Hints For Homebrew: Veterans

Permission to write a new Hints article, sir?
Before I begin, I'd like to issue a quick reminder about the recently announced contest. The prize money has been doubled by Atrotos, bringing it to £38.58 ($60) for the winner and £25.72 ($40) for the runner-up (if Google is to be believed).

Veterans are a staple of 40k. Apart from Daemons and Tyranids, all armies in the game have them, however the unit is not always used to its full potential. This to me is a travesty considering that they should be among your best troops, and hopefully this series of pointers will help you avoid the common GW pitfalls.

1) Veterans do not always have to be Elites: To me, a Veteran is an upgraded version of your basic troop unit. So things like 'Ard Boyz, IG Veterans and Vanguard are still Veterans. The important thing when deciding where to put your Veterans in the Force Chart is that all-important theme of competition. If your Veterans unit clearly struggles to compete with the other things in your Elites slot, you should consider putting it somewhere else.

Good Example #1: Space Marine Sternguard. With access to 2+ Poison and combi-weapons for everyone, they are a strong flexible unit that doesn't really fit anywhere else.

Good Example #2: IG Veterans.They have a basic trooper statline, only with BS4. Putting them in Troops gives the Guard player a choice between numbers or accuracy and special weapon/demo charge utility. OK, maybe the only thing they'd compete with is the Psyker Battle Squad and Marbo, but I'd rather not be locked into taking Platoons as my only Troop.

Bad Example: Chaos Chosen. Considering how cheap Chaos Terminators are, they need some kind of extra factor. They got Infiltrate instead. Yeah, that worked.

2) Veterans should NOT just be your basic Troop with an extra Attack...: GW seems to be moving away from this now, but you should still avoid the 'Veteran Attacks Conundrum.' Just because the unit is a Veteran does not mean that by default they should cost more for an extra Attack, especially one they will never use willingly. Unless the unit has an active combat role, an extra Attack is a meaningless cop-out.

Good Example: Hekatrix Bloodbrides. An extra Attack helps the unit move from being a tarpit like its Troop Cousin the Wych into being something that can carry a character into combat and still fight well on its own.

Bad Example: Kabalite Trueborn. Why oh why do they have two Attacks? What possible reason do you have, Mr Kelly, for giving a unit with no combat upgrades outside of the Dracon 2 Attacks? I can attest from personal experience that it really doesn't help them at all.

2.5)...1 more Leadership....: Short, sweet, exampleless. A Veteran is not a Troop with Ld9. End of.

Bad Example: Well, I'd love to say exampleless, but then I remembered the new Celestians. They're identical to Battle Sisters option-wise, but have the VAC and Ld9. I'd say more, but I'm too lazy to. Just like the rest of that pitiful Codex.

2.75)...and more upgrades.: Yes, the basic Veteran should have more options than its brother in Troops, but options for the sake of options is a no-go. The added options should give them a different niche in the army to the Troop. And one or more new upgrades that help to do this wouldn't go amiss.

Good Example: I return to Trueborn. The reason they are a viable choice is the insane number of anti-tank guns that they can fit inside a Venom. However, the option of shardcarbines and two splinter cannons  gives them a barrage of anti-infantry instead, so the upgrades are useful in making a unit that can easily do two different things.

Bad Example: Chosen. They can take multiple special weapons, but so can Havocs, so they're not unique. They can have a few power weapons, shame that for some reason they didn't get the extra Attack (why?). If you want a small suicide melta unit, you use 3 Termies with combi-meltas. This unit seems very viable for a Monday rant.

3) Don't make the unit cost more than the sum of its parts: With all the options available to these units, points costs can sometimes get out of hand. Help prevent this by shaving unneccesary things and keeping the base cost down. Otherwise, the unit could become prohibitively expensive.

Good Example: Back to Guard. At 70 points for the 10 men, with a transport and a couple of weapons you'd be hard-pressed to go over 150-75.

Bad Example: Sternguard. 25 points a head is an awful lot in an expensive army like Marines. If only that extra Attack was gone...

Worse Example: Vanguard. How much for Jump Packs? How much for a special rule that might not even work?

4) On Special Rules: Because the Veteran is based on the Troop, extra rules are often not needed. Don't feel you need to give them one. That said, it can sometimes add a bit of character, so play around and see what works.

Good Example: It used to be that Space Marine Veterans could buy things like Furious Charge for 3 points a head. Vanguard could have used that over Intervention. Shame, it would have been more useful.

Bad Example: Chosen. Infiltrate. Bad. It just seems tacked-on to try and make it useful. Shame that, unlike Scout, it doesn't work with a Rhino.

And that's Veterans done. Characters is still WIP as ever. I have no idea what I'm writing next Saturday, but I'll be back then.


Atrotos said…
Nice article Bryss!

IMO Veterans are often limited by the suffocating scale that exists in 40k. When 90% of the units in the game are <4 in their stats it becomes difficult to improve stats without intruding on supernatural territory. What I mean is IG Vets, for example, should be slightly better at shooting than their platoon counterparts but being able to shoot as well as Marine is a little heavy. Sadly there's no BS 3.5 to make rules design easier. 

I think you picked some really apt examples in this write-up. This is a series I'll be looking forward to reading. 

Oh and on the topic of adding attacks to non-CC specialist, I disagree. Giving an extra attack distinguishes the unit a little better (albeit mostly just thematically). It gives them an edge when facing their more mundane counterparts that feels right. Storm Troopers should consistently win out in CC versus guardsmen for example. 

Where I agree is that these units should not pay for these extra attacks in points. They cannot count on them to make any real difference as you say and the price is already covered in the unit's opportunity cost. Taking non-scoring veterans over troops already has a huge opportunity price tag.
Master_Bryss said…
Oh thank goodness. I was worried that I wouldn't have as much to write up as I have for my other hints articles, but I've still got a lot to go on.

Good point about the free extra attack. Considering that Troops get one of the most vital rules in 2/3 of missions for free, that extra bit of difference wouldn't go amiss, as long as it doesn't impact the cost. 
Alex Kostyuk said…
wow...after reading this , it just struck me....vets are ld9.....space puppies who are unwavering marines of the god emperor and who know no fear are only ld 8.....