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 2019

    WastelandWarrior Painting League 2020
  • 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

    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

    Don't do things by default: formations, where characters go, deployment, charging 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

    Balancing risk vs reward/thinking in terms of probability distributions
    Setting traps
    Overall plans
    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.

    Additional topics
    I got asked for a categorisation of units. It is in a later post, but I thought I'd put it here for posterity too.
    It is of course very simple/approximate.

    Categorisation of units

    medium/heavy combat units: big units intended or combat, difference between the two is mainly price (and is kinda arbitrary)
    chaff: units taken primarily to stand in front of something and die
    light units: small scoring units, small monsters, combat effective light troops etc... can be thought of as "heavy chaff"
    static shooting: shooting that doesn't easily redeploy and/or change firing arc
    manoeuvrable shooting: shooting that does easily redeploy and/or change firing arc
    monsters: single models with at least medium combat unit potential
    cowboys: single character models
    buff wagons: support pieces whose primary contribution is boosting your other troops (or debuffing opponents)
    deathstars: mega combat unit, often stuffed full of characters. All the eggs firmly in 1 place
    tar pit: unit that can take a lot of punishment but still hang around for a while due to number of bodies, typically has poor damage potential
    anvil: unit that can take a charge and is unlikely to break and/or suffer too many casualties. May have poor damage potential
    hammer: unit that hits hard (typically on the charge)
    glass cannon: hammer that dies easily if it leaves anyone alive to fight back
    war machines/artillery: static powerful shooting with 360 LoS but can't move
    bunker: small to medium unit intended to contain characters, and keep them out of harms way/protected from ranged damage

    I also got asked for some basic unit construction tips. I will keep these very simple as I think list building advice is easier to get, and mostly comes from understanding game mechanics and how units interact on the battlefield. It can also be very army book and player dependent.
    Basic unit construction

    • First ask yourself why you are using that unit and what you want it to do. Then add the necessary upgrades/models for the unit to do this task, but no more
    • Of course, if the unit's job is to be multi-role, then maybe it needs everything!
    • Musicians are often the most important upgrade (unless the unit skirmishes or is light troops, in which case don't bother with musicians), certainly for bigger units
    • Standards and champions are more of a luxury. Take champions to either duel your opponent's characters, or to prevent yours from being duelled. Standards are often taken because the unit wants a particular magic banner, but that aside they do provide a nice bit of extra combat resolution for fighting units
    • If a unit's role is about not being important (because you plan to throw it under the bus, or just use it as a distraction, extra deployment drop etc), then think carefully about upgrades but particularly about extra models. This typically includes things like light cavalry, eagles etc
    • Shooting units can become quite unwieldy (or waste shots) if they have too many models, because only the front two ranks can shoot (an important exception is volley fire units that don't move and are 8 models wide)
    • Credible combat threats typically begin at around 300pts. Many units need to be 400-500pts to be credible combat threats. I would classify a unit in this range as a medium combat unit. This includes things like 18-20 elite infantry, 3-4 large cavalry, 30-40 basic infantry. If you want a unit that will really start to dictate what your opponent does, you are looking at spending 600+
    • Tarpits need to have enough bodies to do their job
    • One could think about panic (i.e. how many kills to cause a panic check), although this is not something I regularly take into account. The exception might be medium discipline light units expected to operate outside of the bubble, where 9 can be quick a common number
    • There is always a trade-off between making units bigger/upgrading them more and having more units. It is often worth asking oneself whether shaving a couple of upgrades or models somewhere might allow something else to fit in. Equally, sometimes one goes too far, and realises that one has some units that now can't do their job
    • Have an idea in mind for what formation you want to use a unit in, this might inform the number of models you take. BUT, remember that the enemy might shoot the unit before it can do its job. Also, don't get too hung up on "this unit goes 6x5 "etc; one of my "middle" pieces of advice is about avoiding such "default" thinking and making active decisions and choices based on the battlefield situation. As a simple exercise related to this, when working out the matchups between your units and enemy units, consider if either side changing their formation could change the result
    • Combat unit formations/sizes should take into account the equipment, stats and role of the unit. Standard sized units with more than 1 attack per model (or large sized units with more than 3 attacks per model) probably want to be wider to maximise their output due to the restrictions on number of supporting attacks. Anvils probably want to be deep to minimise enemy attacks and ensure extra ranks for rank bonus and steadfast. Think carefully about the pros and cons before using line formation. I use it quite a lot because I think rolling more dice is more fun, but it can drop you in a hole if not used carefully. Spears get FIER anyway, so are often pretty good 7-wide to tread a middle ground between attacks and rank bonus
    • Just because a unit needs to be 5/3 wide to get a "full rank", doesn't mean it needs to be 5/3 wide to do its job: light troops gain little from such formations for example, so maybe your light cavalry could be 3wide with 2 in the back rather than 5 wide

