantry, and if GW do a good job with the new codex we should expect to see the pendulum swing back towards more standard infantry.

For anyone not familiar with the point values, 40 conscripts cost as much as 3 squads of 10 Guard Infantry (120pts).

9 Disadvantages of Conscripts:

  • Unlike the Infantry squads where, as Kadeton said “overkill is wasted”, the Conscripts continue to take casualties after the 10th man is removed
  • lower leadership
  • lower ballistic skill
  • lower weapon skill
  • can’t operate independently
  • cover less table area (yes 3 squads of 10 can definitely prevent things like deepstrike in a larger area than 1 of 40, and can take more dispersed objectives etc)
  • don’t get a free sergeant with chain sword or melee weapon
  • can’t take heavy weapon
  • can’t take special weapons

And since the price difference is just 1 point, that list sounds like it should end the debate!

8 Advantages over 10 man Infantry squads

These are the advantages of conscripts over infantry squads, in an IMHO reverse order of importance.

1) Officers: The unit can (at least for the next few weeks!) use orders more efficiently
With the caveat that it still takes 15 conscripts firing “Front Rank Fire” to get as many hits as 10 infantry with the same order.

2) Surviving to hit back
A large unit is more likely to have survivors to hit back in combat. It may only be 5s to hit, but there are games where every little bit helps.

3) A point saved is a point earned
Just getting that one out of the way; a cheaper price tag is the most obvious reason to buy a similar unit. What you’re really buying is more wounds for your money.

4) Commissars: The unit is easier to keep in a Commissar aura
It is so much easier to keep a few models from 2x 40 man Conscript units within the aura of a centrally-placed Commissar or two than it is to keep lots of infantry squads in the same auras. The same goes for other auras (like Straken’s giving a second close combat attack to all units with a model within 6).

5) Holding the Assault unit

A large unit is much more likely to have survivors to hold the assaulters in place, or at least stop them piling straight in to things behind them.

6) Singularity of purpose
This is a BIG deal; conscripts can’t do anything else, which makes it easier for players to use them correctly. Speaking from experience, when buying infantry squads, it’s very difficult not to buy the special weapons (flamers! plasma!) which start making the average price go up, or the Heavy Weapons (Autocannons etc with 9 ablative wounds!) that will tempt you as a player to stop and shoot.
Conscripts can’t do any of that. They form the front line as they should, they move, they shoot badly, fight badly, and they die well.
Everybody talks about the advantages of versatility, but some times singularity of purpose is a big deal.

7) Casualty Removal Options
Having the choice of who dies from a unit of 40 or more models stretched over a huge area of the table is massive. To me, this is the second biggest appeal of very large units of anything, not just Conscripts. There are so many tactics and tricks (and ok, fine, shenanigans) you can pull of when you’re given the choice of who lives and dies from a very large unit. Keep 1 man alive near a commissar and kill everyone else between him and a few survivors? They may never move again until he dies (due to coherency) but it still counts as in the aura.

One of my favourites is to keep the closest man to the enemy assaulters alive, and kill everyone within about 4″ of him. Then the enemy consolidation has to end closer to him, dramatically restricting their movement options. Then, the commissar shoots him at the end of the turn, and the survivors are out of combat and ready for Front Rank Fire!

Example from a recent game on Vassal:

Celestine and an Assassin assault the brown conscript formation (due to a lack of other viable targets at this time)

A few distant models die, along with everyone close to the assaulters – except for Lucky Luke, who is the furthest model in the opposite direction from the rest of the unit. Lucky Luke Lives!

The assaulting units can only consolidate towards the closest enemy, so choose not to.

The commissar suspects Lucky Luke of making a deal with the enemy to prevent them assaulting him. He can’t be certain, but it’s best to be sure. BLAM!

Β And the brown conscripts are now out of combat without having to fall back, and ready for a full Front Rank Fire revenge for their fallen comrades.


Here’s an example from another game I played at the Southern Hemisphere Open, that provides a counter point to the first argument in favour of Infantry Squads ‘Unlike the Infantry squads where, as Kadeton said “overkill is wasted”, the Conscripts continue to take casualties after the 10th man is removed’

1) Hammer And Anvil Deployment. Massive hordes of Orks including Gazz and Stormboys have turn 1. Guard have a line of 41 conscripts (beige Hoth Rebels) backed by a line of 42 conscripts (white Imperial Snowtroopers).

2) Uncountable numbers of orks swarm across, 4 units making the charge while only 1 fails.

Unfortunately I was only taking starting photos for an objective and deployment article I plan to finish soon, so you’ll have to bear with the fact that the ork moves are messily photoshopped. πŸ˜€

3) The first unit of orks (North) attack and do some ridiculous amount of wounds

4) A few outliers in the north are killed, but everyone, EVERYONE in the south dies. The result is 3 massive ork units standing there with nothing to do but hurl insults at their over-enthusiastic allies to the north.

The surviving conscripts hit back (double attacks thanks to Straken), then fall back and the White unit which was piled-in to by Orks but not actually attacked yet becomes the front line.

If the charges had been until 4 units of 10 infantry, all would have been killed and no orks would have been hit back in combat.

Alternatively, if my opponent HAD declared a charge against both the front lines and the characters behind it, the casualties would have been quite different. The new priority would be to prevent units that haven’t yet fought getting into 1″ of Straken and the Commissar, so a screen of central infantry could have been left alive and a different group of casualties could have been selected for the Ultimate Glory.

