May 18, 2010

Myth: Foot Slogging = Static

Based on this comment from Mercer:
"Can you explain how your troops as they appear to have lack of mobility."

I would like to talk about this for a minute, enough so to bring it into its own post. This is, of course, not to pick on Mercer as I have had this comment from a lot of people - whether about my army or about foot armies in general.

So let me state it right here so it's clear: FOOT ARMIES DO NOT SUFFER FROM A LACK OF MOBILITY.

Clear? Good. Oh wait, you want an explanation... fine.

First off, there are degrees of mobility, right? One would almost certainly have to agree that a Wave Serpent is more mobile than a Rhino - it can go farther, ignore intervening models and terrain, etc. So by comparison, anyone not in a mechanized Eldar/Dark Eldar army suffers from a lack of mobility.

But it is around the basic Rhino that we determine our standard for a mechanized army. How far can a Rhino move? 12" The guys inside can go an extra 1.9" + base width - but then they have given up their so-called mobility. It's a card that once played, is hard to get back in your hand.

The basic foot unit can go 7-12" per turn when they need to get somewhere (as opposed to shooting). Granted, they can only go 6" if they want to shoot, but that applies to their mounted friends as well - unless they want to get out.

In three games for the recent Ardboyz, I played with 36 "foot" models - and I never lacked for want of being able to claim an objective or get to a table quarter.

So am I saying throw away mechanized? It's not all it's cracked up to be? Oh hell no. I love me some mech. But do not get mech confused with mobility. Mobility is not the goal of most mech armies (with a few exceptions). It is protection. To quote Andy, "the Vehicle  Damage Charts is the best force extender in the game."
Amen brotha, can I get a hallelujah?

So what does that mean for the foot player? Was this a rhetorical ego-stroking exercise? Maybe a little. But what it means is that if you design a foot army, you do not have to design a static one. Some faster elements certainly help (thank you TWC), certainly. Now there are already several non-vehicle armies out there that are starting to come into their power.

Mech is the basics of the game now, but it is by no means the only flavor in the ice cream case.


  1. I would agree that the extra protection + improved vehicle damage chart is the main reason most mech trumps most foot but at the same time it does offer an extra bit of mobility. You look at the best foot lists and they are either have a huge amount of suppression fire (i.e. walking Nids, Logan Missile spam, etc.) or can keep up with the majority of mech (i.e. Jumper BA, Vanilla Bikers, TWC SW, etc.).

    What I'm trying to say is Mech does add a degree of mobility advantage but as you pointed out it's the protection mech offers that makes it generally better than most foot armies.

  2. John I will have to point out in case you didn't realise this was a generic question and not a critism question if you get what I mean. I hope you didn't take it the wrong way.

    On another note, can you write me a 2k Space Wolves calvary list :) And tell me how it will work too ;) . Seems interesting but I know noubt about Space Wolves.

  3. actually, one of our buddies over at the back40K took first in one of the 'ard boys here in Indy with an all-foot Vanilla Marine list.

    40+ T4 Power Armor and 20+ Termie Armor can be a tough nut. Esp. when it know it's going to have to run for at least a turn or two to get to you. but I really think that for 35pts, a rhino's cheap for what it gives SM's.

    for my Sisters, I don't leave home without it.

  4. @Mercer: I know it wasn't a criticism - and I didn't take it harshly. There are just enough people who think that foot models means static, so I wanted to address that.

    @Kirby: Oh certainly, mech'd units have a slightly higher degree of mobility - but not as much as most people seem to believe. The reason foot lists have large amounts of suppression fire is because that fire is supposed to do what the transport does: protect your army. But it is also from the benefit of not having spent 20% or more of your points on vehicles.

  5. John you did raise some interesting points, especially about shooting from a Rhino hatch you can only move 6". The point which is the main one for me personally and your article is protection. You need to pop my tank before shooting my tank. The longer my little men stop in my tank the longer you cannot shoot at them and kill them. That's the big thing about mech for me down, and tanks are even harder to destroy needing a 5+ and 6+ to wreck.

    As you said infantry on foot isn't that far behind foot, mech isn't that massively more mobile, but still more mobile. But as mentioned the main point is armour protection :)

    Oh, shameless plug. I am not sure if you do but I'd be greatful if you could check out I'd like to hear your comments, if any. Thanks.

  6. Part of "foot isn't mobile" is also that most basic guns are Rapid Fire, which can only shoot 12" if you move (and you can't shoot the heavy weapons at all). So while foot _can_ be mobile, most foot armies have to give up effectively all of their firepower in order to do so. Ones that don't (such as Tau and Tyranids, to name a few) fall distinctly into the "mobile" category, even though they only move 6" each turn.

    With regards to the move + disembark: since you can move 12", disembark 2", shoot, and then re-embark next turn to cruise off and do something else, I would still call this tactic vastly superior to pure foot in terms of mobility- you're moving twice as far as they are.

  7. AbusePuppy - yes, you do have the ability to move 12", disembark, and still shoot. And yes, that is the one real demonstration of additional mobility with mech. But very often, the disembarked models don't have very many to get back in, because that tends to be a "one use" tactic.

  8. The Tau used to get away with it using the fish-o-fury technique. But that required two squads working in tandem (with probably markerlight support) to totally eliminate the threat so that the fragile blue men would survive getting back into their ride.

    I'd also like to point out that foot doesn't have to be all short ranged firepower.

    Orks have shootaboys with assault 2 24" guns. Tau have pulse carbines at 18"
    Logan wing wolfguard can take stormbolters and relentless cyclone missile launchers.
    Necron immortals all have assault weaponry.

    So there are guys who can walk and still touch people beyond that 12" marker. You just have to look for them. Also IMO foot just means limited armor. So jump pack troops and bikers are ok and can give you a little speed. Bikers can even give you mobile long range firepower.

  9. I play a Logan/Missile Spam list (it sounds like)

    Logan + 4x10 wolf guard (2 termie cyclones per squad), 6 MM long fangs, 2 rifleman dreads, 1 MM/HF speeder.

    All the wolf guard have storm bolters so the ENTIRE army can move and shoot 24"+ every single turn. Catches my opponent off guard when I can move my WG and put out 20 SB shots + 4 cyclones per squad. Priceless.

  10. Enough power armour can actually power through alot. I play a dismounted space wolf list, and at 2200 points I have 94 models in power armour on the board....and at the end of the day I have been wrecking many an army with that force. Sure I only creep along, but I am a counterattack army....the enemy having better mobility simply means they get to me faster....or i hit them with 13 missile launchers and 2 plasma cannons....