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Sunday, May 2, 2010

How to: Jumper Armies

Blood Angels has thrown a spanner into the works regarding Vanguard Veterans. In the Space Marine army they are regarded as vastly overcosted, not competitive in a competitive FoC slot (I’m looking at you Land Speeders!) and their role as a hammer unit can be done better by TH/SS Termies and are really seen. In fact, to make them work you need to take some sort of homing device and hope it doesn’t get destroyed and it doesn’t really gain your army much. If a unit needs to be in assault on T2 you have an unreliable unit enacting the assault (50% chance it comes in on Turn 2) which is being supported by a unit which needs to be within 6” of the unit that is being assaulted anyways. The SM army has the tools to throw very tough rock units into the fray (Raiders + TH/SS Termies) or the ability to shoot down what it wants dead. Why spend points on VV when they are really only cool models and or fluff bait? Because SM don't have ASM as Troops or any of the goodies covered below (i.e. FNP/FC bubbles, Blood Lance or Descent of Angels), SM simply cannot do a Jumper army. If you want a Jumper army, use Blood Angels.

Enter Blood Angels. With a simple mechanic change on an army wide basis (Descent of Angels and therefore making pure Jumpers viable), VV are now an almost essential choice for a pure Jumper army and are even decent in more balanced or hybrid lists (though I’m not a fan). Let’s look at why.

They are still IMO overcosted (JP = 5 pts please?) but Heroic Intervention combined with army wide Descent of Angels has made mass deep striking possible. Take away Heroic Intervention and the list loses quite a bit of potency. Whilst Descent of Angels backed up with FNP/FC Marines totting meltaguns who can move 12” makes Deep Striking viable, it doesn’t make it good, it only makes it more reliable (particularly the re-roll for reserves). Mech armies still have the added layer of protection, don’t rely on point units for bubbles and don’t have movement/assault restrictions on the turn they arrive. Whilst 1D6” is a lot better than 2D6” scatter, you’re units could still end up 12” away (pretty crappy if one of those units had your FNP/FC bubble). How are Jumpers able to overcome this?

Through Heroic Intervention! This allows Jumper armies on the drop to tie up units. Whether these are units popped from tanks, bubble-wrap units or fire support units such as Broadsides or Long Fangs, it is less firepower levelled at your army and more damage from you. It also starts to slow your opponent’s movement. The Jumper’s initial drop outside of VV is all about tank busting. Whilst against hordes, Jumper armies generally succeed through having such a high number of FNP/FC models (Orks I laugh at you), against Mech it is paramount their defensive advantage is disabled ASAP and meltaguns are the best weapon of choice here. This generally means you’re not impacting that much on the damage that comes your way (except against tanks like Russ variants, Fire Prisms, etc.) as infantry just bail out and shoot you next turn. VV alleviate this to a certain extent and should therefore be considered an essential aspect of a Jumper army.

There are a couple ways you can run VV. Mini-super units w/a mix (or max) or shields and power weapons, minimised units w/Inferous Pistols for tank popping and a couple of PW and/or shields. I generally lean towards the 2nd option in most lists below 2500 as you want to have points for Libbys, ASM, FNP/FC, etc.

We’ve also already assumed you’re taking FNP/FC bubbles. They are pretty important too as they make your Marines keep ticking although their obvious weakness is generally being ICs and can be picked out in combat, their short range and AP2- (which is becoming more common). In any BA army FNP/FC bubbles become a trade-off between firepower and survivability. The more FNP/FC bubbles you have, the more likely all your Marines have it but the less units you can field. Honor Guard are a mitigating factor here as they can put out impressive firepower themselves but obviously become a huge target. Without FNP/FC bubbles your units are more vulnerable to firepower on the drop and also as an army aren’t as impressive in combat. A rough 16% increase in survivability and generally attacking first on the charge is huge. Combined w/VV, they make this army tick.

We’ve already touched on what else a Jumper army needs, so I’m going to make it rather blunt here. Bodies and meltaguns. Bodies is where your torrent comes from in CC (hence the added bonus of FNP/FC; you live longer and do more damage) and meltaguns are essential to crack tanks (which is why this army hates mechdar). On your initial drop you are going to lose models, it is inevitable. You’ve landed in your opponent’s face, dropping some meltagun shots into their armor and slammed into their weak links with some VV. The army is royally ticked and since you’re really close, you are most likely to be on the receiving end of a lot of firepower. The more bodies you have, the more likely you are to have surviving meltaguns, FNP/FC bubbles and Pfists (not to mention actual bodies…you know?) going into the next turn which allows you to continue to impact on the field significantly. The most obvious way to expand your model count is through ASM. These guys score, bring meltaguns, a PFist and 10 bodies, exactly what the army needs. Don’t go overboard though as it’s 235 points for this…not exactly a bargain or efficient by any means but does the job.

