Hi all, John Bracken here. Drop Pods can make life very difficult for any player. They are accurate, there?s no hiding from them, they are reliable, safe and the Space Marines inside are usually equipped to kill whatever they have chosen to land beside. They are also quite cheap, and players can use them to get one unit in the right place, or deploy en masse in what has become known as an ?Alpha Strike? army ? one that arrives and cripples the enemy before they have a chance to raise a weapon.
So how can you counter something like that? Well here is a basic defence I call Castling.
How to Castle
The Red Area is your ?Castle?, where you put all your units that you expect your opponent to target as a high priority. Examples include Vindicators, Leman Russ Tanks, Wraithknights, Command Squads and so on. The Blue Area is your ?Moat?, where you put all the units you value less. This doesn?t mean they are bad ? but against Drop Pods you have to choose what will live or die. The Drop Pods WILL arrive, and the units inside WILL get to shoot so casualties are inevitable. So the units you want to live go in the Castle, the rest go in the Moat.
The idea of Castling is that you spread your expendable units out as much as you can in the blue zone. This means that when the Drop Pods arrive the units inside can?t get their Melta Weapons within half range of any valuable tanks, or ?castled? infantry get a good cover save because the units inside the Drop Pods are shooting through less valuable units.
This gives your best chosen units optimal odds to survive the Alpha Strike and then return fire.
Bear in mind that if you deploy your whole army, and you castle correctly, you should have the majority of your army left to fight only half of your opponent?s, especially if the entire army is arriving via drop pod. This is because only half of your opponent?s Drop Pods may arrive on the first turn, the rest are in reserve. That should give you ample opportunity to wipe the floor with those impetuous Adeptus Astartes.
Here are seven units that typically do really well in the Castle. Leman Russ Battle Tanks, Demolishers, Vindicators, D-Cannon Support Platforms, Dreadnoughts, Meganobz and Imperial Knights. Anything with a Large Blast will do really, the idea is that these units survive and either blast those cramped up Space Marines into oblivion, or counter charge them and tear them to bits.
Four units that do really well as a moat are Astra Militarum Platoons, Skitarii, Ork Boyz and Grotz. The idea is that you load up on cheap, expendable units and protect your Castle that way. You even use Tactical Squads ? just combat squad them up and push that 2? unit coherency as far as you can.
That?s it for now ? good luck and keep watching those skies.
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