Friday, October 25, 2013

He's Behind You! Alternative Deployment and YOU!

False alarm!
Whew, you probably thought Guardsman Sly Marbo himself was creeping up behind you, preparing to demolition charge your Land Raider. Luckily, after a big sigh of relief, he isn't.
Fly Molo back again to talk some theory hammer... something I've been having to do as of late as opposed to real Warhammer.

Reader participation time! I surely hope you enjoy participating as much as I do. I remember way back in elementary school when the teachers would pick a few students to help with tasks... I was thrilled if I was picked and dutifully completed my orders like a good like drone-er, student.
Go get your last army list, the one you played with last. Look over your selections. Were you pleased with each units performance? Did they play typically? As expected? Over performed? With those thoughts in mind, I want to focus on one question: How many of your units had the option for a different type of deployment? Like Scout, Infiltrate or Deep Strike? Did you use that alternative deployment? Was it integral to the success or failure of that unit? Did you not use it and wish you had?
At the MiGT this past month, I explained in some detail in another post how I ended up bringing a less than optimal army list. I did a post-play breakdown of how I performed, how the list performed and in general how everything went. After that, I put everything down for a bit, wrote some more posts, listened to podcasts, worked on the farmhouse and rededicated myself to my work. Fast forward to the last few days, I had a few phone conversations with some close friends (well, conversations implies they-talk-I-talk, but I was in a bit of a manic mood and in between things that required concentration, so it was more like I-talk-I-talk, which I'm sure is just pure joy for the person listening) and got my brain meat working.

As you may (or may not) remember (or care), I played Daemons with Chaos Marines allies at the GT.
300 Fateweaver
190 Great Unclean One
100 Greater, Lesser, Level 3
90 Plague Bearers
90 Plague Bearers
145 Daemon Prince
200 Nurgle, Wings, Armor, Greater, Exalted, Level 3
152 Obliterator x 2
Mark of Nurgle
65 Chaos Lord
110 Terminator, Burning Brand, Powerfist, Nurgle, Gift, Blight
75 Chaos Space Marines
35 Plasmagun, Mark of Nurgle, Combiplasma
170 Heldrake
95 Terminators
33 Nurgle, Combi-meltas x 3, PowerAxe, Poweraxe, Powermaul

Running over the list, I have 8 of my 10 units with alternative modes of deployment! One of the two that don't is a flyer and has to start in reserves! ZOINKS! Granted, pure Daemons can all deepstrike (oh look at me, I'm a Daemon!!!), but who's counting?
In my games, my Terminators deepstruck all 6 games. The Obliterators deepstruck in only 2. The Great Unclean One, Daemon Prince and Fateweaver never did, my Terminator Lord did 5 times, and my Plague Bearers usually split one on and one deepstriking every game.
Some games involved the Lord joining the Terminators, others, not.
"But what does it all mean, Basil?"

It means having the choice for effective reactive play. Playing with flyers means reactive play, but you can't choose to not start them in reserve.
I played 6 games that weekend and the ones I won handily were ones in which my opponents didn't have the choice for effective reactive play (or should have chose to utilize their alternative deployment). Interestingly, one of the games I handily lost didn't utilize this concept at all, but that's something I need to chew on a lot longer before I write a post about it.
Effective reactive play only works if the units that can do so are effective themselves. Sure, Plague Bearers can deepstrike, but they will not be effective at shooting down flyers. But, they sure are effective at landing on a far off objective and then not dying. I can look back at my list proudly and say that every one of my units could be very effective at what it does, some at multiple things.

