Weekend Silliness: Well, I like Black Reach, but I also like Dark Vengeance. But which is best? There's only one way to find out...

I have now lived through the release of two 40k starter boxes, both of which represented excellent value in their time. But I want to know something; what if the inhabitants of Black Reach got hacked off at being replaced, and teamed up to reclaim their starter box crown?

After the jump, we'll weigh up the contenders.

The easy first step is to list out the contents of each box, which goes something like this:

Team Black Reach                               
Captain with power sword and bolter
Warboss with power klaw and twin-linked shoota
5 Terminators
5 Nobz
10 Tactical Marines with flamer and missile launcher, Sergeant with bolt pistol and chainsword
10 Slugga Boyz with big shoota
10 Slugga Boyz with big shoota
1 Dreadnought with DCCW/storm bolter and multi-melta
3 Deffkoptas with twin-linked rokkit launchas

Models: 46
Base Points: 1040

Team Dark Vengeance
Company Master with power sword and combi-plasma
Librarian with force sword and bolt pistol
Chaos Lord with power sword and plasma pistol
5 Terminators with assault cannon and chainfist
6 Chosen with power maul, lightning claws, power axe, power fist, bolter, bolter
10 Tactical Marines with plasma gun, plasma cannon, Sergeant with plasma pistol and chainsword
10 Cultists (autogun) with heavy stubber, leader with shotgun
10 Cultists (autopistol and CCW) with flamer, leader with two close combat weapons
1 Helbrute with multi melta? and DCCW?
3 Ravenwing Bikers with plasma gun

Models: 48
Base Points: ???

You'll notice I haven't included the Interrogator Chaplain. This is because he doesn't come in every box of Dark Vengeance and therefore isn't basic content. I also suspect the Dark Vengeance points total will be higher and I didn't want to skew it more with an 100 point character.

Now, we'll examine the different box archetypes, and see who comes out on top there.

Round 1: Heroes

It seems like Team Vengeance has an early lead here, outnumbering the two Black Reach heroes and generally having slightly better ranged gear. However, only Team Black Reach has a character capable of inflicting Instant Death, which may be pivotal in a challenge.

Round 2: Elites

Team Vengeance has this one all wrapped up, with more Terminator wargear and more power weapons. The Chosen even have a power fist for dealing with Terminators. Of course, generally speaking, each side's Terminators are evenly matched in combat and make mincemeat out of the non-Terminator Elite on both sides. It's just the Black Reach ones have it harder. The Nobz are hampered by a lack of a real Save and a vulnerability to Instant Death and Challenges.

Round 3: Elite Troops

Team Black Reach has less low AP stuff but has no Gets Hot clause and is better at dealing with hordes at close range than the Team Vengeance Marines. They even get better Overwatch against them, thanks to Wall O'Death. Team Vengeance excels at killing any squad at range with their plasma and even get an AP2 bonus in the event of their penetrating the Dread.

Round 4: Horde Troops

I'm assuming the Cultists to have Guard stats but with a 6+ save. Either way, the Orks beat them hands down. Yes, the Cultists are more accurate and have a flamer, but the Orks are tougher, better in combat and have the ability to Waaagh! and re-roll charge dice. Plus, the Orks can be in a squad of 20 without losing effectiveness, unlike the Cultists who are two distinct units.

Round 5: Vehicles and Bikes

The Deffkoptas have less volume of fire but are better tank hunters, although I don't know as much as I'd like about the Helbrute (yes, one L, the GW site says so) and so can't draw any certain conclusions. They also have two wounds each, which the Bikers don't. The Bikers are better at killing infantry, but can't Scout and so have less tactical flexibilty than the Koptas.

The Dreadnought and Helbrute, hmm. The Hull Point system has made combat between Walkers and Monsters much more even-footed, so it could go either way.

Overall, the score is actually a lot more even than I thought it would be. Both sides have a clear-cut advantage in one area and are fairly even in all the rest. But the points thing is still an issue. Thankfully, there are two ways I can solve that.

Method 1: The Free White Dwarf Models: The Black Reach WD gave out a free Terminator and Nob, something the DV one doesn't seem to have (boo, hiss!). They bring up the Black Reach points total to around 1100.

Method 2: Bonus Kit: Cybork body, bosspole, digital weapons... all these things add up. I could also give a Nob or two a Power Klaw, as I've converted mine like that, which makes them slightly more even with the Chosen.

These two things should make it a fair fight points-wise. Now for the scenario.

Custom Scenario: Starter Boxing

Mission: Purge The Alien (modified)
Deployment: Dawn of War
Warlord Traits: Two characters from each side may roll on a Warlord Chart. They must be from different Codices.
Mission Special Rules: X vs Y, For The Honour Of The Starter Box
Game Length: Five turns

X vs Y: Each unit is classified as one of the following; Hero, Elite Infantry, Heavy Infantry, Infantry, Bikes/Vehicles. If a unit kills a unit of the same type, the player gains an extra Victory Point. For example, if the Ork Warboss slays the Chaos Lord, he will gain 1 VP for the kill and an extra VP for killing a Hero.

For The Honour Of The Starter Box: The normal allies rules and Force Organistion Chart do not apply for this mission, as these armies have shared the glorious bond of being sprue-mates. Both sides' factions count as being Battle Brothers with each other.

I'm aware that this may not be the most balanced of missions. But it does look like fun. Note that there's no Reserves, no Night Fighting, no First Blood, no nothing. This mission is purely about deciding which box is the best. Will it be the new boys on the block, or the slightly less detailed old guard? Find out at some point. After all, I have't got the bloody box yet.