40K Tactics: Setting Up The Flank Attack

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Never underestimate the power of a good outflank- attacking and striking your opponent where they are weak, using that flank attack to grab the pulse of the game, take control, and secure victory for Khorne…or whoever you are fighting for…

In this tactics talk let’s take a look at the idea of setting up a flank attack, along with what you will need to make it happen, and then what to do with the momentum should you gain it.

Not every game of 40K will warrant it, nor will it work against every codex/army build- but you should be aware of what it can do and file it away in your 40K toolkit for future use should the tabletop conditions arise.

So what is a flank attack?

Simply put, it is a tactic where you put a large portion of your army either on the far right or left side of the game table/deployment zone and have them swing around on that side and attack the rear portion of your opponent’s army.

In doing this you hope to move fast and attack a lighter guarded part of the table so you can not only overwhelm weaker units, but also force your opponent to commit more models to defending against your attack which provides more tactical room for your other models and mission goals.

For the sake of an example I’m going to talk about the units in my Berserkers of Skallathrax Chaos Space Marine army as an illustration- see what you have in your own codex and 40K collection that could also work in the same way.

In order to attack your opponent’s flank you need both fast and resilient units, combined with enough mass to really make it a threat- a wave serpent with some fire dragons hitting the flank is an annoyance, six of them is a serious problem.

In my army list it is my Chaos Lord on a juggernaurt, spawn, maulerfiends, and a heldrake that work as a group to attack the flank- this is like 70% of my army, leaving only some ‘zerks and Chaos Space Marines in rhinos to win the mission.

All of those flanking units are FAST moving, can ignore or navigate terrain and don’t really have any shooting attacks (other than the drake) so they can run in the shooting phase without losing anything. Despite not being bikes, skimmers, or FAST vehicles, the group moves quite fast and has some hard hitting assault power.

When I deploy, I put the rhinos and Chaos Space Marine scoring units in the center of the table, then if I am deploying first or second, either I also deploy in the center (going first since I don’t know where my opponent is going to deploy) or on the right/left side of the gaming table if I am going second- depending on where my opponent is stronger.

Notice I said STRONGER- which means I want to attack the side they are stronger with in terms of models and units, NOT weaker. I want to tie up the most models, the most units, and the biggest aprt of my opponent’s army- getting them to shoot, feed additional units, and eventually grind me down in the assault forcing them to waste game turns dealing with my flank attack, so my mission scoring units can focus on well, the mission.

Of course the KEY is being able to lose those models and units in your flank attack without getting upset, or faltering in the attack- even if you get blasted on turn one you NEED to keep pushing- every shot going into your flank attack, every glance or tactical decision by your opponent is focused on them and not your mission scoring units- this is how you use a flank attack, but more importantly how you control the flow of a 40K battle.


Here are some pictures below from a big 40K battle with some very impressive units on both sides- check out my models in the series and see if you can spot the flank attack in action. 
















Master Painted Ravenwing Army For Sale!

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Interested in a master-painted Ravenwing army all set and ready to go?

Interest in a master-painted Ravenwing army that was the #1 army in the Czech Republic, and placed in the ETC?

I’ve been fortunate to work with my friend Vlada over at Wing Smooth Painting on a few projects, including my Berserkers of Skallathrax Chaos Space Marine army, and now they are ready to bring this army to YOU, if you can handle it… First some eye candy for you to check out:











The army contains the following models and comes with a custom fitted carry/storage case.


