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 Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE

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PostSubject: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Tue Aug 16 2011, 06:18

Unit Size.
It matters.

Okay, seriously, let's talk about this. It's probably one of the most common sorts of questions I see in strategy/tactic boards - "how many X should I take?" "Is Y enough of Unit Z, or do I have to take more?" "What is the most competitive number of models in a unit of..."

It goes on and on, and I watch people answer it on and on and...and they act like there's an *actual* answer Sad Well, let me solve that for you right now, I'm going to give the one, ultimate, total, absolutely correct with NO QUESTIONS ASKED answer to the unit size question...

It depends.

Yep, that's it, right there. that's the whole and total truth to the question. So, we're done here now and...wait...what's that? You say you'd like me to actually maybe explain the *issues* you can consider in order to understand the variables so that you can answer the unit size question yourself? Well, heck, that sounds like a good idea - let's do that!

The Three Core Values

Okay, so what are the issues, the real core issues that actually define this debate?

Damage Output
Access to Certain Wargear Options

Now, really what all three of those are about is "Value" You want the unit to do what you want to be able to do with it so you get "Value" on the tabletop. So, basically, you want it to be able to survive being hurt. You want it to be able to hurt things back, and...as a special tertiary consideration, you want to have enough members in the squad to get to the good stuff that you'll want to use in order to be harder to hurt or to hurt the enemy more.

Make sense? Good - let's consider these three things and talk about what you're looking for when it comes to DE in particular.

There are general ideas that hold very true for DE, and most of us know them.
Glass hammer.
Fast yet fragile.
Take objectives, don't hold them.
Spikey elves of pointy spikey spike-ness.

Well, besides that last one, what these are saying is basically DE are GOOD at inflicting damage and BAD at receiving damage - so we have some special considerations in thinking about our squad sizes. There are basically two schools of thought.

Full Squads - Our units are easy to kill, so we need to take the biggest squad we can in order to help them survive once they start getting hurt.

MSU - We're good at inflicting damage, so we should take lots of small squads so we can inflict the most damage possible, any of our units that are attacked are dead anyway, so why waste points bulking them up.

Most DE generals are aware of these decisions and have made a call somewhere along the sliding scale from minimal, to maximized. Now, I do have an admission to make before we go much further;

Hullo, my name is Thor665 and...I'm an MSU addict.

Hey Thor!

Yeah, I'm an MSU fiend - that's because I feel exaggerating our strength is a better overall plan than trying to cover our weaknesses. I'll present my arguments below, but will also attempt to show some of the weaknesses inherent in small squads as well (there are quite a couple) but I want to try to make an honest showing of where both schools of thought get things "wrong" in my opinion.

Survivability and Unit Size

This is probably one of the biggest ones. More bodies in a squad makes the squad harder to kill, right?
Well...again...the answer is really 'maybe' Let's consider some specific DE issues with survivability;

Exploding Raider/Venom syndrome

This is one of my favorites, and is one of the ones I think MSU really has an advantage on. But, I'm sure you've heard/said something like this "I take full size squads so when my transport blows up my unit isn't useless or all dead."

Well...let's examine that idea, and really look at it. Because, in terms of survivability in an exploding crash, I actually think smaller squads are *just* as survivable as large squads. Here's why;

Example 1 - Exploding Raider with DE Warriors inside
5 Man Squad 5 dice - 2.5 wounds - 1.6 after armor
7 Man Squad 7 dice - 3.5 wounds - 2.3 after armor
10 Man Squad 10 dice - 5 wounds - 3.3 after armor

So...a 5 man squad loses 1-2 men.
A 10 man squad loses 3-4 men.

Both are having to deal with the 25% morale check situation.
Wha-what!?! But...but...ten men...TEN...it's stronger than FIVE, that's MATH! Damn you Thor, damn you and your lying math!!!

Yeah, it's math, and the issue with exploding vehicles is that the enemy *auto hits* and in any situation where an enemy auto hits a squad is going to lose the same *percentage* of units regardless of if it's 5 men or 20.

So - if you want to have bigger squads in order to survive exploding transports easier...there's no real point. If that's the only reason to take more men then you should probably save points and buy something else.

