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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Crynn’s Corner - The Movement Phase

Crynn’s Corner - The Movement Phase.

Hello all you aspiring master 40k generals and hello to all those whom in their own eyes have already achieved this state of enlightenment and now cast themselves high above the minions at their local gaming club. I greet you all as equals because essentially you all (including myself) paint tactical war dollies for fun.

I want to go back to one of the fundamentals of 40k that I think is the most miss understood and perhaps the hardest to fully grasp, the Movement Phase. It is by far the most complex part of the game and the phase that opens up the most amount of choice as to how we can influence the game as a player, little to no dice involvement, just a general and his army. The movement phase is where everything is setup for the proceeding phases, fire lanes are drawn, units find cover, get into range with their weapon, line up assaults/multi assault, blocking etc. The list is huge. I see many generals with great target priority and lists tweaked and twisted to get the most out of every point only to see them make slight errors in the movement phase that can cost them games.

The more I play 40k the more I become a firm believer in one thing…

‘What separates the good 40k players from the great ones, is mastery of the Movement Phase’

Alongside this is correct deployment but I will leave that to another time.

What makes the movement phase so difficult to master?

Unlike every other phase in 40k the Movement phase is built on an analogue system instead of one based on whole numbers. By this I mean units are able to move in any direction they please, the game is not a tile based system and whilst movement distance is capped by ‘x’ amount of inches, within that lone restriction you are relatively free to go wherever you want to go. You can stand on one side of a piece of terrain 11.5 inches away from a unit knowing you can rapid fire at it and unless they roll a ‘6’ when going through DT they will not make combat with you or you can finish 12.7 inches away and lure them into a charge that is impossible. Unlike every other phase where the results are generally governed by dice this is the phase where you have the most ability to (and this is key) ‘skew the dice in your favour’. By this I mean create circumstances that are the most beneficial for yourself.
I want to take you through a number of questions you should consider asking yourself whenever you start your movement phase. It is by far the longest phase in my turn because in it I have to think about each phase that follows. I have laid these questions out to show what phases they will directly effect.

Movement Phase

- Do I need to start going for objectives?
- How must I move in order to not get models caught on each other or blocking each other?
- Is difficult terrain going to slow me down too much to the point where the unit will not be able to have its desired effect this turn?
- How damaging is it for my unit to fail a dangerous terrain check, is it worthwhile risking?
- How far can each unit move and still remain within the range of bubble and aura effects that I need?
- Do I need to move any models with negative buffing effects up towards the enemy to get them in effective range? (most common being a psychic hood)

Shooting Phase

- Can/should I move to get weapons into range/rapid fire range?
- Can I move any units to be able to fire at a weaker facing on enemy vehicles?
- Can I move units to remove cover saves from any enemy units?
- Have I placed certain template weapons in the right spot to maximize their effectiveness on the enemy unit I will target?
- If I destroy a target with a lucky shot will certain other units still have a viable target?
- Am I placing units far enough away or close enough to take advantage of or minimize the effects of night fight?

Assault Phase

- Am I close enough to assault/will an average result on a difficult terrain test see this unit make combat?
- Have I set up my models correctly to execute a multi-assault correctly or optimally?
- Have I moved the unit so that the resulting assault sees certain models fighting the models I want them to fight? (E.g. Independent characters not being close enough to the PF Sargent to be hit by them)
- After the assault that I am planning to win will an average consolidation move allow half or more of my models to consolidate into cover? (something very few people think about)

Enemy Player's Movement Phase

- Can I move my units so as to force his unit to move and lose firing ability E.g. forcing a predator to move due to not having a viable target or not being able to see with all its weapons.
- Is it in my best interest to block any of his units such as a land raider or perhaps throwing a unit 1 inch from a paladin unit so that they can’t go through or around it and must combat it this turn and lose much needed movement?
- Have I moved in such a way that hasn’t left a flank of my army exposed or vulnerable for a fast moving enemy to take advantage of?

Enemy Player's Shooting Phase

- Have I gained cover saves on all possible models where needed?
- Can I block LOS to any of my models from weapons that will harm them whilst still allowing my unit to shoot at an appropriate target
- Have I left important vehicles out of melta range if my opponent was to throw a transport at me and deploy melta from it?
- Have I left models out of rapid fire range.
- Have I spread my models out enough to mitigate the effects of any blast or template weapons?
- Do I need to spread the units in my army out further to minimize the effect of ordinance weapons if they scatter off their intended targets?
- Are certain models far enough away from the board edge so as a failed Ld test doesn’t send them running off the board?

Enemy Player's Assault Phase

- Have I moved my units in such a way that forces his assaulting units to take difficult terrain checks and reduce their initiative for going through terrain?
- Have I left myself open for a multi charge?
- Are my Independent characters and special combat weapons (such as powerfists) in the right places so that I may move them once assault takes place to the most optimum spot in combat?
- Are my IC’s in places where they are protected from an incoming assault?

These are some of the question that I consider when moving models in the movement phase. A lot of the time you will find that fulfilling one criteria may mean you are unable to fulfil another. For example, you may want to hit a vehicles side armour giving you better odds of destroying the vehicle however to do so would mean taking your firing unit out of cover. At this point it just comes town to weighing up the odds for yourself and deciding on the best course of action, but just considering whether to lower their armour or keep your cover save is important in itself. Indeed this is a lot to take in and consider all at once, no doubt we all make mistakes and sometimes there is no correct answer it is merely a matter of preference. However I believe most players do not realize all that is achievable in this phase of the game, some of the most subtle changes in movement can mean the difference in a vehicle having 3+ cover or no cover at all.

Over the next few articles I want touch on some of these questions I feel that are less commonly addressed by players in order to show players how to get more out of their movement phase. Of course if anyone has any preferences on what specifically they would like me to write about whether it be maximising covers saves, blocking units or even tricks like sling shotting or setting up multi charges feel free to leave suggestion below and I will do my best to accommodate any requests in my follow up articles.

I hope you have found some of these points or ‘questions’ interesting and perhaps you will now actively think about certain things when moving your models that you did not previously.


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