8) Finally, 10 bodies is not enough.
And finally, that’s the big one. With the rate at which things die in 8th Edition, wrapping your vulnerable warlord/commissar/commander/psyker/whatever in just 10 bodies is often not nearly enough. Smart opponents are the only ones worth really planning for, and they will find the angles to get the shots, deepstrikes or charges off and take your most essential models off the table. This is the same reason that I frequently park my Farseers and other Eldar characters in that convenient gap in the front of a wave serpent; units of things like 10 guardians aren’t going to screen them for long.

Photo from the tournament showing Orks who also believe 10 bodies isn’t enough:

Unless you’re using very hardy well-armoured troops, small units do not cut it as protection for vital characters. For all their versatility, improved statline and weapon options, units of infantry are not likely to be the option of choice for Guard front lines until they are either allowed to increase their unit size or Conscripts themselves are nerfed to being much less useful.

Quantity has a Quality all of its own.



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66 responses to Conscripts and The Value of Large Units in 8th Edition

So… how do people who aren’t playing Imperial Guard counter the conscript hordes?

My instincts are telling me that GW expects me (as a Death Guard player) to slam a horde of Pox Walkers into mΓͺlΓ©e with them… But I just don’t see the math working on that.

Well that's a whole different topic! Especially since noone seems to want to pay for Snipers and a lot of players are cutting back on the troops that could kill light infantry.

I've played against guard with guard, Sisters of Battle and most recently Eldar.

The Guard games:
Generally a matter of attrition and having better understanding of range bands and target priority, but I have also cleared a unit screening the rear of the commissar with mortars etc in two games to make space, then dropping in some surprise Scions next turn to vaporize him and an officer.

Sisters: Massed storm bolters are just so good, so very good against T3 5+. Dominions are a top choice IMHO. I also killed commissars and commanders with Celestine in every game. If you play carefully, Sisters can take this matchup.

Eldar – it's hard. I have only had 1 game vs Guard with Eldar, and in it I surprised my opponent who relaxed after killing my solo hemlock in turn 1, by getting a wave serpent over his army and triple shuriken cannoning the commissar in the back of the head. After that, humble Guardians did a surprisingly good job of crowd control.

I’ve had some success with Sniper-Scouts targeting the Commissar before my Deathwing teleport onto the table with my Dark Angels / Mostly Deathwing army. Commissar-less Conscripts don’t like massed Storm Bolters followed up by massed Powerfists and Lightning Claws.

But the Death Guard don’t have any sniper units in their codex and, unless I’ve missed something, there aren’t any sniper units in the vanilla Chaos Space Marine codex either. (You’d think Night Lords or Alpha Legion would have retained a few Reconnaissance Squads from back in the Heresy… But, nooo.) The Death Guard do have a fair few options for inflicting lots of casualties on light infantry – grenades, puke flamers, psychic pshenanigans, etc. – but those all require getting uncomfortably close to a unit that can use FRFSRF _and_ they don’t remove the Commissar.

I think the best option might be to say “damn the torpedoes,” get in close, and trust that Grandfather Nurgle will let me pass all those armor saves and disgustingly resilient rolls… But there must be a better way.

Tournament or fun?

for tournament triple pox with HQ's to buff them and then Horrors for days. It's actually a gimmicky list, that is suprisingly effective.

Snipers vs Commissars is sadly not a solution, when you have a 20 pt problem and get a 200 pt solution

For a fun army to have a chance to deal with conscript spam? Mortarion, he has a pretty good chance to global a commissar. 4+ D3 wounds and 4+ D3 wounds. the issue is he is rather vulnerable to smite spam that is likely lurking behind the conscripts.

If you are pure deathguard, my repsects to you, and accept you will be worse grab some termies to take wounds and use the 2cp to rez them, if you don't mind a cheeky add in, a sorcerer from another legion to cast warp time can get Morty up close and personal T1. I'd go with alpha legion and sneak some assault plague marines over there, keep it sort of nurgle themed.

Commissars start at 31 for the budget Elite version rather than 20, and snipers start at just 7 per model.

I don't think snipers are the fix for all character problems, but it would be interesting to see the impact on the game if someone shelled out 196 and actually took 28 ratlings πŸ˜€

18.6 hits, 12.4 wounds on T3 or 9.3 wounds on T4, followed by 3.1 mortal wounds would at least scare most Characters into hiding!

I know there were a few lists at…ETC? a while back with 30+ ratlings, and some more with more reasonable numbers (i.e. maybe ~3 squads). And even some with a bunch of sniper scouts. No idea how they went though (and match ups make any results sketchy anyway, since they'd be looking to match up against any Character army while Character armies would be looking to avoid. Plus meta shifts).

Duh πŸ˜› (why would multiple people run ratlings in 7th?). But it was pretty much right back at the start of the edition, I think one of the first big tournaments? Definitely before any of the Codices got released.

Haha ok fair enough πŸ˜€
'(why would multiple people run ratlings in 7th?)' How should I know, I dodged that bullet and came straight back in for 8th :Þ

I actually own 50 cheerful Hobbit Models from LoTR; maybe I should give them all rifles and give it a go πŸ˜€

It works just fine, i currently prefer using scouts as they count as troops and get access to space marine stratagems and more importantly missions and obviously i need to enable the aggressors deep strike anyway. My initial scout lists had 2 squads with snipers taking up the backfield objectives, they got some value but never enough, they were quite good as finishers when you need to finish off a squad, and the averaged a wound a turn on anything at all.

My issue was, that i was paying 150 pts to do 1 wound. Now, looking at ratlings thats only 70pts, you get the same deep strike protection, but nothing close to as good assault protection. But you get 1w vs (nearly) any target for 70pts, that's pretty valuable, not as a method to out right kill chars, but to finish off ones weakened in melee. If RG was still a thing, they are actually super effective vs him. In fact, i think i really like ratlings, with the addition of actual strategies and mission objectives for Imp guard, they become even better. We'll have to see how astropaths get nerfed (likely made to go in squads) because until they do, passing up a 15pt smite that allows you another deep strike and keeps your deployment footprint down is just too good, so all Milistarum elite slots are too hotly contested (command squads are here too).

