Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Deployment in Action: Mech Vs Mech

Deployment in Action: Mech Vs Mech
Here we have the first instalment in the ‘new’ approach to this series. It’s going to be a big post, but a ball-burstingly good one!
We begin with a look at our forces. We are going Mech on Mech here. This is surely one of the most common sites on our tabletops since 5th hit. I know it certainly is for me, the guys at the SoS Club and the Cambridge area in general.
I know it is for the tournament scene in general, although, wherever people play there exist anomalous armies and experiences.
So how does Mech work? Piss off, I’m not telling you. You should know this.

How do we deploy Mech armies? Fairly straightforwardly I believe, but there exists a wealth of information that must be digested and absorbed before this becomes a simple state.

That is what I want to achieve – that all you dudes (and perhaps the odd dudette – fuck calling you Unicorns) will come to the realisation that deployment can be mastered, that there are some general rules to be obeyed and that it is not only for the mysterious fucking ‘leet of the game.

Sorry. Bad language. Focus.

The armies – nothing specific here, just 2 examples of 1750 points Mech’ed up forces that can and do have counter parts and direct swaps in other armies and races.. this way, we can draw comparisons and apply certain principles to our own forces and hopefully learn something from it.

Space Marines – well, because everyone runs marines.. Come on, you know its true.

2 x Tacs in Rhino, MM, Flamer
2 x Tacs in Razors – LasPlas
3 x Rifleman Dreads
2 x 2 MM/HF Speeders
3 x Dakka Preds

Imperial Guard – because if you don’t know what you are doing versus these guys…

CCS –Melta, Chimera
4 x Melta/Autocannon Vets in Chimera’s
3 x Vendetta’s
2 x Hydra

Both 1750. Both fully mobile. Both fearsome in their own rights. Both with good vehicle count. Both with decent number of threat vectors against a host of different armies. Both fairly simple, but devastatingly effective. I personally wouldn’t run the ‘Best of’ style SM list, but it works and has a lot of comparable units in other forces. The IG is close to what I’d run, but a little out of focus…

Lets start with Pitched Battle and Annihilation:

SM going first.

My first thoughts with the SM going first are such…The Tacs in both Rhino’s and LasPlas have excellent 24” range. If we leave them as they are, they are on the cusp of their range, knowing that with any advance of the IG, they will be in range of the heavy weapons.
But Melta is most effective in melta range. The LasPlas is most effective at exactly the same range. So if the guys are deployed in this manner, we can move both up under cover seen here (left). Both LasPlas ‘Backs have moved just 6”, allowing them to fire one weapon…the lascannons. The plasma will be in range next turn. The MM in the rhino’s will be ready too for midfield control. The Rhino’s pop smoke, providing cover for themselves whilst their slow approach keeps them outside of melta range for the chimera –riding Vets, not out of range of shots, but melta range, the ‘Backs rock up behind the rhino’s for cover too. We also have several other elements of cover and shot denial from this position. Firstly, the Hydra on the left – no clear line of sight through the hill and the generator terrain piece, although it gets its shots off on the Razorback on the left. This will be in side armour but with cover still from the slope of the hill. The Hydra on the right flank is completely denied shots at the APC’s…having no line of sight. Perhaps a dubious shot on the left hand rhino. Perhaps.
No such thing can be said for the central Hydra squadron. These bad boys have shots no matter what – can we instead give them a more juicy target. Shit, do we want to? Our MM Tacs are close to cover and in position for shots next turn..
The Vendetta’s will be deadly to the APC’s, but hopefully we’ll stun those fuckers.

Next move? The Predators and Riflemen Dreads. The AV13 Predators have great range, good suppression fire and are a great size to give cover to the Riflemen. In turn, the Riflemen can fire over the Preds without necessarily giving cover to their targets. The Riflemen exist to do several things…suppress the Vendetta’s and to open shitty side armoured Chimera’s… hence the flank positions for 2 of them.

What are the Predators going to be shooting at Turn 1? The 2 Chimera’s on either end of the line… why? Because they should be just in range of the Heavy Bolters as well as the autocannons…giving very good suppression fire on those 2 targets. The flank riflemen are then free to hit either the Vendetta’s in order to suppress them or to engage other chimera’s.

