FtW Bloggers Group

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Alternative deployment: finding the right dosage

 photo IMG_1553.jpg Stole my opponent's skyshield t1 at the ESC.

Generally when browsing through the internet, you see 2 kinds of lists: lists that don't consider deployment options like deepstrike, infiltrate, outflank etc., and lists that are built around the concept of alternative deployment. In my gaming philosophy, having the option to utilise things like deepstrike and infiltrate really open up ways to adapt into matchups, something that you might find super useful in a TAC list. However, over usage generally leads to gimmicky lists. I'd divide the effects of alternative deployment into three groups: (1) Giving board control outside your deployment zone before t1, (2) postponing the commitment of your assets and (3) opening up new attack vectors.

The first group is pretty simple, but can be game changing. Fleshhound spam utilises scout moves to already ensure midfield presence on t1 and reduces the distance required to cross towards enemy lines. Basically, you could say scouting takes away a whole shooting phase from your enemy. This is a pretty "crude" tactic in that it's pretty straightforward and one dimensional. Shadowsun + broadsides infiltrating can place your unit in better terrain, give you better shooting lanes or just place your unit withing range of your enemy, no matter how far back he deployed. I'd still say that the biggest advantage of gaining board control outside of your deployment zone from the get go, is in countering these sorts of moves, counter infiltration and scouting. You don't need anything flashy for this, in fact sacrificial units are often the best units for this purpose. Did anybody else notice the 13 flayed ones running around in Hesselberg's wraithwing in the Adepticon finals? he said he'd taken the unit partly for this exact purpose.

Postponing commitment takes a couple of forms. Rule number 1, if your unit has the infiltrate special rule, always infiltrate. If you're deploying first, or your opponent has infiltrators, you can wait and see how he deploys, and react to that. However, any unit can fit into this group, just by being placed in reserves. Your opponent has to react to the possibility of reserved units coming in from anywhere on your table edge (or elsewhere, depending on whether they can outflank/deepstrike). Jevgeni, the Russian Ork/Tau player, placed his riptide in regular reserve (spearhead deployment) during the last round of the ESC against me. This forced me to infiltrate the big kroot squad to block off a portion of the boardedge (6" in so he couldn't jump over), to ensure that he couldn't come on at an angle that wouldn't allow my broadsides cover against the str8 ap2 blast he had. Reserving always puts you at a disadvantage on the early turns, as you have less points on the table, so if you don't take this into account when building your lists, you might not be able to take advantage of reserves, even when it might give you a distinct advantage.

Have you ever deepstruck a riptide? In some matches I've opted to deepstrike him, bringing a pretty resilient threat somewhere in my opponent's backfield, without needing to first hop over his advancing elements. Deepstriking and outflanking can help you bypass parts of your opponent's army, and add new vectors with which to engage. Against some lists, this can shake up their playstyle/strategy. Andrew from Team USA raped our Tau player's backfield in a mirror match at the ESC with about 90 kroots coming on from Joonas' board edge (with the help of a positional relay on his riptide).

Most players would agree with the above ideas in theory, but find it to be less useful in practice. Then again, some people build lists totally around this concept (sometimes referred to as null deployment lists). In my opinion, alternative deployment is something to never count on (and shouldn't be used in every game) but completely neglecting them would be just as stupid. There ARE situations in which these tactics work really well, and trying to keep the option open when building your list adds versatility. It's all about balance.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Unit sizes, footprints etc.

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I came up with this topic when I was considering units for a Chaos Daemons army I'm planning on taking to the next tournament in Hyvinkää (it'll be a cool lost and the damned style army with ig allies but not necessarily the most stable list to play). I was comparing fiends and seekers. On paper, seekers come with way more attacks, don't suffer from instant death etc.. Most lists would include seekers. However, fiends have the nice advantage of a way smaller foot print (easier to avoid focus fire and hide behind losblock), and can stack more wounds into a smaller area on the battlefield.

Larger squads often have the problem of needing to spread out over a wider area. This was already true in 5th. Squads like Ork boyz (or seekers) rarely got to shoot all their shootas or attack with everybody in combat. In 6th, this has become even more significant due to the new wound allocation system. If you want to be in a position to push a certain way next turn, you need to stack more models there or your opponent's shooting might push you too far back. We in Finland try to always work in a blast or two to force your opponent to spread out. It can have a HUGE impact. My Orks really liked playing against crons, because they rarely had any template weapons. Against anything with blasts, your boys were just less effective.

Smaller squad sizes also don't always mean decreased durability. Multiple wounds, better toughness or saves can make up for that. If you have more durability on one point of the battlefield without needing to stack more models, that can work in your favour. I'd say this is most important with assault units. Losing even one model might increase your charge range drastically with how random charge lengths work. I guess that's one of the reasons 90% of CC units in the meta are multiwound models. 

