I have recently returned from Diecon and I have fallen behind in my article writing so this week I decided to show you something instead. I used the Warmachine / Hordes module of vassal in order to take some straight from the table pictures to show some basic tactics when putting models on the table. After having played a couple of games recently with newer players in my area I have found there are just some things that I see that are simply bad plays. This includes placing models on the table in a row from left to right and not spreading them out in order to avoid abilities like Thresher or AOE effects, or on the other hand when a player may have been winning they attempt to do something to “win more” and lose outright because of it, an example would be you nearly have your opponent tabled and you decide it would be a good idea to move your caster forward to feat and then you are in the middle of the table. I hope to focus on simple things so this may not be the article for you. Lastly these tactics are not solely good to Warmachine and Hordes, some of these are just basic wargaming tactics.
Using Walls to Avoid Melee
This is an example of the Scyrah model utilizing terrain in order to avoid a charge from model 1. Let us assume that model one does not have pathfinder and does have reach, placing your model so that he cannot reach you when he base-to-bases the wall allows you to for all intents and purposes avoid melee completely barring outside of activation movement. Model 2 is where he would end up assuming he charges straight towards your model. Another way to utilize the wall against models that can get over it on a charge is staying close enough so that when the model ends its movement it cannot fit its base on the side with your model on it, and therefore you get +2 DEF for melee attacks.
Using Cannon Fodder to Block Engagement
Here you are using the same idea as blocking a charge with terrain but instead you are using less valuable models. The Khador model with reach is charging the Cryx model, utilizing your Mechanithralls you can block the charge by making the distance between the models over 2″ if he gets the closest he possibly can. Some times this is easily mitigated by shooting the models prior to engagement, the best models to do this with are expendable troops with tough or stealth, since they live longer.
Blocking Charges with Troops to Troops
Continuing in the same idea of blocking your opponents engaging your models you can also block charges to your troops using the troops in that unit. Minimizing impact is huge, offensively or defensively. In this picture we have Cryx models with reach turned slightly to the left and right so their melee ranges are not straight at your opponent. You also have models set up in multiple waves. Setting your models like this allows you to stop models from charging past your reach troops much earlier (easily an inch or more) and your troops in the back line can be alive to retaliate.
Post Charging Unit Model Placement
Similarly to the last picture your placement with units is important, keeping them alive as long as possible is very important. The Cygnar unit in this example is charging the Khador unit. You are doubling models up 2 to 1 so that you can mitigate poor rolling in order to get much higher chances to kill the 3 models you have charged. The rest of the unit placement is still important. If your opponent can 1 for 1 your infantry after you charge in this example the Cygnar player will still lose 2 of your infantry models. Likewise should you bunch all your model up near the melee engagement your are much more prone to AOE effects. Keeping the models that don’t engage spread out and safe is always good. Also have 2 models near the center of the unit in case the leader were to die so you can replace him, see models marked 1 and 2.
Troop Placement vs AOEs
As in the last example model placement in units is important, since models in units typically have a single wound and need to be placed in a small area called CMD range. This makes units the most vulnerable models in the game to AOE attacks, as all your opponent needs to do is get +1 to your ARM to kill you, and AOEs can affect many models at once. In this picture you can see an example of one way to spread out troops in order to avoid AOEs, but also charges past the front line, the cloud and orange AOE are 4″ and the fire is 3″. Spreading models out and putting them into waves are two very basic but very useful ideas.
Troop Placement vs Sprays
Similarly to AOEs sprays can base on troops fairly hard. Usually only needing to hit to kill a troop sprays can take a poorly place unit out in a turn. Units like the Winterguard Infantry or warcasters like Deneghra can put out several Sprays in a single turn, so preparing for them is key. This is very similar to setting up against aoes with a couple main differences. The first one is your models are father apart in rows so that the second row is not in range of the spray template. Also there is less need to scatter them in random places, since it is much easier to predict a spray. Keep in mind your opponent can target the models in your back line to get the models in both the front and back lines.
LOS with Ranged Units
Moving on to something a little different in this example we have a unit of Cygnar Long Gunners. Units that have ranged attacks can be tricky to play if you are targeting models with the same size or smaller bases and can’t simply ignore your own models for LOS purposes. Typically you want to have you models close enough to combat to get good shots off but far enough away they are not going to be counter attacked. In this example using the long gunner in the back of the V formation on the hill you can see that he can see a deceivingly large amount of the table, using the red and green lines for LOS purposes he can see almost the entire battle from his current placement on the table. LOS only requires a single line from my model to your model, you do not need to set your models in a straight line to give them LOS.
Shifting Models and Shooting
Some times when using a range unit you will want to advance to your opponent to get in range but advancing in a direct ling en be detrimental. Here we have models 1-4 in yellow moving to where they will be attacking from in teal in green. Moving like this allows you to get range to your target, and double up on models in order to maximize the chance to kill your opponents models. Also the post movement placement since your shifted to the side is typically not going to be close enough for the models in the back line to engage you and you are utilizing the wall for model 3 and 4 to some what mitigate return melee threat.
Utilizing Models to Block Shooting
In this example we take the other end of shooting into account. What if you are being shot at and you don’t have a wall to hide behind? Well models block LOS to models just fine, very rarely to ranged attacks ignore models for targeting purposes. Placing a model behind a larger base size model and in a far enough distance away can typically stop the model from shooting you. This is more helpful against things like Eyriss of Defenders and less against Troops with guns because there are usually several models that will shoot you in a unit and it is hard to block LOS when they can end up in many places. In this picture we have the Red model of Eyriss moving (to her new position of yellow) then drawing LOS to the blue model of Vayl which she cannot do because the large base is being amazing and blocking LOS.
Defensive Line vs Range or Melee
The last example I wish to talk about in this article is a bit more specific but just as useful. Defensive Line is an ability that gives models in b2b in a single unit +2 ARM while in b2b. The best way to set up troops with Defensive Line is in a triangle. This allows you to force your opponent to kill 2 models before defensive line stops and spread your models out as much as possible. In the first picture you can see that the 2 models in back are easily visible to the opponent but farther away, this helps mitigate some charge ranges. On the other hand in the second picture you can see that the two models are in front, against models with range this is usually more helpful because you’re closer to your opponent and the model in back is out of your opponents LOS until he kills one of the models in front. Using the triangle method you can cover a lot of ground and still get maximum benefit from Defensive Line.
That is going to be all for this installment of my ramblings, hopefully in the next week I will have a Qualifier Battle Report done from my recent trip to Diecon (i went 3-1, only because I can’t do math).
Until next time…