Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Going Second With An Assault Army

Like many of you, I was saddened to hear of the death of Robin Williams of Death to Smoochie fame. He seemed a most agreeable fellow.

Any time someone famous dies, it reminds me of when I came home from work a few years ago and my wife told me Leslie Nielsen had died. The first words out of my mouth were, "Surely you can't be serious," hoping that she would respond to the set up with "I am serious, and don't call me Shirley." However, as she is a girl, and therefore does not ever encounter anything that is actually entertaining or interesting unless second-hand by way of myself, she had not seen Airplane, and so the joke was ruined.

Anyway, I would like to dedicate today's post to the memory of Leslie Nielsen.

Some days ago, in one of the comments section, some commenter, which one I can't remember, but could find with fairly little trouble, but also won't, asked what you do if you play an assault army and go second 'gainst a shooty army. Marvelous question. As with all things that don't involve saying "I'm shooting at that thing with these guys!" and flinging dice, there is nuance. There are lots of ins and outs and what have you's.

This discussion does not encompass what you do if you get seized on, because the answer is to hope for the best. This strategy worked marvelously for me at BAO because I got seized on by White Scars, but he didn't scout, so I was out of melta range and I think I lost one hull point and a mawcannon off a Grinder from the whole affair, and would have crushed him had we not run out of time in the round or I hadn't failed a 3" run at the end. I recommend you do what I did.

First of all, consider, the game is designed so that armies are fairly difficult to kill at range. You can field 185 or so Tau Fire Warriors at 1850. That's 92 hits at beyond 15", 62 wounds, and 41 casualties on T4 models with a 5++, or one dead squad of Flesh Hounds for all your trouble. Then consider that the opposing army is likely to have far less anti-infantry shooting than that, and you begin to see that getting blasted at range ain't all that awful.

Certainly, as you get closer, things get more dangerous. So the formula here is easy. Stay out of sight for the first turn. Second turn, move to about 18-19" away from the Tau and use terrain to minimize casualties. Then advance to within 6" and charge. Boom, dead Tau.

If they have artillery, keep 2" spacing and use ruins for 6" spacing shennanigans.

The benefit of going second with an assault army is the ability to react to the other fellow's deployment. If he's not playing drop pods, (which are going to alpha strike you whether you go first or not) he can do one of two things, bunch up or spread out.

If he spreads out, you bunch up on one flank and cut his firepower in half using terrain to your advantage. Look you here.

Homeboy has spread his army out over a wide front. There is LOS blocking terrain on the board to cut off lanes of fire, especially on that left side, so that's probably where you concentrate your efforts. I so doig, you take most of what is on the near board edge out of the fight. Your job is to hit that left flank with everything hard, so that after you've collapsed it, he has, at best as much left as you do in terms of points because at that point, he's actually losing.

More likely, you will be ahead on points and he won't be able to stop you from rolling over his army.

Here are the Tau all bunched up. Here you would use those ruins to great effect as Tau have no artillery. You would start very very far away indeed, then move up into the three sets of ruins. From there, it's a straight shot to their lines. Even here, you might consider simply attacking on one flank, but you might just end up getting in your own way.

Against Tau, you would want to use a unit to declare a lot of multi charges and absorb their tremendous overwatch (which they need to even be slightly viable, make no mistake). As a general rule, you want to engage as much of a shooty army at once as you can because they can't fight well, and the odds improve of you getting locked in assault with them.

More problematic are Astra Militarum, though they collapse just as quickly once you hit their lines. AM have grand big tanks and artillery. One time I fought AM and they had 3 Wyverns, 3 Hydras, 3 Russes and a Stormsword (10" blast, S10, AP1 ignores cover). I had Be'lakor, Ahriman some Cultists in a Land Raider, a hades Drake some Flesh Hounds with a Khorne Herald and Daemonettes (This was 6th.). He went first.

He deployed the Stormsword in the center, the Wyverns and Hydras on my left, and the Russes on my right with scattered infantry here and there.

You counter this by knowing how things fire. Though it won't save you anymore, I infiltrated Ahriman and his squad of CSM's into a ruin in the board center to be safe from the Wyverns. I deployed and scouted the Hounds on my extreme right board edge, more than 48" from the Wyverns, and such that if the Stormsword scattered wide, it would miss completely. Be'lakor hid and the Daemonettes deep struck.

