Mmmm, 2nd Edition...
Salutations! I took a long break from posting as a result of a vacation with PAX 2012 in Seattle being incorporated into it! I am back and ready to continue posting. So without further adieu, I present the continuation of my Warhammer 40,000 Strategy & Tactica: Missions article.
5. First Turn: Roll off. Roll to seize initiative. Done. Right? Not so fast. Lets take a look at ways of altering the First Turn mechanic of the game. This is mainly in the form of special characters.
- Space Marines: Cato Sicarius. Surprise Attack sounds great until you realize you still need a 6+. Still, a re-roll is better than not having one.
- Necrons: Imotekh the Stormlord. Hyperlogical Strategy is pretty damn good. Going first half the time as opposed to 16.6% of the time is a significant improvement.
- Dark Eldar: Asdrubael Vect: Master Tactician is identical to Hyperlogical Strategy except without the Greenskins confounding the metal 'bro above him.
Obviously Vect and Imotekh take the cake here, although it must absolutely be noted that you can ally any of these armies together. They won't be happy about shaking hands, but potentially getting the alpha strike more than makes up for it. A re-roll 4+ Seize the Initiative? Yes please. If I missed any other notable characters which can alter Seize the Initiative rolls or other first turn mechanics, please comment. This is mainly what I could come up with off the top of my head.
6. Game Length: This part of the chapter is obviously more straight forward. Provided you are following the rules of game extension based on die rolls, always have your troops on objectives at the start or end of turn five. No excuses. You win almost all of these missions by scoring with troops, but I'll elaborate on that more soon.
7. Victory Conditions: This component of the chapter and what I consider to be the meat of this article. This details how you win and lose the six missions presented in the rule book. I'll narrow down Victory Conditions into sub headings to better organize what I'm about to talk about.
Before Objectives, there is a small snippet after the bold paragraph on page 122 that cannot be ignored. I'm surprised it's not bold as well since it has a dramatic effect on one particular army and possibly more. And I quote, "Likewise, if at the end of any game turn, one player has no models on the battlefield, his opponent automatically wins." Oh you don't say. So if I Deepstrike half of my drop pod Space Marine army and my enemy is fortuitous enough to destroy every last unit I had on the table, I lose the game without getting a chance to bring the rest of my army? Sheesh. At first thought, this comes off as an extreme provision. But I will say it plays a vital role in preventing one of the truly reprehensible army lists the Necron Codex is unfortunately becoming famous for: Night Scythe Spam.
The taste of Spam in the morning...
If that looks familiar you've probably been on the receiving end of one of the most annoying lists to parade around at the beginning of sixth edition. Effectively you have almost an entire army of Necron Night Scythes carrying their cargo (namely Necron Warriors for scoring) and then effectively dissecting the enemy piece meal while largely being immune to reprisal. The way this army avoids losing because of this specific rule is often allying with another army with tough ground forces to endure the first turn of incoming Alpha Strike shooting. After that, these bad boys come to play and they don't mess around. Regardless, when constructing an army list with the main rulebook's missions in mind be extra careful with how many units you can or are forced to reserve at the beginning of the game. It could be your undoing.
Moving on to Objectives, or rather claiming and denying them. As the book states, there are Primary and Secondary Objectives. The former is Primary for a reason. They pretty much provide the most Victory Points and thus are of paramount importance. Secondary Objectives are certainly advantageous, but should never take priority over Primary ones. While keeping your Warlord alive is often a tactical decision based on whether you need to destroy or stall an enemy unit, First Blood can be acquired through an Alpha Strike. In other words, go first. Line Breaker is one of the few situations where Deep Striking or late reserves can be useful, although not reliable.
The final part of the Objectives subheading is Controlling Objectives. Reading through out this part of the section should yield an obvious piece of advice: Troops choices outright win you the game in five of the six missions. Not only can they score but they can simultaneously deny too. No other choice on the force organization chart allows this barring Warlord traits and 'Counts As' special rules in the main rule book and codices. Secondly, sixth edition has hindered (rightfully so) the ability to capture and contest objectives while in transports. This is a change I support. Troops should be on the ground planting that flag (although transports can happily transport them there). Not peeping out of holes in a Chimera and shooting their Lasguns.
An interesting conundrum about the notes over what can score and deny is the exclusion of Vehicles barring the Big Guns never Tire and The Scouring missions. It might run counterpoint to the philosophy of armour spam, but it must be noted that ultimately the protection offered by transports, as well as diluting your opponent's target priority through armour saturation supersedes extra denial troops in the form of infantry, beasts, cavalry and bikes. In layman's terms, I don't care if you have more denial units if your ability to destroy my scoring units is greatly hindered due to the protection a vast swathe of armoured (transport) vehicles provides.
Misunderstood Night Lords Chaos Space Marine
8. Mission Special Rules: This part of the chapter is mainly comprised of two major rules: Night Fighting and Reserves. A small part on Mysterious Objectives is also included at the end although its table is completely random, and thus little advice can be given beyond the obvious: it largely benefits the scoring troops contesting it!
