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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Friday, June 4, 2010

How to: Blocking

I haven't been to 40konline for a while so when I did white! Smurfy sent me over to investigate an argument over blocking. Here's my short reply, blocking is good. Okay then! You can see the full nerd-rage by Wyddr & Smurfy here. I'm going to be el rational! So first off, what is blocking and why is it useful? I'd advise reading my bubble-wrap article if you haven't already as these concepts are very similar though blocking is much more pro-active than bubble wrap.

So what blocking is about is slow your opponent, generally their mech. Since Mech can tank shock this generally involves other tanks. Whilst infantry can block other infantry that is basically an extension of bubble-wrapping so we will leave you to extrapolate from the bubble-wrap article and this how you do that. If needed I can edit this post though. So why would you want to block mech? If you're a shooting army versusing an army which is particularly efficient at closer ranges or in combat, stopping egg basket units or super units can be very important. In fact, see my super-unit post here for more in-depth on why blocking is useful.

When you block mech you're slowing it's movement. It either can't move and shoots you, has to try and ram you (and if you're close that ram is low Strength) or go around you. Going around you means it's going slower than normal and/or has to go through terrain. Few people want to move their Land Raiders through terrain so early in the game as the fateful 1 has a knack for showing up. This action delays whatever you've blocked unless they are lucky with their ram and grab explodes! result(s) and can make it easier for your army to deal with the rest of the army which has remained unblocked. Let's look at a picture example from Vassal because I don't have a Land raider model anymore (FTW!).

I've used Vypers in this example because Wyddr & Smurfy are arguing over them specifically but other excellent units for blocking are Piranhas and Land Speeders. In the before shot the Vypers have used their 4" coherency rule to create as much horizontal spread as possible whilst rotating to create more vertical spread. This forces the Raider even further around than usual and the net result is a max move of about 5-6". So much for Wyddr's "thin profile of the Vyper" slowing down the Raider; rotating works. Even with one Vyper/Speeder/Piranha you're chopping off 4-5" of movement or can guide the blocked unit a direction you want. What this has done is given the blocking army an extra turn to deal with the rest of the opponent's army and if those blocking units aren't dealt with (particularly important w/Piranhas & Speeders who have meltas), they can block again and shoot. The bigger the blocker footprint (i.e. Smurfy's example of 3 Vypers) the bigger the delay. 3 Vypers could effectively halt the Raiders forward movement thanks to the 4" coherency rule. Ramming squadrons of skimmers is also out because you need multiple explodes results to get by. One is unlikely as it is.

Remember that blocking is efficient because you are applying minimal force to slow a significant portion of your opponent's force which buys your army more time to deal with your opponent's force. Whilst a Falcon might be better at blocking than Vypers, it's also a significant investment in points whilst the Vypers/Speeders/Piranhas/DE Raiders/etc are less important to the army as a whole. As Smurfy and NewHeretic state, it's a sacrifice worth taking. Now let's look at a few of Wyddr's comments and debunk them.

"Some armies (Orks and Tau, for instance) can spare the stuff needed to pull this off. They, however, are also the ones least likely to be *able* to pull it off. Conversely, Dark Eldar and Eldar armies *can* do this, but they rarely have the resources available to spare. The Eldar, in particular, should be wary of performing this little trick unless they *absolutely have to*. " 

Orks suck, let's ignore them. Tau are one of the best blockers in the game, what game do you play? *waves to AV11 front armor Piranhas w/Fusion guns & drones.* DE have 11 Raiders w/lances + 3 Ravagers and can't spare anything? Eldar have Vypers and slowing down TH/SS termies means that mass S6 you so blithely disregard is bashing the rest of your army. DE & Eldar don't really need to because of their superior firepower & defenses but have the capabilities to. Space Marines w/Speeders are in the same boat as Tau. IG don't need to block but can w/Vendettas/Valks.