All the big squad might get you as a benefit is it will somewhat help protect you from statistical improbabilities...but statistically those can swing to help you as much as hurt you, so I don't see the point.

Leadership/Morale Checks and dealing with them when your Leadership usually is terrible

This one has been talked about almost to death, and I suspect most players understand it already, but let's do the quick breakdown. What we're looking at here is how many casualties will cause a morale test, and how many casualties the unit can take before it will never be allowed to rally if it fails a morale test;

Unit number Morale check no longer rally
5 2 3
6 2 4
7 2 4
8 2 5
9 3 5
10 3 6

What has always been fascinating to me is that the so-called sweet spot of 7 with Wyches doesn't actually hit a sweet spot on this chart. 6 is probably the true and legitimate sweet spot for affordability. 10 is certainly a solid holding block.

So what does all this tell us?

That units you expect to take a bit more of a beating should probably have some extra bodies in order to ward off morale saves. (especially since DE leadership is, on the whole, kinda mediocre)

I would say my general advice is, from a morale survivability standpoint, that 6 is the true magic number when it comes to unit size, 5 being a bit more affordable for minor loss - again, an arguable win for MSU. That said, if you really want a unit to hold an objective, 10 starts looking a lot more viable. These numbers are, though, really kind of minor to my mind. The wins and losses from a morale standpoint can be rough - but I would say the only one to sweat yourself over is the 25% one - by the time any DE unit is under half strength it probably hardly matters that they're running really.

Being shot up when all you have for armor is a fancy thong

You take more bodies to protect yourself from death, right?
Riiight. Let me open by saying, when it comes to shooting vs. DE...size does not matter.
But, let's consider some basic damage possibilities;

Example 2 - DE Warriors vs Shooting
5 Marines rapid fire - 10 shots - 6.6 hits - 4.4 dead DE
10 Marines rapid fire - 20 shots - 13.3 hits - 8.8 dead DE

If you check the morale chart you'll notice that any squad under 8 is in pretty much equal trouble regardless of how many guys you took. Even the 9 and 10 man squads are hurting, even with only 4-5 dead.

This is actually why I'm a big fan of MSU - I personally think that DE are going to die, and having a few extra bodies won't prevent it. One Flamer in the Combat Squad of 5 would really have just wiped out even a Warrior squad of 10. So - vs. Shooting - your unit size *really* barely matters with most DE units. Even things with Armor like Scourges or Reavers are really not going to absorb the damage very well at all. Let's consider one of the age old size questions; Reaver jetbikes

Example 3 - Reaver Jetbikes vs Shooting
5 Marines rapid fire - 10 shots - 6.6 hits - 3.3 armor saves - 1.6 dead DE
10 Marines rapid fire - 20 shots - 13.3 hits - 6.6 armor saves - 3.3 dead DE

Now, consider the two classic RJB builds;
3 RJBs w. some upgrade - let's say Blaster.
6 RJBs w. 2 of the same upgrade.

vs. 5 marines rapid firing at them - the squad of 3 will have to risk its Blaster - which is a point in favor of the 6 man squad option. The 3 man is definitely facing morale...the 6 man might be facing morale as well - risking 2 Blasters.
vs. 10 marines - the 3 man squad is probably dead (costing you 1 Blaster), and the 6 man has to risk both blasters and will no doubt have a morale check as well.

This is a good value with splitting your squads up - DE are so fragile that a squad of us that's twice as big isn't really twice as hard to kill, because a lot of enemy units will basically overkill us. So there's a certain defense in splitting your gear up between multiple units so the enemy needs multiple units of his own to deal with them. Yeah, Marines can cap gun us off the board with no difficulty...but if there are eight of our squads and only four of theirs - I know I'm going to get some shooting turns to return the favor.

The big drawback is, of course, more killpoints. Yes, MSU makes units harder to kill by forcing your opponent to have to have more units shoot at you, but it will make life potentially more difficult for you in KP missions.

Now, there is one place this rule is turned on it's head - and that's in Assault. DE units like Wyches and Wracks are as tough as old shoe leather in assault (plus, and I'll get to it in the damage section) they gain a *lot* more from extra bodies in assault than you do in shooting. This is because in Assault our saves become extremely superior, going to 4+ or we have assault units that are the various coven boys that inherently start with FNP and a natural higher toughness. This is interesting, as we can be very easy to kill with shooting, and very difficult to deal with in assault.

