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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bubble-wrapping 102

We all know what bubble-wrapping is. If you don't, click that link. The skinny of it is you protect your more important units with less important units. This stops assaults, melta range, blocking, etc. and is basically an extra force field for the protected unit if you like. There are rare exceptions where the bubble-wrap is more than just a defensive layer and can also be a very potent and scary offensive threat (i.e. TH/SS Terminators). Building good bubble-wraps against units on foot or in normal tanks isn't too hard. Even with tank shocking and the assault vehicle ability, it will take two vehicles to actually punch through a bubble-wrap and be able to disembark troops which are capable of assaulting. The same must happen if you want to shoot at the unit from close range and without cover. This is done using the V technique described in the Advanced Blocking post with the opening pointed towards the intended target (I might do a more in-depth article on this later too come to think of it...). Obviously if the tank shocks break the bubble-wrap unit all the better but most good wrap units are at least Ld9 and often with a re-roll.

However, not everything in the Warhammer 40,000 universe rolls around on tracks and uses their feet. Many units have the Jump Infantry, Jetbike, Jetpack or Skimmer rules (or can even teleport!?!??!) which allows them ignore whatever they are moving through. The important areas for these units are where they begin and where they end up. Terrain is an important factor for they begin and end up as they will have to take dangerous terrain checks when beginning or ending in terrain. For bubble-wrapping purposes however, all you need to know is where they are going to end up. This is how you block and bubble-wrap against units which 'move over you.'

Defend where they want to land.

I cannot stress this enough. Moving a tank into a blocking position does nothing against a Skimmer or Jump Infantry as they'll just hop right on over you. You need to be able to eyeball distances and pick where that unit 's maximum movement potential is. You park your blocking or wrapping unit there which forces the Jump/Skimmer unit to go elsewhere. This takes away one of their biggest advantages which is being able to jump over your lines and some armies are built around it (see: Blood Rodeo). So let's look at how we can do this and what benefits we are going to gain from it.

So here we have a very basic bubble-wrap and this would work just as well against a tracked vehicle as well. In this example the Razorbacks are a little bit closer than necessary to the bubble-wrap because the Serpent only has a rear hatch. This means if it tanks shocks the full 12" (the bubble range), it cannot pivot and the Fire Dragons will be out of melta range. As we can see, although the skimmer can move over the scout bubble-wrap and land on either side of the Razorbacks, the Fire Dragons can not disembark. Therefore the scouts are placed where the Serpent wants to land and have done their job. Here's a picture post-movement.

The scouts have done their job so well the Fire Dragons are just out of melta range giving the Razorbacks that little bit of extra protection. And here's a picture if the Serpent went over the Scout line.

By moving flat-out the Dragons cannot get out, the rear armor has been exposed and the Serpent itself cannot shoot. Next turn blocking the Skimmer might prove more difficult as the Fire Dragons are a shooting based unit rather than an assault based. If the unit was assault oriented however (and the vehicle not an assault vehicle), simply placing a unit at the exit(s) of the the transport stops it for another turn without any shots being fired.

Let's now take a look at a non-tank bubble-wrap where the bubble-wrap purpose is to protect a unit from assault as well as generating cover against low AP weapons. We'll use Tyranids of course with Termagants, Hive Guard and a Tervigon. Obviously we want the Termagants to take the brunt of any assaults whilst they will also provide cover to the Hive Guard who will provide cover to the Tervigon so any low AP weapons will also have their impact minimised. Here is what a regular bubble-wrap against a tracked vehicle or foot unit might look like.

Notice how the Termagants are simply strung out in a line. Even if a vehicle tank shocks them, they'll curve in towards the Tervigon or not leave any space for a unit to get out. Against the Dark Eldar Raider though, it can simply fly over the Termagant line and drop Wyches out next to the Tervigon and launch an assault all in one go. We need to modify the Termagant placement then.

Here we've moved the Termagants on the left down and around the Tervigon as though they've already been tank shocked. The Termagants are now blocking where the Dark Eldar Raider wants to land and thus making an assault on the Tervigon a much more difficult prospect, particularly with the single Raider. Let's see what happens when the Raider moves.

Since the Raider cannot land where it wants to next to the Tervigon and doesn't want to go Flat-out and it is forced to assault the Termagants (in this set up here the Wyches could of actually assaulted the Hive Guard as well if the Raider had tank shocked but let's ignore my dodgy deployment please!). By ensuring there is less than 1" between all the models and the Termagants are wrapped around the Hive Guard and Tervigon correctly, the Wyches are unable to access the goods and forced to deal with the cheap Termagant screen and are pinned in place for next turn.

What about against shooting units like Fire Dragons? They are obviously quite a large threat to the Tervigon and Hive Guard alike if they can get shots off without cover against them. Luckily the same wrapping tactic against assaults works here as well. By ensuring the Termagants block where the Wave Serpent wants to land, the Fire Dragons are forced to either go Flat-out over the group of units or disembark outside the Termagant unit. This then gives cover to the Hive Guard and Tervigon if the Fire Dragons elect to shoot them. Since the units being protected are not vehicles it doesn't matter that the Fire Dragons can get within 6" as they gain no extra benefit against Toughness targets. This can be seen here.


And that's bubble-wrapping 102. The main point to take away from this is when defending against units which move over terrain you must defend where they want to land. Even getting it an inch wrong can give them the space they need to land and launch an attack on your unprotected flank or rear. Whilst the pictures here are very simple and show bubble-wrapping in the best light possible (it is possible to break bubble-wrapping), they show the potential and proper usage of bubble-wrap units to defend against higher priority targets. Whilst a simple skill, expertise in defending against both ground and skimmer based units will allow your army to operate at peak efficiency for longer.

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