So far my general strategy has been to weather the storm of their first turn (Shrouded helps), return everything to the shadows in my turn 1, and Beta Strike them turn 2. However, there are a few things you need to think about.
· You need to think about what you deploy and what you reserve;
· You need to think about what you return to the shadows, and what you leave on the board;
· You concede board control in turn 2 and to a lesser extent in turn 1, and;
· It doesn’t work where you’re facing an opponent who has a significant advantage if they go first.
First, what you deploy and what you reserve. Ideally, you would deploy one tiny unit hidden out of line of sight and rely on the +1 to your reserve rolls to bring everything in turn 2. However, I can’t do that because I run 10 units from SubT, who must infiltrate. So the question is, how much of the Brood Cycle do you infiltrate – the answer being “as little as possible”, particularly when you remember only the Genestealers get shrouding. The problem is, there are a lot of bodies to hide. Given I must infiltrate my SubT units, that’s 80 bodies. Few boards have that much cover. Because only the Stealers get shrouding, Brood Cycle units gets dibs on cover, so the more bodies from the Brood Cycle you infiltrate, the fewer places there are to hide the SubT.
You also need to think about reserves. Only units you deploy and return to ongoing reserves come on automatically in turn 2. For everything else, you need a 2+, which sounds well and good, but imagine how annoying it would be to roll a 1 when trying to get your Genestealers on from reserve? So you might want to infiltrate the Genestealers. But you also need to bear in mind that your Iconward, and Magus will be attached to a unit from the Brood Cycle (attaching them to a SubT units means they don’t roll 2 dice on the table). Again, it would be really annoying if you roll a 1 for their reserve roll on turn 2. So maybe you deploy them too.
But, hold on, you also need to have some table presence on Turn 1 because you need to score maelstrom points, which brings me to the second bullet point, what to leave on the table and what to return to the shadows.
What I tend to do is deploy everything via infiltrate, using the Brood Cycle units to cover maelstrom. So far as possible, I have them in cover or preferably out of sight. That way when I return all the SubT units (plus the Genestealers and the units with the Iconward and Magus) to the shadows, I still have some board presence, and can still snag some maelstrom objectives. Which deals with the third bullet point.
On turn 2, you roll for the units in reserve just like you would on turn 1, and set up your Beta Strike, just like you set up your Alpha Strike. One difference is that you can’t move on the turn you come in from reserve, so the Beta Strike is less flexible. The hand flamers are less useful, and the Demo charges are only useful if you roll a 6, however, the principal’s the same. The big difference however is, a Beta Strike is inherently less useful against certain armies. Tau have intercept, War Convocation has litanies of the Electromancer, turn 2 demon FMC spam will be in the air and pretty much invulnerable, and lots of armies have psychic powers it’s hard to deal with once their up (e.g. Invisibility).
I haven’t really come up with an answer for Tau. I guess you have 3 options, play the mission with the little 5 man units and “distract” the enemy with the bigger units, or set up on the table and pray you weather 2 rounds of fire and still have enough mass to get into battle effectively, or go for the Beta Strike anyway, hoping you survive overwatch. None of them are particularly good options, but at least they're there.
Against War Convocation, trying to Beta Strike when he has litanies of the Electromancer up, is a bit of a waste of time. Your units will get shredded at I10, and you’ll get nowhere. A good player will pop litanies on turn 1, so it blocks you doing anything on turn 2, and will pop it again on turn 4, so any units that have returned to the shadows in turn 3 are also pretty powerless. Your only hope is to roll a 6 on units with demo charges or hand flamers! One possibility is to try and “goad” him into popping the second litany in turn 3, so you can come in and assault turn 4, but it’s not a great option.
Demon FMC spam is slightly easier to deal with. Here the plan is to flood the board with bodies so that the FMCs can’t fly, and then assault them turn 2 when they’re still on the ground. If that doesn’t work (and it is surprisingly difficult to do) you simply ignore the FMCs, and play the ground war, picking off summoned demons as soon as you can.
Finally, assaulting a powered up death star is pretty pointless The plan here is to play the mission and use bodies to slow it down - again easier said than done.
So, not very insightful I’m afraid – what tactics have you developed when you go second?