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The Tactics behind a Balanced list - Part Five A added 
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Cold One Knight
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*This is probably a split between an article and discussion starter so please feel free to build/challenge and explore the topic*

Part One

Introduction
In response to the ‘Where have all the tactics gone?’ article I have to admit I have been looking for some more actual tactics articles recently and have been trying to think of one to write myself. Some of the discussion touched on balanced lists, this is a particular point of interest for me I have always been a big fan of the concept of balanced lists. I rarely found it possible in 6th edition to build a fully balanced list with any of my armies but with units becoming cheaper or more effective in 7th edition it is much easier to achieve and I have had a few really effective lists based on the concept of balance.

What is a balanced list?
To me a balanced list combines the four elements of Warhammer in a blend which means that any one element can shine to be the significant factor in victory. Victory may well be due to the combination of elements (and indeed generally should be), however, the key with a balanced list is that the key to victory can potentially come from any element and the list isn’t dependant on one element or combination regularly.

The four elements as I’m sure you are well aware are:
Movement - largely represented by cavalry, flyers, skirmishers etc.
Shooting - oddly enough war machines and missile carrying units/characters
Combat - pretty much anything
Magic - you guessed it wizards.

Example list
To help the discussion am going to use my most recent balanced list for comparison:

Movement 555pts
Dreadlord: Cold One, SDC, Heavy Armour, Shield, Crimson Death, Pendant of Khaleth: 245pts
5 Cold One Knights: CSM, War Banner: 200pts
5 Harpies: 55pts
5 Harpies: 55pts

Combat 685pts
Death Hag: BSB, Banner of Hag Graef, Manbane, Rune of Khaine: 200pts
20 Warriors: CSM: 135pts
20 Warriors: CSM: 135pts
14 Witch Elves: CSM, Banner of Murder, Manbane: 215pts

Magic 360pts
Sorceress: L2, Dispel Scroll, Tome of Furion: 175pts
Sorceress: L2, Dispel Scroll, Darkstar Cloak: 185pts

Shooting 400pts
10 RXB: 100pts
10 RXB: 100pts
2 Bolt Throwers: 200pts

2000pts

Now I imagine what might jump out at you is that Cold one knights are in movement rather than combat. I will cover this in more depth later but they sit primarily in movement as when I use units such as Black Guard or Executioners the movement phase is fundamentally different.

I’m sure you will have noticed in this list there is a reasonable amount of redundancy 2 units of Static Combat Res, 2 units of Active Combat Res etc. This is important so that each element isn’t easy to nullify thus maintaining the benefits of your balanced approach.

Basic Principles
I'm sure many of us have heard the term ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ this is frequently used to describe Empire armies and sometimes has been seen by some players as a critical flaw in many army lists as they are not good enough in any area to have a significant advantage. It won’t surprise you that I disagree with this. Success with balanced armies is dependant on one core principle;

Compete in your opponents field of strength whilst exposing his areas of weakness.’

This may sound odd and counter intuitive and I’m not sure if I am wording the principle as well as I might but I will try to explain. Firstly you might expect me to simply suggest not operating in your opponents area of strength and instead focus on his weaknesses. There are two issues with that:

1) It wastes/limits 25% of your army.
2) That is how an army focusing on one element works 75% of the time you each try to work in the phase where you have the biggest advantage.

A balanced list needs to do more against an opponents strengths that an unbalanced one usually has to do. Competing does not mean I am advocating trying to go toe to toe where your opponent is strongest. Competing means threatening/distracting/bypassing with your equivalent units. As an example I played against a lizard men army that had a clear advantage in Combat with some Magic capability. I used my Spearmen unit to move up to threaten the flank of the Saurus infantry whilst I shot at them with my RXBs. Individually neither unit could face the Saurus spears, however, collectively the Spearmen prevented the Saurus advancing on the RXBs due to the threat of a flank charge and the Saurus would be shot to pieces if they went after the Spearmen in combat. Thus the Spearmen ‘competed’ with the Saurus whilst the RXBs exposed their weakness.

Ok Part two will be along at some point i'm sure. (this is probably the wrong time to be writing a tactics article as everybody has the same idea at once) :lol:


Last edited by Skilgannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:08 am, edited 4 times in total.



Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:02 pm
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Thank you Skilgannon.

I am anticipating that the different classifications will feature in future parts of your article so there are a few points that I would just like to clarify with you:

Magic
Does this mean that lists which only have magic defence (let's say a scroll caddy, the ring and one or two null talismans) are unbalanced or would you allocate those points to the magic section?

Combat/Shooting/Movement
One thing I love about Dark Elves is the flexibility of certain units. Prime examples are Dark Riders with Crossbows, Shades with Great Weapons and to a lesser extent Harpies. The first two could arguably be allocated to Combat, Shooting or Movement depending on the flow of the game when combined with a Cauldron (the 5+ Ward being the non-combat choice :)) then they are even more flexible. How do you determine balance in these circumstances?

I might be off entirely on the wrong track :(, it may well be that the distinction does not need to be clearly drawn in which case ignore me! :)

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Fri Apr 03, 2009 8:27 am
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EDIT: dreaded double posts.


Last edited by Thanatoz on Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:14 am, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:10 am
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22over7 wrote:
Thank you Skilgannon.
Magic
Does this mean that lists which only have magic defence (let's say a scroll caddy, the ring and one or two null talismans) are unbalanced or would you allocate those points to the magic section?


