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40K: List Building 101 – Part 4: Lists and Player Q&A

13 Minute Read
May 3 2010

40K: List building 101
by Reece Robbins

This article is intended to help new players build effective army lists in 40K, over the course of a 4 part series.  This is the last part covering sample lists and sever Q&As with players You can find part 1 here and part 2 here, and part 3 here.  Lets forge ahead.

Example Lists at 2,000 points

Please note that the lists below are not meant to be my idea of the end all by all lists that will never lose (such a list does not exist). These are lists played by competent players who perform well with them.

Practice and fine tuning will be the best way to build a list that fits you and your play style in your gaming environment. There is no substitute for experience.

Assault List

Army: Orks by Shane Hubbard


Warboss: Bike, Cybork Body, Power Klaw

Big Mek: Kustom Force Field, Burna, Ammo Grot, Cybork Body, Eavy Armor



Lootas x 6

Lootas x 6

Tank Bustas x 12, 2 Bomb Squigs, Nob, Power Klaw, Boss Pole, Eavy Armor


Slugga Boyz x 30, Nob, Boss Pole, Power Klaw, Rokkits x 3, Eavy Armor

Slugga Boyz x 30, Nob, Boss Pole, Power, Klaw, Eavy Armor

Slugga Boyz x 30, Nob, Boss Pole, Power Klaw, Eavy Armor


Shoota Boyz x 30, Nob, Boss Pole, Power Klaw, Eavy Armor, Big Shootas x 3

Shoota Boyz x 30, Nob, Boss Pole, Power Klaw, Eavy Armor, Big Shootas x 3

Heavy Support

Kannon x 3, Runtherd, Ammo Grot x 2

Kannon x 3, Runtherd, Ammo Grot x 2

Reece: You play this list competitively, correct?

Shane: Yes, definitely

Reece: What types of events have you played it at?

Shane: RTT’s, ‘Ard Boyz


Reece: How have you done?

Shane: Very well. I’d say I win about 80% of the time, draw 15% of the time, lose 5%.

Reece: You played a list like this at the Ard Boyz, right?

Yes, I added:
-15 Kommandos w/2 Burnas and Snikrot
-2 Deff Koptas w/ Buzz Saws (individual)
-More Lootas

Player Q&A
Reece: Briefly, who did you play and how did you do?

Round 1: Don’t remember armies, tabled two opponents, one draw.
Round 2: Lost to Daemons, Tabled Vulcan + 17 TH/SS terminators, Drew Dave’s 6 razorback shooty marines (by 1/2 an inch).

Reece: What was your overall strategy when building this list?

Shane: Remove the effectiveness of my opponent’s anti-tank weapons. Put more models on the table than most armies can destroy. Kill stuff in close combat.

Reece: What do you feel are its strengths?

Shane: Very effective in close combat. Decent shooting vs. mech. Resilient as hell


Reece: What do you feel are its weaknesses?

Shane: Templates that ignore cover saves. Very mobile armies

Reece: Are you considering changing anything about it?

Shane: Sometimes I swap out Stormboyz for the Tankbustas, but lately the Tankbustas are outperforming the flyboyz. I think it’s because the Tankbustas seem lame because of the lack of control, so my opponents give them less attention than they deserve. They can’t Run (well, unless they’re fighting Tyranids :P), so they don’t do much for the first turn or two. Still, they’ve all got Rokkitz and Tankbusta Bombz. They really help against Ironclads, which can really tarpit my big mobs of boyz. The bomb squigs can’t hurt my stuff, as I have no vehicles (except the kannons…).

Reece: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, we need to get a rematch after that last butt kicking you game my IG with this list!

Shooty List

Army: Imperial Guard by Jay


Company Command Squad w/ Straken, 2 x Meltagun, 2 x Flamer
Chimera w/ Dozer Blade, Hull Heavy Flamer


Ordo Malleus Inquisitor w/ 2 x Mystic


Veteran Squad w/ 3 x Meltagun, Power Weapon
Chimera w/ Dozer Blade, Hull Heavy Flamer

Veteran Squad w/ 3 x Meltagun, Power Weapon
Chimera w/ Dozer Blade, Hull Heavy Flamer

Platoon Command Squad w/ 3 x Flamer
Chimera w/ Dozer Blade, Hull Heavy Flamer

Infantry Squad w/ Autocannon, Power Weapon, Commissar w/ Power Weapon
Infantry Squad w/ Autocannon, Power Weapon
Infantry Squad w/ Autocannon, Power Weapon





Heavy Support

Leman Russ Executioner w/ Sponson Plasma Cannons, Hull Heavy Flamer

Leman Russ Executioner w/ Sponson Plasma Cannons, Hull Heavy Flamer

Manticore w/ Hull Heavy Flamer

Player Q&A
Reece: What was your overall strategy when designing this list?

