Warhammer 40k – 4 Sleeper Units and Why You Should Reconsider Them


Puppypants here! Back at it telling you guys to break out those Sleepers!

Before the wave of Adepticon reporting and list coverage comes crashing against us like Uruks at Helms Deep I wanted to post up something I’ve been ruminating on for some time (Nerd-reference within nerd references = meta nerding). That is, everyone should take a step back from the net listing. We should think outside the Webway, if you will.


You know why people play Netlists? Because they’re no brainers. It’s easy. The thinking that is required for the army is already done for you and its plug and play after that.


You know the lists I’m talking about. It was the 5 Wave Serpents and 3 Wraith Knights list in 6th edition. It was the Paladin Bomb in 5th. It’s Warp-spiders and Jet Bike spam these days. Units and combinations of units, that are so obviously great that playing them can be done essentially blind folded.


I’m not disparaging the people who play these kinds of lists. They are great people, fun players, and smart gamers. They aren’t bad people and even though they’ll win a lot of games, those games can be really fun. That said, those people are decidedly un-creative from a list design stand point.


When you are standing across from a guy with 8 units of Eldar Jetbikes, 2 Wraith Knights, a bunch of Warp Spiders, and enough Farseers to make a tower out of his psychic dice, you’re probably not marveling at how innovative he is. You’re not thinking, “Wow, he really dug deep to find the utility in those units!” And if he is standing there thinking, “Oh man, no one is gonna see this list coming!” he either lives under a rock or he is not at all self-aware.


So what, Puppypants? What’s your point? Well dear reader, my point is that creativity in list design is being rewarded like never before in Warhammer 40K. The current edition, release schedule, and tournament meta’s are combining to open up more and more creative, and non-traditional list designs than ever before. Because of the “No-Brainer” units and list archetypes that comprise 40-50% of every tournament field, a crafty player can gin up some really great Meta busting lists that use units and codices that rarely get pulled out of the bag. Sleeper units are everywhere and I’m here to convince you to use them.



You read that right. You’re literate and I’m not crazy. So strap in cause it’s about to get real.


Assault Tubs are actually really good in the right lists. T5 and 2+ is not easy to kill, and with the onset/proliferation of FA Drop Pods, you can now get them where they need to go without investing in Land Raiders (which remain the most tragically under powered/over costed units in the Imperium – Sad Face).


If, for example you list design a really mean Sky Hammer and take with it a White Scars CAD. You could drop in 3 units of H/R Assault Tubs along with a fully kitted skyhammer on turn one. What’s a tau player to do? Intercept the Devs and kill some ablative marine wounds hoping to get into the grav cannons??? Great, that just means he’ll be eating siege drills on turn two. Or, will he try to intercept Tubs and watch you Make 2+ saves before dev graving him into oblivion? And they get better if you put an IC with them…. Imagine Iron Hands Assault Tubs rolling 4+ FNP’s and IWND because you’ve allied in a BA Sang Priest. As with any Imperial list, the min/max combinations are endless and the baseline Tub unit is very, very good. They’ll kill an Imperial Knight at I4 almost without question and will gobble up all but the stoutest CC monsters.


They’re durable, relatively cheap, and pack a massive close combat punch. So the next time you decide you don’t want to be like Every. Other. Freaking. Space. Marine. Player…. Try involving some assault Centurions. I promise your opponent won’t see it coming.





But…. But… I read on them internets that Blood Angels are bad!!! That you did, dear reader, but you didn’t see it here!! Because Puppypants and FTN drop truth bombs, not doom and gloom!


Listen. I know BA got the shaft when it comes to codex updates. I know we repeatedly finish at the bottom of the rankings at big GT’s. I know that our scouts are BS 3 and our Dreads only have 1 attack…. But all of these things are actually kind of an advantage. Namely, no one ever sees the red guys coming.


And in the name of meta busting, I give you Sanguinary Guard! 2+ armor, WS 5 (cause you’re gonna have a priest with them!), all master crafted power weps, Jump Packs, and Furious Charge. These bro’s are destined to wreck face in close combat. They’re real quick across the board and can DS in when needed so they’ll get where you need them to be unless your opponent is packing a ton of IC grav (thanks a lot Hunter’s Eye). But lets be real!! Hunter’s Eye on Grav Tubs kills everything, so that’s not a good counter argument.


For a frame of reference on how durable this unit is, it takes an average of 15 scat laser shots to kill one SG w/o FNP. Meaning it would take basically all of your opponents scat bikes to put a dent in this unit that is essentially guaranteed a turn two assault because they’re at mid board on the bottom of one. Depending on what else you’ve brought to play with, that is not something your opponent can deal with.


For less than 350 points you get an incredibly durable assault unit that kills almost anything is touches, has a massive foot print, and moves like lightening. For 100ish extra points you can have a Priest, a power fist or two, and the chapter banner that makes everyone sleep better.


Wait a second…. Here’s a thought…why not bring 2 full units of them. 20 SG, 2 Priests, 2 Libbys, Dante, and 4 Tac Pods with Melta comes in under 1850….. hmmmm…. I could be onto something. No amount of scat bikes in the world is gonna shoot through that before I cut them into ribbons. Meta = Busted




Oft forgotten in this big, bad 7th edition is Imperial Guard (Astra MilaSTFU). Maybe it’s because they’re generally not good. Maybe it’s because Hull Points and a healthy points-cost increase killed the Manticore. Maybe it’s because a leaf blower is once again something we use in our yard maintenance not a thing TPM uses on the table top. Whatever the case may be, we’re just not exposed to IG as much. Which is a real shame. I think they’ve got some serious gold in that book and with some FW/Marine assistance they can be beast.


