[Tactics] Positional Play (7th Edition)

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[Tactics] Positional Play (7th Edition)

Post#1 » Oct 04 2013 04:44


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Re: [Tactics] Piranhas & Positional Play

Post#2 » Oct 04 2013 04:44

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Introduction


These articles aim to give bitesize advice on the benefits of being pragmatic when playing 40k. They do not intend to delve into mathematical analysis of whether or not the units used in the example are optimal or cost effective, nor do they intend to cover load outs or configurations. Those will be left for other discussions. It is also worth noting that the examples in these guides are simplified for clarity, of course in practice there will be more units involved.

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Re: [Tactics] Piranhas & Positional Play

Post#3 » Oct 04 2013 04:44

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Blocking with Piranhas


Blocking is a simple concept: enemy units can't come within 1" of one of your units unless they are charging. The Piranha is an ideal blocker. It can cover 30" in one turn and ignores intervening terrain/models. This mobility makes it easy to get the Piranha wherever it needs to be to obstruct your opponent's movement. It has a large foot print, which makes it a bigger obstruction. Finally it has AV11 front armour, making it immune to small arms fire from the unit it is obstructing.

WARNING: with all blocking tactics it is imperative that you watch out for unit types that can circumvent intervening models (Jump Pack Infantry, Jet Pack Infantry, Jetbikes, Flying Monstrous Creatures, Skimmers, and Flyers).

Example 1:
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A piranha school is positioned so that the marines have to spend a turn circumventing them, effectively preventing any forward movement. This leaves the tactical squad with two options. One is to waste a turn moving around the piranhas and shooting the fire warriors without the benefit of rapid fire. This allows the fire warriors to rain rapid fire pulse fire on the marines whilst only having to take half the return fire. The other option is for the tactical marines to shoot and assault the piranhas. The marines have to shoot the piranhas if they want to assault them as per the core rules. AV11 makes their bolter fire useless, leaving their special weapon(s). Assuming the piranhas moved flat out and therefore have a 4+ cover save, the chances are those special weapons will be ineffective. The marines then assault hurling their krak grenades, most likely destroying one if not all of the piranhas (depending on the number of marines). Units can't consolidate after assaulting vehicles so the marines will have moved a total of 1" that turn! If the piranhas do get destroyed they will leave dangerous/difficult terrain further obstructing the marines in their next turn, potentially giving the fire warriors another turn outside the marines rapid fire range.

What does this achieve? The fire warriors get to fire rapid fire, whilst preventing the marines from doing the same, the marines either waste turn either circumventing the piranhas or shooting and assaulting them. In both cases the marines don't do much. A smart Tau general will have already detached the drones, meaning at worst you have a 150+ point unit spending an entire turn taking out a 24pt unit (2 piranhas are 80pts, minus the cost of 4 drones 56pts).

Example 2:
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A unit of terminators has just deepstruck, landing near some fire warriors. The fire warriors moved away and rapid fired the assault terminators, killing one, the piranhas have then moved in to block (using their flat out move as they were previously on the other side of the board). On the space marines turn the terminators charge the piranhas destroying them, gaining an inch, and leaving two craters of difficult terrain. The fire warriors move back an inch and rapid fire the terminators again, getting a second shooting phase. On the space marines turn the fire warriors are still 15" away from the terminators, the terminators take a difficult terrain test and move 4", they use their run move to try and get out of the crater and just manage clear it. The fire warriors move away and get a third shooting phase and so on.

In this fashion you can prevent enemy assault units from reaching your line, even delaying them a single turn can give you enough time to pound them into the dust, with practice you can turn a few inches of ground into a mile. The addition of an ethereal invoking storm of fire can make this style of blocking all the more deadly.

Example 3:
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It is turn 5 and the Tau have gone first. Due to the tau forces being worn thin, a marine squad has somehow survived the Tau shooting phase. The marines are poised to grab the objective, if the game ends on turn 5 the Tau will be unable to stop them, resulting in a marine victory... or will they? Thankfully flat out moves are done in the shooting phase this edition, so you can wait to see how things go before deciding to block with your piranhas. The piranhas move flat out to block the marines, as long as the marine army doesn't have the fire power to down the piranhas they should be able to prevent the marines from getting within 3" of the objective preventing the marines from winning if the game were it to end on turn 5. Again this takes advantage of the fact that units do not get a consolidate move after assaulting vehicles.

Example 4:
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A land raider crusader full of assault terminators is moving towards the Tau line. The squad of three piranhas flat out and block it, forming a triangle and remaining within 4" coherency. This prevents the landraider from moving forward this turn; if it wants to move it will have to reverse. The contents of the land raider will not be able to perform a normal disembark as all the hatches are blocked; if they perform an emergency disembarkation they will forgo the rest of their turn (emergency disembarking units can't perform any voluntary actions during the rest of their turn). The only way for them to disembark is for the landraider to reverse. The other option is for the land raider to stay stationary and try and shoot the piranhas (though this still stops it from moving, and its contents from disembarking). This does a few things; it stops 300-400 points of your opponent's army getting into position, giving you another turn of shooting it before it gets to your line and also forces him to dedicate a fair portion of his shooting into eliminating 36 points of piranhas (assuming no fusion blaster upgrades, and that the drones have already detached).

