So here’s my general game plan for this army. When it comes to set up, the Master of the Forge goes in with the Sternguard in their Drop Pod and the tactical squads split, the heavy bolters manning some reinforced scenery along with the Thunderfire Cannon and the Centurions. The forward combat squads with Meltaguns and Sergeants start inside the Razorbacks and either hid behind reinforced scenery or ready themselves to gun the engines and head upfield. The Scouts in their storms normally start on the board, infiltrated far forward. If I can Scout closer, I do (depending on quantity and disposition of enemy units in their area). The Ironclads are prepped to go in on Turn 1. Basically, I start aggressive from the off. It’s one of the many advantages of Drop Pods. I try to get as much stuff as I can into the face of the opponent from turn one. This usually means a combo of combat scouts and Ironclads. Although they can’t get into combat in the first turn, the wealth of heavy flamers in close is there to target backfield guns and objective holding troops, plus anyone arming gun emplacements. The Drop Pods are also handy for obstructing fire lines and hampering movement, especially as you can disembark so much further from them now. Supporting fire is obviously provided by the Thunderfire and Razorbacks primarily and sometimes the tacticals may get lucky with the heavy bolters.
What are the Centurions doing though? Probably not much in the first turn; the Cannons are woefully short range for that kind of thing. The guy I bought them from found that they couldn’t accomplish much as they were massive fire magnets and tended to get killed by anti-tank fire before reaching decent weapon range. So I’m trying a different tactic with them and using them primarily as board control. Having gone against them a couple of times, I was always anxious about getting anywhere within that 24” firing range and so they seem like an ideal deterrent for anyone thinking about getting rid of my objective scorers. Plus, the lack of an Invulnerable save seems less of a big deal when you’re tanking with 3+ Cover. However, I may want to take a more aggressive stance with them and rely on the Ironclads to take most of the high Strength low AP shooting for a turn or two and buy the Centurions time to advance. Time will tell as to which tactic seems the best use for the big guys.
The big down side with turn one is that most of the time I will probably be giving away first blood. However, as I see it, it’s a sacrifice that’s worth making if I can strip objectives from an opponent. Nevertheless, most of the time, I’ve just got to weather the return fire. The Ironclads will probably die and if I position them wrong, the scout will take quite a few casualties as well. They’re really not meant to be encountering massed firepower, aiming instead for backfield or outlying units to harry and distract. The other downside with this initial rush attack is that I have woefully little decent anti-tank in it. Make no mistake, the Dreads and Scouts can definitely deal with vehicles, but they need to be in assault in order to do so. My first turn has to be about putting the opponent on the defensive, but also bearing in mind that I need to assault stuff a keeping targets in mind for that next turn. This has worked fairly well versus more manoeuvrable opponents, as I have enough stuff with enough freedom of movement (or at least a free choice of where they drop) to cover most of the board with threat.
The second turn is when some more punching arrives (hopefully) as I have two Talons and my Sternguard in reserve to turn up and they can provide some effective shooting. The Talons in particular have managed to achieve a great deal with their relatively cheap loadouts and BS 5 (versus most targets). Never underestimate Strafing Run! They are primarily for dealing with light-medium armour that I can’t get to normally, or for deshelling troops inside a transport. In my last game against the Eldar, the were to blame for three dead Wave Serpents, so they definitely paid for themselves in terms of effect rather than raw points. Once the Guardians and Aspect Warriors are out of their cans, they are very easy to remove… The Sternguard are pretty much just as good as they ever were, but a few points cheaper, which is not something I’m going to complain about! I have different views on the Master, unfortunately, but I’ll save that for a different post. He can definitely work well, but I feel they’ve taken quite a few downgrades in this new book. He in there for the fluff and feel of it more than anything. Plus I really like the conversion I’ve done for him!
I don’t really have much else to write about my tactics beyond turn 2 though mainly because from that point onwards for me, the game becomes about adapting to the battle and the opponent more than any set plan. Plans 1 & 2 don’t always go to plan either. Regardless, I am trying to train myself to play to the objectives, or at least keep one eye on them throughout the game, as ages of DE play made me too complacent in grabbing stuff at the last second and not all armies can keep up with that lack of planning!
I’ll go more in depth into a couple of things from the SM Codex later, mainly focusing on a few rules queries I’ve noticed and the strengths and weaknesses of some of the units I use.