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Friday, April 23, 2010

The Ride of the Valkyries, Part 2: "Pure"


Hey again! I've been fairly busy lately, in addition to working with GWvsJohn on our first 3++ International Vassal BatRep (international because he's in the good ol' US of A and I'm in the god ol' Middle East...), so apologies for the delay in Part 2. Today (or rather tonight for me), I'm going to discuss how to go about building a fun and effective "Pure" Aircav list. This is possibly the harder of the two types of Aircav to build precisely because you are restricted to only 2 vehicles: Vendettas and Valkyries. All other options of transport are tossed out the window (sans Deep Striking Stormies, but the issue with using them is once they land, they are now footslogging unless one of your vehicles swoops by to pick them up). Moreover, our choices of troops are severely limited as well. Hearkening back to what I discussed in the comments piece in Part 1, the Aircav army relies upon effective use and distribution of points, to try and get the most for every point spent. With that said, before we go into how to build a "Pure" list, I'm going to digress for a few moments and go through the backbone of any Army, the Troops, and in particular the choices available to the Aircav army for Troops:

CCS: Let's start simple with our HQ choice. These guys are a no brainer as we need at least 1 to lead our Army. I stick with the basic concept outlined in Part 1, so max out on Meltas, throw in a Medic and an Astropath and that is pretty much your standard Aircav CCS starting point build.

PCS: Ok the first choice for our Troops selection is the basic infantry platoon. Assuming we want to go this route, we need to buy at least 2 of these guys. Now they're 20pts cheaper than the CCS, but they have worse BS, which is no bueno. Remember we need bang for the buck. And while you save around 20pts for selecting these guys, you end up paying more in 2 ways: 1 you need at least 2 infantry squads (which will run you another 60-80pts); 2 you will probably not only fail to kill what you aim at, you'll be laughed off the table as your opponent walks over to your little Lieutenant and curb stomps him into submission. And speaking of infantry squads...

Infantry Squad: So for 50pts I get, what exactly? Oh right, BS3, no krak grenades, and at most 1 Special Weapon. So let's give them a special weapon (melta) and a PW to the Sarge. We're looking at 70pts for a unit that will miss more than it hits and will get Cleveland Steamrolled in combat. Oh and we have to buy two of these subpar squads, so we're looking at around 140pts for 1 Troops choice. Wait, that's what your basic Veteran build costs...why yes it is. But you're forgetting to add the PCS in, which jacks up the overall cost to around 200pts.

And before anyone starts saying it, HW in an Aircav force is....ridiculous. Now I like the ide of HW, and I find them fluffy, but let's remember something: AirCav relies on mobility and the ability to deliver (near) precision strikes quickly and against a small enemy front. By their very nature, HW are the anti-thesis of this. They require relative stability and time to set up. The moment you disembark your Valk/Vend, your guys need to be killing something, not spending a turn setting up that Lascannon or Missile Launcher.

Special Weapon Squad: These guys I actually find do well in AirCav lists, and I only wish we could get them at the Company level again and not as an addition to the platoon. Now the only way to field them is to buy a PCS and 2 squads, which I hopefully succinctly outlined the fail of that course of action above. So while very fluffy and fun, they get the axe (along with all other Platoon support squads), due to their requirement of needing a Platoon.

Veteran Squads: Not much I can say on this that I haven't said or shown already. These guys are by and large the standard troops choice for a fun yet competitive Aircav army. Granted it's a pure ripoff of the old IA:4 Elysian D-99 army list, but that's what happens when you introduce IA vehicles and concepts into regular 40k: builds/army lists that were once the realm of IA suddenly become the near de facto strong builds of regular 40k. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED my IA:3 Elysian army list, with Aux grenade launcher in ever squad along with a melta and demo charge, and it was extremely fun and rewarding, and even had some competitive edge to it, but those concepts weren't brought over into the new IG 'dex. Their vehicles were, as were their Veterans as Troops and their demo charges available to a regular Troops choice (to some extent, IG has it only in Vet Squads, IA:3 Elysians had it in EVERY squad...so clutch), but everything else was pretty much cut out. And since I'm on this random tangent, I cannot WAIT for IA:8 when they revamp the Elysians. Not only do all regular platoon squads get Valk/Vends as regular transports (and for cheaper!), they also get those two sweet looking Fast Attack Gun Trucks, which I can't wait to play with. So things are looking up for the Elysians....

Storm Trooper Squads: Good BS, Good Armor, Good Assortment of weapons, relatively cheap, these guys can make a nice surprise attack unit in an AirCav army. Their only drawback is that they rely on someone else's transport to move around once they deep strike. These guys aren't necessary, but they could fill in a nihe within the Army and further the fluffy idea of an Elite IG force deployed for lightning raids or reconnaissance.

