Here it is, The article you've all been waiting for...Improving your saves and other general suggestions for keeping your units(mostly your troops)alive.
Warhammer 40,000 allows for all types increased cover or obscurity(for vehicles) saves and there are ways to gain saves you may not normally benefit from at all.
The first and the simplest method of increasing your cover save or gaining a save you may not normally benefit from at all, is to GO TO GROUND. Going to Ground is a way for infantry models to add one to there cover save(cover meaning 4 or 5+ wreck, area terrain, building etc...) by voluntarily pinning themselves. This means they(infantry unit and any joined IC's) are not allowed to do anything until the end of their next turn. Normally that's a bad thing because there are so few turns and movement means getting close to objectives and bringing weapons and charges into range, which of course is all vital. Also, infantry models in OPEN area that are unobscured can go to ground and gain a 6+ cover save. That 1 in 6 chance sometimes saves quite a few people and makes a unit survive even the worst pie plate incidents. THE THING TO CONSIDER IN THESE CASES IS THE CONSEQUENCES FOR YOU AND FOR YOUR ENEMY.
I have seen people remove huge units(typically Imperial Guard or Ork) that were all bunched up and suffered a STR10 AP2 Large Blast direct hit and didn't even bother to go to ground. You may not save a single one, or you may very well roll like a GOD by rolling 6's like never before.
Let's look at the reasons for going to ground in the above situation:
You have 20 Imperial Guardsmen with saves that just don't cut it against the AP2 and you are also out in the open and staring at the mouth of the cannon that just fired at you so there is no obscurity to argue. The Large Blast template gets you all bunched up and he rolls 18 wounds from the 20 hits(2+ with Str10 vs Tough3). You have 18 of 20 dead soldiers and a unit that will need to take a morale test.....UNLESS YOU GO TO GROUND. With a 1 in 6 chance per model, you will save 3 or more guys at the least and if you save 6 or 7 then you'll have a regroup roll...have a windfall of 6's and you'll bless the day you read the rule GOING TO GROUND. It happens.
Now that's the odds of who will survive but there are other ramifications. If the unit only has 5 people left, well that is better than 2 and if you are going to fall back anyways??!!. you are more likely to be escorted off the board by an enemy unit(typically an inefficient task for an enemy infantry unit and range/angle constricting for enemy tanks on escort duty). If you rolled well and have enough casualties to regroup then that unit may do any number of things it wouldn't have, had you just taken the models as casualties.
Good generals will find ways to rally fleeing troops using special characters, special rules and anything else that will work. The more you have(models/wounds) to rally the better.
Good generals will also adjust to situations as they happen. For instance, the IG commander might use a rallied troop that fell back but rallied to hold an objective that another unit(hopefully full strength)is free to advance from. That same little squad may find themselves going to ground again and be reduced to a single man by turn 7 but WINNING you the game!!!
Let me tell you about the situation that I see the most often and which(in my mind) really warrants going to ground, everytime. That situation is when a unit, on an objective it is protecting, is being shot at. This unit would benefit from going to ground and will be inevitably charged(assaulted). The result of the charge is, obviously popping up and OUT of pinned status to Close Combat Status, and therefore any saves made from going to ground are just bonus wounds to take and attacks to make.
BEWARE, however, that going to ground does negate any bonuses granted from being in cover, because "they are not set to receive the enemy charge.". Therefore models that may not normally have assault grenades would strike at their normal initiative even though they rolled to assault through difficult terrain. But for Space marines Vs Space marines where everybody has grenads and it doesn't matter going to ground is a no brainer.....and a lot of other situations where you are likely to fall back anyways, get assaulted or just be better off with more soldiers alive, using the GTG rule is smart.
So there are two pretty clear cuts reasons for improving your saves by using the going to ground rule. In the next part of this article I'll talk about ways to improving cover/obscurity saves for vehicles. TILL THEN...PLAY WELL...ROLL BETTER!!