Elysian sniper teams I refuse to use until they errata'd to their proper 12 pt cost, I understand playing to win, but when it is as clear as day that GW made a mistake, any tournament allowing it and any player abusing it needs to grow up, 3w acolytes all over again.

So yes, i think Matt's right ratlings are a viable threat to reduce movement potential of commissars. And threaten the changeling/malanthropes (these are the things that really need to go, they are more of an issue than commissars). I think a good player is just going to hide and you get no chance to do anything to them, but as i say, you aren't just anti char, you can plink wounds off a bane blade happily.

Overall, i still prefer to take the reliable option, mow down the infantry. Killing the commissar only amplifies damage done to the infantry anyway. If i can kill him i will, but for that i'm almost certain to use jet pack troops, they offer more options.

5x Skitarii Rangers with Omnispex & 2x Transuranic Arquebuses for 97pts or 4 PL, will probably do the trick.

Also has decent firepower vs tougher characters too, much better vs malanthrope/changeling, but again, the issue will always be getting line of sight, vanguard are the troops right? they can't deploy last or get a scout move and they don't deep strike as I recall.

That said is unlikely you are going to go running at the conscripts to kill them off as ad mech~

Depending on their setup, blasting out a big enough hole in the back of their lines to Teleport in some BlightLords or something might do the trick.

I was just wondering the other day why not even the Alpha Legion (IIRC the first Legion to use Snipers) still maintain them. Seems like a number of the Legions would be into something like that. They also have a real paucity of Indirect Fire.

The thing is…they pick casualties. While against an unprepared opponent, they might stuff up and pull casualties from the back and open a hole, that's both not something to rely on, and is unlikely to happen more than once. Especially due to the way screening out DS doesn't require model count (i.e. if you're taking heavy casualties and need to pull from the back to not compromise the front, just take out the middle guys stretching coherency).

It's definitely doable, but I think most of the time you'd be able to do that, you'd have basically neutered the squad to the point you don't really need to worry about killing the character and can just get to work on whatever the conscripts were trying to protect. Also probably easier to do sooner with Mortarion once you've killed off a chunk of conscripts (really Fly is all that's needed, but Mortarion's bag of tricks make it easier to pull off, even if you can't engage on the characters directly).

But really, without snipers, against anyone who knows what they're doing, you shouldn't be able to kill the characters until you've made some dent into the conscripts anyway. And with snipers, you're probably either looking at a very large points commitment and/or too long a timescale to be relevant (plus they can just take more commissars for far less pts than you're paying for snipers).

I forgot Morty's pistol and thought they had 4W. Death Guard have no issues with conscripts. Out of LoS in a building sir? well i shall just shoot that tank over there OMG i am so sorry i seem to have clipped you with a 3 damage weapon, still your refractor….oh sir? i am so sorry budget cuts is it? no refractor field, well ermm i think you are dead now…. 35/36 * 35/36

Good players will hide the commisar at the back with nothing behind him, but well, i consider that a victory considering i was going to field morty no matter.

*Epidimius marks off the first kill of the day, soon T9 Tanks SOOON!"

Speaking of, get my tanks in two weeks, never been so excited for an army, it is gonna be garbage, but utterly hilarious.

I have a question though, can Tychus a Death Guard character, who is in an army which includes a detachment of alpha legion, roll on both chaos boon tables every time he kills something? can he take he same result off both tables, how does it work?!I want to get him a 0+/2++ and go sit ihim in cover shooting stuff with his 18" range flamethrower, which always hits on 5+ but like on a 2+ it hits right, or does it?

Tbh, with all this confusion and that he costs 11pts more now, prolly not worth fielding him.

I feel this is a question with two answers:

1) you can have better infantry than them, and let them come up with the solution, which is what chaos and nids do.

2) just murder the infantry.

Killing commissars is unreliable at best, and if you find an effective, repeatable way to do it, they just buy more commissars. (the answer to mortarion is two commissars 48" apart)

So, how do we murder infantry? if your an assault army thats the way to go, its the easiest most efficient method, conscripts are not good assault units, 5+ S3 takes the 9 attacks to get a single wound on T4. If you can get in melee and stay in melee you neutralise the army. So make sure when designing your forces you have that option.

That generally means jump packs or fly, though there are other options (mawlocs spring to mind). But don't get caught up on this being a nessecity, if your jump packs can just fly up to enemy tanks and put them all in combat then that's good too.

But lets assume you don't have that option, you need anti infantry firepower and just look to see kills infantry good. Everything you need to kill is T3 or T2.

really good post. a lot I know but the highlight for me is the idea of controlling casualty removeal. looks to me like removing the closest is a chumps game.

Lol. Grats on the tournament indeed

Well consider me baited sir, I hope you got a drink too.

Don't make any mistake here, that is a beautifully played battle, on paper you should have lost in a land slide it is a majestic use of both terrain and rules, but it's not a battle won, it's a battle lost.

The Ork army i have got absolutely no idea what it is doing. Clumped for KFF maybe? I can't tell if theirs weirdboyz or not, but i can tell that the assault tactics are beyond awful. Assume you have three groups of orks, red, yellow, and blue. You set up red dude, then blue dude, then yellow dude in a line across the table. Behind them, change the order and maintain coherency. You should create a wall that if any of your units succeeds its advance + charge, you get to get in. In the above example he has no issue he makes all his charges, but then, Matt quite rightly goes lol k, none of you get to fight i win the game.

