Armies in 5th: Basics Part 7: Assault II

Well thanks to some well thought out comments (and wine…) I missed some rather obvious yet less basic concepts in my last Armies in 5th article in relation to assault. So let’s cover them and anything else I can think of now and forgot to mention previously (SSBB > SSBM).

TKE and Chumb pointed out in different ways that attacking multiple targets can often be to your benefit. Continuing with the FW example. Assaulting one FW squad is likely to break them but assaulting two is less likely, etc. Whilst you are more likely to take damage in that combat you are more likely to either break both squads or have the combat ensue. Against shooting armies like Tau, being in combat is often a much better place to be. This generally falls down to a judgement call however as you don’t want to get stuck in for too long where help can arrive or be in a position where you win and get shot to death (unless you can hack it, in cover, etc.). You can also dilute your strength by stringing out your squad during the movement phase. This stops some of your models from getting into combat.

You can also use this stringing out to your advantage (MagicJuggler reminded me of this!). This is essentially blocking in the assault phase. Harder to master than blocking movement as you still need the opponent to maintain coherency and be able to assault it, it can pay large dividends in combat. Models that are not in combat can still die and using this skill properly you can get your whole unit into combat with only a few of your opponent’s models. By tank shocking opponent units you can spread them out (just like you would normally clump them for flamers/blasts but here you try and create a wedge with your tank) or using other units near your assaulting unit (including tanks) so when you charge an opponent, their defender reacts move takes them around your units (remember they can only engage the unit in combat). This can dilute your opponent’s attacks in combat or importantly keep special weapons away from your units (I.e. Nob PKs).

Furthering the blocking concept in assault and prolonging combat, when you assault you have to be able to get into base to base. If you are therefore able to keep enough enemy models alive and between you and your opponent’s units, they cannot send more units into combat (this is particularly true against horde armies who are forced to start wrapping around if they can). This can allow you to bring your reinforcements up or protect your unit in combat from more attacks. Remember though this can be done against you, too.

I also alluded to something MagicJuggler pointed out in his comment but I didn’t really go into it. By assaulting with multiple units (particularly into super units) you dilute your opponent’s strength as they have to spread attacks around your units (again, 5 man BA units). This is particularly useful for also ‘pulling’ special combat attacks onto units you want to sacrifice (like Grots) or units which can take the damage (I.e. TH/SS termies).
I think that’s a more complete summary of the more ‘advanced’ assault techniques. Anyone remember anymore? Thanks again for the heads up!

Armies in 5th: Blood Angels Part 5: The Core

Back with more BA stuff after a nice hiatus (it was very nice really!). I’m onto my last assignment (on freaking information processing models of social anxiety. I hate cognition) so soon I’ll be posting madly again (I hope). Before we do that though the hopefully steady post a day will be coming along. Today we are revisiting the Armies in 5th to take a look at BA Troops (we’ll include Sanguinary Guard in this, too).

You’ve got 4(5) Troops choices for BA which is excellent for choices. Unfortunately, there is a clear stand-out in the ASM. They are quite capable of running by themselves in a Jumper list (tick for competitive foot) but in the realm of 5th ed mech they also come out ahead due to their discount on transports. This opens up a lot of options. Whilst LasPlas Rback spamming is still done better by SM and SW, discounts on Rhinos, Pods and Rbacks open up a wide range of army lists and styles (and yes Land Raiders, too). Combined with the lauded ability to take 2 specials like Grey Hunters (which is the be all and end all according to interweb forums) and a further mini-special on the Vet makes these guys a popular choice. ASM very happily take advantage of FNP/FC bubbles in combat but have less shooting prowess outside of their 2 meltaguns. Their anti-infantry ability is through combat and this can be somewhat problematic for DSing them (particularly since you should be taking meltaguns anyways). However, whilst they are the perfect fit for the BA army in many regards, they often cause people to overlook the other options available to them.

The most obvious of this is the Tactical Squad. The exact same as the SM Tac but with Red Thirst over Combat Tactics and a more expensive but Fast Rhino. What these guys offer over the ASM is more midfield support and thanks to the faster Rhino, can get there faster. Although they aren’t as good in combat they can be an excellent anchor to your BA army and backup to any ASM. If you are running 10 men ASM w/o Jump Packs I’d often recommend the Tacticals w/combi instead. Whilst less combat prowess, their boltguns and heavy weapon combined with the increased speed and FNP bubbles make them better than Vanilla Tacticals in holding midfield (tiny tiny margin though) and certainly better than ASM who want to get into assault. You also therefore save on combat weapons for the Tacticals. Remember again, BA mech is like mini-Eldar but with SM statlines so you want to avoid combat as much as possible here. Again, the ASM are more likely to be used in more lists (lots of mini Rback squads or Jumper lists) but when taking full squads in Rhinos, Tacticals are often your best bet point for point.

Sanguinary Guard are an optional Troop. Dante needs to be taken for this to happen. Dante is an expensive but excellent character and I would only take him in a pure jumper list. You then have a couple of options. Replace the ASM in a standard Jumper list with Sanguinary Guard completely or mix ASM and Sanguinary Guard up. Sanguinary Guard are obviously better in combat, lack numbers and w/FNP bubbles are really only vulnerable to armor ignoring weapons but importantly can’t take meltaguns! In a pure jumper army you need as many meltaguns as possible to take out those tanks ASAP. Whilst Sanguinary Guard are capable of taking a beating from any light arms, they don’t really add much on the drop compared to ASM. Whilst taking one squad w/Dante can give you some very accurate pistols, I wouldn’t want to take many more as I would dilute my anti-armor too much. I prefer to mix and match if I was taking these guys but would generally prefer ASM overall as you also have to pay for Dante. Once these guys get into combat though, 2+/FNP/FC and MC-Power weapons will go a long way against any non-super units. Against super units though, Jumper armies still rely on combined assaults so they honestly don’t add that much to your army IMO. They do look awesome though.

