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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Armies in 5th: Basics Part 5: Synergy




This has been kicking around for a while on my word prcoessor and there have been some recent posts on other blogs about it but let's see if I can add anything and continue the Armies in 5th series. The concept of synergy is hard to put a finger on, particularly differing it from your army's makeup or composition. Afterall, assuming all of our bases are covered in anti-infantry and anti-tank with most of our units capable of some sort of duality, the synergy seems inherent in the army. Well let's look at something first. Dverning wrote a nice little piece here about Troops. I've covered this in my Army Comp One and Two posts but what should be highlighted is this:

"Troops are often the bland, common, grunt soldiers of the army. Everything Troops can do, selections from other Force Orgs do larger, faster, stronger and louder. "

I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times but I'll say it again. Troops are not the killy in most armies and generally spending 1000 points on them is fail. Dverning is spot on with that line and I think it deserves a cookie or something. I see so often people spamming Tacs or Ork Boyz or whatever and it just doesn't work because your killing power is just plain bad. This is obviously bad army composition as your army can't kill as well as it should but it affects your synergy, too. You now have to make sure the rest of your units are REALLY killy and generally that means focusing their jobs and losing in duality.

So, we've covered how you want to set up your lists on paper but now we need to look at how they work on the table. It's great having a list with 6 units all of which are equally good at popping tanks and infantry but not if they can get picked apart by your opponent. Here is where a "theme" comes in and one of the main reasons I'm against most Hybrid lists (obvious exceptions being IG & Tau). So assuming you've followed the advice around here from my Army Comp and you've got all your bases covered in anti-tank, anti-vehicle, blocking, screening, sacrifical, etc. how do we make sure your army has good synergy?

Easiest way is army movement and their tempo (aka speed). If everyone can move 12" they are at an obvious advantage to an army where half move 12" and half move 6". There are obvious exceptions here with static units which bubble wrap and shoot well (Long Fangs, Infantry platoons, Kroot, etc.) but for the most part your army should be a single whole; we are gestaltists right? This is where Hybrid IMO falls apart. Whilst Hybrid BA and SW look good on paper (the TWC are arguably faster than mech and BA jumpers move essentially the same was their tanks when you consider chassis length) there is room for the differences to be exploited. So when your army is placed on the table and you are playing with it, you want it to flow. The army should seem to inately work together, no matter what you or your opponent does. A classic example is a Mechdar army. Every tank moves 24" and for the most part is all about shooting your opponent whilst staying alive but the weak link of every Eldar army is Fire Dragons. They are the lynchpin for without them, S6 doesn't get you very far against AV14 all-rounders. However, the Eldar army as a whole works in a very similar way. This is the synergy or theme of an army. If the army has good synergy there will be no times when an opposing army can exploit you significantly. If you have static long-ranged units like LF or Broadsides, it's built into the army. Poor army synergy would have those guys left alone when versusing a shooty list as the other SW run across the table but they are then very vulnerable.

Furthermore, by running Hybrid you are often offering your opponent's guns ideal choices; there are both infantry and tanks to shoot at from the get go. With this concept in mind you want to try and deny your opponent this happy pleasure, much like a refused flank. By playing an Ork horde for example, any opponent who has gone to town on meltas is going to be screwed (so against a balanced army...nope). So this generally means little in the scheme of things as it should even itself out but as a very specific army type (i.e. horde or mech, etc.) you are able to target what is most effective against you over other units.

This does seem trivial as the most balanced of lists generally have anti-tank and anti-infantry spread across them (look at LasPlas RBack spam for example) but by making sure your army is moulded as a whole, you have a one up on any army that is not (looking at you rock armies!). Whilst this is not to say the rock armies are bad (2x TH/SS in Raiders for example is a good list) nor does it help you against other balanced lists, your opponent doesn't look at your list and immediately go "this needs to die." Even with good army composition, if you don't have synergy, certain things will stand out.

Now. Most good lists will never have perfect synergy. Look at the Eldar example or TH/SS Marines or any army that enjoys the balanced and competitive label. It's impossible because certain parts of the army are going to have to do certain things. However, the more synergised your army and the more targets you present to the enemy, the harder it is for your opponent to exploit your army and the more likely they are to make a mistake. Overall, this is really an add-on to the composition posts but I think it is important to cover, especially when I'm trying to explain why I don't like BA hybrid. The more opportunities your army has to fall apart, the worse. Sooner or later you will come across that situation in a tournament and it will happen for all armies but by hedging your army more through appropriate application of synergy, makes it less likely to happen.

15 pinkments:

MasterSlowPoke said...

Do you think you could do an article on Hybrid guard? I've been trying to divine how exactly how it should work through your articles that mention it, but it'd be a lot easier if you addressed it directly.