This is like, basic stuff, we aren't dealing with stormboyz going over the top to pincer or anything, just good solid basics from assault army. When you have 120-150A making sure you have surface area to execute is essential. On that note, they orkz seem to do very light damage, you say ridiculous amounts, but its 30?

Now i can't tell exactly from the pics, but it looks like there's a small mistake in your set up of the white troopers, they are (imo) maybe 1/2" too far forward, a charge on them can get them into combat with just foot troops, i'd like to see them just a bit further back, so when the first line dies, although they get piled in on, they don't have to all die in Turn 1. I would also advise getting the commissar and Stracken further from the front line too.

Obviously that could be a decision you made based on seeing opponents deployment, and tbh it is just a game, so no need for everything to be totally crisp, but it is a point worth noting to anyone trying to pick up tips, that correct spacing vs assault armies is essential. You are looking to deny the area to a jet pack, but also deny a charge being in 1".

I think this goes someway to explaining why i think conscripts are bad, and the argument is to the contrary, conscripts are easy to use, and defeating them isn't easy, but if you know what you are doing, you can go through them.

"On that note, they orkz seem to do very light damage, you say ridiculous amounts, but its 30?" – the 1st mob lost a few models to the overwatch, then had some stringing backwards to be near Gazz and maybe the KFF so weren't all in Kombat. They did 44 wounds, which were konverted in to 30 kasualties. Seemed like a lot to me at the time, but probably not great by ork standards πŸ˜€

Regarding the placement of line 2, yes I do usually leave larger spaces between the units. In this case, my opponent is actually a very good 40K player but also new to 8th edition so I got to take much more advantage of the combat rules than he did, with a series of heroic interventions and then falling back etc. and then next turn not heroically intervening with behind the lines characters that were declared as part of the charge but doing it with everyone who wasn't.

It worked very well in this game, but in general I'd recommend caution over trying to squeeze out a few free extra kills per round. It certainly won't work against him again. πŸ˜€

Haha okay yeah 30 is reasonable i thought it was 20 or so, they average around 20-30 (depending on stringing to painboy/ghaz/banner) I would question the lack of weirdboyz, they are a huge force amplifier and often get out of jail free card. Probably orkz best HQ.

If he picks up a bunch of shooter boyz to poke small holes in the conscript line, and the stormboys to pincer, you can see in matt's example, he was already having to fall back to a defined point to maintain squad coherency (he has to finish his fallback in coherency or no move allowed), if you put some jetpacks there, then he has no fall back, this is exactly the issue you have with conscripts and would have cost him the game as I dunno how many there are, but looks like 120+ boyz get to stay locked in melee, and then they will be in melee for the rest of the game.

That's why interweaving your conscripts is so important:

1) amplifies over watch, you want to try putting a model within 1" of a conscript that is standing next to two others, multi charges are a necessity.

2) means there are no holes in your conscript line vs assault armies meaning you can have that second rank of conscripts ready to step up if needed and deny the jet pack flank to stop fall back

I would say a bit of a gulf in class of player, but i don't doubt the ork player was having fun and sounds like matt was, so who cares. But this is an illustration of exactly why conscripts are perceived to be much better than they are, maybe it is enough to nerf them, thats GW call.

Balancing Moba's is a constant fight to keep the average player happy, whilst simultaneously allowing ultra skilled people who do nothing but play them 24/7 unable to do broken things. Though this effect exists in warhammer 40k due to the vast difference in amount of games played it is extremely minor, there is a difference in unit performance across skill bands.

Still i think Matts example does maybe show that conscripts do in fact need a nerf, i can understand why people have issues with them, i can explain how to deal with them, and how best to use them, and that overall they are balanced and no problem, but that's going to reach an audience of perhaps 100 people, the micro involved also makes turns take a good 10 mins longer, I think it's more important that the average player playing a game with their friends on a weekend doesn't have problems.

Don't be surprised if conscripts get a big hit when the codex comes out. Something like not getting ObSec maybe? They indicated in the post yesterday re: the new codex:

"Similarly, the codex is set to diversify Astra Militarum lists with tweaks to rules and points aimed at putting each unit on an even footing. Conscripts, for example, have been changed to better reflect their inferior discipline compared to professional soldiers."

A likely story! would you say there is "shenanigans" with the log ins? (if he says yes, we'll know it was him originally)

You seek to utilize my history of sesquipedalian loquaciousness to ensure I ensnare myself in your typographic trap! But your lexicographic legerdemain is apparent to me! Nevertheless, there does appear to be some sort of espièglerie afoot!

Haha, Sir, i can only sit back and applaud either your vocabulary or your use of a thesaurus. But, are we to believe you went to this effort for a joke alone, or is this another attempt to conceal your crime?

Don't wait for the translation, answer the question!

Perhaps it is YOU, sir, who seeks to conceal conspiratorial collusion? Though tough, if thoroughly thought through, then this thesaurus-like talk is teachable… But, deflecting attention from detecting any designs to disrupt access to discussion? Ahh-ha! That, sir, is to protest too much, methinks.


6) is hugely important

I think there should be point 8) to consider too.

Reliability. This is one of the key things you are looking for, conscript do the job with extreme dependability, you can guarentee no assault units will get to your army if that is your wish. (sorry small caveat, you cannot stop ynarri)

Please don't take my criticism as having a go, it is bloody easy to look at pictures and say, well you shoulda done this, setting up units is actually insanely hard and small mistakes are easily made (i make them often, i just note them down so i can rectify them)

1 question, why not 50? lack of models? or cut for other stuff? conscripts proveably work better in bigger numbers, removing models strategically is easier the more you have.

