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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My response to Nocker Geek's Mont'ka article:

Recently, OSH (Old Shatter Hands) tossed down an article about some of the problems with Mont'ka, here:
There was a response defending the Mont'ka and denouncing the Kauyon, posted on Nocker Geek's blog here:

In an attempt to continue this marry-go-round of decent articles, I will be responding to the above article, giving my counter-arguments for the Kauyon.
And so we go:

The first problem with the argument is that Nocker Geek makes light of a cover save, claiming that most armor reducing weapons will be at point blank, or barrage. This is hardly the case. Missiles and Lascannons are still around, and can insta-kill a Crisis Suit. The cover save also makes Gun Drones a better buy, gaining a cover save to make up for the lack of invulnerable save.
Further in the paragraph, Nocker Geek notes you are giving cover to Marines if you shoot through the Kroot Wall; but fails to note that JSJ allows you to clear your skirmish line to deny cover.
This seems to be odd to me, as he later advocates using JSJ in the Mont'ka as a means of breaking LOS; but I'll get to that soon.

His second point, that Kroot are not hardy, is very true. But again, he ignores certain facts that are common knowledge to most Kauyon players; unit composition and the positive aspect of Kroot's low leadership.
He cites the fact that Kroot will likely be sweeped; this is untrue, as an intelligent Kauyon player will have taken a large amount of hounds, meaning you will be hitting first to soften the damage and then making your assumed fallback at initiative 5 once you take off your actual mercs. This means your Kroot's low leadership is actually a boon; the most likely scenario is you absorb a charge, deal some damage, and fall back, leaving an enemy force completely in the open and available to be shot to pieces. Then you have a good chance of your wall regrouping and coming back into the fray. This makes a very useful, though not hardy, walling element; an assault absorber that leaves the attacker in front of a mass of guns and may have a chance to be recycled.

The face-to-face paragraph has a decent point, but I honestly don't see 12" a turn as fast enough to gain side armor shots on experienced players. Even so, the ability to make multiple firebases makes up for this downside, even though I wouldn't recommend that.
The argument becomes silly when trying to point out a static force's weakness to Deep-strike and outflankers; we have Kroot to fully surround our forces against deepstrike heavy armies, while our vehicles can make rough outflanker blockades, which honestly are not needed if we have the middle of the board.
A Mont'ka force should fear such units far more; they provide new and exciting ways for their opponent to box them in with meltaguns.

The next argument brings up breaking line of sight. Honestly, this is the most backwards looking argument in the whole article to me, as it seems to be saying "camp you Crisis Suits behind a wall", which is obviously a much bigger tactic with Kauyon than with Mont'ka; as Mont'ka's supposed claim to fame is its ability to move... an ability not sufficiently abused when chained to one area.

The paragraph on avoiding conflict is also odd to me; he implies that the Kauyon doesn't plan on killing the enemy, which is absolutely false. In fact, the Kauyon can do so better than the Mont'ka, as static lists tend to have far more emphasis on Crisis Suits and Broadsides... thus having a bit more firepower overall. While it is true that a mobile force gets the assistance of Burst Cannon and SMS, the static force gets masses of Kroot Bolters and a mediocre but crushing assault.
Mont'ka forces tend to pay far more for their Troops, Kauyon Walls included, meaning that they tend to have less points for firepower... making the argument that the Mont'ka is a better"killy" army a rather hollow one.

The argument that position can amplify firepower is true... but doesn't apply the way Nocker Geek would assume.
Rarely does side armor make a difference in games... only with Guard and other Tau is there a significant advantage to reaching side armor, as Rhinos, Wave Serpents, Land Raiders, light skimmers, all infantry, all MCs, and many other common threats don't care were you are, while backfield guntanks are nearly impossible to get side armor on anyways.
Meanwhile, as the Mont'ka wheels around to match the opponent's pivots, the Kauyon attackers fire for multiple turns practically uncontested... their safe location amplifying their attacks by giving them multiple turns of optimum capacity firepower.

