Your List Sucks: The One-Box Challenge

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I get real obsessed with bad ideas sometimes, and they rattle around my skull forever, caught in the wrinkles of my brain. The only way to get them out of there is to tilt my head around like one of those toy mazes with the ball bearing in it, until I can get the wretched little pearl out by inflicting it on our readers. This is what led to the Kid’s Table, and to Meatwatch. Today’s incurable cursed concept is to put aside all logic and reason, and see what happens if you build an army by just buying the same kit a bunch of times.

Rob: love this concept, in part because I love stupid challenges that force you to do dumb shit under hilarious constraints. As soon as Greg brought this up I decided I was on board to come up with all manner of stupid lists and expand this from a fun little “hey let’s make a list or two” exercise into a big bracket challenge.

Choose your Fighter

First, some ground rules. We’re limiting entrants to multiples of the same box, and they should try to use every part of the kit. Counts-as isn’t allowed, unless it can be pulled off convincingly enough, but easy conversions that use only the bits in the box are allowed (exception because it led to some truly wild shit: we assume you have, or can source, extra bases). There’s no particular grounds for this other than, you know, it being the core conceit of the entire series. Also, in the interests of making the experiment reproducible, we’re not allowed to use any limited-release or out-of-print boxes, so cherry-picking Necron Warriors out of Indomituses on eBay is banned along with, as much as I love it, the old ten-pack of Leman Russ Battle Tanks from the original Apocalypse release that hasn’t been available for years. Everything has to be a build you could pick off the shelf at your FLGS. Note that we’re saying could, not that you should

We’re also ruling out “get the same Combat Patrol/Start Collecting box 2-3 times” builds, because then this turns into “which combat patrol/start collecting box is best” and the entire exercise becomes a matter of finding torturous justifications not to buy into Drukhari, which I don’t think would be particularly fun to examine.

Finally, armies should make at least a token effort to be, if not good, then at least not a complete joke. That means Incursion (that is, 1000 points) level and 2020 GT packet Matched Play legal lists (GREGNOTE: We’ve aimed for 2020 GT packet compliance where we can, and generally did manage to get there. Some of these ideas won’t work in that format but are too good to pass up, so while ideally these are all something you could rock in an Incursion GT, at a minimum we only promise that they’ll be Battleforged). The reason we’re not aiming for Strike Force here that the Bit starts to fall apart when all you can add is 5 more squads of Troops, which does not spark joy, but worry not: Spammable options generally exist to fill out the remaining thousand points, which are mostly going to be either transports or wretched points-sink superheavies. Need a break after painting 15 Crisis Suits? Treat yourself to a Ta’unar, which will instantly boost you to 2000 points on the dot, and is technically not currently a battlesuit.

The results generally fall into two categories. One where the models are intended to be built as multiple units or can be convincingly bit-bashed (I’m hesitant to call this kit-bashing, since it’s only the one kit) into HQs (eg, most non-Primaris Space Marines), and the other where GW filled up empty sprue space with tons of extra gubbins or random add-ons that can function as their own units (spoiler alert: drones).

When we put our heads together we ended up with a fairly wide slate of entries, 18 in all. Since that’s far too much for one post, we’ve broken it out into 5 reasonably-sized chunks. Today we’ll be looking at Imperium armies, but future installments will cover loyalist Space Marines, all flavors of Chaos, non-Eldar Xenos, and Eldar.

Rob: Once we’ve gone through the lists, starting next week we’re going to do a more thorough competitive evaluation between them and have the lists square off in a bracket. This will either involve us playing the games or, more likely, having our competitive players reason out which list they think would win more often between the two.

 

Adeptus Custodes

Greg

The original one-box patrol, Custodes were the first place I looked for ideas here. Among the smallest and cheapest legal armies in the entire game, it requires just a single box of Custodian Guard. One model can be used as a shield captain, and another as a Vexilus Praetor, with the remaining 3 still functioning as a legal Troops unit. This 400-point Patrol is going to be the building block of our army.

Custodes Wardens by Crab-stuffed Mushrooms

Custodes Wardens. Credit: Crab-stuffed Mushrooms

Shopping List

$180, 3 sets of Custodian Guard

Army List

Adeptus Custodes Battalion Detachment (999 points) 6CP

HQ: Shield-Captain: Storm Shield, Sentinel Blade (112) Warlord
HQ: Shield-Captain: Storm Shield, Sentinel Blade (112)

TR: Custodian Guard Squad: 3x Custodians with Guardian Spear (135)
TR: Custodian Guard Squad: 4x Custodians with Storm Shield and Sentinel Blade (208)
TR: Custodian Guard Squad: 4x Custodians with Guardian Spear and Misercordia (192)

EL: Vexilus Praetor: Storm Shield, Vexilia Imperius (115)
EL: Vexilus Praetor: Storm Shield, Vexilia Magnifica (125)

The Vexilia are one (1) Imperius, and one (1) Magnifica for -1 to be hit and +1 attacks. The Defensor does nothing for this army, so we aren’t taking that one. There’s some leeway to assign Sword/Shield or Spear/Misercordia layouts as you see fit. You could also drop one Vexilia and add a fourth Custode to one of the troop squads, and have points left over to give everyone a Storm Shield. There aren’t a lot of options available, so learn to enjoy what little choice you have.

