Nov 29, 2011

Black Templars Fluff, Part 1

Black Templars Fluff, what is it? What themes make up the Black Templars? Now, I know that if I asked this question on B&C, I would get maybe a dozen definite answers; along with a vaguer ‘the fluff is what you want it to be’. While the latter kind of answer is true to a certain extent, neither it nor the former answers are completely accurate most of the time.

Why? Because they are often tinged by personal opinion based on connotations of certain key words or personal wishes that blow up to be the dominate factor in ‘the Black Templars Fluff’. Great examples of this are claims that Black Tide is fluffy or the ideas that are the root cause to both of the Fandexes on B&C containing Bikers with Power Lances.

Okay, back to the point about those vague answers being true to a certain extent. The reason for this is that, while the fluff itself is incomplete and subjective enough to justify pretty much any army that you can come up with, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t general truths about each army pertaining to the fluff, for example Black Templars do use tactics like Drop Pod assaults and Armored Spearhead; you aren’t going to justify that, on the whole, they don’t.

Now, we’re going to start with my statement of my own preconception of their fluff and what they’re like. After that, we’re going to go through the codex systematically and examine what is actually supported in there. (Something I should point out now is that, while some consider every single picture or story related to Black Templars to be cannon, I don’t consider them to be on par with the codex itself, just like the fluff for my own Crusade isn’t.)

What I think of the fluff is that Black Templars are Space Marines, essentially. Except, rather than adhering to the Codex Astartes, they are more like the original Legions. The fight like they always have (except where they have improved), and are organized the same way they have been since their founding. The Tactics they employ are begun with an orbital drop, or ‘Death from Above’, followed by Armored Spearhead until their goal is reached, perhaps with extra support from space. Because they are still strongly attached to the old ways, they don’t employ the newer machines very much (we don’t have Whirlwinds, etc.).

(Side note here, with the Chaos Legions coming out around-ish the same time as the Black Templars, I am really excited to see if GW makes some things that are similar to these two Codices. It also makes for some almost clich├ęd battles between what have become of the Legions; contrasting the Servants of Chaos, with their Marks and hyper-elite status, and the Champions of the Emperor, with whatever spiffy stuff they get. And I might as well add that I am convinced we’re going to get some spiffy stuff because that’s what has been happening for the past three codices and it is going in a great direction as far as giving each codex a distinct playstyle and pros/cons.)

The codex begins with paragraphs such as ‘Why collect a Black Templars army?’ and ‘Space Marines’ (well, technically it begins with a cool picture, and page 1 is actually the table of contents and credits, but you know what I mean). This part is almost all metagame and has little to no fluff in it aside from the general knowledge about space marines. Next!

Page 4 is titled ‘Warriors of Legend’, but it actually begins the background about the Space Marines, the Horus Heresy, and the founding of the Black Templars. As the founding and the circumstances could have some impact on them now, we’ll take a look at that.

Okay, Dorn didn’t want his Legion spread throughout the galaxy. It almost came to war, but he finally relented and the Black Templars were formed with Sigismund leading them. Seeking to prove his loyalty to the suspicions against the Black Templars, Sigismund swore an oath that he would never rest prosecuting the enemies of the Imperium and every High Marshal since has renewed that oath.

Page 8 begins what I would consider the actual fluff, as opposed to background. Okay, there’s going to be a lot here, so I’m going to switch to a bullet-point format, beginning with the points from the background.

  • The Black Templars began with suspicion against them and are on an eternal crusade to dissuade that suspicion.
  • Every High Marshal has sworn an oath to never rest in their Crusade against the enemies of the Imperium.
  • The Black Templars do not follow the Codex Astartes.
  • The Black Templars are Fleet-based.
  • There are as many as five-to-six thousand Black Templars.
  • Black Templars are Zealots and have no Librarians due to their mistrust of anything to do with the Warp. It is thought, however, use those Astropaths and Navigators that are sanctified by other organizations and are repentant of the curse of psychic powers.
  • Black Templars are utterly ruthless towards anything that they perceive as a threat to the Emperor, mercilessly exterminating entire populations to remove heresy and going into a raging bloodlust for vengeance simply by a witch being present on the battlefield.
  • Groups of Battle-Brothers fight together out of a sense of comradeship, rather than imposed organization.
  • Black Templars prefer Close Combat to Ranged Warfare because Sigismund preferred it and so that you can make sure your enemy is truly dead, earn glory, and fight with the noblest ideals of valor.
  • Black Templars hate to run and are only spurred on by their own losses.
  • Black Templars renew a Vow before each battle, focusing on a particular aspect of their duties, encouraging extreme bravery, ruthlessness and sacred revulsion at the foe.
  • The first tactic that the Black Templars use is to come down and surgically eliminate threats by using Drop Pods and Thunderhawk Gunships, leaving the enemy unable to retaliate.
  • The second tactic that the Black Templars use is to maneuver at speed behind a screen of Bikes and Land Speeders, smashing through the weak points in the enemy line, armored columns slashing left and right before eliminating the remaining enemy strong points; they use this tactic if they can land heavy armor.
  • Black Templars are the most independent from Imperial Authorities, almost a rogue element; and like all Space Marines they do not consider themselves subject to Imperial Rule, though they may answer calls for aid.

