14 December 2012

The Viability of MSU in 6th ed

First things first, all around the internet people have claimed that MSU is now dead, I however, don't think this is necessarily the case.

The aim of the game - basic concept

5 out of 6 of the missions in the rulebook are objective based. There are two ways to handle this when making a list. Either take lots of units (not necessarily small) or take a few durable units AND have sufficient hitting power to knock out enemy scorers. This is where it gets problematic, as most codexes do not allow you to have the ability to have both a lot of units and durable units.

There comes the issue that when you kit out your army with many units, they are often FORCED to be small due to points restrictions, needing other stuff in your list, etc... Meanwhile durable/strong units are often priced accordingly and so you can only take a few.

Where MSU comes in

If you've managed to crack a list which has multiple scoring units, that's durable and works for you then congratulations, for the rest of us, this is where MSU is still viable. Some people would say that in 6th edition you definitely need at least 6 troops from 1500 pts up, (and preferably more as the points increase). I'll be more conservative and say that for 1500 you definitely need 4.

When you take less than this, as soon as one unit is gone - you're effectively screwed. Also it should be taken into account that objectives can be contested/denied, so basically:

the more troops you take = the more objective-grabbing chances you get = the more likely you are to actually hold onto those objectives.

I have seen quite a few players simply take 2 larger squads of troops and then kit out their army into wall of death. The problem with this is that I don't even need to kill the whole squad. Just shoot off 25% and they're gone. This is where fearless troops come into good use, however, it is still just 2 squads. Since they're large squads, you're probably spending quite a few points on them and all you have are 2 chances to capture. In a 5 objective game, I can just let you take your 2 and then easily hold onto 3 of my own, or even just get one and contest your 2.


Now, the idea of MSU doesn't just come into play when choosing your troops. In general it is more flexible to break your army up into more units. Ever had that moment when you've poured too much firepower into a unit? Well splitting your army up into smaller "chunks" means that you have more control over where the shots go. Rather than shooting all 10 men into the same thing. You can shoot a squad of 5 into the same target, see if it's been killed and if not be able to save another 5 men for shooting something else. you are also presenting more targets to your opponent, so they have more (and hopefully more difficult) choices to make

However, there are 3 distinct problems with this:

- Smaller units die faster/are easier to kill
- Smaller units mean you have more kill points available
- First blood can be very easy for your opponent


To round off, I'm not saying that everyone should have msu in their lists, but more that it's fine to have more smaller units in your army than people suggest at the moment. Splitting a unit into two where you could have one could be a lot better, especially if it's the only 'fragile' thing in your army, so it'll be easier to keep safe if your opponent gets turn 1.

Overall, this is also a good argument for combat squadding space marines, especially as we now have the added flexibility of choosing to do so out of our transports.


  1. I am a big user of MSU as you know and in 6th I haven't found any problems with it at all. In fact it works the same as it does in 5th.

    While what you say is true, easier to kill and kill points etc, isn't that the case from 5th? No one had issues then?

    Thing is people see rules changes and think they must change everything; this is not the case. Sure some things have changed, but you do not need to completely re-build everything.

    1. The only thing is that in 5th you didn't have to worry about first blood, and also I guess the now increased numbers of anti infantry weapons

    2. first blood isn't an issue really. There's many ways to get flood blood such as vehicle destruction, squad destruction or whatver. The vehicle can be any vehicle, not just a Rhino. The secondary objectives are nice, but line breaker and slay the warlord count more I think.

    3. It really depends, in UK yes it's a lot less (and in normal games) but in Russia where in tournaments you get 4/5 points out of a possible 20 just for getting more secondaries than your opponent it's pretty essential to get first blood.

      I dunno how a rhino is related to the post ;) but yes I would take either less rhinos (to minimise the chances of my opponent being able to get an easier kill) or take MORE to create more target saturation. The problem with rhinos is that with 6th edition people have started taking only 1 or 2 which is worse than before

    4. Well Russia should play by the rules then, lol.

      Rhino is related because MSU is typically in transports. People say vehicles give away easy first blood points.

    5. Yeah, I guess, cos generally here it's 8 points for winning primary (the main rulebook mission), 4 points for having more secondaries than your opponent, and a max of 6 for difference in points killed

      MSU doesn't necessarily have to be in transports though ;) although yeah I see your point now, but they're right in the sense that if you have one or two solitary rhinos they're gonna die pretty quick with all the anti-tank going into them, if you have quite a few and can get cover it's generally same as always



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