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. =)