Thursday, June 24, 2010

Where the HELL is my DAMNED 'Nid FAQ!!!

Okay, this is really starting to piss me off...
I love the Nid dex, I really do...and I think common sense pretty much handles a great deal of the 'messes' that people claim are there, BUT...enough people see ambiguity, which means my common sense doesn't necessarily jive with others'.

They could take the time to edit a 'dex to it's early grave (even adding art to cover relevant rules sections) taking the heart away from it...and couldn't take the effort and time, that they have had much of, to FAQ the damn NIDS.
(and before you say 'but Mike, they didn't want to do it before the Ard Boyz finals played out and everyone had seen what needed fixing'...remember, they just murdered a 'dex and a half mid run)
***rant off***
been 'bugging' me for a while, can you tell?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

WAAC play


“Kirk: I reprogrammed the simulation so it was possible to rescue the ship.
Saavik: What?
David Marcus: He cheated.
Kirk: I changed the conditions of the test…….. I don't like to lose.”

WAAC…(Win At All Costs)…it used to be politically correct.
It was the ‘evolution’ of words such as cheezy, beardy etc. Those words were ephemeral, undefined and without weight. This new word lent weight and authority to accusations of being ‘rooked’. A ‘scientific’ word, an acronym. It was validation to see for those that didn’t understand.
It, like the poorer words before it, is used without understanding… It was a way for some to assuage their wounded pride, and a tool to belittle those that just flat out beat us.
But it does have application, regardless of its common misuse.
If we apply these feelings to an opponent’s list, we are wrong. An army list, no matter what is legally in it, is a proper application of the tools given to us by the designers. We cannot cheat the spirit of the game if we don’t cheat the (codex/book etc) rules. The spirit of the game, old new or in the middle, is defined by the people who supply us these tools. We can whine about what the old days were like, what the designers intended, or what our personal take on the universe is but in the long run it is just that…whining. If we have an understanding with a(some) regular opponent(s) and that is violated, we can gribble a little bit TO THEM DIRECTLY for said perceive slight in order to discover where we(either player, ourselves included) did not meet preconceived notions…but truly bitching afterward is our issue, not theirs.
If we apply WAAC to rules interpretations we misunderstood, didn’t bother to run out to their logical conclusion or don’t think fit ‘our’ universe, then we failed ourselves for missing something in the overall tool-kit that was given to us. Rules are a tool to define the conventions that we play under. Failing to understand them is a failure on our part to uphold those conventions, not a failure on our opponent’s part to play in our sandbox in a fair manner. This is often not our intent, but claiming someone is WAAC because they found (on their own, or the webbernetz) a rule interaction we failed to, should be a moment of revelation for us not an excuse to bitch about or belittle our partner in this dance of death. I’ve thanked a few people for pointing out things I simply missed (or confused with 4 previous editions stored in my cabeza) because it makes me a BETTER PLAYER. I won’t be caught out by these errors again (I’ll find new ones, don’t worry). I didn’t consider it WAAC that they saw an interaction I didn’t, I just stored it for further use.
When we go to the table to play a game, we all go with preconceived notions, conventions if you will, of what to expect. With these conventions, we define an upcoming relationship with guidelines that are supposed to insure a fair and level playing field. These sometimes don’t jive with our opponent’s perceptions. When and where they conflict is often where we find ourselves feeling taken advantage of (incorrectly for the most part) and a sense of WAAC play can grow out of this. What we, as players, need to do is understand that whenever we feel slighted by these situations it is our responsibility to discover the discrepancy and fix it. Evaluate where the resentment (because that’s what it is) comes from. If we’re honest, we’ll often discover it is growing from an error of perception on our side of the table. If it’s in a regular group or with a friend, discuss the issue, open your mouth, yeah that means talk about it. Don’t accuse, don’t present why you’re feeling downtrodden, just try to fix it so that later on you can play without misunderstandings.
