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40K: Post Tau – MSU and Comp Reborn

6 Minute Read
Nov 6 2015
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It’s really no secret – the many small units (MSU) concept and theory of army play is back en vogue for competitive play again. Here’s what is going on:

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MSU Returns

It’s really no secret – the many small units (MSU) concept and theory of army play is back en vogue for competitive play again. MSU features many small units which is a natural counter to things we hate such as strength D. MSU is the polar opposite of the deathstar. Formations such as Gladius Strike Force and the Ravenwing Strike Force are perfectly suited for this style of play with the big plus due to the special formation bonuses. You will see MSU more and more as this concept continues to be revitalized again. The basic tenant is if you have many units it’s impossible for the opponent to destroy them all before the end of game. Gladius Strike Force offers the advantage that every unit is objective secured and transports are free (not including upgrades).

Deathstar armies saw a big resurgence in sixth edition with the release of Eldar and Tau… A highly mobile unkillable unit was required to negate all the shooting these two xenos armies can unleash. If you’ve ever played against Wave Serpent spam then you understand. DraigoStar was developed as a natural counter to Serpent Spam.

Personally I’m not a huge of fan of MSU.  But it cannot be underestimated that MSU counters both xenos strength D and specifically the new Tau Hunter Cadre formation.

MSU is also a great template for armies such as Dark Eldar so it’s not limited solely to the power armor. MSU doesn’t work though for horde armies such as Orks and Tyranids since they need lots of mass to be effective. In fact the horde approach is not competitive now with the current meta due to the power level of armies such as Eldar, Necrons and Tau.

White_Scars_Lightning_Icon

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White Scars Gladius Strike Force (MSU Example)
As an example here is an MSU Space Marine army list using the Gladius Strike Force I created based on what I’ve seen that was competitive at major events such as BAO and the NOVA Open:

++ Space Marines: Codex (2015) (Gladius Strike Force) (1799) ++

Chapter Tactics * White Scars

+ Core (1515) +

+ 1st Battle Demi Company * (765) +

Kor’sarro Khan (150) – Bolt Pistol – Moonfang – Moondrakkan

Assault Squad (110)
4x Space Marine – 2x Flamer
Space Marine Sergeant – Combat Shield – Eviserator
Drop Pod – Storm Bolter

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Devastator Squad (165)
Armorium Cherub
4x Space Marine – 2x Grav-Cannon and Grav-Amp
Space Marine Sergeant – Bolt Pistol – Combi-Grav – Melta Bombs – Signum
Rhino – Dozer Blade – Storm Bolter

Tactical Squad (90)
4x Space Marine – Flamer
Space Marine Sergeant – Bolt Pistol – Combi-Flamer – Melta Bombs
Drop Pod – Storm Bolter

Tactical Squad (125)
4x Space Marine – Grav-Cannon and Grav-Amp
Space Marine Sergeant – Bolt Pistol – Combi-Grav – Melta Bombs
Rhino – Dozer Blade – Storm Bolter

Tactical Squad (125)
4x Space Marine – Grav-Cannon and Grav-Amp
Space Marine Sergeant – Bolt Pistol – Combi-Grav – Melta Bombs
Rhino – Dozer Blade – Storm Bolter

+ 2nd Battle Demi Company * (750) +

Chaplain (140) – Auspex – Crozius Arcanum – Power Fist – Space Marine Bike

Assault Squad (110)
4x Space Marine – 2x Flamer
Space Marine Sergeant – Combat Shield – Eviserator
Drop Pod – Storm Bolter

Devastator Squad (165)
Armorium Cherub
4x Space Marine – 2x Grav-Cannon and Grav-Amp
Space Marine Sergeant – Bolt Pistol – Combi-Grav – Melta Bombs – Signum
Rhino – Dozer Blade – Storm Bolter

Tactical Squad (90)
4x Space Marine – Flamer
Space Marine Sergeant – Bolt Pistol – Combi-Flamer – Melta Bombs
Drop Pod – Storm Bolter

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Tactical Squad (125)
4x Space Marine – Grav-Cannon and Grav-Amp
Space Marine Sergeant – Bolt Pistol – Combi-Grav – Melta Bombs
Rhino – Dozer Blade – Storm Bolter

Tactical Squad (125)
4x Space Marine – Grav-Cannon and Grav-Amp
Space Marine Sergeant – Bolt Pistol – Combi-Grav – Melta Bombs
Rhino – Dozer Blade – Storm Bolter

+ Auxiliary (284) +

10th Company Task Force * (284)

Scout Squad (100)
4x Scout – 4x Close Combat Weapon
Scout Sergeant – Bolt Pistol – Close Combat Weapon – Melta Bombs
Land Speeder Storm – Cerberus Launcher – Heavy Flamer

Scout Squad (100)
4x Scout – 4x Close Combat Weapon
Scout Sergeant – Bolt Pistol – Close Combat Weapon – Melta Bombs
Land Speeder Storm – Cerberus Launcher – Heavy Flamer

Scout Squad (84)
4x Scout – [Camo Cloaks – Missile Launcher (Frag & Krak) – 3x Sniper Rifle
Scout Sergeant – Bolt Pistol – Sniper Rifle

Details on the List

The total model count is 67 Marines and 12 vehicles. There are 51 points left over if you were to play 1850 points so if you want something like flakk missiles for the scout’s missile launcher go ahead and knock yourself out !

This list is highly optimized to take advantage of many of the best things Space Marines having going on such as an entire scouting army which can deliver a very powerful alpha strike. It also has a lot of grav weapons so it can take down Riptides, Stormsurges and the mighty Wraightknight. Even the lowly bolter should be feared when there at this many of them… And then there’s the lovely tactical doctrine.

I love the drop pod units because they are in your opponent’s face turn 1 forcing them to deal with it! So while there is no one unit that is very strong the overall synergy is really there and that’s the true strength of MSU.

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Morkanaut with KFF and riggers is more points than a Wraithknight with two wraith cannons. Yay points!

Speaking of Comp…

It’s also a very fluffy army that ranks high on a local comp system used for league games at one of my FLGS…

The army is rated 2 out of 3 for the following penalties:

Start with 3.00 and subtract 0.25 each time the one of the following cheese or spam factors occur:

* For each detachment past the first

* For each formation [-0.25]

* For each detachment that is a duplicate type (examples- 2 combined arms detachments, 2 allied detachments)

* For each formation that is a duplicate type (example- 2 Canoptek Harvest formations)

* For each non-troop unit (any unit whose codex entry area is not troop) that is a triplicate of the same type (examples- 3 units of Centurions, 3 units of bikes)

* For each psyker that has access to a Telepathy discipline power. (If the psyker rolls on the Telepathy table, or is a part of a group that can share powers and has a group member that rolls on the telepathy table). You must decide at list conception if you want Telepathy.

* For each unit of flyers

* For each winged monstrous creature

* For each gargantuan monstrous creature

* For each super heavy vehicle or walker

* For each unique or named Character/Lord of War [-0.25]

* For each unit that has D weapons (including D-1)

* For each model that is toughness 8 or above

* If your army has 3 or more units with Deepstrike special rule [-0.25]

* If your army has 3 or more units with poison special rule

* If your army has 3 or more units with haywire special rule

* If your army has 3 or more units with Grav special rule [-0.25]

Conclusion

MSU is a great counter to many of the things we don’t like about 7th edition such gargantuan monstrous creatures and the ever dreaded Strength D. So it’s not all gloom and doom depending upon your point of view.

~ Where do you think the balance lays in Deathstars vs MSU post Tau?

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