Friday, April 27, 2007

The Miraculous Magnificent Multi-Melta

A not often used and usually ignored heavy weapon is the Multi-Melta. This weapon is usually overlooked because its range is terribly short when compared to the other heavy weapons. Also the move or fire component of this weapon limits this weapon’s usefulness to short range fire fights or one shot per game situations. These components along with power and utility of the other heavy weapons really make this weapon look like a weak choice.

There are some real benefits that make this a weapon worth taking. The first benefit is its point cost effectiveness. In the new Dark Angel codex it is 10 and 15 points depending if you are fielding it in a Tactical Squad or Devastator Squad. This makes this weapon a good candidate for selection especially if you are looking to trim points out of your force.

The next benefit of this weapon is its power. Strength 8 AP 1 doesn’t seem like much but when faced nose to nose with a Land Raider you will always get a penetrating hit. Also the extra die of penetration will help if vehicles get within half the distance of your range. The low AP will allow you to get confirmed kills on anything you wound.

There are also some hidden benefits. A hidden benefit that I have found quite handy is so many folks treat this as a weapon of no consequence, and therefore they tend to ignore it as they are shooting at your army. This allows squads that are packing this weapon the opportunity to get close enough to use it.

The ability to establish a forward firebase is also something worth considering as a hidden benefit. What I mean by this is your opponent is most likely ignoring these deadly weapons, and therefore they are able to get up into position relatively unscathed. This enables this squad to dominate through firepower the position they take up. If you add this with a few supporting tactical squads you will find that you are wiping away the opposition with little resistance.

Now that we have covered the benefits lets talk about the tactical applications of this weapon. These applications are fairly sound and typically lack the flair for the broken that is usually seen with most tactical discussions.

I call this first tactic “Shoot and Slide.” Unfortunately this is a tactic that only a Black Templar Army may use, but it is a sound tactic. I came up with this tactic while fighting my friend’s Templar Army. I had noticed that his army lacked any real distance tank busting ability. This was hurting him because I was able to get my tanks and APC’s up close. His general response was that the army was a mobile force and didn’t have the time to wait for heavy weapons.

As I considered this I discovered a way that Templar players can have their cake and eat it too. “Shoot and Slide” basically relies on the Templar “Fall Forward” rule. What one would do, who is interested in this tactic, is place a unit that has a Plasma Gun and Multi-Melta in a spot that will draw the attention of enemy shooting, e.g. near a mission objective. Because you are grabbing their attention your opponent will want to shoot at you. In effect your opponent will be “reeling in” the squad with the Multi-Melta. This will drag your Multi-Melta into range without you ever making a conscious effort of moving, and you will be able to fire your heavy weapon because “Fall Forward” doesn’t count as movement for purpose of shooting.

The purpose and benefit of the Plasma Gun is two-fold. First it has the same range as the Multi-Melta and the bolters. Second it has the chance to overheat and kill the marine. Now I bet you have just read that last sentence more than once. Overheat is a good thing in this case. What you are doing is making your rules work for you. What you are hoping for is the gun overheating on you and forcing you to move closer to the enemy. This will at least help you inch ever closer to your opponents lines especially if he gets wise to you using your rules to your benefit.

There is a related tactic I call “Point Blank Fall Back”. This tactic relies on the Marine unit with the Melta weapon failing a fall back check. What you are hoping for is an enemy vehicle near enough to the fall back corridor that once the move is done you will be able to plug the vehicle with your Melta weapon at the start of your turn from within half the weapon’s range. Alternatively this can also be useful for getting back to your lines to deal with a particularly nasty unit in your deployment zone. (This Tactic wasn’t initially a tactic but a move of desperation made while loosing. It illustrates why you should play out your games because you can learn things not normally garnered from winning.)

Our next maneuver I call “Wall of Tank”. What we do to accomplish this maneuver is walk our Multi-Melta devastator squads up behind advancing tanks or Rhinos on turn one. On turn two if the vehicles are still mobile move the tanks out of the way and let rip with. If the tanks have been immobilized in some way chances are still pretty good that you will have something to shoot at.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Laying Your Plans part 1

In any game of Warhammer Fantasy Battles or 40k you must plan your game. As the old adage says, “He, who fails to plan, plans for failure.” It may be cliché, but it is so true. With this in mind I am beginning a series on planning your battles.

