Mathammer: Why Tactical Squads (and a Lot of Elite Infantry, Generally) Suck

Good day, fellow apex predators! Today I do a bit of math-hammering to figure out why it is that my Tactical Squads perform so poorly on the tabletop. While I am using Tactical Marines in my calculations, I believe much of what I’m about to write could hold true for a lot of elite infantry units.

If you’ve read my last post, you will already know I’m in a bit of a sour mood lately as far as 40k is concerned. Aside from the issues I brought up in that maudlin essay, one thing that has bugged me a lot is how badly the infantry in my army (Space Marines, in case you weren’t tracking) has been performing – and Tactical Squads chief amongst those.

Now, don’t get me wrong: not ALL Marine infantry sucks. Scouts, for example, are a great unit – though even then, the reason they are good has a lot more to do with the impact they have over your overall survivability (by denying a huge amount of real estate for enemy Deep Strikers) than with any other intrinsic qualities the unit possesses.

Tactical Marines have long been one of my favourite units – at least conceptually. In practice, though, they have pretty much always been kind of (or a lot) lackluster. For a brief period in 7th Edition, the Battle Company meta-detachment made them shine, and that was only because it piled on SO MANY special rules unto the humble squad that it was almost impossible not to do well with them.

These days, that’s all gone, and we find ourselves in a new meta that is dominated by horde/chaff infantry. Conscripts held the crown of best chaff unit for a while, but Cultists, Poxwalkers and Brimstone Horrors have also been doing pretty well. Meanwhile, my Tactical Marines have been really struggling… and I think I understand why.

“Well, they just cost too much, duh!”

Well yes, of course. After all, anything can be good if it’s costed appropriately. The more interesting question is: why? What is it that makes them overcosted? That is what I’ll attempt to elucidate for you.

Tactical Squads are pretty basic. What I mean by that is they don’t really do anything special: they can’t deep-strike, or infiltrate, or move rapidly, or cast Smite, or fight twice in the Fight Phase. Ergo, getting their point cost right doesn’t necessitate taking into account a lot of complex variables. Indeed, it pretty much comes down to how survivable they are, and how much damage they can push out. While And They Shall Know No Fear is a thing, bear in mind that Tactical Squads usually operate in 5-man squads; ergo, it doesn’t really warrant too much of a thought because its impact is limited.

With all of that in mind, I’m going to compare them to Infantry Squads, because their overall mechanics are similar (i.e. they shoot things and then die) – the big difference is that Infantry Squads are just do it a lot better overall. I initially wanted to compare them to Conscripts but with the Chapter Approved points change, I think Infantry Squads are probably going to be seeing a lot more play than ‘Scripts.

On the damage-dealing front, things are bad straight off the bat:

  • At 24 inches, a Guardsman firing at a Predator (T7, 3+ AS) causes 0.0069 Wounds per Point (hereafter referred to as WPP for brevity’s sake): 1 shot, hitting 50% of the time, wounding 16% of the time and going through the tank’s armour 33% of the time will do 0.027 wounds, which is then divided by the model’s cost (4 points), giving us 0.0069 WPP.
  • At the same range, a Tactical Marine will cause 0.0056 WPP to the vehicle: 1 shot hitting 66% of the time, wounding 33% of the time and defeating the tank’s armour 33% of the time causes 074 wounds, which is then divided by the model’s cost (13 points), giving us 0.0056 WPP.

If you’re even the least bit good at math, you will have already calculated that the Guardsman does over 20% more Wounds per Point that a Tactical Marine against the Predator.

“Well, so what? It’s not like shooting at tanks is what Bolters are supposed to be good at, anyways!”

True, but the bad news is that it only goes downhill from here:

  • At 24 inches, a Guardsman firing at a Chaos Marine (T4, 3+ AS) will cause 0.0138 WPP: 1 shot hitting 50% of the time, wounding 33% of the time and going through the armour 33% of the time will cause 0.055 wounds. Divided by model cost of 4 points leaves us with 0.0138 WWP.
  • At the same range, a Tactical Marine will cause 0.0085 WPP to his heretical counterpart: 1 shot hitting 66% of the time, wounding 50% of the time and going through the filthy corrupted armour 33% of time will cause 0.111 wounds; divided by 13 points, we get 0.0085 WPP.

So, that’s over 60% more WPP against the Chaos Marine for the Imperial Guardsman. Ouch.

“Hmm… well ok, that’s bad, but bolters have always been best at shredding light infantry anyways!”

Hang on to your hat, my friend!

  • At 24 inches, a Guardsman firing at another Guardsman will cause 0.0416 WPP: 1 shot hitting 50% of the time, wounding 50% of the time and going through the armour 66% of the time will cause 0.166 wound, which is then divided by the model’s cost of 4 points = 0.0416 WPP.
  • At the same range, a Tactical Marine will cause 0.0227 WPP: 1 shot hitting 66% of the time, wounding 66% of the time and going through the armour 66% of the time, divided by a model cost of 13 pts = 0.0227 WWP.

That is over 80% more WPP in favour of the Guardsman! Holy smokes!

“Well, ok, Tacticals don’t do a lot of damage, but at least they are durable, right?”

Are they really, though? Let’s take a look:

  • A 4-points Guardsman will suffer 0.66 WPP from a Chaos Cultist (BS 4+) firing an autogun (S3 Ap0) at him from 24 inches away: 1 shot hitting 50% of the time, wounding 50% of the time and bypassing the flak armour 66% of time will cause 0.16 wounds, which is then multiplied by the model’s cost (4 points), giving us 0.66 WPP suffered.
  • A 13-points Tactical Marine will suffer 0.72 WPP from the same Chaos Cultist: 1 shot hitting 50% of the time, wounding 33% of the time, bypassing the Marine’s armour 33% will cause 0.05 wounds, which multiplied by 13 (points), gives us 0.72 WPP.

So the Tactical Marine will suffer about 8% more WPP than the Guardsman will in this instance. That’s unbalanced but within the realm of the tolerable. The thing is that once again, that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

  • When shot at by a Chaos Marine (BS 3+) wielding a Boltgun (S4 Ap 0), our Guardsman loses 1.18 WPP: 1 shot hitting 66% of the time, wounding 66% of the time and bypassing the Guardsman’s armour 66% of the time causes 0.29 wounds, which multiplied by 4 points gives us 1.18 WPP.
  • In the same situation, our Tactical Marine will suffer 1.44 WPP: 1 shot hitting 66% of the time, wounding 50% of the time and bypassing power armour 33% of the time will cause 0.11 wounds, which multiplied by 13 points gives 1.44 WPP.

In this scenario, our Tactical Marines suffers over 20% more WPP than the Guardsman! And if you think that’s bad, just wait when we introduce a weapon with a good AP into the mix!

  • When shot by a Tempestus Scion Stormtrooper (BS 3+) with a Plasmagun (S7 Ap -3), a Guardsman will suffer 2.22 WPP: 1 shot hitting 66% of the time, wounding 83% of the time and completing negating his armour will cause 0.55 wounds. Multiplied by 4 points gives us 2.22 WPP.
  • In the same situation, our Tactical Marine will lose 4.81 WPP: 1 shot hitting 66% of the time, wounding 66% of the time and bypassing the armour 83% of the time will cause 0.37 wounds. Multiplied by 13 gives us 4.81 WPP.

That is a whopping 216% more WPP when shot by the (not even overcharged) plasmagun! Sweet Lord Almighty!

So in summary, you have a unit that not only does less damage per point than a unit of Guardsman does, but it also extremely vulnerable to high AP weapons will still being worse against standard small arms.

Now, if only the special and heavy weapons the Tacticals had access to were able to compensate for the disparity in cost effectiveness of the basic models, one could argue that said disparity wouldn’t matter. Unfortunately, the Infantry Squad’s plasmagun is more than 45% cheaper than the Tactical Squad’s while only hitting 25% less. The Lascannon is less advantageously priced at a 20% discount while still hitting 25% less, but say you take both a plasmagun and lascannon, the equivalent Tactical Squad will spend a combined 48% more on a combi-plas and lascannon for only a 33% increase damage output.

Where is the silver lining supposed to be? Krak Grenades?

Now, as I said, this article looked at the math behind Tactical Squad in detail, but a lot of the same can be said of a fair bit of the game’s elite infantry. Indeed, pretty much all of the Marine infantry falls into that category (lol Assault Marines) and without having run the math, Eldar Dire Avengers seem pretty pricy at 12 points a pop. Hopefully, someone at GW is going to take a long hard look at how these are costed and make some changes, but given that Chapter Approved 2017 just came and went, we may have to wait a while…

Thoughts?

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150 Responses to “Mathammer: Why Tactical Squads (and a Lot of Elite Infantry, Generally) Suck”

  1. IW says:

    Not sure about Guard,but an explanation may be that Space Marines get access to a range of re-roll auras. They also have better CC stats for what that is worth.

    Chaos have access to some powerful stratagems and to a lesser extent re-rolls. Can’t speak to other armies.