And beginning on page 10 we get into things that are more for Hard Sci-Fi, rather than Fluff. It talks about how a Space Marine is made, what the different types of Black Templars are (Neophytes, Initiates, Sword Brethren, High Marshal, Marshals and Castellans, The Emperor’s Champion, Techmarines, Dreadnoughts, Apothecaries, Chaplains). Now, of course this stuff is connected to the Black Templar fluff, but it isn’t defining what the fluff is, only how it relates to specific units.

Page 19 begins the Crusades of the Black Templars. Mostly it highlights what has already been mentioned about Black Templars, but the Jerulas Crusade on page 43 does illustrate something new:

  • Black Templars not only refuse to flee, they refuse to give up and will continue regardless of their own losses.
  • Black Templars are not actually suspicious of new-found technology and vehicles.

Everything else in the codex is rules-oriented, not pertinent, or just enforcing much of the same things (Honor and Zeal is good, serve the Emperor, destroy heretics and mutants and witches, etc.). Although I did notice a few things that are contradictory, and some things I really liked, and some that I didn’t.

Contradictory things include the phrase “Wisdom is the beginning of fear.” on page 53 when on pages 49 and 23 wisdom is shown in a good light and almost expected in experienced Black Templars. Another one that I noticed is in the Vow ‘Suffer not the Unclean to Live’, the third line which reads “Lead us to Hid Strength and an eternity of war”. Doesn’t that really strongly imply that an eternity of war is the goal? Shouldn’t the goal be the victory at the end of the Crusade, or do they actually enjoy Crusading so much that they never want to stop, regardless of what the Emperor would want? Well, I suppose you can’t expect the whole codex to be perfectly written.

Okay, next post will be taking all of this information and trying to build a coherent summation of what Black Templar fluff actually says about them.

Nov 28, 2011

Typhoons

Okay, so I had an idea. I know that Squadrons of Typhoons aren’t as efficient as single Typhoons. While you still get two Missiles and a Heavy Bolter for each 70 points you spend, after the first three they aren’t as good. Taking more could still be worth it, as that really isn’t much cost for what you get, but generally I like to stay away from such things in my lists like Plaguebearers.

My idea involved making a bunch of calculations and see how the increased chances of killing something, like a Rhino, compared to the increased cost. My thoughts were that as you add more Typhoons, the less each one is actually worth. Here’s what I came up with on the chances for each number of Typhoons to kill a Rhino in one round of firing:

1 Typhoon: 21.9%

2 Typhoons: 44.9%

3 Typhoons: 70.2%

And what it should be, based on the assumption that two Typhoons should be twice as likely to kill a Rhino:

1 Typhoon: 21.9%

2 Typhoons: 43.8%

3 Typhoons: 65.7%

Okay, so larger Squadrons are, in fact, more efficient once you factor in getting three results of Immobilized/Weapon Destroyed, but not really enough to worry about as along with the reduced efficiency, they are more likely to kill what they shoot at which means that you can move on to the next target which, technically, is a strike against it as when you need to spend two turns shooting at a Rhino that refuses to die, you are wasting more with a larger unit; or is that balanced out by the smaller chance of having to spend extra turns shooting at a single Rhino. Regardless of the exact worth, in this area the differences are irrelevant because they are so small between what they should be and what they actually are, especially if you only take two.

So a dead-end there, which made me wonder how much of a loss in durability you get from being in a Squadron. So I ran those numbers specifically on the chance of a weapon getting a Wrecked or Explodes result in one shot, and the percentage increase that a Squadron risks:

Squadron Single Ratio Difference

S4 2.8% 0.0% N/A +2.8%

S5 11.1% 5.6% +100.0% +5.6%

S6 19.4% 11.1% +75.0% +8.3%

S7 27.8% 16.7% +66.7% +11.1%

S8 36.1% 22.2% +62.5% +13.9%

S8AP1 65.6% 48.6% +35.2% +17.1%

S9 44.4% 27.8% +60.0% +16.7%

S10 50.0% 33.3% +50.0% +16.7%

Yes, I wanted to be thorough. And by AP1 I also mean in Melta range (should not really affect the Difference). Now, what do we see here? Here we see the reason to not take Squadrons. Yeah, Bolters being able to kill them isn’t a very big problem, but how often do Bolters get shot at Land Speeders? No, Land Speeders attract the firepower that is low enough that people prefer to use it against Land Speeders than Rhinos. S5-7, with higher weaponry if they deem the Typhoons more of a threat.