So, when deciding unit size;

Survivability vs. shooting - unit size almost doesn't matter.
Survivability vs. assault - unit size does matter.

Well, now you have a LOT of information about how unit size does or does not actually affect Survivability in a unit. We've seen that in exploding transports size doesn't matter, also, considering how weedy we are our unit size surprisingly makes only very moderate changes in survivability vs. shooting. In the more survivable environment of assault it becomes more viable to have a larger squad - but with morale checks the true super value is 6 unless you want to pay for 9-10.

So, small units seem to toally sweep the board, yeah? Well...not quite. Let's talk about our next section - damage output.

Damage Output and Unit Size

More bodies equates to more damage, yeah?
Well...actually...pretty much, yep.

You really cannot argue that 5 guys shooting is going to be more effective than 10 guys shooting, (at least not until we get into Wargear discussion). Still - we really should discuss the relative value gains;

Assaulting via Horde

Flat out - more bodies will help your assault elements inflict more damge - and it's a pretty aggressive growth. This is because in our actual assault units (from Wyches and Wracks to even Grots and Beastmasters) you usually gain a dramatic number of extra attacks per body.

With Wyches, for 10 points I'm basically buying +3 attacks (and that's prior to drugs)
For 12 points I'm buying +3 attacks and +1 glancing hit on vehicles.

Also, and let's be clear on this, more Wyches/Wracks/whatev increases your ability to assault things. Why? Multi-assault. When you're barreling into an IG parking lot, having an extra 2-3 Wyches basically assures you an extra 1-2 enemy vehicles that are going to get messed up. That's 24 points managing to but a hurting on 80+ That's VALUE.

Now, it is important to understand, outside of vehicles, how much help Wyches are actually being. We've all heard the old standby of the Agonser what the Agoniser will do is basically +1-2 wounds per combat...vs. pretty much anything. Still, let's presume there is no Agoniser and just try to get a rough idea of what the squad numbers are doing versus three iconic assault foes;

Example 4 - Wyches in Assault, a Numbers Game
5 Wyches vs. Guardsmen 10 hits - 5 wounds - 3. 3 dead Guardsmen after armor saves.
10 Wyches vs. Guardsmen 20 hits - 10 wounds - 6.6 dead Guardsmen after armor saves.
5 Wyches vs. Orks 7.5 hits - 2.5 wounds 2.08 dead Orks after armor
10 Wyches vs. Orks 15 hits - 5 wounds 4.1 dead Orks after armor
5 Wyches vs. Marines 7.5 hits - 2.5 wounds .83 dead Marines after armor
10 Wyches vs. Marines 15 hits - 5 wounds 1.6 dead Marines after armor

It's easy to see why the Agoniser is so useful vs. Marines, yeah? Every 5 Wyches is probably only killing 1 Marine, but the Hekatrix kills 1-2 all by herself. Now, these numbers are...slightly misleading, because with drugs all Wyches are indeed actually better at killing than this, but it gives you the idea.

Wyches are decent at chopping up blobs of mooks and suffer vs. high toughness and high armor saves, and the extra bodies help them out in a clear and obvious manner. Also, with assault, vs. MEQ the Agoniser is *very* valuable to the Wyches, so it's nice to be able to protect it with some mook bodies.

For pure damage output in assault - big squads win - hands down.

How Many Splinter Rifles Can Dance on the Head of a Dakka Gunboat?

Shooting is a more moderate gain, because with most shooting attacks you're only gaining 1-2 extra shots per body purchased or, to get to that sweet Assault number of 3+ you're probably having to buy a body *and* a weapon upgrade of some sort.

So, when considering how many extra bodies you need for a shooting unit, the really important question is to ask yourself, "how often will I get this extra shooting benefit?" The more you can get the shooting benefit, the more valuable the extra bodes are.

Let's consider a basic one;

Example 5 - Warriors in a Raider Shooting Marines
10 Warriors at 24" 6.6 hits - 3.3 wounds - 1.1 dead Marines after armor saves.
10 Warriors at 12" 13.2 hits - 6.6 wounds - 2.2 dead Marines after armor saves.

