Another recurring question on the forums and Facebook is how to tackle the forces of the Ghar Empire. On the face of it, and in early games, it seems impossible. After all, the huge Ghar suits are armoured with a high Res of 12, they have a combat strength of 10 and their weapons, at close range, can – almost –make up for lack of numbers. And the disruptor weapons they use can cause havoc in a hi-tech force.
It is a steep learning curve against Ghar, but they are able to be beaten after the basics of the game have been learnt. Much as I (supposedly ‘Mr Ghar’) hate to admit it, here’s how.
The real problem with Ghar is everything that seems to make them an almost invincible force. Their powerful suits are costly: a unit of suits with plasma amplifiers costs as much of two units of twice the size in any other force. Given this cost, they are forced to take a ‘Distort Dump’, a unit that is cheap and vulnerable in order to take the Distort Dice, should they be forced to take it (it’s worth remembering that Distort dice cannot be given to probes/flitters). Given the size and clumsiness (low Agility) of the suits, terrain becomes a serious obstacle.
In this is one of the two real weaknesses of the Ghar Empire forces. Terrain is sometimes cited as a problem – it is – but opponents have to realise this starts right from deployment. Whatever the scenario, the Ghar opponents should make sure they deploy as much terrain as possible in order to hinder the Ghar and hide behind it. Even in the ‘base Camp’ scenario, the terrain can be placed as close as 6” from the base camp allowing attackers to come fairly close. This means that the Large Ghar suits will have to stay in the open, making them easy targets, and also means that other infantry units can take shelter in the terrain and gain the relevant Res bonuses whilst shooting at the exposed Ghar suits.
Pins are the second biggest weakness of Ghar: placing pins on a unit of Ghar suits can make them struggle due to the low model count. The key is in forcing them to make command tests due to pins, though it helps to reduce their Accuracy. Given they will probably be outnumbered 2:1, an opponent should make sure he utilises his firepower to maximise pins on each Ghar unit and also force the Ghar player to take Break Tests as soon as possible.
Sure, you may get lucky with a failed save (or even a Plasma Reactor explosion) but that’s not the aim of the application of pins – it’s to put them in their place and force them to make Co(mmand) tests that they may not otherwise want to make. The penalty to Acc or Initiative is just a bonus.
When using units that can split targets, make maximum use of the opportunity. Whilst massive, scatter mode fire from plasma carbines can seem like a good bet to try and get those ’10’ fails, they do not apply pins. Further, such use denies the concord one ofo their best tactics: split fire from the plasma lances.
In Lance mode, a plasma lance can fire at a different target to the rest of the squad. If the lance trooper has a spotter, it can reroll a miss (important, as the lance is Inaccurate). This means a solid tactic for a C3 unit is to target two suited Ghar opponents, one with an SV4 lance hit (for about a 60%+ chance of one pin and a nasty hit), and one with 4*SV2 hits on another suit squad for another pin (around 90% chance). If the C3 units can all be activated with Follow, then a bunch of Ghar units can end up with pins, perhaps even enough to force them to take Break Tests due to their low model count and having 1+ pins per model.
We’ll discuss pins a bit more under Weapon Choices, below.
As suggested above, it helps if you have selected weapons that can hurt Ghar. Some C3 players like the Plasma Light Support Drones, and against most armies they are lethal. Against the Ghar, though, they only just get through the armour. Instead, why a Plasma Cannon equipped Medium Drone (C3D2) can be effective to (a) apply pins and (b) force nasty saves, even on a leader. The same goes for a support team with Plasma Cannon or X-Launcher/Howitzer/Mortar.
With X-weapons, ‘Grip’ ammo can really frustrate Ghar suit squads, as can ‘Scoot’ (Run or Down – wasteful order choices for an expensive unit), but ‘Net’ can be really annoying, even under the new rules, as the pins often initiate a Break Test and force a suit squad Down. Whilst any infantry unit is more difficult to hit when Down, the point is they do not move this turn, which means you have one or two units over the Ghar who can move.
