Easing into Escalation


If the Imperial Knights aren't a clear indication, then I don't know what is.  GW absolutely intends super-heavies to be part of the game, and I couldn't be more excited!  This has been met with a lot of resistance, much like Flyers and Allies were at the beginning of 6e, but now it's peoples turn to deny super-heavies their rightful place in the game.  For those of you who are forward thinking (which I assume you must be if you're reading my blog), then it's time to figure out how to ease people into accepting the inevitable. prepare-your-anus

The D isn't so big

The first thing that people jump to when attacking super heavies are Destroyer weapons, which makes sense, they're by far the most disruptive weapons in the game.  First of all, make sure your friends are talking about Destroyer Weapons and not Revenant Titans, which is a common mistake.  A 900 point titan which unloads 4 destroyer shots at 2 targets a turn is absolutely a terrifying prospect to the uninitiated.  So when talking about Destroyer Weapons, remember that most of them are single shot, large blasts, against infantry they are typically no more threatening than a Riptide ignoring cover.  A 5" blast against a unit that is properly spread out isn't really going to be putting that huge of a dent in it, especially after scattering, and it's also important to note that those 5" blast Destroyer weapons do literally nothing to Flyers and Swooping FMC.  It is true that they do obliterate Land Raiders in a single shot, so heavy armour beware, there's a new gun in town that really should make them nervous.  If anything, this is my largest criticism of Destroyer Weapons, though in the current meta where heavy armour is nearly absent entirely, it's not going to be that game changing.

So now if your friends are still going on about the Revenant Titan and how invincible it is, it's time to remind them of what it can't do.  First of all, it can't do a damn thing to flyers.  Necrons can just have their way with the Revenant all day long, so can Vendettas, Storm Ravens, Storm Talons, Hive Crones, Greater Daemons, Void Ravens, Crimson Hunters, Hades Autocannon Heldrakes, Fire Raptors, and so on.  The Night Scythes, Vendettas and Storm Ravens get extra bonus points because they'll keep scoring units alive until the Revenant is dead.

If your local group is still moaning about the Revenant, just remember that in a small group meta, you should have no shame in refusing to play one if you know your list just has no chance.  This is just like in any small group when one jack ass decides that he's only going to play with his Seerstar.  Social Darwinism means you don't have to play against it.  That said, I would still give it a shot from time to time because in competition you're not going to have an option.

Super Heavy = Super Tough, right?

Wrong.  This is a very common misconception, but when you think about it, they actually are more vulnerable than an equal number of HP of other vehicles.  Lets say you fire at a Leman Russ and cause 2 HP plus an Explode result vs the same results against a Baneblade.  Against the Russ you've only netted a total of 3 HP of damage, while against a Baneblade you've caused 3+D3.  While you cannot suppress a Super Heavy, there is also no wasted damage against one as well.

In the end, the game is counted by Victory Points and dealing 9 HP of damage to 3 Leman Russes (which has similar damage output to a Baneblade) gives you precisely 0 bonus points in most missions, while doing the same amount of damage to a Baneblade is giving you a whole extra objective worth of points.

Consider The Relic where the single objective is only worth 3 points, bagging a super heavy is absolutely going to shift the game to your favor by a significant margin.

But they're too cost effective!

Are they really?  Lets think about what those points can buy!  For 900 points worth of Revenant you can get 3 Wraithknights and a Crimson Hunter Exarch.  That's 3 scoring units, 6 Str 10 Ap2 shots, plus a very good anti-tank flyer, not to mention that the WK's are not worth bonus VP's, can kill more targets per turn than a Revenant, score in Big Guns Never Tire, are a much larger threat in combat and can be in more places than one.  I would not like to face a list with either a Revenant or 3 Wraithknights, lol.

Okay, maybe that's a bad example, how about the Thunderhawk?  Lets say it's 775 points because everyone gives it the turbo laser.  That's nearly as much as 4 Storm Ravens, though has less HP and worse Armour (rear 10 vs 12)  It has the 5" blast destroyer weapon, but 10 less missiles, 4 twin-linked heavy bolters vs 4 twin-linked Multi-meltas or Heavy bolters and then two lascannons vs 4 twin-linked lascannons (or assault cannons).  Additionally, the Storm Ravens can transport 50 more models to 4 different locations.  In the end, for roughly the same cost you get way less general firepower and less deployment options, but gain a 5" blast that you can't use until turn 2.

Due to Allies, the general strain on FOC slots is not what it once was, and now that you can actually take an army with 4 Storm Ravens, if you were considering a Thunderhawk, you might want to think again.


Alright, so how do I ease them in?

First, I would suggest playing with no Destroyer weapons in your local group, or at least no ranged Destroyer weapons.  Not because I think they're OP, but because I think that people have harsh knee-jerk reactions to them when they have to pick their toy off the table after a single shot.

After you've played a while without ranged Destroyer weapons, start playing with only single-shot Destroyer weapons allowed, things like the Shadowsword.  They'll see that the Super-Heavy is becoming a serious threat and probably after a while shift their lists accordingly to handle that.  When this happens, it's time for phase 3.

Play with the D.  Escalation will do exactly what it says on the cover, it will cause a bit of an arms race to adapt, and as people and their lists change, it wont be nearly as upsetting.  Jumping into something like Escalation without understanding how it all works is going to scare off a lot of people, that's natural.

Some afterthoughts

Think about before, when we didn't have the 2++ stars, more balanced lists won because they're designed to handle a variety of threats, and extreme lists had extreme counters. Currently we have Rock-Paper, no Scissors, there is nothing to counter the extreme 2++ list, so clearly it has an advantage, and since there is no extreme counter, then balanced lists suffer as well.

Bringing a Lord of War to a game, specifically something like a Revenant or Turbohound, is an example of the extreme list that has extreme counters. Once the extreme lists are handled, then it's down to more balanced armies to come into play. Why bring an army built to counter a 2++ when they aren't very popular anymore? Similarly, why bring an army to obliterate Lords of War if they lose popularity. After a while the extreme lists will become less popular because they don't reliably win. People who want to win tournaments win by reliably winning their games, not by hoping they get the right matchup every time.