So far I've been talking about 'big
picture' plans and how to move your army as a whole. Now
let's have a look at some smaller scale tactics.
Unit tactics deal with smaller situations where units are
trying to gain advantage over one another to acheive smaller
tactical goals within the larger strategic picture.
Basically, the units need to do their jobs so the battle
can be won. Here are a few tips and tricks to help get the
job done. I'll post some more when I think of them.
This tactic is used primarily
by shooty armies like Tau and Imperial Guard. Assault specialists
can make a real mess of a shooty army if they can get in
on them, the "Speedbump" is a way to try and keep
assault units from running roughshod through their lines.
The idea is pretty simple. One unit
moves toward the assault unit and 'takes one for the team'
so the rest of the army is spared. The sacrificial unit
should ideally be pretty cheap and a real pushover in close
combat. Units of Imperial Guard infantry work well in this
role due to their low leadership, as do Tau Firewarriors
and Gun Drone units due to their weak close combat ability
and low unit size.
The unit is moved between
the approaching assault unit and the rest of your army and
then spread out to maximum coherhency distance in order
to create a skirmish screen. The idea is that the "Speedbump"
will be the only viable assault target in the opponents
turn. By placing them in such a thin line, you force the
assault unit to either assault the "Speedbump"
or try and go around them. Either way, that nasty unit of
close combat nasties will be unable to hit your main line.
Since the "Speedbump" unit
is so small and/or fragile, it should either run away or
be wiped out completely if assaulted. The assault unit is
then sitting with it's ass hanging in the breeze, just waiting
to get shot to bits in the following turn.
Though primarily used by shooty armies
as a 'save my bacon' manuever, the "Speedbump"
can also be used by assault armies. Assault armies are more
effective when charging, so a smart opponent will generally
try to charge you instead. Having a skirmish screen can
stop an assault unit just long enough for you to get in
position. Then it's up to you, blast them into the stone
age or pound them so flat they'll have to roll down their
socks to s**t.
This one is a pretty
simple idea. You're making one of your units so dangerous
and tempting that your opponent would be a fool not to try
and take it out. The best units for "Bullet Magnet"
duty are heavy vehicles (like Leman Russ tanks or Landraiders)
or big gribblies (like a tooled-up Carnifex).
There is an element of psychological
warfare in this tactic. The threat of damage from a "Bullet
Magnet" is often greater than it's actual performance.
Many times the reputation of a given unit, and the possibility
of what it could do, is far greater
than what it actual does.
The Bullet Magnet
For example, I have a
Looted Leman Russ (now fielded as a Battlewagon with the
new ork rules) for my footslogging Ork horde. This clanking
behemoth has great armor and a pretty nasty gun. It is viewed
with a mixture of fear and loathing by most of the folks
in my gaming group. Da BIG Tank, as I call it, has dropped
a few ordnance templates in it's day and obliterated a few
units. I play up these events in spite of the fact that
during many games it doesn't kill much at all. It's reputation
and potential for mayhem is what keeps people shooting at
The key feature of a "Bullet Magnet"
should be it's resilience. It's purpose is to soak up fire
so the rest of your army can get on with destroying the
enemy. By creating a focus for your opponent, preferably
front and center where it can't be avoided, you are forcing
them to allocate firepower to it or face it's wrath. It
really doesn't matter if the "Bullet Magnet" spends
the entire game stunned or shaken and not doing much of
anything, it's doing it's job by being there to take hits.
This tactic gets even nastier when using
Monstrous Creatures. They can soak up the hits and still
maintain their effectiveness, firing away with big guns
and slogging it up the field in spite of the punishment
they receive. The ideal situation is for the big gribbly
to be in cover or have some sort of invulnerable save. It
WILL be taking horendous amounts of fire from some pretty
big weapons, it's nice to be able to shrug off at least
some of those hits.
Myth of "Making Their Points Back"
Many players get hung
up on trying to get a return for their investment. You will
hear many people on the various forums talking about a unit
being able to "make it's points back". Broadly
speaking, they are asking themselves: "Will this squad
be able to kill it's points value worth of enemy before
it gets wiped out?" This mindset is, to put it bluntly,
They are not taking anything into account
other than straight unit vs. unit dice rolling contests.
There are no tactics involved in thinking like this, because
a unit's effectiveness is largely dependent on how much
support it receives. I don't care how nasty Chaos Terminators
are. If you throw them into the meat grinder with no help,
likely as not, they're gonna get pasted.
Instead, look at your mission objectives
and try to think how your army as a whole can best accomplish
them. The survival of individual units is irrelevant when
compared to the victory of your army. Rarely will any squad
pay for itself in points based solely upon the casualties
it inflicts. The best way to fight is to put the enemy on
the defensive - make him react to what you're doing, not
vice versa. If this results in the destruction of an individual
unit (or units), but ultimately wins you the battle it was
worth it. This is 40k, folks. We don't have to worry about
little things like casualty reports and the media portraying
us in a bad light. As long as you win the battle, nobody
cares if you lose half your army.
Remember: In the Grim Darkness of the
Far Future there is only War. The universe is a big place
and, whatever happens, you will not be missed...
The tricks and tactics
illustrated here are only part of the equation, they won't
win you any games by themselves. They are meant to be used
as part of an overall plan, where all the elements in your
army are supporting one another. What use is throwing a
unit into a "Speedbump" if there aren't any units
to take advantage of the situation?
The tactics listed here are general
tactics, and can be used regardless of what army you play.
Next up, I'll talk about some special rules tactics specific
to certain units.
to "Putting it all Together"