    Edit 26/3/19: Link to a more advanced topic.…ostID=1183000#post1183000

    Edit 22/4/19: In the blog linked above, I am now adding 1 or 2 random tactics thoughts to each report; either things that were relevant during the game or just things that the game made me think of. They are not systematic, and they are brief, but it gives some extra random tips if anyone is interested.

    Also, I made a couple of brief posts in a topic about first turn. I plan to revisit this at some point, but until then those posts might be interesting.

    (TACTICS) Taking First Turn (if you have the chance)
    (TACTICS) Taking First Turn (if you have the chance)
    (TACTICS) Taking First Turn (if you have the chance)

    Edit 9/6/19:
    Some brief general thoughts on unit formations.…ostID=1222167#post1222167

    Edit 30/8/19:
    Fundamental (simple) principle (how did I miss this when I first made this post?! :P )
    Display Spoiler

    If you plan on rolling average, your plan will fail half of time

    To unpack this a bit, always try to shift the odds that bit further in your favour.
    Or "why have a fair fight if you can have an unfair fight" :)

    As a slightly more advanced version of this, note that if you make 10 plays with a 90% success rate, you should expect to fail at least one of them, even though each of them has a 90% success rate.
    So, always pay attention to
    (A) What is the risk?
    (B) Can I mitigate it/do I need to take that risk?
    (C) How bad is it if it goes wrong?
    (D) How big is the payoff if it goes right?

    A lot of good play, certainly at the "details" level, corresponds to simultaneously reducing the chances that something goes wrong, reducing how big the effect is when it goes wrong, and maximising the payoff that results if the dice favour you.

    If you seem to regularly lose games because an unlikely event happens, apply the "look elsewhere" principle: try to look for all the times where things could have gone wrong and didn't.
    In line with the above, if you can find 10 instances where your opponent had a 10% chance to win big, then the fact that you lost due to a failed dice roll that had a 90% chance of going your way isn't bad luck, it is average luck.

    Edit 31/8/19:
    Some thoughts about the concept and process of list writing
    Display Spoiler

    This is very high level (in the sense of being about the big picture, not details); it is probably of middle-ish difficulty.

    This idea grew out of a question I was asked in one of my threads, and relates to how I approach list writing in t9a.

    Basically. the idea is to forgo all thoughts of the individual points efficiency of specific units or unit configurations.
    Instead, work on a much more holistic/macroscopic level.
    Think about how the list as a whole will operate, what it is trying to achieve, how it will work against different opponents...
    Then keep applying this principle as you iterate.
    Some ideas/concepts will lead to a good place and some won't, but it is a good way to explore possible lists and shake conventional wisdom or perceived staleness.

    More detail can be seen in these two posts.…ostID=1254868#post1254868…ostID=1254973#post1254973

    An attempt to apply it to help someone can be seen in another thread from this post onwards…ostID=1259134#post1259134
    ...and particularly…ostID=1260503#post1260503

    Here is some philosophical waffle from me about what I think about t9a and the state the balance is in.
    It is not required reading in order to use these list building tips and processes, but it might be interesting for some.

