The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

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The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:54 pm

Tactical Squads are (still, barely, give it a few years) the mainstay of a Space Marine Army. They're the main component of the battle companies of a Chapter and are an iconic element on the table top. But if you think about it how they're represented sort of makes little sense.

Tactical Marines have gone through years if not decades of training in Assault and Devastator companies excelling in multiple forms of warfare before they can become Tactical Marines. This is great, the Tactical Marine can respond to any situation because they have a the experience to be good at all types of war (well shooting from a distance or up close and personal). But are they really portrayed as such? On the Tabletop they really aren't, only the Sergeant can have close combat weapons, and only two of them can have special/heavy weapons. This makes sense for game balance in a way and that is fine and I get the fiction and fluff represents the game as much as the game reflects the fiction and fluff.

Think about how the battle companies are organised. Image

The battle companies have 6 tactical squads, 2 devastator squads and 2 assault squads. Now unless the Devastators and Assault squads are rookies (which they could be the distinction between battle and reserve company is one of those things I have long standing issue with) surely it makes more sense for the company to be 10 tactical squads. Because if they need an assault squad, or a pilot or someone to be in the tanks or form a devastator squad every single Tactical Marine can do any of those jobs. Even if you want to play into scarcity of resources wouldn't it make more sense for the battle company to have enough chainswords, jump packs, lascannons for 5 assault and 5 devastators? So if the battle needed lots of assault marines they could do it, 4 squads of recognisable tactical marines, 5 squads of assault marines and one squad spread across the landspeeders and storm talons supporting things. Much more reactive to the actual situation than having to draft in squads from reserve companies on a warzone by warzone basis.

Especially with the new breed of marines knocking on the door, I think it is important that we work out a better way to represent the inherent merits of the Tactical Marine.
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby Xisor » Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:16 am

Ooh, I see. In some sense this is cart-before-horse territory.

In principle we're talking about organising 21 Combat Squads. (Inc Command? Or is the Commmand Squad ad-hoc from the 20? I'll say 21 for convenience.)

Battle Company:
1x5: Command Squad (actually, 3x5?)
12x5: Tactical, Bike, Attack Bike, Land Speeder, Assault, Devastator, Scout
4x5: Tactical, Vanguard, Assault, Centurion Assault, Scout, Bike, Attack Bike, Scout, Devastator
4x5: Tactical, Sternguard, Devastator, Centurion Devastator, Scout, Assault

But you get 'layered' command/strategy/tactical benefits that outeight taking monocultures? E.g.field 80 Assault Marines and 20 Vanguard Vets, but you don't get objective secured, or somesuch. But then you could easily do that in 7th Ed... people just didn't.

The problem, I suppose, is in *modelling* that, both in rules and in physicals. I'm not convinced.

It was a thing in 'Assault on Black Reach' that was cool - Nick Kyme had the main character's squad Scout-armour up for the final mission, as it was required.

Ooh, or perhaps that provides an intriguing point. A sort of ''card identifier" system. You pick your model configurations, but on top of that you mark out who's who. E.g. "this Assault Squad is actually Tactical Squad #5, that Scout Squad is Tactical Squad #2, that Vanguard Squad is Assault #2" and so forth.

I'm really quite intrigued with that idea now.

You get a deck of, say, 20 cards for your main formation - all good/useful cards. You can exchange 2:1 to get an upgrade asset (e.g. First Company/ArmouryLibrary/Good Allies), or 1:2 to take from a Reserve/Scouts Company/Useless Allies (hive gangers, forgeworld cyberpeasants, muties). Each card has a handy set of sensible rules/uniqueness/theme.

I might implement this for my Salamanders to actually keep track of what's going on. The rules will be more pointers for 'theme' that directly impacting in the game, in this first instance - but nevertheless!

----

Edit: stop that you've got additional constraints, e.g. how many jump packs have you actually got? How many bike-mounted multimeltas? How many lascannons? How many Centurion suits?

