Category: Deployment Guide

Battle of the Blogs Round 1 – Dark Eldar vs Imperial Guard

Just before 8th Edition was released, I got in touch with one of my old gaming friends, Mike Basc, who runs increasingly popular Objective Secured blog, tournaments and events, and we agreed to do some challenge games between our Gaming Blogs to generate new 40K battle reports for both audiences.

Mike is a seasoned and successful 40K player who has captained the state team, won dozens of events on the local and national stage and been an organising force behind some of the best regional tournaments.

Round 1: Mike Basc’s sickeningly perverse Dark Eldar take on Matt-Shadowlord’s heretically inspired Imperial Guard. Read more

Deployment 101 – Against Tau

Right – deployment. This is perhaps the single most difficult part of 40k to talk about yet along with movement, the most important to get right as they are the areas you have the most control over and thus how you can dictate games without relying on dice. I’m going to keep saying this but the more you remove dice from the game, the more you will win consistently. Now Matt has done an already excellent post about what to think about when deploying against Tau so I’m going to be looking at a few of the principles I look out for as a Tau player to help deploying against Tau (as they are one of the Internet bugaboos currently). This can be applied to any old army but is particularly important here – you just need to extrapolate what is happening and against what type of army you are playing against.

Read more

Grey Knight Mirror Match: Deployment Analysis

This battle report is going to be split into two. First we’re going to look at the deployment and different things which could have been done and how it would impact the unfolding of the game. Then we’ll look at the actual battle and what happened.

We head into Day 2 with three people undefeated (myself, Denis and Doug). Denis and I draw each other whilst Doug plays Lee (2 wins, 1 draw) so this ends up being an essential mirror match. Denis is using a very similar army to me except in place of Chimeras for the two henchmen squads they have Rhinos, one henchmen squad is Bolter Acolytes only and the Rhinos for the large Strike squads are Passbacks (Razorbacks with Twin-linked Assault Cannons).  Every transport of his has Searchlights as well and he’s got an extra Inquisitor with three Servo-skulls.

We roll off table sides and I get to pick – I choose the side with a nice big flat hill – it’s not going to block LoS but I’ll be getting some cover. We’re playing the Scouring mission so neither of us have any extra scoring units through Fast Attack options and we divvy up the different objectives (4,3,3,2,2,1). I end up with a 4,3,1 and Denis gets a 3,2,2. A fairly even distribution but I have one extra point AND the 4 objective.

I place the 4 and 3 objective behind the hill and another piece of terrain close to my board edge – this forces Denis to cross the board to get to two of the three best objectives. The 1 objective goes on top of the hill but as close to my other objectives. Denis placed his 3 objective behind a terrain piece on his side with the 2 objectives pushed more to midfield as he needs to get across the board to me. Night Fight was rolled for Turn 1.


So this is what this post is all about as deployment is REALLY important here. Since the lists are very similar, your choices on the field are magnified as a single mistake puts you behind the 8-ball quite obviously. The only other factor here really is dice which as much as we wish we could, one cannot account for.

Stupid me of course didn’t take pictures of deployment so hopefully the text on the first turn pictures make it all make sense.

I won the roll-off and elected to go first. This is unusual as I generally prefer to go second and have a better plan of action in how to engage my opponent’s army and it’s an objective based game so getting those last moves in can be very significant. Add in Night Fight which can disrupt any early shooting and it seems like an odd choice. However, this allows me to deploy smack in the centre of my deployment zone and use a nice hill all game long for cover. This forces Denis to deploy 36.1” away if he doesn’t wish to get shot Turn 1 (remember, he doesn’t have Rhinos to start his large Strike squads in) and I’m sitting on seven objective points – i.e. we will be fighting over the one objective on the hill which is still closer to my side. Essentially, by going first I am dictating the state of play significantly enough that I am happy to take that option.

I place my Dreadnoughts in the usual triple placement – so one on each flank and one in the centre with the Chimeras sitting on each objective and the Rhinos/Psybacks behind the hill (Psybacks book-ending the Rhinos).

So this the deployment we are going to be basing our analysis off because there are a couple of different ways one could handle this given the opposing army. Let’s look at what Denis did and go from there.

He reserves the Rhino with Bolter-acolytes and the two small Strike Squads (who deepstrike). The other Rhino goes in the left hand-side of the battlefield where it is mostly hidden behind a small building. A Dread plus two Passbacks go behind the central forest and the other Dreads + Psybacks deploy in the back corner. The 2x10x Strikes with Coteaz deploy in between these two vehicle forces roughly 30.1” from my lines all spread out. Because Denis did a brain fart, he thought my guys in the transports could only shoot 30”. He said I should have reminded him I could hop out and move a further 6” after driving 6” but I pointed out that even if he had forgotten that, why was he deploying at 30.1”? Even if I had to get out in BTB contact with a transport door, I would have had some models in range. So, silly on Denis’ part which plays a pretty significant role in the outcome of the game and not a great opportunity to look at a good counter deployment.

