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Played a game of apocalypse recently, and I noticed something very disturbing...
Specifically that the game type is full to the brim of AP 3 weaponry, usually in large template form.
The game seems to favor larger infantry armies, like the guard, nids or orks, who can 'eat' casualties more effectively then we can.
So my question is, how can the survivability/effectiveness of the normal gropos marine be improved in Apocalypse? Lets assume a point value that makes fielding a whole chapter untenable.
From what limited bits I've seen of Apocalypse, it seems like a good idea to go more Mech.
More terminators? Or using drop pods to land tactical squads into enemy lines and get them into combat fast enough to escape templates?
Use of Reserves
In Apocalypse, the use of the (most excellent) Strategic Reserves rule and Strategic Assets like Flank March and Tunnels, or even the humble Drop Pod, provides Space Marines with their best tactical choices--especially when it comes to beating shooty, horde-based armies like Guard or Tau.
The main thing Apocalypse does for the Marine army is replace the normal Reserves rule with the Strategic Reserves rule. While this doesn't seem like a huge change, its impact on the game is immense. When you switch from regular 40k to Apocalypse, your biggest worry for Drop Pod armies, the possibility of coming in scattered and piece-meal and allowing your enemy to engage your units in detail, is completely erased. You know exactly when each unit will come in from reserves, and, most importantly, you can ensure that every single one of your units comes in at the same time.
Imagine that in a normal game of 40k. Each of your squads is in a Drop Pod and, simply by waiting till the beginning of your third turn, you can land your entire army at once. If a standard Drop Pod army could do that, it would win pretty much ever time--and in Apocalypse, it really does.
Also, never forget that the Battle Company formation--one of the best formations in the game, and certainly the best Space Marine formation--gives you Careful Planning, which means that your entire army can come in turn two, instead of turn three. Or, if you're playing against certain opponents--Eldar or Tau with lots of skimmers that become much harder to kill after they take that first-turn move--you can bring in half your army on turn one and take out those important targets before they can take advantage of their most important special rule.
When using Careful Planning to take full advantage of first-turn reserves, the everything-in-reserve approach works even better by allowing you to bid one minute for your set-up time (you're not actually going to start anything on the board, afterall) and virtually guarantee yourself first turn.
Remember, though, that if you're not going to try to hit them on the first turn--you're going to wait until turn two or three and bring your whole army down at once--you don't want to bid one minute--bid thirty. Taking first turn won't do you any good, and in a game where everything comes down to objectives, taking the last turn of the game can be very important. If everything is in reserves, taking first turn actually has no benifit, so bid the maximum time to ensure that you get the second turn.
Units and Strategies
When playing the everything-in-reserves Apocalypse army, there are a few choices which are no-brainers. Anything in Drop Pods, for instance. Terminators, Tactical Squads, Dreadnoughts, Librarians with Command Squads (and Fear of the Darkness!). Anything, really, can be fit into this list by simply putting it into a Drop Pod.
Even Devastators (which you want to take because you really want that Battle Company formation) can benifit from a Drop Pod--use these units to land on and capture the objectives which are in your own deployment zone. Even if they do nothing else, capturing these objectives will be well worth it. Plus, since they've got the long range guns, they're the best suited for simply sitting on those objectives which are farthest away from the action and taking whatever shots they can take.
Assault Marines, too, fit into the list (once again, mainly because of the Battle Company formation). Remember that they can Deep Strike on their own. While the lack of a Drop Pod makes it tougher to place them safely, their faster movement helps them make up for imperfect deep-strikes.
Land Speeders find themselves in a similar position--hampered by their sub-par deep-striking ability, but still probably worth taking.
Of course, anything in the army--Bikes, Tanks, Assault Marines, Mounted Tctical or Terminator squads, Land Speeders, whatever--is a fine choice when you take that game-changing Strategic Asset: Flank March. Simply, Flank March lets your reserves come onto the table from any board edge. The potential for first turn assaults, shots into the rear and sides of enemy tanks, and all sorts of similar mayhem is never greater than when using this strategem. It's a game winner, all by itself, and it allows you to put a much wider range of units to good use than you could if simply relying on Drop Pods.
Of course, if you're going to use Flank March--especially if your plan is to bring your whole army in at once--remember the Ambush Strategic Asset. This one asset can ruin your whole day. It will hit every single one of your models which comes in using the Flank March asset with a single AP:3 sniper hit. This can kill a lot of guys. It can even be pretty hard on Tanks. It can ruin your day. While you can certainly protect the majority of your models from its effects by simply mounting them in Rhinos, the existance of this Strategic Asset makes the Flank March army a gamble--and makes the Drop Pod version look better in comparison. Also, it gives you incentive to use what I suspect will be an oft-overlooked, but very effective Strategic Asset: Tunnels.