I think unbalanced is a bit of a wrong wording here, lists with no magic offence don't compete in that phase and are thus technically unbalanced for the purposes of this thread, but it's not unbalanced as in broken, it's unbalanced as in "not versatile". By going magic defence only, you commit to not dealing too much damage in the magic phase. That's fine, as some people like to play out the strength of certain phases, ignoring others, but not for this purpose.

22over7 wrote:
Combat/Shooting/Movement
One thing I love about Dark Elves is the flexibility of certain units. Prime examples are Dark Riders with Crossbows, Shades with Great Weapons and to a lesser extent Harpies. The first two could arguably be allocated to Combat, Shooting or Movement depending on the flow of the game when combined with a Cauldron (the 5+ Ward being the non-combat choice :)) then they are even more flexible. How do you determine balance in these circumstances?


DR are not in this list, but don't confuse a unit's ability to shoot with an automatic allocation to that category. DR are a prime example of movement: their high speed allows them to outmanoeuvre your opponent, threaten flanks and rear, or just hunt artillery/mages. I would not rely upon them to cause serious damage with their bows, unless they should remain stationary, losing their movement benefit. Unlike RxB warriors, who, for the same cost, punch out double the amount of shots, and usually remain stationary.

The fact that a unit can participate in more phases, does not allocate them automatically to those phases. They have a main "general purpose", which is why they are brought. Thinking on your feet and adapting to the flow of battle are the battlefield tactics, but the overall strategy is to create an army that competes well in all phases of the game, and for that, we choose units in our list that best fit the bill.

If I'd select shades for example, I'd check the rest of the list: how many points are already allocated to shooting? How many to movement? (I don't see them as a combat option, not with great weapons, not with AHW, never :P ) If I notice a gap in say shooting, I'd take more than 5 and use them more as a mobile fire base. If I notice I'm low on movement, I'd go for 5 with GW and try to scout them into a march block position.

Forgive my ranting, here's a short summary: we bring our troops for a prime reason, the flexibility of some units comes in handy when we need to improvise on the field of battle.


Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:12 am
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Great initiative!
I had some thoughts myself about this topic.
Skilgannon wrote:
The four elements as I’m sure you are well aware are:
Movement - largely represented by cavalry, flyers, skirmishers etc.
Shooting - oddly enough war machines and missile carrying units/characters
Combat - pretty much anything
Magic - you guessed it wizards.
There is a fifth one: psychology (a phase in its own: BRB p.10 = beginning of the turn... plus some incidences during other phases, of course).
There is also a sixth one, more or less: the opponent's turn. During the opponent's phases, you need to survive as much as possible.

Also, I tend now to divide the melee phase in two categories: mass melee and elite melee. They require different skills (many attacks, or penetrating attacks).

For a more detailed development on these views, I started a thread:
D.R.A.I.C.H. The balance of an army. A theoretical approach.

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Last edited by Calisson on Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:58 am, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:17 am
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Quote:
Does this mean that lists which only have magic defence (let's say a scroll caddy, the ring and one or two null talismans) are unbalanced or would you allocate those points to the magic section?


For the purpose of this discussion I would not consider an army balanced if it did not have offensive capability in the magic phase. To me a balanced army suggests a very specific type of army whereas for most people it probably has a much wider meaning. Thanatoz explains it well it is just a phrasing issue.

Quote:
I might be off entirely on the wrong track , it may well be that the distinction does not need to be clearly drawn in which case ignore me!

I think puting the army list in the format I did may have confused issues. Units rarely fit entirely into one element in all circumstances I broke the units up to give a rough indication. Units that are very flexible in use (such as Dark Riders with RXB) may end up being used in very different ways depending on the opponent and this would change the level of investment in each element. Basically lines do not need to be drawn.

I disagree slightly with Thanatoz regarding flexible units I would always encourage being very open minded with the roles units play especially units as flexible as Dark Riders. They are not in the list for only one reason they can flex based on the opponent. In terms of the Balanced list approach I would suggest you focus more on the different roles units could play to give you combinations of the four elements rather than anything else.


Fri Apr 03, 2009 8:41 pm
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Calisson it is great to see alternate view being shared on the thread, thank you for contributing to the discussion. My views vary from yours and I think we are also talking about different types of lists. However, your interpretation of Balanced is probably closer to the general view than my own. I do want to make the point clear though I am discussing the use of Balanced lists as definted in my opening point so please bear that in mind when reading my thoughts.

I will look to counter some of your points more to define my own views to help people clearly see my thought process so that people can understand if they try to mix our views they need to work this out for themselves as this isn't a combined view we are presenting but rather a range of different views and ideas.

Quote:
There is a fifth one: psychology (a phase in its own: BRB p.10 = beginning of the turn... plus some incidences during other phases, of course).
There is also a sixth one, more or less: the opponent's turn. During the opponent's phases, you need to survive as much as possible.


I don't see psycology as an element in the way the other phases are firstly alot of armies have fairly limited choices when trying to bring specific psycological effects to the battle (i.e fear causers etc.). It is also very difficult to reliably employ compared to the other elements. This isn't to say psycology isn't an important part of playing the game simply that I don't see it having particular relevance in how a balanced army plays compared to any other army.