If we added an extra layer of cards representing your allotment of equipment too, then things get very interesting, and hopefully keep us circling 'standard format but literally allow you the flexibility to do as you please. E.g. you almost always have plenty of access to:
8x1 +2×2 flamers (8 Tactical, 2 Assault)
8x1 +2x4 missile launchers (8 Tactical, 2 Devastators)
80+ bolters
100+ bolt pistols & chainswords, frag grenades
10 Rhinos
10 Bikes, 10 Jump Packs, 10 Drop Pods
1 Dreadnought Chassis

But other assets are typically markedly harder (costly/unreliable) to come by, and hence more restricted in supply (especially if you're outfitting ~15 Marines in Command Squads with specialist doo-dads).
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:47 am

I mean in game wise I sort of get the balance and things for the tactical squad being what it is (not seeing the 8th edition datasheets yet, I'd still argue a third specialist choice within a full cohort of 10 models (making 4 with the Sergeant) and having it a bit freer so you can have 3 lascannons, or 4 powerfists or whatever would be more accurate than a strict "1 sergeant, 1 special, 1 heavy" configuration).

But I am all for having the same "squad" modelled different ways so that what is an assault squad one game is also a tactical squad the next. So you can build narratives around your army without it forcing you to be fielding units that may not be useful in a specific game you are playing.

Salamanders are different though because they only have 7 companies? I don't know what that does for the reserve companies of only assault or devastator marines? Would they just be rotated through the training as "only an x marine" within their company before becoming a fully fledged Tactical marine?

You can still have, "always a devastator" squads, they're just squads on loan from the devastator reserve company (because arguably, the 1st, the 8th, the 9th and the 10th Companies rarely function as a single thing but instead get farmed off to the other companies, either for support and leadership (the veterans) or for training and development (the others). I think I've just argued myself into thinking that all the Sergeants of the 8th and 9th are full on Tactical Marines, like Scout Sergeants are because they need to be making reports and judging the marines all the time.
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby Xisor » Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:34 am

I'm inclined to agree on that Reserve Sergeants point. I've long thought each squad also has a corporal (or equiv. role) who's the designated second that leads combat squads as/when.

I tried, a while ago, mapping out the 'history of a Marine' to try and get my head around the flow of people within a normally operating Chapter. E.g. when do you 'exit to the armoury' and become supernumary?

My gut was:
- Armoury (inc. Techmarines) after a term in Devastator Reserve (by necessity - either incompetent to continue as a line Marine, or the armoury desperately needs dedicated brothers) or later (by suitability).
- Lexicanums as soon as identified once the implants fully take.
- Chaplains (any from Battle Companies)
- Reserve Sergeants taken from Battle Company appropriate (e.g. Tactical Marine to be Tactical Sergeant)
- Reserve Captains from Reserve Sergeants in the main
- Battle Sergeants from Battle Squads (or First Company)
- Battle Captains from Battle Sergeants (or First Company)
- Scout Sergeants from Reserve Sergeants or Battle Squads (or First Company).

I also, when reading Rebirth and musing on Drakgaard, had the thought that *really* most Marine 'strategic skill' is derived from hypnodoctrination & inference. E.g. if your whole chapter is almost wiped out, any battle company Marine could theoretically step straight onto the role of Chapter Master with only a minor adjustment. It'd take a very long time to get "really wonderfully good", but they'd be fundamanetally competent at the job from minute one.

So most of the politics of promotion is identifying the best value, not filtering for anyone suitable (they could all do it, assuming no defects). I like the idea that that's true across the board too, for Sergeants and Captains. Merely that you want the best, but practically once you're in the Battle Company you're basically "complete". (Shy of terminator honours.)

----

As for the Salamanders, it's a bit hazy these days. There's conflict across the board. Some places say Seven Companies only (Firedrakes, Scouts, 3 Battle, 2 Reserve), others say 7 Battle Companies (implying an additional Firedrake and Scout formation that aren't companies), others still give the original 7 with a new 'extra Battle Company'.

My personal preference is 7 BC + Firedrakes + Scouts, where each battle Company is:
1 'Veteran Tactical' (analogous to first company vets in other chapters, in addition to Firedrakes)
5 regular Battle Company Tactical Squads.
2 Regular Battle Company Devastator Squad.
1 Regular Battle Company Assault Squad.
1 Reserve Company Tactical Squad.
1 Reserve Company Assault Squad.
1 Reserve Company Devastator Squad.
0-1 Scout Company Squad.

That'd mean the Salamanders still have their 12-Squad (7 Tac/3 Dev/2 Ass) Companies, but 7*12 takes us up to 840 line Marines.

Then with 7*(5-10) you have their famously 'small' Scout Company (let's assume their '8th Captain' is in charge of recruitment/operations on Nocturne itself) leaving the Firedrakes to make up the rest.

Nominally they're 12 Firedrakes Squads and a Captain (Captain "Chapter Master" Tu'shan), but that could be 60-120 Marines, give or take. Which, given Scouts & Vets are rarely full strength takes them into the order of 1,000 Line Marines (+supernumaries).