"In his example, Smurfy suggested using a trio of Vypers for this purpose. Presuming they actually do this, it is reasonable to assume that 2/3 Vypers can be killed, if not all 3, by the Raider and its contents alone. This is also assuming that the Land Raider *is* alone; mine seldom is, nor are those of many of you, I'm sure. It is likely, indeed, that I have a few other things in the area that can kill the Vypers if I really have to. Now, your Eldar opponent may chuckle and say 'you just killed some worthless Vypers!' The answer to this is 'yes, I just killed a trio of nasty, long-range shooting units you flew into my face that I otherwise might have ignored--congratulations'. "

Are your contents getting out? The blockers win as you just slowed yourself even more. IDK what Raider you're using and am not going to crunch numbers, so show us the math please. Redeemer would have the best bet I imagine because their cannons ignore cover but Crusaders are generally the better buy anyway. Again, blockers are meant to die. They are a sacrifice. Yes Raiders aren't alone but they are generally the tip of the spear point thanks to AV14 and if you've spread your mech out to either side, well your army has been slowed even more as the blocking bubble will extend to them as well. One vehicle moving through cover getting Immobed and blocking can be even more effective as you close up bottle-necks. It's a 1/6 chance so unlikely but the blocking is slowing your army. There's no ifs, ands, maybes or buts. I park my guys in front of your army. You're slowed. You say you just killed Vypers, well I say I just delayed a significant portion of your army and am able to deal with the rest of your army more easily as I didn't invest as many points into blocking as your blocked unit. You do run 2 Raiders w/Termies right? Because I've created an even bigger discrepancy now.

"As someone who has played a *lot* of games against the Eldar (and very seldom lost), the idea of movement blocking is of minor concern. As mentioned in the other thread, I spend most of my time trying to engage the Eldar. When they engage *me*, things become easier, not harder. The Land Raider full of Terminators doesn't *need* to go anywhere if targets are coming to it. All it remains for the Space Marine player to do is to determine how they can destroy the Vypers (or what have you) without unduly exposing themselves to countering fire. This isn't too difficult, actually, particularly not if you Land Raider is accompanied with other units, as it should be against the kind of highly mobile forces that would try to perform this tactic."

Ah, e-peen waving. Who cares what you've done. I played hundreds of games back in the US running really bad Eldar and consistently placed in the top4 at local tournaments/leagues. That doesn't mean the list or my generalship was good, just that I was better than what I was playing. Blocking can and will go a long way and we are only talking in very isolated events in slowing super units. As Smurfy pointed out blocking has significant uses against other armies such as tri-rhinos and V blocking where an infantry unit is safe inside a Rhino wall but can shoot out of it. Please send your horde & combat unit against my 12" moving Rhinos whilst I shoot at you. Eldar are indeed a good stand-off army but that does not mean they are always going to sit there and shoot you. Fire Dragons and blocking are prime examples of an in your face mentality for Eldar and both are effective (or do Dragons suck, too?). You're still missing the point of no one cares if their blocking unit is dead. When they block, the mentality is they are dead but they are slowing you down. Bolded take 2.

I'll start to take little tid-bits out I like now from what Wyddr said just to be mean :(.

"As for the bright lances, it takes (on average) 9 twin-linked brightlance shots to kill a raider in the open. If we are playing with as much terrain as you assume, it is likewise reasonable to assume the Raider has cover, making the odds 1-in-18. These are bad odds, and relying on them to stop armor is...suspect. Fire Dragons are trouble, granted, but they are tough to get where you need them. "

I thought you won against Eldar a lot? BL's aren't for taking down tough targets they are to give you a chance to slow them. 3 BLs in most armies gives Eldar a shot at shaking/stunning/immobing those tough targets early game. If they don't, oh well. Dragons with a 24" move are hard to position how?

This from ~Sun Captain Radiant~:

"From my perspective, this tactic relies on the SM player depending on his terminators to make it into CC with something in particular, which may not always be the case. The way I run my raider has the terminators inside going only for targets of opportunity and otherwise fighting like a gunship. Like some others have said, getting the eldar close to me is 3/4 of the battle, the rest being the actual fight. When I see things like Vypers being sacrificed to limit something I don't really need, I try not to look a gift horse in the mouth, as I see Vypers as a very big threat to me in objectives games and easy points in kill point games, and having one at point blank range is a blessing indeed.