    • Desc440 says:

      Guard have Yarrick for to-hit rerolls and Cultists/Poxwalkers have Chaos Lords and Exalted Champions. Not as good as Guilliman but then I would be more than happy to have Guilliman cost a lot more if it meant my Tactical Marines cost a lot less. And CC stats are also worse, proportionaly speaking.

    • Kirby says:

      This is all true but MEQ models are historically over priced because of their generalist statline and very few actual MEQs are worthy of inclusion in every facet of the game. Grey Knights in 5th and 6th edition were one of the rare exceptions but that was often because of their crazy efficient vehicles who were nearly impossible to suppress.

  2. AngryPanda says:

    This is the most balanced edition ever so obviously math is wrong. Not your math. All math. All of it. GW knows better.

  3. _Garnet_ says:

    Hmm. While I'm sure your math is right, I'm also not really sure it's entirely useful; by breaking it down so far as to get into WPP you're no longer looking at how the actual purchasable units perform on the tabletop and instead focusing on a kind of theoretical 40K, played with fractional models. A 5-man Tac squad can get wholly into area terrain for a cover bonus, start in transports for protection against shooting, start in drop pods for unique deployment options, make use of bunkers and fortifications, and ignore Morale damage in a way that a points-equivalent 16-man IG squad cannot.

    • Desc440 says:

      “Intanglible” advantages are present for guard too. They have much better board presence, suffer less from failed morale tests, have Voice of Command to let them do all sorts of wacky stuff, etc. The marine’s intangibles would have to be massive to make up for all their other defficiencies.

      • _Garnet_ says:

        Suffering less from a failed morale test seems like a pretty minimal advantage given that Marines are rarely in a position to fail morale in the first place, particularly relative to post-Commissar change Guard.

        • Andy says:

          While i couldn't agree more with considering the big picture of how a unit performs overall, i do think the general problem tactical marines have is a concern. I've given this some more thought and taken a look at all the things i can think of that are adding up to that extra cost. Though most of these points are based around Tactical Marines many apply to eldar guardians

          1) High morale and can re-roll failed morale tests. Somewhere in there is a cost for this, if space marines had the same stats and LD 4 (termagaunts morale) then i'd expect them to be considerably cheaper, since killing 1 would have them checking to see. And this is a benefit, but tournaments will not see competitive armies using -LD and force morale on 2D until we see a change to things like the tyranids hive mind which might as well read as "your units are immune to morale until you have lost the game".

          2) They all have bolt pistols. These are actually essentially an extra melee attack on the turn after you were charged, allowing you to fight back a little better. There have been games where this has come into affect and won a fight for control over an objective. But for every time it does something, there are 20 occasions where no bolt pistol is ever fired. If you could get your space marines for 1 less point but no bolt pistol, you probably would.

          3) Special Weapons. First and foremost they do get to carry a lot more special and heavy weapons, so you would think you max them out on these and get better value? Problem is, every special weapon you buy you lose a boltgun, so you are in effect paying more for each special weapon, never is this more obvious than the case of a flamer, 7pts for the imp guard replacing a BS 4+ S3 lasgun, 9pts for the space marine replacing a BS 3+ boltgun.

          There should be a cost for attaching a weapon to a more resilient model, but there isn't, a predator and a landraider pay the same for the lascannons they carry. In fact elite infantry are the only thing that pay a premium for special/heavy weapons.

          4) Grenades. As above, you replace a shot with your weapon with the frag grenade, which is barely an improvement to the Space Marine but a big upgrade over a cultists lasgun. There has to have been a cost for the Krak Grenade, but it's so situational, and even in good situations its not that great. I base this on playing intercessors, and with 30" range grenades, i have to say they are nearly always underwhelming, and thats firing them off every turn.

          5) Ease of getting buffs. Space marine chars are excellent, especially with relics, and provide really good force multipliers, is it significantly better than other buffs? Certainly not Guilleman is excellent, but he simply isn't as good as orders, cultits are identically priced to IG and don't have orders, so my conclusion is buffs don't get included.

          6) Chapter/Strategems/Pyschic powers Again the differences between chaos and tactical marines, imp guard and cultists implies that these are not factored into the cost of the unit itself.

          7) Amount of power concentrated in an area – This is really intangible, it is easier to get in cover, los things, ensure all your melee attacks can hit, but it means less ability to screen, worse at chaining to buffs while holding objectives. Overall it is a positive i feel, just not huge.

          So if you took all that away, how much would a marine cost? It's pretty clear what you are paying for is a 2+ armour save in cover that's T4. Which as long as that's what you get is pretty good. Though as i mentioned before always worse than a devestator.

          • Desc440 says:

            Yeah I am pretty sure that GW is overcosting a lot of the tangential benefits Tacticals do get. We know this from the fact that somehow they value the Ravenguard Chapter Tactic as being just as good as the Imperial Fist one.

            Maybe the solution is as simple as bolt pistols and krak grenades optional? 11 pts Tacticals would already be… something.

            • Andy says:

              I added some stuff at the bottom that shows just how good tacticals are in the right circumstances, i think that there is room to push all the elite infantry down a bit, in fact we can see its begun already

              Terminators have been in freefall and if terminators were balanced vs tacticals, that can only mean tacticals need a change too, also note GW haven't been afraid to undo nerfs, horrors went back to 7 in CA. Guardians are crazily bad, necrons are totally unplayable too.

              Hilariously, one of the units causing this issue is aggressors who saw a buff at the same time as all the anti infantry stuff they were arguably better than was nerfed.

              And i think therein lies the true issue for Tacticals, you only really have two spots in an ITC game where you want to put them, the two los blockers in the middle, sure they contest other stuff, but those are the prime spots for elite infantry, and they are so ridiculously outclassed by aggressors that theres no way you ever take tacs.

  4. happy_inquisitor says:

    Tactical Squads are the very definition of middling – they are designed to be on the middle of the bell curve as they need to be for they are viewed as the core unit of the entire game. They do get better with buffs, and have more access to those buffs than pretty much anything else, but on their own will not be better than average. Average is not competitive; you only take average units to a tournament if you need to for a specific purpose but Tactical Squads are also the ultimate generalists so you will hardly ever have a specialist use in mind for them.

    Guard by comparison are undercosted. You can mathammer all day and all you will prove is what we already know – pretty much that entire codex is undercosted. You can do the same Infantry comparison against less elite options like Ork Boyz, Gaunts or Fire Warriors and you will come to the same conclusion, at 4 points each Guardsmen are at least one point too cheap. But then this is completely obvious just from playing a few games, or looking at a few tournament results. We all (other than some AM players still in denial) know that this is the case.

    I don't think that this means there is a huge problem with elite infantry, there is however a bit of a problem with some – but definitely not all – of the cheap infantry. Naturally if you play competitive games its only the problem models you ever see.

    • Robert Butcher says:

      I agree with you. Middling Troops should be the basis of our armies, not relying on elite all the time. They need the support of officers et al to win

      I like my SM … especially with their special rules and auras from officers. I feel the AM would not get many shots off as they would die first.

      As a mathematician, I hate the concept of WWP. It's a made-up measurement that doesn't take any notice of the effect of probability for crucial rolls and ignores the above auras / strategems / CPs etc. Instead, look at the tactics used to win by Spider (Tabletop Tactics) etc. If Tactical Squads are so poor why did he use five squads to win Heat 1 in October. (And similarly used five squads of Dark Eldar troops with supporting vehicles at No Retreat V.)

      • Desc440 says:

        The day Tacticals become a staple of competitive SM lists, I'll withdraw my criticism. But 1 guy doing well with them in 1 event is an outlier.

      • The Raven says:

        Lets be honest with ourselves a bit here. Guilliman and the 5(6?) Twin-assault cannon razorback cheese is the reason that list worked, not the 5 obligatory tactical squads. Oh…and the un-hitable Stormraven + Tigurious combo.

        People may not like it but the math is true. WWP is a thing. Ask any of the top tournament players how they build their lists and they will all tell you the same thing, point efficiency. Heck, Lawrence will say the same thing,

  5. Alastores says:

    Cover, sure.

    The rest :- Um. So your answer to Tac Marines being overpriced compared to Guardsman is "Spend more points" ?

    Also – even if that were the case, doesn't it seem a bit strange to you that the SPACE MARINES are the ones that have to hide?

  6. Iandanger says:

    Gods, the more I read about 8th ed the more I’m glad not to be playing 8th ed

  7. Blaze Raven says:

    Perhaps the problem is that GEQ are just under priced and require a 50% increase in cost? For example, somewhere closer to guardian/fire warriors points (8 ppm) like 6-7 ppm?

    I wonder how tactical marines compare in cost effectiveness compared to units that are not infantry squads.

    • Desc440 says:

      I feel that would simply mean that GEQ would simply stop being used in favour of more tanks. People don’t use Guardians for a reason…

      • Blaze Raven says:

        The reason why Eldar players don't use guardians is because rangers exist. Rangers are favored over other troops due to their utility in restricting enemy movement (deep strike etc). Same reason why scouts are favored over tactical marines.

