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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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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Force Application: getting the most out of your army

Another general article concept. Joy. Time and time again I see individuals spread their armies out. There are certainly times to do this but there is also a way to do this. We’ve briefly discussed mech-training (aka the choo-choo train) before but we’ve never really applied it to an army and the tactics it entails. Let’s therefore see what we can do.

Quickly recapping what mech-training is: using one vehicle to provide cover to multiple vehicles of yours. Whilst cover is pretty easy to provide for infantry in 5th edition, finding cover for Tanks and MCs isn’t always a walk in the park. Therefore the ability to generate your own cover (I.e. smoke launchers) or use your own army to provide cover for the rest of your army can greatly improve your army’s survivability. However, this does bunch your tanks up and there are abilities/spells/weapons that demand you not do this (I.e. Manticore, Blood Lance, etc.). But what does this mean for your offensive potential and gameplan?

The defensive abilities of concentrating your army, especially mech, should be obvious now. Mech can also provide extra “offensive” defensive capabilities through blocking. Check out the How To on that. Above and beyond this though, it stops your army from being split. This is one of my major issues with hybrid BA and the like. Again, splitting your army has it’s place and merits but for the most part deploying in a nice shiny little line across your deployment zone is drop dead stupid. No punches pulled. Check out this picture of an IG v IG battle I pulled from Vassal whilst watching a game (names withheld).

I have no idea what’s in the chimeras and I believe the dark green (Cadian?) IG went first. If going second however, they would receive a pummelling but the Tan IG allowed the Cadian IG to get away with it by not focusing their strength on one side of the board (again no idea what’s in the Chimeras but Tan deploying on the side of the Hydras would have been good). We’ll ignore the bad terrain *looks at huge open gap in midfield*. Again, focusing your strength and training your mech can be problematic against specific armies but you have to have the skill to acknowledge when this is true. This comes back to the articles recently written for this blog by Kirby and Puppy (that really is a good article Puppy…).

So what does focusing your strength/firepower really do? First off it provides saturation. If you have so many guns in a localised area, your opponent is unlikely to be able to neutralise them (much like mech saturation). If your opponent is spread out like the Cadian IG are, focusing your firepower allows you to make a concentrated push in an area where they able to bring less of their guns to bear on you. This is where deployment can play a huge role in game development and the ultimate winner. Therefore, by focusing your strength/firepower in a localised area, you are able to break open your opponent’s lines and control that section of the board. Against an opponent who is also focusing their strength, it comes down to who manoeuvres better or has the appropriate tools for the job. A quick example is wiping out squads. Whilst putting 25% causalities on 10 units means one or two may be likely to run, that same firepower could wipe out those same squads. Whilst the spread of fire may cause more damage in the end due to Ld, you know what you’re getting when a squad is dead.

Let’s look at the anti-thesis of focusing your strength , dilution of firepower. Continuing on from the example just given and the Vassal picture I dropped. If the tan IG had deployed all in the top right, the Cadian IG would have been unable to bring their full firepower to bear, forcing him to move. The Tan IG would of then had a much higher chance of surviving in tact, particularly since he had 4 AV14 facings to ping S7 off. The tan IG player would of then been in a much better position as all of his army could of reached the Cadian army and opened fire, especially since he had more mobility in the Vendettas and it was a non-objective game.

So when is it viable to split your army? Often when you are fast (such as Eldar/DE) and there are two separate capable natural covers and both sections of your army are capable of supporting each other. This is like running two separate detachments, your firepower isn’t being diminished by lining up across the board as the detachments can support each other but you’re still gaining as much cover as possible. This can also force your opponent to split their deployment or movement, or attempt to neutralise one section. If you’ve got the appropriate movement or firepower you can handle both situations and it also leaves your other ’detachment’ open to side shots. This is very important when deploying long ranged units. Placing Hammerheads/Prisms/Russes in opposite corners is going to give you side shots if the opponent moves into midfield and demands they focus some attention onto said units or suffer those side shots.

Overall, focusing your strength is very important. The more spread out and diluted your army and firepower becomes, the easier it is for your opponent to exploit gaps and breaks in your army. Whilst there are appropriate times and places to spread out (don’t for example forego an objective to focus your firepower, cover your bases), especially against a lot of blasts or multi-hit weapons, focusing your strength & firepower allows you to get the job done when and where you need it. This also means spreading out your firepower in your army composition. Having heavy hitting units is good but if all units are capable of anti-tank, losing your best anti-tank is much less of a blow. A lot of this comes with practice but it’s easy to practice moving your vehicles at home to get as much cover as possible. Set up a board and practice deploying against a ridiculous gun army or assault army and see how your deployment changes with it. You’ll notice an improvement in your ability to move your vehicles and get them cover but also reduced thinking time as you have been through situations like this before.

Above all else remember: focus fire!

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