Review: Stronghold Assault

Ok I know I promised some advanced infantry tactics articles, but I have not had any time to take pictures this week, work and other errands taking up time right now.  Have no fear, they will come, probably next week or maybe even by this weekend.  So I am going to go more in depth in to Stronghold Assault, ie fortifications part II.  I have made it clear that I don't think the new releases are a big deal and 40k is fine and TO are certainly within their rights to decide on how to organize their games.  I don't think comp or banning is necessary.  I do really like stronghold and I really think its going to affect this game in the long run far more than super heavies will.  Here  is why, its cost effective, in points and money.  You don't have to drop anywhere near as much money as you would on most superheavies.  Yes if you go all in and get a massive fortification setup you will be out some money.  But most options at the base are going to get you out 50 bucks or so.  Or some have no models and you can make them as cheap as you want too!  So more people can bring these and their effects on the game as a whole will be greater.

So what does this book bring to the table, first off it updates the building rules, these are however the only optional part of this book, it highly recommends that you use it and I do too.  Major change is buildings are claimed, if bought you own them, if terrain then they are unclaimed.  You claim a building when you have a unit enter it uncontested (no enemy models).  Claimed buildings get the sentry defense rule, meaning you can shoot the sentry weapons even if you have no models in it and your opponent can shoot at the building even if you don't have models in it.  Jump and Jet infantry can occupy fortifications that are buildings.  Battlements count as the top level of ruins and are open terrain for jump and jet infantry.  Purchased emplacements count as additional emplaced weapons.  Units can charge out of fortifications that are buildings.  Honestly it clears up and codifies how fortifications and buildings work, making it much easier and clearer. I recommend using these rules, they are meant to clarify the BRB rules and do it quite well.

Next major change is that all fortifications can purchase upgrades from three different lists, though each fortification does not get to purchase from ALL three lists, depending on each one.  You have Building, Obstacles, and Battlements & Battlefield lists.  Fortifications that are buildings are the only ones that can purchase building upgrades, also the number of upgrades purchased is dependent on size.  Small can get one, medium 2, large 3.  They cannot double up on upgrades.  Building upgrades consist of:  Ammo Store 15pts you reroll 1s when firing out of firing points, not count for emplaced weapons. Booby Traps 20pts first unit to occupy suffers 2D6 S4AP5 Ignores cover hits.  Escape Hatch 25pts place an escape hatch marker within 12" of building, counts as access point but cannot assault out of.  Magos Machine Spirit 30pts up automated fire to BS 3.  Searchlights 5pts building has searchlights.  Void Shields 25pts your building has a void shield AV12, roll at end of Each player turn on 5+ it comes back.   Obstacles are the next, each one can be no more than 6" in length and placed wholly within 6" of fortification and can have up to 6 in any combination.  Tanglewire 5pts/section its dangerous terrain and a 6+ cover.  Barricades 10pts/section same as in BRB, gives 4+ cover. Tank traps 15pts/section Impassable terrain for non skimmer vehicles and 4+ cover for models behind.

Last Section is battlements & battlefield, these are placed on the battlements or within 6" of building and only one can be purchased.  Ammunition Dump 20pts models within 2" reroll 1s to hit in shooting phase and get 5+ cover if behind it.  Comms Relay 20pts same as BRB, you can now place it with 6" instead of base to base only. Gun Emplacement Same as BRB 35 for icarus and 50 for quad gun.  Again they don't have to be placed on the fortification or in base to base.  So this is pretty awesome.  It seems small but you can add so much just to a little aegis defense line now.  I like how it makes even small fortifications customizable and gives you lots of options.  I like the possibilities that obstacles bring to the table as well and being able to upgrade a building is nice.  The machine spirit upgrade is great, can make the firestorm redoubt a very deadly shot, though an expensive one.  Overall they add a lot of utility and are fairly priced.  I love that items don't have to be base to base, especially Quad guns and Icarus's.