Okay, Heavy Bolters double in effectiveness against a Squadron, and an extra two-thirds chance is nothing to sneeze at for Autocannons. Plus there’s the chance for multiple penetrating hits, which means that you could lose multiple Typhoons to one gun.

And what do you get for this huge loss of Durability? More shots. So when deciding whether or not to take Squadrons you have to decide where the balance is; at what point do Typhoons lose their efficiency? It really looks like it would be at taking two of them. The units still aren’t overly expensive, coming in at a similar cost to a Crusader Squad or a Dreadnought, slightly above a Predator. In exchange for temporarily decreased durability, you almost double your chances to kill a Rhino, and you probably aren’t going to lose both to one shot.

On the other hand, single Typhoons have the advantage of being dirt cheap units that can still fulfill their role. They attract less attention, in addition to only being inconvenienced by Immobilized results. These attributes make them wonderful supporting units, rather than ones that are meant specifically to kill stuff, like Predators. Personally, I’d rather spend those 200 extra points on another Crusader Squad as I then have more units as well as more scoring ability.

But I think one of the greatest benefits that my calculations have shown me is that, while I might be troubled by non-identical units, if I have an extra 70-ish points I can grab another Typhoon with almost no downsides. Not something to apply to every list, but something that I can keep in mind.

Nov 20, 2011

Drop Pod List Customizations

Okay, so all of my recent thinking about my Drop Pod list and Marshal Learoth’s Drop Pod list has brought up what I think are interesting ideas for how to personalize or change the standard optimized Drop Pod list.

And yes, I’m still stuck on the Drop Pod lists. Don’t worry; I’m going to try to get a bunch of play-testing with my Best of Black Templar list which can be seen over there==>

Anyway, I’m going to be assuming you start with Marshal Learoth’s because Meltaguns are actually a better choice than Plasma Guns 90% of the time (the only times that I can think of are against something that was heavy on tough infantry, such as Blood Angels Jumpers or Deathwing).

Now of course you could do something drastic like drop a couple of Crusader Squads and fit in your favorite Independent Characters, but I’m talking about changes that keep most of the list intact.

First off we obviously have changing the Heavy Weapons. Unless I’m horribly mistaken, having a double Melta threat isn’t a valuable as a more balanced approach or a more versatile unit. Two main contenders come to mind, the first is Missile Launchers. Think about it, a blast to use against Hordes, 48” anti-tank to deal with those pesky skimmers, it isn’t a bad option unless you lack the important Meltagun. And then we have the other option, even though it’s more expensive; Powerfists. Make every Crusader Squad into a mini-Dreadnought by having both a Melta and a way to attack vehicle in Melee, plus some Close Combat ability allows you to kill things by assaulting them, rather than just tying them up as well as the perceived threat you create with every unit and some anti-Infantry firepower just for kicks (well, that and because we can’t replace it with something else). The problem with the Powerfists is: where do you get the extra 30 points you need? I have an answer.

I have three thoughts about the Heavy Flamers on the Dreadnoughts. One the one hand, they’re ten points to replace a Storm Bolter; the opportunity is there so why wouldn’t you take one (same reasoning for always taking a Plasma Gun on a Lascannon Squad that is usually out of range, also partially the same reasoning I used when I wanted to take Heavy Weapons in my squads)? But then again they don’t exactly do much in my experience: Marines make their save, Vehicles are too tough, and why are you sending your Dreadnoughts against blob units which will slow them down and negate their effectiveness? However without them the Dreadnoughts don’t have many options against a large unit of Orks/Imperial Guard/Tyranids so it’s a useful purchase. Basically, I’m not going to be dropping them, but they are an option if you really need those points elsewhere (such as for Powerfists).

I’ve also wanted Accept Any Challenge. The problem is I don’t really have anywhere to get the points from and it would really only help out my Dreadnoughts when I need to smash my way through a 10-man Crusader Squad. Furthermore, if I make the changes to Powerfists and no Heavy Flamers it becomes even more beneficial (quicker damage to those Infantry units from the Dreadnoughts and better effect from the Powerfists). But that’s yet another 30 points. Technically, you could go with Power Weapons instead of Powerfists, or you could go with Krak Grenades and just Meltaguns to retain that Assaulting Vehicles option.

