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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bubble wrap units; why they work


Posts by em_en_oh_pee after my post.

Seriously. First off stop with the metagame. Quoting myself here:

"And everyone needs to stop with the metagame. The good 40k books can bring an army to the table that can beat any other army on any given day. If you play in Area 1 where there are 99% Orks who play horde and you take more templates to deal with them it's called tailoring, not adapting to your metagame. You go to Area 2 where everyone spams mech and meltas with min/maxing on troops and your flamers are essentially useless and you lose but Area 2 plays Area 1 and they can't deal with all the infantry so they lose even though Mech > Orks. Then Area 3 comes along. Every player there plays a balanced list and they can beat Area 1, Area 2 and Area 3 whilst Area 1 and Area 2 are only going to have a chance against Areas they are prepared for.

Adapting to your area is not a metagame, it's tailoring. And when you go to a tournament you will fail if you don't look at the rulebook and army books and make a list that can tackle any list thrown at you. That is the "metagame." It's called 5th edition. Not Austin, Texas or London, England or Sydney wherever your local group is. If your local group does have a large amount of a certain type of army or list take a balanced list and see how you still win and when you don't play the predominate army type, see how you still win.

It's annoying. Anyways, onto bubble-wrap units and why they are good.

A bubble-wrap unit is a unit on foot (yes foot) which uses the 1" keep away rule, unit size and their bases to make a cushion between midfield and your army. There are a few ways to do this. The most basic way is to take your unit and slap it down in front of your army with little space between. This keeps melta out of 2d6" (though not MMs), forces units to assault the bubble-wrap unit first and keeps DS units further away from your important units (i.e. Daemons who like to assault, melta drops, etc.). Notice how this setup fits within 12" (pitched battle) and can therefore be done by ANY infantry unit and does not have to be built into your army list. Obviously DoW relies on a good run roll to be able to achieve the same effect but a thinner layer of infantry can do just as well with the addition of not moving vehicles max speed and rotating.

Another setup is essentially the same but allows a cushion between the main army and infantry unit. This can push meltaguns completely out of range, gives more room for maneuvering behind the bubble-wrap unit and is even more effective against certain alpha strikes (i.e. Air-Cav vets). You have to be careful with such a cushion though to make sure you do not make yourself too vulnerable to fast skimmers. If they can get within the "safe zone" with a 12" move, that's not good and you should move your bubble-wrap unit back so skimmers cannot get to your main army. Now this setup is harder to achieve in certain setups such as pitched battle but can be more easily done with infiltrating units (like Kroots, Rangers, Scouts, Ratlings, etc.) and are generally considered in the army list itself (i.e. part of it's role if needed is a defensive screen).

The final type of bubble-wrap setup I will cover here is a simply extension of the previous two. Use more than one unit. The best way to do this is to expand the 2nd example I used and create more "safe zones" between the infantry lines and main line. This makes the enemy have to go through multiple lines to get to your main army and can offer more tactical flexibility and mobility. Furthermore it makes tank shocking through your bubble-wrap much more dangerous.

Now let's further examine why such a defensive line is good. We've already pointed out that it can sometimes completely negate meltaweapons but is generally going to make them less effective by removing it's extra die for penetration. It also keeps close combat armies away from your more valuable units and gives you more time to mobilise your army for a counter-attack. When setup correctly it can also lead to killing zones. You don't care if your bubble-wrap unit dies, it is essentially meant to. If it dies in close combat, even better but you want to make sure the unit which killed your bubble-wrap unit isn't going to be able to claim cover. You want them out in the open. With some armies this is less of a concern (i.e. Tau thanks to markerlights or an SM army with GKTs as a counter assault, etc.) but you also want to give your bubble-wrap unit as much cover as possible so they last for as long as possible (a defensive screen which doesn't last past turn 1 and allows meltas to get into range by turn 2 isn't very useful now is it?). Remember you are more than happy for a bubble-wrap unit to go to ground and get that better cover save. So you have to consider the trade-offs of setting up in terrain with your bubble-wrap unit or be confident enough that you can scoot that unit out of cover with tank shocks or simply blow through it's cover. Remember you can also get cover through the double defensive layer and having the first layer in cover and only 50% of your models need to be in cover to get a cover save. Below is an example that gives the IG infantry cover (but the ACs are in the open) and when assaulted will leave the Fex in the open and the Hormaguants in cover. The guants can either be tank shocked out or simply flamed to death by hull heavy flamers whilst the Fex will fall quickly to a coordinated AP3 strike (i.e. a couple melta vets or Vendettas).

Overall a bubble-wrap unit delays your opponent which gives you more turns to shoot and more turns to move which in turn is likely to give you more turns to shoot.

Edit: I had a conversation with Wild[TO] about this recently and although I don't have the quotes on this computer he essentially was trying to tell me defensive layers are bad because people can't use them right. Alongside em_en_oh_pee from Warseer you can see why they are not more common. Anything is bad when used wrong. If I take 5 TH/SS termies in an LRC and never move it of course it's bad. Defensive layers have a single drawback, when they get assaulted, survive that assault phase and die in your assault phase. But that is still an extra turn. Combine it with the extra turns it's likely to have already provided you and your ability to move away from the prolonged combat and that's a weakness I'm willing to have exploited. This does not mean your mobility is hindered. It does not mean defensive layers are bad. This does not mean Mech is bad. This does not compromise your mech. This does not mean I'm agreeing with Jwolf from BoLS. This is how bubble-wraps should be run and what they do for you when run correctly.