Our next two Troops are non-scoring which is a pain. These are of course the Death Company and Death Company Dreadnought. We’ll go onto the DC Dread 2nd as you need DC to access them. DC have been nerfed. They no longer have Rending and this is IMO huge. Otherwise they are essentially old school SM Vets (2A) but w/FNP, WS5, FC, relentless and Rage. Rage is the bummer. Make this unit anything remotely scary and they will be dragged around, though this can be mitigated by Rhinos. Jump Packs are still quite expensive for these guys and with only pistol special weapons, aren’t really an ideal choice for a Jumper army. However, without going overboard on close combat weapons, these guys can operate outside of the FNP/FC bubbles BA rely on. Add in a Chaplain (or Lemartes) and they can be a terror in close combat through torrent. Remember though, the more you put into this unit and the more likely they are to have their movement dictated by your opponent as they avoid them. Personally I think the loss of Rending was huge as you now need special combat weapons with them to be good against anything outside of normal infantry.

The real kicker for taking DC however is the DC Dread which comes w/Blood Talons standard. Whilst the Furioso Dread can also take Blood Talons (and with AV13) and don’t have rage, the DC Dread gets to completely ignore Shaken and Stunned results + has fleet. That’s like a 3+ and 5+ invul save on glancing and penetrating hits…ya okay, awesome. Rage certainly is a pain but with Blood Talons there really is nothing the DC Dread isn’t happy to much upon. These guys are obviously best in Pods due to poor long range firepower and if you pod them right can make an opponent dictate Rage harder. However, if done this way I think the army needs to be themed around it, otherwise they are hung out to dry.

Overall, the general consensus on ASM is correct (for once). They offer the majority of BA army styles the meat of the list by providing scoring and numbers (bolstered by FNP/FC bubbles and twin meltaguns). However, the Tactical squad is far often overlooked and in a Predator based army could often be better due to their improved midfield presence. Sanguinary Guard, DC and DC Dreads are all a bit more specific and can dictate the way an army is built. Whilst I’m not a huge fan of the Guard or DC, they do bring a different element to the army (I.e. tougher units in Jumper army or not having to rely on FNP bubbles, etc.) which can be utilised to an advantage or for a different flavor to an army list.

Email in: Yawg requesting a Tyranid list

Hey Kirby,

I’ve gone over some of your reviews on the bits you did for Tyranids and I’m slowly trying a few things out. However, based on your principles and what testing I have done, I’m suffering from, “Trying to find the right piece” syndrome. I’m wanting to start from scratch and ‘evolve’ from there. So, where do I go from here? I’m trying to make a competitive 2k list with my favorite bugs, so here I am asking for the help. Thanks again for your time.

So an e-mail which I can get to! Don’t worry Lunch, I will have your SW list done. Just trying to find something where the Wolf Lord isn’t simply a tak-on.
So a good start for a 2k list would be my Swarmlord list but let’s try something else. Stelek has does something similar to what I’m about to do so let’s try and change it up a bit. You can’t go too far wrong with those two lists Yawg, so if this isn’t your cup of tea try one of those.

This won’t be based on an HQ so let’s get a cheap HQ out there quickly. Prime w/lash whip & bonesword is a good start and let’s add in our support MCs. Tervigons! Since we will be taking some termaguants, adrenal glands and toxin sacs are a must and I like to take catalyst and onslaught for the flexibility. So each of these will cost us 210pts. To make these guys Troops we need Termaguants. 2x 10x Termaguants is a cheap 100pts and now we’ve got two poopers which score and support + the HQ and haven only used 615 pts.
Time for our fire suppression. Let’s stick with cheapish Hive Guard for the moment with 2×2. 300 pts. These are prime targets for the Tervigons support powers but otherwise put out some pretty accurate S8 firepower. Each squad is very likely to cause some sort of damage each turn though we can increase that with another member each. Let’s also take 2x Tyrannofexes w/rupture cannons @ 265pts each. These guys give you 2 S10, a S5 template and S5 blast. Pretty good fire suppresion with T6/W6/2+ but misunderstood. I’ll explain in a bit. To round out our fire suppression we’ll take some Harpies (more misunderstood units!). These guys are good with a TL’d HVC so 170pts each. That’s 1170 for our fire support, expensive but worth it. This will reliably shut down 5-7 tanks a turn.
We’ve got 215 pts left but let’s first look at what that fire suppression does. The Harpies are nearly unqiue in the Tyranid codex in being fast so can get into side armor and have a decently reliable chance to hit. Remember what Tyranid shooting is about. Suppression not destruction. Although the Harpies don’t have great defenses W4/T5/4+ you can give them FNP or hide them behind T-Fexes but lose mobility. The Hive Guard are pretty self-explanatory. Shoot them at AV11/12 and multi wound T4 targets. T-Fexes…well advance them. Shoot them at LOW armor which can shoot back. These are the ultimate in anti-tank suppression. You are quite likely to cause a hit a turn, don’t waste the S10 on higher AV if you don’t have to. As you advance their anti-infantry firepower can come into play as well as their MC status. Whilst this MC allows you to crack AV14 at range, it’s best used against lower AV to much more reliably stop them.
So we’ve our firebase and our support elements. The majority of damage will be done once we get to CC. Whilst none of the MCs are super evil in combat (or the termaguants) we’ve got numbers from the Guants and Tervigons + MC status x6 so not too shabby once we get up and close. Now we’ve got quite a few options from here. We could take 3x more Hive Guard, another Harpy, more termaguants, another Tyranid Prime, etc. For this list I’m going to take some Warriors to give us more punch in combat and confuddle the opponent’s target priority against the Tervigons and Harpies. This will also be our likely spot for our Prime who has a BS and LW so we should his LW to our advantage and not buy LW for our Warriors. BS pairs give them some hit in combat and threaten critters like Nobs, etc. so them + Toxin and Adrenal Glands sounds good but at 50 pts a pop. We shall leave them with Devourers so they can use the BS4 from Prime but this means we can only take 4. Not really threatening but we do have the points for a VC. We can drop the Adrenal Glands but it will only give us 20 pts to play with so we’ll leave this as our base.
Let’s review:
HQ –
Tyranid Prime w/Bonesword and Lash Whip
Elites –
Hive Guard x2
Hive Guard x2
Hive Guard x2
Troops –
Tyranid Warriors x4 w/adrenal glands, toxin sacs, Boneswords x2, Venom Cannon
10x Termaguants
10x Termaguants
Tervigon w/adrenal glands, toxin sacs, Catalyst, Onslaught, cluster spines

