Thursday, November 5, 2009

Basics on Strategy, Goals, and Build Types Part 2

In part one, we covered the various flavors of mechanized army. This time, we'll focus on the flavors of foot.

Flavors of Foot Infantry vs. Monstrous Creature
The most basic division is whether the non-vehicle unit is person-sized,or subject to the rules for a monstrous creature. Monsters are nevertroops, and cannot score. Infantry may occupy any section of the forceorg chart, and all scoring troops are infantry. Both break down in termsof speed, and infantry break down nicely in terms of durability.

Weight of Infantry
Swarms, Light, and Heavy.
Swarm infantry are multi-wound creatures that cannot score, even if taken as troops (IE: Nurglings and for the time being, rippers). Their main purpose is to take up space either by blocking movement, or by holding something down in assault. Swarms are 'Small Targets', which means theyget +1 to cover saves, but every unsaved wound from blast or template weapons inflicts two wounds.

Light infantry is a catch-all for troops with S3/T3, typically with a 5+ save. Most infantry in the game is 'light', in this sense. Of special note is that most light infantry is abjectly afread of heavy flamers; S5, AP4 means death to light infantry on a 2+. The regular flamer (at S4, AP5) is frightening as well, but not as nasty against 4+ saves.

Heavy infantry is infantry with S4/T4+, and usually a 3+ save. Orks havethe T4, but generally have a 6+ to go along with it (Or a 4+ cover save. Which is why we bring flamers.) The archetypical heavy infantry is the space marine, with T4, a 3+ save, and a statline full of 4's. The well-armored heavy infantry tends to be more expensive, more durable, and often benefits from special rules like Fearless or 'And They Shall Know No Fear.' In short, these are the elite fellows, or the few, the proud, andthe often-outnumbered. Not that they care.

Infantry Speed
Infantry's generally slower than vehicles, and is slowed by terrain. However, there's still a variety of rates of movement. They are:

Slow 'n' Purposeful (Roll 2d6 and take highest, as though in terrain. Relentless)
Foot Infantry (6" move, d6 run)
Foot Infantry w/ Fleet (6" move, d6 run, may assault)
Jet Pack Infantry (6" move, then 6" move in assault phase, may run)
Cavalry/Beasts (6" move, d6 run, THEN 12" assault)
Jump Infantry (12" move, may run or assault, occasionally fleet)
Bikes (12" move, no run, may turbo-boost 18-24" w/ 3+ save, Relentless)
Jetbikes (FLYING bikes. May go over terrain.)

Cavalry is about as fast as it gets for assaulters. Bikes are noteworthy for increasing toughness as well; a marine biker is T4(5); which means they have T5 but are treated as T4 for purposes of instant death.

Infantry and Weapons
Shooting attacks tend to break down into one of three categories: rapid-fire, assault, or heavy.

Rapid-fire weapons are the standard-issue infantry firearm. You stand still and fire a shot at maximum range (usually 24"), or fire two shots at 12". Note that you may move and shoot at 12", but this denies you the assault, and usually leaves you in assault range of your target. Rapid-fire offers options in shooting, but you must think about whether or not you want to be closer to the target. Sometimes, it's smarter to get in and shoot the enemy, as you can hit him before he assaults you.

Assault weapons may fire if you move, and do not impact your ability to launch an assault. They tend to be shorter-ranged, and have a decent volume of fire. Most 'special weapon' options tend to be assault, and sometimes they mesh well with rapid-fire guns.

Heavy weapons tend to have high-strength, long-ranged shots. Moving denies them the ability to fire, as they require bracing or some such. I mean, it's usually a big gun. Most squads can take a single heavy weapon, and it tends to give a bunch of guys with rapid-fire guns some extra utility.

Some infantry units are one-dimensional in this regard (IE: Dire Avengers all have the same assault weapon; Assault Marines have jump packs, pistols, and close combat weapons) and are simpler. Others, like an IG platoon or Marine Tactical Squad, have a mix of weapon types and thus more options.

Infantry and Assault
All infantry can engage and be locked in assault, by definition. Some are specialists, and capable of clearing out large chunks of enemy troopers (and/or vehicles) in short order, and some get cleared out. Assault is also a good way of keeping infantry from moving and/or shooting.

This is a rare, bizarre hybrid unit; it contains regular foot infantry and artillery pieces. The big difference is that hits get randomized between crew and gun. Guns are AV10 vehicles that die to any damage result, and of course loss of all guns or all crew renders the unit incapable of being artillery.
Monstrous Creatures
It's essentially a biological tank. T5-6 is normal, and some get as high as T8. They move like foot infantry, except they can always shoot two weapons. They assault like foot infantry, but their basic attacks ignore armor saves, and they roll 2d6 for armor penetration.

MCs come in two basic flavors: shooty, and assaulty.

Check to see if you have wings or otherwise count as jump infantry. If you answered yes, you are assaulty. If not, you should probably consider shooty, because you are SLOW. Any way you cut it, though, Monstrous Creatures are durable targets; a single meltagun can wreck a vehicle but can only take a single wound off a monstrous creature.

Note that T7 MCs are immune to S3 attacks and below, and T8 MCs are immune to S4 and below attacks. Carnifexes are about the only T7 MC, and only Wraithlords and C'tan have T8. Of course, this toughness means nothing if they run up against poison weapons. (Hey, it's something a Plaguebearer squad can seriously threaten!)