Deployment Option 1

However, the idea was a solid one if he had deployed 36.1” away. This means no matter what, my squads inside transports weren’t going to shoot him Turn 1 and my likely movement would have been to pivot around the hill and force him to come to me. This would have done several things. Firstly, it ensures I still get the first strike with all the 24” weapons – his foot infantry is not going to get to me before I get to him as long as I don’t move within 30” of him. This may seem like he’s not gaining anything – he afterall has to advance those extra inches he deployed away from me anyway and he doesn’t have the speed advantage of transports. However, and this is the second point, his reserves can come into play, particularly since he has Psychic Communion on his 2nd Psyker. This, along with his servo-skulls, means he can very likely drop two extra small Strike squads behind my backlines and/or have the Acolyte Rhino come in. This gives him much more capacity to strike back immediately after I punch him first and is giving himself another avenue of attack on my well defended backfield objectives. Thirdly, it essentially boils the game down to “Who controls the one objective on the hill.”

I’ve moved away from his 3,2,2 objectives and that’s where his army will obviously be fighting mine – that’s fine for me and him because I have the 4,3 objectives and I’m close to the 1 objective but I’m opening the 1 objective for him in terms of easier access.

The two Passbacks + Dread in the centre of the field + Psyker Rhino on the left flank don’t seem to add much to this plan of action but it forces me to protect from multiple shooting angles and puts units closer to my army which could potentially disrupt (but not contest) what I’m trying to do.




Deployment Option 2

The other option for Denis would have been to screw trying to avoid getting shot up Turn 1, particularly since it was Night Fight and I only had two Searchlights. There are two forms of this, we’ll discuss the form with his current squad setup.

Rather than looking to minimise my shooting on Turn 1 and force the game into a fight over the 1 objective in midfield, park everything on the deployment line and push into midfield for an aggressive push to the 4,3 objectives and an active defense of his 3,2,2 objectives. We would also get a game where Grey Knights end up assaulting each other – so obviously whoever assaults first has a very big advantage there with Psyk-out grenades and more attacks. This would allow Denis to hit back straight away, particularly if I bounced in terms of hurting his vehicles and he was able to counter-attack on my exposed infantry. That being said, my army is quite capable of punching through vehicles, even with Night Fight up and there is nothing to say I needed to move my army forward and expose my infantry – though I would then be conceding midfield. Either way all do was start destroying vehicles and I would either be able to shoot through a crater at Grey Knights or delay his army from actually getting to me.

The alternative here would be to combat squad half of his large Strike squads in as the reserve units and then put the other small four Grey Knights in their respective transports. Same situation as above but his infantry has a greater amount of protection and flexibility in terms of how they take firepower. It’s still not forcing me to change what I need to do though and is essentially playing into my deployment. However, this option could also be used combined with Deployment Option 1 – i.e. deploy outside of my 24″ shooting range but in vehicles but it doesn’t force me to re-mobilise my army as much. Small squads are a lot easier to torrent away than larger squads.





In the end, I agree with what Denis was attempting to do and it’s the more advanced and tactical move to make. He just did it incorrectly unfortunately. By keeping out of my 24” range Turn 1 with his infantry he would have taken some of the game dictation back by forcing me to either come into his range, expose myself on the hill or move backwards and allow him to bring his reserves into play. It would have been a much closer game but I feel if I had still been able to drop the centreline vehicles (the two Passbacks + Dreadnought behind the forest), I would have been confident in my ability to stymie his attack :P.

So, I hope this gives you some good insight into how different deployments can impact the game in terms of what’s happening behind the scenes and what is likely to unfold. What I really want to stress is how one deployment option changed how the other army would play the game and the other did not and was looking for the first turn shooting to not be so effective. That’s a massive difference and a key part to playing well. Anyway, when we get to the battle report next post, you’ll be able to see the outcome of Deployment One with the mistake Denis implemented. Wish we could have had time to re-do the game but with the proper deployment to show how it would have unfolded differently…

Warhammer Fantasy Deployment Tactics Part 3

Hello again, Nikephoros here with more Fantasy deployment fun.  The final installment in this series is a deployment method that is used primarily with shooty armies with a large amount of war machines.  A tradition straight across the board deployment for a gunline/shooty is begging to be smashed by the Strong Flank deployment, so clearly there has to be a better way.  This deployment method, like the others I’ve detailed utilizes fast cavalry with vanguard moves to create the tactical situations it needs for success.  Guess what that means for Dwarves?  

The best army to use with this particular deployment is Empire, because they have the shooting, decent close combat counter charge units, and excellent Pistoliers to conduct the fast cavalry operation.  But it’s practical with almost any shooty army besides Dwarves.

So what is it?  It is the Strong Wings deployment as pictured below:

You put your artillery/shootiness on the wings with your close combat unit sandwiched between them.  These fighty units don’t advance, they just sit and wait for the enemy to approach and then they saunter out to kill whatever stragglers make it to your line.  