This tactic will definitely buy a little bit of time vs CC builds, but may prove to be a liability vs Hybrid and Shooting builds. "

Since we are talking specifically Marines, they don't do hybrid or cc builds. Bikes can do hybrid but then there's no CC presence. Command Squads and TH/SS termies are great CC units but they don't make a CC army. 450-900 points being blocked makes the Eldar happy. Again, they don't care if the Vypers die because they are dictating movement more significantly than you are. Would they rather have your Raiders in midfield providing 3+ cover to the rest of your force and threatening you with terminators or attempting tobe a gun boat from the back? Yup, sitting in the back is where most opponents want your Raider w/Termintors.

And back to Wyddr:

"I will decline to specifically reply to your assertions, Smurfy. Clearly we have different experiences in this matter. I still think this tactic is unwise except in extreme circumstances and I do not think anything you have said substantially disproves this claim. My points stand.

As for whether or not an LR has room to maneuver: How many points are you guys talking, here? I pretty much never play a game larger than 1750 points, and I play on boards with plenty of terrain, and I pretty much *never* have difficulty maneuvering. Yes, once in a while my LR gets hung up on some little rock, but not regularly.

Anyway, I simply don't see flying vehicles in my face as the be-all and end-all tactic that will guarantee my expensive unit is utterly useless. Particularly not against Mech Eldar, who frankly don't have a hell of a lot more ranged firepower than the Marines do, and typically on fewer platforms. "

Er what points? Fallacies don't make great arguments and you seem to miss the point entirely of what slowing a significant portion of your army can do beyond the extra uses touched on here and by Smurfy (i.e. tri-rhino, V-walls, objective denial, etc.). 2000 generally but if you run double Raider below that your army isn't outshooting anything. If you're running one Raider well, it's even easier to block as there are multiple blocking units in armies and only one unit to be blocked. Define plenty of terrain? 25% or fail! *mad giggle.* Well let's compare a 2K Dual Riader versus a 2K Mech Eldar with Vypers. That's roughly 2x Typhoons/2xRifleDreads/2xPreds/2xMM Tac bunkers versus 2x Prisms/Falcon/2-3x BL Serpents/3x Dragon Serpents. That's a lot of suppression fire from both directions but Eldar generally have better defenses thanks to AV12 and mobility. It also appears the SM are firing against the same amount if not more platforms. We're assuming the 3 squads of Vypers are dealing with the Raiders but when you start running one Raider the vypers are able to block in waves which opens up more firepower to deal with the extra Dread/Pred/Speeder/Tac or whatever cominbation you use.

These type of comments really make people wonder what type of Eldar opponent's you face, especially coupled with your e-peen claim. If you're versusing good opponents with good lists (i.e. not Necrons, Orks, Daemons, Chaos, etc. + not failtastic lists which aren't balanced) you shouldn't be winning more than 60% because 40k is balanced (contrary to belief). Win %'s get inflated when versusing, new players, bad players or bad lists, not when versusing good balanced lists with a good and experienced general behind them.

Back to being constructive. Does anyone else have uses for blocking outside of objective denial, unit slowing and unit protection? In-game and picture examples can help the obvious lack of understanding by some individuals and if further information is needed (inc. pics) just ask.

5 pinkments:

kennedy said...

Very nice.

Anyone who says blocking doesn't work is a crap player. I don't need it so much in my Eldar (I am adding 2 vypers tho), but the Space Cops (marine bikers) have been enjoying using MM/HF speeders to screw with people's ability to move where they want when they want.

You've really just slammed all of their arguments, Kirby. If I ever need a teammate to go an logic-bitchslap people with, I'll be calling you for sure ;)

Smurfy said...

I tried slapping his arguments.

He brought his "playing career" and "win-loss ratio" into the equation.

Hey, here's a ratio for you all to consider -

My Kill-Death Ratio in real life is 0.

Am I pathetic?

Chumbalaya said...


People are dumb.

MasterSlowPoke said...

I've used sentinels to block before. It's actually really satisfying, and with a 6" move and 6" assault, they can actually move a fair distance.

Kirby said...

<3 Kennedy. Thanks ^^, I do enjoy logic.

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