Deep Strike is a specialized
way for units in reserve to arrive on the battlefield. Whether
they arrive by tunneling, flying, teleportation, or whatever,
these units deploy using the Deep Strike rules.
For anyone who has read Starship
Troopers, the image of armored warriors dropping from
the sky is dramatic and devastating. But as powerful as
Deep Strike can be, it is prone to some pretty
serious drawbacks if the dice don't go your way.
First off, a unit deploying
by Deep Strike enters the game from reserve. This
means you have to roll dice to see when (or if) they show
up to the fight. Special circumstances and rules aside,
your deepstrikers will not be present at the beginning of
They generally won't arrive till about
mid-game, and may not arrive at all if you keep rolling
1's (hey, I've seen it happen). This can be a potential
problem if the unit represents a large points investment
on your part, because they won't be lending their weight
to the battle for a while.
Another drawback is the
fact that you often cannot choose their exact position when
they arrive. The rules dictate that you place a model from
the deepstriking unit and then roll for scatter. They could
potentially land up to 12" from where you need them
to be. If the dice are really unkind and your unit scatters
on top of the enemy (or off the table!), your deepstrikers
are history. That's right, they're gone! Do NOT pass go.
Do NOT collect 200 dollars.
One final drawback is that, when they
land, they are all clumped up and cannot move or assault.
These guys better be able to lay down some impressive firepower
or be in a protected spot (preferably both). Why you ask?
Can you say Ordnance Template, boys and girls? I knew you
Now that I've gone over the pitfalls
of Deep Strike, here are some advantages:
can make a great "save your bacon" unit. Wherever
you may be having trouble during a game, the deepstrikers
can be dropped in to help reinforce your line. I've seen
a Deep Striking unit turn the tide of a game. It's a gamble,
but it's really gratifying when it pays off.
Pest Control: That
Basilisk behind the hill giving you problems? Drop some
guys in there to blow it sky high. Problem fixed. Deepstrikers
are great at getting to areas of the battlefield that the
rest of your force may have trouble reaching. This duty
is best performed by a unit with firepower, or the pest
will just turn around and blast the crap out of them in
your opponent's turn.
Deepstrikers are notoriously fickle about when they decide
to join the fight. If they decide to show up late, they
may not be able to kill enough stuff to justify their expense.
They can still grab points for you by grabbing objectives.
When they arrive from reserve, deepstriking units are at
full strength. Depending on the situation, it can sometimes
take a bit of effort to get a unit below scoring level.
Dropping a unit on an objective late in the game can be
a method to capture or contest objectives. A method your
opponent may not be able to do much about.
I won't go into the specifics of using
Drop Pods right now. Suffice to say they can be used to
mitigate some of the problems of Deep Strike. They
don't really fit into the scope of a 'general tactics' article
because they 1) are only available to Imperial armies and
2) deserve an article all their own.
Likewise, units with special rules that
make their Deepstriking more effective (like Eldar Swooping
Hawks or the Necron Monolith) really deserve their own articles.
Any tactics regarding units like these will be in the Army
Specific Tactics section.
|All Deepstrikers are not created equal
I've talked about some of the pros and cons of using Deep
Strike. There is quite a range of units in 40k that
can use Deep Strike. Some are better than others.
Instead of going through each and every unit in the game
capable of Deepstriking, I'll go over a few basic types,
noting a few examples from various armies that fit the description.
These are the big boys
with the big toys; monster units, with the price tag to
match. They have a good statline and can unload some SERIOUS
firepower when they land. Space Marine Terminators and Chaos
Obliterators are good examples of "Heavy Hitters".
They can be very effective, but they're expensive as hell.
These guys drop in, hose down the enemy
with some hefty guns, and are tough enough to be able to
soak up some retaliation. If you're using Terminators, a
Drop Pod can really boost thier effectiveness (more on them
later). A squad like this dropping into your opponent's
line can turn the tide of a game. I know, I did this all
the time with my Space Wolves.
