Allies have been on my mind a lot, mostly becuase, like most experienced 40k players I have more than one army (Tau, GK, and a dash of silver marines for the old daemonhunters ally rules, FYI) and there are obvious advantages to it. It’s one of my favorite things about 6th ed, btw, as it breaths new life into old armies, and it gives people like me that have mostly complete armies an excuse to buy “just a few” of some new army….which will probably segue into an entire army at some point. (which of course is GW’s plan, but I forgive them their mercantile intent driving rules this time; it’s just too fun)
This has been mostly a GK blog so far, but truth be told most of my time has been spent thinking about Tau….they have new viability with the change to rapid fire more general vehicle changes (massed str 5 is a vehicle killer now). However, unlike GK, which are pretty well self contained, Tau almost need allies because their weaknesses are so profound (assault and anti-psychic, lack of flyers).
I think we can assume for the sake of argument that ALL armies have something that potential partners will want; even Black Templars have cheap 5 man las/plas squads, terminators with tank hunting cyclone launchers (and a double dose too), and 20 point cheaper typhoon land speeders.
But there’s a cost here: obviously we have to buy 1 HQ and 1 Troop, and just obviously, not all HQs are created equal. HQs are usually not nearly as “points efficient” as regular troops — one of the main mistakes new players tend to make is over-tooled-up, bloated HQs– but most provide a decent “punch” that let you enforce local dominance in a small section of the field. Troops can vary everywhere from fastastic, as capable as the elites of other armies, to near wastes of points that people have always felt forced to take. We’re going to call these mandatory HQs and troops the “Tax”, which will be low when things are either cheap or super effective, or high when they’re useless.
There’s a second, more subtle factor going on that is probably under appreciated, though. Internal synergies and force multipliers, ways in which the army is meant to support itself. A good example would be Tau markerlights. These are pure force multipliers, and they obviously work better if you have a certain mass of Tau to utilize them properly. So, you’re unlikely to get much use out of markerlights in a small ally force, and conversely, by adding allies into a Tau army you’re creating some portion of your force that can’t use them. Less obvious internal synergies include things such as SW Wolf Guard and BA priests (both of which require an Elites slot) and Necron courts (which are a free slot, but still need units to put them in).
These are just things to keep in mind when adding allies into your list…..it’s fun and exciting but you are usually paying a premium to do so. It’s good to understand what that cost is and make sure it’s worth it.
Vanilla Space Marines, the smurfs
HQ Tax: Medium. Space Marines have historically spent as little as possible on HQs but the librarian remains a very efficient choice with new flexibility from BRB powers. Moreover, tolled-up Captains are seeing new life as challenge characters, especially on a bike.
Troop Tax: Medium-low. People poo-poo basic Tac Squads as being over costed and restricted compared to their more colorful brethren, but Combat Tactics really does a lot for them in the new edition. However, you usually need 10 to do what you want. Scout squads are also great for their cost, and quite cheap.
Internal Synergy: Very Low. Space Marines are meant to be simple. If you’re trying to do something special with the Chapter tactics of a special character, obviously the cost will go up, but y’know, don’t do that with allies.
Things you might want: An ally psyker is a big one, cheap (relatively) and durable troops is another. Don’t overlook thunderfire cannons! Really, SM get all the toys is some form, though many of them are cheaper or more effective in other codexes.
HQ Tax: Medium. (remember you do not need to buy an Emperor’s Champion if your allies force is below 750pts). BT HQs have access to an old style armoury and you can make whatever you want out of them. Usually with more attacks than an equivalent vanilla marine.
Troop Tax: Low. 5 man las/plas squads, nothing wrong with that.
Internal Synergy: none, without the emperor’s champion
Things you might want: Mostly nothing that BT are historically know for, like huge crusader squads. You probably want 2 special weapon per 5 man terminator squads, and maybe cheap typhoons.
HQ Tax: Medium. You can get the same thing you might get out of C:SM, if you want, or take any of their super special beat-sticks, like Mephiston.
Troop Tax: Wicked Low. Assault marines as troops, that provide a discount on tanks that are better than their SM equivalent……just cuz.
Internal Synergy: High. Sanguinary Priests are a classic force multiplier
Things you might want: Everything that regular marines have, but with Feel No Pain and faster tanks? Yeah. Stormravens, if you don’t have flyers of your own.
