Saturday, 3 March 2012

Playing the army, learning to beat the army: Paladins

How many of you guys do this?

I enjoy playing a wide variety of armies as I suffer badly from Army ADD! I love a new project and my mind wanders after a few games.

One thing I do is play armies that I have not played but know are likely contenders/match ups at tournaments. This helps with my low attention span and experience versus a variety of forces.

My current 'thing' is Draigowing. I played with it last summer whilst we were testing all the GK builds locally and found it fun but limited. Having seen it crop up more and more at tournaments I felt it was time to get the dudes out and play with it some more.

I had enough GKT's to do the army, but was missing dedicated Dreads.. doesn't matter when you are doing this though, it's all about just learning an army, it's strengths and it's weaknesses. Oh, and having fun!

I've played with them half a dozen times now and they are looking very strong, but there are a few fundamental weaknesses that I have found so far, namely 1) Damage Output and 2) Mobility

Let's look in detail...

Damage Output:
I am currently playing a build recommended by Tim Smith from comments in this post.. It has 4 Psyfledreads and 4 Psycannons. But that is basically it. The 4 Psycannons are typically in one unit and whilst they will decimate any unit they fire at, they do not have the ability to split their fire (combat squadding not an option in a lot of cases due to the removal of FNP from half the unit and the far easier job of man handling 5 Paladins than 10).
Attaching Draigo and the Librarian to a 10 man Paladin unit means that we have the best part of 1200 points tied up and shooting at just one target.
How many times have you considered the number of threat vectors in your army when building you force? the number of discrete units you can target with your force? With a 1+1 build you can target or otherwise influence a large number of threats, controlling them and ensuring that each of these units is controlled and eliminated through redundant force.
The Draigowing is almost the antithesis of this. It brings to bear unyielding firepower to one area of the battlefield, as long as it is not over 30" away, and reduces it to ash. This is all well and good, but what if that is just a transport?
One of the most common ways of dealing with Draigo wing out side of S8 spam or multi-Jaws is to tank shock them off the table. At LD10, multiple tank shocks are one of the simplest ways to do this.. high on your priority as a Draigowing player are the opposing armies advantages, specifically mobility - for two fold reasons in this case.
Gunning down a Rhino is not really what the God Emperor intended for Paladins..
So whilst this one unit can put out a nice volume of shots - 16 S7 Rending, 14 S4 at 24"/30"Eff. that it can truly hurt anything in the game, whether it be a Land Raider, a transport, heavy infantry or cannot target the whole army.
How then, is this compensated for? Whilst this large unit can split its threat into 3 elements - Paladins, Draigo and Librarian..this will not happen bar once a game, IF the situation arises. So whilst CC is a deadly game for the enemy of a Paladin, it is not the answer.
Dreadnaughts are, perhaps. 4 Dreads, with one running as Venerable provide a number of advantages. Their range is superfluous. Whilst they too lack the moblitity of Paladins (I'll get to that in a minute), the have the range to influence the battlefield from a serious distance and instantly from Turn 1. Provided of course it is not Necrons :).  The Dreads can target 4 discrete elements in the opposing army and can, typically, cause havoc. Targeting transports for Turns 1 and 2 will level the playing field regarding mobility, or if this is not a worry (i.e. you are not playing SW-Jaws heavy or Demo/Melta Vet IG) they can focus on targeting Long Fangs/Vendetta's/Ravagers...the weaponry that can punk the Paladins with Instant Death.
The Dreads themselves are well protected through AV12, Cover and Fortitude and in turn, can provide excellent defense to the Paladins through Reinforced Aegis (-4LD to Jaws followed by Psychic Hood is pretty damn useful).
So, Dreads provide some firepower spread across vital targets. Combine with correct target priority and the effect can be doubled up against mechanised 1+1 e.g. Venom with Blaster Trueborn, Rhino full of melta/plasma/jaws.
Close Combat provides another option especially against massed transports/tanks. The 10 man Paladin unit with Draigo and Librarian can spread out across a large number of targets utilising their base size and 2" coherency. With 3 sets of Hammerhand and Might of Titan S8 + 2D6 attacks, each model with 4A on the charge thanks to Brotherhood Banner, they can cause serious damage to car parks. However, this is easy to mitigate against, keep your vehicles moving and this is minimised.
So realistically, this force can only engage a small number of targets per turn, however what is shot at should receive some hefty damage and this of course reduces the incoming fire. If the correct targets are selected, this further increases the Paladin army's survivability and chances of winning.