Your fast cavalry deploy in the center of your lines and vanguard out to occupy the middle of the field.  Their job is to stand about 7″-8″ away from the enemy fighty units and shoot at them with pistols, throwing axes, bows, etc.  When the enemy declares a charge at them, they flee and fall back out of range.  The enemy fails a charge, moves forward a scant 4″ inches and is done for the turn.  On your turn, your fast cav rally.  Your artillery shoots the hell out of their fighty units and then you repeat again.  Your opponent will get frustrated when he realizes that his units are moving across the board at about 4 inches a turn, getting blasted the whole time.  Eventually you will fail to rally your Fast Cav or they will get caught or they will get magicked or shot.  That’s when the fighty body guard will take on the (hopefully) shot to pieces enemy units that managed to cross the field.  That’s the theory, in practice as we all know, it’s never that easy.

The goal of this deployment, if it can only achieve one thing, is to prevent the enemy from marching for a turn.  If the enemy fighty units can march for one or two turns, they will be in your deployment zone quickly.  If your fast cavalry can bait them into making a failed charge or two, that slows them down by at least a turn.  The difference between the huge block of Chaos Warriors marching 8″ vs. moving 3″ due to a failed charge is enormous.  As we all know from playing 40k shooting armies: buying your army an extra turn of shooting before the CC starts is hugely important, and this is just as true for Fantasy shooting armies, if not more so.

Lastly, it helps to have a BSB inside one of your interior shooting wing units.  This will help ensure your fast cavalry are able to rally after their flee reaction, and thus able to continue their blocking/redirection job.

So the other side of the coin, how to beat this?  A strong flank deployment helps, because at least some of their shooting and fighty units should be at least initially marginalized from the battle.  Second, don’t charge their fast cavalry.  March your units 1″ away from them and park.  Their cavalry will have to move backwards on their turn, which in turn allows you to march again on your turn, or they will stay put and only be 1″ away next turn when you charge, and that makes it much riskier that they will be caught with a bad flee distance roll.  Plus, if they are 1″ away, they are likely granting your unit cover of some kind from some of the shooting, which is always good.
Your own shooting units and fast cavalry should be focused on killing theirs.  Since charges and reactions are declared first, use your cavalry to charge their fast cav.  If they stand, they will fight and die.  If they flee from your cavalry, your fighty units are free to march unimpeded.

One thing I want to mention as I wrap this series up, is the importance of fast cavalry or some kind of scout unit.  All of these deployment strategies hinge on the effective use of Vanguard moves or forward placed scout units in order to put your opponent into situations where he is damned if he does, and damned if it doesn’t.  I hope, at least, that this has helped people see the tactical possibilities of fast cavalry in Fantasy and what doors it opens for your army.  So if you take nothing else away from this series, please take into consideration the awesomeness of vanguard and scout units. 

Warhammer Fantasy Deployment Tactics Part 2


Hello, Nikephoros here.  In part one, I talked about a fairly basic deployment strategy, the Strong Center.  That deployment is fairly strong when you have powerful infantry units that can dominate in close combat and usually a magic bunker backing them up.

This article will be about a deployment near and dear to my heart, the Strong Flank.  As you might guess, this is a deployment where you stick your money combat units all crammed into one flank.  The goal is to quickly overwhelm one of your opponent’s flanks with the full force of your army and destroy his army in detail.
Anyone familiar with Fantasy knows how this can go wrong: Alternating unit deployment.  Your opponent can see exactly what you’re doing as your are deploying, and not present a tempting target for your strong flank.  So how could this deployment strategy ever work?  By not making it obvious what your intentions are. 

During deployment, you should deploy your center/shooty units first.  Deploying units in the center doesn’t betray your plans at all, so they should be the first things you deploy.  Second, deploy your fast cavalry on what will be your weak flank.  By now, a significant portion of your army should be on the table, and you haven’t even shown your actual game plan to your opponent.  Lastly, you can start deploying your money units on the strong flank.  Even if your opponent suspects your are doing a strong flank, he can’t be sure, because you are actually presenting an even front.  At the end of deployment, your force will be deployed like this.

As you can see, the two Hydras are sitting on the left flank, but the army is fully spread out and it looks even.  Your opponent reacted to your even deployment by also deploying with a broad front.  Then you spring the trap, during Vanguard Movement.  You will vanguard your fast cavalry back to the center, so that at the start of turn 1, the board will appear like so:

As you can see, the deployment is completely transformed and your opponent is in danger of having his unit on the left getting crushed.  Let’s say that you get the first turn, you will move like so…

So before your opponent moves a single unit, your broad front has transformed into a strong flank.  The unit facing the Hydras will be destroyed.  The elves in the center will have to turn to face the Hydras, opening them up to the fast cavalry.  The Elves on the far right are isolated and will have to cross the field to get to the action, passing in front of your crossbows, getting raked by fire the whole time they trudge across the board.  Alternatively, if they attack the crossbows, the crossbows can move backwards, drawing the elves further away, which exposes them to the fast cavalry.  And if the crossbowmen do eventually get destroyed, the Hydras and fast cavalry will be ready to fall on them from behind.