That is a dramatic shift, yeah? When you're paying an extra 45 points for s.rifles, you better be planning to get them up in there and take advantage of them. 45 points for an extra .5 dead Space Marines is NOT a good value. 45 points for an extra 1 dead Space Marine starts looking pretty good - because you don't need to do that to too many Space Marines to say you got your value back from the unit.

So, when shooting, more bodies is better (duh) and you want to make sure if you buy those bodies you maximise them - otherwise there's no point to go bigger with the unit.

So...pretty much MSU sucks at damage output, right?

This is a good question, and it's interesting to argue, because one has to start moving away from math and doing some theoreticals.

MSU and Assault

This one is, I believe, a pretty clear win for bigger squads. MSU has *clear* advantages for SURVIVING. If I field 3 squads of 5 Wyches and you field 2 of 10 - well, I'm more likely to get Wyches into assault - not a question. I'm more survivable.

But, for equal points in Wyches, your squads will hit harder (except *maybe* vs. Space Marines if I manage to get more Agonisers into assault than you do)

So - for Assault damage - bigger squads win. No question.

MSU and Shooting Part 1 - The RJB question

Shooting gets more fun though - let's consider the classic RJB question some more.

6 RJBs w. 2x Blaster
3 RJBs w. Blaster
3 RJBs w. Blaster

One squad versus two, the 2 squads cost identical to the big squad. We've already established that the 2 squads are indeed more survivable than the one squad, but who does more damage?

Well...that's tricky. We have the same number and types of weapons - so it's identical, right? Well...maybe.

The big difference comes when we're shooting and our ability to target. Let's say the enemy has 2 Predators that I want to prevent from shooting at my army. The 6 man squad literally has no way to do this - they're going to fire at 1 Predator, maybe mess with it, and that's all they're doing.

The two 3 man squads however, functionally can split there fire. I can shoot at one Predator and, if I happen to shake or stun it, I can then shoot at the other Predator with my second 3 Man squad. This is starting to get into tempo advantage (which is an article I think I should write) but I think it's clear to see how this is potentially better damage output than the six man squad.

Okay, but vehicles are different than infantry - in infantry shooting you can't make that distinction. Right?

Well...let's see;

MSU and Shooting Part 2 - The Kabalite Warrior question

10 Warriors, 1 Blaster, 1 S.Cannon, in a Raider
5 Warriors, 1 Blaster, in a Raider.

Which is "better" for damage output? Well...again, this gets really difficult to compare, but I'll give you the MSU view and point at its weaknesses and strengths. First thing first, we need to compare an equal amount of points;

10 Warriors, 1 Blaster, 1 S.Cannon, in a Raider
10 Warriors, 1 Blaster, 1 S.Cannon, in a Raider
5 Warriors, 1 Blaster, in a Raider
5 Warriors, 1 Blaster, in a Raider
5 Warriors, 1 Blaster, in a Raider

Please note - I am giving Team MSU a 10 point advantage (20 points if I were to include FFs on all of these vehicles) but I do think this is reasonably close in points that is "fair" or at least as fair as I can make it.

So, let's consider what each squad can do when in rapid fire range;

Example 6 - Team Max Squad Size
vs. Guardsmen 13.3 dead from poison shooting - 1.1 from Blasters = 14.4 dead Guardsmen
vs. Marines 4.44 dead from poison shooting - 1.1 from Blasters = 5.5 dead Marines

Example 7 - Team MSU
vs. Guardsmen 8 dead from poison shooting - 1.6 from Blasters = 9.6 dead Guardsmen
vs. Marines 2.2 dead from poison shooting - 1.6 from Blasters = 3.6 dead Marines

Yeah...there it is, and we MSU are not fond of admitting it, but for damage output the big Gunboats laugh at us.

Now - admittedly - we are getting +1 Transport (and +1 Lance or +12 poison shots is pretty nice) and +1 ability to target other units with our MSU choice, but for raw damage output vs. infantry the max Gunboat does it well and actually does it at a value compared to the MSU units. The big units also do better at longer range.

WAIT A MINUTE THOR! screech the MSU lovers. That is BS and YOU KNOW IT! We use the Blasters on vehicles and the Dakka Venoms on infantry.

