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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

De-bunking Deployment...

Well Brother Loring the other day (in response to ideas on what to talk about) was asking questions about the dreaded deployment and all that it entails such as refuse flanking, table edges, how and here to deploy, what to do when going 2nd, etc. (and I’ll add in objective placement) above and beyond army building/synergy/duality/etc. Well, that type of article would take decades of my time and my main response outside of knowing your army inside and out and knowing your opponent’s? Practice. As I said to Loring, most of us cannot simply grasp every nuance of every army, plop it down on the table and play and then win (besides the fact we like to have fun so don’t just play in tournaments). Whilst I’m comfortable running most armies, put an Ork horde in my hands and I know the theory, etc. but I’m going to make mistakes because it’s an army style I’m not used to running (and for good reason ^^).

We don’t want to practice the wrong things though so let’s see if we can hand out some basic guidelines. I’ll first direct you to the Armies in 5th target priority and movement articles. What these articles really highlight is planning your next phase, one phase ahead. Your shooting really happens in your movement, your next movement is set up by your last assault phase (or shooting phase if you ignore it), etc. This can be an excellent guideline when deploying, particularly since you have so much flexibility in how you deploy (we’ve all had times when we need just half an inch more…). Beyond providing as much layering, defenses, cover, etc. to your army in general you need to be able to:

a) withstand incoming fire (this comes from your layering/cover/defenses)
b) move out into midfield (unless you shoot opponent’s off the field)
c) create firing lanes (too often people put their long-ranged anti-units as far away as possible. This is great if they are on a hill w/trees but if your opponent can ram his toughest nut to crack into a bottle neck and cover his whole army…)

This is all easier said than done, so let’s look at defending first. The question is often asked, should I reserve? And against what? An army that is built around an alpha strike and gets to go first, think about reserving. Particularly armies that deep strike on T1 and you have no deep strike defense (I.e. Drop Pods & Daemons). However, what type of alpha strike is the army based around? Lots of melta in your face quickly (I.e. Pods, Air-Cav, etc.) or a lot of firepower coming down on your from the get-go (I.e. LasPlas Rback spam)? Reserving against a long-ranged alpha strike army generally isn’t going to help unless you have some sort of reserve advantage (I.e. Blood Rodeo, Eldar w/Autarch, etc.) as you come in piece meal and die anyway. Against these type of lists bunker up and get as much cover as possible.

What about in your face alpha-strikes? These are generally glass cannon type lists and require to do as much damage as possible in that first hit which generally revolves around melta. If you’ve got DS defenses, stay on the table. These defenses (aka bubble-wrap) push your opponent back just like it does against DS armies and thus they cannot get within effective melta range. Whilst S8 AP1 is still nothing to sneer out, it’s a sight better than 2D6 S8 AP1. If however, your army is incapable of sacrificing a unit to push your enemy back, it might also be advisable to reserve here, particularly since those armies will be waiting closer to your table-edge as they are generally short-ranged.

When it comes down to it, look at your army and your opponent’s army. If they have first turn, honestly look at how much damage they can inflict if you have maximised your cover. If it’s really crippling, think of reserving but if it’s a mid-field or assault based army, generally not necessary. However, where do you “castle” up? This becomes a bit harder as there are so many variables involved but there are some pretty basic principles we can look at:

a) any outflankers/deep strikers from your opponent?
b) can you out-range them?
c) where is significant cover located?
d) where are objectives placed?
e) deployment type

If your opponent has any DS or Outflankers you need to accommodate this. Whether it’s refusing flankand blocking off that board edge or creating “death pockets” (leave cover open for them to DS into where they have to DS on target or mishap) or keep deep strikers away using bubble-wraps. If you out-range your opponent, deploy as far away as possible and make them move to you. This is particularly potent for Eldar & DE lists which will happily sit at a distance and shoot you since they can move as an army, 24”. Assuming most boards are setup evenly (very realistic, I know!), you need to pick an appropriate area to castle (if you’re castling) which attempts to offer an advantage to you and a disadvantage to your opponent. This in particular relates to objectives and requires strategic placing (I.e. putting objectives in the open advantages Marines if there is minimal low AP guns about, etc.).

Again this could take forever to go through but attempt to make your opponent’s direct route to you as difficult and dangerous as possible, place objectives where you can hold them comfortably but your opponent may be uncomfortable holding them or they go out of their way to hold them, whilst at the same time providing as much cover as possible to your army. This can all be altered by the deployment type as well (I.e. spearhead = advantage shooting armies). Remember as well for the most part spreading your army across your deployment is a bad idea unless your army is capable of helping each other out. Whilst if your chosen castle spot cannot accommodate your whole army, castle up twice (this is particularly true for armies w/large tanks). Furthermore, know if your opponent’s army can de-bunk a castle easily (I.e. Blood Lance, Manticores, etc.) Bunker up tightly against these type of lists at your own risk. Whilst your army opens up and it’s harder to get more cover across your army, de-bunk units can have a field day if you do bunker up.

I forgot about firing lanes! Here it all comes down to where are your weapons placed and your movement type. JSJ units like Crisis suits can hide all day whilst still shooting and vehicles with turrents can worry more about their armor facings than if their turrents can see. However, sponsons, hull-mounted, hatches and infantry and need more thought into how they will fire and this comes down to your movement. Remembering you can only pivot infantry & walkers during the shooting phase and you need to move one unit at a time during your movement phase this becomes a bit trickier. Plan what you want to shoot at what (see target priority). Whilst this initially is set up during deployment through the creation of firing lanes, this is primarily done during movement.

When you're deploying then consider what and where the important places are in the battlefield (i.e. objectives, significant cover, bottle-necks, etc.). If you have the ability to create fire lanes in relation to these areas, do so as it forces your opponent to either avoid that area or suffer your clear fire. You also have to plan for predicted movement on your side and your opponent's which can be a bit more difficult, particularly for infantry who cannot move and shoot heavy guns.

Again (I’m hating this word right now), it’s hard to go into specifics without giving examples for everything and at the same time it’s hard to be vague because then I sound vague (no…way…) or it becomes too convoluted. I think what I’ve laid down are some good concepts but their execution still needs to be practiced by you the gamer. At the same time, understanding and taking these concepts (including those brought up in the Movement & Target Priority articles) to a game will leave you in a much better position tactically than you were before. I can’t stress enough though what practice gives you (plus it’s fun, you’re playing 40k!!!!!one!!!11!!!) and knowing the armies of 40k.

Also, if you would like specific deployment advice, send me pictures of a table-setup and what your army is and your opponent’s. That can give more concrete examples for specific armies and specific opponents.

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