That Nurgle Lord, while initially thought he might be a little over priced, was an animal. I stole an idea from one of JY2's battle reports over on Dakka Dakka, where he would load a War Scythe/MSS/2+/3+ Overlord alone in a Night Scythe, and have him dropped off turn 2 or 3 in the enemy backfield. Alone. In his reports, this guy was a fucking murderer. He would just run at back field units and lop off heads. Small arms fire bounces off of T5/2+/3+ with Reanimation (not that he needed it that much), and he could tie up virtually anything and was a threat it literally everything in charge range. My Nurgle Lord was much the same, T5/2+/5+/PF... and an AP3 torrent flamer. He fried Pathfinders, Plague Bearers, Cultists, Chaos Marines,... and he had to be dealt with. He was a great reactionary tool and could start on the board or deepstrike against the right army or setup (which he often did).

Obliterators excel in the role also, being able to threaten everything with considerable range and above average survivability.
The Terminators were a tank hunter suicide unit, but often found themselves in combats against scoring units in a largely vehicle light event.
In each of my games, it was clearly advantageous for me to start my Great Unclean One up front as close to the center of the board as possible. During the games, he would loaf to the center of the board and just create an 18 or so inch radius around him that was totally devoid of enemies. Every game he did that, he was only met in the center of the board twice, once over the relic and the other by Draigo's Titan Sword. There *could* have been a game where I wanted him to deepstrike, it just never happened in those six games.
Of the units and examples I just listed, the would all be close to the "useless" category or considerably less useful if they didn't have that alternative mode of deployment. And that's why units similar to them that don't have that are generally useless. Three walking guys with combi-meltas?
All of this requires the ability to think ahead in your games. Where do you think the game will be in 3 turns? What about 6? What do you think your opponent will attempt to accomplish this game and how?

In a brief side note, in one of those conversations I'd had, I had mentioned that when I played my Necrons, if my opponent didn't have the idea in his head that I was going to be dropping Warrior squads on most of the objectives that the end of the game, he was already well on his way to losing the game. This game in its current rendition is full of so many variables. The internet is full of blogs and writers that spout off on what is good and what is bad, what you should take and what you shouldn't. What it isn't full of is in depth tactical discussions. Even forums with subsections titled "tactics" devolve into "which unit is better? which should I take?" Tactics is about concepts and the applications of principles to achieve a specific end.  Alternative deployment allows for you to change your tactics at a critical point in the battle: when you know what your opponent has and what is probably plan is. Then you get the chance to change something crucial about your army that your opponent might now have: how your dudes accomplish their tasks, starting with deployment.

Static gun line armies are the antithesis of this. They brought one tool with them to the job: the gun. They plan on utilizing that tool over and over until the end objective is met: your dudes are dead and theirs aren't. That's a hard sell in the game's current format for all sorts of reasons (the ease of getting cover removing weapons, the steady creep to more LOS blocking terrain, less vehicles to get one shotted, the speed in which many top builds move, etc).

I think Deep Striking in particular used to be under-utilized in the last edition because of its inherent risks. There was a decent chance to mishap in the old rules and when you did, there wasn't much good to be had from the table. Now, the current incarnation has a very forgiving mishap table. It is so forgiving that I don't even consider it when deep striking. I just put my models roughly where I want them, look at its 7inch donut of doom and roll away. My opponents still say "Wow, that's a risky deepstrike." That would imply that the rate of failure is high or that the cost of failure is steep. It is neither. On the other hand, the reward is high.
Relatively little risk, low cost of failure and high reward... hmmmmm,...

My brain is hurting and I'm chewing on lots of new ideas... until next time!


  1. I tend to underutilized deepstriking, which is funny because I use to run Raven Guard back before drop pods when they could all deepstrike but would usually die. The main reason is I usually find value in having the unit on the board turn 1 and they usually have alternative movement as well (i.e. jumppacks or warp spider warping) They have some utility turn 1, have speed to be wherever I want turn 2, aren't bunched up (not that eldar care) and have additional options such as assaulting that newly deepstruck units don't have. However if the unit just has a basic 6" move deepstriking has a lot of value, more so then inflitrating or outflanking IMO.

    1. That makes a lot of sense.
      You need to be careful not to slip into the "if I'm not assaulting early, I'm losing" mentality though. Its okay to deep strike with an assault unit (more mostly assault unit) and not be able to assault with them the turn they arrive. Too much emphasis gets placed on the first turn, when more should be placed on the last :) Thanks for the reply!