1x Sammael 5x Attack Bike (multi-melta) 
3x Speeder (Missiles, Multi-melta) 
6x Black Knight 
26x Biker (9x melta gun) 

Here is a little more information from Vlada on it… 

If you are craving for a hardcore tournament army, please check out our Ravenwing studio army. It was THE best army in Czech Republic in last season (won 2x 1st place and 1x 2nd place from 3 biggest tournament in CZ). On ETC (European Team Championship)during singles tournament was placed 17th from 150 contestants. And since everyone says that SM bike armies were boosted in 7th ed.(thanks to higher value of large number of fast scoring units, Boost and possible higher chance of meeting armored armies, debuf of flyers, jinx for bikes and etc.) It should be the right  stuff for you! The army was painted to our highest standards, every space marine (apart from Sammael) was free painted both shoulders (right with number of his squad, left with our own custom designed Dark Angels iconography. Plus many more free paints. To add more interest to the army we added spatial 3D scratches to every armor surface, weathering, true glass effects and real life effects. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Thanks, Vlada 

Wing Smooth is asking $2500 for the army, and it is packed and ready to ship- consider the wait time it would take to commission an army opportunity  like this if it was not already to go.

More information, questions, and comments can be emailed to Vlada HERE: info@wingsmoothpainting.com 

Chaos Space Marine Narrative Battle Report

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“Glory will be ours this day!” bellowed Lord Syn as the Chaos Space Marines around him praised Khorne and spit curses against the false emperor.

“Our actions against the Imperium on this day…in this place…will be echoed to the brass throne itself, and there Khorne will turn his martial gaze for but a moment…and in that moment those of you still standing will be rewarded…”

Standing shoulder to shoulder with the Ork Warboss Madsock, Lord Syn listened to the ork’s “taktiks” which amounted to little more than a loud wagh followed by a charge.



No matter, Syn and his warband where here simply because the Imperium was here, nothing more. The ork invasion of the system would require a response, and Syn would be there to face that response.

Gathering the best of his warband, the most fearsome of his dark mechanicus warmachines, and a select choice of pit-spawn abominations he waited as wave after wave of orks charged the Imperial lines.

In response to the growing escalation a bellowing brass horn blasted out from the distance, issuing a defiant challenge as an Imperial Knight waded onto the battle field.



“Squad Balthus and Squad Harkkon, take and hold that hill no matter the cost!”

“Immortality is ours….take it!” cried Syn as he released his warband into the battle…



Churning up mud and battle debris the rhinos of Squad Balthus and Harkkon ground to a halt at the top of the hill, releasing their full payload of havoc missiles as the Berserkers and Chaos Space Marines inside charged out and up the hill…



There from the top, they watched the battle from below as Lord Syn out-flanked the Imperials and crashed into their lines cutting down the Imperial Guardsman supporting a group of Leman Russ battle tanks, which were then set apron by the warbands maulerfiends and spawn-beasts.





From the center of the battle the Imperial Knight turned to face Squad Balthus which defiantly began emptying their bolters and support weapons into the titan. Striding forward the titan gorged the hill and the Chaos Space Marines on it with its titan-chain sword and inferno-melta cannon.





“For Khorne!” Bellowed Squad Harkkon as the berserkers charged the warmachine…



Pausing for a moment, Lord Syn cast his gaze over to the hill as his men were crushed under the weight of the titan as it lumbered forward, stumbling for a moment, before glowing red-hot and exploding in a nova like fury of plasma, smoke, and fire- it’s internal reactor going critical and exploding.

Causing even Syn to look away for a moment all that remained next to the smoking crater of the titan and battle recharge was a lone berserker from Squad Harkkon…



Tallying the lost and the dead Taldor was hesitated for a moment before interrupting his Lord.

He enjoyed great favor from his Lord as he handled the logistics of the Warband and acted as Lord Syn’s personal scribe and commemorator so others would see and hear his deeds thousands of years from now.
“My Lord…” faltered Taldor as he searched for the words.

“Our losses this day…”

“Where…”

“Where what?” slowly asked Syn.

“Great?” he replied.

“This day was about glory, and about seeing who will follow me to the end.” Continued the Chaos Lord.

“Those that survived the impossible are now…different…Khorne has blessed them, and the dead are no use to me.

