Sunday, 14 August 2011

Warhammer: Where is the Skill (Part 3: Choices)

A slightly shorter post this time. I figured I would try to group it a bit more logically as I went...

Choosing the right targets
Whether it be a lining up a charge or the potential victim of a spell, selecting the right target is a vital part of Warhammer. This is one of those skills that an experienced player will take for granted, and then sit there muttering quietly into his beard when he sees a rookie player get it horribly wrong.

Sometimes the right choice will be obvious. On average, it will take 36 Empire Handgunners to bring down a Troll at long range, and the remaining Trolls are immune to panic. The same amount of firepower could kill 8 Goblin Wolf Riders (or panic several units if you are able to spread your fire). Basic principles like using armour-piercing shots against armoured targets and targeting the immediate threat before the one that’s further away often come into the equation.
You might be afraid of Trolls, but pouring all your fire into them might not be the wisest course of action...
Sometimes the decision is not an easy one. You might have a choice between damaging a strong unit, or removing a weak one. Alternately, you might have the choice of concentrating fire and wiping something out, or spreading your fire and forcing panic tests on several units at once. The right decision will often depend upon the game situation, and what you need from your unit (often it’s not the result that will kill the most models).

Choosing the right targets often comes down to seemingly small things, such as allocating attacks in combat. Sure, you can roll all your dice at the grunt troops if you want, but killing the unarmoured mage might be worth a few attacks, and you might regret leaving that champion alive in later rounds when he challenges you and messes up your plans. Some players don’t even think about these things, but they’re always worth considering.

Getting the order right
The player whose turn it is has a lot of control over the order in which actions take place. Obviously you are constrained by the rules in terms of a movement phase, a magic phase and so on, but within those phases you tend to have a lot of flexibility. Making the right decision in terms of which action to perform first is very important.

One of the decisions that immediately comes to mind here is resolving combats in a particular order. A unit that overruns or pursues into a combat that has not yet been resolved gets to fight a second time in the same phase. It is the ultimate way to get good mileage from a dangerous unit, and I’m sure it’s something that everyone is aware of. However, you do still see people not taking it into proper consideration when they choose which combat to start with.

In a similar vein, models not directly involved in a combat can still have an effect upon it. The most obvious examples are the Inspiring Presence of the army general, and the rerolls from the battle standard bearer (there are other examples, such as the Helm of Commandment or the Miasma of Deathly Vigour from a Corpse Cart). If you resolve combats in the correct order, you may find you can drag your opponent’s BSB out of range (or even kill him), preventing his rerolls from benefiting another combat. On the flip side, you need to make sure you resolve your potentially unfavourable combat before your BSB smashes his opponents and pursues them out of range.

Another area where the order in which you resolve things is worth consideration is for break and rally tests. If you’re taking a group of break tests, never test with your BSB or general first. You want their bonuses for as long as possible. Instead, test with any other units first, making full use of the Inspiring Presence and rerolls. When you’re rallying, the opposite applies. You want your general and BSB to rally first, so that they can improve the chances of other units rallying nearby. These are simple things, but sometimes people don’t consider them until it’s too late.

There are plenty of little things in Warhammer where the order can be important. Things like firing a little unit of bowmen at your target to force your opponent to use his Charmed Shield before you clean him up with a cannonball. In previous editions, this would not have been an option – guess-range weapons had to fire before things like archers and bolt throwers. Some players may still be stuck in the mindset that they need to fire their artillery first, but there is no longer a rule stating that this is the case. Similarly, if you’re shooting at a target with Regeneration, make sure the unit with flaming attacks shoots first. If you do a wound, Regeneration will be negated for the rest of the phase and you can capitalise on that.


  1. Keep them great articles coming! Thanks for your time to update and write quality articles from the lores of magic to this current series.

  2. Thanks mate, glad you like them.