The deadest horse to beat the OP conscript. What about:

30 termagants with devourers with a tervigon. Rerolling ones to hit and living ammo rerolling ones to wound. Synapse they never take battleshock and the tervigon can revive ten free termagants from the dead. for free.

20 poxwalkers. They can be buffed in speed and toughness and strength by Psykers and each victkm they kill becomes a new poxwalker.

20 necron warriors st4 sv4+ and in an aura of a res orb and a cryptek. They come back to life over and over with reanimation protocols unless you kill em all.

But lets nerf the t3 st3 bs5 sv5+ conscripts that cant come back to life at all cause theyre too OP at what they do – dying. I mean its not like anyone brings imperial fist Snipers and find that one commissar holding two conscript squads right.

The tervigon is at the end of the day much too expensive and too easy to kill, he's fun i got two, but they are garbage only way to keep them alive is provide more pressing concerns, probably going to see either a WS buff or a pts cost reduction with codex, as will a lot of the tyranid stuff.

poxwalkers are tooo slllooowwww they do have a niche but at twice the cost of a conscript w/e

necrons are an elite troop, they are good, but 20 of them get gunned down in seconds, atm they are an army that needs a huge buff to its resilience.

Again snipers are -not- a good answer to commissars. You can't kill the commisar for the cost of the snipers, if you try to, the commisar just goes line of sight conga line to the conscripts, b bye. Even if none of this works, the commisar is 20pts, they just take 2.

GW are annoyed that conscripts don't fulfil their idea of what they are, cheap cannon fodder to die in droves, they are a bit too sticky with commisars if you are trying to kill them with morale, and also just shut down roughly 1 billion units that are like ha -1 leadership, which is basically meaningless in the current game.

…Terv is a terrible answer. She does not really revive 10 terms for 'free' – she pays maybe ~~150 pts for the privilege. At that point, you need to spawn 4 lots of gaunts to be really worth it over just taking more gaunts in the first place, and just taking a mal instead (heck, you should probably already have a mal, because terv as only synapse is risky to say the least).

She's just far too costly for what she does – leaving aside the issues with dying herself, equal pts of conscripts will one round the entire squad at outside rapid with room to spare.

Mal+devilgants is better, at least, but conscripts are still going to win unless you have a very large pts imbalance.

Tervigons are not breaking the game open and 30 Devgants are expensive.

Poxwalkers are certainly a decent option but you're also laying psychic buffs on them which may be better placed on other units.

Necrons have a huge vulnerability to Morale and the most recent FAQ just made it worse. They are also not cheap so defeats a big purpose here.

Conscripts are much cheaper, can get buffs that are often the most beneficial on them due to their unit size and can easily ignore Morale. All points discussed in the article that the above units do not all cover. Nor can every Imperial army take them…

Plus, Poxwalkers just got a little under half a dozen ICs/units to buff them, with or without Psychic powers.
Of course, any sponson-equipped Superheavy, especially a Stormlord, is more than capable of handling a Conscript blob, simply by being beyond their ability to mitigate effectively. Also, charging them with Ghostkeels would be hilarious for unremarked but obvious reasons (hint: 7+ Overwatch).

Overwatch always hits on 6s regardless of modifiers. Unless Ghostkeel has something that specifically overrides this (which I'm pretty sure it doesn't)?

You can pretty easily get them to be unable to hit at all running certain armies/units (I've done it on a couple of occasions with mal+psychics. Deathleaper's an amusing one in theory, except for the glaring 'overwatch' issue).

Deathleapers T4 with 6w and a 4+ he has no issues taking over watch off conscripts. Half the time he is charging from out of LoS so they get zero shots. I've used him a lot to take the overwatch for the genestealers if the Hierodule messes up (or found something better to eat).

Conscripts over-watch is just a small tax you need to pay to charge them, a fly-rant, rhino, starweaver etc will all just largely ignore it even if its 150 shots.

25 hits, 8 wounds vs t4+, so a 4+ with 5 wounds and you get in. Most assault armies are ready to deal with this.

Poxwalkers are a big issue, but they are a huge force amplifier on horrors, that didn't need a force amplifier. In top end armies, you will see the poxwalker variant of daemons start to appear, the issue being, that the base of the army (horrors+smite) is too good, it can already choose to go super heavy, assault or shooty off that base, now it has a truly ludicirous option to go infantry too. I suspect we will see the Poxwalker + Daemons + Magnus/Aetos army make its presence felt soon unless we get a faq banning poxwalkers going over 20

This is the first time I have been unable to defeat an army. I can't get enough anti infantry firepower and keep it alive long enough to kill off the pox walkers, gunning down conscripts is one thing, gunning down T4 pox walkers is a whole different thing. Simultaneously retaining enough anti tank to deal with the Lords of War, without using double Primaris Redoubt, which is a) rarely allowed in tournaments and b) limited by the fact I only possess 1 is stretching things too much.

It doesn't help that the Death Guard missions include 7vp for 49 models dead, which makes them the go to for Maelstrom in the horror meta.

If this is followed by nerfs to conscripts in the imp guard book, and no nerfs to horror/malefic lords, i think the only viable army becomes chaos horror variations.

Ynarri and Daemons is a pretty boring meta.

I don’t think you can use Death Guard Maelstrom missions if you aren’t running a Death Guard army… and if you’ve got Horrors in there, then you’re not.

Think that's not the case, only have the Death Guard book with me, "if your army is led by a Death Guard warlord" blah blah.

