Sunday, 6 February 2011

ImmoBAliser Analysis: Survivability Going Second

I have fallen in love with the imitation Immospam that Blood Angels can put forth on the tabletop. It fulfils a need for a style of play completely different from my usual, Shooting-Phase-dominated play.

Whilst it is still S-P-dominated, it’s nature is so radically different that you cannot but love it.

And when I say ‘fallen in love’ I mean I’ll be playing it at the X-Legion tournament in late Feb…then probably never again! Lol. I’m so fickle.

But as I am taking it to a tournament, I’d best put some of the famous Venerable Brother thought into how to best run it..

The list in question (although now secretly tweaked ;)), as well as how to use it, deploy it (in basic terms, not Deployment in Action level) and play it can be found here.

In the comments, Atreides asked a question that I had myself pondered:

“…How will you cope going second vs an army like my IG? Shooty nastiness etc…” is a paraphrasing of his question.

The nature of this list is short ranged lethality and extremely swift movement, with every element moving 12” and firing each turn.

As a result, going second it would receive a great deal of firepower and be suppressed.

Now, the real question is:

“How is this any different to going second with ANY other army?”


Stumped? Me too. To an extent.

Damage results are more effective.

The Damage Table is very friendly to traditional mech armies, being stunned is not too bad as it means we are shooting again next turn. The movement issue is not too bad as we can reposition the following turn. Being immobilised is not crippling as most vehicles carry long range weaponry. In fact, for objective camping troops such as Imperial Guard Veterans in Chimera’s, it is most probably the BEST result of all. Carrying an Autocannon and a Multilaser, the unit can still fire to full effect and stay camped on an objective, meaning that firepower needs to be dedicated to it again next turn.

This is not true in the ImmoBAliser list.

The roll of ‘4’ is dirty. Crippling.

Not only is our shooting extremely short ranged, not withstanding the single, unlimited range S8 shot per vehicle (HKM), but in addition to this the very nature of the army means that in objective missions, we will be placing objectives in as aggressive a position as is possible within the constraints of the deployment type.

As a result, the immobilising means we will more often than not be left with a single shot from a HKM before, offensively, the ImmoBack is worthless. The troops within it will also need to get out and leg it towards the nearest objective or cover before embarking on a tank hunt with their melta weaponry.

Are the other damage results equalling as crippling? Well a weapon destroyed result will typically mean you lose your heavy flamer. Ill-informed opponents may take off the HKM and that is a boon. Not too bad though, as we still get to zoom 18” and pop smoke, getting into position for the next turn.

Other results are the same. If we are destroyed then we are reducing the dilution of incoming fire and decreasing our offensive output. Same as any other force.

Not shooting, i.e. a roll of ‘1’, is really not that big a deal going first. Yes, it’s nice to get off a suppressing volley of S8 shots into 9 targets and 2 S10 large Ordnance blasts…but our real danger comes when we are in the midst of the enemy. Close enough to see the whites of their eyes.

Okay. So the damage table is more crippling. By 16.6% for the immobilised result.

Can we do more to protect ourselves?

I believe there are 3 or 4 things we can attempt to do to mitigate down the danger of going second that other forces cannot.

Certainly 2 the opposition cannot replicate.

Shield of Sanguinius
A 5+ cover save to all units within 6” of the librarian. Gets better when the Librarian is in a vehicle as it extends the bubble by a good couple of inches. Is it to be relied upon? Well, yes. Most anti-psychic powers are limited in their range, typically to 24”. This is of course if they are even present. In the first turn, they will more than likely be out of range. Especially if your librarian is placed just slightly back from the edge of your deployment zone. This only really applies in pitched battle, and theoretically in spearhead, in DoW…well this whole discussion is not an issue.

A 5+ save equates to a 33% chance to stop damage. Looked at from the offensive viewpoint, it reduces the effectiveness of shooting by a third. This is huge. Primarily because it will enable you to give cover to your units in your opponents shooting phase. We do not need to go first to gain cover.

How does this work in practice then? Lets examine a few typical weapons and their likely results on an ImmoBack after SoS (note how Shield and our blog share the same acronym… J):

Notes: Column ‘After SoS’ is based on glances, as is ‘Suppression’. ‘Crippled’ relates to Penetrations. Last 2 columns are for comparison.

These were the typical weapons I thought would be fired at the ImmoBacks. Before we go on, we must briefly discuss what is acceptable as a ‘decent chance’ of achieving a result. The above weapons are only from one unit. So each has X chance of achieving a result. We can’t get up to 100% likelihood as the dice gods can always hate on you despite probability.
For example, with the Vet Autocannon, we have a 0.29 chance or 29% chance of suppressing an ImmoBack after SoS has been used. This is not bad and almost 1/3. But we all know how frustrating power armour can be at 2/3 chance saved. So to guarantee a result on the ImmoBack we are looking for what 50% likelihood? 40%? This means 2 Vet Autocannons per ImmoBack, or in the case of the multilaser, 2.5 so 3…why is this last bit relevant, we’ll come to that.

