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Points for Victory: Secondary Objectives

Submitted By: Dev Null Date: October 12, 2012, 12:00:42 PM Views: 1999
Summary: Strategies for taking the rulebook secondary objectives in 40k sixth edition.

Points for Victory: Secondary Objectives

I have not seen a lot of discussion on the boards about the missions in sixth edition.  I fully believe that the game should be about having fun above all else, but there are competitive games that are fun too; you should always be trying to win somehow or you are not playing the right game.  The way you win this game is not by killing the other guys, it is by scoring victory points (VPs).  After some discussion on the boards, we have come up with some general precepts that we thought would be useful, at least to a newcomer to sixth edition.  I hope to expand this into a separate article for each mission, but I will start by talking about the secondary objectives, because they are going to apply to all six standard rulebook missions.

How Much Are They Worth?

First, some general notes about secondary objectives.  They are not always worth the same amount, depending on the scenario.  "What?" I hear someone cry, "They are; one point each, every time."  This is the wrong way to think about it.  In Relic, there are six VPs available; secondary objectives are half the points in the game.  In Emperor's Will, there are nine VPs available; secondary objectives account for 33% of them.  In Crusade, there are an average of fifteen VPs available; secondary objectives are worth 20% of these.  In Purge, Bug Guns, and Scouring, the number of points available to you depends on your opponent's army, and your opponent's points depend on your army.  This means that it is quite likely that the the secondary objectives will be worth more to one of you than the other; the one with the least points possible needs the secondary points more.  If we are playing Purge, and you have twelve units on the table to my six, then you could leave me with one man standing, while I take out only half of your army, and I can still win if I take the secondary objectives and you do not.

These numbers can be a little deceiving though, since it also depends on how these points are packaged up.  In a scenario like Purge, where there are a lot of single points to be won for each enemy unit, secondary objectives can offset losses elsewhere.  In Crusade or Relic, on the other hand, where all of the other VPs are wrapped up in three point bundles, you either need to get all three secondary objectives, and prevent your opponent from getting any (which is very hard to accomplish), or they are nothing but a tiebreaker.  Otherwise, if one side has more objectives then they win no matter what happened with the secondary objectives.

It is worth noting that taking First Blood automatically denies your opponent a point, while for the other two you must take it yourself, and deny it to your opponent separately.  Since the whole goal here is not just to get points, but to get more points than your opponent, that makes First Blood worth a bit more than the other two.  Did you take Linebreaker?  Great!  However, if your opponent did too, all you did was break even.  You had to get it yourself, and deny it to your opponent, in order to actually change the score.

Some objectives will be easier to achieve for certain styles of army.  We will talk about which styles suit particular objectives in a minute, but the important thing to note here is that you need to pay attention to your own, and your opponent's, strengths and weaknesses.  If your whole game plan rests on denying Linebreaker to a Sam Hain Jetbike Eldar army, you are probably going to be disappointed, so it is always wise to take a minute at the start of the game, once the scenario is rolled, to look at the enemy forces, and see how many points are possible for you and your opponent.  Decide how hard you are going to push for those secondary objectives, and how hard you're going to work to keep them away from your opponent.  Only if you decide they matter should you spend much time worrying about strategies to win them.

First Blood

This one is easy; you just need to kill something weak early.  Shooting oriented armies will have an advantage here, as they have the best ability to get damage in early.  Extremely mobile armies may be able to compensate if they are left a weak target, but that mobility generally comes at the expense of some fire power, so you will need to focus.  Also, in sixth edition, vehicles are often weak links which your opponent will try to exploit in their own rush for First Blood; they may be difficult to 'wound', but they have not got many hull points, so a very few high strength shots can destroy one (and remember, dedicated transports count as separate units.)  As a result, you need to be careful which units you expose to the enemy, unless you are relatively sure you can get that first kill first yourself.  Close combat oriented armies are going to need to turtle up a bit, while relying on their mechanism of choice for closing ground quickly.

A lot of the specific strategy for First Blood depends on who goes first, but that is not nearly as simple as who gets the first turn.  Reserve armies like Daemons will hope you get the first turn, so you can waste it with little or nothing to shoot at, before they come crashing into your midst.  Deep strike heavy armies like Drop Pod Marines or Daemons are not just going first, they are probably starting in close; regardless of what the dice say about who is 'first', so you will want to circle the wagons a bit to limit where they can land, and follow a defensive strategy, unless they have also left you something you can kill before they arrive.

If you have the first action, look over your opponent's army, and do not think about what the most important thing is to kill, but what the easiest thing is to kill.  Did your opponent take a single model unit of some vehicle that you are not particularly worried about?  Dump some fire on it and kill it anyway; it is worth a point.  Did he take any small troop units hoping for a late game objective grab (I'm thinking of my own Guardian Jetbike squads, to be honest) and then not hide them quite well enough in deployment?  Kill one of these units, and you get the point, as well as stopping the objective grab.  Once you have picked your target, try to arrange for complete overkill, with some of your units having multiple targets if they are not necessary.  Depending on how much overkill you manage, be a little careful about what you move where in order to kill your target.  If for some reason you do not manage to kill it, will you leave any easy first kills available to your opponent? 

