Tuesday, August 16, 2011

From 40k to Fantasy Part One: Strategy and Tactics

The biggest thing a 40k player taking up Fantasy has to learn is that winning requires a different approach.  The similarities between the two systems are such that people are often fooled into assuming the way you win in Fantasy is the same as how you win in 40k. 

This is a pitfall.

Multi-charge madness
Disagree if you want, but I contend that 40k is about jumping out to a quick lead in the early turns and keeping up the pressure.  It’s a grind.  Turn by turn, you pick apart your opponent’s army until by the end of the game they have no threats that can prevent you from achieving the win conditions.

Fantasy is a different story.  I call it ‘One Big turn.’  Rather than slowly chipping away at your opponent in order to grind them down, Fantasy is about sculpting a game state where your army unleashes its fury and cripples the opponent’s army beyond repair in one turn of action.  The turns preceding the climax are angling and maneuvering to establish the game state necessary for you to do this. 

When Fantasy neckbeards condescendingly say that Fantasy is a “game of maneuver” and “requires you to think many turns ahead,” this is what they are talking about.  They are right, but the condescension is wrong.  It doesn’t require you to be any smarter than you’re required to be a good 40k player, just a different strategy. 

For example, my Dark Elves Chariot list wins by having all the Chariots and Hydras multi-charge the most powerful enemy units all at once, while being debuffed by my Shadow magic.  What happens is the enemy loses all their best units in a single turn and their battle line crumbles.  This is obviously ideal, and a good opponent will do his best to prevent it and enact his own strategy, but this is the goal.  I spend my first few turns maneuvering and organizing so that by turn 3 I can unleash hell.  I visualize what the table top game state needs to look like on turn 3 for me to do what I want to do, and I make that visualization a reality as best I can.

Why are the games different in this respect?  Besides a handful of ultra-powerful magic spells, there isn’t a lot you can do to drastically hurt your opponent on turn one and often turn two.  In 40k, there is plenty of long range firepower in most 5th Edition armies sufficient to alpha strike or cripple the opponent on the first few turns.   Since that strategy isn’t at all effective in Fantasy, you have to setup your plans for the turns when you CAN smash the enemy.

So that is the main tactical/strategic difference between the two systems, and if you’re a 40k player picking up Fantasy, it will make your life much easier if you approach the game from that perspective.

Thoughts?  Comments?


  1. I would agree in a general sense... it's often one or two critical turns that win games.

    The nice thing about 8th over 7th is it is far less predictable in this regard (which is why competitive tourney players don't like it). You can see massive swings from one turn to the next... it's dependent on dice luck more than unit matchups.

    For instance... your one massive turn could just as easily fizzle out into a grind off if you don't manage to do enough damage on the charge, or your magic goes badly, or your units are diverted with small redirection units, or...

    I think that's where the "tactics" difference comes into play in WHFB vs 40k.

  2. I just wrote a post about strategy for my friend's night goblin army, and in summary, the idea was to disrupt the opponent's army to prevent them from setting up a good 'turn 3' and then unleashing the beat down on their own terms. Sorry for the shameless plug, but I think it's good example of your point.

  3. Yeah, I totally agree with both of you. You wanna set up a devastating turn 3, but you want to prevent your opponent from doing the same to you. And like Randroid says, often times you can both fizzle out and turn into a grinding game.

  4. Actually there's a reason for that. Symmetrical strategies like setting up a devastating turn 3 charge basically involves agreeing to dice it off with your opponent. As you say, you have three outcomes: fizzle, grind, and decisive win. These are basically unlucky/lucky, lucky/lucky, lucky/unlucky.

    Just like Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Fantasy Battle is about anticipating your opponent's strategy, rather than attacking at any particular point in the game. It's a zero-sum game and the basic features of such games apply.

  5. This really makes sense to me. One of the reasons that I think I suck at playing Fantasy is that I cling to my 40K paradigms too much. So, for example, I am very scared of my orcs dying from shooting (having in mind the firepower some of the 40K armies have) so I usually rush them for a 2nd turn charge which can fail really badly. I want to think about my strategy and movement but the subconscious fear of getting blown to bits never leaves my mind.