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So depending on the roll of the dice we have two options. Deploy first or deploy second. Second seems to be the preferred option since you get to place your guys after seeing how the opponent has laid out his army so their isn't as much to discuss.
So let's just say you are the unfortunate soul who has to lay down his guys before knowing how the enemy responds so depending on the 3 basic deployment types (pitched battle, spearhead, dawn of war) how do you deploy?
1) Do you spread your army out across the board behind cover?
2) Do you nest your army together behind one large cover? Not recommended against armies that through down blast plates like IG
3)Or do you do something else.
Now after you have laid down your army your opponent responds via (1 Spreading his army across the board in cover, 2 nesting, or 3 nothing on the table he's coming in reserves/deepstrike). So how do you take this into account from your initial deployment?
Love to hear your thoughts on how to deploy for each of the 3 deployment types
If I deploy first, I always keep (assuming 2k list) quite a bit in reserve. If I'm running static trueborn with darklances they'll get deployed in cover and hope to pop something before they die (holding them in reserve is kind of ridiculous seeing as no matter what they won't shoot until turn 3.) most of my army is mechanized or fast anyway though so that gets around a lot of the disadvantage of board edge entry.
I usually deploy 3 Raiders, 2 with warriors and 1 with archon and trueborn with WWP, 2 Ravagers and 6 Reavers all are behind cover as much as possible.
Then I hold 2 units of 10 Wyches, 10 Incubi and a Talos in reserve and run them through the WWP.
This is a hybrid list so I deploy it as such, the mech deploy first turn and the reserves come in the WWP(s). This deployment is a very flexable one imo.
It depends on the mission and deployment type, but usually I go with 3) Or do you do something else:
When taking a webway portal, you can keep units in reserve despite a mission/deployment type saying otherwise. Because every Warrior and Wych squad
I have comes with a Raider (except for a few footsloggers to spring from the portal), when having 2nd turn, I tend to deploy nothing at all. My opponent will
have a wasted first turn. This works very well with the refused flank tactic: deploy one (or maybe two) unit on one flank, keep the rest in reserve.
Your opponent has to take the unit into account but still doesn't know where the rest will come.
When not going with a WWP, I go with 1) Do you spread your army out across the board behind cover:
For the Dark Eldar vehicles, this is a must. You need as much cover as possible, but as they can move 24" per turn, it can be used to deploy all over the board
but still get them concentrated somewhere else in a later turn. And once again, spreading out will keep your opponent guessing.
Innovation suffuses this hobby like a tea bag in the boiling water of play.
Ok, I run a ranged mounted DE army, so my strategies are based around this, and can change depending on the type of army I am facing.
First lets start off with Dawn of war, Always choose to go second and put everything in reserve to come in first turn, If you are facing a decent opponent he will make you go first. My reaction to this (assuming he has everything in reserve first turn) is to deploy everything behind cover (remember he can still steal the initiative), then turbo boost everything as close to the centre of the opponents deployment zone as possible. This means I will most likely be able to bear even short ranged weaponry against enemy units next turn, and many opponents will often split their forces allowing you to overrun half their army. The downfall to this is that the opponent will get a round of shooting against you, but you will get a 4+ cover save, and many armies can't move and shoot a portion of their weaponry. Using this strategy I usually lose at the very most one or 2 vehicles, but this is the best of the worst situation.
Spearhead is my least favourite deployment, if this is a strategic mission go second, if it's annihilation try to go first. Just try to exploit cover as much as possible, and if they have lots of big blast temps then spread out as much as possible. You only need to survive the first turn then you can use speed to spread out and properly use the cover. If there's no cover in your deployment just deploy far back a distance and hope they lack too many very long ranged units.
Pitched battle Once again, if this is a strategic mission go second, if it's annihilation try to go first. For Annihilation when deploying in the first turn spread out behind cover, this will either make your opponent spread out or bunch up. If they spread out immediately group up and target one flank of his army with short ranged firepower and use your longer ranged units(venoms and ravagers are best) to hammer any threatening units he has deployed in the centre of his deployment(this works best against slow armies, if they are fast then stay back and try to destroy anything that has big guns or allows their troops to move fast). If they bunch up try to pick off some of their units whilst denying line of sight to the majority of their deadlier ranged units, if there isn't much cover rush the enemy with all possible units and bring as much offensive capability to bear as possible, whilst targeting the biggest threats to your army.For Strategic missions go second (unless you really will be wiped first turn), if you cant go second, then kill everything they have that is fast, then target anything that is scoring.
Additionally if you lack much cover use your more dispensable units as cover, it's an old Dark Eldar trick but it still works.
Most of this is common sense, but hopefully it helps.
Fetch me another plaything. This one seems to have broken- Urien Rakarth
Sometimes going second is nice not all the time, against a good guard army it can be suicidal. You don't necessarily need to see your opponent deploy to know how he will deploy. You can judge based on the terrain on his side of the board and assume that he makes the most logical choices and then set up your deployment to fight that. Also a great reason for going first is you can deny him favorable positions where the terrain really suits his need and potentially get him to set up on the side with little terrain.
Unless your eldar or dark eldar reserving your army is an ill fated strategy against dark eldar because you can simply turbo boost forward an block off his deployment zone so if he reserves you should know what to do.