Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wanting to Make Pallies Work

So far the GK codex has been a tough nut for me to crack, especially without my trusty Army Builder files.  (The French translation just doesn't cut it.)  I have two main problems that are giving me fits.  The first is how to properly utilize the Inquisition units without turning into a wannabe-IG army.  The other is how to fit in some of what I would consider the cooler models into a non-fail list.  Sometimes I think GW goes out of their way to make the better looking models perform only so-so on the tabletop.  When a new codex comes out, everyone buys the new shiny models because they look so nice, then when the players realize those models have cruddy rules, they have to shell out for the more effective units.  Just compare the effectiveness of units such as the Blood Angels' Stormraven, Libby Dreadnought, Death Company, etc to MSU/Razorback Spam.  Likewise, Coteaz and Crowe spam seem to be relatively point and click, while Paladins, Termies, Stormravens, and (to a lesser extent) Dreadknights seem to be harder to work into a coherent list.  The catalyst for my rant is none other than the Paladin unit.  As much as I want them to be awesome, they have some serious issues in a competitive lists.

As I've mentioned previously, I love the new GKT models and I'm a big fan of elite units.  Pallies are definately elite, having an extra wound (yay for allocation shenanigans!) and higher WS than regular GKTs for 15 points more per model.  They can also pack an extra pyscannon (and it is slightly cheaper) in a five man squad, which is very nice.  Further, their Holocaust power is a nice way to thing out gribblies.  The problem with Pallies, however, is that the current melta-heavy metagame means their 2W profiles get punked hard by any Guardsman riding in an AV12 pillbox, pretty much wasting the extra investment in them.  AP2 and ID weapons are by far their biggest weakness (with tank shocks being a close second), as they can use wound allocations to reduce the impact of small arms fire and even non-ID AP2 shots.  The ways I see of mitigating this are:

1.  Don't try to use them as TH/SS Termies.  Personally, I think Pallies make a good SHOOTY anchor to the center of a GK army.  They should be held back behind the front lines to keep up constant dakka and counter charge units that can't ID them.  In this role, they make a perfect escort for TDA HQ units leading me to my next option.

2.  Libby buffs.  The Librarian is one of the best force multipliers in the codex, being able to throw out major buffs during both players' turns.  Shrouding/Sanctuary on your opponents turn to mess with both their shooting and assault and Might/Quickening/Hammerhand on your own turn.  That is amazing.  Shrouding has great synergy with shooty Paladins, as a 3++ from cover is basically the same as a TH/SS save from shooting.  The Pallies also provide a good place for the Libby to hide while he throws out his buffs and can benefit from FNP if for some reason you have 75 points to burn.

3.  Attach a bullet stopper.  There are two options in the codex that provide a nice way of soaking nasty melta/lascannon shots.  The first is everyone's favorite Mary Sue--Draigo.  Not only does he have EW and a SS to absorb shots, he is also T5 which makes him an ideal candidate to completely negate missle spam if you bother attaching an apothecary.  How many people love throwing missles at a guy who has a 2+ and then still gets a FNP against it?  Oh... he also makes them TROOPS.

Another option that I think is being overlooked is Karamazov, aka Judge Dread (nought).  He can soak Lascannon and melta wounds (relying on cover) with his four wounds at T5 and also makes the Pallies immune to Morale/Pinning, so enemy tank shocking is crippled.  Further, you get a twin-linked MM, something sorely lacking from the rest of the army.  And to top it all off, you get the fun orbital relay and Rad grenades (which helps to componsate for his lack of pyschic abilities).

4.  Target Saturation.  One of the best ways to make them survive longer and reduce the amount of AP2 ID shots being thrown at them is by overloading your opponent with targets requiring similar shots.  Even the most hardened netlists have a finite number of shots and have to prioritize how they are used.  One could go the Draigo Wing route and drop as many Pallies on the board as possible, but I don't think it takes a genius to realize that probably isn't a competitive (but I bet it would be fun!) option.  I plan on only using one unit and trying to field as many other complementary units that will draw serious firepower.  What immediately jumps to mind are AV12 Vehicles and Dreadknights.  AV 12 really requires S8 (or lots and lots of S7) to reliably penetrate and Dreadknights shrug off anything that isn't AP2 or torrents of high strength shots.  GKTs do not count for target saturation as they can simply be torrented with low strength non-AP shots.

5.  Giving them a Pimp Ride.  If someone wanted to use them as more of a CC threat than a shooty threat, then they absolutely need a ride to get them into combat in a reasonable amount of time.  Stormravens or LRs will do the trick.  I still don't think this is the best usage of them, however. 

So as I've been thinking about how to utilize a Paladin unit, but it's gonna take multiple iterations for me to work through something.  I generally rely on trial and eror to refine lists, as my theory-hammer skills are pretty lacking.  I've decided to rely on Libby buffs and target saturation for a first hack.  Right now I'm thinking about something like:

Libby with Might, Quick, Sanctuary, Shrouding, and Warp Rift

Paladin Squad (5) with 2 MC Pyscannons, 1 Sword, 2 Halberds, 1 Falchion, and 1 DH
Venerable Dread with MM/HF

GKSS (5) with Pyscannon and Pysback
GKSS (5) with Pyscannon and Pysback
GKSS (5) with Pyscannon and Pysback
GKT (5) with Pyscannon and 3 Halberds, 1 DH, and 1 Sword

Stormraven with MM and Assault Cannon

Dreadknight (Calgar RAWR!)

It's pretty scattered, but I think it would be fun to play and probably would be fairly effective.  There are several quick changes that could be made such as dropping the Ven Dread, Stormraven, and/or GKTs for more PA troops.  More significant changes would involve a Coteaz variant (spam AV12) or looking at using Draigo or Judge Dread.  As a final note, I REALLY like the list being discussed in this thread on Bolter and Chainsword. 

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