Thursday, 18 June 2009

A bit of tactical advice... I think

I was just thinking on writing a new post about my recent thoughts about Lictors, when after reading some posts in the Heresy Online forums, I got some kind of revelation. You see, after the release of the new and super improved Imperial Guard, new ways of dealing with that army must be developed. And while my main Hive Mind was taking a nap and my conscience was connected to the Infinity Circuit, I had a flash on how an Eldar player can field a really nasty unit against the guardsmen of the Imperium. Do you wanna know which one? This guy.

Yes, Maugan Ra, from now on the guard mower. Why? Well, he has a weapon with a reach of 36” (90 cm) that fires on the move. And S6 and AP5. And he has the Crack Shot and Fast Shot exarch powers. Does anybody see where I am aiming?

Pretty simple: here we have a unit with three wounds with Eternal Warrior and a 2+ save that can get a 4+ cover save really easily during the game, so we can say that he’s quite tough and hard to kill. This guy can move and launch a flurry of five shots per turn OR, even better, shot four shots that re-roll to wound AND ignore any cover save. With a BS7 this means 3-4 average guards dead per turn, not too impressive. But it could also mean 3-4 guards dead in a command squad – insta killing the officer with S6 – and that sounds much better. Or it could mean a WHOLE heavy weapon squad out of the game (insta killing each model with its S6), and now this expensive model becomes a real bargain. It doesn’t matter if the enemy unit is entrenched in a bunker, his crack shot power will deny any cover save, and S6 means insta killing any guard model (but ogryns of course) including heavy weapon teams due to their new rules making them count as a single model. Definitely awesome. Am, I forgot to mention that he packs four S6 power weapon attacks in close combat. Anybody wants more?

And you? Have you recently come to any original idea about how to deal with the new IG? I’ll accept suggestions for both the Eldar and Tyranid sides (ah, curse my 40K bipolar disorder…).

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

My new Tyranid tactic

Before I start working on my entry for the local GW painting contest, I think it’s time to finally post those thoughts I’ve recently having in my mind. They all started when reading some post of my fellow bloggers, and took shape in a battle report I finished last February (soon to be published here, I promise). That was a special battle not only because my opponent was a great guy and brought with him a balanced (although hard) list, but because that was the first time I used my newly developed game tactic: the “reserve all” tactic.

Ok, I know, you’re gonna tell me “Hey, that’s not new, lots of people are using it out there with big success”, and that’s true. But on the very basis of this tactic I approach it from a different point of view. See, most of the guys who use it have fast armies mostly comprised of vehicles, skimmers, bikers and similar units; and take advantage of this tactic by a counter-deployment to their opponent’s army. They rely on confusing their opponent, and then strike first (and strike hard). They keep moving fast and concentrating their attacks in specific opponents/critical objectives, behaving like a surgeon with a scalpel. This tactic has been extensively used by guys like Fritz from Way of Saim Hann, and has proved to work well.

My approach is similar, but different. My army has no vehicles, no skimmers, and no very-fast units (I don’t use raveners or gargoyles – maybe if they become plastic…), so every model on the table moves 6” plus 1D6” if they run, and that is a VERY slow army. But, on the other hand, I field four units of 15 gaunts, a brood of shooty warriors, an ALWAYS outflanking Broodlord (outflanking is almost the best new rule of 5th Ed. for my bugs), a couple of zoanthropes and four monstrous creatures (one Tyrant and four ‘Fexes). And now guys, that is a BIG amount of models to kill (a total amount of 104 wounds, generally immune to instant death).

What do I do with this? Simple: overwhelm my opponent. It’s easy, you’ll see: I generally choose to go second, and after my opponent has deployed his units in cover, strategic places and so on, I simply declare everything to be in reserve (and the Broodlord to be outflanking). This gives me two strong points and two weak ones, explained as follows.

The first strong point is that my opponent spends his first and second turn shooting at nothing; and two turns without putting wounds on my models means that in the final and most critical turns of the battle I’ll have most of my models on the table, an amount that usually doubles that of my opponent. That’s great when you’re facing loads of gaunts and monstrous creatures, and puts a lot of pressure (and fear) on my opponent as he sees that he’s running out of time to damage severely my army, while I simply overcome his defences with a ton of bodies.

