Monday, 2 September 2013

Strategy Ramblings - Chaos Marines Vs The Screamer Brick

Well, if this is indeed the restart of regular posting that was a very short hiatus indeed. It occured to me at work that rather than thinking up new ramblings, or shoe-horning myself into a corner making me write posts about certain topics, I should just write about whatever pops into my head whilst I'm working. One of the biggest problems in my game is my strategy. I'm pleased with my tactical play after Invasion where we demolished our way through the tournament with a pretty poor list combination, but when you're getting into the larger tournaments to succeed you need to make that step into strategy, and that's been something that I've been attempting to do.

I've been uming and ahing a lot recently regarding my list choice for tournaments for the rest of the year. Recently I've been thinking about a Wolves Jaws bomb / blob hybrid. Good for Daemons, good for Tau. However how would my Chaos list fare against the flavour of the month? Welcome my friends, to my mind. Here is a picture of some head bookends, giving an accurate description of what goes on inside my head.

So, setting the scene of what my Chaos list is and what I will be working against here. It is essentially 2 nasty beatstick Khorne Lords, with 8 Chaos Marines with a Meltagun in a Land Raider each. 2 squads of 4 Spawn, and a Heldrake. Plus 10 Cultists. That's about it. Here's what I'm going up against. 3 Heralds on Discs, Fateweaver, 2 big squads of Hounds, 2 squads of Plaguebearers, Portalglyph and Grimoire on the Heralds, and that's about it.

The main problem that I'll have when facing this list is obviously the Screamers. I can't shift them, and their speed puts even my army to shame. So the first thing on my agenda really is to deal with them. If I get the first turn, obviously I can't charge them and I suck at shooting so it's not going to happen. If I don't get the first turn, my opponent is able to get the Grimoire up for probably a 2++/re-roll save. So no shifting them there either. In essence, I'm not going to kill them.

Therefore, I am left with the option of tying them up. The Chaos Spawn fulfill this role very well. Either the Screamers take their normal attacks wounding on 6s, or take their Lamprey's attacks wounding on 5 but with fewer attacks. The Spawn in total also have 24 wounds and the possibility for a 4+ armour save in assault.

The problem that I'm then left with is actually getting into close combat with the Screamers. They are so much faster than me it's not even funny, plus, they can kick out a crap load of shots if they need to which can down the Spawn.

Focussing on the second problem first, I am going to need to keep the Spawn alive. I can do this pretty well by using the Land Raiders as shields. This also works well for the Spawn in terms of keeping them useful as well as alive. One of my friends has a nifty little trick of surrounding Land Raiders with his Khorne Hounds, the passengers then can't get out, so the Land Raider tank shocks out of the way, but then because it's tank shocked, the passengers can't disembark, and the Hounds catch up with the Land Raider and surround it again.

By using the Land Raiders as shields, I can use the Spawn to cover one of the side doors, meaning that should an opponent attempt to surround the Land Raider, I can still jump the Marines out and go to town. If a Land Raider is ever fully surrounded, then I'll have to charge the Spawn into the Hounds to try to pull them off the doors, then jump the Marines out to bail out the Spawn who now themselves are tied up, by which point my opponent has an entire turn, maybe even 2, to do whatever they want with the Screamers and other squad of Hounds. So basically game.

To the secondary point, i.e. how to actually get the Spawn into combat with the Screamers, it depends completely on the mission and my opponent. Regardless of mission, and undisciplined opponent may come straight for me. It would be a terrible mistake but then when you have most of your army unable to do much due to being in a stand off with 8 Chaos Spawn, it may be annoying. If they come for me, Spawn charge (or are charged as the Screamers can't touch the Raiders), Raiders scatter, chop up the Hounds if necessary, eliminate Troops and jump objectives if required, easy peasy. If my opponent doesn't come for me, then the metaphorical flow chart descends even further, and this is where we get into individual missions.

