Wednesday, August 29, 2012

the Flaming Rhino!

I usually refuse to participate in the 'tactics' aspect of the game.  There are plenty of bloggers out there that have inundated the interwebs with almost every tactic one can think of in this little game of 40k.  I am not nearly so minded to such things, so I rarely have anything of value to contribute.

But I had en epiphany while I was writing an army list for a buddy today.  I included a unit of Tactical Marines with a Flamer, and made sure to load them into a Rhino.  I thought about how anyone that reads this list will tell me that a)Flamers are only barely useful, and b)Rhinos are a waste of points when you should be taking Razorbacks. 

This has generally been a true premise since 3rd edition faded away, and I constantly resisted the prevailing opinion.  Funny enough, my way of thinking has finally almost become justified, and all based off a tiny tactic I thought of suddenly.  Wait, Jay, YOU came up with a tactic?  We refuse to believe it!  Believe it- it's wierd to me, too.

So here's the deal- Flamers are now useful for two reasons-
1)They automatically hit whatever falls under that 8" template.  This is especially important since it's an assault weapon.  Imagine that you're ten inches away from the enemy and you make the mistake of shooting at them, killing the front guys and suddenly having NO chance of charging.  Flamers, when fired, will almost never have that problem.
2) When assaulted, a model equipped with a Flamer may fire Overwatch and inflict an automatic one or more hits (up to three).  That's a heckuva lot better than the other Bolter-armed battle brothers nearby hoping to roll a '6' and maybe do something.

This doesn't necessarily make the Flamer a better option than a Plasma Gun or Meltagun yet.  Don't worry, there's more.

The Rhino transport is too often seen as the 'cheaper, crappier' version of any other transport in the game.  It has low armor, no speed, and a gun that makes a Sergeant giggle when he sees it.  Worse, now transports may NOT move more than 6" if they disembark troops, regardless of the order.  That means transports without guns are nothing more than moving distractions.  However, think about this:  If a transport has no guns, then it may move 'flat out' in the shooting phase.  This means that a Razorback will move six inches in a turn and throw some firepower down range, while a Rhino will move up to 18", or up to 12" if it decides to drop troops halfway through.  Why is this important?

AHA!  Here's where the 'strategery' comes in.  Any marine player worth his salt will have a standing unit in the backfield guarding an objective or throwing copious amounts of pew-pew at the enemy.  Any opponent worth his salt will focus on that unit so they can either claim the objective or simply stop the barrage of missles from raining on their allies.  Either way, the 'rearward' unit needs some form of protection.

The obvious form of protection is gonna be the 'Tank Wall'.  There's no troop in the game that doesn't appreciate a well-positioned vehicle to screen them from enemy shooting.  Everyone knows this tactic.  The key is proper placement.  Remember to place the tank so that it doesn't block your own unit's shooting, but blocks line of sight from the heaviest of incoming enemy firepower.  Everyone knows this tactic, like I said, so that's all that needs to be said.

The one that I'm not sure anyone has thought of is something we call 'playing blocker'.  I used to have my staff play blocker on the customers just long enough for me to read the White Dwarf or write up an event plan.  The same philosophy applies in the game as well- send basic units into whatever mass is advancing and delay the enemy from making it to the important stuff.  And no, I'm not saying that my staff were 'basic' or that I was more 'important' than them.  We're talking about situations here, and anyone who has to manage anyone understands this.  Put the emotions away...

Here's how this works-

See that unit rushing straight towards your Devastator Squad?  Remember how you left a Tactical Squad idling in their Rhino there in the back, in the 'countercharge' position?  Measure and act as soon as the enemy happens to come to within 12" away.  Roll the Rhino up between the Devastators and the enemy and disgorge the troops (before you move, mind you), making sure to place the Flamer around third in line.  Using that 6" disembarkation move, your Flamer marine should end up around 7" away (you gotta hit at least one model).  Then roll a ton of dice as you rapid-fire everything that Tactical squad has at their disposal into the enemy.  After you're done with that, use your 'flat out' move to scoot the Rhino between the Tac boys and dodging enemy, or scoot the Rhino in a way so that the Tac squad and the tank form an effective 'wall' which should stop the enemy from charging or at least give the Devastators some cover against ridiculous shooting.

What should happen (this is all assuming it's not jump-models that the enemy sent your way) is that the enemy are left to take the punishment from the Tactical Squad's shooting, and maybe even the Devastators' (although cover saves will be gifted for shooting through their 'bodyguard'), and then they'll have to charge the Tactical squad only to be punished a little more.  And you'll definitely get at least one hit on the enemy in Overwatch from the Flamer, and hopefully you'll get more.  Then the enemy will be tied up in their turn since a Space Marine unit is rarely easy to kill, but the Tactical Squad isn't tough enough to survive two turns (against anything nasty, that is), meaning the enemy will be freed just in time to be shot in your turn- again! 

The biggest risk is that you may NOT move 'flat out' if you disembark the troops after moving.  This certainly slows the unit down, but then again the enemy isn't truly a threat until they're that close anyway.  I've already mentioned the other risk, which is trying to pull this maneuvre on jump-models.  On the plus side, that enemy unit may be so committed to getting to your Devastators that they MUST use their special jump/winged rules to move, which mitigates the chance to charge (even if only a little bit).  So that disadvantage can be turned a bit in your favour too.

Here's some pics to help illustrate the advantage to the 'tank wall' using the flat out move:

Oh no, Sarge!  They're rushing right at us!

Proper deployment means lots of shots, and a working Flamer.  Then move the Rhino...
We're done shooting, boyz, pull the truck around! and move it again!

 Here's some more pics to illustrate the 'playing blocker', especially when you've gotta get creative:

We gotta protect the Dark Angels against THAT?! 

Move up,
Hop out and make him charge into our guns instead!

 This is NOT a tactic that will wipe the enemy out.  This is NOT a tactic that will allow you to survive against immeasurably powerful opponents.  This IS, however, a tactic that can be used to great effect in that certain situation, helping to allow you to control your opponent's moves and even managing the timing of his attacks.  GW really did a great job making the Flamer useful, and the addition of (let's call it) vehicles running means a little extra effectiveness for both this special weapon and the under-appreciated Rhino.  Together, the sum is greater than the parts and all that jazz...

And there we go, a really tiny tactic for you to use, from the erratic brain of Jay.  Let me know what you guys think and what other 'tiny tactics' you can think of.

 As always,

Happy Gaming!

Go get 'em, Flaming Rhino!