Today I’ll be taking a look at each of the eight battle tactics available when playing Pitched Battles (the standard game format) in Age of Sigmar third edition. I’ll be covering the quirks of each of them, as well as what opportunities there are to play around with, lean into or otherwise frustrate your opponent’s efforts. As I discussed in my previous article on the subject, Battle Tactics matter a great deal in third edition, and while you shouldn’t be expected to prevent your opponent from scoring all five of theirs, stopping one or two could be pivotal in turning a minor defeat into a major victory.
There are eight battle tactics to choose from in total, and over the course of the game you’ll be expected to pick five of them, with no repeats – this means if you attempt a battle tactic and fail it, you can’t attempt *THAT* battle tactic again on a subsequent turn. This also presents a second level of challenge when selecting your tactics – sequencing. Just because a battle tactic is easy to score turn one, doesn’t necessarily mean it should be the battle tactic you select, because as the game draws out into later turns your options get more limited, and you want to give yourself flexibility late game rather than get forced into near impossible to achieve battle tactics because of lazy choices prior.
When you reveal this battle tactic, pick 1 Battleline unit from your opponent’s starting army on the battlefield. You complete this battle tactic if that unit is destroyed during this turn. If that unit is destroyed by an attack made by a friendly MONSTER or an ability of a friendly MONSTER, score 1 additional victory point.
It’s worth noting here that the bonus point is *NOT* scored if the monster used a spell to finish the unit off, or battleshock caused the remnants to flee from battle. You’ll want to sequence activations in combat to weaken with another unit and finish with your monster in situations where you have multiple units engaging the target.
The requirement to nominate a unit means your opponent has knowledge of your plan for the turn, and can use command abilities like Rally, Redeploy or All Out Defence to frustrate your efforts. As a consequence, it’s important to ensure overwhelming force is available if you’re picking this tactic, as it can be rather costly to miss out on.
There’s an argument to be made for picking this early game, but to be honest it’s not *too* often a battleline unit will be presented to you as such a juicy target early game, unless your army is particularly mobile and smashy enough to make this a reliable turn 1 play. You’ll find often that this is a strong consideration from turn 2 onwards, where attrition starts to wear down units and you’re likely to have multiple units capable of making the decisive strike.
The existence of this Battle Tactic means that cheap minimum battle line units used to screen or fulfil minimum requirements become somewhat of a liability, presenting at worst a tasty and easily achievable 2-3 VP for your opponent. Fodder units to absorb Unleash hell before your main forces crash into a particularly lethal ranged unit, or screens to protect your forces from your opponent may be better drawn from the non-battle line portion of your roster. Think less units of 10 Skeletons and more units of 3 Fell Bats, as an example.
When you reveal this battle tactic, pick 1 objective marker on the battlefield that your opponent controls. You complete this battle tactic if you control that objective marker at the end of this turn.
Simple, self explanatory and generally quite deterministic – you’ll generally know when picking this tactic how likely you are to achieve it, meaning it’s often treated as a ‘money in the bank’ tactic, one you can depend on scoring when you pick on.
Screening units to block off space around the objective, overwhelming numbers and other movement reducing abilities can reduce the effectiveness of this tactic, though on Battleplans with 4 or more objectives this is generally quite impractical to deny your opponent access to all game.
Any time, though as a rather safe choice you may want to save it for when your other choices are poor – the last thing a general wants is to be put in a position where they have to overextend to achieve their battle tactic for the turn because they didn’t leave themselves any good choices for late game.
Generally not too much you can do to impact this battle tactic in the list building stage, though the general principles of including cheap screens will help.
Slay the Warlord
You complete this battle tactic if the model chosen to be your opponent’s general is slain during this turn. If that model was destroyed by a friendly MONSTER or an ability of a friendly MONSTER, score 1 additional victory point.
The wording is crucial here – the model slain has to be the model chosen to be your opponent’s general, meaning models that ‘count as’ your general like Morathi in Daughters of Khaine, Reikenor in Reikenor’s Condemned or other WARMASTERS do not offer scoring opportunities unless they are listed as the chosen general in their list.
Keep your general safe! If for whatever reason your general is a relatively fragile support hero, make sure he’s cushioned from any enemy forces approach with other units and utilise Cover, Look Out Sir and other bodyguard abilities where possible.
Mid-to-late game, when units have melted away and the juicy heart of the army presents itself.
Consider giving your general a bodyguard unit to accompany them (like Praetors in Stormcast Eternals), any artefacts that improve their survivability like the Amulet of Destiny or just pick a big tanky hero as your general – nobody wants to have to take down Archaon just to score Slay the Warlord!
When you reveal this battle tactic, pick 3 different units from your starting army on the battlefield. You complete this battle tactic if all of the units you picked run in the following movement phase and finish that run within 3″ of each other. If all 3 of those units are MONSTERS, score 1 additional victory point.
One of the few battle tactics on offer here that don’t depend on interacting with your opponent, which has inherent value because this is easier to achieve than most as it’s not reliant on dice rolls.
