So the question is (all things being equal) can the 4th edition codexes beat the heavy hitters of 5th edition? And if they can, do they have more than one build that can do it?
Now before my recent run with the Draigowing I always played the old codexes. A lot of my friends were always busting my balls about always using 3rd edition codexes. I took Demonhunters to Adepticon last year (and won a lot of RTTs with them for the prior 6 months), and at the last GW GT I played in was the 2009 Baltimore GT where I placed 12th (out of 130?) with my Witchhunters.
I also played a lot of games with my Chaos Space Marines (and I am taking them in a couple of weeks to the Broadside Bash) and my reputation was first made by playing foot eldar.
So what 4th edition armies can stand up these days to Mech IG, Space Wolves and Grey Knights?
My thoughts on the matter is that most of the old codexes are still able to compete with some of the newer builds, but some of them of course are better at it than others. I think that we would see more people have success with these armies but they are just never brought. I think the reasons for this is that a lot of the armies from 4th edition are pretty much single builds these days and it gets boring to play the same army over and over again with no room to change. The other reason why you never see some armies played is that certain armies just have a stigma to them. You hear all the time about how bad Tau are, but are they really? When was the last time you have played them or played against them? I have played against them twice with my Draigowing and I was barely able to beat them and they have given me a much harder game then most of the 5th edition codexes have. Another reason why you never see the older armies is people like to build the latest and greatest army and they often have an easier learning curve to them. Also stores and GW always like to hype the newest releases, and forget about the older books. I went into a GW store the other day and they do not even carry any metal models, so if what you want is not out in finecast (and most of the older stuff isn’t) you are out of luck.
Here are my thoughts on the 4th edition codexes from the worst codex to the best:
Chaos Demons are one of the most crippled books now and struggle to beat Grey Knights and Dark Eldar. They are so rare because of that, but the few builds that do ok are taking a lot more Tzeentch units than they have ever taken before. The reason why is because they have the range to shoot Dark Eldar’s skimmers and stay at range from the Grey Knight’s warp quake, but it is still an uphill battle for them. To show how bad they are if they play against Dark Eldar or IG and the DE or IG go first, they can just flood the board with units and not give the demon player a place to land.
Orks have taken a hit with each release and they are starting to show their age a little and getting a bit long in the Toof. The Grey Knights codex seems like it is the nail in their coffin. The horde build has been falling out of disfavor for a long time, and the killa kan build will now be shredded by Psy-anything shooting. They are pretty much still limping around with the battle wagon build, but they are at a huge disadvantage to a lot of the newer armies.
Dark Angels are still mired in a bad codex (leadership 9 librarians anyone?), but the FAQ did give the Deathwing life with an army of fearless terminators with stormshields.
Chaos Space Marines
Chaos is down to Lash HQs, Plague Marine troops, and Obliterators. They seem like they can still compete, but almost any deviation from that formula will result in serious trouble for the chaos player.
Down but not out
Eldar still do ok. They seem to have two builds that are still (barely) viable. The most common build for them is of course Mech Eldar with their massed skimmers. This build has gone out of favor with the amount of anti-tank fire that psyflemen dreads, hydra flak tanks, and long fangs can dish out and shoot the wave serpents out of the air. The other build is very rare, but still functions and that is foot eldar. I made my reputation as a foot eldar player, but I have not played them for a while. One of the reasons why is that my build centered around guardians and the latest codexes (Dark Eldar, Grey Knights, and Necrons) are torrent of fire armies that can dish out a lot of fire to poorly armed and armored troops. But the other type of foot eldar is still meeting with some success because they are built around a core of Wraithguard. They are fearless and durable and they can take a lot of punishment for a troop choice. This build is being championed by Adam Gotti and Greg Sparks, but otherwise it is virtually unknown.
Raised from the dead
Tau have benefited by some of the shifts in the meta to more shooting armies, and the type of armies that have recently been released. They have broadsides that have a 2+ save so they are hard to shift when all you are shooting at them are Psybolt auto cannons and missile launchers. In return strength 10, AP1 shooting is devastating even to venerable dreadnaughts. Then they have a lot of shooting to out-shoot even the latest codexes. The shift away from assault based armies has greatly assisted them since this is their Achilles’ heel. Too bad a lot of people don’t know this yet and they are still thought of as a bad army in a lot of circles.
Black Templar have benefited more than any other codex to the FAQ that made all marine equipment the same across codexes. They benefited to the point where they are sometimes called the FAQ Templars. They pay the points as if their 2 shot missile launchers have only one shot so now there are a lot of land speeder typhoons. Their terminators not only get 2 shot cyclone missile launchers, but they can take 2 per unit. Add to this that they have land raiders that ignore lance weaponry for the dark eldar, and army wide preferred enemy means that they are now a formidable army.
So what are your thoughts to the viability of the 4th edition codexes?