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

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tactics - Playing against Rocks

The biggest rock of them all...

Rock armies seem to be a very popular choice for a lot of new players or for people who jump codex to codex. There are of course others who use them but they are generally the easiest army to get into when you're new or when a new codex comes out - less models, easy to paint, lug around and not exactly hard to run at a very basic level (and thus easier to learn as well). You take rock and throw it at the opponent and win or lose on this. The basic principle is that some armies cannot deal with such rocks and if the opponent doesn't play tactically they are going to lose quickly. Whilst rock lists can be quite good builds it's this simple tactics on both sides (or specifically the defending player) which can make them seem awesome and over-powered. What isn't often noted by these players though is that these armies have a couple few weaknesses and the only way you beat these armies is by preying on those weaknesses.

To be clear: engaging a rock army in a rock fight means you lose unless you have a bigger rock. It's a rock for a reason.

One could say this is being written because of Vince - sorry mate. We both played Draigowing some weekends back and whilst his army and the mission vastly favored him over Draigowing compared to my army and mission, he got tabled and I got a minor loss. Why? He charged the rock head-on rather than focusing on it's limited mobility and number of squads whilst I split my army to force my opponent to pick one half to deal with (the rest went to capture his side of the board) whilst my other half tried to delay the big squad as long as possible and kill the small squad. Didn't work as I couldn't keep the big squad out of my DZ but I only lost by about 400 VP so not bad considering killing mass Paladins isn't easy for Tyranids. If I had simply charged headlong towards my opponent, I'd have been tabled just like Vince. This is where understanding your opponent comes in (as well as your own army) and is very important for dealing with rocks. I'd like to point out that after we berated Vince and told him to maximise his mobility over Draigowing, he won his next game against them at the same event.

Rock tactics are pretty basic. When you apply advanced tactics to them they're obviously going to do better but you don't have to be a tactical genius to run a rock army like a rock. It's annoying sure but games against rocks are very, very tactical and it's all on their opponent. It may not seem so and these games can often look like are an army actively avoiding the other army but it must be done to win. By avoiding engaging the rock the rock cannot punish the opposing army and can either be neutralised by movement or whittled down to a managable size. Consider that an army spending 500+ points into a single unit has less freedom of movement around the board. If you are playing objective type missions they can only be in so many places at once. An army which has spent that 500 points on three different units has many more mobility options. This is one of the most basic principles when fighting against a rock army - utilise your superior mobility and number of units to your advantage. PLAY TO THE MISSION, particularly if it's not Kill Points based.

There are only so many places to hide on the board however and some rocks, whilst limiting an army's ability to control the board, are still fast. This is where concepts such as blocking and sacrificing come in but must be used appropriately. An extreme example: you have a land speeder against a double Land Raider w/THSS army and against a Draigowing army. Against the Land Raider army running the Speeder forward early (i.e. Turn 1) to block a Land Raider is a great idea. Against the Draigowing? Less so. You will succeed in slowing down both units but the gain from doing so against the Land Raider and the impact upon the game is much more significant. Blocking the Draigowing rock later in the game with the Speeder may produce similar effects but at the beginning it's a less viable tactic. What these sorts of tactics do is emphasis the lack of board control a rock army can produce and allows the rest of your army to deal with the rest of your opponent's support army whilst the rock is being distracted.

This is hugely important - strip away a rock's support. Some rock armies can simply be a rock (i.e. Draigowing) but the most effective rock armies are going to be a rock with support. This support is generally going to be as efficient as possible and allow the rock army to shoot things down at range and have some semblance of board control. By disabling this part of the army you emphasis the lack of control and ability to affect the game a rock army naturally has. The rock itself may still be kicking and tearing through whatever it touches but if it can only touch a single unit each turn and you have 20 units, well you obviously have some sort of winning forumla there correct?

The key here is you need to strip the rock of any support which has been bought for it. You also need to keep the rock from engaging your army proper as much as possible. Tactics such as sacrificing and blocking will achieve this but are only useful as long as you are taking advantage of the rock being delayed/distracted. Whilst the rock itself may only be able to kill a unit a turn (and for Pete's sake, don't allow them to multi-assault or kill a transport and then the unit inside, force them to kill a unit a turn and that's it), it will still project some measure of control over a certain part of the battlefield. You need to be able to disable their support, keep the rock hemmed in as much as possible and control the table around this area. Who cares if the rock holds one objective (even if it's the centre objective) or one table quarter - kill their support and control the rest.

I'll say it again - PLAY TO THE MISSION and deny the rock the ability to be a rock on you. Whilst rock armies do have an advantage in Kill Point missions (marginal KP nullifies this to an extent), by destroying their support and ignoring the rock as much as possible you can make a game of it. In objective based missions though non-rock armies have a huge advantage as long as you don't play into the opponent's hands. Don't worry about 'anti-rock' units or setting up your whole army to mass assault the rock, play around it. Control the board and force the rock to deal with what you throw at it which you expect to die anyway. It may seem annoying to play with/against but would you rather play smart but boring and avoid the rock or play dumb and exciting for half a turn and get rock smashed? I'll take smart and boring and tell my opponent to stop running a boring list :P.

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...