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

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tank Shocking - The Bane of Foot lists

This is part and parcel of the Tyranid week concept, Tyranids cannot be mech after all but is something that has been brewing for a while. The Back-to-Basics Tank Shocking article is coming which looks more at the basics of tank shocking and how it actually works but in this post we are looking at its actual impact on the tabletop, particularly foot lists.

Tank shocking is one of the biggest ways you can impact your opponent without doing actual damage to them. Not only can you force them to flee (automatically in some cases) but you can displace infantry. This is huge and against non-mech lists, is one of the biggest advantages of mech/hybrid lists which is often over looked. This is why upgrades which allow open-topped vehicles to tank shock (i.e. shock prows, reinforced rams, etc.) are so important. Let's put this in context - you rarely get to move your opponent's models where you want and tank shocking allows this to an extent. If an army has this ability and the opposing army does not and in fact, has little defense against it, well that's huge isn't it?

That statement summarises the article rather well so pretend you didn't read it! How does this relate to the battlefield however and specifically foot lists? That's what this post is about so let's take a quick look at some of the major impacts this ability has. The most commonly referenced ability of tank shocking is clumping infantry up. This is great for using flame templates against mass infantry armies such as Orks or Tyranids or simply moving infantry units out of the way. Being able to move tanks through infantry units as well is obviously important as it means they cannot be blocked by such and have more movement options available to them. One of the biggest things forgotten with tank shocking however, is forcing enemy units to flee. Whilst most armies have pretty decent leadership across the board with an average of 8-9 on most squads, even Ld10 with re-rolls will fail at some point. One tank shock is unlikely to cause this but three, five or nine tanks all at once? Across multiple units at once? You could force a whole army to flee at once. Look at this picture here.

Here we can see four Wave Serpents and an Imperial Guard blob guarding three Heavy Weapon teams. Watch what happens when we tank shock each one 24".

1 tank shocks through green, blue and black. 2 tank shocks through green, black and blue. 3 tank shocks through green purple and black. 4 tank shocks through green and black. That's four tests at leadership eight on Green, four at leadership 7 on black, two on blue and one on purple. Those are pretty good chances of green and black failing all from simple tank shocks. Now these type of scenarios aren't always going to come up or be the best method of dealing with your opponent. If all of those Serpents are armed with Scatter Lasers and Shuriken Cannons for example, 16 TL S6 and 12 S6 BS3 shots is very likely to eliminate two full HWT and half of the third. If you can both tank shock the green and shoot at the HWT you'd be better off for example. However, if your tanks cannot shoot or you don't have the firepower to drop multiple units (imagine for example these are three Long Fang packs), multiple tank shocks can be very effective.

What happens when those units are holding an important battlefield location?

Now they're not and very likely not even there so that could be the Eldar's objective. This isn't even discussing the displacement issue of the Guardsmen around the Serpents which could be using the space they cleared to drop their own units to provide more damage to the Guardsmen around them. In the end what tank shocks do is provide extra ability to damage the enemy without having to actually shoot them (which can be huge when you don't have the firepower to kill them or ability to shoot them) and maintain the mobility of the army for as long as possible. This is part of tank shocking I think which is overlooked in favour of clumping your opponent which while nice, has a less immediate impact upon the game. Being able to move the opponent away from locations or force them to flee has much bigger consequences. Remember how we all laugh at people using Lash to clump opponents and drop blast templates on them or simply pull them into assault range? You can do this with tank shocks but they are some of the most basic principles of it. Moving units off objectives, forcing them to flee, forcing them into terrain (especially dangerous terrain), spreading them out or blocking certain aspects of the unit, etc. are all excellent applications of tank shocking where you get to dictate to a certain extent how your opponent's models are placed. Clumping them is a great use but it's not the only use.

Now let's look at this from a foot army perspective. This is hard to stop. You cannot simply say NO to the tank after all or put another tank in the way (you're a foot list duh!). Tying it up in combat doesn't work either because that's not possible. You of course have to kill the tanks and this makes even cheap transports such as Rhinos and Trukks an annoying hindrance some armies cannot afford to deal with. Say hello to lots of tank shocking, your opponent moving your models and you finally failing some crucial Leadership checks. Late game? those tanks are pushing you off objectives so can be as high priority targets as units which can actually kill you. And who said 40k wasn't a tactical game?

Now there is of course the ability to Death or Glory and when you army has numerous meltaguns or numerous bodies which can potentially hurt tanks (krak grenades, high strength combat attacks, etc.), well this is a fine tactic. Make sure you have those weapons (i.e. meltaguns) placed in strategic situations to discourage tanks from driving through those areas (i.e. around objectives) and force them to gamble if they wish to. The problem of course with Death or Glory is it really is an all or nothing approach. You either stop/kill the tank or the tank rolls over the hero and continues on - you can't even do this if you fail your initial leadership test.

However...not every army has this as a real option. Necrons? Orks? Daemons? Tyranids? No cheap and reliable guys that are actually going to stop a tank. Heavy Destroyers? Expensive. Destroyers? You only get one shot. Power Klaws? There's only one of them and S8 Rokkits are nice but not reliable. Bolt is certainly nice but if you fail, the expensive character that holds it dies. Hive Guard? Uh no unless you're super desperate. Same with MCs. If you fail. You die. Compare this to Imperial Armies which can run effective foot lists. There are numerous meltagun options or ways to stop tanks shocking through you such as effective anti-tank fire across the army. Look at Loganwing with some combi-meltas/meltaguns spread throughout the army compared to one without. The ability to have a throw-away model which can stop a tank from automatically pushing you off an objective is invaluable and some foot lists simply do not have this option.

In the end this is part and parcel of what hurts lists like this. Most of these lists have issues with tanks already in terms of just killing them but when an opponent uses tank shocks correctly, this problem is magnified. Smart use of tank shocking even against hybrid or mech opponents will still net you a lot of benefits as well. Learn them. Use them. You'll see ^^.

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...