Thursday, June 2, 2011

Deep Strike Placement

Deciding exactly where to drop deep strikers is tricky. Even with Descent of Angels, there’s a significant amount of randomness is where the squad will land. There are two main concerns when determining where to deep strike: how far the squad can scatter and what you need the squad to do.

The first concern is pretty easy to understand. If the squad has a jump pack, it will only scatter D6”, while I squad without will scatter 2D6”.  Obviously, this allows you to be much more aggressive when deep striking jump packers.

The second concern is the role of the squad. It’s important to note that this takes the squad’s speed into account. For example, if I plan on dropping an Assault squad and using it to assault next turn, I need it to land within 18” of where I expect their target to be next turn. However, if I want to drop Terminators for the same purpose, they have to land within 12” of their target. This combines a more dangerous drop with increased scatter, creating a risky but still tenable situation.

The most common situations I face when deep striking are dropping jump squads to assault, dropping infantry squads to assault, and dropping jump squads to destroy tanks, so I’ll cover these in more detail.

Jump squads that intend to assault can usually land anywhere within 18” of their target (or more specifically, where their target will be next turn). Their average scatter will be about 4”, so I will try to place them about 14” from their target. This means that they will only scatter out of range if they scatter 5” or 6” directly away from their target, which isn’t very likely at all. If you are more concerned about being charged than getting the charge, try to deep strike about 18” from the target. Only the very worst rolls will result in you scattering into charge range of infantry.  Due to the mobility of jump infantry, placement in these cases is the least critical of those I’ll discuss here. Try to drop in safe areas that provide your squad with cover and keep them away from difficult terrain. Vanguard Veterans are a special case, because they need to be dropped within 6” of their target. Fortunately, this is the same situation facing deep striking meltaguns, so they’ll be discussed together.

Infantry squads that intend to assault (usually Assault Terminators in my case) have to be dropped much more aggressively. They don’t move particularly fast, so a very conservative drop may mean that they don’t reach assault for 2 or 3 more turns. However, they will scatter 2D6”, so dropping them aggressively is dangerous. I usually try to drop them around 10” away from their target or any other enemy units. This keeps them pretty safe from scattering onto enemy models while still putting them in position as long as they scatter toward the enemy or lateral to the enemy. It’s worth noting that my deep strikes with these squads become more aggressive as the game goes on. The method above is for when the squad arrives on the second or third turn. However, if they stay off the board for until the fourth or fifth, you need to be much more aggressive if you want the squad to have any effect on the battle. In these cases, I will often drop them within 7” of the enemy, greatly increases the chances of a mishap but also meaning that the enemy can do little to avoid them.

Tank hunting squads with meltaguns as well as Vanguard Veterans need to land within 6” of their targets in order to fulfill their role. Even with Descent of Angels, this is a dicey proposition. I’ve settled on 4” as the best distance between the squad and the target. This is a tradeoff between the danger of a mishap and the danger of landing out of range. It takes a 4+” scatter away from the target to leave the squad out of range, while it also takes a 4+” scatter towards the target to result in a mishap. Assuming you can only scatter directly toward or away from the target, this means that 50% of your attempts would leave you in good position, while 25% would result in mishaps and 25% would leave you out of range. However, you can also deviate laterally, which will have very little real effect. This means that the squad will land in position in the vast majority of cases.

Those of you that are particularly observant will have noticed that some of the numbers I mention don’t work when you’re only dropping a single model. However, the deep striking rules can leave you a lot of flexibility in distances based on how you place the squad members. This post is already too long, so that will have to wait until my next post.

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