Friday, 4 November 2011

In The Spotlight: Stillfrosty

Welcome to a new segment of this blog. In The Spotlight will be taking experienced, veteran, ambitious, under glorified and over glorified people and putting them under the microscopic glass. Will they be broken under the pressure of popularity or be reborn as a phoenix, lets find out!

Today we will be reviewing one of my favorite online personas: Brandon Vallee or as most people know him, Stillfrosty. He has for a fairly long time been trying to show the world that the White Scars armies based around  Khan/Captain on a bike are a formidable force that has what it takes to be the very best. For more info i highly recommend that you visit his blog here!

So why now you may ask, i have chosen to poke and prod Stillfrosty into the spotlight? The answer is rather simple. You see where as hes been winning local tournaments for ages, we needed a major event to prove once and for all, undeniably that the White Scars are the Champs. This event came in the form and shape of "Da Boyz".

Brandon and his team, the Toledo Tools came in 1st place. And he scored the most points overall in the event. This is why id like to talk a bit about his list and then hear what he , himself has to say about  the whole ordeal.

Brandons White Scars Army List

Khan on Moondrakkan

Command Squad
Veteran with lightning claw, melta gun, storm shield
Veteran with powerfist and melta gun
Veteran with power fist and storm shield

Bike Squad (8+1)
2x melta guns
Attack Bike with multi-melta

Bike Squad (4+1)
2x plasma guns
Attack Bike with multi-melta

Bike Squad (4+1)
2x plasma guns
Attack Bike with multi-melta

Scouts (5)
Sniper rifles
1x heavy bolter

Speeder Squadron (2)
2x Heavy Bolters and 2x Typhoon Missile Launchers

Speeder Squadron (2)
2x Heavy Bolters and 2x Typhoon Missile Launchers

Speeder Squadron (2)
2x Heavy Flamers and 2x Typhoon Missile Launchers

Thunderfire cannon

2000 Points

Like Clockwork

So then , lets bisect this list. We begin with Khan, who the list is in a way built around. Its not that he only only gives everyone the ability to outflank, he also confers 1 squad that he is with, furious charge and hit and run special rule.

Its no surprise then that Stillfrosty chooses to attack him to his command squad. At first look you might think that furious charge is wasted on the power fists as they still strike at I1, but despite this setback in the rules, these fists becomes S9 and that gives them the ability to even destroy Land Raiders. Lets not forget that the champion whos got WS5 gets pimped  up to S5 and I5 as well, along side with 1 of the veterans that can re-roll wounds due to the LC. Even the apothecary will submit his 4 standard attacks at S5/I5. Needless to say, this isn't much good against say a squad of wyches who will just laugh at these snails they now see before them, but that's where other factors come in. All the squad is T5 and has FNP, which makes them pretty tough, and if you're worried about power weapons, 2 of these lads carry a SS , 1 of them a combat shield and 1 an iron halo. This unit is the "Chuck Norris" of this speedy list. Its there to sucker punch things in the face and then tactically relocate to a safe distance.

Next we have a 9 model squad of bikes. The Sgt carries a powerfist, and we have 3 melts weapons in there. We can safely assume that this squad is the Tank Hunting squad of the list, that will try to manouvre into position to blow up those armor 13/14 vehicles. Hell, you could even split the squad to have 2 meltas in 1 combat squad and  a MM and a PF in another , and go after 2 different targets. But even if they're not hunting , they can still dish out a pretty mean 17 S4 attacks at I4 and 3 S8 attacks at I1, this combined with the fact that they're toughness 5 and are relentless (can rapid fire and still assault) means that they can thin out a squad and handle themselves nicely in close combat, assuming that its not against TH/SS terminators!

Next we have 2 squads which are loaded with the energy of the sun itself: plasma. 2 squads that can pump out 6 S7 AP2 shots each per round is something that even a squad of termies should fear. Add to that a lovely S8 melta and were looking at the ultimate skimmer hunting unit. Land speeders, raiders and anything else with AV11, can say goodbye. These lads could probably hold out a turn or 2 in close combat as well, while the command squad comes in and finishes the job.

Next we have the scouts. A 5 man unit of them in cover would normally get a 3+ cover save due to their camo cloaks, but combined with bolstered defences , these lads now have a 2+ cover save without even going to ground. These guys chill back and hold objectives while, absorbing incoming fire. An interesting addition to this is that the Heavy Bolter may make a special attack with a blast, that wounds on a 2+ regardless of toughness.

