The Art of Deployment (2005)
The game of Warhammer is generally considered to be won and lost in the movement phase. I believe this to be true, but in order to get an advantage, or not get a disadvantage, in the movement phase, one needs to deploy correctly. I believe this is true for any kind of army, slow or fast. It is therefore important that you know how to deploy your army. Deployment can also give away certain things about your army that may not be easy to see, like magic items etc. It takes practice to deploy well, and it takes more practice to deploy better than your opponent. I will look at some of the things to consider when deploying, some standard/basic tactics for deployment, and briefly discuss some more advanced tricks.Things to Consider When Deploying
These are the things you should have in mind when deploying. It is a good idea to think through these things before you show up for a game. It is also smart to take note of how you can improve these things after you see how your deployment has worked in a battle.
- How many, or which, of your units need to be within 12" of your general? Battle standard bearer?
- Which of your units are vulnerable to flank attacks? These often need to protect their flanks with terrain.
- Which of your units need line of sight? Typically missile troops and wizards.
- Which of your troops can take advantage of the terrain? Usually skirmishers are great for moving up through woods etc. Certain abilities make this possible for other troops as well.
- What order should you deploy your units? Deploying cheaper or faster troops first can prevent giving information about your tactics away at an early stage.
- Which units need to be screened with cheaper troops?
- Which units can work independently? These can often be deployed on the flanks.
- Do any of your troops need to be placed after you see where certain of your opponent's troops go? If so, it is good to deploy them late.
- How far forward should you deploy? This is important when one side has missile troops.
There are of course a number of other minor factors you can consider, but most of the above are important for any army.Standard Tactics of Deployment
These are some standard plans for deployment. Some armies are more dependant on having a "fixed plan" for deployment. Other armies can change deployment from battle to battle completely. It is important to have an overall plan, or choice of a few plans. These will of course have to change in details from battle to battle, depending on the scenario, terrain and opponent.Horns of the Warlord
This tactic is one of the oldest in the book. It involves having a solid centre, usually consisting of infantry. This is where most of your characters go, and the most of your points. On each flank you deploy your faster moving troops, usually cavalry and the like. Your movement will make the shape of your army look like the horned helmet of a warlord. If you play it correctly, you can take the flanks quickly, and hit your opponent's centre with all your troops. That is if your own centre holds long enough. This tactic has a high potential of a big win, but can be stopped if the opponent does a ‘denied flank' on you.Denied Flank
This tactic involves placing your most expensive and strongest troops all on one side of the table. This is a good tactic if you are facing a larger army, and you want to take on only half of it at a time. It is also a good way to counter "horns of the warlord". In order to go through with this, you should have some cheaper units to deploy first. Either that, or some fast troops. Spread these out in your deployment zone. By doing this, your opponent will hopefully not understand your plan before you have gained an advantage.Collapsing Flank/Centre
This tactic is based on letting a large part of your opponent's army smash through yours. You sacrifice some of your units to achieve this. The goal can be to take out his weaker units first, and then gang up on the harder parts. These parts of his army will be unable to march and having to manoeuvre a lot. If you do it right, you can hit his main units from the flanks. The challenge with this tactic is to deploy the right units to either sacrifice or have them escape at the last minute. It involves fooling your opponent into placing many of his hardest troops close to eachother and denying them many victory points. It can also be very useful for an army with a lot of shooting, as you let him advance on some of your missile troops while your army gets into position. To carry it out, place your missile and/or sacrifice/escape units first. See where he deploys his main force, and deploy your main force elsewhere.Where is Your Army?
This deployment involves spreading your troops. It is best for armies with many cheap and manoeuvrable units. The idea is to confuse your opponent so that he does not take many victory points from you. It requires that most of your units are good at working on their own. Divide your deployment zone into 4 from the right to the left (in your head). Deploy one quarter of your army (in points) in each of these imaginary parts of your deployment zone. It is important that you take more notice of the terrain with this deployment than how your opponent deploys. With this tactic you are aiming for a game that lasts many turns. Deploy to move into positions protected by terrain in turn one. If you are successful, your opponent will be unsure what part of your army to engage and make mistakes.Advanced Tactics
In this part I want to talk a bit about some of the things that are not so obvious during deployment and hard to plan before a game. There are many details to consider when deploying, and you cannot think of everything at once, but some things can be practiced.Reading Your Opponent
Watching what your opponent does during deployment can be a very good way of finding out what he is thinking/planning. It can also let you get an idea of what magic items he has taken. Whenever your opponent picks up a unit to deploy it, look at where he is looking. Your opponent will often simulate the moves of the unit in his head, and if you follow his eyes, you might see what he is planning. Do this with every unit, and you might get an idea of what tricks he wants to pull on you. Sometimes an opponent will change his mind during the deployment of a unit. Don't get bored...pay attention. This is the time he will give you the most hints. The order in which he deploy his units can also be an indication of what he is about to do. If he deploys cheap units first, he might be planning a ‘denied flank'.Your Body Language
You can give away as much to your opponent. You cannot avoid looking at your units, your opponents units and the terrain to deploy well. If your opponent keeps an eye on you, you might give things away as well as he can. To confuse him, you can do certain tricks. Some of these tricks may seem silly, but they work...often even on good opponents. Why? Because your body language will affect his impression of your plan without him thinking about it. I cannot tell you how to use these tricks...some are good at poker, some are not. I can only tell you what I do.
- When deploying a unit, pretend you are considering more options than you actually are.
- Decide what unit to deploy where while your opponent is thinking. He will not keep an eye on you when he is deploying.
- Sit down slightly to one side of your zone, but deploy on the other side.
- Make some nervous remark when your opponent places one of his main units right where you want it. He might think you are revealing a weak spot.
- Say "Yes" in a thoughtful manner when he places a unit where you do not want it. He might think he is deploying right where you want him to.
- Keep quiet about your own deployment. Some players talk too much and give up things that way.
- Take long time to deploy some of your units, without touching them before you have decided where to put them.
- If you have an overall plan, take two minutes to take through it before deploying your first unit. Then deploy each of your other units very fast.Summary
All in all, the way you deploy depends mainly on three things: Your army, your opponent's army and the terrain. You can prepare beforehand which deployment tactics are good with your army. If your army allows it, you can plan on different deployment tactics against various opposing armies. As an example, you might do ‘horns of the warlord' against a smaller Chaos army, and ‘denied flank' against an Orc and Goblin horde army. You can also plan how you will adapt your plan to different types and amounts of terrain. This requires slightly more experience, but take a mental note of the things listed at the top after each game, and you can only get better.
Taking your opponents deployment and tactics into mind is the next step. If your army is vulnerable against certain enemy deployments, try to learn how to see your opponents plan. As an example your army might be vulnerable to ‘horns of the warlord'. You can counter this with a ‘denied flank" if you are observant. Another option is to change your plan, and deploy in a way your opponent is vulnerable to. You might have planned ‘horns', but see that your opponent is vulnerable to a 'collapsing flank'.
Last comes the more subtle things regarding body language and tricks. These are the hardest to learn, and will require that you know the basics pretty well. Do not start with these until you are certain on your overall plan and how to counter your opponent's deployment.
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