Well, after spending so much time painting and preparing for tournament play with my Air Cav Guard several people have asked me to throw together some thoughts about using valkyrie based guard armies.
I am a big fan of guard armies in general. Something about random dudes in glorified t-shirts facing super human mutant/ aliens carrying only flash lights and supported by your mates and a pile of tanks really appeals to me. Now… Take away the tanks and replace them with helicopter/ plane things… Still cool. Check.
Now following the theme of an all air cav army leads to some fairly universal tactics and inclusions in the list. As valkyries are armour 12 and move around in formations there are certain items you need to include in your army. The most important is (IMO) is the astropath. He gives you a +1 to your reserves rolls and if you outflank you get to reroll the dice. This is important if you fail the roll to go first. While Air Cav armies can hit like a ton of bricks in turn one if you are going 2nd you can really be taking it on the chin before you ever get out of the gate. Also I am really not a fan of Dawn of War with the planes so in the event of either of those circumstances… I outflank everything. Why? Well it robs my opponent two turns of shooting at my very vulnerable flyers and keeps them guessing where I will deploy. With the plus one I usually get two of my three squadrons in turn one. I will usually get my troops where I want them with outflanking putting troops on the side I want in 4 out of 6 times (not including the reroll). I once even let my opponent take the first turn and outflanked because he had two units of fully tooled long fangs in the opposite corners of the board. I came in on the bottom of two with everything and ate his heavy weapons before they had a turn to shoot. Harsh? Yes BUT if you have ever weathered shooting in a Valkyrie you will learn why it has to be this way.
I equip all of my valkyries with rocket pods. All of them. Why? Because they are fast vehicles they move 12, fire their multi-laser and fire both pods (str 4 weapons are great!). They can also move 12 and dismount the squad inside who can also then fire. So my squadron of three flyers will kick out 6 large blast templates and 9 strength 6 shots. True you are hitting on 4’s but throw enough mud and something will stick. As I run a squad of two valks and another of three… That is ten templates a turn. Infantry armies beware. I made a wolf wing disappear purely from making them take a trillion saves.
What that then leaves is anti-tank. Enter the Vendetta. I run a squad of two at 1750 points. 6 twin linked las-cannons exterminate daemon princes, tyranid big bugs and pop most vehicles beautifully. The downside is that to fire all 6 shots they need to move no more than 6 a turn. I’ll get back to this later when I talk about speed. For the rest of my anti-tank I depend on the Vets I run in my Valkyries and Dettas…
My 1750 list runs a command squad (with astropath) and 6 vet squads. I do have a squad with flamers but most squads run two to three meltas or plasma guns. Coupled with my Commander’s orders (he runs in the squadron of three with a squad of three meltas and a squad with three plasma guns) these guys are the real work horses of the army. When I can I drop all three squads as close as I can to the target and try my best to make the enemy disappear. I get close to destroy whatever it is in the hopes that it does not survive to strike back.
Alpha strike is a key to the Air Cav list. Heaven forbid someone gives me the first turn. I can deploy as close to the enemy as possible and scout move 24 inches forward. Get right into some ones face and wipe out half his army before he strikes. (and pray he doesn’t do the same back in his turn one.) Also people seizing the initiative is really bad (obviously). When that happens… it is really bad for the old valkyrie bomb.
Speed is crucial to the list for the reasons listed above. You want to concentrate firepower on wiping out threats early so you can mop up the rest of the army later. Manoeuvre in such a way to maximise this and prevent as much retaliation as possible.
Onle last note moving 12 is great when someone charges you. Getting on 6’s is great! I was once wiped out by an ork command squad that fleeted into my big squad… Never seen so many 6’s in my life. OUCH!
Anyway… Just a few thoughts. Aircav is a list that hits like a hammer. You have to remember that it is a glass hammer. True it is more resilient than a Dark Eldar boat list but as Han said “Don’t get cocky kid!” Know your strengths and know your weaknesses when you engage and play accordingly.