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Friday, April 27, 2012

Kill Point Denial #5: Playing to the Concept

So far in this series, I have discussed useful definitions, why KP Denial lists work in multiple objective missions, and a few of the more important unit choice concepts like durability, positive kill point potential, and speed units.

The last article before I start examining possible Kill Point Denial lists in Article #6 is to talk about playing to the concept of the list.  This is the most important aspect of the concept.  If you take a Kill Point Denial style list but are not prepared to play to the concept, it will most likely either net you a very boring game or not much success.

The basic game plan of Kill Point Denial is to gather a few kill points, generally very low amounts, while not giving up any of your own.  This will easily win your the Kill Point portion of a multiple objective mission.  The second concept is to either tie all other objectives, attempt to win one more objective, or let the opponent have one, tie one, and win on a tie breaker which is generally victory points.

There are some fundamental play tactics that go into winning the game in one of the above ways.

1)  You are generally in control of the flow of the game.

The reason why you are generally in control is that you are most likely already winning the game before it even starts on kill points.  From there, you are building your plan to either tie or win a second objective.  In this manner, you will often have the capacity to direct where the battle will be fought, what objectives will be contested, and where your opponent will end up moving.

The reason why this is generally true is because your opponent is already on his back foot.  The advantage and confidence of going into a game knowing that you have most likely won if nothing else happens is tremendous.  Furthermore, generally, your opponent has built his list, play style, and had practice games which revolve around "how do I kill my opponent?"  Except against very seasoned players, this puts you at a further advantage because most opponents won't even know where to begin to react to an opponent that is actively seeking not to die.  For example, in order for brutal assault units to work, the enemy has to be engaged at some point, which, with careful practice you will realize, is hard to do when you are running away from them.

As a point, it is almost always in your favor to go second because you want to control the game.  This way, you can see where you opponent will place his easy kill points, know where to blunt or counter your opponents moves, and more importantly, give you the last turn so you can use your speed units to contest objectives at the very end of the game while not giving up kill points.  The last point there is the most critical.

2)  Kill Point Denial doesn't really kill stuff

This is a fundamental principle more than anything else.  You have to clear your mind of all the strategy and tactics you have developed over the years about how to most effectively annihilate your opponent.  Most of us have a repertoire of tricks, traps, and tactics that we have learned on how to best put our pieces into position to maximize the damage they do to the enemy.  We have learned basic concepts like target priority, combined attacks, and bating traps used to knock our opponent's models off the table in the best way possible.

Kill Point Denial style is an entirely different kung-fu.  Useful tactics here don't revolve around destroying the enemy.  Useful tactics revolve around preventing the enemy from killing your units and ways to contest objectives.

Things like setting up screens, move + run AWAY, hiding weak units behind terrain, turbo-boosting for last turn objectives, using assaults to drag opponents off of objectives or to position yourself onto them for contesting, bating your opponent to one side of the board, keeping your opponent out of range, etc. are all ways in which Kill Point Denial works.

One of the real advantages here, as listed above, is that you will be playing a different kind of game than your opponent in most cases.  You also have the advantage of generally having had a lot of experience playing the type of game your opponent wants to play.  This means that you are generally much more capable of predicting what he will do than he is predicting what you will do.  (This of course doesn't work against very seasoned players.)

3)  Setting up Objective Opportunities

As stated earlier, one of the key components of Kill Point Denial is the last turn objective contest/grab.  This isn't always the case, but in a lot of lists, it will be.  To effectively do this, your mind set needs to be one of setting up Objective Opportunities.

For example, one very useful tactic I have found is what I call the bait and switch.  Take a core part of your army to one side of the board, generally out of range of enemy fire.  For a "kill 'em all" player, this means he will move to that side of the board to try and kill you.  This generally sets up objective opportunities on the other side of the board for your speed units.  More often, what will happen is your opponent will end up leaving a very weak unit or two to hold objectives while he advances on you.

Another very important tactic is using the fact that the game will end to stop your opponent's forward aggression.  For example, one very popular Space Wolf list that I commonly run into, what I call the "Kopach" list, generally involves a bunch of Rhinos with larger squads of Grey Hunters backed by Long Fangs.  (There is usually a scout squad or 2 as well).  This type of list really relies on you to stand your ground to fight with it.  If you, however, run from it for several turns, eventually, what will happen is that the Space Wolf player will be forced to stop his forward movement in order to back-track or guard objectives that litter the board.  He may continue with a couple of units, but this significantly weakens his front and makes it now very risky for him to send just a portion of his army into the fray while the rest is trying to take objectives in turns 4+.

Armed with that kind of knowledge, you can begin setting up the avenues with which you will contest objectives with your speed units or attempt to force a tie to win on Victory Points.  (If shrugging off 15 missiles a turn for 5+ turns isn't very easy for your army to do, you need to revisit the toughness of your list as a whole)

The important take away here is to think about how your opponent will play and how to set up opportunities for you to take or contest objectives late game.  This combined with point #1 is usually the major power behind a kill point denial strategy.


Just like any other strategy, there is no guaranteed win behind the entire kill point concept.  (That should be a given.  If there was a perfect list and perfect way to play, we'd all be doing it.)  Kill Point Denial lists and strategy though will generally produce very close, "skin of your teeth" style games where you eek out wins on the last turn through objective contesting.

If the concept of playing a very strategic game of 40K intrigues you more so than the concept of annihilating your enemy, it's something that is worth a shot.  If not, you may find KP Denial lists to be very boring to play as there generally isn't a lot of action in the games until the final turns.

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