friday 40k humor

friday 40k humor

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Deathstar Tactics: Get the Most Out of Your Army-in-a-Single-Unit

by Justin Cook                         


A lot of competitive lists in 6th edition are running high value, high cost units. These ‘deathstars,’ as they are often referred to, are typically reliant on having several characters add synergy to an already powerful unit, making them absolutely terrifying. We’ve all heard of the Jetlock council, Paladin star, the new kid the O’vesa star… they all have wild offensive capabilities and incredible durability.
But a lot can go into keeping them alive on the tabletop. Let’s look at some of the ways you can keep a high value unit alive against a variety of threats.

Put your best foot forward: Have a tank
Having a highly durable character out in front of a unit to ‘tank’ damage has been a common notion in most of 6th edition. These guys will be the ones taking a pounding and typically have a few of the following traits:
   1) high toughness and/or Eternal Warrior
   2) a good invulnerable save, usually a 3+ or better
   3) a large wound pool
   4) and this one is likely the most important―independent character special rule
The first three are natural durabilities anyone can understand and appreciate. Of course you want Draigo, a nova-shielded O’vesa, or your Eternal Shield Chapter Master standing in front of your valuable unit of Paladins, Centurions, or buddy Riptide.
The last trait, however, is a little more abstract. The independent character special rule allows for your tank to both spread damage around by virtue of Look out sir! and to take major enemy threats out of the picture in combat through challenges. Be sure to read up on Look out sir! on pages 16 and 26 of the core rule book, and how challenges work on pages 64 and 65.

Surround your tank with ablative wounds
Usually there are degrees of importance when it comes to any squad’s models, even a high value unit of Paladins or Jetlocks


Once you kit a unit out, you might have a few models that just don’t have any special gear or extra abilities. These are the models your tank needs closest to him to soak up the extra shots you don’t want him taking. Nothing’s certain―you still need to roll for Look out sir!―but it’s fairly reliable to send over Bolter wounds from Draigo or a Chapter Master to a Paladin or Centurion, respectively. They all have 2+ armor saves, so why risk losing an opportunity to take a 3+ invulnerable later to a wound you can afford to take elsewhere?
You also need to assess what kind of firepower you’re facing: Can you afford to have the secondary Riptide in an O’vesa star taking Look out sir! wounds, or is it better to take them on Shielded Missile Drones?
As an example: If you’re up against a unit or two of scatter laser War Walkers, it’s probably better to have O’vesa Look out sir! into the Burst Cannon Riptide, as both have the same save and you have a combined 10 wounds to work with for spreading out damage. If you’re playing against triple Wraithknight, however, you should likely be putting Look out sir! wounds into the Shielded Missile Drones. This is why I always splurge on getting the extra Shielded Missile Drones for my Burst Cannon Riptide, since it gives me four extra wounds. I don’t care as much about tank distortion shots.

Keep the synergy safe
Deathstars usually have one or more synergistic characters that make them the tabletop powerhouses they are. Typically these are Farseers, Inquisitor Coteaz, or the ubiquitous Tau ‘Buff Commander.’ These guys need to stay away from incoming fire, typically in the rear of the deathstar, far away from wound allocation through shooting and combat. You’ll also want to keep an ablative wound or two around them if you can―barrage can really put a wrench in the works. Also, never forget how Focus Fire works. If you stick the tank and first few models in cover but leave part of the squad out in the open along with your buffing characters, you’re begging to lose them to mobile firepower.
Here’s an example of how Focus Fire can be used against a deathstar: If I put every model except my Commander from my O’vesa star in area terrain, my opponent can declare Focus Fire on models with a 6+ or worse cover save. By doing this, my Buff Commander is hit first, even if he’s in the back of the unit. If this is a strength 10 weapon, the Buff Commander is now in danger of being insta-killed, when the closer Riptides would not have been. You should usually choose whether or not you’ll stick to cover and do so for the whole unit.
Also keep in mind that cagey opponents will move units between parts of the deathstar and their shooty damage dealers. This creates artificial cover, and they can then Focus Fire at the Commander who should be left exposed. Check out page 18 and 19 of the core rule book to learn more on how Focus Fire works, and read up on how intervening models create cover for units shooting through them.
These are some of the key elements to keep in mind when putting together and using a functional deathstar-type unit in 40K. There are a lot of benefits to these units, such as the fact they’re nearly impossible to kill and can dish out high amounts of damage between shooting and combat. However, it’s important to know that this is just one way of playing 40k competitively, and that it does have its downsides. The most notable of these is certainly the lack of Fearless in some deathstars, but there are other less obvious drawbacks, like the ability to tarpit them or play around them and kill the rest of your army. Nonetheless, deathstars will probably be around for quite some time, so it’s good to know how to use them and how to play against them.

Justin Cook notched an 8-0 record at NOVA GT 2013.
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