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So I've been playing Warhammer 40K for about 10 years now, and I’d like to make an attempt at writing a tactics article and share some of the tricks I've learned. I’ll focus on one here. However, please take this with a grain of salt. I haven’t had a chance to play much within the last few years because of work, and I have yet to play a full game of 6th Edition. So if anything I write in here seems obsolete within the context of the current rule book, please let me know. But, after reading the rules and playing though several versions of the rule book, I think it is still a valid tactic.

The Advantages of Range
“The owner of the longest range weapon controls where the battle will be fought.”

If a player has longer range weapons then his opponent, his opponent must move towards him to fight thereby giving that player certain advantages over his opponent.

Let’s create a thought experiment between two armies of MEQs or foot. Imagine you and your opponent just deployed your armies. They’re lined up in each of their deployment zones, somewhere just over 24” away, up to 48” away or more from each other and in cover. You, expecting to fight lots of Meqs, Teqs, and vehicles, brought lots of plasma guns and melta guns. Very powerful weapons, but with short range. Your opponent however, brought heavy bolters, autocannons, missile launchers, and lascannons.

Right from turn one, your opponent starts blasting away from extreme range, out of range for your weapons. So now, you have 2 options:
a) Sit back and hope your armor and cover saves hold out as your opponent slowly grinds you dust or
b) Take the fight to the enemy!

Being a good-natured 40K player, obviously your going to chose option b. But, these leaves you with 2 disadvantages:
First, you have to take your units out of cover and walk through no-mans-land. Most likely causalities will be very high if your opponent brought low AP weapons (missile launchers, lascannons, etc.). (Also, since you have to move, if you brought heavy weapons you can’t use them.)
Second, your opponent now gets to decide when and where to fight you.
*He can set up in cover and wait for your weakened forces to assault (assuming you don’t have assault grenades) OR
*he can decided when to move forward and get the first round of rapid-fire (2 shots from rapid fire weapons)OR
*move forward at the best time to counter-assault you, thereby taking the +1 attack charging bonus for himself and/or denying it to you

In other words, he gets the “initiative.” Fortunately, there are ways to break your opponents advantage.

Countering the Advantages of Range
There are 3 common methods to counter or break your opponent’s advantage of long range weapons.
1) bring a bigger gun
2) Take advantage of LOS blocking terrian.
3) Use fast units and/or infiltrating units

The first option is the most obvious, but not necessarly the easiest. If your codex allows you to bring more and/or bigger guns than your opponent, then you can turn the tables and make them come to you. This also relies on a fair amount of luck. The player who gets the first turn will have a significant advantage by being able to shoot first and destory some or all of the other player’s guns.

The second option requires a certain amount of skill (and luck) because it depends a lot on the terrain. If there is a large terrain piece near the center of the table that blocks line of sight, a skilled player can use that to shied his units approach. As the terrain blocks LOS, the oppoent cannot shoot at your troops. Additionally, you can choose when to move around or through the terrain, there by taking the initative for yourself. This is why a well balanced terrain set up is so essential to the game. Too much terrain and the big guns become a big point sink. Too little and they almost become “I win buttons” because there’s no place to hide (or cover saves) from the big guns.

The finial option has more to do with list building than tactics by building an army with lots of transports, fast units, infiltratiors, and/or deep strikers. With each of these or simialr options, a player can close in quickly before taking many casualities and possibily even take the inative. However, each one has it’s own risks and requires some skill to use properly.

Conclusion
I hope you’ve enjoyed my first tactics article and have gained some insight. I look forward to reading your comments and questions. Do you agree with my reasonings? Why or why not? What within the current edition of the rules and/or codexes affects these types of tactics?:victory:
 

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Nice insight :)
A note: unless you have a very very shooty army (tau or IG), relying only on shooting can be somewhat risky. If facing a truly fast enemy (DEldar comes to mind) you risk a lot with early assaults and minimized damage from big guns...i'd say that a weapon range is not just its nominal but instead : movement+range. So, a dark eldar blaster has range 18" but if you put the blaster aboard a venom, your range is increased by 12", for a total of 30"!!
 

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Range is an advantage, it's true, but most of the closer ranged guns have benefits - for example a lascannon may have a 48" range, but the meltagun is significantly better against tanks (often for almost a third of the cost) and equally good against all other targets, while a Plasma gun (for 10-15pts less) does almost the same damage versus MCs/Heavy Infantry and obviously within 12" vastly outstrips the Lascannon against those targets due to having twice the shots.

Another thing to note is that the further away you are, the harder it is to avoid giving your target a cover save, whether from terrain or intervening models. You also have to take Night Fighting into account - a 50/50 chance to severely blunt long range shooting Turn 1 (the most important turn for firepower based armies).

Lastly, 6th edition is all about Objective games. That means that every army needs to be mobile - and not just with the Troops choices. While you can sit back with your HS/FA and pump out 36-48" range shots, it's often very helpful to have those units physically near/following your Scoring units in order to add their support firepower to them, or even shield the Troops from Assaults and Shooting in order to keep them alive til turn 5-7. And most of the longest range guns are very immobile, meaning they can't fulfill this role very effectively.
 

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Good article; very insightful and detailed on the subject matter. If I may, I would like to shoot one position that you neither addressed nor mentioned in your article.

Armored Warfare, or more specifically Blitzkreig, is a good strategy to use when facing an enemy with overwhelming Range andvantage on you. Most of the Warhammer 40k races have decently armored transport vehicles that are both armed and swift (depending on the race you play). While I will not dispute the riskiness of this Tactics, especially when up againbst good AP races like Tau/Necrons, the general idea works in practice. You can either choose to throw a few units in the rush or use the "Wall" tactics many Imperium players use.