Mobility is the second issue I have noticed when playing Draigowing. As an all foot force it will always struggle vs more mobile, mechanised armies. One issue is that the opposing force can bring to bear all of its force in one area of the board to maximise its impact - the problem is that there are too many units to deal with. Another method is to split the force facing the Paladins and apply pressure from two or more groups. Again, this further compounds the issue discussed above.
How much of a problem is this though? a foot force can use the range of its weapons to its advantage, for example, I played a game versus DE on Wednesday. It was Draw Bore and my opponent placed his objective diagonally opposite mine, almost in across the entire diagonal of the board. The Paladins started moving on turn 1 and on Turn 5 were in a position to gun down the unit holding his objective. The unit only needs to be withing 24" to influence the game in a big way.
This is not to forget 2 other elements that can minimse the impact of more mobile forces - Scouting from Grand Strategy and Slingshotting from close combat.
Scouting can mean that with aggressive deployment, the Draigowing can be in the middle of the board on turn one follwing 12" of movement and a 12" deployment. From this point the army is in position to impact wherever it likes, 24" from the centre of the board is a huge sphere fo influence, combined with Relentless firepower and we can extend the sphere to 30".
Of course in DoW set up, the Paladins and Libbie can be deployed centrally, or Paladins and Draigo can be deployed in T formation, allowing the Librarian to walk on an join the unit by jumping on its tail.
Close Combat provides an additional 7"-12" of movement, a 6" charge and up to a 6" consolidation means the unit can realy shift. The hope would be that the enemy survives until his turn and then the Paladins slaughter and move off ready to move again in their turn.
This can be done despite the prodigious ability of the Paladins in CC, especially when buffed through Librarian and Draigo. To minimise the Paladins slaughter potential, string out the unit as much as possible so that only a few can get into any particular combat, hopefully the enemy will survive and not flee and then we have a 6" pile in move, gaining more movement.
I have to be honest though, this last tactic is highly unlikley to bear fruit on many occasions - CC is too lethal.
The truth is, the army is slow, it can be out manouevred relatively easily, but that is not to say that you can dance around it all day, the correct target priority from the Dreadnaughts will see the advantage of the enemy removed.

These are the problems I am finding so far with Draigowing. It will beinteresting to see what other flaws and weaknesses I will find as I continue to play with it. I have lined up some games this week versus a pretty handy and nasty IG player, and I am going to get Kabalite to smash me with my own Wolves, see how they get on and Bringer to use a nasty GK Razor/Psycannon spam army...see how it holds up versus these forces...after this, time to get my Necrons out and see what they can do to it!!

In the meantime, today (Saturday) has been about finishing this article, hitting the gym...and now... time to paint! WIP updates later today or tomorrow.. Later.


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  2. Great post Ven, love it.

    I think it s really valuable that people do test with other armies if their, if their need to get to the next level is at that stage.

    Examples being when your pretty solid with your stock list at your LGS/group, but have a limited amount of experience and diversity, it allows you to ramp up your preparations for events, and also develop both your own game and those you play with.

    Atreides and I are looking at this, especially with stuff like the Xenos armies (DE/Necrons namely). "Running the gauntlet" is used by many professional card/online gamers, both as a way to test their own tactics/play (by putting themselves/team through the gauntlet) or taking part as the test group itself.

