Goatboy’s 40k: Surviving the Dawn of the Army Men

Goatboy here with a discussion on how some of the armies can survive the newest big dawg on the table top – the Astra Militarium.

This book is definitely a strong one – and while I don’t think it will completely wreck everyone – it will be a terror versus many on the table top.  I want to discuss some of the things you can do depending on the type of army you are playing with.  There will be times when the outcome will really just be dependent on you rolling hot saving throws – which is something you can’t rely on.  Still there are some strategies you can bring to the table top to help out.

Kill What Matters

First – make sure you have a good grasp of target priority.  Know what makes their army tick and what can cause you the most damage.  I usually try to see if I can either sacrifice a unit to hopefully cripple the army enough that the rest of my army can get into place, bring their damage potential to the rest of the army, and hopefully survive any retaliation.  So if their army damage potential resides in Leman Russ’s, Artillery spam, etc then you know you need to try and cripple as much of it as you can.  This isn’t easy for every army – but it is something to think about.  Sure the Conscripts are in the way – are in the way but they are not going to kill you.  A lot of the time I will watch a game and see an opponent miss out on what they need to kill.  I know I have lost a ton of games the were I didn’t go after the most important thing.  You can’t ignore the damage output units – with AM most are not able to be hidden in waves of Conscripts.  Most armies don’t have every unit be the type of threat you need to remove asap – so make sure you break down, pick apart, and get kill the right stuff.  It is the only way to bring that weight of dice down when playing versus the new AM army.

Focus On the Mission

Next – make sure to study the mission enough to plan out what you need to do turn by turn.  That way you know when you can give up on something to push for another “mission” within the game.  Lately games are moving away from the random Maelstrom nonsense of last edition – so planning your game out becomes a lot easier.  Study the missions before the tournament – figure out what options you need to choose to give you the best chance, and try to stay on target.  There are a lot of games you can just win by correctly picking the right secondary missions parameters, following the plan, and not getting lost is killing as many army men as you can.  I know a lot of games I have won because I paid attention to the mission.  I have also lost a ton because I didn’t read it well enough.  Heck I remember a Bad Touch Ben Mohile lost that I had thought I had the game “tied” when in fact I completely lost it due to poor model placement.  The ability to pick and choose a lot of your mission types in upcoming events will be a big factor in how you can “win” the unwinable match up a lot of players see with the current AM book.  Sometimes you have to just play the boring game of moves, hide, and hope they forget they need to go grab a poker chip instead of pounding you with firepower.


Terrain is very important to the game and any table with a decent amount of it can be a big benefit to keeping your models alive.  The AM are not known for tall models so the current stack of shipping containers, big middle structures, and buildings galore will let you stay hidden, survive the non LOS rain of damage, and maybe steal and objective or two.  I get the feeling terrain is going to be the big factor to a lot of events moving on and surviving in this edition – with actual GW events showcasing a plethora of shipping boxes.  I don’t know how many 3+ stacks of boxes full of DVD players, TV’s, and maybe a secret super villain called the Black Sky.  Most TO’s I have talked with are all scrambling to get those table tops covered in terrain that reaches the upper echelons of the playscape.  Most of the time I can plan out almost all my turns in my head based on how I need to hop around the ruined buildings, random coffee cans, and stacks upon stacks of consumer goods.  I know my own personal table at home needs more of these “boxes” and hopefully in the upcoming weeks I can get some from Frontline to shore up my weak a$$ terrain set up.

Big Picture AM Issues

These are all things anyone going to an event and wanting to do well has to be prepared for.  Most of the time you can get away with a bit more loosey goosey army control because your opponent can’t respond nearly as in kind or you have a ton of characters hidden in waves of cheap troops.  The new AM changes things up because they have the weight of fire to burn through all those cheap troops as well as push, control, and dominate the board with bodies, psychic shenanigans, and just straight damage potential.  It feels like too much of the book is still too cheap – but will have too see as events shift up missions, push to finish more games, and will hopefully punish slower play so other armies can win.  In fact I see a lot of games not finishing and opponents left scratching their heads on why they didn’t push to actually win the mission.  Always keep the mission in focus, ignore all the kills, and keep ahold of first place dream.

Right now I feel bad for most of the elite armies as you have a good deal of strong “horde” lists out there.  They have the bodies, dice weight, and damage potential to break through your expensive “unkillable” units.  If an event is known to not have decent terrain I would say any kind of “low” model count list should second guess coming to the table top.  But if you want to play this type of list follow those thoughts above, never look past just trying to win the mission, and for the love of god hug every piece of terrain you see on the table top.

