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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Flooding the Field: Lots of units

We've discussed before the advantages of concepts such as army within an army/1+1 but with a greater focus on looking at the impact of mech generating 'layers' of an army and how transports can bring extra firepower to the table. What we didn't look at, which is part and parcel of the 1+1 concept and maximising your Force Organisation chart, is saturating the battlefield. If we have a full FoC we can have a maximum of 17 units yet we commonly see armies with many more Kill Points than this. Now obviously Independent Characters/Retinues can cause this to be higher but we regularly see 22+ Kill Point armies. Why? Transports can be bought for many units within the FoC. What does this do? Obviously we get the advantages of mech, the whole army within an army concept, extra movement, protection, tank shocking, etc. but something that seems to be overlooked is you can an extra unit on the table.

What does this mean? It depends a lot on the type of transports your army is built around. We'll focus on two examples to illustrate the point. A Dark Eldar list with lots of Raiders and Venoms and a Space Marine list with lots of Rhinos. Both armies have the advantages of mech to varying degrees (Dark Eldar are faster, Space Marines more durable) but the Dark Eldar army has a further advantage which they can utilise - they can bring to bear more offensive threats. Let's look at this statement.

An army with 20+ Kill Points obviously has a disadvantage in Kill Point missions and whilst this can be said to be a poor construct it has to have an advantage to still be a viable army. We know the more units (especially Troops) you have, the better your army is in objective games, particularly five objectives. Does this off-set having 10+ more Kill Points than some armies? In tiered missions with marginal KP sure, you still have a disadvantage but you can look to move the game to the objectives tier but what about normal BRB missions? Do you really want to have a disadvantage against some armies in 33% of games and advantage in 67%? No, it flies in the face of a balanced list. When we look at the saturation of both armies however, well we can see not only does the army with more Kill Points have more firepower but also more ability to spread that firepower around and better defenses due to sheer numbers. What this means is the opponent, even if the opponent has 20+ Kill Points themselves, will find it very hard to completely suppress (or even reliably suppress half) of the other high Kill Point army. A low Kill Point army will have no chance whilst the same 20+ Kill Point army has a very good chance of suppressing the whole opposing army. This is where saturation comes in and is part and parcel of the 1+1 concept.

Going back to the Dark Eldar and Space Marine examples. Let's assume the Dark Eldar are running nine Venoms/Raiders and the Space Marine nine Rhinos. Now one isn't usually going to run nine Rhinos with Marines but we'll assume for this comparison it's still a valid and good list. Now both of the armies are obviously taking advantage of mech to increase unit numbers, unit durability and mobility as we said before. Both have 22 Kill Points but the Dark Eldar list has more saturation. Why? Every unit + transport combination can split at any time and generate two targets which can offensively hurt the opponent. The Space Marines list can certainly do this as well but Rhinos are limited offensively (blocking, tank shocking, etc. but not shooting) and thus generate less saturation and ability to suppress the enemy.

The effect of this is great and varied. Now this isn't saying Rhinos or bad or that a list based on Rhinos is bad, certainly not but the army will be used differently. Rather, this is looking at the advantages of having transports you can take outside of the Force Organisation chart which add to offensive potential in terms of firepower as discussed in the previous post and furthering the advantages this confers to an army. Let's go back to the Dark Eldar army. Dark Eldar are fragile, no getting around it but if you can drop 22 units in front of your opponent (twelve of them vehicles), well good luck to him/her destroying them all. It's simply not going to happen and this means you have options, and often lots of options the next turn in how you go about dismantling their army. Of course you also have the ability to target 22 different targets. Whilst this isn't always going to be necessary, it does mean you have reliability in generating suppression (imagine if say 15 of those units have suppression ability) and have massive ability to focus fire to eliminate infantry units.

This concept is something a lot of armies can really take advantage of. Grey Knights are an obvious choice which due to its wargear (stormbolters/psycannons) is nearly always built around this concept. If you have more units than your opponent can shake a stick at, some of them will shake sticks back and this is an ultimate benefit of using transports outside the FoC and the 1+1 concept. At the same time, you are obviously exposing your squads to sometimes unnecessary firepower so you don't always want to simply move forward and dump squads in front of your opponent. They have a bunch of assault units which can tear through infantry? Use your mech defenses advantage for as long as possible. You're also going to have some cramping issues depending upon the ranges of all the units in question and sometimes you're not going to be able to unload all squads effectively. Remember these examples are the extreme to demonstrate the maximum effect you can generate. The concepts still apply throughout but do not expect to always be able to unload all your squads and for it to always work. You do have to apply other tactical thought!

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