HQ Tax: Low. Everyone wants Deathwing and Belial is 40 pts cheaper than what the SM equivalent costs. Sammael, on the other hand, costs almost twice as much….? (jet bike with plasma cannon is still awesome, though at least in my head)
Troop Tax: None. This is why you get DA, for the deathwing (or maybe ravenwing, but they’re looking really expensive these days)
Internal Synergy: none, after picking a Special Character to make terminators or bikes troops.
Things you might want: Deathwing are terminator-troops, that can mix TH/SS and cyclone missile launchers freely, and are fearless. They pay a small premium for this over vanilla terminators, but it ain’t much. Ravenwing have their benefits but are a LOT more expensive than vanilla bikes, which you can also make troops, if you want.
HQ Tax: None. One of the two best anti-psychic abilities in the game is going to be a big part of why you take SW
Troop Tax: None. They have the most points efficient troops in the game.
Internal Synergy: High. You do need wolf guard, probably, and it takes the one ally elite slot you get.
Things you might want: “One of the two best anti-psychic abilities in the game” or cheap efficient troops. Long Fangs are also great.
HQ Tax: Low. Inquisitors are only 25 pts but aren’t going to do much for you until you upgrade them to at least the 60-80 pt range, and some effective builds are around 100-115. GK proper characters are more effective than their marine equivalents but also a lot more expensive.
Troop Tax: None. This is the main reason to take GK.
Internal Synergy: Low, but do consider Reinforced Aegis from Dreadnoughts, and if wanted “special” troops (purifiers and paladins, mostly) the HQs for that are REALLY expensive.
Things you might want: Much ado is made about GK, particularly by non-GK players, but the main thing that GK can add for other armies is troops with really high-quality dakka: Str 5 bolters and psycannons, of course. Coteaz does a LOT for 100 pts. I’d actually argue that an autocannon/lascannon predator from vanilla SM is better in 6th ed than a psyfleman, but if you don’t have something like that, a psyfleman would be worthwhile. Stormravens, if you don’t have flyers of your own.
Sisters of Battle
HQ Tax: None, if you count Celestine. That lady is clearly broken at 115 pts.
Troop Tax: High. Highest. There’s only one choice, they are, in the old fashion, the worst unit in the book, and their minimum unit size is 10!
Internal Synergy: Negative. You get the same number of faith points regardless, so the smaller the force is the better you can use them.
Things you might want: Celestine and Excorcists, mostly.
HQ Tax: Low. IG command can be anywhere from cheap and efficient to medium costed and giving tons of modifiers.
Troop Tax: None. IG troops are dirt cheap and always worth what you paid for them.
Internal Synergy: Low. The orders from the command squad matter for ground troops, but that’s about it.
Things you might want: Vendettas is the number 1 thing. Would you pay 43 pts for a TL lascannon? How about one that was mobile and largely immune to counterattack by 90% of units in the game? Yeah, of course you would. Beyond that IG offer as many bodies as you want and brutal ground pounder tanks.
HQ Tax: Medium. DE HQs can be cheapish but suffer on how to actually deliver them to the enemy. All require a lot of purchases to make them effective. Archons can be a beast if tooled-up but lack AP 2 (at least unless they take a power axe, kind of a waste).
Troop Tax: High. There’s been a lot of complaints on how to use wyches in 6th….they’re not wrong. DE warriors are kinda cheap, but like guardians can’t do too much except tote lances. Keep in mind that for anyone but eldar you’re a “desperate ally” and thus can’t score. Yay!
Internal Synergy: Medium-high. A few special characters are required to do certain tricks with the army, and a big trick is to use haemunculi to give pain tokens to different units first turn. Less obvious but more important is the rush/flood nature of the army….if you want to rush the enemy with wyches you need to use more raiders than they can shoot down the first turn, which is impossible as an ally.
Things you might want: Archons can be a beast, beast masters remain good, and their flyers are pretty good air-superiority fighters. Harlequins are easier to get for almost everybody from eldar. Jet bikes are stupid awesome in 6th ed and reavers, while they can’t score, can still contest and are very killy. Not a great ally overall, though.
HQ Tax: High, except that Farseer Runes of warding are a main thing many allies want, so that makes it low. Farseer is still quite expensive with powers, though, and Eldrad costs as much as a land raider.