OK, back on track. Looking at the comparison between the army that can use SoS, directly compared to the army that can’t, well its 33% better off. But we knew that anyway. What it does do then is help with the next point…

Incoming Fire Dilution

We have 6 Av11 vehicles and 5 Av13 vehicles. That is not bad for marines, but how does it help us survive? Combined with SoS (see above) we can reduce the probability of the enemy being able to focus fire and reliably destroy or suppress our beloved ImmoBacks.
How does this work? Well, I was over eager and began to discuss it above…the use of SoS forces the opponent to focus fire. In the example above I discuss the use of IG Veterans with an Autocannon firing out of the top hatch of a Chimera. At 1750, we can expect to see 5-6 of these comfortably. For suppression fire, these are excellent and durable, why would you not take them? But for us, what does it mean… let’s assume there are 5 of them. That’s 10 discrete threat vectors. 10 separate targets per turn from these units.
That is potentially all bar one of our army from 45% of his. However, the Autocannon only has a 29% chance of successfully suppressing a single ImmoBack, so we need to shoot 2 at that one target? Or combine the 22% chance of the multilaser from that same unit with the Vet’s Autocannon? Either way and we can see that these guys can only really target 4 or 5 units. This is great, we have halved the number of separate units attacked through volume of vehicles combined with SoS.

Whilst this is useful, it is not enough. Your typical IG army (and the one that Atreides mentioned – the super shooty S7 spam version) still can bring to bear its Vendetta’s and Hydra’s.

Each of which is far more effective at crippling the ImmoBacks…that could result in 5 easily disabled tanks per turn…that’s 2 turns to finish us off.

How can we compete with that? Lets add another tool to the utility belt.

Of Baal Preds, Scouting and smoke

Our Baal Preds can help in protecting the ImmoBacks. They play a pivotal role in fact during the opening phases of the game. Whilst it can be debated almost endlessly the choice of TL Assault Cannon or the Flamestorm, we cannot deny that the Flamestorm simply ‘fits’ better here, alongside its flamey friends.
But the choice of weapon is not what we are focussing on.
How can the Baal help increase the survival rate when going second? Firstly, it has AV13 on the front…being 2 points higher than the ImmoBacks, this makes a huge difference to the damage likely to be received by tank.
We could import a quick table to look at the likelihood of damage from the typical sources, but first we need to see where and how we can use this armour.

We need to use deployment and the Baal scout move. We need to go first with scout moves in order to close down Alpha strike, but realistically…it doesn’t matter if the opposition has 2 or more Alpha striking Vendetta’s because you simply can’t close things down completely.
Lets’ check it out:
First shot we see has our deployment, with the front line pushing the Vendetta’s back with the scatter dice indicating the 12” ‘no-fly zone’ where they cannot scout into.

So, let’s assume the BEST in this case. We get to scout first! Whoo! Where do we go? We simply cannot stop both Vendetta’s with one scout move, so we need to close down the most threatening…AND get into a position to provide cover to our weaker tanks. This is a troubling and difficult proposition, despite our use in deployment of the LOS blocking terrain in the centre… Or can we block both? I think so…to a degree… Our first move is actually the Baal on the right of the shot.

Why here? Firstly, it closes down the Alpha strike on the main tank line.
Secondly, it provides the Av11 on that flank with cover…Av13 smoked is nothing to sniff at…nor is LOS..

You can see from the left inset that the 12” no-fly zone has now been extended, meaning there is no way to alpha strike the right-hand-side of the BA line.

But what about the LHS? It’s open to strike now, no?
The Vendetta makes it attack run, remembering that it has to be no closer than 12”, but no further than 13” to make its alpha strike work effectively.
Once this is in position, there are no more IG scout moves to make so it’s left to the BA to finish off. Unfortunately, the IG have not been stopped in this manner, so we have to act, realising that a portion of our force will be crushed.

Our 2 remaining Baals disperse, one out of LOS behind the building, waiting to sweep out and remove the Vets after they have struck out. The second sweeps out behind the first, out of melta range and tempting the IG with rear armour rather than assaulting the troop carriers with melta bombs.

Speaking of which…the Vets have a total movement of 15” (well, just under actually as the base is fractionally just under 1” across) but as you can see from this pic they can use this movement to multicharge just the 2 exposed ImmoBacks.

Is this all we can do? I think so. We have left ourselves with a nice avenue of escape and retribution and will have to use our speed to sweep in on the right hand flank of the IG and try and crush one flank at a time.

Is this going to happen? Possibly. Of course it is not just the Vendetta’s that will be delivering death in the first turn of shooting from the Imperial Guard. That’s what we have the other defensive measures for..

