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Thursday, May 6, 2010

How To: Suppression Fire



I’ve talked about this before but clearly it needs to be stated again. Suppression fire is good and generally a necessity in today's 40k environment. Let’s take a nice long look at it; what it does, how we get it and how we can attempt to overcome it. Clearly some people still are not getting the concepts of 5th edition and how they relate to army building and tabletop gaming. Again, if you want to play in a 4th edition world or with your minis in whatever way you want, go for it. It’s your money and I’m not going to stop you. When people start dropping complaints about armies being OP or cheese (whilst bringing bad armies) or claiming things are competitive when they are not, it get’s annoying. I’m sure I’m beating my head against a wall here but for people who actually come here to learn, this concept is key in a lot of lists and why you see a lot of medium strength and high rate of fire platforms out there (i.e. Hydras, Crisis Suits, Rifledreads, Hive Guard, Falcons, etc.).


So, what is suppression fire? In real world terms (or games like paintball) it’s all about keeping your opponent’s head down (people in the army please don’t string me up to dry =D, it’s an example). This gives you more ability to mobilise and/or advance upon your enemy’s position. In some computer games like DoW, suppressed units move slower or cannot fight as effectively. In 40k the concept is similar but is focused on Mech. Mech rules 5th, it’s a simple fact and you need to accommodate for it whilst still having a balanced list that can deal with super units, horde armies or MC-based armies. So how does it work in 40k?

We’ve already stated it’s focused against mech and we know what’s good against mech, high strength and AP1. However, those guns are often expensive, short-ranged or in limited supply so we need to be able to damage mech outside of these guns. We know the higher the strength, the better but because of 5th edition vehicle damage chart rule changes, vehicles need more of those higher strength shots plugged into them to get a likely damaged result. Even then, it’s still unlikely (even with AP1 weapons). So whilst most armies generally have their heavy hitters in extremely high strength weaponry (9/10) and/or AP1 guns (i.e. railguns, meltaguns, etc.) these weapons are often overkill against lower AV and are much harder to spam. Therefore, a niche needs to be filled. We obviously want our higher S firepower going into higher AV if possible (remember, basic understanding of math and target priority are key) but we also want to limit our opponent’s ability to combat us and not be having a huge expensive S10 AP1 gun firing at a Land Speeder.

Enter suppression fire. As stated before, it’s high rate of fire and medium strength. This allows us to significantly threaten lower AVs (i.e. Dakka Preds are somewhat effective against speeders) but when built correctly, allows us to roll on the vehicle damage chart for vehicles (we don’t care what the result is, we just want that roll). Whilst we are unlikely to wreck/explode said vehicle due to lack of AP1 and lower strength (less likely to get a pen and no modifiers on a strict table) at the minimum we stop it from shooting. This is suppression fire, rendering your opponent’s mech less effective by minimising its movement and shooting capabilities. Your main anti-tank is not good at this because it’s less spammable for one reason or another and focused on destruction. If you could do this cheaply (i.e Immo spam) and still cover your anti-infantry bases (i.e. Immo spam), awesome. Most armies however, cannot and thus suppression fire is needed. Take a look at Tyranids. They rely on suppression fire to advance and get their claws stuck into things. During their advance they are likely to destroy a few tanks here and there but 10+? Unlikely. However, they are quite capable of shaking+ 5-7 tanks a turn. That’s generally more than half of your opponent’s mech. Not bad, particularly when you consider Tyranids are immune to this style of suppression fire and the internet generally hates on them.

So, how do we get it into our army? Suppression fire is all about reliability. You know your meltaguns and railguns are going to fail you (anything but a 1 syndrome) at some point in the game, that’s what you get for playing with dice. Whilst this may happen, we don’t want our suppression fire to do so as the less fire coming into our army, the better. We need to be able to count on our suppression fire continually suppressing our opponent so our main anti-tank/assault/etc is able to get to the enemy or have more chances to take the enemy down. There are three main points to therefore consider when arming yourself with suppression fire.

