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Goyder's Armoured Company Tactics Volume 2

Submitted By: Goyder Date: November 7, 2005, 03:37:31 PM Views: 5243
Summary: So, you've now put together a couple of tanks? Think that from here on end it's going to be easy, with nothing to worry about because of those Strength 8+ weapons?

HAH!

The Armoured Company has the deception that it's an incredibly easy army to play. People tend to just see a sea of tanks, and think 'Ga-zooks! I wants me ones of them armies!' If only it was that simple. The AC is extremely fragile, if lady luck is giving you the cold shoulder that day you're in for a tough ride. Nobody relies on 'chance' like the AC; think about these two points:

  • The majority of your weapons scatter
  • Your opponent rolls a dice to see what damage he/she has done to your vehicle

I call that the 'Nasty Twins' of the AC, but that will be discussed later.  So, with your army relying on luck, you have to be able to minimize the effect of chance, and hopefully this guide will help you do that.

After following my advice from the last Volume of Armoured Company Tactics, you should have a pretty decent Armoured Company list, if you've done it right, it should be able to tackle anything the enemies of our god-emperor throws at you. Again, this tactica is not to be taken as the gospel word. Different people = different playing styles, and what has worked well for me for years may not work for you at all! This is just a guide, not a definite way of playing.

Also, take heart if you keep getting your tanks sent up to that great big tank battle in the sky, an AC is a hard thing to play. Just keep at it, as long as you learn from your mistakes and you can understand where you botched up, you will eventually become a very competent AC commander. It just takes time.

Now, for the star attraction -

Colonel Goyder's: 'How to bring into play thy Armoured Company to its utmost potential, and how to beat thy foul enemy xenos by minimising your weaknesses and bringing about your strength to decisive points where essential'

Or

'How to use your Armoured Company to kick but'

IT'S ALL IN THE DEPLOYMENT
Deploying your forces correctly is a good start to winning a battle. A poorly deployed AC can shoot itself in its foot and be its own worst enemy. You have to be mindful that you don't block your own Line of Sight too much with your tanks, even though blocking your L.O.S. is sometimes inevitable with an AC, but you can reduce its effects. You also have to be very careful not to trap your own forces! When you deploy, ask yourself this:
'If my lead tanks are immobilized, is their another way out?' If the answer is no, re-think your deployment. You're going to need all your tanks to reach objectives and be at optimum firing capacity to win.

Detailed below are a few deployments tricks which have worked out rather well for me over the years, each has their pro's and con's, and each, when used in the right situations can help lend that hand to victory for the Emperor of mankind.

THE REFUSED STAGGERED FLANK

The refused flank is where you place ALL of your tanks in one corner. This tactic is very effective when you are more outnumbered than usual, such as against Orks, 'Nids etc. This works very well against these kinds of armies as they generally have to spread out over their deployment, allowing you to concentrate all of your firepower on one half of their army, effectively bringing 100% of your firepower into 50% of their army. However, as discussed below, this gives you a major frontal firepower boost to direct points of the opponent's forces, but you become VERY susceptible for flanking attacks. However, it always warms my heart to look at what's left of a big swarm after the shooting phase with a deployment like this.

You also have to be very careful, you can very easily block a lot of your L.O.S. by deploying to closely together, so be careful. The best way is to combat this, allowing for maximum frontal firepower is a 'staggered line' with the refused flank. As seen by the example below, the gaps allow for each tank to let rip with its maximum available firepower in the forward arc, and with the misfortune of a lead tank being destroyed or incapacitated, still allows for the rest of your tanks to move forward. With so many tanks facing a small portion of the enemy, the return fire you should get should be 'confused' i.e. No clear concentration of firepower due to the sheer amount of targets available, this is exactly like what Tyranid players hope you do.

Example of the refused staggered Flank
I suggest that you place your Exterminators and Hellhound on the bottom middle, to assist with repelling flank attacks (discussed below). Demolishers, because of their improved side armor, work well being in the front and below sides.  Don't forget to ensure one flank is weighted by terrain or the board edge (Other wise it's not really a refused flank).  Artillery is to be hidden, and not really involved in the main push.

