Friday, 18 March 2016

Sacrificial Lambs

Keeping your units alive in any wargame is of course a no-brainer. After all, the more guys and gals you have in the warzone the more advantageous your position is, and the more likely you are to score additional Victory Points in a tournament environment (using Hawk's rulepack). Typically your secondary purpose, after completing the mission, is to make sure all of your toy soldiers make it home to their toy partners and toy children, and can share a delightful toy Christmas with each other, where they give each other... toys?

As we all know and have experienced though, it isn't always that easy, and sometimes you have to make the hard decision of sacrificing some of your soldiers, leaving weepy toy widows sad and alone. As the saying goes, you will sometimes have to melt a few toys to make a bigger, weird, malformed toy. Or for the less alternative of you, having to break a few eggs to make an omelette. Speaking metaphorically, it is important when making your omelette that you don't get any shell in the mix, otherwise you'll spend the rest of the game picking it out and rectifying your mess. Also be careful not to overcook it, you want to fry on a low heat. I still need to get the hang of metaphors I think. Anyway...

Never fear, I'm here to help destroy all your toys!

Let me guide you through the nuances of when to forfeit your troops for the greater cause, and when sometimes it just isn't worth it.

Bait On The Hook
At the end of the day we're all human. Well, either that or an alien parasite. Or a Cyborg traitor. Or a Space Hedghog. Whatever you are, there is always an underlying urge to see an opportunity which is too good to be true, and leap on it. Our job as generals is to make these situations actually to good to be true, and not to be the fish caught on the hook. By identifying the largest threats to your army and/or plans, and thinking a couple of activations or a turn ahead, you can use low cost or power units like Gun Technicals or Wolverines to tempt the threat out to be dealt with. In order for this to work the positioning of your bait is key; they must be either placed in a position to become a nuisance in the following turn, or simply be in the way for the current turn (for instance, blocking the road for a Thunderstorm).

You also need to be aware of the units which can neutralise your bait, and from which angles they can attack. There is nothing worse than setting up a trap for some Katanas, when a couple of Falcons swoop round and take out your bait. There can sometimes be a fine line between reward and loss, and it is important to think ahead in the game as to whether you will need this sacrificial unit or not. For instance, getting rid of an Eagle is a weight of any generals mind, but sacrificing your Hunters or Hannibals to do so? Maybe it's not so worth it after all.

Trading Places
Certain armies will always have the upper hand in focal point games. Resistance and Shaltari, for instance, have a large number of ground units which makes them kings at holding ground, whereas Scourge have far less hardy units on the floor, and their lists tend to be more orientated toward aircraft. Strategically, this means as a Hog or Warboy general you can generally afford to trade a few units off for theirs, especially if it secures you a FP and possibly the win.

Throwing a couple of Tarantula at a wounded Oppressor to plink of those final few DP, to know they will be melted into slag by a phalanx of Hunters hidden round a corner in a following activation could well be a worth-while trade.

Great Deception
Sometimes you really really need to get your troops into a bunker, but there is an issue. That squad of Phobos has been patiently parked in the space which you need to cross, waiting for you to poke your head out and blat it across the landscape...

This point is aimed at air units specifically. There is nothing worse than being forced to run the gauntlet of reaction fire, tossing the fate of your precious troops into lady luck's cold and blistered hands, which as we all know ends in disaster. That Lady can be a real bitch sometimes. What you need is a distraction to use up those pesky AA shots.

Using cheap and/or dangerous units to force an enemy into a hard decision is a classic Scouge move, and occasionally fits the UCM's style too. By using an Intruder loaded with Prowlers to dart out before your troops activate gives a real juicy target for AA fire, as nobody likes having crabs in their backfield. By leaving this unit to run and deploy in the midst of their army can cause huge repercussions in the next turn. From your perspective though 60 points is a fair trade, for the knowledge that your Destroyers will get to their destination. UCM can also do this with the ever infuriating Starsprite drones, but what's even better about the drones is that they are free!

Getting All Tied Up
Many of the missions in dropzone rely on your troops being able to dart about the board, discovering intel, finding objectives, or perhaps even hunkering down in a bunker. There are a few ways to take away the manoeuvrability of your opponents troops, with the most obvious one to destroy their transport, but sometimes that isn't enough, or the opportunity just doesn't arise.

A crafty way to tie down enemy troops though is by using your own. By activating an Infantry or Exotics battlegroup after your enemy moves theirs, means that you know they will be locked into combat in the following turn, and as such unable to dart away. If you already have the upper hand on objectives or VPs, then being able to stop their troops gather any more is invaluable! This works even better if you are able to use your cheap or surplus infantry to tie up a squad of their expensive exotics.

Be warned though, as the aggressor you will not be able to leave CQB with any of your units, even if you outnumber the occupier in the number of squads you have, unless they run away or you have a crafty card. Also squishy Resistance fighters, Scourge Warriors and UCM Legionnaires don't last long when facing Firstborns and Sirens on their own.

There is a time and place for risking your troops, and the above examples are of course very situational. Different missions calls for different tactics, and you will soon learn when to and when not to commit your valuable units. If you have any other examples of the best occasions to send your troops into Satan's maw, comment below!


  1. Nice write up Zombiestate.
    The main point is that you learn by doing.
    So play a lot of games before you go to town!
    For me its the planning ahead part that usaly fails. I get to rapt up in the here and now.
    Cheers, Thunder

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