Night Fighting has changed quite a bit from 5th edition. No more extra dice rolling thankfully. Or perhaps it's the opposite since most units will be within 36' of one another. Regardless, considering that all six missions utilize night fighting 50% of the time, and if not on the first turn, then later on pretty much requires some degree of preparation in list building. Unless you're Dark Eldar, having a few search lights spread around in your Imperial army is a huge boon. Other Xenos armies arn't so lucky. In addition, our favourite new Codex: Necrons (groan) and Crypteks have access to any one turn of Night Fighting thanks to Solar Pulse.
Being that your long range band of shooting is eliminated barring blast templates, it naturally favours armies that have a strong mid-range component to their army. Armies such as Necrons, Grey Knights, Imperial Guard and even Tau come to mind when taking into consideration the weaponry available to fight at optimal ranges during Night Fighting. In addition, the few weapons in the game that ignore cover saves can be invaluable in these circumstances.
Reserves entail a unique aspect of the game that I have always loved and simultaneously hated in Warhammer 40,000. The old rules ensuring units had a tough time entering the game early, and would usually have only a turn or two to make an impact before the game ended. Thankfully, sixth edition has rectified that without neutering the Reserves concept. Everything you have is guaranteed to arrive on Turn 4 if not earlier, although with the game possibly finishing at the end of Turn 5, putting too many units in Reserve is always a risky proposition.
In addition, with the exception of Vanguard Veterans, no unit can assault or use special abilities and rules when arriving from reserves. So much for infiltrating or outflanking Ork Kommandos! Another blow to Reserves. The only bone you can throw the new Reserve rules is the addition of the Line Breaker Secondary Objective which would reward units entering from Reserves on Turn 4 and then making an attempt to score/deny an Objective on Turn 5. Take into account the popularity of Grey Knights and the Warp Quake psychic power and you can understand why Deep Strike is currently a dangerous ploy to pull off successfully.
"I wish I had that seat at home," said the guy on the right...
1. Crusade: The bread and butter mission we all know and love. Grab Objectives and win the game. You've got a minimum of 9 Victory Points, and up to 15 depending on if you have 3, 4 or 5 Primary Objectives. In other words, even if you or your opponent succeeds in acquiring all of the Secondary Objectives, their grand worth is only 3 points; the same as scoring one Primary Objective. To be blunt, you should have lots of troops choices in your army. A minimum of five gives you the ability to contest the maximum amount of Primary Objectives that could be placed on the table and more only increases your chances of scoring/denial.
2. Purge the Alien: The only mission where the Primary Objective rewards Victory Points for the destruction of each unit rather than scoring Victory Points through scoring Objective markers. This mission greatly rewards compact, elite armies that can deal lots of damage and take lots of it. Draigowing, Deathwing, Nobstars and other Death Star units incorporated into armies can greatly increase your chances of victory, especially if they are mobile enough to engage several units throughout the duration of the game. It must be noted though that ultimately, I disagree with making such an army as it rarely has enough scoring Troops Choices or in any kind of durable quantity to efficiently score/deny in the other missions, although one could argue passionately over the unique rules of The Relic mission. Finally, the Slay the Warlord and First Blood Secondary Objectives are worth 2 Victory Points instead of one in this mission, so making an effort to take out the enemy Warlord as well as an opposing unit first is worth consideration.
3. Big Guns Never Tire: Basically Crusade but with the advent of Heavy Support yielding additional Victory Points when destroyed, but also becoming scoring units in the process. This mission greatly favours back-field support in the form of artillery and long range fire bases...hmm, which continently fit the bill with most Heavy Support choices in all the Codices. Not much to say here other than having vehicles in no way detriments your list, but rather bolsters it due to their innate survivability.
4. The Scouring: Similar to Crusade and Big Guns Never Tire, although with pre-determined Victory Points linked to each Objective marker. This should fundamentally determine how you divide your forces to capture the markers worth the most. On top of that, Fast Attack choices yield points and score just as Heavy Support choices do in Big Guns Never Tire. This means attacking and defending with your Fast Attack take on a new meaning, and their survivability is of utmost concern.
5. The Emperor's Will: An interesting divergence from Crusade, where only two Objective markers in each deployment zone are up for grabs. A Hammer and Anvil strategy can work wonders here if your army allows it. In addition, because there is only six points in total to score, the three points from your Secondary Objectives are much more valuable than in other missions and merit considerable effort to achieve.
6. The Relic: The final mission and most likely my favourite. The Relic favours a resilient unit that is already slow to begin with to capture the relic and hold it against all odds (preferably in a vehicle they can board; Land Raider!). As in The Emperor's Will, your Secondary Objectives add up to the same amount of Victory Points that the Primary Objective yields, so try and achieve all of them. The Relic also introduces the importance of the Precise Shot and Precision Strikes rules to eliminate the relic bearer. Finally, considering all units can use the Run rule to move and pick up the relic after it has been dropped, this mission favours Jetbike units and their ability for an additional move during the Assault phase. Resolving a close combat in your favour and then having Jetbikes pick up the relic greatly increases your chances of victory.
A long and hopefully enlightening article comes to a close. As an addendum, I should add that victory through the total destruction of your enemey also is a great way to win. It's called Tabling! I still feel as if there's more to talk about, although any further questions and comments can be made below. My next article(s) will be another Warhammer 40,000 Army list as well as photos of goodies from PAX 2012 and even the beginning of a series of articles on how to construct and paint the Trollbloods Mountain King Gargangtuan from Hordes/Warmachine & Privateer Press!
Until next time!