Buy you more time to move and shoot (and launch your assaults if you wish).

That helps you win.

9 pinkments:

Kaney said...

Hey dul, can u post an effective IG list which includes a bubble wrap platoon, i cant seem to fit one in in 2000. Chears

MagicJuggler said...

Thought: Why not a T-formation for some bubble-wraps? Set part of the unit in a line in cover, and have another line of infantry that forms a direct line from the melta unit to the target they would wish to negate? Force them to move at an angle?

Kirby said...

Sure Kaney when I have time next I'll post one up.

Magic do you mean a reverse T with the long part sticking towards the enemy? This would certainly work against foot units (i.e. that Carnifex and Hormaguant model) as if they wish to assault they are further out with their assault or as you suggested have to deviate somewhat to get closer to your main line. Meltas in transports less so as they can be tank shocked out of the way and you want to have a thick line when you get tank shocked so you can surround the tank if you pass your test (+ DoG if you so desire).

MagicJuggler said...

How *does* the Tank-surrounding work? I am lost. It says if you wreck a vehicle, then they try to disembark (within 2" of the hull if not ramps)...would that mean they could place themselves on top of the original model? You can't really trap passengers anymore, right?

That said Kirby, you could still make it work against Transports/Skimmers of the Non-tank variety. You know, like those pesky Land Speeders or Valkyries known for their alpha-striking killiness.

Raptor1313 said...

Bubble wrap is a shooty army's best friend.

With Tau, I pay about 224 points for a couple of large kroot squads.

If they do anything other than take potshots at nearby infantry, it's 'die'. (Other than that one time they won a protracted assault against chaos raptors...).

An IG bubblewrap platoon costs close to the same, but actually brings heavy weapons to the table, which is a nice bonus.

Honestly, I don't see much to add to your points, Kirby.

I'm also 100% with you on the metagame; tailoring may make things easier, but ONLY if you guess right. Better hope your flamer-spam doesn't meet Black Templar Land Raider Spam, or you may cry and take your minis away.

I believe you have to DISEMBARK from the tank if it's wrecked. If you have nowhere else to go, THEN you can be placed in the tank wreckage, but if the enemy has completely surrounded it you're going to be harder-pressed to keep all the squad alive. The simple exercise is to slap a bunch of infantry around a Rhino/chimera hull 1" away, remove the hull, and see how many of your own infantry you can slap in there more than an inch away from other folks.

Kirby said...

My computer is working! O.o I'm so good at fixing things... anyways

@Magic, assuming the infantry unit passes it's Ld test and depending on it's depth and tank movement speed, the infantry unit essentially wraps around the tank. This is why tank shocking should happen at the ends of the screen so the tank doesn't get surrounded and the bubble-wrap sort of gets bunched together in the middle (think of that scene in King Arthur where the Knights shoot at the edges of the Vikings to make them clump together and break the ice). This is also why you should put the ends of bubble-wrap units in cover (roll a 1!) or a board edge so there is still some trapping of the vehicle.

And as Raptor1313 alluded to, you disembark before the vehicle is wrecked (p67) and you can't disembark ontop of a vehicle, so on a wreck they are gone if you've completely surrounded the vehicle. With an explosion you can generally get 1-2 lines of models in depending on tank size.

The em_en_oh_pee guy keeps arguing with me that countering the "metagame" isn't tailoring even though it's simplying tailoring on a bigger scale and why metagames in 40k shouldn't exist. You can take armies which can beat any other armies unlike other games. I'm going to recall my Magic: The Gathering days in early 2000-2001 (7th edition was just coming out when I quit). I had a really good blue deck that owned any sort of build-up deck (i.e. Green Tramples) as it could remove all your creatures, enchantments, lands and hand with an unblockable creature (with enchantments on it + counterspells, etc.) but against a Goblin deck I might as well pack up and leave as the deck can't handle anything that puts out lots of damage quickly. To make the blue deck be able to deal with faster decks I'd have made myself a lot weaker versus the slow decks and since Trample decks were so popular at the time I'd take my loses to Goblin decks. In 40k you can counter everything. The "metagame" is 5th edition.

Kirby said...

Just thought I'd post this quote from StrangleWeb.

"A quick 101 for the uninitiated. The definition of ‘Metagaming’ is effectively using external factors, or other information outside of your actual game, to influence your pre-game or in-game decisions. This almost sounds like cheating, but it’s nothing of the sort. Let’s say you are playing ‘John Doe’, who loves fielding Plague Marines. You therefore bring along a few extra Plasmaguns to get around his FNP. You have just been metagaming. You’ve used your external knowledge of your opponent to make a decision integral to the game, in this case your army selection."

That's tailoring. He even admits it next paragraph.

"Then there’s the ‘bigger’ metagame, that isn’t tied to one particular player. This is the one that is discussed all over the web. This is where you tailor your force to face the style of army you are most likely to face. If you were to come to Warhammer World at the moment on a Wednesday night, and just play a game against a random opponent, there are 3 armies you would more than likely face. Tyranids, Orks and Space Wolves, but most likely Tyranids. That’s the Metagame in Nottingham. Give it three to four months, it will most likely be Blood Angels."


Miika said...

Like to comment on this old text here. I was wondering about my own bubble wrap units giving cover to anything that i shoot with the tanks that are protected by the bubble wrap. Like those tanks shooting tyranids in the last vassal picture.

Kirby said...

To the infantry Nids, yes as you are shooting through things. To the MC Nids, only if they are 50% covered, which infantry generally do not give.

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