So how do you counter this strategy.  Step one is to anticipate it.  If you see that your opponent isn’t deploying anything into a particular flank and putting vanguard units exclusively on another flank, there is a good chance he is setting this plan up.  If you determine this is coming, you have two choices:

1.  Counter it by doing a strong flank of your own so that his money units aren’t facing anything of yours and his weak flank is facing your strong side.  This will present a neutral field again where neither player has much advantage.
2.  Counter it by making sure your money units are facing his, strong flank vs. strong flank.  You would use this when you feel that your money units are able to out-fight his.  This can be somewhat ballsy, so make sure your math hammer is fairly reliable.

Warhammer Fantasy Deployment Tactics Part 1


Hey all, Nikephoros here.  I thought I would do a post about some basic Fantasy deployment tactics and strategies.  I originally posted these articles on my blog about two years ago, so I updated them a bit and thought they would be useful here.

Fantasy deployment is great, because of alternating unit deployment.  Each unit you deploy sends a message to your opponent about what your strategy will be.  The key, you’ll see, is often times sending messages to your opponent that aren’t correct, to trick them into making poor deployment choices.  It is a chance to game your opponent, and you ought to take advantage of it.

In Fantasy, deployment strategy is largely based around the type of army you are running, with some consideration to your opponent’s army type.  For Part 1, I will discuss the most common type of deployment, the Strong Center.

The graphics are crude, but no one pays me to be an artist!

Armies that use the strong center will largely be composed of infantry, though Brettonians use it too, and are primarily trying to win the game through close combat.  If your army fits that description, this is the deployment you will commonly use.

The idea is you put your beater units right in the middle of the board, whether they be Sword Masters, Black Guard, Chaos Chosen, Black Orcs, Lead Bellies, and so on.  They will advance directly ahead, confident in their ability to meet any opposition head on.  The key to this is getting the opponent to fight you head on.  To do this you will need to channel his army inward, to the center.  You do this by deploying your shooty units directly adjacent to your beater units.  They will be too close to the beat units for anything to try to charge them without getting charged by your beater units.  So they will have free reign to shoot at their targets unmolested.  Putting them in this position also allows them to shoot to their flanks to protect your power units from skirmishers and cavalry hitting them on the flanks.

Your Scouts/Vanguard are also important.  As you can see, I assumed that your Vanguard fast cavalry would Vanguard move directly up the flanks.  These maneuvers will either split their army, weakening their middle- which is a good thing- or it will funnel them directly into the teeth of your army, which is a good thing too.

Not pictured above is a magic bunker.  Not all armies have one so I omitted it.  Generally it would be deployed directly behind your beater units, meaning someone would have to run them over to get to it.  If someone crushes your beater units, you probably lost already, anyway.

The key to this strategy, as you might guess, is having credible shooting threats and credible flankers.  If your Vanguard/Scout units are weak and not at all scary, your opponent can ignore them, or worse, easily kill them.  If your shooting is inconsequential, they can put more pressure on your flanks.  Not every army has the tools to have good shooting, in that case, put more emphasis on the flankers, or vice versa.

Now the other side of the coin, how do you defeat this deployment if you see your opponent utilizing it?  A strong flank is a good option, as it will allow you to crush his flankers and shooting easily on that side, and take on his beater units piece meal.  If this isn’t possible due to your army composition, you should attempt to outflank him.  Crush his flankers and shooty units and try to get his beater units to either change directions or get slammed in the side.

Lastly, its important to consider if his beater units are a threat.  If you can tarpit them with Skaven slaves, or even defeat them with superior units of your own, by all means do that.  When your opponent doesn’t realize that he isn’t The Beatdown in this match up, punish him for it.

Advantages of Mech: Re-mobilistation

We all know mech is super strong in 5th but there are many reasons to why this is so beyond being amazingly durable. One of them is of course mobility and compared to normal infantry, vehicles are less affected by terrain (being slowed only 1/6th of the time) and can move faster. Considering how important the movement phase is, this advantage is obviously huge. There are corresponding advantages for foot lists of course but we won’t look at them in this post but rather focus on the mobility advantage mechanised armies have. Specifically this post looks at re-mobilisation.

In gaming terms re-mobilisation is the ability to move some or most of your army from one part of the board to another. Mechanised armies can do this very well as everything can move 12″, even through terrain. Whilst there are some mech units which do not do this as well (Walkers, Leman Russes, etc.) and some which do it even better (Fast, Skimmers, etc.), the ability to move your army quickly from one spot to another is massively advantageous in a game where movement dictates a lot of the options you and your opponent have in subsequent phases/turns and where the missions emphasise the ability to capture and hold objectives outside of your deployment zone.

