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Goyder's Armoured Company Tactics Volume 3

Submitted By: Goyder Date: May 10, 2006, 12:00:00 AM Views: 3005
Summary: Volume 3 on how to gather an Armoured Company


We’re almost done, but we’re not quite finished yet. The other two Armoured Company tacticas were rather simple guides designed to ease you, the player, into an Armoured Company. But now it’s time to get down and dirty, as the next two will be looking into each available upgrade for tanks to boost their abilities. This way, you will hopefully learn what is best for your Armoured Company and learn how to wield the Emperor’s holy armoured wrath in more deadly ways than before.

Please remember, this isn’t going to be an “If you don’t do it this way, you’ll lose” kind of guide (except when I talk about sponsons!). Everybody has different ways of playing the game, and this is just a guide; a stepping stone of sorts. I’m not going to go into super detail explaining everything, because I believe the fun in the game is learning from your mistakes and slowly but surely becoming a better wargamer. You may find what I say in this guide doesn’t work for you. You may decide that ol’ Goyder is bloody stupid for wanting you to have sponsons on all your tanks, that’s great! (Just don’t tell me that, because I swear on everything I hold dear, I will find out where you live, and I will super glue sponsons onto your face). Change your weapon load out; play around with your vehicle upgrades until you find something that works for you. I don’t want you to be bound to what I write. I just want to give you a helping hand, so you have something to start from and an understanding of what everything does. It’s up to you to decide where to go from there.

And now we shall move away from the sentiment (because a sentimental Goyder is a scary Goyder), and get to the real point of all this. And here it is;

Marshal Goyder’s guide to the weapon store and military hardware of the Armoured Company, and what the most inexpensive and resourceful choices are for you to broaden your likelihood of victory over the enemies of the Imperium.

Or; The guide to the upgradeable weapons and equipment that you can use to kick butt.

Weapon Upgrades
Throughout my Armoured Company Tactica Vol. I, I chanted the mantra “keep it cheap”. And I still and always will stand by that. The Leman Russ and her variants don’t need upgrades to be effective; they already are extremely effective and deadly as it is. However, there are always certain situations that call for upgrades, such as terrain heavy boards, horde armies or just because you bloody well feel like it. All you have to remember is to keep such upgrades down to a minimum. But I’ve already been through this, and I hope that you have learnt this by now.

Hull-mounted weapons
Most Leman Russ variants must have a hull-mounted weapon. Now, there are only two choices for the hull-mounted weapon: the infamous lascannon and the reliable heavy bolter. Both choices are extremely good, and can make a Leman Russ that much more dangerous. I don’t believe one weapon is better than the other. Both have their uses, but you have to have balance. There is no point in taking nothing but hull-mounted lascannons when you’re coming up against a horde army. I recommend a ratio of at least 1:2 lascannons to heavy bolters. Meaning that in an Armoured Company with 12 tanks, 4 of them will have lascannons and the rest will have heavy bolters. However, this isn’t a set limit, and you should play around to find the right mix for you before you glue them in.

The hull-mounted lascannon
Naturally, this hull-mounted weapon is great for putting the damage down on enemy tanks and the typical large beasts. The lascannon works rather well when paired with heavy bolter sponsons. This allows the tank to move 6”, and dish out a large amount of firepower and a heavy hitting punch. It’s particularly useful against large enemies like Wraithlords, as it forces them to take several saves, plus one instant wound (hopefully!) . This is also a far more efficient way of dealing with that sort of target than firing several battle cannon shots at it. Unfortunately, fitting a lascannon to the hull of a Leman Russ can be rather expensive, which is why it’s best to have more heavy bolter hull weapons than lascannons.

The hull-mounted heavy bolter
This is the cheapest hull-mounted weapon choice you can get, and it’s fantastic for anti-horde tanks, allowing them to put down a ferocious hail of firepower onto an enemy squad. Because they count as defensive weapons, you can fire them along with your main weapon. This is why they are so fantastic while on the move, as it allows you to move your tank 6", and let fly with 9 shots, which is very, very nasty indeed. Many players love going for the heavy bolter because it is so very, very cheap. While this is incredibly useful in itself, you still have to remember that you need to have some balance, and you still need a few lascannons.

Sponson weaponry
Sponsons, in my opinion are not an “upgrade” for a tank in an Armoured Company; they are a necessity.  To create maximum efficiency for your AC in terms of firepower, tanks need to have sponsons, as discussed in ACT Vol. II.  Not only does this allow for enhanced firing efficiency, it also allows your tanks to keep biting when they have lost their main cannons. This is a must in an Armoured Company where losing one battle cannon can mean losing almost 10% of your firepower! Obviously, that’s not a good thing at all, so taking sponsons will in effect ensure your Armoured Company has a large amount of firepower. Most sponson choices (except for the exotic Leman Russ Demolisher choices) count as “defensive” weapons, and thus are extremely useful for tanks on the move and for efficient firepower allocation. Or, in layman’s terms, makes the tank good at blowing stuff up, no matter what.

