Sunday, August 19, 2012

6th Edition Concepts - Tanks

Let's clear something up straight away. In this case when I say "tank" I don't mean your rhinos, hammerheads, predators etc. Instead I'm talking about a video-gaming concept from MMORPGs. For those of you not familiar with this concept the idea is that someone builds their character so that it's primary function is to soak up damage from enemies to protect other units. Though they might not have much offensive ability they can free up points so that other units can spend them on offensive capability.

So how does this apply to 40K? Well before 6th edition it didn't. However, the 6th edition rules have changed wound allocation in such a way as this is now possible. Couple in the "Look Out Sir" rules and there's your tank. The units that will benefit most from this are those static gun-line portions of your army.

Let's take a look at long fangs for example. The standard unit consists of 4-5 missile launcher guys and a squad leader. In 5th edition most people applied wounds to the pack leader first so that there was no loss of offensive capability. Losing split fire isn't too much of a problem so it was a reasonable sacrifice. This is still possible in 6th edition by putting the pack leader at the front. However, with save groups it won't be long before you're losing those precious missile launchers.

This is where wolf guard can save the day. For a basic cost of 33pts you can get a wolf guard with terminator armour and attach him to the long fang pack. Since his save is different you have to assign all the wounds to him until he fails one. After that you apply them to the long fangs as normal. This means that you could theoretically take AP3 hits that would've killed long fangs and prevent them from being touched at all. We all know from experience that terminator saves seem to go one of two ways. Either you seem to pass them all day long or you fail them in record numbers. Obviously, statistically you should be failing 1/6 but sometimes it seems a lot better or a lot worse!

This idea alone would allow you to keep your long fangs alive longer but if we throw in LOS saves we can really keep the "tank" going. Since Wolf Guard count as Characters, for every roll of 1 you make you can apply it to another model on a 4+. This is where the pack leader steps in. Obviously this will kill him off but you'll have maintained your tank. Once he's gone you've then got to make a decision about whether you want to keep the tank alive or sacrifice a missile guy for it. This decision becomes a lot easier if your Wolf Guard has a cyclone launcher. Obviously you're going to sacrifice a power armoured single shot missile to keep a double shot terminator alive.

In theory you could apply this concept to gun-line grey hunters. By taking the full 10 with two plasma guns and a wolf guard in terminator armour (with a claw perhaps?) you can sit them on an objective and keep taking 2+ saves on the terminator while he shoots his storm bolter along with the rest of the boys.

Let's look at another Space Wolves unit, Thunderwolf Cavalry. The problem with this unit in 6th edition is that you can no longer allocate wounds in such a way as to keep the maximum number of models alive before you start removing them. By taking a thunderlord we can play the tanking game with these guys too and with LOS we can do wound allocation again. By spending 20 points to give the lord Runic Armour and hence a 2+ save (don't forget the 5++ to psychic too) we can keep them safe from AP3 shooting. If you fail a save you can still LOS it but because the lord is an Independent Character it's 2+ instead of 4+ to re-allocate the wound. This means we can start to apply a single wound to each of the rest of the squad like we used to and keep the whole unit alive as long as possible.

There are two problems with this strategy. Firstly it relies on the 2+ model being at the front. Whilst this is easy with long fangs who are mostly going to sit at the back it's a lot harder with the TWC as once they're towards the centre of the field it's tricky to keep the lord to the front when you take all the angles of fire into account. Secondly this idea falls down once you hit combat. Whilst you can still do it to an extent it's not as easy as it is with shooting.

I hope this concept makes sense to people and I've not been to patronising along the way! I've got a few posts like this that I want to put up. The 6th edition ruleset hasn't made too many huge changes but the subtle ones force you to rethink the way you play.


  1. Are you taking armour saves before you roll for look out sir? The article reads like you are doing it this way, a look out sir roll is made before armour saves.

    Other than that the concept is sound, I just can't find the points in my lists to splash out on a 33 point bullet magnet for long fangs.

    As for Thunderwolves I finally got round to buying some and have been running them since 6th came out. The Bearlord is essential to soak up those big hits but the biggest thing is the 12" move and 2D6 fleet charge. It makes a massive change from what they used to be able to move and it means that they can pick their fights seeing as they ain't the toughest of Deathstars around.

    1. You read my mind. I've got a post about thunderwolves in particular scheduled to drop on Tuesday. Also I'm not sure about the LOS rolls as it says "saved wounds or unsaved wounds". Is the order if assignment explained better somewhere? I think it could be interpreted both ways.