Well...yeah, but let's be honest back;

Within 12" our mighty 3x Dakka Venom is less effective than those 2 Gunboats at killing both Guardsmen and Marines.
Ah, but you point out that the Dakka Venoms have better range and the ability to move 12" Well...yeah, but the Raider's Lances have better range and the ability to move unlike our Blasters in a Venom - and I would argue that Turn 1 it's better to be able to shoot a lance than it is to shoot 12 poison shots. I usually need more poison mid game and more anti-mech at game start.

The max Gunboat is better at inflicting damage on a point by point comparison.
The MSU Gunboats are *way* more survivable...but they do less damage.

Also, with both, you have to figure out what you need and win. I still go with MSU, but I do MSU of Raiders, not Venoms - so that I have that initial lance strike that I desire. There's ways to work around all the issues, but, as with the point of this article, the goal is to understand what you're doing when you choose one.

Access to Wargear and Unit Size

Unit size effects wargear, because that's the way the game is made. You need that sergeant upgrade to take 'weapon X' you need that fifth man to take 'upgrade B' you can get some 'Y' every time you take a multiple of 10. We all know the drill. So, at some stage, the optimal unit size matters because you need to get a certain piece of wargear.

Okay, this section should really be quite simple, and really comes down to an easy series of questions. I'm including it simply because it is a sometimes seen mistake.

1. What is the purpose of your unit?
2. What gear will help it with its purpose?
3. Do you need more men than the minimum to buy that wargear?

Let's take these one at a time;

1. What is the purpose of your unit?

In the grand scheme of the game there's really only a few actual goals;

Killing Vehicles.
Killing Infantry.
Claiming/holding objectives.
I lurv this unit and shall take it always!

I'll leave the fourth one up to you guys to figure out properly, but the first three are easy enough. Your unit's goal is to help you kill some aspect of the enemy or to claim/hold objectives. All units should be doing one of these things because those are the only ways you actually win the game.

What about tarpit units?
What about transports?
What about Hellions?

1. Tarpits lock stuff up to prevent it from getting to/killing your units that are actually doing the killing. They are a tool to help kill because they prevent the enemy from killing you.
2. Transports usually have a dual role - in our army they have a gun and help kill stuff directly - usually they also carry a unit around to kill stuff/claim objectives and can sometimes be used to contest objectives themselves.
3. Hellions are terrible, so... Wink (but I'm pretty sure they're about killing infantry, at least they're supposed to be)

Okay, so now you know the purpose of your unit - everything you do should be to help the unit do that purpose. Some units have multiple purposes, that's fine, focus on making them good at their multiple purposes.

2. What gear will help it with its purpose?

Gear that helps a unit's purpose should help them MOST OF THE TIME.
I think this is the biggest error with unit creation - a lot of things are taken "in case 'X' happens"
Well...how often does 'X' actually happen?

The game of 40k basically lasts 6 turns on average, sometimes 5 (especially in tournaments with limited playing times - I always finish well before the deadline, or well after, I never finish 'right' on time - does anyone?) So, you really only have 5-6 move/shoot/assault phases to do whatever it is your unit is supposed to be doing.

Usually Turn 1 lacks assault (even for DE - not the easiest thing to pull off, and we're the fastest codex out there). So you have probably about 5-6 moves, 5-6 times to shoot and 4-5 times to assault available to you.

If an upgrade is really worth taking (and isn't 1-shot, natch Wink ), it should be useful to you about 3-4 times a game, at least. So what this basically means is - don't take an Agoniser and blast pistol Dracon in a squad of Trueborn with Dark Lances you're planning to deploy in a three story ruin. You have better uses for those points, and better uses for the squad (like, y'know, shooting dark lances)

Make sense?

3. Do you need more men than the minimum to buy that wargear?

Short answer - no with a 'but' long answer yes with an 'if' Razz

Really, this goes to two things;

1. The two earlier sections in this discussion about survivability and damage output.
2. The purpose of the squad combined with those.

If the squad is built to kill vehicles, and you need to take 5 men to get a Blaster so you can go kill vehicles, should you take 6? Well, survivability says 'yes'. Damage output says 'no' because extra s.rifles are not extra bodies for the purposes of killing vehicles, which is the squad's purpose.

