Thursday, January 27, 2011

WHFB: Deployment Tactics Part 2

In part one, I talked about a fairly basic deployment strategy, the Strong Center.  That deployment is fairly strong when you have powerful infantry units that can dominate in close combat and usually a magic bunker backing them up.

This article will be about a deployment near and dear to my heart, the Strong Flank.  As you might guess, this is a deployment where you stick your money combat units all crammed into one flank.  The goal is to quickly overwhelm one of your opponent's flanks with the full force of your army and destroy his army in detail.

Anyone familiar with Fantasy knows how this can go wrong: Alternating unit deployment.  Your opponent can see exactly what you're doing as your are deploying, and not present a tempting target for your strong flank.  So how could this deployment strategy ever work?  By not making it obvious what your intentions are. 

During deployment, you should deploy your center/shooty units first.  Deploying units in the center doesn't betray your plans at all, so they should be the first things you deploy.  Second, deploy your fast cavalry on what will be your weak flank.  By now, a significant portion of your army should be on the table, and you haven't even shown your actual game plan to your opponent.  Lastly, you can start deploying your money units on the strong flank.  Even if your opponent suspects your are doing a strong flank, he can't be sure, because you are actually presenting an even front.  At the end of deployment, your force will be deployed like this.

As you can see, the two Hydras are sitting on the left flank, but the army is fully spread out and it looks even.  Your opponent reacted to your even deployment by also deploying with a broad front.  Then you spring the trap, during Vanguard Movement.  You will vanguard your fast cavalry back to the center, so that at the start of turn 1, the board will appear like so.

As you can see, the deployment is completely transformed and your opponent is in danger of having his unit on the left getting crushed.  Let's say that you get the first turn, you will move like so...

So before your opponent moves a single unit, your broad front has transformed into a strong flank.  The unit facing the Hydras will be destroyed.  The elves in the center will have to turn to face the Hydras, opening them up to the fast cavalry.  The Elves on the far right are isolated and will have to cross the field to get to the action, passing in front of your crossbows, getting raked by fire the whole time they trudge across the board.  Alternatively, if they attack the crossbows, the crossbows can move backwards, drawing the elves further away, which exposes them to the fast cavalry.  And if the crossbowmen do eventually get destroyed, the Hydras and fast cavalry will be ready to fall on them from behind.

So how do you counter this strategy.  Step one is to anticipate it.  If you see that your opponent isn't deploying anything into a particular flank and putting vanguard units exclusively on another flank, there is a good chance he is setting this plan up.  If you determine this is coming, you have two choices:

1.  Counter it by doing a strong flank of your own so that his money units aren't facing anything of yours and his weak flank is facing your strong side.  This will present a neutral field again where neither player has much advantage.
2.  Counter it by making sure your money units are facing his, strong flank vs. strong flank.  You would use this when you feel that your money units are able to out-fight his.  This can be somewhat ballsy, so make sure your math hammer is fairly reliable.


  1. Hm, cool :) You kind of outlined this method on my blog a little bit ago, but it's cool to see the graphics of how it would actually work.

    I'm still a little wishy-washy about Dark Riders, personally. They just die so easily, and hit so... unhard. lol.

    Maybe someday you can write a tactica of how to use them well, especially in a tournament setting where you'll be playing lots of different enemies. I'd be interested :-p

  2. I use Dark Riders as a shooty unit. I rarely charge with them unless there is a tempting target like a warmachine or other fast cav unit. Remember, spears are +1 strength when mounted, so a 5 man units still gets 5 str4 attacks with re-rolls to hit at I5 plus 5 horse attacks. Not great but good enough to take down a warmachine.

    If there isn't a tempting target, I'll park them within short range of an enemy and pepper them with crossbow shots until they turn to face me, which sets them up to get flank charged by something beefier.

    They only really suck against opponents with lots of small arms shooting. But even them to shoot the DR, they have to turn, and if they turn, they can get hit in the side by a hydra.