Ever looked across the table at an opposing army and thought, ‘I’m going to lose this one’?
Whether it’s the rock to your scissors or you were led to believe by your opponent that it was a ‘friendly test game’ and find yourself playing an optimised Imperial Guard ‘Alpha strike’ list or any number of reasons sometimes it just happens.
So you’ve lost before you even started…or have you?
Well if you think you have, then you probably will. You’ll just drop your units anywhere because it ‘doesn’t matter anyway’, head randomly towards the nearest unit ‘because your going to die anyway’, etc, etc, etc…
How do we avoid this particular scenario?
Well I’m going to (attempt) to tell you…
First a brief interlude if you are ‘That F*****g Guy’ or ‘TFG’.
Playing to win is fine; using an optimised list is fine; using every (legal) trick you’ve ever learned to destroy your opponent in the most efficient way possible is also fine…IF the other guy is expecting it…
It’s a tournament…fine
Both practicing for a tournament…fine
You both are aware that’s the game you wanted…fine
The other guys a power-gaming WAAC twat and you all hate him anyway…fine
It’s a pick-up game at your FLGS…not fine.
Glad that’s clear, now lets get back on track then,
So lets say you’ve walked into the ambush or just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and your going to be on the wrong end of this baby seal clubbing how can we minimise the pain?
Editors Note: Much of the following is going to adopt the principle that your opponent is not a very nice person. A truly competitive player (I say competitive not WAAC) will probably have a ‘nice’ version of his army that he uses when playing against people of a different mindset or ability level or at the very least will try to make the experience more about the learning than the clubbing ;-)
Stage 1.0 – Know your army.
You can win any game of 40K even using a sub-optimal list vs. an optimised one, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Many ‘Cookie Cutter’, copied straight from the forums, ‘cheese’ lists are nothing of the sort. Really good players got that way by playing, not by copying somebody else’s shit, dropping it on a table and auto-winning with it. Many (not all, admittedly) people who use lists they have heard are good on the Internet and blindly follow are not very good at using them. They rely on the list to do the work; we however will be relying upon being a better General than them ;-)
You know your list (or bloody well should do anyway), go through what each unit is armed with, what special rules it has access to and what it works best against. Make particular note of optimal weapon ranges and what best fits into the ‘anti-infantry’ or ‘anti-tank’ categories. Compare that with what your opponent has and store it all away in your head ready for the phase that will help or hinder your plan for the upset of the decade…deployment.
Stage 1.5 – Pre-Deployment.
In the ‘Seize Ground’ objective mission you’ll be placing objectives before you roll for deployment type and to see who goes first.
Make sure there’s an objective on each side of the board don’t just throw them anywhere. If your mobile and he’s static spread them around. If you are particularly tough (either literally, or have a high Inv. Save), can’t get cover saves anyway or can take cover saves with you then put them in the open where hopefully he'll take more damage holding them than you would. If you have assault grenades and he doesn’t put them in cover. This obviously apply's for the other objective mission as well it just will happen later.
This is your first chance to enhance your advantages and to minimise his, if you get this mission then take advantage of that fact.
Stage 2.0 – Deployment.
Whether going first or second (by choice or by losing the roll-off) there are many ways we can limit the damage. As we are discussing avoiding losing before the game starts I am however going to limit myself to both the most important and probably the only one you can really control at this stage.
Most units that will land in your face and blow your tank to pieces such as Imperial Guard Veterans ‘Scout’ moved up close in Valks or Vendettas, Units in Drop Pods, deep striking Assault Marines etc, will be armed with Meltaguns. Though these have a 12” range they’re only particularly scary at half that distance due to being able to roll 2 dice for armour penetration only at half range. It is therefore important to put the things that you really need to survive outside that range. If you are fortunate to be using an army with cheap expendable units such as Imperial Guard or Tau (I mean Kroot, not the 6 Fire Warriors the rulebook forces you to take) then these are ideal. If playing Marines this is slightly trickier but I have myself used Tactical Squads to do the same job with surprising effectiveness.
Mech only ‘bubblewrapping’ is slightly trickier. You can use Landspeeders or similar to deny landing zones. The Multi-Melta + Heavy Flamer version is ideal for this as it has something to annoy anyone who lands right in front of it.
Failing that then you’ll just have to put your Armour 13 units in the front and hope 5th Ed.’s exceedingly forgiving Vehicle Damage rules are on your side.
Psychic Bubblewrap is also worth a mention. Several armies have Librarians with access to cover save generating psychic abilities, if you are fortunate to have access to one then you can pretty much always take the ‘Shield of Whatever’ power as one of your two and find a use for it at some point during the game. I include Ork Kustom Force Fields in this as they don’t even need ‘turning on’, lol.
Stage 3.0 – Expectations.
This doesn’t need much explanation.
He expects to win, nobody expects you to. Therefore all the pressure is on him*. You are however (by virtue of having the moral high ground) allowed to smile every time something goes wrong for his army even if your ‘Oh dear you’ve immobilised both your Land Raiders on that tiny crater’ sounds a tad insincere, lol.
* Of course it could be a girl, but as girls who play competitive 40K are about as commonly seen as a well written Gav Thorpe story I’ll keep on using ‘him’ for now. Also at the risk of sounding sexist, girls don’t usually feel the need to destroy other people in games of toy soldiers to make themselves happy, that’s what chocolate is for ;-)
So that (for what it's worth) is my opinion on the subject,
The floor is now open for opposing viewpoints.