Friday, March 1, 2013

I Love a Good Plan, Don't You?

I hope you'll all read this in my voice
Greetings Gentlereaders,

I've been thinking about the general philosophy of how to build a list.  There's been a long running debate as to how much the armies you expect to face should factor into your list construction. Is it better to prepare to respond to any opponent, or to prepare to make your opponent respond to you?  While a matter of personal preference, I've always been one for plans.  However, the game has changed with the two, soon to be three codices of sixth edition, and especially the addition of alliances to the game.  For the tournament player, having a plan for what to do in each game is the first step to victory.  Let's look at the type of plans we'll have to be making, shall we?

The basis of every plan is information, both about your army and your opponent's army.  I've been playing Tau for years, so I understand that there are times when moving forward is necessary and beneficial.  Before you start playing an army in tournament you should have enough games with them under your belt to understand how to play them both to maximize advantages and minimize disadvantages.  But my understanding of Tau no longer suffices to inform me of my options of what to bring to a tournament.  Now I also need to at bare minimum understand how Space Marines and Eldar can synergize with my Tau.  If I wanted to expand my options, I would consider what any army except Tyranids and Chaos Daemons, Dark Eldar and Sisters of Battle could bring me.  In short, my options are vast and require more effort to comprehend than they did a year ago.

Information, the first principle of warfare...
But that's easy compared to the effort needed to comprehend my enemy.  I have lots of allies, but each enemy beyond Tyranids has the option to bring allies of their own that can change how they play.  Not counting desperate alliances there are fifty-four different combinations of armies, disregarding who is the primary detachment.  Desperate allies add another twenty-seven possibilities, some of which are viable despite a few rules.  I've never needed people knowing they were working together to get the job done.  Considering Tyranids and desperate allies there are a total of eighty-two different opponents you could face in a tournament, fifty-five that come with no detriments.  During fifth edition there were only sixteen different opponents to consider, meaning alliances have increased the number of matchups to consider by two hundred fourty-four percent.

Now I'm sure some of you knew every matchup for your army during fifth edition, from those where a single die could decide the game either way to those where playing was just a formality.  But how many of you know all fifty-five matchups for your army?  Do you know how to react to an armada of Tau and Necrons?  How about a mob of Templar and Blood Angels?  There's a plan that can solve all your problems with these matchups, one that will make your considerations disappear.

In the game Go there is an old proverb: When in doubt, Tenuki.  It can mean anything from focusing your attention on a different part of the board to simply refusing to react to your opponent's plays and force them to react to yours.  You could continue trying to consider your matchups in terms of how you will counter your opponent's plays...or you could make plays that force your opponent's hand and consider how to exploit their reactions.  I can't tell you how those Templar are going to try to rip my face off, but I can tell you they won't be paying as much attention to my face when this dragon is trying to cook them.  I don't think I'd have to worry about my hair, which leaves me time to worry about their backfield and how I can get their units off objectives with my other units while they're busy.

Playing reactively, either on the table or when you're planning what to bring to the table is a losing gambit, and I really don't like those.  Here's what I like a plan where I win, even if I look like I'm losing.  Not just a fient, but a plan where my death could spell my final victory.  I'm going to go look for some ways to make that work.  Go find something to paint, I've got plans to make.



  1. As a Tau player I have one job when I'm playing... Make the important troops look uninteresting so that the other guy doesn't kill them and spoil the plan and scare his army into taking the longer rout (staying in cover, but not joining the party)... dilute his arrival, so to speak...

    I recently played against a Space Wolfs army (1200 p) and the only pre-meditation I did was to realize that he was either coming in by tanks or by pods. So the reaction bit is the heaviest... and when I think about it, for Tau, it always is.. because we can pretty much only build one army. At least, I have had success with one type of army...

    Long story short, the Space Wolves were fragmented... the single pod came down without support, and the five terminators within had one round between four FW squads... all rapid fire... none of them made it, because 2+, 5++ ain't enough...

    There is only one knife in the Tau-toolbox... the tactics for us are about making good use of it.

    1. Sadly, you're right to say there is quite a limit to the options Tau have right now. If you have enough guns, or low enough AP, you certainly can force your opponent onto the defensive. Glad you beat up on the space pups, hope you have continued success.

  2. I hate to say it but my favorite thing about this post is the Gargoyles reference in the first picture

    1. What specifically didn't you like? I'm always looking for honest feedback.

  3. Its not so much that I didn't like the article so much as I really liked the show Gargoyles.

    1. I've got to watch it some time. I grew up on TNG and there are two major cast members playing in Gargoyles.