Tervigon w/adrenal glands, toxin sacs, Catalyst, Onslaught, cluster spines

Fast Attack –
Harpy w/TL’d Heavy Venom Cannon, cluster spines

Harpy w/TL’d Heavy Venom Cannon, cluster spines

Heavy Support –
Tyrannofex w/Rupture Cannon, thorax swarm, cluster spines

Tyrannofex w/Rupture Cannon, thorax swarm, cluster spines
Totals: 2000 pts
Infantry: 31
MC: 6
You’ve got a lot of downfield firepower to take people out of tanks and once they are out of tanks you have enough blasts to rival IG. Although not quick and in your face, it has the durability and suppresion fire to deal with mech until it can wade into close combat. Again, there are a lot of options here to play around with. Up to your liking Yawg?

Armies in 5th: Basics Part 6: Assault

Sorry for delay in posting recently. Assignments again! At least Roland posted something *pat*. I have a 2k Space Wolf list I need to put together for an e-mail which I haven’t gotten around to, sorry Lunch but you’re not forgotten.

Well we’ve covered everything but the assault phase, so here we are! The assault phase obviously relates directly to the shooting and movement phase. If you’re not in range to assault or have killed the opponent with guns, well you’re not assaulting are you? Now I prefer shooting for the most part. Whilst assaults can often have infinitely higher damage potential (I.e. 4A each. Not many guns have 4 shots) you are also opening yourself to damage during your own turn so this trade-off needs to be considered. In the immortal words of Time Splitter 2; always outnumbered, never out-gunned. However, combat is an essential part of the game so we will look at it and I do have combat armies because nothing is more fun than rolling 60 dice =D! So before we get into this, let’s look at special assault moves which makes 40k even more special and chess-like.

Jump-Shoot-Jump (JSJ) is very important for some armies (Eldar & Tau) as they allow you to either avoid giving cover to your opponent or bring your shorter ranged guns to bear whilst not advancing upon your enemy or you can ‘strafe’ between covers depending on the squad’s footprint or distance between cover. For these armies you need to plan your 2nd jump in your movement phase. It’s pointless to have this extra mobility if you get caught in the open. Make sure to use this 2nd jump to avoid combat as well or if the unit can be sacrificed, use it as a blocker. Essentially units with this ability (or something similar) need to be considered as units with two movement phases so all the same understanding needs to be applied here as well.

Other than the obvious of making sure you are in assault range or don’t shoot away your assault target in the previous phases, assaults need some careful planning. The most obvious of this is the involvement of Independent Characters and/or multiple units. Since we are all well rehearsed in the rules of ICs in combat now, we know how to pick them out. Remember their specific assault rules as well as the normal assault rules (closest to closest, must maintain coherency whilst every model must get into BtB if possible, etc.). To gain the most out of these rules you must organise your squads in the movement phase. If your PFist is first in line to assault, it’s not going to be able to pick out the IC. Same if you’ve kept your whole squad close to your target squad but wish to assault another squad. These processes need to be planned out before the Assault phase.

The obvious advice from this tidbit is keep your PFists and other special combat weapons which you might like to allocate, in the middle of the pack. Here they are unlikely to not be able to reach their target but can still allocate their attacks to different targets if needed. The same with your ICs (again remember their specific rules) but make sure they have a clear path. ICs do NOT get to fight if they are not in BtB. If you don’t want them to fight, put them further to the back or behind models so their path is longer. If you want your unit to assault multiple units which are spread out you’re going to need some very specific movement and without fleet or a large early move, it’s unlikely to happen. Units really do need to be very close for you to multi-assault with one unit and opens yourself up to more attacks. Even doubling the amount of attacks FW can put on you is doubling your risk of losing models. Sometimes it’s not worth it. On the other hand, sometimes it is.

This brings us to targeting in combat. We’ve already discussed targeting ICs but what about in multi-unit combats? As a rule of thumb, target everything against a single target which is the most likely to take significant damage. This is likely to generate a lower Ld test for the opponent’s squads when the assault phase ends (assuming they are still locked in combat). A prime example would be guants and an TMC in combat with a GH squad. Whilst attempting to target the TMC with a PFist is laudable, the majority of your attacks should go on the guants. Not only are you more likely to cause damage and limit incoming attacks but due to Fearless, the TMC is likely to suffer more No Retreat! wounds.

