Monday, November 26, 2012

Warhammer 40k Tactics - Strike Packages 2.0

In my previous discussion I laid out a list of qualities that I think are essential in a solid strike package – durability, mobility, lethality and adaptability. I like to think of these qualities as a starting point that I use when putting together what I refer to as a ‘strike package’. Keeping in mind that in my definition a strike package is a unit that is used to target specific portions of an opponent’s army and eliminate them quickly and efficiently without resorting to using the famous ‘make it fit wrench’ of simply tossing the kitchen sink, or a hammer, at the problem. That being said, strike packages are very much a ‘maneuver warfare’ based concept and people well versed in ‘attrition warfare’ will probably find the concept foreign, and or useless, to them. 

Maneuver Warfare - He's got it!

Before we take a look at what I use for a strike package I do want to point out that with the addition of allies in 6th edition the strike package has truly become a viable, and almost necessary, option for many armies. The ability to add a small contingent from another codex allows you to plug holes in your primary army by pulling from the strength of others. In my opinion you should always use allies to fill gaps in your army and add strength to strength, making the whole better than the individual parts. But that is a topic for an entirely different day!

So what do I use for a strike package? Right now my preferred strike package takes full advantage of ally rules in 6th edition by bringing a contingent of Vanilla Space Marines into my Space Wolf force. Vanilla Space Marines can get 12 guys into their drop pods where as my Wolves only get 10, this allows me to put a full squad in the drop pod while adding a character to join them – In this case I use a 10 man Stern Guard squad, 3x Combi-Melta and 2 Plasmagun, with Librarian that uses ‘Gate of Infinity’ and ‘Null Zone’. To make the allied detachment legal I toss in some scouts with sniper rifles, at only 75 points it’s a small ‘tax’ to pay in order to add a very effective strike package to my list.

In order to answer the obvious question ‘What makes them so effective?’ Let’s simply go through the previously discussed list of durability, mobility, lethality and adaptability in order to provide an example of how I do my own analysis.

  • Durability, basic save of 3+ and a toughness of 4 – we all know the durability of Marines and the concept of ‘MEQ’ is not lost on anyone. It’s basically the gold standard for gauging what is considered ‘good’, not great and not horrible, durability. If you want to add a bit more durability you can always add Terminator armor to the Librarian because there is still room in the Drop Pod and with his two wounds you can have him tank shots for the other Marines. 
  • Mobility, as my good friend Tony taught me, ‘Drop Pods are only fast once – but usually it’s all you need.’ Drop pods will reliably get you where you want to go, and with a bit of planning, when you want to be there. By taking three pods you can either bring them first wave or hold them off until a target presents itself. With the reliability of reserve rolls and the ‘internal guidance’ of the Drop Pods you can be fairly sure that you will get them where they need to go. As a further layer of maneuverability the Librarian has gate which comes in handy from time to time to get you moving again once the primary target is destroyed.
  • Lethality is a measure of how reliably can the unit bring down assigned targets, the measure is poorly defined and in a game of dice – can easily go right out the window. In my mind lethality is the ability of the unit to bring down targets, plain and simple. In my definition lethality is the high end of the spectrum, Terminators and Wraiths being good examples. Can the unit ‘ratchet up’ to deal with hard hitting blocks of highly durable models? With 2 Plasmaguns and 3 Melta shots you can be reasonably assured that most 'hard targets' with take significant damage in a single round of shooting.
  • Adaptability, naturally, would then fall into the other end of the spectrum – can the unit provide high volume of accurate fire to mitigate or remove cover saves, high toughness or improved armor. Having high lethality is great, but making the unit adaptable enough to counter multiple threats gives you options and creates dilemmas for your opponent. Dilemmas by their very nature create choices and choices create opportunity, again – a topic for another day! With the multiple types of ammunition available to Sterguard - AP3, Removing Cover, Poisoned and Long Range High Strength; the Sternguard can cover multiple situations and perform reliably well at all of them. From dislodging a guard blob from an Aegis Defense Line with their Dragonfire rounds to bringing down high toughness monstrous creatures with Hellfire rounds - the Sternguard can cover a range of employment scenarios and target packages.
Taking all these things into consideration is by no means exhaustive of all the things people may consider when building units into their army. I only use it as an example of the things that I take into consideration when putting my own lists / armies together. I have found this to be very effective method for gauging not only the effectiveness of a unit prior to testing it out in a game, but it also gives me an idea of how to best use it before testing it in a game. Let’s face it, game time is an important commodity and having an idea of a units capabilities and limitations prior to testing speeds up the testing process and makes better use of your gaming time.

Speaking of Strike Packages...
Again, I'm a giver. 

still practicing_



  1. I, too, play Wolves and I very much enjoy my Drop Sternguard squad, though I generally run 5 man squads with 5 combi-meltas (mostly because I really, really, really want that Plasma-cutioner Russ dead. Yesterday, preferably...)

    I've done a 10 man squad a couple times, but I had 6 or so combi-meltas (so each combat squad has a decent amount of melta goodness.) and Pedro (not in the Pod) rather than a Librarian.

    I've moved away from Kantor recently, because I decided having Grey Hunters pod in with the Sternguard was more beneficial, multiple threats and all that, and they are scoring so the Sternguard don't have to be. Double plus, the Librarian is 75 points cheaper than Pedro.

    Also worth noting: Hellfire rounds are awesome vs. 2+ save models that you don't want to/have the luxury of wasting combi-melta shots on. I'm very much a proponent of "make more saves, fail more saves" theory.

  2. And doing the same thing with Wolfguard?

    You can droppod 8 wolfguard with 4 combi of each type or even 3 plasma, 3 fusion and 2 flamer for more adaptability.


    1. Sternguard's Special Issue Ammunition makes them stand head and shoulders above Wolfguard for this particular role. Wolfguard would work in a pinch, though, just not as optimal.

  3. Good stuff, this. I can definitely see the appeal of, for instance, the allied Death Company + Librarian + Dreadnought + Stormraven setup in a ponderous, footslogging, heavy-weapon-oriented build - you need something that can go out there and eliminate what needs eliminating, slow down what needs slowing down, and generally give the enemy something to worry about and avoid.

    I might well link back to this article when I get around to writing the 'tactics' part of Allies fur Alles. Hope you don't mind.

  4. I think Wolf Guard could fill a similar role in respect to the combi weapons, but pound for pound and point for point the Sternguard do it better - and get 12 man drop pods. Which, oh by the way, if you want to get super technical - are Vanilla Marine drop pods which can have beacons on them for bringing in the next wave. The synergies that exist between Wolves and Vanilla are pretty awesome when you start looking into them...

    Von - Link away my friend, I'm honored that you would think my meandering ramblings to be food for thought for others. ;)