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Table Top Tactics Pt. I

Submitted By: Date: August 7, 2005, 12:10:09 AM Views: 3581

<p class="heading">Part I</p>

<p class="body">First off, it can't be stressed enough: objectives, objectives, objectives. Seriously. As much fun as it is to blow the other guy to smithereens, it's definitely not the best way to play if you're interested in actually winning games. 4th Edition Warhammer 40,000 is an excellent game in the fact that it forces you to think not so much about slaughtering the other side's troops, but rather about just what it is that your army is supposed to be accomplishing. The tactics employed in a successful rear-guard delaying action are almost by necessity different from those of a successful frontal assault. Too often I see players, even experienced players simply trying to use brute-force to accomplish their objectives. In some cases (such as the Blitz and Meat Grinder missions), this is what is called for, and thus is the proper way to go. Indeed, sometimes slaughtering the enemy is the objective. But for the most part, thinking this way is a sure-fire invitation to a hideous defeat at the hands of your foe (unless he's playing the same way, and then it's usually a bloody draw). The way the 4th Edition missions are designed, you can annihilate nearly all of your opponent's forces and still lose the battle. </p>

<p class="body">It should be pointed out that virtually all of the complaints about the rules that I hear from players come from people who never actually play any missions, but just line up on opposite sides of the board and go at it. That's all well and fine, but the missions add *so* much to the game. Use them. All of them. You'll be impressed.</p>

<p class="body">So train yourself to think about your objectives. What is it that you're trying to accomplish, and what's the best way to get there? Is the enemy trying to accomplish the same goal, or is he simply trying to stop you from achieving yours? What tactical approach is the enemy likely to employ to hinder or thwart you? Is he going to outnumber you? Are you going to have to advance into his guns, or will he have to advance into yours? Keep in mind that your troops are expendable. In the overall scheme of things, it's the objective that matters. Don't worry about losing an entire unit if it means that you can occupy an objective, force an enemy out of position, or protect more valuable troops long enough for them to accomplish what they came for. Similarly, while vehicles are pricey, they also are expendable. Chimera, Rhinos, and Wave Serpents are decent armoured personnel carriers, but since everybody and their brother has Obliterators, dark/bright lances, hunter-killer missiles, melta bombs, and/or Power Claws, it's probably going to get destroyed. So be it. Use it as it was intended to be used - to get your troops closer to their intended goal before being wiped out. If it gets blown up or immobilized along the way, who cares, so long as you meet your objective?</p>

<p class="body">The next step to consider after the objective is terrain effects. What does the battlefield look like? Is it a featureless plain with only a few bits of scraggly terrain to provide cover? Or is it covered in dense jungle? Are there clear lanes for firing and movement, or will troops be bogged down every step of the way?</p>

<p class="body">Again, I'd like to note that the second largest number of complaints I hear are from players who play on a mostly featureless 4'x6' table. If you look at the amount of terrain that us Brits tend to use as opposed to what people tend to use in the US, the Americans tend to play their games in a veritable desert or so it appears from what I have seen.. Take a closer look at most battle reports. Try using as much terrain as they do, and you'll be surprised at how much it changes the game. For one thing, it makes the mobility skills of specialized units like scouts and rangers actually *useful* (perish the thought).</p>

<p class="body">
When considering terrain effects on the battlefield, there are four key things to think about: mobility, cover, line-of-sight, and exposure.</p>

<p class="body">Mobility is fairly straightforward. Is there any impassable terrain on the board? Does it lie between you and your objective? Can you take advantage of it? What about difficult terrain? Will you need to move through it? Will your enemy need to move through it? Does he have any troops that can move through it easily? These questions should all come to mind as you consider your army choice, initial deployment, and overall battle plan. Wide open spaces are great for vehicles, bikes, and cavalry, and unrestricted mobility means your troops will be able to move fairly quickly from one place to another. Rivers, cliffs, and other impassable terrain, however, can make using vehicles an exercise in futility. Similarly, difficult ground may bog your vehicles down by causing them to become immobilized. In scenarios using the "victory points" rules, this makes the problem worse by contributing to the enemy's total, all without them actually having to fire a shot. Investing in "rough terrain modifications" for your vehicles may be a worthwhile expenditure of points. I've played missions whose outcome was decided on whether or not a single vehicle became immobilized in difficult terrain. Mobility is important not only in movement but also in assault. If you attempt an assault across difficult ground and don't make it, the enemy has another round to fire on you, and you may find yourself receiving a charge rather than launching one. Similarly, advancing or falling back after an assault is much harder when undertaken in difficult ground. Keep these things in mind when deciding whether or not to consolidate, advance, or voluntarily fall back.</p>

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