Do you see that? Now you understand what the *choice* you're making is, and that's the way to get the real answer behind 'What is the best Unit Size'.

Putting it all Together aka are you going to tell me if MSU or Max Squads are best yet?

So now you (hopefully) were able to follow my pontificating well enough to find the few kernals of wisdom I have in there.

What unit size is all about is maximizing damage output, maximizing survivability, and optimizing your choices to what job the squad will have so that you have enough points to do everything you want to be able to do in a list.

I, personally, swear by MSU as the best tactic - that said, there are multiple times (even in "MSU" lists) where I'll take a large, or even maximized squad. Why? Because I believe it will help the squad do what it's supposed to do better and in a way that is worth the points I am spending.


Don't think that if you go MSU you always have to take the minimum numbers.
Don't think that if you go max squads you can't fudge a couple in order to afford that extra unit.
DO keep in mind what each unit is supposed to do, and how the size you're choosing will help/hurt it in doing its goal. If you get it just right you'll have a unit that is the perfect size for your army.

And that's the best unit size advice I can give.

Last edited by Thor665 on Wed Aug 17 2011, 18:45; edited 4 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Tue Aug 16 2011, 07:45

Nice work so far Thor, looking forward to the rest of this.
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Tue Aug 16 2011, 15:43

good work. My one comment would be on the #7 for the "sweet spot" for wyches. The reason I would put forward is like you said, there is no difference between 7 and 6 on the moral chart, yet 7 allows you to take 1 casualty more, as in that one freak bolter or chainsword hit that comes through, yet you still stay optimal. Also the damage output from 7 wyches is ofc greater than 6. Now to say is 10 points worth that extra damage is debatable. Also sadly venoms cant take our lovely ladies at either 7 or 6, so Ive been seeing alot of 5 man wyches running around lately.

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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Tue Aug 16 2011, 15:48

@Kenny - thank you.

@Shadows Revenge - The difference is the 10 points, of course. The extra body in assault is a solid value (I'll be getting to that). I actually am okay with 5 man Wych squads, I used to run them myself - they tend to fill a different sort of assault niche, but as long as the player understands that they work out okay. Thanks for the thoughts!


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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Tue Aug 16 2011, 18:04

I'm interested in the Max V MSU gunboat comparisons, particularly what happens after they have recieved return fire.
This all leads into hypothetical scenarios, perhaps too much for my liking but, say the gunboats have fired at a single unit, which can then return fire, say a tactical squad with ML and meltagun. This unit would then be able to return fire at their respective gunboat teams.
In the case of Max team there is the likelyhood of losing 1 boat and 2 or 3 warriors. On team MSU there is the likelyhood of 1 boat and 1 warrior.
Does this mean that in subsequent turns the MSU team will be better at inflicting damage, as a result of being more survivable?
Like I said it's all situation dependant, but just wondering if I'm on the right lines there.
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Tue Aug 16 2011, 18:29

@Kenny - very much so. Survivability is important and affects a unit's ability to do what it wants to do through the whole game. Damage is what it wants to do. MSU tends to be better at damage inflicting via tempo advantage - which is important but, I think, a little outside the purview of this one article (I'll probably do something on tempo advantage at a later date). Max units tend to be better at just flat out inflicting damage.

Finding the correct balance between the damage output and survivability (and also meeting your needs for wargear) are what leads one to the correct answer to 'what size unit is best'. My hope with this article is that people will begin to understand the decisions they're actually making when they choose a max squad or an MSU squad and why they're doing so - because that's really the best way to answer the unit size question.

You are certainly correct that they are situation dependent. There are so many potential variables it boggles the mind.


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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Tue Aug 16 2011, 21:26

Great post, a really insightful read that applies to all armies.

Having played both Real Eldar and the craftworld losers, I've developed a specific, goal-oriented thought process for determining unit size specifically for these books:

What do I want this unit to do?
(Can this unit effectively accomplish that? If not, pick a new goal/unit)
How does this goal and its unit fit into the army?
What wargear will accomplish this/these goals?
(Does this unit NEED a transport, or NEED WWP access?)
What model count constraints are imposed by transports/upgrade characters/and other wargear?
What is the minimum size/points at which this unit is survivable enough to survive long enough to accomplish its goal on its own?
Would it be worthwhile to upgrade/increase the size of this unit to grant more synergy with/less dependency on other units, or would the points benefit another new unit more?