Then again, the Crusader Squads don’t often have the chance to assault a Vehicle, and when they do they are usually on an Objective. Okay, so just Power Weapons will work, you get those 30 points from the Dreadnoughts, and you have yourself Preferred Enemy.

That’s all for my rambling thoughts about possible customizations for the DDP list. If anyone has any other thoughts feel free to share. I’m not going to specifically say what I’m going to have next because I inevitably think of something else I’d rather do and I get stuck into a corner, so next post will be a surprise.

Nov 8, 2011

Battle Report 1. Drop Pods vs. Gunline

And here…we…go!

I’m afraid that I neglected to take any pictures before most of the Deployment was over (okay, half way through Turn 2), but that was partially because I forgot to start taking them and partially because I decided that I should skip boring parts (it doesn’t matter how they moved and what path they took as much as where they ended up, it also isn’t necessary to take a picture at every half-way point when only two units do anything).

The game was against Marshal Learoth’s NOVA Gunline list. I have to admit, I was somewhat concerned that my Drop Pods would quickly be eliminated by the sheer amount of firepower in his list, and we’ll see how accurate that fear was.

Drop Pod got first choice; since I had more Scoring units than the Gunline, I felt that it would be best to go for Objectives rather than my otherwise preferred Kill Points (and I wanted to change things up a little). The Gunline didn’t want Dawn of War, because it needed to spread out, and it didn’t want Pitched Battle, because then it would either be taken apart piecemeal or it would be too clumped together to stop me, so it chose Spearhead. By random chance, the Gunline went first.

NOVA Terrain set-up (though less difficult terrain; two hills that just block LoS unless you’re on top of them, two ruins that are difficult terrain, two small pieces of Impassible terrain, and a road which didn’t come into play) with 4 Objectives in the quarters and 1 in the middle, all in Terrain pieces; Gunline set up to send a Predator and a Crusader Squad for the center objective, one Crusader Squad in reserve to take his other Objective, and two Crusader Squads plus two Predators on a hill holding his home Objective. The two Terminator squads and the Typhoons spread out between the forward units and the home units to prevent Drop Pods from coming down and getting rear-shots (and to maximize the room available to maneuver in once the Drop Pods do come down). The main strategy was to grab three objectives and prevent the Drop Pod list from boxing them in too badly. After Deployment, stuff generally moved forward but kept the same positions in relation to each other (you’ll see in the picture). The Drop Pods were fired from the ships.

Next turn saw the reserved Crusader Squad come on, so they pushed up towards their destination. Stuff moved forward again, and now the Gunline holds two Objectives (almost three), while the Drop Pods have yet to come down. And then they do. In one of the best ratios they could hope for (somehow, they almost always seem to get those ratios). Two Dreadnoughts, a Command Squad (Castellan led), all three Typhoons and a single Crusader Squad (without Emperor’s Champion); the Crusader Squad claims the objective that the reserved enemy Crusader Squad was going for, the Command Squad comes down inches from a home Predator with their Drop Pod protecting them from the Terminators, one Dreadnought comes down near the center objective and sets up for a side shot on the near-by Predator, the other Dreadnought comes down just like the Command Squad but for the other home Predator and still protected from Terminators by its Drop Pod, and the Typhoons come down between the main force of the Gunline and the other claimed objective. This may be confusing, but it looks like the below:

I hope that isn’t too small to see, but the units with red on them are the Gunline guys. The two objectives claimed by the Gunline are on hills, the two nearby corner ones are in ruins, and the last one is on a road, the other terrain is just impassible, but never came up as Blocking LoS or not. The yellow Rhino is just a wreck, not actually a unit.

And now the Shooting phase begins. The Command Squad targeted the Predator, which got Immobilized and Stunned; the green Dreadnought fired at the Predator, and whiffed; the other Dreadnought fired at the Predator near-by and blew off a Lascannon; the Crusader Squad fire its Plasma Gun at the Razorback but did nothing, and the Typhoons fire a few shots and Stunned another Typhoon as well as destroying the Weapon on the stunned Typhoon and that Razorback in the middle of the board. Assault Phase was uneventful.