1) The more medium strength shots, the better. S7+ is generally the minimum here. Whilst S6 has its niche (i.e. Eldar), you really need to spam it if you don’t have much anti-tank elsewhere. Furthermore, the more shots the better and we are looking at a minimum of 2.

2) The more reliable the platform based on ability to shoot, the better. This generally means infantry shockingly enough. However, most infantry currently suck or need to be in a transport which limits their number of shots (Infantry Platoons, Crisis Suits, Hive Guard, etc. are obvious exceptions). This means outside of infantry we want the highest and mobile AV as possible whilst also having significant range. Being mobile allows you to reposition if you can’t shoot, AV minimise damage and range allows you to snipe and be out of range of your opponent. Also how easy it is to create cover saves? A Land Raider sticks out compared to a Dreadnought.

3) And the more likely they are to hit, the better. This means twin-linking and higher BS. Sometimes higher BS is too expensive or not available to an army and at the same time, twin-linking needs to be taken into account with number of shots (i.e. it’s generally better to get more shots, than twin-link; i.e. Crisis suits, Prisms, etc.). What this does is generate more rolls against the AV which mitigates the generally lower S and lack of AP1 in ability to damage the tank. For example, how often has a single meltagun or railgun shot missed when you really wanted it to hit?

Now that we know what fire suppression is and how to go about including it in our lists, how do you defend against it? Cover is the first option as it doubles the statistical requirement for number of shots. If it normally takes 3 shots to get a damage result on a tank, now it takes 6. For some armies, this is damning. Therefore, things that can generate cover, bring their own cover with them, can train behind each other for 3+ cover, etc. are all generally important. Furthermore, saturation is key. Looking back at the Tyranid example, if you have 4 tanks (like Ail-Shan’s list) they are very likely to be shaken. Whilst this can be mitigated by high AV (i.e. 4 Land Raiders is a different cup of tea), saturation is your best defense. The more tanks you have, the less likely your opponent is going to be able to suppress them all and if you have significantly more tanks than their suppression fire is capable of dealing with, you have a significant firepower advantage as your mech stays mobile and shooty.

To summarise. Suppression fire is a necessity of 5th edition due to the dominate play of mechanised armies which few armies can get away without having (i.e. Immo spam). Suppression fire is focused on reliable, high rate of fire, medium strength weapons which minimise a mechanised army’s ability to move, shoot and generally wage war(hammer). By limiting the number of tanks your army takes, your army becomes more susceptible to being suppressed whilst having a large number of tanks requires your opponent to bring more suppression fire than they are often capable of fielding in a balanced list. Remember, for most armies suppression fire is second to main-anti tank fire. Without suppression fire, most armies fold to mechanised armies as they simply cannot slow them whilst a mechanised army that hasn’t taken an opponent’s suppression fire into account during their list building, is likely to be out-manoeuvred and out-gunned.

7 pinkments:

chaosgerbil said...

High ROF weapons are also better for thinning out infantry then single lascannon / meltagun shots.

The_King_Elessar said...

Good post.

Will said...

This is a good post. It is nicely written and well thought out. I need to build some more Autocannon teams for my Guard army!

Chumbalaya said...

My Loganwing is all about the suppressive fire. Tons of missile launchers can damage/suppress nearly anything, giving the TWC time to run in and smash things. Plus, missiles can be used to blast infantry effectively.

clt40k said...

Great post!

Kirby said...

True chaosgerbil, taking 3 Rifledreads and AC/LC preds over MM Dreads and Dakka Preds not only increases your anti-armor ability but you don't loes out too much in your anti-infantry (some combat ability is lost).

Glad everyone liked it...if only these posts were simple to make lol.

Gunn Bot Mk IV said...

Hydras! Even the hull heavy bolter can shake/stun rhino bunkers and razorbacks.

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