Strategy Versus Tactics
It seems that very few people understand the dichotomy between strategy and tactics. Go to the major forums and have a look for yourself. Most people focus solely on the build of their army, as if, there is some unit combination that will be nigh unbeatable when the correct units are standing next to each other on the battlefield. This portion of the article is to force you to focus on the idea that sound army composition does not equate to tactical brilliance. You can go to any dictionary and look up the terms I’m about to use, and point out that “my” definitions are wrong, using the argument “Websters Dictionary says that…. Blah blah blah….” You’ll simply be wasting your time, my descriptions of these definitions are to create a firm grasp in your mind of what points I’m trying to get across to you. The discussion of strategy and tactics are very abstract in written form, and there needs to be a standardized defined set of words created to enforce a strict paradigm of understanding and communication.
What is a Strategy? In the simplest terms: How you intend to defeat your opponent. Strategy in its purest form is devoid of movement, and occurs entirely before your troops step onto the battlefield. A sound strategist will create method with which he wants to deconstruct his opponent, pick an army that focuses on that methodology, and maximize his opportunity to exploit his methodology without creating a blaring weakness in his own troops. Some armies are very obviously Strategic armies. Dwarfs being the most strategically adept of all armies. A Dwarven army moves very little, and hits the table with the idea that they want to shoot you to pieces while you march your sorry butt into their battle line, and mop the floor with whatever manages to make it into combat. Taking advantage of terrain, and cover to increase lines of fire, while minimizing wide open charge areas and attempting to force units into each others way.
Deconstruction: The priority in which you pick apart an enemy army. My most common order is 1: War-machines, 2: Wizards, 3: Annoyance Units, 4: Basic core units without characters. 5: and so on working up the ladder to the hardest unit, if the game isn’t over by this point.
Tactics can be defined as: The use of Force (both numerically, and perceived), the application of traps, countercharges, and other general use of maneuvering to create a combat superiority against your opponent. The Dark Elves are a very tactically demanding army. The most powerful Dark Elf army as of late is the Multiple Small Unit (MSU) army. (Of course I know people who’d hit you with a lead pipe for even thinking that ;b -Deke) Using their superior maneuvering, weapon skill and leadership abilities to create force in very unique ways, winning with sheer tactical prowess, instead of the bloody head method.
Numerical Force: The application of pressure with your troops to some point on the battlefield. The force comes from numbers of superior combat troops taking advantage of some situation. The most often application of numerical force is applied when one or two units collapses a flank, then maneuvers during their next turn to charge into the heart of the opponent’s battle line from that flank, and “rolling up” their battle line.
Perceived Force: When your opponent looks at the table and thinks to himself. I HAVE to do this. The most common occurrence of perceived force is when your opponent thinks to himself I can’t flee any more, I’ll be off the table, I HAVE to accept the charge from those angry knights of death. The way to take advantage of perceived force is to get your opponent to think he HAS to do something that you want him to do, and that you have been planning for.
Trap: To create a situation that is unfavorable for your opponent through some sort of tactical maneuvering. The most common type of trap is to flee from a charge with the hopes of getting a counter charge in the flank or rear.
“Rolling up a battle line”: To Charge into the flank of a unit on the front line, to break it, run it down and end up in the flank of the next unit standing right next to it. If this is going on, your opponent is probably ready to throw dice at you. (Note: Right Deke?) (Throw dice? Ya right! Ever been hit in the soft bits with a
french fry cutter? -Deke)
Truth be told I honestly believe that a perfect tactician will beat a perfect strategist 100% of the time. Which is why I spend more time on tactical analysis than on strategic analysis.
The Tomb Kings player has several options for strategies; 1 Refused Flank, 2 Strong Shooter, 3 Misdirection.
Refused flank. This is the first strategy discussed in the back of the book. Forging ahead with the idea that your troops are fast, and have quite a nice shock effect on your opponent. They deliver a hard hit, crush one flank before your opponent realizes what is going on, then is behind the rest of the enemy and crushing them in a vice that very few can escape. I’ve seen the “Vice” in effect after turn 3 with the Khemri army which is impressive indeed. The refused flank strategy favors a Kings superior mobility in a chariot, and superior hitting power. It also allows for grunt warriors to soak up a lot of wounds, using your Tomb Guard as either a far flank protection unit, or a central pivot unit with the reform banner. While this is an effective strategy, it only thinks one dimensionally; head on. Many people bemoan the lack of combat prowess when Khemri hits the table against Khorne, and Slaneesh. They scream “Woe-is-me”, when a Slann with hundreds of saurus warriors broach the table, and they scream bloody murder against dwarfs who stand, shoot, shoot, stand, and then pick their teeth with hole ridden bones. What they don’t point out is that an effective strategist can break you up into waves, or get you into combats that you can’t win. Then your king gets thumped, your hard hitting units are dead, and your slow units get run around in circles. The best Khemri player will realize that this army depends on 1 or 2 key units winning their head-on combat, if they do, the Khemri player wins. If they don’t the undead take another dirt-nap. The refused flank strategy requires such speed that you can’t set charges and be patient, which is by no means a problem, if you win early.
While I do believe this is a good strategy to start the tomb kings with, most players will after a few dozen games with this strategy be able to look at the table and say Yep, I’m gonna win, or Nope, I can’t win. Unless the dice go haywire, the Khemri player will be right. It’s really a sad feeling to be able to look at a table and say… “heh.. I really don’t have a chance.” I went away from it by the third time I got thumped by Dwarfs, and needed an innovation to win.