The next paragraph applies to Kauyon as well; shoot at the actual guns who enjoy cover and support, or shoot at the support units.

I have tried using vehicles as blockades, and it fails miserably for one reason; meltaguns. Melta is a key part of any respectable assault squad, and having vehicles as your main blockading force is destined to fail, as you must contract your position in fear of melta weaponry.
Furthermore, Kauyon builds CAN play mobile... the Kroot outflank and they fight a modified Mont'ka with a higher Crisis:Tank ratio. It just isn't its most effective way of playing.

I don't believe that the Kauyon is the only way to play... the Mont'ka offers the use of the Tau's mobility and it's firepower, the two traits it is supposed to be renowned for. The problem is, by looking into the supposed advantages of the Tau, you may miss the more technical ones... the ones the Tau can base a firm army on.


Old Shatter Hands said...

Meltaguns everywhere are one of the main reasons I took my Tau more in the direction of an infantry force. As you say, Skimmer walls don't really work. What's to stop the enemy from rolling up with meltagun, destroying a vehicle and then assaulting the guys inside?

I did however come up with a list that I think could work as a Mont'Ka Build. This is total theory hammer but check it out

1 Deathrain Commander Shas'El
3x3 Deathrains suits with 2 guns drones
3x2 piranhas with FB, TA, DP
3x3 hammerheads with railguns, BC, TL, MT, DP
3x 6 Fire Warriors with Devilfish with MT, DP

This army uses the piranhas and drones to screen the hammerheads, who then protect and provide cover for the deathrain suits and Fire warriors Fishes.

basically the group sets up on the board with piranhas out front, turn 1 all drones drop to create a screen in from the 'heads, Then piranha teams move out to block the enemy. rest of the army just blazes away that the enemy with 10 twin-linked missile pods and 3 railguns. Focus on killing tranports that can deliver meltaguns. the drones the move to screen some more, and turn 2, piranhas melt some tanks, cause havoc, while your main core moves away as a mobile fire base. It uses the same tactics of kauyon but can actually move 12 inches per turn to position itself to claim objectives etc.

Aloh'Nan'El said...

That is sort of similar to what I had tried, though I had used empty devilfishes to blockade instead, due to the bulk:price ratio.
That list is how you would have to play, but it struggles with Marines, lacking anything but luck to deny armor.

I think another huge problem with Mont'ka is the inability to field and protect Broadsides and Pathfiners... 3 Hammerheads doesn't even reach the firepower of a broadside unit, and a lack of markerlights means fireknives and other, slightly better, configs have an uphill battle or must twinlink.
I'v experimented with SMTs and Skyrays, but, despite being fun, they don't work nearly as well...

NockerGeek said...

Well, over on Tau of War, I did ask for my article to be picked apart. I should be careful what I ask for next time. ;)

Honestly, though, you bring up several good points and point out several shortcomings of my article. Some are based off my local metagame, and some are based off of having incomplete information at the time (when I wrote the article, OSH hadn't yet posted his list) and not fully grasping how the list was being played or what components it had. For example, I didn't take kroot hounds into account - I don't own any, OSH didn't mention them in his article, and I missed them in his deployment picture (although I saw them again upon re-examining them). Also, there's also a matter of metagame. I don't face off against many missile launchers or lascannons in my local gaming group, so long range low-AP threats aren't common, although that's starting to change a bit.

As far as having "Kroot fully surrounding units" to protect from deep-strikers, I'm not seeing how that jibes with a Kroot skirmish line that's moving forward across the board (as described by OSH). At some point, you're leaving space behind you, and whether it's between the Kroot and your heavies, or behind the heavies as they move up, there'll be space for deep-striker insertion, especially against drop pods and Blood Angels. The same would seem to apply to outflankers. Unless you're blocking the entire short edge from the middle back, there's still openings for them to come in and get inside your lines. Also, what happens when the enemy shoots up your Kroot, they die en masse due to having no ability to withstand damage, and then break, leaving your lines undefended?