Here's an example of what I mean.

I want a unit to provide AT and AI fire support from a distance, with the ability to quickly re-deploy.
I want to do this with Kabalite Trueborn.
The Trueborn will open/stun tanks so my Wyches can assault the insides, or my Razorwing Flocks can auto-hit in assault. Any infantry that should be softened up or would not survive to my opponent's assault phase will by shot too.
They'll need a transport to re-deploy and shoot whatever they can't.
I need 3 Trueborn Minimum. Only 2 can take Heavy Weapons.
3 Trueborn and a transport can accomplish this goal best. Venoms provide 2 Splinter Cannons that can move and fire rather than one Dark lance from the raider. I'll put my 2 Dark Lances on the Trueborn inside, so I can sit still and shoot 2 Dark Lances at one target and 2 Splinter Cannons at another.
The Venom comes with a flickerfield, and a Night Shield lets me sit back and shoot longer by forcing the enemy closer, into the Wyches and Beasts.
I could get more firepower with 4 blasters, but this forces me to get close, which detracts from my assault units and doesn't help them. A raider forces me to sacrifice AI, or take 6(!) trueborn with 4 blasters and 2 splinter cannons, but that's expensive, and the range of the Raider's Dark Lance and the Splinter Cannons is wasted by the blasters, not to mention the Night Shield becomes worthless.

Obviously, a lot of the decision making rests on general unit size tactics you've outlined, Thor 665.
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Tue Aug 16 2011, 23:32

Great article, it isn't only a great help, but also well written and enjoyable to read.

As far as I can see you covered everything and I'm eagerly awaiting the wargear section.

It is good to have a well written text, that explains why the 'perfect number' of models depends. Since it's much easier to point someone here, than to explain why 7 is no magical number, but only gives one more guy running, than 6.

So keep up the good work.


I must rule with eye and claw — as the hawk among lesser birds.
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Tue Aug 16 2011, 23:44

9 wyches is one of my magic numbers. If you lose more than 3, the squad's probably half dead anyway, and there's room for a Haemonculus - leave him in the raider please. Bloodbrides also love 9s, as it gives them all 3 weapons.

The other? full woman 15 squad. Seriously. 3 wych weapons, and the capacity for 15 Haywires too. No, you can't use vehicles. But with SEVERE target saturation/WWP and fleeting from cover to cover to combat, Wych hordes are pretty awesome!

Where did this 7 come from?
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Wed Aug 17 2011, 10:27

7 is chaper than 9 and mathammer shows the difference between the wounds inflicted is not veyr large. I prefer my Wytches as large units as their main purpose is to tarpit things, but I can't fit 2 9-man units with a haemonculus in the list, so I use 2 7-man ones.

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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Wed Aug 17 2011, 14:32

a regular wych inflicts .25 wounds against T4. So, you pay 40 points per wound caused with wyches, and get all the benefits of the wyches as well.

6 regular wyches (in a squad of 7) inflict 1.5 wounds on T4. Agoniser makes that 2.5, but the 1.5 allow armor saves.

8 regular wyches (in a squad of 9) inflict 2 wounds on T4. Agoniser makes that 3, but the 2 allow armor saves.

Bad math, then. Oh, are you factoring power armor in on that caluclation? That's a mistake, but let's see why.

So assume power armor, right?
.5 dead from 6 wyches, 1.5 dead with agoniser.
.66 dead from 8 wyches, 1.66 dead with agoniser.

The first squad takes 4 rounds of combat with no intervention to kill a combat squad, with or without FNP. That's bad.

The second squad takes 3 rounds of combat with no intervention. Which does free them up on your opponent's turn, so you're reliant on consolidate. FNP takes 4 turns anyway.

This assumes nobody dies of a 4+ invuln. Big assumption. But if YOU have FNP, you take less wounds. A LOT less wounds. You can afford to tarpit for 2 whole turns. We agree, FNP makes wyches GREAT. Competitive Wyches start with FNP or have a way to get it fast, guaranteed.

