Wednesday, 10 April 2013

To Deep Strike or not to Deep Strike?

That is the Question.
Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of an enemy's first turn,
Or to take to Deep Strike into a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them...

Slight adaptation of Shakespeare there but I couldn't resist.

The point still stands however, where do you stand on Deep Striking?

aside from on the platform
I've never been a fan really. Despite playing Grey Knights. Despite playing footsloggers. Leave a squad off the table, succeed in a die roll to bring it in, scatter (with mishap death potential) and then sit alone in a convenient blast shape. It never sounded very appealing to me. Mainly because when it comes to important moments I can't roll dice to save my life (and the lives of my precious plastic men) so the risk was too much for me. I remember fighting Necrons at 1000pts without a 225pt Termie squad (my second troop) because they scattered 11 inches to land off the table and die. Not a great moment.

However, my mind is changing on this matter. Slowly, inevitably changing. Here's why:

I've noticed a growing trend in 6th ed. Anti-Infantry. So far, all the 6th ed codices have very strong anti-infantry abilities, including Tau from what I've heard. This is bad news for my floundering foot list as it has a lot of big threats to it now. In particular the Helldrake with Baleflamer. That beast can remove entire power-armoured squads in 1 shot. No saves. No thanks. Now, there are a few ways around this problem that I've been toying with:
  • More 2+ saves. This means Termies. Though there are more AP2 weapons hanging around (including AP2 blasts) they aren't as common as AP3 ones are becoming, and Termies just don't care about that. The AP2 weapons also rarely ignore cover, so you can still get a save from somewhere (though you still get the 5++, which is often as good as the cover save).  The bad side of this is that they're more expensive than power-armoured guys, so my already small force will be shrinking further. 
  • Vehicles. The obvious answer. You can't have my guys removed from the table while they're inside a metal box. For a cheap 40pts (1 Terminator) I can hide my Grey Knights inside a Rhino, which also adds to their manoeuvrability. It's a win-win situation. Don't let people tell you vehicles are dead. They aren't. They're not what they were in 5th ed that's for sure but they are still very good for what you get. Of course, for a footslogging list they aren't really an option for me, but this is a self-imposed handicap. But one I endeavour to work around.
  • Deep Striking! Onto the meat of the matter. Everything in the Grey Knights book has the option of Deep Striking except the vehicles (including Dreads) so the options of what to do it with are very diverse. The danger here is putting too much in Deep Strike. If you finish any turn with no models on the table you lose. Regardless of what you have in reserve. Therefore Deep Strike works best with a few units, rather than a lot. Also, what you leave on the table has to be able to survive until you can bring in the reinforcements. After that you need to rely on not scattering too badly, and dealing with any risky templates/blasts pointing your way.
So, Deep Striking is pretty risky, but it lets you cross the board very quickly and without getting shot. Is there a way we can reduce the risk of Deep Strike?

Well first off you need a resilient board presence to hold out till you arrive. If you're only Deep Striking a couple of squads (and the point total of the game is relatively high) you shouldn't be too worried, as your main bulk is already fighting. Your tactics won't need to change much. You will be fighting at reduced capacity until the reserves arrive however so how can we improve this?

First off there's the Aegis Line Comms Relay. 70pts buys you the standard Aegis line for cover and also rerolls to your reserve rolls. The reroll makes your reserves pretty reliable really and the standard cover defence is great for keeping your deployed units safe, making sure you have something left for them to support. It's also quite cheap, particularly in comparison to other Grey Knight stuff. My only problem with this is that if you're going for an Aegis Line I would generally rather take a Quad Gun; its long range, skyfire and interceptor rules makes it a very versatile tool/threat for the enemy. There are also other way of getting reserve manipulation aside from the Aegis Line. Speaking of which, there is also the Grey Knight tactic of Psychic Communion. Grandmasters and Brother Captains can modify your reserve roll by +/-1 on a successful psychic test. In 6th ed this means that from turn 2 you can be bringing in your squads on a 2+. Fairly good odds. Even for my rolling. Of course, they need to be on the table at the beginning of your turn so you can't be Deep Striking with them.

After this point you have to run the gauntlet of Scatter. How do we deal with this? Now, a Librarian can take a Teleport Homer and Mystics count as one, so Deep Striking within 6" of these ignores scatter. These are the ultra-reliable way of bringing in your units then. The negative side being the 6" range of them. You need for them to be around midfield to get the best out of them and that's going to take a couple of turns at least, and then you need them hiding in something tough so they aren't killed before they get into position. Harder with Mystics than Libbys because their units/themselves are generally more squishy. You also want to be more cautious of driving them towards the enemy. I haven't, however, mentioned another little Grey Knight gem. The Servo-Skull.

We sure do
5pts (or 3 for a Techmarine/Inquisitor) for a little 12" bubble of 1d6 scatter (instead of the usual 2d6). Now that's a lot more reliable. I can work with that risk as it's rare you'll be trying to Deep Strike within 6" of an enemy unit. Unless you're really gunning for some Incinerator kills. The downside to these is that if the enemy moves within 6" of them, they are destroyed. So our strategy with these is not to stick them deep into the enemy half, but close to the mid-way point. If you stick one, say, 6" away from your standard deployment zone, it's already 18" in. This means you can Deep Strike up to 30" onto the board Turn 2 (if you roll well). That's 6" into the enemy half. Of course, you can go further than that but with this kind of deployment it's unlikely the enemy can get to it to destroy it with any speed. And if they do, they've marched right up into firing range for your units, bypassing the standard problem Foot Slogging lists have, getting into range. In this way, your Servo-Skulls can provide an accurate way of bringing in reserves via Deep Strike and provide a worry to the opponent, potentially drawing them out of position. In addition to this they also block enemy infiltrators and scouts within 12". In case you needed any more convincing.

One final thought,

I am the hammer!
Mordrak. I never gave the Special Characters much attention really, I got too caught up in the personalities I could create for my own HQs. I'm a sucker for creating characters, I have a name/back story for every HQ I use. I even got to the stage where I named all my Grey Knights (for my Daemonhunters force, I've not got round to the new additions yet). I'm pretty tempted to use him now though. He Deep Strikes in Turn 1 with no scatter and can bring a unit of Ghost Knights (Termies with Stealth) with him. Along with any extra ICs (a teleport homer Libby is a popular choice). The downsides are that the Ghost Knights can't have any special guns, and with 6th ed. and Mordrak not being an IC his survivability has actually dropped somewhat due to his 4+ LoS! instead of 2+. He does have a slightly beefed up Grand Master Profile (4W with Ghost Knight generating potential), Psychic communion and Grand Strategy. So he does everything a GM does, along with being a real threat from the first turn. Well worth the consideration I think. I'm currently drafting up a list to make the most of him in fact.

So, where do you stand on Deep Striking? Too risky, or a worthwhile gambit?

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