    Display Spoiler

    Compared to legacy, t9a has a lower power curve and game impact of individual actions/units and decisions.
    It also has made substantial efforts to improve the balance.

    As a result, the "value added", from combining units into a coherent list that is more than the sum of its parts, is a greater fraction of the power of a list than it was previously.

    This means that choosing the most points efficient units and putting them into a list doesn't necessarily result in a truly powerful list. And therefore that most units will feel individually underpowered when considered in a vacuum, and that inserting a random unit into your last 300points in a list probably won't achieve much.

    Instead, one must focus on the "value added" from the beginning: the improved balance and lower power curve have increased the skill involved in writing a list. Some people do this from theory and others do this by playing many games and iterating based on experience.

    Additionally, players should try to find the units and playstyles that suit them, because this also contributes to the "value added".

    The ideas in my posts linked above will hopefully help to make this process a bit more explicit.
    I hope that it will allow people to write more, more varied, and more personal lists that they are happy with, and thus get more out of their hobby :)

    I have also made a list repository for those who want to read some weird lists for inspiration, LIST REPOSITORY

    Edit 1/9/19:
    I wrote an article for the t9a scroll about unit formations.
    Display Spoiler

    DanT wrote:

    What a difference a shape makes:
    Tips on choosing formations in the ninth age fantasy battles
    Do things always end badly when you square up to your opponent? Are your troops out of shape? Maybe picking different formations could help...

    In this article, I will give some hints, tips and thinking points for choosing formations during your games. The tips will range from basic to more advanced and will be generally applicable for most armies. Note that this article is written from a gaming perspective; if your goal is units that look nice, and battlefield efficacy is not important, then I'm afraid this article will not contain much for you. But all power to you anyway! Also note that by "formations" I mean the choice of width and depth of a single unit, not the formation that an army is deployed in.

    Let us start at the very beginning. What are the things that are affected by a unit's formation?
    • Which models can fight (i.e. who will be in base contact), both for this unit and the units it fights against
    • Steadfast and breaking steadfast
    • Number of models that can shoot
    • What gaps the unit fits through and how it interacts with terrain
    • Line formation (8 wide): the unit gains extra FIER, and maybe extra SIER, but gets no combat resolution for ranks
    • How many hits area attacks get on the unit

    Key principle: combat maths
    From this list of effects that formations have, the most important one is the "which models can fight" effect. The simplest way to start thinking about possible formations is to consider the maths of a specific pair of units fighting each other.

    For example, pick an enemy combat unit from the last game you played (it needn't be the strongest or biggest). Now pick one of your units, deploy it at minimal width (normally 5 for standard and 3 for large) and calculate the damage that each side does. To start with, simply go with whatever formation the enemy unit was in (or mostly in) during your last game.

    Now that you have done this, change your unit to line formation, and repeat the calculation. What changes? If the combat was good for you before, has it got better or worse? Does it change who can be steadfast?

    Once you've got the hang of such calculations, you can think about generalising the exercise further by considering different formations for the enemy unit, and by considering entirely different pairs of units. Note that the point of this exercise is not to necessarily learn about which fights you win, but just to see how the choice of formation can influence fights. Things to think about or notice when doing such calculations include: is the width enough that every model from both sides can fight? Does it matter who charges? Who is capable (if anyone) of being steadfast at the end of the first round? Is someone likely to break in the first round? If not, how does the second round look?

    See BOX 1 for a specific example of how a change of formation can change who wins a grind between two units.

    BOX 1: Combat Example

    Combat Example
    Let us take 14 HBE swordmasters (7x2) and 40 EoS halberds (5x8). We will assume that steadfast units pass their break test, and that each unit gets the expected number of kills each round (we can of course remove these assumptions, but it makes the analysis more complicated and such is not the point of this article). See figure 1 for a representation of these fights.

