Monday, December 12, 2011

Make it count

So in response to Heretic's Maniple method, I thought I would write up a quick article to define the approach I take to the battlefield which I have no real name for, I simply call it "Making it Count."  I don't mean to undermine the Maniple in any way, this is just a different method to think about.

The picture above illustrates one of the key features of this style which I'll get back to in a minute, but in a nutshell this method is about maximizing the use of every unit and every model to the best of your ability.  This way when you spend points on models, it is more likely that they are playing an active role in the game.  So let me first describe Active vs. Support (which seems self explanatory, but here goes).

Active Models
These models are those that contribute to the mission or game at hand.  This can be all manners including offense or defense.  For instance, a space marine in a combat squad who holds a missile launcher is an active model.  An Ork Mechboy with a K.F.F. giving vehicles and infantry nearby is being active.  These units contribute in some form or another to the overall actions of your strategy.


Support Models
These models serve less purpose and are generally only taken because the unit forces them upon you, or you are trying to be defensive.  The other 4 space marines along with that missile launcher serve no purpose when the target is a vehicle (generally) or the target is over 24" away.  They serve as surplus wounds before the missile launcher is in danger.  Likewise, any model that is purchased and is rarely used will more than likely fall into this rut of only being good to die before the models wielding more than standard issue wargear.

My theory is to build lists that will maximize the number of models being used in every unit and to provide as much power in each unit, so that as much of my list is taking an active roll in the game.  This often means taking units that serve very specific roles is important.  However there is more than just selecting units that have a very specific goal.

This mentality also tries to utilize as many units as possible in the overall scheme.  Troops for example are often overlooked as viable choices for being active.  From what I see on the web, and indeed at local tournaments, people generally use their troops sparingly and look at them as being there for objective grabs and the occasional support shots here and there.  This is where "Making it Count" comes in.  Admittedly I play Templar, and in my opinion we have one very excellent choice.  With the ability to bring very large squads, we can quickly make good use of every model in the unit.  And while most every army can utilize their troops in some fashion, this mentality must come in the list construction phase.  It is important to note that troops are generally pretty cheap, and while their stats and weapons may not be the best... you can generally get a pretty healthy amount for relatively low cost.

For example, I played a round against a good friend of mine this past weekend.  ZerkeX had dusted off the old TH/SS Shrike list and brought it to bare against me.  I was pretty sure I would get mopped up pretty handily, but I had one thing on my side going into it.  His TH/SS termies numbered 20 (2 ten strong units).  Quick math says that's 800 points.  Now he had also hit me with Shrike and a unit of assault marines putting the overall assault somewhere in the realm of 1200 or so.  But I had my entire army right there, sitting at almost 1850 still.  I think I lost my land raider around the time the termies got there, but beyond that I was still pretty healthy on points.  My units strike at initiative as so they could all strike before getting hit by the hammers.  I was able to get enough hits to cause quite a few of his termies to go down before they could swing.  This is a pretty big deal as those models could not be active other than to keep other members alive... which in a way is active, but less so than getting to strike.

This is by no means a slam on Zerkex, as he played solid.  The dice were fairly unkind to him and generally I had pretty good luck in the fight; but I can say I was forcing quite a few more rolls on him as I just had a lot more models in the engagement.  Again in no way his fault, as that is just the way you have to deal with that kind of rock-style unit... a surplus of shit.  And since I'm usually pretty full of shit.. lol.  And while these attacks lacked the high-powered punch the termies had, they had the advantage of being much more in terms of quantity.

The mentality here is to say that while not all units are good, it is generally possible to bring a fairly "standard" list without too much power building going on and do well with them.  Take a few things to give some perks here and there like chaplain re-rolls or libby Null Zone and you quickly find the ability of those around get pretty reliable.  That's why I hate the idea of 1 unit vs 1 unit comparisons when we know that a particular unit will generally be working on the principle of being combined with another unit.  My blobs never hit the table without a chaplain with cenobites attached because that's just too good to pass up.  It's like they were made for each other.

Overall the picture says a thousand words as we see some lowly plaid wearing guy beating up some very skilled looking opponent.  I think too often people pass up the opportunity to utilize their models efficiently and end up playing uphill against opponents who utilize more points within their list by simply involving more models.  Do I still take something like a meltagun?  Sure, but it means that that unit will have an answer to mech in the even the tank hunting units fail.  They are more fail safe items (which don't hurt to have to put scary S8 wounds out there) vs Vulkan marines who build to use those shots as their primary damage.  This tactic means its more likely that the marines in my list will be able to participate vs those of Vulkan... not always the case, but it is the case I have seen in my experience.

So how best to maximize?  First utilize as much specialization as you can.  Take units that you know are good at something, and fulfill a need for your army; this way other units can focus on other needs.  Second, take units that will be used.  It's good to have support when you can, but remember that units and models than don't hinder the enemies progress are points spent doing little to nothing.  Even small units designed not to be shot might find themselves under the gun if the rest of the army is dead due to being at a points disadvantage.  Third, look into units with an open mind, and think of them not as a single choice, but how they will work in conjunction with those around them.  I take 2 blobs in close proximity because I know it is possible to answer one, but hard to answer a second.