Building on our multi-assaults, what happens when we assault with multiple units? This is key for armies with little close combat ability, a spread of close combat ability or no super units (I.e. 5 men-BA FC charges). This allows you to get multiple special weapons in and apply them where you would like but also opens them up to easier reprisal (less models to go through). This is essentially an extension of applied arms at range but in combat.

Overall, I still prefer ranged combat as you can only be damage but your opponent’s assaults or ranged weaponry but taking the fight to the enemy often gives you the initiative. When you do this though you need to make sure you are maximising your chances (duh) and plan your assaults well in advance. Leaving your assault units out to dry isn’t fun. By combining and focusing your attacks you can minimise the damage your units suffer whilst maximising the damage you do (No Reatreat! FTW. Poor Orks).

The Ride of the Valkyries, Part 2: “Pure”

Hey again! I’ve been fairly busy lately, in addition to working with GWvsJohn on our first 3++ International Vassal BatRep (international because he’s in the good ol’ US of A and I’m in the god ol’ Middle East…), so apologies for the delay in Part 2. Today (or rather tonight for me), I’m going to discuss how to go about building a fun and effective “Pure” Aircav list. This is possibly the harder of the two types of Aircav to build precisely because you are restricted to only 2 vehicles: Vendettas and Valkyries. All other options of transport are tossed out the window (sans Deep Striking Stormies, but the issue with using them is once they land, they are now footslogging unless one of your vehicles swoops by to pick them up). Moreover, our choices of troops are severely limited as well. Hearkening back to what I discussed in the comments piece in Part 1, the Aircav army relies upon effective use and distribution of points, to try and get the most for every point spent. With that said, before we go into how to build a “Pure” list, I’m going to digress for a few moments and go through the backbone of any Army, the Troops, and in particular the choices available to the Aircav army for Troops:

CCS: Let’s start simple with our HQ choice. These guys are a no brainer as we need at least 1 to lead our Army. I stick with the basic concept outlined in Part 1, so max out on Meltas, throw in a Medic and an Astropath and that is pretty much your standard Aircav CCS starting point build.

PCS: Ok the first choice for our Troops selection is the basic infantry platoon. Assuming we want to go this route, we need to buy at least 2 of these guys. Now they’re 20pts cheaper than the CCS, but they have worse BS, which is no bueno. Remember we need bang for the buck. And while you save around 20pts for selecting these guys, you end up paying more in 2 ways: 1 you need at least 2 infantry squads (which will run you another 60-80pts); 2 you will probably not only fail to kill what you aim at, you’ll be laughed off the table as your opponent walks over to your little Lieutenant and curb stomps him into submission. And speaking of infantry squads…

Infantry Squad: So for 50pts I get, what exactly? Oh right, BS3, no krak grenades, and at most 1 Special Weapon. So let’s give them a special weapon (melta) and a PW to the Sarge. We’re looking at 70pts for a unit that will miss more than it hits and will get Cleveland Steamrolled in combat. Oh and we have to buy two of these subpar squads, so we’re looking at around 140pts for 1 Troops choice. Wait, that’s what your basic Veteran build costs…why yes it is. But you’re forgetting to add the PCS in, which jacks up the overall cost to around 200pts.

And before anyone starts saying it, HW in an Aircav force is….ridiculous. Now I like the ide of HW, and I find them fluffy, but let’s remember something: AirCav relies on mobility and the ability to deliver (near) precision strikes quickly and against a small enemy front. By their very nature, HW are the anti-thesis of this. They require relative stability and time to set up. The moment you disembark your Valk/Vend, your guys need to be killing something, not spending a turn setting up that Lascannon or Missile Launcher.

Special Weapon Squad: These guys I actually find do well in AirCav lists, and I only wish we could get them at the Company level again and not as an addition to the platoon. Now the only way to field them is to buy a PCS and 2 squads, which I hopefully succinctly outlined the fail of that course of action above. So while very fluffy and fun, they get the axe (along with all other Platoon support squads), due to their requirement of needing a Platoon.

Veteran Squads: Not much I can say on this that I haven’t said or shown already. These guys are by and large the standard troops choice for a fun yet competitive Aircav army. Granted it’s a pure ripoff of the old IA:4 Elysian D-99 army list, but that’s what happens when you introduce IA vehicles and concepts into regular 40k: builds/army lists that were once the realm of IA suddenly become the near de facto strong builds of regular 40k. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED my IA:3 Elysian army list, with Aux grenade launcher in ever squad along with a melta and demo charge, and it was extremely fun and rewarding, and even had some competitive edge to it, but those concepts weren’t brought over into the new IG ‘dex. Their vehicles were, as were their Veterans as Troops and their demo charges available to a regular Troops choice (to some extent, IG has it only in Vet Squads, IA:3 Elysians had it in EVERY squad…so clutch), but everything else was pretty much cut out. And since I’m on this random tangent, I cannot WAIT for IA:8 when they revamp the Elysians. Not only do all regular platoon squads get Valk/Vends as regular transports (and for cheaper!), they also get those two sweet looking Fast Attack Gun Trucks, which I can’t wait to play with. So things are looking up for the Elysians….

Storm Trooper Squads: Good BS, Good Armor, Good Assortment of weapons, relatively cheap, these guys can make a nice surprise attack unit in an AirCav army. Their only drawback is that they rely on someone else’s transport to move around once they deep strike. These guys aren’t necessary, but they could fill in a nihe within the Army and further the fluffy idea of an Elite IG force deployed for lightning raids or reconnaissance.