Same rules as normal that you need to have detachments to get stuff, no indication that you need an army of all death guard

Assuming that's the same in CSM Grey Knights and CCSM. You do get 2 duff objectives which kinda sucks, but for the ability to score 7vp off one mission and d3 off another, and i was always going to have 2 objectives to take in my enemies deployment, this feels much better package

Not arguing that Ynarri v Demons is a boring world to live in… but perhaps those of us who have Eldar (and could easily play Ynarri) need an article on how to effectively dominate? If that's what we're doing. I wasn't here for 7th or the beginning of the Ynead, so I have no real idea how to effectively use them.

Obviously, it's more "in your face" than prior Eldar were, and I'd need to keep the army together to get all the lovely cascading death to happen, but I'm hoping for specifics. I know they're not the new hotness (new codex…yet) but still.

Harlequin Skyweavers, and Shining Spears are key units to set off the cascade off death as you so eloquently put it. Make them big nasty units drive up to stuff (advance if you have to to get within 7") then hose down a unit, use the soul burst to fire again if you already have charge range on your intended target or you advanced, if not use it to move again so you can then make a charge on whatever your opponent has in the way of shooty stuff.

Meanwhile pile over the map in your open topped transports (whatever you have is good, star weavers work best, but drukhari with blasters and using whatever guns are on board and in range, to shoot stuff up, don't worry too much about killing units, just soften them all up, on turn 2 you will go off completely.

If you do it right, your jet bikes will jam up whatever anti-tank they have (or outright kill it). Leaving your army largely unmolested, unload your troops from the transports shoot with all their guns, soul burst more shots from their guns, ram the transports into the enemy units to take overwatch, then charge in with the harlequins.

There's a lot more to it than that, it takes a while to get good, but basically your transports are resilient enough when combined, with the ability to deny anti tank, followed by troops that do -everything- They are Genestealers with Melta that fly they maybe 30pts each and go down in seconds if they are caught in the open, but are unlikely to have that happen.

Experiment with using Yvraine and a Shadowseer to boost the movement of two groups of six harlies that start in their starweavers but decamp at the start of your turn, they can make a 3" disembark, 8" move, then psychic stuff gets them another 8" move, shoot then charge, and will help set up more soulbursts T1, but really, T1 is to position and deny damage, T2 you kill everything.

One of the things I love about 8th Ed is that densely packed formations can actually be useful, instead of just being Blast bait. It makes games with horde Armies look so much better πŸ˜€

Don’t need Commissars!? Where did you ever hear such a seditious rumor? You been listening to them Tau propaganda on the restricted Vox channels, lad?

You’re lucky we need you on the line or I’d have already administered the Emperor’s Justice! But instead you can do your duty as part of the Penal Legion. May the God-Emperor have mercy on your soul.

You will see my dropping from the sky with my fellow elysian troops, while a few scouts and mortars keep my backfield safe πŸ˜‰

Its's not just seditious, he's a heretic. Someone censor that winky face this instant.

But you're right, if your squad is 4 guys with plasma guns, there's little point in a commissar, and if those 4 guys with plasma guns can't even be shot until they unload their rapid fire death, well. You quickly see issues develop.

2 * 7/9 * 5/6 * 5/6 = 350/332. Each plasma guy kills just over 1 space marine when it drops out the sky. Heretical Elysian Plasma guy is 14pts, Space marine is minimum 11pts, likely a lot more. Why even care if your dudes die at that point? job's done.

Long live the great space plasma god, down with the emperor! (or is the plasma actually the emperors holy fire descending from the skies? who knows!)

I mean the regular troops. 2 10 man squads and a commander, 140 points for 74 str3 bs4 shots. Don't be a a screen, remove a screen ;—–)

In combination with other anti infantry yeah I think it's good, I would have go for an elysian brigade/battalion over tempestus if i was buying from scratch. Bring the elysians down on a flank (one model in range is enough for them to rapid fire against the entire line) and just focus down all the anti infantry firepower with aggressors coming up the middle. Scouts hold the middle of the map and mortars hold the deployment zone.

Just not willing to pay £400 for a slight army upgrade over scions, if i intend to win a tournament, I can already field the Pox/Horror/Primarchs list which i think is just devastating.

Errrr i dunno what is going on in the game on vassal, i think its a pretty bad example, again its showing nicely what to do if your oppoenet isn't very good and how to take advantage, it showcases conscripts strengths well, but its against a fairly bad opponent.

If you play assault armies, you have to know when to go in, and when to hide. If that was the best engage you can get (i got no idea why it is, Celestines got a 24" move, theres limits to where she can have been standing that her move and charge gave her that as a target) If this is what you get as an engage, don't take it.

If you are engaging a force that powerful, simply wait. If you can't get on the tanks with celestine, then don't bother going in, wait in cover until you can. the assassin deep strikes so he can prolly go in on whatever he wants, if he rolled a bad charge that's what happens, but its why you don't go in with 1 assassin you use 4 or 5.

Now say you know what you are doing in the same situation.

Celestine flies over and engages the two tanks and the squad near her in melee, focuses all her attacks on the squad cos no fall back and fire on rhino variants. No need to kill them, she just took 200+pts out the game. She may well be able to pin a rhino in place, its very hard to tell from the pictures, but her guard and herself I think can wedge that rhino in place (unless there's a ton of map to the right) if they can't so be it.

If not don't worry too much, the cullexus can just take all the smites for you, char rule jams them all into firing into him not celestine,

Assuming now for some reason that you do end up having to charge like this and just make it, make sure you use your pile in properly, Fly over run around models to get you closer to your next victim. Celestine and the assassin here show they are not piloted by a skilled player, by just moving a bit closer with pile ins and gaining 1" movement. An assault unit, you move closer at every possible opportunity.