Troop Tax: High. People hate Eldar troops, a guardian is basically a guardsmen that’s 1000 years older, much more expensive, and has none of the toys. That said, pathfinders seem quite good to me, like SM scouts but better at their job, and I think Guardian Jetbikes are fantastic. 48 inches of movement (+2d6) and able to score? Yes, please! That’s just ridiculous. 3 of them with a shuriken cannon are 76 pts. I don’t know why you don’t see more of these. (except that eldar bikes cost $15+ each)
Internal Synergy: Low, but…one thing that bugs me is that I want to use a Wraithlord in my Tau lists but it’s hard to find a psyker to baby-sit them and keep them from staring off into space 1/6 of the time. In a normal eldar list this wouldn’t be a big deal but as allies it’s kinda hard (I’d only be bringing a few live eldar….all on bikes and unlikely to sit at home with the WL).
Things you might want: Well I think everyone is thinking farseers as the only board-wide psychic defense available. Jet bikes, as mentioned, are ridiculously good, even just hiding and grabbing an objective somewhere (anywhere!) last turn. If you want harlequins, with their 2+ cover save (likely re-rollable), eldar are the place to get them. People tend to see Wraithlords as too expensive but their main problem is DE venoms, which I think we’ll see a lot less of, and if you’re somebody like Tau you’ll be able to knock them down right away anyway. Last but not least…..artillery. Artillery is really good in 6th ed, haven’t you heard? I’m not an expert on Eldar artillery but it looks like they have some very interesting options.
HQ Tax: Medium. Ork’s characters make great beat sticks for cheap. I still hear a lot aboutbig mek’s in 6th…..don’t know why.
Troop Tax: None. Ork boyz are great! Super cheap, fearless, good fighters, surprisingly good shooters (through sheer bulk of fire) and great board control.
Internal Synergy: None
Things you might want: Shootas! Possibly the best AA in the game right now. (who cares that you on 6′s, when you only hit on 5′s to start?) Changes to heavy weapons, snap shots, over watch, etc helped them enormously. Ork troops provide a great buffer, great “bubble wrap”, great board control for a very cheap per body cost.
HQ Tax: High. Overlords are expensive once you get the required equipment. Command barges are a lot less useful now, so delivering your lord to the enemy becomes an issue. Destroyer lords start to make a lot more sense but are even more expensive, regular Overlords become more a beat stick to keep them off your troops.
Troop Tax: Very Low. Necron troops are very durable and Tesla and Gauss are good against almost all targets. Oh, and they let you take Flyer dedicated transports! ZOMG.
Internal Synergy: Low. The only real downside is that as an ally you’ll have only one court, which means only 1 Lord or Cryptek per unit, but it’s not the biggest downside.
Things you might want: Flyers. There’s a slow consensus building that Necron Flyers lose to vendettas (like everything else) but Necrons still let you get more Flyers than anybody else, even as an ally. Wraiths are still generically useful against everything, scarabs are still cheap and will kill any vehicle they can touch (but are much easier to kill now, without stealth).
HQ Tax: Medium-low. A Shas’el with decent firepower will cost you 80-90 pts. I prefer Shas’O s myself, but I’m in the minority on that.
Troop Tax: Medium. Firewarriors are much better now that they shoot at 30″ all the time, but also not something you’ll take tons of just because you can.
Internal Synergy: Medium. As mentioned before, it’s the markerlights, which are important to a lot of builds.
Things you might want: Railguns. F__k yeah! Both Broadsides and Hammerheads have their advantages (railheads are much worse against vehicles but remember the Str 6 large blast! You’ll see lots of troops on foot these days) Tau also can bring lots of Str 7 shots and plasma, if that’s something you’re lacking. Most notably, Tau are second only to DE in night-fight capability, and have much bigger, longer range guns to use in the darkness too.
I’m not covering Chaos. Daemons are mostly only a good ally for Chaos marines and Chaos Marines are getting a new codex in a month, so everything I say will be meaningless shortly.
So what does all this tell us?
Like most things, the Imperium have it slightly better on the allies front than everyone else. IG is clearly the best ally out there, getting lots of punch for low costs, and all the different colors of Space marine can plug and play in most other lists well. However, looking at it, it’s not as lopsided as I thought for the other side of things Orks make great cheap allies, almost as useful as IG, Necrons are much more expensive, but very useful, and Tau can play well with most folks.
Eldar…..are expensive. We knew that. But the more I think about it, if it weren’t for Runes of Warding, no one would be talking about it.