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 Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected

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Thor665
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PostSubject: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Mon Aug 29 2011, 05:13

This is an idea I've often espoused, but with the rise of Blasters = darklight weapons = Dark Lance mentality in some of the newer DE players has convinced me I really should expound on this subject. This is really interesting to me, because everyone always understands how it works and discusses it for assault units, and it matters as much (if not more) for shooting.

We all understand the basic logic that number of shots - ballistic skill - strength of weapon - and allowed saves equates to a bit of mathhammer that allow us to tell how many people we're killing. It's basic math, right? Yeah, as far as it goes. But there are aspects that are often ignored - and those are movement speed and range - and let me assure you, when it comes to shooting these are just as important as they are to assault units.

So, let's break this down;

1. What is a threat bubble?

(I really should do some snazzy graphics for this, shouldn't I?)

The basic answer is found in a simple bit of math;

Threat Bubble = Range of weapon + Movement allowed prior to shooting.

So - a squad of Space Marines with a Missile Launcher and Melta Gun have a couple of Threat Bubbles.
Missile threat bubble = 48" (0" move + 48" range)
Bolter threat bubble = 18" or 24"
Melta threat bubble = 18"

Make sense?

The bulk of the game of 40k really does involve the overlap, control, and application of these bubbles. Probably you're already at least subconsciously aware of the threat bubbles in the game - but by becoming more aware of them and actively using them within conscious strategic and tactical choices you'll find yourself being a better player, I pretty much assure you.

Let's analyze how these can be used to better your play as a DE general.

2. Using Threat Bubbles strategically (list building)

"Should I take 3 Trueborn in a Venom, or one Ravager?" Asks the newb player. "They're basically the same, right?"
"You should definitely take the Trueborn, they're just as good at anti-tank and help you with 12 poison shots as well," answers the excited and smug next poster.

Well...wait...are they the same?
Mathammer says they are - 3 str 8 shots at BS 4 with lance effect = the exact same thing. Right? Right...?
Nope, not at all.

Trueborn Blaster staying in transport threat bubble = 24" (6" move 18" range)
Trueborn Blaster disembark threat bubble = 32" (12" move 2" disembark 18" range)
Ravager threat bubble = 48" (12" movement 36" range)

So, twice the bubble radius - that's *huge* swathes of the board, isn't it? Well...wait a minute there, what does this do for me? It gives you the knowledge of alpha strike - just for starters. Let's consider a few numbers; the average deployment between your deployment zone and the enemy's is 24" in all three scenarios in the rulebook (and how many tourneys really use an alternate setup method from one of those three?) and the distance from your deployment line to the enemy's back board edge is generally about 36"

So - from your deployment area, if you deploy forward right up on the line, and want to shoot at enemy vehicles (like, say GK Dreads, or some sort of Stormraven or something) you're looking at a shot of over 24" up to about 36"

Trueborn Blaster staying in transport threat bubble = 24" (6" move 18" range)
Trueborn Blaster disembark threat bubble = 32" (12" move 2" disembark 18" range)
Ravager threat bubble = 48" (12" movement 36" range)

Hmmm...suddenly the Ravager looks like it has a very important advantage over the Trueborn, doesn't it?

Quick pop quiz - what is the most important time to shoot up enemy vehicles? In Turn 1-2 or in Turn 3-4? (if you answered 3-4...please go play more games with DE and then get back to me Wink )

So - if you're building a list, and want lots of anti-vehicle shooting, and want to use that shooting early in the game to hurt enemy armor, what do you need? Ravagers and Raiders - because they have a better threat bubble than Blasters. Blasters, unless the enemy deploys right on the line, will never be an issue until Turn 2 at the earliest.

This is also one of the reasons Blast Pistols are often mocked. Their threat bubble is basically 12" which means that unless the enemy is helping you out a lot, they're not getting into play till Turn 2-3 at the earliest.

Now, another consideration; the Gunboat vs. the Venom. If you've read my Unit Size article, you'll already be aware that a Gunboat is better at killing stuff, so what is the Venom's edge? Its bubble;

Venom threat bubble = 48"
Gunboat threat bubble = 18" (optimum)

So, that allows Venoms to get in early hurt fast - which means, functionally, they'll be shooting at least 1-2 extra times in the course of the game as compared to the Gunboat. This is important in competitive play, as it allows DE to throw a lot of shots down the field into stuff like Longfangs or Lootas.

Now that we understand what a threat bubble is, and some basic logic to help us understand what our choices mean when putting together a list - let's consider some specific options about how DE (the most maneuverable of all armies) can use bubbles to help us, and to hurt our opponents.

