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"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, February 24, 2012

Post-3++Con: Forfeiting

By now some of you have heard that at 3++ Con I couldn't make it day 1 due to work so I rocked up as a Stand In player on Day 2. As such I scored a game in Round 5 against a Sisters of Battle army. Before we were matched up in the previous round we'd had a bit of a chat about the army and looked at some strengths and weaknesses and generally just chatted about 40k. So I drew in against the player and thought that this should be good, nice enough person and seems to know how to run the Sisters even if they admit they aren't the best anymore.

The player forfeited at the beginning of my 2nd turn shooting phase.

That put me in a funk where I was feeling like crap, people aren't meant to forfeit on you especially when they still can go on to draw or even beat you. As such, I didn't get to sit down and go over the game and ways to improve the approach or how it could have been managed to better harm me from the get go. So this is an article (it's kind of long but is worth the read especially for newer players who are just attending tournaments) looking at the game, looking at some rules and general ways to improve the play of less experienced tournament players, because the game wasn't over, it could have gone either way.

I ran with Vinsanity's Chaos Marines which I'd never played with before, my only physical play experience with Codex CSM was with a Khornate funny army with twin Lords on juggers with daemon weapons, spawn, 10 csm, a bloodthirster, bunch of daemons and 3 shooty dreds. It was fun and I got my arse kicked. So I only had a general idea how to run the list. I had the first turn.

Deployment kicked off on a board which was pock marked with craters, a river, trenches and was pretty much a difficult terrain test every 6" for vehicles. I deployed 4 rhinos (2x2 MG {meltagun} PM's {Plague marines}, 2x2 PG {Plasmagun} PM's)side on/behind each other as per Kirby's usual approach to maximise cover and line of sight blocking to the more valuable units behind, with my 2 Daemon Princes behind them on my left flank. My right had the havocs with Autoannons in the building, the Tri-Las Pred behind a PG Rhino squad of PM's. The other players deployment was more spread out - Exorcist and Immolator with dominions on their right (opposed to my left where my 4 rhinos and 2 Lash Princes were aka my actual army not the support) and then they made a mistake, they spread their sisters out in a line instead of clumping them, a big unit of 15 or so - I had 2 havoc launchers (str 5 ap 5 blast twin linked heavy 1) and if I used them in that way, up to 3 Plasma Cannons from obliterators - no other blast weapons, no flame weapons (Oblits for flamers but really they were my ranged anti tank in the list). I'll get back to this below. Uriah Jacobus and some DCA's in the trench in the centre, big sister squad, exorcist and immolator with cannoness and co on the right. A bunch of stuff reserved including 2 penitent engines.

Scouting saw the Immolator on the right push forwards towards my left - mistake 2 (see below for analysis).

My first turn saw me advance my rhino wall on my left with the daemon princes hiding behind them The rhino on the right moved up and sandwiched itself sideways next to a chunk of terrain covering the predator from most of the enemies LoS. The Pred swivelled to target the exorcist on their right (opposed to my left and my army). Shooting saw the Pred do nothing to the exorcist whilst the Havocs immobilised and shook the other Exorcist opposed to them. On my left the Scouted Immolator was in range (not short) of 2 top hatch MG's which promptly blew it up killing a sister in the explosion, My first Lash of Submission pulled the remaining 5 Dominions up into the open and clumped within 12" of 4 rapid firing PG's and 2 MG's - unit destroyed. My Second Lash prince pulled Uriah Jacobus and the DCA's closer to me, they fell into a trench network so gained cover. Rhino bolter and havoc Launchers proceeded to trim all barring 3 DCA and Uriah. That was my first turn.

This player's first turn saw the Cannoness Immolator push up and due to an act of faith gaining relentless for the unit and so for the Immolator transport (I let this slide ingame, will look at it below in analysis). Said Relentless Immolator having moved 12" proceeded to destroy my Rhino on my right flank shielding the predator still.

That was the turn as nothing else of note happened (DCA move towards their left, the big stretched out sister squad fired a MM at a rhino on my left and failed to do anything, the Exorcist fired at my Predator with the comment 'that was stupid, str 8 vs av 13').

My second turn saw me advance the rhino wall again all sideways facing with the lash princes behind and covered with LoS to the sisters unit in the open. It also saw my obliterators Deep Strike and land smack bang on within 2" of the exorcist on my left (I'm really offensive with my Deep Striking, it either fails or pays off hugely) and also next to the stretched out sisters squad - exorcists are nasty, they need to die, 3 twin linked meltaguns would do the job, but so would 3 PC's against the sisters stretched out...and so I lashed those sisters out of their cover into the open to clump them up as much as possible. Now, I wasn't allowed to move the models because my opponent felt that I was moving them too roughly so I was cool with that, but when you are moving a unit 5" to clump them in the open and your opponent is not listening to you and leaves them in cover and they get frustrated as you say no, not there again and again and they chuck the tape measure down at you and say 'nuh, that's it, do what you want' and you respond 'all I'm doing is moving them into the open' and the retort is 'exactly! so as I don't get a cover save' and then they forfeit on you, and begin to pack up before you can even do anything to get them to keep playing you feel like shit. So I went and got Kirby and that was that.

