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Goatboy’s Warhammer 40K: What Makes a Battleline Unit Worthwhile?

4 Minute Read
Sep 18 2023

What’s makes a 40K Battleline unit worth taking? Here’s what you should look for when putting your armylist together.

The question that always on my mind with the whole – “take whatever you want” mentality currently in 40K army lists.  The big question these days is – why would you even want to take a Battleline unit?  What makes them worthwhile to add to your list other than some kind of dream of having a much more “locked” in Force Org set up like we had in the ole days.

To understand why the unit might be worth it we have to first break it down into three separate ideas.  The first one would be its overall cost.  If the unit is super cheap for its output then it is probably worth it to fit into your army.  That is the easiest one and one of the things we all understand.  The second would of course is the units output worth its cost.  There is a limit where the cost and lack of output is ok because if it is cheap enough, any output is good. But we’ll talk about that later.  The last thing would be a standout rule or effect is so good the cost/output/etc is worth it.

Battleline Unit Cost

We’ll start with the first thought on unit cost.  We know a cheap troop or backfield holder is very powerful for a lot of armies.  Heck it was one of the cornerstones of the old Custodes army that utilized some cheap Arbites with FNP to help hold the backfield. The question really is how much of a cost is good enough to justify burning points on what might not be an effective killing unit?  Really it seems to be in a range of 5-10 points per model is where we start to see the value of cheap and effective Battleline options.  If you add in some kind of ability to be tougher on top of it and you then find value within that keyword. You could then use points on models that might not do the job of beating things up, but instead do the job of holding things down.

Examples of this abound within the Agents of the Imperium options as well as some of the Chaos Troop outputs.  If you look at the 5 man Plague Marine squad and see how much you get for 80 points it seems pretty nutty.  Some of the Marine stuff is cheap enough to be valuable too and of course the Cultists always fits into this slot as a usable option.  It really seems to be if you can throw 100 points at something to hold your backfield then it is considered good enough.

Battleline Unit Output

The next one is having a cheap option that is actual decent.  This is where you start to see some of the armies that are mostly Battleline with a few extra things.  Knights fall into this category as while they are over a 100 points they can do so much more damage than their other Battleline counterparts.  You could also see this in the Grey Knight Terminators as they are an expensive option for a Battleline choice – but their output is actually decent when compared to the other options.

Of course choices like these would be Batteline due to themes the armies need to keep.  A Knight army without smaller Knights is less exciting.  A Grey Knight army without waves of Terminators is not nearly as fluffy as you would want it to be.  I get the feeling the choice of making these units Battleline is less a need to let them take more than three units and more so something to help fill in how the army could go together.


Battleline Unit Special Rules

The final choice or thought would be do these units do something unique.  A lot of Battleline units get stuck with the sticky objective option which seems alright. But it comes into play less and less as we engage with the new edition.  I think some of the top armies had too much firepower mixed with movement to really “keep” objectives held down while your unit isn’t around.  It makes me feel like there should be more things added on top to help create why the Battleline unit being obsessed with objectives would be a good thing.

We see this in some of the other armies choices like Berzerkers who love being on an objective to get better Blessings of Khorne roles.  Or how Chaos Space Marine Legionaries get more effective while within or going after and objective.  I would think better rules or options for the things we utilize to score in a game might make it a choice to take in your army.  A lot of the time it is just better to take things that kill better.

What do you think?  Should we try and emphasis those choices more or figure out other ways to make taking Battleline the better choice?  Should we go back to having minimum Battleline in armies to force some taxes?  Or is it just better to make those choices good?

Is Battleline a good thing?


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