        • Desc440 says:

          Well either Rangers are priced appropriately and Guardians are overpriced, are Guardians are priced approppriately and Rangers are underpriced. I know where I'd place my money if I were a betting man.

          • Blaze Raven says:

            Rangers would be considered underpriced simply for the fact that they provide an invaluable utility for an eldar army with their infiltrate ability to ward off deepstrikes and to sit on objectives from the start of the game.

  8. Tomguycot says:

    Incoming Infantry Squad nerf. I only wish I was kidding but if GW thinks conscripts should be 4 points, how long until Infantry cost 5?

  9. Prometheus says:

    Here I am, just wondering if I can make GKT work, even with the 5 pt cut. Because to be honest, Paladins work like gang busters, and they would be horrible on just about any of your WPP metrics.

  10. Akula says:

    It's not just about Marines, think about Eldar Guardians, without even doing the math, they cost twice the price of a guardsman while having only +1 WS and BS, and a worse gun (12")… Sure some Elite infanteries are good (hello dark reapers, khorne bersekers, noise marines…) but most of them are not troops and most of them are still outright bad (think about the poor rubrics or necron warriors :D)

  11. Kirby says:

    Elite infantry have always been something hard to nail down because they are always going to be less efficient than cheaper infantry on all fronts (because 3-4 of one thing is generally better than 1 of something else unless they are vastly worse) but are supposed to be generally decent at more things (i.e. we consider shooting above but not combat).

    In 5th edition when MEQ mech lists ran supreme, they were often the vehicle upgrade needed to access the Razorback but Space Wolves, Grey Knights and Blood Angels were seen more commonly in those builds because of a few particulars. SW / GK were more viable as combat options. GK have better damage output with Storm Bolters. All three could take a special weapon at 5 strong and both SW / BA could bring a secondary special through a combi or pistol on the Sarge.

    These were all issues for Tacticals that were solved with subsequent codex releases; however with 8th edition hordes are rewarded. Primarily because one of the major intangibles for large squads used to be templates / blast weapons. There's only so much space on the board and if you have 180 Orks, plus tank shock, flame templates could easily autohit 10+ models and ignore all of their saves. While easily accessible cover was available for cheap infantry to propel them to 4+ cover in previous editions, changes in the way weapons interact has drastically improved their stock (along with the ability to wound anything).

    Secondly, stratagems and psychic powers are basically one unit per turn and this means bigger units gain more benefit from them. While this is less of an issue for Guard now, we still see it with Chaos and will start to see it with Tyranids or even Eldar stacking buffs on a Wraithblade / Banshees, unit, etc. These are either cheap and cheerful units or units with a more specialist role while Space Marine specialists such as Sternguard, do not get that much more effectiveness against respective targets (and Terminators are that much more vulnerable to 2D+ weapons).

    • Desc440 says:

      "we consider shooting above but not combat"
      Given its the same stats as shooting, its the same result – Tacs get clubbered.

      Good point on the blasts/templates and stratagems – just more nails in the elite infantry's coffin.

      To be worthwhile, Elite infantry needs to be better at SOMETHING than chaff infantry. IMO, they should be more efficient at surviving small arms but less efficient against plasma and other high AP weapons. That gives them a useful niche to occupy. Also, bolters would need to be not crap, too. More shots or better AP or both.

      • Stefan says:

        Your wishlist is almost exactly what Primaris Marines can offer. There is a reason a lot of people are calling them True-Scale marines. They might be what GW has intended with SM a long time ago.
        On a sidenote, I believe that template weapons should generally have the rule of the Grav-Bombard to score more hits the bigger the unit.

        • Alastores says:

          I'd imagine they do even worse per wound, though.

        • Kirby says:

          Primaris still have some key questions to answer. No special weapons. No transport. Those are pretty big misnomers. Hellblasters with all special weapons are decent choices and Aggressors with points reductions do not seem bad (other than their horrendous model) but still, that does nothing for the Tactical Squad and feeds right into the rhetoric that the old SM line was being phased out by the new.

          • Prometheus says:

            Uh…..the repuslor. Yes, it's really expensive, basically a LR. It's also like, really, really good, tho. I've been super impressed with it. If I had a complaint, it would be keeping track of all the different fiddly guns it has.

            • Andy says:

              Couldn't agree more I like to consider it a cheaper land raider whose only drawback is one of your lascannons only has 34" range.

              in the grand scheme of things its still kind of bad, it is a bit to easy to blow up, and hugely vulnerable to the primarchs but it doesn't feel like just throwing points away like fielding a land raider.

          • AngryPanda says:

            Okay, did anyone seriously believe they would not phase the old ones out? Like GW would seriously want to keep two lines of different sizes marines going long term?

          • Infinite_Monkeys says:

            The auxiliary grenade launcher isn't total suck, as a special weapon, though.

          • Stefan says:

            All true. The only reason they did not get a cheaper transport imho is because GW does not want to make small Marines obsolete immediately.
            I also do not think they need special weapons, because they are quite good in killing infantery with their Bolt Rifle. And also the 30 inch range can be good in a firefight.

        • terto says:

          no, they are note, 1 primarsi cost 2 normal marine.

          2 combi bolter kill1 primaris or 2 marine

          but

          1 plasma shoot kill1 primary or 1 normal marine.

          raw normal marine >>>> primaris. because wounds cannot spill

      • Kirby says:

        Yes I guess the shooting v combat was in reference to other generalist units. I would be curious to see what Primaris are now with their point changes for example but say units like Sanguinary Guard *should* be better at combat, etc.

        The problem at making those changes is how (at least durability wise)? W2 helps nothing against plasma but doubles resilience against small arms. Primaris have this but cannot be transport by anything sans Repulsor so are subject to all the firepower T1. 4++? That's crazy good and we can see what Brimstones have been doing with it (at a much cheaper price).

        • Desc440 says:

          Just make them cheaper. There's a pricepoint at which they become more cost-efficient against certain things (lasguns, bolters, etc.) but still worse against others (plasma, metla, etc.). It gives them a useful niche to occupy, which is what they lack at the moment.

          Bolters also need a look.

  12. Neil_Phillips says:

    It's a core problem with the rules, unfortunately. Because of the "new" AP system, and removal of Template weapons, there is no elegant way to design a weapon which kills Guardsmen efficiently, which doesn't kill Marines even more efficiently.

    That said, Tactical Marines do have a role. Unfortunately, that role is skulking in cover on a backfield objective. Marines benefit much more from cover than Guardsmen, which kinda sucks thematically.

    • Andy says:

      Hmmm, but scouts are exactly the same at that job, 10pts cheaper and also offer up deep strike protection.

      hence the tactical really having no place at all.

      • Neil_Phillips says:

        Scouts don't have 2+ armour saves in cover, unless you give them Camo Cloaks, at which point they cost more than tac marines. Plus the marines can carry a Lascannon.

        We have seen top Marine lists running one or two Tac squads along side their Scout squads. (Although more common is to have a Marine component in an imperial soup list, and use Conscripts and Scions as troops).

        They're not great and they're not flashy, but they do have a role, which is more than can be said for many units.

        • Andy says:

          Yeah the 2+ in cover is nice, but then, why field a tac squad over devs. usually cp is the reason I agree, and I have tested a tac squad + 2 scouts (on the basis that not much is gained from the third scout unit, and their long range weapon option is a missile launcher which is like pissing points away). I have never felt though yes that unit did something.

          I should add a caveat that I do often run strike squads, and when tac marines do -exactly- the same thing just worse, I think you get a dim view of them.

    • Blaze Raven says:

      "Because of the "new" AP system, and removal of Template weapons, there is no elegant way to design a weapon which kills Guardsmen efficiently, which doesn't kill Marines even more efficiently. "

      The problem with that statement is that Guardsman should not be your measure when designing an anti infantry weapon/unit/psychic power because they are in no way representative of the infantry units in the game. This is because they mathematical outliers due to their extremely low cost. Consider the following:

      A single space marine bolt shot would kill 0.111111 MEQ or 1.4444 points or kill 0.296296 GEQ or 1.185185 points. This we know from the article.

      However, compare and contrast a bolt shot against a Space Marine Scout (0.166667 models, 1.833333 points) ,Tau Fire Warrior (0.222222 models, 1.777778 points), Tau Gun Drones (0.166667 models, 1.333333 points), Tau Shield Drones (0.111111 models, 0.888889 points) , a Necron Warrior (0.166667 models, 2 points), Eldar Guardian (0.296296 models, 2.370370 points), Dark Eldar Kabalite Warrior (0.256913 models, 1.728395 points), Ork boy (0.277778 models, 1.666667 points), Tyranid Termagaunt (0.370370 models, 1.481481 points), AdMech Rangers (0.222222 models, 1.777778), Chaos Cultists (0.370370 models, 1.481481 points), Death Guard Poxwalkers (0.296296 models, 1.777778 points), GSC Neophyte (0.296296 models, 1.481481 points), SoB Sisters (0.148148 models, 1.333333 points).