Now, the real problem about this tactic is flanking attacks. If an enemy was to suddenly appear or eventually get to the side of your forces, only 2 tanks will be able to retaliate with return fire. And, if the real nightmare starts (you start getting into Close Combat), you will be slowly and methodically torn apart. This kind of deployment is very unforgiving in terms of movement as well, as moving one tank to cover a flank, could obscure your own tanks L.O.S. You must remember to be careful when this starts to happen, and don't panic. When you start breaking out of this position in a rush to combat the new threat, you will more than likely reduce your main attack by a fair bit, end up blocking your own L.O.S. and with your forces in such disarray, it only takes a competent player to seize the moment, and bring about his forces to severely damage yours.

All is not lost however, this is where the Hellhound (or, lacking one, a Leman Russ variant like the Exterminator, which generally performs this rather well) could come in handy. By keeping it behind your main force, you can whip it out to the flank that is endangered and let fly with hot gushes of flame. Your enemy then has two choices, attack the scary Hellhound or continue with their attack on your main tanks. Either way, you win. If the Tanks get a moment of reprieve (even if it is just one turn) from the flank attack, you have the chance to move on, forcing them to catch up, or, you can position your attack to bring the blunt of your shots towards them. I advice against that however, but it all depends on what you are dealing with, and where the enemies main force is.  That, or they continue their attack against you, but in doing so, they still have to deal with a rampaging Hellhound that can burn them to a crisp, hopefully eradicating the threat quickly.

In Summary
When to use: When you're more outnumbered than usual
Pro's: Superior frontal firepower of your entire force, and its usually directed at only a small portion of their army, ensuring maximum damage each turn
Cons: Horrendously vulnerable to flank attacks due to their submissive side firepower, you have to relinquish some forces to back up endangered flanks.

THE WEIGHTED LINE ABREAST

The weighted line abreast is exactly as it sounds like. You place your tanks, Line abreast (i.e. Shoulder to shoulder) but with weighted ends. These weighted ends are there to protect your flanks, or provide much needed support. While this tactic is generally frowned upon by guard players (as it has a tendency to 'dilute' your firepower) it is a rather useful AC deployment, especially in Cleanse missions where capturing table quarters is a must. This type of deployment is best used against armies that don't outnumber you 20:1, like Space Marines, Sisters of Battle, and Eldar etc. This works well against them because their anti-tank capacity is about average in most games. And with your tanks all spread out, and not blocking each others L.O.S, you should be able to disable their major Anti-tank (using the targeting priority advice described later) capacity with a few turns, and then you have nothing left to do but pick up victory points.

This tactic also hopefully creates firing confusion again, with so many tanks pouring through into their lines, and hopefully, what is left of their long range anti-tank firepower is beginning to be systematically destroyed. This tactic, in lower point games is not as effective as it is in higher point's game. This is because in lower point games, you will have fewer tanks, but your opponent is still most likely to have a reasonable amount of anti-tank weapons.

Example of Weighted Line Abreast
Demolishers on the flanks again, to provide ample firepower against Deep Strikers and Infiltrators, and they can absorb more damage from attacks from the side due to their superior Side Armor. Exterminators and the like should go behind the demolishers, as detailed below, as long as your line is staggered, these should still be able to lend their firepower in the forward arc as well. In the later stages of the battle, you can bring these out for more effect, and to hopefully seize those last few victory points. Place the Leman Russ and her variants wherever you feel they could do the most damage. Artillery, again, hidden from view.

Again, like the R.S.F (Refused Staggered Flank), you suffer from a weakness against Flank attacks, but this deployment does reduce the risk significantly, due to the fact that you are sweeping forward into your enemy in one complete line, picking of high risk units before they to their damage. The Weighted Flanks will also assist from Deep strikers and really cleverly placed infiltrators. Another thing you have to be very cautious about is if the enemy concentrates all their firepower into the very centre of your assault, splitting your forces into two. If this happens, you have to act quickly, so that once your forces are one combined assault force again. Even if you have to sacrifice moving forward to your objective, you have to plug the gap very quickly, lest the old maxim 'Divide and Conquer' bites you in the behind.

