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Folks, I just put this together recently to offer some advice for the newer players. Hopefully, even some veterans will get something out of this. I haven't gone into detail on exactly what unit choices you should pick for your army (plenty of other articles have done that), but rather have tried to give everyone a framework for conceptualizing how to go about building your army list. If you have any questions, or want more, please don't hesitate to leave me a message. Also, I welcome your comments and feedback.
The battle plan that you formulate, and the method that you intend to use to defeat your opponent should vary greatly depending upon your Mission, the Enemy you are facing, and the Terrain upon which you will fight. I caution you against buying a unit with a presupposed plan on how you will use them. I often see newer players submit an army list for critique, who will then describe the tactics with which they will use their forces, when they donâ€™t even know what enemy they will be fighting, or what the scenario will be. Instead, I recommend that you make choices that give you effective fighting forces regardless of the situation at hand.
Although all players will come to the game with a few ready tactics and trusty techniques in mind, most battle planning will occur very rapidly, during the deployment of units prior to starting the game, when both players learn their Mission (and the opponentâ€™s mission), analyze the Terrain, and observe the disposition and composition of Enemy forces. Only then can you truly begin to determine how you intend to defeat your enemy.
In general, you will usually want to adopt an offensive scheme of maneuver against â€śshootyâ€? enemy, such as the Imperial Guard, or the Tau. These are two armies that will attempt to fix you in place and destroy your forces with ranged fire. They are, however, typically weak in close combat, thus you will do well to come to grips with them as rapidly as possible.
Conversely, you will usually want to be defensive when opposing â€śhordeâ€? armies, such as Orks and Tyranids, that are vulnerable to ranged fire, stronger at close combat, and bring strength in numbers.
Neither of these are hard and fast rules, however, and sometimes the Mission will dictate that you do otherwise. Several of the mission objectives will force you to go on the offensive, to secure a table quarter, or a loot counter, or to simply get into the enemyâ€™s deployment zone.
If you know the Enemy you will face before-hand (usually in â€śfriendlyâ€? non-tournament games) you can tailor your forces to take advantage of either the best offensive, or defensive capabilities offered by your unit choices, depending on your needs. If, however, you do not know the enemy prior to the battle, then you must choose forces that can be effective in either role.
If you closely examine the Mission choices themselves, you should see that some missions are more advantageous to certain forces. For example, the Take and Hold mission may preclude you from being able to maintain a Defensive posture (you will not win this mission if you defend your deployment zone, as you must get more scoring units with 12â€? of the center of the table). Thus, if you are commanding a Space Marine force, and you are opposing Tyranids, you should probably avoid playing a Take and Hold mission (you will similarly want to avoid Recon, Secure and Control, and perhaps also Cleanse). In this case, the mission that would give you the advantage would be Seek and Destroy, which doesnâ€™t penalize you for â€śpulling in the wagonsâ€? and blasting away at the enemy as he surges towards your lines. Depending on how you and your opponents pick missions, you might occasionally be able to influence the Mission via the Strategy Rating roll (remember that Marines have a strategy rating advantage over several other armies). It should go without saying, but when given the opportunity, pick the mission that gives your army the advantage.
Although you may not be able to influence the Terrain upon which you fight, you must understand how it can, and will, affect the battle.
Open terrain, that offers plenty of long-range fields of fire and line-of-sight across the battlefield will generally favor the defender, allowing him to cause casualties on the approaching enemy force at the maximum ranges of his weapon systems. Any available cover in the defenderâ€™s deployment zone would only add to this advantage by offering protection from incoming fire from the attackers, and it would force the attackers to assault into cover to come to grips with the defending troops, which can affect the order of close combat, making a huge difference in the outcome of an assault.
A cluttered battlefield that offers a variety of cover or concealment across the board generally favors the attacker, offering him a protected approach to the opponentâ€™s positions. Any difficult terrain may hamper mobility somewhat and slow the advance, but the protection offered by area terrain is usually more than worth the costs of a slower paced attack. When you are fighting a mission that dictates you use an offensive form of maneuver, do your best to ensure that your opponent doesnâ€™t shirk you on the proper amount of terrain on the table.
Your Forces (Troops):
Now that we have examined a few important facets in understanding how the Enemy, Mission, and Terrain will affect each battle, letâ€™s discuss the one variable to the battle that we directly control â€“ our choice of troops.