      Aside from one outlier in the Shield Drone (0.888889 points), all other models compared here are less point efficient against a bolt shot then the IG Infantry Squad (1.185185 points). The closest competitors here are the Gun Drone (1.333333 points), SoB Sisters (1.333333 points), SM Tactical Marine (1.444444 points) and other GEQ such as Chaos Cultists, GSC Neophytes, Tyranid Termagaunts (1.481481 points). As you can see, against bolter fire, the IG Infantry Squad and Tau Shield Drone are exceptionally durable compared to other basic units in the game and are outliers. The other values hover around 1.333333 points – 1.777778 points per bolt shot with SM Scouts (1.833333 points), Necron Warriors (2 points) and Eldar Guardians (2.370370 points) being the upper end outliers.

      Because the IG infantry squad is so exceptionally cheap, there is no way to design any cost effective solution to kill them and not have that solution be under costed against all other (barring the extremely cost effective Tau Shield Drone) infantry in the game. Instead, IG infantry squads (and by extension all other IG GEQ units) should be raised by at least one point to bring them in line with Chaos Cultists, Tyranid Termagants and GSC Neophytes. Tau Shield Drones should also have their points adjusted.

      • Coyote81 says:

        You could make weapons with bonuses against T3 and less targets. Similar to how Grav is better against marine due to Saves.

        • Alastores says:

          Or you could key it so that it inflicts multiple hits against those with weak armour saves. Or a weapon that if it inflicts one casualty, radiates outward, doing more casualities with progressively weaker effect.

        • happy_inquisitor says:

          Or just make Guardsmen 5 points which fixes the whole imbalance much more simply.

          Shield drones are an amusing outlier – even more so on any metric of their damage output 🙂

      • Andy says:

        Whilst I agree with most of your assessment, i'd like to just clarify a few things:

        Alpha Legion Chaos cultists are -1 to hit at over 12" range at no extra cost, they are the absolute gold standard of infantry, with no additional resources directed their way, just as a baseline unit, they are the single hardest to remove infantry in the game. Obviously they have no protection in melee, this is beter here this is better there, and many other infantry have better firepower, but in sheer resilience these are the go to.

        After that come the rest of the -1 to hit stuff, termagaunts and brimstone horrors are ridiculously tough to remove. the gaunts even ignore morale which makes them considerably more dangerous.

        Finally the poxwalkers out of the box are rubbish, complete junk, but due to the way they interact with other units, they are quite capable of outright winning games, let alone the problems of removing them (t5 with a 5+++ rerolling 1's is no joke).

        As for killing guardsmen efficiently and effectively? Aggressors.

      • PuppetSoul says:

        The problem is that units like Termagaunts are just flat-out superior to basic IG infantry, having similar shooting profile, but also having conscript-sized blobs that are naturally immune to morale, the option for a 5+ FnP, a cheap anti-melee stratagem (caustic blood), resistance to psychic powers (and a counterspell stratagem), and having an elite option that regrows 10 casualties per turn.

        Cultists are a reasonable comparison.

        Comparing them (or anything really) to Brimstones is amusing.

    • Desc440 says:

      Well, if Marines were a fair bit cheaper, they would suffer less (per point) from "small arms" than Guardsmen do, but as long as you don't make them too cheap, they would still suffer more (per point) from plasma and the like. There would be clear pros and cons to taking them, unlike right now where it's all cons.

      And why bother with Tactical on backfield objectives when Devastators do the same job, but better? Granted, they don't have Objective Secured, but in all honesty, if it gets to the point where that matters, you probably have already lost the game anyhow…_

      • Neil_Phillips says:

        The reason to field Tacs over Devs is to fill out Battalion and Brigade detachments. For a Battalion, 2x Scouts 1x Tacs, or for a Brigade, 3x Scouts 3x Tacs. I've seen both those configs fielded.

        5 tacs with a lascannon in cover in the backfield are cheap and cheerful and not worth spending resources killing. 5 devs are more expensive and threatening and are much less likely to be there at the end of the game. Which is not to say don't field them, devs are obviously good this edition. You can have both.

        Another option is to field 2 special weapons in a razorback. That's what I had been fielding. It's…. not great, but OK.

        I don't want to be some sort of tactical marine apologist. I think there's a problem with the way cheap infantry is costed, basically everything under 5 points is too good, except Grots. I just don't buy into "Tac marines are totally useless", since they have at least one use 🙂

        • Desc440 says:

          Instead of buying a Tactical squad to dick around with you Devs, just get a Scout squad and use the points you've saved from that to get more bodies in the Devs. Instantly better. You get one less Lascannon, but over the course of the game, you will still likely have a net positive in lascannon shots as your Devs have more padding.

    • terto says:

      problem is the lack of large blast, blast sucked in 7th but templace and large blast were not only good but the only things to keep in check zerg army.

      The only flamer problem was the lack of any range , add a 6 to where place the template , problem solved.
      Large blast where good, very good in fact so goed battle cannon need nerf becauase it was bring battle cannon then ap2/ap1 and thats it you had covered anything.

  13. Andy says:

    Certainly I never did the math, I just knew Taq Squads were total garbage. As noted above by Kirby and a few others, tactical squads pay highly for being able to do a wide variety of things, but the problem is within the same army you have access to aggressors and scouts, both of whom do the generalist thing distinctly better, scouts being one of the most versatile units in 8th ed, possibly the most versatile. Whilst aggressors are able to do the generalist thing just as well, but also offer an instant anti infantry solution.

    If you decide to build an eldar army you find exactly the same issue, though I feel it's even more pronounced because the scout equivalent is even more expensive, and brings considerably less firepower, is pretty much totally safe to ignore.

    My advice is as it has always been, take scouts, make them raven guard, take a jetpack lt and a jetpack captain (or Kayvaan) and grab 6 aggressors. Use 1 of the 3 cp you have to deep strike the aggressors and you will never get a truly bad trade. Whatever wipes out this detachment will pay in blood for the priveledge, or will be a high quality alpha strike, that very much would have wiped out something far more dangerous than 5 scouts.

    Whatever else you do with the rest of you space marine army is up to you, but this single detachment is the backbone of forming a distinct threat to your opponent, and a massive roadblock to any deep strike strat.

    My only concession is in in an Ultramarines army, run them as ultras, sure you lose the "I win the game" factor that a ravenguard alpha strike gives you, but you have units protecting your army from deep strike, and total denial of the centre of the map, any unit attempting to move in to claim any objective must first silence the aggressors or simply cease to exist, they will rip through any T7 target in a single turn.

  14. terto says:

    pretty beasy explainantion
    BALANCE TEAM dont know how to balance a game because if they do they wont had removed blast from games…….

    where is gone my battel cannons that kill1 units of meq or blob??

    why my turretds are there waiting for a new editoon to shine?

    gw balance team is not good at balance.

    wanna name worst change of 8t 8th=

    1.everything can wounds all (zerg army way to good)
    2-no more blast and when i mean blast i mean no more LARGE blast
    3-way too many movement speed in 7th something mvoed 6 or 12 and thats it not 4,5,6,7,8,19,12,14 lol???? are they drunk? way too many beer

    • Blaze Raven says:

      There are some problems with your statements.

      1. Weight of dice has always been king. There is a reason why S5 0AP spam destroyed almost everything in 7th edition.
      2. Battle cannons only killed MEQ due to AP 3. You would not have killed a blob since unit coherency was 2" of your 5" circumference, meaning you would only have up to 3 units along your diameter with another 4 more if you hit a position in a hexagonal formation for a total of 7 hits. You could force a morale check on a min sized (10 man) guardsman squad but not wipe it.
      3. You seem to forget that movement speeds in 7th were 6", 12" and 12"+36"+2d6".

  15. JarlDarren says:

    People looked at me like I was crazy when I went on and on about how grey hunters should be equally priced as tac marines who were also over costed. Grey hunters don’t get chapter tactics yet and have no real rules for themselves. They get a chainsword, but they obviously payed 1 point for it. Now I see we got a point reduction, but I still don’t think I’ll be running them. They are more tactically flexible than blood claws with their bolters, 3+ BS, and a chainsword, but I’d rather use the blood claws because they fight harder with wulfen. I will say though, blood claws are 13 points and will usually shred most other troops in close combat and live to tell the tale.

  16. Stefan says:

    What about Primaris Intercessors? They could be better defensively with their 2 Wounds.
    Maybe they were introduced by GW to replace Tacticals with a much better coverage of what marines should actually do on the table?

    • Desc440 says:

      Having ran the numbers on Intercessors previously when they were 20 points, they were faring worse than Tacticals against everything except small arms. Knocking 2 points off of them is a start but they need MUCH more than that to be viable.

      • Stefan says:

        Well, you said Marines should be better against small arms. Primaris are.
        Besides I don't think you should compare the wound per point loss for Primaris, but rather the model loss. If you lose a single wound, this would not degrade the Primaris in any way. It just matters how many models you actually lose.
        Also their 30 inch range guns with AP -1 are really good in a small arms firefight. And if you now say: "but the guard has heavy weapons in the squad" then we should probably stop to look at the units in a vacuum at all.