Kirby said...

Will do. Whilst you're waiting on that (should do it tomorrow if I have time) read the below link.

http://kirbysblog-ic.blogspot.com/search/label/Imperial%20Guard

That's a list request that is built around hybrid with some reasoning behind the logic which might help to start with.

Bröm said...

Some army can take the majority of their point in troops, it depends of the codex :
Ork : I often play a full boyz army and it work like hell, who can counter 180 boyz with gazghull as leader (6" waaagh for all) and a kustom force field ???

Eldar : More avengers = More wave serpent, that's all... I see lots of players fielding nearly the half of their point in avengers in wave serpents and it runs like hell, hard to counter in objectives missions, and in kill point it is hard to kill wave serpent too

Space wolves : 10 grey hunter with 2 melta on rhino that cost less than 200pts wtf ??? In 1000pts 5 squad of 10 make lots of peaple, lots of melta, and with counter-attack their are good in ranged or close combat...

Imperial guard : Same here, For 155pts your have 10 veterans with 3 melta in a chimera.

Blood angels : Assault squad are troops, can take 2 assault weapons and a transport like rhino for only 15pts, A 5 man squad with power weapon, melta and a razorback with lascan-TL plasma make them at 180pts, you have only 5 guys but well stuffed, with great mobility and... sanguinary priest for boost of course !

In the other codex I agree that it is a waist to spend 1000pts at troops, but you must not generalise this fact to all dex, all phill kelly and a lot of 5th dex has great troops !

Kirby said...

Ork: Anyone in meched?

For the rest, sure those troops are fine but there are better things. You spent 1k points on DAVU Serpents and you've got 1000 on Farseer/Dragons (which take up 600 of that)/Prisms/Falcons. Less killy.

That's the point. Spam troops and your army is going to be weak in a certain area. You don't need more than 2 or 3 GH/ASM/Vets in an army as your army starts to lack in other areas.

Chumbalaya said...

Good stuff Kirbs. I gotta let you know when I can get more testing on my hybrid :P

Brom, Orks hordes are terribad. No support, no range, no mobility. You stomp bad armies, but that's it. I find myself spending less and less on Orks Troops. I need the support more and I can just use Nobs instead of boyz and call it done.

More Avengers = less FDs, Falcons, Prisms, Seer Council. Sure, bolters are fine, but you can't make an army out of them.

GH don't have powerfists, so they end up suicide melta units. Meh. I'll get spendy on my Loganwing, but that's cuz WG rock.

IG can do massed Troops very well. Infantry and Vets are great.

BA: Still need support, namely from Preds, Dreads and SHP.

The_King_Elessar said...

Very good article.

MagicJuggler said...

Trukk boyz are terribad in assault. You pretty much *have* to take small Meganob teams alongside them (so you have a mobile unit to pull attacks from your fragile Boyz) to be worth taking, as losing a Trukk mob to a unit of *Termagants* is not fun. This makes target priority rather simple for your opponent as a side effect.

Bröm said...

I play against good player, and I can tell you with orks, 30 boyz with nobz power claw and boss pole for 220pts is so nasty. The 5th edition added the sprint with that you cover 7-12" a turn. With thraka, your army waaagh! at 6" so 6 move + 6 fleet + 6 assault = 18" in total so you have a descent mobility ? I've won a tournament with this lists, I had some difficulty with an full mech eldar but the game finished on a draw and if there was a 6th turn the victory was mine (there was 1 falcon contesting my objective and 1 in his side, all the rest was broken to piece)... really you cannot do the same job with nobz and boyz, nobz are good against elite ennemy, but against a ig army I don't think a nobz squad of 400+ pts (including transport cost) can do the same as 60 foot ork including 2 nobz with Pclaw and of course a KFF (Could you imagine the amount of firepower you need to kill 62 wound T4 with 5+ cover save ?). Trukk boyz are bad idea, charging with only 12 boyz and losing 6 before you can hit the ennemy is not very interesting I think.
About other army, can you tell me for space wolve why all sw player spam the 10 man twin-melta squad in rhino for less than 200pts if it lacks of power ?? What squad can do this better at this cost ??? DO you think stormtroopers (2 assault weapons) can do the job better than veterans (3 asssaut weapons) in ig ?

Well I don't agree with you, troops could be good, really impressive, the only difference is that they are not very specilized (but there may be some exception)... they can be anti-tank squad, boyz can take out a rhino very easily, veterans too, but they have not for this role the effectiveness of nobz or fire dragoons, but the fact they are not specialized they are like the jack of all trade (I don't know if this is the good sentence, I'm not english ^^) that can do other job after their first task done.

Chumbalaya said...

