The UCM longbow is a fantastic support option for any list. It’s indirect fire over the full frontal arc means it gives you a wide area of reach. I’ll initially cover it’s more orthodox uses!
All rounds have infinite/24″ range, and MF 0 and the alt and IF rules. Please bear in mind that the longbow CANNOT turn or pivot as it’s movement is zero. It needs it’s raven transport to move like that.
The first round is armour piercing, E10 with a sing 2+ o hit. At 30pts each, this is a cheap way to bolster firepower where it’s needed.
The second round is E8, Area M. This means it can devastate light armour, even gravtanks in a target rich environment, but the beat target is infantry in buildings. Never target the building itself if possible. They might be harder to hit, but on any miss but a one you hit the building anyway. On a hit against infantry inside it will deal 2d6 hits! At E8 that will ruin your opponent’s day. Obviously area implies denolisher 2, so hits on the building will take it down in double time and inflict more masonry hits.
The last round is the smoke round. It’s FSR rather than just F, and it can target friendlies with infinite range. It imposes +1 to accuracy, and +1 to hit your squad and lasts until the longbow’s battlegroup’s next activation. It can be dismissed at the start of each turn and stacks twice. Now normally you might use it on a squad about to take a beating. The formula is pretty simple. Any time you are going to take more fire than you dish out, it should be used. Any time you are going to need to survive to capture an objective or key point it’s worth using.
Another option is to attach the longbow to the same battlegroup as an anvil unit. As long as you resolve the anvil’s firing first, you avoid the penalty. Generally I use sabres as an anvil, 9 in one albatross with longbows as support would work well, though in general I’d rather share that battlegroup with rapiers for simplicity of maintaining air coverage.
This synergises well with the articulated rule, meaning it’s almost pointless to fire at the unit.
Before I talk about alternative offensive tactics, lets talk downsides… Putting your longbows within 24″ of the other player is a risk. With armour 7 and one hit each, longbows will die very quickly.
Against PHR this is manageable, against scourge much harder. Use your dropships to spot buildings and deploy these on your kodiak back line against scourge and potentially shaltari.
Now, using smoke rounds you need only 24″ to one unit in the squad. Once you hit that unit the entire squad is smoked. Above I talked about when to smoke your own units, the opposite is true for enemy units. For 60pts you can reliably smoke your opponent’s hades which may force him to fire it on buildings instead of your squads. Use the longbow in a battlegroup with your kodiak to take peeking shots at targets like a hades – kodiak resolves first as the smoke clears with a laser pointer, followed by a double dose of smoke. This allows you to utilise you scouts twice with one battlegroup, before they get too much chance to act.
The best, most frustrating us is as cover for air units. Most lists have one or two anti air units, each capable of significant damage when reaction firing. By smoking these AA units, you reduce their accuracy by +4 total for reaction fire. So a 2+ AA gets 6+ reaction shots instead of 4+. That’s one third the hits! In many cases this means they will elect not to reaction fire, as it’s a “waste”. If they do though, you will likely escape damage and then be able to use falcons and missile pod dropships to cull AA. This is especially frustration to be on the receiving end of, because of the difficulty to “punish” your opponents units for inflicting damage. This is especially true of combining smoke with the doom fridge!
Lastly, consider using the. area M munitions against grav tanks. If there’s a scourge armour rush it’s pretty hard to miss them, and tends to pay off better than the anti tank rounds!
It should go without saying, but these strategies are probably better used in tournaments or to show off to your mates. Definitely not for use in demo games on hapless newbs! We want to grow the hobby!