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Monday, May 10, 2010

How To: Anti-tank

I thought we might do a follow on from the suppression fire article. We’ve established how to minimise mech advantages of extra mobility, durability and firepower by having enough reliable, medium-strength weaponry designed to minimise mech’s ability to move and shoot. Whilst this type of firepower is unlikely to cause significant damage and destroy tanks (which is really only likely in the low AV range), it allows an army to operate more effectively. However, at the end of the day you need to make tanks go boom and glancing them to death is a thing of the past (an LR for example needs 6 weapon destroyed/immob results to = a wreck). Now some armies do this eventually through a mass of high strength attacks in combat but these armies then REQUIRE a massive amount of suppression fire (i.e. TWC SW lists or Tyranids) but most armies do this through specialised anti-tank weapons. This article will look at what constitutes an anti-tank weapon, how to maximise your anti-tank capabilities in your army and minimising your opponent’s anti-tank.

Anti-tank weapons generally do 2 of 3 things (and preferably all 3).

1)    Disable high AV protection (I.e. high strength, melta, ordnance, lance, etc.)
2)    vehicle damage chart positive modifiers (I.e. AP1)
3)    Reliability (i.e. re-rolls, more shots, etc.)

Now we shall note these 3 things don’t neatly divide all weapons into good anti-tank or bad anti-tank. Lascannons/missile launchers (who only meet number 1) are generally good, cheap transport pingers but shouldn’t be relied upon for ‘true’ anti-tank duties. At the same time, Lascannons on a vendetta are a decent anti-transport platform. On the flip side, a Railgun on a Hammerhead (meets number 1 and 2) is only a mediocre anti-tank platform because it has the huge opportunity cost of excellent anti-infantry firepower, limited number and is expensive all of which orbit’s the fact it needs a 3+ off the bat to do anything. So whilst these 3 aspects of anti-tank weapons are not all encompassing (I.e. we need to consider availability, opportunity cost in purchasing and firing, cost, etc.), they are a good guideline into what we are looking for whilst remembering what they do cover is high AV targets, the unreliability of dice through spamming or re-rolling and compensates for the restrictive vehicle damage tables in 5th edition.

So assuming our suppression fire covered in other aspects of our army, we are seriously lacking in true anti-tank power and will suffer against mech armies or anything containing high AV. One way to overcome this high AV is in combat as high front or side AV can be ignored on most tanks in combat. Obvious exceptions being walkers or anything with high AV all-around (I.e. Land Raiders, Monos, etc.). Whilst it is easy to get high strength weapons in combat, it is hard to hit tanks that move and it is therefore unreliable at best unless you can force the tank to sacrifice shooting for moving or not move (I.e. suppression fire). Even then, a large number of attacks are needed to reliably punch through armor (or high strength/penning abilities), be able to hit in the case it does move and overcome the vehicle damage chart. This is why units like TWC, Trygons, Fiends, etc. are all capable anti-tank units in combat but still rely on their army for support. If your army is using such methods of anti-tank the rest of your army needs to be very reliable in shooting and able to very effectively suppress your opponent, otherwise you are hoping for 6s to hit (this is why Orks don’t work).

But what about more conventional ways? Like guns. Assuming we’ve covered our rough guidelines with our guns, we need to be able to implement these guns and encounter a major problem. Most of these guns generally sit on tanks and suppression fire can stop that sort of shooting. To make 40k not become a game of “who goes first wins,” firepower also needs to come in the form of infantry who can often hold one of the best anti-tank weapons of the current game; the meltagun. The more the merrier but these guns are severely limited in range and reach and to be extremely reliable need to get very close. This means they need to be fast in some form which generally means sitting in a transport leaving itself open again to suppression fire. Not too much we can do about this as most infantry on foot just doesn‘t work and if we have enough mechanised saturation either our tanks get to shoot or our meltaguns get to get closer.

This leads us to having a balance between long-ranged anti-tank, short-ranged anti-tank (including assault) and suppression fire. Furthermore, if an army can take effective anti-tank fire on infantry which is long-ranged and therefore hard to suppress and not limited by range (I.e. Lootas, Broadsides, etc.), it generally has some sort of advantage over certain pure mech forces (see Hybrid articles). Whilst some armies can load up on certain styles of anti-tank (I.e. Immo spam is all shortranged) and not be at a disadvantage, there is generally an overlap of suppression fire/long-ranged anti-tank backed up by excellent short-ranged anti-tank (I.e. meltaguns) and for the most part, armies which deviate from this layout are significantly disadvantaged. At the same time an army should not overload on anti-tank. Chaosgerbil raised a good point in the suppression fire article; not only does suppression fire excel in shutting down mechanised armies but they are not at a huge disadvantage against infantry armies whilst an an army spamming meltaguns without anti-infantry support is going to suffer against infantry based armies (even if they aren't competitive).

So how do we counter this in our army? Again the most obvious answer is having saturation and having more targets than your opponent has guns but since the current edition of 40k puts so much emphasis on meltaguns (cheap, basically ignore high AV, AP1 and can be taken by the bucket load, what’s not to like?), you can account for the majority of an opponent’s anti-tank to be short-ranged. Utilising cover (or taking it with you) and techniques such as blocking and delaying techniques such (I.e. bubble-wrapping) can therefore keep your opponent further back and allow your army to operate at peak efficiency. Delaying/blocking techniques are particularly effective for armies who’s primary anti-tank is long-ranged and suppression based (often with back-up short-ranged anti-tank) such as Tau or IG.

Overall, most armies need to support their suppression fire with short-ranged anti-tank, specifically meltaguns whilst still  maintaing sufficient anti-infantry firepower. Anti-tank weapons need to be able to overcome tank defenses in high AV and the vehicle damage chart either through strength, special abilities, number of shots or vehicle damage modifiers whilst still being and in the best case scenario, not be limited by range. Since we don’t live in an ideal world these all need to be balanced whilst weight by cost and availability and still include some defensive capabilities of our own. A glass cannon is not what we have in mind for a balanced army!

5 pinkments:

gustmic said...

Good article.
Just wanted to point out Tank Hunter USR as belonging to point 1 rather than point 2.
Keep up the excellent, comprehensive work!

The_King_Elessar said...

I'll read the article later, still enjoying the picture...

Chumbalaya said...

Good stuff, as always.

You need to have your anti-tank varied up so you don't end up running across the board to get into melta range since it's all you have. Having even a few autocannons/missile launchers/lascannons in your backfield to slow down/shut down enemy armor will help you considerably.

I don't have any melta in my Loganwing. All my AT comes from missile launchers coming out of my ears. S8/9 (Tank Hunters) is from from the best against heavy armor, but I can glance and suppress all day while nailing lighter armor, plus my TWC can run around slapping things with S10 powerfists should I need it.

Kirby said...

Thanks gustmic, missed that.

It is a nice pic yes, TKE =D. And don't you mean S10 THs? Who takes PFists these days lol.

The_King_Elessar said...

Yeah, good article. Yes, it did take me until now to get around to it, lol. Painting. :)

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