I don't think that changed the outcome, Matt can still force the consolidate onto an outlying conscript, but it is showing that again, we have a real lack of skill on the assault player. Matt's good he is using everything to his advantage, and he is playing the game right, but if as an assault player, you don't learn how to deal with this type of stuff, you lose games and you think conscripts are OP because you are not getting the most out of your units, and they are getting the most out of there's.

Lets play this all forward though, in reality you have a unit that can deny those tanks, and that's what she wants to do, if she can't do it this turn, she will certainly do it next (on a 2+ anyway). She isn't trying to kill them, she is going to focus on the troops nearby and just stop the tanks playing the game at all, whilst simultaneously using them as a shield to prevent her from being fired upon when she can. That's one 200 pt unit, and she will lock up well over 300 points in this area of the battlefield for the entire game if she wants to, whist posing a significant threat to that commissar if he should ever have less than 6 dudes around him.

In truth, at high end play she will die in a flurry of smites and plasma from space, or more likely the counter charge from other Celestine. She is one of the most amazing units in the game, and in part why the meta developed as it did (gotta smite celestine) but if you use her liek this, well, then yes, you lose.

Try not to rush to judgement on player-skill, as you're only seeing brief fragments of games in these examples.

Case in point, in the vassal game my opponent is actually a very good player – far above average.

In this case he had prioritised the destruction of two Repressors full of dominions, but placed his models correctly so that if normal shooting killed one and a Hail Mary shot killed the other, he'd still be able to charge enemy units rather than having Celestine dangling in the open doing nothing. He got lucky with the shooting (see the crater marks bottom left) so his primary goal was accomplished, and then got an assassin into combat with the dominions that spilled out and his other assassin and Celestine into combat with the Conscripts so they'd at least contribute some more casualties to the turn's tally.

None of that was relevant to the demonstration, which was just intended to show how controlling casualty removal is one of major benefits of large units.

I feel I should post the above details anyway because if I am going to use examples from games with real opponents rather than made up canned-examples, it's important that brief isolated examples aren't taken as a comment on the players' skill.


Yeah fair, and again i add the caveat that analysing a game after the fact is a lot easier than playing it. I did wonder if it was another assassin bottom left of screen or not, it looked like one, and as i pointed out, if you run that game forward maybe celestine dies maybe not, but she is probably going to tie up those two tanks no matter what with rebirth, that should be enough to leverage such an advantage she wins. I don't see a smite battery ready to deal with her.

I struggle to justify ever taking celestine without one superia, and as i pointed out, it was an extremely sloppy positioning on the pile in from both, for high end play i'd expect this all to be cleaned up a lot, this is pertinent, becuase it's exactly this kind of thing that makes conscripts good, capitalising on mistakes.

I get that means they probably do warrant a nerf, they make the game unfun and stop large selections of troops being included, but again, it isn't the conscripts that are the problem, they are good for buying time vs assault, and you can get some other use out of them, but largely they are not good vs the best armies, they are simply supported by the best smite battery, cheap drops, and plasma from space.

As such, they are the best unit to fit into the army, but a nerf to the conscripts, will not make the army go away, it will remain extremely viable and effective. You can replace conscripts with scouts and the army is just as effective at stopping assaults, and much better at scoring objectives. To balance the army requires:

1) a nerf to smite, or more correctly a proper point cost assigned to it, no more spamming it on low cost units. I'd like you for a second to imagine you could buy Zoanthropes in units of 1, what the meta would look like now, what a "good" army would be. It is blatantly obvious that the cost of smite is much too low. Now just add a "each time you cast smite it becomes +2 more difficult" smite goes back to being a fallback power when your psychic power is of no use in a circumstance, rather than the reason to take a psyker.

2) a change to plasma costs to make 3+ BS actually make weapons cost more across all units, don't make space marines pay more to be tougher and more accurate, then just let other people be more accurate for free.

3) No acts of faith unless in a sisters of battle detachment, this one is a no brainer, celestine is if not the best unit in the game, one of the very best, make sure that craziness comes with some restrictions.

4) assassins are one offs like solitaires, no hyper mobile, air dropped character spam

None of these things exactly breaks any factions army, they just level the playing field back to a sensible state, you can get back to infantry vs tanks. I am pretty confident if you make these changes, and leave conscripts exactly as they are, then the conscripts go hmmm we might not actually be that good you know guys.

So, how do I kill masses of conscripts with my tau?

A burst cannon 3 crisis team + 6 drones costs 267 [sarcasm mode engaged] and with a markerlight token manages to kill a whole 14 conscripts as long as they're not in cover.

Maybe just cut out the crisis suits. A ton of gun drones by themselves can surely use that 7" movement and 18" range to bulldoze a line of conscripts with their bs5 carbines.

I could use masses of fire warriors buffed by a fireblade, it only requires I get my slow, squishy infantry to within 15" of the blob. A devilfish is surely a cheap and effective way to enable that.

Or maybe Piranhas? They only cost 71pts a piece and manage a whole 3 dead conscripts each with a markerlight token.

Or maybe a stormsurge. Surely barfing out 16+4d6 shots would murder wast hordes of light infantry. And you still have the big gun for other targets.

[end sarcasm mode]
[insert headdesk here]
But seriously, unless my math is off, it takes 4 shots at bs4+ (faction standard), rerolling 1s (1 markerlight is most common), wounding on 3s (s5 vs t3), and getting past the flak armor (saves on a 5+) to _average_ slightly more than 1 unsaved wound vs conscripts.

The "good" news is that vs marines, while only getting half the number of expected wounds due to 3+ armor, the low unit sizes tend to evaporate under this level of dakka. My 267pt crisis team example can delete 7 wounds from a MEq unit. Pretty decent when those tend to come in units of 5-10.