This brings us to the final two units I think should be considered by a Jumper army (I don’t think DC are ever an option though you could take Chaplains [HQ or Elite] but…ya. FNP/FC bubbles are better force multipliers and Libby’s provide more in the HQ slot), Sanguinary Guard and Librarians. Librarians are another essential unit for a Jumper army (another reason I think Chaplains/Captains aren’t viable, though Dante obviously is) because they disrupt castling with blood lance. Blood Lance is death to tanks lining up which means you either death to tanks w/Blood Lance or they spread out and you get to drop more meltagun shots where you want. This also makes bubble-wrapping harder as you have a bigger vehicle foot print to cover. Backed up by utility spells such as Shield or Unleash Rage and you can protect yourself from incoming fire (and importantly not require yourself to land in terrain) or improve your combat prowess. They also give you access to Honor Guard which are important to provide more FNP/FC bubbles and concentrated meltaguns.

And Sanguinary Guard…I didn’t like them initially but after some thought, they do have their place but they need to be used in conjunction with the rest of the army significantly (no way!). Without an invul, they aren’t a good super unit but w/FNP/FC bubbles and power weapons, do have good small arms survivability and impressive damage output. Add in a defensive VV unit w/lots of shields, and your VV can tie up opponent super-units to delay them as the Sanguinary Guard later assault them. The problem is this becomes an expensive combination. Sanguinary Guard w/FNP really only become vulnerable to AP2 or S8+ firepower but are sitting at 40+pts a model. Combine with the already expensive Honor Guard, Priests, Librarians and VV and you don’t have many points left for ASM. It again becomes a balancing act of all of these units to make sure the army works as a cohesive whole.

Overall, @ 2k I think 3-4 FNP/FC bubbles are an ideal goal. Surround these with 3 ASM squads, VV and HG + Libbies and you’ve got a very solid list. I’ll post a variant list including Sanguinary Guard later tomorrow unless someone beats me to the punch. Otherwise you can see two lists here (one in the main post and one by GWvsJohn in the comments).

6 pinkments:

kennedy said...

I have recommended this same tactic to a guy who is starting BAngels at my store. He's tried it once, I think, and it worked very well for him. He's still experimenting with some other options, so I'm trying to beat it into his head that he needs that assault out of deep strike ability in jumpers. I'm definitely going to refer him to this article.

Chumbalaya said...

VV are nigh essential for jumpers, otherwise your opponent can hold you at arm's length with bubblewrap and blow you away.

Michael said...

I've run this type of list before, and I think it is a good list. Although I am too crappy a player to make it tick like it should. Most games I really screwed myself on deployment, and my VV failed me by not coming in when they should. It was painful.

I agree with the assumptions here though, they are all sound, and can be very effective in the right hands, just not mine, lol

Kirby said...

Practice makes perfect Micahel! :) & hope your friend gets some use out of it kennedy!

I'll be writing a How Not To today on Jumpers as well and focus on Libby Dreads, Chappers, DC and anything else I can sink my teeth into in relation to screwing up a good Jumper list.

Black Blow Fly said...

I ran a list similar to this at BoLS and ended up in the top 15 percent. I had some good draws which was nice for a change and totally demolished the other BA armies I faced. I had a chance to break into the top 10 the final game versus a classic leafblower list but could only manage a hard fought draw. I think Librarians stink. They are glass hammers at best and die quickly if presed upon. They are cheap so I guess that is why they are popular. Dante and the Sanguinor are the best two HQ for this style of play. So are Stormravens ferrying dreadnaughts. Jump BA are a scapel so it's not for everyone.


Kirby said...

Libby's provide defense and support utility. For 100-145pts (Bike w/flamer), sold. The ability to stop psychic powers, S10 in combat, 5+ cover save in opponent's shooting, de-bunking castling, etc. is well worth it. Outside of Dante and Mephiston, the rest of the BA HQs are a bit meh in generally not providing enough for their points (i.e. simply being combat beasts).

I'd also stray away from Ravens in a Jumper list as you really dilute the amount of Bodies you have. That Raven + Dread is 300+ points and you're not taking advantage of their transport capacity. Lack of DoA also means you're relying on that 4+ for it to come in. Raven lists are a different kettle of fish IMO.

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