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I have seen several different players use the Vanguard movement rule. Nearly every time the player lost the unit during the opponent player's first turn. I have never used it since I do not use light cavalry. I do not know if they are doing something wrong. So, I ask:Are these players misusing Vanguard?Does other players have difficulties using Vanguard?Is there a good reason for using the Vanguard movement rule?Sidewinder
If you have a target for your fast cav it's actually pretty good (but ti can be risky since Light cav are usually squishy). One game I ran up my pistoliers toward my enemy battleline (I had the first turn). They turned and sat beside a unit of Grail Knights and a Treb. In the magic phase I cast Withering on the Grail Knights, and then shot them in the shooting pahse and killed a bunch. At the top of turn 2 I charged the treb and killed the crew. You just have to have a plan for them, and realize the they may die if you screw up.
Vanguard is one of my favorite things to do with my Warhawks. Set them up as late as possible and have a plan with them. For example, I played VC a little while ago and I vanguarded my Hawks right next to a unit of knights (don't remember their name). My plan was 2 fold. The main intention was flying past them and into his backfield on my turn for a multi-charge later with my treekin. The second was goading his knights into turning to face them. They did and were out of the game for the better part of 4 turns and my hawks got a devastating multi-charge with my trees and HoDA noble/Scouts on his mage unit that ultimately won me the game. Had those knights been in my face early, I would've been in trouble because as soon as they showed up on my side of the field, they charged through two units.
I personally LOVE Vanguard. I've done Similar things with Wild Riders. Also, there's nothing saying you have to go into your opponent's side of the field with Vanguard. If you have a few units that are capable of vanguard, set them up first and trick your opponent into setting up against them, then set up on the other side and vanguard to safety. Little things like that have made it almost invaluable to me.
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Used properly, it's good stuff. If you have first turn, it's usually enough to let the vanguarded unit march into the side arc of the enemy unit that would otherwise charge them.
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If you are seeing Vanguard units getting wiped out on turn 1, it could mean a lot of different things, not all of which are negative.
1. The Vanguard got the First Turn
This can be bad for a vanguard unit. If you take the first turn, you can't charge with your vanguard. If your opponent gets the first turn, you can. Vanguard is almost exclusively employed by fast-movers. You don't have to take the full 1' deployment zone and 1' move - that puts you just 12" away from the enemy. You can easily use Vanguard to set yourself up to charge them when they move out out of their DZ on turn 1. Seeing a player Vanguard straight forward without planning on his opponent's next move is just an example of bad play.
2. The Opponent Perceives a Threat
Real or imagined, the opponent might look at that Vanguard unit and decide that it simply must die. Perhaps he feels that it might charge his artillery, or that it's in the way. Some gamers aren't used to seeing units in their kill-zone this early in the game, and just take a "kill the closest target" mentality. This isn't always bad - charging a Vanguard can disrupt battle lines, shooting them means that a unit may have to give up marching into range of your army or at least firing on your main units this turn, and hitting them with magic means that your enemy is wasting and risking a miscast on his first turn. Vanguards are a forlorn hope, they rarely last through the whole game, plan on that when you buy them into your list.
3. They're Supposed to Die
Warriors of Chaos players are most familiar with a unit called 'The Cruise Missile'. It is 5/6 Marauder Horsemen with flails, and Mark of Khorne. They are Frenzied, with 2A each, WS/I4, S5 on the first turn. Altogether they cost just ~100pts. WoC generals will smash this unit into the front of an enemy, and target all of their attacks at a single, squishy model - like a wizard. The unit might get cut down in return, but they've just taken out about 100+pts worth of Wizard, and a chunk of the opposing magic phase with them. Hitting something like Teclis with this unit can practically net you a game in the first two turns. Just because your unit bites it, doesn't mean that it hasn't done it's job.
Vanguard is a very unique rule, and one that a lot of players can't handle properly. It's not even always their fault - several of the armies that have Fast Cavalry don't necessarily have viable Fast Cav. Take the High Elves' Ellyrian Reavers as an example - they cost over 20pts per model, and have only Spears and S3 for offense. They really don't do enough damage to make them useful, and they're too expensive to just throw away as a diversion. Marauder Horsemen are pretty good, Dark Riders are by the best, and other armies have some decent options as well.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you aren't forced to make use of the Vanguard rule. You can just as well stay back in your own deployment zone. I used to field 2 regiments of 11 Marauder Horsemen, with a Hero in each kitted out for maximum close-combat carnage in my Warriors army. If my opponent had a solid deployment and I couldn't find a gap or weak spot to exploit with my Vanguard, I would leave the units in my deployment zone and play the first turns as normal. If I could surge forward and break their lines, take out a unit or two, or otherwise cause havoc, then I would send out my regiments.
Everyone else made most of the points I would have made, especially Sarathai. I did want to mention that if you have access to a Fast Cavalry unit with decent Ld, a musician, and ranged weapons, you can antagonize an opposing unit for at least half a game. It was one of my favorite tactics when I was playing Warriors of Chaos. Units of five Marauder Horsemen, with throwing axes and a musician. Vanguard deploy, try to get off some throwing axe attacks, and flee from the charge. Rally next turn, and throw out some more throwing axes. You may not do your points in damage, but if you can keep a high points unit chasing you around (Or better yet, more than one), your other units can rampage as they see fit. It's also super amusing to damage something ridiculous with a throwing axe, heh.
Another solid tactic is breaking ranks. Its only really viable with super cheap fast cav, like wolf/spider riders, warhounds(not fast cav, but same concept), marauders, and glade riders(they arent cheap, but you absolutely need them with wood elves) where you take a unit of 10-15 of them. You vanguard to a wide flank, flinging arrows, and let the enemy come into your army, exposing their flank to them. Once they are in range, fling them into the side and charge with other units.
This is absolutely devestating with goblin cav. Spider riders on the flank, with the spell of reroll hits and wounds and armor piercing, will break units hard.
Its also unreasonably awesome with warhounds. 15 only costs around 75 or so and if you flank something fighting minotaurs, you kill steadfast and you can pusue units.
Fast cav are fantastic support pieces. Just dont expect them to hold your army together.