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Mechanized Counter-Assaulting

Submitted By: Algavinn of the Many Paths Date: August 12, 2006, 12:00:00 AM Views: 2828
Summary: Mechanized counter-assaulting, or the elegant Eldar violent hide-and go seek. An article by Algavinn of Biel-Tan -This refers to a previous eldar codex/40K rules set, but could be updated small_furry_spider

Mechanized armies, because of their mobility, tend to be highly versatile forces, able to hold the initiative even after not leaving the DZ by turn three.  Against certain opponents this is ideal and should be utilized.  What I speak of here is the counter-assaulting contingency available to a mechanized Eldar force.  The main opponents I see this as useful against, are those who are going to want to (or need to) advance on you.  It is also useful if they have poor ranged capabilities (mostly an issue of if you want to invest in CTM’s or not).  These armies are largely the Tyranids, Orks, Dark Eldar, and Space Marines.  Not all of these armies or particular commanders of these armies will be assaulting you right away or at all because on the scenario being played and stylistic/strategic reasons, but some of them will want to get into close combat with you, which is where this contingency may come into play.  Note that this is not a full counter-assault guide or tactica, but a basic article on counter-assaulting in a mechanized army.

My general definition of a counter assault army is somewhere in the general vicinity of the middle of, near that oak tree that is on the hill over in ... an army that uses a varying degree of ranged firepower or preemptive strikes to weaken key elements of the opposing army as they advance, and then initiate in close action fighting (CC or shorter ranged weapons) against the enemy.  The vagueness attributes the highly varying amounts that armies’ use ranged fire power and counter assault units, from a static firepower army with a drifting spider squad, to the highly mechanized form that I will speak of shortly.  Anything in this range can be considered to at least have a counter-assaulting element or utility.

So lets say you’re at the bi-monthly ultra-uber tournament of endless bloody glory, and you just pulled an experienced Tyranid player as your first opponent.  Your army is a 1500pt-mechanized Biel-Tan, which despite an abundance of close action specialist squads may not have a chance if you actively seek to get into close combat.  Luckily, despite your opponents flying hive tyrant, and flying gaunts; his army is much less mobile than your own.  You were expecting mostly MEQ opponents, but you thought you might see some IG as well so you included a bit of anti-personnel options as well.  This mixed with bright lances to deal with those pesky tanks, makes an ideal Tyranid killing platform.  This is the list you are running with:

219-(81 )-Farseer-Fortune-Witchblade-Shuriken Pistol-Ghosthelm
      42-Warlock-Enhance-Witchblade-Shuriken Pistol
   42-Warlock-Destructor-Witchblade-Shuriken Pistol
   27-Warlock-Witchblade-Shuriken Pistol
   27-Warlock-Witchblade-Shuriken Pistol

190-Falcon-Starcannon-Holo-field-Spirit Stones

189-Howling Banshees (10)-Exarch-Executioner-Acrobatic
135-Wave Serpent-Bright Lance-Spirit Stones

170-Fire Dragons (10)
135-Wave Serpent-Bright Lance-Spirit Stones

187-Striking Scorpions (10)-Exarch-Scorpions Claw
135-Wave Serpent-Bright Lance-Spirit Stones

70-Vyper-Additional Shuriken Cannon

70-Vyper-Additional Shuriken Cannon


So now here is how you use this mechanized Biel-Tan army, which was built for aggressive offensives, into a counter-assault army that is going to hang back and take its time.  Against many other opponents this is useful to do for a turn or two, as well, to use CTM to down enemy tanks/threatening units, or to allow enemies to move onto objectives so you can use your mobility to move directly onto them and take the objective without having to get shot at.  But in our example you’re going to stay close to home.

To start, your transports holding your banshees scorpions and seers may decide to move up to 12” to place them cover somewhere in the line of your enemies advance (hopefully somewhat close to each other, or in a denied flank setup).  Your goal in this particular example would be to have the banshees go for the genestealers, seers go for monstrous creatures, and scorpions go for the gaunts, but this is irrelevant.  Whilst dropping your infantry your bright lances target the juiciest of your opponents monstrous creatures (i.e.; synapse creatures) to try to straight out stop the advance, and make it much easier for you when you do meet in close combat.

Your Vypers are going to move up one flank or another, and stay at maximum range from your target each turn while weakening the enemy unit of your choice, genestealers, warriors, and other monstrous creatures typically being a good option.

So now it has been three turns and you have managed to kill the enemies hive tyrant, and several gene stealers.  His forces are enveloping your bubble of deployed CC units, which will now either be assaulted whilst in cover, or bound out to gain the charge.  Your fire dragons are unloaded in a fish of fury style in an attempt to melt the opposing Tyranid warrior unit, and your Vypers continue hunting stray genestealers, Zoanthropes, etc.

This was a bit of a lengthy example, but one I felt would most aptly illustrate the counter attack style of a mechanized and mobile force, even if in the above you still face 50 gaunts.  In most mechanized forces we find excellent gunboats in the Waveserpent and Falcon, as well as good support in units like the Vyper, and squads of hawks and spiders.  With these enemy monstrous creatures (Tyranids), transports (Marines, Dark Eldar, Orks), and other targets of choice are destroyed or weakened while your opponent has little recourse but to either continue advancing, or remain in their own DZ zone, which allows you to maintain the initiative and work towards objectives.  In the case of opponents moving through heavy terrain, you have the mobility to flank these positions, or just backpedal long enough to get them down to the numbers you are comfortable with assaulting.  Against faster opponents you may focus on one transport at a time, or transports carrying more dangerous cargo (such as fire dragons) and keep your own units embarked so that anything that is offloaded or falls out of a destroyed vehicle is little threat to you.  Of course luck, scenario, and other variables may make this impossible, or challenging, but the point of this tid-bit is to say that this option is here.

