Micro Gameplay Strategy: Defeating Deathstars with Tar Pits

How would you defend against a deathstar?

Hey guys Son of Adam here again with a little article about defeating deathstars with tar pits.

Since the new edition, deathstars have grown in popularity, and with them comes the need to shut them down.  Generally people go about this by trying to find the best deathstar; one deathstart to rule them all.  They will play test to see, deathstar vs. deathstar, which will win out.  Others try to build a list around putting out enough shots to take down anything deathstar related.  These are both valid methods, but I want to offer up a different idea for your considerations; tying them up.

Deathstars are made to crash into enemy lines and destroy all who oppose, but there are some units in the game that are made to do exactly the opposite.  These are called tar pit units.  Tar pit units are generally cheap, large, have an invulnerable save, deny attacks in combat, have fearless, feel-no-pain, or some combination there of.  Some examples are plague demons, massed tyranid guants, or swarms.

The idea here is that you can tie up a large deathstar unit long enough to make them tactically irrelevant, or to lessen their impact on the game.  And, with the cost imbalance for the rest of the game, you should be able to make enough of a difference with the rest of your army to gain the advantage, or apply this tactic again to further tie up the squad.

Consider that, in a perfect world, a Draigowing deathstar assaults 30 guants backed up by feel-no-pain.  The guant squad only costs 120 points and the deathstar costs upwards of 1000 points (assuming normal deathstar overload with Draigo, apoth, and 4 psycannons).  This deathstar will be getting 3 attacks on the charge, hitting on 3’s, wounding on 3’s, and the guants will get a 5+ feel-no-pain on all non-hammer attacks.  That’s 36 attacks, with say 24 hits, 16 wounds, and 11 dead.  So, with 11 dead at 5pts a piece, it cost you 55pts to hold that deathstar still for the top of a turn.

Now for the bottom of that turn.  You know the drill; it’s only 25 attacks this time, with say 17 hits, 11 wounds, and 7/8 dead.  So at the end of the full turn where they were charged it cost you 90/95 pts to make the Draigowing deathstar irrelevant to the game.  Take that number over the course of 5 turns and make it 395 points (95 + 75 each turn thereafter) to keep 1000 points at bay.  In a 2000 point game, it has now become 1000 points vs. 1605 points.  The tyranid player will gain a significant advantage.  (Please be aware that this is a perfect world scenario.  However, when working with perfect world scenarios, we can look for what to try for in our actual games).

These ideas work with several different units against several different deathstars, but consider the fundamental idea, take small cheaper units to tie up larger, more expensive units in order to give yourself the upper hand in achieving the victory conditions.  Now go out and see if you can work this idea into your list in order to deal with the deathstars of the 40k world.  You don’t have to change what you are taking now, but it’s a good exercise none-the-less to see if there are more mild aspects of this strategy that can be helpful to you when considering what to bring to the table and while playing the game.

About Son of Adam

I am a 40k player and have been since the time of third edition. My first love, and presently an unfortunate one at that, is the Tau. In 4th edition I began a modest IG army, and then started a small yet growing Grey Knight trophy army in 5th. In the recent past, I have succumbed to the desire to play Eldar; that same alluring desire of precision in play, and artistic gracefulness of modeling that many 40k players always seem to toy with. I am finding this last army to be very challenging and enjoyable. My involvement with the hobby is as an appreciator of much of the fluff, an admirer and novice in the art of modeling, and an enjoyer of the game.

Posted on August 13, 2012, in Game Strategy, Gameplay, Grey Knights, List Building, Micro, Strategy, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Yea, I’ve been using nurglings for just that lately and its been working perfectly. Th/ss termies or nob bikers stuck in combat with 3 wound, eternal warrior, fearless, 13 point models can hold almost anything up all game. 🙂

  2. Important article! 🙂
    I think ur way is also the best one as u can use mostly viable units for that (f.e. Gaunts are not wasted if u dont get a deathstar). So for list building matter this is in my opinion the best choice to deal with deathstars. 😉


  3. You guys are right, those are both fantastic options.

    Can you think up any other combinations for good tarpit units? (Ehem…IG w/BA) It’s good to find some that may be useful for whatever army you are playing, and at this point nids and demons are not the most common allies.

  4. Well GK, BA, SM, SW dont have that kind of unit. You can form Deathstars with them or except for GK just play Strom Terminators which i think are just awesome in 6th. 🙂

    DE have that Beasts which are tough but dunno if u can hold a Deathstar with it.
    Eldar have Wraithlord and guards with rerollable saves , also pretty tough (but not cheap ;))

    Orcs and IG have numbers to trow at them.

    Seems like thats not a tactic for every army. 😛

    But even without such units its not that hard to bait a Deathstar around. f.e. Draigo unit without transport is easy to bait. Some just lack mobility. Clever opponent will know but its worth a try.

    • One of the combos I was hinting at was the following allied detachment: Allied IG with Creed, Chenkov, 50 conscripts, with whatever infantry squads you want. With Kell, Creed makes the conscripts take his fearless command on LD 10 and when their numbers are getting low enough, you can kill the remaining off at the start of your turn to release the enemy deathstar for you to shoot at before bringing that whole squad back in from reserve with Chenkov’s ability. That makes them a re-useable tar pit that can disapear right before your shooting phase; pretty tactically sound eh?

  5. Great article, but a few small points on your math. Most Draigo Deathstars are going to have a banner in them as well. This means the unit will have 3 attacks each instead of 2 (4 on the charge). Also, unless the player is an idiot, he will be using the banner to auto-activate his force weapons to deny you Feel No Pain.

    This changes the numbers a bit. 20 will die on the charge, and 15 will die every assault phase after that. That makes the cost 175 points for one turn and 150 for every turn after that. The cost of your tarpit example has has just doubled.

    • santyn thanks for the compliment and for checking my numbers.

      Just in reply, I want to point out that this example was an exercise and not the only way to apply this method. For that purpose it was also assumed as a perfect world example; a full squad of knights unaffected, no shooting before charging, successful charge range, no further powers blessing that guant squad etc.

      But you are right, if you have this exact example without any other effects to either side apart from the bonuses to the Knights, it will cost more to pull it off. However, realistically you won’t have to pull it off for all five game turns, and there are other ways to modify the combat, as there would be for whatever tar pit unit against whatever deathstar you may need it for.

      I’m glad to have your comments here. Productive and thoughtful discussion always helps improve the community. Again, the example presented here, as others in the future, is meant to be an abstract tactic that will, necessarily, have to be modified for any actual use.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: