To Deep Strike or not to Deep Strike? That is the question.
I have always been a huge army jumper. I would play an army one week and another the next. I recently moved and was forced to only take a very small army 40k army with me. My move left me to focus all my attention on my small elite Grey Knight force. Due to my situation after the move I was left trying my best to get the most out of the models that I already had. That force was mostly Terminators, Strike Squads, a few Dreads and one lonely Rhino. When learning to play my new army I was very conservative with my deployment. I would set up on the other side of the board and slowly march towards my opponents. I had come from a background of playing Space Wolves and Blood Angels. Both of these armies play the mech game well and I was used to advancing under the cover of vehicles. I now found myself at a loss to mech up my Grey Knights. I did not have the models with me and also found the points cost of transports prohibitive. So I found myself walking.
Walking across the table works, but I found that I could be blocked or slowed way too easy. Savvy players could keep me from getting to where I needed to be in objective games. I was lacking anything more than one Rhino in my force and also did not have anything to transport terminators in. I was forced to try the only other means of delivery that the codex had left available to me. The Deep Strike!
At fist I was very timid. I would break off a 5-man squad of terminators and throw them unsupported into the mix. I would teleport them down pointed at the squishy bits of the enemy and poke them where it hurts. This could leave my opponent wrong footed, but I was still suffering from the problem of not being able to get across the board and take my opponents objectives. Slowly I started to throw more and more squads into reserve to Deep Strike them. Then, with an epiphany, I realized something very important. Almost all Grey Knights can Deep Strike!
The first time you throw a 10-man terminator squad from orbit in a Deep Strike and land them 3 inches from an enemy squad it can make you a bit nervous. Deep Striking is a high risk high reward situation as everyone always tells you. What they don’t tell you is, it’s not as risky as you think.
When you Deep Strike do it right in front of the enemy. Leave yourself a 6 to 8 inch bubble if you want to be safe, but if you want to get those flamers in deep strike 3 inches away. This is what they don’t tell you. You have a 1 in 3 chance of rolling a hit. Which is pretty good 33% of the time you are dead on. The average roll on 2D6 is 7 so even if you end up pointed in the wrong direction you have about a 50% chance of not hitting that unit that you are aiming to smash with your Deep Strike. If all of that fails and you still land on top of your opponent’s space men, you still have a 2 in 3 chance of living and getting another go of it.
So, let me ask you this, “what chance would the same squad have if it ran across the board, with no cover, of making it to a sensitive objective?” While there are too many factors to determine that completely there is one answer that is completely true. That 10-man squad of terminators will not make it there unscathed. Now does suddenly having 10 terminators appearing turn 2 on your opponent’s objective sound a little more appealing?
What I have found is that Grey Knights can reasonably deploy by Deep Strike. You can get half to even your whole army on the board this way. There are several things that can help you do this. First and foremost are Grandmasters, and to a lesser extent Brother Captains and Inquisitors.
Lets just take the Grandmaster for now as an example. He can do what the others do but so much more. The main benefit is a power all the above characters share called Psychic Communication. What this does is change the reserve roll for you by + or – 1. This means you have a better chance of holding off or bringing on the units that you want with this power active. This is a huge advantage for armies deploying by Deep Strike.
The other advantage of the grand master is that they can make some elites and heavy choices troops. In such a small model count army it really can help to have everyone become scoring. This can really free up your options as your support dreadnoughts can take objective for you, and you can have even more troops to Deep Strike at the enemy.
Another tip; you want a large portion of your Deep Striking units to hit the board at the same time. This makes it harder for your opponent to deal with them and they can also support each other way more easily. Most of the time I with Psychic Communication will end up having at least two units that hit on turn 2. It also can be nice to keep a small 5-man squad in reserve as long as you can to objective grab at the end. Interceptors are great for this but strike squads also work wonders.
As for unit composition, I really am partial to 10 man terminator squads with 2 Psycannons. If you are more partial to 5 man squads you can also save on the Psybolt ammunition if you take 10 and combat squad them. Strike squads are good as well, but don’t work as good as Terminators when landing from the Deep Strike. Their Psycannons can’t put out as much firepower when they move, so if you are planning to Deep Strike them you might want to consider flamers.
I have found Deep Striking a wonderful and reliable way to deliver my troops. You have to be very thoughtful about where you dump your troops though. You can leave yourself WAY out of position for winning the game if you are not careful. You have to look at each Deep Strike and think about where that unit is going to be in a few turns. If the answer is stuck here out of position for scoring, you might want to think about another place to Deep Strike them.
One more think to look out for is getting your troops where you want them to go WAY too early. If you end up with all three of your Deep Striking units surrounded by your opponents army turn 2, there might not be enough left of your push to capture any objectives by turn 5. This again is where Psychic Communication comes into play again. You can try and delay your units till turn 3 to give your opponent a chance to spread out.
Well there are the basics! Have fun Deep Striking and remember get right up there in their teeth!