Tunnels, too, can definitely aid the everything-in-reserve army. The Tunnels Strategic Asset lets you place a random (but always pretty reasonable) number of "tunnel markers" on the table. When coming in from reserve, your infantry units may enter the table from these markers as if they were table edges in your deployment zone.
With Tunnels, though, you have to plan pretty carefully. Only infantry can use the tunnels. This excludes Assault Marines (with jump packs), Vehicles (including Dreadnoughts), and bikes, leaving Terminators, Tacticals, Devastators, Assault Marines (without Jump Packs), Veterans, Scouts, and Command Squads (and most HQs) able to access the tunnels. Furthermore, only one unit can come out of a tunnel in a single turn, and you can't use a tunnel at all if there are enemy units within 1" of its marker. Finally, you can't assault on a turn when you come out of a tunnel.
Compared to Flank March, the Tunnels have some up-sides and some down-sides.
On the upside: They allow you position your modes more precisely, and allow you to access a much greater portion of the board with your reserves (without using Drop Pods) than you could with Flank March. Also, using Tunnels doesn't subject you to the disastrous effects of Ambush.
However, with Tunnels, you pretty much have to take first turn. You have to make sure you also have the Careful Planning asset (which you get from taking the Battle Company Formation) and you really must bring units on through each tunnel on the first turn. If you allow your opponent to take a turn before you have the exit of each tunnel secured, they will simply park a tank or a squad on top of the exit and prevent you from using the tunnel altogether. (You place the Tunnels after they deploy, which, fortunately, prevents them from doing this during their deployment.)
Also, Tunnels don't allow you to charge the turn you come into play. With Flank March, your faster, assaultier units can often charge right away (it'd be odd, to say the least, for your opponent to have no units within 18" of any board edge in his or her own deployment zone.) This not only allows them to start being effective right away, but grants them protection from the withering fire you should expect to receive on the turn after you show up.
Still, using a combination of Careful Planning, Drop Pods, Flank March, and Tunnels, you can put your Marine army through a routine of strategic acrobatics which put an Eldar to shame and spell doom for your enemies--especially those of the static, shooty, Marine-killing-pie-plates-of-doom variety.
P.S. If you happen to have a Thunderhawk, it's worth noting that they fit perfectly into any of these sorts of everything-in-reserve armies--and they're awesome, to boot. If you're having trouble with ordnance-heavy armies, these gunboats are definitely going to be your best friend (though, at nearly $900 a pop, they might provoke a falling out with your wallet.)
P.P.S There's one other Stragic Asset you'll want to watch out for--the Disruptor Beacon. This allows enemies to potentially re-direct your incoming reserves--of any sort, be they Flank Marching, coming through Tunnels, or Drop Podding--to anywhere your opponent wants, which will usually be utterly remote and useless corners of the table. While not as obviously or initially devastating as Ambush against the Flank March army, this can effectively remove big chunks of your army from the game--and you can't easily obviate its effects by simply using Drop Pods or Tunnels. It requires some luck, and good placement of the Disruptor Beacon on your opponent's part, but expect your opponents to start picking it after your everything-in-reserve army beats the snot out of them the first few times you pull it out. Luckily, this Strategic Asset has a counter, and it's one that Marines can access pretty easily. The Beacon can be destroyed, and the Orbital Bombardment is the perfect tool for doing it. It also happens to be a tool which you get, virtually for free, by taking the Battle Company formation. (Yet another point in its favour.) Simply obliterate the Beacon from orbit before coming in, and you'll have eliminated the single biggest obstacle between you and victory.
P.P.P.S For those of you who don't like to accept advice which constitutes "Theory Hammer," know this: I have played three Apocalypse games so far.
In the first game, I used the Battle Company, Flank March, and Tunnels. Aside from the Battle Company, my army consisted of a bunch of Terminators, Bikes, Land Speeders, and a Land Raider (or maybe two, I don't really remember). I was against a team of Imperial Guard and Thousand Sons (new codex). I bid one minute for deployment, and came on the first turn, through the tunnels and off the edge. It was a rout, and clearly due to the use of the everything-in-reserves approach.