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Re: [Tactics] Piranhas & Positional Play

Post#4 » Oct 04 2013 04:45

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Blocking with Drones


Drones that are in the right place at the right time, can be great blockers due to their expendable nature and ability to block units without screening them in the Tau shooting phase (thanks to their move in the assault phase). They also tie in really well with supporting fire, often granting an extra "shooting phase".

Example 1:
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It's turn 1 and a large squad of khorne hounds has scouted forward, as they are going second they will be able to assault the fire warriors on their turn. The gun drones are used to spread out and block the hounds from charging. If the hounds charge the drones they will take supporting fire overwatch from the fire warriors, will win combat, and be exposed to another shooting phase before being able to hit the Tau line. It's important to note that units can come within 1" of enemy units when they charge, so the gaps between the drones need to be smaller than the base size of the hounds in order to prevent them charging the fire warriors through the gaps.

Example 2:
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The hammer-head has just engaged a razorback destroying it. The piranhas moved up and fired into the survivors whilst its drones disembarked to block the predator from being able to engage the hammer-head due to the line of sight blocking terrain (the gun drones also fired into the surviving marines). The space marines can only get rid of the gun drones in his shooting phase meaning the predator won't be able to move to engage the hammer-head. The only way the predator can engage the hammer-head is if it tank shocks. However a vehicle cannot change direction once a tank shock has been declared. Due to the position of the drones the predator would have to expose it's vulnerable AV11 side armour to the hammer-head, a risky proposition indeed (the right lascannon won't be able to fire either).

Example 3:
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A great unclean one has deepstuck into the ranks of the Tau army. Fortunately the piranhas nearby deployed their drones. The drones were set up in such a way as to surround the greater daemon whilst still leaving an "open gate" for the Tau shooting, meaning the daemon would only get a 4+ cover save from shrouded and defensive grenades rather than a 2+ cover save had the drones been screening him. Despite overwhelming fire power the Tau army fails to take out the daemon. In order to prevent the unclean one charging the skyray or the fire warriors the drones "close the gate" with their assault move. This prevents the greater daemon from charging anything other than the drones, allowing for another Tau shooting phase before he hits the Tau line. Note that the fire warriors are also within 6" of the drones so will be able to use supporting fire if the drones are charged. Of course there is a possibility that the daemon army will have enough shooting to "free" the unclean one, though this will still deny him his movement phase and waste some of their limited shooting. Combined with the fact that the fire warriors are in cover, the unclean one could still easily fail its charge.

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Re: [Tactics] Piranhas & Positional Play

Post#5 » Oct 04 2013 04:45

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Screening with Drones


Screening is a way of giving units in the open a cover save against shooting by placing another unit between it and the enemy firing unit.

Example 1:
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The stealth suits position is being overrun by the orks. They will have to risk open ground to get away, meaning they would lose their 2+ cover save and have to make do with a 3+ armour save, not a healthy proposition against such a volume of shooting, especially considering the stealth suits are only T3. To offer them some more protection the piranhas move up, their gun drones disembarking, fanning out to give the stealth suits a cover save. The orks now have to choose between shooting the stealth suits with 2+ cover or shooting the gun drones (assault is another option though the stealth suit supporting fire makes it unwise to assault the drones). In order to remove the screening drones the orks will need to invest their fire power in shooting a disposable unit, meaning even if they do clear out the drones, the fire power directed at the stealth suits will still be reduced.

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Re: [Tactics] Piranhas & Positional Play

Post#6 » Oct 04 2013 04:45

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Positioning for Supporting Fire


To get the most out of supporting fire, it's important to try and avoid giving the charging unit a cover save in order to maximise casualties.

Example 1:
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Some haywire wyches are about to charge the piranhas. In the first image the gun drones are behind the piranhas; as a result the piranha unit will screen the wyches for the gun drones' overwatch granting them a 5+ cover save (reducing the damage output of the drones by a third). In the second image the gun drones have been positioned to one side, but still within 6" of the piranhas, meaning they will be able to overwatch without granting the wyches a cover save. This increases the chances of the wyches charge falling short and reduces the number of wyches that will make it if the charge succeeds.

Example 2:
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The paladins have been blocked by the piranhas. The third member of the piranha unit is taking advantage of the fact that vehicle squadrons have a maximum coherency of 4". This allows the whole tau force to use supporting fire if the paladins were to charge the piranhas, as each tau unit has at least one model within 6" piranha squad (shown by the blue circle).

