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

Friday, May 4, 2012

Your Guide to: Shooting Paladins off the Board

Your Guide to: Shooting Paladins off the Board

I hate to single out a single army build, but with the interwebz abuzz with the perceived dominance of Grey Knight armies and the fact they are spreading like wildfire, I'm willing to make an exception.

With nothing against its players, Draigowing combines most of the things many people like least about 5th Edition 40k; a multi-wound unit with almost limitless combinations for wound-allocation shenanigans and the ability to pawn the few wounds that would stick off onto attached characters. Then add in access to radgrenades, psykotrope, psycannons, etc, options like stubborn or a fearless inquisitor, and you're left with a very small army that frustrates the enemy.

Let's ignore for a moment the fact that, except perhaps in Kill Point matches, it also isn't very good, because the truth is it is winning games against a lot of people. Draigowing armies generally have a shockingly low ability to deal with MSU since they only consist of a few units and tend to overkill single targets, but this sort of build does what it does and that is enough to roll a lot of players.

What this article is not about:
This article is not about beating Paladins in assault. That has been discussed at length elsewhere. This article is also not about tank shocking Paladins - it's neither as hard to do as Draigowing players like to claim nor as easy as the 'Just tank shock them off the board!' crowd makes out.

What this article is about:
Shooting the shiny grey terminators off the table.

Your goals 
They may not be easy but at least they are simple:
1) Get rid of the biggest threats to your high quality firepower first (Clue: usually Dreadnoughts)
2) Never purposfully put a single wound on a squad that will later take an instant death hit, and never purposfully put an instant death hit on a squad with a model that has already taken a single wound.

You will sometimes be firing from mixed squads featuring both smallarms and anti-tank weapons so it is almost inevitable the enemy squads you are trying to instant-kill will take a few wounds along the way, but your goal must be to keep your firepower as efficient as possible

Whats the big deal about Draigo?
Paladins are terminators with 2 wounds each, and a massive amount of customisable options that allow them to differentiate models and spread wounds out to avoid any individual taking two and actually having the decency to, well, you know, die. Draigo makes them count as troops.
Draigo himself has a 3++ invulnerable save, 4 wounds and is an Eternal Warrior, meaning that even the really high quality shots that should instant kill a T4 model have somewhere to go that won't result in a model dying. Suffice it to say that some opponents find this frustrating.
He also has Grand Strategy, making things like Dreadnoughts score or the Paladins he just turned into troops also become scouts.

Some examples of ‘Draigowing’
For those who have had the good fortune to live under a rock, let's have a quick look at what we might be up against when someone brings their ‘Draigowing’ to the table.

This is the basic build and is probably most common; it will have Draigo and 10 to 20 paladins, and generally backed up by some Psyammo Dreadnoughts with dual Autocannons (commonly called 'Psyfledreads').
  • Draigo with 5 to 10 Paladins
  • 5 Paladins or more as points allow
  • 2 or 3 Psyfledreads
The 'Basket Build' has one terrifically expensive squad and appeals to people who love having a Death Star unit and then, unlike Darth Vader, decide they would like to take out insurance on it. Unfortunately that makes the Death Star even more expensive by putting ever more eggs in that one basket.
  • Dragio with 10 paladins, along with options like a grenade carrying Inquisitor or Techmarine, and occasionally even an Apocathery or Librarian.
  • One or two Solo Paladins (nicknamed Soladins)
  • 2 or 3 Psyfledreads
This is a list that uses paladins and takes some light armoured transports or a Landraider along. It's pretty common, and variants include everything from Strike Squads in Razorbacks to Acolytes in Chimeras.
Its strength is that it has more units and speed, but since its biggest weakness is that it makes it obvious for opponents where they should allocate various strength weapons I won't be talking as much about it unless someone asks for advice.
These are diluted lists rather than real ‘Draigowing’, and they should be dealt with like any list that combines Terminator equivalents with weaker allies; you know what to shoot at which enemy unit.
 Dragio + 5 to 10 paladins (
  • Grey Knight Strike Squads with Razorbacks
  • Or Acolytes in Razorbacks/Chimeras
  • 2 or 3 Psyfledreads

Target Priority, the Key to Victory

Step 1: Ignore The Paladins

Yes you read that right. If most/many of your guns are Vehicle based, especially if they are on Razorback or skimmer platforms, ignore the Paladins for the first turn or two and kill those dreads.  If you aren't relying on light vehicles for fire power (a rare occassion where Nids and Leman Russes fit the same category), skip to step 2.

I don't care if your lascannon can instant kill a Paladin or your S8+ blasts can spread wounds out and someone might fail a save, if you don't kill those Dreads you will not have anything to kill the paladins with.
Stunned and Shaken results count for almost nothing so grit your teeth, focus fire, get the job done. I'd use anything on them, all the way down to scatterlasers, multilasers and S6 guns even knowing the chance to knock off guns with glances is low.

The Exception to the Rule: If an enemy Paladin unit does not have Draigo attached and will not be getting cover saves this turn, fire any S8+ AP2- shots at them immediately. If this does not apply, ignore them and focus even the S8+ AP2- shots on Dreadnoughts.

Done? Great. Moving on.

Step 2: Make The Wounds Stick.

If you have already killed the dreads or your guns are not vehicle based, your priority is putting wounds where they will Stick.

A wound sticks when it will either instant-death a paladin, or mount up quickly on a small squad that is using wound allocation shenanigans. How easily you can do this depends on your own army build so here are some options to suit different armies.

Choose your own Adventure.
[] Do you have a standard mixed army with balanced firepower? Turn to Tactic 1
[] Do you have Guns, lots of Guns? Turn to Tactic 2
[] Do you have some Guns in an Assault Army? Turn to Tactic 3
Tactic 1: For Standard Armies with Balanced Firepower.
If you have killed the dreads or your guns are not vehicle based, your next priority is putting wounds where they will Stick.
A wound sticks when it will either instant-death a paladin, or mount up quickly on a small squad that is using wound allocation shenanigans.

For example, using the MULTIPLE PALADIN UNITS list above,
  • Draigo with 5 to 10 Paladins
  • Squad A: 5 Paladins
  • Squad B: 5 Paladins
Most high quality S8 or AP2 shots directed at his squad will be allocated onto Draigo, so you should fire them at a squad that doesn't have him in it; Squad A. Next you should fire your low quality high-volume fire at the same squad after it has hopefully been reduced by a few Paladins, accelerating its demise. In the following turn, use high quality firepower on the next squad without Draigo (Squad B), and mop up the remainder of Squad A with low quality firepower.

Here is a very simple target priority.
  1. S8+ Blasts first (to get maximum targets under template)
  2. S8+ Guns second (Lascannons, etc)
  3. S7- Blasts third (maximum remaining targets under template, but there was no point doing this before lascannons etc since the opponent would just remove any wounded models)
  4. S7- Guns fourth to clean up depleted squads.
If the opponent has the 'Basket Build' list, be aware that most players who use Soladins will keep them in reserve and try bring them on out of Line of Sight, so try make sure their edge of the table doesn’t have much blocking terrain, and set yourself up to be able to hit these zones in advance.
Until these loners arrive, you may find yourself going through all four types of firepower against a single squad with Draigo attached, which will still work as long as you get the order right. 

Tactic 2: Guns. Lot's of Guns

We’re now talking about Tau, Guard and Dark Eldar levels of firepower. If you have a LOT of guns then you can do this more efficiently than above. The difference is that we should now have enough options available to ALWAYS use firepower exactly where we need it.

1) S8+ Blasts against any Paladin groups first (maximum targets under template). This is rarely more than 3, unless you send a transport forward for them to wreck. Perhaps consider sending a transport forward for them to wreck.

2) S8+ Guns second (Lascannons, etc) on smallest target that doesn’t contain Eternal-Warrior Draigo and has the lowest amount of wounded models. 
Small Squad, No Draigo, Few wounded models? Hit it with lascannons.

3) S7- Blasts (you want the maximum remaining targets under template, but there was no point firing these before lascannons etc since the opponent would just remove any wounded models)

4) S7- Guns against the smallest paladin squad, or the squad carrying the most wounds.

If all goes according to plan the result should be that one enemy squad will have models removed one at a time by high quality firepower, and then it will be finished off by volume of fire and torrented to death when it has few places to allocate wounds.

At close range
You should have taken a large chunk out of the enemy by the time they get close to your lines, and then it's time to use Meltaguns on Draigo's squad using the same approach as above:
  1. Quality Blasts
  2. Quality guns (now including Melta -Paladins HATE melta)
  3. Flamers & Heavy Flamers
  4. Low Quality blasts (after flamers so the opponent can't remove the models in range of them)
  5. Then low quality guns (believe it or not, ‘low quality’ includes Plasma in this matchup!)
Then you can use prayer or foul language, or what I prefer to do which is ‘Run’ a squad of 10 men to surround the enemy squad so they can't do anything but assault 50pts of guardsmen next turn. 
Who's feeling frustrated now?

Tactic 3: You have an Assault Army with some Guns

If you have an assault-orientated army, you will obviously have less guns available so you need to make the shots you have count even more.

You may have to accept that you can only take out few paladins with ranged firepower before the lines crash, and even then only if you play smart and focus.

Is there an enemy squad that will REALLY make a difference in Assault, and do you have the firepower to deal with it? For instance a 5 Paladin squad with a character attached carrying Psykobrokes and Radgrenades. If so, simply focus everything you have on this squad until it is removed using the same order of weapon priority as above, and don't waste a single shot on anything else.

If not, you are probably best advised to use your limited quality firepower on a squad that does not have a character attached to catch bullets (ie not Draigo's), and your low quality firepower to take out any Soladins or stragglers.

You will then still have to be very clever with your assaults, but at least the target should be prepped and you shouldn't be too easily overwhelmed.


If you take absolutely nothing else away from this article, please remember that whatever you do, you need to make sure that your hits will stick and not be wasted through wound allocation. Never purposfully put a single wound on a squad that will later take an instant death hit, and never purposfully put an instant death hit on a squad with a model that has already taken a single wound.

I hope this helps with some ideas of how to deal with them using the Shoot Phase and remove some of the mystique attached to what is really just one more deathstar army. It may be one of the best of its type, but the reason for its success is more to do with lack of preparation and planning by its opponents, lack of understanding about how to avoid its wound-allocation and eternal-warrior wound allocation, and players needing more awareness of its weaknesses.

And then we can all get back to playing 40K for a few months until the Wound Allocation rules are changed and Ebay fills with cheap paladin models. Well, I can dream can't I?

P.S. I wrote this for some local players who were asking how to deal with Draigowing last Thursday, then went to a tournament two days later and got to practise what I preached. With a fair amount of luck and a lot of planning, the result was I killed all but two models from a Draigo army and only lost one Kill Point in the process. Hoo-Rah! I wasn't even playing Guard.

Good luck!

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...