Saturday, January 30, 2010
Developing a Strategy for your Army
Firstly, I must confess that I am guilty of trying to use "internet logic" to create a good list, without really knowing the tactics behind such a list. It's true, for the last couple weeks I have been trying to playtest my IG list that I intend on taking to a local tournament. I posted my list on a 40k forum (Dakkadakka) and let other players tweak my list and give me advice. I ended up with a list that looks very hard on paper, but is very hard for me to play when I don't know the exact tactics and synergies that go into such a list.
To avoid the problems that I had, whenever building a new list you should take into account several key factors that can drastically influence the game:
1) Getting the First Turn.
Generally, depending on what kind of army you are playing with or against, you'll usually want the first turn.
If you are an assault-based army fighting a shooting-based army, the 1st turn is often useful if only to deny the shooting player the first round of shooting. Orks love getting the first turn against IG, as they have just enough heavy weapons to put a dent in the IG firepower if they get the first turn. For more pure-assault based armies (such as specialized tyranids or chaos daemons) this first turn can give them just enough time to get into cover and out of fire lanes.
For shooting-based armies (such as IG or Tau) the first turn is nearly critical. It allows you to pour the fire on distant targets, using the longer ranges of your heavy weaponry. It reduces the amount of incoming fire you will receive the next turn, if you choose your targets wisely. It can also deny mobility to the enemy, if you can stun or immobilize transports (or dare I say it, wreck them!) before they can travel across the board.
Ok, as a Shooting-based player, I need the first turn. But I lost the roll! That's nothing I can do about it, right? WRONG! I can try to seize the initiative! It has never actually been successful for me, but at least I can say I tried. I always try to seize the initiative, because I usually need that first turn.
2) Deployment Strategies.
After playing a few games, I have come to realize that I was deploying poorly. Deployment is a huge part of your overall game strategy, and this is the balancing factor to getting the first turn. If you do not get the first turn, then you want to pay extra attention to your deployment strategy. Some armies have special methods of deploying (drop pod assaults, chaos daemons, new tyranids with spore pods, etc) and they will have different tactics. Basically, if you are a shooting-based army, you are going to want space. If you are an assault based army, you are going to want to get as close to the line as possible, to close into combat and get the charge. Other factors to consider are matching anti-armor to enemy tanks, anti-horde weapons to large infantry units, and the terrain on the board. If you want to keep an infantry unit from getting assaulted, putting it on the top floor of a 3-story ruin in your deployment zone will help. Just make sure it has the range in weaponry to utilize the advantage.
Most importantly, play to your game. If you are playing an objective game, it wouldn't do to deploy in a refused flank and take no objectives. You won't win easily that way.
3) Unit Synergy
In 40k, many units are not "one-man-shows." They rely on other units to make up for their shortcomings. This relationship with other units is called Synergy. Synergy is not a quantifiable statistic, and has to be gauged with experience and tactical know-how. For example, as an IG player, I know that Meltagun Veterans only work as they are supposed to when they have some means of getting close to enemy tanks, usually by riding in transports. I also know that these chimera-riding veterans are going to be choice targets, so I get some long-range fire support to help take the heat off them. I usually add in a few Leman Russes to accomplish this. Some heavy artillery would do the same thing.
When making a good army list, it pays to look at how well units will work together, instead of trying to find "teh uber unit" and spamming it multiple times.
I've recently been developing my own "Bubble Wrap" for my tanks when fighting assault-based armies in annihilation games. I take a cheap infantry platoon, and use it to make a screen across the front of my vehicles that are vulnerable to assaults. I mix in some power weapons and a commissar, to give this platoon a bit of survivability in an assault. I deploy them surrounding the Leman russ or other target of import, and keep them spread out enough so that blasts don't cripple them but that they provide anti-assault coverage for the vehicles. I sit these vehicles as far back as the table and their weapon ranges allow, and fire pie-plates all game long.
4) Most Importantly: Form your own opinions and strategies.
Reading it on the internet is one thing, but you have to find what works for you and your army on your own. Everybody has suggestions on how to do it better, and in some cases you should listen to them. But for the most part, you have to figure things out on your own. The best way to do that? Play lots of games! Get as many different players and armies as you can to practice against you. If you get stuck into the same crowd that plays the same armies all the time, try branching out to other areas to game against some new people with new strategies. This is the best way for you to feel out your army, and figure out the "works" and "don't-works" of your strategies and units.
...And that wraps up this article. For those interested, I have been formulating these tips as I get repeatedly stomped at my new local game store, where I am facing new players and new strategies. I usually get my army handed to me by forgetting to follow my own advice during a game! So try to keep these tips in mind when creating battleplans for your army.
Until next time,
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