That "uber" Ork unit is on foot. Even with your 1 turn Waagh! a mobile army is going to run circles around you. Circle the wagons, go 12" so you'll hit on 6s and then you get counter-attacked, shot/burned and charged. No Retreat's a bitch.

Nobs don't have to be tricked out to the gills. 5-8 with a PK or two, FNP and a Waagh! Banner can kill a lot more than normal Boyz and they can actually reach assault in their BW.

KFF is pointless on foot Boyz, just screen with Grots for a 4+. Cover means nothing against flamers or stuff like Hellhounds.

SW players spam GH melta suicide units because they are bad players :P GH can't get dual melta and a useful fist (1 attack is mega lame), ergo they show up, melta something, and get munched on by any halfway decent assault unit or Dread/MC.

Not all Troops are flexible. Ork Boyz can't catch a Rhino, let alone pop it reliably. They are slow moving bodies that can kill infantry, and that's it.

Kirby said...

Bröm you're still missing the point and what I'm saying. We are not saying Troops are BAD but making more than half your army around them IS.

Let's say you've tkaen 5 of those boyz squads. 225 for Ghaz. That's 675 left. Lucky you, just enough for 45 Lootas. That's a terrible army. I don't know how you are taking down tanks because they simply can't. Run does not make foot armies fast, nor does a single fleet move during the game. I'm blocking your movement from T1 and shoving templates everywhere. When I assault you with any sort of decent assault unit, I avoid the Nob and crush you through No Retreat. I am tanks into you all the time so you can't get off assaults and you've only got 3 fire support units (it honestly doesn't sound you're taking those either).

GH w/2x melta in Rhino is a fine Troop but don't take 1000 points of them it makes your army one-dimensional. This is what I'm saying. The more points you spend on things like T-Fexes, Hive Guard, Lootas, Kanz, Preds, Speeders, Dreads, Dragons, Prisms, Crisis Suits, Hammerheads, Destroyers, etc. = your army has more firepower. Sure you can max out on Troops and try and play a "you can't kill my mass of Troops on these objectives" but it's not going to work all the time and you cannot damage the opponent as much as he can damage you.

Bröm said...

Why lootas, they have no mobility at all, If I want to play lots of boyz, take some choice to lock the targets at melee, deathkopta with rokkit launcha... also I play a kommando squad for the rear attack with snikrot,and some kan's too (3 in with grotzooka or rokit launcha it depend how many kopta I field)... laybe you will fight against an all boyz army in the near futyre, you'll understand at that time why playing a T4 that can make 4A at S4 in assault for 6pts

Kirby said...

I've played against a pure Boyz army before (including Ghaz). Quite a few times. I've played Ork armies with horde boyz backed up my Kanz/Dreads, Lootas, Buggies, Deffkoptas, Kannonz. I've played against BW spam or Trukk spam. Nob Bikers. Shockingly, none of them give me challenges because I'm more mobile than you.

You can tie up a max of 3 units with those Deffkoptas and I'm not going to give you the opportunity to land those on units I value. Eat my screens. I then get to run circles around you because you are slow as hell. When I get into combat, I charge you because of this extra mobility. I will do more damage to you more often than not and then your No Retreat kicks in and I double my kills. Btw, your PK, is on the other side of your mob so it's not in combat.

Hordes simply do not bother balanced armies. If they do, they aren't balanced. A real assault army would eat you for breakfast. Ask Tyranids or BA or SW. Even when they aren't assault based they laugh at Orks because they are actually capable of launching assaults where they want and how they want. They can take a beating as well. And it's a lot harder to avoid them because they have good suppressive or pure shooting and are mobile. When Orks go mobile they still fail.

There have been so many posts and comments on this, it is ridiculus. Read them, then if you still think Orks are awesome, particularly their Troops, e-mail me.

Kirby said...

Oh and Lootas are the best thing Orks have going for them. The ability to reliably shut down a tank a turn (and hopefully crack it open) for Orks who fail at anti-mech, is well...good.

Read the Ork in 5th articles. They are archived in the top left. Then use the search function for Orks are labels.

Auretious Taak said...

Part 1 of 2 (stupid character limits!)

Brom said: "Why lootas, they have no mobility at all, If I want to play lots of boyz."

