Teach Me Tuesday: Deployment
In an ongoing effort to play the game more, and play it better, I’m starting a new, alternative article series to the usual “How-to Tuesday” articles. This new series will be mostly tactics and theory related, and will rely heavily on reader input. Rather than discuss something I’ve learned and want to teach you, I’ll be talking about topics I’m interested in learning about, and asking you for input.
Deployment is the first thing you do in a game, and thus it’s usually where I screw up first. In the last few games I’ve played, I’ve tried to put more thought into my deployments. There have been too many times where something I needed to be front and center was stuck in the backfield, and all too often my flanking force spend the first half of the game running to engage. Before we get into any of that, the first decision I often face is whether to go first of second.
Who’s on First, What’s on Second?
For the longest time, I always chose to go first, to dictate the battle. I got to pick what terrain mattered, and where the fighting took place, and I essentially had an extra turn before combat (assuming combat begins Round 2). Also, when I go first, it’s often my forces that are charging, dealing damage first. That’s a big deal. On the flip side, I’m not that great at judging distances on the table top, and I often come up short on my charges.
However, the more I play, the more I’m beginning to think that going second has more advantages. You get to react to your opponent, making sure that you have ideal match-ups. I also usually have some flanking unit, and going second lets me make sure they’re in a good place to affect the battle earlier rather than later.
I’ve come to the general conclusion that tank-y forces like going second. They’re usually slower, so the enemy has to reach more than it should to get to them(increasing the chances for failed charges from bad distance judgement), which means that they can actually get the charge off on their second turn. Also, since most tank-y armies are bricks, terrain and battle locations aren’t terribly important, so placement within the table isn’t a priority.
On the flip side, alpha strike armies tend to want to go first. The trick is, you walk / move 1.5 your SPD the first turn. That way, the likelihood of the enemy charging into you is slim, but you’re far enough up field that your forces can safely get the charge on Turn 2.
What dictates your choice when you win the initial roll off?
“Rule 1: Put your mans in all the best places.” – Faultie’s 3-step plan to victory
Most of the time, I put my caster front and center. Getting buffs out first turn is too important to be flubbed by having models too far away. I usually surround the warcaster with whatever models will be shielding or accompanying it (Shocktroopers, a tar pit, a shredder, etc). After that, I usually put stuff down semi-randomly.
I’ve definitely learned that slow things go up front, faster things in the back. Spawning Vessel front and center! Man-O-War up front too.
Beyond those guidelines, I don’t have any secrets to deployment, but I’m hoping you do.
What tricks do you use to help with deployment?
Do you strategize and plan ahead, or do you just wing it?
Scenario concerns aside, I like going second. I get to see how my opponent deploys and have a chance to use my favorite gambit, the refused flank. If my opponent doesn’t run full speed on turn 1 then I can sit back a little as well to avoid the second turn charge, or advance my troops to accept the charge on my terms. Covering your caster in one of the first lessons anyone learns while playing Warmahordes and can be applied to any model, so keeping something like the Great Bears safe and ready for reprisal shouldn’t be a challenge for anyone past their first half-dozen games.
One idea that’s had me intrigued recently is a mixed deployment. The idea here is that you don’t deploy your units all bunched up together, but intersperse them with each other. This way your slower units don’t bog down faster ones and also don’t have to start behind those faster ones thus leaving them further behind. Let’s try a little visualization here, with Demo Corps(D) and Winter Guard Infantry (W). The goal is to have the WGI in front with the Demo Corps in position behind them after your first turn, looking something like this:
You want to use the Demo Corps as a counter-charge unit, but their slow speed means you want to deploy them far up. As a counter-charger you want them to be behind your front line unit, but putting them in front to account for their slow speed means you effectively slow down the WGI when they need to go around the Demo Corps, or otherwise just get stuck behind their larger bases. A traditional deployment might go like this:
Depending on which way you want to move, your units could end up bogging each other down. At the very least one of your units will be moving at a diagonal, which will decrease your movement up the table. If you intersperse your units, they can both move forward without clogging up lanes. Something like this is what I’ve been considering:
W W W W W
Here you can move the WGI first and deploy them as your front line without having to move around the Demo Corps, so you don’t lose that little bit of extra movement from advancing at an angle. The Demo Corps can still deploy at the front edge of your zone (since they’re so slow), move their full distance after your WGI have formed your front line, and not get in anyone’s way in the process.
Disclaimer: I haven’t tried this out yet. It’s an interesting idea though, and one that I think has potential. I have an attachment to deploying units together in a contiguous block, but there’s no reason you have to do it that way. Coherency is very flexible in Warmahordes and there’s no reason not to use it to your advantage in situations like these.
Formatting got a little screwy there, but hopefully the point got across.