Armies to Tackle AM

Armies I feel that will give some issues to the AM builds.  I think Orks look pretty good as they have a quick movement spell, lots of attacks, and hordes of decent models.  Sure they can have some lackluster shooting – but their basic boy comes in so fast and hits so hard they can easily erase units of guys.  Plus the amount of attacks leave tanks shacking as they bring the weight of dice to bear.  I get the feeling with more Stratagems, decent FW options, and just extra rules the strong Ork player is going to have a field day.  Chaos needs to embrace some of the cultists spam out there – usually in the Iron Warriors flavor to help curtail some of the board control AM can bring.  Tide of Traitors, teleporting options, and fast redeployment are going to be key for that army to work well.  Marines are still looking at the Ultramarine flavors to cause the most damage due to how strong their Primarch is.  Target priority will be key as you take out the stuff that can hurt your Ravens, Repulsors, etc.  Will see how the other armies start to fare as they come out.  It is gonna be an uphill battle as players get used to opponents with so much firepower/model power on the table top.

Next week I talk about what I think about the new Eldar book.  It is another book for an army I have no real desire to play – but I know I will be playing against it a lot.  I have hopes we see Thousand Sons before the end of the year.  And maybe a decent Ork book.

~ How are you seeing the Astra Militarum fare in your area?

  • Lee Ashford

    I don’t mind the units and conscripts etc. I think they’re about right.

    To me the main issue is the core rule of being able to string 3 blobs of them out so they all snake over three objectives or more. So you have to kill all three to claim them or at least enough to shorten the lines so they’re on less. Or to get to the stuff behind. I know this is a horde issue not just AM. I see it more with AM though

    30 * 2″ is 60″ board control… +The base sizes nearly gets you the table

    A fix such as squads over X amount of models must be within 2″ of at least 3 models in the same unit might help with this. Or just have it as a rule for “weak” units. Fluff wise is a conscript really going to feel brave and stick around if his buddy is way across the battlefield from him?

    • Wildcard1980

      It says infantry squads in the stratagem specifically so you can’t use it to combine conscript squads.

    • Bigalmoney666

      Conga line shenanigans is my #1 pet peeve with 8th edition so far.

  • Simon Chatterley

    Well the GW Heat 1 this weekend just gone was won by a Rowboat car park, 2nd place was Raven Guard Primaris, 3rd was my mates Tzeentch Deamon list. AM was strong and my mates artillery flavour list was 6th. There was an all tank company list and a 3 super heavy list but when all was said and done the old scourge that was Emperors car park won it.

    That said this was book missions and not ITC so there will be some differences. Watching someone use a CP to reroll the seize dice made me cringe…I’m zero fan of that.

    • I_am_Alpharius

      I believe there was an army with (or pure?) Sisters of Battle up on the top three table too.

      • Simon Chatterley

        Yeah there was. They mentioned it on the live stream as being the top table game but didn’t show it.

        Honestly I believe this was because it was Sisters and thy didn’t want the chat stream to be full of questions about Sisters

        • Simon Chatterley

          Instead we got a relic game of Raven Guard and a variant of Rowboat car park. Raven Guard seized initiative (with a CP reroll…grr) and that was that. It was all over before it started.

          Ultramarine player tried to make a game of it but they could have shook hands as soon as the sieze was rolled.

          Which saddens me greatly as that’s not what I thought 8th was trying to be about at all.

          • Defenestratus

            Pretty much every game of 8th edition I have played or watched was over before the first dice was rolled.

            It’s a terrible system.

          • Simon Chatterley

            I’ve played 30 to 40 games of 40k both friendly and competitively and I’ve never had a game be all over on the first turn yet.

            But I play ITC rules and missions exclusively and they do make a bit of a game of it. Rulebook relic is a joke of a mission as proven by game 5 of the live feed.

          • Karru

            You have either been lucky or you play more “standard” lists/armies.

            When I got into playing WH40k with Tabletop Simulator awhile back, I started trying random armies and lists. A friend of mine played his more optimised list with Tau.

            8 games played, 2 won against him. 3 games ended on the first turn as he wiped out 50% of my army in one swoop. Other games ended on Turn 3 at most, due to one of us forfeiting.