With that said, here’s a fail list I saw played on Vassal over the summer. It highlighted some of the characteristics GWvsJohn has been detailing about Vassal. I call it the “Realism Meets 40K” AirCav Army:




3X Vendettas
3X Vendettas
3X Valkyries

This guys had 0 upgrades to…well everything. Granted this was a 1500pt game, I was still aghast at what he fielded. No upgrades? Valkyries with Hellstrikes? Oh the fail! Seriously, the moment a vehicle got shot down or he disembarked his troops, it was game over. Those guardsmen died like flies. You try and grab objectives with the Vends and they don’t shoot. Conversely you sit back to try to pop armor and they not only don’t grab objectives, they become big old targets themselves. I like where this guy’s head was at, and thought it could be a fun non-competitive campaign army list (of course with SOME upgrades…probably SW for the squads and such), but for something that was trying to be competitive and hope to win some games…it fell short. Here now, in my humblest opinion, is a good starting idea for a “Pure” Aircav army:

Starting off we need get our transports again. Now knowing we want to have a good amount of troops that can actually kill something, let’s start off somewhat conservative:

3X Vendetta
2X Vendetta
2X Valkyrie w/ MRP

So for 910 points we’ve got 7 fast skimmers that have good long range AT and some long range AP. What we’re looking at now is to either fill all 7 transports or fill 5 and then bolster our army with Storm Troops. In this case I’m going to do the former, to stick with filling up as many Valk/Vends in a “Pure” list as possible.

Let the filling begin:

2X Veteran Squad (all with Shotguns)Demolitions
2X Meltagun
H. Flamer

Total: 300

Veteran Squad (all with Shotguns)
3X Meltagun


Total: 140

Veteran Squad (all with Shotguns)
2X Melta
Total: 125

Veteran Squad (all with Shotguns)
H. Flamer
2X Melta

Total: 110

This brings us up to 1585, and we now have 5 scoring units, plenty of melta goodness (11 all told), and some flamers (3 Heavy, 1 regular) for any possible riot/horde control. I went back and started toying around with Dethron’s comment from the last thread. While not fully convinced yet, I do see the utility of having flamers as backup anti-horde if/when the demo charges fail in the Demo squads. I upped them though to Heavy Flamers for if I’m going to toast anything, I want to be wounding them on at least 3’s, 2’s if possible. Moreover, the addition of the flamers broke up some of the melta monotony the Aircav lists tend to create. Granted you still have some monotony (3 squads with 2X Melta and H.F), but these is enough differentiation (2 squads have the demo doctrine, the other is just a plain old squad) to allow for fluff / story maneuverability. We could say that 5th Squad is the reserve squad, and as such hasn’t received their Carapace armor yet or have yet to receive their Demo training, and so they’re given their basic special weapons until they have time to receive said training. Boom pow! Fluff fixed.

We’ve got 5 vehicles filled, so now we need to look at the leadership for our Army and fill another vehicle. Here I’m going to stick with the tried and true (and fairly standard) Aircav CCS:

Company Command Squad
3X Meltaguns

1X Bodyguard
Total: 175

Iron Hand
Total: 95

We now have 1855. 145 to go. Now we can get a Storm Troop squad here and kit them out…or we can do what I call Officer Development….

3X Melta


Officer of the Fleet
Total: 140

Coming in just under 2000 points, we’ve got a backup Command Squad in case the other one bites the bullet. We can also issue twice as many orders per turn and spread out their leadership bubble to help with LD tests and such. Moreover, we add in 3 more meltas and the ability to deny the enemy arriving from DS. ‘Nids with Tyrants and Old Adversary giving you trouble? No more! Take away their bonus roll and make them re-roll their outflank moves. You get to dictate when/where they come. Additionally with the medic (a very fun and fluffy addition I might add), you get the joy of FNP. All told we now have 17 meltaguns floating around in this army, 3 Heavy Flamers, 1 Flamer, 2 Demo charges, a slew of meltabombs, and 15TLLC. Not to mention two LD bubbles, twice as many orders (rather order giving units), and a FC/CA bubble in case you need to get close and personal.

Tactics would be fairly similar to the “Hybrid” list. I would start 3 Vends on the board with the Straken CCS on board to ensure you get your guys sooner rather then later. In the other 2 Vends, I’d place a demo Veteran squad and a Grenadier vet squad. You can now go tank hunting if needed or objective grab with the Grenadier Vets. The I’d put the other CCS in the other Vends along with the other Demo squad. The Valks will house the last Grenadier squad and the unupgradded squad. These guys can either pop vehicles, or just sit inside and zoom around dropping pie plates on people before running to grab objectives. The Vends should keep the enemy occupied with AT worries to really gun for the lighter armed Valks. Alternatively, you could put both Gren squads in the Valks and use it as a fast, late game objective grab unit. With the better AS they should weather small arms fire better when posted on an objective. Effective fire control will be key here, and one tactic is to “leap frog” your Vendettas, i.e. have one squadron snipe the nearest enemy threat to your Valks/Vends or the greatest AT threat to them. Meanwhile move the other vehicles 12-24″ to get into good positions. Next turn, reverse it and have the Vend’s the moved set up and fire at the target most likely to threaten the other Vend squadron as the move or after they move. Meanwhile the Valk keeps the pressure up on dismounted infantry and light vehicles (with eithr the MRPs or the Multi-Las).