What if you did not get to go first?  Well, you had better have thought of that before you get to the table.  Lots of small independent units may give you more fire options, but they are going to be hard to protect.  What is the easiest thing to kill in your army?  Can you hide it behind terrain?  Can you bring it on from reserves?  Perhaps you could put it on a far flank to minimise the number of opposing units in range?  Did you bring Infiltrators?  If so, are you sure that you want to put them out front, where most of the enemy can get to them?  Just because you have a cool ability does not mean you have to use it...  If they set up first you can pick and choose which of your enemy's deployed forces is directly facing particular units of yours, and hide the vulnerable ones that way too.  If your opponent has got a whole slew of deep strikers waiting to come on, you may want to use terrain and larger blocks of troops to limit where they can arrive.  (That may not be important for First Blood, unless they can also deep strike on your opponent's first turn, but it is not a bad thing to keep in mind anyway.)  As a final step, every time you make that weakest link safer, you need to ask yourself again: now what is the easiest kill in my army?  Can my opponent destroy it on turn one?  This is all pretty obvious stuff, but I know I forget to do it sometimes, in my rush to get the game going.

It is also worth looking at your opponent's ranges, the deployment map, and the table layout.  (I'm not going to use the rulebook names, because frankly I can never remember which is which.  Henceforth, 'Dawn of War' shall be 'the wide one', 'Hammer and Anvil' becomes 'the deep one', and 'Vanguard Strike' is known as 'the diagonal one'.)  The wide one does not give you too much room to hide if your opponent has any kind of range, but both the deep and diagonal boards might let you set up far enough back, or at least set up your weaker units far enough back, that not much can reach them on turn one.  Of course if you are playing a close combat oriented arm,y and getting stuck in is your whole strategy, then this probably is not worth it for one point, but if you are carrying some fire power, then it might well be worthwhile.

If you think that you have made it reasonably tough for your opponent to get a kill on turn one, it is time to go back to working out what to kill on your first turn...


Getting Linebreaker is all about unit choices to me.  Oh sure, you will occasionally advance a unit of footsloggers across the entire table, and end up in your opponent's deployment zone, but not often, at least for most armies.  Generally, it is going to be a deep striker, or a fast attack unit, or an outflanking reserve unit, or something that piled out of a vehicle.  As such, Linebreaker is going to favour a more mobile army over a static gunline.  I do not think that I would try to use infiltrate to get Linebreaker on a wide table, it would take too much time for them to kill me off before the end of the game.  I would, however, definitely consider it if there were an appropriate building way back on a deep table, and my opponent had lined up a long way forward.  Remember, it only has to be a denial unit, so it is pretty much anything but vehicles and swarms, and you took a couple of fast denial units anyway, for the objective based missions, right?  If you somehow get into your opponent's deployment zone with a live transport and passengers, or guys in a building, do not forget that they have to come out by the end of the game to count.

Stopping your opponent from getting Linebreaker is hard, because there are so many ways that (s)he can zip in at the end.  If, however, your opponent has opted for a gun line with one or two fast denial units, make sure that the fast stuff dies.  If, in addition, you are getting towards the end of the game, and your opponent only has one unit near your backfield, consider whether it is worth the effort to destroy that one first.

Slay the Warlord

I do not see specifically tooling a list for this one as being a really viable option.  There are too many hard HQ options out there, and too many incentives for your opponent to make that one his warlord.  Once (s)he gets his army out, make sure that you know which one is the warlord, and pay attention to how tough the character is.  Killing HQs is probably more reliable for close combat specialised armies, given the challenge rules, but do not forget your precision shots anywhere you have a big gun manned by an independent character; that warlord cannot make every Look Out Sir roll.  I do find that GW likes powerful characters (or, if you prefer, likes selling powerful character models) so they make them tempting to take points wise, and they often pile a lot of combat ability, and/or protection on them, which means that often the best way to keep your opponent from getting their points worth is to simply avoid them if you can.  A case in point: Eldrad is my usual warlord.  Pouring your entire army's fire into him to get past the Fortuned invulnerable save, and the Look Out Sir rolls might be satisfying, but it is probably not worth it for the single VP alone (although it might well be worth it for other reasons.), and while your close combat monster of choice could probably eat Eldrad alive, that monster is probably better off in most scenarios eating an entire scoring unit sitting on an objective, without even the risk of getting hurt.

As for denying this objective to your opponent... uhm... do not let your warlord die.  I think that it is so straightforward that it is not even worth pointing out the obvious stuff.  I still charge things with Eldrad, but I generally at least keep him in a unit.

So there we go; my thoughts on when, and how, to take secondary objectives in sixth edition.  I repeat that I do not consider myself to be any kind of expert, and that the entire point of this article was to spur some of the more experienced folks into spilling their sec... ahem.  I mean, sharing their thoughts.  I will happily correct my mistakes and add insights with credit.  I will ask this though: let us try to keep this general 40k, rather than talk about specific armies or units.  If you think Swooping Hawks are the perfect tool for killing Demon Lord generals, to pick a ludicrous example, then by all means use them as an example, but go with "I like fast, expensive, low strength and toughness jump troops with shooting weapons, like my Swooping Hawks, for charging into monstrous close combat killing machines like Bloodthirsters, because..."  Pick out why your example works, so folks can try to find the thing in their list that might work too.

Thanks for reading,
13th October 2012

Wyddr for notes on different match ups between play style and objectives.
Killing Time, for the emphasis on the extra value afforded by First Blood, and the false value of secondary objectives in some cases.
Irisado for pointing out that first turn, and going first, are two different animals.

Rating: ***** by 3 members.


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