In Summary
When to use: Non-horde armies; e.g. Space Marines, Eldar etc'
Pros: Sweeping attack, with the ability to systematically take out their anti-armour ability and demoralise your opponent.
Cons: A smart player will attack you from the centre, splitting your force into two, and will start wiping you out systematically. Anti-armour Infiltrators and Deep Strikers pose the usual threat.

THE BAIT AND ATTACK

As you will have noticed so far, I've barely mentioned the wonder that is your Artillery. Whether it is a Basilisk or a Griffon, I have generally hoped that you have done the smart thing, kept them out of L.O.S and in range to drop some heavy shells upon your enemy heads. This deployment trick depends on your opponent's sheer hatred of the words 'Imperial Guard Artillery'. By placing your artillery in relatively poor position, and by deploying your main forces on the other side of the board, away from the 'bait', you play on most players' maxim to concentrate on the weakest point of the enemy forces. You can ultimately bring your enemy to this spot if your artillery is over an important objective. This can work well against most enemy forces, but be careful about savvy opponents, or forces with many Deep striking / Infiltrating units, who can deploy all over the place, effectively neutering any point there was in creating the trap.

With the enemy hopefully drawn in on the bait, as they slowly bunch up to head to the objective / good targets, they should be ignoring your main force (or, not giving it THAT much attention). Use this to your advantage, get into some good positions, and pound into the enemy with all you have as they march into the trap. Another sneaky way of using this is to actually rid yourself of some very nasty deep striking units. By placing the juicy bait far away from your forces, you can actually deploy in a refused staggered flank, distracting those Terminators / Storm troopers / nasty things away from your main forces, allowing you to not have to worry about them. This especially good in lower point battles, because generally the enemy force will not have that many deep striking units, (hopefully just the one), this means you have effectively taken them out of the game. You may have lost 100pts on a Basilisk / Griffon, but they've just lost 150+pts on their anti-tank deep strike unit, because it will now be too far away to do anything effective in the upcoming battle.

Example of The Bait and Attack
As you can see, the bait has been placed over the objective, relying on the importance of the objective or the hate of Imperial Guard Artillery to bait either the entire army, or neuter their Deep Strike Flank Attacks. The force has also been deployed in such a way that if you can tell that this setup is going to fail you (enemy has far too many deep striking units, or, just hasn't fallen for it), you are still deployed in the Refused Staggered Flank position, allowing you to hold your ground and defend against enemy attacks. If the bait to the objective works, its full steam ahead, with the Demolishers taking to the front, so once again, their superior side armor can cope with any stragglers that have stayed in their original deployment, and the usual Leman Russ Variants right behind them.

This deployment relies on you having the ability to re-gain the lost objective, or live with the loss of the 'bait'. This deployment is also very weak against swarming armies, because for the few first turns, you will be forced to concentrate your firepower on the approaching horde, allowing you only the last few turns to either reclaim the objective from the hands of the enemy. If there is no objective however, the less units charging at you the better right?

In Summary
When to use: Works well against most armies
Pros: Hopefully rid yourself of nasty deep striking units, and hopefully lull the enemy into splitting into 2 forces.
Cons: Against horde armies, this tactic becomes less effective, especially if there is actually an objective involved, and it may just be better to go a full R.S.F. (Refused Staggered Flank).
A Last Few Reminders
And there we have it, just a few little deployment tricks that will hopefully increase the effectiveness of your Armoured Company. Remember; use your head when deploying your forces. Insure that most of your tanks have a clear forward firing arc, and remember to watch your flanks.

ALL UNITS, ADVANCE!

Back in the day, when the world was young, the sky was blue, summer was still actually called summer and not Global Warming and I was full of innocence and love; moving in an Armoured Company was a pain, in fact, it was nearly unseen. To secure an objective, you would have to move, but in doing so, you would be losing the majority of your firepower, which, as I hope you should know by now, is bad. Armoured Companies had a reputation for being a mere 'Bunker Army', where you would do nothing for 4 turns but shoot, then hope you are close enough (or fast enough!) to secure the objective.

