Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where have all the 40K Cowboys gone?

I was told the other day that no one would EVER go for the crazy deep strikes I do, nor engage in the sheer volume of tank shocking through terrain that I dare.  I always smile wryly when I hear comments like this and tell them "Just rolling in Vegas baby".  You don't live forever and really, how many chances are you going to get to win this ONE game?  Just this one right?  It's 4th Down and 2, and you're down 17 points...  You gotta' go for it.  So are you playing to win...or playing not to lose.

Cowboys play to win.

So where have all the Cowboys gone?  This careful, methodical lustreless form of 40K wherein all risks are minimized even at the expense of reward has me perplexed.  I cannot even begin to tell you how affected many games have been by the bold audacity to simply press the envelope and ally your fates with the dice.  I look at a situation where only ONE direction threatens me on a deepstrike and think:  "the odds are in my favor".  The listless accountant playing against me with the dull eyes and the joyless voice tells me "but you could scatter into me...".  Is he serious?  Lose the chance to charbroil an entire unit so that I won't lose a couple dudes?  HARDLY!  The Mishap table is now so generous that one MUST take the risk.

Now tactically, you don't turn yourself into a fool.  If you can't scatter without a 70% chance of hitting something bad in any direction, maybe you don't go there.  But strategically, you gotta' Cowboy up when theres' two hit markers on the dice and 83% blue skies around you!  Else why even have a deep striking unit?

Tank Shocking is another thing.  You now HAVE to roll a die for EACH separate piece of terrain you hit.  This increases the danger of such meneuvers dramatically, even with a Dozer Blade.  But what I see is that if I do not get to my attack point in time, I may get stranded or WORSE if I DON'T take a shot at it.  Getting a free morale check out of the enemy for moving to where you wanted to be anyways sounds pretty good to me.  The gains outweight the potential disaster and an immobilized tank is more likely to get shot dead than be lost to assault if you're trying to move forward anyways.  Go for it!  Breaking morale is a really large part of the 40K flavor.  Men and women run.  Self preservation does take over sometimes.  Force every advantage!

I sense a calculated austerity in players, especially hard core tourney ones, and I wish very much for adventurous opponents.  But perhaps I should not.  For if they were more adventurous, they would threaten me more.  And we don't want that do we? ;)

I'd like to hear the craziest or funnest risk you've taken in a 40K game.  Those are stories worth sharing.  Just reply with yours if you want (or dont if you don't).  Hopefully it's not a cricket fest out there.


  1. Interesting topic! The relationship between playing to win, playing not to lose, and taking risks... it is definitely not a clear-cut decision space most of the time. 4th and 2, down 17... hell yeah you go for it! But 4th and 2, down 3? I'm not sure... 4th and 2 up 3? No way you're going for it! Which of those are "cowboy" decisions? Punting at 4th and 2 is definitely playing not to lose... but at the same time, is that not also playing to win?

    Enough with the football metaphor, ha. Here is a 40k example that occurred just the past month, at a local doubles tournament I played in:
    I'm rocking my trusty Sisters, my partner is Blood Angels, and we're playing a Tau-Nid duo. It is top of turn 5 (which will be the last turn due to time), the mission is kill points, and my team is currently up by 1. Saint Celestine, "dead" deep in enemy territory summons her faith and stands back up. Surrounded by 2 full units of fire warriors, a tervigon with 2 wounds left, and 2 gants hiding in cover trying not to be squashed, I now have a tough choice.

    Do I kill the 2 gaunts for the easiest KP, leaving myself open for retaliation (hoping the 2+ save holds up against SO much Firewarrior shooting)?

    Do I flame and charge the tervigon, either hoping to be locked in combat, and/or killing it (probably getting 2 KPs: one for the tervi, and one for the 2 gaunts taking 3d6 hits from its death throes) but risk getting Cele squashed, giving up a KP and gaining nothing?

    Do I charge a unit of fire warriors, soaking overwatch to rip them up, ignoring the tervi and the 2 gants? Do I flame first, potentially knocking myself out of charge range?