Overall, I generally feel that when I am on my side of the table with my "standard" units, I feel like I have a good sense of board presence both in the sense of overall area I cover, and the ability to make a difference.  I can run my big scary unit of termies on one flank, and a couple blobs and a chaplain on the other and expect similar results from both... that says something.

So what do you think?  I know some armies out there have more reliant or potent troops, but how do you feel about the good old troop units being an active part of your army?  I'd be interested to see how people feel about this one.  If nothing else, the meta might struggle against the unconventional.



  1. I was robbed...but in all seriousness, I played overly agressive, when I should have done nothing more that sit back on the skulls that I had picked up.

    Past that, the idea is very sound, and is what I did to great effect with the Imperial Guard. No I didn't run those really pretty I wanna have these tanks like some players would have. I simply brought a thought out plan of melta vets and a transport that would hopefully get them there. It was a solid tactic, and I think that it worked out just fine for me both times that I played it. Scoring me second, and then fourth in the two tournaments that I ran them in.

    A Good article, and I appreciated the read. Thanks for the info, and I'll try to pass this one along as much as I can.

  2. What comes through to me in this is magnification, how can units be used in adjunct to empower each other.

    Consider melta or chain fists for busting tanks though using Black Templar as an example.

    Do we buy 3 rhinos with 5 man squads with meltas inside
    or do we get a land raider with a lord with chainfist and 10 guys inside.

    They are both viable options. Units need to empower and support each other - the greater the blend and empowerment - the greater the whole picture.

  3. My apologises for taking this off track but I am referencing the beginning of this thread on the maniple which focused on battle formations.

    I thought this may be interesting for you because it talks about some rumours for Black Templars 6th edition and this may have relevance to those battle formations.

  4. The writer seems to have a dark disposition to the codex as it stands. I'll be the first in line when the new codex comes out, but it is in no way because the codex is bad, just limited in it's useful unit selection. Overall it was an interesting look though.

    And the idea of Making it count it to try to use as many points you spend as possible. As a side example, I wouldn't suggest running all TH/SS termies, as it's very possible that since you're entirely I1, you'll loose models before they can swing. This is why I'd take at least a few LCs as you can allocate wounds to them and they will generally get to attack, so even if they die, they got to swing... but it goes beyond just the unit itself.

    If in a LRC or LRR which is likely as they're the best and really only transports they have access to, you are spending points to get the frag assault launchers. If your termies are all I1 anyways, those points are wasted.

    Basically, it's a matter or determining where your points are being spent, and how to use as many models, and therefore as many points as possible. I believe in the simplicity of overwhelming odds to help tip the balance of war in my favor. Perhaps that's why I play horde Templar :D

  5. The idea behind 20 Terminators is that it is bloody well impossible for you to down everything. The whole of the army is supposed to strike as one cohesive force. There is the shock troop that hits the first round of the game in the assault marines. Past that it isn't supposed to land one squad at a time. If I have the ability to not have to try to play a wonky mission, then there is mathmatically no way that a unit should stand up to me. Shrike and his assaults are there to die. They are simply there to bottleneck the enemy, and force your hand into moving the way I want you to. Then I can effectivly either make you play my game, or you will run, allowing me 20 termies to come in and help Shrike and the boys out. Either way is fine with me.

    Eventually you will either have to save your units by playing my gaem and eating an assault squad to have 20 hammers hit you at once, or I will just simply continue to tie up a squad, and then assault next turn with the 20 hammers. You can runish from this list. Making it pretty well impotent, but the norm for this is me tabling an opponent. I've played the list over 20 games, and have failed to table 3 times. Also only dropping 3 games with the list. It is frightening. Most players look at it and flee thinking if they can get away they can have a chance. They don't see how fast those guys can actually move.

  6. It's all well and good, and I'm not saying to run 50/50 TH/SS and LC, but the point was to just run a few (in a 10 man squad, probably just 2, maybe 3). You still have plenty of models to place the 3+ invulns on and you then have models that strike at I4. These models can have wounds allocated to them during the assault so that even if they die, they still got to swing, which means the points paid for those models were used more efficiently.

    Admittedly if the enemy is above I4, it's not going to make a difference, but if they are I4, it will be effective. If the enemy is below I4, it's even more effective because now you're striking before them and are therefore reducing the number of attacks they throw back and helping the odds by reducing the number of armor saves you have to take. Less dice to roll means less chance to fail. Even 2+ saves fall apart to sheer volume of attacks

    not saying 10 TH/SS isn't going to work, it's just more probably that a mixture of the wargear will be a if even only a little, more efficient in the use of points.

  7. I actually was cooking up a wall of text for this that touched base on a little bit of ZerkeX's post and Godfrey's as well. However, just based off of what I have read above. I would only like to add that I feel both sides have their own advantage. Admittedly, Godfrey is right in the sense that bringing LC termies to the field does give you that extra advantage in CC.

    However, I also feel that TH/SS termies are also an advantage because while granted sheer volume of shooting attacks are a problem, TH/SS termies can handle a better array of shooting weapons versus the LC termies. Plus the fact that Shrike termies are quicker than most, should allow them to cross the table and get into CC quicker, which is their primary objective.

    Finally I would just like to add that I've only been playing the game for a little over a year now, so tactics are a thing I'm still working on. However, I feel like this debate comes down to risk vs. reward. Just my two cents.