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WFB: Its’ Time to Play – Part 5: Deployment

7 Minute Read
May 3 2014

I quite often kick myself for poor choice of placement once I am done the deployment phase. How can that be avoided?

Just how important is your initial deployment?
I personally find that deployment of your army can be extremely crucial to the entire game, and that as a result your build, the scenario you play and the army you are playing against can make a difference to how you want to deploy. I also find that when I am building my army list I have usually got some idea of how I intend to deploy my army in my head–it doesn’t always work out and I blame my poor deployment choices as reasons why I frequently lose my games.
In my research I decided to ask a couple of outside sources about their opinions of deployment. Here’s what they had to say:

“The wrong deployment can lose you the game” – Dale Johnson (host of Chumphammer)

“The game basically is deployment. Movement restrictions mean you won’t be able to rearrange your units very well.- Scott

“Your deployment depends on your army and is very important in any game, some armies can redeploy quickly and screw over slower armies with that.” – Peter Davis (host of Chumphammer) 

“Deployment: putting cannons where they can see the good stuff ;)…But in all seriousness, as a new player I would say you rarely recover from a major deployment mistake.” – Matt

Scenario Interference

Every scenario found, whether from the rule book or written by an event organizer, contains a “Deployment”

section which could influence or interfere with your deployment.

A pitched battle is simply stated that you deploy however you want as long as you remain within 12″ of the long edge of the table.
Dawn Attack scenario on page 145 of the Rule book, however, has a much trickier deployment. The deployment zone is 12″ deep still but the zone is divided into three sections. You then roll a dice for every Unit, with the choice of including your characters with the units they will deploy with or rolling separately. Roll a 1 you’re in the left flank, roll a 2 you’re in the right flank….this scenario can really mess with some armies, particularly those that rely on being within a certain distance of their general or casters for magic reliance. 
Deployment interference is just one of the reasons I mentioned in Part 4 how important it is to read the entire set of rules for the scenario.
Interference from Your Opponent
Just as your own army has things it is best at so does your opponent’s. Certain armies are very good a

castling in a corner, others you will need multiple of your units to focus on each one of theirs….

“When you see what you are up against you need to figure out what units you have to match up versus theirs then deploy accordingly.” — Scott

A couple of good ways to to make sure to minimize your opponent having an advantage is to make sure you
understand their army: you can do this by reading forums and army books ahead of time and talking to those who play the army or know a lot about the army.


“Actually think about it” — Jordan
I found that when I was trying to improve my ability to deploy well (and therefore increase the possibility of the success of my army) I started playing games regularly against those considered better players than myself. What I would do is really consider where I would place my units, place them and then afterwards I would have my opponents and other players make observations and offer their advice and opinions about how they might have done things differently. I found this very useful.

Jordan’s advice is quite accurate for everyone though, you really do need to actually think about your deployment before you put units down. There are so many things to consider:

  • the scenario
  • your opponent’s army
  • your opponent themselves (a passive player like me does nothing the same as an aggressive player)
  • your army and the limitation of your units
  • the terrain and what role it might play

Do not face off against your opponent and just put things down, figure out what you want to do, consider
what your opponent might do and take your time making placements and adjustments in your mind before you actually place your units.

Words of Advice

Matt is new to Fantasy, having come over from 40K in the last 6 months, I asked him what words of advice he might have for other new to Fantasy players, he had this to say:

“Plan our your whole deployment in your head before placing a single unit to ensure spacing. Know where your general and BSB will be and deploy to maximize their influence. Double check if your opponent can Vanguard or has Scouts. Keep space and sight lines for war machines. Think what you want to do turn 1 and 2 so that your units are deployed so that they can go do it.”

My final advice:


  • check out You Tube for army specific advice (I rather enjoy The Sustainable Centre with their advice on Bretonnians)
  • take your time with deployment, remember that it is probably as crucial, if not more so than anything you will do in your first turn and nothing is worse than rushing your deployment because you want to get started actually rolling dice only to realize in turn one that you made a mistake that is going to cost you the game!
Those things haven’t helped you?
Throughout my questions and discussions one statement rang true in my mind as the best reason that people might need an article about Deployment and really the reason I want to discuss it at all:

“One thing that I still struggle with is identifying a) what in the enemy army is really threatening to me, and b) what to utilize my tools against that will yield the best returns. That’s a general problem for the whole game, but it really starts in deployment when you get to choose what pairs off with what. You can only do that if you know the other army well enough to figure this out though.” — Liam

Deployment is affected by those things I mentioned earlier, but really until you figure out the answers to the questions in this statement from Liam, you are very likely going to be struggling with your deployment. Unfortunately without study of other armies, watching them being played, reading the army books, playing them yourself, or getting beaten by them a few times you probably will not know what the answer is. I have been playing my army for about a decade and it is because I get in the rut of playing the same opponent over and over (and he sticks with a similar style deployment every time we play) that I know how to handle that one army but Fantasy isn’t a game with only 2 armies so I have a lot more armies to learn so that I can really stop making all the deployment mistakes that I make.

So no, this article may not have told you the best way to deploy or things to avoid but what I want to be clear that the only real way to have your deployment the best that you possibly can every time is through study, practice and trial and error. Do not get discouraged when time and again you seem to be making errors in your deployment, instead make some notes (mentally or physically) and try again. After losing to Lizardmen and having this discussion Liam added:

“I keep underestimating how dangerous rippers are to me, and overestimate my ability to kill the Slann. It took me two losses to figure it out for myself. That’s really the point though. You learn what is threatening to you by getting brutalized by it, and then figuring out how to not make that mistake again.”

I have been learning about switching from deploying my Bretonnians to deploying Empire, I never thought it would be a hard switch but I have become so reliant on my ranks of knights and making sure I get my charges that I am learning new deployment concepts and looking forward to being able to write an article in the near future about Empire specific deployment information.

That will take some time but in the meantime check back next time for my article talking you through making it through the Turn Sequence.

Jen A
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