    All seven of the sword masters in the front row can fight (five lined up exactly vs five, and then the two corners can fight too) means 21 attacks, hitting on 2+, wounding on 2+, no saves. So 14.58 dead halberdiers. Lets call it 15.
    Then ten halberdiers fight back on 4+/3+, and the swordmasters get a 6+ save. This gives 2.78 casualties; lets call it 3 dead sword masters.
    The swordmasters win, and the halberdiers are steadfast.
    Next round, another 13 halberdiers die and another 3 swordmasters die too. The halberds are steadfast again, then they basically all die in the third round. If they are lucky they kill one more sword master before dying. So the whole unit has traded for 6-7 swordmasters, and taken them out of the game for a few turns.

    Now put the halberdiers 9 wide. Crucially note that all 9 halberdier files can fight against 7 swordmasters.
    Again, in the first round the swordmasters kill 15 halberdiers, then the halberdiers kill 6.94 swordmasters; we'll call this 7. The halberdiers are steadfast, and it doesn't matter that they no longer have any combat res for ranks.
    Next round, the swordmasters fight and kill 9.72 halberdiers (call it 10). The remaining 15 halberdiers kill 4.17 swordmasters (call it 4), meaning the halberdiers are steadfast again. At this point the halberds want to change to 5x3, because there are only 3 swordmasters left.
    In the third round the swordmasters kill 4.17 and the halberds kill 2.78 and will have a rank: they might even draw combat! Either way, the last swordmaster or two will likely die in the fourth round.

    Now, let us recap: the same two units fought in both cases. But who won was changed by changing the formation that one of the units was in!
    This is the most basic point I want to get across in this article: choosing the right formation can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

    Of course, I specifically chose an example where a formation change did make a difference. Nonetheless, if you pay attention to your games (either during or afterwards), you will see occasions where the basic matchup between two units could have been changed if either player had been in a different formation when the charge happened.

    Choosing formations
    Once you've looked at some example fights and how formations affect them, you will need to make some choices for your units, and have some possible formations in mind when you write your army list. Here are a few considerations when choosing units and their formations, and see BOX 2 for some rules of thumb to guide you if in doubt.

    Players should consider what role they want the unit to have. Is the unit damage focussed? If so, wider is likely to be better. Is the unit focussed on having combat resolution from ranks, or having/breaking steadfast, or delivering characters? Then perhaps it wants to be minimal width in order to get maximum ranks. In general, units that are more damage focussed (particularly if they are standard sized with more than 1 attack) want to go wider. Equally, all other things equal, units in aggressive (wide) formations are likely to get the most from offensive buffs/hexes, and narrower units are likely to get the most from defensive buffs/hexes.

    What size does the unit need to be to do its job efficiently? How many ranks can the unit shoot or fight in (this is two for most units), and therefore how many models can ideally shoot/fight? With bigger units, generally don't obsess too much over an exact number of models, this is often a red herring and it doesn't matter too much. Having redundant bodies is great, but not if it costs you something elsewhere.

    Model size affects the minimum number of models required for a full rank. Generally, all references to units that are 5 wide apply to large sized units that are 3 wide.

    Musicians make it much easier to change formation during the battle, so units that might want to change formation often will benefit from these.

    Line formation (8 wide) is the threshold at which combat res is lost and FIER is gained. This means that 8,7 and 5 are normally the most common unit sizes to think about: as narrow as possible whilst getting ranks, as wide as possible whilst maintaining combat res, and then the minimum size to get FIER.

    Six wide is a bit of a special case that is generally less common, and is typically seen for units with a medium number of models and a single decent attack per model, but where maintaining ranks might be important. For example, a unit of 12 cavalry, or 24 elite dwarfs, might want to be six wide.