---

Having said all that, my first draft looks like this:
Image
(Delete the final l in the url to make it huge)


Meaning that for the main six squads, you can configure them from a wide variety of 'Basic' formats (I'm inclined to remove the Landspeeder/Bike/Attack Bike options from Salamanders normal tacticals to emphasise divergence). The seventh are the 'vets', And can also do Sternguard/Centurion Dev as needed.

The crosses reflect the amendments based on the 'internal reserves' you'd expect from not having dedicated reserve companies.
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:01 pm

that makes sense to me.

How do you think the Primaris will impact things?
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby Fenris » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:22 pm

Saying this as someone that has a compulsive disorder that forces him to buy anything resembling a tactical every time it's possible (to the point that my IF force is from the 6th company)...

Tacticals will never work in game

They simply are (and have always been) overcosted and underarmed compared to almost anything else


They would have to be scrapped and redone from the ground up,and GW has proved time and time again that they wont do that (no cc weapons because the assault marine kit needs selling even where basic fluff states tacs have melee weapons with them [not that it would do them any real good,see chaos marines],buffing scouts to have the same statline [the only real advantage that tacs had over scouts being exactly thos extra stat points] etc etc)

The new edition made them marginally better by introducing general split fire and fire&move (meaning that you arent forced to stand still or waste your heavy weapon / waste everything else when your laser has to shoot something farther than 24") but it's a drop in the ocean when everything else got the same buffs


Then you look at the interceptors primaris and realize they are most likely worse than tacs for the edition they were created into and....Yeah.
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby Xisor » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:51 pm

Something in my head had escaped me and somewhere between writing that post and writing this I have nearly invented "Chapter Master, the Ultimate Tournament Card Game".

Without doing the intervening hard work, however, I remembered the words to describe what's happened.

The meta (and the meta-meta) has shifted.

So all the old rules of what works and what doesn't don't necessarily apply (if they ever did). Both as gamers, and lore lovers.

In reading "Dark Imperium" the phrase "Lufgt was right" sprung to mind. That is: a Chapter as described isn't necessarily the right unit to oversee any unit of territory. (Obviously. You don't send special forces to garrison territory.)

Which begs the question: if you *are* organising superhuman special forces - how?

Guilliman should probably speak with the Raptors or Raven Guard (or Void Spectres!) sharpish!
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby Athelassan » Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:53 pm

In all honesty I always got the impression that the fluff surrounding Chapter organisation - especially Codex chapters - was made up to fill space based on a ten-company model reflecting normal tabletop force distribution* and wasn't particularly thoroughly thought through.

Times have changed a bit, too. In 2nd edition, tactical squads were pretty formidable, as the massed bolter fire backed up with the melta/plasma could chew up a lot of opponents pretty handily. They were possibly not quite as good as devastator squads, but they were cheaper and since fire-splitting was a possibility back then, you could generally distribute enough lascannons around your tac squads that you had decent anti-armour even without a devastator squad. 3rd edition removed fire-splitting for everyone except, iirc, Space Wolves, for some inexplicable reason, so that nerfed tactical squad heavy weapons, but also made mixed-use devastator squads a waste of space. Plus with smaller units now a possibility, you could have one unit of four lascannon devastators, and make up the rest of the space with tactical units. It worked pretty well for the most part.

Time has marched on though and I'm sure the humble tactical squad is now pretty poor compared to the other options on display. But then GW have never quite got to grips with the "specialised generalist" concept in recent years, so that's not surprising. Even where they construct the fluff around it they end up wrecking it somehow. See, perhaps most notably, how the Ultramarines were transformed into anti-Tyranid specialists because they weren't quite cool enough otherwise.

Ath

*for the era, i.e. late 1st/anticipated 2nd edition: one squad each of devastators and assault marines, three tacticals, one each of terminators and scouts.
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:04 am

Oh I am totally with this line of reasoning. But we're at the point where even if it isn't retroactive changes to how companies have always been things can change because things are changing with the setting.

I doubt Tactical Squads will be on the tabletop what I think they should be in the background, it'd be nice if they was more to them in the background though maybe?

