Welcome to the second installment of Highground Tactics, where we help you play every game from the high ground. Today we are going to talk about an important part of an Age of Sigmar game. We are diving into using your deployment phase to give you a tactical advantage over your opponent.
Age of Sigmar is a chess game within a Magic the gathering game within an RPG within a war game. There is so much that goes into your decisions that can literally make or break a game. That is why I believe army deployment is the most important part of the game. The method in which you deploy your units can be used to counter or trick an opponent to set up their units in a certain way. Let’s dive into different ideas and concepts you can use to become a great player and put the odds in your favor before a die is ever rolled.
Let’s start with how many drops to have and whether or not there is a right answer. The answer is dependant on your army and what you are trying to do. Many people are averaging four drops usually utilizing a warlord battalion for an extra enhancement, like an artefact, and a battle regiment for the rest of their army. This would be the line in the sand to draw and say if I want to go first, I need to meet or beat 4 drops. If you don’t want to beat 4 drops then you should go for as many beneficial battalions as you can manage such as hunters of the heartlands and know you will not have the option to choose who goes first. If you are going this route you need to think about your army and how it will play going first or second. How should you deploy with the decision in your opponents’ hands-on who will go first? If your army is an army that wants to go first almost every game in order to move or deep strike on to objectives early to hold them then you will have a better idea of which battalions you need to utilize and how to build your army list. Then you can set up knowing you will have the first turn and get to watch your opponent, make the hard decisions. Keep in mind that deploying first gives your opponent vital information and allows them to counter deploy with full information.
Being out dropped by a 1-4 drop list: Defense wins championships
There are many kinds of armies out there. It is important to spot the ones that are going to take the first turn almost every game. This will allow you to set up defensively. You will need to make many measurements from their deployment zone to yours. You will want to find out their movement on their units and if they have any bonuses to move. This will allow you to understand their threat range. How close can their units get to mine to pull off a charge on turn one or shoot my units? We would call this a deep strike list. They may use teleports or bonuses to their movement to get their army right up in your front or backline to disrupt you from getting to objectives. They usually are also hard-hitting. A poor deployment can be devastating if their plan goes accordingly. Therefore, we will set up defensively. Try setting up back off the line depending on their movement this could cause them to give you the first turn so don’t go too far back unless that’s what you want. Make them decide if risking a bunch of 8-inch charges is worth it. I will say it over and over, making your opponent make hard decisions is what helps win games. The more choices your opponent has then the more chances to make a mistake.
The other thing you can do is to use a screening unit, a relatively cheap or tough unit whose sole purpose is to block your opponents’ movement to your important or fragile units. I prefer units with hunters of the heartland on them to protect you from monsters. We will need to make decisions on how far to keep a hard-hitting hero or unit from our screening unit to countercharge the opponent. If you want a charge on your second turn into the unit you will want to be outside of 3” from the screening unit. Or if you want your unit to pile in after they hit your screen then being within 3” will allow you to get a combat with that unit on that turn. If you have a unit with 2” reach or more, they are great for this as they can remain out of combat range of 1” melee weapons and still strike at the opposing unit. A screening units’ job is to move to block and anything they do more than that is just icing on the cake. Remember that this is a strategy game and sometimes the best strategy is to avoid combat and take up space. This is a little counterintuitive when you first start playing the game because we all want to experience the glory of combat to the death.
Out dropping your opponent: Deep strike list
So, you like to go all out and leave all your worries behind. Playing a list that wants to out-drop your opponent in 3.0 is now a thing that all armies have access to. There are certain armies you can just expect this out of like Ironjawz, Deepkin, and Legion of the First Prince to name a few. These lists want to take the turn and get in your face and on objectives turn one. If your list plans to take the first turn when you get to the table, ask your opponent how many drops they have. You will immediately know how to set up after they answer that question. Setting up is important. For your first drops try to put down units that will be staying back on objectives or around objectives. See where they put a couple of their units. They will most likely start with their screening units or their big units to drop a screen in front of later. You will want to try and get your hero’s or units down that can clear a battleline across the screens set up your other units to get past the screens. Getting around the screens to down an important unit or jam them in the backfield will be important. You will want almost all your fast-moving units on the line ready to break out of the gate on turn one. Try charging the screen on a corner to give yourself the 3” pile in that and get into one of their other units. This will surprise some people that didn’t set up correctly. Make sure you try to put your hero killers opposite of their important heroes. Your quick drops will allow them to react to how you deploy so stick to your game plan the best you can.
Who to drop where and why?
When list building you always want to have in mind who will be the units to take objectives. Will they be battleline units? Will there be a sorcerer or priest hanging back to sit on an objective while buffing from afar? When dropping your units I find it best to put your units down first that have to be in certain places anyway. This technique restricts information about your other units. These are units we want to hold off on dropping because they have a certain task for being in your list. The units that are good for clearing off battleline units will want to be placed in a way that you can go after them once their unit takes an objective.
This is the second step to becoming a great player and will help you understand your opponent’s army as well as your own. Get out there and use these tactics to secure the Highground. Let the dice flow through you!