Turn 3 and by most theory (the major arguments against Deep-Striking armies) the Gunline should have had a big advantage, lots of firepower against a very small portion of the enemy army. Well they shift around some (at this point I realized that I would need to go for 4 Objectives just in case I couldn’t hold one of them), and their firing destroyed the Command Squad’s Drop Pod, killing two of the Command Squad, wrecked the green Dreadnought’s Drop Pod, Shook a Typhoon, Shook both Dreadnoughts (Extra Armor is a steal at 5 points), Destroyed the Storm Bolter on the Crusader Squad’s Drop Pod, and did very little else. At this point I realized that the Terminators were going to be very dangerous unit, since they packed a lot of firepower plus could kill anything I had in Close Combat plus would be hard to take down unless I dedicated several units to that task, but since they had killed the two things they shot at, they were unable to assault.

The other Command Squad came down, along with 4 Crusader Squads (including the Emperor’s Champion), but the Dreadnought remained in reserve along with one more Crusader Squad. The Command Squad went to help the Dreadnought with the Center Predator, the Crusader Squads moved to claim/contest/support Objectives (the bottom right, the top right, the center, and the top left) with the Emperor’s Champion in the center Crusader Squad. A Typhoon went to support the two Crusader Squads in the upper right and the Squad going for the upper left took a risky move and dropped behind everybody in the corner.

So what you see is the Strategy for the Drop Pod list beginning to take shape. The Squad in the lower right isn’t going to be moving until their Drop Pod is destroyed (which reduces how many shots the Gunline can spend on the near-by dangerous stuff, known as the Distraction units); the upper-right objective is definitely going to be mine as I’ve got about twice the amount of power there, some of which can easily be re-deployed once it’s finished and the rest isn’t needed beyond taking that objective; everything in the upper-left corner is getting congested and hard to maneuver in (the Terminators can still move around but their paths are limited both by my guys and their own).

Various things shoot and kill/damage stuff, I believe another Razorback loses its turret, the Gunline’s bottom Typhoon gets Stunned, the Crusader Squad and Razorback in the upper-right is taken out entirely, the center Predator is exploded by the Command Squad, and then we get to assault. One of the home Predators gets wrecked by the Dreadnought, the other just gets Stunned again by the Command Squad, the Razorback on the center objective gets wrecked by the Dreadnought, and then we are done.

At this point, in the aftermath, it’s obvious that the game is over and all we need to decide is if the final call is 2-1 or 3-0. The Gunline has nothing left to make a chance at Victory except the two Terminator units, which are otherwise indisposed in trying to do just that. Of course, the Typhoons and Razorback turrets could cause some damage, but only one Typhoon is in any shape and only one Razorback has its turret left. The center objective is about to be taken, the upper-left is still heavily fought over, but I solidly control the two on the right and there is nothing that the Gunline can do about it except annoy them. I’ve got the units to make sure he doesn’t hold two objectives, and I even have enough to make sure he doesn’t hold any. Even so, it isn’t worth quitting at this point because there are tactical things to do, even if there are no strategic changes that are going to take place.

The light-blue Terminators shoot into the Castellan-led Command Squad and kill all but one guy, the green Terminators begin moving around the wrecked Drop Pod to get at the Dreadnought (now looking at the map, I think they could have assaulted it between the Predator and the Drop Pod, but it didn’t look like it at the time), the home-Crusader Squad disembarks to begin a shootout with the corner Crusader Squad, the Marshal’s Drop Pod gets rammed (no effect) and the Razorback full of Crusader Squad heads for the un-claimed Objective, and that’s about it. The light-blue Terminators charge the single Meltagun Initiate from the Command Squad, he tries to glance the Predator and does nothing; 15 Powerfist attacks, 3 hits, 1 wound, his dies. Yes, I rolled so badly that the full Terminator Squad almost failed to kill a single guy. Think of if there had been two.

For the Drop Pods they get their last Crusader Squad and Dreadnought. The Crusader Squad claims that lonely corner Objective, the Dreadnought comes down and blocks the Razorback that still has its passengers. The Dreadnought that killed the Predator moves to tackle the light-blue Terminators (ideally with support from the other Dreadnought and that near-by Crusader Squad), Typhoons move and work on killing the enemy Typhoons, the Emperor’s Champion led Crusader Squad charges into the enemy Emperor’s Champion led Crusader Squad and, because of careful placement of the Emperor’s Champion, is able to annihilate the Crusader Squad itself in a couple of turns and then get support from the Dreadnought to kill the other Emperor’s Champion (my own Emperor’s Champion and a single Initiate remaining), the Command Squad helps with the Typhoons, and the Gunline Crusader Squad holding the upper-left objective gets totaled (shooting plus charge from Dreadnought).