I am more than a little bit psyched if Josh gets his Mentor's novel pitch accepted because that is a chapter that arguably uses Space Marines in a way that holds up more to how smart people would use a limited amount of superhuman soldiers.
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby ribbons69 » Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:05 pm

I've never played the game, so apologies in advance if I miss the point. I'm currently reading Helsreach and the Black Templars all have both a melee weapon and a bolter (or something like a plasma pistol) chained to their armour that they utilise in consort when they fight. So if you have a Tactical squad of them on the tabletop they wouldn't be able to do that?
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby Fenris » Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:14 pm

ribbons69 wrote:I've never played the game, so apologies in advance if I miss the point. I'm currently reading Helsreach and the Black Templars all have both a melee weapon and a bolter (or something like a plasma pistol) chained to their armour that they utilise in consort when they fight. So if you have a Tactical squad of them on the tabletop they wouldn't be able to do that?

Eh

Eheh

Someone decided that crusader squads have to swap out their bolter to take a chainsword on the tabletop so...nothing much changes

Also,you can field them only in a BT army
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby Athelassan » Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:24 am

ribbons69 wrote:I've never played the game, so apologies in advance if I miss the point. I'm currently reading Helsreach and the Black Templars all have both a melee weapon and a bolter (or something like a plasma pistol) chained to their armour that they utilise in consort when they fight. So if you have a Tactical squad of them on the tabletop they wouldn't be able to do that?

Black Templars have a different standard set of equipment, I think. Normal tactical marines just have a bolter. They're supposed to have a hand weapon as well, but in practice on the tabletop this is just a combat knife, and since the bolters are two-handed weapons they can't be used together.

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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby Rob P » Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:18 pm

I wonder if there is anything in the Imperial Armour books. The nuts and bolts stuff is not my cup of tea, but since they focus on strategy as much as narrative they might, to some extent, touch on this.
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby Squiggle » Sun Jul 09, 2017 2:56 pm

I think that in the new edition tactical squads will be slightly better.

Rapid fire weapons (bolters) can now be used on the move more effectively - with being able to fire up to their full range.
You can also now move and fire heavy weapons, albeit with a -1 to hit.
Flamers have had a upgrade and now hit automatically.
Grenades can actually be thrown.
You can fire pistols when in a melee before fighting.

I always felt that tactical marines were a classic case of fluff-meets tabletop fairness.

In the fluff, a single marine should really be able to take down almost anything. Think Luke Skywalker and the ATAT in the battle of Hoth. I remember reading early Ragnar Blackmane (Bill King era) fiction where he took down a tyranid carnifex by sticking a krak grenade in its gob. Why else would space marine chapters be so small? IN fact, the latest BL fiction I have read seems to have lost this sense and in my view has too many marines going in and failing to a do a job.

(Where it really struggles is the clashes between loyal and traitor marines. Really, pre-Primaris, traitor marines with the extra 10000 years of experience should make mince-meat of loyalist marines but this is rarely the case, not making for good stories or for a fun tabletop experience but I digress.)

Re chapter deployment, really marines should only ever get deployed with the right weapons to do the job, be it heavy bolters, or flamers or chainswords, depending on their opposition. Which means tactical marines are probably only useful against lightly armoured massed opposition like orks or tyranid swarms.
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby Xisor » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:22 am

Squiggle wrote: Which means tactical marines are probably only useful against lightly armoured massed opposition like orks or tyranid swarms.

I'm inclined to agree, with the addition that my interpretation is that you'll also have a lot of nameless races and incidental conflicts that are approximated by the above two, and the Imperial Guard.

And for the extra-special elites (e.g. four Traitor Marines instigating an uprising of billions of humans), you'll see 'regulars' issued with (appropriately) special issue ammunition. E.g. Vengeance Rounds. In principle, there's no reason you wouldn't issue those to a Scout if they need it and can do the job quite well.

Which then makes a lot of sense. If the vast bulk of foes are, say, ork boys or Imperial Guard, then most of the work can reasonably be done by a craftily positioned missile launcher.

----

Incidentally, this is a teeny/recurring issue in the novel 'Dark Imperium' - hordes of Primaris. 'Fronts of Marines on foot'. It comes off as a bit silly. In one place it was suggested because mortal men could not possibly tackle the awful swamp that was difficult (even for Marines).

I was left thinking "had those mortal men run out of Chimeras?".

Which, obviously, is nitpicking. Still, it's an interesting concept of 'playing the cards you have'. If you've got several hundred Plague Marines, several billion cultists/zombies, void shields, dense allotment of anti-air guns, a significant portion of daemons, and a long time to prepare - and you know you're facing a few Chapter's Worth of Space Marines plus a Sector's spares of Imperial Guard and Astartes Auxiliaries... how do you organise the forces to achieve victory?

