[I lifted this whole-cloth from www.yesthetruthhurts.com It's one of the best articles I've read for a while. The picture is just for decoration.]
So taking a look at all the various armies in Fantasy and thinking about the ‘Ard Boys lists that Stelek and everyone else has been pumping out for 40k really got me thinking. Many people have a reasonable idea or at least a theory where to start to make a good army. I think the point that many miss however is what makes a BAD army.
Thinking purely in Warhammer Fantasy terms it really comes down to one of two things. Either A) Your army book sucks or B) Your army list sucks. But why? In Fantasy it is really essential to be able to compete in most of the phases of the game. Competing doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be good at it per se, just have to be able to have an answer to it.
In my mind the areas that a good army needs to compete in (or against) are as follows:
1) Fast Movement
2) Difficult Terrain Movement
3) Unit Shooting
5) Powerful Melee
6) Tarpit Melee
7) Spell Casting
8) Magic defence
Fast Movement & Difficult Terrain Movement
First of all let’s look at movement. There are two items within movement that really stand out. Fast movement; including fast cavalry and flyers and difficult terrain movement; skirmishers and a few rare units like Black Knights and White Lions. Both movement points are all about control of the board.
Fast cav and flyers are generally very good at board control. A careful player will use these units to march block opponents and strike at small vulnerable units like war machines, lone casters, MSU (Multiple Small Unit) units and the like.
Having an answer for fast movement is essential. This is why block-hammer is dead. If you are outmanoeuvred, you cannot dictate how the battle plays out. If you can’t control the board you are just relying on scoring a win based solely on luck or stupidity on your opponent’s side – neither of which are reliable methods.
A common foil for fast movement is of course having units with fast movement yourself. If you lack them, you need something that can reliably handle them even if you can’t catch them. Often this falls down to missile armed troops or artillery depending on the fast unit in question. Most multiple model units that fly or are fast cav are generally quite fragile. With enough missile units to cover all the possible approaches you will likely cut them down before they do any damage. Nastier critters like dragons are better faced off against with artillery such as bolt throwers or cannon.
The bad side with all of the shooting is that if you fail to shoot them down in a turn or two these fast units they will be in your deployment zone before you know it and will be delivering their payload of whoop-ass without reprisal. This makes the missile (and spell) approach to be a little less desirable than your own flyers or fast cav. This is emphasised even more if the enemy fast units outnumber your shooting units.
Terrain movement is not as important as fast movement, but is still essential. If you have no reliable methods to handle units that can hide in terrain you are at a serious disadvantage in facing them. Skirmishers can march block safely from terrain and if a block unit is stupid enough to charge them they are likely going to be stuck in said terrain for the rest of the game. That’s almost as good as destroying them.
Skirmishers also fill a similar role to that of fast cav and flyers - threatening war machines and other weak targets. Some skirmishers are more designed with combat capabilities in mind. These units have the additional threat of being able to easily execute flank or rear charges to support the more solid fighting units in an army. These can turn a risky combat for the skirmish controlling player into a for sure victory against the right foe.
One thing that both skirmishers and fast cav are excellent for is for character escort duties. In these cases, they are more like ablative wounds for the character instead of added character effectiveness. Spell casters in fast cav allows for a quick closing method to get them in range of juicy targets with their best spells, whereas an unprotected caster is in real danger of being killed before they do their thing.
Combat characters with fast cav or skirmishers can also be a real pain if they have access to a descent ranged weapon like the High Elf Sea Farer Bow. Melee characters are a little less useful in these units, and act more as a strengthening buff for the unit itself for when they get that flank or rear charge.
Bottom line for both of these points – if you are not in control of the battle, you are on the defensive. If you are on the defensive – you are losing.
Posted by Blue Table Painting at 8:14 AM