The Biscuit Maneuvers: 3 Easy Ways to Find a Back Strike in Warmachine Mk.III

I’ve been playing some of the new edition of Warmachine/Hordes, and I’ve really been enjoying it so far. One of the more interesting changes is to back strikes- you now gain the back strike bonus as long as you are completely within the opponent’s back arc even if you did not start the turn within their back arc. This is changed from last edition, where you had to start your turn in the opponent’s back arc.

By default, a back strike grants a +2 bonus to strike in Warmachine/Hordes. Let’s take a look at a chart to see how much that’s worth.

As you can see, +2 to hit creates a big increase in the likelihood to strike. Pay special attention to the grey line in that image, as it notes the difference between a back strike and a regular strike. Notice that the greatest effect is actually when strike is just above 7. Peak advantage for back strike is when an 8 or 9 is required to hit.

A back strike is worth roughly a +20% increase in chance to hit and worth much more on the verge of 7 (Over 30%). That is a huge swing in odds. It’s clearly worthwhile if we can get it. So how do we make a back strike happen?

I’ve created a few instructional graphics that illustrate a few simple tricks to achieve back strikes. Some of you may have already seen the first one- I shared it on Reddit and the official forums, where they dubbed it “The Biscuit Maneuver”:

This is especially effective with a unit like the Revenger, which can then also channel spells freely through their arc node. It’s also worth noting that any movement effect can make this work, including effects like Critical Pitch.

The second maneuver I call the Flanking Charge. It requires you to start a bit off-set from the enemy, but that’s not too hard to achieve, and allows for one of your models to set up another for the back charge. It’s particularly handy against shield walls, which people often leave standing forward in a straight line. If you’re wanting to counter this, consider turning the soldiers near the end of your line 30 degrees or so, so that it’s more difficult to get to their backs.

Also pay careful attention to how you face your flanking models, so they do not expose their own backs.

The last maneuver I call the “Cluster-Shank“. This is an old trick with new life in Mk.III. A model can only trigger a free strike when it is advancing, so by blocking line-of-sight, you can disengage without worry. With a unit, you can use this to allow some members to screen for others:

This move works on smaller models as well of course, and often requires fewer models to block like of sight. A side note: if you want to use this move, make sure your models are spread out enough that they don’t get in the way. A tightly interlocked unit may not be able to make the necessary moves.

At the end of the day, Warmachine & Hordes are games about tactical positioning and controlling odds. Back strikes provide an excellent opportunity for experienced players to seize a significant advantage through clever movement. In Mk.III, you had better figure out how to land a back strike before your opponent figures out how to land one on you. Hopefully, these maneuvers will help. =)

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I love the new backstrike rules as it gives a lot more emphasis on simple raw SPD and things like acrobatics, parry, place effects, etc. Throw in some smart maneuvering like the above and you can consider certain models almost at +2 MAT. A lot of the time with the third option Biscuit runs through I find there is a large opportunity cost – you are often leaving infantry clumped up and open to a pretty devastating AOE. The mass inclusion of reposition across the board helps with this but one also needs to consider is that +2 MAT needed?… Read more »

Fully agree and support on this. Additionally there are several models that want this bonus because they gain additional bonuses to damage, like Croe's Cutthroats. Exploiting the Back Strike is the name of the game, just be wary of those models that used to have 360 degrees of line of sight before. They still will not be affected, so guys like Typhon, the light Warjacks of Convergence, and the various Argus all still avoid this trick.

Adam Anderson

To hit almost never reaches 100% in Warmachine/Hordes, due to all 1’s being an auto miss. Other than that, great article.

The Biscuit Maneuver works fine. The other two examples don’t, because the line-of-sight rules are strange. In Flanking Charge step 2, for example, the red “enemy” model can draw line-of-sight from the northernmost part of its base*, around the blocking model, to the model that’s trying to flank. You can block line-of-sight such that an approaching model can slip around the flank without taking a free strike, but you generally need more bases to do it. * Yes, this is in its back arc. The rules say that you can draw line of sight FROM your rear arc, so long… Read more »