I figure that choosing your list properly is something a lot of people overlook, but you are playing a game as soon as you have your pairings, not when the time starts. You start the round by choosing your list based on the scenario, terrain and opponent’s list choices and you deploy either actively or reactively depending on who is going first. One of the biggest reasons I see newer players lose if choosing the wrong match up or deploying poorly.
There are a few things to consider when choosing your list. First start with the fact your opponent has lists too! This is probably the most obvious point for any player and something all players have considered. There are a few things to look for in your opponents list to determine yours. The first thing I do is see if there are any bad match ups in any combination of lists. If I have a list that completely wrecks my opponents list I can expect that my opponent will not choose that list on the chance I play the list that is bad for him. The same is true in reverse, if I have a list that falls apart to my opponents list he can expect I will forego that list for the game.
You also need to see what kind of lists your opponent is playing. Is he ranged or melee? Is he scenario, assassination, attrition or mid-range? Is he using a passive or aggressive list? All of these things can help you make your decision. Knowing your opponent has a colossal and you are playing a distance scenario which requires scoring on your opponent’s side of the board can help you recognize that list would be good for your opponent in that fashion. Likewise if you have a pair of lists that are both vulnerable to something and your opponent has that something expect to see it. For example if you have no stealth and no tough and your opponent has a good ranged list it very well could be played.
In the a recent episode of Muse on Minis a discussion was brought up about who is ranged dominate or submissive, personally I don’t think there is such a thing. I am more of the opinion that regardless of what your attack is you either have a greater threat or you do not. There are models that can get to you outside of range in a longer distance than other models can shoot, such as Overrun on a warjack with speed 6 that then gets to charge at speed +5 is a total threat of 19″ including reach. I think the more important thing here is what army can get real estate advantage, or in other words how much of the table you can cover with threat ranges of your models, and how much those threat ranges overlap.
There are a couple of things to consider on real estate advantage. Threat ranges, survivability, aggressiveness and list (or play) style. Threat ranges are obviously something you need to consider in any case. If your opponent can out threat you than in a perfect world you will not be the first to do damage, regardless of range or melee. The next thing you need to determine is how survivable the lists are. If you have a longer threat range with long gunners but your opponent has stealth heavies that probably isn’t going to be the most effective way to win the real estate battle. The stealth heavies will probably control more of the table than you will. That goes along with aggressiveness which is something like how far forward can your opponent move comfortably? If he has long gunners he doesn’t need to move very far forward to have a threat on most of the table, whereas if your opponent is running melee only models he probably is willing to put models in the center of the table. Then you have list style which can be anything from gun line to brick to infantry spam and many other things.
From considering those things you should be able to easily identify in which pairing of lists what player has the easier time controlling table real estate. You always want to be the person to be in control, regardless of what else is going on. If you can determine where your opponent has to go to be safe or force him to come in to a dangerous area that is a huge advantage that you did basically no work for.
If you have eliminated any lists at this point due to your ability to win if your opponent takes a list that is just plain bad for one of your lists you should be set, if not you should consider the scenario. Ask yourself if either player with any of the four lists can easily win the scenario. If a list is in play like Deneghra2 or Gorten in a scenario that is easy to win you should be aware of that and pick your list accordingly. Taking a list with a colossal in this aspect is very good because the rest of your army can stay away from the threat of a scenario play feat and the colossal really just doesn’t care unless it dies. You cannot move it and it has a huge survivability factor, an example would be Keith Christianson’s Caine1 list that has Stormwall and 20 Long Gunners.
Keeping that in mind you will want to remember not to pick a list that is easily controlled by your opponent, a good example would be if you’re playing against a caster that has a knock-down feat don’t play an infantry heavy list that has no steady models. That will effectively give your opponent a free turn since infantry models do not shake effects of knock down and you have no way around it. It would be better in said situation to take a few jacks/beasts or infantry that has Steady or something like that.
Obviously I don’t need to point out typically it’s easier to kill a few models and get a point than it is to go for a caster assassination. Knowing that make sure if you are submissive to a scenario player you have something that can weather the storm or something extremely fast like Raiders with Desperate Pace. Also note that typically a list that is playing on scenario will utilize moving models or ranged attacks. If you have things like stealth or immobile models that helps a lot in that kind of match up.
The last thing I would say about list selection is make sure you are not losing the game before you deploy by choosing a list that just flat-out fails because of the terrain that is on the table. If your opponent has a house in the middle of their AD zone and has MHSF with Ravyn it is a pretty safe bet that you will never get to the Strike Force and are going to get shot at all game long. Also don’t take a list with no path finder if there are six forests on the table. That’s pretty simple but it can change things. The last part about terrain and SR2012 gaming in general is if you get to your table first you can generally sit on the side you want and get to keep it, a lot of people will not make you move to get the side they prefer. On the same note if you want the other side of the board and are given the choice, make your opponent move.
These are just simple tips and tricks to use when deploying. Some are obvious some are slightly more advanced but none should be beyond your grasp of knowledge. There are many more things to know when deploying, I am trying to keep it as general as possible here.
- Do not deploy models directly behind terrain that stops them from moving. If you do not have and cannot get path finder don’t put that model directly behind a forest or water feature. Bad, bad, bad!
- Do put models that can handle such terrain behind them so you can deploy as centrally to the board as possible. It is a good thing to be able to spread out to where you need to go on turn 1 and 2 so deploying your army to the far left or right can be bad.
- Place support models behind your aggressive models with few exceptions. The only things that might get around this are Wracks and things like that which cannot move or are very slow.
- Know where you want your models to engage before deploying them, place them in your deployment zone accordingly. If you don’t want to engage near water with a jack it is probably good not to place it in line with the water so you don’t have to zig-zag to get somewhere useful.
- If your opponent has AOEs with acceptable range (10+) then make sure your AD troops are spread out enough that you are not clipping multiples with an AOE. You don’t want to lose Mister Walls and 6 Sea Dogs first turn because your opponent had a Battle Wagon.
- Cross deploy troops to save catch up time, could save you several inches or a run. I really can’t explain this one so look at a picture:
- Put slower models in the middle of your army and faster models on the outside. This allows models to get to a central point at effectively the same time because the models that have more moving to do have a high threat range. Note that if you are playing lots of long-range guns this may not be an issue.
- Be aggressive with your deployment. There is no reason to have lots of space between models during set up (barring AD already discussed) and therefore having some models much farther in the back of your army.
- Most of the time it will be more helpful to play to deploy your Warcaster or Warlock and their battlegroup near the center and not on a flank. This can be helpful to allow your Jacks or Beasts you wade from side to side as needed or allow you to use your feat or spells throughout the board without requiring a turn of running or losing an arc node.
- In radial deployment it is better to have layers of troops than a wide fan. The models in the far edges of the fan near the table edge are actually much farther from engagement than models in the second or third row of troops in the middle. Don’t waste models because you deployed them poorly.
- If you are going first put models in your deployment where it would line up to be advantageous during the mid-game. Do things like putting pathfinder troops near rough terrain and your Warcaster near obstacles.
- React to your opponent if you go second. Being player two is one of the biggest hidden advantages in the game. Put your Bane Thralls in line with heavies and your Bile Thralls in line with infantry. Don’t waste a turn criss-crossing them.