A new edition of Warhammer 40,000 is here and it’s a great time to get into the game or start a new collection. However, building up an entire army in 40k can be a bit of a daunting prospect – especially considering the cost in both money and time…
Fortunately, the new 9th Edition has put some new emphasis into playing smaller-scale games. Combat Patrol is a specific size of game requiring a force of no more than 25 Power (or 500 points) worth of models. This translates into a compact collection of around a couple squads, a character or two and maybe a vehicle. This is a great scale to try your hand at the game or give a new army a go without having to invest a lot of money and effort, but still getting the full 40k experience.
Better yet, most factions in the game have a ready-made starting point in the form of Start Collecting boxes. These sets are among the best deals available for Games Workshop miniatures and give you a convenient mix of units, typically including a squad of basic troops, a character and also a larger model or secondary unit. That sounds pretty similar to what you need for a Combat Patrol…
But while the Start Collecting boxes all contain about the same quantity of models, the usefulness of each one in building a Combat Patrol can vary. Depending on the faction, one box may give you everything you need (or more!), while some will need additional investment in order to make up a full patrol. In this series, we’ll be reviewing all 25 Start Collecting boxes currently available for Warhammer 40k – looking at their contents, how many Power points they make up, and how suitable they are for building a Combat Patrol list. We’ll be using Power here to compare the different boxes (just to keep things simple) but building your list with points instead will still come out quite similar. The values used here are also from the recently published Power level updates, so these should all be up to date with the latest info.
First up is the Imperial factions. Let’s get started!
While including a good mix of models, the Mechanicus Start Collecting unfortunately doesn’t come out to a particularly powerful force on the table. Your basic infantry are quite cheap, which is useful in-game considering their stats but means that you’ll need more than this box can provide to bulk out your patrol. The Enginseer is a rather minor character and won’t hold up against many of the other HQ options you can expect to face. The Skorpius is a fairly powerful tank when built as a Disintegrator, which is a good choice considering that it won’t be quite as useful as a transport on a smaller board.
Like with the AdMech, the power of Start Collecting Astra Militarum is limited by how inexpensive their basic infantry are. However, the Leman Russ is quite a potent unit and can be run as a Tank Commander for even greater effectiveness. The inclusion of a Heavy Weapons team doesn’t actually get you any more Power, but is a nice touch to round out your infantry. While it won’t make your whole Combat Patrol on its own, all it really needs is some additional infantry to be an effective force.
This set benefits from being able to run one of its Scion squads as a Tempestor Prime and Command Squad, doubling the amount of Power it contributes compared to the regular Scion squad. The Taurox is a decent light vehicle, but is probably best built as the Prime variant as the rest of the box comes out a bit light on firepower, especially against harder targets. This is still not quite enough for a Patrol, but adding one more unit (a Hellhound could be a lot of fun) should be enough.
No surprise that the forces of the Space Marines are well-represented in the range of Start Collecting boxes. The titular set is entirely non-Primaris models, which may be a pro or con depending on personal opinion but fortunately doesn’t mean they’re ineffective on the tabletop. The biggest downside is that this collection just barely falls short of the 25-Power cap for Combat Patrol. While I’d be happy to run it as-is in a fun, friendly game, you could also drop the Venerable Dreadnought down to the standard model in order to fit in something like an Attack Bike to maximize efficiency and add some useful mobility.
This Chapter-specific set comes out almost the same as the standard Space Marines box, swapping the Venerable Dreadnought for a Baal Predator. While it’s a characterful addition for the Blood Angels, this makes it harder to round the list out to 25 Power since you can’t as easily bring it down to 23 Power in order to fit something else in. You would also need a cheaper HQ than the Terminator Captain (a Chaplain or Sanguinary Priest would fit the bill and really sell the theme, too).
With powerful infantry with easily-tweaked squad sizes, this box is tailor-made for building a Combat Patrol. The value of the Deathwatch Veterans boosts the set to a beefy 30 Power – more than enough! Consider running the included special character as a standard Watch Captain to save 1 Power and leave just enough room for a 7-strong infantry squad along with your Venerable Dreadnought. The strength of your Veterans is in their versatility, so be sure to take advantage of the many options you have available in this kit.
The sons of Russ are spoiled for choice with two different Start Collecting boxes. This one includes the super-characterful Thunderwolf Cavalry, a close-combat force to be reckoned with. The box does unfortunately fall just a bit short of 25 Power, however. My easiest solution would be to scrounge up an extra Space Marine body and use leftover bits from the Wolf Lord to build a Wolf Guard Battle Leader to accompany your Space Wolves pack. You can build said Pack as Grey Hunters for hammer-and-anvil synergy with the Thunderwolves, or double down on close combat with Blood Claws instead. If you really want to commit to devastating puppy-dog cavalry charges, you could even replace the included Wolf Lord for one mounted on a Thunderwolf of his own!
Primaris Space Wolves
The Primaris option for Start Collecting Space Wolves isn’t quite up to the same level as the previous set. Intercessors and Aggressors, while certainly useful, don’t carry the theme as well as the Thunderwolves do, and the Primaris Battle Leader doesn’t lend as much Power to the list. While you might consider it as an option for picking up Primaris marines to add to forces from another Chapter, the Space Wolf-specific Battle Leader limits your value there, as well. It’s still a solid beginning to a Space Wolf Combat Patrol, but it will need some extra models and (IMO) isn’t as interesting as the other Start Collecting options for the Chapter.
Vanguard Space Marines
Finally, we have the Vanguard Primaris marines. This box is a repack of most of the Space Marine models that were part of the Shadowspear set that was released some time ago, and as a result are easy-to-build miniatures rather than the multipart, posable figures in most other Start Collecting boxes. The models still look good and the set offers a good amount of Power for your dollar, but there’s one catch – the fixed squad sizes and lack of options means there’s no good way to pare off the single extra Power point you’ll need to drop for the 25 Power limit. Your only option is to cut an entire unit (or halve the squad of Infiltrators) in order to include a slightly cheaper one, requiring an additional expense.
That wraps up the Start Collecting options for the Imperial factions (and their many, many Space Marines). Next time, we’ll add spikes and examine your choices for the forces of Chaos. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!