    Which of those options count as the "cowboy" approach? I would argue the first two both count - going after the two gants for the guaranteed KP, and trusting Celestine's armor to hold up is sorta ballsy and definitely playing to win. Charging a tervigon for the potential 2 KPs is definitely the most gutsy option, but all it takes is for Celestine to whiff in combat and fail one 4+ to suddenly negate the slight margin of victory my team has built up. So, is that playing to win, or tactically foolish?

    I feel the last option is simply not tactically sound (breaking the squad with the heavy flamer, moving them out of charge range AND leaving them alive to return fire the next turn seems like the most probable option).

    What would you have done? :)

    I honestly wavered between charging the tervigon and flaming the gaunts until my partner slapped me upside my head and made me take the guaranteed KP from flaming the gants. Celestine then stood strong like the angelic champ she is and we won the match, but part of me wonders what would have happened if I had taken the extremely gutsy route...

  2. I assume there is nowhere to hide for the intrepid St. Celestine.

    Well: Losing Celestine would cost you 2 points actually. 1 for the Warlord, 1 for the KP itself. Her death in ANY form gives the enemy the win. unless you can kill two units with her, which you can't. Keeping her alive is your only option. Killing the gaunts and dying would tie you. Thats not winning. We're here to win.

    As such, you dont flame anyone. You are a Warrior Princess man, not some coward behind a flame thrower! just position and charge the Firewarriors center, singing "Onward Emperial Sooooldier" and let them wrap into you (blocking off any other chargers) and hope to flub in close combat against them. They wont lose by a BUNCH and one hopes they will hold and then you are safe from shooting or Tervigon asault until help can arrive or until it doesn't matter anymore.

    If the Fire Warriors do, sadly, die and run you've done yourself no disservice becuase you're up 2 now and can do no worse than tie. As a bonus the number of shots from the Fire Warriors will be shrply reduced now, plus the Gaunts wont dare give up their KP easy. That means the FW's or the Tervi's gotta do the dirty work and it's on them to win. You'vew done all YOU can.

  3. ..assuming I understood the situation correctly that is.

  4. Ha, I'll have to keep the singing in mind next time I charge. Interesting choice to go after the FWs, but I see your reasons why. I'm still not sure I would choose them over the gants or the tervigon, but that's the beauty of the game!

    It is also very interesting how something as subtle as the number of wounds Cele has left can change things. I think I would be more apt to go after the gants or the tervigon if she only had 1 wound left, where as I am much less afraid of the overwatch shots and attacks the FW can do if she has more than one wound left. I realize I did not include that information in the scenario (and frankly, I don't recall how many she actually had so its moot) but I'm with ya.

  5. Everything is relevant, including number of wounds. But a fully functional or even 1 wound Celestine is not going to fear the 24 overwatch shots. The gaunts practically guarantee you'll be out in the open afterwards for two units fo fire warriors to full BS. Just saying. Ill take the overwatch over the two units if you're already up byone.

  6. Yeah, absolutely agree with that - I am more deciding if the FW or the Tervigon is the better charge option to stay hidden. I'm leaning towards the Tervi, as if I do manage to kill it (and would thus be shoot-able) chances are the 3d6 hits on the 2 gaunts kill them, which would make me up 3 KP... so even if Celestine gets shot down the following turn and I lose 2 KP, I'm still up 1. Tervigons are what, WS 3? So same as fire warriors (hitting Celestine on 5s) with 3 attacks, so one goes through, it's almost certain to wound, so I have slightly better than a 50% shot to live. However, looking at the Tervigon's stat line, they are only S5 (I had, up until now, thought they were S6) so he would NOT insta-kill Celestine.

    10 Firewarriors... Celestine will kill about 2 on the charge, leaving 8 to fight back. That's what, 3 hits, 1.5 wounds, and a .2 chance she actually takes a wound? Add in overwatch, that's another 1.4 wounds, so 1.6 wounds vs .47 wounds from the Tervigon. The weight of fire gives the FW the edge.

    However, now that I know the Tervigon is only S5, that's a game changer. I definitely think charging him is the right call, especially given if I kill it and go up 3 total KP I win even if Celestine dies. Go big, or go home!

  7. That is correct. Go big OR go home.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.