Space Marines will need to tackle the opposing Space Marines *at some stage*, but no mafter how it's sliced, you'll likely have to forge through quite a lot of horde first.

Whilst Bolter/Flamer/ML (BFML?) squads *work*, it leaves something of a disadvantage in many areas of traitors do a direct strike. Survivable, But not guaranteed succeess. I'd imagine a lot of those who *can* be provisioned, would have allotments of Special Issue Ammo and Plasma Pistols.

---

But that's fairly heavily predicated on splitting fire within a squad. Combat Squads makes fine sense, in my eyes. E.g. plasma pistol & meltagun in one half, heavy in the other.

But in the tabletop 40k - we're really constricted to what's literally on the table. Which makes this a rock/paper/scissors of sorts. If enemy thinks you'll tool up on grav/plas, plenty of zombies is sensible. If you think plenty of zombies is sensible, then BFML or Heavy Bolter Devs or similar is actually useful. But if everyone's indecisive or flip-flopping...

Is there really a stronger case for BFML tac, than purer focus specialist squads?

I suppose that's precisely what Schafe was getting at originally.

Specialists typically outfox generalists, but an army of all specialists has to be itself somewhat balanced.

---

I wonder if the 7th Ed doctrines would work neatly on a smaller scale?

You've got several 'tiers' of specialism. (Need to be tamer, but you get the idea)
1- First Company: Terminator Honours
2- Battle Company Tactical: split-fire & objective secured
3- BC Assault: Vanguard Vet weapons choices.
4- BC Devastator: Sternguard Weapons choices.
5- Reserve Tactical: just like 7th Tactical.
6- Reserve Assault: "" Assault
7- Reserve Devastator: "" Devastator
8- Scout could do power armour: '4s stationed, 4+ Armour
9- Scout: Move Through Cover when in 4+ armour


Battle Company Tacticals: 2, 5-9
Battle Company Assault: 3, 5-9
Battle Company Dev: 4-9
Reserve Tactical: 5-9
Reserve Assault: 6-9
Reserve Devastator: 7-9
Scout Company: 8 & 9

But, plainly that's daft complicated. It does all for an interesting pick & mix thematically though.

Maybe it's be better viewed bottom up?

E.g. base Devastator represents a Reserve Devastator, etc. You can upgrade to battle: +x power, get a different sheet.

Or principally model it by common role. Battle Companies squads are better at being outnumbered (split fire & disordered charges) whereas reserve companies are far more specialist.

I suppose, what's key here is the ability to simply & elegantly model this in rules. Which, perhaps obviously, my ideas are neither simple nor obvious on this front!
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:19 pm

I think there is always going to be a disconnect between rules and "reality" (for lack of a better term), the rules are dictated by a false need of balance for the game and limited to the models available.

I guess the point is that a Tactical Squad should be able to be every other type of squad. There is no point each Tactical Marine spending a decade serving in devastator and assault squads in the reserve companies only to be limited to a bolter for the next century because of some sort of dogma. Yes the bolter armed Space Marine is an image at the heart of 40k, but then there was quite a bit of moaning when the new stats for the bolter came out because it seemed to represent less than small rocket propelled grenades.

I suppose the easy work around in 8th edition is the new detachment types, so that you an work around needing troop choices, so that your army representing the 3rd battle company needn't have traditional tactical squads because they're all doing other jobs this battle/war.

Also combat squadding is useful, but it still leaves a lascannon being guarded with 4 men with bolters.
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby ribbons69 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:04 pm

Squiggle wrote:
I always felt that tactical marines were a classic case of fluff-meets tabletop fairness.

In the fluff, a single marine should really be able to take down almost anything. Think Luke Skywalker and the ATAT in the battle of Hoth. I remember reading early Ragnar Blackmane (Bill King era) fiction where he took down a tyranid carnifex by sticking a krak grenade in its gob. Why else would space marine chapters be so small? IN fact, the latest BL fiction I have read seems to have lost this sense and in my view has too many marines going in and failing to a do a job. .

In the fluff there are literally reams of prose about "Gene enhanced Super Humans with lightning reflexes " kitted out with helmets that incorporate target lock icons etc . An Adeptus Astartes should never miss a shot.
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:17 pm

two things, game balance will always trump background when a game is being made. The purpose of the game is to be a game not be an accuate portrayal of a fictional setting.