“The glory earned from this loss will echo through space and time, bringing us even more followers, this day was the turning point in our war…”

Custom Chaos Space Marine Khorne Lord Tutorial

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One of the challenges in creating my Berserkers of Skallathrax Chaos Space Marine warband was capturing the synthesis of both brutality and martial honor in an HQ choice.
Working with Vlada and the guys from Wing Smooth Painting I left many of the initial unit choices in the warband and the color selection two them. Really I had only two requests and left the rest of the vision up to them, other than “wow” me- that each unit/model had the World Eater symbol on it (which they painted by hand) and that my chaos lord ride on a Juggernaut of Khorne- I wanted to pay respect to the old OOP Khorne Berserker riding on a Juggernaut, but have it updated to fall in line with the current CSM model range.
You can see the full collection of picture for the army here on the blog or over in the massive image gallery that WSP studios has HERE: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vladateply/sets/ 
So just how did this lord come into the service of Khorne?  


It started with the Herald of Khorne on a Juggernaut kit, using the juggy model and the left army of the Bloodletter riding the model. The right army was taken from the infantry Bloodletter kit, so the lord could be modeled with a fitting hellblade. The base body for the lord was of course from the CSM infantry range, with the Bloodletter Herald head drilled out and fit as a helmet-over-a-helmet for the lord.



Finished off with some scenic wood and rock basing complete with a skeleton and of course an ultra-marine.
If you are thinking about adding a custom HQ figure to your army or even looking for a commissioned army drop Vlada an email over WSP for some ideas.

Heldrake Tactics Revisited

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While the framework behind this tactica can be applied to any unit in 40K, in this post we are going to specifically look at the Heldrake model and how to leverage the most points out of it.
When buying a model or unit for our army, we often look at the cost in points against the total value we are playing against and from there cook up some sort of formula to determine if the model is “worth” the points?
But just how do we do that?
What makes one model worth it, and another not?
One of the ways to determine this, is based off what the model can kill (or remove from play) over the course of a game. Add up what the model killed over the game in terms of points, and subtract it from the point value to purchase and how did you do?
With the Heldrake in mind we need to look at what it can kill in as many game turns as possible.
There is more to killing then just the shooting phase.
Some units can kill in the movement phase, other the shooting phase, and then the assault phase. If you have a unit or model that can do that in all three, then you need to make sure that it is happening as much as possible.
This combined with X game turns will earn and bank the points of the model.
So first we have the potential damage the HD can do when it enters play and can vector strike. We need to make sure there is something to vector strike and that it as a killable target- or at least we can damage it.
What can you do to make that happen?
How can you place mission objectives or potential mission objectives so you know where your opponent is going to move so you can fly your ‘drake over and vector strike dudes?

Next is the shooting phase for removing models- and the debate on the auto-cannon or flamer really depends on the rest of your army and what is covered or not covered. Ultimately the key here is to have the right target to hit. Auto-cannon insta-gibbin Tyranid warriors is a real life example of win. Auto-cannon plinking cultists or guardsman is not.
Personally I prefer the flamer template since it is more visual and guys really dislike having templates put over their models.
Make sure when you use your heldrake you are not just taking into account the shooting phase.