            It was clear that my lists and tactics were very bad, especially compared to him, as I was just testing out new armies and lists because I had the option. I also don’t enjoy playing competitively, while he does, very much so. The only time I absolutely crushed him was the time I got tired of his constant “You didn’t need to forfeit there, you still could pull off a victory if you just tried” comments. Went full power gamer mode, crushed him 9 points to his 0, had we played until the very end, I would have wiped him.

          • Simon Chatterley

            I’ve played tournaments/tournament level and friendlier lists. Bar the relative uselessness of terrain unless it blocks LoS I’ve enjoyed it.

            But there is the kicker. You need a lot of LoS terrain to make 8th work now. Not enough and you will get blasted off the board.

            Some of my most tactical games I’ve ever played have been in 8th. Special shout out was my AL list against my mates Craftworld Eldar. That was a cracker of a game went all the way to the end. I took an early lead due to my alpha strike and he worked his way back in and probably would have nicked it if we didn’t end on turn 7.

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            Yeah, the games of 40k I have enjoyed the most have lots of big, chunky, thick, tall pieces of terrain in the middle of the board.

          • LankTank

            So sounds like its an resignation attitude rather than a problem with the edition. This is quite common, people assume they cant win and give in. The other day I lost to TSons even though I tabled him down to 3 models who, with a few sneaky kills stole it back with 1 point up. He did have first turn and magnus but in the end he had 1-terminator and 2 disc sorcs zipping about. I still had 13 plague marines, necrosius, poxwalkers, biologis, and plaguebearers.I was out maneuvered, not destined to lose due to Alpha strike. In fact had I gone first, my bubble wrap would have been less effective against a warp time Magnus

          • Spacefrisian

            I lost 2 games where i went first and won 6 where i went 2nd, and 1 draw. Aint that weird? Shouldnt be possible by logical means.

          • ILikeToColourRed

            8 games is surely a large enough sample size to denounce the stats of hundreds

          • LankTank

            Maybe it does. I have the same. Maybe these are examples of 2nd turn with players who dont pack a sad cause they lost one unit.

          • ILikeToColourRed

            or maybe theyre just better matched games without both people aiming to alpha strike, who knows

          • Muninwing

            there are ways to capitalize on 2nd turn. the huge alphastrike focus tends not to do well with this.

            but terrain does wonders to round out the differences anyway.

          • LankTank

            I do quite well on the 2nd turn with DG and zombie horde screening actually

          • vlad78

            What did you expect? 40k is basically AOS in space though AOS has been designed to handle CC orientated armies mainly, 40k sees much more shooting. Therefore you ends up with à double rock paper scissor game of hordes vs gimmicky elites abusing smite and first turn charging CC armies vs OP gunlines as there’s almost no cover unless you play in à maze.

            This edition is conceptually broken from the start.

  • Andrew Marshall

    So, just play the game then…

    • I_am_Alpharius

      Haha! That pretty much sums it up:
      1. Understand your army lists strength and weakness.
      2. Understand the mission.
      3. Play to achieve the mission whilst stopping your opponent doing the same.

    • thereturnofsuppuppers

      what a strange responce

  • SYSTem050

    I realise I a dirty fluff/narrative player but this sentence concerns me

    “Sometimes you have to just play the boring game of moves, hide, and hope they forget they need to go grab a poker chip instead of pounding you with firepower.”

    Personally I would rather have fun and lose than be bored but win. Guess it’s because you hope the future rounds will be more fun?

    • thereturnofsuppuppers

      I’ve just started guard, and I’m conscious that a gunline can be a bit boring to play against.

      Is there anyway to mitigate this?

      I’m thinking a parade army, that has an aim to march across the table in perfect formation

      • Fredddy

        The Guard is not a gunline army, at least since you can shoot full 24″ with rapid weapons after moving. You have to move forward, in turn 2 the enemy is always able to assault and when you suffer this in your deployment zone, you are pretty much f*cked, because you are stuck with no objectives.
        The heavy weapons need to stay ofc, but everyone else shall go towards the objectives.

      • Karru

        Here’s how I play my Guard Infantry Army. I take vast majority of my Troops as Infantry Squads with only two larger blobs of Conscripts to protect the front. These Conscripts are kept in line with Commissars, my Infantry Squads are equipped with Missile and Grenade Launchers. Then load up on Heavy Weapons Squads, for each 2 Squads, you bring one Company Commander. Bullgryns and Ratlings as support.