Defence during your opponent's turn is fully encompased in the other elements (ok and deployment) as far as I see it. I wouldn't want to seperate it out as I see the game from a quite a high level (where as you seem to delve into the detail which is great from an advice point of view). I also wouldn't consider defence against opponents strength as relevant to whether a list is balanced but that is probably more to do with my definition of a balanced list.

I hope it is clear that Calisson and I are simply on different wave lengths rather than disagreeing and if you are able to understand both views and perhaps even perhaps see valuable combinations from our thinking you will benefit greatly from this discussion.


Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:07 pm
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Part Two

I’m realising that I am probably talking more about what a balanced list is than how to actually use one in these first couple of parts. I’m not going to apologise for this for a few reasons:

1) I don’t have to
2) What I call a balanced list is quite different to what a lot of people call a balanced list this is means I have to spend more time defining what I am talking about.
3) Before you understand how to use a balanced list you need to understand and value the concept behind it. It also helps you to understand some more unusual choices made when using a balanced list.

The Concept behind a balanced list
There is a key concept behind a balanced list (this is different from the principle of using a balanced list). This concept is as follows:

‘No element is vital in one game but all elements are vital in the list.’

This is may seem counter intuitive, let me explain. In any one game an element may be of very little value in fact in many games one element is likely to under perform or appear to under perform. However, other units should perform well in these games as they have different strengths to exploit your opponents weaknesses. Having a mix of the four elements should mean that the ‘stars’ of your list vary meaning that each element has proven itself vital to the list some games whilst all have proven unnecessary in some games. An example of this could be the magic element this may be of next to no value against a Dwarf army with a couple of Runesmiths but then it may be a game winner against an army with just a scroll caddie.

I also want to touch upon where an element appears to under perform. A unit’s contribution isn’t always measured in the number of models it kills. A balanced army is like a team it wins or loses together. An example of this would be the Warriors versus the Saurus Spears in the example in Part One. The Warriors died whilst the RXBs killed one and a half units of Saurus Spears without loss yet without the sacrifice of the warriors ‘competing’ with the Saurus the RXBs would have all died without taking out more than half a unit. A magic user may do very little offensive in a game but if the scrolls and dispel dice prevent key spells and fear of an irresistible fireball reduces the movement of enemy characters then a lot of value is still being gained and it is important to recognise that.


An important point that I will come back to is you need to be willing to sacrifice any element of your army to attain victory there is no room for protecting ‘favourite units’ in a balanced army, each unit must do what is best for the army not itself.

Why is the concept so important?
I have played with balanced lists quite frequently for a while and as I tend to enjoy them more than other armies when I find a list I like I tend to play it more consistently and with good results this leads to imitation. Unfortunately imitation comes with a frequent challenge that my list doesn’t work. Sometimes this is because of a lack of understanding of the tactics which is due to not understanding the concept. But more often it is due to tampering with the list also due to not understanding the concept.

Now let me put this into perspective I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I am always right or that my choices are always the best ones that could be made. Also I am very happy to see new ways of using my lists and expanding my ability through this. However, it is unfortunate to see one’s creation copied and then undermined and failed as changes are made without appreciation of the underlying concept of the list. The changes come in a variety of forms but they all tend to focus on reducing the ‘balance’ of the list to provide the opposition player with more security or more power in a particular element.
Changes include:

Swapping Sword Masters for White Lions in a High Elf army despite the Sword Masters killing power being key to supporting the rest of the army. Basically because White Lions are seen as a better alround unit rather than seeing how they contribute to the list.

Minimising magic in the list. For some reason people feel this element is really worth dropping for beefing up another area. The main argument is that the magic doesn’t do a lot in some of the games. (Don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of minimising magic as a concept just not in a balanced list.)

Leaving the concept behind these lists lost what made them successful in the first place and efforts to try and replicate the use of the list failed.


You don’t optimise Balanced Lists
A key point that needs to come out about Balanced lists is that it is not about optimising any individual element. You don’t beef up any particular unit or element as everything must remain expendable. Optimising units so that you can rely on them isn’t what balanced lists are about. To support all the elements sufficiently you often have to go with less that perfect units. For example in the list in Part One there are no shields on the Warriors or RXB units now both these units would be much better for a with shields. RXBs would be less reliant on the rest of the army to protect it from combat and the spearmen could hold units up more effectively. This, however, is relying on units own strength to see them through rather than the synergy you get by spending extra points on the range of elements in the list. (I‘m not saying if I had 60 points spare shields would be a bad idea).

Balanced lists succeed because they: ‘Compete in your opponents field of strength whilst exposing his areas of weakness.’ You don’t need to optimise units to compete and it is unnecessary to optimise units that are already facing your opponents weak areas. To beat a balanced list your opponent needs to divide an conquer, don’t do their job for them.

Hopefully I will get more into tactical discussion in the next section but I hope you ahve found the first two part useful and also that they ahve given you a good indication of where I am going to be going with the tactics discussion.


Last edited by Skilgannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:14 am, edited 2 times in total.



Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:34 pm
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Skilgannon wrote:
A key point that needs to come out about Balanced lists is that it is not about optimising any individual element. You don’t beef up any particular unit or element as everything must remain expendable. Optimising units so that you can rely on them isn’t what balanced lists are about. To support all the elements sufficiently you often have to go with less that perfect units. For example in the list in Part One there are no shields on the Warriors or RXB units now both these units would be much better for a with shields. RXBs would be less reliant on the rest of the army to protect it from combat and the spearmen could hold units up more effectively. This, however, is relying on units own strength to see them through rather than the synergy you get by spending extra points on the range of elements in the list. (I‘m not saying if I had 60 points spare shields would be a bad idea).

In principle i agree with this, that over-spending on a single unit reduces the balance of the army. but surely part of a balanced army is ensuring each unit fulfills the role it was purchased for to the best possible level, and a delaying/combat res unit achieves this best with shields, which up its armour save by 2 in combat. if you aren't buying them shields then i don't like standards in there, which make them a big liability in the list, they don't particularly fulfill the role of combat res (they'll often give away as much as they add) and in fact offer 100 vp to the opponent. I'd say you optimise a unit for a desired role and don't expend excess points on unnecessary extras.

Balanced lists succeed because they: ‘Compete in your opponents field of strength whilst exposing his areas of weakness.’ You don’t need to optimise units to compete and it is unnecessary to optimise units that are already facing your opponents weak areas. To beat a balanced list your opponent needs to divide an conquer, don’t do their job for them.

I disagree. For two reasons. first off, if you optimise you are more able to expose weaknesses in the enemy list also creating them where they would not exist otherwise. for example a daemon list has difficulty exploiting the psychology of a ld9 army, but with the banner of -2 leadership, it creates a weaknesses that wasn't there. Secondly, when you play another balanced list, your un-optimized units will be less able to compete in every phase than your opponents more optimized ones. you may have more feet on the ground, and out-compete en-mass, but he will have the edge in maneuvre, combat and magic. indeed if we take this argument to its stated condition, we don't take magic items for our casters, or command/ extra figures for units. some degree of moderation is clearly required.

Hopefully I will get more into tactical discussion in the next section but I hope you ahve found the first two part useful and also that they ahve given you a good indication of where I am going to be going with the tactics discussion.
The tactics described will be how you intend to employ your stated strategy, almost mission statement of competing with the enemies strengths and exposing his weaknesses. i'm looking forward to it mate.


Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:45 pm
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Skilgannon wrote:
Calisson it is great to see alternate view being shared on the thread, thank you for contributing to the discussion. My views vary from yours and I think we are also talking about different types of lists.
(...)
I hope it is clear that Calisson and I are simply on different wave lengths rather than disagreeing and if you are able to understand both views and perhaps even perhaps see valuable combinations from our thinking you will benefit greatly from this discussion.
You're right.
After posting my long post, I had afterthoughts that it was not in line with your thread as you started it.
You confirm that.

I removed the irrelevent part of the post (because somehow off-topic) and started a new thread with the same content (because it is interesting), leaving just an hyperlink.

The two threads can proceed on parallel ways. It will benefit both threads.
D.R.A.I.C.H. The balance of an army. A theoretical approach.

Keep writing! There are readers!

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Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:51 am
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Thanks Calisson I think the parallel threads thing is a good idea.

geoguswrek:
The principle of not optimising is mainly about not overspending/over relying on individual units rather than the combination of the whole. There is nothing wrong with spending the points on shields for your units it is just an example of where I have saved points (enough for a unit of harpies). I suppose a better example would be say putting a Ring of Darkness, Ring of Hotek etc. in a unit to make it an uber unit that can withstand most things. Also optimising lists tends to come in the form of focusing on certain areas at the expense of balance. i.e. I will just add another character to this units because it makes it so much better.

Quote:
indeed if we take this argument to its stated condition, we don't take magic items for our casters, or command/ extra figures for units. some degree of moderation is clearly required.


Fair enough I think optimisation may be the wrong term. I'm not sure what the right term is. I'm not saying don't buy good things for units. If we take my list as an example: The Lord has Crimson Death and Pendant of Khaleth now for only 35pts more I could also have Regenerate, that would be making him even harder to thus 'optimising' his potential, however, to fund that I would either have to significantly weaken a unit or one of the other characters this would be bad for the list.

I guess the point I am trying to make is concentrate the biggest value add to the list when making decisions on where to spend points. I value 2 units of spearmen over 1 unit of spearmen with shields and some extra points spent on my other units or characters. A balanced lists needs significant investment in all the phases so it is important to avoid concentrating on improving one unit at the expense of the list.

So in terms of the example of adding the -2 Ld banner to a daemon army that isn't about optimising or making some unstopable combo it is about adding significant value to the way your list works. I wouldn't call that optimising.

I hope this is clearer now the problem with using any term is that it comes with people's own perceptions on.


Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:24 am
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I understand what you are suggesting, i just felt it needed more qualification than you had originally put in place.
You are presenting some interesting ideas, i'm looking forward to your next post.


Sat Apr 04, 2009 1:36 pm
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This is marvelous.
Though I feel like adding my own thoughts to the subject.
One thing that comes to mind is that I myself would consider an army with just a scroll caddy, a RoH and some null talismans as a balanced force.

My reasoning for this is that what I see as beling balanced is for the army as a whole to be able to match up against anything and basically prevent the enemy from capitalizing a particular aspect of the game.
As an example the enemy might bring alittle or alot of magic. In either case we are able to counter the efforts of our enemy to dominate this part.