Competitive Outlook

Custodes are a solid but unspectacular faction, which this leans wildly out of by ignoring most of the units that make them worthwhile. It’s still a faction of elite, hard to kill infantry, but will suffer from a lack of vehicles or heavy weapons. Look on the bright side: with all the time you save by only having to spray Retributor and apply washes to 15 models, you can get extra practice games in. 

It’s worth noting here that Oops, All Storm Shields! is probably not a great way to spend points, given that the detachment rules will already give you a 4+ invulnerable, but getting to a 3++ with the detachment bonus and the 1+ save helps when you’re pushing so few models, and also it eats up points, which is a way to save money.

Regardless, this is actually a solid core to a Custodes collection. Other than maybe the extra Vexilia it’s all things you’d actually want to have. Start with this and throw in some Forge World kits or jetbikes, and you have the bones of a decent army.

Rob: Elite units tend to function a lot better at smaller points values, where it’s much more difficult to focus fire down units than at 2,000 points. That works in the Custodes’ favor. Unfortunately as we’ll see there are quite a few stupidly elite armies we can build at the 1,000 points level that will give this one some real fits. Such as…

 

Astra Militarum

Rob

Look, if you’re going down this cursed route, it’s going to be with a tank. Of all your options the Leman Russ Demolisher gives you the best kit, and while there are several turret options in the kit, we’re gonna stick with the Demolisher cannon.

Edit: Aaaah shit, this one doesn’t work. Stay tuned for an update where we probably fill a list with Scions or something.

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Shopping List

$294, 5 Leman Russ Demolisher kits

Army List

Astra Militarum Spearhead Detachment (-2 CP, 1,000 Points)

Regiment: Custom – Gunnery Experts, Spotter Details

HQ: Tank Commander – Leman Russ Demolisher, Sponson Heavy Bolters, Hunter-Killer missile, Warlord: Old Grudges, Relic: Kurov’s Aquila (230)
HQ: Tank Commander – Leman Russ Demolisher, Sponson Heavy Bolters, Hunter-Killer missile (230)

HS: Leman Russ Battle Tanks – Demolisher, Sponson Heavy Bolters (190)
HS: Leman Russ Battle Tanks – Demolisher, Sponson Heavy Bolters (190)
HS: Leman Russ Demolisher (160)

TONK.

Competitive Outlook

You definitely want to have a few Leman Russ Demolishers in your army for a modern guard army, so it’s not a terrible start. It may tear up this competition, but Guard still aren’t super competitive otherwise. At the 1,000 point level, this list is going to just clown the shit out of some of the other lists in this competition. It may be my pick for the #1 list here, to be perfectly honest. Some of the lists we’re working up just aren’t capable of taking down more than one tank per game, meanwhile the Demolishers can all rumble forward and double shoot each turn, pouring out buttloads of demolisher cannon fire that will happily rip through more elite infantry like Custodes or Deathshroud Terminators. The heavy bolters can help clear up the rest, and the blast attribute on the guns can help clear out infantry hordes. This is my pick for the #1 seed in the competition, maybe #2, depending on how the Drukhari list looks.

Greg: I love this list and am exactly dumb enough to convert my next tax return into 10 Leman Russes so I can actually run this.

 

Astra Militarum, but somehow worse

Greg

This one was a mistake. I knew it would be bad, but I flatly underestimated how bad. The challenge was to take one of the oldest kits, with the fewest options on the sprues, but some good org-chart slot versatility, and try to make it work. What I didn’t quite account for is that the actual models are so cheap – 5 or 6 points each, depending on usage – that I started running out of space in detachments. Between the Rule of 3 and the two-detachment limit in Incursion, it was starting to look like this would be impossible, but we did make it work in the end. We shouldn’t have, but we did.

Among several problems, the Catachan Jungle Fighters box only comes with lasguns, knives, and flamers. This actually kind of works, since the Catachan regimental doctrine lets you re-roll the number of shots, so you’re getting a lot of value out of it. Each box comes with 2 flamers, and we’re going to use almost all of them.