    BOX 2: Rules of thumb

    If in doubt:
    • Put small shooting units into 2 ranks, but as narrow as possible, i.e. such that every model can shoot.
    • Big shooting units should mostly do the same as long as they are safe to do so (i.e. not about to get charged and broken).
    • Put offensive focussed combat units 7 or 8 wide if standard sized (typically 8 wide for smaller more elite units, and 7 wide for big units that will benefit more from the combat resolution from ranks).
    • Put defensive focussed combat units (those with weak attacks and/or a focus on static combat resolution rather than kills) 5 wide (or 3 wide if large).
    • Offensive units of large sized models should typically be deployed in no more than two ranks. So 3-6 models should be deployed 3 wide, 7-8 models deployed 4 wide. However, if the model has more than 3 attacks, and/or impact hits/stomps/harnessed model parts are an important part of the damage output, consider going 4 or 5 wide instead. For example, in the currently popular UD lists, units of 4 winged reapers are often deployed 4 wide, and units of 5 cataphracts are typically deployed 5 wide.
    • Large spear units often want to go 7 wide, to get maximum attacks and rank bonus. Small spear units probably want to go as narrow as possible, whilst allowing every (or nearly every) model to attack.

    The combat maths and considerations above provide the basics behind choosing unit formations. Let us now consider some complications and additional things to think about.

    1. Physical size of the units
    The formation that a unit is in determines the physical extent of the unit on the tabletop. As a result, there are some additional considerations to take into account. The obvious one is whether a unit can fit through certain gaps on the table, whether between units, terrain, or both. Perhaps a unit needs to change formation this turn in order to charge through a particular gap next turn? In addition, some effects trigger based on the number of models whose centre is in a particular terrain piece, e.g. a hill. Perhaps a different formation lets you gain the hill bonus? Or prevents you from gaining it?

    The frontage of units can also become important in situations regarding multiple charges: if your unit is super wide, it is easier for the opponent to throw lots of units into it and have them all fight. Conversely, if your unit is narrower, not only can the enemy not combo charge against it so well, but it also allows you to combine more of your own units into a single enemy unit.

    One final note about the physical extent of wider units: such units may find it harder to align on a busy battlefield, and it is also more likely that a unit will end up in their zone of advance and thus preventing them from charging or marching.

    2. Characters
    Characters interact with unit formations in several ways, relating to which models can attack opposing characters. Of course, it is not always the right choice to attack opposing characters, but assuming you want to do so there are two things to consider.

    Firstly, does going deeper allow extra attacks against specific models? This is normally a consideration for units with small numbers of models, for example units of 5-6 standard cavalry going 2-3 wide in order to focus their attacks on a specific character, or things like units of 4 chosen knights who might choose to go 3+1 rather than 4 wide, in order to direct support attacks onto a specific character.

    The other thing to consider is whether the relative widths of the two units potentially reduce the number of models that can attack the character. For example consider, two units with the same base size, both 5 wide. If the opponent charges and has a character they want to protect on the corner, then they can align offset so that only one model in the front rank can attack the character. If you were 7 wide, the opponent must line up in such a way that three of your front rank can attack their character. Equally, if you are 5 wide and your opponent puts their unit 8 wide with the character on a corner, then they can charge in such a way that you cannot attack the character, and can only fight it by subsequently increasing the width of your unit (assuming you hold the charge).

    This latter is a tactic you can adopt yourself as a way to help keep your characters safe. In some situations, with narrower formations, it is possible to ensure your characters can fight (or not fight) the enemy characters too. See figures 2 and 3 for some examples of how formations can interact with characters.

    Figure 2: How formation width can keep your characters safe. Here, the red unit is charging, allowing the player to align as illustrated and thus keep their character safe. Not only this, but the blue unit cannot combat reform so that any of the models can attack the character. If the red unit was any narrower, there would be no way to keep the character safe.

    Figure 3: How formation width can control characters. The red unit charges the blue unit. In scenario 1, the blue unit is 5 wide, allowing the red player to line up as shown, and then later make way with their character to anywhere in the front rank. In scenario 2, the character in the red unit has no choice of where he goes, and thus can only attack rank and file.

