Now that Dark Eldar players have their much deserved day in the sun (or is it darkness?) what can we players who are still struggling with older (read: Necrons) outdated (read: Daemonhunters), and over costed (read: Eldar) codexes do?
How can we continue to hold our own and win other than playing our Chaos Space Marine armies as Chaos Space Wolves?
Well, now more than ever it comes down to tactics. While dice and tactics have always determined the game, never before in the history of the game has GW created such a wide gulf of old vs. new ‘dexes.
Generally, with the 5th edition books you can make a mistake or two and still have enough toys on the table to recover. With the older books, you don’t have that cushion. That said there are a few opening strategies in the game to use to help pull ahead- now almost vital for the old books, but of course equally viable for the newer codexes as well…
Hey look, the alpha strike isn’t just for ‘guard anymore. When you are outnumbered two or three to one, a free round of shooting to take out a few units can potentially lead to some big gains. With the older codexes there is a feeling of being more conservative with one’s units, to hold back, wait for the time to strike- all important, but being bold, sometimes daringly so is what is called for. If you take first turn -two thoughts to consider- set up using terrain to give your units cover saves and protection in case your opponent seizes the objective, OR set up using terrain to gain the advantage of elevation and positioning even if there is the chance of your opponent seizing.
The alpha strike also works if you are going second- happens all the time with my Grey Knights. I look where my opponent has set up, and what units I can reach out and touch with my psy-cannons and las-cannons while still keeping my own units in cover, set up, and try to seize that first turn.
Unlike the Imperial Guard and Space Wolf alpha strike you won’t completely destroy your opponent’s army on one turn, but it does have the potential to thin the numbers a bit, and that is why you shouldn’t dismiss it as an option.
The idea behind castling up is to park your army in one of the table edges so your opponent can only attack you from two directions- forward and one of the sides, over deploying in the center of the table where you can be hit from the front and both sides. Taken a step further the thrust of castling up comes from using all of your armies shots against smaller bits and pieces of your opponent’s- again this is especially handy when you are paying 25+ points for an MEQ infantry model vs. 16 points. The key is getting your opponent to divide up their forces and not move forward as a block into your castled unit.
Often this is done by objective placement and siphoning units. Spread out those objectives to encourage your opponent to spread out. Castle up, and move your army as an entire unit against the smaller sections of their army.
While this is happening have some smaller resilient/expendable units, I like assault marines, terminators, raveners, and inquisitorial assassins to deep strike in to keep your opponent spread out. So as your castle block is moving, and your opponent start pulling in close together, drop those siphoning units off on the other side to pull away a unit or two from your opponent. Winning with my Grey Knights requires that this is one of the key strategies I use with my terminators.
Some armies also have a redeployment option like Eldrad- take first turn, set up two section of your army- one on the far right, the other on the far left, and then after your opponent has deployed pull back with the special ability to the weaker of their sides.
Again, with the older ‘dexes, castle does not equal fire base, it is a starting point to move and advance from, hopefully allowing you to engage with the full power of your army, as your opponent reacts and reforms their units you will slowly be more and more outnumbered.
Some say I’ve made my name playing the reserves game. ~editor’s note “Some say?” 🙂 For some armies and builds what was a fun strategy or alternate play style has now become the only way of survival. With a reserve strategy you combine the power of the alpha strike and castling, while protecting yourself from the alpha strike of your opponent.
Mass reserve, roll those reserves on turn two, and based what comes in, see which side is weaker in units that you opponent has, enter and shoot here- you’ll get that first shot off at least. The down side to reserves is that with the numerical superiority and cheaper (points) shots of the 5th dexes you need a good majority of your models coming in to really have any impact. If only one or two wave serpents come in, you might as well pack up or start a new game. Autarchs, hive commanders, etc. are now needed to help make up for “luck”…