  2. I preach diversity of deployment all the time. My 5th ed Tau list was basically a bunch of dudes with cement boots. I did ok with it but the lack of mobility was always the reason I would lose. This time around I rounded it off and along with the ridiculous codex have been extremely successful. This whole idea is why I have such a hard on for Drop Pod Assault. I love the idea of being able to drop units dang near where I want them on the board in turn one. Of course the mighty Tau have all sorts of intercept options now but usually it's just their Riptide. Sometimes the Broadsides. Either way you can position yourself to minimize the damage. I took out a Riptide on Drop Pod Assault just last week. I can't even describe the look on that dude's face. He went through the basic emotional steps. Shock, denial, bargaining, anger, acceptance. Because most people immediately ask me "how?'. I will run through it really quick. I infiltrated my Scout Bikes in his zone. Scout move brought me just outside of 12" away from his Ridtide. He (luckily) did not seize the initiative. I drop pod assaulted two 5 man (Salamander) command squads with Meltas as close as I could while utilizing the Locator Beacon. I had a tech Marine in each unit as well. I deployed both units right up his Riptide's ass 1 inch away. He has intercept but because I was so close he could not use the Large Blast. He shot his three St7 AP3 shots along with the SMS. He hit with two Ion Cannon shots and three SMS. Both Ion shots wounded as well as one SMS wound. BUT, I put the tech Marine front and center, and made all my 2+ saves. I then unloaded 5 Melta guns and one Combi Melta (all Master Crafted).....TWICE. Don't forget about the TL Plasma Pistol from the Servo Harnesses as well. Mr Riptide went away. My Marine list is all Infiltrate, Drop Pods, and Flyers. So far I have had decent success but more importantly the list is a ton of fun.

    1. The drop pod assault is even better than regular deepstrike. When I said low-risk before, Drop Pods turn low-risk into NO risk. I'm glad that you've figured a way to take the fight to those Riptides... I'm used to just ignoring them until I can have a Daemon Prince cut them in half. Thanks for the reply!

    2. What I have discovered in creating these units that can deal with the Tides is that they can deal with a lot of other stuff as well. I got the first turn against a Nid player and took out both Flyrants right out of the gate. I encouraged him to deep strike them but he put them in cover hoping to survive turn one. They did not. The next game I played against him I took out a Tervigon on DPA and took a second one down to two wounds. The flamer units swept out most of the surrounding hoard and it was all easy street from there. I just told him when his new codex comes out the tables will most likely turn again. Great article my friend. Keep 'em coming.

  3. My last list contained Scouts who could Scout/Infiltrate, Assault Marines who could Deepstike, and Tactical Terminators who could Deep Strike.

    In the three games played with the list, the Scouts Infiltrated twice, and never outflanked or made a scout move. The Assault Marines deepstruck once. The Terminators used standard deployment in all three games.

    I'm a big fan of deepstriking, especially with the reduced chance of catastrophe in Sixth. I'll often take units like flamer-armed Assault Marines, multimelta Landspeeders, or shooty Terminators and deepstrike them. When I do so, I go danger-close. There's no point taking a double-flamer Assault marine squad if you're simply not going to use it! Go big or go home when it comes to deepstriking.

    1. I think I utter the phrase "Go big or go home" every single time I deep-strike. No kidding. Ask Jesse's mom!!! BOOOOOOOOOM SHAKALAKALAKALKALKAA!
      But for real, I do say that every time I deep-strike in 40k. :)

  4. I love the flexibility in your army, I am slowly getting used to the idea of multi-use units and away from my original game plans (Orks in trukks charging forward). This has also led me back in the opposite direction and I have started re-equipping models I thought were multi-use but are in fact quite limiting. An example of this is removing the rapid fire plasma guns from my Blood Angel assault marines as they were stopping me from charging! Thanks again for the great post.