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

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fallacy 40k - Trading Units

There was a recent discussion (two weeks ago now) on the chatbawks involving an Anon, Mike, myself, Zjoekov and Vince (with some other people hanging about) in relation to how to use Mike's Ork army. One of the major things Mike said not to do is trade units. This at first seems odd as Mike's Ork list has a ton of individual units, all worth next to nothing compared to other armies and it would seem you'd be happy to trade units. However, this isn't chess or checkers though where once you get ahead, you can trade pieces as there are set parameters in how you can take pieces. In 40k dice can change things around quickly so you want to keep your army together for as long as possible which means not trading units or sending units forward very early as willy nilly sacrifices.

Now obviously there are times when this can be useful (a blocking unit with a melta weapon in front of a Land Raider full of TH/SS for example) but the ultimate goal is to kill something of your opponent's and not have that unit die in return. If it does die, you want your opponent to have expended effort to have done so rather than just rolling over the unit whilst advancing up the field.

What this boils down to is keeping your army together. Now obviously there are elements which go off in different directions (flankers for example) but the point is you don't want to throw units forward to attempt to delay your opponent (and thus trade units) unless it is really necessary. This is the same with single Drop Pods or outflankers, etc. If these units are capable of tying up the opponent and not simply rolling over and dying (hi Wolf Scouts for example), then go for it but it must all be understood that trading units is not the way in 40k, even if you have more units than your opponent. 40k (and Fantasy) is just too diverse in terms of movement options, relevant value of units (which changes game to game), ability for units to do what you want (i.e. non-voluntary actions such as falling back), etc. all of which is based around a D6 system which brings randomness into the fold.

How does this equate to play on the table-top? Stop full speed rushing ahead every game with a couple of units. Sure, there are times when moving 12", hopping out and blasting your opponent due to poor deployment/seizing works but as a general every-day tactic? No. You risk a lot when you do this and unless you can expose your enemy (i.e. kill more and present more targets than they can deal with), this generally isn't viable. As an army wide tactic this can be used by some armies (i.e. Dark Eldar and Grey Knights) who can present a ton of targets (16+) all of which can affect the opponent significantly and don't die at a stiff breeze (unlike say Imperial Guard or Tau Fire Warriors). Rather than sending units, or a small group of units steaming forward, hold them back. Force your opponent to kill you  at range whilst you move up at a steady pace (and shooting the whole time). When you get in a position to deal with multiple targets of your opponents whilst generating a ton of targets of your own, then you can start moving units in and engaging the enemy at close range.

Let's look at some examples then of both good and bad unit trading that are commonly seen. Let's start with the bad.

Single Pods

Pods are great for disruption and single Pods can often net you a killed tank. Any canny opponent however when seeing this is going to protect their tanks and protect their important/expensive tanks with cheaper tanks. The result? You drop in and perhaps kill a transport and are then in full view of your opponent's army. You could survive and you could cause some disruption but the most likely event is your unit (i.e. Dread or Sternguard) dies, your Pod dies and you've traded what is essentially two units for a transport. This is bad. If you are taking a single Pod and your opponent does this, great, you've changed his deployment now drop in midfield or start the unit on the board if you have that option and take advantage of his changed deployment.

Suicide melta units

This is going to be discussed later in more detail but melta units do not have to move forward ASAP turn 1. The end result is you often kill your opponent's transports in midfield or on their side of the board, but you often lose your transport and the unit inside as well. Even if you do this with multiple melta units, you're not really gaining a huge amount from this tactic more often than not and quite regularly get the short end of the stick if all your guys/transports die. There are times when this is appropriate (covered below and in a later post) but as a general rule, don't send them off willy-nilly.

Now let's look at an example of a good 'trade.'

Stopping the Lynchpin/Rock

This is the most obvious case of when unit trading or sacrificing is good. When you can kill or significantly delay an opponent's most important unit(s) which are very expensive (i.e. Land Raider + Termies = 450 points) with a unit that is far less expensive and will ultimately help your army in the long-run, go for it. This is  much more beneficial than normal as your are stopping a significant portion of your opponent's army from doing something. Whether it's moving forward or actually killing it, the loss of your unit is worth the cost. Don't overdue it though and send too much in to delay your opponent, just enough that their plans are disrupted (or the unit destroyed/damaged) whilst the rest of your force operates as normal.

The take-home message:

  • unit trading is bad. There are times when it is okay but you would much rather kill an opposing unit and keep yours alive. This means not throwing units forward to the dogs unless there is significant reason to do so.
  • This equates to keeping your army together to a certain extent. Don't attack your opponent in waves but put pressure on them early (by moving and shooting) and then overwhelm them with targets that can all damage them at once (and thus reduce their ability to destroy your units in return).
A repetitive article but I see far too many people throwing units forward and thinking of them as individual units rather than parts of a whole. There are times to gamble or times when this might be necessary but you want your army to work together for as long as possible and sending units forward to disembark your opponent from Rhinos and Chimeras on T1 isn't the best way to do it.

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...