The MOST Powerful Move in Warhammer . . . The Combat Reform!

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Today we are going to discuss the importance of knowing the rules well and how to use them to your benefit; specifically the combat reform move.

A powerful spell, or a decisive charge win games of Warhammer; however it is the movement phase that sets up those game winning turns.

With 9th Edition right around the corner, this article may be obsolete in just a few weeks, but I’ve had this idea for a while and I guess the end of 8th finally motivated me to hurry up and finish it.

To begin with I have to be clear, I am not a Warhammer genius; in fact I’m probably just on ok player at best. However, over the past couple of years I’ve had a teacher, an experienced ETC played who moved to Toronto and was looking for a gaming group. Luckily for our gaming group he ran into us, and Warhammer hasn’t been the same ever since.

We have been playing Warhammer in our naïve little world for almost 20 years, and at times even thinking we were goo d players! How wrong we were. When someone introduces you to competitive tournament Warhammer, especially at the ETC level, the game takes on a whole new dimension. In the past few years playing with Dave has taught us how to be much better players, and as a result our game has significantly approved. Thanks Dave!

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So why is the combat reform the most powerful move in Warhammer? Well as we know, a game is often won with a critical charge or a decisive magic phase. If you don’t get that, you’ll likely get a draw . . . or your losing.

So how do you get that decisive charge, or get into range for the devastating spell? Simple, the deployment phase, and your movement phases. The deployment phase is such an important part of achieving victory in Warhammer, Furion himself from team Poland says it’s the most important phase of the game; and I’ve learned to listen when Furion speaks. The reason I believe the combat reform is the most powerful move in Warhammer is for the following reasoning; both you and your opponent get to deploy, and thus can counter each other’s deployment. Then, both you and your opponent get to move, thus gain the ability to counter your opponent’s movement. However, a combat reform can take place at the end of yours or your opponent’s combat phase. This is huge, and your ears should have perked up as soon as you read that.

Most people use a combat reform to help them win a protracted combat, for example getting more models into combat to give some additional combat resolution; this example is even given in the rule book. You can also use it to give yourself some staying power. You got charged by a monster, and now a unit is coming around your flank. You can combat reform your infantry unit to have a frontage of 5 and thus maximize the units “depth” or ranks. If you got more ranks then your opponents unit your unit will be steadfast and can hopefully hold on until some reinforcements arrive. These are simple ways to use a combat reform and I’m sure most of you are familiar with them.

Now comes the part of knowing the rules well and thus using them to your advantage. Remember that part about how your opponent can counter your deployment and movement? Well he can’t counter your movement if you do it in his turn. So how do you do that? The combat reform. But how do you get a combat reform, or, specifically how do you set yourself up to be able to combat reform with any level of certainty? You intentionally declare a charge you know you will lose but not break and flee; you then have to win combat in your opponent’s turn, and win by enough to ensure he breaks and flees. You then combat reform your unit to set yourself up for a charge on your next turn and there is nothing he can do to stop it.

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So, the million dollar question, how the heck do you do that?

Any army can pull this trick off, but the army that does it best is Ogres. You’ll need the Crown of Command, a BSB tooled up too fight, a Tyrant tooled up to fight, and a Firebelly; put these guys into a unit of Ironguts, 15 should be enough. This unit must have a full command. Deploy this unit with a frontage of 3 and six ranks. Take two Sabretusks and keep them close to your Gutstar. Put all of your characters into the second rank. Charge his unit; leave your characters in the second rank! You will probably lose combat, that’s fine, you have the Crown of Command and can re-roll break tests with the BSB. On his turn during the combat phase you now make way with your characters. Your Tyrant, BSB and Firebelly should make a mess of his unit and you win combat; by being 6 ranks deep you should negate his steadfast (if he has more ranks then you this won’t work). He loses combat and flees. You do not persue. You have two Sabretusks beside your Ironguts remember? Instead you combat reform. You turn your unit to face another of his units, hopefully one worth a lot of points, you can conga line your unit up to close the gap (if you’re not familiar with how to reform your unit into a “conga line” please spend some time looking this up on the internet, it’s another powerful move that can win you games). It’s now your turn, your sabretusks declare charges against his fleeing unit that you broke in his turn and charge them off the board while your Gutstar charges into the next unit. He has no choice but to take the charge or flee. He cannot chaff you nor move out of the way.

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The example above with the Ogres is meant for demonstrative purposes only; a way of how the combat reform can be devastating for your opponent.

Know your rules! Although 8th edition is almost over and this type of movement maybe impossible in the next edition, the idea is the same. Read the rules, carefully. Recognize potentials, and then figure out how to get the most out of it. If you’re going to be a competitive tournament player bring you’re “A!”

What do you think? The most powerful move or did I just exaggerate it’s potential? What would you consider the game winning move in Warhammer?

  • Chris Fitzsimmons

    Preach it! The Combat reform is where it’s at. (But conga lining to close distance makes you a bad person. BAD.)

    • Marky

      Remember the rules state you must do a real life conga when you do this or it’s not a “legal” move in the game

  • Nate

    Nice article. Its things like this that show what a elegant game WFB is. Its unfortunate its over to many players heads that its might lose some of these qualities.

    • quaade

      Yes. It’s indeed a very elegant game since you can beat your opponent by gaming the rules instead of actually playing against your opponent.

      Very elegant indeed.

  • riburn3

    Agreed. One of the reasons I love fantasy is the strategy involved in the movement phase and that each army has a unique feel in the movement phase. I find it more tactically pleasing than just blowing people up with D weapons.

    • Adam Murray

      10″ from the back “Take it off!” Yeah I’m a tactical genius.

      • riburn3

        Well, I assume you’re referring to cannons, which are fairly easy to use and have nothing to do with movement. Also, a cannon and any other war machine has a chance to debilitate itself, and possibly remove itself from the game just for being used.

      • Marky

        If you think thats enough to win a game with a gunline then try it. One of my many army’s is a dwarf gunline. avoiding getting rolled by a small unit of scouts, or your troops overpowered quickly due to all your points being spent on guns takes a bit of skill. Harder to win with than my skaven

        • riburn3

          Exactly, plus those war machines that can cause so much havoc can be taken out by cheap chaff units, whereas in 40k you won’t see an expensive wraithknight or similar being downed by 70 points of cheap infiltrators. I hate when I set up my dwarf war machines and then see a unit of chameleon skinks or gutter runners set up near by.

          • Marky

            Yip, I know how the dwarf army works, and it makes it quite east to kill it. Unless you bring a monster list to play a gunline you have a good chance to get a big win.

        • Adam Murray

          I was being a bit sarcastic.

  • Colin Goudie

    Your example though requires a standard reform, not a combat reform as the enemy has fled. (I think)

    They are different things worth knowing about

    • Chris Fitzsimmons

      you are quite correct. A combat reform is performed during an unresolved combat at the end of a phase in which neither side fled. During the Flee / Pursue step a unit which chose to hold and passed its LD test to restrain may choose to reform once the enemy has fled.

      • Marky

        Now a combat reform to put your flank against the enemy Would be an odd thing to try, I can’t see any benefit except to allow you to take a 2nd charge in the front.

        • Chris Fitzsimmons

          You wouldn’t perform a Combat Reform for that purpose but perhaps if you were charged in the flank or you were in a disadvantageous formation when combat began you might wish to adjust that with a combat reform. A unit that loses combat but doesn’t flee can still perform a combat reform if it passes a test on its modified leadership.

  • Theik

    And then the wizard with Purple Sun came along and your gutstar was down to 4 models, regardless of how much you combat reformed.