40K: Winning the Race for Objectives
Hi all, Jwolf here. One of the most popular missions / objectives, both for local friendly play and tournaments nationally, is Seize Ground with 5 objectives. Lets take a detailed look.
As such, playing this mission well is important to tournament players and most casual players, and has generated a lot of the list paradigm shifts we see in 5th Edition armies. Armies tend to have at least 4 discrete scoring units, with 6 or more being common in tournament play. Given that we have more troops, how are they best used to Seize Ground?
Strolling Down Memory Lane
First, let’s have a brief history lesson. When Fifth Edition was brand new and all we had was representative 4th edition terrain and very few Line of Sight blocking pieces, the best course for most armies was generally to get to the most objectives as fast as possible and then shoot at enemy forces moving to contest your objectives, while simultaneously maneuvering / shooting in an effort to remove the enemy from their objectives. This gave the defender the best chance of being able to control assaults and the ability to deploy the most firepower against the enemy. I still see many players rush out towards all the objectives on turn 1, almost as an ingrained reflex action.
Today’s Tabletop – Hello Big Terrain
One thing that has changed substantially locally is the appearance of great amounts of hills and large ruins, that not only provide cover but can actually hide any model from most angles. The impact on different armies varies widely, but all have some basic strategic changes dictated by terrain, not firepower.
For Imperials and Chaos Space Marines, the implications of being able to hide not only a single vehicle or unit, but 2 or more transports and their contents (or, if you have no transports, multiple units) from the majority of the opposing firebase are significant. Now instead of plowing straight forward and using smoke launchers on turn 1, you can easily just keep low for a turn or even two, then roll out and smoke on turn 3 and move towards objectives on turn 4 and be right on the spot with your Troops not taking fire for at least a turn, and reduced fire when it does come. This is especially important for Assault-based armies facing Firepower armies; not only are your assault units paying a reduced price to get close, but the terrain itself may force the Firepower player to close the distance towards your positions to try and get angles – making your Assault run shorter and more likely to succeed.
For Mechanized Eldar, Dark and Craftworld, no longer is Fritz’ “Turn 5, I win” strategy your domain. With the ability to hide units on the board and still have them in good position to hold objectives, other armies (especially Marines) are much more likely to be in position to deny you key objectives. Even going second and going for the full Reserve approach isn’t nearly as attractive when your opponent can just hide everything from you on the board. In short, you can’t expect to Tank Shock enemy Tanks off of objectives on Turn 5 – no percentage in that, so you’ve got to plan on getting out to get the job done. (Sorry, Dire Avenger Upgrades!)
For Tyranids, the increase in cover and big LOS blocking pieces mean you have more chances to maneuver and keep your Monstrous Creatures alive, especially when going second. Outflanking Genestealers are pretty critical for breaking up the enemy firebases, and a good midfield position to hide behind turns Hiveguard into superstars. Tyranids still have to be more aggressive than Mechanized forces due to their reduced ability to cover ground from their deployment zone quickly, but if the board is favorable, consider spending a turn behind the walls and letting your opponent drive his vehicles closer.
Yes, there are armies and styles I haven’t discussed, and some armies aren’t that affected by the large LOS blocking terrain pieces. Daemons and all Drop Pod armies, for instance, might use some of the terrain to their advantage, but not to the same degree as more traditional deployments and forces. And now both of these armies have some significant deployment problems on the way, in the form of Warp Quake from Grey Knights. The ability to effectively deny Deep Strikers the ability to come in on half (or more) of the board with a single unit is pretty huge. That is just the most obvious change that Grey Knights have on the landscape of 40k, but others may be more profound (Mindstrike Missiles and Shunt moves come to mind). Couple that with the Aethersail Raiders of the Dark Eldar, and a lot of the more static or limited movement strategies that have been quite effective in 40K to this point are looking long-in-the-tooth.