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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pushing Flanks: Identifying Threats

A long while ago, I promised to finish off my series on Pushing Flanks. So here is the final part: Identifying Threats.
Whilst there are obviously exceptions to the guidelines I am going to lay down, these are some simple criteria I use when identifying what to hit first.

These questions are asked in reference to each and every target available to me, at the beginning of the movement phase. Yes, not the shooting phase, the movement phase.

First off. Can I burst them down?
More or less, this is the most important question. You have to know if, firepower at full bear, you can reasonably assume that something will die. This is the worst part of the whole guide, as it is entirely luck-based. Probability can help you a bit, as can induction, experience, etc.. More or less, it is the worst part of this whole thing... it could take a single Missile Pod to crack a Razorback, it could take 18.
This leads to a corollary; can you block them off?
If you can't burst something down, then you have to use walls of Kroot or Piranhas to slow or stop it. This can be utilized in two ways: you can either toss them out early to slow movement as you focus other units, or you can wait and use the walls right before they hit to get a second turn to burst them. This is why walls are so important, i may add.

From second step onward it becomes more about your ability to gauge threats effectively, which is far easier than guessing at your damage output.
Step two is simple. Is it a threat this turn?
This is rather simple. Can this unit deal significant damage to your important units this turn? If you can avoid this damage, than you run a much more obvious chance of succeeding. These units should be your first targets.

Third is similar. Will this unit be a threat?
This addresses units such as Assault Termies in Landraiders. Sure, first turn they may SEEM like they aren't a problem, but then they will be in your face, and unkillable. This goes hand in hand with question 1. If you aren't able to destroy the unit in a turn, they become a major problem. Likewise, a unit that WILL be a threat, but you can deal with at any time with little effort, is less of a concern.

Four. Is this unit in my way?
This is a very important thing to think about as well, once you've done your threat assessment. When planning or executing a push, you should make this a big part of your target priority. What are your possible escape routes? What stands in the way of that? Can you kill or slow it?

Five. Do I have leftover firepower?
Once you have dealt with major threats, you can start aiming for easy or important kills. Can your firepower do any damage to that squad on the objective? Can you pickup an easy killpoint from that Landspeeder? Start putting your guns to work worsening the situation for your opponent.

Ranged threats vs Close Quarters threats
There is a bit of discussion to be put into the subject of the range of threatening units. As a general rule with Tau, Close Quarters units can deal more "burst" damage to us... as in the turn they hit, they are gonna hit hard. Ranged units, on the other hand, deal a decent amount of damage per turn. When targeting units, you have to decide when it is a good choice to deal with each threat.
The kneejerk response every Tau player has when asked this is to avoid close combat, no matter what. But consider this:
If a ranged unit can kill 1 model a turn, yet a CQ unit can kill 5, the CQ unit looks to be a problem. But if the CQ unit only ever gets into one assault, than a ranged unit can deal just as much damage.
So in those early turns, look to take out some ranged enemies if you can. Shutting their damage down early and then focusing on those burst units can save you a few models, and thus a few guns, in the long-term.
Also, note that your wall units can be used to lower the effectiveness of enemy units that rely on being at CQ range. These wall units can't mitigate shooting attacks (save for giving cover), so you can use your walls to stall CQ units as you burst down the ranged ones.

That's it for the subject of target identification.
This also closes off the segment on pushing flanks.

Any ideas on what to write on next? More and more I'm feeling that the Tau are being pushed out of the metagame, and it is terrible. I can't find a useful subject to write on.
Also, a bit of news; I may be starting up a new army besides Tau, as a wait until the new codex rolls around. So I want to know... if I where to give updates on this army, should I post them here, or make an entire new blog for them?
Anyways, see you all around.


Big Bad Garou said...

Really good post! One thing I am forcing myself to keep in mind is what is a scoring unit for the opponent. That is what I need to kill.

I would love to hear how you use pathfinders.

MisterBen said...

I really enjoy your articles. I have found them to be both thought-provoking and extremely useful, not to mention engaging reads.

I would really enjoy it if you would continue writing about Tau, but take some of the general tactical and strategic concepts you've outlined and apply them to hypothetical situations. Describe a generic "net list" for a given army, say CSM, and then talk about how you would apply your concepts to fighting them. Elaborating on your perspectives in that way would be really, really interesting.

Aloh'Nan'El said...

Alright, two good suggestions.
I'll do some work on a Pathfinders discussion.
As to the army defense ideas... I'd love to try that. Kind of like a theoretical battle report.

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