Dude, you're boyz at 1,500pts can't deal witha fully meched army of 12+ vehicles, and yet the mech army runs rings around you and focuses firepower to eliminate 1, maybe 2 Ork units a turn. Lets give an example of a crappy (imho) mech force like this, common enough that you'll see it, but uncommon enough because it isn't ultra-competitive in a competitive non-comp system and frowned on in a comp system because ZOMG! 15 Vehicles at 1,500pts TEH CHEESE!!!:

Space Wolves, 1500pts (fine only 13 vehicles {they can get 19 at 1,500pts} but flexible and balanced):

HQ: Rune Priest, Living lightning, Murderous Hurricance - 100pts

Elites: Dreadnought, 2xTwin-linked Autocannons - 125pts

Elites: Dreadnought, Twin-linked Autocannons and Multi-Melta - 115pts

Elites: 6 Wolf Guard: 3 with Combi-flamers (in GH units), 3 with combi-meltas, rhino - 173

Troops: 5 Grey Hunters, Flamer, las/plas Razorback - 150pts

Troops: 5 Grey Hunters, Flamer, las/plas Razorback - 150pts

Troops: 5 Grey Hunters, Flamer, las/plas Razorback - 150pts

2 Land Speeders, Heavy Flamer, Multi-Melta - 140pts

1 Land Speeders, Heavy Flamer, Multi-Melta - 70pts

1 Land Speeder, Heavy Flamer, Multi-Melta - 70pts

Whirlwind - 85pts

Whirlwind - 85pts

Whirlwind - 85pts

1,498pts

180 Ork Boyz? Yeah, you have to get within rockkit range or power klaw range, so? I camp on my board edge after setting up a single land speeder as far forward as possible if the scenario warrants me pushing you back 18", then I just zip away. 3 Whirlwinds kill 30 odd orks a turn and cause you are so clumped they really REALLY enjoy themselves. The HF spam, full mech spam backed up by flamer spam means you have to blow the vehicles up to get at the guys inside and even then the turn before you get the charge off the marine player jumps the few guys out and back pedals whilst pushing tanks up to take the brunt of the charge before moving in and flaming you to death.

Loota's will fuxor up that gunline something fierce. Point here is we're playing 5th edition and Swarm armies died ages ago sometime in 4th ed. Tyranids can get away with it being both faster and better in combat then you especially when all their synergistic buffs come into play, but for 220 pts, I have 22 Hormagaunts with AG+TS, 22 guys 44 attacks, 22 hit, re-rolls on the others looking at 33 hits total, 4's to wound woith re-rolls is a nice 25 odd wounds...because they have the higher initiative. Go ahead, lay into the hormies, who cares. We've still killed more then you.

Auretious Taak said...

Part 2 of 2


Now, lets also assume I've a Swarm Lord nearby or a Tyrant with Old Adversary, as well as some termagants, just naked, near a Tervigon with AG+TS. Both the Tyrant and the Tervigon are within 6" of the Termagants, we'll assume there's a full unit of 30. You charge. Good for you, within 6" of the Tervigon means use his leadership of 10 for the termies and they have counter attack as well, plus furious charge and poisoned 4+ attacks...so they counter attack and there's 60 attacks at you at I 5 and str 4, re-rolling failed to hit rolls because of Old Adversary from the nearby Hive Tyrant, so 45 hits, and now 4+ wounds with re-rolls on the failed wound rolls cause of that beneificial AG boost with the TS boost and suddenly we have 34 odd wounds against you before you get to attack.

Funny thing is, those Termagants are just 150pts compared to your boyz which are 220pts, 70pts less and they rape you entirely.

How this relates back to Kirby's article is Synergy within a list. The support elements of the Hive Tyrant and the Tervigon synergised perfectly to make an otherwise unthreatening unit a serious threat, one which you just died upon. Now sure, you're gonna argue but that's not fair as the Tyrant costs a minimum of 195pts and the tervigon costs a minimum of 180pts but the fact is your boyz would struggle against both, especially if supported by the 30 Termagants as a bubble wrap unit. If the Tervigon has 15 more points pumped into Catalyst on those Termagants you are absolutely maggotted.

Tyranids are the exception to the general rule however, but only when fully combined with the synergistic relationships built into the list mechanics within the Tyranid Codex.

Kirby, i was disappointed that your article was supposedly about synergy but didn't explore synergy in terms of mechanics within each codex, instead all it did was harp on about how crap troops are by themselves and how there are better things in other FOC slots. really, we all know this and this doesn't tell us anything about synergy.

Perhaps you could actually explore synergy in terms of support units and support mechanisms/abilities within a codex as opposed to just saying in essence 'Troops are shit. better stuff elsewhere. Throw em together to support each other. HOO-RAH!'.

If you'd done that, Brom wouldn't be harping on about how he won a "tournament" with a shit list. News Flash people, just because you win a tournament doesn't mean the list you had is good. Infact some tournaments are so full of fail it's not funny. Half the 'ard Boyz tournaments reported on so far in the UDS this year are the perfect examples, some lists got through in 1st place which at other tournaments would have been tabled in 3 or 4 turns without fuss...

Auretious Taak.

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