it all Together
I've talked a lot about
Strategies, Tactics, and Formations, and why they're important.
I've given you a bunch of examples and shown you some pretty
pictures. By now you may be asking: "How do I get all
this to work?"
I've played a lot of 40k, some might say too much. In my
experience, it's not enough to just grab an army list off
the internet, read a couple of articles, put your models
on the table and go for it. The battle formations and tactical
advice I talked about in the previous sections may work,
but you need to think conceptually to understand why
Here are a few concepts
that I feel are worth thinking about, especially if you
want to get good at the game. Many of them deal with strategic
and tactical thinking, and go beyond the mere rules of the
game. Some of these concepts may be difficult for me to
explain in words, so I'll try to include some examples where
before about the opponent's "Center of Gravity",
the point in his formation you're trying to destroy or capture.
Now I'm going to talk about controlling the center of the
Controlling the center of the battlefield
is essential to helping you win the game. It doesn't mean
you have to occupy it, just control it. Whether
you park your force in the middle of the board or blast
the snot out of any enemies that try to do so, you need
to be in control of the center of the board. Why you ask?
Most of the missions in 5th edition
are objective-based, meaning there are certain points on
the table that are of vital impotance to both you and your
opponent. To control or contest these objectives, you have
to move your forces to them. Controlling the center of the
table means you can manuever more effectively. If you need
to capture an objective on the other side of the table,
or anywhere for that matter, getting to it from the center
is a hell of a lot easier than from back in your deployment
zone. If you’re too far away from the enemy, you may
not be able to take advantage of an opening in his line.
If you need to fall back, and you're still in your deployment
zone, you're in deep #$@!. For all of these reasons, controlling
the center is very important to an army's ability to manuever.
Controlling the center is also important
from a combat perspective. By holding the center, you are
closer to the enemy. If you play an assault army, you have
less ground to cover to get to grips with the enemy. If
you're a shooting army, it means that more of your weapons
will be in range, and you have someplace to retreat to in
case the enemy gets a bit too close.
Controlling the center allows you to
control the flow of the game, keeping the pressure on your
opponent instead of vice versa. The only time you would
want to voluntarily give control of the center to your opponent
is if it's part of some plan. I used to do this all the
time when I played Tau. I'd give ground and blast the crap
out my opponent when he took the bait. Once his forces were
depleted, I'd move back in and take the ground from him.
In broad terms, Timing
is controlling the pace of the game. Knowing when
to hit your opponent can be just as important as where
you hit him. For example, let's say you're playing Orks
and you have a Wartrukk full of Ork Boyz with a Warboss
aboard in a good position to charge straight into the enemy.
The rest of your army, however, is footslogging behind and
is at least a turn away. Do you charge in or hang back?
If you're a gambling man, you might
try and get stuck in. However, depending on the situation,
the more prudent tactical choice may be to manuever into
a protected position within striking distance of the enemy
and wait for the rest of your army to catch up. That way
you can charge with multiple units at once and engage more
of the enemy battleline.
If you send in the Trukk unsupported,
the best case scenarion would be to tie up a unit or two
to keep them from firing at the rest of your army. If the
unit performs too well, they'll wipe out the unit(s) they
assault and then get hosed down with enemy guns in the following
turn. If the unit performs poorly, you may lose them entirely
for little or no payoff. In this case, you just fed that
unit to your opponent for no gain... and they're still shooting
By hanging back and waiting for a turn,
you not only prepare to strike en masse, but you present
your opponent with a target priority problem. With multiple
units poised to hit his line at once, he has to make some
hard decisions about what to shoot. It's very unlikely that
he'll be able to kill all of your Orks before you're on
By slowing down the game in this way,
you have kept the units in your army supporting one another.
Granted you hit the army a turn later, but you undoubtedly
hit harder. The danger with being too eager and going too
fast is that you'll hit the enemy piecemeal instead of all
at once. You give your opponent the opportunity to deal
with threats one at a time instead of overwhelming him.
Timing is also very important when deciding
when to capture or contest objectives. If you park a unit
on an objective early in the game, you have just made them
a target. That unit may take more fire than they can handle
over the course of the game. When your opponent comes to
capture that objective, your unit may not be strong enough
to hold him off. Conversely, if you wait too long to go
for objectives, you may find yourself trying to play catch
up, struggling in the late game to get into position.
Spacing is all
about distances and where you move your models on the table.
If Timing is the when, then Spacing is the where.
For example, two armies are facing off against one
another across a broad frontage, i.e. a phalanx
deployment like I discussed earlier. As the armies move
toward one another, there will come a time where the first
army to move beyond a certain point will move into the threat
range of the enemy, and will likely get assaulted or rapid-fired
for their trouble.
Knowing the distance at which the units
in your army operate best is the key to using them effectively.
For example, my Tau army is
really heavy on Crisis Battlesuits. They are highly mobile,
and can really lay down the firepower. However, their guns
operate best at rapid-fire range, and they really suck in
close combat. I need to operate close enough to inflict
maximum damage with thier guns, but far enough away to keep
them out of assault. That means keeping them 12-18"
from the enemy and constantly moving. Jump in and shoot,
then jump out of thier assault range. It's a tricky balance
to keep the enemy close, but not too close.
Another good example
of spacing is what's called a "banana deployment".
I used this tactic to great effect with my Tau army, but
it can be useful with any firepower army. Roughly speaking,
the army is deployed in a crescent shape with the units
equally spaced from a chosen point. This chosen point is
generally a unit, or units, in the opposing army that you
By deploying in this way, the target
is in weapon range of multiple units, making their destruction
that much more likely. Once the target is dead, you then
shift your army's position and pick a new focal point.
The flip side is that if the enemy survives
the storm of firepower you just laid down, he is often in
range of multiple of your units as well. This isn't as bad
as you think. By deploying in a crescent shape, the enemy
will likely only be able to contact one or two units at
most. The rest of your army then fades back from these 'sacrifical
lambs'. Those units take one for the team and if they die,
the enemy that took them out becomes the new focal point
for the rest of your army.
Subtle Art of Subterfuge
Sneaky Stuff goes here.
The game is mostly mental, reading your
Hit your opponent hard and maybe his
confidence will cave.
Sucker moves like playing up the abilities
of one unit over another, and standing on a different side
of the table from where your main attack is going to come
I've been going on about battle plans
and their importance for a while now. Why it's important
to have one, and what can happen if you don't. By now you're
probably saying "This is all well and good, but when
the hell is he going to show us some of these fancy plans?"
Well folks, the wait is over...
to "The Flank Attack"