On his first turn, he had very few shots to take. A few Hounds died, but enough lived to scrap all but one of his Russes. Be'lakor and Ahriman's crew teamed up to attack the Stormsword and should have killed it with kraks, but I rolled poorly. Regardless, his Wyvern's never fired the whole game.

If you know the ranges and behavior of the other guy's weapons, you can take measures to mitigate their effectiveness. Know the rapid fire ranges and stay out of them. Know the ranges of artillery and keep your 2" spacing wherever possible, and prioritize those elements in the other army that are most-likely to cause you heavy casualties.

As long as you don't put yourself into a position where your opponent has easy decisions to make, you should be alright.


  1. Great article, thanks. We assault players need all the tips we can get.

  2. That last line sums all 40k strategy up perfectly.

    If you opponent knows what to do then they will do exactly as you expect and then you are relying on rolls in order to win. If you opponent is forced to make tough choices and they are much more likely to make mistakes. This makes your wins much less dependent on the roll of the dice.

  3. She kidnapped

  4. Great article, though let's discuss what to do against Eldar and their long range wave serpents and scatter laser war walkers. Eldar's ability to shoot really, really well between 36" and 48" (and 60" with those stupid shields) must be taken into account.

    PS: I hate eldar. Hate hate hate.

    1. Bring Screamers and lots of bodies to clog the board (Daemonettes and Flesh Hounds). Bring at least a squad of Horrors to summon. Hide your summoners, jam up the board and replace your losses. Eventually, you'll catch them, and once one or two are gone the tide has turned.

    2. Whatever you do, do not take a small number of strong units. I've found that out the hard way. Specifically Nurgle lists from Chaos Marines. Eldar eats them alive with the number of S6 shots from all their scatter lasers plus any wraith weapons and reapers/fire dragons. Like Kevin said - bring lots of hordes (summoning is especially nice) and lots of fast gap closers. Bikes, Screamers, FMCs, anything that can move fast. The one thing that kind of sucks is that everything Eldar has preferred enemy against Slaanesh. Makes it a lot easier to kill my daemonettes.

    3. Hatred, not PE. If your Eldar opponents were doing this you been gettin' cheated.

    4. Also I've found Noise Marines work really well if you bring some blastmasters. They're one of the few things that can match Eldar range from daemons/csm. Ignores cover does wonders against the Reapers and Snipers hiding in ruins and jetbike spam lists. S8 is enough to take hull points off his wave serpents (again ignores cover) if it gets down to one. It's also enough to instant death any independent characters and there are very few Eldar units with a 2+ save so it almost always gets through the armor save. They're expensive but I find that if I take 3-4 a game, they almost always get their points back and more.

    5. Oops. I got it confused with Grey Knights for a second. Yeah it's hatred, which still seems to end up biting me once a game at least.

  5. I have had some success with a daemon rush list coupled with CSM allies consisting of a cheap slaanesh lord and as many blastmasters as I can squeeze in.

  6. Very good article. Tau are extremely dependant on the 36" range band though if he brings hammer heads, Railsides, or Iontides you have to take into account the increased range. AM/IG that are mech heavy shouldnt be much of a problem because they for go their most effective ability: Orders. Now Infantry heavy guard supported by Wyverns and Priests are a bitch to dislodge. When assaulting a Guard blob make sure you hit them in force and are not going at I1 due to cover. The blob depending on circumstances will be rerolling hits, wounds and possibly saves. Not to mention if they brought psychic allies Invisibility, 4+ Invulnerable, or FnP.

  7. Perhaps we can add a discussion of deepstriking to the mix. If you're an assaulty army forced to go second, to what extent should you consider having one or more of your units deepstrike? Which ones would you pick and why?

    1. Kevin can elaborate on this, but deep striking tends to be risky if it wasn't your game plan going in. Coming in piece-meal is a good way to get yourself divided and conquered. It's not too hard to take an aegis line + comms relay, Scrier's Gaze, or daemons with instruments of Chaos if you are building a list with a lot of deepstriking. But if all of a sudden you're looking at going second and you don't have anything to ensure that your reserves come in right when you want them (not before or after) I don't know that switching everything to deep strike will necessarily be the best idea.

      Now maybe you have one or two units that you would rather deep strike because it won't make or break your list if they don't come in exactly when you hope. But a huge overhaul without prior planning could be dangerous.

    2. So far, it has been my experience that it is better in almost every case to start everything on the board and present a multitude of speedy targets, rather than trust to the dice and try to land stuff at the right time.

    3. Makes sense. I guess either go all in on rush or all in on bomb. No mixing.


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