This brings me to the Thunderfire canon itself. The thunderfire canon comes with its own inbuilt techmarine. Whos got a 2+ save. So were looking at a model that has 2+/3+++ save if deployed near the scouts. Besides that the cannon offers us another 4 blasts with different perks. The one stillfrosty used quite well in the tournament was the Tremor blasts, which make youre enemy roll for moving through difficult terrain, and if they're IN difficult terrain (aka exploded vehicle) they roll only one D6. So you exploded a land raider and inside are a bunch of THSS termies. Just shoot them some blasts, and theyre going to be at  a serious disadvantage of even reaching you to assault next turn. Thats when you turbo boost away from them.

Last but not least we have 3 squads of 2 land speeders. Each one has a cyclone missile launcher, which gives us yet another 12 blasts at S4 AP6 or 12 shots of S8 AP3. Once again i fear for the life of skimmers, and perhaps even AV 13. Add to this the fact that theyre also equipped with 6 Heavy Bolters and 2 Heavy flamers. Were looking at some serious anti horde capabilities.

Interview with Brandon

The Toledo Tools Celebrating their win (and Brandons Fiancee)

1) You're pretty much famous around the web for being the foremost authority on White Scar/Bike armies. Care to tell us what made you play them in the first place?

Famous?  Not really ;p

Anyways, when I first started this game eleven years ago, I picked up a few marine units here and there and started collecting a small squad of bikes.  After playing the game a few times, I noticed how much I liked the idea of a fast moving unit to zip around the table.  Still being new, I did not know much about other codices or chapter approved articles until one of the gamers suggested that if I keep using bikes that I should probably play a White Scars army from a White Dwarf article.  Ever since that day I have used a bike based Space Marine army.  As an aside, mongols are awesome and I love the imagery, tactics, and strategies which they employ on the battle field.
2) You have on occasions said that playing a Khan army and a Captain on bike armies are 2 completely different things, can you please elaborate on that?

You would think that this wouldn't be true but it is!  The devil is in the details as I like to put it.  If I am using a Captain based bike list, I lose out on the coolness of the command squad (I can still take one, but not having hit and run and furious charge really hampers the unit).  I am also going to be relying on combat tactics more which to me never seems to work out in my favor (IE rolling high and running off of the table...)  Generally this army deploys everything on the table in an aggressive stance and charges forward fires meltas... and dies.  The way it probably should be played I never see it but the army should be a defensive one but Khan can do it better!

The khan on the other hand allows for flexibility in deployment and boosts what ever squad he joins.  He also gives my army the ability to outflank so then the idea of a melta gun unit coming off a short table edge scares the hell out of most players so they change their game plan.   The ability to control where people deploy and choose where I come in turns my bike army into a counter active army.  I can counter whatever moves my opponent makes frustrating him and picking off his units at my leisure.  

Their are so many other differences besides these two, but it deserves a post all on its own to give it justice!
3) In youre opinion, a balanced bike list, how many models of bikes should it include? What is too little and what is too much when fielding warriors of the Khan?

You are not making it easy are you? ;p

Well it comes down to a variety of factors, mainly being points and play style.  On my blog we have 3 different gamers who use 3 completely different styles of bike lists.  They would all tell you something different and that is awesome.  Instead of giving exact numbers or builds, I'll leave you with a suggestion.  Bike armies are a combination of hard hitting, fast moving units which can dish out the pain from both long range and short range.  Therefore, in building and designing an army it is important to factor in maneuverability of units, utility, flexibility, and survivability.  Finally, don't forget about the long range firepower!
 4)You say that bike lists have the ability to be good in close combat, as well as at shooting, would you care to give us an example of this?

Everyone should keep in mind that regular bikes in assault are space marines with toughness five.  This does mean they are harder to kill but they aren't particularly amazing in assault.  But if I am facing down some orks and I need to tie them up for a turn or two, I have no problem throwing a bike unit into them as gamble on them not being able to deal with toughness five.  However there are two ways in order to improve the effectiveness of these units in assault.  My fellow blog mate, Eric has been using Pedro Kantor so that every unit within 12 inches gets +1 attack.  Now it might not seem like much, but a 9 man bike squad (7 regular dudes, a sergeant, and an attack bike) is now pumping out 29 attacks, 4 of which are a power fist (at least when I take this kind of unit) on the charge.  But this also applies to any accompanying terminators or a command squad.  A second way to mitigate the assault ability is by using the bikes in tandem with the command squad in assault.  With two bike units, a command squad and a regular squad you can get multiple units into one assault.  The command squad hammers one unit causing maximum possible damage while the weaker bike squad absorbs some return hits.  what this does is cause a massive negative combat resolution for multiple for multiple enemy units and you can either auto break certain squads or cause a ton of fearless wounds.  Ultimately, with speed and firepower you should be able to thin down most squads.  Assaulting should be used to finish off enemy units.
5) You have recently emerged victorious from Da Boyz, in a nutshell could you tell us how each unit you have performed or did not perform its designed job, as well as which was the MVP unit throughout youre games? 