What I think when I hear the term ''balanced army'' is basically an army that can compete no matter what the enemy brings if the player just commits to being flexible.
So in essence no matter how the enemy attempts to act a ''balanced army'' has enough elements of each category to effectively counter the enemys strengths and also has enough of the other elements to capitalize on a ''one trick pony's'' shortages.

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Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:51 pm
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Thanks I'm glad your are enjoying it.

I understand the general concept of a balanced force mainly means an army that can cope defensively with what gets thrown at it. I would always try to make all my armies like this even if they were focused on cavalry, infantry, magic, avoidance or shooting. An unbalanced force has come to almost mean cheesy or one trick pony etc.

I think you can see in Calisson's thread that he is covering balanced from the point of view of being able to cope with most threats you can face. I don't see an army as balanced just because it can cope with different phases. Balance means a level of equality, if you just have a bit of magic defence how can the magic balance with the other elements when it is so much weaker?

I know the general use of 'balanced list' doesn't fit with mine but to me the common definition of 'balanced list' is so broad that it doesn't add value. I'm writing specifically about a list that provides threats in the four elements outlined. I don't know what else to call this type of list. Maybe I should talk about a 'balance offense' but to be honest I think clearly defining the type list I am talking about is the best thing to do. Hopefully as there is more written about how to use a balanced list rather than the actual theory behind a balanced list it will be clearer that the article is about tactics to use a very specific type of list, not a discussion of the definition of the word 'balanced'.


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In response to Irtehdar's post; offensive magic can be a good method of preventing your enemy from capitalising on that phase. Blow up his caster, crisis averted. That's why I'd never take a level one caddy. If her opponent is removed, a single Level 2 can be very dangerous.

I am enjoying this discussion very much, and all the others like it. when I find time, this and all the others will be added into the D.R.A.I.C.H. under "Combining Units in an Army." And not a moment too soon, eh Cal?

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Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:16 am
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Irtehdar wrote:
One thing that comes to mind is that I myself would consider an army with just a scroll caddy, a RoH and some null talismans as a balanced force.(...)
What I think when I hear the term ''balanced army'' is basically an army that can compete no matter what the enemy brings if the player just commits to being flexible.
This view is shared but does not belong to this thread. :arrow: I invite you to join the other, parallel thread already mentioned: "D.R.A.I.C.H. The balance of an army. A theoretical approach.".
Layne wrote:
this discussion and all the others will be added into the D.R.A.I.C.H. under "Combining Units in an Army."
It was done already. :D
Some of the recent discussions are in the "Combining units in an army" section, if they deal more about army building than actually playing.
This thread, as well as many new other threads, has been hyperlinked on top of the "Playing the game" section. I even created a subtitle named:
"The blossom of tactics in Spring 2009."

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Last edited by Calisson on Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:38 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:59 am
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Cold One Knight
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Part Three
I was thinking of starting this part of the article with a discussion of building a battle plan as that is the next chronological steps to take, but on reflection I think that needs to be much closer to the end once more discussion has taken place. Instead I am going to begin covering more of the in game tactics and then build up to a wider view. I’m going to start by talking about sacrificing.

Sacrificing
In case you are worried that I have started a Khanite thread don’t worry I haven’t. I hope you can see from what I have already written that sacrificing will play a fundamental part of using a balanced list. I hope most of you are used to the idea of sacrificing harpies and perhaps Dark Riders to bait and distract units. If not I’m sure D.R.A.I.C.H. has some interesting articles that you will find useful. A balanced army takes this approach further. Everything is expendable. As I have written optimising units so that they become critical to your battle plan every game goes against the principles of a balanced army. This is because you have to be able to sacrifice units as the situation demands.

Now sacrificing comes in a variety of forms and these will vary depending on the unit you are using. Here are a few ideas:

Missile Screen - fairly straight forward block line of sight by putting troops in front.
Missile Magnet - Make a unit a really juicy target to draw attention away from other units that can then do crucial tasks
Multiple Threats - Offer a range of targets so that your opponent can’t get them all.
Distract - Putting a decent combat unit away from where you want the fight to take place to take one of your opponents units out of the big battle as they can’t afford the other unit coming in the side/ rear.
Suicide Charge - Charges to take out enemy characters/ kill critical threats even though your charger may die in return
Baiting - classic offering up a juicy charge to the enemy and then putting that unit in a vulnerable position
Protecting Characters - giving characters like wizards, Generals, BSBs a safe unit to help them do what they need to do.
Deflectors - placing a unit at an angle to turn a unit away from where you don’t want them to be (good for getting cavalry away from war machines)

This list is in no way exhaustive but is just to give a flavour of the ways units can sacrifice themselves.

The key issue with a balanced approach is that you need to think of all your units as sacrificial. You need to go through your entire list and consider what value that unit could add as a sacrificial unit. This will take experience and the specifics of how the unit can be sacrificed are dependant on the opposition. However, by developing tactics for each unit it will be much easier to work out how to sacrifice your units best if you have already done the ground work. Knowing your army as well as possible before going into a game gives you a real edge . I’m not going to go through all my army discussing what each unit can do but I will take a couple and give some examples to give you an idea.