Essentially, the more objectives there are the harder it is for my list. If it is a multiple objective mission like the Scouring, Big Guns or Crusade, then I'm going to struggle. This is because in order to keep the Spawn and Land Raiders effective I have to castle up. The Spawn being protected by the Land Raiders and a threat bubble of tying up is also in turn produced by the Spawn to deter the Screamers. The downside with this is that I can only be in any single place at once.

What I need to do therefore, is use the threat of my units rather than spreading out as a method of creating board control. By this I mean I move my castle into the very centre of the board. I now have 4 units with a 24" charge range (2 of which have fleet and ignore cover) sat in the middle of the board, given the fact that the castle itself has a width, I probably have about a 56" diameter bubble of potential death. Opponents often risk getting within 10-11" due to it being an unlikely charge so let's reduce that to 54" where an opponent is not going to want to go.

If the Troops want to get into that area, they'll get smashed by Marines. So now my opponent needs to get rid of the Marines/Land Raiders. The only way they can do this is by baiting them out of the Land Raiders, and the only way they can do that is by charging them with the Hounds, but then they aren't going to want to do that too early as I could have enough time to eat through them and then move onto the Troops. If they do it late then suddenly I don't have enough time to get through them with just the Marines, so I consolidate the second squad in, leaving the other squads of Hounds to come in too. Now the Spawn need to get in there to try and bail the Marines out, the Screamers are left unattended, and it all gets messy. Essentially, I need my opponent to make a mistake again and charge too early. If they don't, then they can tie me up late on and pounce the objectives, which I will attempt to stack towards the middle as much as I can.

Kill Points is a different proposition. Now it's no longer about objectives, and neither one of us wants to get particularly close to the other. I castle up again. There's not really much my opponent can do apart from try and get pot shots off at my Spawn. However, the problem comes when my Cultists come on, as now my opponent can simply pick on them and there we are, easy kill point. They aren't going to get close to me. I can Heldrake all I like it's not going to help.

Therefore, I need a way of keeping the Cultists safe. They're small models so I would be inclined to try to deploy them with the Spawn in between the Land Raiders. Thus now the Cultists are protected and very difficult to shift. Plus if my opponent wants to get close enough to spray them with the Screamers, then in go the Spawn (2 squads, one should make the charge as the Cultists would be inside the Spawn from the Screamers leaving them a shorter charge), Screamers are shut down. Now I'm free to go after your Troops.

Then you have missions like the Relic. This is a really hard match up for me. If I go first, my opponent Scouts their Hounds onto the Relic so I can't pick it up first turn. If I go second, the exact same thing happens. Lovely. Once my opponent has the Screamer brick on the objective. That's the game. As I can't shift them. The only thing I can do is Tank Shock a Land Raider into them, pushing them off as they automatically move out of the way, and then throw my Spawn onto it (asking my Marines to claim it would just get them killed) and fend off the attacks for as long as I can to at least prevent the Relic from falling into enemy hands. Then I have to attempt Linebreaker and if I can get First Blood that would be golden.

A similar tactic in the Emperor's Will. My opponent won't want to get too close to the Spawn, so I castle up on my objective. Fire a few pot shots, maybe charge some Hounds with Marines if they get too close, go for First Blood, and then draw as my opponent will be free to grab Linebreaker whilst I'll struggle as I need all of the units to hold my objective.

Essentially the game boils down to 3 factors. Luck, List, and Player. Luck is something you can't plan for. However, if you are strategising and the best you can come up with in order to win a game involves your opponent makinga mistake then you know you are up against it in terms of list. The Screamer Brick list is a hard match up for me. But then that's when you need a good strategy.

1 comment:

  1. Just played a game against a screamer army, and well that didn't work. The Screamers ate through all of my Spawn far more quickly than I imagined and by turn 5 they were starting to dominate the board. However, after a brainstorm with my opponent, against that list with this one the best tactic would be to wet myself and hide. So I'm going to just stick with this strategy and pray that I get lucky.