Sponson heavy bolters
This is by far the most commonly used sponson choice for any Leman Russ variant, and really, you can’t wrong with the heavy bolter. It is by far the best sponson choice as it complements any hull weapon (and indeed, any non-ordnance main weapon). This is because they count as defensive weaponry, which allows you to move, fire your hull-mounted weapon AND your sponsons. This of course allows for continuous firepower on the move. They’re also good when you don’t feel you can trust the scatter dice gods. They also allow you to be rather flexible, as they can harm light tanks, scary beasties and the large infantry horde.

Sponson heavy flamers
This is a sponson choice you rarely see, and it’s also very hard to recommend it. While burning vast amounts of thy Emperor’s foes in the cleansing fires of promethium sounds like a good idea, in reality, it just doesn’t work that well. Having a flamer weapon means you have to be around 8” of the enemy to use it. I don’t know about you, but having tanks that close to the enemy gives me the chills. Especially if it’s well equipped infantry which can tear your tanks apart in the following assault phase. However, if you’re an aggressive player and love rushing towards the enemy, then having a few tanks equipped with heavy flamers may not be a bad idea. Just don’t go overboard with them. However, they can be rather useful with the doctrine “Ace Sponson Gunners” . (note: I will discuss doctrines in ACT Vol. IV, as I feel they need a separate tactica).

Sponson plasma cannons
Please note: This sponson weapon is only available to the Demolisher unless the “Special Equipment – Improved Sponsons” doctrine is taken.

The plasma cannon is a very, very nasty piece of weaponry. It is the ultimate anti-MEQ (Marine EQuivalent) weapon you can put on the tank bar the tank’s main cannon. With a decent range and no chance of overheating, it’s very good against almost anything big, ugly, tough or scary. The downside is that it counts as a main weapon, meaning you can only fire both your sponsons and hull weapon (I’ll assume the Demolisher Cannon is out of range) if you remain stationary. But even if you move you can still fire one shot, and if you’re firing this baby at the right targets, it’ll make its points back rather easily.

Sponson multi-meltas
Please note: This sponson weapon is only available to the Demolisher unless the “Special Equipment – Improved Sponsons” doctrine is taken.

Another very rarely used sponson weapon, but very effective none the less. And just like the plasma cannon, it allows the Leman Russ Demolisher to specialise in a particular field of pain, making it one of the ultimate anti-tank vehicles any race can field. But why bother, as the multi-melta has the range of the Demolisher cannon? Well, as discussed above and in ACT Vol. II, you need to have efficient firepower. And if the Demolisher cannon is destroyed, sponson multi-meltas allow this tank to fulfil its given role to the very bitter end. It is most definitely not for everyone, but at least give the multi-melta a shot.

Optional Defensive/Offensive Upgrades
Optional equipment includes such vehicle upgrades like the hunter-killer missile, heavy stubber and rough terrain modifications. All of them have their uses, but they are not for everyone; and you do not need every upgrade. “Keeping it cheap” (yes, I plan to have that drummed into your head by the time this is all done) is the key here, so it’s best to pick the one upgrade you feel you need the most. Plan ahead when you give your tanks optional equipment. In City Fight battles for example, your tanks would do well with the rough terrain modification. In games where capturing the objective is essential, extra armour and track guards will assist you in keeping your tanks moving. Just remember my little saying while you upgrade your tanks however:

“It takes 5 of your tanks to destroy one of ours, but the problem is that you always bring 6 tanks!”
                              -Captured Eldar pirate

What I’m trying to say is, the more tanks you have, the better. A tank, no matter how many fancy gadgets and gizmos you give it, can still be destroyed by a lowly bolt pistol. As long as you plan ahead, and keep it cheap (and have plenty of tanks) you cannot go wrong.

Armoured crew compartment
You really shouldn’t be worrying about this upgrade as the only vehicles that benefit from it have a very low AV, and you really shouldn’t have many of them for reasons discussed in ACT Vol. I and II. Besides, if the enemy have one of our light tanks in their sights, it’s probably not going to last very long anyway. The upgrade itself is also extremely expensive, making it very restrictive.

Camo netting
Camo netting is a game type restrictive upgrade. You will only need to purchase this in missions with the Hidden Set-up rules, as it has no use beyond that. In missions where Hidden Set-up is used it is very worthwhile, primarily because it is extremely cheap and the ability to hide your tanks in the ‘open’ makes set-up a hell of a lot easier.

Mine sweeper
Another game type restrictive upgrade, only really useful in games where you have minefields. But even then, minefields are used very rarely (I have found that to be the case anyway) so in my opinion, it is not exactly worth it. If you play against Space Marine players who love using the Whirlwind with the Castellan missiles, it may be worth looking at.

Extra armour
A decently priced upgrade that is rather useful in most gaming scenarios. This upgrade downgrades the effects of ‘Crew stunned’ results to ‘Crew shaken’, which can allow your tank to keep moving towards the objective. This upgrade is rather good to have even if you’re not playing for an objective, because it can still allow your tank to hightail it out of L.O.S or into terrain for some Hull-Down goodness after taking a hit.