Sorceress:
- Hide to maintain dispel ability at the expense of casting.
- Sorceress staying out of units to give the units greater mobility. This may require the sorceress to be less aggressive or forgo casting in the first turn.
- Baiting: a nice expensive sorceress makes great bait even making a sorceress try to rally can be a valuable enticement to your opponent. Also as you can still cast when rallied you don’t necessarily lose all your effectiveness. Also baiting with a sorceress is unexpected which may throw your opponent.
- Missile Magnet: a Sorceress in a wood may be -2/-3 to hit but it still makes a juicy target for your opponent he may well forgo targeting a unit which is actually more important as they want to go for the ’soft’ target.
- Aggressive casting - to support your other units you may need to put your sorceress at risk to cast a big spell to help your other units. This is not likely to be a good idea unless your opponent is out of dispel scrolls.

20 Warriors:
- Missile Screen: at 6pts a model they make a great value missile screen particularly with the ASF Witch Elves sitting behind.
- Distract: at 135pts with 4/5 Static Combat Res they are a fantastic distraction unit that is hard for your opponent to ignore but costs very little.
- Baiting: again at only 135pts they cost only a little more than Dark riders but can force the issue really well as being charged by a ranked unit isn’t necessarily manageable for some enemy units.
- Protecting Characters: A good place for wizards who need to get forward or even the fighting characters if needed.
- Screening: with the Witch Elves really vulnerable to some units and frenzy baiting having the warriors in front can help to ensure the Witch Elves deliver where they need to.
- Deflectors: Although it can be expensive to lose the standard with the unit (and that is only if you don‘t successfully retaliate). Warriors can be really useful to expose a flank of the enemy.

Now whilst everything is potentially sacrificial in a balanced army obviously you can’t sacrifice everything in your army. You don’t necessarily need to go into a game planning to sacrifice particular unit’s, you may have an idea which units may be more useful sacrificially than in other roles. As sacrificing units tends to be reliant on deployment and game situation having the knowledge readily available of how you can use your units sacrificially is very useful. Deployment will be a key phase for identifying the right units to sacrifice so that you can place them in positions to get the maximum out of their use in the game. I will cover deployment in more depth later on.

The key issue with sacrificing units is that you need a very clear plan to make the most of your sacrifice. Sometimes players sacrifice units just to get the charge with their units ideally you want to be getting a flank or getting diverting and enemy unit for several turns for your sacrifice. This isn’t always possible but be really aware of what you are losing and what you are gaining for your sacrifice. The best sacrifices you make will leave your opponent with two choices: one they don’t want to do and one they can’t afford to do. For instance if you use two decent combat units to threaten from both flanks the enemy can either charge one unit which you can flee with to pull the unit forward and then flank it. If he doesn’t charge your opponent may have to take a flank and front charge, or at least take a frontal charge from two decent units. Alternatively and this is where the value of balance really comes in if your opponent doesn’t let you have a flank charge you can shoot and magic the unit until your opponent gives you what you want.

Ok so next up I will cover the flip side to sacrificing how to maximise the use best units in a particular game.


Last edited by Skilgannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:17 am, edited 2 times in total.



Wed Apr 08, 2009 6:32 pm
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Cold One Knight
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Part Four

In contrast to the sacrificial units discussion I am now going to come on to what I have called ‘Game Winning Units’, this isn’t an ideal title as units which don’t star can still have a huge part in the result of the game, however, I don’t really know what else to call the section.

Game Winning Units

There is a lot that could be written in this section, however, I am going to focus more on those pieces either specifically or particularly related to balanced armies. I will touch on some points but you may need to find them in D.R.A.I.C.H. or other topics. How to get the best out of units is a frequently covers topic so I’m sure that there is plenty more to read than I could ever cover anyway.

Knowing your army is the first step how each unit operates best and where it excels is knowledge most player consider and keep in mind when playing. Much as with the potential sacrificial uses for unit’s in depth knowledge of the strengths of each unit is key preparation done away from the battlefield drawing on experience and deliberation. This allows you to see far more opportunities in game as you have done the thinking in advance you have less to do under your opponent’s gaze. I don’t think there is much to add here from a balanced perspective. Identifying where to apply these strengths is also standard regardless of whether an army is balanced. This isn’t to say it is a simple task it took me quite a while learning how to grasp the how to get the most of my two Level 2 Sorceress for instance and I’m still learning new things about everything in the army.

Additionally whilst combining strengths will be covered in more depth in separate sections it important to consider how units can interact to make the most of combining their strengths. Magic and shooting for example combining to wipe units out or active combat resolution and static combat resolution used together to ensure units break where necessary. As I’ve said this isn’t only relevant for balanced lists but balanced lists are likely to have more combinations and some less obvious combinations so extra thought in this area may be valuable.

Where balanced armies tend to vary heavily is that they are unable to rely too heavily on a relative strength. Whereas an army designed around shooting decimate an enemy vulnerable to shooting the 400pts invested in shooting in my list above is never going to take out a large chunk of an army on it’s own. Lots of armies are able to exploit a single enemy weakness fully due to their own strengths, balanced lists can’t do this. A weakness needs to be used to cause a big enough problem that it significantly reduces the enemies strength. For instance against a Brettonian player my Witch Elves and Cold One Knights were real threats as they were units that could take a charge. However, on their own the Brettonian army could still have ripped through the rest of my army fairly easily. Therefore I had to use the threat of my Cold Ones and Witch Elves to create opportunities for my Spearmen and RXBs to get charges off on the Brettonians to at least hold the Brettonian lances rather than being over run. By reducing the manoeuvrability of the Brettonian lances with my where I had an advantage I was able to take the initiative and punish the Brettonians by getting more out of the rest of my army due to the use of my strength. Similarly shooting and magic are both good examples where you can use the advantage in these areas to take out a key opposition unit which would cause trouble to your combat units allowing them to take on the opposition’s strength.