Second strong point is double: this deployment effectively allows me to counter-deploy my opponent concentrating my units where they’re most needed. This is specially useful in a spearhead deployment, when my reserves can come form ANY point of my own board edge, thus ignoring the initial limitation of deploying only on my quarter side (and having to walk a looong way to exchange “opinions” with the enemy). This deployment also gives me the first shooting turn, that meaning that I’ll strike first. Yeah, well, I play with ‘nids, and you may think that my shooting is poor. But that’s the mistake that most of my opponents make: with my full army I place every turn two S5AP3 small, two S8AP5 pinning big, four S6AP5 small, and one S4AP5 pinning big TEMPLATES (the new rules for templates are by far the best new rule of 5th Ed. for my bugs), plus some short-ranged fire (30 fleshborers and 30 spinefists and a Dakkafex). I’ve lost count of the amount of space marines I’ve killed by just spitting acid, throwing carnivorous beetles and worms, shooting toxic needles or growing strangler plants inside my enemy’s lines. And for specially recalcitrant units, the energies of the Warp Blast are like music to my ears (get a “hit” against a unit of marines in open field and you’ll know what I mean). I assure you that in my games, I almost kill more enemies in the shooting phase that in the close combat one, and that means something!

But every head has its tails, and this tactic is far from perfect. Its main weak point is the “randomlyness” inherent to reserve deployment. I mean, I’m not sure of which units or at least how many of them I’m going to have deployed each turn; these could be the units I need most at that moment or simply a bunch of good-for-nothing bugs. This is something very dangerous especially with the gaunts, who specially rely on the proximity of a synaptic creature to do their job properly. To counteract this risk I field enough synaptic creatures to hold my lines tight (my zoanthropes are also synaptic creatures, of course). I’d pay gold for a tyranid-eldar autarch, but the only unit I have that affects reserves is the lictor, and I’m not gonna field one of these for their 80 point cost just to get a re-roll for reserves each turn he’s alive, sorry. At 1.500 points I think he’s a waste of points, so I have to live with the burden of not knowing with what I’m going to play each turn; but on the other hand this adds more dramatic intensity to my games, and I appreciate that very much.

The second major disadvantage of this tactic is that, as exposed previously, my army is quite slow, and thus its performance depends heavily on the length of the game. If the game ends soon (according to statistics this means 33% of all games), I’ll have had barely time to approach my enemies and probably had chewed them less than they deserve. But if the game extends to turn six (or seven), business is done, and then it’s up to my opponent to prove if he’s a good general and can stop my army doing his job well (because my army is not unstoppable at all, you see, I’ve just prepared it as a good all-rounder list) or if he’s just one of those cheesy players I usually face (and hate despise dislike so much) who only prepares lists with the best units of his rulebook thinking in a single type of battle and doesn’t know what to do and how to use them properly if surprised by a tactic like mine (and will subsequently be assimilated by my genetically enhanced troops).

5th Ed. and this tactic have radically changed my approach to WH40K games, making of them a more interesting tactical challenge. Of course, I still retain some of that like for the random events all old WH Orc&Goblins players have (you’ll never have enough fanatics, squigs and black-orc-animosity-stoppers in your army!), and that makes much more fun out of my games (at least for me). I’ve enjoyed this new way of playing for the last moths, and just in case I had any doubt, results are there: three victories, one draw and one loss. And that loss was almost a draw, and nearly a victory; I played against a cheesy eldar army with ten wraithguard and avengers as basic units, with an Avatar and Eldrad and all that fluff, who went lucky and had the battle ended in turn five in a capture and control game… because in turn six his army would have run out of basic units (the Avatar and Eldrad were already dead), and in turn seven simply wiped out. Tails that time, heads for the next one :)

Monday, 1 June 2009

Games Day '09

Well, it's been (again) a lot of time since my last post. Frankly, I haven't been in the mood for writing lately; I've simply had too many things to do besides the hobby. I've managed to play a few games and finish my participation in the "Emperor's Fist" WH40K campaign, where I haven't classified for the final round but I've achieved four wins, four losses and a draw (not that bad). And I've painted some of those new Gondor warriors I've adquired for the new "War of the Ring" game, hopefully the whole army will be ready in a few months. I've 16 ready, so my painting counter has been properly increased.

Today I'm just bringing you some pictures of the Games Day that took place yesterday. Finally I didn't bring any entry, as I've been very short of time those last months. A pity, but also a good motivation for next year. I want to share with you a few of the pictures I took in the event, some real masterpieces you only find every now and then.

First of them is the Space Wolf brought by Luis, a nice mate and great painter who holds at home about twenty Demons (half of them are golden ones). But again, the Slayer Sword was not awarded to him! I think he has some kind of curse on him with that trophy, something really weird. I'm sure you'll grab that hilt some day dude, you'll only have to surprise us one time more!

This shot is one of the firsts I made, I think those falcons are two of the finalists of the "Best Vehicle" category. I like both a lot!

And the last pic is of an entry that surpasses the rest in originality and finesse. I think that is a job of a French guy (probably monsieur Bonamant) and is simply... amazing. I don't know if it got a trophy, due to that Games Workshop policy of rewarding not only the paintjob but the games universe spirit (and this piece is not what I call "Workshop" style). Anyway, great job indeed.

Next post: local GW painting contest in June. Oh yes, I have a project again.