Hunter-killer missile
This upgrade goes against my “keep it cheap” motto. You may be confused, and looking at it and saying; “But, its only 10pts!” but be aware, for the hunter-killer missile to be effective, you need to have them on at least 5 tanks. Like every weapon in the Imperial Guard, you don’t just bring one to the battle, you bring a hundred. The same principle applies here (just not in numbers as big), and to ensure the H-K missile has any chance of destroying a tank, or doing any kind of real damage at all, you need to bring them in decent numbers. You may get lucky with just one, but you probably won’t, so it’s better to play it safe and just bring another battle cannon into the fray.

Improved comms
You receive this upgrade for free with your Command tank, and it’s very useful to have indeed. This will allow you to re-roll one Reserve roll per turn, and to re-roll to see if something has been hit by preliminary bombardment (note: You get to re-roll every dice for preliminary bombardment). This is very handy on its own. I don’t recommend getting a second Command tank to get two of these, but it can be useful in 2000pts+ games.

Pintle storm bolter/heavy stubber
This upgrade works extremely well with anti-infantry tanks such as the Leman Russ Exterminator (which can let loose with 14 shots at 36” with the heavy stubber!) and the Conqueror. Other tanks do not benefit as much from these offensive upgrades, because they are generally firing at larger targets. These upgrades do start to get expensive at 10+pts, and equipping all of your tanks with these (plus other upgrades) could mean losing out on more tanks in your army. As long as you use it sparingly, it’s not a bad deal at all, and I personally try and give this upgrade to a few of my tanks.

Rough terrain modification
This upgrade is very dependent on your style of play, which could make this a ‘base’ (like sponsons) upgrade or a game type restrictive upgrade. Either way, it allows you to re-roll those Dangerous Terrain tests, which could mean the difference between a Leman Russ stuck in mud, and it still rolling onwards towards victory. Some people don’t mind creating immobile “Russ Bunkers” (a tank that has been immobilised, but still has a full weapon complement), but some people love to keep their tanks moving. Find out what suits your style of play best, and go from there. However, most missions require you to capture an objective, so it could be worthwhile to ensure that at least a few tanks can always keep moving, no matter what they drive through.

A very cheap game type restrictive upgrade, as it only has any kind of use in games where ‘night fighting’ is taking place. However, when you take your Armoured Company into a tournament, I strongly recommend this upgrade (because you sometimes never know what they may throw in), this ensures that your tanks can hit the enemy from turn one with a very small 10pts+ (for the entire army) investment.

Smoke launchers
Smoke launchers are a reasonably cheap upgrade that can prolong the life of your tank, but they are certainly not for everyone. I personally do not use them in my 2000pts Armoured Company because I prefer all my tanks to be firing every turn. Tanks with smoke launchers however can make great objective retrievers, as they can rush to an objective and pop their smoke screens, making them very difficult to destroy. Or, you charge forward in the first turn, and use the smoke launchers. But in the end, it definitely boils down to the way you like to play.

Track guards
I feel that these are a game type restrictive upgrade. You truly only need them for missions where moving is paramount to victory. Track guards give you a 50% chance  to change an ‘Immobilised” result to ‘Crew stunned’ (even if you have extra armour) . However, it still means your tank cannot move or shoot next turn. And it may get pinged again as it’s still stuck in the L.O.S of whatever hit it in the first place. Again, if you like to have “Russ Bunkers”, you don’t have to worry too much about these, and most people tend to stay away due to this upgrade only having a 50% chance of working.

As you can see, there are plenty of weapon options and upgrades you can use for your Leman Russes, and all have their different purposes. Some complement each other  while others, well, don’t bother. Hopefully, by reading through this you can work out what you think will be best for your tanks, and you can go from there. Try not to go overboard on the upgrades; don’t grab everything and the kitchen sink as a ‘just in case’ measure, because your Armoured Company will suffer for it in numbers and firepower. If every tank takes just 15pts of optional upgrades in a 2000pts army, you’re missing out on one more Leman Russ. Because no matter what you equip that tank with, it only takes a few lucky dice rolls to send it to that great big tank battle in the sky. So for the love of everything I hold dear and true, keep it cheap!

And remember; don’t take my word as gospel-truth (although flattery will surely take you anywhere you wish to go!) . Try out everything by yourself, and work out what is the best for you, and what suits your army. It's your game, and you’re the one who has to enjoy it.

May your tanks crush many of the Emperor's foes' heads in your advances!

~Marshal Goyder.

Coming soon: Marshal Goyder’s guide to the armoured behemoths of thy Armoured Company, and which armoured beast and her weapons will bring a quick and painful death to the enemies of the Imperium, while taking minimal casualties in return.

Or: The guide to the tanks and the weapons of the Armoured Company, and what will kick the most butt.

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