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Deployment tactics 
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Slave (off the Altar)

Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:33 am
Posts: 17
Hi guys
I seem to be saying something like 'i made a few mistakes in deployment' a lot lately and wondered if anyone would share their advice on the subject. I usually notice the problems early on and then have to go to lengths to fix it if possible. For example, In my last game my hydra spent the first 2 turns running along my board edge completely out of the game to get into position. I know that some games can virtually be over after both armies are placed and I want to get this problem sorted before my first tourney next month. So if someone has any general rules they go by, i'd be glad to hear them.

Thanx


Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:06 am
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Noble

Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:37 pm
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I would humbly suggest this video that I put together covering a general approach to deployment a little while ago, I've had some fairly good feedback on it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZJGZf2onEE

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Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:28 am
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Malekith's Best Friend
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The deployment phase is one of the most important, if not THE most important phases of the game. We’ve all experienced the moment when you’ve looked at your army and you opponent’s army and thought “I’m going to lose this one” or “I’m going to win this one”. The question is what makes a successful deployment phase and how do you maximize your own advantages while minimizing your disadvantages. While at the same time you want to minimize your opponent’s advantages and maximize his disadvantages. This is a topic that deserves much more thought than can expressed in an internet forum but I will try and cover some of the basic ideas and provide a few examples along the way.

The Deployment Phase and Terrain
A big factor of how the battle is going to play out depends upon the landscape of the board. As each piece of territory is generated, it is worth considering how the piece can affect each army. If you think it is beneficial, you want it on your side. If you think it is detrimental, you want it on your opponent’s side. Correspondingly if a piece of terrain is especially advantageous to your opponent, you should deploy it away from him to deny him the advantage. Statistically speaking, when it comes to picking sides, unless there is an obvious advantage or disadvantage to one side or the other, the player who gets to choose sides will more often than not pick the side they are standing on or the side their army box is on. Perhaps it is a gesture of being nice to an opponent or just plain laziness but they’ll usually not pick the opposing side to make an opponent move all his gear or move his own. Knowing that, you should have a decent idea of what side you’re playing on and can place terrain accordingly.

When placing a piece of terrain you know you want to control, make sure you can reach it by the end of turn 1. Between Scouts, vanguard movement, and a myriad of other hazards, beyond turn 1 a lot of unexpected things can happen. By having the unit of your choice controlling a piece of terrain, you’re giving an advantage (minor or more significant) to your unit and bringing the fight to that spot on the board. Whether it’s an Alter of Khaine giving your units Frenzy or a defended wall, your troops are now more effective or better protected than they would otherwise be. And if the terrain is something that has a ranged effect, on the following turn you can position you unit to ensure your unit is within its range of effect while hopefully the enemy isn’t. Being able to see these kinds of advantages during deployment will help you capitalize on the strengths of your army or help eliminate a weakness. Your job during deployment is to ensure the terrain will help your units do what they do, just let them do it better.

There are always going to be pieces of terrain you don’t want on your battlefield. When a Sigmarite Shrine is rolled and your facing an Empire army, you know your opponent will want to cluster his army around it. Dwarves will want a hill. Wood Elves and Beastmen love to see forests all over the board. Place these pieces of terrain off to the extreme sides or in the rear corner of a deployment zone. Or cluster a bunch of bad terrain choices together to make a part of the battlefield so undesirable that no one will want to deploy there. Rivers, a settlement, swamps, things like that are avoided by most players and in doing so, you not only can isolate something you’d prefer to avoid while also reducing the area where your opponent is likely to deploy. Deploying terrain essentially defines how an army deploys so controlling one often means you are controlling the other.

Of course there will come a time when a piece of terrain shows up in your deployment zone that you really don’t want to deal with. A swamp in the middle of your deployment zone forcing you to break up your army, an Anvil of Vaul when you’re facing High Elves, and so on. As you deploy your units you have two choices – deploy away from the terrain or deploy your fast units around it so that they can get away from it as fast as possible. If you don’t have troops near something, it won’t affect you. You may find yourself retreating towards it as the game goes but at least you’ve done your best to avoid it and not let it interfere with your battle plans. Of course if you win the dice roll, you can always choose the other side as well!

I have two last things I like to consider when I place terrain in my army; my movement speed versus my opponent and how much shooting I expect my opponent to have. If my army contains relatively fast units, Cold One Knights or flying characters for example, I want to break the field up in some way to give my opponent a way to think he is anchoring his flank while I plan on moving my fast units around something and into his flank/rear. Other than big, ranked up units there aren’t a lot of things that will withstand a charge by our elite troops so once your fast moving troops have cleared a path into your enemy’s rear, he has almost lost. No unit in Warhammer want to take one of our units in the rear while especially while we’re hitting them from the front as well! Conversely if my opponent has a great deal of speed, I want to use the terrain to slow him down. If the fight is coming to you, deploy channels of terrain to funnel his troops so that you can try and take them on a piece at a time. Break up his forces so you can concentrate on one unit and then another. Imagine trying to force him to engage your cheap, throw-away units in out of the way areas or have to pass through difficult terrain to get to you.