Khorne Berserker Tactics

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Time to talk Khorne Berserkers- you might not agree with my presentation on this, but consider the how and why based on the army framework I’m playing. Naturally if you are playing a Khorne themed army, and you are enjoying the assault phase you are going to have some Berserkers in the list.
The Blood God demands it!
But just how many do you need, and how should they be war-geared out?
First question, which drives which path to go down it this- are you running an assault themed army or more of a combines arms chaos army?
If you have mix of everything, focusing more or less equally on the movement, shooting, and assault phase then your Berserkers are going to be different then an assault focused armies- but not in the ways you would think.
Let’s talk about dedicated to the assault first.
If you plan to win the game up close and personal, putting your opponent to the chain sword or axe then you need to win on attributes and not war-gear.
The base stats of a model include its attributes and basic weapons which we are all used to. As soon as you add additional weapons or war gear it is +5 points for this +10 points for that- such as a melta gun or plasma gun. Add close combat weapons like power swords, fists, and other relics and it is like +15, +25, etc.
These things cost a TON of points if repeated over numerous units, and this takes away from the model/unit mass you need to win the game- assault armies need bodies since they take losses on the way in and during each round of combat- remember unlike shooting, your opponent potentially gets to hit back in your game turn.
This is compounded by the fact that if you upgrade one squad you HAVE to upgrade them all.
Why Fritz?
Well, if you give one ‘zerker squad plasma pistols and a power-smitey weapon then I’m going to focus fire on that squad and take it out and you won’t get to use your toys on the table that you paid the points for. If you take the toys on all your squads then at least one or two will get into position to use that wargear.
Sadly, if you understand the game mechanics of Warhammer 40K and that the point system is not well thought out, you will quickly see that any of the upgrades and additional weapons are never worth it for the points.
That’s not to say don’t upgrade or play them- it’s fun to pop off a plasma pistol before the charge, and unit customization does make the battle more memorable, but if we are looking at the game mechanics ruthlessly and applying the maximum win criteria then upgrades have to go.  
Top tournament players just felt that ripple through the warp, and are pissed for giving away one of their “secrets”- when they see you show up with all your jacked up and upgraded units they do a silent happy dance since you just brought 30% or more less models then you could have to the fight and they are going to crush you on volume of dice.
For an assault based army it is just regular Berserkers.
Only what-if is vets of the long war- it is worth taking that if your gaming group is heavy into Space Marines, but in a tournament setting where you don’t know if you are going to regularly face marines I’d bank the points.
Where we are going to look to win is on the stats, since the entire mechanic of 40K is based on the Space Marine stat- T4, 1 Wound, and a 3+ save.


Zerks give you WS 5, S5 and 4 attacks on the charge- that is enough to punch through the SM stat, and that will work fine in numbers. Best case scenario and the one we are looking for is not to win on the charge, even though ‘zerks get weaker in round two since you need the charge to activate the stat boost- another reason to not take upgrades that kill or remove models quicker. There is a reason to take Berserkers over regular CSM if you are looking to leverage the assault phase to win.
So now let’s talk about Berserkers from the perspective of a combined arm Chaos Space Marine list and why I’m not going to contradict everything I just wrote.
If you have other ways of removing models and your army is not assault oriented you can spend some points on the Berserkers- give them some upgrades and war-gear since there will be less attention on them, and they won’t be vital to winning you the game or missions- if you lose them round two, that’s ok.
Rhinos.
Rhinos are your best friend and are tied with ‘zerkers- plan to include a ride for your guys when you are calculating your points. Not only do they get you where you are going quicker- important since we don’t want to spend 2-3 game turns getting into the assault, which wastes finite turns, but also it protect them to some level from incoming fire while you are trying to get into position  from across the table. For the points if the Rhino even protects you for a turn it was worth its points. Plan on adding a little something extra to them- another combi or havoc launcher so they can throw some dakka or template support for your zerks when they get out.

