Friday, 25 February 2011

So Kirby rescheduled my post and I'm putting it up here for feedback just now...

This man. I will gladly offer a pound of flesh if
someone can conjure me a machine to get to one of his gigs.
 Disclaimer: This is a rant. While it does cover some (very) important points, and some very good lessons as to playing 40k, it reads like a train of thought, or a conversation I would have with myself. Probably because I finished writing at 1:30am, and have been listening to a lot of 60s-70s rock. Just a word of warning.

So you're probably wondering what this article is about and you're not the only one. Well, it's about being good at 40k, and why I'm a better Warmachine player than I am a 40k player. Despite the fact I've had maybe 50 games of Warmachine in my life, and well more than that of 40k. So, I have some explaining to do I imagine. Well, let me lay out 3 very simple rules of "being good at 40k". If you follow these 3 guidelines I promise you your gameplay will improve. Hell, it sort of ties in with Kirby's eyeballing distance article. This is my personal 40k gospel in one easy checklist. Ok, so these 3 rules:

1) The most basic, learn to predict outcomes. Now, you wont be right. Hell, you might be completely wrong, but having a basic idea of what will happen if you shoot X at Y is vital to the game, at least if you're playing competitively. A few basic examples would be 8 Lasguns at a Fire Warrior. How many wounds do I do? I hope to god you said 1. 24 S5 BS4 shots at a unit with T4 and a 3+? Yes, 2.6666667 wounds (also see why fire warriors are awful). Yes guys, mathhammer. Now, an important (very important in my opinion) point to consider in regards to mathhammer is not to overuse it. Do not build armies designed around it, do not complain if you roll off the expected results, because rolling odds is actually an expected result (there are exceptions, feel free to complain if you fire 11 melta gun shots and they all fail to hit or wound).

Now, I know most of you know this, and I'm going to write an article on it at some point anyway, but it's important. People hate on mathhammer a lot, which is just ignorance. Being able to tell whether or not you're better firing your Lascannon at a Razorback or a Predator is a big thing (however, there's a lot of other factors that come into this, say the predator has 3 lascannons and the razorback has a heavy bolter, you'd be better going for the predator, even though math says go for the Rback, which is why mathhammer =/= jesus). Right, preachy rant over guys, learn expected results, it'll help your gameplay.

2) Placement. Which actually narrows down to the MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF 40k. I cannot stress how important this rule is. In fact, I'm going to quote it for you.

"When any part of the target model’s body (as defined
on page 16) is obscured from the point of view of the
firer, the target model is in cover. This is intentionally
generous, and it represents the fact that the warrior,
unlike the model, will be actively trying to take cover
(as well as the smoke, explosions and flying debris that
are mercifully absent from our tabletop battlefields)."

"At least 50% of the facing of the vehicle that is
being targeted (i.e. its front, side or rear) needs to be
hidden by intervening terrain or models from the
point of view of the firer for the vehicle to claim to
be in cover. If this is the case, the vehicle is said to be
obscured (or ‘hull down’). If a squad is firing at a
vehicle, the vehicle is obscured only if it is 50%
hidden from the majority of the firing models (do not
count models that cannot hurt the vehicle)."

Screw having fun, I have a cover save. This is the most important rule of 40k. See if you want to win, this is massive. Careful unit placement to ensure all units that can possibly have cover have cover as often as is physically possible (she sells sea shells...) is essential. See if you don't? Why not? Does what you're going to accomplish by not giving yourself cover outweight a 50% increase in survivability (for tanks). Is there a way you can give yourself cover while accomplishing your desired goal? Is there a way you can perhaps swap the roles you had given 2 units for this turn (i.e. one does one's job, one does the other's) for the safety of cover? Perhaps it would reduce the chances of you succeeding (see point one) but by how much? Worth a 50% gain in survivability?  For infantry, it's not "as" essential, depending on what you're fighting against.