Actually each unit preformed just like I thought it would.  The unit which still keeps not impressing me (but I don't expect it to) is a five man unit of sniper scouts.  They don't die, but they don't kill anything either.  But for 90 points the ability to have a "cheap" survivable unit with long range firepower (all be it piss poor firepower) that can be used to block assaults to my thunderfire cannon, hold the home objective, provide me with a bait squad, or push back infiltrators and preventing scout moves it is a steal.  Likewise, the Thunderfire cannon continues to impress me in its flexibility, damage output, protecting my speeders, and general havoc that it creates.  You never realize how awesome it is to immobilize a land raider from a 60 inch range shot until it happens!  
6) As someone who has played loads of games with youre bike lists, what kind of armies would you say you perform well/poorly against, on average (excluding player capabilities)?

You know I hate to answer questions like these ;p  Personally it comes down to the person who is behind the army, not the army its self.  But generally against marine armies or mech armies I usually come out ahead.  Against hoard armies, other fast moving armies, armies with a ton of Monstrous Creatures, tons of fire power, or rock hard assault units then I begin to sweat a bit.  It is not that they are amazing lists, but if I get caught in a bad position I can pay dearly as weight in numbers will wear down my elite force.  
7) When going to major events, what are some of the concerns/questions that go through youre mind?

Well I honestly try to focus on the game and have fun.  Ultimately tournaments are my vacation so if I am not having a good time then I am wasting my money.  Being able to play games of 40k and potentially win a prize is just a side benefit.  Recently I have been chasing after an ETC spot on the American team, but I have came up just short two times now.  With that being said, I need to stop worrying about it and if it happens, awesome, if it does not, then that would be great too!
8) Alot of people in the hobby start playing as space marines, yet very few people choose to start bike armies, why do you think this is so?

I think it is two factors really.  Foremost is the perceived nature of the army being expensive to build. Yes we play an expensive hobby, but realistically this army is significantly cheaper then a guard army or an ork army.  4 ravenwing battle forces, a small unit of scouts, and a few weapon bitz is all you need for a 1500 point army.  

Second is the perceived nature of it being a weak army.  This is where the internet comes into play.  If a new person reads about how awesome Space Wolves are and reads nothing about White Scars then they are going to lean towards Space Wolves.  Likewise, White Scars are not an "easy" army to use as it does take a lot of practice to use to be effective and mistakes hurt big time.  Using a "hard to use army" or a "weak list" goes against common thought as most net armies that are "amazing" are relatively easy armies to play, ie if you make a mistake you can still win.  But they fail to mention is that those same armies that are amazing are really quite boring to play as they are one-dimensional in play style.  I have never had a boring game with White Scars as they are by far the most tactical army I have ever used.... except a 7 kill point draigo wing.... man was that a boring game ;) 
9) Are there any upcoming events that you would like to/are going to attend?

As far as major events, the next tournament I plan on playing is at Adepticon.  In between now and then I will most likely be playing in various local tournaments practicing my army and trying out new units to incorporate into my army.   I am also sure between now and then there will be some "hardcore" training sessions with my ETC friends as we all prepare to dominate at Adepticon!!!!


     (Eric and Brandon)
We all wish Brandon the best, and hope that he keeps educating the masses that, only because something is perceived as weak, does not mean that it is.

Thank you very much Brandon!


  1. Good stuff matey. I didn't know you and Brandon have become so intimate though :P

    I like how you analised his list and playing style and also the questions you posed.

  2. and dnt REALLY know how intimate we are :)

  3. It is a secret relationship. Alex nags me I give in... It's all good lol

  4. Thanks for the mental image guys!!!

  5. I just had to roll with it... It was too tempting to pass up the opportunity to offend someone. lol