Also whilst the mechanic does break it down as "to hit" "to wound" and potentially "to save" the three stages combine for an overall mathematic success/failure result. Just one themed and made more possible with 6 sided dice. So the failure on to hit could be viewed holistivally as a glancing wound that the combination of armour and foe hardiness has made irrelevant rather than not hitting at all.
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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby Obscura Boy » Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:40 pm

This is a great discussion. All this talk of how Chapters are organised has me thinking: what the hell do Reserve Captains do with their time? We can assume that the Captains of Battle Companies are always leading their troops in combat, in the course of which they might requisition some Reserve squads for reinforcement, but do the Captains of the 6th-9th Companies ever do any 'field work' themselves? Or are they nothing more than glorified, seven-foot, genetically-enhanced recruitment agents?

Oh of course they'll have their fancy additional duties, but those don't seem to make a whole lot of sense either. Sure you could argue that many of them are ceremonial (eg. Master of the Rites, Master Executioner), but some are actually pretty crucial roles that should be given to someone who can fulfil them full-time, rather than having to juggle them with responsibility for a Battle Company. For example, iIf I'm Captain of the Fourth Company and I'm conducting a lengthy planet-side campaign, the last thing I want is to have to take every other day off to deal with fleet administration!

But even if those roles were to be taken out of the hands of full-time commanders, it still seems a bit of a nonsense to give what are essentially desk jobs to purpose-built killing machines like the Astartes. IIRC, don't the Ultramarines delegate some of these responsibilities (like fleet command) to regular humans? Or was that just a Super Special One-Time-Only Deal?

It's almost as if this whole Codex organisational system makes a minimum of sense. :P

Also, to indulge oneself for a moment:

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Re: The Tactical Squad needs a rethink.

Postby Xisor » Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:14 pm

My interpretation of it is that the Chapter typically subdivides sensibly.

In common operations, the forces subdivide based around the Battle Companies - they do the lion's share of the heavy lifting.

Perhaps the Reserves split in two. Each Reserve Captain operates independentally with half their force, whilst the other half is usually seconded to battle companies.

So your Reserve contingent might be at least one of
6th Demi - 5 Tactical
7th Demi - 5 Tactical
8th Demi - 5 Assault
9th Demi - 5 Devastator
A mix of:
- 0-10 Reserve Tacticals (6+7th)
- 0-5 Reserve Assault (8th)
- 0-5 Reserve Devastator (9th)
With the Captains typically being with the Demi as a credible subidvision of a larger force.

E.g. Void Spectres 7th Company Captain Geist leads a demi company of 5 tactical squads. His operation is seconded to the supporting role for the 2nd Battle Company. This gives 2nd Captain Archimed an effective force of 150+ Marines to work with (in addition to other assets), and that can easily be split between at least two *major* theatres under the lead of the two Captains - potentially 'lesser' operations able to be led by the Battle Company's Librarian and/or Chaplain (or lead Sergeant).

Meaning the grunt work of a big fight might be done by the two Captains coordinating elements of a massive war. The Battle Company and Reserve Company's Librarians might lead one of the chief assault squads and two of the reserve tacticals off on a secretive splinter mission. One reserve squad could get deployed in lieu of the spec-ops Battle Assault squad, thereby getting good experience, whilst the remaining two Reserve Squads could be used as 'extras' by major elements as needed.

----

That doesn't tackle the odd Master jobs though. That said, Master of the Fleet is a relatively easy one to envisage: Space Marines at full provision (3 Battlebarges, 10 Strike Cruisers, any number of escorts) have far more capacity than needed to have 1:1 per Company. Even assuming each Company gets a dedicated Strike Cruiser, then you've 3 BBs and *a lot* of escorts to keep track of. Whilst these could all be subdivided under the Chapter Master, there are also a lot of significant actions that likely don't need a standard displacement.

E.g. the standard allotments of we usually attribute to BBs and SCs is what can be deployed within thirty minutes of achieving orbit - not the total capacity.

If you want to send the Reserves put as literally second-lines to the Battle Company, you could easily have them both on one Strike Cruiser. One hour in orbit and you might have a first strike and reinforcements securely in place.

As such, the Master of the Fleet might be in individual command of quite a significant, dispersed force. He'll lease out others to the other forces as needed, and he's responsible for making sure the remainder is properly used.

Similarly, the Master of the Marches might be specifically entrusted with dispatching a squad on fiefdom patrol. The Master of Signals burdened with being chief liaison to all other forces.

In corporate speak: single points of contact, though not necessarily bottlenecks as anyone else *could* take over quite quickly.
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