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October 22, 2012

40K TACTICS: How to Assault Like a Pro - Pt. 2

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Let's Get Ready to RUMBLE!!!  Its time to dig into the details of duking it out in Warhammer 40000.

by Darklink

First off, lets catch up by reading part 1 here.  Ok, ready?  Let's go!

Slingshotting - part 2
There’s also a trick you can pull with Independent Characters to buy charge range. If you have an IC in one unit close to the enemy, but your second unit is pretty far away, swap squads with your IC. Move the IC back to be just within Coherency of the back squad, and you just bought yourself an extra ~3” for when you go to charge. Just be careful of Overwatching Melta.

I'll also note that swapping squads with an IC like this can catch your opponent off guard, especially if your ICs are big force multipliers like the GK HQs are. I played a game against an Ork player at the first Bay Area Open in which I let him advance with his Nob Bikerz on one of my Strike Squads, while the rest of my stuff lined up against the rest of his army. At the last second, I jumped my Grand Master with Rad/Psykotroke Grenades and Coteaz over into the Strike Squad unit, and assaulted his Bikerz. He didn't expect that, and went from facing an injured Strike Squad to facing a unit with so many Hammerhands/Force Weapons/nasty Grenades that I wiped the Bikerz on the charge. I ended up losing that game overall, but my opponent told me after the game he didn't see that coming and had convinced himself that he owned that half of the table. Non-linear thinking for the win. Incidentally, that guy was an awesome opponent, and that game was one of the closest and most engaging games of 40k I've ever played.

Enemy Deathstars/Tarpits/Bubblewrap:
Sometimes you want to assault enemy assault units. Sometimes not. It depends a lot on the details. 30 Ork Boyz, for example, can bog down a THSS Terminator squad for several turns thanks to Fearless. The Boyz will probably only kill a few Terminators, but those Terminators won’t be killing more dangerous things. If you have a unit that can reasonably tie up an enemy deathstar, or even just a more moderately threatening enemy unit, go for it.

Alternatively, you can -not- assault, but instead use your unit as a blocker. A unit of Acolytes/Gretchin/Kroot/Cultists can literally just stand in front of an enemy unit and block their movement. This is often called bubblewrap. The bubblewrap unit will likely die, but it will take a turn or two to kill, and that’s a turn or two in which your opponent’s nasty assault unit isn’t doing its job. Net win for you, plus it buys you an extra turn or so to pour firepower into them.

Multi-charges are a tricky prospect, and one we’ll have to get back to later when we go over the basic set up (to be explained later). The first thing to keep in mind is that multi-charging costs you your bonus attack. You will do less damage overall in a multi-charge. There are reasons to do it, however. For one, you can sometimes guarantee the charge thanks to a multi-charge. If you’re close to one unit but 9-10” away from another, you can charge the close unit and guarantee success, while retaining the possibility of reaching the far unit if you roll well and position yourself properly.

Here’s where it gets tricky, however. A multi-charge has two types of targets. You have your Primary target, and Secondary targets. If you shot, the unit you shot must be your Primary. If you fail to reach the Primary target, the entire assault fails. Your first model must always go to the Primary target.

In addition, you may only engage the Secondary targets if your models cannot reach the Primary. If you get too close to the Primary target with all of your models, you’ll have wasted the multi-charge because you’ll be forced to put everyone into the Primary target. To top it off, you still suffer from Disordered Charge even if you don’t actually reach any of your Secondary targets.

This is something I see people play incorrectly all the time. And, I admit, I’ve played it wrong myself, handwaving the requirement to place priority on reaching the Primary target. How to get around this is a subject that will be covered a little later, as it also relates to other important topics.

When you declare an assault, your opponent gets Overwatch once per unengaged unit that is the target of an assault. If your opponent has some nasty shooting, you might want to try to force them to waste it by first charging with a sacrificial unit. Get to know the Overwatch rules, and understand your opponent’s shooting abilities well, and remember that psychic powers can’t be used for Overwatch normally.

Note that Independent Characters, and other Characters to a lesser extent, are good against Overwatch in some cases. Look Out Sir means that your IC is likely to live, so your opponent’s Overwatch will not deny you the charge. Get your Character out front, so long as that Overwatch isn’t too deadly.

If You Do Assault...
Now that we’ve covered when to assault, here’s the most fundamental thing about assaulting: don’t fail the charge. Especially with Random Charge Length now, you need to do everything you can to guarantee a successful charge. This is a two step process:

1. Get as close as physically possible. If you’re within 2”, even snake eyes while moving through terrain won’t matter. While out in the open, a 7” charge has a ~58% chance of success. Those aren't great odds. Charging through terrain is a little more complicated, but that kind-of reliable 7” becomes more like 4”. Assuming ‘no big deal, the average is 7 inches so I’m safe’ is lazy thinking. Protect yourself from that crappy over-randomness (I dislike Random Charge Length, for this reason and for reasons that I will mention later. RCL goes to great length to remove any and all tactical considerations you can put into assaulting, which makes for less than ideal gameplay).

2. Avoid Terrain. As I mentioned, when going through terrain even 4” is a long ways. So just avoid it. We’ll go over this later with the basic set up, where we’ll also cover how to move into multi-charges and a few other tricks we can pull. So, basically, you don’t want to have to enter terrain at all. This is particularly important for units that lack grenades.

~Next time, dealing with complications such as Pile-Ins and Challenges.   Have at it everybody.
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