3. Using Threat Bubbles tactically (moves in game)

You now understand what a threat bubble is and have learned how to apply it to building your list, what next? Well, there's a couple of different ways to now apply this logic and use it to help you out in the game.

Now - there's a reason I call this stuff a threat bubble, that's because the threat bubble extends out in a circle from your unit, allowing you to sort of see a bubble around them. When playing - either consciously or subconsciously you're roughly aware of these bubbles - and it's important you move it up to the conscious level, because that's when you start taking real advantage of them.

Using Bubbles when defending

Okay, so it's the start of your turn, you're fighting something that isn't as cool as Dark Eldar and you're using an army that's cool...probably Dark Eldar. So you stop and visualize bubbles - and the bubbles you should be looking for first are the enemy's. What are his bubbles? How many of them will be on top of you within the next round? Which weapons within those bubbles you'll be in are a threat?

Do you know what you're getting here? You're getting target priority - without having to come online and listen to some slack-jawed genius give you an absolute list for an army and acting like it somehow is always applicable.

With target priority you can exercise the optimal DE method of defense via offense by spotting your threats and shooting them before they ever get a chance to hurt you.

DE are fast enough that, as much as any army can actually "flank" someone in 40k we can (and, don't listen to other people, listen to me, flanking is generally a pipe dream in 40k - it basically doesn't exist unless your army is very very fast and theirs is a little slow or terrain is really helping you out).

The point of the flank is to put the bulk of your army into a place where a lot of your army has some of his within their threat bubbles, and not much of your army is within his threat bubbles.


Using Bubbles when attacking

People all seem to understand the basic logic of target priority - even if they're not sure how to come about it. But something I see tripping up new players all the time is...I guess I'll call it shooting order.

When you shoot with your army, how do you do it?

Left to right/right to left?
All the vehicles then all the infantry?
Use the unit with the "best" chance to accomplish first, and then use the other stuff in descending order?
All the anti-tank then all the anti-infantry?

How would you feel if I told you each and every one of those methods was actually making your army less effective than it should be (even the last one, which is probably the closest to a good shooting order I listed)

Well, Thor, you ask, how does your high and mighty backside shoot?

Well...what would you say if I told you my method was so haphazard that I actually had a die system developed, where I put down markers next to each vehicle to indicate whether it has fired or not - and also whether its passengers had fired or not - and, at least I personally, really need to do this to help keep exact track of who has or hasn't shot since I'm constantly moving around the order each turn?

Whuzzawhat?

Exactly.

I would call my shooting method - Threat Bubble method.

Basically when you're going to shoot there are about three things to ask yourself.

1. What do I need to get done this turn (and what would I like to get done)?
2. What units are in range to help do it?
3. (and most important) what else are they in range of?

Let me walk you through it, this was a recent game I played vs. Blood Angels, and I'd dropped down and moved on from reserve a few number of units. As a quick lay of the land - he had a Landraider (with Assault Termies) A Razorback (with Troop option inside) and a Furioso Dread). I had two Ravagers (one a Dissie loadout), a Squad of 4 Trueborn popping out of a Raider right in front of the Landriader, and another Raider with some Warriors inside of it. - I'll walk you through my thoughts;

1. What do I need to get done this turn (and what would I like to get done)?

I want that Landraider dead, in a bad way. Secondary target is the Razorback. I really want at least one of them dead so my Dissie Ravager can make use of its shooting this turn. The Landraider is more important due to threat level - I mean, duuuur, right?

If I manage all of that I want my Dissie to shoot Termies first, then Troops. Finally, if I have the time, I wouldn't mind popping that Furioso, but I'm indifferent on that.

2. What units are in range to help do it?
3. (and most important) what else are they in range of?

The Lance Ravager can see the Landraider, so can the Trueborn.
The Trueborn and their Raider as well as the warrior Raider can see the Razorback.
The Trueborn and their Raider can see the dread. So can the Warrior Raider but there will be a cover save.
The Dissie Ravager is in good position to snipe at disembarking infantry.

So...what shot first? I mean, with 4 Blasters the Trueborn have the best chance to deal with the Landraider, right? Yeah. But...wait...the *only* thing the Lance Ravager can see is the Landraider - that means if the Trueborn shoot it, then I'm either shooting Lances at Termies (meh) or have just wasted my Ravager's shooting.

So, first I shoot with the Ravager - I explode the Landraider - I am awesome and do a victory dance.
So...now I shoot with the Trueborn, right? Well...wait, that Raider with the Warriors, its best shot is at the Razor, as otherwise cover is involved, so let's shoot that.
Pop, wrecked Razorback.
I've now got 4 Blasters and a Raider w. Lance sitting in the middle of my opponent's grill, and I can start pumping lances into Termies, or try to deal with that annoying Dread.

