The art of striking last

  • Tactics

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  • The art of striking last

    The art of striking last

    With almost everyone stuck at home because of the viral outbreak, I figured that abit of debate in this subforum would help lift spirits and pass the time. If you're reading this in the metro/bus or with a bunch of people around you and you're not a healthcare professional, you’re doing something wrong.

    Now that we’re through with this message, lets focus on something else. After playing with two different types of elves for a long time, I started playing Beast Herds. One of the first things I noticed was how the tremendous hitting power of the units (built-in rerolls to hit, high Strength and AP) was offsetby the fact that -barring magic- beasts almost always strike last. Resilience 4 can only get you this far if the best armour save for your troops is a 5+. Sowinning with Beasts against any army that is not a pure gunline/shooting-avoidance seems to rely on circumventing this weakness. In this post I’ll try to brainstorm on ways to make this happen.

    The first thing that comes to mind is to bring more bodies. If the opponent strikes first, then you’d better bring bigger units, so that some of them will get the chance to strike back. Then it’s up to these remaining troops to rack up more kills than the opponent and to grind him down in combat. This is an approach that works wonders against small units/monsters that cannot possibly kill your entire unit, or enemies with high static combat resolution but a low amount or low quality of attacks. For example, if you engage a unit of KoE Peasant Levy with a unit of Longhorns in Line Formation, chances are that even if you suffer 3-4 wounds going in, your retaliation will be very bloody. The same goes if you’re charge/charge a Giant. However, that wouldn’t work when fighting troops that are both fast AND bring a high number of high quality attacks. Examples that come to mind are Vampire Spawn, WDG Chosen, all elven elite infantry and so on.


    Another option is to rely on magic to even out the odds. This works as follows: you send your (slow) unit into a one-on-one fight against an enemy that they wouldn’t normally beat, knowing that you’ve got several spells in your arsenal that will help them overcome their opposition. For example: Charging a unit of6 Minotaurs into a unit of 24 Lion Guard: now, normally this is suicide. But if you’ve got a couple of Blackwing Totems, plus Stoneskin and Healing Waters,then suddenly it might not be that bad of an idea. You can safely assume that with correct use of your dice you’ll be able to either make the Minos Agility 7and strike first, or make them a lot harder to wound, thus giving you more attacks back. The downside to this method is that magic dice are fickle, and sometimes the combination of a Binding Scroll with bad casting rolls is enough to spell your unit’s doom.



    Maneuvering and positioning often helps mitigate agility issues: this can range from simply charging into a flank, meaning that you get full support attacks while your opponent is often limited to a handful of attacking models. I’ve found Pack Tactics to be very useful for this, since the addition of Swiftstride makes along charge a lot more probable. To give an example, a 10+ charge on 2d6 has a 1-in-6 chance of succeeding, whereas the same charge with swiftstride is closer to 1-in-3.



    Flanking an adversary who knows what he’s doing is easier said than done, but what certainly helps is weight of numbers: the units available to a BH general are generally cheap enough to allow you to outnumber the enemy maneuver elements.The current MSU/MMU trends mean that you’ll probably won’t outnumber the enemy 2-to-1, but at least your high maneuverability enables you to create a mismatch in force concentration in one part of the battlefield, punch through and then focus on another part.



    But flank/rear charges are not the only tools we’ve got. Multi-charging is another,provided you know what you’re getting into. Multiple charges can help bring more wounds into a fight, but that can sometimes backfire: charge 4 units into a unit of Swordmasters, chances are you’ll probably give the elves enough combat resolution to actually break your units on the turn they charged. And we all know that this often results in crushing defeats.
    However,unit alignment is everything. Being able to feed the bulk of the enemy troops a low wound-count expendable unit while engaging the extremities of the same enemy with fragile but hard-hitting troops has won me many an uneven fight. On the turn you charge, odds are you’ll end up with a tied combat. But by round 2 of the fight your expendable cannon fodder will be gone, and your hard hitters will be still left fighting on either corner of the enemy unit.



    With a bit of preparation, you can either use another unit to limit enemy reforms, or just count on the fact that the enemy won’t be able to afford going wide enough to bring more models to the fight.



    Another way of ensuring that is just engaging on multiple fronts: a unit that’s fighting to both its flank and front cannot perform combat reforms, meaning that sometimes charging Feral Hounds into the flank of a Chosen unit might not be that bad of an idea.





    Finally, you can try and use friendly and enemy units as a means to force a clip:based on the knowledge that only one wheel is allowed when charging, you can identify openings where overall unit placement will only allow you to bring a single enemy model in the fight. If your own unit/model is a better fighter,you can expect them to win combat. Be advised: while such an approach is widely accepted in the tournament scene, and nobody will bat an eyelash if you pull it off, in more “relaxed” gaming circles it might be considered as gamey. Be sure to check with your casual gaming buddy whether he’s ok with playing that way.