WAAC is real though. It is the Kobyashi Maru scenario. It is where opponent’s really do not care about fair, and attempt to ‘alter the conditions of the test’ and have no shame about it. No concern about the bitter taste it leaves in the wake of their opponent’s wreckage, or the chain of events that led them to a victory in an arena of perceived superiority. Their lists may be power, their rules knowledge may be concrete and their tactical acumen may be unlike most you’ve seen…but these all pale in comparison to their desire to WIN, and they do not rely solely on these tools. In fact, these tools are merely a less valued part of their arsenal. They revel in the manipulation of the conditions that surround what should be a contest of skill and steel, calm and carnage. A WAAC player is not content to win with their skills as the sole determining factor of victory, he/she wants to stack the deck first.
We won’t go into cheating in depth, as that is flat out violation of convention. It is the most blatant (yet only the subtle cheat gets away with it consistently) type of WAAC play. It is simply defined. Cheating is ignoring or altering the rules when your opponent does not have the acumen to catch it. Adding models, weighted dice, omission or addition. It’s all the same. It blurs with the following, but is more a blatant violation than a subtle manipulation. Cheating can be both the worst violation, yet easiest to catch with awareness (and easiest to call a TO in to correct).
WAAC players that don’t really cheat look for the most subtle loopholes in the test itself to manipulate to their advantage. Often, the implications of these violations are not realized until after the contest is complete. These players try to note whenever something appears so obvious to everyone that no actual written word confirms the understood (or book/dex interactions define). Examples include the ‘Daemon Clause’ in the recent few Ard Boyz rounds; altering the order of scenarios in Ard Boyz semi-finals in order to sidestep a perceived weakness in a particular round/scenario matchup; convincing opponents that terrain should be ‘placed’ when it actually is pre-set; browbeating players into accepting that additional ‘reserve edges’ include DOW 1st turn arrivals…etc etc. Little things on the surface that at that particular moment, either from a TO’s /Judge’s perspective or an opponent’s across the table seem almost sensible. The WAAC player knows damn right well what he’s done/doing, but is like a used car salesman in delivery and a BP CEO’s in denial of culpability.
Another WAAC symptom is the ‘sleight of hand’. It’s not always cheating per-se, but involves fast moving; slow playing; moving/removing units; quick scooping dice; adding anything that will allow for more and more errors on the part of their opponent. Frustration from being slow played is easy. Take as much time as possible for the first 2/3 of a round, getting your opponent eager to wrap things up. Get their rhythm off and then change pace utterly for a ‘rush’ at the end. Hell, if you’re not obvious about it you can even start implying slow play on their part toward the end to rush them further. Move and re-move models…every possible 1/8 of an inch can get you that much closer to a charge. Fast count your dice and scoop, hoping to add a ‘hit’, or better yet scoop the hits first. Then change how you pick up dice when the actual hits are in your favor. My person douchey fave to see, use a tape measure to draw LOS all over the table…it’s amazing how few failed charges/out of range shooting moments will occur when your opponent lets you do this!
WAAC players have little actual conscience when it comes to the ‘win’. They will attempt to cover the infraction (when discovered) in a veneer of legitimacy. Utilize the Judge’s ruling or TO’s lack of understanding as a first line of defense (the Judge said yes, so it wasn’t cheating…etc). They will lump their actions into a group mentality when they can (other’s agreed). Finally, they will simply blame their opponent(s) lack of knowledge for allowing it to happen (not my fault he didn’t know the Tervigon couldn’t move before spawning, I just forgot at the moment). These players really do give a bad name to the hobby as a whole, and the competitive environment in particular. A side effect many people don’t consider is that the great players and the WAAC players often come to events with similar lists and rules knowledge. They ‘appear’ similar on the surface. Many good WAAC players will put you at ease, and lull you into a false sense of comraderie. Just remember, it really is our responsibility as a player to calmly and politely refuse the little manipulations they employ, in our own defense, and simply deny them opponents on their off-tourney time when we are out to have fun.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ard Boyz Semi Finals Results/Report

Ard Boyz SemiFinals (note I did not explain Deployment/Missions here, if you want to read them in order I played link here- LINKY)

