Pros and Cons of Each Army
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Tau- A very shooty race that conquer for the greater good
Pros - Very very strong fire power. Basic infantry boast the strongest basic weapon in the game. Railguns! Ability to increase ballistic skills of units and remove cover saves of enemies. Many units can Jump-Shoot-Jump. Crisis suits can be outfitted to counter nearly any threat.
Cons - Very weak in melee combat, somewhat slow overall with only two units able to move over 12" without running. Vehicles slow as well except the piranha. Lack of artillery type units or attacks. Crisis suits tend to draw lots of fire. Tau have no psychers.
The tau are all about mobile fire power. When they shoot they hit hard, and are an excellent tank busting race. Markerlights allow you to boost the chances of hitting and removing cover saves. The tau crisis suits are powerful weapons platforms and tough to kill. Their railgun weaponry tends to make opponents leave the vehicles at home. Can equip all vehicles with a 4+ cover save equipment and give many units drones for extra fire power, markerlights or protection. A specialized way to play is to use a commander with a positronic relay to keep most of their army off the board until turn 5 and blast whats on the field at that time.
Orks- Very melee army with some moderate shooting power
Pros - Can field mass amounts of troops, their basic units are cheap, tough and have many melee attacks. Very tough and powerful HQ choices. Waaaaaagh! can be used to give the entire army fleet starting on the second shooting phase. Very random units and abilities. Mob rule can make squads fearless. They have the ability to "loot", which is basically orkifying any vehicle from another race, which can make for fun conversions.
Cons - Not the best shooting power, though mass fire can make up for this fact. Mostly designed for being in melee combat, which can be a hassle to get into with some armies. Not the greatest anti tank weaponry. Very random units and abilities. Many vehicles are open topped and weak.
The Orks work best in melee combat, there are many ways to do this. Some use trukks to roll their boyz into melee, others just field more than the enemy could probably kill and hope they get there. A note about the "very random units and abilities": Orks are random, units can end up killing themselves or getting into a bad position if you roll badly. Overall they are a fun race to play if you can enjoy the game, even while killing yourself.
Space Marines- Versatile and tough, many options and chapters that give them special abilities.
Pros - Strong armor on many units. Tough units with good stats all around. Many different chapters and special codex's. Many units can arrive via deep strike. Drop pods. Units tend to not rout. Reasonably cheap and decent vehicles. Landraiders.
Cons - Many people play them, so many people know anti-marine tactics. Units are expensive, you will normally be outnumbered. Weak transport armor. Jacks of all trades, but masters of none.
Many space marine players use drop pods, which are transports that allow nearly any unit to deep strike, right were you need it. Their special commanders can help their forces specialize somewhat, such as giving most units fleet or making all weapons of a certain type twin linked. Their terminators, especially with storm shields, are feared for their ability to stay alive from even the fiercest attacks and weaponry. There are many different chapter codex's out there, allowing a space marine player to customize his/her army with a different focus, from the melee blood ravens to the zealous black templars.
Imperial Guard- A shooty army many strong vehicles and weapons.
Pros - Can field the most heavy weapons out of any army. Good, strong vehicles. Have the ability to field more tanks than any other army. Orders. Excellent artillery pieces. Longest range weaponry in the game. Their infantry can field many heavy weapons as well. Can field an excellent tank, the leman russ.
Cons - Weak in melee. Basic infantry are armed with the weakest gun in the game. Their tanks side and rear armor can be lacking. Their armor models are expensive (in terms of real money)
The guard are synonymous with the term vehicle, they always have some. While their basic infantry are nearly trash, you can field hordes if you want to. Enough shots tends to do something. They also have transports in the form of a plane like vehicle that can actually deploy units after moving flat out. Most of their tanks can fire one more weapon than normal when moving. Some of their special commanders can hurt enemy tactics, or just call down barrages each turn. A good choice for the player who wants to act like a commander of an armored company.
Necrons- An army of living metal that moves across the galaxy purging life.
Pros - We'll be back! Units are tough like space marines. The Gauss rule will allow you to bust any vehicle. Hardest vehicle to kill in the game, the monolith. Strange special rules, that help you out!. good shooting power.
Cons - Phase out, lose too many units and you lose, immediately. Units are expensive, you will be outnumbered more often than not. Slow. Lose in close combat more often than win. Not that flexible, low amount of available models.
We'll be back allows necrons who have died to stand right back up, unless certain conditions are met. However upgrades can allow a necron player to get around this. The monolith allows players to move units to it with a special rule. Combining that with the monoliths ability to deep strike can be deadly and make up for their slow speed.
Eldar- An old race with advanced weaponry, units and psychic abilities.
Pros - Specialized units, eldar armies can be created to kill certain enemies easily. Excellent transports that are hard to destroy. Mix of excellent shooting and melee units. Very powerful psychic abilities. Very speedy and quick. Lance weaponry makes short work of enemy vehicles. Have rules that allow them to ignore rules.
Cons - Fragile, most every unit is toughness 3, meaning eldar are easy to kill. Units are expensive. Their melee units are not designed to stay in combat very long, nor are their shooting units designed to be able to trade fire.
The eldar are a hard race to play. They have a steep learning curve, however they can be incredibly powerful in the right hands. Their tanks are difficult to destroy, most of their units are quite fast and they can cancel other races psychic abilities. Their speed can help keep your units alive and should be used to do so. When playing as eldar, you want to be fighting on your terms, not the enemies.
Tyranids- A biological race of creatures that move about consuming all life.
Pros - Can field masses of units. Strong melee units. Able to change units with biomorphs to meet many needs. Can field many monstrous creatures. Quite fast. Synapse. Outflanking genestealers.
Cons - Lack any vehicles or ways to transport units. Not the best at shooting. Bad armor saves. Synapse not working. Outflanking on the wrong side. Can be a pain to paint considering the amount of models they need and their complexity.
Tyranids are a very melee race with a horde mindset. They tend to charge towards their opponent in massive swarms while larger creatures keep them in line. This is the synapse ability, it allows the player to control these units and keep them doing what they want, regardless of what a unit would rather do. Synapse gives units fearless and immunity to getting instantly killed. However, losing synapse by losing the creature giving it to the units can cause these units to basically break and become uncontrollable. A special unit of theirs, genestealers, are melee powerhouses and can appear from the sides of the map and move quickly to slaughter anything they encounter, including vehicles.
Chaos Space Marines- Fallen space marines that serve dark powers.
Pros - Best infantry in the game. Lash of submission. Good psychic powers. Strong and tough like Space Marines. Plague marines. Obliterators. Customizable by god choices.
Cons - Low numbers like Space marines. Tend to rely on their transports heavily for getting units into the fray. Units subject to the same anti-marine tactics for the most part.
Chaos space marines are a darker looking space marine army that uses demons and many special troops to get the job done. The lash of submission allows the chaos player to move the enemies troops, which can be used to set up a kill. Plague marines are extremely tough and have the feel no pain special rule, making them a pain for your enemies to kill. Obliterators come with various weaponry and can deep strike. Choosing different chaos gods allows you to make a theme army easily while keeping your force able to take units from all of them at the same time. the different chaos gods give units different bonuses.
Dark eldar- Sinister eldar that delight in causing pain and act like vultures over the battlefield.
Pros - Diverse units. Very fast. Good melee weaponry. Can field many, many lance weapons, making destroying tanks a breeze. Many skimmer vehicles. Unique wargear. Can take prisoners in battle (grants victory points)
Cons - Weak like eldar. Weakest vehicles in the game. Have not been updated in a while, so their codex is confusing. Hard to find the models so you can play them.
Dark eldar are an army that isn't seen around that much. There is no really good reason why, however they are an effective army. They have many abilities that make melee easier for them and as stated before they can destroy enemy tanks easily. Considering their vehicles have the lowest armor value possible, many players tend to dismiss this army. Don't be fooled however, the dark eldar can decimated an opponent if used correctly.