Saturday, June 25, 2011

Proper Jumper Armies - Leave Your DoA At Home, Kids

This is a discussion I have been involved in basically since Blood Angels dropped. This is going to be a part I post, with a follow-up post to more fully elucidate on my thoughts on jumper armies.

As background, recall back to those awful PDF days. With the advent of True Line of Sight, Jumper armies were kind of given the shaft, due to not ever being able to get completely out of line of sight from the opponent as you tried to get across the board. Combine that with a woefully inadequate amount of melta-weapons (or decent wargear options for the Assault Squads at all, really) and the army just kind of sucked. You got shot to pieces by players with balanced lists like Stelek's original "Best of Space Marines" (this is the classic 3 MM Dread, 3 Dakka Pred, MM Tactical squads in Rhinos, etc). The opponent simply had too much anti-infantry firepower, and you too little defense against it, to survive. Add to that the fact that you had to get your enemy out of their bawkses first, and you were really up a creek. To add insult to injury... you really weren't that scary in close combat.

At that point, if you had asked a Blood Angels player for a "wish list" you probably would have gotten the following:

-Defense against torrents of fire.

So then the codex dropped. OMG Meltaguns everywhere! Even melta pistolas! And Feel No Pain/Furious Charge bubbles! Oh joy!

Problem solved, right? Wrong. Like magpies after a shiny piece of jewelry, Blood Angels were quickly distracted by the new and cool toys in the codex. 6 Dreads! Stormravens! AV 13 walls from hell! I get my own Daemon Prince!!! Descent of Angels!

The first ones were all well and good, of course. Mechanized Blood Angels are certainly a neat and valid army concept. But they didn't really "kill" jumper lists, they just offered an alternative to them. If they were seen as being equally powerful to jumper lists, this wouldn't be a problem, in fact it would be a good thing.

But they aren't seen as equal to jumper lists, they are seen as better.


I argue it is largely due to the last item on the list above, Descent of Angels.

See, many 40k players are looking for GW to indicate to them the "correct" way to play a given army. Jumper players look at the codex, see this amazing Descent of Angels ability that's available to ALL of their jump infantry, and go to this as the default method of arriving on the board.

And they also tend to build the army to support this concept, to a degree. It's not unusual, for example, to see Dante included because of his no scatter ability, accompanying an honor guard of dakka-ness.

I argue that players pursuing this line of thinking hit walls, have bad experiences like this one , and decide that Jumper armies aren't viable. (Please note there are some rules errors in that batrep, he's a new player, a local, and this post is for him primarily).

Let's just dispel that notion right off the bat. Jumpers ARE viable. Just not run in that manner.

Now, as a disclaimer, my thoughts are based largely upon my experience not with a jumpers army (I've faced many but never owned one) but instead upon my significant experience playing an all-biker army out of Codex: Space Marines. That will make more sense as we get into Part II. In addition, I have spent a not inconsiderable amount of time thinking about and discussing this specific topic with some fairly keen minds in the 40k universe, and I am fully convinced in my theory thus far. Part of the reason for this mini-series is to welcome any thoughtful rebuttals.

Please note that the role of Descent of Angels in a hybrid army is, I think, FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT than it's role in an All-Jumpers army. More on that later.

So, to preview what we will go into further depth on next time, a properly run All-Jumpers army:

-Usually wants to go second.

-Starts on the board 95% of the time or so.

-Presents a THREAT of Deep Striking 100% of the time.

-Uses the THREAT of the Deep Strike to control his opponent's deployment.

-Constructs his army to provide Feel No Pain for a large number (50+, probably closer to 60) bodies, which provide mutual cover and protection (and no, I'm not talking about voodoo formations, which are now illegal, thankfully).

-Possesses at least two significant "Shield" units to protect Assault Marines from elite close combat units (which, by the way, Assault Marines are NOT). 

For some of you, the above is probably sufficient for you to build a complete list using my design philosophy. For others, these things may be new and require more explanation. In Part II we will go further in-depth on the specific tools that Blood Angels will use, what elements to include in a list and a basic strategy for success.  

Again, to reiterate, these are my own thoughts on the matter and don't represent any sort of gospel authority. I won't endlessly say "in my opinion," but you can fairly well assume that if I'm saying something, that's my opinion. I won't kill you if you disagree.

Ta ta for now, germs.