You know the feeling, when you lose a game and wonder where it all went wrong. Why couldn't your knights charge your opponent's infantry, why did every move you make seem desperate and doomed to failure? In a game of Warhammer, you need to act, not just react. Once you give your opponent the initiative, the rest of the game you will struggle to win it back, and you will fall into the practice of damage minimization, trying to save your own units instead of killing your opponent's. In this article, I'll give you some advice on playing the game on your terms.
One rule of thumb to cover any situations not explained here, is as follows:
React to your opponent only when you have to. Worry him with your game plan, don't get worried by his.
Now, I'll break the game into phases and we'll have a look at how you can stop the enemy from running circles around you.Army Selection
Think about what you plan to do with a unit before you select it. Fast cavalry are the best unit for threatening flanks, and by doing this, your opponent throws other units at the fast cavalry unit. Other units have special deployment rules, such as scouts, Tomb Scorpions or ambushing Beast Herds. Make use of these special rules, to put units in places where your opponent was not expecting them, and keep the other player on the back foot.Pre-game
When you win the roll to choose who deploys first, remember you are trying to get the opponent to react to YOU. Putting a unit of 10 Chaos Knights in the center of the table will make your opponent think twice about deploying any of his units opposite it. Or he may decide to put everything he has into stopping that one unit. Every unit has a reputation, and you need to be aware of how the opponent will react to your different units, both when they are deployed and during the game. Deploying first means that you force your opponent to react to your units, not vice versa. Even by deploying a defensive unit, or supporting unit, before the unit it is meant to defend, you can get your opponent to make the wrong move with his forces.
Also while deploying, remember what you plan to do with your forces. If you want to refuse a flank, try deploying a unit or two, early on, towards the opposite side of the table. This will get your opponent thinking that you are, in fact, going to form a standard battle line. But, as he deploys some beefy units opposite the decoys, he will soon see that you are not putting anything else on that side of the table. Confusion and decoys, of any kind, keep the ball in your court. There are 2 major deployment decoy tactics.Decoy Flank
- If you want to refuse a flank, try deploying a unit or two, early on, towards the opposite side of the table. This will get your opponent thinking that you are, in fact, going to form a standard battle line. But, as he deploys some beefy units opposite the decoys, he will soon see that you are not putting anything else on that side of the table.
Confusion and decoys, of any kind, keep the ball in your court.Cavalry Flank
- By evenly deploying your units in a battle line, your opponent will do likewise. But by keeping one side of the table holding only your fastest units (not necessarily actual cavalry units), in your first turn, you can swiftly redeploy to bring your faster units over to the same side of the table as your slower units. This has the same effect as a Decoy Flank, in that your opponent prepares for something that simply isn't there. This misdirection is vital in keeping your opponent on the back foot.
Contrary to popular opinion, the dice roll for first turn isn't the easy decision most people believe. Going first means that your opponent has less time to react to what you do, and it means that you get to shoot him first.
On the flip side, taking the second turn gives you three major benefits.
1. You can see what your opponent does. This is reactionary, but it can be vital, especially if your opponent has a Cavalry Flank or a pre-game plan involving him moving to trick you.
2. A carefully planned deployment allows you to implement your grand scheme even if your opponent moves forwards. Anticipating where he will deploy, and anticipating where he will move, means you can then make your move when he is less able to counter it.
3. At the end of the game, you have the last chance to attempt to rally units if you go second. Also, you will be able to move in the final turn without fear of what happens next turn, because there will be no next turn.Movement Phase
This is where deceiving tactics such as a Cavalry Flank come into action, and also when you declare charges. Remember, charge only when you want to. In the movement phase, you move units to bait charges from your enemy, or threaten the flanks of his army. By threatening to charge in the next turn with a unit, or by intimidating other areas of his line, he moves to counter your threats. The units he uses as counters are no longer in a position to threaten the other parts of your line. Scouts and units that can move into play from different table edges can divert a large part of an army, units turn around, or march in an inadvisable direction. Fleeing as a charge reaction, especially with units your adversary will not expect to have run away from him, will also break up a line, leaving counter-attacks and failed charges in it's wake.
It is by misdirecting the enemy that you can achieve the disruption you are aiming for. It is often said that “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” This is true because you can force your adversary to change his mind, by moving to where he doesn't want you to.Magic Phase
Movement spells are a blessing to those armies that can use them. These can make units suddenly be able to charge when your opponent had not moved to counter them. You can suddenly spring free of your opponent's traps, and turn the table on him.
But in general, the order of spell casting is paramount. The smaller spells that you want to cast, such as the fabulous Second Sign of Amul, should be cast early on in the phase. Your opponent will want to dispel these spells, but probably won't want to weaken his dispel pool so early.
Alternatively, by casting your most destructive spells first, your opponent will often go overboard using dispel dice, thus allowing you to cast two or three spells successfully after the major spell attempt. A bound spell can also throw your opponent off, while a power stone can overwhelm his carefully saved dice at the end of the phase. Make sure that your opponent will try to dispel the spells that you want him to. Remember you will rarely successfully cast spells such as Comet of Cassandora, but casting them anyway will let your other spells slip through your opponent's defenses in his relief at not seeing his entire army go “Bang!” in a magical explosion or two.Shooting Phase
This phase is not one I have had much experience with, being an Orc player, but I have been on the receiving end many times. Three pointers I will give thee:
1. Shooting cannot easily kill entire units. Remember that the most you should expect is a panic check or two. Any units that do run, however, can cause more units to flee if they run through them which is something to keep in mind - shooting at a weaker unit easier to kill with missile fire in front of a tougher unit can be more beneficial than just shooting at a tougher unit which may be more difficult to kill.
2. Use the best tool for the job. Bows and repeater crossbows bounce off armour, but can cut down lightly armoured infantry easily enough. Cannons destroy chariots easily, whilst handguns and Thunderers can kill knights more easily than their strength value suggests.
3. Fire guess range weapons before weapons that do not use guess range. Not so much a pointer, but an important reminder. Sportsmanship points in tournaments can be lost if you consistently ‘forget' this rule.Combat Phase
Providing that you have deployed wisely, and made intelligent moves, the only combats you should fight will be the ones that you choose. That said, there are things that you can use in a combat to continue to play on your terms. Challenging a tooled up Daemon Prince with a mere unit Gnoblar Groinbiter may not seem like a wise move, but it can work to your favour. The maximum overkill your opponent can get from a challenge is three, so the Daemon Prince can inflict a maximum of four wounds. Thus any extra attacks are wasted, extra attacks that could have made the combat resolution worse for you had they been aimed at regular Gnoblars instead. Alternatively, you can trick your opponent into believing one of your characters has something that they do not. Your Tyrant may not have the Tenderiser, but when he challenges a Vampire Count for example, your opponent might even decline the challenge, in fear of the D3 wounds that the Tenderiser inflicts when all you may have is a standard great weapon.Conclusion
Keep your adversary reacting to you. By using bait, decoys, and misdirection, you can get your opponent second guessing himself. Think not only about what your units can do, but how your opponent will react to them.
Continue trying to get him to do what you want him to. And most importantly, NEVER give up just because you happened to roll six ones. One day it will happen to your opponent too…