In the second game, I took a similar approach, but only had one asset. I decided against the Battle Company (it was a smaller game) and just went with Bikes, Terminators, Assault marines, and Land Raiders. I took only the Flank March asset, and brought my entire army in on turn three. Again, it was an utter rout. I assaulted the enemy Guard and destroyed several tanks right off the bat, and there was no way for him to pull out after that.
In the third game, I played a traditional line-up-and-march army, with, basically, every model I had. I played against Tau, Thousand Sons, and Guard. Though I managed to pull out a draw, it was a close game, and I very nearly lost (though, to be fair, this was at least partially due to some serious play errors on my own part.)
Suffice to say, I have good reason for thinking that the everything-in-reserve approach is the key to winning Apocalypse games with Space Marines.
Last edited by Left of West; December 4th, 2007 at 19:17.
Basicly, the solution is to play with space marines exactly how they are inteded to be played, especialy from a fluff point of view.
hard, fast, up close and agressive!!!
FOR THE EMPEROR!!!
PROUD TO BE IN THE BRITISH ARMY.
~~ Surrender and serve me in life, or die and slave for me in death~~
Excellent post, Left of West! Rep for you!! I will have a few weeks off during Christmas break and I am planning SOME Apoc games (I haven't played any yet). I will study this again before I play...
Once a Marine, always a Marine.
Left of West, good post; though does the bidding for a minute of deployment mean that your opponent has that much time as well or give you a big advantage for first turn? Cause for some armies that looks like it would be very un-sportsman-like. (Which I thought was one of the premises of Apocolypse.)
Take my love, take my land, take me to where I cannot stand; I don't care I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.
"The difference between gods and daemons largely depends upon where one is standing at the time."- Lorgar
Member of the Fluff Masters Clan
In general a longer time to deploy is desireable due to a high number of units/models. BUT the one who makes the lowest bid gets first turn. If you have imperial lice (I mean Imperial Guard) and have 300 models to place, five minutes is not enough time! THe downside to a short deployment time is that any unit not fully deployed in your allotted time is place in reserve to come in during turn 2 or 3, (not good, usually).
His tactics of using all reserves allows you to bid one minute to get first turn, but it does not hurt you at all since you have no models to put down.
Once a Marine, always a Marine.
indeed, exelent posting by the way, rep duly appointed.
PROUD TO BE IN THE BRITISH ARMY.
~~ Surrender and serve me in life, or die and slave for me in death~~
So, if I bid one minute and you bid fifteen, I have to deploy my whole army in one minute, but you get fifteen minutes to deploy yours. I'll deploy first and take the first turn.
If I fail to deploy my whole army within that one minute, everything I don't deploy must start in reserve--but there's the good part. I was going to start my whole army in reserve anyway, so that, which is the only penalty for having a low deployment time, doesn't matter to me at all.
My bid doesn't restrict how much time you have in which to deploy, though--and I think that's what you were asking.
Actually, on re-reading your post, perhaps that's not what you're asking. If your point is that it is unsportsmanlike to virtually guarantee yourself first turn by bidding an amount so low that your enemy can not hope to match your bid--and doing so simply because you set up your army so that you weren't going to deploy anything anyway--well, maybe you have a point. Certainly it irritated my opponent when I did it the first time. Though it was perfectly within the bounds of the game (and, I thought, quite appropriate as well, given that I was playing against a static guard army with bunkers, of all things) he felt he was being taken advantage of.
Ultimately, that's up to you. As I said above, I played a similar game with the same guy, using a slightly altered version, and beat him again. I told him that, in the future, we'd play some games in which I set up my army differently and took different strategies--we did that in the third game, and he did much better.
Personally, though, I'd feel a little taken-advantage-of if my opponent played a guard army with tons of Leman Russ and Baneblades, and hid all his guys in Bunkers, and expected me to just sit in my deployment zone and fight a(n impossible) slugfest with him--or worse, foot-slog my way across the board towards his nigh-invicible emplacements.
The shooty army has plenty of strategic assets which set up the game in a manner which favours them. I think it's appropriate for the Marine army to use those strategic assets which sets up the game in a manner which is favourable to Marines--whether my Guard-and-Tau-playing buddy likes it or not.
To the rest of you: glad you like the post =). I'm a big fan of the Apocalypse rules set, and I like to ramble about it when I get the chance. Thanks for indulging me.
As Brother Azriel said, I feel that the use of these strategies, especially along with the Battle Company formation, epitomizes the way Marines are supposed to be used. They allow you to get up close and personal with your enemy, in a style befitting the military geniuses that Marines are supposed to be.
Last edited by Left of West; December 4th, 2007 at 19:14.
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