That said, if you’re one of those people still rocking Catachans consider the little bity Ratling. Most of you are skimming this section or skipping it entirely, but for you good students following along at home allow me to elaborate. For 30 points you get a min squad of 3 snipers. They are BS 4, have Stealth and Infiltrate, and may run after they shoot.


By no means is this game breaking, but it is alarming how useful these little guys can be. You can counter deploy them to frustrate an opponent’s infiltrations and how great would it be to be forcing pin checks every turn just by popping off a lone unit every turn? See that Warp Spider Squad? Yup, hard to flicker jump out of sniper range. And all it takes is a rend or a failed armor save to cause Pinning checks on low Ld Xenos threats. The last thing your opponent wants to do is burn a turn of Scat Bike shooting at some stupid Ratlings that are gonna go to ground for a 2+. But if they don’t, the opponent risks taking sniper fire that can be catastrophic in the wrong moments. You’ll never see a tau player more irate than if a unit of Broad sides gets pinned by Ratlings.


For a mere 90 points you can take 3 units to harass and frustrate much more powerful units all game. And if those Ghost Keels finally turn their attention to the Ratlings…. SO FREAKING WHAT!?! Congrats on over killing the hell out of a 30 point unit!!


For reals – take them. They’re sweet and your opponent will be mega irritated having to deal with them.




AH-HA!!!!!! Finally the great and powerful Puppypants turns his keen, calibrated tactical acumen toward the over powered Xenos and makes them even grosser.


Indeed I am going to do this…. But only because I’m tired of watching tau players not fulfill their potential. Only because Tau can beat Eldar and seeing pain on lazy, unoriginal, broken Eldar players’ faces brings me joy like clubbing a grunt does to a Nob. I will now hold my nose and help Tau players.


WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING NOT BRINING 4 UNITS OF KROOT IN EVERY SINGLE LIST?!?!?! Every tau list should start with 250 points spent on 4 units of Kroot with a dog for outflank. Im exaggerating a little bit, but seriously. They are so good and so tragically underutilized.


See the thing about Tau is that they are sooooo good at cranking out tons and tons and tons of shooting. And because of that it seems like Tau players get zero’d in on bringing as many broad sides, riptides, and ghost keels as money can buy – only stopping to pay for two small squads of fire warriors because they have to. And often times, not even that, electing instead to go all formations.


While it seems like wisdom to put as many Broadsides as you can into the list, it over looks something important…. If a player has a way to beat your broad sides, it usually doesn’t matter whether you have 6 or 9…. They’re gonna beat ‘em. When I walk up to the table against Tau I either have the tools to whither the shooting for a turn to get into assault or I don’t. I either have the range to out shoot you or I don’t. I either have Ignores cover grav-tubs or i don’t. What you’ll notice with most Tau players is that their games don’t last 6-7 turns. They’re over by 3 or 4 – good or bad.


Enter Kroot.




These guys change the game for Tau…. You see with 20-40 of them you can screen off those pesky assault units and buy your expensive shooting units more turns to blaze away. With outflank you can get into your opponents gun line on turn two and cause priority issues. With infiltrate you can wall off those Dune Striders bearing down. With Ob Sec you can punish your opponents for shooting at your big important units early in the game instead of cleaning of objectives during progressive scoring. And if you spring for sniper rounds you can do that pesky stuff I just mentioned with the Ratlings.


For a while the great Neil Gilstrap was ruining people’s days with 60+ kroot in his Tau lists and for the life of me I can’t figure out why it stopped. Maybe people got infatuated with just shooting people off the table or maybe making the Storm Surge work is just too tempting (It sucks guys, please stop trying to make the Storm Surge a thing). But whatever it was, Kroot have fallen out of vogue and that is good for people playing against tau.


As a guy who list designs with Tau in mind I thank the good lawd when I don’t see Kroot in my opponents list. Because I know I won’t have them outflanking behind me to score objectives. The Eldar player is happy they won’t be rapid firing a scat squad to death on turn 3 cause…. Do the math…they’re capable of that.


Ultimately this isn’t rocket science – If I’m killing Kroot, Broad sides and ghost keels are killing me. If I’m not killing Kroot, Kroot are scoring, obstructing my movement, and causing all sorts of other Emory-Student style “Micro-aggressions”. Tau players – do yourself a favor and paint up 20-40 of these guys. As my good friend Kelly Wallace likes to say, “The masters of the Jundland Wastes are not to be taken lightly.” (Bonus points to anyone who gets that meta nerd reference)



So that’s it. 4 units, from 4 different books that are often over looked but can truly change the game for list builders. And this is by no means an exhaustive list – Mandrakes, Lucious Pods, Trukks, Land Speeders, Vespid, etc. are all really good units in certain situations and could get write ups of their own. (Just kidding about Vespid – they really do suck.)


 If you’d like to see more discussion on this let me know and tell me what else you think is a sleeper?



2 thoughts on “Warhammer 40k – 4 Sleeper Units and Why You Should Reconsider Them

Comments are closed.