    3. Extra reasons to go wider
    If a unit has a lot of impact hits or stomps, or the harnessed models contribute a significant amount of damage, then the unit is likely to want to go wider, due to these things all requiring base contact. Also note that units with Stubborn/bodyguard/unbreakable typically don't require steadfast, so it is much less of a risk to run these unit wider.

    Another good reason to go wider is when playing against area attacks, such as catapults. Deploying your key units wide enough denies your opponent the chance to land that "knockout shot" that could win them the game early on. Careful judgement must be used to not leave your units vulnerable to a charge though, perhaps just staying wide for the first turn, or until your support troops have killed the catapults/other area attack threats.

    4. Extra reasons to go narrower
    Small units with multiple attacks can be more resistant to flank charges due to a change of formation. For example, 4 chosen knights deployed 3+1. When this unit fights to the front, it has lost two strength five attacks and a stomp. However, if flanked, it gets an additional full models worth of attacks, making a big difference to which units can threaten to beat or pin this unit with a flank charge.

    If the unit is low agility or expected to fight last, consider what casualties the unit might expect to take before it fights. There is no point carefully choosing a formation to allow every model to attack, if it is expected that the unit will often take casualties before it attacks.

    Particularly for smaller units, who are unlikely to be steadfast or break steadfast anyway, consider whether you need to be full rank width wide, or whether it is advantageous to be narrower to fit through smaller gaps.

    Also, even a unit that is generally better in line formation doesn't always want to be in line formation. The removal of combat res can allow some semi-resilient single models to hold up your unit unexpectedly: consider the halberd unit from the earlier example charging an orc boar chariot. Even in line formation, the halberds don't expect to do more wounds to the chariot than it does to them, and the +3 combat res for ranks is likely to make a big difference to whether the boar chariot breaks (potentially allowing a tasty overrun), or whether it holds for an extra combat round or two.

    5. Special cases: Light Troops and war platforms
    Light troops[/lexicon] are easy to change formation with, so it is often worth asking yourself what formation is optimal as you move them: perhaps a weirdly wide or narrow formation is useful. But don't get caught out by being in a funny formation and getting charged, or blocking your own units, or easily bouncing off the table when they flee because they have a weird footprint.

    War platforms take up lots of space in units, which is often a good way to ensure steadfast. Consider what kind of war platform it is, what job it has and the properties of the unit it is in. If it is good at fighting sideways, then consider going wider with your unit such that the war platform sticks out at the back and is therefore able to fight across the gap if the unit is flanked. Also consider how the width of the unit can control charging enemies, particularly single models. For example, consider a vermin swarm pendulum in a unit of plague brotherhood deployed 6 wide (with the pendulum taking up 3 of these): any single model with frontage less than 60mm MUST line on the side of the pendulum with two brotherhood models. This can be used to keep a character safe, set up easier counter charges and other shenanigans.

    6. Advanced plays
    (A) The delay. Sometimes it can be advantageous to choose a formation that explicitly won't stop the opposing unit from being steadfast, such as if you want to break them in their turn rather than when you charge them. This might require a clever choice of initial formation and then a reform, but make sure you don't get caught out by an opposing counter-charge, and you still need to not lose the combat the turn you charge!

    (B) The dart. Super narrow units can serve several purposes: it minimises attacks on them (perhaps they are stubborn or unbreakable, or just good enough to only lose by a few)-including stubborn, unbreakable, undead, roadblocks, damnation forsworn, but also allows them to maximise attacks on specific characters/models (e.g to assassinate wizard). It also allows good/easy wheels, making the units surprisingly laterally mobile.

    (C) The omnipresent. Very long or narrow formations can allow units to be in range of two key battlefield points at once. This could be for example, being within general range whilst claiming an objective, or claiming an objective whilst getting a wizard into spell range of a specific target.

    (D) The sweep. The idea behind this tactic is to deploy a unit very wide in order to prevent enemy units from getting around your battle line. This can be particularly useful if your opponent has done say a refused flank, but has some chaff/shooting/light units on their refused flank. A single unit of yours, deployed wide, can take up enough table space to protect your whole flank against those light units (literally sweeping them up whilst only requiring one unit to be diverted from the main advance into your opponent's army. This is particularly useful against avoidance lists. See figure 4 for an example deployment.