Strong Shooter (Khalida Critique): The ultimate strategist army. In this army, you strive to take as few mobile Units as is possible, and load up on Catapults, and the Casket of souls, mix in Khalida with as many poisoned arrows as you can stand in a turn and rain venom doom on your enemies heads. Character selection and Character placement is crucial, you don’t do much moving, and you need to maximize your frontage, and firing lanes, and minimize the points of flank attack. You also need a couple of units capable of mobilizing, and breaking any unit that does get into combat with your archers. In 2000 points, to focus on such a core, takes a lot of points and puts it into str 3 arrows. The next part of your strategic deviousness is that when your opponent is in Charge Range, you form into a large block, accept the charge, hope you don’t crumble, and counter attack with that superior unit. Remember you Could be reforming before you shoot one set of shots..
I’ve only ever played with the Strong Shooter once, and never with Khalida. I hated every minute of the strong shooter army I played. It’s also worth noting that I actually beat the Slaneesh player I was playing against pretty soundly. The entire game I felt as if my opponent had the advantage, until turn 6 when everything he tried was turned away. I hate that feeling of hopelessness, and I never want to be down that road again! The entire philosophy behind Khemri is to use their mobility to win, I just do not understand why people would choose not to. The only real serious point to be made about a Khalida army, beyond the poison is that her one spell can’t be counterspelled. This is nice, but in 420 points plus a single liche priest, to shore up your required character slots, you’ll find you don’t have a lot of points to be spending on anything else, let alone poisoned archers.
I guess, though, that the argument can be made that when I play, I don’t use the smiting incantation enough. I smite to get my catapult off, and call it good. Sometimes I’ll smite with my archers, but that’s only if I can’t do anything with my movement that is tactically superior. I love to set traps, and try to get into a position to roll up my opponents battle line. Maybe if I was putting 60 poisoned shots in the air, plus whatever I can get from magic would make me feel better, but as of this writing I don’t like it.
Misdirection. My own little special concoction. Most armies only have one or 2 fast units that like to work in either the tandem board edges, or in concert with each other. In either case, most people will simply rush forward blindly and attempt to be in combat as early as possible with these units, since they’ll beat even the heaviest armed skeletons easily. What they don’t think about is when someone plans for this contingency. Most armies will also commit about three quarters of their army to running at you blindly and trying to get to grips as soon as possible, this is also in your favor with this army. You may even try to strengthen that perception by bringing a Screaming skill catapult, and only a couple of tough block units.
The idea is that your speed and deceptive combat prowess will bring your opponent to grips in waves, and you’ll be able to “pick off” the units you want.
The way to use a misdirection army is to have your slower units on one half of the table, and the farther you go from that half, the faster the unit. It should almost look like the refused flank. The only change is: Your carrion should rush behind the fast units on your opponents side, while your fast units turn and bring a flanking wall against the half of the board that has your slow units. The most important part of this strategy and eventual tactical maneuvering is a piece of difficult terrain used as a pivot point somewhere in the middle of the field. That point should mark where you are going to break from slow units to fast units. When you turn and come towards the middle of the field, you should only use your half of that terrain as an avenue increasing the distance your opponent has to travel to get where he is going. Giving you more time to sweep the half of the board clear that you picked as your “target half”. Of course this is easy to explain, and it never really goes totally according to plan, but for the most part, you close the gate, crush the resistance, and then can reform for your opponents desperate last attack in an attempt to gain points and bring a draw.
The big downside is armies that are all fast, and enemy generals that can identify which units are rockstar and which units are there because you had to fill points. Some have even gone so far as to say that this should only work once, and then never work again. Try using that argument to console the people that have been beaten by it 5 or 6 times. Most opponents get so frustrated when I roll up their battle line they start making mistakes and simply hand me the game. Others try to think their way through it and provide a tough game, but the early lead is simply too much to handle. Remember this strategy is not the only one in place in ANY of the 3 strategies I’ve outlined. At the same time, Carrion are picking off war-machines, and random mages and skirmishing units. Scorpions are raising hell in the middle of the field, and my nuclear skull launcher has been upgraded to DEFCON 1 and is launching flaming skulls of radiating doom into my enemy’s ranks. With so much going on, and this system becoming so subtle, many people don’t even realize that this is the strategy they’ve been beaten with.
I’ve talked about the Khalida Army, now I guess I’ll talk about the Settra army.
Settra. What an army, the one time I played with his army I won. Beat a strong magic Vampire counts army into the ground. Most undead versus undead battles are akin to a retard slap fight, boring, slow, and kind of funny. (Oh, aren’t we PC? Hate mail goes here. -Deke) Settra brings a bully into the fight with braces, and anger about his new, painful braces. Since 1500 points of Settra’s army HAS to be Tomb Guard, Chariots and Heavy Horsemen, all of a sudden you’re hitting with some serious power. Settra, denies any more liche priests, so there’s no reason to not bring a full compliment of Lich Priests to help create some combat prowess in your units. Creating a horribly fast, army, after his special ability, plus the princes ability to cast spells PLUS he casts 2 more incantations. I was throwing 8 3d6 incantations, 3 1d6 incantations and another 2 3d6 incantations. It was absolute murder. Every unit I had trumped my opponents boring units. The only downside to any Settra army is the fact that he only has 2 dispel dice. Any High Elf player would simply destroy all of his magic items and drop comets on the army all day long. My opponent had units of skeletons that started at 16, and had built into the mid 40’s by the time we were grinding in combat. In one on one mortal combat Settra beat the Vampire in combat, but eventually succumbed to knights. It was a fun game, it’s too bad that Settra’s army isn’t tourney legal, I’d think about taking him.
Well, I guess this shores up my 3 tactical articles dealing with the Tomb Kings. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed it. Sadly I’ve shelved my Khemri army of friendly doom to start working on a Bretonnian army much to the chagrin of many of my friends/opponents. Can’t let those goofy Chaos things invade this summer.
Thank you for reading it. Any questions or comments: