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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Mobile Melta Disruption Units...

Yesterday I managed to paint up my piranhas in the new tau colour scheme I've had on the workbench since the summer. It also got me thinking about the uses of a unit like this, and decided to do a write up.

Mobile Melta Disruption Units (I'll just call them MMDU for short) are cheap, fast and disposable units (and inevitably small and rather fragile). Their popularity has declined lately but some armies, such as tau still utilise them often. The 3-man reaver units that I use in my VenomSpam are a similar unit, as are land speeders.

What are the advantages of these units? They are cheap and still provide a credible threat to any tanks in the game. Comparing a MM attack bike to a full 10-man tac squad in rhino is a good comparison. The tac squad should have atleast double melta, making it more reliable then the speeder. However, you are paying about double the price per meltagun. This is because there is more to a tac squad then just the melta. However, when you purely need the melta, the land speeder is more cost efficient. They are also fast, meaning that they are quick to redeploy, work pretty well from reserves etc.. However, here is a common misconception. Infact, the threat range of a melta squad in a transport is often longer then that of these units. The land speeder and attack bikes have multimeltas. so their threat range is longer, but comparing a piranha or reavers to other melta units shows that this is not always the case. It would seem that the first point is the main reason for why we would want to take a MMDU.

What other ways do we often utilise cheap expendable units? We use them as movement blockers, or as disruption. Especially with tau piranhas, I feel that very much emphasis has been placed on their ability to be used as disruption. The logic is to use the squads good movement and expendability to move up and disrupt your opponent's movement. Good manouvres can atleast delay your opponent to a great extent. Sometimes you might even be able to stop tanks from moving all together. However, I feel that this tactic is often overemphasized. You are placing your unit in harms way. Cheap, yes, but can we have a situation in which we can disrupt enemy movement and still preserve our melta unit?

This involves playing with threat ranges. Instead of driving your MMDU straight in your opponent's face, you place it in a position to threaten a certain area of the board. Thus, if your opponent wishes to move up the most desirable route for him, he will have to risk being shot by the melta squad(s). Alternatively, he can attempt to move around. This way your are better preserving your unit, even though it's cheap. MMDUs are the cheapest way to get credible threats to armour, not necessarily 'sure' kills, but a threat none the less and are a good way to get these sorts of 'threat bubbles' onto the battlefield for a very cheap price. This, combined with their ability to redeploy effectively (between 24"-36" a turn) makes them great for this purpose.

There are some direct downsides to this sort of indirect disruption. For one, if your opponent's aim is to bring that deathstar as close to you as possible, you would rather stop the tank as far away from you as possible. It is in your opponent's interest to ram that unit up your throat, regardless of the melta. Thus, physically limiting movement is the better alternative. This is often (but certainly not always) the case with tau, but not necessarily with more mobile armies. I feel that direct disruption techniques are often overemphasized.

That is not to say that setting up threat bubbles is a better tactic for MMDUs. As with so many other things, it depends on the given situation. I just feel that it is important to remember that alternative. It isn't necessary to drive up to your opponent's face to block his movement, in many cases simply exerting enough pressure to a certain area will guide your opponent to move around it. And it is in the movement phase that games are most often won.

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