Also, I think that claiming I'm only suggesting "camping Crisis Suits behind a wall" is a bit of a misrepresentation. I'm not necessarily talking about holding Crisis Suits in one place. Certainly, I've done that if it's the only spot of terrain available, but I prefer to move from piece of terrain to piece of terrain, shooting while in the spaces inbetween. I'd rather have try to break LOS entirely as I move than merely gain a cover save, especially when it's a cover save that will disappear as soon as the enemy shoots it up or assaults it and forces it to pile in.

Finally, as far as 'contracting position due to fear of melta', I'd argue that holding a position isn't terribly important, but that may just be my approach to the Tau. In my mind, that's why the army is mobile - so that it can rearrange and avoid threats. If my opponent is chasing me around trying to get into melta range, that gives me opportunities to draw them to where I want them. Yes, fast assaulters can catch up with me, but that's just a general Tau weakness - Tau tends to fold when anything with a WS of 3 or higher runs into them anyway.

In the end, I can't say that the Kroot Wall is a bad way to play; it's obviously effective, or so many people wouldn't be defending it - although to be honest, I'd never heard of it before OSH brought it up. Now searching around, I'm seeing more and more discussions of it, mostly in tournament player circles (which is probably why I'd never heard of it). I don't know if it feels particularly 'Tau-y' to me, mostly due to the sacrificial troop aspect, but that's just me.

Old Shatter Hands said...

It does lack any real AP2 or better firepower. It's not the best configuration but it's likely the best mobile list you could get.

The list relies on torrenting the enemy to bypass armor saves. If you really need to destroy a squad of marines (who don't have FNP that is) is drop 3 submunitions and 20 missile pods on it.

I'm sticking with my list for now, but I will be bringing this out once and while. (now all I need is 5 more crisis suits and 3 piranhas.)

NockerGeek said...

And I hope Blogger and my browser didn't just conspire to eat my 5-paragraph response to your post; it threw an error when I submitted it, and I can't seem to tell if it survived or not...

NockerGeek said...

Yeah, looks like it got eaten. Well, as much as I'd enjoy spending the time to rewrite the whole thing, I'll give you the Cliff's Notes version. :)

First, you very rightly pick up apart my article (it's what I asked for on OSH's site, right?), and some of those points were due to not fully understanding the list (OSH hadn't yet posted it when I wrote it), not dealing with certain threats in my local metagame (long range low-AP weapons rarely appear outside of my own army, but that's slowly changing), and forgetting Kroot hounds (I don't own any, and missed them in OSH's army picture, so I didn't take them into account).

Second, I'm still not seeing how a Kroot Wall prevents deep-strikers and outflankers, unless I'm misunderstanding how the wall moves. At some point, you're leaving space behind you, either between your Broadsides/Suits and Kroot, or behind the Broadsides/Suits as things move up. At some point, things will open up, unless you're staying static until turns 4/5.

Third, I wouldn't say I endorse "camping Crisis Suits behind a wall". Not to say I haven't done it (sometimes, it's all the terrain you have available at the time), but I try to JSJ from terrain piece to terrain piece. I find it to be more effective than just going for cover.

Finally, I'm not bothered by "contracting position" to avoid melta, or anything else, but that may just be my play philosophy with the Tau. I don't really try to hold any position, preferring instead to lead my opponent on a chase and pull them where I want them. Sometimes I win; sometimes I don't. It feels right to me, though, in a way that a sacrificial Kroot Wall doesn't.

And maybe that's the whole thing - a difference in philosophies. I can't argue that the Kroot Wall isn't effective; as I've discovered since writing the counterpoint, there are a lot of people supporting it and touting its strengths. To me, though, it doesn't seem terribly Tau-like, and it seems a bit less interesting to play. Effective? Apparently. Fun? I have my doubts. I'm glad it works for you, though!