Jay: It’s important to note that I don’t consider myself a great list designer. In fact, I didn’t just sit down one day and design the list above. I have actually been evolving my 2000 point IG list since the 5th edition codex came out last May. This was its incarnation as of Jan 2010 (has changed since then.)

First and foremost I wanted a shooty list, because that’s what Guard has always done well. Now when the codex first came out, I had drank the Melta cool-aid and abandoned the mass Lascannons/Plasma Guns of 4th Edition to favor Meltagun Veterans in cool new Gunships. As you can see from the list above, that mindset didn’t last as I am back to lots of Lascannons and Plasma Weapons (Cannons now).

Secondly I wanted mobility. I firmly believe mobility is key because of the objective nature of the 5th edition missions. Not only does mobility allow you to control/contest objectives easier, but mobile SHOOTERS let you shift and concentrate your firepower at will. 2000 points of IG shooting at 1000 points of an opposing list is win in my opinion.

This kind of brings me to my next point. One that I only gradually came to realize. If half my units are anti-tank specialists and the other half are anti-personnel specialists, and my opponent is either all vehicles or all infantry, then right away I could never bring 2000 “relevant” points to bear against my opponent. I’d always be playing with a self imposed handicap (half my units are useless in the match-up).

With this in mind, I wanted each of my units to fill multiple roles as much as possible. Another popular internet term for this is, “duality.” That is, I’d like for each unit to excel at both anti-tank AND anti-personnel. Now or course, it didn’t work out that way for every unit in the list, but that’s something I was aiming for.

To play the list, know that the Executioners are the killers. Everything else supports them (for the most part) by disembarking or slowing down my opponent’s units. Then the (appropriately named) Executioners kill them at range. That is “The Plan.” Of course, no plan survives contact with the enemy, and terrain, opposing army, mission, etc. will affect “The Plan,” but that is the over arching strategy of the list.

Reece: What do you see as the list’s strengths?

Jay: Killing things, mostly at range. Although the list does contain mostly mobile elements, as mentioned above, that mobility is used to bring overwhelming firepower against opposing units at range. As the opponent closes, it just gets worse for them as I add Meltaguns, Heavy Flamers, Flamers, triple-tapping Lasguns and finally Furious Charging Power Weapons into the mix.
I think one of the mistakes I make during some games is not realizing that sometimes it would actually be easier for me to table an opponent than to play the objective game. Killing is the name of the game for this list

Reece: What do you see as its weaknesses?

Jay: If my opponent can get multiple Close Combat threats into my vehicles then I’ll fold. If my 30-man tar pit or Straken can’t handle them, or if there are just too many units hitting my lines at the same time, I’m done.
Going second against a similarly shooty list is also a weakness (one that I hope I’ve compensated for in my current list). All you need to do is shake my shooters all game long and that cuts my firepower down immensely.

Reece: What armies do you like to play against, with this list?

Jay: Armies with small numbers of high priced units and/or models will typically go down easier.

Reece: Which armies do you have trouble with?

Jay: Although I actually haven’t played a TRUE horde army with the list, I imagine they would give me trouble. I’m actually also curious how it would do against a mass Space Wolf Thunderwolf Cavalry charge or the new Blood Angels. I’m talking about extreme, to the exclusion of all else, assault oriented armies that can weather my shooting and arrive largely intact.

I’d also like to see how I fair against a horde foot Space Marine army with 3+ cover saves. I may need to play the “block line of sight with dead Chimera” game against that one.

I don’t, however, believe I have any “auto-lose” match-ups.

Reece: Have you taken this list to a tournament or league?

Jay: Been taking a version of it to Leagues (and evolving it) ever since the current Codex came out.

Reece: How did you do and what armies gave you trouble?

Jay: The Jan 2010 version went 5-2-1 in the last league. Both losses coming against the same Chaos player (once during the season and once in the league finals). I definitely think that my list was stronger than Dave’s Chaos list, but he was able to outplay me both games. His two fast (winged and biked) HQ’s hit my lines intact on both occasions.

Most MEQ (Marine equivalent) armies go down pretty easily after their Rhinos are craters and they have to foot slog into 10 Plasma Cannon blasts, cover or no. Whatever is left that has made it across the board eats 16 str4 Power Weapon attacks at In4 or just gets bogged down for the rest of the game.