In the end, the strength of the “Pure” list is mobility, for we trade firepower for mobility. We lack diverse long range firepower (at most we can target 2 enemy per turn with our Vends), but we have the ability to move quickly to get into position and to bring our vast close range firepower to bear. It takes a good amount of careful planning and coordination to get the most out of the “Pure” list. It’s almost akin to running an orchestra, for to achieve perfect harmony, everything must act in accord and at a precise moment. Too soon or too late leads to discord int eh Army and things begin to fall apart. With a “Pure” Aircav army, any and all mistakes you make are amplified due to the lack of vehicles, men, and long range firepower. If the army, and by extension your plan as a commander, lack foresight, command & control, and coordination, you will be playing catch up the whole game as each mistake builds upon, and even amplifies, those that proceeded it.

As always my dear readers, feedback and thoughts are welcome!

The madness behind the math…

I’m sure we all like to use mathammer (Dethtron does – I think he made me do this really). It’s great for getting a bare understanding of what a unit does and where it’s niche lies if you can’t look at it and figure it out. I’ve crunched the numbers myself many a times to dazzle with amazingly small (or large) fractions but quite frankly, it’s lacking. It’s basic statistics and is a probability which doesn’t take into the account that in the real world, we are can only tend to a probability of 1 (this means nothing is ever certain, sorry Newton!). Quick example. 6 Fire Dragons unload all their meltaguns onto an AV10 tank. 4 hit. All 4 are highly likely to pen. You should kill the tank twice. How often has this NOT happened to people? Stastically with an AP1 gun you want 2 hits, with non-AP1 you want 3 hits. How often does it take 10 hits? The raw numbers are great to give you an idea about a unit’s capabilities but unless you understand statistics or look at where the numbers are coming from, spouting this sort of mathammer makes you look like an idiot.

So why on earth am I telling you this? I’m sure none of you want to hear about math nor anything about inferential statistics (psychologists as a general rule of thumb hate statistics because they are people persons. I love bucking the trend). Here is a direct link to a post I made about the numbers on a TL-AC compared to an LC or TL-LC against high AV and one to the original post.

So whilst that covers more about the math, etc. Let’s look also at opportunity cost. The TL-AC is a much more reliable platform against AV10 than the Las/Plas. I don’t care about the numbers here because I know how 40k and dice work. The TL-AC has 4 re-rollable S6 dice. The Las/Plas has 2 re-rollable S7 and 1 S9. The TL-AC is more reliable but the Las/Plas has more utility further up the AV chart and is not ‘bad’ against lower AVs. After all, how many armies survive on S6/7? Oh right, a lot. However, shooting the Las/Plas at lower AV loses you out against medium AV. Just liking shooting a meltagun at lower AV loses you out against higher AV. This is something I think most people in that post are missing. Who gives a flying hoot if my TL-AC or Las/Plas RBack is better against AV14? They both suck at it in turn when you compare what you are losing. Now, if you have nothing else to shoot or taking out the AV14 wins you the game (i.e. it’s contesting or something), go ahead. Shoot it and cross your fingers because whilst the raw stats give you a 5% or 3.7% chance of destroying it, you’ve got so many dice to go through it’s not funny.

This is what people don’t understand also. The more times you have to roll, the less likely something good will happen. Look at my Fire Warrior and Marine example in the link. According to someone like RCgothic, they are the same. According to statistics they are not because the Marines are more likely to land significantly more hits whilst the FW are more likely to land significantly less hits which then affects the wound rolls. Over 200 billion games they may have caused the same amount of wounds but if you have one chance to take out a squad I’m going to prefer the higher to hit roll first as it skews the statistics in my advantage. This is why twin-linking is better than ignoring cover, why rending is nerfed, etc. The more chances you have to affect dice rolls further down the chain, the better. Hence rate of fire being so important in 5th edition. If I land 5 hits I’m likely to cause SOME damage. It may not kill but it’s at the minimum going to stop it shooting and/or moving.

A final example pertaining to opportunity cost and the numbers. The numbers say that my Railgun is just a tiny (like 1/50th) more effective than a meltagun at close range on AV10. However, the meltagun is the better gun because that railgun is a much, much better anti-infantry gun with its submunition pie plate. In the case of the TL-AC and Las/Plas RBack shooting at AV14 is losing you out on some pretty reliable low AV shooting or anti-infantry fire.

How to: Hybrid Imperial Guard

So MasterSlowPoke (come on, we all know Scyther was the best) wanted me to go a bit more in-depth on the Hybrid Imperial Guard, so here we are. First, Hybrid IG uses IG tanks & protects them with an infantry bubble-wrap. Read that link for a more in-depth analysis of what bubble-wraps do but quickly the infantry bubble-wrap keeps opponent’s at arms length from the tanks. IG don’t like you getting close to them as they operate at peak efficiency from farther away (long range and lots of blasts combined with some min ranges). Whilst this has been alleviated in the new codex by being able to take hull heavy flamers on every tank chassis for free, IG would still prefer you to die far away and the bubble-wrap infantry platoon allows you to do this.

What then do we want in our bubble-wrap? Infantry platoons are the obvious answer with an attached commissar as you can combine them for a huge footprint and lots of bodies. It’s hard to make the unit move with Stubborn and Ld9 and 30+ members which you can order to ground for +2 to cover or shoot 3-4 autocannons as you see fit with a dash of meltaguns to scare off tank shocking. Plop this in front of your armour and bingo! Protection for ze tanks. This is the hybrid aspect of your army. From that point on you essentially need your downfield fire (you can go pure downfield fire) and/or meltaguns (or you can add in some meltagun Vets through Chimeras or Vendettas).