One should buy, assemble, and paint (have available for use) units that are versatile enough to be effective regardless of the situation fate and the vagaries of war offer you. This is particularly true of the tournament army, in which you will likely face a variety of Enemy types, and perhaps also conduct a variety of Missions, using a single, fixed, army list. However, even if you do not intend to fight in tournaments, most players want to have to buy, assemble, and paint as few units as possible, and still have an effective fighting force. Having thousands of points worth of units to select from is very resource intensive, in terms of both time and money.
Another point that I would like to highlight is the importance of mobility. A casual inspection of the Mission scenarios once again should demonstrate how critical mobility is in the game; 4 out of 5 mission objectives require each player to move his forces to specific points on the battlefield. Even when adopting a defensive posture, some mobility is required to allow your counterattacking forces to reinforce threatened positions in your lines, or to allow reserves to exploit opportunities for advantage.
An entirely â€śfoot-sloggingâ€? force may well have a very difficult time under most scenarios.
Rule of Thumb #1: Avoid excessive â€śglitterâ€?. By this I mean, donâ€™t allow yourself to feel compelled to get all of the attractive, cool, flashy units and vehicles. If you do have to have it all, please avoid the temptation of putting it all in your army list at once for a given battle, at the expense of the cheap, reliable, and effective standard troops choices that you could otherwise get. I am often humored by army lists offered for review that max out on HQ and Elite choices, while containing the minimum number of two Troops units. Although battles can be, and are, won by such a force, they are usually inflexible and quite fragile.
Rule of Thumb #2: Avoid the â€śpoints sinkâ€?. The points sink is usually an Independent Character, but can be a vehicle, or squad that you continue to invest points in to max out in every way. Many players feel compelled to make HQ choices into â€ścombat monstersâ€?, loading up on weapons, offensive wargear, and Terminator Honours. Then, because the individual has become an investment that they can no longer afford to lose, they become obligated to further sink points into the model to protect it, and buy such items as Articifer or Terminator Armour, and an Iron Halo or Adamantium Mantle. Very easily a player can sink 10-20% of their available points into a single model.
This completes installment 1 of Valerian's Guide to Army Building; I hope it was a valuable contribution.
Brilliant. I wouldn't construct a "theme" based army if you are a beginner though. If you do that yes, you may start to excel in that theme, such as defending, but later on you will realize that you're losing out on other aspects of the game, like assaulting.
Rather, start with an army that can fill both close combat and defending. The game is more sastisfying that way. As you progress, move to a theme if you wish. But at least you get a taste of both.
Good job Val.
Alaric,Originally Posted by Alaric
Thanks for the good feedback.
Just to clarify, I'm not recommending that you build your army in such a "theme" based manner, which I think you are describing, whereby you try to excel in one aspect of the game, such as defending. Rather, I have attempted to make it clear that one should do the opposite, and pick forces for his or her army list that are effective in both offensive and defensive tasks.
This versatility is necessary as we cannot create our battle plan, determine our proposed method for winning the battle, and choose our scheme of maneuver (either offensive or defensive) until we are able to examine, and gain an appreciation for 1) our Mission, 2) the Enemy we are facing, 3) the affects of the Terrain, and lastly 4) the capabilities and limitations of our own Troops. Any of these may advantage either a defending or attacking force. Each of these four variables will combine and influence the game, and should assist us in identifying the appropriate scheme of maneuver in our battle plan.
We, as players, will only be able to affect in any real way the final variable, our Troops, based upon the choices we make when creating our army list. Thus my final recommendations for Versitile, Mobile unit selections that avoid the pitfalls of "glitter" or the "points sink". In this way you will build an army list that can be effective when defending or attacking, as the true test of a formidable army list is one that can excel regardless of the given situation.
I hope this helps clarify,
Last edited by Valerian; August 21st, 2006 at 00:40.
That also brings up a good point, don't sink points into extremely frail and useless units (such as using 2 5-man tac sqaud ea. w/ lascannons, power fists, plasma gun and pistol and everything else you could possibly stick on em.) and a well rounded army normally wins (such as an army with a good ammount of shooty units [such as snipers or plasma cannon/lascannon sqauds] and include a good veriety of bikes land speeders and assault marines as well as a dreadnaught.) I've gone from Khorne, to Tau, to Chaos Gaurd, to Necron, to wolves to dark angels (not neccesarily in that order) and unless you have an army where you suck at CC *cough* gaurd tau *cough* and shoot 20 shots per sqaud, make sure to take units that can do something in CC.