The comment that struck a chord with me was 'I didn't expect to play someone like this! He looked at my army list at the start of the game and highlighted all my strengths and weaknesses and the game was over before it begun', and to be honest it was a non comp seeded tournament, it was a tournament not a GW based friendly game, even at comp tournaments I see people playing hard and giving it their all, this was nothing different, so I played as well as I could with an unfamiliar list. That's neither here nor there, this is where we sit down and break the game and some rules down so as you players who are less experienced can improve your game.

Analysis - what was done wrong and how the game should have played out for a Sisters win:

The Immolator Scouted in the wrong direction - it should have scouted towards the players' left flank where the main forces were. It would have been able to give Uriah Jacobus and the DCA cover as well. My army as a whole to my mind was on my left flank and they drove straight into it knowing I had the first turn. When you are 12" away from an opponents' deployment zone before the game begins and you know they have rhinos with melta and plasma weapons in them, there's basically one outcome that is going to happen - you will lose that vehicle and whatever is in it. This is exactly what happened and it started to weaken that flank for the sisters.

The Sisters were deployed poorly being stretched out as there was very little chance blasts would come into it, so deploying them clumped with the rest of the army would have been fine, but as this was not the case and they were spread out, in the first turn they should have moved and also run toward the left flank of the army (instead of standing still and firing a lone MM at a rhino). This would have set up for a castled refused flank with an exorcist that would need to be dealt with on the far flank because D6 str 8 AP 1 shots could annihilate a squad a turn or destroy my armour. The sisters would have sacrificed an exorcist but I would have to divert forces to deal with it whilst the sisters were consolidating. There were reserves still to come in which also meant the Sisters knew exactly what I was doing but they had the flexibility of where the reserves would arrive.

In any case, if the player had moved to castle her left, there'd have been enough forces to push in and kill my Havocs and tri-lascannon predator and have a gun line which I would have to close on through 3-4 foot of difficult terrain. My 4 rhinos would immobilise 2-3 of themselves on that push in purely because of the difficult terrain tests they'd have to take. This would have given the Sisters plenty of time to arrange a firing line where the full force of their firepower would have torrented my vehicles to destruction and the Plague Marines inside or the Daemon Princes. It was a long game strategy, but the primary for that round was kill points and they needed to sacrifice that left flank to pool forces and make me come to them. I had 12-24" range only with half my real killing power at 12" range. It would have been really hard for me to have pulled out a victory against that approach. Instead, forfeit on the second turns shooting phase because a big sisters squad that was poorly placed and then didn't move away from the main batch of their opposed army and stood still was being lashed into the open to die and the exorcist was probably going to get killed by the Obliterators. The game was far from over, and every game of 40k can swing the other way because we still play with random number generating cubes.

Some rules to clarrify:

Units - a Unit and a Dedicated Transport are two separate Units.
This means that a transport with fire points allows the passengers to fire from those points at one target, whilst the vehicle itself, being a separate unit, can shoot at another target (or the same one if desired). The vehicle is not restricted to shooting at the same target as the passengers using the fire point.

Acts of Faith affect the unit with the special rule. They don't affect transports that the unit has brought or are using, because Tanks are different Units to the Unit inside them. Moreover, none of the vehicles in the Sisters of battle armoury have individual Acts of Faith.

I bring this up because the Sisters' player illegally moved the Immolator in their first turn the full 12" and fired the Multi-melta citing the unit gained Relentless, and I, being unfamiliar with how Faith worked let it slide trusting they knew it right.

There's another rule on page 58 for vehicles and their shooting - that they always ignore penalties for moving and shooting rapid fire or heavy weapons and instead can fire a number of weapons equal to how far they moved. So stationary (pivoting takes up no movement) = all weapons. Combat Speed (up to 6" for a tank) = 1 weapon and all defensive weapons, and Cruising Speed (up to the 12" for a Tank) no weapons at all.

To summarise, the Acts of Faith can only be used on the unit that has them, not any of the transports or vehicles in the Sisters of Battle Codex. Moreover, vehicles ignore the normal rules for what they can and can't fire and instead follow independent rules based on how far they have moved. The only exceptions to this are ordnance, ordnance barrage, defensive and optional weapons, which each have separate rules for when they can fire.

Some advice with the army - before the round, and before I knew I'd be fighting this player, we talked briefly about the sisters of battle and I was made aware that Dominions couldn't have triple or quadruple melta in minimalist sized squads since the Cruddace white dwarf codex release and that is sucky as, and as the player experienced in their previous game vs the triple land raider/terminator army, this can be an issue. The magic number of melta weapons at BS 4 to do damage and eliminate them as a threat against you next turn or for the game is 3, 3 melta weapons at once is awesome, two, not so much. Now, having read the list and options available you actually CAN take a third melta in those units - the sister superior can take a combi-melta. Indeed, she can replace both her boltgun and bolt pistol with a combi-weapon so you can take 2 combi-meltas. Why would you pay 10pts for a single shot melta? Because suddenly you are able to deal with armour far more effectively, and the best part is that this can be done on all your actual sisters squads outside of repentia and seraphim. Space Wolves do it all the time, combi-melta on Wolf Guard to increase the melta shots at key targets each game on a unit by unit scale.