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Shopping List

An absolutely eye-popping $455, 13 boxes of Catachan Jungle Fighters

Army List

Astra Militarum Battalion Detachment (635) 0CP

HQ: Company Commander: Power Sword, Warlord (40)
HQ: Company Commander: Power Sword (40)

TR: Infantry Squad: Vox-caster, Flamer (65)
TR: Infantry Squad: Vox-caster, Flamer (65)
TR: Infantry Squad: Vox-caster, Flamer (65)
TR: Infantry Squad: Vox-caster, Flamer (65)
TR: Infantry Squad: Vox-caster, Flamer (65)
TR: Infantry Squad: Vox-caster, Flamer (65) 

EL: Command Squad: Vox-caster, 2x Flamer (40)
EL: Command Squad: Vox-caster, 2x Flamer (40)
EL: Veterans: Vox-caster, 3x Flamer (85)

Astra Militarum Patrol Detachment (360) -2CP

HQ: Company Commander: Power Sword (40)

TR: Infantry Squad: Vox-caster, Flamer (65)
TR: Infantry Squad: Vox-caster, Flamer (65)
TR: Infantry Squad: Vox-caster, Flamer (65) 

EL: Command Squad: Vox-caster, 2x Flamer (40)
EL: Veterans: Vox-caster, 3x Flamer (85)

I have legitimate concerns about fitting this into your deployment zone: the models alone will take up an entire square foot of board space, assuming ranked formation and no terrain in the way. It’s not great.

Competitive Outlook

Dear god, no. There is zero offense, shooting or punching, better than S4, and nothing with a range better than 24”. Within 12”, assuming you still have any models left alive by the time you close the gap, it can chip off some damage with all the auto-hitting flamers and a ridiculous number of S3 shots, but if you come up against anything T5 or higher (ie, any vehicle at all) the list has no answers for it. It’s probably worth making more of the larger knives into power swords and giving them to every single one of your 14 sergeants, but it won’t help.

Guard are in a rough spot, and there is no possible list you can combine with this that’s going to work. 125 infantry, with no heavy weapons and only flamers for specials, is not a good way to start.

Rob: You do not want to build this or buy this many Catachan kits. Honestly I think it was broadly irresponsible to even put this list forward and then approve it for publication, but I’ve never been known to be the responsible sort so here we are.

 

Imperial/Chaos Knights

Greg

Yes, you actually can fit a full Super-Heavy detachment in an Incursion game. It doesn’t actually use any full-size Knights, but it’s not an Auxiliary detachment either. Combining the worst of both worlds – low model count and limited options in the box – it doesn’t come particularly close to the points limit, leaving a non-trivial 40 points unspent even after repeatedly slamming the Meltagun button until it got stuck. It does end up being one of the cheapest money-wise and, if you’re expanding to a 2000 point list, is a useful starting point.

Note that it’s entirely possible to declare these as either Imperial (loyal, strong) or Chaos (wicked, shameful) Knights, swapping an entire stack of household/allegiance rules without changing the models at all. Two armies in one, that’s Numberwang.

Imperial Knights - Armiger Helverins

Imperial Knights – Armiger Helverins. Credit: Pendulin

Shopping List

$225, 3 boxes of Armiger Helverins

Army List

Imperial Knights Super-Heavy Detachment (960) 0CP

Allegiance: Questor Mechanicus, House Raven

LoW: Armiger Helverins: 1x Helverin with Meltagun, Character, Warlord (Paragon of the Omnissiah), Relic: Spirit of Kolossi (160)

LoW: Armiger Helverins: 2x Helverins with Meltagun (320)

LoW: Armiger Helverins: 3x Helverins with Meltagun (480)

There’s an alternate build here that uses 7 Warglaives (at 980 points) instead of 6 Helverins, but this one didn’t leave an entire extra model on-sprue, so that’s what we went with.

Competitive Outlook

Being limited to just one of Helverins or Warglaives hurts. If the kits were dual-build this would be a stronger army, but it’s still not terrible, and neatly hits the criteria of using every single bit in the entire box save for some alternate faceplates and the heavy stubbers. If you want to collect Knights, you could do worse than starting with some Armigers – starting with this and adding in two Questoris-class chassis would just about get to a full Strike Force.

This is among the best of the lists presented here, by the highly scientific rating of “does looking at this make me want to actually buy and paint it.” I didn’t quite put the models in my shopping cart, but I’m still thinking about it.

Rob: Honestly this one might not be so bad as armigers seem poised to be a bit more useful in a Drukhari-heavy meta. But currently Lightning Lock moirax armigers are the jam so this isn’t quite how you want to build. This one will also probably do OK in the competition, since it’ll tear through the heavier infantry, but it’s liable to suffer against the demolisher Astra Militarum list.

 

Tomorrow: Space Marines

We’ve had a lot of fun today, but there’s nothing fun about ramming your shopping cart full of the same box a bunch of times and smashing the purchase button, then neglecting the piles of plastic for years and never building them, until a future edition of the game renders all your models useless. Actually, wait, no, that is pretty fun. It’s the most common sort of fun that Warhammer offers, if we’re honest. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s article, when we run through the bad Space Marines lists we were able to build by buying the same box over and over again.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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