The turret-less Razorback zooms forward to contest the lower-left objective and blows smoke, the other nearby Razorback gets Stunned, with the center Objective held the Dreadnought pulls back to keep out of range of the green Terminators who have turned around and started heading their way, the top Dreadnought gets wrecked by Krak Missiles and the light-blue Terminators are trying to take out that Crusader Squad while the Crusader Squad from the Stunned Razorback hops out to try and claim the objective. The green Terminators assault the Emperor’s Champion, who somehow survives all of their attacks after splitting away from his Crusader Squad so that the single Initiate doesn’t get hit by Powerfists, because that would be bad (the Champion even kills one of the Terminators). We come to Turn 5 ready for the Drop Pod list to go, and there isn’t a whole lot left.

The Command Squad shoots at and then assaults that Crusader Squad, the upper-right Crusader Squad moves to claim the objective, the Dreadnought to the left destroys the weapon of the Razorback, the bottom Razorback (with smoke on it) gets Immobilized, the two remaining Typhoons get wrecked, the Emperor’s Champion dies, the Initiate near him moves away from the Terminators (and claims that objective), and the Dreadnought assaults the Terminators. Bottom of Turn 5 and the Drop Pods have claimed all 5 objectives but the Terminators are contesting one of them.

Okay, the game could end here but it doesn’t. The two remaining Razorbacks get taken out, two of the green Terminators get killed, the Dreadnought they are in combat with gets wrecked, the upper-left Crusader Squad gets slain by Terminators, the Command Squad remains locked in combat with the Crusader Squad, and that Immobilized Predator finally bites the dust. End of Turn 6, 4-0 (the Dreadnought’s sacrifice plus some shooting prevents the Terminators from contesting that objective) and the Gunline surrenders.

This is what I mean when I say that I prefer Kill Point games, just to add them up the Gunline lost 3 Crusader Squad, 4 Razorbacks, 3 Predators, 3 Typhoons, and the Emperor’s Champion. The Drop Pods lost 2 Dreadnoughts, 5 Drop Pods, 1 Crusader Squad, 1 Command Squad, 1 Castellan, and the Emperor’s Champion. The Drop Pod list scored 3 more Kill Points than the Gunline did, and annihilated them in Objectives. If you wanted to check Table Quarters then, well, I’ve got three of them, maybe four. In other words, this was not a close victory, this was a massacre.

Why was it such a clear victory? Neither army got significantly luckier than the other. The terrain hardly made a difference (okay, it reduced the number of targets for the Typhoons on occasion and it limited the movement of the green Terminators slightly), the craters left by exploded vehicles had more of an impact. Technically, the Drop Pod list’s Typhoons were able to fire first, but they were also forced to come down where they had few targets which limited them, so that shouldn’t make a massive impact. Was it the lack of Melta in the Gunline? Of course, that may have helped on occasion, but given the circumstances so would Power Weapons or Powerfists and at several points they needed the Plasma Gun more than the Meltagun because they were targeting Infantry. Reserving a single unit had almost no negative impact; it was how the unit was later handled that caused it to fail. And a fair portion of the Drop Pod list didn’t even have a big role in the game, one Crusader Squad did nothing by claim a single objective (and that wouldn’t have made a difference in the outcome), another claimed an objective (again, not tie-breaking) and fired a couple of shots. A Command Squad (my second most expensive unit) was only able to do some damage to a Predator and slow down a Terminator unit for a turn but definitely not a whole lot.

It’s because of the sheer number of Drop Pods which prevented the Gunline from moving, from selecting the best targets, and from acting as a whole that made the difference. The Drop Pod list’s units are quite capable of working on their own (every unit has exceptional Duality) and they don’t need to work in conjunction aside from all aiming for the same goal, the Typhoons provide support where needed and that’s about all the direct synergy there is (okay, I need to use multiple Drop Pods to do things, but still).

So, as the Drop Pod list, what would I have done differently? The upper Dreadnought wouldn’t have moved forward, he would have tried to stay out of sight until the Terminators were closer (or had assaulted and killed the Crusader Squad) so that he could move out, shoot them, and then get the charge off so that he could do as much damage as possible. I may have been able to not send a second Crusader Squad over to help claim that upper-left objective, but there wasn’t really a better place to send it.

As the Gunline, what should I have done differently? Gone out earlier to take the lower-left objective; I also probably should have used the green Terminators a little differently, they spent several turns moving and shooting a little bit when they should have been targeting and eliminating major threats. I probably also should have put more fire into those Typhoons, they lasted the whole game and did a fair amount of damage, but I got distracted by the more pressing, if less ideal, targets closer to me (the Distraction Units). Aside from that, I probably should have brought the reserved Crusader Squad on closer to the rest of my force so that it didn’t get isolated.