If any of you know ComradeCowboy, when
he says he plays like a gentleman with a top hat
and monocle, I imagine something like this. Except
not this awesome, as this is of course, Mick Jagger.
Hopefully you see what I'm getting at here. There are very very very few scenarios worth giving up the safety of cover. Cover is easy to get in 40k, and you should try to maximise the amount of cover you get every game. When you deploy, hell, before you deploy, look at good places to get cover. Don't forget about them as soon as the game's underway either (like I do).  A final note I feel should be covered in this rule. If you're against heavy firepower (say razorwolves or a gunline IG list) then deploying a tank behind terrain is worth the chance of immob for a 4+. Obviously this is vehicle dependant, and indeed, situation dependant, but as a by and large, take the risk. Man, 1/6 readers are going to be pissed at me. (:

3) Evaluate threat ranges. Not during deployment, not while you're moving, constantly. You should look at a chimera and see a 42" multilaser bubble, 18" melta bubble (from the hatch) and 14" flamer bubble (and an additonal bunch of bubbles, but you get the jist). When you see an ork infantry squad you see a 12" threat bubble. However, other factors come into this. People tank shocking your guys closer, or in the case of that ork example, a Waaaagh! This is a huge part of the game people only give a basic nod to during gameplay. Evaluating these threat ranges is massive, and eyeballing distances is a massive part of it. This is also the section I'll be explaining why I'm better at Warmahordes than 40k (in my opinion).

Bit of background. I play Circle in Warmahordes. In my army I have 9 models that can move enemy figures. Every model in my army has some form of movement shenanigan. I can move every figure in an opposing force. I can deny charges, and I can cause you to bottleneck yourself. See, I can play with threat ranges. As I can move your models about, I can put them to the tippity toe of their threat range. Then just leave them. After that, they're no longer a threat. And if I want something, I will have it. I've once moved an enemy warbeast (a scythean, if anyone's interested) 18" to come into threat range of my feral (who ripped it in half). Why is this important? Well, if you can imagine having that kind of power in 40k. It's why lash was so feared with infantry lists, when you get right down to it. Can you imagine if lash worked on vehicles? Can you imagine if you had it in the quantity my army has it in Warmahordes? You could rip people out of cover, spin them round and spend the day shooting exposed AV10, while putting their best weapons (melta) far out of range.

You see, when I play Warmachine, because I got into it for the game, and have been playing recently, I have no preconceived notions. I joined it very much an experienced wargamer, and learned to play as such. I'm constantly evaluating threat ranges. I have no "baggage" or bad habits like I do in some GW systems, whether they're clinging on from past editions, or from past experiences. In warmahordes, I have a basic set of rules, which I follow to a tee. When I try this in 40k, I don't have nearly as much success. The main one though, is for some reason I just don't look at threat ranges when I'm playing 40k nearly as much compared to when I'm playing Warmahordes. This is why I believe I'm a better Warmachine player.

So, I'll give you a cookie if you can name all the bands
the people in the pictures belong to.
Because when I'm playing Warmachine, it's all that's on my mind. Movement is the most important aspect of this game. I know that I want my rhino to be 23.5" from that tank, so I can top hatch melta it when it comes close, but for some reason I can't grasp it the same way as I do when I'm playing Warmachine. So, a top tip for playing 40k? Look at threat bubbles. Constantly. It's something I'm forcing myself to do. I'm breaking out of a bad habit (not doing it) and my gameplay is dramatically improving. People's weaponry is out of range a lot more, my weaponry is just in range much more, I'm almost always in melta range when I want to be, my assaults almost never fail, their movement is blocked. Seriously, this is where you win games.

Threat Ranges, Cover, and Movement.

Happy Kirby? Yup =D.


  1. When Lash first appeared, my old pal Lexington was most confused by it. I believe he went so far as to observe that "it's like someone ripped a rule out of Warmachine and glued it into 40K, and didn't bother with any of the framework that governs moving the other person's models about". Something along those lines, at least. I think that's why I gave the crummy Chaos Codex a chance during the dying days of fourth edition; by then, I'd started playing Warmachine, and had had a similar experience to yourself viz. coming to that game with some key skills already lined up.

  2. Lash is really harsh, but it needs an army to work with.

    Nice article though man. Although, re-read the bit in the first paragraph about Fire Warriors. I have no clue what you're trying to say. I think its about Fire Warriors shooting marines...but you mention 8 lasguns firing at FWs.

  3. Cover for vehicles depends on type of cover - it can be even 3+ if the vehicle is obscured by fortifications, but just as often it can be 5+ if obscured for example by hedge. Only if the efect comes from an item or special rule, the cover is always 4+ (unless the codex says otherwise). Rulebook page 62.