Saturday, December 11, 2010

40K for dummies: duality and you...and you

If you go to any of the big sites and read their tactical articles you are going to heard quite a bit about duality.  What is duality, you ask?

Merriam Webster goes through a string of links and comes up with this:

 the quality or state of being dual or of having a dual nature

So basically duality means having a dual nature, or by nature doing two different things.

Why is this so important to 40k?

In 40k you can boil all units down to two basic types.  Models with wounds and models with armor value.  Models with wounds require a roll to-hit and to-wound followed by an armor save to deplete their wounds.  Models with armor value require a roll to-hit and to-penetrate followed by any cover saves and then a roll on the vehicle damage chart.  You have to be able to deal with both types.

The Economy of 40k

In 40k all of your units will cost you points.  Naturally, you want the points you spend on a unit to be well spent.  So, list building in 40k is an economics lesson in maximizing production while trying your best to lower costs.  Optimally, you want your units to each be individually as efficient as possible for their points cost.  Enter duality and the above information about the two kinds of models in 40k. 

An efficient unit in 40k could possibly be categorized as one displaying duality.  It has two natures. One is to handle models with wounds (usually infantry models and monstrous creatures).  The other nature is that of an armor killer.  In most armies you have units that can fulfill a dual role, but you will also have units that can't.  They possess a specialization in one type of killing or the other. 

You can utilize both of these units in your army.
The Dualist

I am going to start out with an example of a fairly dualistic unit; the space marine tactical squad.  An army including a 10 man tac squad with a missile launcher and flamer toted around by a rhino or other transport is the epitomy of dualistic.  The missile launcher gives the unit the ability to threaten armor from long ranges while, if in a pinch, they can also assault a vehicle and use krak grenades to pop the tank or vehicle.

On the other hand, each marine, barring the missile launcher carries a bolter with an additional marine carrying a flamer.  This creates a fairly devastating array of small arms fire that can put wounds on most models in the game. 

This unit exhibits the ability to handle all kinds of targets.  It is a jack-of-all-trades on the battlefield. 

When building a list this type of unit is going to be your bread and butter.  Luckily Space Marine players can take many of these units.  Other armies are less lucky.  Which brings us to....

Building synergy

Many armies have units in them that are dedicated to a single specialization.  Eldar Banshees are an example of combat specialists.  The entire unit possesses power weapons.  They strike at a high initiative.  They have fleet to help them get off assaults.  While they won't be able to handle assault terminators, they can mow through most basic infantry units with relative ease. But they do jack squat against vehicles.

So, should you just leave them in the case? According to the top list analysts on the interwebs, yep.  I like to think I am a bit more accepting of people's army building preferences, so I will tell you that no you don't necessarily need to leave those specialist models on the shelf, you just need to make sure they are supported. 

A well built army will always support its component parts to create a cohesive whole.  That way, if one part fails, the other can close ranks to fill the gap in your line.  This is also why armies that are based around deathstars will work extremely well when they can't be beaten, but fall apart when they can be.

So, if you have combat or shooting specialists, you need to make sure their weak points are covered by other units to support them.  For instance, our unit of banshees may not be able to crack a BA assault squad with a sanguinary priest and a powerfist, but if a unit of dire avengers shoots into the squad first, the unit then stands a chance.  It also builds synergy that allows your units to work better together than they ever would on their own. 

Take a minute to evaluate your list.  Do you have duality in units?  Are you using them as such?  Do you have a large number of specialists?  Are there other units in the army to support their weaknesses?  If you have a lopsided army, you will end up in a game of paper-rock-scissors where you will perform against some armies very well while other armies will murder you. 

The real idea behind duality is building a list that can handle any situation thrown at it and have a chance to come out on top.

So, what are your thoughts? Does anyone else have other examples of good dualistic units?  Does anyone want to show a good example of an army list that includes both dualistic and specialized units working in synergy with each other? 

I hope you enjoyed the article.  Please feel free to leave comments.

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