Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WHFB: Deployment Tactics Part 1

There have been a lot of posts on other blogs about 40k deployment and common deployment tactics.  Heck, a debate over the term 'refused flank' sparked one of the most epic FNIF to date.  Deployment seems to be an area where people have the least confidence in their game, and this is true in 40k as well as Fantasy.

Fantasy deployment is great, because of alternating unit deployment.  Each unit you deploy sends a message to your opponent about what your strategy will be.  The key, you'll see, is often times sending messages to your opponent that aren't correct, to trick them into making poor deployment choices.  It is a chance to game your opponent, and you ought to take advantage of it.

In Fantasy, deployment strategy is largely based around the type of army you are running, with some consideration to your opponent's army type.  For Part 1, I will discuss the most common type of deployment, the Strong Center.

forgive the crudity of these graphics

Armies that use the strong center will largely be composed of infantry, though Brettonians use it too, and are primarily trying to win the game through close combat.  If your army fits that description, this is the deployment you will commonly use.

The idea is you put your beater units right in the middle of the board, whether they be Sword Masters, Black Guard, Chaos Chosen, Black Orcs, Lead Bellies, and so on.  They will advance directly ahead, confident in their ability to meet any opposition head on.  The key to this is getting the opponent to fight you head on.  To do this you will need to channel his army inward, to the center.  You do this by deploying your shooty units directly adjacent to your beater units.  They will be too close to the beat units for anything to try to charge them without getting charged by your beater units.  So they will have free reign to shoot at their targets unmolested.  Putting them in this position also allows them to shoot to their flanks to protect your power units from skirmishers and cavalry hitting them on the flanks.

Your Scouts/Vanguard are also important.  As you can see, I assumed that your Vanguard fast cavalry would Vanguard move directly up the flanks.  These maneuvers will either split their army, weakening their middle- which is a good thing- or it will funnel them directly into the teeth of your army, which is a good thing too.

Not pictured above is a magic bunker.  Not all armies have one so I omitted it.  Generally it would be deployed directly behind your beater units, meaning someone would have to run them over to get to it.  If someone crushes your beater units, you probably lost already, anyway.

The key to this strategy, as you might guess, is having credible shooting threats and credible flankers.  If your Vanguard/Scout units are weak and not at all scary, your opponent can ignore them, or worse, easily kill them.  If your shooting is inconsequential, they can put more pressure on your flanks.  Not every army has the tools to have good shooting, in that case, put more emphasis on the flankers, or vice versa.

Now the other side of the coin, how do you defeat this deployment if you see your opponent utilizing it?  A strong flank is a good option, as it will allow you to crush his flankers and shooting easily on that side, and take on his beater units piece meal.  If this isn't possible due to your army composition, you should attempt to outflank him.  Crush his flankers and shooty units and try to get his beater units to either change directions or get slammed in the side.

Lastly, its important to consider if his beater units are a threat.  If you can tarpit them with Skaven slaves, or even defeat them with superior units of your own, by all means do that.  When your opponent doesn't realize that he isn't The Beatdown in this match up, punish him for it.


  1. so there I was looking through the reading list saying 'this sounds like it could be a good read' and what do I see but a link to me in paragraph one :)

    Thanks for the shoutout. can't wait to see the rest of this series either, since deployment is my definite weak side right now.

  2. Bloody hellfire, I think you've just unpacked where I was going wrong with that appalling Dark Elf build - it was far too easy to remove the shooting units without having to engage the combat units, and there were too many combat units interfering with the ability of the shooting units to force the enemy into the wrong place.

    I assume that armies like - well, like Warriors of Chaos, since I play them - would use the threat of monstrous infantry, Knights/Chariots and things like Hellcannons to shepherd the enemy into the danger zone; scary crap that makes the wall of Warriors seem a more attractive proposition, but can look after itself if the enemy decides to roll with avoiding the grindy centre?

  3. Yep. If the enemy avoids the grindy center you advance as quickly as possible so his forces get split.

    The stuff on your flanks have two options, keep away games where your fast cavalry does flee reactions to get failed charges. Failed charges = more turns of them just sitting there getting shot by your shooty stuff, or at least a delay until your beef gets there. Or alternatively, your flankers can fight if they are badass like Knights or Khorne Horsemen with Flails.

  4. Thanks for the well-written article. It's pitched simply enough that even I can understand the message, yet says all it need to say to be relevant to anyone.

    Have you considered Battle Chronicler for graphics? Your diagram does the job, but as you state, it could stand to look a little prettier.