Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Stop Playing The Game Wrong ; AKA Why I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Combat Squads (Actually, I Loved Them Before...)

I have seen mention of how the Combat Squads rule, and the Reserves Mission Special Rule interact aplenty recently.  In fact, you could even say I've seen it brought up TOO MUCH...mostly, because most of the opinions, comments, and 'facts' I have seen regarding the issue are wrong, lies, or stupidity masquerading as intelligence.

Let's get to the crux of the matter, what do people think is the case here?

People read the following FAQs:
...although it is curiously absent from http://www.games-workshop.com/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m1830601a_Grey_Knights_v1_1.pdf

More Specifically, they read the following excerpt:

Q: Can you take a Drop Pod with a 10-man squad and
then put a combat squad in it, deploying the other
combat squad on the table, or leave it in reserve but
not in the Drop Pod? (p32)
A: No, because squads that are placed in reserve may
not break down into combat squads.

This is understandable, that they might take it as an absolute.  That, to them, this is a decree from 'on high' that  units may not Combat Squad may never be Combat Squadded...but this shows a fundamental failure to understand the concept of Deployment in 40k.

You see, what this statement above ACTUALLY means is that a unit in Reserve cannot be Combat Squadded WHILE IT IS IN RESERVE.

This is a MASSIVE distinction.


Allow me to elucidate.

If you have, say a Jump Pack army of Blood Angels, based primarily on using the Descent of Angels special rule.  If you place your army in Reserve (duh) then your interpretation of the rule can go one of three ways:
*You can Combat Squad, because both are in reserve, and so the example from the FAQ is invalid [This is wrong] and you make two separate rolls, one for each squad, that you can of course re-roll as per DoA...giving you an excellent chance of getting one of the units, if not both;
*You cannot Combat Squad, ever, because the unit was placed in Reserve.  You make 1 roll, possibly re-rolling if you so choose.
*You make a single roll, as above, again with the possibility of re-rolling if you get an undesirable result.  You, however, have thoroughly read the Reserve rules, specifically the following:
"When deploying their army, players may choose not to deploy one or more of the units in their army and instead leave them in reserve."
"Once all the units have been rolled for, the player picks any one of the units arriving and deploys it" ...
"deploys it" ...
"deploys it"

Units that are placed in Reserve are not deployed.  They are purposefully NOT deployed.  When a unit arrives from Reserve, THIS is when it is deployed on the table, whether it be by Deep Strike, Outflank, Operate Behind Enemy Lines, or whatever way it may be.

Why is this so critical that I risk irritating you, dear readers, with the repetition and emphasis?

Simple.  Let us look at the Combat Squad rules now.

"The decision to split the unit into combat squads, as well as which models go into each combat squad, must be made when the unit is deployed." [Emphasis mine]

In fact, it goes even further - "Both combat squads can be deployed in separate locations."

So, the third option from above creates the following scenario - We make a single roll for each 10-man Assault Squad, re-rolling if we please (and fail, of course) before opting whether or not to deploy the unit as one 10-strong unit, or as two separate 5-man combat squads, which may be in totally different parts of the board.

Does this grant an unfair advantage that Marines didn't have? Not really, this is what the rules say - and it represents the inherent tactical flexibility of Marines.

I get it. I'm a Xenos player myself, but you have to realise that marines are, 1 for 1, better than their enemies - with obvious exceptions like enemy characters or whatever, but grunt vs grunt.  More importantly, they are trained to function as a well-oiled machine, acting in perfect harmony with their brothers.  Playing the rule this [the correct] way is in fact the only way to not penalise Space Marines for being on Foot instead of being mechanised...and I know that the vast majority of self-professed 'anti-rules-lawyer' types out there would hate to see mechanised lists get an advantage (like IRL, in traditional, non-guerilla, warfare...) especially one not actually supported by the rules.

How does this rule work in other situations? Well, for instance - a unit in Reserve in a Rhino isn't deployed either - but the rules clearly tell you you must decide if they are or are not Embarked.  If they are not, you walk on as per, and choose when you do so if you walk on as a single unit, or as two separate combat squads, potentially in different corners.  If you ARE Embarked, then you deploy INSIDE the Rhino, and thus cannot combat squad, as it can only transport one unit, and you've already deployed transported.

In fact, all it really affects is Drop Pods (like the example) Dawn of War deployment, and Razorbacks.

Drop Pods, the easiest - you must place (not deploy) the whole unit Embarked, but are granted a specific exception in the Combat Squad rules to permit Combat Squadding after Deployment.
Razorbacks - you cannot place half the squad on the board and half in a Razor in Reserve, just like with Pods.  Naturally, you cannot do this on foot either, or half in Reserve in the Razor and half in Reserve on foot - they may not split until deployed, and the declaration of what's in the Razor comes before that.  The Razor is forced to roll for Reserves independently, and move on bereft of any contents.
Dawn Of War prevents you from doing what I just mentioned - Reserving half a squad while the other half is on the board...but it in no way precludes you 'not-reserving' half a unit, and deploying the other half, right?


"He can then deploy up to two units from his Troops selections"

Therefore, if you Combat Squad a unit placed on the board in DoW, you MUST place both halves of the unit, as you are Deploying the Unit as TWO units (Combat Squads) akin to when you place a Dedicated Transport.

So, yeah, you CAN Combat Squad something you place at the start of DoW, but not as a tactical advantage that you probably expected.

Bear in mind that units that join the fray on Turn One per DoW's rules enter "just like units moving in from reserve" - thus, they are deployed at this juncture, and can indeed Combat Squad.
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