Kirb your enthusiasm!


"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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Transports: The army within an army & doubling up the FoC

It is not uncommon to see most units ‘mounted’ up in 5th edition. Although one doesn’t have to run a mech list to be competitive (hybrid and foot work as well), transports no longer are mere transporting devices but rather bunkers or gunboats unto themselves. This is basically a fancy way of saying transports are no longer uni-dimensional in moving forward at breakneck speed, unloading the contents and then basically being a pretty paperweight. This is in part due to the 5th edition ruleset (transports are no longer deathtraps, favourable vehicle damage chart, etc.) and partly due to codex design.

Firstly, most things got a points drop. What you could take with an older codex you can now generally take plus more. This is particularly true with vehicles (i.e. Rhinos from 50 to 35 points, Chimeras from 70 to 55 points, etc.) and transports in general. Call this a marketing ploy by GW (more stuff in games = more sales), good balancing or whatever you want but it has certainly opened a lot of build options, flexible tactics and armies and very enjoyable games in 5th edition. Let’s look at what I mean in terms of flexibility and options and what the hell the title of the post is about.

Obviously having multiple units or choices in each force organisation slot is a boon to any codex. It opens up different builds because you have good options in each slot. Assuming each one can be combined with any other entry and if you just repeat entries, 3 options per FoC gives you a staggering amount of army builds. This obviously isn’t the case as you need to build a cohesive force but looking at some of the more flexible army books such as Blood Angels and you’ll notice how many balanced builds there are. Transports essentially improve this flexibility. Although there are generally only 1 to 2 types of dedicated transports per army, they are a free FoC slot. Why? They are taken as an addition to an original unit and can now operate independently of the parent unit (including picking up other units, etc.).

With certain transports who sport heavy weapons such as Raiders, Razorbacks, Chimeras, Wave Serpents, etc. this is pretty huge. A Heavy Support unit which can take a transport is now capable of bringing an extra 1 or 2 heavy weapons through the transport which doesn’t take up a FoC slot, provides a 2nd unit (so better fire potential and harder to suppress) and adds armor saturation to the field. The only downfall is you double the number of Kill Points per FoC but that’s really a minor issue. In armies which max out FoC slots quickly or are designed around this concept (i.e. BA Immo spam) this gives the army excellent scaling ability and more options which leads to more builds. This is done through why the transports are bought.

We know they already bring extra firepower to the table but they can be bought for two reasons. The primary reason is obviously to transport units with the added bonus of having significant guns, etc. and this is quite often done in ‘spam’ type armies and is the reason for the phrase ‘the army within an army.’ When used as transports, transports provide multiple things. As discussed above they increase the fire potential and armor saturation of an army but they also provide units on foot with protection (you need to kill the transport first) and increased mobility. However, even simply de-meching an opponent leaves a job only half done as the contents inside are just as capable of wrecking your day as the transport itself (the transport in this case is almost a means to an end but is quite capable in its own right). This is where the army within an army concept comes in. You can pop my 3-6 transports in your face but then you have to deal with 30 marines as well. This is why duality and balance within your lists is so important. Even an army sporting 15 tanks can still bring 30-60+ guys with varying armor saves to play as well.

However, transports are (oddly enough) not always bought as a transport. Here their transport capacity is often considered utility. This is where transports are considered gunboats and are bought because they provide an extra tank, a second unit in the FoC and more heavy weapons (which are mobile). Rather than using the transport as a transport, here transports are being used as fire support and as discussed before, adds firepower, fire potential and saturation for the cost of one FoC slot. They can advance as needed or stay back and shoot and if their parent or other unit needs a ride, well they are there for the taking.

Obviously some of you will have noticed some transports are better for the roles described than others. The Rhino for example isn’t the best buy if you’re attempting to use it as a gunboat/fire support but a much better buy if you want to transport a unit (having a higher transport capacity but no main guns). Firepoints are also a very important aspect of transports as the ones with higher capacity often provide the option for the unit inside to shoot with the most extreme example being open-topped vehicles (think Raiders with splinter racks). Some armies are also vastly better at maximising their free FoC slots than others. This has to do with age and special rules. Space Marine variants obviously gain the most by being able to combat squad, having two very good transport choices and being able to effectively utilise one or both in lists. Older armies like Tau don’t really have the options or need to utilise their transport in a capacity which benefits the army whilst Eldar don’t have good units which can buy fire support gunships (i.e. imagine Dark Reapers as an actual option, Guardians with BS4 and multiple gun platforms, etc.). Dark Eldar are unable to take a transport if the squad is bigger than the capacity of transport which limits some options (i.e. 20 man Warrior squads + transport) but are still capable of running transports as both transports or fire support gunboats. Etc.

The changes to 5th edition and army books alike have given rise to the ‘edition of mech.’ Although mech certainly is strong, it isn’t the only way to play competitively. However, looking at the advantages simple transports provide to your army and it’s easy to see why this view is common. By having effective transports, you can create an army which has more units capable of hurting your opponent than FoC slots and essentially field two different armies in one. This flexibility leads to a lot of different and varying lists which is great for the game, balance and ultimately you and me (but not our pocketbooks!).

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...