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A quick tutorial on deployment,

In 14 years of wargaming, (principally WH40K), it is my experience that battles are won or lost in the deployment phase. Don’t we all wish we could go back to the start and move those units to a different flank because they were useless where you put them or because the enemy rolled over your unsupported gun line?

Next time you deploy, take a minute to appraise the battlefield with these key points in mind, not just the cursory glance and LOS check most players do. It helps me not only choose where and how to deploy but helps solidify my plan and make sure my units are placed to execute it. Remember the acronym OCOKA.

Observation. This is where you check your lines of sight. What areas of the field (or enemy units if you get to go second) can you see? What range are your weapons and can they engage those areas you can see. Can the enemy see you? What range are their weapons, and who will dominate those lines of sight. Place firing units in such a way that they can dominate a Line of Sight, and if you cannot do so, move them to where you can. Against an enemy with lots of firepower, you want to dominate 1 or 2 lines, because you can’t beat them everywhere without relying on the dice to help. ‘He who defends everywhere defends nothing’ Fredrick II (Sun Tzu said it first)

Cover and Concealment. Think about the preservation of your forces. You have to identify areas of cover to ensure your units have adequate protection against return fire. The better the save of a unit the more important cover is, while Astra Militarum Infantry Squads can do fine without cover, Space Marine Tactical Squads cannot, while getting 50% of a vehicle covered up can be difficult on some maps, it is incredibly potent if you can make it happen. Even if I have the first turn, I plan in the contingency of having the initiative stolen and copping a turn of fire, it is sometimes worthwhile to place a unit a few inches further back if it means in the case of you going second you will not lose an important unit in your army. While it is a viable strategy of placing aggressively forward to 1st turn charge/ alpha strike, this can backfire horribly if you lose that turn. At 1 in 6 times this happens or about 40% of the time in ITC-style games, this is too likely for me, and I couldn’t stand to lose 1 in 6 of my battles this way.

Obstacles. Look for features on the battlefield that will act as obstacles to your and your enemies’ movement. This is important and it can decide the speed of advance and determine when your assault forces can engage. Remember that models cannot squeeze through gaps smaller than their base, so you might find yourself unable to advance.

Key Terrain. Look at the battlefield for pieces of terrain that may be the key to victory. A dominating height or a piece of cover with an excellent line of sight of an avenue of advance may be the position, that if taken and held, will give one side a clear advantage over the other. It might not always exist, so don’t try to manufacture one in your mind, but be on the lookout. Key terrain also includes objectives, as holding more of these than the enemy will make all their successes against your troops meaningless. Right from the start, formulate a plan for how you will take and hold objectives and perhaps contest others. “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” Sun Tzu.

Avenues of Approach. Finally, look at the paths the armies must take if they are to engage. If your opponent has an assault based army, then they must close and assault you. You know this, and thus can plan for it. The battlefield will dictate the path they must take to get to you, and conversely, that you must take to get to them. Historically, every army to invade France with any degree of success, from Caesar to the Germans (several times) all attacked along the same route through Belgium and into northern France. This was because the terrain dictated the best avenue of advance. A defender should thus look to be placing units to break up or slow this advance. But be aware that placing units too far forward is a risk in and of itself, your opponent may charge your unit in an effort to get further forwards, wrap the unit in combat, making you unable to shoot the unit, your opponent can then kill it in your turn and charge your main force on his next turn. Blocking units like Knights can be very effective, but to effectively block something like Orks you need a unit that can FLY to avoid getting locked in combat and destroyed on your own turn.

I use this as a basic guide and take the time to read the battlefield prior to deployment. As for the plan itself, well there are two schools of thought on that, 1. No plan survives first contact with the enemy, and 2. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, but this is a topic for a future discussion. As this is my first post after enjoying reading so much from the Dakka community, I would appreciate feedback. Hope you enjoyed this.


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