This week I want to talk about the most vital part of an army, one that is, curiously, often ignored.
Proper support for your engaged elements
(get it? support...? support characters...? like Aquaman? see the picture makes sense.)
Support is Incredibly important for your army. Whether it's artillery or mechanized support, counter assault units, baggage trains, specialist troopers or medics and engineers, your army needs support to get the job done and get it done right.
The most numerous of options when it comes to support are Special Troops. These guys and gals come custom equipped to deal with certain situations totally. These are your squad support troopers (Eldar firedragons, Haqquislam Naffatun), your heavy weapons platoons, Hackers, Engineers, Snipers, Medics and other specialists that make sure your army operates as it needs to and can deal with the diverse opposition your opponents can throw at you. Of particular note are Medics. If they are an option, i would suggest almost always taking them. Re-rollable saves in 40k (or, in the case of Sanguinary Priests, a 6" feel no pain aura OMG!), or bringing models back from unconscious/dead in Infinity and other games, Medics are indispensable in my mind. I'm also a huge fan of excess when it comes to shooting, so heavy weapon squads, or better yet, template using units make me happy in my insides.
Next up we have Artillery and Mechanized support. Tanks, APCs (armored personnel carriers such as the rhino or wave serpent in 40k ), IFVs (infantry fighting vehicles such as the chimera or Razorback in 40k), T.A.G.s (Infinity), Dreadnoughts/Mecha and mobile/deployable Artillery can spell large target doom to your opponent if they are unprepared for them. Usually sporting high volume firepower or large template blasts, these weapons can dominate the battlefield, though woe-betide the player who relies on them too much, for a prepared opponent can render them to large craters and terrain in a turn or two. This tier of support can often be a "glass cannon" to players who envision their armored behemoths running roughshod over their enemies (while swinging their swords from the cupola?) and laughing all the way to victory, not realizing that often a lucky shot, or worse, a planned reaction, can take them out handily and now the player has the tank-less(he he he) task of finishing the game with no backup plan but to bitch and whine.
Lastly we have Counter-units. These are units specifically designed to take out a specific type of other unit. They are useful if you know your opponent will be using the offending units you so dislike, but, truthfully, you can rarely rely on the unit outside of dealing with anything else (Grey-Knights not withstanding... They'll always be awesome.)
What does this all mean?
Well now, that's my explanation of the disparate elements of an Army and how they should be used. But something is missing. The plan. You need to have a plan in mind when you build your Army. A FOCUS for your list. A THEME. Let me give you a few examples:
- General "all comers" list: This list will focus on dealing with ANYTHING that could happen. It will have an even distribution of troops, with sufficient support to deal with unexpected events such as an Alpha-Striking army (first turn bombardment aimed at wiping the majority of a players army off the board in one round, and following with other elements to mop up after), as well as solid leadership. It will also have something called Duality. Many units will have multiple combat rolls, such as anti-infantry and anti-tank, or Anti-character and Mechanized w/ Anti Vehicle capabilities. Lastly a good "all comers" list will not be based around a certain unit succeeding or carrying the load. All units are capable, and more importantly, not necessary to win, and so, can be sacrificed if need be.
- Heavy Assault Force list: this list will concentrate on overbearing your opponent by hitting them hard and fast with high armor, high damage units, often concentrating on more heavy infantry and support units such as Tanks or T.A.G.s. These Armies are often not very flexible, but hit like a sledgehammer and can generally fight through high casualties to win the day. They also, often, center around wiping an opponent off the board instead of satisfying objectives (if there are any). This type of list is also where the afore-mentioned ALPHA-STRIKE list resides.
- Castle List: This type of list usually centers around the "come and get me" approach. Filled with a high number of Support and Medium Infantry units, this list specializes in sitting back and wiping the opponent out from long range. Often times, these lists will also have a high number of Light Infantry to harass the enemy and act as "beaters" (a term used to refer to groups that were sent into the forest to chase game out for a hunt).
Until next time,
May your enemies dice shatter!