Okay, so I won the prelims and had the un-enviable choice of a 3 hour, 3.5 hour or 4.5 hour drive for the Semis. FUGH. I didn’t have the money to go up Friday and get a room, so I just resigned myself to a 5 am wakeup. Little did I know, my insomnia cycle was going to kick in end of week, netting me 4 hours of sleep Thursday night, followed by a sleepless night Friday. Two days with 4 hours of sleep equals the suck.
Still, I got on the road with three of my buddies at 630, and was in good spirits.
(I will bitch at the end of the BATREP, everything else will be nicey-nice)
Scenario 1; Fog
The only game I really got ANY pictures, and they were where my phone camera started to tank. Of all the pics I took, maybe 5 actually were recoverable from my now dead data card (and my phone now no longer accepts my data card, or saves pics at all…time for a trip to Best Buy). Opposing army lists are from memory, can’t find them right now…may have left them with my ‘Nid dex at the venue. Fortunately, I have a decent memory.
Deployment (picture 1)
His list
18(ish)x Nobz with variations on Klaws/Uge Choppas/armour and a Painboy.
(BW w/b-shoota and deffrolla)
12 burnas
(BW w/b-shoota and deffrolla)
19 slugga-boyz w/klaw Nob
(BW w/b-shoota and deffrolla)
20 slugga-boyz w/klaw Nob
(BW w/b-shoota and deffrolla)
12 slugga-boyz w/klaw Nob
3-2x DeffKoptas (twin rokkit+some saws)
2-5x loota mob
Grot Mob
I won the roll, and chose to go first. Central wall of Fexes, flanked by T-Fexes backed by Tervigons with Hive-Guard outriders and interspersed ‘gants. He deployed opposite the central building with the KFF joined to the 19 boyz mob in a BW, Ghaz w/the 12 Burnas in BW. With those units in the center, He had his NobWagon on his right side of the BW wall, and the 20 Boy mob on his left. Behind the Nobwagon, He hid the Trukk Mob. 1 Deffkopta unit on his right, 2(I don’t know why he didn’t reserve the DeffKoptas, forgot to ask when it was all over) on his left and he left the Grots in reserve.
My Turn 1: I ‘BURST’ forward toward the center with my entire line, and ran as far as I could. As the central building was about the size of the 12” ‘no dep zone’ in the center, I was rolling Difficult Terrain with almost my entire center. Combined with my run rolls, my center moved and average of…..7”…that’s AFTER run rolls (thus the emphasis on ‘burst’). MC 3d6 doesn’t work if your dice hate you, lemme tell ya. No big, I still had some gants threatening the central objective with backup. I spawned with all my Tervigons and put out somewhere around 80 gants, but 3 of my Tervis pooped out. Ugh. Three Tervis spread out from the center, backing the line. The two HQ Tervis followed flanking units of Hive Guard and gants into the Fog. After movement and running in the fog, I had 2 objectives. Then I shot. Pop goes the KFF BWagon. Hive Guard poofed a squadron of Deffkoptas.
His Turn 1: He 6” moved the BWagons up. I don’t think he wanted to give my ‘Fexes charge range ( I would have punched it personally). He pushed the remaining DeffKoptas into shooting positions on Hive Guard. He also brought the Trukk into the fog on his right. He shot, and netted about 10 dead gants across the entire board.
Turn 2 was very similar to Turn 1, except that I did not spawn from the remaining functional Tervigons in case I needed emergency gants later and crapped out. My movement secured all 3 objectives solidly, and put my ‘Fexes into real charge threat for the Wagons. Then I shot at them…and missed with 75% of my shooting. BUT, every shot that hit managed to penetrate (some hive guard shots and 2 Rupture cannon hits) and he couldn’t make more than half his KFF saves. Combined with a pinned unit (one of the BW Boy units lost enough to explodiness that they actually had to take a pinning check, and failed) he suddenly had more than half his army decanted, and half of it out of support. I didn’t have charge range on anything due to where his units ended up, so my turn ended.
He was just too cautious…he tried to shoot up the world, and only managed 2 assaults (his right side had a bait pair of gant units close to a boyz unit and deffkoptas, and his center got off a boy assault against a big brood of ‘gants. I think he forgot the Multi-Charge option there, but it wouldn’t have benefitted him as it would have just sucked more ‘gants in with counter-attack.
The rest of the game was really, pile on objectives…kill what little he had that was un-engaged with Thorax Swarms and Hive Guard, and wear down Ghaz. (note, he used Ghaz’s Waagh in one of my shooting phases to prevent two units that were shot up from running off).
End of game, he conceded with about 400 points worth of units left, while claiming about 1000 points from me (including the points from spawned ‘gants).
Full Points Massacre for me.
(after the game we went outside and I gave him advice on how to improve his list. He told me he based it ‘on some guy’s list from dakka.. sumpin sumpin ‘pepper’ I believe?… ;) . I tried the soft approach, and didn’t tell him it sucked, but how to improve synergy and what units didn’t support him properly. I also asked why he didn’t just shove his BW’s down my gullet before I was able to put more gants down and secure my position. He was just scared of the Carnifexes, had no Idea how to handle them, which I helped with as well)