If your opponent is one of those players who loves to shoot at you, fill the middle of the board with buildings, forests, boulders, and anything else that will block his line of sight. If his units are forced to shoot at a penalty, or better, you’re choosing what units he is shooting at, you are winning the shooting war even if you left your Repeater Crossbowmen at home. Every turn an enemy War Machine isn’t shooting at one of your expensive models or units, that machine is not earning its points and might even blow up along the way. Moving units around the terrain may be irritating but it is usually a lot less painful than one of your units getting hit with a template.

My last word on terrain – never worry about fleeing through Dangerous Terrain except perhaps with a unit of knights (because they WILL roll all 1’s for their tests…). A unit of 20 models will statistically lose 3. With a bad roll you may lose 6. You’ve not only saved your unit but you’ve probably left your opponent’s unit out of place. And you’ve denied your opponent the victory points he would have received had you actually fought the combat. I find my opponents will rarely try and willingly charge their own units through Dangerous Terrain but statistically it is hardly “dangerous” terrain. With that in mind, consider how to deploy your baiting units (Harpies, Dark Riders etc) to lead your opponents units astray. Seeing the value in terrain will give you a significant advantage and can swing games either way depending on how it is used.


I'll try and write something later to help with the actual deployment of units.

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Last edited by Phierlihy on Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:32 am
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Corsair
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Excellent, phierlihy, that's an instant D.R.A.I.C.H. :D
Looking forwards to reading the deployment part itself.

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Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:36 am
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Cold One Knight

Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 12:27 pm
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Don't want to really go into too much detail as i am sure, based on the first post, Phierlihy will be able to give much more advice than I can!

My thought's on deployment really fall into two, distinct categories!

Proactive or reactive!

Depending on who you are playing can determine which one is better for you! For example:

When i play against Orc's and Goblin's (my most common opponent), i play a relatively reactive deployment. Some may disagree with this but i find that by forcing my opponent to deploy his big units first, i can ensure that i am in a better position to counter these.

Why? Well the last thing i want is my unit of COK's to be facing up against his 40 man savage orc big un's on their own. Better to see where they are deployed first and put my level 4 wizard with the withering and a unit of RXB's against them and watch them die en masse. This not only reduces the threat of this unit but also free's up my COK's so that they can reap havoc elsewhere.

Alternatively, when i play WOC, i deploy proactively, making the enemy deploy units to counter my units. With relatively little shooting, your enemy has to rely on strength of arms alone and this can cause him no end of problems when faced with stopping your executioners supported by two chariots rampaging through his lines!

Some armies can be problematic to work into this theory with the most prominent in my mind being Empire. Reactive deployment can leave you deploying too many units too early and the opposition putting down his biggest, bad ass units last and exploiting your battle plan. Proactive deployment can work wonders until the unit that your hardest troops were going to roll over in a single turn of blood soaked combat suddenly gets supported by two hellblasters who turn your elves into something resembling Swiss cheese!

Anyway, think that's enough without boring you too much! More food for thought that hard and fast "do this, don't do this" rules. Am sure some Generals have different idea's on this but I've never been one for "set" battle plans (set pieces are a complete different thing!), much preferring to have a very fluid system that takes full advantage of terrain etc.

Kindest Regards

D

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Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:41 pm
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Malekith's Best Friend
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the best and shortest advice i can give is to start deploying your fast units. they can easily reposition to get where they are needed, while yoru slower units have a tougher time. if you start deploying yoru executioner deathstar on a flank, the enemy can easily deploy his unit on the other side of the table, forcing your massive combat rockstars to spend several turns running and being shot at. sure, our troops are faster than most But you get the point. YOU can try and do the same thing to the enemy. By deploying several fast units and not really giving anything away to the enemy. If he then drops a slow block on one side before you have started deploying your main force, you can gang up on the other side, making sure you have a very strong force on that side, while he will have a weaker one. If you can slow his other flank by marchblocking, redirecting or even charging with something, you will allow your strong flank to smash his weak/moderate flank. This is what is known as a ”denied flank”. A good opponent will be aware of this, but too many just put down their units according to some pre set plan, and you can really exploit that.

So, deploy fast units first to deny the enemy any real knowledge of what you will be doing with your main army.

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Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:51 pm
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Quote:
I'll try and write something later to help with the actual deployment of units.


Please do, your comments so far are very thorough and insightful :)

Quote:
Perhaps it is a gesture of being nice to an opponent or just plain laziness but they’ll usually not pick the opposing side to make an opponent move all his gear or move his own.


Haha, but there is few purer joys than watching your opponent unpack all 400 of his orcs and goblins and then saying "I'll take the side you're sitting on...".

I agree with you on this some of the time, but certainly at my gaming club anyway we do - at least sometimes - switch sides even after unpacking.

