Monday, June 29, 2009

Howling Banshee Tricks

Over on Warseer's Eldar Tactica, Ernest101 posted the following:
"hey guys, i am having this really big prob, i play a full mech list, when i drop my banshees, they kill almost anything i want them to kill in their path, but after that assault phase, they always get blown to bits... hardly surviving a shooting phase... any suggestion guys?"

My response:
Well, you really have three options:
1. Don't let them shoot at you.
2. Reduce the effect of their shooting at you.
3. Balance your charge so that you are still in CC during their turn.

As I see it, there's several things that can greatly influence the above situations: Fortune, Doom, Multiple Units, Screening, Cover, and Target Selection.

1. Fortune. I can't emphasize enough how useful this power is. Not only can you protect your Banshees in CC and from shooting, but you can also protect their tank as you close into range too.

2. Doom. With only a S3, Banshees often need the added boost of Doom to give them a little extra punch. But you should remember that those re-rolls are optional. Say you've get 15 hits and cause 6 wounds to a 10-man Marine squad. The immediate reaction of most people is to pick up the other 9 dice and re-roll them all at once. This will likely cause 3 more kills and No Retreat will kill off the last guy several times over. However, just re-rolling 3 means 1 more kill, 3 guys doing retalitory fire, and then No Retreat will leave just 1 guy in CC with you. Or you could just play it safe and not re-roll any of them.
An interesting thing about Doom is that the rules as written allow a re-roll no matter the first result. So you can re-roll a success just as easily as a failure. Say you just charged a 5-man Marine squad and caused 7 wounds... why not re-roll 4 successful ones? Then you'll likely only kill 4 and stay in CC with the one last guy. The trick is plausible against larger units, but trickier to predict as the stacked negatives to Ld or number of No Retreat rolls can add a lot of variables.

3. Multiple Units. Banshees have a notable habit of killing of everything in their path. One protection from this is to engage more than one unit. Creative splitting of attacks can wipe out one entire threat and minimize the return threat of the other. Example: I once charged a unit of 10 Khorne Beserkers and wrapped my assault so that two girls also hit a line of 8 Noise Marines. The Beserkers were wiped out by the other 8 girls, and the Noise Marines lost 2. Fearless hits from No Retreat took down 3 more Noise Marines and I slaughtered the rest on his turn.

4. Cover LOS. Banshees don't really care if they're assaulting in the open or in cover, at least for Initiative. Targets in cover will be slowed by difficult terrain tests, meaning they're less likely to just move out of charge range. Even better, there's also a certain psychology to terrain pieces... many players will leave a unit immobile in a "fortified position" even when it might be more tactically advantageous to back out of the position. This is especially true for pieces of cover on or right near objectives. The nice thing about taking the piece of cover from your opponent is that even if you wipe out the enemy, you'll have the benefit of the cover for yourself. Even better is if the piece of cover and/or a Consolidate move will put you out of LOS from the enemy.

5. Screening LOS. Getting Banshees to where they're needed usually means they're in a Wave Serpent. So what does that tank do after dropping them off? Though it's tempting to scream it off to some other section of the battlefield, I've found it can be quite useful to continue it in support of the Banshees. After the Banshees get out, the tank can still move and shoot. Positioning it just to the side of the unit you're going to charge can screen the Banshees from retalitory fire in a wipe out as well as leaving it conveniently nearby should the Banshees want to embark back in the next turn.

6. Target Selection. WHAT you're attacking should also be a big consideration. For example, 10 Banshees charging Doomed Plague Marines should only kill 5.56 of them.

By using all of the above is how you really maximize the output of your Howling Banshees. Because you can't charge from a moving Wave Serpent, you're having to think a turn ahead for getting them into CC. Isn't it worth it to give a little extra consideration for where they'll be after that?