Being able to reliably grab objectives on the other side of the field is obviously very important and mechanised lists can do this very well. This mobility principle can be applied to certain deployment tactics as well. Let’s imagine a standard five objective board where the objectives are evenly laid out across the board (1 in the centre of each quarter and 1 in the centre of the board). No side has more objectives and everything is symmetrical, yay. Most armies have three broad options when they deploy:

  1. refuse flank (deploying all on one side)
  2. line deployments (spreading out across the deployment zone)
  3. split fire bases (two flanks with no centre)
There are obviously huge variations on these but they give you a broad scope of things. See pictures below for better examples and note, the models are just an example of an army, not a indication of proper deployment of said army. They are a pictorial example ONLY.

Again, these are just some visual examples for people and are obviously very general. However, you should hopefully be able to see the advantage mech armies would have in deployments 1 and 3 (refuse flank and split firebases). Why? There is a large transverse of board which can and often needs to be, covered to ensure the army fights at maximum strength for as long as possible. This is done through re-mobilisation and is very effective against slower armies or armies which you currently have a movement advantage against (i.e. you have more mech than them, fast infantry is tied up in combat, etc.).
Let’s paint a picture. It’s a five objective game and you’ve split your army in two in a split firebases deployment against Tyranids. Tyranids are slow but death to stationary vehicles and have a hard time holding objectives against mech. As the game goes on the Tyranids are about to overrun one of your firebases and not being an idiot, the player has units between the two separate parts of your army. Movement is your best friend at this point and you have many options in which to go all of which should be dictated by the objectives. By re-mobilising before the Tyranid army can start hitting stationary tanks or tanks en masse, you move them all 12″. What this re-mobilisation does is limit the effectiveness of opposing firepower/combat against your vehicles and still maintains you some degree of board control. Whilst you may have sacrificed the portion of the board where your firebase used to be, rather than letting those units/vehicles be destroyed or fight a battle of attrition, you’ve maintained the advantages a mech army has and looked to win the game through the mission parameters rather than blasting your opponent to hell and back.
I see far too many people go for the latter option. Sometimes it’s good to stay still and shoot (i.e. small unit remaining) but more often than not sacrificing your shooting to maintain your army is much more important – particularly against lists which are much slower and/or vulnerable to tank shocks. Remember as well, leaving a single unit behind/moving it slower is an excellent way to ensure the rest of the re-mobilising units get away as safely as possible. It’s all about maintaining as much of your army as possible and whilst losing firepower due to movement sucks, having all that firepower available next turn is obviously much better.
The same concept of re-mobilisation can be used in reverse. If you fail to re-mobilise on a single flank, your opponent got hot dice and wiped that flank out or you didn’t have anything on said flank, you can use the speed of mech to bring force to bear, or simply units to hold objectives, to that flank quickly. Slower armies such as Tyranids or Loganwing will have issues doing this thanks to their slower, terrain dependent movement. They can still do it, it just takes more time and that’s where mech armies take the cake in terms of flexibility on the board. You can take one turn to move a full 12″ and be able to escape foot units and move to another area of the board. Foot units take a minimum of two turns to do this unless they get a 6″ run roll. 
When all is said and done, mech armies have advantageous over foot armies. It’s the case of 5th edition and something everyone needs to be aware of. Just because mech is really survivable though doesn’t mean you should sit there and take a beating. One of mech’s biggest advantages is the ability to pack up and move en masse quickly. When the opponent is closing in you should strongly consider this or even moving slowly and still firing. Don’t sit there and let your opponent potentially run over your mech as even lots of S4 attacks will hurt stationary tanks. In the end the ability to quickly re-mobilise gives mech armies a lot of deployment options on top of the movement options against slower lists. Even against other mech lists, forcing your opponent to move with you means you can force them to fight where you want or to spread out to engage you. The faster you are, the more options you have in this regard.

Line Deployment In Action…or Inaction, as it Turned Out…(A brief analysis by TKE)

So, I had a game against fellow Mind War FTW author ItsPug recently, 2000 points of his really nice looking Imperial Guard (check out his own blog for pictures and tutorials) vs 2000 points of my ‘Counts As’ Blood Angels.  “Why are they Counts As?” you cry! “What are they actually?” Well, I’m sorry to say there are no pics, as they are a horrible hodgepodge of actual Blood Angels (of Blood), Khorne Berzerkers, Salamanders Assault Marines, Plague Marines, and Rhino chassis on loan from the Scythes of the Emperor.

Now, the reason it’s like this is simple – I wanted to use as few unpainted models as possible, and have it as close to WYSIWYG as possible.  While I own a few painted BA, most are Death Company, and…well, I wasn’t using them.  lol.  I don’t own very many Marines carrying Meltaguns, as my Tactical squads carry the free Flamer instead (Eldar Pathfinders are a pain!) and those that do?? Well, they’re inevitably the corrupted sons of Mortarion.