That’s pretty much all I can take out of that game, though any questions or comments would be greatly appreciated, so long as you realize that I did leave out a few details (I remember the two Crusader Squads in the upper-right taking pot shots at something in the center, but I can’t remember what it was or what they did). I know it’s really, really wordy, and that’s something I need to improve, maybe next time.

Unfortunately, except for maybe a few games against various Tyranid lists and one (or more if I feel it necessary) against my Best of list I think I’m going to leave my Drop Pod army alone for a while. I already know the outcome because it’s been the same for the past 4-5 games I’ve played with it. Instead I’m going to try and get games in with some of my other lists, and especially some of my Tyranid lists, maybe set up some sort of tournament to try and find the best list I’ve made, maybe. Aside from that, unless I get any questions I’ve got some thought on personalizing the DDP list which I’ll try to get to by the end of the week.

Nov 2, 2011

List changes.

So I’ve come to a problem with my list (you can find it in the bottom link to the right->), specifically related to something I’ve noticed.



My Terminators don’t seem to do much. They usually kill something, they do damage, once a single unit of them held up and destroyed two Predators, keeping them from affecting the rest of the battle (a battle that I almost won but failed in a couple of points on target priority and taking what I could get). But they usually die, they don’t seem as reliable as the Dreadnoughts, and they are kind of expensive to field. If they get charged it’s by a Close Combat unit which tends to beat them up pretty badly.



Compare that to my Dreadnoughts, which kill several things, eliminate multiple enemy units, survive the whole battle, and quite effectively draw enemy fire away from other things like my Crusader Squads and Terminators and Drop Pods. They’ve gotten assaulted, a couple of times, but always come out fine and when they get off the Assault they gradually trim down the unit they’re fighting until it’s dead.



So why should I keep a 285 point unit when I could instead have an equally effective or better 160 point unit? I could really use that 125 extra points, so I’m making that change to my list.



There’s another question though. Terminator units don’t really shine for me, mostly because they have Assault Cannons instead of a Multi-Melta (the difference between reliably killing anything, and reliably hurting most things). The Assault Cannons are Tank Hunting but still. Granted the Assault Cannons have a 46% chance to kill a Rhino compared to a 31% chance, so 148% chance for 178% cost. What if the Dreadnought could get two Multi-Meltas? Well, not a Dreadnought, a Command Squad. The question that I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph is: Is a Command Squad a better purchase than a Terminator Command Squad?



I already know that, while the Terminators are more deadly in Close Combat, they aren’t deadly enough to be worth comparing there. The first and most important difference is comparing two Meltaguns to two Tank Hunting Assault Cannons. Again, 46% chance for the Assault Cannons to kill a Rhino; 48% chance for the Meltaguns to kill a Rhino. Let’s go farther and compare the chances to do anything: 94% to 87%, respectively. So the two are virtually the same, what about against Land Raiders? 18% to 38% and 60% to 73%. Okay, so against Rhinos the Assault Cannons are more reliable (the advantage that Suppression weapons have) but against Land Raiders the Meltaguns are not only twice as likely to kill them but also much less likely to fail. You could argue that I’m already doing fine against Land Raiders, and it is Rhinos that I need to concentrate on, especially as far as doing at least something goes. So the percentage difference (yes, I’m very into statistical comparisons in this paragraph) between the Meltaguns and the Assault Cannons is: 114% chance to Kill a Rhino, 92% chance to affect a Rhino, 207% chance to Kill a Land Raider, and 122% chance to affect a Land Raider. So basically, better overall; especially when you consider the lowered price.



A Command Squad led by an unequipped Castellan with two Meltaguns in a Drop Pod costs 195 points. A Terminator Command Squad led by an unequipped Castellan with two Assault Cannons and Tank Hunters in a Drop Pod costs 310 points. If I drop the Terminator Command Squad I have (which actually costs 313 points) and add the extra 125 points from changing to a Dreadnought from a regular Terminator Squad I get 438 points to play around with. Get a Command Squad and there’s 243 points left-over. What can I do with 243 points? Get another Command Squad. Okay, 48 points left. I could get an Apothecary for each squad because FNP is good; 18 points left. You know, I don’t need those Smoke Launchers on the two original Dreadnoughts; they were just to spend a few left-over points anyway, so I’ll drop those for an extra 6 points. 24 points.