Booby traps I'm not really seeing the lure, you can take the hit and its going to be hard to get your opponent to run into those things.  Ammo store is nice, if you plan on putting a shooty unit inside like a heavy weapons team or even a large guardsmen squad that can be useful, thats a lot of ones to reroll.  Escape hatch can be great for a bastion, that way when its surrounded and destroyed by melta bombs you can still escape.  Goes the same for other building fortifications but bastion is the one that has it hardest here as it is the easiest to surround.  Searchlights, super nice! 5pts of hello I see you.  Night fighting is so common and if you are infantry heavy and left with only a few vehicles this is a great choice.  Void shields, well I think this can be good, but is prob a waste as your fortifications are AV14 and tough already, rather get the actual shield generator which I will talk about later.    Now obstacles can be a great cheap way to increase the depth of your defenses.  I like tangle wire, push that 6" out from your aegis and add a buffer, your opponent is now going to have to be slowed by that and take dangerous terrain tests as well, not too scary for marines but other armies will feel that pain.  Barricades could be a great way to close off the rear of your aegis, giving you the coverage you want without leaving your rear exposed.  Tank traps are hit or miss, there are a lot of skimmers out there, but when they work they will work very well.  Smart player will able to close off avenues of approach and force your opponents tanks where you want them to be.  The last ones are pretty much self explanatory, Ammo is nice especially if you plan on having a lot of guys back shooting.

So on to the actual fortifications. Aegis is unchanged from the BRB except it can take obstacles and Battlements & Battlefield upgrades.  The options here can be really great as I have already talked about, you can really extend the defense that the Aegis can give you.  You can give your guys a bonus to shooting and don't have to place your quad guns in base to base.  These are good options and I really like the tanglewire and what you can do with that combined with the aegis.  Other than that, if you take an aegis it hasn't changed much, you can tweak it a lot more now.

The Bastion is about the same as before, 75 pts and can take from each upgrade list, and being medium can take 2 from the building list.  Being able to assault out of buildings is big and you can be a little aggressive with this if you want too, though I recommend the escape hatch upgrade.  I would say that the search light is almost a must take.  Since its cheap and you'll be fighting at night a lot it helps so much.  Ammo I would not do as you can only have a few models firing out of the firing points, so not enough ones being rolled for that to be worth it.  Note it does not affect models on battlements sorry.  Magos is a maybe, as if you put a quad or icarus and move it forward it can fire at the enemy with decent accuracy till your guys move up to take it.  You'll have to finesse it as you don't want to put it too far forward to lose it to the enemy.  Other than that its about the same.

Next is the imperial strong point.  Consists of 1-3 Bastions, 1-5 Aegis, 0-1 Skyshield, and 0-1 Honored Imperium.  If you have a a lot of these then why not.  Its a good way to combine multiple fortifications.  You have the same options for each individual one purchased.

The honored Imperium is the statue its 40pts and imperial models withing 2" are fearless and it confers a 3+ cover if behind it.   Its meh, if you really want it then bring it.  I don't see it as that great.  2" is a very small bubble.  Sky shields are 75 and unchanged, they can buy obstacles only and a unique upgrade for 5pts that allows a single flyer in your army that has the Hover type to start on board at the beginning of the game, and it cannot leave hover mode till turn two.  So no going first starting on and then zooming away.  But its not a bad option now.  If you take vendettas or valkyries, I seriously would consider this.  Note I do not know how this would affect squadrons, as written I would say only one actual model gets to start on the landing pad, but it is not specific.   They do actually have to fit on there so unlikely you could fit a whole squadron physically on there.

Next is the Wall of Martyrs, the Defense Line is 80 pts and you can have up to 2 line sections and 4 end sections.  Its a defense line so you get the same rules for an aegis, in addition units inside get stubborn.  It can only buy obstacles.  The  Defense Section is up to 3 of the sections and 2 ends, units are stubborn and heavy weapons also reroll failed to hits for over watch.  That's kinda nice but really situational.  It can only take obstacles as well.  Next is the bunker and its 55 pts, I really like this as its effectively the same as a bastion but 20 points cheaper.  It has special firing points that allow 4 models to fire out of, with 2 fire points.  It can take all the upgrades.  Again I think this is your cheap mans bastion, only five more than and aegis and you get AV14 can throw a squad inside and one on top with a quad gun.  You can do other things as well, it can take two building upgrades as well as its medium.  I really like this.  Its cheap and can do everything a bastion can do.  Now its not as tall so if you are going for something that can see over tall things then stay with the bastion but other wise it can hold the same guys and do the same thing.

The Firestorm Redoubt is 200 pts, but it got a lot better and here is why, you can change the weapons on it to either the gatling punisher for free or a battle cannon for 10pts each.  It also can access all the upgrades, the nice one being the machine spirit.  Now you can have a very decent anti air platform or anti infantry.  It is pretty expensive but its AV14 all around so your getting land raider armor so thats not too far off.  I would say this is a nice thing now and really has some great options.  The battle cannons are just speaking to me.

