Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kill Point vs Objectives

While working on stripping my followers of nurgle, there really wont be much progress to post. Besides, who wants to stare at nothing but unpainted models forever? Today I touch basis on something simple but still heavily discussed. In our local community, most players own multiple armies but all share the same concept. That is the old fasion "all commers" composition. I'd like to talk a little about army composition and where the lines fall when looking at Kill Point and Objective balancing. This will be my first real tactics post so my thoughts my not be in chronological order...

I'll save my opinions on the invention of Kill Points since we all have to deal with them one way or another. Over the years of playing I have had the opportunity to play many armies and codecies. With current 5th ed trends, armies are starting to blend together. Of course that is mech, mech mech. What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Pro: Quickly deliver scoring units to objectives
Con: Lightly armored transports give easy kill points

Pro: Further protect more valuable units and kill points.
Con: Some transports force MSU which degrade survivability of units. Razorbacks are a good example.

So where do we find the balance between easy kill transports, MSU and providing mobility for objective based missions? Lets place our thoughts assuming there are some stakes like we find within a tournament or league. Normally there is only a 1/3 chance of seeing kill points, though I have attended tournaments that have randomly drawn multiple kill point missions. But what can we do on a smaller scale to give us a cusion so to speak just in case we come across this kind of situation.

First I'm going to look at the easy kills. Light armored transports make wonderful targets and can really break a kill point mission depending on your opponent and how fully mechanized your troops are. Unless someone can prove me wrong, ALL troop transports have cheap upgrades that not all players take advantage of to increase survivability. (PLEASE no mathhammer...) One common tactic I use is purchasing combi-weapons for my CSM rhinos. For about 10 points, I get a extra melta shot and an effective "wound" on my vehicle. I cannot even begin to count how many times an extra weapon has made a breaking change in getting my unit to their objective due to glance saturation.

Just last weekend, I had a rhino plumited by 2 DE ravagers with brightlances. Though some luck was involved, he failed to destroy it. He managed to get multiple weapon destroyed/immobilizd results. Normally it would have been just enough to kill rhino. But instead I was left with an immobile and weaponless bunker. What made this game shift was a squad of wytches and archon waiting outside who had disembarked assuming brightlances should have destroyed the rhino so they could assault. It didn't happen. My squad was a unit of plague marines with two flamers. The wytches where easily destroyed by the flamers and the champion punked the archon's 2+ void shield in HtH. It was a KP game and I just earned 2 easy KP instead of losing the rhino and maybe the squad if they were charged.

In summary, players should consider cheap weapon upgrades to increase survivability. If your army has a lot of light/weak transports and you're trying to sweat out a KP battle, it could save your life.

Enough about tanks. Armies like Eldar and Daemons often utilize MSU (Multiple Small Units). When 5th ed rolled around, MSU more or lessed died. Part to the recent MEQ unit organizaton changes in later codecies. MEQ can also utilize this with combat squads. We all know that there are some battles where KP is just completely unbalanced but I feel that on average, each army has about 10-12 KP per side at 1850 points. My recent tournament list had a whopping 15KP. This was thanks to 7 troop units and 3 rhinos. There were four packs of 5-man lesser daemons. At the end of the day, only one KP mission was drawn. The second mission showed up as terrain features as objectives. The third was a standard 3-objective mission. Playing MSU proved superior especially in the second mission since there was about 10 or so objectives on the table. Don't forget a single unit can claim/contest multiple objectives at once.

On a competitive setting what do you do? Do you balance tactical mobility and KP? Do you run KP denial? Do you say screw KP all together and maximize targets and killing power?

As for me, I usually ignore KP counts all together. I often run MSU with all my armies. My biggest reasoning for this is cover saves. Even small 5-man units can survive just as long as a 10-man unit. Let's take a combat squad of marines for an example. 10 marines in cover are no different than two units of 5 in cover. However with decent rolls, a 5-man can shrug off a lot of fire which may force your opponent to saturate more firing units into them. This draws fire away from the other 5-man unit. Even if the squadss breaks morale, you'r not losing all 10 models. I use this tactic a lot with Lesser Daemons. I throw down smaller units which still hold a threat value. They'll go to ground and get pummeled by concentrated fire, drawing it away from more important units.


Dverning said...

Do you say screw KP all together and maximize targets and killing power?
This. My reasons are many...
1. 2x5 protects against saturation of fire. No more than 5 guys can die to a single volley of fire. So those Sternguard, Punishers and other units waste their extra fire on corpses.
2. 2x5 allows diversity of fire. The reciprocal of the above, a 2x5 can target two different targets or the same. A 1x10 is forced to all fire at one target.
3. 2x5 is more flexible for deployment. You have twice as many places to deploy, grab objectives or otherwise cause headaches and win the game.
4. But the big one: Focusing on Kill Points means little in the tournament scene. Yes, during list design and gameplay, it is good to consider KP. However, you shouldn't let it dictate your list. Good gameplay can do just about as much to protect your KP as list building. To win a tournament, you typically need to pound the tar out of your opponent and table them if you can. So not only is 2x5 harder to table, but a focus on the kill means better and larger wins.

Not saying that I will min/max every unit out there for this... but I also don't stress about changing a list because it came up to 19 KP rather than 17. (I still wish VP were used more...)

ChimeraHiveMind said...

What about the risks of special/heavy weapons with MSU and wound saturation?

Dverning said...

What about the risks of special/heavy weapons with MSU and wound saturation?
Honestly, I think it balances out... A 2x5 model means there's only 3-4 bullet sponges before the heavy or special weapon guy is taking a hit. A 1x10 means there's 6-8.
However, the way many people overcome the 1x10 method is by causing a bunch of wounds all at once. With a 2x5, you can cause 15 wounds in one volley and still can't kill more than 5 guys. For that matter, wound allocation in a 2x5 allows even more mucking with mixed AP. Properly done, you can cause the enemy to cause less wounds than they would have done to a 1x10 and still protect your guys.

Now, don't take this as a outright "MSU is the only way to go!" It's only as applicable to the unit, codex, and overall army balance for what you're trying to maximize. For instance, a unit of Plague Marines can be 20-strong and still only gets 2 plasmaguns, but 4x5 can get 8. MSU is better call there if what's desired is more plasmaguns. But if the army really needs a big, immovable unit to tarpit, MSU isn't.

Said another way: Lists should be built to give you the tools you need to win a game no matter the mission. If you can accomplish this with less KP, then good. But if reducing KP means reducing the effect of the list, I go for the extra punch every time.

This make sense?

sonsoftaurus said...

I think Dverning has it right mostly. I usually don't actively worry about kill points and just make the army I like. Sometimes when trimming down I'll trim the 'weak links' first, but I usually don't do things like squadron vehicles unless I need to, or if it's something that can benefit (like a unit of Kans that can all get into one combat).

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