Tactic A: Blitzkrieg Rush

This Tactics involves mounting all but Heavies, Artillery, and Troop types with long range and rush the opponents lines. When engaging in this tactics usually use light melee units. The differences is mainly Speed; do not take melee units that cannot get High/Alot of Dice Rolls or have low Movement. You will loose some Warriors as you close the distance but the Rate of Survival increases exponentially and the Speed of Armored Vehicles outwieghs this negative.

Ex1: Dark Eldar with Raiders/Ravangers outfitted with Screaming Jets loaded with Kabalite Warriors or Wynches. Upgrade their Melee (Impaler's/Agoniser's) and rush tyhem in. In the midst of all the turmoil your units behind them can close the distance; effectively nuetralizing the enemies Range abilities.

Ex2: Imperial Guard with Chimera' (mixed with Leman Russ tanks) loaded with Melee Veterans read to pounce with Power Fists. Put Extra Armor and Pintles on the Chimera's and Rush right in to keep the enemy tied up. While your at this your main force can close the distance with relatively few casualties.

Tactics B: Armored Wall

This is a Tactic I have seen a lot of Imperium (SM, IG, Mechanicus, CSM) based players use and, surprisingly, it has merit. The tecyhnique involves taking a lot of heavily armored vehicles as compared to armored transports. Rhino's/Predators/Leman Russ, Annihilators all lined up right next to each other in an arc'ed wall of armor. Using their Speed you press forward at, IMHO, a snails pace,and use the vehicles for cover as you cross "No Mans Land." Meanwhile your Heavies and Ranged units provide "Covering Fire," to whittle the enemy down. Once close enough you open the "Wall" and allow your units to engage the enemy while the remianing armored vehicles act as a rallying point/mobile gun platform.

Personally I think this Tactic and pure suicide on on the grounds of Disabled Vehicles and Vunerability. If the enemy has good AP and disables/Explodes your "Wall" your essentially screwed. If you loose too many vehicles you loose your cover and then becomes a death sentences for them.

Anyway that is my input, look forward to more articles in the futre.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks everyone for the positive feedback. :victory:

Technically you can snap-shoot some heavy weapons; the point about not really benefiting from them when moving still mostly holds though.
...Lastly, 6th edition is all about Objective games.
Good points. I haven't had much experience with 6th Edition yet, so thank you for adding those. I'll remember them next time I get a chance to play. :good:

Good article; very insightful and detailed on the subject matter. If I may, I would like to shoot one position that you neither addressed nor mentioned in your article.

Armored Warfare, or more specifically Blitzkreig, is a good strategy to use when facing an enemy with overwhelming Range andvantage on you. Most of the Warhammer 40k races have decently armored transport vehicles that are both armed and swift (depending on the race you play). While I will not dispute the riskiness of this Tactics, especially when up againbst good AP races like Tau/Necrons, the general idea works in practice. You can either choose to throw a few units in the rush or use the "Wall" tactics many Imperium players use.

Tactic A: Blitzkrieg Rush

This Tactics involves mounting all but Heavies, Artillery, and Troop types with long range and rush the opponents lines. When engaging in this tactics usually use light melee units. The differences is mainly Speed; do not take melee units that cannot get High/Alot of Dice Rolls or have low Movement. You will loose some Warriors as you close the distance but the Rate of Survival increases exponentially and the Speed of Armored Vehicles outwieghs this negative.

Ex1: Dark Eldar with Raiders/Ravangers outfitted with Screaming Jets loaded with Kabalite Warriors or Wynches. Upgrade their Melee (Impaler's/Agoniser's) and rush tyhem in. In the midst of all the turmoil your units behind them can close the distance; effectively nuetralizing the enemies Range abilities.

Ex2: Imperial Guard with Chimera' (mixed with Leman Russ tanks) loaded with Melee Veterans read to pounce with Power Fists. Put Extra Armor and Pintles on the Chimera's and Rush right in to keep the enemy tied up. While your at this your main force can close the distance with relatively few casualties.

Tactics B: Armored Wall

This is a Tactic I have seen a lot of Imperium (SM, IG, Mechanicus, CSM) based players use and, surprisingly, it has merit. The tecyhnique involves taking a lot of heavily armored vehicles as compared to armored transports. Rhino's/Predators/Leman Russ, Annihilators all lined up right next to each other in an arc'ed wall of armor. Using their Speed you press forward at, IMHO, a snails pace,and use the vehicles for cover as you cross "No Mans Land." Meanwhile your Heavies and Ranged units provide "Covering Fire," to whittle the enemy down. Once close enough you open the "Wall" and allow your units to engage the enemy while the remianing armored vehicles act as a rallying point/mobile gun platform.

Personally I think this Tactic and pure suicide on on the grounds of Disabled Vehicles and Vunerability. If the enemy has good AP and disables/Explodes your "Wall" your essentially screwed. If you loose too many vehicles you loose your cover and then becomes a death sentences for them.

Anyway that is my input, look forward to more articles in the futre.
Thanks for that emporershand89. I was going to save things like how to do mechanized warfare, to to infiltrate, etc. for another time/place but you beat me to it :wink:

Range is an advantage, it's true, but most of the closer ranged guns have benefits - for example a lascannon may have a 48" range, but the meltagun is significantly better against tanks (often for almost a third of the cost) and equally good against all other targets, while a Plasma gun (for 10-15pts less) does almost the same damage versus MCs/Heavy Infantry and obviously within 12" vastly outstrips the Lascannon against those targets due to having twice the shots.
Right! Plasma Guns and Melta Guns kick ass! I think perhaps I was a little misleading in my article. I wasn't trying to hate on special weapons, I just used them as an example. I could create similar example with Tau Rifles vs Bolters, or Bolters vs Bolt Pistols, or whatever. But ultimately, I think we're on the same page. :grin:
 
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