And here’s my problem. That problem I mentioned at the beginning of the article? Yeah, it wasn’t about the Terminators, they just led to this one. 24 points allows me to upgrade all six of my Crusader Squads to having Meltaguns instead of Plasma Guns. And now I’ve got Marshal Learoth’s DDP list. Exactly his list, point for point.



Now this isn’t to say that his is bad, it’s actually as optimized as it can get (unless, for some reason, there’s a better place to put those 24 points or the Plasma Guns are somehow a better choice or something). But the point is that it’s his. When I began to work on my list I put in Terminators for two reasons. The first was because I wanted an excuse to fit Assault Cannons in (I originally had Assault Cannons on the Dreadnoughts as well once I put them in); the second was because I wanted something to set my Drop Pod list apart from Marshal Learoth’s (I had no Dreadnoughts in the first couple of versions, mostly because they were in his and I thought I could get by without them). This may sound stupid, but I want my own list, not one that’s the same as someone else’s (this is not why I made those adjustments in the Casual versions of my list, if you were wondering; no, I am not paranoid, so stop watching my house).



So how do I overcome this problem? I don’t want to intentionally make a negative change to my list just to make it different, and I’m not really sure that I want to just have the difference of where I put those 24 points. Potentially I could take Missile Launchers instead of Multi-Meltas in my Crusader Squads so that I would have a weapon to deal with those pesky Dark Eldar should they run away from me, but I don’t think that would work unless I also took Meltaguns in my Crusader Squads which doesn’t fix the problem and in fact makes it worse by not being able to differentiate where those 24 points go.



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Okay, to change the subject really quick, this is a perfect example of why I have a blog. Remember that the purpose of my blog is for me to get my thoughts into written form, rather than just wondering and then my mind drifting off to something else. Were this blog to help others (that is not the primary goal, it is a much-sought-after side benefit) then I would have ended it here with another paragraph asking for advice. But because I have forced myself to give my thoughts form, I have come to my own conclusion. Now, back to your regular programming.



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But what’s wrong with Marshal Learoth’s DDP list? It isn’t like he gave it his own flair that I’m copying (unless you count being optimized as his personal flair, in which case I am a horrible plagiarist), he just practiced the concept and refined it, improving it until he came with the best list he could make. It’s on his website, which means that it is the best form of the list he can make, rather than his personal form. It doesn’t have anything that is there because of personal preference (bias maybe, but not preference); it is just simply the most Optimized list of that archetype that he can come up with. It isn’t quite his list; you could make a better argument that the Defensive Drop Pod Archetype is his archetype because, so far as I know, he is the first and most prominent to come up with a really good version of it.



And my version does have my own personal preference in it, Plasma Guns, and with those 24 points I can upgrade one of the Castellans to a Marshal (+1 Ld army-wide) with Krak Grenades, give the Castellan Meltabombs (retain some threat to vehicles in melee) and give both Commanders Bolters. There’s not a whole lot you can do with 24 points that gives an actual benefit (a special skill in one of the Command Squads or a Fighting Company Champion wouldn’t be notably better than what I’ve done, and I prefer the benefit to be army-wide rather than just to one unit), but the upgrades I’ve picked are Fluff based, further making my list my own. The Marshal [will be] Devjon, currently the Castellan I use, and the Castellan will be the leader of the Sisters of Battle contingent of my Crusade. I could go a little farther and make one of the Squads all Brother Initiates and the other all Sister Initiates (Marshal in the former and Castellan in the latter), but we’ll see (aka, no). I don’t get to field Terminators, but I am able to more accurately portray my Crusade and I should be able to (fairly) easily convert this to the casual version. So it’s a list that I’m happy with, it has my own personal tastes in it, and it is still nearly optimized. Here it is:



Emperor’s Champion: Vow (Abhor the Witch…), -110


Marshal: Bolter, Kraks; Command Squad (5): Bolters, 2 Meltaguns, Apothecary; Drop Pod; -228


Castellan: Bolter, Meltabombs; Command Squad (5): Bolters, 2 Meltaguns, Apothecary; Drop Pod; -216


3x Dreadnought: Multi-Melta, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -160x3


6x Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126x6


3x Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70x3


Total:-2,000


In a few days I’ll update the page with my lists on it, for now I want it available to see the original list. Next up is going to be an actual battle report (still deciding who against though) and I hope that it won’t be another 5 days or so until I get around to posting it. Sometime I also want to get a post up about how to win, we’ll see when I get the chance to do that.


EDIT: I forgot to mention that I have already tried scaling this to the Casual version as well as a 1,500 point version and it seems to scale remarkably easily. For both (as well as scaling the Casual to a 1,500 point version) there were almost no extra points left over from having to drop units (It fit exactly).