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Friday, February 24, 2012

Game Play Tip: Knowing The Enemy

Intelligence in the key to victory. Fortunately, in Warhams, it's really easy to gather some great intelligence! All you need to do is read a few internet sites, read a few codices, and presto, you are in very well informed about the capabilities of the enemy.

Really, though, the internet is generally an even better resource than a codex. Often, you can find BLOGs or forum posts where the "enemy" will tell you not only what he likes to take in his lists but also how they are intended to be used.

Now, for those of us who want to grow the 40K Community, we don't worry about offering up free information. (Honestly, it's ridiculous to even think that top players don't "get it" already. So, don't think you are going to benefit from HIDING your knowledge.)

What you can do with this information, though, is the age old thought experiment.

The thought experiment is the idea of trying to play out a game in your head with what you know about what the enemy wants to do and what you would do in response.

This is also known as what you do when you are sitting in a boring meeting at work!

It is a fact that many seemingly good players rely on your lack of knowledge to win their games. Lack of knowledge about what their units are and what their tactics will be are the common points of abuse.

I know that most people out there will never take the effort to learn unit stats, special rules, etc. That's okay! This article is for those people out there who might want to know "how is it that some people are better at this game than others?"

No, we don't sit around and drill this info like we are studying for a spelling test.

Most players learn those stat lines and rules through endless thought experimenting. (We get bored at work, a LOT!) And rather than spending that time thinking about the latest episode of The Walking Dead, they spend it thinking about how games of 40K will play out. That continued repetition is what drills those things into their heads.

Long story short is, I cannot tell you how many times I have played against people who think they got the "answer" to my army because they honestly believe they can "out fox" me with their "special combo". It's usually about Turn 2 where they realize that not only am I not falling for it, I'm actively countering it! What's worse, they haven't thought about what would happen if someone actually knew about their "secret" and started an effective counter! OOPS!

Here's an example. A guy who would give his opponent first turn and then rely on reserve and especially some Dread Drops to strike the enemy. "Gee... ", I said...

"Option A: Deploy me army and take it to the face exactly like my opponent wants me to..."

"Option B: Reserve my army even though I'm the one with first turn to force him to potentially drop and then counter when I come on the board..."

Not hard, really. But, if I hadn't over already known the rules of that army and the thought process behind how it was used, big mistake!

Another example. A guy who brings a Tau army to an objective mission, with 9 Broadsides all with Target Locks, just waiting on you to set up all your stuff on the board so he can blow it away. "Gee... ", I said...

"Option A: Set up my shooting army and get tabled by Tau."

"Option B: Come in from reserve behind LoS blocking terrain, sit there for 4 turns, and then grab objectives/contest on Turn 5 while creating an assault threat bubble to keep him out of board mid."

There's always an answer, but in a tournament, it's already to late to figure out what to do in most cases.


  1. Well, despite how much info is out there in the internet, I still own all the codexes and give them a read.

    But, as the famous 80's saying goes: "and knowing is half the battle" is very, very true.

  2. I always try to present multiple threats/strategies to my opponent. I try to present multiple midlevel threats and not one super powerful threat. Most people can counter one threat, but multiple midlevel threats are trickier.

    In your example of the drop pod army I would take fewer pods or pod in units that don't need to be in the enemies face right away. For example take 2 librarian/furioso dreads in pods, but then also take 2 tactical squads in pods. That way you still have the strategy of 2 librarian dreads to drop and bloodlance vehicles or if that is countered you can drop tacticals to where you want them at range and save the Libby dreads for later. I agree that taking 9 pods of all close range threats can be seen coming and countered. The morale of e story is don't put all your eggs in one basket.

    1. Knowing your enemy and their capabilities is probably the second most important factor of becoming a successful competitive gamer. So many people focus on the brute force of a "super list" and lack the practical experience to make it work against 100's of possible army/list combinations they may face.

      A good example of this was a local tournament where I took best general with my Nids. My first opponent had a decent GK list with Coteaz, NDK w/ hvy incinerator, purgators w/ 4 incinerators, purifiers, and 10 terminators. A great list for killing bugs... Except he didn't know Coteaz had sanctuary. I guess that would be knowing your own army tho heh. Anyways, that one piece of knowledge cost him the game as I brought 40 genestealers and outnumbered his halberds by a lot.

      Another good one was at our local GT, a necron player (old codex) used pariahs and a tank shocking monolith to table a draigowing list that never knew what hit it.

      Armies play differently on the table as they may appear on paper. Practicing regularly with the same list against a wide variety of opponents and armies is the best advise I could ever offer someone.


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