Scenario 2; ‘Shineys’
His list was Fatecrusher.
3 4x Bloodcrushers (loaded)
4 8x Bloodletters
2(?) 8x Plaguebearers
3 Tzeentch DPs fully loaded for shooting and flying.

I have my deployment pic for this one, but that’s it.
I won the roll to go and chose second.
I deployed as sparsely as possible, with a similar spread to my last scenario. I wanted as much potential footprint to reduce his ‘safe’ zone.

He rolled for army half and got the wrong half.
His turn 1 drop; 2x Bloodcrusher units, a Dp, 3x Bloodletter units, a plaguebearer unit. They scattered with decent support, but not grand.

This one really doesn’t need a blow by, as his wrong-half start hurt AND his turn 2 reserves only got him fateweaver and a DP. It went downhill from there. He didn’t really make mistakes, but neither did I. With spawning and spreading, I hemmed him completely into his half the table. I wiped one unit of crushers out with shooting, and dropped the other down to a basic crusher and the Icon(darn it).
Big moments; HiveGuard nuking bloodcrusher units. The Carnifexes holding 2 different DPs in CC for 4 combat phases, a steady feed of ‘gants holding the Bloodthirster at arm’s length, and Fateweaver poofing to HiveGuard fire as soon as he hit the table (took all three units, but a 9 ldrship sucks). Ultimately, my inability to kill Daemon Princes cost me a massacre. I could bloody well hold em down, but it took till turn 6 to finish the one on one of my objectives, and consumed too many resources to be able to secure both of his.
I was a little grumpy for this round. I was so bloody tired, and made the mistake of having beer with the lunch break(that wore off), but he was gracious and fought to the last.

Major Victory-20pts

Scenario 3: We’re sorry mech, here’s your cake…

His List
5x THSS squad [LRR]
Tac squad (flamer/MM/PW) [LR]
Tac Squad (M/MM/PF) [LRC]
Tac Squad (M/MM/PW) [LR]
Tac Squad (flamer/MM)
2 1x units of MM/Typhoon Speeders
1 2x Unit of MM Atk Bikes
1x LR Redeemer w/MM
1x LR Crusader w/MM
1x LR w/MM
1x LR w/MM

He won the roll to go first, started with nothing on the table and nothing in reserves. And this is where I screwed up.
I was tired, and I had been dwelling on this scenario since it came up. I had not fought 4x LR lists with these bugs, and instead of simply calming down and going with ‘the plan’, I let the scenario/terrain dictate MY deployment.
I deployed 1xHQ and 2xTrp Tervigons…in my left corner behind the one piece of terrain that could give them cover. What was I thinking? “Spawn first turn, I have to spawn as much as I can”… WTF? Just plain SHIT. Brain shut down, reflex picked up and punched me in the nads.
Corner??? ARRRGGHHH!
This was me failing to heed EVERY FUGGING PIECE OF ADVICE I deliver and believe in, to never let the situation make you react, make THE ENEMY react to you…and I reacted to the enemy AND the environment. I should have realized my error before turn 1, but I was just tired enough not to really see it till he came on table, and dropped one of my Tervis to half wounds despite cover. And then the final nail in my coffin, I brought in everything in that corner. I just couldn’t let go of “must have cover, MUST”…dammit, I KNEW I could sacrifice ‘fexes for two turns to rush the middle and force him into a corner, but I let reactive nerves dictate my deployment and first turn. I lost the game here, period.

