Monday, January 2, 2012

Man(iple) Up! Part 5


While my recent trip to the Game Preserve did not result in triumph, I thought I would begin with a triumph from history. In the picture, from HBO's series Rome, Julius Caesar is celebrating his victories of the the barbarian Gauls with a ceremony called a triumph. These were generally only once-in-a-lifetime honors for generals and the pinnacle of their careers. Their faces would be painted to show their near divine status. Triumphs were chances for feasting, games and self-promotion for the general and some of the more successful generals would begin fighting the Senate and each other for sole control of Rome.

We get the title emperor from the latin 'imperator,' great commander, and many rebellions began with a legion declaring their general imperator and invading Italy.  Especially in the case of Julius Caesar and Pompey Magnus during their civil war, a legion's tactics would change drastically based on how their general thought.  Caesar was daring and took massive risks while Pompey was calculating and preferred to take the more sure course of action. 

My choice of commanders reflects a bit of Pompey and Caesar in that one of my choices was made to be more aggressive and reward risk taking while the other was more concerned with countering other armies and protecting my army.  My offensive choice reflects a bit of paranoia about my tendency to, let's say 'roll somewhat poorly.'  Let's begin with the defensive choice, a standard librarian.

 This choice was almost entirely a 100 point counter choice against some armies, specifically grey knights and daemons.  The librarian does not bring much in the way of offensive power, at least not with the powers I chose for him, though he can be relatively offensive for his price with other powers.  For my purposes, the most important things the librarian brings to the table are his psychic hood, null zone and gate of infinity.

His psychic hood is useful in trying to stop any opposing casters from casting their powers.  Assuming the opposing psyker is leadership ten with no special bonuses that enable them to cast more effectively, the librarian's hood drops the probability of successfully casting from 91.68% to 53.48%.  While it is still more probable that the opposing caster will succeed in casting, it becomes much less probable.  The real fun comes when facing the grey knights, as their leadership and reliance on psychic powers makes the librarian much more viable choice as a defensive caster.  First off, the grey knights' non-headquarters choices are leadership nine psykers meaning they only have an 83.35% chance to pass their psychic test.  The advantage of one point of leadership effectively reverses the odds of the librarian winning the opposed roll-off, meaning the grey knights have a 41.67% chance of winning the roll-off and a total of a 34.73% chance of passing their psychic tests.  Admittedly, the most important power for grey knights is generally fortitude, which is cast off leadership ten, so they will still generally succeed, but their odds are greatly reduced by the presence of a librarian.

The second great matchup for bringing a librarian is against the daemons, where codex: space marines arguably shines brighter than even the grey knights, only because of the null zone power.  Now the grey knights have psych-out grenades, daemonbane, and psychotrope grenades to help them in combat against the daemonic hordes, but their disadvantage is that daemons only really shine in close combat.  The librarian gives the space marine army the ability to force daemons to re-roll their successful invulnerable saves within 24" of the librarian.  The obvious advantage of this is that most daemons rely on their invulnerable saves as their primary if not only save.  Fateweaver is such a well known, and hated, unit because he allows daemons to re-roll their saves.  The librarian cannot effect Fateweaver's casting as it isn't using psychic powers, but he can shut down the invulnerable save re-roll and cannot have his casting effected by Fateweaver or any daemon.  A librarian with null zone is the only 'hard counter' to a Fateweaver lead army in that he has the only ability to stop Fateweaver's buff to invulnerable saves.

While a psychic hood and null zone (against daemons) are generally actions to be taken whenever possible, gate of infinity is a power that can have serious drawbacks and even cost the librarian and a squad he has joined before using the power.  Gate of infinity allows the librarian to remove himself and his squad from the table and deep strike within 24" of their previous location.  I did not get the opportunity to utilize this power in the last tournament because only one was a pseudo-objective based mission called 'skulls.'  For those of you who aren't familiar with the mission, it involves objectives that can be removed from the table by a unit that is in base to base contact.  These objective can be taken by the other side, but only if the unit who removed it from the table is killed.  Gate can allow a combat squad to hid behind some terrain that blocks line of sight and deep strike onto an objective when needed.  I'll admit that I could have used gate to some good effect in that mission, but I played that game entirely wrong.

Vulcan He'stan, probably as widely reviled as Fateweaver, and loved by just as many is my choice to lead my codex marines army as he brings a bit of Caesar's daring to my tactical decisions.  I won't bore you with what Vulcan does, as you probably already know his rules, but I want to tell you about why I chose to include him in my list.  Marines are generally outnumbered by non-marines and have the duality to address infantry units and vehicles effectively in the same units.  While non-marine armies are generally able to accomplish better results in either task by using two units, e.g. fire dragons and dire avengers, the dire avengers are impotent against tanks and the fire dragons lack the ability to saturate units with fire, the tactical squad can address both threats effectively with a single unit that can divide into two to maximize their effectiveness in each task.  The drawback with having competent, well equipped models is that armies have fewer of them and the number of weapons beyond basic armaments gets to be rather small and the impact of any single roll becomes greater as a portion of the entire army's damage output.  While 66% is still a good probability, I prefer to increase it to 88% because of my tendency to roll poorly.

While I cannot say the addition of Vulcan does much beyond increasing the accuracy and damage output of most all of the army, I can say that he is my personal choice of headquarters because he encourages more daring plays.  One of the major weaknesses of my army is its lack of close combat ability, which I will be revising, but my current counter tactic is to sent my dreadnoughts into combat to delay close combat units, especially those without a close combat anti-tank solution (e.g. might of titan, powerfist(s)). Though the one unit that my dreadnoughts cannot defeat in close combat, terminators, they can buy the rest of my army time to deal with them.  The most common delivery method for terminators, barring Shrike terminator hordes, is a land raider and those are large beasts to be brought down quickly.

Even with the lauds meltaguns have received, a twin-linked meltagun at ballistic skill four within 2d6 range only has a 39% of immobilizing, wrecking or exploding an armor 14 vehicle, like a land raider.  Without the twin-linking brought by Vulcan, that probability drops to 29%.  Calculating probability properly is not about adding the probabilities, but multiplying them, meaning that a group of imperial guard veterans with three meltaguns only has a 78% chance of killing a land raider.  To deal with a land raider in my list I would commit at least two dreadnoughts to move blocking and attempting to kill it.  Only with three twin-linked meltagun, or all three of my dreadnoughts multimeltas, do the odds increase to 100.98% of an immobilization, wreck or explosion, which mind you, does not mean that it will always happen, but that it should happen.  Keep in mind that this is all calculated without the impediment of a cover save which would halve the odds off the bat.

As it stands now my list does have some serious flaws that I will go into in my next post and how I will be correcting them, funds allowing, to adjust to my opponents.  I apologize for the delay in writing and posting this article, I've been away from a good internet connection for about two weeks.  I hope to have the next article to you faster and that it will live up to your expectations.


  1. I would like to issue you a friendly challenge, Heretic.

    Make what changes you feel you need to make to your list and I will do my best to write a list that adheres to maniple as you've described it using the same codex as you. I'm very interested in seeing how this may pan out. 1850 points, correct? I'd like to see us play against each other and find out who can maniple best.

  2. With each one of these I read, I again think, "this is rather similar to the Defensive Drop Pod lists for Black Templars". I'm looking forward to the upcoming ones.

    One note though, the chance of three Dreadnoughts shooting at a Land Raider is not 100.98%. You can't get that chance. Given your 39% chance for one, three would actually be 77% of making at least one of those results.

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