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Goatboy’s 40k Thoughts: How to Best Use My Threat.

4 Minute Read
May 31 2010

Goatboy here again, talking about some 40k theory this time. We all know that each of our units presents a threat to our opponent. Whether it is the threat of an over achieving assault, massed fire power, or just someone that can sit on an objective forever and be a pain in the rear throughout the game. Each of our army choices have distinct threat characteristics that we want to utilize to the best of our abilities.

So lets look at each of the game threats an army can have. There are the Hammer Units, the Fire Power units, and of course the Holding units. Each one presents a threat your opponent has to deal with to win the game. Utilizing this threat ability is the key to fully controlling your army and taking over the flow of the game in a way that will still let you win even with really terrible rolling.

The Hammer!
Threat Level – High as they can easily take out all other parts of the army. Assault is one of the few things that ignores cover and usually a Hammer unit can overpower just about any other unit in combat.

Issues – Normally need some kind of mobility to truly be effective. If an opponent is faster then you, then the hammer does not get to do their job. Also most of the time they don’t score, so you need effective support to make the unit work.

Examples – Thunder Hammer/ Storm Shield Terminators, Seer Council, Nob Bikerz, Logan Wolf Guard Spam, Wolf Lords a Go Go, Space Vampire Pimp Cup Drinkers, etc.

Counters – Another Hammer unit. If all things are equal they both should cancel each other out. But as we know, dice rolling is a fickle goddess so sometimes you just won’t hit. Also swarming the unit can help too, as they can get stuck in and only really effect one unit/area of your army while the other pieces get to work.

Fire Power Units
Threat Level – Shooting is a big aspect of the game. It is one of the few ways you can affect your opponent without it affecting you (ie range, assault, moving off your area). When only one side is rolling dice on the offensive with shooting you can easily overtake an opponent’s bad rolls.

Issues – The rise of cover saves plus lots of armies with decent armor can mean all your shooting was for nothing. Also, normally fire power units sacrifice their damage potential for movement potential. A bad round of shooting versus a fast opponent could mean you are easily overtaken and the army goes from a win to a quick loss with only a few units.

Examples – IG, gun line armies, etc.

Counters – Fast armies is a great counter to this as well as very hard to deal with Hammer units. We all know the horrors of a first turn initiative stolen and all your forward moving guys eating it. You just need to duck your head, hope the trees in front of you stop the lasers and get on there to pound some heads.

Capture and Control
Threat Level – Normally not as much of a threat as other units because they have a low damage potential output. Some units mix in some of the other options from the other units above, to create a jack of all trades unit. The later codexes have pushed this more and more as troop units start to become decent elements of your army.


Issues – Again these units do not have the high damage potential of hammer units as well as pure fire power units. The change in the game to 2 missions needing to hold onto the prizes means that no matter what you need to put some serious thought into what you pick in this area. Also both units above can easily overpower these units.

Examples – The Troop section of most codexes. It is only recently that the jack of trades aspect has really come into effect with the newer books. With the changes to force org due to special characters as well as just giving the players a strong option at the troop level means that this unit designation starts to blur between the the other unit aspects.

Now what does this mean to you as the player? Well when looking at an opponents army you can break them down into these simple allocations and figure out how your army can best handle the situations you might see.

Lets say your opponent has a pretty nutty Hammer unit. You know that most likely they should be throwing that down your throat and making you have to deal with it right away. Depending on where your opponent sets it up, you can see how much you will have to worry about it. If they put it to a flank, that you can easily ignore, then ignore it. You have just changed how your opponent is going to have to play and will have a better chance of winning even if you can’t normally deal with said hammer unit. Lets say you are dealing with a heavy fire power army. Instead of sitting out there, letting the army pound you like some kind of internet bully, you instead just sit and reserve and try to change how the opponent gets to shoot you.

All of these things can be easily figured out before the game even begins. You decide what parts of your opponents army is the threat and how to best deal with it. If you know they are fast, then you try to get them to over commit so you can control their advantage. If you know they can out assault you create bluffs and baits to hopefully lure them away from your good stuff. If there is a hammer breathing down your throat try to limit the amount of turns their are effective. All of these things can turn the game away from just chance to actual true strategy.

I could go on and on about defining threats but that is for another article I want to write that goes over creating a bigger threat for your opponent. A lot of the game is won before any dice is thrown and knowing some of these tactical advantages can turn an otherwise terrible dice rolling time into a win. As usual send your questions to [email protected].

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