Not anymore! Now, with the new rules, you have the freedom of movement. Now, you can move your glorious armoured vehicle 6', and still fire your ordinance. Or, you can move, and let fly with your Lascannon and Heavy Bolters, or whatever your tank setup will be. Whatever the case is, the Armoured Company has now become mobile. You can move into different positions, while still pouring deadly firepower into the enemy; however this now creates a few problems that can couch some young 'uns unaware. I have seen some Armoured Companies become their own worst enemy by sloppily advancing and blocking their own line of sights, or having their lead tanks become roadblocks as they get immobilised, shaken or destroyed, and this makes me sad. And when I get sad, I become mad. And you wouldn't like me when I'm mad. But do not worry, there are ways to keep from becoming your own worst enemy, and stop me from getting arrested for assault.

STAY IN FORMATION!!

I know it sounds rather obvious, but too many AC players don't stay in formation when they move. Not only does this start to weaken the advantages of the deployment, but it will start to block other tanks L.O.S., thus, weakening the entire forces firepower! When you move your forces, you move as one. You ensure that everyone is still where they are supposed to be. This way, your firepower is still as effective as it was before, and your forces are still complimenting each other the way they are supposed to.

That said, don't be afraid to break out of formation if you believe it is to your benefit. Let's say your last turn did a lot more damage than you thought it would, and an objective you have to secure to get 200vp is now completely clear for the taking. Go for it! Just be extremely careful to minimise any harming effects that breaking formation will have. Check to make sure L.O.S. is still rather clear for the most part, and ensure your original formation is still has the right tools to defend itself and carry on with the job.

TANK SHOCK!

The best thing about the Armoured Company is that you have the option to tread over many an enemies head. This tactic has always been a bit hit and miss, because it could either fail horribly, and you wind up with a damaged tank; you could end up doing nothing at all, and end up surrounded by enemy troops; or, you could send them packing, fleeing from the Emperor's mighty tanks. However, as with almost anything with the Imperial Guard, you don't just try and do something once, you do it several times. Ever tried Tank Rushing a unit with an entire Armoured Company?

That's right, if you're going to tank rush, do it with your entire formation. Against your average troops with average leadership (i.e. 7), you are almost guarantied a failed Tank Shock roll, and, even if your opponent has the world most horrible luck (which winds up being rather good for Leadership), they still have around 9 Tanks to deal with. Done right, you can end up routing large nasty squads, and with a couple of Battle Cannon shells to the back of their heads, a dead large nasty squad, or hopefully, a squad that cannot rally.

Remember to pick your targets carefully with this however, you don't want to go full steam and tank rush a fearless unit, because that's just silly. And please, don't try and tank rush an anti-tank squad, because that never creates a happy ending. The best targets for a Tank Shock are your average leadership troopers, as the -1 modifier they get to the leadership generally means they have to roll a 6 or lower. Remember, the Tank Shock. is not a be all and end all tactic, don't expect it to win you battles all by itself, it's just something useful to fall back on every now and then when you feel a bit nasty.  Also, do not go out of your way to Tank Rush an enemy unit, because you must stay focused on your objective to win the game. That said, if they happen to get in your way, proceed to inform them on the Tonnage of a Leman Russ'

A Last Few Reminders
An AC army is a large, lumbering hulk, and this makes it very hard to move into the correct positions without being its own worst enemy. Try and stay in formation as often as possible, as this ensures you maximise your firing pattern, rather than hamper it by blocking L.O.S. But, if you do have to move, just be very careful, and check to make sure you minimise L.O.S block. And tank shocking, while cool, is not a tactic to bank on.

HOW TO SHOOT RIGHT

This is what you've been waiting for, you know now how to deploy your Armoured Company, you have some knowledge on how to move out, but do you know how to shoot it? And don't ask 'What's so hard about shooting a St 8 Ap 3 shot?' because that's not what this is about. When an AC shoots out something, you can pretty much guarantee its complete destruction, but, did you choose the right target? Have you shot at the units that pose the biggest threat to your Armoured Chariots? Have you shot at those that could mean victory or defeat? Have you picked the right weapons for the job?

