Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Everyone's a king when there's no-one left to pawn - sacrificing units

But what do you do if the only things to sacrifice are Astartes?

Hey everyone,

So the post title is a lyric by Razorlight but I had to think a bit about sacrificing units in my game tonight against Blood Angels. It was an interesting list the my opponent brought and I had to really make some tough calls about which units to keep and which to lose.

My Deathwing 1500pt list took on a Blood Angels army consisting of:
- Astorath the grim
- 5 jump pack Death company (DC) with Lemartes (uber chaplain). All with power weapons.
- 5 jump pack Death company, all with power weapons.
- 5 terminators with assault cannons
- 5 lightning claw terminators
- 5 tactical marines
- Death company dreadnought with Blood Talons

Now this isn't a very balanced 1500pt force but it sure packs a lot of punch if it gets the charge on you. Plus the death company get furious charge, feel no pain, rerolls to hit when charging and rerolls to wound (plus Astorath makes the opponent, i.e. me, re-roll successful invul. saves). Very nasty.

I quickly realised when my early shooting phases didn't kill off the jump troops that I would have to sacrifice units while the rest of my army moved to deal with the threats of charging Blood Angels. The death company with those characters hit so hard on the charge that you're pretty much bound to lose a lot of guys, or the whole unit if you lay with Deathwing five man squads.

Thankfully I spent a lot of time talking with Old Shatter Hands about the necessary sacrifice tactics he played with when using Tau and having to block the opponent's movement. The Kroot bubble wrap, Piranha blocking and accepting one charge in order to prevent multi-assaults etc. were all in my mind during this game. The harder part is that I had to accept the loss of ~250pt units as part of my sacrificial strategy.

As it played out, I whittled down my opponent's non-DC force with firepower and focused assaults while I fed in two units and the librarian to control the rampaging Death Company attack on my left flank. My army as a whole mopped up the entire BA force through careful shooting followed by concentrated assaults, then brought the weight of thunder hammers to bear on the rampaging Death Company and special characters. I had to use the assault rules to my advantage when I charged into the existing combat by making sure that I only made it into base contact with one or two DC marines and not the characters, meaning the new attackers could only be hit by a few shots each time. In the end it paid off and the Deathwing cleared the table, losing two entire squads, the librarian and a couple of terminators.

The victorious Deathwing posing on the GW gaming table.

Sacrificial tactics.

So here is my take on the steps of sacrificing units.

Do you need to sacrifice something?
If you don't need to have a unit die for a greater purpose, don't put it in a place where it can die. Simple really but something that people (me included) forget at times. You should sacrifice things when they will help your overall strategy, save a better/more important unit, tie up an opponent's powerful unit or act as bait that puts him in a vulnerable position. Otherwise, I would try to keep your toy soldiers alive as much as possible. They can't help you if they die for no reason after all.

Which unit will you sacrifice?
There are two main factors to consider when it comes to choosing who will die for your victory.
- The first one is who is close enough to get into the right position. Clearly if you have only one unit that can block your opponent, they are the ones with heads on the chopping block. The more your forces are set to work together and overlap, the more choice you will have about who to use for your sacrificial strategy.
- The second is to choose the unit you can most afford to lose. Most of the time you will go for your more basic choices over the expensive elites (choosing scouts over losing a squad of terminators) but remember what each unit is capable of. Assault terminators can kill like nobody's business but if you have scouts on the objective near the end of the game and a dreadnought coming to get them off it, the terminators are perfectly viable to give up in exchange for the win. In my case I gave up a ranged Deathwing unit led by the librarian in order to allow my thunder hammer squads to get the charge on the DC marines, giving them better odds to win.

What is the purpose of the sacrifice?

This one is the really key point that you need to keep in mind when considering your tactical options. You must have a good purpose for your unit or you will simply be throwing them away, which makes your models feel sad ;-)

You can sacrifice for a number of reasons including:
- Stalling your opponent e.g charging a dreadnought with a mob of fearless orks. Even without a power klaw, those orks will last a long time. They can't hurt the dread but they have taken it out of the game for a number of turns. Unless it's a Blood Talon dreadnought it probably won't kill that many orks per turn and will spend the game locked in a combat it doesn't want to be in. The Tau under OSH are masters at this as the Piranhas, drones and kroot all stall your opponent to give more time for the shooting elements to do their work.

- Blocking your opponent's movement. If you have a unit of Furious charge Blood Angel terminators in a land raider, you have a threat range of about 20" (12" move, 2" deployment, 6" assault). If I can move a unit in the way of the Land Raider you have to get past that first before getting into the assault you want to be in. Now I know that in this case my blocker would have to be a vehicle or the Land Raider could tank shock through, but the point stands. I've headed off a potential charge by Nobz with a couple of gun drones, letting me get the charge the next turn (plus another round of firing). Think about your opponent's likely avenues of movement when you start the game and plan on how to block them if you need to.

