Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Death from Above - Drop Podding

My favourite method of delivery for any list I have ever written always lands upon the drop pod. Crashing down amongst your enemy, very little to worry about with the auto-correct on the scatter meaning no mishap table to fret over, and half your pods dropping on turn one, what more can you ask for?

With the pods coming down in your opening turn you can surgically strike with the aim of dividing your opponents army, singling out important elements and laying down some fire before your turn is out, the heart stopping moment waiting to determine whether your pod hits the target you need, or scatters either into further danger or, conversely, further away from danger is a definite highlight for the risk-taker in me.

But how can you use the pods effectively and not just waste your armies potential? For me, making a successful drop pod based army relies on three things and we will look at these in turn shortly. The amount of fire power you have walking out of your pods is entirely up to you, I only want to talk about the potential usage and tactics you can employ if you want to go down the route of using drop pods.

Firstly you have to use as many pods as you can possible take, preferably using an odd numbered amount of pods, just to use the special rule that 'half of all drop pods, rounded up, are to drop in the players first turn'. So seven pods in total will see 4 fall in the first turn. If all those pods are full of men, you have potentially 40 power armoured men entering first turn anywhere on the board. If you're playing crazy, that could also be 20 men in terminator armour, or any combination between the two scenarios. I think its fair to say that is a fair amount of fire power to place around the board.

Secondly you have to consider where you are going to attempt to land them and what your objectives are. A singular pod which is dropped in the middle of the enemy will not last much further than its first turn on the table. Of course, if that pod has a special aim like using its melta gun to open up a tank and you don't mind using the troops as cannon fodder, that's all fine, but I prefer to try keeping my guys alive as long as possible. Landing multiple pods close together will increase their individual survivability as your opponent will have more targets to split their fire between, meaning your troops will be taking less damage. The more pods you have drop in one area, the greater their chances of survival are.

From Counterfetts blog, All Things Fett.
And lastly you will also have to consider the units that make up the rest of your army. While you are podding in your troops, your heavy support needs to be able to cover them wherever they may land, taking on any vehicles and monstrous creatures that are near the landing zone. You may also consider using your fast attack, such as bikers or land speeders, to provide further cover, using their increased movement range to get forward and support your troops on foot. These units will also add an additional threat to your opponent and will help to divert some fire away from your drop pod troops.

This type of army is certainly an acquired taste, but when it works can be devastating. Never drop a pod so that it is left at risk of being isolated and exposed to an angry enemy and always make sure that each pod is adequately supported by other pods, bikes or speeders, heavy weapons squads and tanks or outflanking scouts and this type of army can be lethal to your opponent. Let me know your thoughts on drop pod armies and how you make them work.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

White Dwarf 380 - August 2011

The monthly look through White Dwarf is back. It's another useful edition of the magazine for both Warhammer Fantasy and 40k players alike, especially those with an interest in Vampire Counts for WHFB and Sisters of Battle for 40k.

The Fantasy element of the magazine contributes around 75% of its overall content this month. On top of new rules for the Terrorgheist, Tomb Banshee and Cairn Wraith in the Vampire Counts range, there are also additional rules for a new Garden of Morr plastic scenery kit that is also due to be released. Following this you have numerous army lists followed up by a battle report which sees The Empire go up against Vampire Counts.

To complete the Warhammer section there is then a showcase from the 'Eavy Metal team of the various new monsters that were released alongside last months Storm of Magic, followed by an extensive tutorial for the assembly and painting of a Black Dragon.

And then we find the first part of the Sisters of Battle Codex, situated toward the rear of the magazine and filling 14 pages with information on the Adepta Sororitas. While I could not see any new models and cannot comment on whether the information held within this first section is completely brand new, the codex this far makes for interesting reading. The named characters appear to have had a couple of stats boosted, but until we have the second part it is too early to tell what a SoB army will generally comprise and how they can fair on the table.

In other news from this issue of WD, the Dark Eldar have two more new releases due on the 20th August in the shape of Ur-Ghul and Medusae (seen below) and a Chaos Daemons Battalion/Battleforce due to be released the same day.
Hopefully my copy of White Dwarf will turn up on time this month and the full strength of the Sisters of Battle will be shown in a battle report when up against Hive Fleet Leviathan. I'm putting my money on a SoB victory on that one, so we will have to wait and see!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Army List Series Part Two - Creating Your Lists

Where is the best place to start when looking to put together your list for an upcoming battle? There is no right or wrong place to start, but it is worth having a good idea about what you want your army to achieve before you begin putting it together. The aim of this segment is not to tell you what units you must have in your army, but is more of vocalised thought process of what you could consider whilst preparing an army list.

In the opening part of this series, found here, there are a few different builds you can go for.Each list you create you would like to think had a chance of victory given a bit of luck and sound tactics and so I believe that a solid approach to writing any sort of list can at least get you moving in the right direction.

Whether you are confined in your list to what models you have available, or if you have the freedom of being able to use a large amount of 'counts as' models, each and every unit within that list needs to be in some way compatible with the next.

To start with a good knowledge base of your army in general is a must, knowing their strength and weaknesses such that you can then aim to reduce weaknesses while maximising the strengths. For instance, Dark Eldar are exceptional in close combat, while poor at range, while Tau and Necrons rely more on their fire power generally than slicing the opposition up in hand to hand fights and as such these armies will be aligned accordingly.

Knowing your army should happen eventually regardless of whether or not you spend every second studying your army's codex. Knowing your opponents army is a whole other kettle of fish but, simplistically, can be generalised down to help you with your army. Going against horde armies, you want to be packing as many template weapons as possible, while against Marines and similar, plasma weapons and other high AP weaponry is a must, while for mechanised armies you may want to also consider high strength weaponry as well to help blast through that armour. Helpful advice I read somewhere is to always shoot the choppy stuff and chop the shooty stuff.

Once you have considered your army's weaponry you need to think about their delivery system to the forth coming battle. Deep striking elements of your army on to the table, in drop pods for example, could leave units isolated and destroyed within a turn of arriving. So you either need to allow for more units to deep strike with them, enough long range guns to cover them or have fast moving units move to their position to support them. Either way your list will have to accommodate these factors.

Of course, deep striking armies aren't the only way to have your army. If you want to be assaulting as quickly as possible, you need vehicles and mechanisms that allow you to achieve that. However, sending a lone Land Raider up against your enemy will most likely see that Land Raider wrecked before it gets close enough. Sending two would increase both their chances of surviving but the points cost would be very high, but with an improved chance of at least one of them hitting home.

You may also try the foot slogging approach, but to me this relies heavily on their being plenty of cover on the table and units that can move quickly and face up to a lot of shooting before they get into position. For a foot slogging army you will need plenty of ranged fire power to provide covering fire and to find all the cover available, possible using cheaper units to shield your more expensive units running behind them. 

A good, solid army list will not be created without some experimentation, but this very experimentation can lead to many a situation where you can discover more about your army than you thought you knew. An army list compiled with a particular aim (with a back up just in case!) will have more success than a random collection of units that combine with multiple objectives in mind. It makes sense when written down, but how many people starting out would have one maybe two units running around on their own trying to flatten their opponent, while having the rest of the army sit back and try picking things off at range, just to see their whole army get wiped out pretty quickly? Possibly not that many, but I did and have now evolved my early lists to give me more balance and support than I originally had.

What makes you decide what units you are going to take, or do you only have one list and make that work against all armies? Do you consider what you want to aim for before writing your list, or does it change depending on your opponent? Id like to hear more from you guys, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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