Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Art of War

Having had a few games against Mark (Mercer) I am beginning to see where I am going wrong (most of the time).

I have got that hung up on the fact that the Blood Angels are an assault army I have forgotten the most important thing about warfare, you need to make your opponent move to where he is at his weakest. In essence you need to force him to position his units in such a way as to put you at the advantage.

Now I know what a lot of regular readers will be thinking reading this. How can somebody who hasn't won a game give advice on how to win a game? Well there are two answers I can give a) I was a soldier for 10 years and some of my training may just help with this situation (explains why I never take a list that doesn't have some fire support units in there) b) even when losing you see someone win and can learn from what they do. Plus being the loser gives a better perspective on your opponents moves.

Unlike some of those uber fluffy players out there who seem to only view named characters and the like as winning units, I tend to believe that it your basic choices that have the most impact on the actual game. Sure your fancy character took out that unit on his own in 2 or 3 rounds of combat, but you forgot that it was your grunts who popped the transport they were in or took that objective that won you the game.

But I'm getting off topic (yeah it happens a lot).

From playing Mark I have learnt that his greatest (and favourite) trick is to make his opponent manoeuvre into a position where Mark has the upper hand. He has pulled this trick on me more than once. Just look at the last game we had he got me to move my assault squads into a position where I thought I had the ability to charge his terminators once I had popped their transport only for him to get them out the side door out of range so he could get the charge in his turn.

This may seem like a simple trick but it can be one of the best when used correctly. There are several ways of doing this:

  1. Bait your opponent with a unit drawing the out so they can score some easy points then either counter charge with your heavy hitters or blast them with heavy weapons. Simple yet effective.

  2. Position your units so as to give the impression of allowing an easy kill and then ambush the incoming assault unit with something big and mean. Any unit with the hit and run unit is ideal for this type of move as they can jump out of combat at the end of your opponents turn only to regroup with something bigger and meaner during your turn.

  3. Give the impression of weakness. If you make your opponent think the unit he wishes to assault is going to be simple to kill he's going to dive straight in forcing him out of position and exactly where you want him.

  4. Position your units so that he has no other choice but to dive down your throat. If your opponent thinks his crack unit is going to be crushed in your next turn he's got two options get them out of the way and into cover effectively neutralising that unit for at least a turn maybe more if you can push this advantage. Or he is going to dive straight at you hoping for glory to favour the brave.

These may seem fairly simple but it's going to take some serious planning and guts to pull off. But the results are going to go in your favour if things do go to plan.

Another way to play this is to go on the defensive, now this may seem like the better option. The main problem with this is you give the initiative to your opponent (this is where I normally go wrong). Once you have given the initiative to your opponent he will be able to pull one of the above moves on you. Remember the best defence is a good offence.

There seems to be a lot of people out there who seem to think that if you have an army which is good in assault you need to overload your list with assault units. Now no matter how appealing this may be, personally I would never go to battle without some form of fire support to cover the advance.

Most assault units only have an effective range of 12 inches for fire power which is generally speaking only going to be small arms (pistols and maybe a couple of special weapons if your lucky). They only become truly deadly once they can get to around 6 inches from the target. No matter how fast your unit moves it's going to be in range of your opponents guns for around 2 turns which means they are going to draw some serious fire.

It's at this point when your heavy weapons come into their own, they are going to be putting rounds down the range from the first turn. Target priority is your main concern though. You need to identify the most dangerous units your opponent has, and then you need to work out what you can hurt and what can hurt you. Nobody is going to mind if you spend a few minutes looking at the board and working out where your fire is best directed (even your local TFG wants a challenging game not a walk over).

The final point to your plan should be playing to the strengths of your list, that means looking at your units and working out which ones your opponent is going to want to neutralise first. Once you think you know what he's going to try to kill first you can work out where to place them to a) keep the safe, b) cause your opponent the most grief.

If you get their placement right you should be able to either herd his units towards them while he attempts to destroy them, or move around them to minimise their threat potential.

Now all this makes no difference if you have a weak list. You need to work out which units work and which don't depending on your play style. For all you codex hoppers out there that just jump from new codex to new codex this may not be what you want to hear. But i'm going to lay it out like this it's going to take quite a few games and several lists to come up with something which fits you (ADHD suffers 14 year old kids beware).

Your list isn't going to win you the battle but it will at least allow you to get a foot hold. It breaks down to about 15% list 85% tactics. The toughest list in the world isn't going to help you if you don't have a plan or decent tactics to back it up.

So in summary spend time on your list get it right but you are going to need to spend at least 6 times as long to get you tactics right and your battle plans worked out. Don't just come up with one plan though have back ups as no plan survives long when under fire but if you can lead your opponent instead of letting him lead you, you should be able to give as good as you get.

UBIQUE” - motto of the Royal Engineers.


  1. Good article, containing great advice.

    Good luck in your next battle - I hope your plans come to fruition, and I look forward to seeing you stand victorious on the smouldering ruins of Mercers once great armies... ;)

  2. I'm hoping to put a lot of the points into practice the next time I play.

  3. Good article Kris! Now you've got your list sorted it's play testing time to see how it works and what can be cut out etc.

    My lists haven't just sprung up over night, they've taken time to get right and play testing and then seeing what each unit can do, take my Orks for example before I had a few Trukks, single Lootas unit, couple of Wagons and no Kopters whch means no or little long range fire support.

    Looking back at my Imperial Fists hordes would steam roller it. I had little anti troop and focused a lot on anti tank(standard Land Raiders) and had Razorbacks, I had to get out to fire meltaguns and whatever was inside those transports but bust my 5 Space Marines nuts.

    I can go on like this about all my lists. Play testing is the key. You can find what units you like and don't like, same with wargear and then get a balanced list to suit you. Once play testing you get a stream lined list, example Iron Warriors with Terminators. The Termies would be in reserve come down whenever and stand there and not really achieve a lot with several combi meltas. But now with Chosen I've got more target saturation, better anti horde support and I'm not using units as sitting ducks to get blasted away like with Terminators.

    You'll get the list sorted and then just get tactics sorted with it and keep playing with it to get a feel. The more you use it the more you'll be familiar with it and know how to use your army better and more affectively, when switching and changing units you're actually holding yourself back as you need to learn new rules for them and how they work and fit in with your army ;)

    Actually, I think I'm gonna do a post on I.D lol.

    TMiles - Never will I be defeated, I am the Grand Master o' 40k! Muhahahaha! lol.

  4. Grand Master of 40K????????

    But the Dakkshites think your Satan Mr Stompa Taker LOL

    Evil laugh, Grand Master? I sense the work of the chaos gods here LOL

  5. lol Satan Stomper Taker! lol.