    Figure 4: An approximate deployment illustrating "the sweep". Here, the blue cavalry unit has been deployed in a long line. This allows it to protect a wide area on the flank of the main battleline and sweep up the harassing units placed on this flank. As a result, the main battleline has been able to deploy closer to the centre of the table, without risk of the harassing units getting behind it.

    Summary: Key mindset changes to take away
    • Analyse formations after your games. Run through specific fights that occurred (or could have occurred). Where would a change in formation (by either player) have made a difference to the outcome of a fight?
    • Don't do things by default or on autopilot. Pay attention to formations and keep asking yourself questions: should I change my formation, what is the gain, what are the potential problems, where should my characters go...
    • Make lots of spare movement trays for different formations and bring them to your games :)

    Edit 4/9/19:
    Link to post suggesting basic game-plan: 15-20-10.…ostID=1266181#post1266181

    Edit 19/12/19:
    Some interesting basic/first principles thoughts HERE by Gaius Marius, which I think are complementary to many of the ideas in this post.

    Edit 1/3/20:
    Chaff article added to this thread, HERE.

    Edit 3/5/21:
    Some repetition and a few extra thoughts about list building/beginning HERE
    List repository and links HERE
    Basic beginners tactics HERE
    Empire of Dannstahl HERE
    Adjustments to 2.0 HERE

    The post was edited 19 times, last by DanT ().

  • Mirdhynn wrote:

    @DanT Let's go for middle level tactics ? :D
    Haha. I've had no feedback on the beginner ones:
    I have no idea if anyone has read them, found them useful, or even whether they make any sense!

    I might have some spare time in February, remind me after the 4th Feb and I'll see if I can take a look at it.
    List repository and links HERE
    Basic beginners tactics HERE
    Empire of Dannstahl HERE
    Adjustments to 2.0 HERE
  • DanT wrote:

    Mirdhynn wrote:

    @DanT Let's go for middle level tactics ? :D
    Haha. I've had no feedback on the beginner ones:I have no idea if anyone has read them, found them useful, or even whether they make any sense!

    I might have some spare time in February, remind me after the 4th Feb and I'll see if I can take a look at it.
    I really liked your little guide. If you find time, I would like to read more.
  • @DanT , you are near surrounded ;)
    Without joking, such help for beginners is welcomed. This forum see many competitors players, but it is really difficult to have some advice (see my explain us the herd thread in Beast herds forum. Nearly nobody answered it :sleeping: )
  • I also believe that it is possible to give generic tips
    What about the musicians, standard bearers and champions, for example?
    When are the costs reasonable...for light cavalry, archers, infantry.
    Which units should you use in hord formation?
    Which equipment tends to make sense. Do I give Helebards to light infantry?
    Can you roughly categorize units? Chaff is well known...but
    Which unit sizes make sense? Depth vs. width.

    It is perfectly clear that no clear set of rules can be created. That would be nonsense. But food for thought and tips from experienced players would be wonderful. It would be a dream if these tips were well structured.

    Many thanks in advance
  • @Der Graf

    Hmmm... well, one of the goals of t9a is that nothing is priced wrongly enough to be a handicap or unfair advantage. We are not there exactly, but broadly I think we are pretty close by legacy standards, so I wouldn't worry too much about picking weak units.

    Of course, it is still possible to create a list with a bad combination of units, or units that are not points efficient for their purpose.
    For example, taking units of 6-7 light cavalry often doesn't allow the unit to achieve anything that 5 wouldn't, so probably best to just stick with default unit size most of the time.
    Equally, musicians on light troops are probably a poor choice most of the time, and yet arguably the most important upgrade for big ranked combat units.
    I haven't really mentioned anything like this above, cos I think list building advice is easy to find and easy to give/understand. It is also quite personal and involves lots of considerations like "what models have I got?", "what do I find fun?" etc.

