Hey all, Danny here to talk about the other side of the fence, the indexes. With Tyranids coming this weekend, my main faction is now fully official and ready for 8th, but what about everyone else who is still waiting? How do you compete when you only have an index?
First, let’s lay out why a codex is just vastly superior to an index.
- Stratagems: These are huge, and they not only offer tactically powerful curve balls like attacking twice or messing with opponent’s plans, but they also can alter your overall army strategy by being able to mess with deployment.
- Powers: Pretty much every army gets double the amount of powers for their pyskers, and well, that can matter quite a bit in terms of debuffs or another way to cause mortal wounds.
- Chapter Tactics: Getting a free bonus for choosing a theme is awesome, again, because free. Essentially getting a free extra rule opens up a lot of different avenues.
- Points rebalancing/errata: It is pretty obvious that the playtesters were mostly working with the codex version of the armies, not index, so the codexes have already seen people point out really weak units, but the indexes could still have these issues.
Ok, so with that established, what can you do about it?
Identify what of the dominant archetypes that your index can fulfill:
- Character spam – Lots of high powered characters that can hide in chaff and kick ass.
- Smite/mortal wounds spam – Lots of smite, as much as you can or any other way of dealing mortal wounds.
- Horde – you can bring 120+ models to the table without much of a problem.
- Shooting – You can shoot a lot from far away.
- Melee out of reserve – you can come in and punch right from reserve
- Insane durability – you can weather most damage
Not everyone can do everything, so sorry Tau and Necron, no smite-spam for you. That said, you need to look at what your index can do.
Let’s take Orks for example. They excel at several of these archetypes, particularly horde. The standard Ork Boy is just so damn good, and really, every competitive Ork army should have at least 90 of them on the board, if not closer to 120. Whether backed up by Mek Gunz, Superheavies, or Smite spam, a 30 boy mob is no joke, and neither is 4 or 5 of them, so go with it. While you Orks may lack stratagems and chapter tactics, the fact that they can still work within one of the dominant archetypes of competitive armies, really several of them, mean they are still to be feared.
What about Imperials? Well, they have Imperial soup, so they are fine, but inquisitor spam works as does Assassin spam, especially if you take conscript blobs as chaff. Inquisitors are cheap smite batteries plus a bit more useful in a scrap than say a primaris psyker. As our teammate Adrien showed, as long as you have Repressors, Sisters of Battle can put in a lot of work, and as for BA/DA, well, you are getting your codexes right quick, so soldier on. For Space Wolves, character spam is real. Wolf-Tide may be dead, but a ton of cheap and fast Fenrisian Wwolves covering a ton of Thunderwolf characters can be an annoying army to fight.
Daemons are in a decent spot again thanks to Chaos soup. Plus, they are getting a book within the next few months, so there’s that, but Daemons can still spam Nurglings for great board control and smite spam with heralds, so if your heart is set on pure Daemons, you might want to consider just taking as many heralds as you can with waves of nurglings and plaguebearers to screen them. Plus, if you are playing in an environment that does not limit Forgeworld or Power Level, take Super-Chicken. Oh god, take the Super-Chicken.
What about Dark Eldar? Well, they still have dark lance spam, and really, that’s their best bet. It’s not great and certainly not as strong as other gunlines, but hey, use what you got. At least DE have Craftworlds to use now, but yah, Dark Eldar aren’t in a great spot either. You could actually try running DE with character spam, namely Succubus spam to lock people in place in melee.
Harlequins fare a bit better simply for the fact that they are just better. Melta-pistol spam is a real threat as having multiple units that fight decently, pump out 5 shots of S8 AP-4 Dmg D6 shots is scary, especially for an army with a 4++ save everywhere and a lot of -1 to hit debuffs and even a -1 to wound debuff. Especially if you are open to doing character spam and using Craftworld or even DE for cheap chaff, a ton of Shadowseers is actually scary for a lot of smite plus a -1 to wound aura for themselves. Throw in a few solitaires and you have a lot of impactful characters with a lot of tricks.
As for Tau…well, they actually have two strategies. The first is Commander spam, which is just what it is. Being able to bring 6+ Commanders that can deep strike, do decent damage, and cannot be targeted unless they are the closest unit is pretty huge. Yes, I know our Tommy hates it, but if you are playing with the index handicap, you have to do what you have to do. Seeker Missile spam is also something workable as being able to do a lot of ranged mortal wounds is not too bad at all, and with the prevalence of Magnus/Morty, it really is the best way to shut down these threats. Kroot aren’t amazing, but they make decent chaff as do drones, so really, if you are a Tau player, you need to be bringing Commanders or a ton of seeker missiles.
Necrons? Well, they are in the worst place from my view. They really struggle to do just about anything. You can do Quantum Shielding spam for insane durability, so bust out those Annihilation Barges, but that’s your best move. Necrons just lack the ability to really rely on chaff as Warriors are too expensive. You can try Scarabs, but you want Troop choices to get at least battalions for some decent CP generation as even with just the basic stratagems, getting rerolls is key.
Genestealer Cult have two new codexes to work with in terms of allies, so we’ll see. A pure Genestealer Cult army is likely not going to do well, but they can at least try for assault out of reserves, and genestealers are still one of the best units in the game. They also have cheap chaff, so it is easy to build battalions around them. Plus, thanks to the GW FAQ, the GSC tanks do get to double-shoot like AM counterparts, but you don’t get those fancy chapter tactics. Really, I think GSC work best spamming Magnus and Patriarchs for a ton of smite and a few fighty characters with a sea of cheap chaff and maybe, maybe a few units of genestealers with a Primus for assault out of reserves.
So really, what is the lesson if you have an index and want to win? Find a niche and commit to it. Yes, the game is more fun when balanced armies can be viable, but right now, indexes just lack the means to do that and be competitive in any meaningful way. If you don’t care about that, then go on with your bad self. The game is meant to be fun, afterall, so if you are having fun, keep doing whatever you are doing.
But, if you want to play in local leagues or RTTs and want to get a win or two, you need to embrace that you are playing with a handicap and move away from the idea that your army needs to be balanced. It can’t be. Time heals all wounds, and hopefully by March, all the indexes will be replaced with Codexes. Let’s hope.
Thanks as always for reading, and remember, we have a fancy Facebook page where we post all kinds of things like if Rowboat looks better with a helmet or the disapproving glare of a tired father, we have a Twitch stream where we chat, build models, and talk about fluff or tournaments, we have a YouTube page where we post the shows from Twitch and even a Shadespire demo (coming soon), and of course, we have a Patreon to help pay for all of this.