However, less obvious than sheer rate of fire or split pins is the more direct approach. With Plasma Cannon or the potent Mag Cannon, an opponent can force the Ghar Empire’s suits to make important saves at less than Res 10 – and each suit costs 3 times as much as a normal soldier. What’s more, weapons like the Mag Cannon can cause real problems to something like the dangerous Ghar Command Crawler due to its ‘Massive Damage’ bonus and forcing the crawler to use its Leader rerolls in sub-optimal conditions (but the crawler is nasty and best dealt with in other ways).
Lucky Hits are something to bear in mind: a Lucky Hit on a Ghar suit and scutters (in fact most Ghar units) hits the model’s plasma reactor. If the model’s Res save fails (just fails!), then the reactor blows up, potentially taking the other plasma reactor-equipped models with it (p.136).
For each other model in the unit with a reactor roll a D10: on a ’10’ the reactor also explodes, killing the model. Such a chain reaction can be devastating!
Assault? You must be kidding!
A less obvious approach is the use of Assault. Sure, the Ghar Assault Squads are very dangerous at close combat, but they have a blind spot in the 0-10” range. Further, even if you can get a few pins on them, their point-blank disruptor shooting will start to suffer. However, there are units who can face them in hand-to-hand, such as the Algoryn’s Assault squads – who stack their D-Spinner hits – or even the C3’s drop troops with X-slings and D3 hits per model, never mind the Boromite’s with tractor mauls or heavier grenades and their horrible (to Ghar) lavamites.
A tactic here is to keep your vulnerable units away – perhaps through a judicious use of ‘Follow’ – and set up your assault troops to face them, supported by other, standard troops. Sure, it’s risky, but each suit squad destroyed is a massive blow for Ghar.
But consider other options:
- Remove the Ghar player’s Distort Dump squad so they have to force their suits to go Down.
- Force the suits to activate their erratic Plasma Amplifiers early in the game so they run the risk of burning out earlier.
- Destroy the units that can succeed at a scenario (for example in the ‘drones’ scenarios) so they cannot win. It is often the case that an opponent who focuses on the scenario objectives rather than on thrashing the Ghar can win, whether or not the Ghar actually take any casualties: the boasts of losing few suits are hollow if the battle is lost.
Important: An easily-forgetten rule about Plasma Amplifiers is that if the second (or last – the plasma amp) order dice fails an Order check on a 10, then the amplifier is not only immediately destroyed (remove the dice!) but the unit suffers D5 pins (p.185).
Whilst this may not mean the unit takes a Break Test (it was not not ‘shot at and hit’), it may be enough to auto-break the unit (p.45).
Don’t let your Ghar opponents forget this rule!
But what about the Outcasts? The short answer is: they are vulnerable and weak but don’t ignore them. They can be used as ‘speed bumps’ – cheap, expendable units that slow down an opponent – and also as Distort Dumps. Their lugger guns and disruptor cannon are fairly short range, and the models themselves often block their own unit’s line of sight due to numbers.
There’s a big but here. If you allow Outcasts to catch you unawares, they can lay down a massive amount of firepower from their RF 2 lugger guns. Outcast squads are often big as they are used as point dumps (add an outcast for 5 points per Outcast!)
Instead, opponents could use their Reactions, or hit the Outcasts before they can put in the first (often only effective) ranged attack – it is rare to see an Outcast squad last long when faced with sustained fire. And don’t be afraid of putting hits on the Leader: once gone, the squad only has Co 6, with pins, which means failed Break tests! Failed Break Tests means a unit forced Down, which removes a distort dump, or could even mean a complete break… after all, even an Outcast squad removed is a dice from the bag, putting you one step nearer your goal.
And the Ghar really don;t like their dice disadvantage.
A final word…
There is more, but these hints and tips will do for starters: choose your ground (use terrain), stick to the objective, focus your fire and point of attack and reduce your opponent’s options (restricted dice).
Sure, they are all old lessons that military theorists have been banging on about for years but they all are magnified when facing Ghar. Forget any one and you give yourself a brick wall to climb over; remember them all and the Ghar player is on the back foot, even likely to lose.