      Unsaved wounds could mean ones with an AP low enough to prevent saves or it could mean wounds with failed saves.

  2. As BP says, you have to decide whether to LoS the hit before taking the armour save. This means you primarily use it to put the first incoming AP2 hits that would likely kill the terminator onto the squad captain. Kills him instead, but leaves your termie alive to soak up AP3 fire.

    You might choose to LoS further AP2 hits onto missile launcher guys, as they will die for sure anyway but this way you keep the terminator alive and maybe soak up more fire in the long run. Becomes a tactical decision at that point.

  3. As with the other comments, it sounds as if you are doing LOS wrong (could be in our interpretation though). If you are though, be aware that the confusion comes from the wording in the book if taken without context. The mention of "unsaved wounds" in the explanatory box, when read in conjunction with the LOS ruling, is referring to times when a squad has characters in it, but all models have the same armour save. In these cases you have to roll all the dice at once, then do LOS. As you point out in your article, you only roll the wounds individually when there are different armour saves, and in this case you LOS before rolling a save.

    Its definitely something I've been thinking of for my Wolves though, just trying to figure out the best method to implement it, points for effect. Looking forward to seeing more of your thoughts on it though.

    1. As I say I've got a few posts planned. The next one will be similar to yours about characters and challenges and how to use them to your advantage.

      Where in the book does it say about when to make LOS rolls. Not saying you're wrong but I don't have my book handy and obviously I want to play things right and not write lists based on flawed reasoning.

  4. A problem with single wound models becoming the bullet magnets is the fact you can choose when to allocate (if you have any) different AP weapons.

    So if you're firing a plasma gun and a few bolters, you allocate the plasma into the 2+ armour save, LoS is only a 4+,50/50 is dicey at best, then the bolters go into everyone else.

    1. In this case you'd take the LOS roll and then the cover or invuln save on the plasma. If you passed either the LOS or cover/invuln save you could still take the bolster saves on 2+.

      That's assuming LOS works like these guys are saying.

  5. When you are using mixed armour, eg 2+ guy at the front, you eith chose to los, or take the save on the 2+ guy. If you pass the los then the other guy takes his save. If the 2+ guy takes the save and you fail, you dont get then to los the wound to a 3+ guy.

    If the unit isnt mixed saves, then you take all your saves then start allocating wounds, at which point you can los wounds away from the lead guy.

    This is why the paragraph refers "saved wounds or unsaved wounds"

    There were 3 posts on 3++ about wound allocation that explains it all very well, with proper examples. I would recommend you give it a read.

    They included an eg with a wg termi and gh pack as far as I can remember

    1. Don't suppose you've got links only 3++ is a nightmare to browse on my phone cos of all the crap on the left?

      I can see the logic in what people are saying but I want to see it explicitly in the rulebook so I know it isn't just an interpretation.


      link to the first post is in at the top of the 2nd

  6. I'm just going to quote the big book:
    "WHEN a Wound (or unsaved Wound) IS ALLOCATED to one of your characters, etc."

    So you make your LOS! attempt, when the character gets the wound allocated to him. This is the only point in time where you can do this. If you haven't the chance is gone.

    So let's take a look when models get Wounds allocated to them:
    - If he has the same save as the unit, Wounds are allocated to him AFTER saves have been made, so he gets an UNSAVED Wound allocated and can LOS!
    (That's why the "unsaved Wound" bit is in there.)
    - If he has a different save you allocate a yet to be saved Wound to him one by one. For each wound you then LOS! or make your save, if you didn't LOS! the wound successfully or didn't wanted to.

    If your LOS! attempt is succesful the wound is resolved against another model in the unit.

    Hope that was helpful.

    1. Thanks mate. Read the rule over and over but ignored the "when allocated" bit every time!

      Makes sense now! The tanking idea still works but it isn't as good as I thought.

  7. yep, lotta people still not reading the mixed saves rules right. You guys have it figured out. Keep in mind that if all models have the same saves, Los can be used on unsaved wounds after they are initially assigned. Nob bikers are currently using this to allocate their wounds across the squad. The place where tanking really shines is close combat. assuming your WG is based at each initiative step, you can start taking wounds with him every time, then if he lives, at I1 when the pesky AP2 weapons swing, you start with a different model based with those I1 models and protect the tank


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