That's the advantage of targeting via use of Threat Bubbles. It allows you to maximize the firepower you brought so that very little to none of it is being wasted on any given turn. If you can put your bubbles in a way that you're hurting him with all or most of your army while only a part of his army can fight back then you are putting yourself into a perfect situation to exploit tempo advantage (and I think tempo advantage is the true way anyone wins at 40k).

So, that's threat bubbles.
Learn them.
Live them.
Love them.

Regards,
Thor.


Last edited by Thor665 on Tue Aug 30 2011, 02:44; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Mon Aug 29 2011, 16:10

Another insightful article Thor. I must admit I guess I take this for granted, as to most vets, threat bubbles are second nature. Its good to see someone lay it out in black and white for everyone to see.

I would like to point out, that while you put the effective range of blasterborn, I would point out that they can be extended by moving 12, then disembarking. So it will look like 24"- 32" bubble (12" move, 2 from disembark, 18" range.) I wouldnt advise this (I have done it acouple of times though, with different degrees of sucess) but it should be noted.

Also will you be talking about the contoversal "pivot" T1 to gain a few inches??? It does some intersting things and increases T1 threat bubbles, and most players dont even see it coming Razz
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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Mon Aug 29 2011, 16:54

Good point on the move - my fault for writing this up late at night, I'll adjust that.

I'm not including the pivot trick - as that's it's own trick. If you use it than you get your extra couple of inches, if you don't then you don't. But I'd prefer not to get into the debate on the legality of the move.

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Mon Aug 29 2011, 21:22

"Ladies and Gentleman, why don't we give Thor a round of applause for another spectacular and helpful article"

Now back to reality. Anyways thanks again for this wonderful article, it really helps point out how well Ravagers work. I can't wait to see the rest of the article!
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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Mon Aug 29 2011, 21:34

Sickness. Can't wait for the tactical bit!

EDIT: come to think of it, I'm more aware of enemy 'bubbles' than my own. SCAREDY CAT!

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Mon Aug 29 2011, 21:38

When I've played with Venoms, I often find that it is hard to gain anything by pivoting, since the're basically as wide as they are long.

And the threat range is closer to 33", as it is enough to have the back of your base within disembarkation distance.
However, as the Venom is pointy in almost all directions it is hard to disembark everyone with range if you try maxing it at 33".


Great write-up!

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Tue Aug 30 2011, 02:48

Finished up the tactics part.

@Incubi Death - thank you!

@Raneth - that's a little funny, but it is half the battle. You should pay special attention to the part about attacking and target priority and how it applies to understanding the bubbles you've set up.

@speedfreak - yeah, I think the best you get off the rotate trick/cheat with Venoms is about an inch (the trick, to my mind, is setting them up on an angle, with the tip of the prow and tip of one wing pressing the line, then the rotate will net you a bit of gain, moreso then if you just try to be parallel. Also, thank you.

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Tue Aug 30 2011, 05:31

A nice tactica. A subtle but potentially one of the most decisive things in 40k. This would help a lot of the newbies, and even make some of the vets humbled at this prospect.

I have seen many vets who underestimated this threat bubble thing and lost the game for misjudging a shot or so which cost them the game.
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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Tue Aug 30 2011, 11:30

Everyone should already know what a threat bubble is and how to use it to determine target priority for defence, after a dozen games or so.

Using it offensively to determine your target priority and more importantly, the order of your unit's shooting to achieve what you want to get done this turn, without waste, is simply essential to go from being an "average" to a "good" player.

I cant believe i havn't found a tactica that mentions this in such clear detail! Its so important it should be everywhere! Well done!

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Tue Aug 30 2011, 12:41

Good article Thor. Very clearly explained and should be useful to all. It's all too easy to see the primary threats and opportunities without considering the secondary and sometime tertiary options.

The die marking system is what I use as well to indicate whats shot in a turn. It's helpful to make sure you have not missed a unit out if you are going from area to area of the board. I always have a different coloured set of die from any I'm rolling with available for this to avoid any confusion.
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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Tue Aug 30 2011, 13:21

Thnx thor. Awesome article. It's like you said. I was 'aware' of it, but now I need to consciously apply this in my games.

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Tue Aug 30 2011, 13:37

I usually play very varied army lists with almost no units alike the others.
Playing venom spam or variations there-of, I have started to use glass beads, matte and gloss, for vehicles and theur mounted units.

Speeds up target selection a lot and also almost guarantees I won't miss a shot.

I often start with single shots at tanks, saving longer range and multiple shots for later.
And most importantly. After every unit that has fired, you re-think which unit is next, based on the results of the previous shot.

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Tue Aug 30 2011, 19:30

Good article.

Now all I need are some cool DE shooty markers. I for the most part shoot as prescribed, but I have found I forget to shoot a unit or 2 every now and then.

Excellent post and good things to think about!

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Tue Aug 30 2011, 21:19

Great article BTW, one of the best I think I have read, would you consider donating some of your tactica articles to my blog as a guest writer ?

Btw your Lance weapons seem insanely effective from the example presented, my lances are MUCH less effective against armour, the dreaded 'lance-curse' ...

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Tue Aug 30 2011, 21:49

I have been accused of stupid luck with my lances...on the flip side I usually have really bad luck with Agonisers and Shadowfields (I haven't had a Shadowfield last past the first hit yet with this codex).

I'd be flattered if you'd like to re-use some of the articles on your blog.

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Tue Aug 30 2011, 22:22

My Shadow-fields suck butt too, it's rare to make more than three saves before it goes .... I don't have any joy with agonisers either , for their price tag they just are not worth it for the way my dice seem to go.

I'm starting to have a hate-hate relationship with lances Surprised(

Well as you have given permission maybe I will, I think good information like yours needs to get as broad an Audience as possible and I'm all about helping out fellow xeno players ;o)

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Tue Aug 30 2011, 23:32

I could certainly add Thor's wisdom to my blog as well. I have very little in the way of gaming and tactics on my site. ALmost all of my posts are in the artisitic side of the hobby.

With his permission of course...

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Wed Aug 31 2011, 00:01

Another good article! The section about shooting priority order is something I learned when playing games with alternating activation, although that is slightly different the thought about which units to shoot at what, when is the takeaway idea.

Only failed one Shadowfield save...ever, but then I don't think I've managed to roll under the Duke's leadership more than about twice Sad in about 10-15 games he's fled almost every one.
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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Wed Aug 31 2011, 07:02

@GAR wrote:
ALmost all of my posts are in the artisitic side of the hobby.
I think it is nice with a blog that focuses on modelling as well.
Sure there are other, but focus on Dark Eldar is rare.

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Wed Aug 31 2011, 09:54

A very nice article Thor, and an important one at that. The article touches on something that in practice sounds fairly simple but it is not something you see often in the game. Oh and this should be in your sticky collection. Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Wed Aug 31 2011, 15:50

@GAR - granted.

@Everyone else - thank you, I'm really happy this is appreciated.

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Thu Sep 01 2011, 04:40

Awesome article Thor.

I must admit I have that sort of scattered shooting pattern as well. It makes total sense to me but some people find it odd, but after you explained it the light finally clicked why it makes so much sense. It's basically a pathing algorithm, and you could probably make a diagram to show it how each unit would be a vertice, and you want the path to visit each vertice.

I have to admit, I have that same dark lance curse as sorrowshard, I think my kabalites are loading the wrong sized batteries into them.
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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Thu Sep 01 2011, 04:53

Nice article. I always try and position myself to have as many units having as many choices as possible in the shooting phase (not including movement to get into combat position) because DE can't afford to waste shots with as vulnerable as we are.

The best defense is a good offense for the DE.
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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Thu Sep 01 2011, 07:04

A danger with giving yourself to many target choices is that all of those units will be able to fire back at you.

I will gladly waste half my armies shooting if it means my opponent isn't shooting back.

Using terrain anf interveining models to block LOS might mean you have three or four units only being able to fire at one target.
But if they kill it, by the first shot or the fourth, they won't be fired back upon.

I try to strike with overwealming power at a part of the opponents forces, leaving the rest unable to retaliate, and more often than not, waste some of my shooting.

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PostSubject: Re: Threat Bubbles - Understanding that range and mobility are connected   Thu Sep 01 2011, 13:29

@Sorrowshard wrote:
My Shadow-fields suck butt too, it's rare to make more than three saves before it goes .... I don't have any joy with agonisers either , for their price tag they just are not worth it for the way my dice seem to go.

I'm starting to have a hate-hate relationship with lances Surprised(

Well as you have given permission maybe I will, I think good information like yours needs to get as broad an Audience as possible and I'm all about helping out fellow xeno players ;o)

+1, same here! Crying or Very sad

As much as I love the article it really doesn't pertain to me and the way I roll - it is well known that I roll "1's" 50% of the time. One lance shot never hits, two lance shots means 1 will hit and do nothing and 3 lances means another lance will at least "shake" the target.

Lances are like haywire blasters - every once in a couple games they do something interesting.

So until the game switches "6's" and "1's" in priority I will continue to "suck" - and no, my ability to roll "1's" disappears when I need to roll leadership checks (how's that when the universal laws of probability laugh and correct itself at your expense!).
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