- Saving a more important unit from dying. Let's say I'm the one with a unit of Death Company led by a chaplain. If I get to assault, my damage output goes way up compared to if I am on the receiving end of an assault. In this case, I would happily sacrifice another unit to my opponent so that they are left close enough for me to get the charge on them (Note: This plays also into the bait tactic below). As mentioned before, you could also choose to save a scoring unit that is on an objective and might give up a very strong elite unit for this purpose. In the case of OSH's tau forces, he would give up a unit of 10 kroot (70pts) in order to save the squad of crisis suits (150+ pts) hiding behind them and let the army as a whole have more firing time. In my case, I let a character and a ranged unit take the killing charge of the enemy assault units in order that my counter-assault folks could return the favour.

- Baiting the enemy forces. Now this one is a tricky thing as it depends on your opponent wanting to kill your bait and expending effort doing so. The trick when baiting is to put your sacrificial unit in a position where your opponent can go for it, but will have to change his line of attack to do so. Putting a single dreadnought in line of sight of a broadside across the table is not bait most of the time, it's a target. Putting your expensive HQ unit (e.g. 3 Crisis suits + Commander) on one flank where your opponent can get to him if he just moves a couple of units is more like it. The idea with baiting is that you make his army start to act piecemeal, rather than as a whole. I will lose my bait, but you won't have the units that moved in position to deal with the rest of my army which is now moving to act on my plan. Of course, when doing this you should endeavour to use units and positioning that will be good even if the bait isn't taken. In my crisis suit example, if you ignore the suits, I'll be able to put a lot of fire on the flank of your force, which vehicles hate. Bell of lost souls did a good article with thoughts on baiting (

That's it from me for now. I'll probably post a little bit more this week but time is rapidly running out for me as I gear up to head off to a new country (Slovakia) and a new career (Teaching English). I fly out a week from now and it's both exciting and scary.

All the best


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I hate it when people give up before they've lost.

My last opponent could take a lesson from this pooch.

Hey everyone,

So my Deathwing got to play in a 3k points game last night and it was mostly a lot of fun. I teamed up with the Tau player I played against last week to take on a guy with 3k of orks. It looked like it was going to be a really great scrap but sadly the ork opponent just started getting despondent and downhearted really early on in the game and it took me giving him tactical advice to get him to actually try and play again, which made the game drag a bit.

Essentially he was upset that our turn one and two shooting really smashed his ork forces and he didn't think he could get into assault with us. Instead of really making an effort to maximise his gameplay to at least do damage to us, even if he still lost, he seemed happier to mope about and just resign himself to saying that he brought the wrong army and that game wasn't really winnable.


My side was winning when we ran out of time (turn 4) in the overbooked GW gaming space but I'd almost got to the point when I was going to make him swap sides to take my Deathwing so I could unleash my inner ork and kick some ass ;-)

Battle Report

Army lists were (approximately as these are from memory)
- 1500 pts deathwing.
Belial, Librarian, Assault command squad (apoth, banner), 2 assault squads, 2 shooty squads)

- 1500 pts Tau
Farsight, bodyguard. 6 crisis suits (firestorm, BC&PR), 6 stealth suits, 48 fire warriors, 20 kroot, 8 pathfinders, 1 Piranha, 3 Broadsides, a bunch of drones, 2 devilfish

- 3000pts Orks
Ghazghull, PK warboss, 10 Lootas, 10 Burnas, 20 Nobz kitted out, 80 boyz, 2 trukks, battlewagon, killa kan, 8 warbikers, Looted wagon with boomgun.

Basically the battle was a turkey shoot in turn 1 (understandable) and for turn 2 my opponent liked my advice to use the devilfish and drones as blockers (thanks Old Shatter Hands) so we could funnel the orks towards us and slow them down. It was pretty successful and our opponent didn't really hit us with enough to truly cripple us though I think he could have killed off the Tau player's flank if we'd had time for another turn or two (and if he'd been playing them like I would have).

His key problem was letting our shooting dictate his plan and footslogging ineffectively. If you're coming at us on foot, you should be moving and running as far and fast as possible from turn 1. When your trukk with Ghazghull and nobz gets stunned on turn 1 (leaving it in LOS of the broadsides again), you get that power squad of nobz out and get running as far forward as you can. You get your units into assault with the maximum prejudice and using cover as much as you can. Your killa kan should move and run from turn 1 too. If he loses the klaw, he's still on assault duty for taking out vehicles or tying up battlesuits in assault.