    Unit formations: depth/width, line formation etc are a good point. I will add something to my guide about them when I get a second.

    Categorising units I would go something like:
    medium/heavy combat units: big units intended or combat, difference between the two is mainly price (and is kinda arbitrary)
    chaff: units taken primarily to stand in front of something and die
    light units: small scoring units, small monsters, combat effective light troops etc... can be thought of as "heavy chaff"
    static shooting: shooting that doesn't easily redeploy and/or change firing arc
    manoeuvrable shooting: shooting that does easily redeploy and/or change firing arc
    monsters: single models with at least medium combat unit potential
    cowboys: single character models
    buff wagons: support pieces whose primary contribution is boosting your other troops (or debuffing opponents)
    deathstars: mega combat unit, often stuffed full of characters. All the eggs firmly in 1 place :)
    tar pit: unit that can take a lot of punishment but still hang around for a while due to number of bodies, typically has poor damage potential
    anvil: unit that can take a charge and is unlikely to break and/or suffer too many casualties. May have poor damage potential
    hammer: unit that hits hard (typically on the charge)
    glass cannon: hammer that dies easily if it leaves anyone alive to fight back
    war machines/artillery: static powerful shooting with 360 LoS but can't move
    bunker: small to medium unit intended to contain characters, and keep them out of harms way/protected from ranged damage

    I am not sure I understand your question about equipment?

    I hope some of that helps and vaguely answers some of your questions?
    List repository and links HERE
    Basic beginners tactics HERE
    Empire of Dannstahl HERE
    Adjustments to 2.0 HERE

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

  • @DanT

    Thank you for your answer

    All this goes exactly in the direction that I find exciting. It's also very helpful when you're just starting to build up an army. And reduces any mispurchases or unnecessarily painted.

    My question about equipment becomes clearer when I combine it with your categorization of units:

    Which equipment tends to make sense for which category of units? Partly I can already imagine this. The question is to be understood more as an example.

    For me personally an approach of the categories mentioned by you would be very interesting.

    For example:

    Tarpit Unit

    typical size
    right equipment
    recommended command group
    Useful for playing style xy
    counter unit category xy
    Typical deployment
    Interacts well with units category xy
    Do's and Dont's

    The whole thing could then be aggregated to the playing styles.

    For example:

    Defend the Castle

    2-3 anvil units
    3-4 static shooting
    And so on.....

    Of course, it must always be clear that this is all very simplistic. But I think it would be gold for beginners to get a rough but structured overview of their troops.

    And in particular the purchase and the painting one could arrange much more meaningfully. Without having unpleasant surprises. Surely you can find all this together. But in a collected overview I have never seen anything like this before. And I've been there for 20 years, albeit very passively with unfortunately too few games.
  • This thread is great! Learning so much as I am that newbie in need of knowledge!!

    Would it be possible to ping that thread where the 1st post gets the latest update of all those Q&A?

    Also, it would be good to link that one to the pinged "Quick Starter V2.0 Premade Army Lists for Playtesting Preview", so we have a complete guide for beginners on tactics! Even add some scenarios as demo maybe (where you test the effect of the field specifics with your strider, scouts, vanguard, etc.)?

    Keep the good job! Cheers!
  • @DanT I've missed your post somehow (well... it's a large forum lol).

    As an unexperience player from the competitive point of view who is now going to tournaments, I've found it extremely useful and clear.

    I strongly believe we should collect such post and alikes into an official dowloadable pdf or something similar, eventually to be integrated into the FBRB, it can really help new player entering the "grand scheme" of the game.

    @JimMorr for legendary printed brb

    @piteglio @DJWoodelf for quickstarter and introductory policies

    @Casp for the new site, perhaps a specific section could prove to be interesting?

    @All staff: please remember that a valuable content could be useful if pushed outside the forum, which can make it literally invisible to the rest of the community.