Usually this means a haemonculus. Who is X points and 1/3 an extra force org slot. Think of this guy as an upgrade to the squad.

7 wyches means FNP is 7.15 points per model. 9 wyches means FNP is 5.55 points per model. That's a 1.6 point reduction, almost a haywire grenade of difference.

So, if you want your mathammer to be meaningful, you have two options:

Calculate raw Wounds
Factor in both power armor AND the Wyches' pain token.

Comparing the two and giving one the advantage isn't mathhammer.

Also, Thor665 makes it pretty clear that more's at stake besides wound calculation, such as morale tests on your expensive tarpit.
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Wed Aug 17 2011, 18:53

Finished up the last section - tear away (or keep worshipping me, I like that too Wink )

@Preacher - your system looks solid and is similar to my own.

@Tiri - Thank you very much

@Nomic - 7 is a solid and workable number for tarpit. Personally, when I go pure Tarpit I go only 5-6 and try to have some Talismans Trophies (damn you GW!) on my transports. I don't have an Agoniser and my only goal is slowing down the enemy from getting to my shooting elements, so I just want to survive the first round of combat, and after that, to heck with the unit. If you're going Tarpit...but want to grind them down and probably win the fight, I think you're really slick at 7, 7-8 is a pretty safe bet for having enough damage output that probably you'll win combat each round.
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Wed Aug 17 2011, 19:58

Nice post, really good analysis! You've spotted the trade offs and addressed them, I particularly like the Kabalite Warrior section as that's one I've been juggling with lately having started playing 5 men in a Venom rather than 10 in a Raider.
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Wed Aug 17 2011, 20:12

I agree with SirTainly. Great post, obviously a lot of thought into each scenario.
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Thu Aug 18 2011, 05:55

Absolutely great. I especially like the part discouraging "in case of x" scenarios. Most of them are solved with a complimentary unit, rather than excessive upgrades.
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Thu Aug 18 2011, 06:18

@PreacherOfDeath wrote:
Absolutely great. I especially like the part discouraging "in case of x" scenarios. Most of them are solved with a complimentary unit, rather than excessive upgrades.
Amen to that. I can't believe how many army lists where the explanation of almost 50+ points is "well, if X happens then I'll be ready for it"

Just don't let X happen, or have one of your units already capable of handling X be ready to help - we're the fastest dex around, everyone doesn't need to handle their own business all the time.
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Thu Aug 18 2011, 15:50

I love this stuff.

Excellent post Thor!
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Thu Aug 18 2011, 16:14

Holy , what the hell happened to the community? People are using actual math... as mathematician (sort of) I'm impressed.

Now if Mr. Kirby and few rules designers from GW would use that too...

Also, genarally speaking MSU (ie all slots filled with units in transports, including HQ.) have significant bonus of flexibility and efficiency (You may use small units to finish wounded enemy etc.) due to ruleset.

Anyway thanks for "longer" Thor665. Also big thanks for playing "Mythbuster" few times (like with exploding vehicle vs. squad size, it actually work [kinda] when You have 4xn + 1 members [5, 9, 13 etc] but otherwise You should lose XX% anyway...).
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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Thu Aug 18 2011, 18:29

@Gar - thank you very much, glad you got some use out of it.

@Local Ork - The statistics behind the advantage points in unit size for exploding vehicles is interesting, it does make sense since dice are deliverers of absolute numbers, not percentages. I'm just glad I did my basic division and multiplication in the right order Wink

I agree with you about MSU having advantages above and beyond the base reasons behind unit size - but I want to get into a tempo advantage article at some point, and I really believe that is a interesting enough tactic that it really deserves its own write-up outside of a base choice of MSU vs. Max Squads (and really, you *can* use max squads for tempo advantage...it's just harder).

But I'm debating currently about the next article I want to do for the site. It will either be tempo advantage, deployment methodology, or threat bubbles. I'm going to do them all at some point, but I just need to figure out which one I feel game for - maybe I'll do a poll for yucks Wink


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PostSubject: Re: Unit Size - MSU and Full Size Squads for DE   Thu Aug 18 2011, 20:29

If I may suggest, go with boubbles, it would fit this one well and also prepare us to movement and deployment.
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