Sometimes opposition armies may be vulnerable to more than one element and it may be that between the weaknesses you can completely defeat your opponent by exploiting your opponent’s weaknesses in unison. This is again not a specific to balanced lists ability but it is far more likely to happen with all four elements being strong. Movement and combat in particular are capable of combining to win on their own if an opponent has weak links in this area. Magic can also exploit weaknesses excessively. In a tournament once a Chaos Warriors player decided to go without any magic defence and with metal magic and shooting my combat units able to finish his weakened units easily.

Even where units have advantages it is important to recognise that they are also likely to have weaknesses against opposition units. Having a balanced army means that you have a wide range of ways to minimise your dangerous units weaknesses allowing them to deliver their strengths as required. Covering the weaknesses of your most threatening units isn’t anything new to most armies but having such flexibility in your army to do it can make a real difference. For example whilst your shooting can be protected by harpies and Cold One knights threatening to charge anything that comes close to your shooting, Warriors are fantastic at covering Cold One Knights and Witch Elves from their vulnerability to shooting. In several games against heavy magic or shooting I have used a line of 20 warriors to screen my Cold Ones, Witch Elves and harpies so that they could be only be targeted by a few enemy units and I could then counter charge at these units to then run through the enemies lines. If the enemy shooting or magic had been brought to bear on my units that were capable of ripping through their lines my warriors and shooting wouldn’t have been able to deal enough damage and I would have been overwhelmed. Frenzy on Witch Elves is also a perfect example of a weakness that needs to be covered to allow the strength to be brought to the fore. Often harpies are used for this role and my army is included in this as well. However, having a balanced list means that warriors or RXBs might also find themselves sacrificed for this roles allowing harpies to fulfil a role only they can do or to add extra protection for the Witch Elves.

The last point I would make is where you have few units that are capable of exploiting the enemies weak points make sure they can do this. This is both easier said than done an true for non balanced armies but a balanced army is likely to have less units able to exploit the enemy’s weaknesses on some occasions so it is especially important that units do what they are best at and don’t get bogged down doing other things. If you have to sacrifice other units to bring the best out of your game winners that is fine but make sure they are able to perform.


Last edited by Skilgannon on Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:13 am, edited 2 times in total.



Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:01 pm
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Corsair
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Hey, Skilgannon, Great discussion about sacrifice in your part 3!

I'm afraid that the D.R.A.I.C.H. is not up to your expectations:
Sacrifice, Bait & Distraction could be better covered.
How to get the best out of units is a frequently covered topic, indeed, but what we need more is arcticles about how to make several units work together.
There are few examples:
- Harpy baiting screen & general behind with his Ld.
- Corsair w/RHB screening BG, and baiting and fleeing across ITP BG.
- 2 sorceresses working together.

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Winds never stop blowing, Oceans are borderless. Get a ship and a crew, so the World will be ours! Today the World, tomorrow Nagg! {--|oBrotherhood of the Coast!o|--}


Last edited by Calisson on Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:20 am
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Cold One Knight
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Good spot Calisson I will sort that out.

I will be covering using elements in combination in the next part (most probably) although this may be fairly high level with some examples (as with the rest of my article).

It's a shame that D.R.A.I.C.H. doesn't have much on bait and flee I know there are some articles in the tactics hall of fame can't these be added to D.R.A.I.C.H. in some way?

Also I did have a question for the community.

Are other people using armies that operate in all four phases as outlined in the article? The only contributions so far seem to have been those more suited to Calisson's thread on balanced armies. I'm only asking as I would love to see a wider discussion take place as well as the article i'm wirting. If nothing else some questions or challenges would help bring the topic alive.


Thu Apr 09, 2009 8:11 am
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Part 5
Well I have been away from this for quite a while but a request for more work on this article has piqued my guilt over never finishing the article. So sorry it has been a long time in coming but hopefully now I will be able to get it finished as complete piece of work. Hopefully people will find the rest of it useful.

Combining UnitsWith a balanced list as you may well imagine the key factor is how you combine the four different elements. With a more focused army then it is easier to combine units. Magic or shooting stack well, a quick army tend to move almost as one and combat units tend to work together into a battle plan well as they are all trying to achieve a similar aim which all fit together into a strong battle plan. So what challenges face a balanced list? Well it tends to boil down to the conflicting priorities of the different elements in the army. Shooting units want to sit back, combat units want to move forwards. I will cover this issue further in the battle plans section of the article (I was in two minds about whether to do the Battle plans first but I am hoping a bottom up approach will work better). The key point to bear in mind for now is that units will need to combine in a way that complements the main battle plan and this will depend on where the greatest opportunity lies in terms of the enemies strengths and weaknesses this may mean sacrificing some of the elements to the benefit of others. I will approach this section on the basis of what each element can do to support the other three in an effort to emphasise the need for elements to play a supporting role (i.e. in contrast to Part 4).