Again, this is a game that doesn’t need to be spelled out on a turn by turn, but I never gave up. I pushed out of my corner and shot like a madman. I baited out Vulkan and his Termies with Carnifexes, I shot the rhino and tried to get every cheap KP I could.
It didn’t help that 4 consecutive turns of fire with Hive Guard and and T-Fexes only immobilized the rhino, killed AN attack bike and dropped A speeder (apparently I borrowed Stelek Broadside dice). I got happy when I ‘blew up’ his Redeemer with a T-Fex, until we realized LOS was blocked just enough (by a carni and building corner) that he should get a save, which he made (ah well, it still felt good to get the rolls). I did kill Vulkan and the Terminators with mass fire/’gant assault. It did run to turn 6, and I did manage to avoid the Massacre against me. Last turn also saw the death of his last speeder and attk bike (finally, little fast bastards!  ). But two Tervigon’s popped turn 3 and I rolled more on the feedback than the total termagant’s that were in range, that was 6 KPs right there. It was messy, it was bloody and it was fraught with stupidity…on my part.
Major Victory w/3 bonus to him.

All of my opponents were actually fun to play, pleasant and accommodating. I’m almost glad the event was so far away, with 36 players and only 2 of my compatriots accompanying me, the odds were that I would play 3 new people that day…and I wasn’t disappointed. That is one of the best things about GTs/Ard Boyz etc…new faces, ideas, armies and games.

I managed, even through the mess of game three, to pull 5th place. I THINK if I had deployed intelligently that game I MAY have made top 3, but with other issues who knows. One of my friends that I rode up with DID take 3rd, and my other friend (I don’t remember exact rank) came in the top 50%.

Now that I’ve accepted a portion of the responsibility for Scenario 3, time to bitch.

This is NOT an attack per-se, and I do understand it can be difficult to run these…
I’m not saying that as an observer. I ran the Ard Boyz events at my old store 2 years running, including the year 1 Semis.
We had 30+ for Prelims yr 1, and 56 people signed up for Semis that year. FIFTY TWO showed up.
I set it up the night before(with help from friends). I had a few regulars that didn’t qualify hanging out, getting me food/water/stuff or sitting at my station if I had to run to the restroom/smoke but handled pretty much all the grit myself.
I begged, bought, borrowed and stole every piece of terrain I could lay my hands on (thanks Rep who shall remain un-named, if you ever read this, for all the ‘extras’ you could swing. And thanks Neptune John for all the loaned stuffage!)
I walked the floor constantly, I engaged every player directly at least once directly, and every table at least 3 times per round.
I was aware immediately if there were any ‘issues’ between players.
I was enthusiastic, involved and paid more attention to those that were new to my store than people I saw from my region.

I have pics attached, hope you can add them here, but…the terrain was shit. Worst case scenario, in my mind/army, was to play scenario 3 with low terrain/lots of trees or sparse area terrain. I called the venue and asked the week prior if they were terrain sufficient, and offered to bring two tables worth if it was needed. I was pleasantly told that they ‘had plenty to be sure to hit 25%’ per table for up to 36 players. I asked if they were sure, they said yes. I can honestly say at least one of my tables didn’t have enough terrain for Warhammer Fantasy…seriously. My final table, I had ONE piece of terrain in the CORNER of my half that could provide cover to my MCs, and maybe one in the opposite corner of my half.

Records: why would you write things down on paper and pair up that way? In an event with this level of competitiveness? On a small legal pad? WITHOUT SCORE SHEETS HANDED OUT(WTF???), but reported verbally to the guy scribbling it down? With things crossed out, referenced between sheets and trying to keep it under wraps for the purposes of ‘suspense’? I truly don’t THINK there was cronyism going on there, but dayum…could you have created a greater potential for suspicion?

Vp pairing: apparently, as we were reporting VPs, they paired second round by VPs. What??? Not BPs with a tie-breaker, but actual VPs? Why? Was it just silliness, or to someone’s benefit?

Walking the floor: I saw the TO come from behind the counter maybe Once per round. He made quiet announcements, and only let us know time once per round. Involvement. It’s important. You cannot get a feel for your players/mood/behavior/potential issues by sitting on one of the VERY FEW stools you have behind the counter jawing with regulars. If the excuse of having the FAQ open on your laptop is the reason you’re doing it, you don’t know the rules well enough.

