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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Guest Article: Blob Guard Part 1: Squad Sizes & Heavy Weapons

Greetings, I’ve been using my own Blog to document the progression and tactics etc employed when using a 'Blob' guard list since October 2011 and have continued through evolutions of the lists based on my findings and I’ve asked Kirby if I could post them on 3++.  He agreed!

Now I'm not a newcomer to guard, having used mechanised guard as one of my main armies for years alongside marines of various chapters (Favourite being the codex boys still) until I got the bug to try out the less seen infantry horde, or as its dubbed online, ‘Blob’ guard. This was all started after coming across a very nice site which is where I got my inspiration for starting this army.

I’ve continued researching what is the best number of bodies for a power blob through play testing, both in casual and tourney games, trying to work out available wounds and costs to damage / survivability.

From first test running the blob army at 30 man squads I’ve bumped them up to 40. This meant the general army went from 4x 30 man squads to 3x40 man, my logic being to see how not having the extra 5 man PCS would work out, and also to see how 40 men would work compared to 30 men when absorbing damage.

While the 30 man squads were compact enough to move around and still put out some hurt, I found them significantly reduced by the time combat would come around.  When bumping the squads to 40 I found them much more durable and capable in combat. It’s amazing with the extra Sgt and bodies can do, as well as the extra bodies making break tests less likely unless they're properly torrented by the enemy fire.

The other reason I swapped to 40 man blobs was to give me the option to break down the squads into either a 10 man squad support firing while a 30 man blob advanced, or to make two 20 man blobs, one which could advance (Or both could, they have enough bodies, as long as I keep the non commissar one out of combat and use the regimental standard to keep them on the field) and the non commissar one fire support whilst giving me a solid enough mass of bodies to hold a capture and control objective with.

However, although the 40-man blobs give me more flexibility in deployment and use, I have found the two 20 man blobs can suffer if you play them against the wrong enemy. A good example is a mate Scotty’s DOA list which showed me the errors of my way as he cleaved through squads over a turn or two without unengaging himself from combat where I could shoot him. Thus I think for facing Combat orientated armies it will come down to what I’m facing but the blobs will stay at 40 guys. Whereas if I’m facing a pure MSU Mech list (particularly in non KP games) I'm more likely to take the 20 man blobs to allow me more target opportunity and forcing more on my opponent. The problem is getting the experience to know what size fits what enemy army.

Going back to the previous point I was making, by taking the 40 man squads under 1 platoon I get options I would not have had if I take two 30 man platoons. And in the army I’m finding the fewer but bigger platoons allow me the options already mentioned above while lessening my possible KP if needs be. I’m thinking of also testing 50 man blobs to allow me a 20 man sit back with heavy weapons and shoot while 30 advance. The problem with going this big with the blobs is that certain armies or even units will munch them down (GK purifiers, even in 5 man squads, I suspect will ruin my day).

Until I prove myself wrong I think 40 man blobs with 2 commissars are the way to go as it has enough staying power to make a night of it, (with 15 PW attacks or 20 on the charge, 4 melta bombs for busting vehicles, 4 meltagun shots and 4 lascannon shots which gives them a lot of versatility making even more options when blob squadding to make smaller 20 man blobs on demand) but small enough to get them where you want position wise.

One of the blob decisions I’ve been pondering greatly for my lists is separate heavy weapon squads or taking heavy weapons in my infantry squads. Now both have their own advantages and disadvantages and will lead to slightly different play style of the lists.

What I mean by this is if we took heavy weapon squads   we could deploy them in cover behind the blobs and use them for fire support as the blob squad’s advance. This gives us a clear cut role for each unit, but the downside is that with so many S6 weapons and higher out there, eventually you will fail a cover save or two and have the team instant deathed. 

This means it's not hard for certain armies to shred such squads with one-two units of firepower, dependant on rolling. This gives them a quick and easy kill point and reduces your firepower. With the small unit size, weak toughness and fact they have heavy hitting weapons usually, they will be target number 1 for opponents. In kill point games this could prove to be a liability, but with so few in the rest of the army, it shouldn't be too much of an issue. In all games, particularly seize ground however, they give me lots of extra firepower whilst letting my blobs move allowing the army some mobility.

On the opposite end of the scale we have infantry squads, and of course these guys are already in you blob list (I hope), so is it a good thing to give them heavy weapon teams to give them options?

What I mean by this is firstly wound allocation; you can soak 1 wound on the squads (Because I'm assuming no one mixes heavy weapon types). But this is just a minor (though useful) benefit allowing one more guy to live and become a wound soaker afterwards. But the main bonus is not being able to be picked out in shooting! This alone swings it for me as I can Blob up in terrain Vs mech armies in kill point missions and rain down 4 lascannons on their light armour or vehicles of threat, and with BID (Bring it down - Order) I can twin-link them vs. any MC's or Vehicles making them even more likely to do something. Add in extra defenses against tank shocks and they certainly have uses.

While people might think this limits my amount of targeting, I'd disagree, as I can target at least 2 targets a turn in a kill point game with lascannons (My only long range shots at the moment are 4 lascannon teams in each blob) but in a seize ground game I can split the blobs into two 20 man blobs meaning I suddenly gain 4 available targets, or if I really feel like it, just keep the squads as 10 man ones and have 8 available targets. By now it’s become a heavy weapon with loads of extra wounds, and a Meltagun of course for close range get away from me threat.

Also come assault if I can get the heavy weapon base into combat then a lot more of my models can get within 2 inches of it who had until then been trailing behind giving me cover saves.

Finally in Kill point games integrated heavy weapons in the squads keeps my army down to a nice 8 kp total for the force. Not shabby when you consider 3 of those need 31 men removed and the others can be hidden around them.

The next question though, which heavy weapon? This will be covered in the next part!

Thoughts & comments and thanks for reading.

- James

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