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I found this extremely insightful blog post about why some units are chosen even though they'll never make their points back.
What really caught my eye were the comments about Kroot and Piranhas (as examples he used).Kroot (and other 'bubble wrap')
I pay around 120 points for 10 Kroot and 7 Hounds. How often do they kill stuff? Well, there was that one time they took out a chaos Raptor squad... But beyond that, no, they really DON'T kill stuff. They fold like wet paper sacks in hand-to-hand, they die to flamers in a comedic and terrible fashion, and can kind of rapid-fire stuff. Kind of.
So, why do I take them?
It's called a 'meat shield.' Bubble wrap is another term I've heard, but I prefer meat shield since I've bought lunch meat that comes in tupperware containers explicitly for carting around heaps of plastic infantry that have a generous amount of clear coat on them. Plus, it's good for a laugh when you put your meat shield back into a meat container.
Case in point today against Tyranids: A Trygon pops up near my lines. There are a heap of Kroot between it and juicy targets like a Hammerhead, Broadside Team, and a couple of Crisis Suit teams. Had I not taken the Kroot, I would have had ONE turn to kill the Trygon (which is not necessarily a given, with 6 wounds at T6 with a 3+, even with plasma rifles) before I lost something important. Instead, I took off four wounds with a heap of gunfire, lost a Piranha to it, and then had a Crisis Suit squad go up to BS5 from markerlights and nuke it.
Against meltaguns and the like, you have to do something like tank shock the kroot out of the way to deploy within 6" and get your crucial 2d6 penetration. S8 on AV13 is not a gimme by any stretch of the imagination, but S8+2d6 is a Hammerhead in trouble. It does stop annoying alpha-strike tactics like scout-moving a Vendetta up, and meltagun+meltabomb rushing a Hammerhead, provided you space out and deploy properly.
The Piranha (and other fast, generally-expendable threats)
Here's another short story abou Tau and sacrificing units for the greater good. I field two squads of two Piranhas; they pack Fusion blasters, BS4, and one mounts a Disruption Pod while the other carries the wargear that lets me split fire.
So, one of my buddies was getting into Black Templar, so he's rolling a pair of Land Raider Crusaders with furious charge lightning claw terminators. Ouch. Well, we set up in table quarters, so I rush my Piranhas up in front of his Raiders. He HAS to deal with them; there is a very real chance I can trade 300 points of my army for 500+ of his, and force his terminators to run at me. Considering plasma rifles and markerlights are involved, this doesn't bode well for the Terminators.
So, he shoots at them a little, and I get my shots at his Raiders. Four meltaguns and three railguns later, I've managed to...shake...a single Land Raider. Even with smoke, you'd think all the fething AP1 fire might do some damage. Nope. Sorry. HOWEVER, since these are vehicles, he can't tank shock through them. At this range, he can get an S4-5 ram off on AV11 with a 3+ dodge save. If he does NOT halt and engage them, they'll simply try again next turn. So, he spends a turn or two repositioning and brutally gunning them down.
The Piranhas did not kill a bloody thing.
The Piranhas cost him two turns of movement.
The Piranhas dictated his game, and in turn gave me the time I needed to immobilize one Raider and kill the other.
My Point on Meat Shields and Other Expendables
Sometimes, just being there is enough. Cheap infantry can buy you a turn against assaulty armies, and cheap, fast vehicles that are a credible threat (IE: Multi-melta/Heavy flamer land speeders as well as Piranhas) HAVE to be killed. It's the fact that you can pay points and troops for time, or make them dictate your opponent's movements that makes them worth it.
Last edited by number6; March 5th, 2010 at 21:24.
ninjabackhand: point and click, again, really? even after i give you an military term "shock tactic" you still call it point and click.
RIP Warhammer 40,000: 21 Sep 1998 - 24 May 2014
i've never thought about how my units can "make up their point cost", more "how can my units make shooting easier for my XV8s and Heavies".
a good army is a single body of multiple parts working together, not a group of individuals trying to prove themselves.
Interesting read. I myself never cared much for the idea of a unit needing to earn its point costs. As long as the game is won, then all the units have done their job.
(After all, the only way for all your units to earn their points cost is essentially to kill the opposing team down to the last man/alien/robot/daemon... -and- do it in such a fashion so that every unit gets their fair share of kills.)
While the above is very true, there are certain units that "making points back" can be a valuable assesment tool.
The difference comes from what I would refer to as "support units" and for want of a better term "Kill units."
A Kroot squad may not make its points back, and if they don't that's fine. There job is to stop *insert enemy unit here* from getting to your kill units.
Nobody expects a unit of Pathfinders to make 200pts worth of kills.
However a hammerhead gunship is defined by the damage it can do. Same goes for your XV8 units. One of the key reasons we see these guys in every Tau list (in some form or another) is that they regularly make their points back....and then some. There are certain sections of the list that have to get kills, and looking at "points back" can be valuable when it comes to these guys.
Keep in mind, for every support unit you take your kill units need to be doing extra....well....killing.
I don't care what you say. I found a lightsaber in my garage and that makes me a Jedi
Ive found kroot to be the comedic releif of the tau empire: if they kill something its funny, if they die its not abnormal, and if the get flamed its fun to see your opponent scramble with the template to see how many of our meat sheilds he can fit under it.
There are three kinds of people in this world, those who can count and those who cannot.
well some models in your army must be able to "earn thier points back". however there are more ways to earn your points back.
I would say delaying 25% of your opponents army for 2 turns is a VERY good way to earn its points IMO.
A unit is only usefull if it can get used, and the example with the pirhana's above caused the crusaders and the termie's to lose 33% of thier turns to wreak havoc, that raider squad is around 450 points EACH!, Soo i usually look at that as having earned 150 points JUST for tying up the land raiders not to mention the other units he used to also attack the pirhanas.
For the tau army, "making your points back" is a horrible idea, with the fact that we have expensive transports, and pathfinders who don't explicitly kill anything, and kroot diversions being thrown at the enemy. Also included might be a piranha screen, and thats probably not all.
That said, in a game I played last week, my single broadside took out arond 400 points worth of stuff (in a 1000pt game). Pretty slick. My hammerhead on the other hand did almost nothing (I put it in reserve in order to do the battle mission and shake things up. turn 4 it comes in and flops, gets stunned, etc).