Next are Vengeance weapons battery, you can take two for 75 each and upgrade the punisher gatling to a quad icarus for free or a battle cannon for 10pts.  they can only take obstacles, note they are purchased for both not individually. I really like this you now have a real cheap anti air option.  You have for the same price as a hydra, something that has sky fire, interceptor and AV14, yeah thats nice.  So if you are hurting for anti air and don't want a vendetta, here you go!

You can then take all of these in a Wall of Martyrs Defense Network with 1-3 bunkers, 1-3 defense lines, 1-3 defense sections, 0-2 Firestorm Redoubts, 0-2 Vengeance Weapons Battery.  I really like this and the combos for this can be really good if you are looking for a hard to move stubborn army that holds back till late in the game.  At Base with no upgrades its 175, not too shabby considering the amount of models you can fit their.   You add vengeance quad icarus battery and you now have a very tough nut to crack.

Next is something new, and that is the Promethium relay pipes, they are 40 and consist of 3 long and 4 short sections that must connect to each other.  It counts as 4+ cover but when a successful cover save of a 6 is made roll again and on a 1 the unit suffers D6 S4 AP5 hits with ignores cover.  Basically the pipes can explode but those are really slim chances, you first have to roll a 6 and then 1 so not going to happen too often.  Now any non vehicle model within 2" and has a flamer weapon can change its profile from assault or pistol to heavy and it gains the torrent rule.  Thats a really nice trade off.  If you pack heavy flamers in your vets of PCS thats a nice little bonus, hide them back and when the enemy thinks they are safe, flame them from a distance.  The pipes can only take obstacles.

The Void Shield Generator.  Ok I have talked about this and I think this has a great potential to shake things up.  It is 50 base and 25 per shield up to 3, making it an even 100.  Void shields are armor 12 and if you are within the 12" bubble of the building all shooting attacks that Hit a target within the void shield zone instead hit the void shield itself and the hit is resolved against it.  Now I have been reading this a few times just to make sure of the wording.  Here is why, since it counts hits, lets say a large bast weapon hits and causes 8 hits on a unit. Would you resolve 8 hits or one against the shield?  Now the way its worded is that any shooting attack that hits a target in the zone, hits the void shield instead.  To me this means no, you only get one hit per shot in effect against the shield.  That also makes sense.  It does not say that each hit is resolved against the shield, but that each attack that hits is instead resolved against the shield.  IMO it's only one hit from a blast/large blast.  And the way its worded is not completely specific in that regard, it does stress the shooting attack itself over the actual number of hits.  Anyways, this is a great option, especially with all the ignores cover as the shield is not cover, so marker lights have no effect on the shield.  They can't actually target the shield itself just units within it.  Since its AV 12, you are going to need S6 or higher to bring it down.  Now Tau and eldar bring a lot of this, but that is going to be a lot of shots before those 6s and fives are rolled to get through.  And until the building is destroyed, you keep on regenerating your shields on a 5+, importantly at the end of both player turns.  I know may not sound so OP, but I challenge you to find a Tau or Eldar player and play against them with this and see how much fire is lessened against your army.

The Void relay network is 1-3 Promethium pipes, 1-3 Void Generators, and 0-1 honored imperium because fuck it why not.  Now if you want to be an ass hole and frustrate someone to no end.  Bring 3 Generators and have 9 AV12 shields protecting your army.  I guarantee someone would rather play against a baneblade than that after trying it out.  That requires so many shots to bring down, before they even get to your army and then they come back.  Imagine all those broadside shots doing almost nothing.  Now I'm not saying this means you won't take damage.  Far from it, your opponent is going to have to dedicate AT fire early on to try and bring it down, and instead of shooting your tanks or valuable units, he is going to have to concentrate his high S weapons early on to bring the shield down, leaving his weaker weapons to do the damage to your troops.

After this is fortress of redemption, it is 220 and can take the same things that are in the BRB except that it can now purchase an upgrade that allows models in the tower to fire all the weapons on the Fortress for 10pts.  It can take obstacles and building upgrades.  Its not a bad choice, its less than half of the other fortresses and has a twin linked icarus and the missile battery which can be upgraded to krak storm.  Honestly this is great for a Marine player.  I know most tourneys long banned it, but it really isn't that big and if someone wanted to bring it, I would be more than game.  It also would be great for sisters, giving them access to Anti Air and artillery with the krak and frag storm missiles.  So if you have sister/guard army (great combo) you should really look at the fortress.  And if you want to ask and see if local tourneys will allow it.  The thing against bigger fortifications is understandable but I find it really isn't that hard to get around it. I would simply implement a rule that they must be placed in the space available and  then if they can't have a TO approve of where you want to move terrain to put it.  I think most gamers that aren't ass holes can agree to this.

