Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Table Top Tactical Thoughts

Alliteration ally aside, I have been given some thoughts to the general nature of table top tactics. I have also considered how the table top tactic is different from actual battlefield tactics. The biggest difference is that with table tops, you get to choose your force whereas in real life, you must fight with what is available. This difference is what really sets wargames from real life (other than the whole death and destruction thing) so as gamers we have a unique opportunity to select our forces. What should go into the selection is contingent on what we must accomplish on the table top and here, the differences between real life and games do not differ that much. There are two essential goals in tactics centering on force neutralizing ability and force maneuverability.

Force neutralizing typically means either inflicting unacceptable losses to the enemy while limiting your own losses, or limit the enemy ability to inflict losses on your own forces as they strive to achieve and gain the objective. Typically there are two kinds of forces: melee and ranged. Melee does not necessarily means hand-to-hand but close eye to eye combat. Ranged forces is just as it appears, with missile weapons of some sort. While there are two kinds of forces, there are actually three ways to utilizing and neutralizing forces: take the fight to the enemy to destroy them with pure close up power (strong melee vs weak melee), stand and barrage the enemy into oblivion (ranged strong vs ranged weak), and deny the fight confrontation avoidance (weak vs strong). Most units are not capable of being strong melee and ranged strong, and if that does happen, they can potentially be neutralized by fight confrontation. In addition, we want to avoid similar match up of strong vs strong or even weak vs weak because this increases the chances of an uncertain outcome. We want to increase the odds toward victory, not leave things to chance alone, though chance is always a player.

Force maneuverability means either out maneuvering your enemy to achieve and gain the objective, or limit the ability of the enemy to maneuver to achieve their own objective. Being maneuverable doesn't just mean moving further, faster, or even ignoring the effect of terrain. Being maneuverable means being able to move further, faster, and more effectively than your opponent. Always bear in mind that all movement has destinations, and the destination should be to acquire favorable terrain, achieve the objective, or limit your enemy maneuver. There are two ways to limit the ability of the enemy to maneuver. Firstly, use terrain defensively to channel the enemy to move down unfavorable pathways or slow them down from arriving at favorable destination. However, using the terrain favorably can be difficult as both sides will try to get the best terrain layout, and there is little control over the layout of terrain in general. A slow army can out maneuver the enemy by limiting a faster army effective movement.

For future posts, I will explore how the above principles and thoughts apply to Battlefleet Gothic, 40k, Fantasy Battle, and LotR.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Introducing my club to BFG

In a few weeks i will introduce my club (which mostly play LotR) to my favorite GW game, BFG. The fleet i will be fielding will be as follows:

The Imperial fleet will consist of:
the Lauviah Dictator class attack carrier
the Harbonah and Zaphkiel Tyrant class attack cruisers
the Melchisedec Dauntless class light cruiser

The Chaos fleet will consist of:
the Arioch Devastation class attack carrier
the Gamaliel and Kushiel Carnage class attack cruisers
the Beleth Slaughter class fast cruiser

I did not include any escorts because I wanted to provide each player an equivalent cruiser. There are two others players in the club with BFG experience so hopefully they will show up and lead a fleet each.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Warhammer: Characters Role

With the new Lizardmen Army book out, I have returned to tuning my 5 separate Lizardmen armies (armies, not lists). As most, I started with thinking about Lords and Heroes and I have come up with the following in order of needs.

1. The General. This role is mandatory for all armies. First consideration is that he has to have the highest leadership of your characters. This stipulation alone means that if you want a wizard to be your general, he will almost has to be a Lord level character. Second consideration is that regardless of what army you play (though Vampire Count in particular) he must be protected at all cost. Even if you play a regular human army, many competition scenarios award extra points for killing your opponent's general. With this in mind, if you choose a fighter as your general, you will be unlikely to throw him into combat on a regular basis, making a Lord choice somewhat of a waste.

2. The Slayer. This role is essential for nearly all armies. First consideration here is that this character is designed to kill characters and or large monsters. As such, ideally he should be a Lord level fighter tooled up to fight, kill, and maim. However, a lord level character in most armies will typically will have the highest leadership and thus will be forced to be your general. Except for Lizardmen, a Hero is what you will end up with here. Second consideration is that his model should be as mobile as he can be in order to chase his prey down. A monster mount would be great but again most monster mounts are only available to Lords rather than Heroes. Finally, in the absence of characters or monsters to kill he can always hunt artillery.

3. The Battle Standard Bearer. This role is helpful for most armies. First consideration is whether you really need one or not. In order to get the best use of one, you will have to cluster your units around him. While this may not be such a bad idea, it may limit your force tactically. Second consideration is whether he will carry a magic banner, or be "inspirational" and armed for combat otherwise. Taking a magic banner will be the most traditional role but again would also make him more tactically limited. One options would be for him to function both as a "Slayer" and a BSB (Battle Standard Bearer). This combo advantage would be he would be more resilient in combat resolution and his disadvantage would be the higher 25 points cost. Regarding victory points if standard VPs are only awarded to over-running units, then this would not be a problem as he should be fighting challenges (and either winning or dying), taking on small units with easy wins, or re-rolling break tests and passing them. The third consideration is whether he can be a Battle Standard Bearer and a Wizard. Only a few armies allow this option but if possible, this would make a decent combo allowing the character to remain with the main battle line protected, inspirational, to either cast spells and or dispel them as a defensive wizard. Finally, only one army that I know of will allow you to take a General-Wizard-Battle Standard Bearer combination and that is Lizardmen. This is a great combo for a more balance offense/defense or just defensive minded Lizardmen player.

4. The Supporter. This role is really optional for all armies. The first consideration here really is whether you need to take a wizard for magical defense. This character will almost certainly be a Hero level. If you have already taken a wizard as your General, then he will be a much more powerful offensive spell caster. If you have not taken any wizards at all then it means you have gone with Fighters for your characters and might need some magic defense. The second consideration here is if you have no needs for a wizard in this slot, a fighting hero to lead/buttress a flanking force/unit separate from your slayer. Under most circumstances more troops might be better than another fighting hero.