So with Hybrid IG you’re keeping the opponent at arm’s length with the bubble-wrap and otherwise firing across the table at your opponent, that’s your basic Hybrid IG. This means tanks and units like PBS in Chimeras, Manticores, Medusas, Devildogs and Lemun Russ variants are your best bet all using blast and generally having significant range followed up with Vets or Infantry Platoons in Chimeras. You can add in Vendettas w/Demo Vets for a first turn alpha strike if it’s offered (I prefer this as it can change your opponent’s deployment) or if you won’t be able to get within melta range, leave them in their Chimeras and use Vendettas as fire support whilst pushing the Chimeras midfield as you need. Again, the point of the Hybrid part of IG is to keep your opponent as far away as possible for as long as possible and thus protect your main tanks.

So let’s apply this to an army list.

We want that bubble-wrap so we shall buy them first. Let’s take 3 infantry platoons w/2 meltaguns, 3 autocannons and a commissar. 235 pts. Need the PCS as well. Let’s put them in a Chimera w/an AC for another 105 pts.

We also want 2x PBS in Chimeras to add to our blast fun. Full squad + Chimera is 165 x2 = 330. We also need a CCS (dur) so let’s add one in a Chimera w/AC and 2x meltagun; another 135 pts so we’re sitting at 805 pts atm.

We need to start adding in some heavier hitters but are still short on the Troops so let’s take 2x Vets w/AC, 3 mgun and a Chimera for 330 total; still not at 1k and we’ve got pretty good suppression fire with the ability to move into midfield with meltas if needed. Let’s add some bigger guns.

2x Medusa for 270. I’ve chosen Medusas over Manticores here as I want to pack in 2 squads of Russes if I can and the Medusas can be taken in a squad. We shall then take 2 devil dogs as well for 240. 520 pts left. Not really enough for 4 Russes. Let’s see what we have.

CCS w/2 meltaguns, AC, Chimera

2x PBS w/Chimera

2x Vet w/3 meltaguns, AC, chimera

PCS w/AC, chimera

3x Infantry w/2 meltaguns, 3 AC, Commissar

2x Devildogs

2x Medusas

9 tanks, 7 AC, 6 blasts and 81 infantry. Need to up that across the road reach I think. Let’s skip on the Russes for this list and take another Medusa and 2x Vendettas moving the Devildogs into one squad. 125 pts to play with.

Point playing time! Let’s drop 2 psykers from each PBS and add another PBS for 145. Still have 20 points to play with then. Not going to have enough to give the Vets demo so we’ll add 2 meltaguns in to the PCS so they can move into midfield if needed as well. So let’s see what we ended up with.

HQ –

Company Command squad w/2x meltaguns, AC, Chimera

Elites –

PBS x7 + Overseer w/Chimera

PBS x7 + Overseer w/Chimera

PBS x7 + Overseer w/Chimera

Troops –

Veterans x10 w/3x meltagun, AC, Chimera

Veterans x10 w/3x meltagun, AC, Chimera

Platoon Command Squad w/2x meltagun, AC, Chimera

Infantry Platoon w/Commissar, AC

Infantry Platoon w/meltagun, AC

Infantry Platoon w/meltagun, AC

Fast Attack –

Devildogs x2



Heavy Support –




Totals: 2000 points
Tanks: 14
Infantry: 85

We’ve got 7 AC, 6x TL LC, 7 multi-lasers, 2 melta blasts and 3 S10 pie plates coming downfield on T1. If you get the opportunity you can load those Vets up and alpha strike other wise you use your suppression fire on to stop your opponent’s shooting and Medusas to knock people out of tanks. Once that starts to happen you rain blasts on them. You can move into midfield with your meltaguns or let them splash across your infantry bubble-wrap and mass shoot/flame them next turn (all the Chimeras are ML/HF btw).

The great thing about IG IMO is you can change so many things around and keep a good list so there are a lot of changes that could be made here but I hope that helps explain IG Hybrid a bit better as that was the ultimate goal of this post. So did it do that SlowPoke?

GWvsJohn’s Adventures in Vassal, Chapter 3: The Experienced Noob

One of the main problems with Vassal is finding an opponent who isn’t a jerk. If you’re on Vassal enough, you’ll find that people there fall into 3 general categories.

A) The Oldtimers – These guys have been around. Maybe you’ve never played them before, but you’ve seen the name. A few of the Pink Army and Ynquisitors fall into this category, like myself, Curly, Smurfy, but there are others. In general, these guys are ok to play. Some have quirks that can get annoying, but you can trust them to know the rules and the program (to an extent)
B) The Youngbloods – Vassal is lousy with noobs. Some are just new to Vassal, but experienced TT players. Some are new to both. Some don’t even own the BRB. If you have patience, they can actually make ok opponents since you can show them the right way to do things. Usually they want to play weird point values like 750 or 838 or some dumb value. Less than 1500 is barely 40k IMO.
C) Our title character, the Experienced Noob – often you’ll run across a player who seems to know both 40k and Vassal, but has a name you don’t recognize. Seems a little strange, right? In fact, it’s probably more sinister than strange. He’s a chameleon. Vassal let’s you change your name at will, so there’s no way to tell who people really are. This leads to large class of jerks who piss people off, drop when the game turns against them, grief constantly, then just use a new name tomorrow. Be wary of these guys.
If you hadn’t guessed, this post was prompted by a recent experience. This guy is running a horrific list (Lysander, 10 LC terms, 1 LR, 2 Drop Tacs and 2 combat squaded Rhino Tacs), does first and plays a horrible first turn. In the midst of my response, I notice he’s gone and has the gall to start a new game one room down. When I call him on his BS, he freely admits he’ll just use a new name in the future.
Grr Vassal, so fun, but so frustrating.

