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40K TACTICS: The Throw Away Unit

2 Minute Read
May 27 2010

Fritz here with a homework assignment for the fine readers of BoLS. Today we are going to talk about psychology and throw-away units. Read up and then get to work!

In 40K you can generally either play the army or play the person. During your games, where is the focus of your attention- on the model on the table or the person behind it pushing them around? You are not playing against a computer simulation or some sort of AI construct that follows a set program devoid of emotions, hopes, and dream. Even the most hardened mathhammer player is still a human being that reacts to how they view the world, and it is this view that I want you to try to exploit.

Assuming you are playing in the 1500-1750 point range I want you to adjust your list to set aside 100 or so points to spend on a completely expendable unit. The only requirement for said unit, and this is going to depend on your army/codex is that it have an element of survivability. The goal of this unit, in your next game, is to work independently of your army and the mission and to go out on the table and get your opponent to react to it. I want you to keep your opponent as busy with this unit as you can.


In my Tyranid list, the expendable unit is a group of five rippers. With the +1 to cover saves being a swarm it is easy to collect a 2+/3+ cover save and with multiple wounds per base these little guys can stand up to a lot of shooting. Their job is to get you to shoot at them, assault them, drop flamer templates on them, basically anything that focuses your attention on them. Even if it only diverts one of my opponent’s units it gives the rest of my Tyranid swarm a little more breathing room to act on the table.

An expandable unit’s true goal is to create an opportunity for the rest of your army to act upon- you would be surprised at how many players shoot at a unit just because it is the closest one on the table, or assault it just because they can. Use this to create those happy little opposing player mistakes for you to sieze on!
Do it and sound off  with your results – What units do did you use, and how to get a maximum distraction effect out of it?  I’ll check in soon…

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