It is now my turn to weight in on the growing debate over AP vs. Rate of Fire. This discussion has intensified over the weekend when bigred of BoLS and Stelek of YTTH displayed somewhat opposing views on the subject. For Bigred 5th ed has reinforced his opinion that spamming as many shots regardless of AP is the best way to bring down a target. Stelek believes that melta and cover denial weaponry are the key to success in 5th ed. They are both wrong.
Let me step back a second; they are both right, but are wrong about how they are framing the debate. The debate should not be about how many knifes you bring to a fight, but how many different knives. The key to victory in 5th ed is variation. As I have repeated before, many of the power gaming “elite” rely on playing the percentages, making extreme lists tailored to destroy 80% of there opponents, but eating it to the other 20%. Another problem is also placing a bubble around a unit, without looking at the rest of your army composition. As this relates to AP vs rate of fire it is simple; take both and here are three examples.
The Eldar they are easy to illustrate the use of both AP and rate of fire. Take fire dragons for instance, maybe the best tank killing unit in the game. Then take Dire Avengers with Bladestorm. In tandem they are deadly. Simply skim up to your opponent have the Fire Dragons pop a transport then have the Avengers kill the occupants. You just used what both units do best and with some average rolling destroyed your target.
Here is one that takes a little more thinking and arose from a battlefield development. I recently got creamed by a Ork player that destroyed one of my units that a had a multi wound model in it. Do to some bad deep striking a Marine Squad and Librarian were left out in the open to some Kannon batteries. My opponent dropped frag on me at first, dealing many wounds causing me to make a few saves. I failed an average amount he then proceeded to use krak on me from the other batteries to finish me off. I thought it was brilliant. He knew he would not deal enough wounds from the krak. He also knew that if I rolled well on saves or he rolled poorly on scatter frag would not do the trick. In bigred’s world he would dropped all frag on me hoping, he would wound me and I would fail enough saves. Which is harder proposition with wound allocation. In Stelek’s world he would of used krak to guaranty kills, knowing I would have some models left.
In a battle against dreaded nob bikers, I used a combination of instant kill weapons with rate of fire to take them down. If I just had shots that did not instant kill, my opponent would of been able to wound allocate and deny me more kills. Lucky I was able to kill a few bikers with str eight weapons before I laid the hurt of mass bolter shots. In the heat of battle is important to remember what order to fire certain weapons to maximize potential. Remember not everyone has access to the Hydra Flak Gun.
This is why I believe, when it is all said and done 5th will be about variation in army builds. As a sometimes competitive player, I have noticed the extreme builds seem to make it into the top ten of many tournaments, but never take the top spots or best general. Why is that? Well once again not playing a force that is varied you roll the dice every time to avoid your nemesis army. People also poo poo good generalship which is very underrated in this current iteration of the game. I will take a good general against a “broken list” any day.
So here is the rub for both Stelek and bigred they are specialists. They specialized in taking ideas to their logical extreme, but as they take each step the effectiveness of the whole is lost. They expect us to eat it up and try it out. We oblige them and find when those lists lose it had to be bad dice and not the general. Or maybe it could of been that you should of taken a squad of zerkers, instead of the third squad of oblits when they got assaulted by the squad from the transport you popped.
Since each battle is different having a force that adjusts to new threats are paramount. If you bottle yourself into one way of viewing threats; you will be dumb founded that you lost, to an opponent force that on the surface you were sure would of been a piece of cake, for your melta or shooty spam.