    But sometimes it's simpler than that: unit alignment and maximization rules can be satisfied while still giving you the edge. As an example, if a unit of 3 chariots and a unit of 6 minotaurs charge into the same Spear Elf unit, then choosing whether to align all 3 front rank minotaurs or just 2 plus the full 3 chariots can make a whole lot of difference. In this instance, the extra impact hits will help win the first round,but unit placement will also mean that your fragile minotaurs will only ever be facing around 12 spear attacks, as opposed to 24 if all 3 were in base to base contact. Here you're wagering that your unit can fight better over a small frontage than the opponent: that's often the case with Beasts, and it's something to keep in mind.



    Discuss!

    Smith
  • Amazing article. Thanks a lot!
    Of course, as a BH player I know many of these strategies and use them regularly, but there were actually some things that I do not that intentionally, like blocking reforms. This is a great post and it really helps to understand how to play with low AGI.

    youngseward wrote:

    This is one of the reasons that every time I take longhorns or minotaurs, I pick great weapons. I dont ever write a list assuming Ill be going first in many games.
    Is this really a consequence? First, there are many opponents (Ogers, Orcs, Humans, Saurians, Dwarfs) who are not faster. So, BH still can attack first in many matchups. Second, at least one way to deal with the low AGI was magically bumping your AGI, e.g. with the Black Wing Totem of the BH. This is no longer an option if you use GW.
    So, although not assuming that I will get to be going first, I have more options to deal with different opponents: I force low AGI opponents to find ways to del with higher AGI (so they must hope that they know SmithF's post ;) ) and I give them harder decisions in the magic phase. That seems to be worth considering, isn't it?


    PS: @SmithF: Your intro regarding the Corona outbreak and also your consideration of non-tournament players make this post even better. Thanks!
    My blog about my Asian Elves
  • @arnadil orcs and KoE have higher agi units though - whereas BH just have agi3 outside of characters. Even ogres have units that either bring down your agi or have a strong reliance on impact hits. So it really just leaves Empire, DH and Saurians that I think Ill generally strike first or at the same time as.

    Plus if I buy great weapons, I invest in strategies to keep them alive to inflict their damage - druidism magic, blooded horn/gnarled hide totem, more bodies.
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  • But especially for elves it often makes a big difference if they don't strike first, what makes blooded horn totem on minos (or longhorns with helbards) a must dispel.

    On the other hand, totems are not that hard to dispel and gnarled hide usually can draw some dispel dice; so +1 S and AP is something that is useful against a lot of things...

    But personally, I would take GW only on wildhorns with 20+ models.
    :HE: :BH: :DL:

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  • Thanks so much for this!

    I always forget that you can align such that you engage as many enemy bases as possible. Using trash units to do that is a great idea!

    Is "sliding" still a compulsory thing to engage more bases or does that require an explicit reform? Be sad if the gortach gets slid down into contact with a load of WDG chosen after they butcher all the dogs!

    Thanks again :)
  • BigBird990 wrote:

    Is "sliding" still a compulsory thing to engage more bases or does that require an explicit reform? Be sad if the gortach gets slid down into contact with a load of WDG chosen after they butcher all the dogs!
    Actually sliding is not allowed at all: when charging, you have to try and maximize the amount of total models in combat, while respecting all movement/charging limitations (including the one-wheel clause). After that, any unit that is NOT engaged on multiple fronts can try to perform a combat reform.

    So in your example the Gortach would potentially stay engaged with a single WDG chosen, as long as you can plan ahead. ;)
  • My new most favourite unit are GW centaurs. Maybe they are paper, but they hit incredibly strong. If you get 15, even after losing half of the them due to enemy striking 1st, you can win combats. Somehow opponents don't expect that :D Blooded horn totem is so great on them. If you manage to cast it, which is not so hard, just the front rank can bring down greatest heroes and monsters. Let them charge you and DIE! :D So much fun!
    Team Belgium ETC 2006 O&G & 2007 Skaven
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  • Centaurs are far better. For 15 centaurs with GW you get only 23 longorns, which have 1 attack instead of 2. 8 wounds more are important, but these are stompable wounds, so quite often it doesn't make difference. And then count all advantages of centaurs, like high movement and drunkard.
    Obviously 30-40 Longhorns are really strong anvil/hammer, but their cost is much higher. One thing, except of bodyguard, which works better for longhorns is good resurrection value with summer growth.
    Team Belgium ETC 2006 O&G & 2007 Skaven
    Team Canada ETC 2010 & 2012 O&G
    My Beast Herd Gallery
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