        • Desc440 says:

          Yes they need to be better against small arms, but that becomes moot if they simultaneously become worse against plasma AND deal less damage.

  17. Scuzgob says:

    oh no, maths

  18. kero says:

    I'm sick of this bullshit that says that the marines are a jack of all trades and that they have this point cost because they have so many tools….

    as I've said, bullshit, the only thing that makes people take tacticals is to spam lascannon with 5 wounds for a lot of points and use them with bobby g. to make the points to be close to other factions gunlines.

    tacticals are shit and need a solid 3 point discount per mini to make them viable and to be able to make with them the paper that they should have

    my 2 cents

    • Andy says:

      The argument against that is of course then how do you price scouts?

      First and foremost, the ability to pay 57 points for a unit that denies deep strike to your opponent, controls the centre of the board from turn 1 is amazing, throw in a flamer instead of a storm bolter if you really want to get a value trade with your scouts. Essentially paying 57 pts to declare your most important asset(s) cannot be hit by melta guns or rapid fire plasma )or in extreme cases 20 khorne bezerekers) until they are first dealt with is almost essential.

      Most alpha strike units have one thing in common, they are ludicrously fragile often at well over 20 points per wound, if you can stall for them for one turn that should be enough to kill them. This has always been the goal of screens of infantry, but scouts have always done it better, more consistently and further away so when it does go wrong, there is time for plan B.

      So, you have what is arguably one of the best units in the game at 11pts per model, extremely unlikely it ever sees a cost reduction, and then a unit that fighting wise is harder to kill and has better weapon options can it be cheaper?

      Finally we have the comparison to devastators who are identical in every way, but have one model hitting on 2's. Balanced?

      Compare to strike squads, the strike squads built in plasma gun (smite) and double firepower + added resilience worth 8 points a model? probably you have to pay 2.5 a model just for the plasma gun, add in that they all have +1A power weapons and its not even close. You end up comparing HQs which should be balanced by themselves imo, and the tacticals come off hugely favourable in this, but then scouts with same hqs even better.

    • terto says:

      well i agree because thats what i do, i spam lascannon with csm with this, why take plasma when i foot hold obective

      -objective secure
      -lascannon
      -bolter

      everything for 180 pt add that if in cover those models became 2+

      even with a vp 3 this 5è save is either a 2+ or 5+ for 10 modesls with 2 lascannons, im basically playing terminators.
      If you have a way to deal with morales as iron warrior for exemple. then enemy will never remove those things from your objective.

      the problem of meq is that they are suppose to be assoult troups which mean move+shoot+charge, when you cant do all of this 100% efficently you loose in building when including such units.
      This cant happen because as conseguence of shoot casualities increase the charge distance. So you cant shoot + charge the same units for exemple and this is a great problem. It always was thats way it was always better take 2 unit 1 shooty and 1 melee than 1 that do both; the only expection being 4th ed as you remove modesls from behind units which mean you could shoot+charge with out self tarpit.

      In 7th this downside was fixed by also allow you more tactical advatnage by target pick champions and hq in units due positioning.now that this is no more possible armry that play mroe units offset this more easily

  19. Guest says:

    Guardsmen are too cheap. We all knew that since the very first day the index dropped. Compare your Tactical Squads against Eldar Guardians and see how amanzing they suddenly seem…

  20. Tirend says:

    An alternative way to look at it is that a Guardsman only has a 5% chance to kill a Marine while the Marine has a 29% chance to kill the guardsman. This assumes default weaponry, 1 shot.

    For the guardsman vs. Marine:

    Hit[.50] * Wound[.33] * Failed Save[.33] = .05556= 5.556%

    For the Marine vs. Guardsman:

    Hit[.66] * Wound[.66] * Failed Save[.66] = .296296 = 29.6296%

    This doesn’t take into account points and such.

    • Desc440 says:

      Without accounting for points, it is irrelevant.

      • Tirend says:

        To answer both you and Alastores:

        A 5 man squad of tacticals is 65 points. This is the equivalent of 16 guardsmen. Let’s bump it to 20 guardsmen (2 infantry squads) and 6 tactical marines for a near equivalent points cost. Since this is an OR relationship for probability, you add them all together.

        The 20 Guardsmen have a 111.12% chance to kill 1 marine.

        The 6 marines have 177.7776% chance to kill 1 Guardsmen.

        This means it takes almost 2 full squads, 18 Guardsmen, to ensure 1 marine dies. And it only takes the marines 4 marines to ensure 1 guardsman dies. Divide these numbers by the number of casaulties you want to check for.

        Now the real skew that occurs is once you start adding in special and heavy weapons. That’s where it swings heavy in the guardsman favor since the guardsmen have more albative bodies they can remove prior to starting to lose their extra guns.

        • Guest says:

          Okay… and the guardsmen still kill more points of marines than the marines kill points of guardsmen. Even without the special weapons.

          18 guardsmen kill 13 points of marines

          6 marines kill 6 points of guardsmen

          Again: without considering points your comparisons are meaningless.

          • Tirend says:

            Except the Guardsmen cchance to kill degrades faster. So yes, those guardsmen killed your 13 point body but as they take more casaulties their inferior stats start to show more.

            For example:
            Using the above numbers we can safely say the marines will kill 2 guardsmen during their turn. The Guardsmen kill one in return.

            Next turn the marines are likely to kill another 2 guardsmen. The guardsmen Chace to Kill has dropped to 88%. It’s no longer garunteed that they’ll kill another marine. Chance say they are very likely to however.

            The next turn, the marines are still garunteed to kill 1 guardsman whether they suffered a casaulty or not. Meanwhile the guardsmen have only decreased again to 78-83% chance.

            Comparing the points is fine and all but comparing the results of what it all actually means seems far more beneficial to me.

            If those guardsmen reach 10 bodies then you’re looking at a 50% chance for them to kill a marine at best meanwhile the marines only need 3 marines to garuntee a guardsmen kill

    • Alastores says:

      Sure, but you get several guardsman for that one marine.

  21. ValenKaiser says:

    Although I agree Tactical Marines aren't in a great spot. I don't think it's as bleak as this article would have it sound.
    1) The good Chapter Tactics are a arguably much better than the best Regimental Doctrines and easier to build around.
    2) Due to the Law of Exponents you'll always pay more a well-rounded unit due to the nature of buffs have greater effect and debuffs having lesser effects. IE rerolling 1's benefits space marines more due to having more positive change, and -1 to hit being far more detrimental to guardsmen due to their worse BS.
    3) The Tactical Marines are part in parcel with the space marine armies and you pay extra for the support that comes with them. You've made the argument that Scouts fill the same space and are strictly better. However this is a subjective opinion based on your assessment of the value of Concealed positions being better than the better Save, more Heavy and Special weapon options. This however is not an objective truth and the Tactical's still hold the value of being a troop (Ob Sec) choice with efficient offensive options such as plasma or lascannons if a particular list needs that.
    4) Several weapons and psychic powers affect the guardsmen more due to having 10 or more models, lower leadership, or lower toughness.
    All in all, I don't particularly like tactical marines, but that's only because I prefer a different style of play (very durable units). To decrease their points cost by much could be the difference between little play, and a massive deathball of Tactical Marines with special and heavy weapons backed up by several aura's. Lastly if you don't like them, don't take them, an option should never be so good as to blanket out others in their role, but if you value the scouts movement over the tacticals options, run scouts, nobody is forcing you to use tacticals. If you prefer the guard, use guardsmen, perhaps their style is more in line with what you want to be doing.

    • Desc440 says:

      1) Debatable. Cadian doctrine is VERY good on static, long-ranged units, for example.
      2) This is true. However, this cannot account for the chasm that separates the guardsman from the Tactical Marine.
      3) Troops are not a necessity in 8th edition. Scouts get included because not only are they Troops, but they also bring something worthwhile to a SM army – the same cannot be said of Tacticals.
      4.) The list of weapons that affect Guardsmen more than Marines is relatively limited, and even then, I'd be interested to run the math on those to see if they don't simply level the playing field. Also, Smite affects Marines a gazillion times more than Guard.

      It's really not a question of playstyle. I tried making Tacticals work. They don't. They just cost too much for what they bring. "Don't take them" is not an acceptable answer – it's GW's job to make them worthwhile.

      • Andy says:

        1) Cadian and Catachan, in fact if not for Pask, it is pretty clear Catachan wins at brigade level. Neither however is even close to the majesty that is the raven guard, nor are they anywhere close to salamander level, but yeah they certainly do a decent job.

        2) The BS 4+ is a huge issue on guard, watch as a group of -3 to hit shadow spectres dance through your deployment zone you will feel the pain.

        3) I have to argue that troops are required, you are either running 2 super heavies or 3 troops or you have 6cp. It is possible to do okay with 6 cp, but you limit your options a lot.

        4) Limited is an understatement, if the marines were 4 man squads sure, but they are a totally viable target for a demolisher cannon for example.

        • Desc440 says:

          1) I actually like the Cadian trait a lot more than the RG one, simply for the fact that the Cadian trait is not balls when facing assault armies.