I know, so many questions, but you have to think carefully with the AC, you have to do your best to minimize the effects of the Nasty Twins (both to do with lady luck), and to do that, you have to ensure you shoot at the right targets in the right way. Hopefully what you read below will help you on to victory for the Emperor!

TARGET PRIORITIES

To ensure the survival of your AC, and to ensure victory, you have to shoot at the correct targets. It's all well and good to go Cannon crazy, and shoot at anything that moves or something that would look better with a Battle Cannon shell in its head, but will that win you the battle?
Now, as you will see below, there are different target priorities for each 2 turns. This is because I assume, that over battle, you have whittled down each target, and are now approaching the objective (if there is one). Obviously, you shoot at target 1 first, if there are no more 1's available, or, they are out of L.O.S. shoot 2 and etc'etc'

Target Priorities for turns 1-2
  • Anti-Tank units (e.g. Big Tanks, Devastator squads etc')
  • Anti-Tank Infiltrators (e.g. Storm Troopers, Stealth suits etc')
  • Transports (e.g. Wave Serpent, Chimera etc')
  • Targets near an Objective / Objective itself
  • Targets of Opportunity


Target Priorities for turns 3-4
  • Anti-Tank Deep Strikers (e.g. Terminators etc')
  • Anti-Tank Infiltrators
  • Transports
  • Targets near an Objective / Objective itself
  • Anti-Tank units
  • Targets of Opportunity


Target Priorities for turns 5-6
  • Targets near an Objective / Objective itself
  • Anti-Tank units (anything left at this point)
  • Targets of opportunity.


Of course, some games may require you to adjust this. As most of you would be aware off, most games last 6 turns, but there are some that can only go for about 4 turns, so adjust accordingly to that. My suggestion to you in this situation is that you pay more attention to the objective, as securing Victory points or the objective itself can mean a victory, no matter how many tanks you have lost. Just play it smart, and play it the way its running on the battlefield.

By keeping to these target priorities you are efficiently using your weapons, and witling away any chance the enemy has against destroying your Tanks. You will have to make good judgment when using this as well. Have you hit a tank and effectively disabled it? In that case, you can ignore it, the same goes for anything, if you can make it flee, or, disable it in anyway, you can effectively move on. This is about reducing the threats in your opponents next shooting phase. If you believe you have done that, move on to the next target. Don't panic if you don't get the chance to shoot at everything you would have hoped to, as long as you stay in formation, and have reduced their Anti-tank abilities in some ways, you should be fine.
 
PICKING THE RIGHT WEAPON FOR THE JOB

Sometimes, a Battle Cannon just isn't the right weapon for the job. I know that borders on near blasphemy in an Armoured Company, but sadly its true. And sometimes, picking the right weapon (or, weapons) could mean the difference between victory, or a lot of dead tanks.
There is no 'definite' list of what weapon should be used against what enemy. This is partly because there are so many circumstances that could be in effect and also partly due to the fact that I'm also incredibly lazy. Seriously however, this primarily just requires a lot of common sense.  

As an example, let's say a Wraithlord is advancing towards your tanks. Now, you could simply 'waste' (note: I say waste, because those tanks are now unavailable to perform any more duties) 3 tanks, and make the Eldar xenos eat Battle Cannon shells.  However, wouldn't the better option be to fire the Hull Lascannon, and 6 heavy bolter shots? You could luck out, and destroy the Wraithlord with that, but more than likely, you have the chance of causing 2 wounds, rather than just 1. Then you can proceed to fire at it with another Leman Russ, hopefully destroying it. Now, instead of using 3 Leman Russ Battle Tanks to take out one Wraithlord, you have only 2. You have now efficiently dealt with something that could have been a very nasty threat to your AC, and you can now add 1 more Battle Cannon shot to your Target Priorities.