Not possible to deny this one early game most of the time, however not impossible. Be’lakor’s Dark Master ability is chosen at the beginning of the hero phase (so after the battle tactic has been selected) and can stop the chosen unit from moving 2/3rd of the time, which is definitely the kind of game situation that will happen rarely but could have a huge impact on the game if you deny them. If they skip over this one early game you can definitely make a play to deny them this battle tactic simply by ensuring that no cluster of 3 units is close enough together to make this a viable choice.
Definitely an early game play most of the time, with some niche value late game if you have a better turn one choice and your army typically castles up with support heroes making it more likely you would have 3 spare units clustered together late game to score this one.
None – I don’t think you’ll be spamming Monsters specifically for this battle tactic, though it’s worth noting you could *potentially* score the bonus point with 2 monsters and a wizard if you manage to cast Metamorphosis, which is the sort of big brained play that could put you ahead early game.
Bring it Down!
When you reveal this battle tactic, pick 1 enemy MONSTER on the battlefield. You complete this battle tactic if that unit is destroyed during this turn. If that enemy MONSTER was destroyed by an attack made by a friendly MONSTER or an ability off a friendly MONSTER, score 1 additional victory point.
Pretty easy – don’t include any monsters in your army or cast Metamorphosis – yes that would count! If you insist on running Monsters, make sure they’re durable enough to withstand skirmisher attacks. If you have a severely injured Monster near your opponent on your turn AND they haven’t yet selected Bring it Down! during the game, it may be worth sending it into an opponent’s hammer unit to die – yes you’ll give them a point for Predator’s and Prey, but crucially you will prevent them access to an easy battle tactic scoring opportunity.
On a case by case basis, you’ll know when this makes sense to choose and it’s narrow enough that if the opportunity presents itself you should seize it rather than stall.
Units like the Cockatrice or Mindstealer Sphiranx may sound enticing with their cheap price tag and easy access to Monstrous Rampages, but consider that by their inclusion they present a juicy and enticing target for an easy score. Stick to big durable Monsters unless you’ve gone all in on a Monster Mash list and are conceding that your opponent will be scoring this and additional Predator’s and Prey points throughout the game.
When you reveal this battle tactic, pick 2 objective markers on the battlefield that are not wholly within your territory. You complete this battle tactic if you control both objective markers at the end of this turn.
Another less RNG dependent battle tactic because it doesn’t necessarily require that you interact with your opponent. One quirk worth noting is that markers on the boundary of your territory don’t count as being in your territory, so are fair game for Aggressive Expansion.
Sit on every point? The realistic answer is there’s not too much you can do to shut this battle tactic down other than put large quantities of durable bodies on any neutral objectives, which sometimes just isn’t possible depending on the number of objectives that are eligible.
Versatile tactic that gives a nice consolation prize for going first battle round one, as you can score it effortlessly while helping make it more difficult for your opponent to subsequently score Aggressive Expansion early.
Little beyond bringing plenty of butts to sit on objectives.
When you reveal this battle tactic, pick 1 MONSTER from your starting army on the battlefield. You complete this battle tactic if that MONSTER is contesting an objective marker that you control at the end of this turn, and that objective marker is not contested by an enemy MONSTER.
You can’t use Metamorphosis to jury rig up a Monster to score this one, due to the timing of this – you have to select the Monster at the beginning of your Hero phase (and thus spellcasting begins).
Hard to stop them from scoring this as they could score this on a backfield objective turn 1 if they have monster for it. If they don’t pick it first turn and they only have one or two monsters, you could consider targeting them to shut down this possibility.
Typically early game, though if you have a god monster like Archaon that you expect to have around all game long you could push it into mid/late game if you have harder to score options available to you early on that become inpractical late game.
Monsters! If you include no Monsters in your army you’re abandoning this battle tactic and effectively picking 5 from 7 rather than 5 from 8, so I definitely think every army that can run a Monster should seriously consider doing so for tactical flexibility alone.
You complete this battle tactic if there are 2 or more units from your starting army wholly within your opponent’s territory at the end of this turn. If 2 or more of those units are MONSTERS, score 1 additional victory point.
A fantastic choice for armies with easy access to deep strike or teleport, this really stresses out armies that lack access to cheap filler units to block out space.
Board control is key, so lots of cheap and cheerful units spread out across your territory that can prevent deep strikes or teleports are key here, though you’ll find this gets progressively harder to prevent the longer the game goes on. Some battleplans split territory straight down the middle with no ‘No Man’s Land’, meaning in some battleplans this is almost impossible to prevent and largely not worth bothering trying to stop.
Typically late game if you’re an aggressive army, though it can be a cheeky early game choice if your opponent took first and you’ve got units to bring in from reserve to make a strong early push to capitalise on the possibility of an early double turn.
Does your army have access to units that cost 75 points or less and are fairly mobile and NOT battleline? This is where they shine, as they don’t give up easy Broken Ranks opportunities and can help secure your territory AND screen your bigger threats at the same time.
And there you have it! If there’s anything you would like to see us cover regarding Pitched Battles in the mortal realms, or if you have any questions or comments, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can do.