Handily beat a few variations of the new ‘Nid dex. I believe ‘Nids still have problems with vehicles at range, the new Hive Guard and Zoanthropes are nice, but their lack of range still makes it an uphill battle for them.

Earlier versions of the list were not as successful, I remember losing to a Mech Ork army that doesn’t worry the current list. Too many Meltaguns before, not enough anti-transport weapons (i.e. weapons that can kill a transport at range, otherwise, its too late).

Reece: What are you considering changing?

Jay: The Manticore was a disappointment. I’ve finally figured out why. You need to plan and think about your shooting during the Movement phase, that way you can shift and bring the proper amount of force to bear upon a specific target. The random nature of the Manticore and the improbability of hits with small numbers of scatter dice makes planning with the Manticore difficult. I.E. Do I point a Vendetta at the Manticore’s target just in case? What can I count on the Manticore to do? Should I dedicate more shooting at the Lootas in case I roll a 1 for the number of shots I get and scatter completely off target?

I will be replacing the Manticore with 2 Hyrdas as soon as I get the second converted.

I’ve also removed the Power Weapons from Veterans. I know, an obvious mistake, but at the time I wanted every unit to at least try to be a close combat threat. Unlike the Power Weapons in the 30-man blob squad, however, the Veterans just don’t have enough ablative wounds (or Stubborn) to stick around long enough for the Power Weapons to be effective.

With the points saved from those two changes, I’ve added Heavy Bolter Sponsons to each Vendetta. For 10 measly points I get six additional Str 5 shots at 36″. Great for helping to take down Trukks, getting additional weapon destroyed/immobilized results on Rhinos, and shaking Preds (on their side) and Razorbacks. They also make the Vendetta a viable threat against Infantry, thus granting it multi-role status.

The Inquisitor w/ Mystics was replaced with an Astropath. I decided that if my opponent was a mass Deep Striker (Daemons, Drop Pod Marines), I could just reserve, come in turn two after they’ve landed, and still get to take the first shots. The additional bonus is that against shooty armies that I don’t get to go first against, I can again reserve everything (or everything that they can reliably threaten at range) and still get to take the first shots when I come in.

Against armies that just had a few Deep Striking elements, I figured I’d be able to handle them without the crutch of the Inquisitor w/ Mystics.

With the 5 points saved from that change, I added a 4th Flamer to the Platoon Command Squad.

The net change to the Jan 2010 list’s long range shooting is -1D3 str10 scattering shots, +8 twin-linked str7 shots, +18 str5 shots. A marked improvement in my opinion.

Reece: Thanks for your input, Jay, I appreciate it.

Hybrid List

Army: Space Wolves by Brad Townsend aka Hulksmash


Logan Grimnar


Wolf Guard:

-2xPower Armor w/Combi-Melta
-Power Armor w/Combi-Flamer
-2xTerminator Armor w/Wolf Claw and Storm Shield
-2xTerminator Armor w/Combi-Plasma
-Terminator Armor w/Cyclone and Chainfist
-Terminator Armor w/Cycolone
-Terminator Armor w/2 Wolf Claws

-Assault Cannon Razorback


Grey Hunters x 5: Melta Gun, Wolf Standard, Razorback

Grey Hunters x 5: Melta Gun, Wolf Standard, Razorback

5 Grey Hunter Pack w/Flamer and Standard Razorback

10 Grey Hunter Pack w/2 Melta Guns, Mark of the Wulfen, and Rhino

Heavy Support

Long Fangs w/5 Missile Launchers and Assault Cannon Razorback

Long Fangs w/5 Missile Launchers and Assault Cannon Razorbacks

6 Long Fangs w/5 Multi-Melta and Drop Pod

Player Q&A
Reece: Hi, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and share your knowledge with the community.

Hulksmash: Not a problem, Reece.

Reece:You took this list to the Broadside Bash Grand Tournament, correct?

Hulksmash: Yes I did.

Reece: How did you do with it?

Hulksmash: I won 3 games with Massacre results and narrowly tied 2 others.

Reece: Run me through your opponents and their, armies and how you did.

Hulksmash: Well…..Let me preface by saying I didn’t have the option to go first all weekend and never once stole the initiative. So on to the games…

Battle 1: Grimgob’s Orks

He had 3 battlewagons covered by a KFF and a squad of Loota’s in the rear of his deployment zone. 2 Buzzsaw toting Deffkoptas as well. He had a large diversified Nob squad in one wagon and the other two were large Boyz squads. Basically I manage to wiff hard with my deep striking heavy tank killers and the Nobs made it to my lines. I managed to eventually dig them out but not before losing a lot of my models. At the end of the game it came down to a re-rolled leadership test for me to win but he made the test and we pulled a tie for holding the same number of table quarters.

