Saturday, 3 March 2012
Playing the army, learning to beat the army: Paladins
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...
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 horde...it 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.