General Tactica Number 2 - Army tactics - Warhammer 40K Fantasy

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    General Tactica Number 2 - Army tactics

    As a forward I have released this tactica despite the poll still running as I will be away this weekend and wanted to get it up before next week, keep voting as I will use the poll to determine what I write up next.

    Army Tactics

    This is designed to be a little more “advanced� than the usual GW big arrows next to some pretty models approach to a tactica. That said there should be nothing in here that the more junior players (either by age or experience) can’t apply. I will go through and describe what each of the tactics are and how they can be applied both through building your army and in game play. While I have grouped this tactic under the three headings of: penetration, envelopment and infiltration, there is nothing stopping players from using a combination of the three in their cunning battle plans.


    This is by far the simplest of the three tactics that I will discuss here. Penetration involved picking a point on the battlefield or in the enemies army where you are going to amass your combat power (firepower, manoeuvre, assault, special abilities basically everything you use to kill the enemy) and bring it to bear in a decisive manner against the enemy. Classically penetration is shown in the centre of the table in less through tactical articles; however it can occur wherever it is required. The aim of penetration is to do exactly that (got to keep tactics simple for the gruntersauris – infantry) penetrate the enemy line and then fan out and destroy the remnants of his army. A classic historical example of the penetration is the Allied landings at D Day; they penetrated the German defenses, established a beachhead and then broke out into an advance.

    As 40K is designed to be a tactical level game rather than the higher levels of war, you as a general only need to worry about achieving the penetration, generally once this is done successfully the rest of the enemy’s army will crumble beneath what should be your superior numbers.

    One trap that players should seek to avoid is the good old Mutually Assured Destruction – see previous tactica for the definition of this. So how does one avoid MAD, well trying to disguise your intentions is a key. The selection of a well balanced army will assist in this, but some armies are well suited to disguising their intent due to their maneuverability. Dark Eldar and Eldar are classic examples of this, by boosting their troop transports they are able to bring elements of their army into a new position quickly and achieve not only an amassing of combat power but also surprise (surprise will be covered in a later tactica, if I have not covered it already). Well timed deep striking units can also achieve the same, however are far less reliable. An army of foot slogging Orks however is going to find it very difficult to hide its intentions, but with superior numbers should be able to apply a sledgehammer to the enemy like in what can be described as a very Orky tactical approach! While some armies can be tailored to achieving penetration, by taking resilient units or armour it is not necessary; a well balanced force used effectively can achieve the same result.

    If you deploy with the idea of penetration in mind and you fail to disguise your plan, there is a real risk the enemy will out deploy you or meet your penetration with his amassed combat power; both outcomes will be disastrous for you. By out deploying you the enemy may be able to set up an engagement area to kill you strike forces as they advance, making them ineffective. By putting his forces directly against yours, you then rely on the dice gods and generally MAD is the result.

    It is important to work out what you want to destroy of the enemy as well, this is a lot harder to achieve, but if you can destroy the centre of gravity (the key elements of the enemy’s force) then your blow will be decisive. Examples of centre of gravity can be Guard Officers, Heavy Weapons, and Special units like Obliterators or Destroyers.

    It is important to consider what forces you will commit to the penetration, it has to be enough to complete the move, but this is balanced by being able to stop the enemy from gaining the initiative and supporting your penetration forces. For example a 6 man space marine squad with a lascannon may be better off providing fire support against an armored enemy, but suitable to advance against a horde army, where the bolters are more useful. The situation will dictate this and experience will help this decision as well.

    One should always consider what the enemy is going to do if they work out what your plan is, hopefully this will not be until you are about to culminate and strike, but always consider a plan B. This is why it can be important to hold an element of your force back to act as a reserve.

    The final point I think is important and applies equally to all three tactics to be discussed here. Will penetrating the enemy achieve the mission? Certainly in games like Recon and Seek and Destroy this tactic is suitable, but for other like Cleanse, Secure and Control and Take and Hold, it may be very detrimental. So remember what the mission is before you commit to a tactic, cos once you are deployed your infantry generally won’t move more than about 36 inches over 6 turns (fleet of foot, assault and sweeping advances will affect this).

    So if you are thinking of conducting a penetration what are the key factors you should consider? Well these are a few I think are important:

    1. How can I conceal where and when I am going to penetrate?

    2. What element of the enemy do I want to destroy in the penetration?

    3. What am I going to commit to the penetration action?

    4. How is the enemy going to counter this move?

    5. Will penetrating the enemy achieve the mission? (I think this is the most important)


    Envelopment is also known as a flank attack, this can be done as either a single envelopment or a double envelopment (or pincer attack).The Germans were able to use this effectively during the second World War especially during the early stages in Europe. In warfare the envelopment is used to avoid bringing ones forces against the enemy’s strength, especially an enemy that is defending. When in a defensive position the enemy has the opportunity to coordinate his firepower far more effectively than an attacker can, as such he increases his combat power. Most armies use defence as a short term measure to attrite (destroy) the attacker and regain the initiative. Attacking such defensive positioning head on plays to the strength of the defender, however; if the attacker is able to manoeuvre around the defensive position, he may be able to dislocate the defenders and as a result reduce their combat power significantly. In extreme cases the attacker can with double envelopment actually cut off large parts of an army. This occurred in Russia during the Second World War, where the Germans were cut off from resupply during the battle of Stalingrad and eventually captured or killed.