This is all incidental, anyway.  Chris’ list, at 1750, is (roughly) :
4 Meltas, Chimera [ML/HF]
2 Inf Squads:
Autocannon, ML/HB Chim

As above
2 Inf Squads:
As above
2 Russes:
2 Russes:
Heavy Flamer

For 2k he added a couple units of Storm Troopers with double Melta, and a Scout Sentinel with Autocannon.

My list was:
2 RAS with Melta and AssBack
2 RAS with double Melta, Fist and Rhino
2 SAng Priests (joining RASsbacks) with Infernus and PW
AutoLas Pred
2 Vindicators
8 Vanguard [2 PW, 2 Infernus, PF, 2 Melta Bombs]

You can see from the off that my list is a lot more short ranged (typically looking to engage at 24″ or closer) and a lot more mobile.  It benefits me then to have fewer vehicles (7 vs 12) as it grants me more freedom of movement.  This is especially true given the mission we rolled – Dawn of War, Annihilation.

A lot of people hate kill Points.  I don’t. Anyway, whether they’re a good system or not is a topic for another time – we used them.

He won the roll for first turn, and elected to deploy nothing.  I deployed the two Razors 8″ or less from the board, so that my squads could run straight in at the start of the game, and the Razors could continue as though they hadn’t needed to idle for a minute or two waiting for their charges.  This is a tactic I initially began using as Chaos Space Marines, with their army being (like mine) predominantly short-ranged, I began this technique of deploying 2 Rhinos on a flank and then refusing virtually the whole board and using them as cover for the other three following up, so only 2 required using Smokes.  Obviously with BA it works better, as we can roar off 12″ and still shoot!

Mephiston hid virtually on the half-way in some ruins, completely out of LoS.  This is a (very) rough approximation:

It’s hard to accurately represent the buildings – but basically both Razors had solid cover to my left, and the front screened the rear from the front.

I opted to Deep Strike the Vanguard, as he had done with the STs, and he was also Outflanking with the Sentinel, reasoning that the meagre firepower it possessed wouldn’t be missed under a turn of Night, and would be more valuable coming in and flanking my Vindicators.  While usually Outflanking a single unit is a far from reliable tactic, I think I agree with his assessment there – Vindicators aren’t exactly easy for the Manticore (a clear priority target for me) and especially the Russes to destroy – his ‘main force’ had Autocannons I could literally shrug off, and his Melta is unreliable in terms of getting it delivered to a Fast Vindicator, unlike with regular ones.  Obviously he would have been expecting the STs or perhaps Marbo to be able to fulfil that role as well (role redundancy without unit redundancy)….but you get the point.

His first turn, he moved on, line abreast.  This was A Bad Plan, hence the article.

Basically, this was his first turn movement.  Now, I think he actually forgot while moving that Night Fighting would be in effect, which is fair enough given there was a lot of banter and messing around – this WAS a friendly game after all.  That said, it created a situation that Imperial Guard are fairly prone to, in my experience – they wish to spread out and maximise their initial firepower because of the ingrained fear of close-range fire fights, and, of course, melee.

In a way, they aren’t wrong to want to do this – stopping your opponent in his own Deployment Zone is a great feeling, and grants a security and freedom of movement that is largely unmatched in 40k.  When you can achieve this, and especially when you have the prodigious anti-Infantry that Chris’ list can supply, you are laughing as you whittle down squad after squad on foot a turn, only needing the Flamers to mop up.

This list, I don’t like in some regards, and think it’s actually a bit light on anti-tank.  I don’t like Hull Bolters, because I simply don’t rate the Heavy Bolter as an any way impressive weapon, and I’m not a fan of the regular Russ…but Chris does very well with the list, including qualifying for the ETC this year.  He’s used to it, and can overcome these inherent weaknesses against most players [he clearly had a good teacher… 😉 ] making the list more than the sum of it’s parts.

All this is background though – what matters is – he moved on, and Chimeras attempted to shoot.  Nothing happened.  In my turn, I roared forward 12″ and wrecked the Chimera furthest to the right of your picture, putting Mephy right in his face as well, and bringing the rest of my forces on to the right of my centre, effectively restricting his Russes to a supporting role as spectators over in the corner behind that ruin.

By using the fewer hulls and greater speed of my Tanks, I was able to concentrate on a small portion of his battleline, and chew it up chunk by chunk.

What he SHOULD have done, is radically different.  Firstly, with the threat of a Flying Powerhouse like Mephiston, and the large amount of Cover available to him in his Deployment Zone, e should have disembarked 2 Infantry Squads.  Granted, since his had a sequence of accidents at RetCon and were undergoing repair, he may not have wanted to take them out of the case – entirely fair – but they would have provided both an easy target (and therefore bait!) for Mephiston, and a buffer to force him further away from the Tanks.

With that set up, he should have moved his Chimeras 12″ onto the table – that way he would have had room to disembark when some rides got broken – and they could have used a few Smokes to minimise that too.