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Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:04 pm
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Hmmm with the people I play with, we choose the best side for us. Regardless of who is sat there... When we aren't playing WHFB we play 6 player Mordheim so moving is part of the course.

As for actual deployment, well I find it's extremely relative...
So much depends on:
Who you are fighting.
What you expect them to take.
What they do take.
Terrain.
Where they place their units.
Etc etc.

When I make a list, I try and build it to a "meta-plan", this involves some idea of how I expect to set up, and what I want each unit to do.
I would say you cannot write a definitive "guide" to deployment, without specific examples of your list, who you are fighting, what they are taking, their play style...
For example, against some armies I will cluster up, heavily weight one flank etc. Or make a funnel.
Against others, say ones that I expect to take lots of scouts, I will spread out over the entire table edge..
It always helps to keep your oponent guessing, so the more random little units you can place, without giving away your over all layout the better.
So I would say it all depends...


Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:31 pm
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Slave (off the Altar)

Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:33 am
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Thanx guys. Plenty of food for thought here. There's a lot of factors that i really didnt pay any attention too. Placing terrain for example, i just stuck it down nice and even around the battlefielf with very little thought. Got a few practice games coming up to test out these ideas before the tourney.

Cheers!


Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:07 pm
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Cold One Knight

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I can't actually find the terrain placement rules for 8th Ed...can someone point me in the right direction? :)

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Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:49 pm
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Dragon Lord
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Page 142 of the BRB has the 8th edition rules for setting up terrain randomly. Right after the chapter describing all different types of terrain.

The rules in this edition are very lax. You could, for example, stack all pieces of terrain on one side of the table if you wished to, as there's no minimum distance between each piece.

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Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:21 am
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Malekith's Best Friend
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Unlike terrain, the topic of "deployment" is exceptionally vast. I found this very difficult to write without being pulled off in a thousand different directions...

The Deployment Phase and the Order of Placement

Only slightly more important than how you deploy your terrain is how you plan on deploying your forces. All the elvish armies share a similar trait - expensive, superior troops. Dark Elves are a low model count army so we rarely fill the deployment zone. Generally speaking, in a standard sized game, we'll fill one half to two thirds of our board edge leaving a third or more unused. They key then is to deploy in such a way that your opponent will mis-deploy his own units but still provide your units the matchups you want.

Before this gets too involved I want to clarify, I believe trying to deploy all your units 12" up right across your deployment zone a bad idea. Elves rely on units cooperating with each other, whether in the form of dual charges, hammer & anvil, refused flank, bulls horns, or whatever. We are not Warriors of Chaos.

Before you place your units, decide in your mind which portion of the table you want to focus on - the right or the left. Ideally you want to confuse your opponent to commit his resources on both sides of his battle line while you commit to only one side with the goal of only having to face one portion of his army at a time. Unless your battle plan involves splitting your army into two halves on each extreme flank of the table, it's safe to say you will deploy units in the middle of the table. So deploying your first unit, and I recommend a block unit of some sort, somewhere in the middle of your deployment zone is always a safe bet. Deploying in the middle gives away nothing because your opponent expects you to be there.

The following two deployments should alternate - one on either side of your middle unit. I'm not specifying specifically putting two block units down to hold the flank of your first deployment but try and hint that you can deploy either way. By not committing yourself to a specific side, your opponent will hopefully begin giving away his battle plan and you can react accordingly. When you deploy, you want to learn about your enemy's plan while hiding your own.

By the time you've reached your fourth unit to deploy, you should (hopefully) have a fair idea of what kind of army you are up against. And you'll have to be able to assess how your troops will most effectively match up to the enemy. Obviously every battle will be different but the longer you can hold out from placing your heavy hitters, the better. Eventually of course you do have to commit where to put the bulk of your forces but if you can strand an opponent's death star or big hammer unit on the wrong side of the battlefield, so much the better!

Each setting is unique but the order I strive for is...
1. block unit - usually Spearmen
2. fast, throw-away unit (Harpies or Dark Riders)
3. another fast, throw away unit
4. a support unit (chariots or bolt throwers)
.
.
.
Last to deploy are your units that are the most important. These are usually, but of course not always, your units that you expect to do the most damage. Or they can be the unit that you need to face off against a certain enemy unit. Or they can be something fragile like Witch Elves who you want to hide from enemy artillary. And there are just some units to be avoided at all costs - Chaos Chosen Warriors with two War Shrines in tow, 50 Swordmasters, or other such nastiness. Having the flexibility to avoid those units or delay them from getting into combat by moving the bulk of your army to the other side of the board can turn a deathstar into a point sink.

The entire topic of deployment is absolutely HUGE and volumes have been written by weightier minds than mine! I hope keeping these ideas in mind will give your army one more advantage on the field!

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Fri Nov 11, 2011 5:35 am
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Very insightful phierlily ;) Now I know why my buddy Malekith holds you in such high regard.

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Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:37 am
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and he has 1337 posts as well :P

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Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:30 pm
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