In part two of our discussion of playing defense in 40K, we talk about surviving assault. We also discuss surviving alpha strike armies such as Space Marine Drop Pods and beta strike armies such as Genestealer Cult.
Surviving the assault phase is about knowing where the threats come from.
Dedicated assault units versus “tarpit” units.
Basic Assault Defense
Unlike Shooting, assault has a pretty fixed range of attack:
- 6” move, 7” assault, 9” with fleet is 13”-14” assault range for standard infantry units.
- 12” move, 7”-9” assault is 19”-21” for bikes, gargantuan creatures, beasts, and units in assault vehicles.
The best defense is to stay out of range, but watch for run and assault modifiers.
Shoot the assault units if you have the firepower, but don’t be shy about getting out of range if you need an extra turn.
Can’t kill it or get out of its way? Feed it a unit, but make sure that unit can last at least a round of combat.
Bubble wrap with cheap units to give yourself an extra turn.
Terrain is a longer charge for units without move through cover.
Dedicated Assault Armies
Dedicated assault armies are designed to have many assault units that you cannot outrun and will overwhelm your shooting.
If you are a shooting or balanced army, you need to assume that turn 2 you will be charged.
For armies that come from one direction, deploy as far back as possible with as much terrain to block lines of approach to you.
A unit needs LOS to you to assault, so it may take an extra turn to go around LOS terrain.
Redeploy if necessary if you have the speed.
Target priority is key.
An alpha strike is typically a first turn shooting strike with multiple units all at once. Its is meant to overwhelm an army with firepower.
All the standard defensive tips for shooting apply, but Drop Pods are a special case.
Standard drop pod heavy list has 3-4 coming down turn one.
Once the pods fall, the unit loses most of its movement, so you need to hang on that first turn.
Use terrain, especially the board edge, because drop pods can’t mishap otherwise.
Bubble wrap and interceptor if you have it are a great defense.
Units come in turn 2 or later, typically when you have all your stuff on the board so they can kill it.
Examples of beta strike units:
- Warp spiders
- Farsight bomb
- Genestealer cult