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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Running a Combat Patrol

So due to fan questioning and the general 40k blogosphere, I'm jumping on the Combat Patrol bandwagon.

What is CP?
Combat Patrol is an odd little game that is simple to play and an easy way to get started. It is small enough to get a general grasp on the rules of the games, and see the synergy between units on a smaller level; synergies that larger armies can be built on.
Combat Patrol can, however, be brutal. The small points level rewards the leanest of players, who can fit every fist and bullet into their list they can. Those small level synergies can be deadly combinations, with no way to force through them; take, for example, Fritz's Harlequin list:
The list has a very low model count that you won't expect from Foot Eldar (Footdar), but has a few nasty surprises; it is practically unshootable due to durability (2+ saves in CP via cover!) and the Shadowseer (unshootable over 24", annoying night-fighting-like tests). It snipes something early and then books it away and hides, and can handle itself in assault (Harlequins are very good).
In this competitive form of CP, every move counts; there is no room to blunder, as a single mistake, a single model's death, can change the game. It is a very exciting game, and it is over shortly enough for a rematch or three.

What does a CP list need?
First off, CP is about Victory Point denial. There are two ways to do this; unit-pinching and, on the opposite spectrum, unit-spam. Unit-pinching puts massive amounts of points into units that are made very hard to kill; see Fritz's list. Unit spam means putting very small amounts of points into units so that when they give up points, the amount is very small. An example of this would be a list with 5 8-man Fire Warrior squads.
A CP list, first and foremost, needs a single Troop choice. For us Tau players, this choice is a bit limited; we are stuck, as always, with a choice between Kroot and Fire Warriors. My opinion on this is simple; the Fire Warriors are more durable, and give us more deployment options (i.e. not cover-tied) than the Kroot, meaning that they can take up better firing positions; furthermore, their 30"range means that on the 4'x4' tables that CP is played on, they;ll always have a target. They prefer backfield sniping in CP, while Kroot are used up-close; meaning that unless your opponent has brought as much ranged firepower as, well, the Tau, he will be far more likely to pick up Kroot points than Fire Warrior points. So I give my personal edge to the Fire Warriors. (I should also note that it is undecided whether a unit of Fire Warriors are 1+ in CP. I'd say no, as the Commander cannot be taken. Otherwise, I assume normal FOC limits for CP, as it makes the game easier to get through. Yet another reason for Fire Warriors ;D).
My second maxim for Combat Patrol is to have some anti-tank, while my third is to have vehicles. The reasons? First off, while most vehicles aren't allowed in CP, some are. You need a solid way to deal with them when your opponent starts spamming chimeras or something else stupid. Second off, while Pulse Fire can down AV10 when you hose it at them, a meltagun can't hurt for emergencies. The inverse applies to my statement; most players lack effective vehicle killing weapons, rationalizing that they are unnecessary in a game with only light armor. For this role, and one that will be explained below, the Piranha (with Fusion Blaster and Targeting Array) makes it into my list.
Now it is clear we need a firepower element. Right now my list has very few actual guns, and thats bad for any army, but specifically Tau. Many will take the knee-jerk response and jump right to Crisis Suits, and for good reason; Crisis Suits are the workhorse of Tau. A Fireknife can put out more high strength shots than most, can do it from a long range, and likely pick up cover.
There are downsides to the Crisis Suit, however. One wound and it gives up half its Victory Points, and even at its extreme range it is in danger; Instant Death! can remove it outright. So it is our best shooter but, is a glass cannon. Note that this is a problem in CP, as they can get away with being rather fragile in objective games, but here, it matters.
Instead I prefer the Crisis Suit's overshadowed brethren; the Stealth Suits. The Stealth Suits work up-close, which is problematic, but with the use of Piranhas as a mobile terrain piece, they can draw assaulters away yet stay safe against enemy returns. They are nearly immune to long range shooting due to the Stealth Field. Also, Infiltration allows them to hit turn 1. So Stealth Suits are my go to CP unit, despite my general dislike of them in the normal game.

My final CP list ends up looking like this:
8x Shas'la (Rifles) -80
3x Stealth Shas'ui -90
3x Stealth Shas'ui -90
Piranha w/ Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array -70
Piranha w/ Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array -70

The overall synergy of this list is a bit hard to explain without a representation of the models of some sort, so I have a video for you all! Next post is the general strategy of the army, with, of course, the visual examples.

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