Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dashofpepper on Objective Placement

Two thirds of Warhammer 40,000 games revolve around objectives – either Capture and Control with two objectives, or Seize Ground with three to five objectives. The purpose of this article is to discuss how to most advantageously place objectives on the field for your benefit and to your opponent’s detriment.

There are two, possibly three army archetypes in regard to objective placement.
1. Armies that prefer objectives to be as close together as possible. This would be slow armies, foot-slogging armies, and armies that rely on being massed for their strength. Things like Orks, Tyranids, and Necrons.
2. Armies that prefer objectives to be as far apart as possible.
3. Armies that don’t care how far away objectives are. This would be fast armies and deep-striking armies.

After putting some thought into it, while #2 makes logical sense, I don’t think it is a realistic category – I can’t think of any army that would benefit from objectives being far away from each other, although I can think of many armies that don’t care, and would place them far away from each other in order to create a disadvantage for an enemy army.

For the ease of discussion, I also think that slow armies preferring objectives as close to their deployment zone can be compacted into Type #1 since Seize Ground objectives are placed prior to choosing deployment zone. Additionally, terrain features heavily influence objective placement for some armies – but I can’t make this article so convoluted that I never get to the point – so I’ll address them in scenarios.

I can’t put every possible list into one of these archetypes – every player knows what kind of list that they play. What I hope to do is give enough examples that a definitive theme is recognizable that can be applied to any game.

Example #1a: A Necron army in a Seize Ground game. In a vacuum, I would expect a Necron player to want objectives to be as close as possible to each other (12”). Necron troops are expensive additions to the Force Organization chart, and I wouldn’t anticipate a Necron player having more than two or three troop choices. Having them as close together as possible presents the opportunity to stretch one troop choice between multiple objectives to hold more than one with a single troop – to the point where they can hold perhaps four objectives with two troop choices. Additionally, I would expect them to ideally place the objectives around cover…but with clear ground between them so that during movement they can move as quickly as possible to get to a second objective.

Example #1b: If the Necron player is playing against an Archetype #3 opponent, I would expect the Necron player to hold true to this philosophy.

Example #1c: If the Necron player is playing against an Archetype #1 opponent, I would anticipate the opposite. While a Necron player’s troops aren’t fast or numerous enough to cover the objectives on the field, Monolith teleportation can move troops where they need to be near the end of the game, and let the Necron player focus on denying the strategic ground that the Archetype #1 player chooses.

Example #2a: A Space Wolf army with 6 units of minimum sized Grey Hunters inside Razorbacks in a Seize Ground game. In a vacuum, I wouldn’t expect the Space Wolf player to care where objectives go because they have the speed to get anywhere on the board that they need to go. I would expect objectives to be placed on the edges of terrain where possible so that a vehicle can get to it without taking a dangerous terrain test, but so that the troops can hop out and hold the objective in cover if they need to.

Example #2b: If the Space Wolf army is playing against an Archetype #1 army, I would expect very different objective placement. Slow and foot-slogging armies typically don’t have very good armour saves, so rather than placing objectives near terrain feature, they would go out in the open to make it more dangerous for the enemy to hold.

Example #2c: If the Space Wolf army is playing against an Archetype #2 army, I would again expect objectives to be placed as disadvantageously to the opponent as they could muster. For example, if playing against an Eldar mechanized army, I would expect some late-game attempts to zip onto objectives to hold them. Objectives should go smack dab as deep into terrain as possible so that the Eldar player either is either risking losing a vehicle (and the troop inside) via a dangerous terrain test if they try zipping onto an objective in the late game, or risking being shot down by not having moved sufficient speed to garner a cover save.

Example #3a: Orks in a Capture and Control game. Orks are a brute force army. If they win the roll to go first, I would expect their objective to be centrally placed at the front of their deployment zone, putting it as close as possible to the middle of the table and to the enemy. That way, a central deployment puts them the shortest possible route between their objective and the enemy objective without risking having to traverse diagonally across the entire board. Since Orks aren’t really a “sit in place” kind of army, that also settles having to wait for and deal with potential outflanking units. By the same token, I would anticipate the enemy army to probably place theirs as far away as possible in a corner to make the Orks go further to get there.

Example #3b: If Orks didn’t win the roll to go first, their objective should be placed exactly opposite of the enemy objective at the front of the deployment zone – creating a 24-33” path to potential victory without having to divert and deal with the rest of the board.

Example #4a: Orks in a Seize Ground game. Like above, the focus is on keeping objectives as close together as possible. Since objectives are placed before sides are rolled, the ideal placement for the first objective if the Ork won the roll to place them would be smack-dab in the middle of the table – or as close to it as they can get it depending on terrain features. A bit of Pythagorean Theorum later, there are 43” between the center of the table and any table corner. Objectives have to be placed 12” from each table corner…which takes 17” off of that 43” line. The absolute furthest that an objective can be placed from a central objective is 26” away. Wherever an opponent places an objective, I would expect the ork player to place their next objective equally between those first two objectives; 12” apart from both and the table edge, as centrally to the table as possible, again with the goal of contricting the table space that matters.

Example #4b: I can’t think of any alternative objective placement methods for Orks. They’re pretty simple.

Example #5a: Dark Eldar in a Capture and Control Game. Dark Eldar are fragile. While they have the speed to get around the board, they don’t have the durability of other armies to sit on an objective for a game. If a DE player won the roll to go first, I would expect their objective to be placed behind BLOS terrain if any is available in their deployment zone so that they can hide a scoring unit while holding it. If there isn’t BLOS terrain, I would expect their objective to be placed in or near cover in their deployment zone.

Example #5b: If the Dark Eldar player didn’t win the roll to go first, I would still expect them to look for the place most disadvantageous for their enemy to get to. Regardless of the archetype of enemy player, I would expect it to go in the opposite corner to make the enemy traverse as much ground under fire as possible while trying to get to that objective.

Example #6a: Dark Eldar in a Seize Ground Game. In this case, I would expect the Dark Eldar player to place objectives out in the open. They pack a lot of firepower and come with built in cover or invulnerable saves – placing objectives in the open would deny an enemy being able to safely hold it under cover, something the Dark Eldar player isn’t particularly concerned about. I can’t really split objective placement between archetypes that the DE player would play against because DE can be either incredibly assault focused or shooting focused, and I’m just trying to provide examples to lay the groundwork.

At the end of the day, my point is that I believe that objective placement heavily influences determining the victor of a game. I wonder how many Ork players out there have been handed a victory by an opponent who didn’t try forcing the Ork player to spread out around the table? How many Eldar players have lost a game because they couldn’t risk a flat out move onto an objective on the last turn to either contest or hold because it was placed in terrain, and the vehicle got shot down and its passengers wiped out by shooting or assault? I wonder how many Necron players have won a game by deep-striking a monolith onto an enemy objective and then simply denying the enemy access to their own objective?

At any rate, I hope all the effort typing was worth it and has made you think. Thanks for tuning in, and as always, we appreciate you clicking random ads to throw pennies at Hulksmash! He says that we might even get T-shirts out of the ad revenue! I think it would be quite cool if we could send “They Shall Know Fear” T-Shirts to people as contest rewards.