(And so much for being the short version. Fortunately, this time I already had my thoughts composed and just had to rewrite them.)

Aloh'Nan'El said...

I'll respond para by para again, if you don't mind.
Also, do you think it would be best to publicize this as a post? The more the community sees both sides, the more we talk... I feel people will learn nuances for both sides.

As to the Outflankers/Deepstrikers... You can place one of your two layers in a back wards or sideways position with ease, even surround the whole army with it... Against, say, a Drop Pod army, I would definitely do this if I needed to move forward, as it pushes the squads (and likely their deep-striking melta)further away from my lines by forcing a deep strike elsewhere. I can also use them to "puff out" my army; making a large area with no viable Deepstrike areas.
Against outflankers, I can make my walls cover my sides, or I can ignore them if I take the middle.
Your confusion may very well be from misunderstanding the wall... How do you think it works?

This is a difference in terrain; rarely is there enough terrain to hide my suits and tanks completely. I literally have about two pieces of that size on the board at once, and my opponents normally push me off them, or take them in deployment. The assured terrain of the wall is one of the reasons I like it; with the wall I can play anywhere from no terrain, to cityfight, and in such dense areas, I can relegate other duties to my walls.

Contracting your position and the threat of melta is huge. A lot of lists can literally give you nowhere to move that won't cause your tanks massive pain, while still pumping enough attacks at you that you can't deal with the melta. My friend's 9 Oblit list comes to mind; he can easily take the center, and use multi-melta threats to bully you into a corner as the other 1000 points of Daemons and Marines crash into your Lascannon riddled vehicles.
You are right that it is hard to see the wall as Tau-like, but if you honestly see your Kroot as Skirmishers, and not as sacrifices, it is very fluffy and consistent with the Kauyon. Only when you plan ahead of time on the death of the Kroot, and not just the deterrence they cause, does it become wrong.

As for fun; when I played Mont'ka I enjoyed the close games, but was frustrated whenever meltagun laden enemies, lash, and other such nonsense ripped my suits to shreds and massacred me. My opponents had fun, but it was rather depressing to lose all my Shas', every game.
With the Kauyon, I have a far more effective strategy that keeps many of my Shas' alive, while putting out crippling firepower. This may not be fun to my opponent, but hell, this is my way around powerbuilds; now they have to find a way around mine.

Aloh'Nan'El said...

Me and my novels...

NockerGeek said...

Please do publicize this; I agree, it's good to get these discussions out in the open. I'm planning on posting an addendum/correction to my article, either today or tomorrow, to address some of these points that have been brought up.

As far as my understanding of the wall, based on OSH's description and pictures of his firebase deployments, was that it was a single line of Kroot placed ahead of the rest of the army's elements. That wall moves forward into the middle of the table, and the actual attacking elements move up behind. From the sound of your comments, though, this is not the case?

Aloh'Nan'El said...

Would you mind posting exactly what you posted here? Then I could post the exact response. Saves work.

Your idea of the castle isn't too far from the truth, but is simplified. In optimal conditions, I place my entire castle as far forward in deployment as possible, with two layers of Kroot.I do this because it leaves all of my guns in range, turn 1. I will then move back in time with the opponent's advance; this assures I am getting my full firepower, normally even rapidfire, turn by turn. Because of this dual wall, I can have flank protection by overlapping the squads in the center, while spreading them out on my flanks.
Against heavy outflanking and deepstriking armies, the wall can shift to block the rear of my army.

Aloh'Nan'El said...

Pictures would probably also help to visualize this... another reason to do this on the blogs proper.

Gredus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gredus said...

I just told anyone reading my blog, to visit all 3 of your sites to get a heads up on this discussion. It's very interesting.

Aloh'Nan'El said...

Thank you kindly Gredus

NockerGeek said...

Thanks, Gredus!

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