Part 5A

Magic
Magic is an interesting issue for a balanced list by not spending lots of points often you are left with limited offensive impact against some armies. That said magic will still play a key role and can have an impact offensively.

Magic supporting Shooting
Magic supports shooting in several ways first and foremost damage spells add to the damage done in the shooting phase. Knocking a unit down a couple of models so that it is easier to cause a panic check is not to be dismissed nor is causing multiple panic checks on a unit each turn once a unit flees it is much harder for it to get back to have an impact on the game. The main advantages magic has in this area is that it does not need to hit so can target units that shooters are more likely to struggle against such as skirmishers in terrain and you can march and cast magic and have 360 LOS so it is easier to move your magic resources around to add damage where your shooting units could use more support. This is an example of where magic stacks well to bring about more of the same impact on your opponent. Being able to get more resources into a certain point of the battlefield can be the key to success at Warhammer so the flexibility added by magic could be crucial for your shooting phase have the required impact on the game.

Magic can also support through limiting the threat of other units in particular by targeting enemy shooters with spells such as word of pain, pit of shades, chill wind, unseen lurker, commandment of brass, law of gold and steed of shadows you can limit enemy shooting allowing your shooting to reign supreme this is especially useful if you are trying to achieve a game plan designed around getting the enemy to come to you it also allows shooters to concentrate on light units coming to take them out whilst not having to worry about ranged effects as well. Similarly the impact of your defensive capabilities in stopping the enemy magic from targeting your units or reducing there ability to fire is important. Some armies only counter to in the first few turns to shooting is magic so even where you have limited ability to get offensive spells off it is important to remember that you are paying for defensive capability as well and often that will be the main benefit you receive.

Magic Supporting Movement
Movement is often heavily determined by the ability of light units to deflect and march block other combat units or nullify enemy shooting units. Therefore any damage caused on light units by magic helps to give your superiority in this area either by making your units better chances of winning when charging them, causing panic checks (as they are often low leadership units) or even destroying them. Movement spells are also helpful to support units, unseen lurker, commandment of brass and steed of shadows all add to your movement ability or limit your opponents. Defensively as well magic can be key as spells are very effective against the light units which tend to have a key impact on movement.

Magic can also be useful for discouraging units coming into the range of wizards. Keeping fast units our of line of sight for the first turn to avoid magic can give you an advantage with getting your own light units into place without being charged. It can also encourage faster units to try and close quicker to avoid getting magic which may be favourable to them hanging back and waiting unit they can be used to get in the way of your own light units.

Wizards can also be very useful at acting as bait to drag opponents around. It may seem crazy but I have actually baited with my L4 wizard against a Dragon that I need to kill. Nothing else would have tempted the dragon to charge but the prospect of my general was enough to bring him in and even though I lost a lot of points for my wizard I scored more when I flanked the dragon with a spear block with a pendant hero in. I ideally you won’t want to do this but sometimes it is necessary to neutralise the impact of a dangerous unit to the rest of your line.

Magic and Combat
Combining magic and combat can be really beneficial spells such as word of pain and transmutation of lead can really swing a combat. In particular Large monsters such as Dragons rely on massed combat resolution by reducing there chances of damaging your units is reduced and they can be at risk of suffering from combat res. I was once playing a High Elf player who got his Star Dragon into the flank of a unit of spears with the benefit of word of pain and a BSB I was able to hold the Dragon for the whole game whilst I got other units into combat. It is also a big deterrent which means you can avoid having your combat units tied up by your opponents big flyer with it’s high charge range and get on with attacking the rest of your opponent’s army. It can also be crucial for holding key combat or getting a big enough win to break units when you need to.

Movement spells are obviously of great use to combat units. Unseen Lurker on to Spears units can give you a lot of flank charges which are particularly nasty given the lack of depth most units employ currently. The challenge with these spells is making sure that you are safe if they don’t go off. For instance steed of shadowing a character from a unit that can take a charge means you are still ok if the spell goes off unlike if he was standing in the open about to be shot. Equally it is no good lining up a flank charge with cold one knights if it exposes your flank if it does go off. This may mean sometimes you don’t go for the juiciest target with magic movement but that is ok as long as you are using the spells to put pressure on your opponent without putting pressure on yourself that is ok.

Damage magic is the most frequent support magic gives. Taking light units or (Doom Bolt, Chill Wind) out or inflicting heavy damage on a major unit of your opponents (Spirit of the Forge, Black Horror). You have to balance the desire to do this damage against the option of spreading your damage around more lightly. Taking the odd rank can be a crucial difference especially if you have lots of combats lined up where you have a slight advantage. Neither approach is right all the time but you should consider both. Frequently I find that I have just managed to kill a stubborn unit by the end of the game or just fall short. Shooting one model off such a unit to remove a rank may not seem like much but if it helps you get full points on the unit or kill it a turn earlier it may end up being crucial by the end of the game. Against Daemon armies for instance taking a rank off each of their core units reduces their effectiveness and killing the odd flesh hound also helps swing combats the other way. Soul Stealer is also a very effective spell as it can be cast into combat. Although only strength 2 there are few ways to do damage in combat from outside the combat and this fits well with a balanced list where combat units might seem to be making magic units less useful.


Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:04 am
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