Friday, June 10, 2011

40k Battle Tactics: The Art of the Turn 1 Assault

One thing that people never expect, and hope never happens to them, is being assaulted by their opponent before they have even started their first turn. Most players don't realise it can even happen, and of those players who know that it can technically happen, most don't rate the unit they think will be the one assaulting.

There are a few key components to the turn 1 assault and making it work for you, and not all armies have the ability. The first component is a fast moving unit with scout. Infiltrate will not get the job done, nor will a unit on foot with scout, as you have to end your scout move outside of 12" of your opponent, so you will never be in charge range. So usually what this means is you need to have scout bikes, or something of the like. The second key component is to have an independent character (or multiple if possible) that has an assault vehicle. The most common army that can do this are Space Marines or Space Marine equivalents such as Grey Knights (ie. Land Raider). There are other armies which have the same capabilities, but I will focus on these for the examples provided. The final component is knowing how to sling shot independent characters.

Now this of course will only consistently work if you get to go first. If you are going second, the scout unit will get shot to pieces before you get a chance - unless they don't expect what is about to happen, and don't rate the bikes as a threat. So the army I use to pull off this move is usually Dark Angels. I have a unit of 3 scout bikes, a land raider crusader, and Belial.

The Land Raider and the Bikes are right on the deployment zone's edge with Belial in the Land Raider. In the scout move, I move my bikes up to the half way mark (unless the TO has allowed them to turbo boost which they normally are not allowed to do).

During turn 1, I move the land raider up first, but do not get anyone out yet. With the land raider the full 12" forward, this gives me a gauge of where to place the bikes.

The bikes then move, they conga line forward, leaving at least one of the bikes approx. 4-5" away from the land raider (2" from the hull +1.5" of the termi base size +2" coherency). The remainder of the bikes need to move forward into charge range.

Once the bikes are in place, Belial and or the Librarian hop out and join the bike unit. This of course only works because the Land Raider is an Assault Vehicle.

One of the important parts of this move is how many bikes do we want in charge range. The goal is to have the enemy models have to pile in 6" towards Belial and the librarian. Now the 1st round of combat, Belial and the Librarian will not be in combat, as they won't be in base to base, but they should pile in and hit them in the next round of combat.

You want enough bikes being able to hit that you don't lose the combat, but you also don't want to smash them and force the opposing squad to run. If the unit you are charging is not a huge threat, then you can afford to make it so as only 2-3 of the bikes get into the combat, but if you think that the hit back will cause too much of a toll, then put more of the bikes into charge range. Now with Dark Angels, they are Fearless, so it is not as much of an issue of whether or not you win or lose, as you can just put the fearless saves on the independent characters with terminator armour.

The other important factors are which bikes should be at the front. You want to remove the front bikes if they die, causing the pile in to be further up the table, towards the rest of your army, so the sergeant with the power weapon/power fist should be the 2nd or 3rd bike in the chain.

The other factor to take into consideration is which unit(s) you want to charge. If you are playing against a shooting army, eg. Tau, Imperial Guard, etc. then you can afford to only charge one unit (as long as you don't wipe it) as the next turn they will not be charging in to help out, or if they do it isn't a threat. However if you are trying this against a space marine, orks, dark eldar, or any other army which can punch you back as hard or harder, then it is worth considering if this is even the move to be making. You could even use this move to assault multiple units, assuming that you think you can. The beauty is, at least with the Dark Angels, is because their Independent Characters are fearless even if the entire bike squad gets wiped, it doesn't matter, as you won't run. Next turn they pile into Belial and the Librarian, who are I5 with lots of power weapon attacks.

The Turn 1 Assault can in itself win you games. There have been many occasions where I have scouted, melta'd the Land Raider full of juicy targets, assaulted the unit, then have the supporting terminator unit in the land raider come in and finish the job (if needed). If nothing else you can charge a unit which you consider a threat and hold them up for a turn or 2. So if there is a devastator squad, or a squad of broadsides, etc. then taking them out early, even if it means that you lose the unit who did the charge, can win you the game.

You will find pretty quickly that if you play the same people on a regular basis this will affect how they deploy. Even if you can't pull off the move, or at least not to the extent you want to, you are changing the way your opponent deploys, and that in itself is always to your advantage. Sometimes it means that their big squad of Death Company in the Land Raider has to start right at the back of the board with units in front. This means you probably won't try the move, however it has taken the death company out of the game - at least for an extra turn or 2.


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