The central Pred/Dread combo can look to suppress another chimera and Vendetta.

The Lascannons on the ‘Backs need to be pumping a shot into the flank Hydra’s, one each. Each shot has a 43% chance of damaging the Hydra…22% with cover..not bad hey for one shot. Lets just suppress it for now.

The speeders next.

They are in position that they can jump forward 12”, stay in cover and pop off a couple of long range multimelta shots at Vendetta’s or Chimera's…like so (left).

 The Speeders do not turbo-boost because the Hydra’s will blast them out of the sky completely…so we need real cover for them and to block LOS for one flank.

With enough fire into the one flank, we are hoping to suppress the return fire to the extent that our flimsy speeders survive…afterall, they’ll be great at toasting guardsmen later in the game…

All of this is dependent on this particular IG set up.

This is our ‘classic’ deployment for IG in pitched battle. But knowing that they are going second, how would the IG deploy? Especially after seeing the SM deployment.

Let’s reset so the IG can deploy… Remember, these ideas should fly through your head in seconds as you are deploying you force. Anticipating the enemy is key. How they will act and what they can do.
As I ‘deployed’ the first set up on Vassal and had begun to form ideas…by the time I had finished moving the units, I had already decided on a better deployment for the SM…and rejected several ‘classic’ deployments… firstly, the ‘refused flank’. Here we focus all our energy on one flank of the enemy and try to bring overwhelming force to bear.

There are a couple of reasons why I would not use it on this flank:
1)      Armour Arcs: Deployed in this manner, the IG can respond by employing their front armour to maximum effect. Direct fire is several levels less effective firing into AV12 when compared to AV10. Without the ability to manipulate angles and force side shots, the suppression fire is less effective. In this manner, the Heavy Bolters which we discussed above cannot be employed to any effect.  
2)      Mobility:  On this flank, we would be forced into the narrow right hand channel. Our mobility would be severely hampered and to get our plasma and MM into range, we would be forced to get within Vet melta range. We may be Marines, but the short ranged mass melta IG can bring to bear would simply be overwhelming.
3)      Going first. Simply – IG can respond and negate our advantage by simply deploying opposite, with the Vendetta’s on the left. They can then scout move 24” onto the left of the table, getting side shots into our armour and being protected by turboboost, saturation and av12.

So Refused Flank on the left then?

Strong defensive position for all units. Speeders can zoom out to the buildings in the mid table getting ready to block and destroy. The Riflemen are ready to suppress all game long from the cover of the ruin, the rest of the units will most probably remain static or move into the midfield.

The issue with this deployment? We force our opponents hand. The IG player has little choice but to smash us from the right flank now, whilst sending a very similar level of suppression fire downfield.
Two separate Hydra’s are positioned out on the right in cover, firing into the flank of the Marine position and distracting from the left group.
We can see from the vassal shot that the rear-most Vendetta can get into an excellent firing position next turn, sending a ridiculous amount of fire into 3 targets.

This is, of course, assuming they are alive.

By putting the Vendetta’s out on the flank they are also separating from the pack so to speak. It is clear and obvious that the Vendetta’s should go here, but it is also open and in range of almost all of the marine guns. Flat out skimmer moves will only go so far.

So what are the marine priorities in this deployment, Turn 1? The Vendetta’s? The left speeder squadron are close enough to melta the nearest V, the three Riflemen send fire into the others, each having 50% chance to cause damage (glancing, any result, cover), plus the nearest las/plas ‘Back is in rapid fire plasma and lascannon range.

We can destroy 2/3 at least of the Vendetta’s and then worry about the Autocannons opposite.

Or hammer the chimera’s and leave the Vendetta’s. Not a great shout…

We’ve discussed 2 viable deployments for SM going first, either of which is strong. Either of which could work well. Try both with your mech army when faced with another mech army and in PB/Annihilation…  

Imperial Guard going first.

Now we can look at the IG going first. Here, the IG cannot respond, but instead must place according to how they can most likely apply their elements of force.