Armies in 5th: Basics Part 5: Synergy

This has been kicking around for a while on my word prcoessor and there have been some recent posts on other blogs about it but let’s see if I can add anything and continue the Armies in 5th series. The concept of synergy is hard to put a finger on, particularly differing it from your army’s makeup or composition. Afterall, assuming all of our bases are covered in anti-infantry and anti-tank with most of our units capable of some sort of duality, the synergy seems inherent in the army. Well let’s look at something first. Dverning wrote a nice little piece here about Troops. I’ve covered this in my Army Comp One and Two posts but what should be highlighted is this:

“Troops are often the bland, common, grunt soldiers of the army. Everything Troops can do, selections from other Force Orgs do larger, faster, stronger and louder.

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times but I’ll say it again. Troops are not the killy in most armies and generally spending 1000 points on them is fail. Dverning is spot on with that line and I think it deserves a cookie or something. I see so often people spamming Tacs or Ork Boyz or whatever and it just doesn’t work because your killing power is just plain bad. This is obviously bad army composition as your army can’t kill as well as it should but it affects your synergy, too. You now have to make sure the rest of your units are REALLY killy and generally that means focusing their jobs and losing in duality.

So, we’ve covered how you want to set up your lists on paper but now we need to look at how they work on the table. It’s great having a list with 6 units all of which are equally good at popping tanks and infantry but not if they can get picked apart by your opponent. Here is where a “theme” comes in and one of the main reasons I’m against most Hybrid lists (obvious exceptions being IG & Tau). So assuming you’ve followed the advice around here from my Army Comp and you’ve got all your bases covered in anti-tank, anti-vehicle, blocking, screening, sacrifical, etc. how do we make sure your army has good synergy?

Easiest way is army movement and their tempo (aka speed). If everyone can move 12″ they are at an obvious advantage to an army where half move 12″ and half move 6″. There are obvious exceptions here with static units which bubble wrap and shoot well (Long Fangs, Infantry platoons, Kroot, etc.) but for the most part your army should be a single whole; we are gestaltists right? This is where Hybrid IMO falls apart. Whilst Hybrid BA and SW look good on paper (the TWC are arguably faster than mech and BA jumpers move essentially the same was their tanks when you consider chassis length) there is room for the differences to be exploited. So when your army is placed on the table and you are playing with it, you want it to flow. The army should seem to inately work together, no matter what you or your opponent does. A classic example is a Mechdar army. Every tank moves 24″ and for the most part is all about shooting your opponent whilst staying alive but the weak link of every Eldar army is Fire Dragons. They are the lynchpin for without them, S6 doesn’t get you very far against AV14 all-rounders. However, the Eldar army as a whole works in a very similar way. This is the synergy or theme of an army. If the army has good synergy there will be no times when an opposing army can exploit you significantly. If you have static long-ranged units like LF or Broadsides, it’s built into the army. Poor army synergy would have those guys left alone when versusing a shooty list as the other SW run across the table but they are then very vulnerable.

Furthermore, by running Hybrid you are often offering your opponent’s guns ideal choices; there are both infantry and tanks to shoot at from the get go. With this concept in mind you want to try and deny your opponent this happy pleasure, much like a refused flank. By playing an Ork horde for example, any opponent who has gone to town on meltas is going to be screwed (so against a balanced army…nope). So this generally means little in the scheme of things as it should even itself out but as a very specific army type (i.e. horde or mech, etc.) you are able to target what is most effective against you over other units.

This does seem trivial as the most balanced of lists generally have anti-tank and anti-infantry spread across them (look at LasPlas RBack spam for example) but by making sure your army is moulded as a whole, you have a one up on any army that is not (looking at you rock armies!). Whilst this is not to say the rock armies are bad (2x TH/SS in Raiders for example is a good list) nor does it help you against other balanced lists, your opponent doesn’t look at your list and immediately go “this needs to die.” Even with good army composition, if you don’t have synergy, certain things will stand out.

Now. Most good lists will never have perfect synergy. Look at the Eldar example or TH/SS Marines or any army that enjoys the balanced and competitive label. It’s impossible because certain parts of the army are going to have to do certain things. However, the more synergised your army and the more targets you present to the enemy, the harder it is for your opponent to exploit your army and the more likely they are to make a mistake. Overall, this is really an add-on to the composition posts but I think it is important to cover, especially when I’m trying to explain why I don’t like BA hybrid. The more opportunities your army has to fall apart, the worse. Sooner or later you will come across that situation in a tournament and it will happen for all armies but by hedging your army more through appropriate application of synergy, makes it less likely to happen.

Blazers re-sign Camby

This made me really happy. I know most of you who read this don’t care about my basketball stuff (first game of new season for me tonight, woot!) but this radiates happy pink! You should all glorify in this radiation (hehe). Blazers next year:

Roy, Miller, Batum, Aldridge, Oden

Camby, Fernandez, Webster, Bayless, Pryzbilla

With Webster’s play when he’s going, I think Fernandez can be let go soon (particularly if he keeps complaining about minutes). The problem with this line-up is when you get to the playoffs the starters are playing 30-40+ minutes rather than 30ish. I think therefore Fernandez becomes more expendable even though I like him, he’s just too inconsistent. Webster at least has shown through the year he’ll put his bum down on defense and has shown some great flahses on offense (not just shooting) and defense. I’d like to see more of that from him. Pryzbilla also becomes a bit less important with Camby staying on but both Oden and Aldrige can sub out and you still have a huge front line (Camby may even start for Oden).

Overall, I’m looking forward to next year but I’ve got my fingers crossed they can beat the Suns. With Roy, without a doubt but we shall see today if they can take Game 2!