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Fighting Marines, a "Non-Pocketbook" Tactica
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Old 22 Jul 2005, 09:05   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 350
Default Fighting Marines, a "Non-Pocketbook" Tactica


Dealing with tough 'n 'ard armies is a fairly common theme on these boards. "How do Tau beat Marines!", "How do Tau beat Necrons?" I've read these threads at length, and gleaned much from them, yet still found that I was forced to adapt to strainge situations and experiment to do well. I want to share both what I've learned, and how I've learned.

I hope to describe tactics for fighting marines that are *not* entirely dependent on how you spend your money.

One can argue "Volume of fire!" versus "Negate saves!" until you're blue in the face, but one may still feel at a loss about *how* to use them once they get there. Unfortunately, 40K isn't a pure game of "rock paper scissors", as paper can still beat scissors, if the pair is being held backwards. (This guide assumes that you are a new player to tabletop wargaming, who knows the rules, but gets frequently reamed by Marines/'Crons.)

This guide may seem very round about, but I'll get there. Bear with me.

The Deal
I bring this concept to the fore: heuristics

Heuristics, put simply, is educated-guess-based problem-solving.

As many people play their first games of 40K, the rate at which they learn is pretty amazing. Like children taking their first steps, or learning a language, they soak in the basics, and rapidly become respectable players. What happens to some players, though, is that this process *severely* tapers off after your first five or six games, and can leave you being frustrated repeatedly by the same tactic over and over again. When I ask for advice on these forums, I try whenever possible, to ask for advice that makes use of what I already have. Why?

If it is at all possible to win or put up a good fight with your existing configuration, it is best to learn how.

I've seen a few players inflate their armies with new models, and rely on the crutch of pre-planned schemes and the raw power of numeric efficiency.

I'll use myself as an example: I buy a new crisis suit and a squad of fire warriors. I learn that it is clever to take a Shas'El instead of a Shas'O. A friend tells me that "grenades suck", so I takes no special equipment for my firewarrior squads. I now have a marked increase in firepower, taken in the most efficient way possible. My army is better, yet I fooled myself into thinking I was truly better off for it!

Army strength is just the beginning

You must learn to learn more. When your mind ceases to see new options, you must find and explore them in a logical manner. You want to ingrain basic probabilities into your head, so that even extreme rolls are not supprises. You want your battleplan to account for both eventualities. Yes, freak occurences happen. Yes, you can begrudge your sixth hammerhead miss in a row... But after a while, you'll learn to accept chance for what it is, and account for it as well as possible.

Knowing your units

This is stuff you'll find *plenty* of information on in these forums, yet I figured I'd recap with some numbers:

A squad of 20 kroot carnivores will, on average, kill 1 or 2 marines at long range, leaning towards 2 marines
A squad of 20 kroot carnivores will, on average, kill 3 or 4 marines at rapid-fire range, leaning towards 3 marines.
A squad of 12 fire warriors will, on average, kill 1 or 2 marines at long range, leaning towards 1 marine.
A squad of 12 fire warriors will, on average, kill 2 or 3 marines at rapid fire range, leaning towards 3 marines.
A squad of 6 stealth suits will, on average, kill 2 marines, at range.
A fire-knife (elite) suit will, on average, kill 0 to 1 marines, at long range, leaning towards 1 marine.
A fire-knife (elite) suit will, on average, kill 1 to 2 marines, at rapid fire range, leaning towards 1 marine.
A TL Plas fire-knife (elite) suit will, on average, kill 0 to 1 marines, at long range, leaning heavily towards 1 marine.
A TL Plas fire-knife (elite) suit will, on average, kill 1 to 2 marines, at rapid fire range, leaning heavily towards 2 marines.

A submunitions template, over 6 marines will, on average, kill 1 to 2 marines, leaning heavily towards 1 marine.
This submunitions plate has a 66% chance of hitting to begin with.

Before you even move your pieces to fire, you want to have a general impression of what you can expect, in your mind. This is part of the hard earned knowledge of a 40K vetran. You can get a jump start on it by seeking to actively understand it through experience. Curse your luck, but compare it to the base line. Kick some butt, but wonder what you would do if you didn't. This helped me get better. Maybe it'll help you.

Disclaimer: 40K is a FUN beer-and-peanuts kind of game, too. There's a time for study, and there's a time for zerging terminators with guardsmen. I might sound a bit intense, but I'm just trying to be a little motivating. I vege out all the time. Nothing like asking someone if their tank is hull down, three times in a row...

Building the knowlege into your play:

You don't have to memorize the numbers I gave above, but I hope you begin to understand: Even though our guns rock, there are a LOT of other factors out of our control, that prevents the blood from flowing. I've neglected to include cover saves in my calculations, as well. You must learn to curb your expectations, and realize a few things:

Marine infantry units are realatively easy to bring to half strength. Concentrated fire will easily knock off 4 or 5 marines. It might *seem* horrendously wasteful to concentrate fire, but that move can potentially knock out the *entire* mission value of the squad (Alpha games), and limit their options in gamma and omega games. Yes, they're still there, and they can still fight. But with a mobile force under the right conditions, it might be *preferable* to "de-claw and neuter" multiple squads.

There ARE less of them. Yes, some marine players like to cheese out on infantry because of their durability, but if your opponent wants to add flexibility and mission-viability to their squad, they *will* need to take a few vehicles and elites. Those choices will bite into what they can field.

