As we all sit waiting for the FAQ to shake up the meta, it’s a great time to look back over the decades at some of most notorious “Unbeatable” 40K lists.
These lists are now “Lost” to the mists of time, but players who faced them certainly thought “DAMN” back in the day. These lists might be the “Glory Days” for some players – and a cause of tabletop PTSD to others…
1 – Nob Bikers – This list was based around An Ork Warboss that unlocked Nobz as troops. Those units would then all purchase bikes that granted a cover save. Throw in a Pain boy for the FNP, power klaws for killing and a metric ton of re-rolling dakka-dakka and you had a monster on your hands. Oh and lets not forget the unit(s) of Ork Lootas backing this Biker Gang up. This list was so prevalent it even led to JWolf writing an article on how to deal with them.
2- Lash Prince / Obliterator Spam – This list was fairly popular for Chaos players because for it’s ability to push or pull enemy units into “advantageous” positions due to the loose wording of the power. Couple that with oh-I-don’t-know a ton of Heavy Plasma Cannon shots or Lascannon love from packs of Obliterators and you had a winner on your hands. It also worked with Chaos Sorcerers and other units if you didn’t want to use a Demon Prince…or if you had access to a vortex grenade.
3 – Eldar Falcon spam / Mech Eldar – It’s not like the Eldar are hurting these days, but Mech Eldar was one list that really got under non-Eldar players skins. Even now the groans of a thousand players have reverberated through the warp and I feel your pain. This list centered around 3 Falcons with all the GOOD stuff. My math may be a bit off but I think it was a 1-in-a-million shot that would ever kill one of these things. With no Hull Point system, you really had to roll two 6’s on the vehicle damage table to have a hope of downing one of those things. I’m sure that happened to players…but never when I was rolling against these things.
4 – Space Wolf Long Fang / Thunderwolf Spam – Space Wolves had a brief moment in the sun with their Long Fangs. For a while every tournament I went to the top tables had Packs of Long Fangs firing an obscene amount of missiles across the board backed by a Jaws of the World Wolf wielding Rune Priest (or 4…) with an occasional Thunder Wolf unit thrown in for good measure. And lets not forget the insanely point costed Grey Hunters. Space Wolves were point efficient to the MAX. Goatboy even won at Adepticon with a variant of this list back in 2010.
5 – Nidzilla – Ahh how the mighty have fallen. Nidzilla was a brutal list back in 4th edition. Tyranids could take Carnifexes in both the Heavy and Elite slots and could mess around with biomorphs to customize the effectiveness of their ‘Fexes. You would end up with some truly tough-as-nails Carnifexes who could out shoot just about everyone. Followed by sneaky Genestealers who could infiltrate or stay off the board for a late turn objective grab. Those same Genestealers were terrifying in combat as well. I haven’t seen a “real competitive” list include both Carnifexes and Genestealers in years… it’s amazing how a couple of rules tweaks (inability to assault from reserves and lack of a “flesh hook” option) have really neutered an iconic unit from that Army. I still think Carnifexes are awesome – but not in a serious game.
6 – Genestealer Rush – So about those Genestealers I mentioned…there was a time when they were a little on the ridiculous side. Rending attacks combined with an ability to assault after infiltrating or outflanking meant that there was no where on the board you could hide from these guys. And there was no amount of armor you could hide under to protect yourself from the sheer volume of high initiative attacks these guys were putting out. I remember regularly seening anywhere from 60-72 genestealers on the board tearing through entire armies.
7 – Rhino Rush – This one is an oldie but goodie. Rhino Rushing used to be THE way to play marines. Load up the close-combat punch of some super charged IC’s, stick them in a Rhino with some ablative wounds and go to town on the enemy. Chaplains, Captains, Librarians… Heck even the Squad Sergeant – it didn’t matter. Who ever could have a Power Weapon and some close combat boosts would come screaming out of those metal boxes and rip your face off. It helped that the vehicle rules worked in your favor so there was very little risk involved. Oh and don’t think Chaos didn’t get in on this action. The “Electric Football” Khorne Army was stupidly simple – but brutally effective!
8 – Leafblower – Mech IG was a thing before the “Leafblower” hit the table. But once the magic recipe hit the table there was no getting away from the Leafblower. This thing clean-uped ‘Ard boys and Adepticon back in 2009. It was a ton of Meched-up units in Chimeras combined with some Inquisitorial shenanigans. Spice things up with Valkyrie riding vets and enough Artillery dropping ordinance to wipe the board clear in less than 60 minutes (at 2500 points, mind you) and you had the new meta. It got so popular that Darkwynn eventually retired his own creation – and asked other players to do the same.
9 – Tzeentch Screamer-Star – This army was a bit of a flash-in-the-pan, but what a flash! For a very short period of time this list was unkillable. It revolved around the Tzeentch Screamers which could be buffed to get a ++2 re-rollable save. They were super fast, mulit-wound and had a S5 Ap2 melee attack and a Slash attack. You would load-up on them, Fateweaver and some other units that had the Grimoire. You could also sprinkle in some extra Level 3 Tzeentch Heralds for fun. This army played for blood and could table you if you weren’t ready. Focusing on the fact that the Screamers weren’t scoring was your primary hope of pulling this one off – if you could survive the screams…
10 – The 3.5 Chaos Marine Book – Oh this book. I know that it’s not exactly a list, but the way I remember it, if you built pretty much anything out of this book it was a Power-list. I don’t even want to recount all the dirty things in this book that you could do – but here are a few: Minor Psychic Power Shenanigans, Demon Bombs, Infiltrating-1st-turn-assaulting Chaos Lords…The list goes on. This book was so good Chaos players are still referring to it when they talk about the power-level they want their book to be at (which was the top at the time).
- Grey Knight – Draigo Star / Purifier Spam
- Space Marines – Assault Cannon Spam (2nd)
- IG – The Blob IG army (lots and lots of cheap infantry blobs with hidden power weapons).
- SoB – Exorcist Spam
- Eldar – Wave Serpent Spam (the second time around…)
- Night Scythe Spam
- Storm Raven Spam (8th)
- Assassin Character Blob Spam (8th)
- Razorwing Flock Spam (8th)
- Flyrant Spam (8th) … notice a pattern?
What other former “Power Lists” can you think of and how many of these have you used or fought against?