Winning Warhammer 40K With An Assault Based Army

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For me 40K is a visual game. Don’t get me wrong, I like to win as much as any player, but first and foremost it is about creating a visual narrative- something that I can pause for a moment and inject myself into. Painted models, sculpted terrain, and a narrative behind it are what keeps me in the game- along with meeting and making new friends.
So naturally I have my own ideas on how the game should be played- as do you. I enjoy playing assault themed armies since they play into my preferred narrative. You can have your technology (xenos or tech-priest approved), your sprawling gun lines, allies, and whatever other bag of tricks bring you comfort.
It won’t matter.
I’m going to charge across the field, take whatever you dish out, and settle out differences with blade, bolt pistol, and chain axe- face to face and should to shoulder.
In playing an assault themed army there is a moment of tension and suspense on turn one with the armies lined up.
Will you be able to stop me.
I’m getting closer, taking losses, but will it be enough.
Now I’m on you, will your line hold or break.
Repulse my charge or break under my fury?
This is what I picture as I’m taking my models out of the case and preparing for glory on the table.
But what happens when our expectations don’t quite play out, well as expected?
A big part of 40K tactics is transferring your army expectations from the fluff and codex to the realities of the table. Some things are easier done then other, and certainly the assault rules of 40K are not balanced when compared to shooting. I’ve often speculated that GW wants us to play two game systems- 40K to enjoy the “shooty” and Fantasy to enjoy the “assault”.
What do you think?
So if we want to translate an assault concept to actuality on the table this is where we have to start:
Plain and simple- you have to build your army from the ground up to support the assault and make it work.
Adding some terminators with power weapons or elite codex units is just not going to work. It will be a nice side diversion, but never truly a powerhouse on the table.
Concepts such as enough mission scoring units, diversity of shooting- dealing with anti-infantry, tanks, and big MC’s and redundant units all need to be adjusted for the assault.
First point we need to keep in mind is the issue of critical mass- and this is the why and how assault is very challenging to play over a more shooty army or combined arms approach.
You are going to take losses on the way in from shooting and overwatch even if you are meched up, fast moving, or flyer inserted. Will you have enough units when you hit to win the assault.
The assault phase is also difficult because your opponent gets to “hit” back every turn- so again you need mass to absorb the losses each turn.
Here is what I mean by that- it’s my turn and I shoot at you in the shooting phase- well for now you can’t hit me back, you have to wait for your turn to shoot. In the assault, even if it is on my game turn, if I don’t wipe out your unit on the charge with a higher attack value, then well you hit back.
And then you hit back in your turn.
Now how much model mass you needs depends on the points you are playing (500 points, 1500, 2K+) and what unit sizes and cost you have in your codex.
Second consideration is that not all assault units fit what is required.
You wouldn’t just take one melta-gun in case you run into a land raider right? So why are you bringing a single power fist on your chosen just in case your opponent brings some monstrous creatures.
You need 2-3 assault units to take out tanks and vehicles.
You need 2-3 assault units to take out monstrous creatures.
You need 2-3 assault units to take out infantry and mission scoring units.
You need 2-3 assault units to take out IC’s and other jacked up dudes.
You get the idea, and of course there can and should be some cross over.
Flip through that codex and allies matrix to see what you can slot into the above as a start.
Next you need some sort of unit that can tarpit what is not efficient to kill. Something you can throw into the assault and just bog down the opposing unit for the rest of the game. Some units are not worth investing the game turns and unit resources to kill/remove from play, especially with a resource starved assault army. Killing it is good, but so it locking it up for the game- and sometimes that is better as rather than writing the unit off, some opponents might throw more units into the mix hoping to free their uber unit.
Hand out your special weapons sparingly.
Consider the base points of a model and the weapons the come with- GW point values for the most part already include the cost of the gun, and at most a few token points to upgrade to something with a higher strength or low AP- +5 for a plasma gun, etc.
But start handing out power weapons, power fists, and other relic wargear and then it’s like +15, +25 points on the base model.
If you try to win the assault based on wargear you won’t have enough critical mass- look to win it on numbers and base stats like a higher I, T, or A since these are built into the base cost, and while still more then base models without it, they are MUCH cheaper than wargear. I’m not saying to not take some power fists or other space bling, but keep the overall picture in mind.
A slight side track here, but if you take your own power-house unit full or invulnerable saves and power weapons, don’t throw that unit at a similar unit that your opponent has. If I have some jacked up chosen and my gaming buddy has similarly jacked up terminators and we go head-to-head what is going to happen?
Even if I win, my unit will have suffered some major losses and easily be picked off in the coming round of shooting. It might go against natural thinking, but throw your rock-hard uber units at the smallest and weakest unit(s) your opponent has. Start gobbling them up and capture the game momentum that way.
And of course you want to set up winning the assault not on your turn, but on your opponent’s turn as a way of protecting you from shooting. We’ll look at that in the next assault army tactica post…
 
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