That's not to say that there aren't pros to larger footprints. Some armies play against flyers just by denying effective movement lanes (yes 90 gargoyles, we're looking at you). Sometimes you might need a longer bubblewrap. You might be able to hold one objective and contest another with the same unit. In 5th, when tank shock was the bane of armies like daemons, charging a strung out big daemon unit could block off contesting. But with the way 6th ed wound allocation works, and how a lot of contesters can now move large distances in the shooting phase, there needs to be a good balance. A larger footprint generally means you're giving up your positional strength at a single point, and spreading it thinner amongst a larger area.

Friday, 16 August 2013

ETC 2013

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The Swedish captain, Daniel "Papa-D" Hesselberg, feeling good after wooping my ass in the Singles. It was great hanging out with all the guys, some of which I'd already met at Adepticon. 

ETC 2013 is over, and it was a blast. Here's a brief recap of the main event.

Round 1 was against Wales. We'd had plenty of time to think about the first round pairing and had found it to be a close match based on lists, with a slight edge for Wales. I ended up being paired up against their mech gk, as the last pair before champions. He had 3 psyflemen, 7 psybacks (5 strike squads, 2 purifiers), coteaz and a paladin manning the quad gun with aegis.

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 Forward boys!

We were playing big guns (5 obj.) with 5th ed spearhead deployment. All etc missions had 4th ed style victory points. He won all the rolls at the start, picking the side with more objectives and getting first turn. I reserved all the attack bikes and all but one troop squad, deploying as far back as possible. First turns I moved up slowly, blowing up some psybacks and purifiers who had moved up. He shot at the riptide with his long range stuff, making about a wound per turn. He was still concerned with all my reserves arriving on his flank, and held back 3 strike squads completely out of the fight.

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You'll see many pics just like this.

I brought my stuff on with the rest of the fire base, starting to move up with the attack bikes turn 3. My commander joined the riptide to shoot 2 psyflemen who had a purifier in between to place the marker on (twin-linked, ignores cover, tankhunter ftw) on t2. Eventually I killed off all his HS, scored 2 objectives (one with the broadsides the second with the big kroot and librarian) and denied one objective with attack bikes. Game ended t5 12-8 for me. Unfortunately, our csm player took 0 points from wraithwing and we had some other minor losses. No major wins on our side meant we lost the round.

Round 2 was against The Czech Republic. I played their scythe spam crons (I was paired into the match). He had imothek and some av 13 vehicles starting on the board, with 4 scythes and 1 doomscythe in reserve. Crusade (4 obj) + killpoints with vanguard strike.

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So that was pretty much the match. I got to go second and a fortified ruin in my deployment zone so the doom scythe wouldn't instagib my broadsides. He brought stuff on in the corner, and tried to score killpoints with imothek's storm. I tried to shoot stuff with the commander-riptide combo. I reserved as much as possible first, to minimize lightning. I eventually scored first blood (t3) from a Catacomb Command barge, whilst he had just brought my whirlwind down to 1 hullpoint on his turn. He came up t5 with all his stuff, but couldn't kill anything. I proceeded to shoot his warriors off objectives (ap4 ignores cover ftw) and gain control of 1 objective. Lucky for him, game ended t5. I won 13-7. The rest of the team did well aswell, we won the round.

Round 3 was against Romania. I was put forth as second defender, and they paired Tau into me. He had 2 riptides, 8 broadsides with missile drones, firewarriors behind an aegis and minimal eldar allies. It was one objective in the center of the board, emperor's will with dawn of war deployment. Lucky for me, I got first turn.
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I'm pushing so hard t1, the camera can't keep up with it.

I deployed my broadsides in my fortified ruin (he had no markerlights for some reason) and all the attack bikes ready to go. My troops and whirlwind were in reserve. TFC is alone on the right flank. 
He deployed behind his aegis with about half his troops on reserve. He didn't seize. My suit commander joined multimelta attack bikes, pathfinders scout moved to mark another broadside squad and suddenly he was two squads down. He retaliated by killing a squad of attack bikes and instagibbing a broadside. However, it was pretty much over by then. Next turn I killed the last broadsides and the game went on to t7. He had a single wounded riptide contesting the center objective and kroots on his base that had passed 2 turns of ld6 morales and killed off the attack bike in combat with them. 14-6 for me. Finland won the round.

Next up was Belarus. I was put forth as second defender and got DE with nightshields. Unfortunately for him, he had splinter rack raiders, which can't range deny my broadsides.