Cheating: goes with the previous point. If you see a rulebook or ‘dex open for too long you should ask what’s up. You would KNOW this if you were engaging your players instead of jib-jabbing. If it’s going on for too long, someone’s involved in shenanigans. Because it was too difficult to maneuver around a table, someone playing there was willing to take the word of a ‘nid player reading from his dex across the table that he could spawn after moving tervigons, that raveners and warriors were t-5, Raveners apparently move 12 in addition to assaulting 12(he caught that though) and some other outright cheats. I didn’t hear it at the time, so I couldn’t interject (and not being TO, it might not have been my place but I would have). The other player didn’t have the ‘nid dex, and hadn’t come up against warrior/ravener spam or Tervies yet so he accepted the info and it cost him a win. If the TO (or assistant judges) had been regularly patrolling the floor, someone would have caught on to this as it apparently was a constant rules argument instead of a game.

Venue info: be honest, even if that means honest to yourself. If you can’t handle more than 20, cap it there. If you don’t have the terrain for it, borrow, create or even accept offers for more from unsolicited sources. If you are asked if there is army storage, don’t say there’s shelving under all the tables when all that was is the floor (excepting the back 6 tables).

Seating: can’t truly gripe about that overly much, because I do know stools are expensive, but I was only capable of sitting down my first game…and without a way to put things anywhere, I ended up using that for my case as casualty removal.

Enthusiasm: get involved. Walk the floor, engage the players, discuss the event and the game. Don’t interrupt games of course, but walking the floor at least 50% of the time keeps you aware of things, moods and potential conflicts. It also encourages a sense of authority to be able to discuss things, speed up games with discrepancies and solve rules issues.

Rules judging: frankly too tired then to remember it, but at least one discussion after round 1 involved a BASIC bad rules call. Not an esoteric issue, not a changed FAQ, but a blatant core rule bad call.

Table Balance: if you are going to ‘number’ tables, you should also create groups of tables that have varying degrees/types of terrain (3 groupings for 3 rounds ideally) and make certain every player plays once in each grouping. I played ONE table that could be considered to have had 20% terrain, otherwise I was playing Fantasy or worse. That 20% table was identically laid out to my final game, just used a larger central piece. If you like a pure Imperial Mech environment, that’s fine, but don’t cater to it to the detriment of every other army out there…at least when you are hosting an event that should only have involved 3 of your regulars.

Winners: Nothing is more anti-climactic than to just tell the top 3 players quietly, as they pass the counter, where they placed…while the bottom tables are still wrapping up games…other players are out smoking and with no one to witness/congratulate. And then to say ‘I know it’s anti-climactic, but you’ll get prizes from GW’. Who gives a shit if it’s not about your store, your prizes or your glory, it’s about the players and the FUCKING HOBBY…jeebus guys, way to make us want to come back again if you host it.

You guys were pleasant, don't get me wrong, but it almost seemed as though you DIDN'T want to do this, or realized you had bitten off more than you can chew. You do know your GW rep can help if you are having issues right?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hammer and Thumb

Hammer and Thumb

So, I was an artilleryman. It was our job to apply saturating fire from long range when called to do so. Sometimes this was going to be called on a target that was unaware and static, but as often as not it was going to be called on a target that was in motion. In order to pin that enemy down, friendly PBIs had to engage the enemy to keep them in place. We were the hammer, they were the thumb. Sometimes, the thumb got bloodied. It is a decision that has been made in warfare since the dawn of indirect artillery/aircraft bombing. It’s a decision not made lightly, but made of necessity. (note; though I was active duty during at least 2 military actions and 1 war, I was fortunate enough to never have to lay a quadrant/deflection or pull a lanyard on a live enemy, but we were trained to operate with these expectations).

In 40k, we have the viewpoint of gods. We see every aspect of the field, and the enemy, from on high…with little in the way of ‘fog’ (aside from dice uncertainties/human unpredictability) to disrupt our decisions. We DON’T have (even with vaunted IG arty) the ability to engage the enemy with no chance of reprisal. Our ranges are intentionally shortened to prevent this stand-off kind of engagement from being the totality of our gaming experience. Yet the concept of ‘Hammer and Thumb’ still applies.
In this case, it is the act of holding, baiting or manipulating an enemy into position in order to deliver a devastating strike.

