The General’s Pocketbook: Early Game Battle Tactics

Since we’ve been in Andtor some armies have found themselves in a difficult spot with battle tactics. In today’s pocketbook we look at how you might be able to alleviate that, or at least plan better for it in the current General’s Handbook.

Unless you’re an army with an incredible turn one battle tactic (looking at you, Kharadrons) then you’ve probably given some thought this “problem” already. How can you score a battle tactic turn 1 in every battleplan?

Planning your battle tactics is a big part of being successful on the tournament ladder. Starting at a handicap of 2VP can put a serious damper on your hopes of coming away from the game with the win.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the ones that you can score early reliably.

Aggradon Lancers Credit: Chimp

Battle Tactics Turn One

Intimidate the Invaders:
Get your units up the board and out of your territory- very easy on turn 1 on about half the maps. The problem here is that if you commit to this being your tactic on turn 1, you could very easily find yourself spread out and in harms way. Maybe save this one for late game when you’ve got less units, the board is a bit stretched out, and you’re not putting yourself further forwards than you might otherwise want to be!

Kill the unit that killed your general. Don’t plan around this one. The plan has gone horribly wrong if this is an option turn one. The lack of command points you’ll have all game is not worth trying to sacrifice a cheap general and if you’re found in an unlucky situation where this is an option you’ll be on the backfoot.

Endless Expropriation:
Kill a unit that is bonded to either an endless spell or incarnate. Incarnates are pretty rare these days and endless spells aren’t a sure thing. Add on top the fact that there’s a lot of dice involved with killing a unit on turn 1, especially a hero that’s well protected and maybe not targetable at range, it’s more likely a midgame tactic if it’s even scorable.

Magical Dominance:
One of the two battle tactics that are worth planning as your turn 1 tactic. You can deploy your wizard out of 30″ of unbinds on most setups especially if you’re going first. Just make sure you’ve taking Heroic Willpower into account and try your best to not roll a double 1 and miscast with your only wizard!

Bait And Trap:
Again, this one can be active on turn 1 but you’re relying on playing against one of those lists that full sends into you on their turn 1 before you go. Those are fairly few and far between, and if they are they’re probably are looking to play for the turn 1 to 2 double turn, so you need a different tactic before they hit you.

Lead Into the Maelstrom:
This one is definitely doable if you’re one of those armies that are blasting forwards and hitting your opponent in the mouth early. The big downside comes from the fact that most armies executing on this plan don’t want to be bogged down, which is a requirement of this tactic. You also need to make sure you make both of your charges and don’t overkill your opponents units and don’t die in return. Easier to line up later in the game.

Surround and Destroy:
The second of the premium turn 1 tactics. Surround and destroy can be achieved on turn 1 against pretty much any army and with fairly minimal list building concessions. It may not necessarily be the optimal play on every map against every army, but in the absence of any other option this can bail you out.

The Farstriders. Credit: SRM

How to Actually Score

With the stage set, here’s the main thrust of this article: I worked out the minimum distance that you need to travel on each map to score Surround and Destroy. You can either use this to inform list building , accept that it’s not really achievable for the list you want to run and look elsewhere, or just formulate a plan for your scoring on each battleplan.

Forewarned is forearmed!

How hard is it to score Surround and Destroy on turn 1 by battle plan?

So for each of these I’m going to assume you’re putting your units right on the edge of the deployment zone, as close as possible to the nearest spot that will allow you to score the tactic on turn 1.

Let’s just refresh what that will mean:

  • Surround and Destroy needs you to pick 3 units
  • At the end of your turn all of them are wholly within 6″ of 3 different board edges
  • At least 2 of these board edges must be outside of your territory (the blue or red bit on the map)
  • The 3rd unit can stay in your deployment, on whichever board edge is most convenient for you, remembering the stipulation above

I’m going to assume that you know where to place that third “trailing” unit and won’t really talk about that one- there’s no amount of movement required unless you didn’t already deploy within 6″ of your home board edge. You could technically score it with a unit that has 0 for move characteristic, so long as you put it in the right place at the start.