By leading into me with these he restricts my mobility – there’s no good being quicker when I need to get close, and already am.  I can’t drive away very far and still shoot you, so when the only Chimeras I can shoot/charge are empty you either force me to disembark (Battlecannon fodder) or create a stalemate of massed hulls pressed close together, where greater numbers should hopefully tell for you over my superior quality (worked for the Soviets!)

Of course, this would end up in quite a bit of carnage, and in a straight up shooting match between 2 Vindicators and a Russ Squadron, give me the Vindis any time.

Instead then it may be more advisable to Castle up – to have your firepower concentrated so that by coming close enough to let rip myself I am exposed to your much greater volume of fire.  Problem with that, of course, is creating a Parking lot for my Vanguard and Mephy to exploit – but this is solvable, with a Double Castle.

This then creates a situation where I am forced to either split my forces, or be exposed to half of the army shellacking me while I try to dispose of the still-beating corpse that is the half I am aiming for.

Granted, the terrain perhaps wasn’t ideal for this [nor was the fact that I forgot to save the map in the couple hours between doing the above pictures and the following…]

this clogged up his lines, and allowed my Fast vehicles to roll his flank with unreasonable success

I lol’d

He wasn’t helped by a truly terrible T2 shooting phase, but that’s how it happens sometimes, and he wasn’t able to bring a large part of his firepower to bear because of the way in which he had spread out

Correct application of his forces (or more correct, at least) would have been to double castle – that would have resembled

vassal pic vassal

Back to Basics: Deployment 102 – Line deployments

Deployment is a really hard aspect to cover in articles without going into true specifics (i.e. individual armies or as specific as individual games). There are just a lot of variables to cover for a lot of different army types including who’s going first, deployment type, mission, what’s your opponent’s list, what’s your list, terrain, points level, etc. etc. SneakyDan has started to cover some of these aspects in a previous post but today we are going to look at one of the most basics mistakes of a rookie 40k player, deploying in a line without consideration for their surroundings. Here’s what I mean by a line deployment:

Using my 1750 Marine list I’ve deployed everything right on the 12″ deployment line and spread my forces out as much as possible. This gives the perceived advantage of allowing me to fight anywhere on the battlefield as I have units spread all across the board and can easily bring firepower to bear anywhere. However, the opponent can easily deploy on one side of the board and effectively deny some of the Ultramarine firepower as they actively refuse flank them. Here is an Eldar list doing this:

Whilst only the far left Dreadnought and Land Speeders are really out of the fight for the first turn (and the Dreadnought can move into range) the Space Marine army is spread out and is going to have a much harder time bringing maximum firepower to bear on the Eldar at any given time. On the other hand, the Eldar army due to deployment and their speed are quite capable of moving as a single ‘unit’ and flanking the Space Marines (i.e. moving up the right flank and shooting at the tanks, particularly side armor). Once the Marines are flanked the far units (left flank) will have a much harder time getting clear shots on the opponent and the Eldar army can work their way across the field by moving right to left along the Space Marine battleline. Since the whole Eldar army is moving as one, the Space Marine army is going to have a hard time stopping it in single parts.

Essentially what deploying in a line can often lead to is a movement disadvantage. Deployment is basically a free move for any unit, anywhere within a specified area. If you spread out over the whole area you may have ‘gained’ a bunch of free movement but you have to use your normal movement to try and get back into better positions. This isn’t always possible (24″ move armies can often do this aka: rapid redeployment).

This mobility issue is compounded by the Space Marine’s minimal effort to take advantage of terrain. The Preds and Razorbacks as well as the Speeders + Dread on the wing (depending on the height of the ruins) are going to have a hard time generating cover from directly across themselves. In this example, the whole right flank isn’t generating cover and once the Eldar push up the right flank with their superior mobility and move right to left along the Space Marine line, cover is going to be hard to generate as well. This is what you need to take into account during deployment.

Let’s look at some of the advantages of line deployments then as there are some. If your army is fast, i.e. like the Eldar army in the above example, deploying in a line allows you to meet any threat anywhere through rapid redeployment. You lose most of your firepower on that turn but your army is able to move rapidly and strike where it is needed. For example if Eldar got the first turn and deployed with the Space Marine player reacting and deploying like this…

The Space Marine player has attempted to maximise their firepower advantage at range by deploying on the opposite flank of the Eldar but due to the Eldar’s speed, they can sacrifice some shooting to re-engage the Space Marine castle by a ‘rapid redeployment.’ This brings the Eldar army to bear for T2 whilst allowing some shooting in T1. Whilst the Marine player is now engaged, they have gained a precious turn of shooting and movement before the full Eldar force is able to engage. Here we can see the redeployment of the Eldar army and their speed.

When Turn 2 beings, the majority of the Eldar forces will already be in range and can therefore use their movement to try and gain advantageous shots rather than simply getting into range. If the Space Marine army have been in the same position they’d of had a much harder time moving to engage a list which has better shooting than them due to their slower speed.

