Monday, March 26, 2012
Much like when facing Thousand Sons, Grey Hunters cannot go toe to toe with Plague Marines in a shoot out or a punch-up. So in order to overcome one of the toughest units in the game, we need to think strategically.
Based on my gaming experience, I'm going to explain how to beat Plague Marines with Space Wolves while explaining what to look out for (like Blight Drones!) and how to best utilise your units to deal with each threat.
DEATH GUARD ARMY STRENGTHS
With Toughness 5, a 3+ save and a 4+ Feel No Pain save, Plague Marine units are unsurprisingly tough to kill.
Any non-Plague Marine units will of course have the Mark of Nurgle, boosting their Toughness by +1. So that means Toughness 6 Daemon Princes and Toughness 6 Chaos Bikers too.
A simple bit of mathhammer shows us that it takes 180 Imperial Guard firing lasguns to kill 10 regular Space Marines. But Toughness 5 Space Marines require 360 lasgun shots. And if those Toughness 5 Space Marines have a 4+ Feel No Pain save, it takes 720 lasguns! So you get an idea of the scalability.
Unless Death Guard are being shot by high strength, low AP weaponry, shooting attacks are going to be farely ineffective. But due to their sheer toughness, Death Guard are equally intractable in close combat.
Just like Space Wolves, Plague Marines carry a bolter, bolt pistol and close combat weapon, making them formidable opponents. Could this with their Blight Grenades which negate any charging bonuses and they are seriously tough to budge.
They will take everything you throw at them and then hit you back every bit as hard! The only thing that seems to kill them are power weapons and power fists. But when they are certain to have a Powerfist in each of their squads too, ithe success of basic attacks will decide who wins close combat -and more often than not it will be the Plague Marines.
Forge World Units
In some tournaments Forge World units are permitted. This means that packs of 3 Plague Ogryns and Blight Drones are common sights at these sorts of tournaments. Blight Drones in particular, because they're like an Armour 12 Chaos Land Speeder with a Reaper Autocannon, Heavy Flamer and a Battlecannon!
DEATH GUARD ARMY WEAKNESSES
Like most Chaos Space Marine armies, Death Guard need to rely on their Heavy Support choices to provide long ranged firepower. Typically these take the form of Obliterators, Defilers (Blight Drones) or Land Raiders. But overall, this gives them a distinct ranged disadvantage compared to the loyalist Space Marine Chapters.
This lack of heavy weapons means that they struggle against armies made of numerous lightly armoured vehicles. However, the sheer tenacity of their Plague Marine troops can often make up for this.
A Death Guard army is always quite expensive from the Plague Marines themselves to the Heavy Support choices needed to back them up. As a result, this kind of army is typically small and easily outnumbered. But with their Toughness of 5, 3+ saves, 4+ Feel No Pain saves and plethora of equipment, being outnumbered seems to mean very little against other Space Marine armies.
Plague Marines only have an Initiative of 3, which means Space Wolves will be striking them first in close combat every time...not that this seems to make a huge ammount of difference.
But where this counts is your Rune Priests casting Jaws Of The World Wolf, which has a 50/50 chance of removing any Plague Marine from play that the 24" line touches. So use this to your advantage.
TYPICAL DEATH GUARD ARMY LIST
This is what mostof the Death Guard armies I have faced have been like. A mixture of big stuff with lots of wounds and high toughness, backed up by plenty of Plague Marines, Obliterators and Blight Drones...and of course, a Slaanesh Sorcerer to 'lash' units out of cover and into the open for all those high strength, low AP weapons. And remember that the sacred number of Nurgle is 7!
Mark of Nurgle, Warp Time, Jump Pack
Mark of Slaanesh, Lash of Submission
(X3) Plague Marines
Champion with powerfist and combi-melta
6 Plague Marines, Meltagun, Plasma gun
(X2) 7 Lesser Daemons
(X2) Blight Drone
Death Guard Army Strategy VS Space Wolves
Because Plague Marines do what Grey Hunters do, only better, because they are so tough, the Death Guard army will advance quickly and occupy the middle ground before putting on the pressure with the Daemon Prince and Greater Daemon who will get into close combat and probably tag team up to start fighting their way through the Space Wolves.
Meanwhile the Obliterators will provide the usual covering fire or may be used to Deep Strike in next to a pack of Long Fangs and gun them down with massed Plasma fire.
The Lesser Daemons are there to tie up units so that the Plague Marines can also get into close combat (which is where they really excel) and of course the Sorcerer with 'lash' will join one of these squads, adding to its close combat killing ability while 'lashing' units closer to it in order to charge.
As for the Blight Drones, they are likely to fly around at the back of the board, well out of heavy weapons range and aim for clusters of Grey Hunters or Long Fangs that a well placed Battle Cannon shot can eliminate. After all, they have only have a BS of 2, but with something as large as an Ordnance blast and as accurate (yes, accurate!) as a scattering blast, they really excel in this role.
So against this army, close combat is not somewhere that the Space Wolves really want to be.
Space Wolves Strategy VS Death Guard
Having learned that Plague Marines are incredibly tough to kill in close combat and that basic weapons fire does very little, the Space Wolves player needs to use their strengths against the weakness of the Death Guard - and that's the vulnerability to high strength, low AP weapons.
The Long Fangs (and any Razorbacks) will start by focussing on the Death Guard transports to keep those Plague Marines at bay.
Next on the 'hit list' is the Daemon Prince, or Greater Daemon if it's already too close.
Then it's just a case of focussing your firepower and eliminating one threat at a time.
Anything that gets too close to your lines will then be dealt with by a focussed attack from packs of Grey Hunters, with a Rune Priest casting Jaws Of The World Wolf to take down as many of the Plague Marines as possible.
And if the terrain is sparse, do your best to take out those Blight Drones, but only if you have plenty of turns before the Plague Marines, Daemon Prince or Greater Daemon reach your lines.
In order to beat Deathguard with Space Wolves you need to stay out of close combat until you can bring 2 Grey Hunter packs to bear against 1 Plague Marine squad. Otherwise you will lose.
Use your ranged firepower and heavy weapons as your greatest strength to limit their mobility, knock out the big stuff, then clean up with the Grey Hunters.
One unit that's great for 'mopping up' is a pack of Wolf Guard Terminators with combi-weapons and power weapons in a Land Raider. Their guns will cut through Plague Marines with ease and their power weapon attacks should inflict plenty more wounds in close combat too.
So be sure to focus your firepower and your advance in order to annihilate one key threat at a time.
And don't even bother about developing any strategies around basic weapons fire. Only special and heavy weapons are going to take down Plague Marines or have much of an impact on any units with the Mark of Nurgle.
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