A well written post Val which bring's up some valid point's... Especially the one about the point's sink unit's. I think all of us have been tempted by this at one point or another. Just because you can take uber IC's and max out on Land Raider's does'nt mean you should, just remember 'Not all that glitter's is gold'.
''It begs the question; why would the emperor permit something quite so dangerous and untamed to exist? And that would be to take down another Space Marine Legion."
Excellent. My only complaint would be it's not SM specific enough and could apply to several races.
Give us some more please.
LO RulesOriginally Posted by AnonymousOriginally Posted by Cyric
I think most players do this to much.One should buy, assemble, and paint (have available for use) units that are versatile enough to be effective regardless of the situation fate and the vagaries of war offer you.
8 man tactical squad,
x1 melta, 1x plasma cannon,
1x vetearn sgt powerfist, auspex, bolt pistol,
5x normal marines.
Now there is nothing in the game this squad cant take on.
But there is nothing in the game this squad is good at taking on.
I think your article would be enhanced by discussing more tactics.
Currently i see a lot of lists with say, 1-2 squads that are fast, generally lead by an HQ, followed by a bunch of average trooops, maybe some speicalised shooters.
Now, as far as army list goes that fine.
However tactically far to many marine players really dont use any.
For example, i see far to many players advance with all there CC squad squads, while there shooty squad sit and shoot.
The opponent counters by quickly assaulting/shooting with most of his force up against the
1-2 fast units. Then the slow second line of shoot sluggers, is either leap frogged to be enemy troops (thus getting out of the marine players shooting lanes) or ignores the the second line of infantry (if they are shooty) and fires back at the space marine shooters.
They the marine player gets frustrated and wounders why he lost.
The same goes for 1-2 infiltrating/deep strikers.
If you could write articles to help these players i think that would be a real asset. Granted thats hard.
Good start so far, keep it up.
defensive against horde armies? pshht
Most of the time I charge with my bunches of Assault Marines with backup and fire support from tac and dev squads. Nothing cooler than seeing 40 assault marines barreling through 'nids.
Never infiltrate and/or deepstrike less than 3 units in your list.
Scouts, Deepstriking Assault Marines & Termies are a good thing, just not if you only have a few.
In fact, have no less than 3 of each role if you have any at all.
A reasonable mix is:
6 shooty squads
3 assaulty squads
2 versetile squads (the only type you can have less than 3 of. Termies fit this role well)
Backing yourself up is neccesary.
Post your army lists in the ARMY LIST section! Not that hard!
@Karmoon,Originally Posted by Karmoon
Thank you for the support. In response to your single complaint, I actually started out thinking about the article from a Space Marine perspective, since 3 out of 4 of the armies I've put together are Marine forces. However, as I started putting my thoughts together it was immediately clear that the lessons I intended to impart are universal, and not specific to a single army.
In the article above I intentionally avoided detailing which specific units, in my opinion, are among those that are among the most effective and versatile. Most of these are already well-known and have been examined in other articles.
I am already working on a second installment, where I hope to provide a framework for comparison that can be used to evaluate army list choices in the selection process. Perhaps this time I can be a little more Space Marine specific, and may go into detail in analyzing some tried and true combinations.
Your humble servent,
Valerian@Forged,Originally Posted by ForgedInTheFurnaceOfWar
I am not entirely sure that I understand your point here. Although I prefer the lascannon and plasmagun to the plasmacannon and meltagun combination above, the squad you've described is quite versatile, and effective in most situations. Hence, this build (or something very close) has been adopted by the preponderance of Space Marine commanders I've come into contact with. If you could be more specific as to what you don't like about it, please respond, or send a PM and we can continue to explore it.Admittedly, a discussion of tactics is always welcome, but that wasn't really my intention with this article. Instead, it was my hope to provide some insight into building an effective army, as a starting point for those players that might benefit from it.Originally Posted by ForgedInTheFurnaceOfWarForged,Originally Posted by ForgedInTheFurnaceOfWar
I'll see what I can do. For now, I'm going to work on part II of this article and finish some of the thoughts I have on evaluation and comparison of units. Hopefully, I can get that done in the next week or so.