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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

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fail Mail Part Deux: Ronald's Revenge!

Hey all! Roland here back with another (delayed) installment of "Fail Mail". Our hero and favorite, lovable, failure at life Ronald has returned with more awesome stories! Only this time (as you will soon see) it seems he's been doing his research, as the game detailed below demonstrates a much improved sense of play. So without further ado, his email will be in italics, and my awesome commentary in GREEN...the color of WIN.

Hey Kirby, Roland, and the rest of the 3++ Crew! I appreciate all the feedback and response from my first email BatRep I sent you and figured I'd give you all an update on how things have been going and ask for any input you may have for my most recent game. Granted it was a Vassal game, but I haven't had a chance to hit up my FLGS recently and have been getting my 40K fix online. So without further ado, Game 1: 2000pts vs. 3++ Jumpy BA, Pitched Battle, Capture & Contol

I'm going to use his BatRep to highlight some of the discussions and posts we've had here on 3++ in the past week, specifically SneakyDan's article linked here

Before I get into the analysis, here are the photos from the game. Mind you this was a FAST game against one of Ronald's good friends and fellow competitive player. We're going to use this game to reinforce some of Sneaky
's points from his article and highlight some new ones.

Ok! So as we can see in photo 1 Ronald is using his Space Wolves hybrid force against his buddies Jump BA. Let's take a closer look at his deployment, for it directly relates to my first lesson. This first lesson also appeared here in the first installment of Fail Mail way back in September. The Lesson you ask? Why it's none other than Lesson #1: Know Thy Enemy. Ronald knew his enemy well and his deployment reflects this. He'd done his reading and research, so going into this battle Ronald knew a fair amount about his opponent. Thus he had some solid facts upon which to make solid conclusions. This knowledge coupled with his own army's Strengths/Weaknesses allowed him to view the overall battle more clearly and to anticipate his opponent's moves.

Fact #1: His friend's ENTIRE army had jump packs.

Fact #2: The BA had zero long range fire support and zero Mech.

Fact #3: The BA relied on quick assaults and melta to take out Troops/Transports.

Fact #4: His army has an advantage in CC, between the Vanguard squads with SS/LC's, the potential for FC, and the SG.

Ronald said he then used these facts (some consciously, some sub-consciously) to draw some logical conclusions (also known as assumptions).

Assumption# 1: The BA will deep strike and land in open areas. While this isn't a definite fact, it is highly probable as his opponent would weigh Risk/Reward and realize that the safer option is to land in areas clear of difficult/dangerous terrain, thereby limiting his chances of mishap. On the other hand, this assumption doesn't factor in the "Human" element of surprise, i.e. the fact that his opponent may try and risk deep striking into Difficult/Dangerous terrain to try and kill a high value target. Ronald's deployment and movement responses were appropriate: deny open areas as much as possible (the concept of Terrain Denial I'll delve into shortly).

Assumption #2: The BA will try and assault the soft underbelly of the SW army - the Long Fangs. This is the logical conclusion drawn from Fact #3 and Fact #4. Ronald's weakest link are his Fangs as they require cover saves to survive high STR and low AP shots. Additionally, they have no metal bunker to hide in (like the Greys), have no ablative wounds or 3++ (like the Lord, TWC, and Lone Wolf ), and they only have 1 wound (unlike the Lord, Lone Wolf, and TWC). Thus, the easiest things to kill that don't have a metal shell are the Fangs. Knowing this, Ronald established around his Fangs a protective "encasement" ( I wouldn't say "bubblewrap" as that usually implies an expendable shell. This shell wasn't expendable, but durable) to minimize the amount of fire they take and lessen any chances of being assaulted.

As a quick aside, we Vets often talk of tactics and such in a vacuum and expect newer players to understand. Just as often, newer players don't fully grasp it, but are too afraid to ask questions or be shown these tactics, whether in real life, or as an abstract image/diagram. That's one of the reasons I'm ignoring Ronald's overview of the battle, for I'd like to use this BatRep to visually show some of the newer players what we mean with regard to some of our more abstract terms/ideas/tactics. With that being said, Ronald
effectively deployed and utilized the Refused Flank tactic described by Sneaky in his article I linked above. Look at photo 1. Ronald had the ENTIRE board edge to deploy upon, but he chose to focus his force in the top left, a location which provided him with plenty of cover, as well as difficult/dangerous terrain for the BA jumpers. As Sneaky said, the Refused Flank is a key deployment setup when facing deep strike heavy armies. It has it's trade-offs though. Being a former Elysian Drop Guard player myself (since the heady days of IA3 and 2004), there are pros and cons with concentrated vs. dispersed deployment. Concentrated (which usually occurs in a Refused Flank scenario) is good for the defender in that it limits his foot print and every unit is provided overlapping and supporting fires. The downside is that, while it makes it easier to concentrate fires for the defender, it also makes it easier for the attacking deep striking force to concentrate fires. Smaller frontage = more concentrated fire on a limited front. It also has a downside in that it allows the DS force more freedom of maneuver, in that they have more choices for drop zones to choose from. The alternative is the Dispersed deployment (akin to a traditional Battle Line type set up). The pro for this is it limits the amount of "safe" areas for the DS force to land in and increases his chances of mishap. The downside here is the lack of supporting/overlapping fires, and the increased ease at which a DS force can isolate and pick off units piecemeal.

