Sunday, May 10, 2009

Single Unit Strategy: Punisher, part 1

Back when I was a hardcore Magic: The Gathering player I would always read the articles that Wizards posted every day. I guess you could call me an obsessive gamer in that respect. One of the recurring articles that they posted was called Single Card Strategy, where they would take one really cool but oft maligned card and build decks whose sole purpose was to break the card twenty ways past Sunday. They also pointed out various general tactics and deck building strategies that you could use to help the card be worth its cost and make sure that other people saw that the card was really, really cool.

I am going to try to do something similar with this blog. Not quite a tactica, and not quite just an army list, I am going to start with a single unit and build out from there, trying to make the unit both be worth its points and be a unit that I would want to play with.
  • make the unit be worth its points
  • make the unit be the star of the list
  • make the list one that I would use on a regular basis
I might not succeed with these three goals given that 40k's balancing issues are much worse than in Magic, but I will try and it should be a fun series of experiments.

Having said that, we're going to kick off this series with the loneliest Leman Russ variant out there: the Leman Russ Punisher.

The main drawing point of the Punisher, like all of the Leman Russ variants, is its main gun, which fires 20 Str 5 Ap - shots. Combined with a hull heavy bolter you have 23 Str 5 shots every turn, basically making the tank a heavily armored rapid firing firewarrior squad. There is also the fear factor- knowing that your opponent has a tank with a Heavy 20 main gun is terrifying to many people who don't trust their armor dice too well. This means that the tank will be a fire magnet, which is both good and bad given its Demolisher armor. Also, we don't have to worry about the large blast accidentally drifting off target completely or hitting our own units, which is a big plus for those of us who have terrible luck with scatter dice.

However we have to take a few things into account before we start drooling. First off, the range on the main gun is only 24", meaning that we need to get real close and personal in order to do a lot of damage. This can be a problem thanks to the Lumbering Behemoth rule which makes our tank move with the speed of infantry. Second, half of those shots will miss thanks to BS 3. Third, even orks in the open will be able to get an armor save thanks to AP -. Based on these latter points, we have the following mathhammerings. EQ means equivalent, M means Marine, T means Terminator and G stands for Guardsman. Now that we know XEQs, here we go:

vs TEQ: (1/2)(2/3)(1/6)=1/18 for 1.28 kills
vs MEQ: (1/2)(2/3)(1/3)=1/9 for 2.56 kills
vs MEQ on bikes (personal nemesis): (1/2)(1/2)(1/3)=1/12 for 1.92 kills
vs Carnifex: (1/2)(1/3)(1/3)=1/18 for 1.28 wounds
vs GEQ: (1/2)(5/6)(2/3)=5/18 for the main gun and 3 ap 4 from the bolter for 6.81 kills

So, we have a tank that is fairly effective against hordes but not terribly effective against M and TEQ and even less effective against MCs. However with a little help/luck it will be strong enough to force a morale check every round.

Our strengths and weaknesses now look like this:
23 strength 5 shots per turn
Heavy Armor
Strong enough to provoke morale tests fairly regularly.

Short range
Lacks effectiveness vs. heavy infantry

Stay tuned for part 2, where we begin to take advantage of the strengths and nullify the weaknesses.

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