    Once again as 40K is a tactical game; you don’t have the opportunity to cut the enemy’s lines of supply like the Russians did. However, you can still use envelopment to dislocate the enemy from a superior position, which in turn provides you with greater freedom of action and reduces the enemy’s combat power. The table you play on will greatly determine whether an enveloping manoeuvre will be successful. If the avenues of approach are covered (i.e. terrain blocks LOS) then an enveloping manoeuvre is more likely to be successful, than on an exposed flank.

    Again it is important to hide your intent as much as possible, revealing your intentions to early may give the enemy the opportunity to react to your move and regain the initiative before you are able to complete the manoeuvre and destroy him.

    When picking the single or double envelopment there are a number of factors that need to be considered: the table, the mission, your forces and the enemy. As stated if the flank is not covered, then a good opponent will sit in the middle and look to engage you with heavy weapons and destroy your momentum. If the mission is take and hold then a flank attack into the enemy deployment zone is unlikely to get you the win. A flank attack or envelopment is suitable however for missions like Recon, Cleanse, Seek and Destroy and potentially Secure and Control. If the enemy also has a mobile force he will be able to counter your move or consolidate his army to defeat one flank at a time. If the enemy is all foot based and has spread his deployment then and the above conditions are met, then you have a golden opportunity to conduct a flank attack.

    I am a big fan of having “one foot on the ground� or a reserve. This allows you a little fudge should things like the dice not go your way. It also can stop the enemy from outmaneourving your envelopment. Generally, speaking the reserve will be a foot mounted heavy weapons squad or a tank like a predator that is better shooting than moving 12 inches a turn. This reserve is like your fire department, when it starts to go pear shaped these boys will step in and stablise the situation.

    So what things should you consider if you are considering envelopment?

    1. Is the table suitable, do you have a covered approach? (most important)

    2. What forces will be committed to the manoeuvre?

    3. Single or Double?

    4. Can the enemy escape the manoeuvre (can it manoeuvre as well)?

    5. (Once again) The mission, is envelopment suitable to achieve my goals?


    Now some people will see this as only using the infiltration special rule, this is not the case, although it can be a factor. Infiltration is where you penetrate the enemy in multiple locations almost simultaneously in a way that he is not able to respond with his full combat power. The classic example of this would have to be the Vietnam War and the tactics that the VC used against the Americans.

    Infiltration is probably the most difficult of the tactics I have discussed here to put in place. Some armies will find it extremely difficult to achieve like Tyranids and Orks, because of the sheer size of their units, Marines on the other hand should have the ability to conduct this tactic. Your units however must be able to deal with anything they come up against however; this will generally mean access to melta guns and powerfists. If not you run into the possibility of a winged Chaos Lord with the kitchen sink in daemonic wargear destroying each infiltrating element of your army.

    The aim of infiltration is basically envelopment and penetration combined, you want to dislocate the enemy from a superior position and in localised spots bring elements of your army together to strike against numerically inferior enemy elements. For example advance two marine squads to attack one enemy squad.

    Once again one must be careful not to allow the enemy to respond to this tactic. Due to the nature of infiltration it is likely that you army will be spread over a large area, in doing this it is highly likely that you will not be able support all elements of you force. This will mean that a smart enemy will be able to concentrate his forces firepower to destroy you unit by unit. For this reason terrain is critical to achieving this tactic and you should look carefully to see what units can draw LOS to units, you don’t want allow the enemy to concentrate his combat power.

    If the enemy has something that is held in reserve you need to consider this carefully. Usually players will hold there assault marines or units like tomb spyders ready for the counter attack, once their front line units are hit. If these units are able to make combat with your elements it is something that can swing the initiative to the enemy, not only in the localized battle, but across the board.

    Infiltration is suitable for missions like Cleanse, Seek and Destroy, Secure and Control and potentially Take and Hold and Recon, but as I have indicated it is not an easy tactic to employ effectively, but can catch opponents off guard if you do achieve it.

    What should you consider if you want to use infiltration?

    1. How is the enemy likely to deploy?

    2. Is there a good amount of terrain?

    3. Is your force suitable (do you have the right tools) to conduct this type of mission? (most important)

    4. How will you achieve the mission with it?


    Well in conclusion these are the ideas and concepts that I consider when I am faced with an opponent, a table and a mission. This is not the be all and end all of it; different people will consider different things as being more important than others for example. This is the beauty of tactics, different ideas will lead to different actions and reactions and although something may not work against one opponent it will against another.

    I am happy to discuss things further, or give examples if people want clarification that way, but as I said this was not designed to be big arrows next to some nicely painted models, this is designed to be a little more theory and as such be able to be applied to all armies (even Orks have tactics they just call it “beenin sneaky-like�.


    Army most recently finished (well kinda): Space Wolves
    Last Project completed: Converted Aegis Defence Lascannon
    Next Project: Long Fang Diaorama

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  3. #2
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    awsome tactica mate, thanks very much for sharing, +REP
    "In dedicato imperatum ultra articulo mortis"

  4. #3
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    Wow love the tactica and thanks to it i got my first win with my zilla list ( i love the lokks on my opponenets face when they get out shot by nids especially tau players)

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