Thursday, March 4, 2010

Trying out a Deathstar unit for the first time. Will Grey Knights fit the bill?

Well good morning folks.

I've had a busy last week so sorry for no updates. My wife and I will be moving to a new apartment next month and so things have been busy at IKEA (getting model kits for grownups) and desperately working every extra shift at starbucks to help save up.

Good news though:
- The Krylon primer I got went on a dream and I really like it.
- I've been painting a whole bunch in my free time and the pile of 'to-do' miniatures is slowly shrinking
- All of my orders from Ramshackle Games have arrived (yay Curtis) and I have loads of new models to play with.
- I managed to get free tickets to a Muse concert last night and the show was incredible. You have to love working at a radio station!

Anyway, the point of the post is about using a Deathstar unit as I'm playing Old Shatter Hands tonight. For those who don't know, a Deathstar is a unit that is incredibly powerful, hard-hitting and usually very expensive. It works by forcing the opponent to concentrate on it entirely because left unchecked, it can usually smash apart their forces and swing the battle. Examples include:

- Marine maxed out TH/SS assault terminators led by a chaplain, in a Land Raider. This will hurt when it hits you and takes so much to kill.
- Ork Nob bikers kitted out to abuse wound allocation with a painbody to add FNP. This moves fast, eats almost anything and has to take a huge number of wounds before even one dies.
- Eldar Jetbike Seer Council. Fast moving unit that hits so hard and can benefit from all sorts of deadly farseer powers.

There are many others but that all share the same principles of focusing your opponent's attention and forcing them to react to you rather than follow their own plan.

Now I don't go for the big power plays (like above) but I do want to try out a nasty assaulting unit since I'm normally a shooty kinda guy. Luckily I got two boxes of Grey Knights when I was making my army (loved the Ben Counter Grey Knight novels) and so a lightbulb went off.

I'm planning to run the following:

- Captain with a powerfist.
- 10 Grey Knights with Justicar, 2 have incinerators.
- Land Raider

Now mine don't look quite this good but you get the idea :-)

Having a squad like this that can put out 16 storm bolter shots and 2 heavy flamer equivalents per turn is nasty. They can keep moving and firing too which is great in the current game setup. Then when they charge into combat you have 14 S6 attacks, 4 S4 attacks, 3 S6 power weapon hits and 4 S8 powerfist attacks. Given that all but the captain will strike at initiative, that is some pain right there. Vehicles will largely go down against this many high strength attacks as well (they are basically krak grenades) and the captain allows for some real hitting strength. Bringing them up the Land Raider stops them getting shot so much and allows me to control line of sight to them via an AV14 mobile bunker. Any real threats to the GK will face lascannons from the LR too.

Still, this is an expensive unit at ~670 points as I have it kitted out, but I'm hoping that OSH's Tau will not be able to deal with it in time to prevent their lines getting overwhelmed by scary assaulting marines. They are fearless too, which helps me to avoid morale checks or pinning. Of coures, I'd need to detach the captain for that but they can still charge the same target if need be.

What are people's thoughts? Deathstar units any good?


  1. I think a Deathstar formation in 40k is a bit of a gamble. With the exception of Nob Bikerz most Deathstar units are not scoring - this is a pretty big drawback.

    Also, there is usually a counter to each of these units - Guard will eat the Bikerz w/ Psychic Battle Squad and/or high str templates.

    The toughest unit that you mentioned - the 10 TH/SS Termies w/ a Chaplain would be hard for anyone to dislodge. The problem with it would be speed. Most armies are going to be able to get away from it and focus on the rest of your force - which won't be very large considering that you have 600 pts sunk into one unit.

    Another drawback of the Deathstar is that generally it can only kill one unit a turn. In Fantasy this isn't the case since they can over run - this makes this tactic much more effective in Fantasy.

    With all that said a Deathstar unit can be really fun and really effective - you just have to be VERY careful when deploying it. Deployment can make or break the entire game when using this type of unit.

  2. Absolutely. I think they are very much make or break units. Perhaps in higher point (~3000) games they will have lower risk because there is more of a support net and they represent a lower overall investment. Given that most of the 40k deathstars are assault units, the real trick would be to get a multiple assault going. This is probably easier with units like Jetbikes and nob bikers because they can move more quickly to get the position.

    I'll post up how the deathstar fares tonight in my game vs the Tau.

    PS: A shooty deathstar unit would be the 5 man crisis team (3 plus 2 Shas'El/Os) with maximum drones and lots of wargear. They can put out punishing firepower at multiple targets while being resilient and complex for wounding.

  3. I did a post on the Tau deathstar unit (the five crisis suits) a while ago, and it is highly effective, both as a very large target with a "Shoot Me" and as a unit breaker through shooting.

    As for assaulty deathstar units (which the Tau one is not), jetbikes and bikes can get off multiple charges with alarming ease due to their base size - maintaining unit coherency across multiple assault becomes much easier with practice and large bases.

  4. @Big D: the terminators are taken in only 7 man squad w/ the chaplain in a land raider to fix the speed problem. As for the Deathstar in general I do not like it but it does work most times. Of course as he said the unit does not score most of the time, as for that even if I run a deathstar I normally have already filled out my troops. So focus on the rest of the army before you even start thinking of a deathstar, if you have points for it do it and see how it feels to you.

    As for what I like as my deathstar come see at my blog ;)

  5. Sholto, I'm tempted a lot by the Crisis deathstar, if only to make people so worried that they forget about the scoring fire warriors sneaking onto the objectives. Also, if you know where they are heading (for the deathstar) then you can put your hammerheads etc. in place to drop submunitions on them as they approach. At this point I might even say "Admiral, we don't have any ships in sector 7." If your opponent is up on geekery and aware of the game table they should take on a brown space fish-faced look and say "It's a trap!"
    I think you're right with the power of the biker assault deathstars and multicharging. Having a 4" coherency to play with is just nasty for that. Potentially you could string it out to assault 3 units at once if they were in a line. Of course, even hard-hitting nob bikers might struggle there (unless it's against Tau) but the potential is huge.

    Jake, I think it's definitely important the the deathstar is the icing on the cake and you must have a good support underneath (spongy and with fruit in IMHO). Just using one uber unit to try and win the game is no good as you can be derailed and outplayed fairly easily. I've never tried this kind of approach before*** so I'm kinda interested to see how it goes.

    ***I should point out that the game where I used my Spider Tank super-heavy was a little bit this way. It took a bunch of OSH's attention and really forced him to adjust his plans and try to deal with it. It's kills weren't bad either though much of that was because of good luck on my side.