Another example is when you are up against an opponent that is very particular about his or her unit spacing. You know the kind I'm talking about, they always ensure that their units are 2' away from each other. With the chance of a Battle Cannon shell scattering and only hitting 2-3 enemy units, hit them with your Main and Defensive weapons, so you can always guarantee 6+ hits, rather than 2-3. Just have a quick think before your fire your weapons, because with the Armoured Company, you have to be extremely efficient. Just use your common sense, and you should be fine.
Also, be mindful that if you move, your shot could scatter 2d6 rather than just the usual 1d6, this again could have an effect on your decision of firing either the Battle Cannon or its Main / Defensive weapons.

A Last Few Reminders
You're outnumbered with an AC. Horribly so. And, with so few units you have to be VERY efficient in what you do. You have to ensure every shot counts, and ensure that in your opponents next phase, his retaliation options towards you are limited. This require plain common sense, and the Target Priorities list. If you can stick to those, you should be able to get through anything, and you will know that you are shooting right.

THE NASTY TWINS, YOUR OTHER OPPONENT

I've made reference to what I call the 'Nasty Twins' several times, because this is what you are constantly fighting against in an AC (other than the enemy), and it's all to do with lady luck. When you plan an AC, you have to remember that the effectiveness of your army relies on chance. Think of this, when an enemy hits and damages your tank, its up to a d6 to decide if your tank is destroyed, or just stunned for a turn. When you shoot your primary weapons, it's up to lady luck again to decide if your shots either hit true, or scatter wildly.

Now, if you follow the advice I've given you, you will hopefully reduce the effect of the Nasty Twins, and increase your chances of an overall victory. Just remember that whenever you bring out your AC, you're actually fighting against 2 opponents; the other army, and lady luck herself. This is because in my opinion, no other army relies so heavily on luck. Sure, in every army you roll dice to see how effective they are, but not for every effect and every weapon you have. I've had games where not a single tank has gone up in flames, but then again, I've also had games where it feels like even an angry bee could destroy my tanks.

A Last Few Reminders
Trust me, you're going to have your good days, and you're going to have your really, really bad days. But, that's what it's all about in an Armoured Company! And as long as you have paid attention to what I have said, you should hopefully reduce the effect that luck has against you, and bring yourself, and the God Emperor victory.

ASSAULT PHASE BLUES

The Assault phase for an Armoured Company can be summed up like this:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Unless you've brought along an Armoured fist squad, sentinels or Storm Troopers (god help you if you have, because I'm not going to help you), this phase means nothing to you. If you are charged in an opponents assault phase, simply move away (if you survive) in your next turn. That's one of the many good things about tanks, they never count as being in combat.

And, by using the Target Priorities, hopefully you've destroyed any Melta-bomb / Chainfist / Powerfist / Haywire grenade dealing squads that can crack through the armor of the Leman Russ before their turn. If a squad with those nasty weapons does manage to get into contact with you, be thankful that they can only hit you on a 4+ (because I'm going to assume you've been moving). If you haven't, prepare for a world of pain as everyone instant-hits you. As you can imagine, if you've let a decked out anti-tank squad slam into you, you're in deep trouble. That's why constantly moving is a very good thing indeed.

A Last Few Reminders
As an AC, you don't have an Assault phase. Simply crack open a can of Pepsi / beer, and wait for your next turn. Also; don't get charged. Honest to god, it's as simple as that.

CONCLUSION

This guide has hopefully taught you all the right things to do in the Deployment, Movement and Shooting phase. Just keep in mind, this is all from personal experience, and what brings you success may be completely different to brings me victories, so experiment. But, I hope if you are just testing the waters of an Armoured Company that this guide, in conjunction with my first guide can help bring you victory no matter where you play, and what you play against.

May the Emperors light shine on you always, and may your tanks roll over many enemy's heads.
-Colonel Goyder.

Coming soon: Colonel Goyder's guide to the weapon store, military hardware and Tanks of the Armoured Company, and what is the most inexpensive and resourceful choices for you to broaden your likelihood of victory over the enemies of the Imperium.
Or
The Guide to Tanks, Weapons and Equipment that You Can Use to Kick Butt


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