Monday, November 7, 2011

What is Anti-Tank?

This is something that has been getting to me for a while. Forgive the intrusion into what is going to be quite a bit of necron posting but this is something I feel might need to be put out there. It is mostly geared toward non-imperial armies but I think it has something most people can take away.

So what is Anti-Tank? Well if you listen to the internet anti-tank is melta. That’s it. Nothing else counts or is considered. It’s an unfortunate but true tale. I’m going to cover the different aspects of anti-tank in this post hopefully to give people a different view that shows them that anti-tank can exist without the big “M”.

First the definition of anti-tank as I see it and pertaining to our hobby: Something that can consistently disable or destroy vehicles in a standard game of 40k. **Note I make no distinction between shooting and assault based anti-tank**

Now that that’s established we all know there are two phases where damage takes place; assault and shooting. Unlike most players I remember that there is an assault phase but we’ll start with the shooting phase.

Now you’ve read my definition of anti-tank. That means when I break it down into two sub-groups (same as most people) I break it down into suppression and destruction. Now suppression is pretty much all Strength 5-7. This naturally depends on the target but it’s a good generalized place to start. Weapons in this range generally are multi-shot weapons and are, when used against vehicles, pretty much designed to prevent the enemy vehicle from shooting/moving. Things like heavy bolters, auto-cannons, MC Devourers, Assault Cannons, Gauss & Tesla weapons, Multi-Lasers, and Scatter Lasers are all excellent examples of suppression shooting. Some of the above are better against infantry but in the current mech environment you’ll sometimes end up shooting them at tanks.

Then you’ve got true anti-tank. Generally anything Strength 8 and above falls into this category though again Strength 7 is that wild card. Here is where most people will say the only reliable anti-tank has the melta rule or is AP1. I entirely disagree. Missile Launchers, Harpoon Launchers, Lascannons, Upgraded Auto-cannons, Heavy Gauss Cannons, Rokkit Launchas, and a large number of other weapons will destroy tanks.

So why do people focus on melta? Well the +1 means that ½ the penetrating hits will cause an explosion. Also within half range you’re massively increasing your chance to penetrate. But here is where I always wonder why people who love melta as anti-tank don’t consider assault based anti-tank to be valid. How many vehicle mounted melta is there? The answer is not much outside of a very few units in Imperial Armies. So generally melta weapons means boots on the ground or out of the hatch. I’m going to put up a small chart of the % of a melta kill within 6” at BS 4 and Strength 8:

AV10 – 30%
AV11 – 27%
AV12 – 24%
AV13 – 21%
AV14 – 18%

Well 20%-30% is pretty darn solid a chance for killing tanks. However it’s still a pretty low chance for a single model weapon.

Close combat is what most players out there seem to consider a last resort to eliminating vehicles. Why? The roll to his is generally one of the premier reasons people state close combat isn’t an effective way to kill tanks. Don’t forget that it leaves your models that just blew up the tank standing in place to take the fury of the unit inside the popped transport. Also the fact that you had to run through gunfire to get there. All of these are valid issues with CC oriented anti-tank.

Let’s talk about CC anti-tank suppression. Guess how it works….Ready? People move more than 6” to keep you from hitting them on a 4+ or less. That’s right, sometimes to suppress enemy vehicles you just have to exist.
Outside of this let’s look at the differences between shooting and combat oriented anti-tank. We’ll based the following on AV11/11/10 vehicles since that “spam” is so common. Let’s use the premier troop unit for anti-tank…IG Melta Vets in a Chimera. A unit of IG Melta Vets will have 3 shots and by the above chart have a 84% chance to kill the tank. That’s pretty impressive.

Before we continue let’s assume most people who are going to be using CC anti-tank come in a few categories. Generally multiple attacks (3-4) at Strength 5 or higher and more than a few Strength 4 with rending. That’s a pretty broad brush but let’s take a look at the math. We’ll even use a similarly pointed unit. Since Necrons are hot right now what about Wraiths? It’s not quite a fair balance as the Wraiths have a higher threat range (18 instead of 12). On the same vehicle as the above 4 Wraiths will have 16 attacks. If the target moves 7+” (i.e. an already suppressed tank) then we’re are looking at only a 26% chance at destroying the vehicle. If it only moved 6” hoping to do some damage our chance jumps to…..87%. Wow…higher than the best and cheapest anti-tank unit in the game. (Side note: 10 Genestealers produce almost the exact same results)

It’s something I don’t feel people take into account enough when it comes to CC oriented anti-tank. People don’t consider the impact on your opponent’s movement and shooting phases, the multiple attacks, or the really think about how many things can impact AV10. Another thing I don’t think most people are Imperially focused tend to recognize is that unlike them, our CC oriented tank killers are almost never, ever troops. In most imperial armies though the most consistent platform for Melta is troops which I think heavily influences the thought process.

So what is anti-tank really? It's an army wide ability to destroy or suppress enemy vehicles. Key words there are "ARMY WIDE". It's something you build your army around but in a way that no way compromises it's ability to perform against non-mech spammed armies.

I’ll leave you with this since it’s going to be expanded on in my Necron review. Anti-Tank isn’t from a single source and an army can be designed to kill tanks without a single melta gun in.