In this first installment we are going to talk about the various stages of the game. The “stages of the game” idea is not new. In fact I’m borrowing it directly from the best strategy game man has ever created: Chess. If you want a better understanding of these concepts I would suggest going down to your local library and checking out any number of Chess books that they certainly have in the stacks.

In the game of Chess there is no fixed game length like there is in any variant of Warhammer, but there is an opening, middle, and an end. These are fairly distinct phases, and most experienced chess players know what phase of the game they are in. By knowing where they are in the game they are able to play accordingly.

In Warhammer you should have a rough idea about what you want your units to do while you are deploying them, but by the time your first turn occurs you should have a solid idea what each unit is going to accomplish throughout the game.

The Opening
The opening in any Chess game will make or break your game. Failing to complete your opening as you have planned will cost you the game. This school of thought in Chess was given to me by Gary Kasparov, and in any game of Chess I have ever played, as well as Warhammer, this theory has held true.

The point of the opening phases of the game is to position your pieces/ forces to optimize their mid game attacks. Control is the name of the game in the opening. You are working on obtaining the perfect position to strike from. You are moving to position yourself to capture/secure/achieve objectives. This is also a great time to create appearances. (I will get into that thought in a latter article.)

Game opening should never go more than two turns. If it does chances are real good you didn’t plan your opening. The main idea of the opening is positioning your units in such a way that in the mid game they will be able to get the most bang for their buck.

Now don’t think I’m advocating the idea that you should only move to the exclusion of all else. What I’m saying is get yourself in a position so that your units can shine, e.g. many experienced players will not place their units in the gun sights of a Vindicator so use that knowledge to help secure objectives.

Advice for Openings
In the opening turns of the game never give in to the temptation to react to the actions, or inactions of your opponent. Feel free to respond to your opponents actions but do not abandon your plan. When you understand the difference between responding and reacting you will begin to control your games.

The biggest regret that I hear from the losing side is, “I should have stuck to my plan.” This is any player’s biggest challenge and best hope for a win.

The Middle or Mid Game
The mid game is the point where the “rubber is meeting the road.” An old military adage that works here is, “The plan of attack will not survive contact with the enemy.” This is the point of the game where your plans combined with your dice rolls are making or breaking you.

The focus in the mid game is scoring units. If you can prevent your opponent from scoring you will win the game. Focus on taking your opponents units below 50%. Give special attention to forces that are near the objective. By keeping objectives opponent free you will force his troops to move, to get out of place, and generally make your opponent’s game life difficult.

Advice for Mid Game
While working on keeping your objectives opponent free make sure you have units ready and able to grab objectives. If you have a way to bring in reserves then make sure that you do. Reserves will help you respond to your opponent’s weakened forces and may help you grab objectives.

This is where you tweak your battle plan but don’t make such a large tweak that you spoil your overall plan. Use your master plan to make your adjustments.

The End or End Game
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of turn four and said, “I’m losing”? Well now you know how to spot the end game. It is the point within the game where every move every dice roll only solidifies your win or your loss. In my experience, I’ve seen the end game as early as the end of turn two, and as late as the final dice roll.

Success in this phase is totally dependent on your ability to succeed in your opening. What you set up at the start of the game will come to fruition at the end of the game. When you reach the end game ask yourself this, “Am I winning or am I losing?” The answers to this will dictate what you should do.

If you are losing then try and narrow the margin of loss between you and your opponent. Who knows? Maybe you’ll squeeze out a draw by the end of the game. This might help you especially if you are in a tourney. It is far easier to recover from a draw then a loss.

If you are winning then your entire goal is to clench your win by increasing your margin of victory. This may sound like a no brainer to you, but I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve watched my opponents drop the ball and give me huge wins or draws. The game isn’t over until the end of turn six.

Advice for End Game
Focus. If you keep your eye on the ball you will accomplish your goals

Next time... Plans for moving
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