Monday, May 27, 2013

Path of the Autarch: Mobility [Part 4]

It has been a few weeks since the last installment of this series. End of the school semester usually means most of my time is spoken for, but finals are over and I'm looking forward to getting my hobby on. With that in mind, I will move into the fourth segment of this tactical adventure.

Last time we talked, the discussion was centered around what the guiding light of the first few turns looks like and the objectives we should strive to achieve. Now we move into the mid game theory which is slightly more abstract merely because the further we move into a non-specific, fictional game, the more the permutations of possibility multiply. But that is ok, I think I can categorize the three situations you will find yourself in.

Situation One: Success

This situation is definitely the one you want to find yourself in. To be here, it means that the game has been going very well. Our priority targets have been crippled, our forces are mostly untouched, the opponent's army is in disarray and seriously lacking needed assets, etc. Basically, all aces going into the mid game.

In this situation, the plan is pretty simple. Keep the momentum going and keep the stream of violence flowing. We do have a shift in the flavor of our priority targets, however.

At the beginning of the game, we were focused on eliminating the immediate threats to our mobile units and to establish dominance on the field of battle. Since this scenario is based on the assumption that we were successful at neutralizing these targets, we move to the next two target categories. We will now turn our sights upon enemy units that are going to gain the opponent Victory Points and/or enemy units that will cause us to score fewer Victory points.

For example:
- Enemy scoring units in objective games (generally Troops, but not always)
- Enemy anti-X units (X is equal to our types of scoring units)

There is also something else that we need to be doing at this point in the game. We need to be harnessing the mobility of our army by beginning to position our scoring and contesting assets towards objectives and other key areas such as obvious areas the opponent will need to control or traverse in order to have a chance at victory.

An example of this would be that there could be a Space Marine squad that has recently , forcibly "disembarked" from their transport. This squad is the closest and most obvious choice for grabbing a nearby objective. We can observe their position and plot out the most likely path for them to go in order to claim it. If we can read the table correctly, we have the opportunity to position resources in the area to make sure the Marines never get there, or at least in a turn or two, we effortlessly sweep through the area with overwhelming force.

Our goal is to begin securing the lanes of victory and ensure the opponent cannot regain traction in which to launch a counter attack.

Situation Two: Failure

And here is the flip side of the previous situation, where our early turns have not gone well at all. There are many ways to find yourself here, perhaps your opponent just laid into you and crippled your force which prevented you from striking effectively or perhaps, despite your best efforts, you find that your attacks were completely ineffective for whatever reason. Regardless of the path, we find ourselves here and need to figure out how to still pull off the win.

Something that you must always remember: never give up. 40k is a strange game in that it is completely plausible that you can lose 90% of your models and still win the game. This is especially true for the mobile army. We have to give Fate every opportunity to intervene.

So what is the thought process here? We basically have pick up the teeth that have recently been kicked out of our head, and use them as a fist pack.

First thing is first. Double check the victory conditions for our current mission. Plan A has failed miserably and we need to conjure up a viable Plan B based on the mission objectives, our remaining forces, and the current positions of the relevant assets in the battlespace.

This is a fairly hard situation to give advice on. There are sooooo many factors here and they are always completely situational. I can point out some guiding lights and hopefully you can navigate yourself back to a sturdier foothold.

Let's start with the more straightforward missions: any mission you are playing where the Victory Points are going to be gained from killing off units.
In a mission like this, you need to concentrate on the enemy units that are going to be easiest to pick off and conversely, we are going to try and deny the enemy access to our weakened and/or super fragile units. This is a delicate dance but it is one that is up to you to learn. Every game will be different. Make good trade offs but don't be afraid to gamble either.

Now, for the more complex missions; ones where there are objectives. We need to figure out a strategy that gives us the best chance of victory.

Your best bet is probably to combine these four following strategy snippets. So lets look at them and how the mobile army has an advantage of them.

Possible vague strategy snippets:

1) Concentrate fire on the opponent's scoring units to reduce their score.
The mobile army has the ability to quickly rally their forces, reform into attack groups and lay down fire on the target scoring units.