The big uns, being the Macro and Vortex strong points.  Ok these both bring the D.  I love the strong points look themselves.  But I only think you should be bringing the D if all parties agree and are prepared to face it.  Now the Macro and Vortex are 535 and are not cheap, they are AV 15 and have the mighty bulwark rule which means a -1 to the roll on the building damage table.  In terms of utility, the macro is the best as it has the quake shot which means any flyers ar MCs that are under the line drawn from the shot and the gun roll a dice and on a 1 a flyer crash and burns and an MC suffers D3 wounds with no saving throws of any kind allowed.  This is in addition to what is actually hit by the blast itself.  The Macro cannon shell is SD so you touch stuff and it dies.  The vortex missile is the same, its barrage and the vortex blast stays on the board until you roll doubles for scatter, which is rolled at the beginning of each player turn.  It can fire 7 of these, no more then 1 a turn (Oh good!).  Listen, these last two are for games that both opponents know exactly what they are getting into.  You could technically bring this and say suck it.  But that is being a serious ass hole.  Play nice, everything above those 2 though are fair and don't bring the D to friendly games.  If you and your friends want to see what you can do, go for it.  Since most tournaments don't allow the fortress of redemption, no need to worry about bringing these for competitive play :P

Honestly I like them, and think they are super fluffy and cool models.  But they are damn expensive and I think the fortress of redemption will get you as much mileage and leave much more room for other units.  Its a cost vs effect.  Yeah you lose the D, but you have dedicated anti air and artillery and a great tower for snipers and heavy weapons.  Plus I love the model for the FoR too.  I will say that if you really want fortifications you have some great choices.  Especially if you are lacking anti air, the vengeance weapons battery with quad icarus is not shabby at all.  If you need a defensive line for your troops, the wall of martyrs are a nice choice, the bonus of stubborn is not to be ignored.

Now there are three missions you can play, main difference is you have attacker and defender who must take a fortification.  Bunker assault the defender gets to nominate one fortification to have a targeting auger.  Basically you have a MoO shot for one model instead of his own.  Defender goes first and you score VPs for each unit you kill.  In addition he attacker gets a VP for each detonation or total collapse of the defenders fortification and also score 3 Vps if he destroys the fortification that has it, occupies that fortification or has a scoring or denial unit within 3" of it.  Deployment is long table edges. The next is breakthrough.  The defender places 3 objectives in his deployment zone, they can be on top but not inside fortifications.  Defender gets 3 VPs for each objective he controls and 1 for each attacking unit he destroys, including running away ones.  Attacker scores 1 Vp for each unit in the defenders deployment zone and D3 for each unit that has exited the board via the defenders table edge.  Also the attacker gets 2 vps for linebreaker instead of 1.  No one my out flank at all, so I guess al Rahim can either not be used or would just come on from your board edge.  Deployment is the short table edges.  Last stand is the last one and the attacker goes first and the defender can only start with 3 Infantry models for each primary detachment.  Rest start in reserve.  Their is a weird reserve table that is different by type, short of it is it will be hard to get reserves in.    Each get 2 VPs for each Last survivor unit that is either alive or destroyed.

I actually like the missions and think they could be great if you are feeling the BRB missions are a little stale and need a change of pace.  Adds a nice tactical depth and changes objectives up enough.  I like that it isn't dependent on having lots of fortifications, as long as someone has an aegis you are good to play these.  I really like these and maybe if I can convince someone I will get a game in.

Over all this is a solid book and I think worth its money in art, rules and missions.  It clarifies buildings and fixes some issues.  Only 2 of the buildings are really powerful in terms of weapons but other wise you really have the whole field to play with now.  I for one am going to build up my wall of martyrs now, get that defense line going.  And I have to get to work on building my shield generator :).

Hope you enjoyed and are having a good week.  As always thoughts are welcome and feel free to look through all my posts, my latest bat rep is up and there for you to see.  Sorry no hobby stuff has gone on this week and at some point I will get to my tactics again.