In this article I'm addressing two topics that fall under the umbrella of AROs. These are:
- What are the goals of an ARO piece?
- What makes a good ARO piece?
What are the goals of an ARO piece?
- Control the board
- Cost the opponent orders
- Kill opposing troops
Controlling The Board
Costing The Opponent Orders
Killing Opposing Troops
What makes a good ARO piece?
- Potent weapons
- Points cost
The Pride of Rodina wrote an article about what he looks for in an ARO piece, as well. You can read it here.
- Link teams with at least three members (at least 2 shot AROs)
- Total reaction (full burst AROs)
- Neurocinetics (full burst AROs)
- Suppressive fire (3 shot in AROs)
- EXP (explosive) ammunition which forces three ARM saves
- DA (double action) which forces two ARM saves
- Viral which causes two BTS saves for each hit
- Fire ammunition which causes the target to have to continue rolling ARM saves until they pass one or die
Therefore the weapons I find myself looking towards for ARO purposes are feuerbachs, heavy rocket launchers, missile launchers, multi weaponry, panzerfausts, and viral weaponry. The reason for this is that all of these weapons are seriously threatening to most troops even when only firing a single shot. In many ways what I'm doing is presenting a weapon to my opponent that simply cannot be ignored and in doing so giving them a difficult choice about how to proceed.I want to also outline the suppressive fire trait because, when activated, it makes the troop harder to hit (-3 to attacker's BS) and grants a burst of 3. It can be a very powerful asset to consider using, because it increases both the survivability of the unit using it, and increases the lethality of their AROs, but there are three issues with suppressive fire:
- It won't help you if your opponent is taking the first turn
- It costs an order and requires activating the troop to put them in suppressive fire. As it counts as an activation it means opposing forces can ARO you - and it gives them an unopposed roll
- Suppressive fire alters the range bands of the weapon, capping it at 24". If your opponent shoots you from outside that range you can't respond to it
- First the opponent chooses a target and calculates the number they need to hit. To increase our survivability here we can utilise models that are hard to hit such as those with camouflage and hiding (CH), optical disruption devices (ODD), holoprojector level 2, or those in suppressive fire. Holoprojector 2 is interesting because it doesn't lower the opponent's BS but it does force them to have to choose the "real" unit, thus granting a 66% failure rate (assuming standard conditions of two "fakes" and one "real"). That is assuming the "real" troop is even visible and possible to target!
- Next the opponent rolls the burst of their weapon in a face to face against your dodge or attack rolls. To increase our survivability at this stage we can utilise models that shoot or dodge well. Hyper-dynamics give bonuses to PH scores for dodging. Neurocinetics, suppressive fire, total reaction, and link teams increase the number of dice we get to roll when shooting in ARO and therefore increase our odds of winning face-to-face rolls.
- Finally, assuming the opponent wins the face-to-face we need to make ARM or BTS rolls to survive. We can increase our resilience here by looking at models with high ARM or BTS values that have a large chance of passing their rolls, or those with multiple wounds that can lose rolls and carry on fighting.
There appear to be two main philosophies behind ARO pieces when it comes to points. The first is to choose very expendable, cheap troops that may lack resilience. The second is much the same but focuses on more expensive troops that are harder to remove. Both tactics concede that ARO pieces are vulnerable but each goes about answering the problem in different ways.
The first tactic addresses the problem of survivability simply by ignoring it. Taking many expendable troops means that losses are unimportant. It also means that you can place lots of ARO pieces with overlapping fields of fire, which forces the opponent to split their burst unless they want to face unopposed rolls from you. This is a good way to lessen the impact of high burst weaponry such as HMGs. The second tactic addresses the problem of survivability by maximising it. This methodology means that fewer ARO pieces are taken, but the ones that are included are more threatening and hopefully take more orders to dislodge. It goes without saying that fancier units cost more points, but the hope is that because they won't die as easily they'll continue to contribute orders to your pool for longer and they'll probably be more effective in intimidating the opponent. There's no right or wrong answer about whether to go for lots of cheaper units or fewer resilient units; you'll have to find a strategy that resonates with you. However, I do feel there is a middle ground. It's not mandatory when investing points to go for all the high-tech stuff on one model, and I'm personally loathe to put all my eggs in one basket. I'm reasonably fond of taking ARO pieces like Haqqislam's Azra'il because you're given 2 wounds, 5 armour and a weapon with EXP ammunition for 39 points and 1.5 SWC - which is really quite low. It's definitely not as "good" (read that as: flexible, interesting, and adaptable) as some other options, however because it's cheaper in terms of points I can include more ARO pieces in a list, and thus I'm able to utilise elements of both the "few but resilient" and "many but vulnerable" strategies that I outlined above. Whilst that is only my personal stance, it's objectively true that sometimes you don't have to take an either/or stance between a few elite troops and many weaker ones, there are possibilities for both/and.
We want our ARO pieces to exert control over the board and force our opponent to spend orders doing things they don't want to do. This reduces our opponent's efficiency and can put us in the lead. In order to achieve these goals we need to pick our ARO pieces carefully, which means considering their weapons (ammunition and burst), resilience (how they deal with, or otherwise avoid, being shot), and points cost (how many we can take).
That's all for this article! I hope this has stimulated some thought about the role you give to AROs in your games and how you consider picking troops with AROs in mind. You may want to experiment with lists that include multiple resilient ARO pieces that really challenge your opponent, or perhaps try lists that opt for a great deal of less resilient ARO pieces. Maybe it's not your style at all and you just prefer a more proactive approach. Whatever your outcome I feel that experimenting is important because you can always be surprised. Have fun!