Friday, 30 May 2014

Getting Started: Shaltari Deployment Part 1

Good day fellow, er... Droplodites? Dropzonites? Dropzonians? Dropzonians will do for now! It is tactica-o-clock again, and this time I will be looking into the finer points of Shaltari deployment. I have mentioned many a time in the past, just how tricky it can be to get things right when using our spinney friends, so I am here to help as best I can!

In this guide I will bring up a few key points, and discuss the importance of each one. It's time to prepare your note pads kids!

Walk backline and fast units on

There are a few units in the Shaltari that simply don't need to be gated into the battlezone to be of use and importance. In fact, using a gate to teleport these guys in will cost points and turns which can be better spent elsewhere. A few units that are worth driving on are:

The Coyote – The Coyote is your commander, and although he isn't that vulnerable you don't want him to be shot, just in case the dice go against you. As such, walking him on the back of the board in the first turn keeps him safe, and it also allows you to take a couple of pot shots at an occupied building (if you hold him until last activation). He doesn't have the firepower to make an impact in the centre of the board, but is useful for picking off stragglers from damaged squads. Shaltari benefit from having a CV4, so with SoI of 18”, and most of the Shaltari cards being defensive, he can saunter forward at his own pace.

The Yari – If your not taking these origami tanks you should be! With a MV of 12” you can drive 2 or 3 on 6” in the first turn, and then 12” the second. This will put them in a great position to take pot shots at enemy light dropships, and be a general nuisance with the SoI they provide. I will typically drive these on an opposite board edge to my Coyote, meaning that on the first turn I have an SoI tht spans nearly my table half.

The Tomahawk – These tanks are at their best when driving on first turn. Always activate them last (if possible), and shoot your 6 shots (remember, never less than 6 Tomahawks if you take them) at an occupied building. You should cause around 8 points of damage in one go, giving you a really decent chance of causing damage with falling masonry to infantry inside. Come turn two you are 11” up the board (driving on is half MV rounded up, so 5”) and still able to shoot. After this you'll probably have problems with under performance (my hawks can never get it up), but that's a different kettle of fish altogether!

The Ocelot – Why would you bother gating it in? Walk it on into a position where it can get nice and cosy, and blast the foundations out of what you want. Ideally this guy will never move throughout the game, but if come turn 3 or 4 you need too, you should have idle Edens available to do the honours.

Another unit I tend to drive on are my Kukris, as I have 2 Jaguar's that gate on and give me an AA bubble, but this will differ more depending on the list. If you have no Jag's, you will want to gate them in (also, are you insane, you have no Jags!!).

Bringing these units on from backboard not only gives you a decent ground presence on turn 2, but means you won't have to have more than 3 main gates. Less gates = more points for shinys. Of course, getting your positioning right can be tricky at first, and I still find it difficult now, but it will help elevate your game and get the best out of your units.

As a side note, always remember that before you get playing you must specify which units are driving on, and which are on the mothership. Units which are walking on do not have the option of gating in from readiness, so think wisely when choosing!

Activate your battlegroups in the correct order

The aim of the game in the first turn is to know what you want to do, but not to let the enemy know. Bringing a key unit in your plan on to early will result in the enemy being able to counter this threat, potentially numbing your tactics. I will generally drive my Yari's on first, as in the first turn they are more or less useless. This will let me effectively 'waste' an activation, forcing the opponent to make their move. Next depending on the mission, I might activate my infantry battlegroup, which contains a unit of Braves and a Firedrake. If I am using the Firedrake as a gate I can choose not to activate it with the Braves, and in turn I don't have to bring them on the table, 'wasting' another activation. Using battlegroups like this will force your adversary to place a few units before you have anything meaningful on the table, tactically giving you the upper-hand.

For those of you that think I may have forgotten about our gate rule for turn 1, I haven't. To elaborate, for each battlegroup that activates in the first turn you must activate a gate. As a sly way to counter this be sure to take at least 3 Havens (I have 4 in my list). For the first Yari battlegroup I will activate one, and for the infantry I will activate a second. As these gates will most likely be in readiness they may come into play, but don't have too. Just don't drive them on. Leave them on the mothership to have one more game of Smash Bros, and bring them in turn 2 or 3 when they are needed. This may seem a little gamey but I don't think of it like that. This isn't really exploiting a rule, just using your units to their greatest benefit. Those Haven's will still likely get used, so aren't a waste of points!

Lastly, try and bring your infantry on last to avoid your buildings being shot with them inside (2 Enyo's or an Eagle will give a building a bad day!), and similarly try to wangle a few shots at an opponents occupied building.

This is all I'm allowing you for now, but if you wish to suckle at the tactica teat again (eww...) keep you eyes peeled next week!