Here we can throw down the lethal IG alpha stike…we know that Space Marines do not have cheap bubblewrap, nor do they have scouting units that can push out and push back the Alpha strike to protect the main lines (see Scouting Baals for example in the earlier parts of the DiA series)

The Hydra’s will most likely end up in either corner, using their accuracy and extreme range to punish side armour from across the board.

The rest of the IG will deploy centrally, with the empty chimera’s providing cover to the others…
The idea here will be to scout and then alpha strike against multiple targets, using demovets with meltabombs to multicharge the marine vehicles…the vendetta’s then dropping back slightly to punish 3 more targets, whilst Autocannon fire utterly suppresses remaining targets.

Yes, we will most likely lost the alpha striking Vets, but it’s a small cost in the overall victory…

As you can see from the above Vassal pic, its very difficult to deploy against this…if you play around with the’ll see that it is hard to use your deployment to block the alpha strike. We could deploy right against our board edge, but then we face a lot of movement before we can bring our own units into range. Especially the speeders…who’ll just die from Hydra fire before they get into range… so do they deepstrike?

I’ll leave you to ponder that as homework…till next week….Deployment in Action will be back this time next Wednesday…

You can read all the other parts to DiA HERE


  1. Interesting article.

    In the two different refused flank scenario's are you implying that the 1st isn't great due to lack of cover - thus the 2nd refused flank on the left is proposed?

    As for the speeders - I'd be inclinded to deepstike them - especially in KP missions at the very least - they are to easy a target vs the likes of Hydra's - and if they dont go fast pretty much anything in the IG army can take them down w/ out much worry.

  2. This is a lot better than the other DiA articles so far.

    Personally I think deep strike the Land Speeders if you want to kill stuff OR maybe use them a cover for your rhinos - but that could be hard to do as well as survive the first turn.

    But if you know the IG are going first (unless you seize) then why not refuse flank in response and just over load one flank ASAP like in the Marines first example but you know where the IG are???

    Also for ranges you could check out a little article I wrote that was inspired by the DiA series:

  3. Excellent article! I've been having trouble with deployment with my Mech IG and this exercise definitely had my brain cracking. In the last example the Meltavet alpha strike is a bit ballsy, especially since it also probably means the loss of the Vendettas. Still, it definitely could be a worthwhile tactic that I need to remember that I have.

    I agree that deep striking the Speeders is the better idea, as if anything takes a look at them they'll fall to ribbons.

  4. Thanks for the comments guys. Glad this is a preferred style for the articles.

    @Bully - exactly that, the RF on the right hand side doesn't look or feel right for the reasons stated, but on the left looks better.

    @MC TicTac...will check out your article... and yes, the Speeders do need to be deepstiking really to survive as no one likes fast moving melta or Heavy Flamer...especially vs Guardsmen. With such a flimsy chassis...needs DS.

    @Chumby - cheers dude, hope you enjoyed the read
    @Max - Alpha striking is ballsy, but when we can multicharge any vehicles that are close together with metlabombs its never pretty, especially when we consider you can do this once, twice or three times dependent on your personal flavour of IG. PLus the vendetta's can then lend their support whilst also moving back.
    PLus the rest of the army and is yours...unless its defended against...

  5. meltabombs? in the list posted none of them have the demo upgrade.

    good article though, i just hope no-one from x-legion is reading, since thats basically my army :P

  6. lol. The idea was its a generic mech which'd see meltavets..just because when I play IG I'm too tight to buy them doesn't mean others are!

  7. lol, fair enough. 10 krak grenades work almost as well agaisnt most armour in any case :P

    actually, thats an interesting thought. if i gave my normal infantry squads krak grenades, they would be a really cheap alpha strike that i wouldnt mind losing. would work especially well if anyone deployed hydras like you have - on their own and unsupported. but maybe i'm just crazy :P

  8. Or you just bring 3 land raiders w/ death company and throw caution to the wind ... eh?

  9. Atreides - which Hydra is alone and unsupported? the extreme right one? on its own?

    The others certainly are not unsupported...

  10. evidently just me failing to look at pictures properly, lol.