Thursday, August 16, 2012

Warhammer 40K: Blockers

Blockers are more effective than they have ever been.

As I was being trounced by an Imperial Guard player (to be fair, he trounces me most games) I was learning.  6E has heightened my awareness of not just what's going on round to round or what will happen, but I am really soaking in CONCEPTS that can help in 40K.

After giving some thought to the game, I came away with the realization that a Blast heavy army, from really any codex, could make excellent use of the much maligned armor of 6th Edition.  It is apparent that "glance killing" vehicles has made some less powerful weapons more popular.  But this MAY also serve the purposes of the person whose the recipient of those hits.  By glancing them, you are ensuring that they are cover and terrain at the end of the day right?  And if you make use of long range or Blast type weapons, then these units can essential serve to stall and block for you.

To maximize its usefulness you need vehicles that are somewhat vulnerable and that are not really upgraded.  they are really there to take up space for very few points.  Even Drop pods can be used for this.  Any kills they get are bonus's.  You'd move them up slowly the first round, then quickly the second round, to add a turn befoe the enemy can charge them for free movement and then really minimize the movement the chargers will get.  So a trio of Rhinos might go 6, then 12" in that order, in order to make progress to the 30" line, or if the enemy is fast, just moving slower.  the wreckage would be at an ideal place at that point.  They then, if alive can simply tank shock and puch approachers back again.  That also means that Drop pods and the like can come down and form obstacle courses for you at low cost.

The same thing can be done with rock hard units like terminators that can be used to "stuff the middle, and really allow the shooting behind to do its thing while actually doing damage.  They are more expensive, but .  the casualties they inflict certainly matter, plus take pressure off the shooting.

Why this works so much better in 6E is that forward mobility has taken a lesser role since assaults are less points efficient and the loss of vehicles has diminsihed in impact.  Your absolute imperative to get them up there is lessened by the fact that you're generally taking less "assault only" troops in exchange for more versatile units and assault units are taking on new roles in some armies as close line defense.  You're seeing more shooting in general.

Allies are going to make this basic paradigm huge.  armies like Tau, necrons and IG that are primarily shooty armies by design will now be able to compensate for their inherent weakness with allies.  those Allies are probably going to make every effort to clog the approach while you're "we dont care mobile cover" does exactly what its designed for.  Throwing your so called allies at the enemy as a fence is a worthy use for them.

Eldar D-Cannons look fearsome in light of these possibilities and they had already crept into my list before 6th.  Mortar/Colossus heavy IG are going to be terrifying, defiler led Chaos Forces and any Tau force will be making use of  this basic idea, albeit it doesn't work as well because they direct fire so much.  But my Purgation heavy Grey Knights are liking the idea a lot.

The thing to overcome when people employ this technique is getting to the backfield.  EVERY list is going to have to have a reliable way to kill armor in the backfield and i don't mean at range because the enemy range will try to kill your range first if it can.  You need something closer up that splits the enemies fire out of fear for losing their own ability to reach out and touch someone.  Necron Monoliths, Tau Crisis units, Space Wolf Scouts, Snikrot, Marbo, Dark Eldar Jetbikes and other tools like that are going to be really important for making the barrages go away as fast as possible. 

Imagine the carnage if someone was unable to get behind my mobile cover to the Purgation squads for two extra rounds!  32 STR 7 rending shots every round that you can't reduce?  That could start hurting, cover save or no cover save.  By the time you reach them will you be in any shape to do much to them?

Blocking has another importance now too. 

Flyers.  One of the key ways I am seeing to stop flyers from soaking a lot of your ammo is just by positioning, to block their flight path and force them to divert.  They cant land on you and you know where the 18" mark is.  With crafty placement of your units on your turn, you can make it tough on someone who relies on flyers.

An example came up in a game using the VoidRaven Bomber.  The Bomber had to go 18, but couldn't.  At 24" , the distance it would have to go, it had no targets.  Turning 90 degrees and moving 18" or more would take it off the board OR give it only one non-preferential target, plus guarantee that it would have to jump off the board to matter in future rounds.  If you pictured in your mind the opponents next turn with that flier, you can a lot of times cut it off forcing it into hover mode it thats even an option.

Movement has become so much more important in 40K, and many Warhammer Fantasy players are going to find this very intriguing once they start seeing those nuances.  The angles of your shots matter even against infantry and as that trend is caught and learned by players, it's going to be a very interesting game at times.  Movements that simply never would have happened before now will.  The game will be in motion more.  that can only be a good thing.

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