Additionally, learn to recognise what armies' are going to dislike about your army and what they are likely going to be targetting asap - in my case with the Chaos Marines, the exorcists would just tear me apart, I had very few troops because they were expensive and also very few vehicles for the level of play (1850pts - I'd normally have close on a dozen pieces of armoured vehicle at least at this points level not 6) and anything that can chew through Power Armour easily (hello Death Cult Assassins). On the other hand a more horde orientated army such as foot slogging orks are not going to care about the exorcists because their rate of fire won't affect them as much as massed bolter/Heavy Bolter fire will so they are more likely to go for your squads. In each case, you need to know what units are going to be targetted and use that to your advantage to strand units (either in deployment or in-game) or get them to over commit to targetting those units such that you can better survive against them to lay down your own firepower. Finally - everyone is going to kill Uriah Jacobus. Uriah is an Independent Character so you can start him outside your battle enclave. Indeed starting him attached to a 15 strong sisters unit gives you an extra 15 attacks base from the unit and Feel No Pain, they suddenly become pretty good at combat due to sheer weight of attacks and massively survivable to boot. Death Cult Assassins are pretty much set regardless, but the FnP bonus of Uriah to this unit is also hugely beneficial as well. Consider attaching him to a unit of retributors to massively increase their survivability.

Some advice/tricks on rhino use as many players don't understand how to use them as well as they could (lots of newer players bring this point up):

Rhinos and other transports fall into two main categories - Gunboats or Cover.

A Gunboat Transport is a transports whose main role is to provide supporting fire first and act as a Cover based vehicle after this. Common gunboats include Razorbacks chiefly of the lascannon/twin-linked Plasmagun variety or in the Sisters of Battle Case an Immolator with either twin-linked Multi-Melta's or twin-linked Heavy Flamers.

A Cover Transport is one that provides cover to the rest of your army or the unit being transported inside it. 5th edition 40k is an edition dominated by mechanised - mech - play. The ability of a vehicle to affect the battlefield and your froce's effectiveness via mobbility and acting to control the battlefield via cover providing is key to successful mechanised play. There are plenty of articles written on the blog for these but some quick points are that transports are generally cheap - 35 to 70 pts roughly each. They usually have a front and side armour value of 11 and are larger than infantry models. Their ability to block Line of Sight (LoS) to other units and tanks in your army is huge because you can expose their sides which are longer then their front yet still the same armour value. Outside of Tau and their str 5 base weaponry, most armies have to use dedicated vehicle hunting weapons to damage or destroy transports so they are reliable in providing cover or blocking lanes of fire to your units behind them. A basic tactic which sees common play by veteran players is the pivot. A Vehicle can freely pivot on the spot at any point in its movement phase without affecting the distance it moves. If it only pivots on the spot it counts as stationary. So, lining your transports up on their sides at the edge of your deployment zone (leave a gapo behind them so they can pivot straight in their first turn) allows them to pivot on the spot then move in the movement phase of your first turn. This actually gains you a few extra inches of movement so instead of moving 12" you are in effect moving closer to 14" in that opening turn, or in the case of a disembark, your vehicle move isn't 6" it is closer to 8" and disembarking being 2" from the access point gets you a good 10" move from the get go. Rapid Fire weapons suddenly have a 32" range effective that first turn, and if you are going second that means you are more then likely getting 2 shots per model into the enemy (go go Bolters/Plasmaguns).

Another point to remember is that enemy units at no point are allowed to move within 1" of a vehicle (or any of your units for that matter) other then when charging them in the assault phase. This allows you to set up vehicle conga lines that are spaced about 2.5" apart (a small base is 1" diameter so 1" to each tank is 2" add half an inch and the model still can't move between the gap in the tank line). A wall of a half dozen transports can in effect block off huge portions of the battlefield to the enemy allowing your forces to gain a cover save as well as lines of sight to the enemy whilst retaining this cover save against their return fire. Even more important is that the enemy have to punch through the tank line to ensure they can kill off all your important units. If you do it right, your transports suddenly become some of the most influential parts of the entire game without firing a single shot. It takes a lot of practice, but when you apply it well, your opponents will be bashing their heads against a brick wall trying to get to you with their own infantry or tanks.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where I'll leave this already overly long article. Please use the discussion section to add any helpful advice you have for less experienced players. :)


Auretious "Watch Tower" Taak.

P.S. If anyone who is aware of who my opponent was and is able to contact them and let them know this article is up for their benefit, so they can improve their game and understand ways in which to combat similar events occurring in future games, that would be grand.

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