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Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Getting out of the Probability "Kiddie" Pool
A little while ago, I posted an article about Myth Buster: Deep Strike. I spoke about how the risk was low, approximately 16%. I play an all jump pack army (Blood Angels), typically 4-5 assault squads and 0-1 vanguard Vet squad with three Sanguinary Priests and either Dante or a Recluisarch and Chaplain (1850pts). I played two games against Kroxitau's Tau and one against SarafanKnight's Chaos Marines. Each game I mishapped one of five times when using 4" space on the DS and lost no units. This last weekend, I played two games against JTaylor's Space Wolves. In the first game, I mishapped twice and lost a full assault squad with Sanguinary Priest. In the second game, I mishapped three times out of five units and lost the same unit with priest. Almost every DS roll was 5 or 6 on the dice. Ugh! So what does that tell me? That though Deep Striking can be very effective, it is random and when the dice aren't rolling well, very detrimental. Losing 345pts to a dice roll is playing very deep in the probability pool. So how do I get out of this 'kiddie' pool? I need to think more tactically. A good way would be to either not deep strike and run my squads up the board using cover and obstructions to minimize how much shooting I take or deep strike around 18" away and jump in the next turn to shoot and/or assault. With five squads, I can run one squad in a straight line and the other four could line up split behind. Though the first squad would be chewed up, the other four would gain a 4+ cover save (and everyone would get the FNP bubbles for the higher AP shots). Mike over at Whiskey & 40k blog posted an interesting article which got me thinking about how I can improve my own games. Thinking tactically is taking the probability out of your actions. I don't mean you never use probabilities, but you don't rely on their outcomes when deciding your actions. For example, using cover to get out of line of sight means you're not relying on your opponents dice rolls to survive, you took the risk out completely. Another is minimizing how many units your opponent can bring to bear on you such as deep striking on a flank (Sun Tzu would be proud) so only a portion your opponents army can shoot you then you overload part of his army with your full army the next turn and steam roll the rest. If it's a heavy mech list, you're then also making them decide whether to move and shoot more vehicles, but with a limited number of weapons, or stay put and only a small number of vehicles can shoot all their weapons at you. Either way, you're removing a significant risk without relying on dice rolls to accomplish it. The more dice you have to roll, the more you get stuck in the probability pool, and the more dice you make your opponent roll, the more you stick them in that pool. An example of this would be when you put yourself in cover (4+). Your opponent needs to shoot, on average, twice as many shots at you and it forces your opponent to rely that their dice are going to roll at least average. This also means that if all that extra fire power is going against one unit, there is a lot less fire going against the rest of your units. Another get-out-of-the-kiddie-pool-free card. A couple other things to consider are in assaults. It's all about placement. Got a squishy IC in a unit you want to get in the assault, but not get chewed up by that hidden powerfist? Put the IC in base contact with your opponent’s grunts and make sure you get one of your grunts in base contact with their powerfist model. A model must attack the unit it is in base contact with. Remember, in this part of an assault, the IC is considered a separate unit. Another thing to consider is multi unit assaults. Get at least one model in base contact with a second opposing unit with two of your units. It's like a cross multi unit assault. But ONLY do this IF you know you're going to win combat. It will come back on you the same way if you lose combat. The total you win by for each unit adds together and both your opposing units need to use those numbers. This works especially well against fearless opponents. Here's an example. I have two assault squads (A&B) going against two ork boy squads(1&2). That's 20 on 60 models. Sounds scary, right? The set up is that one assault marine from squad A attacks ork 2 and the other 9 marines from squad A attack ork 1. Then marines B has one model attack ork 1 and the other 9 attack ork 2. Let's put down the numbers. The marines go first and will score on average 9 kills each. The orks will score 3 kills each. The difference is 12 fearless rolls that need to be made for each ork unit. They should lose another 10 orks each squad. That's more than you killed in the initial attack. To summarize, getting out of the probability 'kiddie' pool is really getting away from thinking in probabilities and thinking more tactically. It takes a lot of work to break yourself out of the probability mind set, but once you do, you'll start experiencing richer games. Welcome to the next level. -Pav