Saturday, September 26, 2015

Striking Scorpions: Green is the new Black!!!

I tend to shy away from cross contaminating my armies too much.  Even though 6th Edition opened the Pandora's box for a lot of players, I found the complete lack of explanation for most of those combinations to be an abomination to these RPG bred eyes.

However the Fallen and their much darker brethren, the Dark Eldar who some could argue are more wise in eschewing the dark arts that caused the Fall and the birth of Slaanesh isn't so far fetched that I cannot see them finding common causes.  Despite their motivations, they share one thing in common:  they are dying and are of the same blood.  that's more than you can say for some of the weird combinations that people go for.

As 7th Edition rolls on I cannot help but see the incredible synergy between a Realspace Raiders Detachment and the Striking Scorpions of the Eldar race.  Of all the things a Striking Scorpion needs to absolutely strike fear into the hearts of its enemies, the first on the list has always been an Assault Vehicle.  So rarely can a Striking Scorpion unit hit at its full strength without one and in such short order.  It's true that they can infiltrate AND position themselves for it but as they cannot charge round one, this matters little.

Enter the RealSpace Raider Detachment, which gives you a lot of Fast Attack choices one of which is the Raider itself!  With them NOT taken as dedicated Transports, you can load three full sets of Striking Scorpions in a shell that can put the enemy absolutely beyond any hope of escaping them the next turn, wrapped in a shell that can Jink for a 4+ save and has three hull points.  Added benefit:  Night Fighting can make this already very difficult to hit vehicle even more difficult.

The Strategic Warlord Trait that allows you to choose Night Fight is excellent insurance if you can get it but even without it you're going to be 3+ in 50% of your games.

The Scorpions Claw, which is essentially a STR 6 AP 2 weapon at I6 makes the units damage output very good.  Couple this with the Free attacks it gets from the Stalker ability:  +1 attack per point it beats your initiative by?  Whuuuuuuuut?  Necrons beware!  Add that lethality to the fact that the normal Scorpions are getting 3 STR 4 attacks on the charge at I5 PLUS the Mandiblaster hits (which are better in most cases than a Hammer of Wrath hit) and you have a fairly terrifying unit whose 3+ armor will protect them when and if the Raider explodes, and certainly in the round 2 combats you've ensured.  With stealth, even being blown out in front of Grav Guns is potentially survivable.  You're likely no worse off than if you had infiltrated with Stealth and Shrouded.

Rest assured that the enemy will not be firing at much else if they can help it with those three Striking Scorpion units in their face.  And that allows the rest of your army to act pretty freely.

The suggestion on units to accompany such a force is probably long range transport destroyers.  The reason is that you want to make sure the Scorpions aren't having to kill rhinos or Monstrous Creatures on the round they charge.  While they can do it, what a waste of potential.  By far the better idea is artillery and other attacks that will do that softening work for you so that you can mop up the mess that's left over.

With Move through Cover and Stealth as abilities, the Striking Scorpions are ideal in urban areas where over watch will scarcely be felt and unlike some of the assault units in the Eldar codex, you don't need to fear Wall of Death attacks like the other ones do.

There's a lot to be said for this combination.  I have done the same exact sort of thing with just Dark Eldar and Grotesques, s well as the Dark Eldar Royal Court.  However a 3+ armored Scorpion has a serious sting.

The Scorpions are scary enough without help, but when you insert them into the handy dandy Aspect Host Formation, they gain a +1 WS.  This is just not fair.  They also re-roll their morale, Pinning and Fear tests.  Fer serious.  Even if they rushed in and lost (and there are a LOT of units that won't beat this one) making them run is another matter entirely.

I personally have not seen a lot of Striking Scorpions on the table.  Everyone seems to be in love with Bikes and Knights.  Dark Eldar, while not as rare as once they were, certainly are played as Venom heavy far more often than as Raider heavy.  So all in all, just not a lot of people are keyed in to the OTHER possibilities in the codex.  Allow me to suggest this as your next fun project to try.

Militarum Tempestus redux!

The Militarum Tempestus codex is impossible to locate at a retailer and apparently only in softback or digital form.  The move to a softback seems wise considering that the book usually only has to last 2-3 years anyways, and obviously it makes it more affordable to purchase and that has prompted me to revisit my experiences with the Militarum Tempestus.

One of the unfortunate parts of this otherwise self contained codex's is its lack of variety in battlefield roles.  When it was published, the idea of Battlefield roles hadn't really been introduced and So it causes some confusion when trying to build the force in the same way as other codex's now allow.

