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.
Better yet, most factions in the game have a ready-made starting point in the form of Start Collecting boxes. But which offer you the best bang for your buck? In this series, we’re taking a look at all 25 Start Collecting boxes available for 40k, and evaluating just how useful they are when building a Combat Patrol. We’re 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.
Today, we’re polishing off our series with a look at the Xenos factions. As befits a category of entirely different alien races, we have quite a variety of options to cover. Let’s dive in, shall we?
With its focus on Wraith units, the Craftworlds box includes some hard-hitting options and racks up an impressive 27 Power. Your Farseer can dominate the Pyschic phase and the War Walker is an excellent platform for mobile firepower. There’s just one catch – unusually, this set doesn’t include your mandatory Troops choice! This also leaves you with a bit of a conundrum as to what to drop in order to add those required Troops and still hit the cap of 25, since the Power cost of the available options don’t fit in neatly.
The Drukhari here are really the polar opposites to the Craftworlds Start Collecting seen above. While Craftworld Wraith units are some of the most durable in the faction, pretty much everything in the Drukhari toolbox is a lot more squishy. The end result is that this box comes up with a lot more models but a lot less Power. Nothing here is particularly bad, but you’ll need considerably more of it – although the Venom can only carry 5 models which limits its usefulness in carrying the Wyches. It’s also worth noting that you’ll need to stick to Wych Cult units in order to benefit from a Drukhari Obsession bonus.
The models look pretty cool, but the Genestealer Cults clock in with a disappointing 14 Power – the faction’s core swarms of cheap units don’t get too far when it comes to a Start Collecting set. If I had to build a Genestealer Cults patrol, I’d almost be tempted to pick up two of these. Certainly not cheap, but you’d really be able to flood the board with bodies and have the two Ridgerunners for mobility and objectives. Ultimately, in 40k horde-style armies tend to end up paying more to put the same points on the table and this is unfortunately no exception.
Start Collecting Necrons is basically your Combat Patrol in a box. It strikes a good balance between basic troops and elite models, includes a vehicle for some nice variety, and the cheap Scarab swarms are handy for fast objective-grabbing. The only obvious criticism is that, as built to the 25 Power limit, the list ends up rather heavy on HQ options with both the Command Barge and Overlord. If you can get your hands on a few more Scarabs, my choice would be to build an Annihilation Barge instead and make up the last two points with an additional 3 Scarab swarms – firepower and objectives are both important in 9th Edition and this adds more of both.
While it contains a nice variety of models and a respectable 19 Power, Start Collecting Orks has some issues. First off, no HQ to lead your patrol (the Painboy is an Elites choice). A Warboss is a go-to choice, but GW doesn’t seem to want to make it easy for you to just buy one – either an outdated metal sculpt with subpar weapon options or a plastic one that only comes with more Nobs. Secondly, the power level of the units included is a bit awkward to complete the list with. You’ll certainly want more boyz, but adding a squad and a Warboss and leaving the Painboy out(already an expensive proposition) means you’re leaving 1 Power on the table, and you can’t just drop in that box with the Warboss and more Nobs (a good idea if you’re going to bother taking them) since that comes to 26. AND, dropping the five Nobz frees up a lot more space, but then you’re not really getting a deal by buying the Start Collecting. It’s a good option if you’re building up to a larger force, but just kind of a bad fit for Combat Patrol.
Included here is a decent selection of units that are both useful for the core of your force and also thematic and evocative of the Tau aesthetic. The Fire Warrior unit can be split into two smaller squads for greater flexibility, and the Crisis suits, while quite expensive, are supremely flexible – in larger games they can get a bit lost in between other Tau units that can do specific tasks more effectively, but their variety of available weapons can be quite an asset in Combat Patrol. One other big advantage here is that it is easy to adjust the level of Power to fit in other units, just by adding or subtracting Drones. This box doesn’t give you quite everything you need (the Ethereal as an HQ is a bit underwhelming and you still come up a little short of 25 Power) but it’s still an excellent choice for starting a patrol list.
Like a few others on this list, this Tyranids set is a ready-made Combat Patrol, except for one weird flaw. In this case, it’s that Genestealers are priced in groups of 5, but this set (and the regular box of Genestealers on their own) only includes 8. Getting your hands on two extra Genestealers probably isn’t too difficult, but it’s a fly in the ointment nonetheless. Other than that, there are some scary units for your opponent here, even though you’re relying pretty heavily on just two models to carry you to victory – running a Trygon Prime gets you to 25 Power, but 10 of that is in just the one model and it’s no tougher than the regular Trygon. Filling things out with more Genestealers wouldn’t be a bad idea, but you would need to downgrade to a Mawloc to do it and I’m not sure that’s a good trade. Still, this Start Collecting offers excellent savings and is a solid choice for Combat Patrol.
And that’s it! Over two dozen boxes later, this concludes our look at the Start Collecting boxes and how to use them in games of Combat Patrol. Remember, even for those sets that don’t quite fit into Combat Patrol specifically, they all offer handy discounts over regular prices and are a tailor-made answer to starting a collection (big surprise, right?) large or small. Thanks for reading!