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First session - thoughts on combat

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We played our first session the other night. We moved ahead at a slow pace, as we were learning the rules as we went. It's a highly complex game, and we both underestimated the complexities of the strategies. Some observations:

- the pace is set for the long-haul. It can take several turns for your units to get where you want them. Especially considering how far apart the Refresh phases are. Abilities like Routing (causing them to waste the next Refresh phase) are devastatingly effective.

- fortifications are incredibly powerful. The damage reduction they afford is worth it's weight in solid gold, for the sole reason that it frees you up to use your combat cards offensively, instead of defensively. We discovered that fortifications can allow units outnumbered 2-to-1 to survive against the odds.

- Heroes are more vulnerable than you think. While they cannot be assigned combat damage while supported, there are a TON of combat cards which wound engaged Heroes. In one lengthly Onslaught, Rogal Dorn suffered 6 points of damage from the Ruinous powers!

- Space Marines are deadly. Their one special combat card which allows them to immediately eliminate an enemy unit can be downright cheap. Know that in Horus Heresy, no unit is safe from instant destruction at their hands.

- the Southern Spaceports are FAR away. If you wish to drop units there anticipating their help in the Palace assault, consider it will take them one order to Drop there. A second to move closer. A third to overtake the gap. And possibly a fourth to make their assault. Considering that you only get 7 Refresh phases, this is a long-winded and costly gambit. That being said, the Defence Lasers at the Palace can cause any invading forces pause. So it's always a choice between high-risk landings in the closeby Northern Spaceports, or the secure Southern Spaceports.

- massed formations for the win. If you intend to breach the Palace walls, you will need the advantage of numbers to draw enough combat cards to maintain a good attack and ensure all enemies are eliminated so that you may enter. If even one remains, you are thrown back.

- the combat iterations work backwards from how you'd assume, in which the most important rounds are the last rounds of combat, not the first. Because of the general equality of cards to shield ratio at the beginning of combat (not to mention the 2 free points of reduction the fortifications afford), you almost never plan to do damage in the first iteration. Save your best cards for last, where you can play 3 or 4 of them at a time for maximum effect.

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While I have found in general what you say is true, it sounds to me that you are underutilizing Thunderhawk Dropships. The are incredably fast, transport your troops, can fly in for support in assaults, and while they are involved in assaulting a fortification, count it as breached. Whenever I use Drop Pods, I usually one of these allong with the marines because they are so strong.

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