Thursday, September 1, 2011

Game Theory: Sweepers

Sweepers are essential in any list, so let's begin by getting the concept straight. Sweepers are responsible for clearing the way of obstructions, and doing it without getting in the way themselves. Whenever someone is talking about "opening up a lane", or "freeing up a unit" they are talking about using sweepers.

So what makes it worth thinking about sweepers during list construction? The simple fact that, otherwise you end up using a lot of resources doing things, that a dedicated sweeper model/unit could have done better, and cheaper. You also risk not being able to sweep for a unit, without messing up your activation sequence, or even being stuck for an entire round, killing one or two models with a full unit.
  • Offensive sweepers. These models are tasked with opening up the enemy defenses, allowing your main hitters access to juicy targets. These are often ranged models, preferably with multiple shots per round, or a spray.
  • Defensive sweepers. These are either melee models with the ability to get out of the way, or ranged models with sprays. This is because defensive sweepers usually have to clear out models engaged in melee, making regular shooting hazardous.
A model with a spray can play both type of sweeper, so I usually favor them when in doubt. If we use Cryx as an example, I'll give an example of each type of sweeper. You all know your factions better than I do, so finding your faction sweepers shouldn't be hard.
  • Offensive: Pistol Wraiths, with good range and multiple shots.
  • Defensive: Satyxis Raider Captain, with Sprint and multiple attacks.
  • Dual purpose: Warwitch Siren, with a spray and seduction.
The Pistol Wraith is superior as an offensive sweeper, due to multiple RAT 7 shots and it's 18" threat. The Raider Captain is a superior defensive sweeper, due to multiple attacks at MAT 8 (with weapon master), and the ability to move away after removing the threats. The Warwitch Siren is able to perform both assignments, with a 15" threat, and a RAT 7 spray, making her a great allround sweeper, though weaker in both aspects.

A good sweeper should be as cheap as possible, as activating a five point unit to clear out one or two models, is a waste of resources. Secondly the sweeper unit should be able to ignore as much as the battlefield as possible, with either Pathfinder, Ghostly, Incorporeal, Parry or similar abilities.

Deciding on a sweeper is fairly simple, as it's main purpose is to support your main units. If you bring a Satyxis Raider unit, the Raider Captain becomes an obvious choice, and if you're fielding other Incorporeal units, the Pistol Wraiths become attractive. The Warwitch Siren will always be my main cryxian sweeper though, as she brings other abilities to the table, in case I don't need my sweepers.

Multiple sweepers are great, as it allows them to perform other assignments, without you ending up with no sweeper in range of the problem.If you bring multiple sweepers, they need other assignments as well, or you'll be playing with less active points that your opponent.

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