          2) at -3 to hit, the Tacticals will be hitting on 6s, so its not like they're going to be doing oodles better…

          3) 6 CPs is fine for Marines I feel.

          4) Yep. And there are A LOT more weapons that will impact MEQ more than GEQ, plasma being the most obvious example, but anything with an AP better than 0.

      • ValenKaiser says:

        1) Yes Cadian is very good, how many other doctrines are nearly as powerful? Similar to how alpha legion is the go to CSM, if cadian is the only reliable regiment, it is easier to build lists against them since you already know their tactic of choice, and can play against it.
        2) I'm not saying it's entirely worth the difference, however it explains some of the difference, for reference perhaps calculate more realistic results, tacticals with a Capt and LT, and Guardsman with Regimental Doc, against enemies they'd likely shoot at, Alpha legion cultist, guardsmen, etc.
        3) Troops are not a necessity sure; however to maximize CP they are, looking at tournament results almost every SM list is either a battalion or brigade. I am only saying that if a particular strategy has a demand for this effect, tactical marines are what they want, they do have a niche.
        4) I agree that few weapons affect them more (I think there should be more). If guardsman become a oppressive force, the use of such weapons and tactics will be more common though.

        5) It has also yet to be seen if guardsmen will see any serious play. Conscripts were popular not for their offensive prowess (that's what taurox were for) but their ability to screen effectively. Guardsmen do not screen nearly as well, for 1 simple fact, you only get 10 (unless you use a command point to merge 2 units). A screen of 10 may not even function in the army, as the point of conscripts was that you could sacrifice so man to prevent incoming armies that it made charging almost impossible. Guardsmen however fold very easily and to cover a large area maybe be too difficult as putting units next to each other may result in 1 simply being killed off, forming a tunnel for the enemy army to charge units through or consolidate into your back line. If this is the case, guardsmen may be the best infantry in the game, but if they don't serve a purpose to their army, they won't see any play.

        • Desc440 says:

          1) And Marines have Ultras (if you use G-man) and RG (if you don't), so it's not like its a whole lot better…
          2) Could do that, but would have to calculate the cost of the Captain and the Lt in there, which I don't think is going to help much at all…
          3) Most competitive Marine lists take Scouts for their Troops, however.
          4) Well everything that kills Guardsmen effectively already kill Marines effectively anyways, so there's not much a need.
          5) I agree that they don't screen as well, but they still screen pretty good in numbers. Maybe I'm wrong and Conscripts will continue to be the go-to but that seems really unlikely at this time.

          • ValenKaiser says:

            1) Salamanders are the go to offensive chapter of choice primarily effective with Plasma weapons being able to reroll poor results if necessary.
            2) That's what makes it ambiguous, because some of that cost you're already paying for simply due to how their stats work, so for an accurate comparison is has to be done.
            3) That isn't proof of much more than a meta call that scouts would be more useful. Given the cheap FW units allowed in most tournaments, and the prevalence of the Supreme Command Det. scouts could be expected to be more common simply because Characters were more common, and that is their niche.
            4) A few weapons are much better against guard than MEQ, but due to the relative rarity of Str 2 weapons, it goes largely unnoticed.
            5) The problem isn't their numbers, but the relative small unit sizes means you can't pull deaths from a 4' line where it is best for you. Given the relative lack of damage I'd be surprised if Infantry actually see much use at all. Guard only used conscripts as a shield; mortar teams, Wyverns, Taurox and the like for damage, I can't see anyone being happy about trading 20 or 30 man squads for 10, esp. since they are defensively the same, and their offensive abilities are largely useless anyway.

            • Desc440 says:

              1) I've honestly yet to see Sallies win any major tournaments. It's Ultras and RG all day and everyday. Not to say that Sallies isn't good but much like Cadian is the go-to doctrine for competitive play, Ultras and RG are it for Marines.
              2) I may get around to it at some point, but its difficult to get this right. I mean, over how many squads should I spread the cost of the Capt and Lt? And how do we account for the strategic cost of needing to keep our Tacs all bunched around the chars?
              3) Can't ignore the meta. We don't play in an imaginary setting where things like plasmaguns don't exist and character spam isn't a thing (though few people actually use Scout Snipers).
              4) Again, can't really ignore reality.
              5) Time will tell, but I wouldn't write them off just yet.

              • ValenKaiser says:

                1) I'm not saying they've won anything, especially with FW characters being so busted as they are right now, but they are good enough you cannot write them off is my point. Unlike most of the Regiments which you'll never see
                2) & 4) Your answers seem to fairly contradictory in that you're saying you can't ignore the reality of what sees actual play, while also saying that you don't know how to calculate the reality of how the units are actually used, which by itself invalidates any mathhammer in the article. Which was my point entirely.
                3) My point isn't that we can ignore the meta, but that scouts are seeing use over tactical marines BECAUSE of the meta being so character heavy. Which is why you would take scouts over tactical. This is a proof of why scouts are the go-to troop choice, which is evidence to prove that tactical marines are not in as bad of a spot as you make them seem, they are just not good against what is currently strong. That does not mean they should be buffed, just that their niche use isn't common at the moment is top play.
                4) I'm not saying they see use, I'm explicitly say they don't see much use, outside rippers, but that their are weapons which do not kill MEQ as effectively as GEQ which was your argument is that everything that kill GEQ is good at killing MEQ.
                5) I'm writing them off, but just stating why they may be the best infantry in the game and still not see use, is because they may be efficient at dealing damage and taking damage, but they weren't good enough before (guard already has more efficient damage dealers) and to say that they are good enough now is a conclusion without evidence to support it, and because your assertion is Tactical Marines are not as good as Infantry Squads, the burden of proof is on you. Given the lack of Infantry Squads (Elysian Infantry being the only notable uses of Infantry Squads, which is only because of deep strike, and still only seems marginal play) I'd be inclined to say the standard Tactical Marine is actually better than Infantry Squads, because they are actually capable of fulfilling the role in the army they need to fill.

                • Desc440 says:

                  1) *shrugs* Even that were true (and I'm not saying I agree), your original argument that being the go-to doctrine makes it easier to build against doesn't really hold water. How do you build against being able to reroll 1s for shooting, exactly? And in a TAC list, nonetheless!
                  2) In fairness, while I didn't account for captains and lieutenants, neither did I account for doctrines. But since you insist: even with support from a Captain that's been upgraded to Chapter Master AND a Lieutenant AND not even accounting for the cost of these models AND not accounting for the Cadian doctrine, Tacticals STILL fare worse against GEQ and MEQ, point for point. They only get an edge when shooting at the Predator.
                  3) Scouts getting picked because of the heavy character meta is wrong – they get picked because they are amazing at creating a buffer against deep strikers and infiltraters.
                  4) Nitpicking.
                  5) It's been not even 2 weeks that Chapter Aprouved has been released. Give it a chance. And Tacticals don't fill a need: Scouts fulfill the TRoop function better, and Devastators are better backfield campers.

                • Andy says:

                  While Morty and Magnus are so prevalent, i think there is always a place for a cadian brigade, just the ludicrous weight of fire from them is nuts when it is rerolling to hit and wound. It even comes with deep strike protection in the scout sentinels and 9cp to spend on frivolous things, all in all i think its a solid option.

                  Whilst the ITC missions contain site blockers that grant infantry cover, and at times even stop anything but fliers negotiating them, Raven Guard will be the go to chapter, since they just always get to set up in the frikking terrain, and even their over watch is a nightmare. This will be especially true if people aren't used to them.

                  I think this combo means salamanders don't get to play, theres really only room for one space marine chapter, and if the trend to primarchs/poxwalkers continues then i'll run GK as the last option. If not, celestine.

      • "It's GW's job to make them worthwhile."

        I not trying to poke you here, but if this is your attitude, I'm not sure how you played 40k as long as you did. GW has routinely had a large "don't take them" column for every faction. It's almost 40k's defining feature compared to the competition. I don't think internal balance was ever GW's goal with this edition. That was obvious when the index dropped. I think GW wants each faction to have a couple of plausible builds. Even with this much easier goal they are floundering a bit.

        I agree with you by the way, for what it's worth, but even without being cynical (Tacs are relatively cheap, after all) there's nothing in GW's recent past to suggest that they are at all interested in fixing this problem.

        • Alastores says:

          -shrugs-. GW made a BIG deal about how this edition was amazingly well balanced.

          It's not unreasonable to expect them to have actually attempted to do so.

          • I've said before, I think GW thought this edition was balanced the same way a 10 year old thinks his room is clean. They tried much harder than they normally do, which is not really trying at all, and thought the result would therefore be amazing. No matter how awesome that 10 year tells you his room looks, he's still a ten year old. I'm not saying they shouldn't have done better, but there was no reason beyond their claims to believe that they had done so.

            • AngryPanda says:

              The idea that people so utterly bad at their job would suddenly be good at their job just because they tried hard always only made sense in this weird fan bubble there GW is seen as some kind of divinity. Like all their previous fuckups could honestly have happened to anyone and they know how to create rules at all.
              What on earth made anyone think the same people who somehow produced 7th Codex Tyranids and Scatbikes could do this? It's nice they are trying hard but that does not suddenly gift them with the talent or the experience to do the job.