    Reading codex's and theory only goes so far. Best experience is playing against them with your intended army, but having the experience with them adds another level to your play.

  3. Cheer Bull.. it is really very useful to see what they can do and how they play...slowly, you learn to smash it.. I am already forumlating strategies with the Necrons to take it down...

    Running the Gauntlet is definately required for top level play for me..I need to know what I am going to face and how to take it.. even if it just means at a tournament I can be chilled out and enjoy it..don't have to formulate a strategy on the fly if I have a well rounded idea of how the game will play out..

  4. Well for me 1 huge advantage the necrons can take against this force is the dooms day cannon. It's a hard pitch and not often fielded but with this army set up the way it is it almost begs for template destruction. Additionally I've found that my superior mobility against the paladins is where you can win. Sure they can pretty much wipe a unit each turn in shooting but use your command barges and derp striking immortal squads to keep away from them and not much they can do to you. I usually take my command barges to the dreads in the back the sweep attacks usually do the job and if they don't a follow up charge from the lord will usually seal the deal.

    Then its just a matter of using my fast barges to contest any objectives they hold and use my mobile forces to take theirs. Now kill points is where the game changes. That's where i hope and pray that my annihilation barges can seal the deal against the paladins or whiddle them down enough that spam rapid fire shots will force enough 1's to go through.

    I will say this fortitude is f#$%ing broken!

    1. Hey Paul,
      The only problem is that realistically no one is running the Doomsday Ark it is not a solutionas such.
      Lords, Scarabs and Wraiths flank either side and go for Dreads, but only if they are left in the back or slightly detached from the Paladins, otherwise its a case of Lords doing fly bys and everything else shooting into Paladins for 5 turns!!
      I need to play it to see how it all works.
      Staying back or in reserve and then just speeding onto the objectives with Barges is one way..outplaying the list rather than killing it...

  5. Fortitude was just silly. Having played with faiths shield for a few weeks, I really think it should have been something more like that. (Btw faiths shield is actually amazing). Or like the BA 5+ cover ability etc.. But that's for another day lol.

    But thats spot on Ven, you cannot turn up to an event these days and face an army and be starting to think of your game plan as the game starts. You need to be able to look at the list and know straight away what your basic skeleton of a plan is. In any game I played successfully, we knew on the maps (for fps's) or opponents team composition (wow) exactly what we wanted to do, and as the game develops then you adapt. Levels of skill involved in each aspect.

    Preparation is a skill. It allows you to weed out crappy tactics (and also recognise that the concept of no idea is a bad idea, as once you establish its a bad idea, it means you won't use it in the future) and establish the more solid versions.

    Obviously there are about 40billion other layers to it, but still, if there is a game your wanting to be serious and good at, you have to practice at the level you desire to be.

  6. I've just finished my first games with Paladins today and agree with a lot of what you said, they have quite a steep learning curve, but having such a small model count makes it easy to pick up!

  7. To touch on the actual paladins tactics.

    Paladins are a bit like an evolution of Deathwing.

    Mobility wise I am all too familiar with the issue, despite deathwing assault (not nice to strand 1 or 2 units in the maws of hell that is someones gunline ...).

    I'd say one of the biggest things with a small infantry 40mm base army is to get used to precise positioning. If you remember how much I'd concentrate on the actual positioning of my units Ven - using the 2" coherency to absolute maximum effect. Not only does this limit AP1/2 blasts (if they have them) it is the main, possibly only way (if I couldn't use charges to manipulate movement) to give yourself a chance to change up your movement and direction without giving up lots of movement. There are turns where you all but have to double back, and using the large footprint of a squad can certainly mitigate some elements of this.

    For my deathwing it usually was with regards to charges and objective taking. Here it would be more to do with maybe outflankers or objectives.

    I keep on thinking I should make a paladin army, but I think if I do its just one for fun that has Mordrak to bomb Draigo in (though been thinking that Mordrak + GKGM w/ Psycannon is better, but still pretty poop).