Tuesday, November 23, 2010

40k Strategy: Defense in Depth

We all know by now that when making balanced, all comers lists we have to be conscious of having firepower, mobility and close combat ability.  I think these concepts have been repeated often enough that most competitive players utilize them unconsciously when making their lists.

People have fully digested the concept of having play in every phase of the game.  But I'd like to talk about another concept that is still in it's infancy, and that is board control.  Our lists now already have game in every phase of the game, now they need to be conscious of having play in every area of the table.  A list that doesn't have units that can control the midfield is missing as big a part as lists that are missing a close combat element.

A year or two ago, people would have suggested using either 4 Rhinos, or 4 Razorbacks in your troops selection.  I think we are slowly seeing a shift where lists with 2 of each are coming into vogue as people realize that the hybrid lists allow you to control your backfield with Razorbacks, as well as controlling the mid-field with Rhino melta bunkers.  People have begun to realize that hybrid lists are more "all comers" whereas the Rhino spam or Razor spam lists can only truly control one area of the board, and are thus susceptible to being out-maneuvered.

The game is won or lost in the midfield.
Do your units have to be single purpose "midfield" or "backline" units?  No, in fact they shouldn't be, because if they are so dedicated that creates a good target priority situation for your opponent.  Additionally, as I touched on in my "who is the gunline" article, there are some match ups where you won't want to move too far forward, and there will be some match ups where you won't want to passively sit back.  That said, a strong mid-field presence blunts the impetus of an assault army, and protects your backlines against a gunline army.

What you do want, however, are units that can flourish in the midfield, or in the opponent's backline.  The Rhino meltabunker sitting in the midfield says, "deal with me, or else you will have a melta bubble no man's land that will make your life hell."  The primary benefit of having must deal with threats scattered across the whole of the table is that your opponent is instantly reactive, rather than proactive.  He has to do with your Speeders in his backfield, your melta bunkers in the midfield and your long range firepower in your backlines.  Despite the passive nature of a melta-bunker Rhino, or the Razorback in the backlines, together they are an active threat, because it creates a solid 48" to 60" of table space where your opponent's army is going to have to pay with dead units if he wants to utilize it for his purposes.

I want you to take away from this article that the next time you're writing an all comers list to ask yourself, "which units are able to give me legitimately threat in each segment of the board?"  And if you're lacking in any of those departments, to consider beefing them up.  Hopefully, the results will be encouraging.

That's all for today folks.  I'm leaving for a few days for the Holiday.  Your regularly scheduled updates will resume on Monday the 29th.


  1. Can I steal this for my Beginner's Project page?

    'Cause it's awesome!

  2. Interesting idea. But I think you need to develop it a little bit more.

    You could talk about it from both angles for instance. How to control midfield and how to stop your opponent from trying to do the same...

  3. Sure. I'll do a part 2 where I go into more depth.