Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fortune favours the bold

Hiding in cover just won't do
Originally uploaded by Xadhoom.
Everywhere on the 40k-websphere, people are talking about math. Mathhammer 40k is a roaring beast and everyone knows that 10 Space Marines will kill 6,66 Orks when rapid firing their Bolters. Every tactic is devised using the law of averages, and anyone trying to think outside the box is regarded as a noob.

The net result of this line of thought is that bold maneuvers are unthinkable. The one, daring move that will win or lose the game for you is never attempted because the focus of the game has become to reduce risks, not attempt to win.

Only 2+ with re-roll for me, thanks
This is most extremely displayed in the game of fantasy football; Blood Bowl. A regular opponent of mine never attempts a move unless the risk is minimal. Even if a move on a 5+ will be extremely beneficial to him, he never even considers it, preferring to make a less beneficial 2+-with-re-roll-move instead.

Another regular opponent often attempts moves that requires a 6 on the die. This works surprisingly well, because the opposition never even considers the possibility that anyone would be so stupid as to attempt such a risky maneuver! When it works, the opponent is caught completely flat-footed.

But what about 40k?
This doctrine can be directly translated to 40k. If you can use risky, but well-thought-out moves to surprise your opponent, you can catch him off-guard.

Everyone knows that staying in cover is the smart thing to do. If the opponent expects you to go for that single piece of cover, he has an edge over you. He knows what you will be spending the next turns doing, and where you will end up. He can then position his forces perfectly to eradicate you, 4+ cover save or not.

Instead, use this to your advantage! Use your vehicles or expendable infantry units as cover, or disregard cover altogether. The element of surprise is powerful indeed!

Taking less powerful units can be advantageous
One of the reasons that make armies like Dark Eldar and Witch Hunters win games is the opposition's lack of familiarity with them. Their play style is often surprising for opponents being used to fighting Eldar or Space Marines. Sure, a flying Seer Council is a powerful unit, but your opponent will likely have seen it before. Tactics to handle them have been devised, and incorporated into their army list.

At my local gaming club, almost no one plays Dark Eldar or the Inquisition. The result is that they don't know how to best handle them. They even sometimes have problems deciding which target is the most threatening. This often results in a comfortable victory, even with an inferior army.

This can be used in you normal armies as well. Field units that no one else does. Take Space Marines, for example. Not many people use scouts, and if they do, they give them sniper rifles and camo cloaks. Hardly an impressive sniper unit, being outmatched by even Ratlings!

Instead, take them in units of 5 and put them in a Land Speeder Storm. Give them shotguns or bolt pistol/combat blades and charge them at the enemy. Your opponent will likely be baffled of your daring move, and either try to shoot it down or ignore it. Regardless, you haven't lost much if it is destroyed, and they can be surprisingly destructive if they reach the enemy. The key to using them is either using their scout move to threaten any point on the board in turn 1, or using outflank to do basically the same, only later. Being open-topped, the Storm can move 12" and drop it's contents, still allowing for shooting and charging!

In a recent game, I took Mandrakes and Scourge. These units are widely regarded as sub-par, compared to the other units in the Dark Eldar List. My opponent wasn't familiar with the capabilities of these units, and they performed sterlingly. Four units were killed or run off the board. Not bad for units some people call "the worst units in the game"!