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 Back in the safety of my fortified ruin

We were playing Relic and crusade (2 objectives) with dawn of war deployment. He got first turn but deployed across his entire deployment zone as my objective was on my left flank. I deployed everything on the right, except one attack bike squad, which hid behind a hill to the left. Whirlwind and troops in reserve. His first turn caused my pathfinders to break, but they rallied. He'd brought up 4 splinter rack raiders and I proceeded to shoot them all down with target locking broadsides. MM attack bikes on the left exploded a ravager. Some ignores cover on the beast pack killed a few khymerea. His beast pack charged some attack bikes, eventually dying to reinforcements. After t2 all his troops were dead, except 5 warriors in combat with an attack bike. Around that time our coach came to tell me to get as many points as possible. I had been planning to gate one squad of troops onto the relic, but since I only had time for one gate, I gated the broadsides t4 and went for the wipeout.

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Top of 5 only the warriors in combat remained, this is from t6.

20-0 for me and a victory for team Finland.

Round 5 was against Ireland. I was second defender and paired into their Daemons. 3 big squads of fleshhounds with 2 heralds, 2 soul grinders and some troops. Missions was scouring. He made me go first.

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Daemons t1 movement.

He decided to seize once he saw the blocking infantry I infiltrated. T1 he killed an attack bike, trying to negotiate the infiltrators. He rolled +1 invul on the warpstorm table. I repositioned to continue blocking t2 and lit up the central fleshhounds with nullzone and ignores cover

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A one wound fleshhound and one wound herald remained.... 

T2 he charged the screeners but didn't do much else. He got +1 invul again. I proceeded to shoot the second fleshhound squad to one model remaining (again) but killed both heralds, scoring slay the warlord. My commander joined 2 attack bikes and charged in to tie up the last hounds (without herald). T3 he shot at my troops. I hit and ran, shooting down all but 4 of the last hound squad. I think I also killed off one of the lone hounds. MM attack bikes charged daemonettes on the center objective. He countered with daemonettes and an 8" inch difficult charge grinder. His 4 remaining hounds charged some attack bikes, one got away with combat tactics. I have to admit I may have played a little slow this game, with all the important positioning at the start of the game. We also had quite a few rules disputes regarding LoS! and denying nullzone. T4 would be the last. My attack bikes went to contest/control objectives and the broadsides annihilated a couple of troops squads. I won 15-5. Finland drew Ireland.

Last round was against England. I have no pictures. This was by far the most challenging match. I was paired late into double sw blob and 3 vendettas as I had promised the most points from the players left. It was Purge the alien with 2 objectives in the unoccupied quarters and 5th ed spearhead deployment. I made him go first. He rolled 4++ on both blobs, ignores cover on his lascannons and prescience on the other priest. I knew I had one possibility. The list didn't have many units, and couldn't influence many targets at a time. He also wasn't fearless and one blob remained about 5" from the board edge the entire game. If my riptide and attack bikes could bum rush that blob, I might break them and run them off the board. The ruin I got was bad, the windows were so low my broadsides couldn't see out. I ended up deploying them in area and trying to weather the lascannons (also fearing the ignores cover ones).

I should have joined the librarian and huddled the walls. Although I couldn't go to ground, I would have received the same 3+ cover and the suit commander could have joined back in t2 (t1 he joined the riptide to try and moneyshot the manticore but only immobilised it). Now the commander had to take some MM attack bikes and go after the vendettas. I destroyed 2 and brought 1 down to 1 hullpoint, but that meant 1 less attack bike rushing the blob.

In the end, all my attempts to charge the blob were unsuccessful and my outflanking kroot squad (who were making a rush for the objective I had pushed the ig back from) rolled the wrong flank despite rerolls, made 1 hullpoint of damage to the manticore and died ingloriously. I should have brought the bigger kroot squad on earlier and joined the librarian there. Silly me holding them in reserve despite rolling rerolls for my warlord trait and trusting one outflanking squad to arrive on the right flank. I ended up losing 3-17.

Luckily we still drew the round. Finland finished with 8 points (a new record) and 4th place (even better). I scored the most points on the team with 77, and despite the last game couldn't help but be very happy.

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And to finish it off, a picture of Team Finland.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Team Finland off to Serbia

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Everything is ready and today I'll be heading off with the rest of Team Finland towards Serbia, and ETC 2013. Apparently the official blogger for ETC 2013 has already predicted us as the underdogs in our first round matchup against Wales, but who doesn't like an underdog story? This trip has even more significance for me personally, as I am yet unsure of whether I'll be applying for the team next year. Mandatory military service (and the possibility of a military career) are looming. I'm not expecting miracles this year, but am rather  looking forward to nice tight games and a fun time with other gamers. It'll be great to see Team Sweden and USA again, we had a good time at Adepticon. Goal #1, don't be the worst player on your team :D.
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