With that said, here's a fail list I saw played on Vassal over the summer. It highlighted some of the characteristics GWvsJohn has been detailing about Vassal. I call it the "Realism Meets 40K" AirCav Army:

CCS

PCS
Squad
Squad
Squad

PCS
Squad
Squad
Squad

3X Vendettas
3X Vendettas
3X Valkyries

This guys had 0 upgrades to...well everything. Granted this was a 1500pt game, I was still aghast at what he fielded. No upgrades? Valkyries with Hellstrikes? Oh the fail! Seriously, the moment a vehicle got shot down or he disembarked his troops, it was game over. Those guardsmen died like flies. You try and grab objectives with the Vends and they don't shoot. Conversely you sit back to try to pop armor and they not only don't grab objectives, they become big old targets themselves. I like where this guy's head was at, and thought it could be a fun non-competitive campaign army list (of course with SOME upgrades...probably SW for the squads and such), but for something that was trying to be competitive and hope to win some games...it fell short. Here now, in my humblest opinion, is a good starting idea for a "Pure" Aircav army:

Starting off we need get our transports again. Now knowing we want to have a good amount of troops that can actually kill something, let's start off somewhat conservative:

3X Vendetta
2X Vendetta
2X Valkyrie w/ MRP


So for 910 points we've got 7 fast skimmers that have good long range AT and some long range AP. What we're looking at now is to either fill all 7 transports or fill 5 and then bolster our army with Storm Troops. In this case I'm going to do the former, to stick with filling up as many Valk/Vends in a "Pure" list as possible.

Let the filling begin:

2X Veteran Squad (all with Shotguns)Demolitions
2X Meltagun
H. Flamer
PW

Total: 300


Veteran Squad (all with Shotguns)

Grenadiers
3X Meltagun

PW

Total: 140

Veteran Squad (all with Shotguns)

Grenadiers
Flamer
2X Melta
Total: 125

Veteran Squad (all with Shotguns)
H. Flamer
2X Melta

Total: 110


This brings us up to 1585, and we now have 5 scoring units, plenty of melta goodness (11 all told), and some flamers (3 Heavy, 1 regular) for any possible riot/horde control. I went back and started toying around with Dethron's comment from the last thread. While not fully convinced yet, I do see the utility of having flamers as backup anti-horde if/when the demo charges fail in the Demo squads. I upped them though to Heavy Flamers for if I'm going to toast anything, I want to be wounding them on at least 3's, 2's if possible. Moreover, the addition of the flamers broke up some of the melta monotony the Aircav lists tend to create. Granted you still have some monotony (3 squads with 2X Melta and H.F), but these is enough differentiation (2 squads have the demo doctrine, the other is just a plain old squad) to allow for fluff / story maneuverability. We could say that 5th Squad is the reserve squad, and as such hasn't received their Carapace armor yet or have yet to receive their Demo training, and so they're given their basic special weapons until they have time to receive said training. Boom pow! Fluff fixed.

We've got 5 vehicles filled, so now we need to look at the leadership for our Army and fill another vehicle. Here I'm going to stick with the tried and true (and fairly standard) Aircav CCS:

Company Command Squad
3X Meltaguns
Astropath

Carapace
1X Bodyguard
Medic
Total: 175

Iron Hand
Total: 95

We now have 1855. 145 to go. Now we can get a Storm Troop squad here and kit them out...or we can do what I call Officer Development....

CCS
3X Melta

Medic

Officer of the Fleet
Total: 140

Coming in just under 2000 points, we've got a backup Command Squad in case the other one bites the bullet. We can also issue twice as many orders per turn and spread out their leadership bubble to help with LD tests and such. Moreover, we add in 3 more meltas and the ability to deny the enemy arriving from DS. 'Nids with Tyrants and Old Adversary giving you trouble? No more! Take away their bonus roll and make them re-roll their outflank moves. You get to dictate when/where they come. Additionally with the medic (a very fun and fluffy addition I might add), you get the joy of FNP. All told we now have 17 meltaguns floating around in this army, 3 Heavy Flamers, 1 Flamer, 2 Demo charges, a slew of meltabombs, and 15TLLC. Not to mention two LD bubbles, twice as many orders (rather order giving units), and a FC/CA bubble in case you need to get close and personal.