In addition to focusing on the mission objectives, keep in mind your opponent's focus on his. That 60 tactical marine footslogging army is going to have one *hell* of a time fighting alpha recon games.

Keep your cool. Focus on certain corridors of fire. Be willing to tactically "cede" one flank, to crush another, and then swing back to halt the other advance. Unit placement is key. Mech Tau is highly advocated for a reason! It isn't all about jump-shoot jump. That's only one piece to the puzzle. You must integrate your performance expectations with your movement! This is something that you will learn. But you will learn it faster if you take care to observe results.

Do not let yourself fall into the psychological trap of putting undue emphasis on bad experiences. Probability *does* average out. It's just that people are usually too angry or frustrated to pay attention or appreciate it when things finally go their way!

Though it's important to plan for the worst case scenario, it can be just as important to plan on doing *too well*. Imagine you have a squad and a hammerhead pointed at the same thing, and they can't see anything else. The first squad eliminates their target, your hammerhead has lost a bit of its tempo, and has to find something else worth doing.

Now imagine you have a squad and a hammerhead pointed at the same thing, yet the hammerhead has a corridor of fire to two targets. Should the first squad eliminate the initial target, you can keep at a brisk pace, putting pressure on the enemy.

Some Guidelines I Use

I know it kind of stinks. Here I am, writing a tactica telling people to "learn the game yourselves!", but honestly, I'd rather see people experiment and find their niche, then force them into mine. Here are some basic tricks I use for fighting marines. Plus a few tricks for fighting Necrons. Cause I'm nice like that.

1. Focus your fire. Just do it. Know how many marines you can expect to kill by probability, and direct that many guns at your priority target, if at all possible, +50% more.

Example: The assault marine squad must die! It's a 10 man, and it threatens you with assault next turn. He's assaulting a fairly isolated firebase of 12 fire warriors. You've been expecting something like this, so have a pair of fishes mounted and ready for quick response. The static firewarriors are at long range, and will kill 1 (pessimistic estimate) marine. You can't exactly "Fish of Fury" (They are jump marines, and could assault. Yet, you still want to move the firepower there. You shunt in 2 squads, and have them rapid fire. 6 more marines bite it. This means you still need 3 more marines worth of fire-power to do the trick on average. You've got a lot riding on this, so you'd better call in some insurance. 2 TL Plas Fire-Knife suits jump in and unload as well. 3 more marines bite it (Lets say one got to rapid fire, one didn't). You've also kept some kroot nearby, to act as a counter assault unit. They move in and rapid fire. 13 marines down on average. Yes. That's how much fire it takes to wipe out a 10 man assault squad in 1 turn. Yes, there are consequences of focusing this much fire.

Necrons: Doubly important. If at all possible, you want to drop a whole unit in a single turn. Thankfully, if your board has a respectable ammount of terrain, you *should* be able to focus on one flank, without fear of reprisal from the other. The necrons are (generally) slow, so take advantage of this. Watch out for ressurection orbs. More below.

2. Try and make sure that 75% of those units firing have a good back-up target.

Taking the previous example, the situation is fairly clear. You are comitting 2 mobile squads to the elimination of these assault marines, but chances are, if the enemy player is worth his salt, he will have them supported. If you destroy the assault squad, any remaining unfired units should aim for this support. But considering that those crisis suits are probably running middle/backfield roles, they might ONLY be able to see the assault squad. These units with limited target selection should shoot first.

3. Cheese out line of sight. Deliberably blocking off a wedge of fire can let you "snipe" models at the ends of formations. Useful against Dev squads that place their heavy weapons where they can see the most, and for people who like to join their ICs to units and place them in front for their charge. Saturating a chaplain and 2 tactical/assault troops with 18 burst cannon rounds, a few plasma shots, and whatever goodies you can spare, can really take the teeth out of their squad.

Necrons: This line of sight trick can be specifically useful when trying to deny "we'll be backs" to devastators. If an entire squad dies, they don't get back up. *But*, if the enemy has a resurection orb, AND another unit of the same type is within 6 inches, they'll get their shot at it anyway. Snipe the "trailing edge" devastators with saturating fire, and try to carve a "gulf" of dead nectrons between squads. If you totally wipe out one squad, and snipe a few choice units in another squad, you can deny the necron player a LOT of we'll be backs.

Sorry if there are any innacuracies. Point them out and I'll happily correct them. I'll also point out again that I'm still learning too. So my words aren't gospel. I've been trying to stay observant throughout my games, and I think it has paid off. Take what you can from this, but above all else, remain observant in your own games. It'll help a ton!

Thanks for reading.


EDIT: Fixed some typos.
Yawgmoth1111 is offline  
Old 22 Jul 2005, 09:26   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fighting Marines, a "Non-Pocketbook" Tactica

That is certainly a very interesting tactica there Yawgmoth, as it deals with psychological issues which are in fact very important. I have never seen this sort of thing done before, superb, +1 karma.

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Old 22 Jul 2005, 11:43   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fighting Marines, a "Non-Pocketbook" Tactica

As 42 said, superb.

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Old 23 Jul 2005, 07:26   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fighting Marines, a "Non-Pocketbook" Tactica

Thanks! I'm glad to know you guys liked it. If anyone has gleaned any info from this and has more to add over the course of time, I welcome them to add it into this thread. I'll post any new observations after my next round of games. So long as I can help out some.

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