Friday, June 26, 2009

In the beginning

Hello there anonymous internets. After some poking and prodding, I've decided to start a 40k blog. Here are my objectives:
1. Stick to 40K. This blog is here to explore the hobby of Games Workshop's Warhammer 40K. I have a normal blog for life, videogames, and other such distractions.
2. Content worth reading. I'll be covering gameplay, tactics, strategy, psychology, statistics, math-hammer, modeling, sculpting, painting, tools, general tips, battle reports, and links to useful places I've found. Some of it will be repeats of things I've posted elsewhere, some of it will be credited re-posting of the work of others, and some of it will be new content just for here. I aim to keep a high standard and avoid just posting fluff or filler content
3. Post regularly. I will be posting at least once per week for the next year. I know I have enough good content to make that a plausible goal.
4. No ads for money. I'm doing this for the benefit of my gaming and that of others. I doubt I'll get traffic sufficient to make anything worth a damn anyways.
5. PG13. I'm an adult and this has mature to adult concepts. I'm not going to be publishing hardcore porn, but I'm not going to sanitize everything.

The Focus:
My tactical specialty is Eldar. I play them to compete.
My first love was Space Wolves. I play them for their Fluff and look.
My favorite conversions are Chaos Space Marines and Daemons. I play them to show off my sculpting skills.
My amusement factor loves Orks. I play them to see how many of my own guys I can kill off before my opponent does.
In addition these current armies, I've also owned and played Dark Eldar, IG, Tau, Salamanders, Vanilla Marines, Witchhunters, Daemonhunters, Squats and Tyranids. So while my focus may be on my primary armies, any topic is fair game.

About me:
My name is Bill. I'm from Tucson, AZ, USA and my FLGS is Hat's Games. That and this blog's focus is probably enough for you crazy stalker types to hunt me down. Have fun with that.
I've just turned 33 and picked up the 40k habit in the early 90's. I don't know what's more painful: that some of the figs I own are of legal age to drink or that I've been playing longer than some of my opponents have been alive.
I've always been a bit of a geek. I first read 'The Hobbit' in kindergarten. I was given my first PC at age 8, an IBM PC JR... because I had been spending too much time monopolizing my Mom's work computer. Then in middle school I was introduced to the world of RPGs. I had a regular lunch group at my high school for playing Battletech and after-hours we'd wander off into D&D, MERP, Robotech and other RPGs. I was also the teacher's aide for the computer teacher and took several classes via the internet... in the days of dial-up modems. Also played an early MMO called Avatar and hung around on BBSs. Pretty cliche Nerd'R'Us there. On the other side I was also a starting lineman in football, ran cross-country, threw shotput and discus, dabbled in several martial arts and did weight training with a Navy SEAL candidate.
Now the summer of my junior year saw me with some extra chores money. I did what any healthy teen would do: spent it on hookers and blow. No, wait, that was college. I took my cash to my then friendly local gaming store, Things for Thinkers (RIP).
That day I wandered in with NO real clue about 40K or Games Workshop. I'd originally gone in to pick up a few RPG books but they weren't in stock. Some of my gaming group was along for the ride and browsing, but I'd already been in and browsed earlier in the week. Bored, I wandered over to the miniatures aisle, probably to look at the Battletech stuff again or something. That was when some cover art caught my eye and I picked up this book called Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader. It looked enough like an RPG to intrigue me. Just to illustrate how clueless I was: I also bought the Titan Legions box set thinking it was an expansion compatible with the regular game.
The game caught my imagination and I picked up several more models of the "right" scale to play 40K. However, the rest of my group never got into it and I think I played maybe a dozen games over the next couple years. Ironically, most of them got into 40k after high school, but by that point I'd moved to Flagstaff for college. That's where I met Artimese, the Flagstaff 40K group, and 2nd edition. I was introduced to open gaming, league play, regular gaming nights and monthly tournaments... I was hooked.
Over the years since I have moved across country to spend most of a year as a shipping coordinator for GW, moved back across country because I didn't like DC and my roomies, ran a monthly 40k tournament for several years and have generally been a total GW fanboy.
Along with tons of figures and books, I've also picked up a VERY understanding wife that occasionally busts out her Dark Eldar on me and beautiful daughter who will have an army of her own as soon as she's old enough.
Almost all of my gaming over the last 15+ years has been competitive play or practice for competitive play. I've played in several GTs, a number of RTTs, and countless local tourneys. I must be doing something right as I've taken top laurels enough to lose count, including Overall at one GT. Hopefully I will be able to share some of this experience with you.

So that's my goals, my focus, and who I am. Good enough for an introduction I think!
Next week: "Workspace tips."