The idea is to hang back and worry down your opponents as long as you can, possibly moving away from their advance until you feel they are weak enough to be easy for you, and then striking all at once across the board with the correct unit for each opposing enemy.  This is a basic principle, but one that many mechanized players appear to overlook as they are compelled to rely on target saturation and rush a full 24” forward towards whatever opponent lays in waiting on the other side of those ruins.  It may be something that sounds painfully obvious, but keep it in the back of your mind; it’s a useful part of any mechanized repertoire.  Biel-Tan is wonderfully suited for this as they can maintain the initiative from any area of the battlefield and have such wonderful units to deal with their specific needs.  But every kind of Eldar mechanized force is fully capable of a counter-assaulting option such as this.  Iyandan is able to use the strong and tough wraithguard and wraithlords to deliver a finishing blow to those who finally reach them, or function as FoF units to take out sections and flanks of an advancing enemy.  Iyandan may do better with larger amounts of ranged firepower as they lack the number of close combat units that Biel-Tan may host.  Ulthwe are found to have units of storm guardians to aide, platforms and defenders fire on advancing opponents.  Alaitoc tends to have a different kind of counter-assault army that uses a large number of rangers and pathfinders to slow down their opponent by disruption table rolls and pinning.  This along with their harassment units slow down their opponents more than most Eldar armies will.  Sam-hann is also different, but because they have a very low selection of close combat units.  By selectively showing their vehicles, and concentrating their fire to eliminate the enemy, they may backpedal until the enemy is destroyed.

All mechanized forces can execute the style that I have described above, by using a combination of (not necessarily requiring all of them) the units I mentioned before; Harassment units, Ranged units, and Counter-Assault units.  I apologize if I repeat myself with any of this, but I wish to get the mechanics down here.  

The ranged units do exactly what they seem to.  These units contribute large amounts of damage to the advancing enemy, forcing them to slow by moving through terrain, or suffering heavy casualties.  These, in a mechanized force, are typically your Waveserpents, Falcons, and at times your Vypers.  Against more than half of the opponents you would be using this technique against you face weak return ranged fire (Tyranids, Orks, etc) so being within LoS is not a big deal.  When you face other opponents, such as Rhino rushing Blood Angels, DE, or similar, CTM’s or saturated fire (making sure only your target(s) can see the units you move out of LoS, so that by the end of your shooting phase you do not face a significant risk) is the prescribed vehicle of delivery.

Harassment units are among your most useful.  They are mobile units that can get to the side/back of vehicles, or to particularly threatening units and heavily wound or destroy them, before they get to be used against you.  The key goal here is not just target removal, but slowing down the advance of your opponents overall.  This falls into pinning opponents, causing morale checks from firing damage, blocking an advance with the burned out hulk of a tank, taking down transports, or convincing your opponent it is not a complete waste of time to chase a fast moving vehicle around the field for a couple of turns.  This will be compounded on bellow.  Harassment units are often made up of Vypers, Swooping Hawks, Warp Spiders, FoF transports and jetbike units.  These are all highly mobile, and many are quite hard hitting.

Counter Assault units are the bread and butter of your army.  You don’t have to depend on them, especially if your army is fast enough to just fly circles around your enemy all day until they drop dead, but to fully carry out a counter-assault technique you have to have a strong enough counter assault force to convince the enemy that they should advance upon it, but not so strong that it should be avoided.  Most assault based armies will be forced to advance on them anyway, as they won’t be catching your skimmers anytime soon.  These units are your Shuriken Catapult wielders, seers, and close combat aspects.  This is often the killing blow, though other times we see this as merely a lure for opposing armies, who realize after finishing the counter-assault element, they are severely weakened and still have no chance of catching your skimmers.

So these are the three main parts of counter-assault armies overall, mechanized and non-mechanized alike.  As a mechanized counter-assault army you have extra battlefield goals you must meet to keep yourself going.  These come down to 1: Preserving your mobility.  2: Removing your opponent’s mobility.  These are in addition to the typical requirements of a counter-assault army, such as slowing down the enemy, overall weakening his forces, minimizing casualties, etc.

Preserving your own mobility is your most important goal, as once your opponent can chase you down, he can defeat you.  Keeping your mobility makes you the perpetual death machine.  Also you maintain the initiative.  You could whittle down the enemies forces until they are one turn away from charging your counter-assault forces, and you could whisk in, load up your troops, and move them to the objectives, or your opponents DZ, and make them do it again if you are not quite ready to get close to your enemy.  Part of maintaining ones mobility is using harassment and ranged fire power units to destroy enemy anti-tank weapons (Autocannons and above).  If your enemy doesn’t have any strength six or above ranged weapons left, then you will never be destroyed.

Destroying the enemies’ mobility keeps your harassment units in the black, as opposed to loosing that 200pt Warp Spider squad to an FoF transport.  Also in many armies that will be rushing you, this is where their ranged fire power will be; Space Marine tanks, Dark Eldar transports, etc.  The biggest benefit to destroying opposing mobility, though, tends to be how much longer it takes them to get to your counter-assault units, each extra turn giving you many more kills.

So there is the overall brake down on the mechanized counter-assault army.  There is much variation from army to army that executes this maneuver, especially against the different armies in Warhammer 40,000.  The main points to remember are to move together and take down opposing threats to mobility, remove your opponents mobility and do whatever you can to slow their advance, and to have fun and enjoy the game.

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