Torrent of Fire Vs. Fists of Fury

After my brief break last week in that extremely poorly constructed dungeon I’m refreshed and raring to annoy go.

Lets get straight to it then,

Can a pure ‘foot and/or ‘assault’ army compete in the current world of shooty bang bang death that is 5th?

I’m a big fan of martial arts but lets be honest no matter how cool this guy is…..

This little girl could take him as long as they started more than a few metres apart…..

and it’s even worse if she happens to be in a vehicle…..

Of course applying ‘real world’ theories to a (for the most part) arbitrary set of rules created so grown-ups could play with toy soldiers isn’t going to mean much, which is incidentally why it’s entirely reasonable to punch in the throat anybody who quotes Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ in a tactical article about any war-game not set in feudal Japan…..

Okay lets take a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages of both,


Most transports are going to move the guys inside it 12-18″ closer to the enemy though many codices have access to faster transports than that. Due to the fact that most opponents realise that deploying close to an assault army when your not an assault army is a bit silly it’s entirely reasonable to expect to have to weather at least a turn of shooting and possibly even two or three. For the unit safely hidden in a metal box, the worst case scenario of your transport blowing up when first shot at equates to only a 1 in 6 chance of the unit inside taking damage (explodes result) whereas a unit on foot is going to be potentially taking damage immediately. The unit on foot will only have it’s armour and/or invulnerable save to protect it whereas the transported unit has it’s vehicles armour and the inherent and often overlooked ‘extra save’ that is the vehicle damage table. A transport vehicle doesn’t often care about being shaken and many now don’t even care about being stunned. Not to mention that ‘Weapon Destroyed’ is more often than not going to cost your opponent a Storm Bolter that he probably forgets to fire most games anyway…..

Additionally, there are many ranged weapons that are useless against vehicles but next to none that are incapable of hurting infantry…..

The addition of the ‘run’ move to pretty much anything with legs has gone some-way to equalising out that distance advantage and there is something to be said for the fact that Infantry are unable to fire from their vehicle when it’s moved it’s maximum distance. Of course in nearly all cases the vehicle is also unable to fire and of course charging from that vehicle also becomes impossible but even with running taken into account 12″ movement is better than 6+d6″ movement.

Heavy Support.

I’m going to also include in this section units that aren’t strictly Heavy Support but are still utilised in a ‘stand and shoot’ role such as Combat Squad halves with a Heavy weapon, etc.

Okay, In this scenario the ‘foot’ guys have certain advantages. The first and most important is that they can’t be ‘stun-locked’ by repeated ‘vehicle shaken/stunned’ results though very few can move and fire whereas most vehicles can (even if it’s not very far and at more limited effectiveness). As with troops though the ‘foot’ heavy units can find themselves the target of a much wider variety of weapons than are ever going to be aimed at something with armour 13 or for that matter armour 10…..

So we’ve got the obvious out of the way but I’ll summarise briefly,

1) Less stuff hurts vehicles than infantry.
2) Vehicle damage table is effectively an extra save.
3) Transported units get where they’re going quicker than walking ones…..

Unfortunately for my point of view in this argument/debate/conversation/ point 3 isn’t strictly true…..

Units with the Cavalry, Beasts or Jump unit type (or similar) can move much greater distances and those with Infiltrate as well can potentially get off first turn charges which negates the issue of being shot at completely….well unless your opponent goes first, seizes the initiative, uses bubble-wrap units…..okay maybe not completely then, lol.

So these sorts of units can get into assault more quickly but are still going to get shot to shit on the way (even if only the once) and are also going to be in range of all that short-range rapid-fire weaponry that bounces off vehicles so are going to get shot ‘just the once’ but quite a lot during that ‘just the once’ 😉

While were talking about units that are going to get shot once…..

Deep Strike.

If your fortunate enough to be able to Deep Strike fairly precisely (Descent of Angels) or safely (Drop Pods) or safely but with help (Teleport Homers, Servo Skulls, Drop Pods, etc) then you have another entirely viable way of getting a unit on foot close to the enemy with out all that tedious messing about walking across the table then you are also in the nice position of only having to survive a single initial ‘torrent of fire’ before getting stuck in and may even have bought some cover with you such as a Drop Pod*

* I’m of the personal opinion that a Drop Pod should have to open all it’s doors when it lands so you can’t make a wall out of them and then hide behind it but unfortunately the rule doesn’t say you have to so obviously some people don’t. As I’m firmly in the ‘Rules as Written’ camp rather than the ‘Rules as Intended’ or ‘I think what Matt meant to say was’ one I’m in no position to complain really if the odd thing like that bites me in the ass.

Though depending on your army structure you may find yourself in the unenviable position of having half of your army being shot at by all of his which as an occasional Daemon player I can testify as being no fun whatsoever…..

So lets presume that you’ve reached the enemies mechanised gun-line with enough stuff left to make a difference….

Here things tend to even out,

Firstly the ‘assault’ player (unless he’s a complete idiot or extremely pessimistic) will have realised that at some point he’s going to have to pop a vehicle and has hopefully come prepared. For Marine players this is most likely in the form of Melta weaponry as it is for Imperial Guard Veterans, for Ork players it’s charging with 120 attacks, Wyches have Haywire Grenades, etc.

The Mechanised player has his armour (which meltas laugh at if were being honest except when they punish your arrogance by missing or rolling snake-eyes’ to pen) and the ability to move sufficient distance so your hitting him on 4’s or 6’s There’s also the very real possibility that you won’t destroy the vehicle at all and then were back to the rather unfortunate ‘getting the shit shot out of you’ scenario that we discussed earlier and he also has the often overlooked ability to drive away before you get there or if he’s lucky….after you’ve got there 😉

I suppose we should look at  two other factors as well, namely what you bought with the points you saved by not having vehicles and screwing the meta-game.

Points Saved.
Okay then. Five Wave Serpents buys a lot of Eldar, Five Battle Wagons buys a lot of Orks but Five Rhino’s doesn’t buy you many Marines…..Whether those extra numbers gives you enough ablative wounds or screening units to bypass all the issues I’ve already listed is debatable but I’m firmly in the ‘NO’ camp. Of course your at liberty to disagree…..that’s what the comments section is for…..

Screwing the Meta-game.
Many people expect to only face Mechanised opponents and therefore tend to neglect horde control weapons such as Flamers. If you happen to find somebody to play against who has made this mistake then well done…..Unfortunately for the foot hordes, Imperial Guard can swap their Chimeras Heavy Bolters for a Heavy Flamer for free, Space Marines squads can have Flamers for free or Combi-Flamers relatively cheaply and even a small unit of Orks can ‘torrent of punch’ a unit to death under the right circumstances…..

So then. For me that was a fairly balanced viewpoint so I best re-establish my reputation as an arsehole by finishing with an arbitrary all encompassing statement that will annoy people….

Mech armies beat foot armies and shooting is better than assault…..There you go…..

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome. I’m however now off to hunt down that bastard who kidnapped me last week… where did I put my chainsaw and blow-torch???

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