NB. I know these are basic deployments and we hopefully wouldn’t see such regularly but I’m doing this on the fly!

Another advantage of using the line deployment is ensuring maximum distance achieved. This is very important for armies which want to move across the board against particularly shooty armies (i.e. any army against Tau). This does not mean deploy out in a big long line like in the first picture but rather ensure the elements of your army which are likely to be the most effective if they can move across the board (i.e. transports with guys inside them) can move the maximum distance if they are not shot up. This means put them on the 12″ line. Obviously try to gain them cover from terrain if possible but if you have the units you want to move across the board providing cover for each other and the front line gets wrecked or immobilised, your opponent has gained a turn as you go around the immobilised vehicles or damage yourself on the wrecks. The rest of your army can of course deploy as they wish but when units need to get across the board, line deploying those units in specific circumstances can be a viable option.


All in all deploying the whole army in a line across the board is going to leave you at a tactical disadvantage to your opponent. They are more able to target a specific point in your army and bring their force to bear on that point whilst your army is going to scramble to react. Some armies can line deploy to an extent due to their favorable manoeuvrability whilst other portions of armies should seriously consider deploying in a line to ensure no matter what their opponent’s shooting does, some elements can still move forward and threaten their opponent reliably.

In the end, simply lining your army up on the deployment edge with little thought for future movement or shooting and not taking the opponent’s army or terrain into account is going to leave you at a significant disadvantage. The line deployment is probably the most common executions of this lack of thought.

We all remember what happened when Taak did it versus me after all :p

Jumper/BA DoA Deployment 101

I  had an e-mail and a couple of PMs on this recently and and after Vince’s play at Centurion, I think it needed to be addressed (not picking on Vince :P). We all know Jumper BA have some bad match-ups and when all your anti-armor is close ranged, it happens. This is why adding Devs helps against a lot armies but deployment is also a huge thing for Jumper based armies. Let’s take a quick look then at some of the things you should and shouldn’t do. The key unit here is Vanguard Veterans.

These guys are not just taken to clear out bubble-wrap and open the way for the rest of your army. They are also generating cover for your whole army (read: whole) so you don’t need to land in ruins (though you are backed up by Shield from the Libby) and in turn bubble-wrapping the weaker ASM from stronger units. That’s why they have SS and why I don’t like to outfit them with a ton of combat potential. They are meant to die at some point. This is where I see a lot of people go wrong with VV, once they’ve cleared the bubble-wrap they run off and do their own thing or deploy the rest of the army where the VV can be ignored/negated. You should rarely if ever do this.

Combining this understanding with the short-range and ‘small’ nature of the army, you need to drop in a localised fashion. Do not spread out around your army. This effect is three-fold.

  1. most if not all of your army should benefit from FNP/FC bubbles
  2. your opponent is either castled (which means Blood Lance is going to cause a lot of damage) or spread out more than usual. This means you’ve essentially deployed in a ‘refused flank’ and force your opponent to mobilise to get to you.
  3. the VV can protect the rest of your army as much as possible.

Number 2 is the kicker and what really hurt Vince in Round 1 and Round 4 where he was tabled by Razorspam and Hybrid Tau. Why? He spread out which meant the whole opposing army could shoot basically whatever they wanted and he wasn’t able to focus his fire. This ended up in very bad defeats. If he had deployed on one side of the opponent’s army they would of had to move to engage him. Even if the Razorspam list had to simply move his Razorbacks to get LoS it was more likely the Jumpers would get cover saves and could use that forced movement to its advantage. Same against Tau. Great you killed the Kroot and now you’re standing in front of his army but if you’ve killed the Kroot on one side and your 3++ units are in front of the rest of your army, well suddenly your army isn’t going to get roasted. With Jumper mobility you can start on one side of the army and easily work your way across the board.

However, there are exceptions. In my game against Vince on Friday night he did spread out and here it was good (I told him to do it :P). He bottled me up in the corner because I had bubble-wrapped myself in (Spearhead deployment). With objectives being the primary mission I was on the back-foot late game to snatch objectives away from him even though I had more of my army left. This was due to his mobility and whilst I think he should of left his combat squads and ‘fled’ with the meltagun squads to further delay me, it was the right tactic against such a list when his VV were unable to survive.

These pictures show how Vince has blocked my army in using my own bubble-wrap against me and deployed his VV after combat to ensure my MCs and Raveners cannot simply walk up and start munching on tasty ASM targets.

Another example of when not deep-striking in a localised area is using units as distractions such as 5-man swiss army knife ASM squads or when you start on the table and reserve the Vanguard, etc. Remember though when you don’t deep-strike together, how much of an advantage are you gaining and how easily will your opponent be able to take you apart. ~50 Marines aren’t that hard to kill over 5-7 turns but ~50 Marines with FNP? Different story and much harder to take down.