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Discipline of the Autarch: An exploration of common Eldar Strategies Part III: The Castle Strategy

Submitted By: Gutstikk Date: November 3, 2011, 08:05:43 PM Views: 4346
Summary: This article discusses the practical application of a Castle formation. It utilizes Eldar units in its examples, but could work with just about any 40K army.

Discipline of the Autarch: An exploration of common Eldar Strategies Part III: The Castle Strategy


A castle formation is one used primarily in defensive applications.  Its primary goals are withstanding the enemy attack, drawing the opposition towards your force, and breaking the attack against its walls.  In short, it serves exactly the same purposes as the structure for which it is named.

Why employ a castle?

You use a castle formation to withstand the brunt of an enemy force which cannot win a battle of attrition, or to outlast an enemy with numerical superiority by reducing its local numerical advantage.  It is best suited to patient Eldar generals who likes to force the enemy to bring the fight to them.  In some ways Eldar really benefit from using this formation since it tends to minimize the glass hammer nature of the Eldar army.

What makes a good castle?

A castle requires resilience first and foremost.  An Eldar army that cannot achieve resilience will be incapable of using this strategy.  This means there must be available cover for all elements of your force.  A smaller force of more resilient models is better, since it is easier to acquire cover for all of your models if you have less of them.  Failing that, the Eldar power Conceal, or granting cover to some of your units via screening units, can help a lot, but it is much better to have actual cover, since this grants you the freedom to position your force how you like.

After you have determined where you are putting your castle, you need to determine how it will be formed.  Literally, it needs ramparts, gates and turrets, as well as a few counter assault units (here I refer to short ranged shooting units as well as assault units).  The ramparts are your resilient defensive units.  Squads like Wraithguard, Fortuned Jetbike Warlocks, Fortuned Jetbikes, and large units of Striking Scorpions or Warp Spiders benefitting from Fortune, make for the best ramparts.  The idea is to have units on the outside of your formation which the enemy will have a difficult time breaking.  Striking Scorpions are best suited to the sides of the formation, since you will want them to be capable of launching assaults, and since they do not really need to shoot the enemy much.

Warp spiders and Wraithguard can form the front wall, since they will be capable of punishing any enemy which advances too close to your castle without having to break formation.  Jetbikes and Jetbike Warlocks can be placed to the front or to the rear, provided they can clear the rest of the units in your castle in a single move.

Turrets are formed by monstrous creatures, Pathfinders, War Walkers, Support Batteries or Defender Guardians (specifically their weapon platforms].  Guardian Defenders need only have a platform crewman outside of the castle walls to allow it to fire without conferring the enemy with a cover save.  Pathfinders or monstrous creatures, Support Weapons and War Walkers provide long ranged firepower which forces the enemy to approach your strongpoint rather than hanging back.

The gate allows your counter assault units to pour out and intercept the enemy force as it approaches the walls.  These could be Guardian Defenders or Dire Avengers as needed.

Using the castle successfully:

To do this, you need to really prioritize your actions, and not allow your enemy to force you to 'fight fires' in a haphazard manner.  Know which of your units must be standing in cover, which of your units need to have enough space for allies to move through to engage the enemy, which of your units need Fortune, and which can live without it.  Be aware of when you have to engage an advancing enemy in combat, and when you can avoid doing so.  Eliminate those things which threaten the units you are protecting inside the castle while ensuring you can keep the walls standing.  Also, understand when it is safe for units to leave their castle and advance to take ground.

How your opponent will approach your castle:

While it is hard to predict exactly what your opponent might try to do in dealing with your castle, there are a few things they will have to do if they want to deal with it effectively.  These are the only things that matter, since other actions will tend to be a waste of time with no real effect.

In objective based missions, the oppposition will seek to destroy the troop units you are hiding in your castle, so you will need to put some effort into keeping these units alive.  Going to ground in early game turns is typically a good idea, since the threat range of such units will be too short to matter.  Just be certain that your Seers are not attached to units that will be going to ground!  Also, ensure that you leave enough time in the game to emerge from your castle and claim objectives.  Placing these objectives close to where your castle will form up is not just a good move, it is practically required.

The enemy will also attempt to smash through your walls via assault.  This is countered most effectively through timing and focus of force.  Know when it is safe to have your short ranged shooting units advance and rake the enemy with fire, and when it is necessary to commit an assault element to deal with the enemy.  It is imperative that you eliminate whatever threats you engage as soon as you engage them.  Since you cannot fire into or through combats, you will need to ensure that assaults are either fought away from the ramparts or avoided altogether.  This means that the enemy can never be permitted to charge your castle.  The castle needs to be set up with some form of difficult terrain between it and the enemy, or an intercepting unit, like Harlequins, that can rush out and intercept the enemy before they hit your walls.

Handling an enemy's castle:

Eldar will tend to get frustrated by good castles, since it is quite difficult for most Eldar armies to survive a battle of attrition.  However, Eldar are exceedingly good at focused application of force.  What an Eldar army needs to do is to approach from whichever side of the castle is least defended, and tear down the turrets first before going for the rampart units.  It will also be helpful if the Eldar need only break down one rampart to get at the units inside.  If you can tie up multiple ramparts with a single resilient assault unit, it will not detract too much from the focused fire you can allocate to other elements of the enemy position.

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