Friday, June 19, 2015

The Domino Dance And What It Teaches

Many tournaments have moved to fairly standardized terrain setups to maximize fairness in the match ups overall or to gain a certain motion to the game.

In the typical setup there is an LOS blocker in the center and fairly equidistant runs or other major terrain features with battlefield debris strewn here and there for flavor.

So let's think about this tactically because terrain doesn't get enough attention on any blogs.

Logically there are going to be between 2-6 objective markers in the normal games of 40K, whether they are Maelstrom or they aren't.  In certain missions, killing specific things or just more things will also factor in but let's face it:  every army is built to kill and so we can lave that PART of the mission objectives out of this discussion.

Where I'm going with this is, I find the dance around the battlefield (or as I call it, the Domino Dance) and the way that it looks at the end very interesting.  It cuts the crap and the Internet rhetoric over what's important and how "obvious" it is to do X, Y or Z.  It tells you how often those things worked and how often it didn't.

Think about it.  Apply ANY question of 40K strategy OR tactics to the final picture of battles and you get the idea of whether those pearls of wisdom have a damn bit weight or not.  

For example I recently received this pearl of wisdom from someone on a site that shall remain nameless:  "If you have Chaos Raptors or jump troops in general, then you're better off deep Striking and running to spread them out so the enemy only get's one turn of shooting and then can do nothing to stop them afterwards.  It's better than getting them shot up trying to cross the field."

Okay.  SOUNDS good.  It makes a few assumptions i probably wouldn't make but it sounds good.  Looking at the top down photos for 8 games I played, deploying the Chaos Raptors and crossing the field, do you know what I discovered?  At least one Raptor unit is there at games end in all but two and there are two Raptor units alive in 4 of the pictures.  More interesting, all 8 are wins.  The pattern I saw was the raptors more or less pushing out from the center of the enemy deployment zones center at games end, assumedly after coming right down the pipe.  In all six pictures where the Raptors survived, you can see that the Raptors are few in number in some of these pictures, so they were busy doing work but they were apparently successful.

When you look at the Domino Dance of these Raptors, staying with our example, you can see the path they likely took given the Domino setup, was up the gut to use the LOS blocker as cover in most cases, though that cover wasn't always large enough to hide them completely as you'd imagine.

So these final picture say a few things to me.  For one, I was under utilizing Rhinos as mobile cover (which I promptly fixed) in a list like mine because I was too busy worrying about slowing the Raptors down.  But I could see after the fact that they  could abut the pieces of the Domino to provide a longer more continuous line to the sides just as easily and I could probably skip shoving two together, instead opting for 1+Terrain as my way to protect and obscure them on the way in.  This little nugget was a great help.

I also noticed that there were often enemy units outside the "box" of the pincer move and that enemies often were getting line breaker.  In 5 out of eight games, the enemy got Line breaker.  That's too many.  It occurs to me that this was happening because of all the saturation I was bringing to the front lines and I made the decision to more rarely load the Rhinos up with Chaos Marines.  This really helped because with that information, having those tiny 5 man Chaos marine squads in reserve and walking them on later to deal with line breakers was way wiser.  The added shots from the Chaos Marines was so often Snap shots when in the Rhinos anyways since I pushed them all up for the use of their Dirge Casters.  This way I still could and losing a few nap shots from firing points was no great loss.

The Domino Dance before I made changes and then after looked different because there weren't nearly as many units "breaking containment" and getting free to harass or line break with really nothing I could do about them.

So for those interested in an experiment, start taking pics of the end of your battle and the lists you used.  E-mail them to  I don't need the entire battle reports, though those are fun to read.  Just the list so i can see what you started with and what was left and where it was.  I'd love to be able to look at them and see what other nuggets I can glean or what questions I can answer tactically by seeing more.  I have only done the experiment on Chaos Marines because it was such an interesting puzzle, but will be doing it more and more.

Thn when I ask a question like "Am i getting enough anti-tank in the list, and is that even my lists real problem" I can look at the end results dispassionately and answer that and probably other questions and what-ifs also..

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