Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Top 10 Strongest Units in 40k

A while back I put together a survey and posted it up. I quite simply asked, what are the strongest units in 40k? This survey was intentionally left extremely vague, with the only description as below:
Trying to get some information on perceived power levels and which units are broadly considered best in the current state of 40k. Your answers do not need to be in any particular order, but pick your top 5 most powerful units (including single model units or characters) in the game. 
That was it. I got lots of comments about needing to qualify what I was looking for, but in the end I think I made the right decision by doing as little as possible to put any sort of lens or scope on the results. I got about 200 respondents, who contributed 772 units they considered the top units in the game. Thanks to everyone who responded.
Now, this is the internet, so of course there were some troll posts and joke responses. That said, even with those answers, I got some pretty distinct data. There were 72 units that received more than one vote, but only 14 that had more than 1% or more of all votes (8 or more mentions).

Enough of the overarching stats, lets see who the community voted as the top ten most powerful units in the game. Again, this is the internet, so let's do a countdown, starting with number 10:

10. TIE - Grey Knights Dreadknight, Tau KX 139 Supremacy Suit, and Dark Angels Black Knights:
These three tied for tenth, just ousting Warp Spiders by one vote, and the Warlord Titan by two votes.

9. Space Wolf Thunderwolf Cavalry:
One of the most popular star-centered units since the Spacewolf book dropped toward the beginning of 7th, Thunderwolves are not a surprise on this list, as they are fast, tough, and hit like a Mac truck.

8. Eldar Wraithguard:
With the new Eldar book and the terrifying prospect of Infantry toting around D weapons, these guys became widely feared. The D-Scythe variant is understandably the preferred method or arming these guys. Their only downside is their speed, meaning most people who use them will also bring some delivery mechanism, increasing the overall cost for an already pricey unit.

7. Tyranid Flyrant: 
The most (and mostly only) feared unit from the Tyranid codex, the Flyrant checks in at number 7, being listed by just over 16% of respondents as a top-5 unit. The flyrant boasts an impressive volume of shots, and good durability and speed thanks to being a flying monstrous creature.

6. Necron Canoptek Wraiths:
A highly feared unit that boasts speed and insane durability, it's most often seen in the Canoptek Harvest formation, but is still viable on its own. Compared to just about everything else in the top 10, they actually don't hit too hard, but they're still capable, with multiple S6 Rending attacks for each one.

5. Space Marine Centurion Devastators:
Arguably the most feared Space Marine unit out there, they overcome lack of mobility by usually being used in a Star or dropped in a friendly drop pod. The latter became even more popular with the most recent Space Marine Codex, since they no longer needed to bring some buddy Space Wolves or Flesh Tearers along for their sweet rides.

4. Imperial Knight:
A relative newcomer to the 40k game, The knights have made their mark over the last 18 months, and an indelible impression on the community. The most recent codex brought some more variety of builds, but they're still so interchangeable, that equipment was never specified in the responses. The fact that these guys can slot in without tax units to any army, and are tough, fast, and pack a wallop, make them hard to ignore.

3. Tau Riptide: 
The Riptide, for a long time, was considered one of the most overpowered units available, particularly in 6th Edition, with the ability to join a buff-commander to boost some already impressive firepower. That, combined with durability and mobility that most Tau lack, many armies were as likely to have as many of these suits as they could fit. That may change with the new book, but now you can jam even more in there since they can be in squads of up to three.

2. Eldar Jetbikes:
In particular, the concern is with the Scatter Laser variant. These Troop units are reasonably tough for their cost, but their real value comes in their offensive output and sheer speed. Being able to be objective secured and get anywhere on the board in a single turn makes them good not only at punishing the enemy, but also achieving game missions.

And, the number one, most powerful unit, as voted on by the gaming community, is far and away....

1. Eldar Wraithknight:
The Wraithknight was the landslide winner, with over 60% of respondents (including blanks and trolls) including the Wraithknight in their top 5. In the end, the Wraithknight was mentioned 102 times. Jetbikes trailed by 40 votes, and number three, Riptides, were behind by 65 votes. And, as a sub-300 point Gargantuan Creature, I'm not sure anyone would be surprised by these results.

So, now that we've gotten through that top 10, let's look at what they have in common. First off, there's a heavy representation of Eldar, with three of 12 units mentioned coming from that one army, more than any other. The second is that of the 12 units mentioned, only two move only 6", and they are almost never seen without a delivery system of some sort.

This actually leads into part of the reason I put together this survey; my theory is that throughout the game, GW has undervalued speed, which leads units with access to quicker movement being more likely to be overpowered. This bears out with the data, with 48% of cited units having a standard movement of 12", and only 29% being typically infantry based movement. That 29% also includes Independent Characters that have options to take faster movement, or are generally hopping around with other methods.

The data also illustrates that vehicles are generally not perceived as powerful, with only 17% of votes going to units with Armour Values. Of that, 11% of all votes were for Super Heavies, meaning traditional vehicles were only cited as powerful in 6% of votes.

I'm looking forward to digging in to the data a bit more and seeing what other trends and indications we can identify from how people voted. In the meantime, did anything I've mentioned come as a surprise? What are some things you would want to know about the dataset we have?