Tactics would be fairly similar to the "Hybrid" list. I would start 3 Vends on the board with the Straken CCS on board to ensure you get your guys sooner rather then later. In the other 2 Vends, I'd place a demo Veteran squad and a Grenadier vet squad. You can now go tank hunting if needed or objective grab with the Grenadier Vets. The I'd put the other CCS in the other Vends along with the other Demo squad. The Valks will house the last Grenadier squad and the unupgradded squad. These guys can either pop vehicles, or just sit inside and zoom around dropping pie plates on people before running to grab objectives. The Vends should keep the enemy occupied with AT worries to really gun for the lighter armed Valks. Alternatively, you could put both Gren squads in the Valks and use it as a fast, late game objective grab unit. With the better AS they should weather small arms fire better when posted on an objective. Effective fire control will be key here, and one tactic is to "leap frog" your Vendettas, i.e. have one squadron snipe the nearest enemy threat to your Valks/Vends or the greatest AT threat to them. Meanwhile move the other vehicles 12-24" to get into good positions. Next turn, reverse it and have the Vend's the moved set up and fire at the target most likely to threaten the other Vend squadron as the move or after they move. Meanwhile the Valk keeps the pressure up on dismounted infantry and light vehicles (with eithr the MRPs or the Multi-Las).

In the end, the strength of the "Pure" list is mobility, for we trade firepower for mobility. We lack diverse long range firepower (at most we can target 2 enemy per turn with our Vends), but we have the ability to move quickly to get into position and to bring our vast close range firepower to bear. It takes a good amount of careful planning and coordination to get the most out of the "Pure" list. It's almost akin to running an orchestra, for to achieve perfect harmony, everything must act in accord and at a precise moment. Too soon or too late leads to discord int eh Army and things begin to fall apart. With a "Pure" Aircav army, any and all mistakes you make are amplified due to the lack of vehicles, men, and long range firepower. If the army, and by extension your plan as a commander, lack foresight, command & control, and coordination, you will be playing catch up the whole game as each mistake builds upon, and even amplifies, those that proceeded it.

As always my dear readers, feedback and thoughts are welcome!

5 pinkments:

Max said...

Yeah, SWS are great in Vends if you're running a mixed list, but not so much in a pure air cav. The real challenge in strategy for the pure list is making the most out of your fire power as you have to (except in the case of the Valks) choose between fast movement and shooting.

Your tactics seem solid, though. Still requires a bit of luck to pull it off, but what in this game doesn't?

Chumbalaya said...

I think Straken fits extremely well in an air-cav army. He gives you a solid HtH unit to take advantage of your lightning strike, plus he turns Vets from laughable jokes to passable threats in HtH. 10 Vets with meltas and shotguns can unload on their enemy and jump in with the same stats as a marine on the charge, plus a powerfist.

Venerable said...

I really enjoyed reading this and your other IG articles. Great to get an insight into the enemy!

Does FNP offer the same bang for buck at T3? Bearing in mind that yet another 'strength band' can ignore it? i.e. S6...which can show up very readily...

Granted against anything below S6 its still just as good...but in my head, and of course I could be massively wrong, T3 FNP just doesn't seem all that great.

Does FNP in fact 'behave' in exactly the same manner for you at T3? Is it as good as at, well, even T4?

That said...where else are you going to effectively spend 60pts..

Just a thought. I love seeing the gunships on the table...looks so damn cool. I'm tempted myself...ah army ADD sinks its teeth in once more...

Venerable

Roland Durendal said...

Chumb: I agree wholeheartedly. Straken in an Aircav list is a definite must. His lack of IC status makes him a super beast, for you can easily hide his S7 PF (which strikes at I btw), in the squad and distribute wounds around, thereby making him even more survivable. This inability to be targeted is key. It means you can throw these guys at a TMC or a Greater Daemon and actually have a chance of winning. He'll end up with 4-6 S7 attacks on the charge, and since he can't be singled out, he'll almost surely be able to get some hits in. As for regular Vet Sgts, it's why I give them PW: I find having 3-4 S4 PW attacks is overall more effective than 1-2 PF attacks at S7.

Venerable: I find FNP fairly reliable on these guys. Reason being is simple: they will motly end up braving what I call BE fire (Bolter Equivalent). That is, fire that is S4 AP5 in stature. Of course there'll be S5 fire thrown in, and S6, but here is how I break it down:

How many S6 and above weapons are there in the game?
S6: Assault Cannon, Scatter Laser, Krak Grenades, Multi-Laser, a few I can't remember off the top of my head
S7: Autocannon - that is what you'll primarily see, also Plasma weapons (guns/pistols/cannons)
S8: Krak missiles, Eldar missiles, Meltaguns, Lance weapons, fusion weapons, Hellstrike / Hunter-Killer Missiles, Blood Missiles, pretty much all missiles...
S9: Lascannons, Zzap guns
S10: Railguns, Manticore shells, Medusa shells, that crazy Necron thingy..

Of course there are a few others in each category as well. But if they're shooting any of these weapons at the Strakey squad, then you should thank them. For what they are not doing with them is shooting down your vehicles. So really, most fire they need to survive is S5 and below.

Scott R said...

I'm planning a Son Tay list, with Air Cav Vets, CCS x2 w/ Straken (or Schafer if he makes a reappearance), and a couple of squads of penal legion, and Storm Troopers to fill it out if I run out of FOC slots.

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