Not sure T'au have that many issues with conscripts, they are basically made unplayable by their unit structure and it's interaction with tournament win conditions, and ynarri. Combined with the fact the old good army is bad, and the new one will set you back around £2-300 for the commanders.

If you field the best T'au army you won't always beat imperial soup, but you should have a relatively close game.

Crisis teams are over costed and useless in 8th, commanders always have better firepower, the only reason to ever take crisis suits is flamers and even then its not much better. the lack of Char status on the suits stops you messing around.

Cold star battle suits are the go to anti infantry battle suit, the ability to take ewo + ats allows you to deny deep strike assault and at rapid fire range and the 40" move forces huge movement restrictions on your opponent less his chars get gunned down. You are likely taking 3-4 of these.

Your other anti infantry is your 30" range fire warriors who will simply sit back and plink away. Finally theres your alpha striking drones, depends on army balance but usually you have between 12 and 20 up in the manta hold. giving you 48-80 shots.

Anti infantry firepower you have to deal with is just the mortars, tanks will be deployed deep or they won't exist when the fusion commanders land.

How you play the game is up to you, even in the face of conscripts, you retain the same win condition, kill the anti infantry, or kill the anti commander stuff. They are T5 2+ in cover, 54 lasgun conscript shots to cause 1w to a commander, 36 mortar shells, all this will almost certainly be playing drone clean up. You have multiple anti char threats, often enough to get through enough conscripts and the astropath/primaris psyker bubble surrounding the commissar and dude giving orders.

If theres nothing to fight over, no reason for the conscripts to move, you almost certainly lose, you are reliant on the conscripts having to come out to contest objectives and stretch their lines, in maelstrom, you can easily outscore them if they sit back (coldstars too good at taking objectives.)

As i said at the start it likely won't matter, the ridiculous alpha strikes are no match for the fact ynarri get free soul burst for each 2 drone kills, they are very hard to beat (go first, kill all the star weavers with fusion). You have a bad enough match up that you can't reliably beat them.

Stormsurge, riptides, ghost keels, devil fish, hammerheads have no real place in a min maxed t'au army, they are all way over costed and inferior to commanders.

"Your other anti infantry is your 30" range fire warriors who will simply sit back and plink away. "
–Did you miss the part about only getting a 4-shots:1-kill ratio on our bs4 str5 guns vs conscripts? At 30" a full squad of 12 fire warriors is killing a whopping 3 conscripts.

"Finally theres your alpha striking drones, depends on army balance but usually you have between 12 and 20 up in the manta hold. giving you 48-80 shots."
–Drones can't deepstrike by themselves anymore.

"Cold star battle suits are the go to anti infantry battle suit"
–Even with an ATS on them you're only killing about 6 conscripts with one round of shooting. HO burst cannon: 8 shots, 35/36 chance to hit with a single markerlight, 2/3 chance to wound, 5/6 chance to get past armor = 4.32 unsaved wounds. Missile pod: 2 shots, 35/36 chance to hit, 5/6 chance to wound, no armor save = 1.62 unsaved wounds. Granted, coldstars are great for leaping over the blob and taking out the commissar with a target lock and their 40" advance.

There's a lot more anti infantry in the commander army than it seems, they have something in the region of 40-50 drones and 15+ fire warriors.

It's not really your job to take the fight to them, you have 30" (36") range and 3+ in cover, they have 24" range and no way to get cover, you want to stay far back, and if they want to fight make them come to you, you need to get them moving to make it hard for them to keep their formation. If they are good, well trained and drilled, they will sit in place to flush out the deep strike, if they are poorly trained rabble they will come running, at which point, you can get your commanders in amongst them, and move up your drone armada.

Guard easily outrange Tau with every gun that isn't carried by a basic trooper. Tau absolutely have to be the ones to bring the fight, because they're largely living at 18" these days, not 30" or 48".

Sort of, thing is, what are you killing that the T'au care about? their army is essentially the commanders and until you can start to deal with those, you aren't really getting anywhere.

I also think that competitive guard live at 18-24" they have mortars sure, but they are not really a significant thing, the main damage is smite and the plasma. Obviously this is all changing, but right now, guard armies won't shoot commanders off an objective til after T3, cos to drop in their plasma too soon is to get it wiped out, then they are all in on smite.

What you tend to find, is the guard pushes out to mid map to bring it's smites in range, and secure three objectives , the warriors get mortared up and the ta'u player decides when things go off, cos it has way more to play with in the deep strike department.

T'au really aren't great against the guard, but they aren't useless, there is a massive amount of S5 shots available, it's just about getting them in range and focussed, 46 drones and 20 fire warriors will put a dent in conscripts, but to do so is to risk your win condition in return fire.

If your running Tauroks, russes valkyries, even celestine has to stay back hiding in the conscript shield, or its fusion time.

Its hard to tell how any particular game will go, but its not cut and dried at all, both armies have threats and counters. I'd bet on the guard army if i had to, but it's not like i feel i am in an auto lose with the t'au.

Alright smart guy, write out a sample list for us and show us why and how great is it. And don't tell me to just look it up, if I could find it by looking it up I wouldn't be asking.

I don't have the list here, and I can't really be bothered to create it, it is pretty simple to make yourself, you spend all your points on commanders and a small batallion of fire warriros and drones so you can drop them all from space. Mix up the fusion and coldstars to make sure you have a good blend for your meta.

I'm not saying you beat a min maxed guard or chaos army with smite battery, but you don't have an auto loss as soon as someone puts a 3pt model on the map.