[Archive] Ramblings on Terrain

Grimbold Blackhammer:

The deployment phase is one of the most important, if not THE most important phases of the game. We�?Tve all experienced the moment when you�?Tve looked at your army and you opponent�?Ts army and thought �?oI�?Tm going to lose this one�?� or �?oI�?Tm going to win this one�?�. The question is what makes a successful deployment phase and how do you maximize your own advantages while minimizing your disadvantages. While at the same time you want to minimize your opponent�?Ts advantages and maximize his disadvantages. This is a topic that deserves much more thought than can expressed in an internet forum but I will try and cover some of the basic ideas and provide a few examples along the way.

The Deployment Phase and Terrain  

A big factor of how the battle is going to play out depends upon the landscape of the board. As each piece of territory is generated, it is worth considering how the piece can affect each army. If you think it is beneficial, you want it on your side. If you think it is detrimental, you want it on your opponent�?Ts side. Correspondingly if a piece of terrain is especially advantageous to your opponent, you should deploy it away from him to deny him the advantage. Statistically speaking, when it comes to picking sides, unless there is an obvious advantage or disadvantage to one side or the other, the player who gets to choose sides will more often than not pick the side they are standing on or the side their army box is on. Perhaps it is a gesture of being nice to an opponent or just plain laziness but they�?Tll usually not pick the opposing side to make an opponent move all his gear or move his own. Knowing that, you should have a decent idea of what side you�?Tre playing on and can place terrain accordingly.

When placing a piece of terrain you know you want to control, make sure you can reach it by the end of turn 1. Between Scouts, vanguard movement, and a myriad of other hazards, beyond turn 1 a lot of unexpected things can happen. By having the unit of your choice controlling a piece of terrain, you�?Tre giving an advantage (minor or more significant) to your unit and bringing the fight to that spot on the board. Whether it�?Ts an Alter of Khaine giving your units Frenzy or a defended wall, your troops are now more effective or better protected than they would otherwise be. And if the terrain is something that has a ranged effect, on the following turn you can position you unit to ensure your unit is within its range of effect while hopefully the enemy isn�?Tt. Being able to see these kinds of advantages during deployment will help you capitalize on the strengths of your army or help eliminate a weakness. Your job during deployment is to ensure the terrain will help your units do what they do, just let them do it better.

There are always going to be pieces of terrain you don�?Tt want on your battlefield. When a Sigmarite Shrine is rolled and your facing an Empire army, you know your opponent will want to cluster his army around it. Dwarves will want a hill. Wood Elves and Beastmen love to see forests all over the board. Place these pieces of terrain off to the extreme sides or in the rear corner of a deployment zone. Or cluster a bunch of bad terrain choices together to make a part of the battlefield so undesirable that no one will want to deploy there. Rivers, a settlement, swamps, things like that are avoided by most players and in doing so, you not only can isolate something you�?Td prefer to avoid while also reducing the area where your opponent is likely to deploy. Deploying terrain essentially defines how an army deploys so controlling one often means you are controlling the other.

Of course there will come a time when a piece of terrain shows up in your deployment zone that you really don�?Tt want to deal with. A swamp in the middle of your deployment zone forcing you to break up your army, an Anvil of Vaul when you�?Tre facing High Elves, and so on. As you deploy your units you have two choices �?" deploy away from the terrain or deploy your fast units around it so that they can get away from it as fast as possible. If you don�?Tt have troops near something, it won�?Tt affect you. You may find yourself retreating towards it as the game goes but at least you�?Tve done your best to avoid it and not let it interfere with your battle plans. Of course if you win the dice roll, you can always choose the other side as well!

I have two last things I like to consider when I place terrain in my army; my movement speed versus my opponent and how much shooting I expect my opponent to have. If my army contains relatively fast units, Bull Centaurs or a K’daii Destroyer for example, I want to break the field up in some way to give my opponent a way to think he is anchoring his flank while I plan on moving my fast units around something and into his flank/rear.  Chaos Dwarves, like regular Dwarves, win by “not losing”.  But we do have a few units capable of dealing high amounts of damage.

Picking a suitable spot in your opponent’s army to break on the charge and getting out elite troops into your enemy�?Ts back field, he has almost lost. No unit in Warhammer want to take one of our units in the rear while especially while we�?Tre hitting them from the front as well! Conversely if my opponent has a great deal of speed, I want to use the terrain to slow him down. If the fight is coming to you, deploy channels of terrain to funnel his troops so that you can try and take them on a piece at a time. Break up his forces so you can concentrate on one unit and then another. Imagine trying to force him to engage your cheap, throw-away units in out of the way areas or have to pass through difficult terrain to get to you.  Also know that big block units are generally the slowest parts of an army.  With our potential firepower, our opponents know they are coming to us so expect those units to be clustered mostly in the middle of the enemy deployment zone.  Or else directly across from where your blocks are going to go if you expect to be deploying yours early in your deployment order.

If your opponent is one of those players who loves to shoot at you, fill the middle of the board with buildings, forests, boulders, and anything else that will block his line of sight. If his units are forced to shoot at a penalty, or better, you�?Tre choosing what units he is shooting at, you are winning the shooting war even if you left your Magma Cannons at home. Every turn an enemy War Machine isn�?Tt shooting at one of your expensive models or units, that machine is not earning its points and might even blow up along the way. Moving units around the terrain may be irritating but it is usually a lot less painful than one of your units getting hit with a template.

My last word on terrain �?" never worry about fleeing through Dangerous Terrain.  A unit of 20 models will statistically lose 3. With a bad roll you may lose 6. You�?Tve not only saved your unit but you�?Tve probably left your opponent�?Ts unit out of place. And you�?Tve denied your opponent the victory points he would have received had you actually fought the combat. I find my opponents will rarely try and willingly charge their own units through Dangerous Terrain but statistically it is hardly �?odangerous�?� terrain. With that in mind, consider how to deploy your baiting units (Hobgoblins, Khan’s, etc) to lead your opponents units astray. Seeing the value in terrain will give you a significant advantage and can swing games either way depending on how it is used.

There are volumes of material that could be written about this topic but hopefully this will spark some ideas for people.  Praise be to Hashut!

Ugly Green Trog:

A really great thread Grim, a lot of things I’d never even thought about, I always think loads about my own deployment zone and making things advantageous for my own army but I admit I rarely deploy terrain to hinder my opponent.