I decided not to start this article off with a Google searched, related image!
Let me put your fears aside about what this article is about and define where I am going with it. One very advanced tactic that can be useful in a game of 40K is knowing how to maximize the potential of units by knowing when to expose them to the enemy. This is a very basic concept to explain, but as with many advanced tactics, it's easy to learn and hard to master.
The idea of exposing a unit to the enemy is simply put as holding back until the right time to strike. The concept of "holding back" is where this moves from a simple tactic to an advanced tactic.
Let's start with a simple example. Suppose I have a Dreadnought in a Drop Pod with a Multi-Melta (DDM). The simple tactic for a DDM is to deep strike him next to your opponent's valuable vehicles, and destroy one. You want to deliver a crippling blow right away, one in which your opponent may not be able to easily counter.
So, the part that's critical to this game play tip is, you are exposing your Dreadnought to the enemy for the chance to destroy an important target.
Easy. You drop in, you roll a 1 to hit, and now the enemy greases your Dreadnought and his drop pod, picking up 2 easy kill points and brushing away 140 points of your army.
But wait! There's more!
There are other downsides as well. What if your opponent doesn't have a good target for your DDM? What if you can only get into melta-range of a group of worthless rhinos? What if he bubble wraps? What if he reserves? And on and on.
Where Simple Becomes Advanced
So, very often, when someone has a simple tactical plan for attack, such as our DDM scenario, a good player will simply counter the tactic. As mentioned above, maybe he bubble wraps. Maybe he reserves. Maybe he does any number of things.
The DDM player, his tactic now being thwarted, all to often shrugs his shoulders and just drops the Dreadnought anyways. Maybe he'll get a sweet rhino kill! Maybe he'll not die on the opponent's turn and get to assault something! Who knows? The plan failed so just press on.
Sometimes, like with he DDM scenario, the trick, suicide, alpha strike is the best plan. Often, the opponent will counter thus nullifying the advantage. What if, then, instead of just throwing our Dread away, we place him and his drop pod elsewhere on the board where the opponent won't just LOLroll him on his turn?
Drop him away from the enemy? Drop him behind terrain where he can't be seen? He might not be useful right now, but later on in the game, he could become useful.
Now, rather than just tossing him away because your initial plan didn't work, you have a resource in your list you might be able to leverage. Maybe, later on in the game, you start to whittle away at your opponent's melta fire or his long range fire. Maybe, the Dread can stand behind terrain in board mid creating a threat bubble to prevent your opponent from advancing.... afterall he can't shoot you if he can't see you.
This is a simple idea, but it gets more complex. What to take away from this DDM scenario is not a better way to use a DDM but to understand the concept of WHEN and HOW to expose your units to the enemy. Above all, don't just throw them away.
There are a lot of very good 40K players out there, and many have very eccentric army and unit choices. A common mantra of many great players when questioned about some of their choices is, "they are good. People just don't know how to use them."
I've heard people defend everything from Wraithlords to Scout Bikers and beyond.
Now, once you get over yourself and realize that these guys really are very good players and not just lucky, the next logical question is, how in the heck are they making this crap work?
Does this line of thinking sound familiar?
- Dude, I'll just blow _____ of the table. It sux.
- ______ doesn't kill XXXX or YYYY and is a waste.
- My army will LOLZpew _____ away.
So, if something looks so bad on paper or to the internet arm chair general, why does someone else, often a very good, proven player, think it works?
It's easy to dismiss a threat as not credible. However, if the opposing player is actively seeing to note expose a unit to you until the time is right, things change dramatically.
Wraithlords are LOLZERZ to melta guns, right? What if the Eldar player just waits to bring the Wraithlord out until the melta guns are dead? Now, what are you going to do to stop that T8 monstrous creature?
Marbo sux because he just jumps out, maybe kills something and dies? What if your opponent places him behind terrain where he can't be seen.... but funny, close enough to maybe contest an objective next turn? Now what are you going to that you have to commit forces to see him or take him out?
See where I'm going with this?
The reason why this is an advanced tactic, although simple concept, is because the amount of tactics and thinking that has to go into not exposing the unit until the right time. Is there enough terrain? Can you leverage LoS or the movement phase well enough to make it useful later? Can you see how to eliminate key threats to the model before it comes out on Turn 3?
Hope that gets you thinking for today. The bottom line is, never throw a unit away unnecessarily and NEVER assume you will just herpADerpPEW some kind of threat away from you... especially when a player who is as smart or smarter than you is actively seeking to make sure that doesn't happen.