I did a bit of discussion on the Militarum Tempestus not so long ago and since have found the online advice if possible even more difficult to find than it was before!  So I thought I would report how it's been doing.

My experience thus far has largely been with tempered expectations.  the army is squishy in every area.  It's most durable members, the Valkyries, are nerfed in firepower to be sure and their transport capacity while nice I suppose, makes it highly dubious as an insertion vehicle because truthfully, the soldiers end up on the ground and in harms way whether they deep strike there r come from the Valkyrie which lacks the Assault Vehicle type that would have elevated it to a true threat.

After a few games I have concluded that while some may not agree, the air cavalry concept for Militarum Tempestus just ends up costing more points than its worth.  Aesthetically it is highly pleasing and there is something to be said for LITERALLY breaking out into my own rendition of "Flight of the Valkyries" as they come on.

But far more satisfying is breaking out into my own rendition of the A-Team theme music when the Taurox Primes bust onto the scene.

Now the Ground Attack Formation, which I have found hard not to justify, Twin links you each and every time you disembark.  As you ALL come in at the same time using this formation, and can still use your special and very cool Militarum Tempestus Orders at the same time this is potent.  the lack of Objective Secured in this Formation does give one pause but as effective as it makes you at your job of bringing a lot of AP 3 pain to bear, I'll take it.

In games against armies with more elite feels to them, the Militarum Tempestus do extremely well.  They are ideal for knocking out most of the elite type selections people bring.  Two things do challenge them though:

The first is Paladin stars and really any list that uses the 2+ army Shenanigans to good effect.  Militarum Tempestus can easily maneuver to get BEHIND the Mono-Storm Shield Bike commander type things, by deep Striking into position and unleashing hell.  So as soon as someone shows you a list with that kind of a mechanism in it you can adjust.  But in a true 2+ armored phalanx, you really are going to struggle mightily.  The Militarum Tempestus can put an awful lot of bodies on the table, but sheer volume may just not be enough.  At the best of times a single unit of Scions will cause a single casualty to a Terminator unit so it takes too many of them to plug away and while a little luck goes a long way against ALL such units, they call it luck for a reason.

Range is the other thing:  You cant stay away from your target if you want to do this.

So how do you avoid wasting inordinate amounts of resources?  Well I suggest strongly that you get good at the position game on two fronts.

The first is to deploy objectives strategically right from the get go and secondly to play the cat and mouse game.  Objectives go a long way in swaying your opponents thinking about their own deployment.  Its a part of the game I truly believe lesser Generals in tournaments overlook or don't value enough.  Remember that with your number of bodies and the useful ability to use reserves pretty extensively, you can afford to be patient and contest things LATER in the game.  But such elite enemies cannot be in as many places at a time as you can and so you have to place the objectives to DISCOURAGE their smaller number of units from bothering with the disparate ones, content that they can control the majority through sheer presence.  They are only half right.  They can CONTEST them that way but so can you and if you go second as I have often advised...  So when you feel an elite 2+ army impinging on you, give them every reason to stay "over there" near the majority of objectives initially, even feeding them units to assure them that they've made the right choice (preferably behind them so you can further isolate them).  Obviously this is just a ploy to make them waste valuable movement and all those points they spent outclassing your lowly Terran butts.  It absorbs time they might need later to come back for other objectives later.  It forces choices on them.  take a pieces of paper and mark it so it represents a 4x6 table and think about where you would place the objectives, in terms of ho0w many turns an enemy would need to move there.  It helps.  Now if they choose to spread evenly, you're not dealing with NEAR the number of them you would have been per sector that you would if they clumped.  This allows your volume of fire to matter more than it will if they do clump.  However if they DO clump as we've said we want them to, then we can essentially fight them and cajole them into valuing that side during the game and gank the objectives from them at games end while more or less having already had control of the disparate objectives they didn't overly commit to.

So objective marker placement is one way you can overcome the large inequity between elite 2+ armies and you.  The second is to keep them interested with a ball of yarn and let them bat at it a while so they don't notice the mice playing over yonder as much until it's too late to actually and effectively do anything about it.

In a turn based game like 40K, two things are for sure:  The world is not infinite, so you cannot always avoid the enemy and the turns are not infinite so position really matters.  Given these two truths, sacrifices will often have to be made to save humanity.  But that's why they have you.

For my other posts on this subject check out this:  Militarum Tempestus stuff