Friday, November 16, 2012

Sniping Big Targets with Big Guns

Hey everyone, I thought I'd chime in with another look at how 6th edition rules have really changed the "scope" of the game.  Today's topic is about sniping.  With high-priority targets really meaning a fair bit these days, it's fair to say that the game has taken it upon itself to push for a change here.  We can see this with the new inclusion of the "Precise Shots" rule.  A lot of weapons and/or anything wielded by a named model will have this ability to hope for some sixes to pop up on those to-hit rolls.  But while the sniper rifle is not a bad gun... it's not the real subject of my discussion.  Yes, even the powerful Barret 50 cal or the 40k equivilant will have to submit to the awesome power that is sniping with one of these...

 Yes, that's right.  Artillery has become one of the greatest weapons to remove models that you really want dead.  "But How?  Artillery weapons don't have Precise Shot...?!"  Well there is another change to yon 40k's rule set that allows these big guys to punch just the right guy.  Simply put, the change of wound allocation to the new "torrent of fire" system makes all difference.  Barrage reads much like it has that wounds are allocated as if the origin of the shot came from the center of the blast marker.  Now its a simple process of placing that big pie plate centered on a model you really don't like, and let fly.  On a hit, you start stacking up wounds on the squad... and the first to go will have to be the guy you centered it on.  Admittedly sergeants can still attempt to "look out Sir" their way to safety, but seeing how large blasts can often hit upwards of 6-8 models on average... that's hoping for a lot on their part.  Beyond that, it's a great way to make that special weapon or heavy weapon guy start taking those wounds very quickly.

While some armies might not have those immediate include units like IG, lets stop to think.  Even the little Whirlwind might be worth considering now.  Even if you find yourself in a Marine-heavy environment... this little guy can start placing S5 pie plates over very crucial targets, and should you be facing Xenos... the sniping ability is almost overkill.  Just about every army other there has some form of barrage template.  As I said before, IG have some extremely potent ones.  I myself have always been a huge fan of the Basilisk.  Add to this new found ability to no longer need blasts to be centered on hulls to do tank hunting, and all of a sudden, the basilisk is looking mighty good right now.

They also managed to add to the accuracy by altering how to determine shots.  It was once you could not fire indirectly in your minimum range... that's gone now.  Instead they simply lose their ballistic skill reduction from the scatter should they be inside that range.  This again makes those units with these barrage weapons even more scary.  Granted, most of these vehicles are on fragile chassis, so you'll probably hide them as best you can... but lets not forget that these weapons do not "need" to see you to hurt you.  This makes them great at hunting those stragglers that got away, and have hidden behind some wall somewhere.  On top of that, you might be able to break a unit's cohesion, and force models to move.  This could pull them off a point somewhere, or even stop them from firing a heavy weapon should the right conditions come about.

While there are some limitations, overall Artillery-style units became extremely good.  In my opinion, they might even overtake the Leman Russ as the bulk of the tanks you'll see in IG lists.  That said, the Russ is too good not to see, but I digress.

These units have a new found power to devastate units with not only sheer power, but the added benefit of hitting the models in a unit you really want to hit hard, all from the relative safety of cover.  Corvus is driven to rage by how good these guys have become, and while I have always had a love for the Earthshaker... even I can see how they have become a bit "too good."  I won't claim they're OP, as they still have the glaring weakness of vulnerability.  If you an land a hit on most of these vehicles... they'll go away pretty fast.  It's just hard to hit them in a lot of cases.  They rely heavily on terrain, and even if they can find a solid piece or two in the deployment zone, a skilled opponent will see where those places are, and can attempt a solid counter-tactic.  Remember also that barrage shots can only hit the top level of ruins, so if you see them across the table, bunker down on the first floor where and when you can.  It's not always available, but when it is it will help to alleviate that rain of pain.

This did spark an interesting discussion, which we were amused to see pop up the next day on BoLS.  I guess it's a feeling we all as 40k communities are feeling right now.  Marines are lookin' a bit meh considering the rules at this time.  Don't get me wrong, they still work.  But given the nature of their units having around 3 dudes that matter followed by 7 redundant bolter-toters... they are very vulnerable to these weapons that sneak past their expensive defenses.  Couple this with a few other changes, and the Marines lose out a little overall.  But I might have to make that a separate story.