As weird as it sounds, in our gaming example, the Thumb is as (or more) important than the hammer. In 40k, the thumb is often not expected to live but instead provide opportunities to apply the Hammer such that the sacrifice will further our cause far more than the loss of the unit costs us.
(I’m not listing Hammers and Thumbs, but application. Units such as THSS termies/Rampaging Carnifex Broods/IG Arty squadrons speak for themselves, as do all other ‘dexes heavy hitters).

Units that cannot be ignored, cannot be simply swept off the table at a whim and can threaten on their own. Look at resilient scoring units, fast threatening units or outflanking/infiltrating units. Squad(ron)s of this nature can be used to influence disposition, deployment and movement of the enemy. Though not an exhaustive or restrictive list, I usually find these to be my best Thumbs.

-Resilient Scoring Units (ignore us at your peril). Mounted squads with large numbers/high toughness/solid saving throws. You cannot ignore them, they might grab an objective late game. You cannot just paste them, they have speed AND innate survivability. They will often survive your initial assault long enough to hold you down for the cavalry, or at least fall back/die in such a way as to leave you over-extended. If you have them, use them. IG have them, it’s called a platoon in chimeras. What they lack in T/Saves they make up for in spam. Marines have them, it’s called the Tactical Squad and rhino. Obviously there are others, but these are just indicative examples…find your parallels. These units can be held back and thrown out for late game grabbing, but applying a squad or two early creates a ‘must deal’ situation.
Threaten objectives or clog movement lanes. Block LOS with their cans. Pull assault elements forward with them as bait. Make a wall that cannot be side-stepped or ignored.

-Fast Threatening Units (you can’t guess where we’ll be). Tank killers, movement blockers and vehicles of all sorts. They may not be able to score, but they can contest. They don’t always have ‘major doom’ written all over them, but they will interfere with your opponent’s plans. Generally we’re looking for interference units here. Look for things that can threaten nearly all transports. Crack a can, and you slow your opposite number’s ability to respond, and keep his units at arm’s length for longer firepower attention. This is generally the true throw-away thumb. It does its job and you don’t care anymore. Great if it lives, but a valk dropped melta-vet squad cracking a Land Raider isn’t expected to last longer than it takes to expose the termies. It’s job is done. It has held the enemy baddy at bay and slowed it. Speeders, Piranha and such all perform the quick immobilize/expose/block role. TWC are generally considered hammers, and rightfully so. But they are GREAT thumbs! They usually survive their ‘sacrifice’, can threaten a greater portion of the battlefield, and serve a dual role.
Remember though, your Thumb (in this role) is quite literally a tool. Do not grow attached. Weigh interference vs your personal attachment to the unit. Use these units with a focus on blocking or holding units in place with little concern for their long term survival.

-Outflanking/Infiltrating units (you can’t guess where we’ll come from). These are Thumbs of a different sort. Units that serve this role are there to influence your opponent’s deployment/early moves. Drop Podded units, Mawlocs/Stealers and scouting elements are your friend. No matter how much your opponent may seem un-flustered by their appearance in your list, he WILL be considering where they will be when he deploys or takes his first moves. Anything that influences this gives you greater understanding of where he will be in the developing turns of the game. These units will give you greater control over what you do in your own development. These units serve their purpose early game, and what occurs after that is up to you and how you capitalize on their influence.
All of them have potential to shoehorn the enemy into less favorable deployment and less than optimal early movement. Of the Thumbs, these also have the potential for greater survival into the mid-game.
Use these units for early game manipulation, placing your opponent in the un-enviable position of deploying without regard for where they may pop, or let you have an easier time predicting where they will end up early.

Nearly all of these units require ‘spamming’ to be effective. A singleton of a unit will only make your opponent tweak a little. Doubling or tripling (or more in the case of scoring units) is necessary to influence your opponent’s deployment/responses. A single squad in a chimera does not a wall make. A single Land Speeder does not a true block make (etc, ad nauseum). You can’t ‘throw away’ something you cannot replace (either with a repeat unit, or a unit with similar functionality).
Always look toward manipulating your counterpart’s early game actions and you will have your first step toward victory.