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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

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Armies in 5th: Basics Part 4: Movement

Here we are back again. We've now covered building your army and target priority in varied detail (whilst nearly skipping over deployment) so let's look at movement. Movement, beyond deployment and army composition, is the most important part of Warhammer 40,000 because as the player you have the most control over it. Very rarely do you have to roll dice (and thus rely on randomness) for you to be able to move. This is why difficult terrain is...well difficult. It throws a spanner into your works and why being able to generate your own cover (through 5th edition rules or shenanigans) or move through cover more effectively (dozer blades, move through cover, flip-belts, etc.) is so valuable.

Like deployment, going into every trench and forest of movement would take forever, something I don't have but unlike deployment some more general guidelines are feasible here. Firstly as mentioned in the previous article, make sure you keep your firelanes open. This varies from army to army and what is out on the field at the time. For example it's easy to keep a turret of a Predator, Wave Serpent or Lemun Russ firing as it can see over most other tanks but sponsons or hull mounted weapons generally can't. Infantry also generally have their LoS blocked by tanks but skimmers can often allow infantry to shoot under them (but be shot in return), etc. This is where deployment can make or break armies (i.e. having infantry with heavy weapons on the ground and not being able to see anything compared to in the ruins) and why you need to predict what you are going to need and where. Whilst it is obviously impossible to predict everything, after practice you should have a better understanding of how the game will unfold. The better you are at this, the better you will be as a player (i.e. T4, multiple wound models deploying on the other side of the board of a Vindicator; if the Vindicator player predicted this and based his next moves on it, he now has an advantage, if the other player put his MW models in-range of the Vindicator he also has an advantage, etc.).

So again it comes down to knowing your army and your opponents. What guns do I want firing next turn? Am I likely to blow up tank A and therefore be in a position to damage whatever was in the tank? Is what is left in the tank a threat and do I therefore need to deal with it? Are some of the questions you need to ask. Being able to destroy a transport and its occupants is the coup de grace so to speak and the best way to destroy clumped infantry is with blasts or templates. Templates are often short-ranged and thus you need to understand this during your movement phase and be able to move those templates up (an Immo spam army takes advantage of this principle to the hilt). At the same time this might overextend your army on a unit that doesn't need destroying or can be delayed, keeping your army together (for the most part) is more valuable than destroying a single unit though some armies are much more capable of spreading out (such as Eldar) whilst losing little in board control or tactical flexibility.

This brings us to blocking. Blocking is a skill underutilised by many and in fact is often ignored, until their single LR gets blocked for 90% of the game and doesn't go anywhere. Whilst this is most easily done with fast and small speeders early-game against 'super units', it can be used at any point. At any point you can clog up clear terrain with a tank or spread out a unit in front of your other units to create a "bubble". You can throw units or tanks into the face of your enemy to sacrifice them and slow your opponent. This boils down to loss and gain. Not often is losing a Rhino game-breaking but slowing a Nob Biker squad for a turn is. This gives you another turn to mobilise or shoot and as Tau well know, this wins you games.

Another important concept of movement has been called 'cho-cho training.' I've given an example previously but essentially it is gaining cover as much as possible for the majority of your armor with the lead tank artificially producing cover (either through terrain or items). To give as much cover as possible to the majority of your units (both mech and non-mech) requires thinking. Cover increases the survivability of your units by 50%. That's huge. If you can play the whole game with cover, your opponent's shooting needs to be twice as effective to do "normal" damage. You can do this for free; sounds good to me. This relates back to my first point as well, if you can do this and let your units behind the original unit still shoot, you're increasing your defense for very little drop off in offense. With infantry units make sure to hide your regular guys and leave heavy weapons in the open. This makes them more likely to have clear LoS (and thus not provide cover) but still have cover from the majority of the unit being in cover. Whilst such options as these sound great, your opponent will (hopefully) be attempting to deny you cover whilst gaining as much cover as possible themselves. By taking such weapons as Manticores or Blood Lance you can reduce vehicle walling and force your opponent to adapt.

This is a quick point as it relates to assault (obviously a different topic) but you need to set up your assaults in the movement phase. Are you assaulting something behind a screening unit, inside a transport or dead in front of you? Are you planning for multi-assaults and are there ICs involved? All of these factors are important to you in the MOVEMENT phase because there are very specific rules you must follow during the assault process (i.e. closest model to closest model). This can involve blocking assault lanes (but keeping fire lanes open) with vehicles, placing hidden PFists in the middle of the squad so they can target ICs if needed, etc. I'll go over this more in the assault section but remember assaults are setup in the movement and if you screw it up...your assaults can fail.

So now that we've covered a few basic concepts (LoS, cover, blocking, etc.) what does movement allow us to do? Obviously it gets us closer for short-ranged weapons and assaults but it also allows you to move into midfield and take advantage of terrain. In case you haven't figured it out yet, 5th edition often revolves around midfield. This is due to objectives, the importance placed on short-range weapons (not much beats a meltagun in tank popping), the ease of cover (angles get taken away, look at a soccer goalie) and the increased movement speed across armies (i.e. mech + Run!). You've got to venture into midfield or wipe your opponent out in most games, so you have to account for midfield. This is your "ultimate" goal. Whilst getting into your opponent's backfield can often disrupt their own plans, it will also leave you overstretched unless your whole army can do so (i.e. jumper armies, pods, eldar ,etc.). So whilst you are keeping fire lanes clear, maintaining trains for cover and thinking ahead for blocking and assaults, remember your ultimate goal of maintaining midfield. More often than not if you control midfield, you win the game.

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