              • Alastores says:

                Actually, I think we were probably assuming that they'd be okish at their job because with sufficient playtesting from competant enough playtesters, over a long enough period of time, this level of balancing really isn't that hard.

                • Andy says:

                  Hmmm, but in a meta where chaos reigns supreme, but still no one takes GK detachments, is it the balance teams fault or the players picking the armies?

            • Andy says:

              I think you grossly under estimate the difficulty of balancing the game, simply the piece of terrain that you place in the centre of the map turns units from utter garbage into killing machines. There in lies the problem.

              When you fundamentally alter the parameters of the game by changing missions, changing terrain lay out, you irrevocably change the way the game is balanced for example if not for ITC's formulaic mirror mirror approach to table layout, it might have become apparent, that allowing one player to choose deployment and table edge, then allowing the other player to go first goes a long way to solving alpha strike issues (it doesn't solve them, but it hugely balances things).

              People say this is OP/crap based as much on the results of the most recent tournament (like it is the gospel truth and not simply 5 games of which likely only 2 maybe 3 were competitive) with zero attempt to understand or give any value to the shifting meta caused bu the fact between tournaments 2 codexes get released let alone the fact the missions changed.

              4 months later, people have finally cottoned on to the fact that scouts are good. In February at some point people will decide pox walkers really need a nerf. Or maybe they won't maybe i'm wrong and i am massively better at this game than anyone i play and i roll really well and thats why they just seem broken.

              It is comments like this that infuriate me, you have simply zero understanding of the skill that has gone into balancing 40k, they got it right over 95% of the time, thats just incredible, the formula for what makes up the points cost of a unit must be incredible to see.

              Sure i think they maybe over point costed the revenant titan, and whoever did the CA titanic stuff basically stuffed up, or was acting under orders because too much FW stuff at tournaments, who knows. But 95% of the time i see a points change i think yes that makes sense, i am willing to bet you conscripts were 3 pts and guard 4 cos guard come out the calaculations at something like 4.1 and conscripts 3.4. Did it even occur to you that all units points costs must be rounded to an integer and that when a unit costs 4pts the only possible change is a 25-33% swing?

        • Desc440 says:

          Well they HAVE made balance changes at a MUCH faster rate that in the past, so its not completely out of the realm of the possible that they would actually get it (somewhat) right someday. I mean, if ANYONE at GW sees this post, it would be pretty hard to ignore the math. Even accounting for some of the tangential benefits some have mentionned here, Tacticals are STILL overcosted.

          • Stefan says:

            I believe it would be the wrong way to make marines cheaper. They should be super power 2.30 m humans, which should be way better than just 2 Guardsmen. The problem is that their profile does not mirror their fluff.

            • Alastores says:

              They want to sell marines. Making Marines fit their fluff would mean they need to massively increase their points.

              But yeah, they don't mirror it AT ALL. Especially now that we have unarmoured Catachans being the same strength as augmented Space Marines who can lift small vehicles BEFORE they are in their powered, strength enhancing armour.

            • Andy says:

              I think they managed that with the intercessors and stuff, thats the fluff version. Only issue is when your only transport is a 350pt floating melta magnet, and units that can shoot 20 melta a turn cost 230pts you are kinda boned.

              The very fact that a repulsor is a flying landraider with more guns thats cheaper, and still isnt used shows just how mistaken GW are about the effectiveness of armour.

              I would very much like to see a stratagem to allow you to pop smoke and still fire. I think that would go a huge way to making the transport tanks viable, note the flimsy little t7 wave serpent has no such issues, that thing simply cannot die if it advances.

        • Andy says:

          "It's almost 40k's defining feature compared to the competition"

          One could point out it has more units in the don't take them column than other games have total, likewise in the do take them column.

          Another might point out that more models are sold based on them being cool than on the objective power.

          Someone might even go so far as to point out that those posting about the balance of units on a website, make up less than a thousandth of a percent of the people purchasing the product.

          Finally, and perhaps most telling, they might point out that the single best performing stock on the FTSE was in fact Games Workshop, which would seem to imply that somebody somewhere, maybe even many people have a great deal of confidence in the company.

  22. Prometheus says:

    It's worth mentioning, that without commissars, morale really comes into play. Cultists too. You kill 10 men in 20 man squad (not hard), most of the rest is going away, also.

    The equivalent is killing like what, 3 marines? Even if people were taking more than 5 man squads, the marine player won't be losing any additional.

    • Desc440 says:

      It would be imprudent to have big squads without some sort of Moral nullifier, though. Fortunately, for Guard, those are pretty easy and cheap to get,

      • MidnightSun says:

        There's take morale on a D3 instead of a D6, which when you've lost 16 Conscripts out of 30 and are taking D6+12 casualties isn't much solace, there's 2CP for an auto-pass Morale that anyone can access, and there's a psychic power that can't access any sort of bonus to cast and can therefore be Denied, as well as meaning one fewer Smites/giving up Barrier/Nightshroud.

        I wouldn't say that Guard have *stellar* morale mitigation, really.

        • Dakkath says:

          there's also the commissar tank stratagem for a ld9 aura (5 less casualties), having an inquisitor around for ld10 aura (6 less), and the valhalla relic pistol to limit casualties to 1 like commissars of old.

          Not saying any of those are stellar, just that they exist.

      • Prometheus says:

        They do? Like what? Commissar might as well be gone. Sure, they have more CP than most armies for the auto-pass stratagem, but that's too much to be spending on cheap squads.

        • Matt wrote a whole article on alternatives to the Commissar, some of which are solid. There's way more options than what's mentioned above.

          • happy_inquisitor says:

            AM can mitigate morale but all the ways they have to do it costs something. The one thing that makes AM Infantry ridiculous is how few points they cost. So buffing them up to mitigate morale hurts them because you spent resources of some kind to keep them on the table. Even with Valhallan there is the opportunity cost of not being another Regiment.

            I still think they are too cheap and we should not be trying to change Tactical Squads to match them but changing AM Infantry squads to match pretty much everything else in the game.

          • Prometheus says:

            A) No, I don't think he did, actually. He wrote an article complaining (not wrongly) about the commissar nerf. Didn't think it would last a week. (has lasted at least a few months so far, if rumors are accurate unlikely to be changed until March)

            B)If that's the article you're referring to, he did list some options at the end….I wouldn't call any of them "solid". You can boost the Ld in a bubble by a few points….which doesn't really do anything when you've lost 10+ models. Means you're losing 2-3 less models, total, still going to lose a bunch. You can also use that psychic power, which is like the stratagem, except you would have to cast it on your turn, ahead of time…..basically never going to come up.

            Fact of the matter is that morale is a HUGE consideration Desc did not consider in his calculations. 5 man, even 10 man marine squads essentially don't take morale loses. 20 plus Cultist and IG squads sure do.

            • Somehow I don't think that will stop people complaining about AM, as a number of people in the comments here are already calling for more AM nerfs. I didn't get around to playing 8th yet, so I'm not going to argue. I will say though, that you aren't going to lose 10+ AM models outside of Conscripts, which there is no point to taking anymore. They are worse than Infantry in every possible way now.

              • Prometheus says:

                Outside of stormtroopers with the 4+ save regular infantry and conscripts all die the same.

              • MidnightSun says:

                I'm not sure I really agree that Conscripts are worse than Infantry Squads in "every possible way". The ability to have 30 bods for pulling casualties for no CP or time investment (if you could use Combined Squads more than once a turn or pregame, I'd probably agree with you) makes up for a *lot* of on-paper inferiorities. Infantry Squads are no great shakes outside of getting massed Plasma Guns, and for all that you need a CP to get past Raw Recruits, if you only have the one Order to spare then 30 Conscripts with FRFSRF get 20 hits at 24", 40 hits at 12" as opposed to 27 Guardsmen, 9 of whom have FRFSRF, who get 18 hits at 24" and, funnily enough, 36 hits (plus a half for the three Sergeants!) at 12".

                • Except that order has only a 50/50 chance of going off, and those conscripts will be gone when someone sneezes at them. The Commissar change has made more bodies a negative. In an army that struggled for CP, I might agree with you, but not in AM.

              • Andy says:

                My poxwalker blob was 189 models on turn 4 yesterday : )

            • Desc440 says:

              In fairness to myself, I did compare Tac Squads to Infantry Squads, not Conscripts, so Morale is not going to be as big an issue as it is going to be for Conscripts.

              And if you're going to use big squads of Cultists, best take an Iron Warrior WL to auto-pass those Morale tests…

        • Desc440 says:

          A Comissar is 31 pts. A Primaris is 46. Just cast Mental Fortitude. Granted, it doesn't affect multiple units like Comissars once did, but you and I both know it was pretty broken before.

          • Prometheus says:

            Yeah, don't really see that as that helpful. 1 unit a turn, IF you get it off. IG really isn't the kinda army where any particular unit it going to be that important. Just shoot the other ones.

