Wednesday, 10 January 2018
Preparing yourself for a game of 8th edition 40k.
I've got quite a few games of 8th edition behind me now (not as many as some, but I play every week) and one thing that has come to light in my mind is that performing well in a game isn't just a case of bringing a good list and turning up to roll some lucky dice. The depth that GW have managed to impart into 8th edition and therefore the preparation required to give yourself the best chance of winning is also a significant factor. Let's have a closer look at what I mean shall we?
As ever, the units that you bring to the table are a significant factor in your performance in a game. Spamming a few good choices isn't necessarily going to be all that effective for you in this edition, because so many armies are capable of putting out such a large amount of damage very quickly now. Equally, sticking a few big beasties on the table and throwing them at the enemy is asking for your bloodthirster to get rapid fired by a lot of lasguns, and there's always the potential that they could take him down.
Something I've advocated for a long time (and have banged on about on my blog before too) is thinking carefully about your list, critically assessing it against the type of units that you're likely to come up against, and making sure that you have answers for all types of opponent. Do you have enough guns to bring down 120+ howling ork boys? What about if that same Ork army is composed of a Stompa and a bucket load of dreads/battlewagons etc, how many anti tank shots can you call on? The list is as important as it has always been, but spamming a jack of all trades weapon isn't really good enough anymore. There are plenty of articles out there discussing the subject, but another key factor, particularly for those armies with a codex already, is maximising your damage output whilst organising your list to best effect in terms of gaining command points.
We've already looked at writing your list, including making the most of the available detachments to maximise your command points. The next logical step in that element of preparation is knowing your stratagems. Obviously this is fairly simple for many armies as they don't have a codex yet, but even with just the basic 3 available it's worth considering them and the units in your army and what you'd be willing to use and when.
For factions that do have a codex, knowing your stratagems and when you would be willing to use them is absolutely the key to performing well in a game, and they can take a mediocre/poor unit and turn it into something amazing.
Take for example, a unit of Eldar Storm Guardians. Have you ever seen any on the table? No.
If you take Ulthwe Storm Guardians, you gain access to the Discipline of the Black Guardians Stratagem, which grants them +1 to hit, so they hit on 2's. Great, but they're still pretty ropey? Right, let's look in more detail shall we?
Keep them near your warlord, who takes the Ambush of Blades Stratagem (6's to hit explode). Then use a nearby warlock to give them Enhance (+1 to hit), and a second to give them Empower (+1 to wound). You can then put an autarch nearby to allow you to re-roll 1's to hit, and casting doom on the target unit with a farseer and all of a sudden that otherwise innocuous unit is hitting on 2's, re-rolling 1's, any roll of 4+ allows you to roll for additional hits (which would also be subject to the re-rolling 1's), then you get +1 to wound, with re-rolls for failed wounds and ambush of blades will give a portion of those hits -1AP. I've not done the maths myself, but from what I understand, that will take out (statistically) 17 tactical marines, take a landraider down from full wounds to its last bracket, or kill 37 guardsmen.
Clearly you need to think about these things when writing your list, but knowing the combinations you can use, and preparing yourself beforehand makes a big difference (I like to leave the stratagem cards I can't use in the deck box myself).
The last element of preparation for your game is deploying your army. This again is a topic that has always been important, but is now more significant than it ever has been. Almost, if not all, armies have some method of bringing units in from reserve, and should you not get the first turn we all know (I hope) just how crippling the alpha strike can be. Take for example a unit of chaos terminators and a sorceror in terminator armour teleporting in on turn 1, using warptime and prescience to get in close to your knight before vapourising it before it even takes a step. The key to avoiding this is proper, considered deployment, and also cagey play in the early turns when it's easy to open up gaps in your otherwise carefully constructed bubblewrap.
Again, one of the key parts to good deployment is a good list, since a lot of the ways of protecting yourself involve taking the right units, but there are still a few things to remember.
18". Not 9", 18". That's the distance apart your units can be whilst stopping an opponent from deploying between them.
17. The number of units that you should need to prevent an enemy from dropping into a deployment zone 12" deep and 72" wide (dawn of war on a 6x4 table).
The upshot of that is you're unlikely to be able to stop your opponent from getting into your deployment in typical sized games, especially if you keep units in reserve.
So, you need to maximise the spread of your units to reduce that number of units, and you should really bubble-wrap them with cheaper, less important units to keep and enemy reserves from getting to you in the early turns of the game.
If you want to go elite, then castling is an option, keeping your firebase together and bubble wrapping a smaller area means you need fewer bubble wrap units. Conversely, castling, unless your weapons are obscenely long ranged and don't need LoS, means that on a well constructed table layout against a competent opponent you are unlikely to be able to see or hit all of the targets you might want to get to on a particular turn. You'll then need to move, particularly if you're playing a maelstrom game, so you need to prepare your lines of advance (castle units typically don't move quickly, so you need to plan ahead to avoid moving much at all)
Conversely, if your army is an aggressive combat style then you'll really want to get going at the enemy early, but you'll need to deploy in such a way that you give yourself options - if you deploy all across a frontage then you run the risk that the loss of some key units can result in your attack becoming disjointed. Equally, if you bunch everything together then your opponent can either avoid you, or wrap round to maximise firepower, neither of which is a good thing for you!
I could write a whole article just on deployment (and I still might), but hopefully the above have given you a few things to think about for your games of 8th edition 40k.
Till next time!