Types of Foot Builds
At the core, there are two types of foot builds: assault, and shooty. Since your mobility is limited, you basically choose either swift units or lots and lots of guns, with a nominal attempt to go claim objectives (or just shoot people off them).

Assaulty foot armies usually revolve around beasts/cavalry, or jump troops. Chaos Daemons can field six beast units, and Space Wolves can field a hefty amount of Thunderwolf Cavalry, for example. The Blood Angels do the massed jump packs, as they can take jump troops as basic troops.

The prime candidates for shooty foot armies would be Tau and IG. They bring lots of long-range guns, and pound you until you just can't resist any more, or hold objectives. Terminator-Heavy armies (IE: Space Wolves, Black Templar, Dark Angels) field a crap-ton of 2+/5+ save guys with guns and powerfists that walk at you menacingly.

Biker armies are a bit of a hybrid; and there are three codices that come to mind that can even do much of a biker army. Orks can take Nob Bikers and/or Warbikers as troops, but suffer from morale issues and problems killing tanks. Space Marines can take melta weapons on bikes and uber-cutty command squads. Eldar can take Guardian Jetbikes (kind of Blah) and jetbike Seer Councils (face TWO and you'll probably make a point of requesting to never play that army for fun again).

Monstrous creature armies Only Tyranids can field enough MCs to make them the core of an army (that number is 8, btw). Eldar can field 4, and Chaos Daemons can drop 5. To really make that army type work, though, you need good guns on them, or speed. Chaos Daemons can do the speed, but not the numbers. Nids can do the numbers, but not the guns or speed. Eldar...can't do numbers OR really guns.

Hybrid Armies
Here, I'm using 'hybrid' as a 'mix of foot and mechanized elements.' Why hybrid? If you're familiar with corporate strategy, you know it's either low-cost (IE: Wal-Mart) OR differentiation (IE: Apple). Well, in 40k, you can split the difference. Here are some benefits.

1) Mobility of Vehicles
You want to get places? Mount up.

2) Infantry as Objective-Sitters
If you can deploy on an objective, you might as well set up a heavy weapon, benefit from cover, and dare the enemy to dislodge you.

3) Cost of Heavy Weapons
Oftentimes, vehicles can get heavy weapons cheaper. Compare the Predator to the Devastator squad. 85 points gets you two heavy bolters and an autocannon, or 90 points gets you 5 marines with bolters. By the time you've bought four heavy weapons and pumped the squad size up, you're easily pushing 200 points, which is 2-3 predators right there. More targets, more guns, and less cost. And, they can at least move a little and shoot if necessary. Depends on your codex, honestly.

4) Availability of Options.
Playing IG and want that battle cannon? Gotta get a Russ. Playing Tau and want your plasma? Get an XV-8. Your codex mileage may vary on this one.

5) Protective Layer For Vehicles
So, you brought some largely-static vehicles, or some that'll just be shuffling around your backfield at best. Grab a cheap light infantry squad. Deploy them in front of your vehicles. Now, the enemy has to go through them to assault/get to melta range. Sure, most enemies can. I mean, kroot and guardsmen are only so durable. But, if there are guardsmen standing 6" away from that Russ, I can't very well immediately drop into meltagun sweet spot range, can I? Nor can I assault a stationary vehicle.

It's why Kroot are your buddy with hybrid Tau.

What is best in life* - I mean this article, Raptor? I have the answer for you:

It Depends.

It depends on your codex, and what it can do. Good luck even playing MC-heavy with guard, or tank-heavy with 'nids. Not everyone can bring enough guns to play a long-range gunline. You're going to have to look at your own codex, and experiment.

*to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women. That is good. In a pinch, cheap whiskey is a substitute if you have enough.


Dverning said...

Infantry and Weapons
I think you need to rework this section. You say that "movement tends to cost infantry shooting options"... but that's only always true with Heavy weapons. It's patently untrue for the most common Infantry weapon out there: Rapid Fire. If you're in the 12.1-18" range bracket, moving will actually increase the amount of shooting from Rapid Fire units.
I'd break it down more as...
Shooting attacks fall into three main categories: Heavy, Rapid Fire and Assault. Heavy weapons have long range firepower, but the unit may not move nor assault. Rapid Fire weapons cost the ability to assault but offer light medium range fire if they don't move or medium short range fire with a move. Assault weapons are typically short range only but allow them to move and assault freely. Some Infantry units fall into only one category, limiting their role yet making them easy to manage. (Ex. Dire Avengers, Assault Marines, etc.) Others span multiple or all categories, gaining complexity through diversity. (Ex. Tactical Marines, IG Troopers, etc.) Some units also have abilities that can modify or ignore the above, such as Relentless.

Also, did you mean to say "low-cost" or "low-cast" with the Wal-Mart analogy?

Last, I think you're going to regret that "Good luck playing tank-heavy 'nids"... The word I'm hearing for nex Dex is neato for those that like heavies.

Raptor1313 said...

Ah, the edits...actually quite useful, since I slammed this together in work away from my referneces and e-mailed it to myself.

I think it'd be more accurate to say that moving changes shooting options. Moving into rapid-fire range also means moving into assault range. But, the dead tend not to assault you. I'll probably incorporate your points about infantry and shooting, as they're relevant.

For the 'nids...I think I might just cover myself and date the refernece. I' not one to put a bunch of stock into rumors.