Space Marine Terminators
Think of these boys as
"one hit wonders". Small, cheap units dropped
in to perform a job, then die horribly once it's done. A
good example of a "Suicide Squad" would be Imperial
Guard Veterans with the Drop Troop doctrine, armed with
plasma or melta weapons. Their primary targets will be enemy
vehicles, though a plasma armed squad can put some serious
hurt on enemy infantry.
These are 'high risk, high return' units.
They will often be landing close to the enemy, so the risk
of losing them on the drop is very real. They're pretty
cheap, so if they die without doing much it's not a huge
loss. However, since they're so cheap and often pack really
good guns, they are ideal for 'Pest Control'. Just don't
expect them to survive for long.
Imperial Guard Veterans
These are units that
can dish out just as much damage as a "Heavy Hitter"
unit, but don't have quite the same ability to take the
return fire. Tau Battlesuits are just such a unit. The amount
of firepower they can throw down is impressive, but any
concetrated return fire (or, god help you, an assault!)
is likely to hurt... BAD!
"Glass Sledgehammers" are
best used to support your line in a 'Rapid Response' role,
reinforcing weak points or helping to bail you out of trouble.
Risking them on 'Pest Control' duty should be a last resort.
They're far too expensive to just throw away like a "Suicide
Tau Crisis Suits
Off on the Ground
Just because a unit can
Deep Strike, doesn't neccessarily mean that they
should. Some units have the ability, but
really don't have the equipment or statline to make the
most of it.
Look at Space Marine Assault Squads,
for example. They have the ability to Deep Strike,
but very few special weapon options to make a decent show
of shooting on the turn they land. They are also expensive
and will be all bunched up if they Deep Strike,
ripe for an ordnance shot. The alternative is much better;
deploy them normally and use their Jump Packs to make them
a threat from the beginning of the game.
In the best case scenario
using Deep Strike, Assault Marines might
be ready to do something by mid-game. They're still in reserve
on turn 1, and won't be able move or assault if they show
up on turn 2. So starting on turn 3, they'll be able to
perform at full effectiveness. The same is true for any
other assault-based unit that uses Deep Strike.
For these types of units, the only instance where Deep
Strike should be used is when the alternative is certain
Picture this: You're stuck on the 'sparse'
side of the table, with little or no terrain, looking at
a good 2-3 turns of walking into the 'business end' of your
opponent's guns. Suddenly, taking a chance dropping your
troops behind the woods in your opponent's deployment zone
looks like a really good idea!
or Not to Strike?
can be effective, but tricky to pull off. Before deciding
whether or not to use it, you must first determine: What
kind of player are you? Do you like to gamble or play it
If you're a gambler, then Deep Strike
may be your thing. There are entire armies that use Deep
Strike as their theme, Imperial Guard Droop Troops
and Drop Pod Marines to name two. These armies are for players
who like to take risks. They can be very powerful, having
masses of gun toting soldiers dropping from the sky can
rattle even the most seasoned of players. They can also
lose horribly because you are largely at the mercy of the
If you're the type of player who hugs
cover when you should really go for the throat, then deepstriking
troops might take you too far out of your 'comfort zone',
and that can lead to mistakes. Mistakes with Deep Strike
tend to cost you big!
My advice is to try it out. See if it
works for you. I have used it to great effect with my Space
Wolves, not so much with my Tau. It really depends on the
effectiveness of the Deepstriking unit and how they fit
into your overall plan. My Space Wolves are a very "go
for the throat" army, so Terminators hurtling into
battle in a Drop Pod suited them well.
Well that about does
it for the 'Special Rules'. I'll get around to some of the
other rules based tactics in the fairly near future. I've
got some thoughts on Hit & Run and Scouts,
but I've got to get them straight in my brain before I put
anything into writing.
Now I think it's time to look at some
specific armies of the 40k universe...