No 'tactics for beginners' thread?

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  • No 'tactics for beginners' thread?

    I have played only a handful of games and while I am really enjoying things, I have not been performing too well. After every match there are clearly some mistakes I have made or oversights or just matchups I shouldn't have taken. It's good to learn these things, but what I am really missing is a good resource for more general strategy that I can take into consideration during list building, deployment, or even the game itself - an army forum only does so much.

    I guess what I am asking for is if there were any suggestions for a place to look over those kind of general tactics (like why you would go 7 wide as opposed to 5 in a block for example, something I never considered as an option before) because my background is entirely in skirmish games where these things were never considerations!
  • also if you have specific questions about games you have had or situations that you thought were difficult, the following thread has experienced players who are more than happy to give their opinions on what you could or should have done in that situation.

    Ask Smith! (Tactics discussion)
    Take a look at my painted army so far. Feel free to share a pic of yours!

    Pics of my ever expanding warriors army

    WastelandWarrior Painting League 2018

    WastelandWarrior Painting League 2019
  • I have pondered this a few times, but it is quite difficult to work out a list of things from scratch and present them in a sensible and coherent order. Things are too interdependent, which is why people typically recommend playing games against people who are prepared to help you.

    I recently discussed this with someone who was asking me for some help (we actually did a game by skype, which was quite an interesting thing to do).

    I created this list of basic/medium/advanced things, but I am 100% sure that it has things missing from it, maybe really important things.
    I have mostly left list advice out of it, as it is 2-a-penny, easier to get, and only useful when you understand the advice from a play perspective.

    Display Spoiler

    Basic
    Matching units
    Don't give anything away
    Risk management basics
    Don't be greedy/magic phase intro
    Target priority basics (links to matching units)
    Keeping battleline together
    Free information
    Good vs bad situations


    Middle
    Deployment
    Scenarios
    Fleeing
    Don't do things by default: formations, where characters go, deployment, charging chaff
    Zoning
    Chaff
    Having a plan? Or not?
    The double bind: win-win situations
    Learning lessons and self analysis
    Target priority 2: effectiveness vs importance and link to overall strategy
    Terrain


    Advanced
    Balancing risk vs reward/thinking in terms of probability distributions
    Setting traps
    Overall plans
    Lists
    The other side of the table: doing what your opponent doesn't want you to do
    Bold sacrifices




    Let me add a few sentences to what I mean for each thing that I've put in the basic category. Let me know whether or not they make sense.


    Matching units:
    Try to get a rough idea which of your units beat which fo your opponents units. An important thing to think about is not just who wins, but whether the loser is likely to break on the first round. Plus also get a feel for whether charging and/or buffs swing the combat significantly. This is most easily done if you have your opponents list in advance and by doing the maths explicitly. If you don't have your opponents list in advance, you can always ask for it and do this exercise after the game, that way you will start to get a rough idea of your units capabilities vs other units. If doing the maths is an issue, then you can either get this from experience (playing lots of games) or just pitting two units against each other in your spare time and explicitly rolling the dice lots of times.

    Don't give anything away:
    Don't charge into a fight that you are pretty certain to lose just because you don't know what to do or think your opponent will charge you next turn anyway. Don't use a unit to block an enemy for a turn (chaffing) if you don't need to. Flee if you think your unit can get to safety and have a chance to rally and fight another day. I.e. make your opponent work for everything they get.

    Risk management basics:
    Risk management is the fundamental skill of the game. Again, one can approach this by doing the maths, looking at the tables available on this forum/elsewhere, or simply playing a lot of games. Basically, one should ask the question "if I do action A, what is the payoff if it works, what is the problem if it fails, and what are the probabilities of the two outcomes". In general, particularly when learning, my advice would be to be slightly conservative, except in relatively risk free cases. This ties into "not giving anything away" and should stop the games feeling like a whitewash, even if you still lose them in the end. Risk management is a huge topic all of its own, but if you can just start trying to see your decisions in this way, I am sure you will start to figure a lot of it out for yourself.

    Don't be greedy/magic phase intro:
    This is sort of a corollary to risk management basics and giving nothing away. I have a basic rule of thumb for the magic phase, when deciding how many dice to use to cast or dispel. Assume the first dice you roll gets a "3", the second a "2", the third a "3" and the fourth a "2". So, if you need a 4 or higher on the dice, roll 2. If you need a 6 or higher, roll 3 dice. If you need a 9 or higher, roll 4 dice. The actual rule I go by is slightly more mathematical: look for the point on the probability curve where your chances of success go above 80%. But the "2 and 3" rule captures it quite well. Of course, like any rule, it should be broken, but one thing at a time...

    Target priority basics (links to matching units):
    Two questions to ask when choosing where to put you magic and shooting damage: (A) how much damage will it do? (B) How important is it to do that damage? For example, your enemy might have an infantry unit that is very vulnerable to your mortar, but is out of position, so maybe is lower priority than a unit that the mortar will do less damage to but is in a critical position. The link to matching units comes from asking the question: how much damage do I need to do to enemy unit X, such that my unit Y now beats it, where previously it didn't. This can help dictate your target priority. Equally, if there is a unit that you are really gonna struggle to stop in combat, you either need to focus all your firepower on it, or accept that it will get to munch on several of your units and try to focus on the rest of the opposing army. This choice is starting to move us into more advanced things though.

    Keeping battleline together:
    Exactly as it says on the tin. Most armies (not all) work best when the elements mutually support each other. This means staying inside the general and bsb bubble. It also means having your main units setup so that if an enemy charges one of your units and doesn't go through it on the charge, your other units are available and looking in the right direction to countercharge. Also, think about things like your spell ranges when moving your units/wizards: can you buff/the units that you need to? This brings me to the next thing.

    Free information:
    T9a is a game of free information: distances and arcs are all free information, available to any player at any time. Don't measure things at random of course, but never be shy to check distances or arcs rather than eyeballing them. The information is yours; use it.

    Good vs bad situations:
    There are basic situations that occur on the battlefield that are fundamentally advantageous to one player or another. For example, charging someone in the flank or rear (as opposed to the front) can often make a significant difference to who the combat favours. Being blocked by an enemy unit, such that you can charge and kill it, but will then get battered by one or more enemy units, is a fundamentally bad position to be in. Charging into a stubborn/unbreakable/likely-to-not-completely-die-or-run-away-in-the-first-round-of-combat enemy unit when your opponent has units available to countercharge is likely to be very bad for you. So these are the situations that you need to start recognising. Kudos to you if you can start setting them up for your enemy to fall into, but at least initially one can at least focus on trying not to get into these situations.


    I apologise if some of this seems overly mathematical or academic at times. The game played well really is a game of grand strategy and manoeuvre, but one has to understand enough of the details and basic decision making before one can get into the meat of the grand strategy.
    Ask not what the project can do for you, but what you can do for the project :)

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    Check out my new ID blog
    Dan ventures into the lands of smoke and fire

    And some basic tactics for beginners (I should develop this properly at some point)
    No 'tactics for beginners' thread?

    The post was edited 1 time, last by DanT ().