Battle 2: Mech Eldar w/Eldrad, Seer coucil in a Serpent, and Yriel

Basically he didn’t have a chance from the start. This mission required that you be on an objective at the end of a game turn to get a number of points (gain a point for each round you control the objective) w/the objectives being in a perfect diagonal between the deployment zones. Scenario and lists were major contributors to this win. He moved up to try and take the points and I shot him off of them while claiming the one he didn’t go for and sitting on it all game. Basically the game became: can his seer council, Eldrad, and Yriel kill enough of my stuff before I got the number of points needed for a massacre and the answer was no.

Battle 3: Dual Landraider Salamanders

This is a really bad match-up for me but he didn’t play agressive enough and I managed to immobilize a Landraider early. Since he didn’t want to feed me one Termie squad at a time he ended up sitting still for most of the game and just taking the shots. He was just hoping pretty much not to get massacred which he almost managed. It was a good game but if he’d just come for me with intent it could have gone another way entirely. As it was it was a modified KP mission that resulted in a massacre for me.

Battle 4: Charlie’s Space Wolves

Much softer build than mine but had an element which I have problems with. Grimnar leading a band of Bloodclaws is just gross. He basically had a Space Wolf horde army w/around 60 marines w/mobility. Add in my inability to kill a venerable dreadnought w/a Chainfist armed Lone Wolf for 7 rounds of combat and you can see where this went. It came down to a tie in the final turn due to some crazy rolling on both our parts but again showed my weakness against a heavy cc unit that I don’t get to soften up with bullets.

Battle 5: Mech Eldar w/Eldrad, Farseer and a Seercouncil on Bikes

Same effect as game 2 really. Slightly modified rules for the markers but Eldar just can’t hold objectives in the face of the firepower my list could put out. He was a good sport about it and really pushed to see if he could pull out anything but it ended in turn 4 with a massacre for me when he only had a single biker left as a troop choice.

Reece: Have you taken this list to any other tournaments or played it in any leagues? If so, how did it perform?

Hulksmash: I’m currently using the SCGWL (Southern California Games Workshop League, typically 48 players a season) to tweak my list and have so far gone 3-0 in the league. As for Tournaments I tried a slight tweak on it the week after the Bash and it didn’t work out. I wound up going 1-1-1 which showed me I had shifted the list too far.

Reece: So tell me what your overall strategy was when you built this list?

Hulksmash: I was going for survivability, firepower, target saturation, and mobility. I also like to see how many models I can normally get on a table.

Reece: What do you see as the strengths of your list?

Hulksmash: 15 Missiles that can target 6 different units is huge against armor spam. Anything that isn’t AV14 just isn’t safe. Add in the 2 Libbies w/Living Lightning and you wind up with a lot of ranged anti-light mech. There is also a lot of Twin Linked anti-infantry firepower that goes a long way towards thinning out hordes just enough that counter attacking Grey Hunters can do some damage (in theory).

Reece: What do you see as the weaknesses?

Hulksmash: The weakness of the list I took to the Bash was a lack of solid counter-attack element and the actual terrain itself. The 2 games I tied, I tied simply because they managed to get to my lines with a hard enough unit that took out a large percentage of my force. Didn’t hurt that they were pretty good players too ::laughs:: Also with almost zero elevated terrain on all the tables most of the time I was fighting for LOS for my Missiles because of my own vehicles.

Reece: What types of armies do you hope to see in a tournament with this list?

Hulksmash: I don’t really have a type I hope to see. Mech Eldar is kinda nice for me to run into but otherwise I don’t have a list I hope to draw.

Reece: What types of armies do you want to avoid? I know I would have loved to have drawn your list with the 3 Land Raider list I brought to the BSB.

Hulksmash: That was pretty much the dreaded list. I didn’t realize I was that light on anti-AV14 until I played a 2 LR army and it took forever to take them out. Without a solid close combat element I wouldn’t have been able to stand up to that many full units hitting my line.

Reece: Thanks for the input, see you at the SoCal Slaughter.

Hulksmash: Thanks, I’ll be there….but without bells…

I hope you have enjoyed this series and gotten a few new perspectives on the armylist creation process. Your thoughts and comments on the lists and the series in general are welcome everybody.

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