So with that long digression out of the way, look at Ronald's set up again. He went and utilized the terrain to set up "No Landing Zones" or "Dangerous Landing Zones" for the BA player. Additionally, he Castled Up. Many times we talk of castling units up as a form of Deep Strike defense, and in reality all it is, is layering units in such a way as to provide overlapping/protective fires, as well as positioning them in a way to minimize landing/drop areas of exploitation and provide the oh-so-valuable 4+ cover save. The hard "encasement" Ronald went for above is what resulted from his castling. He provided his Fangs cover/concealment and made any chance to assault/shoot them exceedingly difficult.

With our deployment done and evaluated, we can now begin a synopsis of the turn by turn account and how his deployment truly dictated the flow of the game. Photo 1 is the end of Ronald's first turn. His opponent went first and held everything in Reserve. Ronald in his turn decided to push out and go for "Terrain Denial". "Terrain Denial" is basically knowing what terrain pieces/areas are key to your opponents plan, and then either seizing them before him, or making them hard to acquire/occupy in some way. For most DS armies, from the very outset key terrain for them is any space open and wide enough to safely land their forces. The green arrows show where the Ronald's Rhinos and TWC initially started and where they ended. His plan was to move out far enough to take away nearby open areas where the BA could safely land, but maintain enough proximity to his soft core (the Fangs) and other units to still make it difficult to land within the "encasement". If you look closely, there is no more than 6-8" distance between his units or a board edge. What this meant is that to try and land anywhere within the "encasement" would be fraught with danger and would likely end in a mishap.

Turn 2 began (and this is photo 2) with the BA landing in the orange circles. The one orange arrow shows where the Vanguard Squad was supposed to land, and where it ended up 2" away. This is vital as if it had landed on target, the game may have gone differently. Regardless, as you can see the BA are all pushed out from the center of the SW's and are in fact fairly isolated and scattered. He had a libby and assault squad land at the top right, then the Vanguard squad, then the SG squad, then an assault squad land in the middle of the line, with the last Vanguard squad to the far left. For the BA, only the far right squads are in any shape to provide support to each other, but they couldn't move/assault and so are sitting ducks. Quick aside, the casualties on the BA side in the assault squad were caused by DT test failures, as the Rune Priest cast Tempest's Wrath the previous turn. This didn't affect the game too much, as there already was plenty of difficult/dangerous terrain around, but it did have the added bonus of making even his clear drop zones hazardous. Anyway onto photo 3.

The libby cast Blood Lance to try and kill off most of the two Fang squads, as that was the only way to reliably strike the soft core. Sadly the old men made all their cover saves and even the bolt pistols and meltaguns of that assault squad failed to cause a scratch. With his shooting nullified and only 1 of his two drop/assault (the VV) units able to actually assault a target, the game was all but over. Why? Well my friends, because of Lesson #2: The Law of Unintended Consequences. This lesson is quite simple and Newton summed it up the best: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Well for Ronald, whether he consciously thought about it or not, the Law played a huge role here. The unintended consequences arose directly from how he deployed. His Refused Flank and Castling provided him with properly situated and staged counter-attack forces. The Lord and TWC on the left, the TWC on the right, the Greys in the middle, all were in prime position come his turn to effectively wipe out large chunks of the BA force. The TWC on the right would wipe out (or tie up) the assault squad on the right, the middle Greys could either attack the middle assault squad, the SG squad, or the VV squads, and the Lord and crew would almost certainly chew through the left VV squad (even if they didn't attack the Fangs. If they did attack the Fangs, regardless of whether the Fangs held or broke, the VV would be mince meat). Either way, two unintended consequences changed the pace of this game: the drifting of one VV squad out of assault range; and the built in counter-attack units of Ronald's deployment. Combined, this spelled the end for the BA.

This was a wordy and long-winded article, and for that I apologize. Hopefully you take away from this a better understanding of deployment, a re-emphasis of Lesson #1: Know They Enemy and a new appreciation for Lesson #2: The Law of Unintended Consequences. If you keep in mind that everything you do, from deploying to shooting/assaulting/etc., everything potentially has an unforeseen effect that could cost you. I'd love to hear any opinions and comments you all may have for Ronald in his games, and as always, if YOU have a "Fail" game you'd like to share pass it along and we'll take a look at it to help you out!

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