He chose to shoot with his boys mobs a lot more often than I would. In my book Boyz get to shoot when they are about to charge into assault, or for a turn prior if they are shoota boyz. Nobz don't shoot as their firepower is nothing compared to their ruthlessly powerful assault abilities. When you stop your boyz mob from running in order to take 2 rokkit shots (BS2) at the front armour of a devilfish (12) you've not really grasped where ork power lies. Also, a S8 AP3 large blast weapon should be aimed at the tightly clustered crisis suits to kill them with instant death instead of the 12 fire warriors nearby, no matter how cool it looks to cover 12 models instead of 3 and 2 drones.

When I got him to use his forces in a more effective manner (multi-assaults, using Ghaz's waagh, killa kan vs devilfish etc) the battle really jumped back into contention from where he seemed happy to leave it in turn 2.

It was still a fun game to play and it would have been nice if we'd had time to bring the game through a full turn 4 (we cut it short) and played turns 5-7. I think the orks would have probably lost, but they could have ripped up the Tau flank and it would have been an effort for the Deathwing to bring them down finally.

So don't let me see any of you blog readers giving up on games that aren't going your way. My charge to you is to persevere until the end. It ain't over until the last dice is rolled!!!

Pete :-)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Apologies if you were offended.

Hey everyone,

I was just notified that my blog managed to have the picture in the last post changed from that of the groovy looking professor into that of a naked young man displaying himself haha.

Now I'm not sure if my account got hacked or if, more likely, the image I was linking to was replaced by an adult one at the same page location.

In any case, I have removed the offending picture and uploaded a copy of it from my hard drive. I'll also be changing my account login info too, just to be careful.

Thanks all and hope everyone is well,


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Heartbreak, a bad friend, good friends and some wargaming too :-)

Hey everyone,

Sorry it's been a while since the last update but life is very busy, as ever. I'm in the middle of a CELTA teacher course to qualify and train me to teach English as a foreign language. Thanks to Old Shatter Hands, I have a job in Bratislava, Slovakia but first I have to pass the rather intense course. I'm really enjoying it but I hardly have time to do necessary lesson planning and homework, let alone get much time for wargaming or blogging.

This gentleman is what I think I'll aspire to be like as an English teacher ;-)

While I don't normally like to rant on my blog, I'm going to use it to let off some steam since I haven't really had a chance to head down to the pub with friends and vent. I'm sure the end of the course next friday will be a day with a few drinks for sure :-)

Anyway, I just wanted to say how frustrating and heartbreaking it is when you have someone who you were really close to, thought very highly of and made an effort to stay in touch with just shut down and give up on the friendship. It feels like such a kick to my judgement that I thought so highly of a person who then completely fell through and out of your life. On the other hand, it has made me really recognise the value of the truly worthwhile people in my life and make more time available to be in contact with them and cherish the good feelings.

Rant over ;-)

On the plus side, I've made a number of good friends already on my course, both among the fellow CELTA trainees and the students in the school. I've got an invite to Spain by one student, Santiago, who restores classic motorbikes and wants to take me riding in the Spanish scenery. Ilariah, a lovely Italian girl, overheard this offer and declared that instead I must visit Italy, so there's another destination. I've got a few more Italian contacts, one guy from Bucharest, Hungary, a few Japanese folks and a chap from Romania.

I've also got two trips planned with one of my coursemates, who will be studying in Russia. We're both big on history and will be going to Auschwitz in Poland, then to Pripyat, the city next to Chernobyl in Ukraine. I think we both recognise the truly historic nature of the events associated with each and, as citizens of the world, feel that we ought to experience them, despite the intense emotions I'm sure we'll both feel because of it.

One of many scenes of the abandonment of Pripyat.

I'm enjoying everyone else's blog updates, especially Old Shatter Hands with his contribution to a great charitable project supporting Doctors without Borders

PS: I took my Deathwing to their first loss last night. It was a 1500pt game against a gunline Tau army commanded by a new player. He was still getting into the swing of the rules but was a lot of fun to play against. In short, it was a bloodbath and ended with just 2 models left alive, Farsight and a bodyguard.
The forces were:
27 terminators
48 Fire warriors, 7 crisis suits, Farsight, 6 Stealth suits, 3 broadsides and max shield drones on everything.

In short, I gave him first turn and deep-striked everything. My aggressive movements with the 3 initial squads started rolling up his lines but then my last 2 squads mishapped and were destroyed, putting me down by 500pts. In the end, I battered my way through all of his units but then the last terminator was taken down by Farsight in assault. Great game and a good morale booster for my opponent, who told me he hadn't won with those Tau ever before.