Ah, Deep Strike. The Russian roulette of choices that can land your elite units in perfect placement or leave their drop-zone in the cruel hands of your opponent. It’s one of those risk-for-reward rules, and one that I keep trying with my Necrons.
Unfortunately there’s only so much control we have over Deep Strike – even the turn units will (try to) enter the battlefield isn’t certain. As such, I personally prefer deploying my main frontline units on the battlefield, and instead keeping smaller, more elite units in reserve. This ensures that the army isn’t overly handicapped in the event of bad Deep Strike dice rolling, and elite units tend to work better suddenly appearing anyway. For example, in my usual 1500pt Necron list I’ll deploy the Monolith normally rather than using its Deep Strike option. It’s a solid, reliable unit that really needs to be putting out firepower from the start, and the Portal of Exile is far more helpful on the table than off it. It’s also a sizeable model at almost 6 inches across on each side(!), which makes finding a suitable size ‘drop zone’ quite a challenge on some boards and increases the chances of something going wrong. Conversely, my Deathmarks rarely start off on the table – since their weapons are Rapid Fire, they excel at short range and the ability for them to appear within 12″ without the risk of being shot up on the way in is ideal. Similarly, I tend to run them in a unit of five – this means that they’ve got a minimal board presence in terms of base size, and even if they do scatter near terrain it’s relatively easy to still place them safely.
On that subject, the placement of Deep Strike units is a major point. Since the first model of the unit is placed before you roll for scatter, s/he needs to be ideally somewhere that does have a bit of room while still being close enough to the enemy to be effective. Unfortunately the unit will only appear where you want it 1/3rd of the time (on average), and so I tend to err on the side of caution and expect them to scatter a bit. In an ideal world a 7″ radius would be best, but few tables will have such an ideal location. Instead, I tend to try and allow a decent-size distance between the unit and their target. This also goes back to my earlier mention of unit sizes – small units such as the minimum-size 5 Deathmarks aren’t such a loss if they do get destroyed or lost on the way in!
On a completely unrelated note, we’ve had the first leaked pictures of the new Wood Elves today! They’re easily available on dakkadakka.com, warseer.com, asrai.org and others, so it’s definite that we’re getting a new army book!