Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Alpha Strike * The Key to Winning with Pure Grey Knights ?
I have seen lots and lots of theory hammer about winning with Grey Knights on the interwebs... So far it seems like no one has presented the penultimate net list yet though. A trend I've noticed is that the players who are reporting big success all seem to be using the Grand Strategy to consistently pull off the alpha strike... Fast units such as Paladins in a Stormraven or units which shunt making the pre game scout move to get right into their opponent's grill on turn 1 - blasting the enemy with psycannons, torching them with incinerators and punching out armor with daemonhammers that automatically hit... This just seems like the way to go now.
The Rubber Meets the Road
My first experience with the new Grey Knights involved a huge 8000 point team game with four players apiece on both sides of the table. I saw the power of stormbolter en masse firing their deadly psybolts so I envisioned an army of infantry marching across the battlefield laying down one salvo after another totally obliterating the enemy. Fast forward a few weeks ahead and finally I realize that an all infantry army is going to have some problems depending upon the match ups. I will definitely be fielding Draigos and a Librarian attached to a squad of Paladins - as resilient as they are long ranged weapons such as lances and lascannons are their bane if you opt to march them across the battlefield. Even with Draigos' mighty stormshield and the Librarian's Shrouding you can't afford to lose two or more Paladins to strafing hi-X enemy shots that worm their way through your defenses... It's just too expensive and too hard to make back their points.
The Grand Strategy and the Alpha Strike
The best units to alpha strike are those with the shunt move (i.e., personal teleporters) and these units are obviously Dreadknights and Interceptors. The Dreadknight was much ballyhooed as an ultimate avatar of death incarnate but now that the codex has been out for awhile it seems their hype has leveled off dramatically. On the other hand though the Interceptors seems to be growing in popularity - they can function much the same as a squad of Blood Angels Vanguard veterans if you get to go first and use the pre game scout move via the Grand Strategy. Stormravens also have the potential to be great for the first turn alpha strike however it would be very helpful if GW were to clarify that a unit such as Paladins can embark inside the Stormraven (i.e., non dedicated transport) and use the pre game scout move. A lot of IG players have had lots of success using this same tactic with squads of melta vets riding in Vendettas. Now that the proverbial shoe is on the other foot it will be interesting to hear what IG players have to say and remember they have lost some of their best defenses to enemy alpha strikes with the release of the Grey Knight codex - namely the old Daemon Hunter allies - Inquisitor with Mystics and the Emperor's Tarot. I will wait to see if the upcoming FAQ addresses this issue.
At first I was dead set against playing Grey Knights like Blood Angels but as the smoke begins to clear it's looking more and more like this is a sure way to design a competitive pure Grey Knights army. Seeing that both codices were written by Mat Ward I think that is a sign. Time will tell if this is the right path.
50% is Not Good Enough
An alpha strike typically hinges on going first (unless you are playing BA DoA or Daemons) so I don't think it's a good game plan in general to design a list that is dependent upon going first to win. It can happen - such as leaf blower going first nine times in a row to cruise through the Ard Boyz for the big win a couple years ago - but the odds are astronomically against you... In fact the odds of going first three times in a row is only one out of eight times - I just don't feel that lucky.
If you are going to design a balanced army that doesn't have any in games mechanisms to go first (e.g., Vect) then you don't want to put all your eggs in the proverbial basket. Therefore your army must be able to perform well when going second. I think that the Grand Strategy can account for going second as well and that's one of the reasons why I'm so big on Draigos... Besides being one of the ultimate melee gurus with S5/T5,4W, Eternal Warrior, stormshield and a Nemesis force weapon he is also a level 2 psyker and has the Grand Strategy. Combine him with a Librarian or suitable Inquisitor and a squad of Paladins - you have your 5ed deathstar plus he is buffing your army overall.
I hope that Grey Knights pan out well because if they do that will help to change the current meta in my opinion and that is always a good thing as far as I'm concerned. Certainly IG players don't want daemonhammers popping their tanks the first turn and Paladins can go toe to toe with Thunderwolves. If Grey Knights become a popular winning army then some things will surely change. Heh...
So that's all for now - let's keep tweaking our lists !