Wednesday, 21 July 2010

[Editorial] All Aboard The Bandwagon: Alpha Strike

Morning all,

We played an Apocalypse game over Sunday, and it's taking me a while to get around to writing it up, so in the mean time while I've not got access to those notes or pictures, I thought I'd work on adding to the "Bandwagon" articles series.

This time I'd like to talk about the concept of "Alpha Strike" and how it seems to have took on a life of it's own via popularity on the Internet. Until a couple of months ago, I'd only known this through the odd mention on Forums and Blogs. Then I heard it spoken about at Tournaments while lingering around and wondered what's prompted this popularity surge?

Firstly.. What is an Alpha Strike?

My understanding is that it's an army list design based around the principle of 1 dominating turn of Shooting or Assault, where you would cripple your opponent beyond recovery and leave them playing the waiting game until the inevitable Loss at the end of the game. I may not have covered all the details there, but to my knowledge, that's what it is.

It's debatable whether this is to be considered similar to the "Glass Hammer" approach, in that, while the army can deal significant damage in it's preferred turn or attack wave, it may be unable to deal with certain threats or if the enemy can weather the Alpha Strike and retain enough killing force, to then crush the positioned opponents.

It begs the question however, why is an Alpha Strike specifically being designed around and become one of these "Buzz" phrases around the community. Surely when we plan our lists and our game plan before and during a game, we are intending on an optimum turn - be it maybe the 2nd turn of Shooting, when the enemy has closed in, or a 3rd or 4th turn Assault.

Thinking about it, my Orks are  usually in the latter boat, with the 3rd or 4th turn being decisive for positioning and sheer killing power. However I don't design a list with this in mind - I barely consider it during a game. My approach has always been Mission - Act - React. I play a roughly balanced army that can manouvre itself around when needs be, as well as components that can act individually or part of an attack force.

True, the army will rely on it's power to assault and position for combined or multiple assaults in a late game turn, but unless by some Witchcraft I can get a Turn 1 or 2 assault, that simply is just a factor of the game I accept.

It seems, from my point of view, that this has been a concept adapted from one or two army lists utilising it, into being a pidgeon-hole type of army build, like Mech or Deep-Striking armies in....

So why are people using this style of play?

Assumedly because it's very effective in-game, delivers a kick in the balls to the opponent's army, from which they stay grounded afterwards. As with all popular builds though, there are counters and negating the opponents Alpha Strike, effectively scarpers the big pre-game scheme and can leave them floundering.

Personally, I don't think a list should be designed as an "Alpha Strike" list, with that being the first and foremost goal of the army. I think it's got the Bandwagon treatment because of the attitude that it is the be all and end all with some army lists.

So yeah... No offence intended to anyone with this article, I just want to hear the for and against arguments from both camps.

Should a list be based around the concept of an Alpha Strike? Or is this just one of many options a player can decide upon in-game?

Why do you use an Alpha Strike based list - or why do you dislike the concept of Alpha Strike lists?

Have at it folks... Peace out,

1 comment:

  1. Alpha strike lists work well IF you know your opponent and their army, deployment type and mission. The alpha strike list tends to be on the extreme end of the beardy list scale, i can understand a fluffy or themed army / list but to take an army designed round this theme can take the fun out of playing. you tend to find a lot of internet lists are like this, they fall into the same pile as the leafblower list, unit spam etc. we all know them and its the same players that use them. Use your brain and design an army thats fun to play with and against