2) Focus on getting our resilient units on objectives to increase our score.
The mobile army can get their forces back the objectives quickly. Usually, resiliency is traded for speed, so our remaining units may not have extreme staying power. We can use our other elements to help us though by putting our agile units in a screen position, or suicidally trying to bog down the main threats to our newly commissioned objective holders.

3) Draw a line in the sand and just prevent the opponent from controlling objectives to take those points out of play.
If you can gain advantage by preventing the enemy from taking a key objective, do so with your mobility. Park a skimmer on the objective, put jump troops in a ring around that skimmer, tie up nearby scoring units, focus your firepower on the main threats to your blockade, etc. the mobile army can really get this into place in record time. And it might work well if it comes out of nowhere. This may force the opponent to react to a serious and unexpected threat from a previously ragged force.

4) Set up a strike force to contest enemy objectives.
Knowing that we will need to be in near proximity to the opponent's objectives to contest them, we can set up little strike forces to clear enemy objectives, contest them, or if luck favors us then we might be able to take them. Identifying this during the mid game lets us get our forces into position and deliver a strike in the late game.

Situation Three: Neutral

This is the in between and probably the most likely result during the onset to the mid game. This situation requires you to take the guidance of the first two situations. Keep up the violence, be prepared to deny your opponent their strategy and get in position to remove the opponent's ability to score points.


The more I write about this stuff, the more I realize that it must sound so vague and possibly elicit a "well, duh" response from some readers. Most of what I have been talking about isn't new or ground breaking material. Mostly, the impetus for writing these articles was to get this massive mental framework into a concrete container. I hope that presenting all this things together might subtlety affect your subconscious thought processes during your games and get you a few more wins because you are looking ahead and thinking about the big picture in addition to the micro details of each unit to unit interaction. I just see so many players (and not always just new ones) that are playing theirs games and they know their codex, but they do not have a plan, nor are they really working towards a goal.

With that out if the way, what are your personal goals during the mid game?


  1. I like these articles. It's a good reminder to THINK during the midgame and to have a plan for the remainder of the game rather than just react until the late turns where you have to hurry and grab some objectives.

    The initial plan is good, but it rapidly loses focus after turn 2-3. Refocusing helps me a lot to finish games out strong and not make dumb movement mistakes that I will rue when turn 5 comes around.

  2. Thanks, nelsonus!
    I completely agree. The initial plan usually has to morph fairly quickly after a few turns. Unfortunately, we as players, tend to get caught up in the here and now rather than keeping our eye on the overall strategy.
    I know I frequently come up with great plans in the shooting phase that I wish I had thought of in the movement phase so I could have actually acted on it.
    I have to actively try to make sure I don't have tunnel vision on the immediate threats from last turn.
    A player that is thinking critically in the mid game has a serious advantage in the late game over an opponent that was not.

  3. Adaptability and Situational Acuity are very important during the midgame.

    I have not had a "well duh" moment reading your articles sir. people tend to loose focus and forget the basics when in the thick of things. I am very guilty of that. I think it is going to be much more important for we that play Eldar in the coming months.

  4. Indeed, SeerK, indeed. The mid game is where things tend to fall apart. Both players have been smashing their armies together for a few turns and the board can get chaotic. It is imperative to keep a cool head, plan out what you want to accomplish, and execute.

    I think that long time Eldar players are going to be a SERIOUS threat on the battlefield very shortly. We have had to home our skills and fight for every inch against newer and more powerful codexes for a long time. Once that same level of effort and strategy gets paired with a modern codex, it is going to be devastating. I have been saying this for years, and in a very short time, we shall see if I was correct.

  5. Just found your articles. A very good read. Going to go back and read the rest. I agree, Eldar are very fickle force and we have to think the next turn we are playing.

    Your statement about long time Eldar players will be brutally true to many opponents. Eldar are a rapier, not a broadsword and the blade looks to be sharpened.

    1. Thanks, BdaGamer. I hope you enjoy them.
      Eldar are definitely not a straightforward smash army. It takes planning, skill and a steady hand to be successful with them. As Eldar players, we have many tricks and options that other codexes don't get. Utilizing them to full effect is the key to victory. The learning curve is steep, but it is worth the climb in my opinion.