Really. It’s time to stop lining up your little plastic soldiers and marching them across the board. I play a lot of games and observe more of them, as well as reading battle reports around the internet, and so many people just line up their armies and cross the board – which makes sense for Warhammer Fantasy, but Fifth Edition 40K offers more reliable and numerous ways to hit from multiple angles of attack and threaten even more of them, and yet the Third Edition battle lines are drawn everywhere. This is a great idea if you have the better guns and the game is Annihilation, but it’s not so smart in any other circumstance. To call it something, let’s call playing non-linear 40K “Wide-Open 40K”.
Since I usually talk about the newer armies and how they get to be so good, I’ll talk primarily about the older codices and units you can use to increase the threat angles your opponents have to deal with. DISCLAIMER – Nothing is an instant win button here; learning to use all areas of the board takes practice, especially in recovering from the disasters which opening your horizons and attempting more complex tactics inevitably will produce.
Necrons: Drop a Monolith in the enemy backfield and suddenly you’ve got guys in their face. Flayed Ones are underused, but they have plenty of attacks and they’re even scary to Daemon Princes. Turboboosting Scarab Swarms are fairly common, but they provide some interesting mobility, at least.
Tau: Deep Strike with Suits. Outflank with Stealth Suits and Kroot. Hold everything in Reserve and use the uncertainty to have Smoke used when you aren’t shooting and get the enemy committed where you suddenly are not and never will be.
Tyranids: Lictors not only threaten rear areas (great for killing those pesky Hydra squadrons) but provide excellent benefits if they happen to be alive when assault happens near them. Everyone is scared of outflanking Genestealers; just the threat of them often produces blank board edges in the opposing deployment zones. Raveners are cheap and expendable, and can pop up and generate an entire axis of threat for almost no points in a generally unused FOC slot.
Eldar: Formerly the kings of maneuver, the Eldar cry about the Mon-Keigh falling from the skies and swarming in from every direction. Once you stop trying to run 8 Waveserpents and look at your forces, you realize you have some great nonlinear assets. Rangers are cheap in small units and scoring, which means that you can use them as throw away Troops to threaten objectives deep in enemy territory (not on their own, but they can do the holding). Warwalkers are pretty popular outflankers, so no reason to push those. Striking Scorpions can do some damage, but don’t forget Warpspiders Deepstriking and creating mayhem.
Witchhunters/Daemonhunters: Yes, you’re playing Third Edition codices, and your armies play Third Edition style. No great choices for you to open up your board with, sorry.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, just point at some units that can be used to open up the game.
Principles of Wide-Open 40K:
-Anything you’re using to create a new threat axis is expendable. That means a 400 point Assault Terminator Squad or Le Soldat Marbo cannot be the linchpin of your success for the game if you’re using them to open up the board.
-Opening the Board is more useful the more capable your opponent is at dealing with linear threats. Predators are hard to kill from the front, but tissue paper from every other direction.
-Bad dice rolls will lead you to being defeated in detail sometimes. Bad dice happen, don’t sweat it.
-Cheap scoring units are very good for Wide-Open play. Because you are using Reserves, you want multiple small scoring units to maximize the efficacy of the opposing forces’ restricted chances to kill them off.
~This week’s assignment my fellow generals: Proxy some strange units and give Wide-Open 40K a try this week. The Floor is yours.