Using sub-par and "ineffective" units
Okay, so I started talking about this in the Dark Eldar thread but I thought I would try another thread to talk specifically about units that are considered "uncompetitive".
My philosophy on units is that a unit need not inflict damage or indeed be stastically that capable of inflicting damage to have an important impact on the outcome of a game. A lot of time the threat value of a unit can be enough to scare the enemy into keeping their distance. In this edition of 40K OBJECTIVES give you the most VP's and to claim objectives you not only need a scoring unit you need enough support to get them on it and hold it.
When formulating a strategy I always look at the terrain, the objectives and my units and decide which units I will save for the late game "holding and denying", I will also decide which units will help support those units and attempt to hold the enemy at bay.
You could call these groupings:
My vanguard: units which will attack or distract the enemy, this group ussually consists of the units I expect to do the most damage but to also take the most casualties.
Main body: Units which will hold the enemy back and occupy terrain, these units will most likely take considerable damage and be unlikely to hold objectives into the late game. If the vanguard is offensive, these units are designed to be defensive in nature but built to offensively take ground. That is, move up aggressively but always engage defensively.
Reserves/Support: These units are either long range firesupport or more dominantly small scoring/denial units designed to have enuff support and punch to remove reduced enemy units or take advantage of gaps in the enemy defences.
Almost any unit can fit one of these roles depending on how the unit is used tactically. For example a large Paladin unit could be part of the vanguard or mainbody, storming up in a land raider or deepstriking into enemy territory. Conversly a small paladin unit (possibly even a single one) held in reserve could be a support unit designed to claim an objective (if used with Draigo) or to deny the enemy an objective.
How about a Lictor? How can a Lictor be part of the Vanguard? It's a unit that has to deploy via reserve. Well that may be true but the manner in which it is used can shift their role. A Brood of 3, matched with a drop pod of Zoanthropes and a hive commander tyrant can be fairly effective. You can place the pod first, roll for deviation and then place the lictors to best support the Zonathropes. The Zoanthropes provide SitW and the lictors a bit of shooting and assault power.
The first response for many people is why use Lictors when you can use a pod of genestealers! I could get like 10 stealers with toxin sacs and a pod for the same price and statistically they are way more effective than Lictors!
That is true, hard to argue with numbers BUT Lictors can be placed exactly where you need them, provide a modicum of shooting and most importantly are harder to kill with shooting. Yes genestealers can go to ground but lictors can get a 2+ cover in almost anything, not need to go to ground and can still be used the following turn.
How about ymargls? I can get 8 Ymargls for the cost of 3 lictors, they can assault as soon as they turn up and are way more combat effective!
Once again, true, hard to argue with numbers BUT ymargls must be placed in a piece of area terrain chosen at the beginning of the game prior to deployment. That can very limiting and limits their flexibility. It may not seem much but in terms of strategic usefullness, the lictors provide more flexibility.
Seeing as Tactics is all about the specific use of a unit or units to achieve a strategic goal I'll illustrate a decent situation for a tactical use of a DE Talos:
Now in this example the DE player has siezed or started with an objective in his possession. Let's say he has done so as part of deployment and there are 3 objectives. His plan is to hold this one and deny the others. Seeing as holding this objective is crucial to his plans of victory he has detailed considerable resources to securing it.
On the objective behind an Aegis Defence Line is a squad of warrior, to their left a unit of wyches in area terrain, behind LOS blocking terrain a DE talos with TL liquifier and Heat lance and deep behind that (as far as the table will allow up to about 30") is a venom with 5 warriors embarked. The venom has an extra splinter cannon and nightshields.
This type of defence will take considerable effort to crack, terrain is being used (or brought in the case of the aegis defence line) to cover the main line units and obscure the support units. If the 1st line is cracked the support units will press on the attackers to drive them off so that the 5 man warrior unit can reclaim the obejctive.
Pretty Simple BUT NOW people will say "You've got 160pts (talos+5warriors) sitting doing nothing!", my answer is they are NOT doing nothing, they are exuding threat and control. My opponent may have 160pts more to do assault this objective at the beginning of the game but I will have the benefits of fighting defensively and the extra 160pts "hiding" gives me a counterattack to launch at the best moment.
These points will force my opponent to detail more units to the assault or abandon it entirely in favour or claiming the other 2 objectives, in which case I can adopt a more offensive posture here.
You see there are a couple of tactical and strategics things I believe:
1. The game is NOT won by killing you're opponent (although it helps)
2. You win by taking ground and holding objectives
Therefore a unit need not kill enemy units to help you achieve 2.
Also ALL units are capable of inflicting casualties and it depends on how you employ them that allows them to maximize that capacity.
Most importantly in terms of the DE: The DE are fast NOT to get in and kill the enemy BUT RATHER fast so that they can claim ground and objectives faster than your opponent and then fight defensive battles to hold that ground.
Let's look at the Talos again and apply the Vanguard, Main Body, Support aspect, what kind of tactical use would a Talos serve in these roles:
1. Vanguard: The talos doesn’t seem well suited to this role as it’s slow (for DE) BUT we do have a drop pod for the talos in the form of the webway portal. Yes a lot of people say it’s a dead piece of kit but 2 Taloi and a Cronos coming out of a portal can really help you lay claim to a piece of turf! The Talos’ formidable ranged firepower helps here.
2. MainBody: A good spot for the talos as it’s fairly easy to hide (for an MC) and is decently survivable (remember MC’s get saves from Area terrain!), Remember to use it aggressively in placement but defensive in usage, it isn’t a Greater Daemon after all. of course with it's slow speed you need to probably run this guy to keep up with the faster stuff.
3. Support: Probably the best spot for the Talos as it is slow and can easily run depleted enemy units off of an objective.
Okay so I hear some of you say “I can get a Ravager with NightShield” for the same cost!”. True and the Ravager will most likely do more damage (or less if it’s mine!) to enemy vehicles. Still what does a Talos give me that a Ravager doesn’t:
1.Most importantly: It’s a Denial unit, Ravagers do nothing for you in the objective department, it’s pure support
2.Easy to hide: When used in a main body or Support role it’s easier to minimize exposure to the Talos, whereas the Ravager has a tendency to expose itself as it’s always on the hunt!
3.It punches things, sorry Ravager you may be king of the range but the Talos hits pretty good, sure there’s better but as far as MC’s go, this is what DE got! More importantly a Ravager will not get a depleted assault squad that’s gone to ground off an objective, a Talos might!
Okay that’s the important stuff. A talos brings these things, the ravager provides a different power, which do you want? Easy, get one of each!
Finally to Summarize:
A units value CANNOT be judged purely by it's potential to kill the enemy.
Organize your forces and realize some of your units will play a supporting role to your star players.
What sub-par units do you use and how do you get the most out of them?
Last edited by damiengore; 16-08-2012 at 19:25.
Re: Using sub-par and "ineffective" units
I use a small unit of Tankbustas in a Looted Wagon as a retinue for my KFF Mek. It's a similar role to what you describe as Support - I use them as a vehicle chassis to block line of sight, the aura to provide help for my boyz, and a small amount of anti-vehicle threat - not enough to be a priority target, but just enough that they could get lucky.
I like your concept of Support units and area denial, but I'm concerned about how they handle different game types. Purge the Alien, random objectives or a weird deployment can cause problems for certain support units - for example, that Talos will be inefficient if the high value objectives are on your opponent's side on a long board edge.
It's something to consider when selecting support units. Still, those are solid thoughts.