            Not really looking to argue all the ins and outs of it though. Just saying Morale does matter, is something that skews your calculations dramatically.

            • Desc440 says:

              For Conscripts it might. For Infantry Squads? Not nearly as much.

              • Prometheus says:

                I really don't understand why you would say that.

                I guess they only come in 10 men? So at 10 guys dead they all would be dead.

                But even so. Say you lose 6 guys. You have a 1/6 chance of losing no one else, or you could also lose the other 4 guys.

                It totally matters for IG, any IG, in a way it doesn't for marines.

                • Desc440 says:

                  The difference is that Lord Comissars can actually matter in a way that they never could for Conscripts.

                  • Andy says:

                    Inquisitors 55, same psychic power available gives ld aura like a commissar. Will soon get errata that lets it join detachments and not mess up their bonuses for sure.

  23. Godless says:

    If the bolter was ap-1 (like it should be given the old AP 5 it had ignoring Ork, gaunt and IG armor) this wouldnt be as much of an issue.

  24. MagicJuggler says:

    The way I view it, mathhammer in a vacuum has generally favored hordes for awhile. I remember way back in 5th when there were arguments over “Are Orks overpowered/underpowered” and a lot of those arguments revolved around the cost of a Shootaboy, 6 points to a Tacmarine’s 16 points.

    However, this was also the edition where light mech reigned supreme, Trukks were more of a liability than an asset, and Tank Shock, Valkyries, Long Fangs/etc. were things. Thus actually concentrating all that on-paper strength was easier said than done. The numerical theoryhammer was mostly balanced out by the fact that engagements would not usually be 180 points of Marines vs 180 points of Orks, but 180 points of Marines vs a smaller spread-out chunk.

    The removal of AOEs, combined with “defender allocates all casualties” has combined to eliminate the penalty for running a horde as a Napoleonic musket block, and that’s before discussing the general flatlining of the damage chart. It wasn’t a surprise that Conscripts were so powerful an element for such a stretch of time (to the point the “Conscripts OP” memes came out before 8th was out).

  25. Maxime says:

    So according to your math against a Predator the marine should be priced at 11pts, the same as a scout.

    • Desc440 says:

      It's not nearly as simple as that. Marines just need to be good at SOMETHING for their points. And I don't mean tangential situations where they are marginally more useful than something else.

  26. beeny13 says:

    I think this shows some of the assumptions made in the point formula. Tac squads and infantry were frozen and used as comparisons, but they were affected differently. The armour save used to be static not modified, so a 3+ was incredible against bolters compared to 5+. Almost 5x better, and.things like plasma hit more, and killed your model less. Tac squads seem like they should go to 11 points, while infantry could go to 5. Also, there used to be cheap transports which greatly impacted efficiency. A tac squads could move 12 inches in a rhino, disembark 6 then double tap 12. This isn’t the same and rhinos are much more expensive and don’t provide the same utility.

    • Desc440 says:

      Indeed.

      The jarring thing in all of this is that given how much more linearly 40k's units perform, it seems like a large part of the balancing (around survivability and damage output, in any case) could have been automated, with the devs doing the final tweaking "manually" to account for the "intangibles".

  27. Andy says:

    K so this is pure devil's advocate, this is not cos i think tacticals are good, but this is a comparison of tacticals in cover to imp guard vs Aggressors

    Space Marines in cover: 10 wounds
    Infantry in cover: 40 wounds
    Infantry not in cover: 53 wounds

    As you can see, the space marines are 4 times as resilient to bolter fire as the infantry are.

    Moving on from that, a direct comparison of Cultists to Space Marines in a fire fight in the open, 52 pts gets us 4 marines and 13 guard. We square it for the basic force amplification effect (since everything has 1 w and the goal is simply to see who kills who first) then calculate a rating to compare

    Space Marines 4^2 * 2/3 * 2/3 * 2/3 = 4.74
    Guard 13^13 * 1/2 * 1/3 * 1/3 = 9.39

    So clearly in the open the infantry win easily, however in cover it is not so clear

    Space Marines = 3.56
    Guard = 4.69

    Much much closer, and this calculation doesnt factor in morale cos way to complex and time consuming, but we can clearly see if the marines are in cover and the imp guard aren't (which would be my general assumption) the marines outright win. Obviously this assumes everyone shoots at the same time, but i think it goes a good way to showing why tacticals are so expensive. T4 with a 3+ saving throw makes you all but indestructible as far as sensible infantry are concerned.

    I can't explain guardians or dire avengers, they just suck. Run fast though.

    It also shows pretty clearly that over charged plasma is truly ridiculous, it would be ridiculous if it did 1 damage.

    To conclude, space marines will perform better in games with lots of cover, and you should endeavour to never leave it, but you are far better off running aggressors and relying on their significantly greater firepower to overcome their slightly weaker resilience.

    If you are eldar then just take rangers for cp and hope they achieve something at some point.

    • Desc440 says:

      While being in cover makes Marines survive better, it does absolutely nothing for their abysmal damage output, so its not like finding a ruin to put them in is some sort of panacea that heals all wounds. Besides, its not like you'll be able to just sit in cover every single game, either.

    • Blaze Raven says:

      Units in 8th edition pay for their movement speed. Eldar infantry move at 8 + d6, which at minimum is 9" a turn and fire without penalty. That is 1.5 times the movement value of most infantry (6") in the game and so they have their points adjusted upwards to compensate.

      • Andy says:

        Harlies are 8 with fly, eldar are 7, sure you pay for this, and it certainly adds up, but it is nothing compared to saying "but you can't do anything unless 12" away" which is what guardians guns do.

        For example, the space marines move backwards 6, fire (cos 24" range) eldar advance needing a 5+ to be in range, if they make it they get to return fire, if they fail, they got a choice, do they step up, eat rapid fire and maybe even get charged, or stay back allow the other infantry to move away 6 again and left needing the 5+ advance again.

        Movement is good it has a purpose, and it should cost more, but hilariously short ranged weapons that invite you to get rinsed in melee if you try use them are not.

        • PuppetSoul says:

          But that's a problem with the gun, and not with the unit carrying it.

          • Andy says:

            Judging a model by its constituent parts isn't really possible, when its on the table its a package that includes the army its from down to its gun, guardians suck cos their weapons suck, and you have to buy 10 to get a heavy weapon

  28. Nick says:

    I'd like to see this math comparison with other races basic infantry as well. Fire Warriors, orc boys, just a big 'ol chart.

  29. Maxime says:

    What if you can't wound a model who as double the strength plus one in toughness.

    i.e.: 3S vs 4T & 5T on a 5+, 6T on a 6+ and 7T on a 7+ for a lasgun
    4S vs 5T, 6T & 7T on a 5+, 8T on a 6+ and 9T on a 7+ for a bolter

    The reason for this is two fold. Fluff wise I don't see a lasgun shoot down a land raider or even worst a warhound titan. And rule wise the tactical marine can return to be a jack-of-all-trade and the point value can stay the same.

    • Andy says:

      Is how it always was before, but this is a much more stream lined system that makes play much faster (and much bloodier)

      There is less rock paper scissors with the current wound table, everything can hurt everything else so you don't get situations like whelp, 70% of my army can't hurt those 4 knights so rip me.

      I think there is some protection needed, like maybe + to save if weapon lower S would do it.

  30. Wayniac says:

    So the real question is, what needs to be done about it? When your basic infantry is seen as a "tax" or "worthless" there's fundamental issues with the game. So what is the answer? Not play competitively and say "screw the math"? GW obviously won't fix such intrinsic issues. Is the edition a lost cause already if it's basically "horde or GTFO"?

    • Desc440 says:

      1) Keep making noise about it. GW has shown they are paying attention. Eventually they will take action.
      2) Use Scouts until Tacs are fixed.

      • Andy says:

        Well i think here we need to take a moment to actually look at the tournament scene and the underlying things that changed when considering horde armies.

        Before the new missions and their scoring method, it was absolutely the best thing to sit in your deployment zone as long as possible, pound the enemy to dust and then move out late game to score your objectives at the end of the game. This was making elite infantry utterly garbage, and i mean truly bad. Since their ability to sit on an objective for several turns before dying now meant nothing, they needed to survive sitting there for the entire game.

        We now have more sensible missions, that closer mimic the way the main rule book missions work, you have to get out on the map and achieve things, so space marines are a far more viable force, which again we are seeing.

        My personal opinion is it is now a bit too hard on the Imp Guard, yes they outgun everyone else, they can deal out more wpp and have more wpp than any other army, but i can't see this easily translating to victories, as they are pretty bad at contesting the board. Certainly we'll see more Russ/Ogryn/Hellhound/Sentinel stuff, and no more infantry than the minimum 6 units to gobble up all those CP's.

        Of course there is always a spanner in the works, one horde army remains going as strong as ever, the chaos poxwalkers army has cheap cost effective units to contest middle whilst holding its back field objectives, with the undercosted primarchs free to roam around and cause mayhem while they set up.

        All said and done, tacticals are nearly never going to be viable in tournament play, they will never be anything close to as good as scouts are. Even at the same cost as scouts they are worse.

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