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Re: [Tactics] Piranhas & Positional Play

Post#7 » Oct 04 2013 04:46

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Assaulting with Drones


Piranhas are open topped vehicles (and therefore assault vehicles); this means their drones can assault the same turn they disembark. Drones are T4, I4 and have 4+ armour, making them reasonably good against your average T3 shooting unit. Assault can be very useful even for Tau, as you can tie up shooting units, preventing return fire, or finish off targets without wasting valuable shooting.

Example 1:
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The piranha have moved up to get a side shot (AV10) on the manticore. However there is a squad of plasma vets near by who will be able to retaliate. The drones therefore disembark, shoot the vets killing four, and charge. The combat odds favour the drones, so either the vets will be cut down or remain locked in combat. Either way they won't be able to fire their plasma guns at the piranhas next turn.

Example 2:
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The piranhas have just managed to take out a chimera; the vets emergency disembark and try to hide out of line of sight from the rest of the Tau army. The drones who disembarked in the movement phase shoot and charge the vets. The combat odds favour the drones, so either the vets will be cut down or remain locked in combat. Either way they won't be able to fire their plasma guns at the piranhas next turn.

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Re: [Tactics] Piranhas & Positional Play

Post#8 » Oct 04 2013 04:46

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Disembark Blocking with Piranhas


These guides aim to give bitesize advice on the benefits of being pragmatic when playing 40k. They do not intend to delve into mathematical analysis of whether or not the units used in the example are optimal or cost effective, nor do they intend to cover load outs or configurations. Those will be left for other discussions. It is also worth noting that the examples in these guides are simplified for clarity, of course in practice there will be more units involved.

This article aims to illustrate how to use piranha to control how your opponent disembarks from wrecked vehicles. A disembarking model’s base cannot be placed within 1" of an enemy model. We can leverage this to control which access points our opponent can use to disembark.

Example 1:

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In this example a squad of piranha moves flat out to block the right and back access points of a rhino. The broadsides fires at the rhino wrecking it. The tactical squad inside can’t disembark from the access points blocked by the piranha (which prevents them from disembarking out of line of sight behind the rhino). The positioning of the piranha means the tactical squad has to disembark from the left access point which leaves them vulnerable to shooting from the crisis suits. In addition units that disembark from a wrecked vehicle must disembark within 3" of the vehicles hull, this forces the disembarking unit to bunch up making them more susceptible to blast and template weapons.

Example 2:

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In this example a squad of piranha move flat out to block the rear access point of the chimera. The broadsides fire at the chimera wrecking it. The veteran squad inside can’t disembark from the rear access point of the chimera, forcing them to emergency disembark (meaning they can be placed anywhere in contact with the hull). The positioning of the Piranha means they cannot be placed behind the chimera (out of line of sight), as a result the crisis suits can shoot at them unimpeded.

In conclusion, using piranha to block the access points of transports that you are planning on wrecking allows you to control where your opponent will be able to place the disembarking models. This can ensure that the disembarking models are left exposed to shooting by the rest of your forces.

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Re: [Tactics] Piranhas & Positional Play

Post#9 » Oct 04 2013 04:46

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Reserving Piranhas


The quote below explains the purpose of reserving fast unit.

The Art of War wrote:The place I intend to attack
Must not be known;
If it is unknown,
The enemy will have to reinforce many places;
The enemy will
Reinforce many places,
But I shall attack
Few.


Reserving piranhas makes them impervious to damage for the first turns of the game, and also allows them to threaten a larger portion of the board, meaning your opponent won't know where you will strike. This lets you react more readily to your opponent's battle plan and will allow you to capitalise on his mistakes. The main disadvantage is the potential for reserve rolls to let you down; it's important to have a good estimate of which turn you think you will need the piranhas for blocking (against fast armies you might be better of keeping them on the board).

Example 1:
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The green line shows the maximum threat range (30") of piranhas coming in from reserve with burst cannons or fusion blasters, disembarking gun drones firing pulse carbines and the maximum blocking range if the piranhas move flat out. The yellow line shows the maximum threat range (24") of the piranhas if their gun drones disembark (units can only disembark after their transport has moved if it moves 6" or less). The red line shows the maximum threat range (21") for piranhas with fusion blasters to still benefit from the melta special rule.

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Re: [Tactics] Positional Play

Post#10 » Nov 01 2015 06:10

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Conclusion


I hope this article encourages people to leverage positional play more in their games (if they aren't doing so already). These tactics don't necessarily need to be used with piranhas though their speed and cost makes them very good in this capacity. These are really powerful tools especially for an army so dependant on shooting and can really give you an edge against more experienced players.

A big thanks to Ly'iot for encouraging me to write the article, Plastikente for his extensive proof reading, Tael for sending me a picture of his awesome models and of course the rest of ATT for their great feedback.

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