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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ranged anti-infantry: Lost in translation

A Forum

This is something I've seen on the rise: an increase in lists looking to actively include ranged anti-infantry. Why is this the case? No idea, perhaps people are reacting to the increase in Hybrid armies with ranged foot units out there or have realised masses of S7 fire at range + meltaguns up close just doesn't cut it. Either way, you have always needed to deal with infantry at range and armies which don't, often find themselves in a bit of a doozy. Look at Blood Angel Jumpers. Their primary anti-infantry is close combat and this is pretty good (lots of S5/I5 attacks on MEQ platforms with FNP? uh play!) but dealing with infantry in the backfield can be problematic if they are protected well. Dealing with infantry who can beat them in combat or whom are tough is also pretty difficult and they can't really deal with them in other ways. It comes down to a uni-dimensional way in dealing with infantry and this is part of list building I think a lot of people have forgotten or never really knew. I'll lay it out in black and white:

You need ranged anti-infantry.

Article done. Next! But seriously, ranged anti-infantry is something which is an important part of many lists and helps a lot. Not needing to get up close and rapid fire or combat infantry to death means no matter your opponent, you have tactical options available to you. Examples of ranged anti-infantry including Psybacks, Land Speeders & Attack Bikes w/HB, Chimeras, Shuriken Cannons/Scatter Lasers, Dakka Predators, Crisis Suits, anything with ranged blasts, etc. What's great about a lot of these units (S6+) is they have some utility against tanks as well. The humble Dakka Predator for example is great at putting wounds on infantry/MCs but is also capable of knocking out light mech. Plasma Rifle/Missile Pod Crisis Suits are putting out 6-12 S6+ shots a turn which makes them excellent anti-infantry (especially with markerlights) and pretty good anti-tank as well. The list goes on but what these type of units give you is the ability to hurt infantry from turn 1.

Against some lists (pure mech) this is pretty useless as you'll more often than not be within range with the rest of your anti-infantry by the time you crack open those tanks. Against Hybrid or Foot armies however? You can start taking pot shots at infantry on foot from the get go. This is part of the reason why Hulksmash takes Heavy Bolter Razorbacks in his Marine lists. I only take them with Grey Knights (S6 yo) but they fulfill a similar role. Low threat profile which is going to reliably put 2-3 wounds out on infantry. Over several of these and the course of a game, that's going to equate to lots of dead infantry depending upon your opponent. Ask Imperial Guard how nice it is to have lots of Chimeras taking pot shots at infantry all-game long. Small Marine squads certainly don't like it.

Apply this to common armies you see such as Space Wolves. Suddenly those Long Fangs aren't so much of an issue when you can put enough wounds on them in a single turn to drop a squad. Bubble-wrap units can get whittled down early as your army approaches or force them to go to ground (saving you from their firepower). Squads which get out of their transports (whether voluntarily or not) are more likely to be in danger even if nothing is near them, especially if this firepower is mobile. Against an MSU-centric list this is really important as you can quickly and easily whittle squads down to uselessness (wow that's a word) or completely wipe them out. Against armies using larger squads having lots of ranged anti-infantry is going to help you effectively damage those squads from the get go. Whilst cover is going to mitigate a lot of this, being able to shoot these type of squads early and often is better than getting in a template or two + rapid fire weapons and then being assaulted/shot after.

Ultimately what having ranged anti-infantry does is give you options. Some lists are going to need it less (aggressive in your face lists with tons of templates/combat ability) but this does limit their flexibility to an extent. When your opponent is happy to get close to you as well, you have nothing to really weaken their infantry before they reach you which can put you on the back foot. Therefore you really need to consider the cost of not having ranged anti-infantry in your list. Having units which can operate as anti-light mech/MC as well as anti-infantry at range (i.e. what I listed above) is a huge bonus as these units aren't going to be useless against mech armies for a couple of turns. Consider this in your list building. There are good foot lists around. There are good Hybrid lists around. You do need to deal with infantry at range, especially units which sit in the back and shoot.

You need ranged anti-infantry.

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