        Formation goes as follows:

        – Conscripts take the front. They are the ones getting charged first if the enemy tries to assault you.
        – Behind the Conscripts are the Commissars. Space them out nice and wide and roughly at the edge of their bubble, make sure they can’t be charged past the line.
        – Then behind them are the Bullgryns, in the middle of the formation. They are used to counter-charge anything that got too close or to soak up enemy fire away from your Heavy Weapons if the enemy decides to shoot at them.
        – Then comes the bulk. Infantry Squads in nice blobs, spread around so it will be almost impossible to charge multiple with a single unit.
        – Littered amongst them, Company Commanders.
        – In the back, Heavy Weapons Squads. These are the only guys that stand still the entire game, more or less.

        This formation basically spreads from one side of the table to the other. You kinda have to. Two reasons for that, first being that you have so many models that you kinda have to and the other is that you make sure your opponent has no other option other than to drop their DS units in front of your line because of that lovely 9″ bubble.

        You slowly move forward, grabbing every objective you can. Only time you stand still a bit is when the enemy is an assault heavy army. Then you really don’t want to close that gap as fast. Against everyone else though, you keep moving slowly, taking potshots with the Missile Launchers against enemy Monsters and Tanks, which I found laughable when people comment that it is “useless”, the amount of times I have crippled enemy Tanks with a single rocket is through the roof.

        This army isn’t static and it is actually pretty fun to play. The only problem of course is that it is nothing but Infantry, as I find Tanks to be quite ineffective in this edition due to the amount of High AP, High Damage weapons being littered around. Seeing you opponent waste hundreds of points on those always makes me happy, because they can’t do much against my massed Infantry.

        • thereturnofsuppuppers

          That’s cool.

          Do you know if this playstyle is enjoyable to play against.

          While not exactly comparable, I’ve played against mass ghoul Flesh Eater Courts in AoS, and waiting for my opponent to move 100s of ghouls can be quite aggravating.

          suppose I could get movement trays.

          • Karru

            Honestly, it depends on the opponent. Since the guys I play with are friends, it really doesn’t matter if me or my friend is playing an army like this, because we just chat about random stuff as we do our turns.

            But I have used it against one opponent that I didn’t have this going for and I could tell that he didn’t particularly enjoy it, didn’t help that I crushed him with my list as well.

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            I second this. One of my friends plays a Valhallan army and has since 2nd. It’s all infantry and heavy weapons which is fun to see as an army but tough to deal with as there is so much to chew through and most of it fodder. He’s always fun to play against. I play a mixed IG list with artillery and a few tanks/vehicles but also with a lot of troops. This list can be less fun to play against as I don’t tend to move as much forward and I tend to also use more than my share of Vultures, Vendettas and Valkyries. So it depends on my opp if they get along with me.

        • Spacefrisian

          Would love to see how this holds up against Noisemarines, 2 dead AM units when done correctly, thats 2 per 1 Noisemarines btw.

        • Fredddy

          Pretty much this. I use lascannons and plasmaguns instead of GL and ML, and shoehorned 3 LRs into the army, but still over 200 models. You attack simultaneously for every objective, because now these matter from turn1. Dont worry about the enemy assault troops, they are at you in turn 2 whatever you do, so you should take this clashing point into enemy ground as far as you can- from then, it is all about attrition and table coverage, so basically the two things you are really good at with an infantry mass IG army.

    • Mr.Fister

      “Sometimes you have to just play the boring game of moves, hide, and
      hope they forget they need to go grab a poker chip instead of pounding
      you with firepower.” – So what is a fun game in the view of the author? I guess it is: you do not use terrain nor do you try to outsmart the enemy but you just point at an enemy unity say “UGA! UGA” and roll 20 dice (half of them rolling off the table or knocking down some models). When it is boring to hide behind terrain, to use smart maneuvers and to out-think the enemy why not play on a empty table? This is the math hammer approach that destroys the game in my opinion…

      • LankTank


  • mellr0

    played against guard that completely liquified my deathu guard, punching holes in a tank turn one and reducing 2 ten mandeath guard squads to 3 guys on his first turn. Lots of multi shot, rerolling to wound medium strength weaponry backed up by pretty cheap strong anti tank makes for a terrifying army

  • Waiting to see what busted elements the eldar bring.

    • Dennis J. Pechavar

      FIrepower will be terrifying.

  • memitchell

    “a Bad Touch Ben Mohile lost”

    Can someone translate this into English?