Tips and Tricks for Warhammer 40,000 Eighth Edition.
-By Ray Snyder
With the 8th Edition of Warhammer 40,000 having been released, new players are starting up and old players are relearning the rules. I thought it would be a good idea to talk about some basic tips and tricks that might help with the learning curve.
First, I recommend playing simple missions to start out with. With the new Edition, just trying to keep the core rules and your army rules straight is enough of a challenge for most people. Once you’re familiar with the core rules and your army, you can try the more interesting missions. I recommend Relic and No Mercy for simple straightforward missions. If you want to use the Open War cards, Look through each stack of cards and only use cards you’re comfortable with for you first few games. Feel free to limit yourself to four of the deployment and objective cards and only use Twists once you’re comfortable with your army.
Always have a plan. If it fails, figure out why it failed and remember that when making future plans. You have four things you are planning around, your army, your opponent’s army, the mission, and the terrain on the battlefield. Set goals for your units and see if you can meet them, this way you learn generally what the different units can accomplish. Think about how your opponent’s army plays, or if you have never faced that army before, do your best to learn from it. Missions can greatly change the way a battle plays out, so always plan on how you will score your mission objectives with an eye towards denying your opponent his mission objectives. With missions, too much aggression can cost you the game. If you focus all your efforts on destroying your opponent’s army, you can often lose sight of the mission and lose the battle. Also remember to factor the terrain in. Some tables lack or have an abundance of large areas of cover, while others heavily restrict line of sight or don’t at all. Some tables might have a lot of forests and craters that slow down charge moves (by reducing the charge roll by 2 inches, making charges a lot harder to connect with). Knowing if a table’s terrain is good or bad for your army is important, as a table with a bad terrain match up with your army can still be a great game, you just need to know what you can’t do and what you can do. However all of this information requires experience playing the game. As you play, if you keep making plans and learning what works for you and what doesn’t, you will start to make better plans.
Remember to discuss what each type of terrain is with your opponent before the game begins, to make sure you’re both on the same page. Terrain has a few effects: the first, “Cover” is pretty good but requires that the battle field has Area terrain or ample obstacles. Line of Sight- blocking terrain can is very important, as without it, the game favors Alpha strikes (shooting first often means also shooting last) and dedicated shooting armies. Additionally, some terrain such as the previously mentioned forests and craters can protect against enemy assaults, while some other terrain such as pipelines might be potentially explosive or the terrain might require some house rules to make it work as you would expect.
When creating an army list, you will often be faced with the question of whether to take small minimum sized units or larger maximum sized squads. If you can field 20 models in a unit, is it best to run one large unit or field several smaller units, such as 4 squads of 5 models each? A single large squad offers quick deployment, as a lot of missions reward the player who finished deploying his army first. Large squads also enable better impact in the Charge and Fight phases, as large squads all get to overwatch fire when being charged and when charging, getting a single model into close combat can drag in the rest of the squad with pile in and consolidation movement. When removing casualties large unit can be difficult to slow down, you can always pick models that won’t have much impact on the current fighting, allowing your key figures to survive. However large squads suffer from the morale rules, so if they take massive casualties, they can often lose even more in the Morale phase. Additionally, large squads have a harder time benefiting from cover, as all the models need to be in area terrain or within one inch of a barrier or wall. Large squads can also benefit more for characters’ auras such as the Space Marine Captain’s ability to reroll “1”s on the to hit roll at all Space Marines in 6 inches, as all you need is for one models to be close enough and the squad gets the full benefit, even if one end of the squad is very far away.
Small squads largely ignore morale rules, as the number of casualties require to make a serious morale check will almost wipe the squad out, so the morale might sometime finish off a unit surviving with one or two models left. Smaller squads often get over killed, as attacks will sometimes kill all the models with extra wounds to spare, in larger squads those wounds would kill more models, but with a small squad the extra damage is wasted. Small squads also help fill out a Battalion or Brigade Detachment with less models overall. Small squads gain cover much easier than large squads, as they need to fit in the area of cover, craters and other common area cover often is difficult to fit ten models into and impossible to fit more. Small squads often have more upgrades available then a single large Squad. If each squad allows for a Veteran Sergeant who can care upgraded weapons, then four squads gets four Sergeants, while one large squad get’s a single Sergeant. This applies to special and heavy weapons, too. However, the smaller model count of the squad means that after a few casualties, the important models have to be assigned damage, while large squad can suffer more attrition before losing key models such as Sergeants and models with heavy or special weapons.
In eighth edition, units can split up their units’ weapons to fire at different targets, but a large unit has to declare how all of it’s attacks with be targeted before rolling any dice, while four smaller squads would be able to shoot and resolve all its shots before the next squad attacks, allowing your to maximize your damage output, as the large squad can end up overkilling one target and not dealing enough damage to a second target, while four separate squads can make it’s targeting choices after seeing the results of the previous units attacks.
Both small and large squads have benefits and weaknesses, so do your best to think about what you’re trying to accomplish with your squads, then decide if you want them large or small. As with everything I’ve written it’s always worthwhile to have a plan for the game and reasons for that plan, If your army is built to use a character’s aura abilities, large squads can often make better use of auras then small squads, but small squad find it easier to fit into area terrain or behind an obstacle. Have a plan on how you’re going to use the terrain on the battlefield and how you’re going to complete the mission objectives.