Cover (Terrain)
The central piece helps us out a lot, as do the placement of terrain in both deployment zones and table quarters. This dilutes the concentration of firepower at any one sector of our line.
Cover (self-generated)
The movement of Baals to sweep in and provide cover to other units is potent, it is more efficient than SoS, providing 4+, whilst with smoke and Av13 giving the front line some real survivability.
Av13 Wall
The right hand flank in this case is where the BA player is looking to escape, with 4 AV13 vehicles fronting it, 2 with cover and providing cover to the 1 Av11 vehicle that is targetable on that flank.
Av13 is very tough to crack, but not impossible.

To conclude then.

 More survivable than any other army going second? Not quite.
Triple Raider with Shield is arguably more survivable to direct fire, but arguably more vulnerable due to its inability to defend vs an alpha strike.

Is this army going to die in a hail of medium to high strength laser fire and large calibre bullets? Well, yes it is going second… Is this the case with other armies? Yes of course it is.

Let's not forget that in Dawn of War Deployment we are can't see me lol! I'm speeding across the table 18", then the following turn we are in a good position for when half our vehicles are opened up!

Spearhead we can expose just the Av13, with seperate lines of attack not to slow down the progress should they be immobilised...I'll show that in another post...

Could we deploy differently to protect ourselves further? Yes, actually we could…but that is a story for another day, I’ve wasted enough of your day


  1. Im suprised you havnt used the one key tactic...reserve!

    As a guard player, I know how goo dit is to get 1st turn. When I get 2nd I have enough armour saturation, AV12+ & scouting vendettas to deploy, however a marine army doesnt. Fast marine armies such as Blood angels, or xenos armies like Eldar should be in reserve. Why? well you can get the first shots, reduce the number of turns your opponent has to shoot at you, and still move up 18 & pop smoke if need be.

    Bare in mind the missions. Capt & Control isnt too much of a probelem for BA's because you can move so fast. Missions like Killpoints, you don't want to run the risk of being down a few Killpoints. Multiple objectives is even better as you have the chance of choosing which flank you want to bum rush where most of the objectives are. Works a treat as I have witnessed. Played a Witch hunter army, and he reserved. All 3 excorsists came on (yes lucky) and popped 2 vendettas even with cover :( It happens and reserve is the most annoying thing for gunlines, hell most armies with guns. Depends how big your opponents alpha capability is.

  2. Eldar can reserve because they can reliably manipulate it...dual autarchs +2 is immense and can be used without worry..even with an Astropath or whatever that removes -1 from rolls...

    on the other hand... BA have NO manipulation whatsover, reserve against an incredibly strong gunline..then you come in piecemeal and do not have the target dilution/armour saturation and are blown away bit by bit as it comes in... not great at all.

    Agreed for C&C and probably Seize Ground reserving isn't a big deal as the army will focus on contesting when they come in and holding my own objective for at least a draw..

  3. @Ven, dont forget that having a weapons team increases the range on an alpha strike charge by about 2". in the example above, i would get a multicharge on 3(!) tanks with meltabombs on turn 1, from a single squad of vets. i would think carefully before deploying so close together (i realise it was only an example, i doubt you would in a real game).

    i agree with you about reserving. if i faced your army and you reserved, i would probably be pretty fucking happy. yes its irritating, but in the end its not worth the risk that you stuff comes on in dribs and drabs. clever deployment and scouting, as you discussed, should mean you weather the worst of the storm.

  4. I dont think reserving solves many issues - theres the piecemeal issue that ven you mention - but also all it does it stop the "alpha strike" so to speak - even if you get all your tanks on (unlikeyly) - you only really gain 6" by running on 18" - the main advantage there I'd see would be that you gain the 4+ on all tanks by popping smoke opposed to the 5+ and any cover generated by either terrain or other tanks/anglings.

  5. Thats just you bro...not many people take HWT's in their Alpha striking demo vet squads! lol.. 2 I can live I think I have a way of stopping it through deployment...its a secret though...

    I'd never reserve in a KP game without manipulation....other missions maybe if i was playing for a draw...boring...

  6. Peter reserves against guard and it always stumps me. Even without reserve manipulation, sometimes you want to come in late game, move one, smash whatever's sitting on an objective, and sit on yours happily. I personally reserve against guard and it also seems to work well. Even if I come on piecemeal, it gives me the chance to strike before him & the chance to pop smoke.

  7. As I said in the comment above, I'd consider it and use it going second vs IG in C&C, maybe even seize ground...but not KP's.

    I personally just feel that even with smoke and a BIT of suppressing fire it is just not good enough against really dangerous ranged anti tank armies...

    I know it can work, but I just don't like the randomness of whats going to come on or not and when...bit by bit.