How about you folks?  Seen any Artillery popping up lately?  What are your thoughts on the Artillery Sniper Rifle shenanigans?  Did GW do this specifically?  Or was this just a moment of "Oh.... oops..."  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  While I'm not pleased to see my unit of choice might become the super awesome, must-have unit that everyone will want to run 20 of... I'll still run my tank.  I loved it before, and I'll love it now.  Just don't tell Corvus... he'll Decent of Angels my tanks ten ways to Sunday :P

Oh, and on a final note.  If you Imperial Guard players out there want more than a laugh... and really want to see a unit that is unexpectedly reliable at yielding results... try out the Deathstrike Missile.  It packs a really mean punch, and can often turn a game in your favor... half of the time on turn 2!  Never underestimate a S10 AP1 weapon that drops an 8, 10, or 12" blast that allows no cover.  No one is safe from this beast should it fire... be it man, machine, or man-shaped machine.



  1. I've read that Fritz from Way of Samhain is going to be running three Death Strikes with his new Mordian list.

    Personally, I've had fun sniping with Mortars.

  2. Not sure I'd ever run three of them, but God almighty, I can only imagine how scary that'd be if they all fired at once. Just watch the models fly off the table...

  3. I have been reacquainting myself with a squad of 3 biovores..3 large blasts using multibarrage rules is brutal against massed infantry

    1. Biovores are a very solid choice out of the Tyranid codex. I think the only real issue is that there are a pretty hefty number of units that are. The great thing about them is that they're cheap.

      I'd be afraid of seeing a unit of those guys across the field, and they'd soak at least one round of my high powered fire. In the end, that's a win for your monstrous creatures.

      I hope at some point people try out a pure horde nid list. I think it'd rock pretty hard right now. Back em up with the Tervigon, and watch the enemy fall to a torrent of fire.

  4. I really do thing this was part of an accidental logical conclusion. It makes perfect sense for the artillery shell to fire from the center of the blast, given that that's how artillery work. Likewise, the torrent of fire rule works logically in the same way. The rules interact in a realistic and sensible way, but unfortunately, in my opinion, this is one spot where I wish for a little more abstraction, due to the fact that supposedly highly inaccurate weapons are now the best snipers in the game.

    1. Even though I use them, I'd argue that it's be nice to see something like a 30 point unit that can guide one heavy support choice (so 1-3 tanks per unit taken) to act as spotters. The unit could be fileded anywhere, much like units in an infantry platoon.

      I'd give them the following stats and rules. They'd be taken as a purchasable upgrade to anything in the Heavy Support Section that is classified as Artillery (Basilisk, Colossus, Griffin, Medusa). Those tanks can never "hit" They always scatter, even if a hit is rolled. They may reduce the scatter if they can see the target, as per normal, but otherwise they always scatter the full 2D6. If an arrow is rolled, add an additional D6 to the scatter.

      Artillery Spotters
      Unit Type: Infantry
      Squad Size: 6
      Wargear: Flak Armor, Las Pistol

      WS BS S T W I A LD Sv
      3 3 3 3 1 3 1 7 5+

      Special Rules:

      Precision Strike
      The unit can forgo it's shooting to accurately direct the artillery unit it is fielded with. If the unit does this, the artillery unit may treat it's line of sight as coming from itself as normal, or from the spotter unit. In addition, if a hit is rolled, the shot resolves as a hit instead of scattering, and arrows no longer generate a further D6 scatter. Note: A Master of Ordinance may not utilize this ability.

      This would be a nice way to keep the flavor of artillery with a way to take out the spotters and decrease the accuracy of those potent killers. Basically without them, all shots resolve much like the Master of Ordanace. Thoughts?

    2. Looks solid to me. I'd be fine either seeing them attached to the artillery battery or attached to the infantry platoon, as I feel a significant case could be made for either position. The points are about spot on, maybe 35 or 40 would be better, but I do realize that this is basically a tax on the artillery and that they're down to pistols only, so 30 could be the magic number. The dual sighting perk is nice too and is a fair park for what you're having to keep alive. With a unit like this being added, I don't even know if I'd mind arty ranges going up, so long as there was the stipulation that either spotters or the gun its self had to see its target to utilize the precision granted by the spotter team.