Now we’ve covered that remember that the units must be wholly within 6″ of the board edge. That is always going to mean that the back of the base is where you should measure from. There’s lots of different sizes of base in Age of Sigmar but a quick key is that bigger bases need to move further. Larger bases also tend to be more expensive units too and those aren’t always units you want to be throwing down the sides of the table turn 1.

If I use Towers in the Tundra as an example you need to be able to move 2 units 9in plus the size of their base.

Chaos Furies are a great example of a good unit for this tactic. They fly, move fast, and are cheap. They’re also on 32mm bases. Knowing that 9″ + 32mm is the minimum distance needed to move to score this in a straight line, we can use a calculator to figure out that we need 10.25″ of movement to successfully score with this unit. Easy! Furies have a 14i” move even before we roll the run dice! No dice involved, pass go, collect 2vp.

On the other side of the unit spectrum is the Warstomper Gargant. Warstomper can pass over terrain as if they fly, but the size of the base often gets in the way. The sheer size of the Gargant’s pie plate means that those 9″ +130mm of base is a whopping 14.1″ of movement to make it wholly outside your territory! You never want dice to be involved with your battle tactic but you can only spend 1 command point to auto run, so the second Warstomper on the other side needs a 4 for their run!

Vyrkos Blood-Born. Credit: SRM

The Battleplans

Towers in the Tundra:
2 units that can move at least 9″ + their base size and 1 unit to sit on the board edge in your deployment zone.

No Reward without Risk:
1 unit that can move at least 16″ + their base size, 1 unit to get out of your deployment, and 1 unit to sit on the board edge in your deployment zone.

Frigid Zephyr:
1 unit that can move at least 16″ + their base size, 1 unit to get out of your deployment, and 1 unit to sit on the board edge in your deployment zone.

2 units that can move at least 9″ + their base size and 1 unit on the board edge in your deployment zone.

Fountains of Frost:
Any 2 units on the flanks. Nice and easy to get out of your deployment. Just remember terrain could be in the way, so flying or teleporting is still preferred.

Spring the Trap:
2 units that can move at least 9″ + their base size and 1 unit to sit on the board edge in your deployment zone.

Limited Resources:
2 units that can move at least 9″ + their base size and 1 unit to sit on the board edge in your deployment zone.

Every Step is Forward:
2 units that can move at least 9″ + their base size(At least 1 of these units must have a base size no larger than 2″) and 1 unit to sit on the board edge in your deployment zone.

Lines of Communication:
Any 2 units on the flanks. Again, easy. Still mindful of terrain of course.

Nexus Collapse:
1 Unit that can move at least 16″ + base size, 1 unit with any amount of movement to get out of your deployment, and one to sit on the third board edge within your deployment.

Geomantic Pulse:
Any 2 units on the flanks. Still easy!

Power Flux:
2 units that can move at least 9″ + their base size and 1 unit to sit on the board edge in your deployment zone.

Cities of Sigmar Freeguild Cavaliers. Credit – Soggy


Forward Thinking

With all that said and done you’ve now got the tools and knowledge to make a better decision on your turn 1 battle tactic.

If you’re looking at your list and thinking that maybe you are going to need to score Surround and Destroy early, maybe consider some ally options if they’re not readily available in your book!

Some good choices you might look at first are:

  • Aetherwings
  • Vanguard Hunters
  • Tree-Revenants
  • Gyrocopters
  • Fell Bats
  • Chaos Furies
  • Night Runners
  • Spider Riders
  • Snarlfang Riders

And pretty much any other unit who can teleport freely. Just remember you have to pick a unit that’s on the board at the start of the turn; units that arrive from reserve like Stormcast Eternals or Beasts of Chaos can’t score in your first turn.

Planning past turn 1 is just as important as well so be mindful of what you’re attempting to score in turn 2 and each turn past that, as best you can.

Good luck and happy planning Generals!

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