Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Transports in Warhammer 40K

Tactically, movement with vehicles has become a more important consideration.  The main threat to motorized armies is that if you get blown out of a transport, you can only snap fire in the next round and cannot assault (save for the assault vehicles exception clearly spelled out in the main FAQ) plus may even be pinned   I am going to review just a few tactical questions that come up as regards this movement, but this is not going to be an exhaustive treatise on the subject:

Tricking enemies into not killing your Rhino:

When in a Rhino you have effectively taken the choice of the enemy out of his hands:  He now cannot shoot at what is inside and must kill the Rhino.

However when the unit jumps out in front of the Rhino, it now has cover many times and is now a very unattractive target for multiple reasons besides that.  So think about it for a moment:  If you start embarked, move up 6”, jump out 6” you are now presenting your scoring unit or special weapons unit etc… as a target.  MOST enemies will bite, attacking the unit instead of the vehicle.  This is  what you want them to do actually.  This goes back to my philosophy that having 10 man units is better than 5.  I have ablative wounds whose lose do not take away from my essential offensive abilities and furthermore have effectively shielded the Rhino from any harm!  When I get back in and back away towards my rear objective, the enemy realizes they have wasted a lot of firepower on a unit that was never going to be at the front anyways, and the unit may never be a target again.  Their superficial sacrifice protected other rhinos equally laden with threats.  The effect is to sacrifice the casualties without sacrificing the actual Kill point, and then retreating, allowing the rest of the force to advance much more unmolested.  When you figure the math, it can EASILY take 4 units or more of fire to take down an entire 10 man squad.  It’s a real undertaking.  But the enemy does not want those flamers/whatever in that unit reaching them so they will pound away as long as they need to to stop it from happening.  If they don’t, all the better for you!  Their shooting has also made it more difficult to charge the unit.

So in many ways, a unit thrown out there and fed to the lions is worthwhile if it is large enough.  But this hardly makes any sense to do if you aren’t basically a fully mechanized force because there won’t be enough transports to protect to make it worth it.   The goal is to keep at least one alive and preserve them for the endgame while saving other Rhinos their untimely fate.  You won't cut out all the anti-tank shooting this way but you will limit it at little tactical cost to you.

Advance Behind transports or advance in them?

Assuming you took transports:  Obviously if you advance behind a wall of Chimera’s/whatever you create two problems:  you can’t fire because LOS is blocked and you also aren’t going as fast, meaning you won’t make it to assaults until turn 3 in all likelihood.  Similarly, if you were in a Rhino and got out in round 2, you also aren’t charging til round 3.  So in most cases where the enemy isn’t walking into the charges, you are going to be doing it in round 3 regardless of whether you’re in it!  That is important information to know!

So the actual question to be asked is, given you took transports, is the loss of shots going to be more impactful or is the fact you preserved your unit strength going to matter more?

That’s a pretty interesting question.  Are counting on your longer range shots for good productivity?  IG flashlights probably aren’t doing a ton of damage at range, and so they might well want to advance behind transports.  But if you look at a Plasma veteran unit with 3-4 Plasmaguns, the effect of firing can be greater than the protection of the transport, but you run a SIGNIFICANT risk of losing a lot of them, PLUS losing your firepower in an explosion.   Space Marines don’t fear explosions as much but also cannot fire from their shells as much and so they may well be taking greater risk than reward when trying to fire from the safety of a rhino.

There really are a lot of factors to consider here which makes me think there isn’t a RIGHT answer, but each battle will present you with an APPROPRIATE answer if you think about these issues a little bit.  A broad sweeping statement that one is better than the other seems unlikely to mean much. 

One thing I will say though is this:  HAVING the Transports to do this is probably better than NOT investing in them.  For with them you can take advantage of all the tactical possibilities your opponent leaves you.  Without them, you simply don’t have the options and when a cluster of IG large blasts saturates an area, the devastation can be awe inspiring.  In games where you elect to run behind them I think you are not worse off than if you didn’t.  Tank Shocks attack morale directly without a shot being fired which is a big deal as well.  I cannot tell you how many times a tank shock paid off, but it’s enough to tell you that it matters against more than half the enemies you will face.

Land Raiders

These behemoths are a special case.  I will spare you the boring and advanced  math for figuring out whether the LandRaider is harder or easier to kill in 6E.  It’s harder in general.  In addition  its damage output is greater in general because glances do not steal its ability to do anything.  Of all the 40K vehicles, it is most iconic.  It made Assault Vehicles what they are now and it is the King of them.

This vehicle is perhaps the one vehicle you can safely say you want to be inside of.  Math says so and the Assault vehicle designation is pretty much a promise, not a possibility with this thing.  Though on occasion they may be silenced, that is the exception, not the rule.  It is truly a thing of horror for enemies to see.

One thing I will suggest with Land Raiders that I won’t with any other is that you should trust to its armor and allow it to move at maximum speed at minimum in the first two rounds.  Unlike other transports, you aren’t trying to “beat the odds”.  You are the odds to be beaten!  You can afford this level of aggression with it like no other.  Because its occupants CAN assault after its destroyed, you have little to fear.

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