Multiple Assaults And You
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One thing I've noticed is that a lot of players, even some more experienced ones, tend to make silly decisions when assaulting. Then they become even more muddled when they try to assault multiple units! So, in writing this, I'm hoping to help somewhat in understanding exactly how to perform a multiple assault, the benefits thereof, and even a couple tricks or two for making your assaults much more effective overall. So, let's get started, shall we?
Note: I do apologize if the Vassal images are a little small. There's not much I can do without horribly distorting them, but they should suffice for the purposes of this guide.
The Basics of Assaulting
Go read page 34. Specifically, the bullet points under "Moving Assaulting Models." You need to understand these points before we move on. So, in order...
- Models end their move in coherency to another model that already moved
- Base to base with unengaged enemy if possible
- Base to base with engaged enemy
- Within 2" of own unit's models in base to base
If all of that is impossible, then the model simply must remain in coherency. That first bullet is the killer for multi-assaults and what makes most people get frustrated and give up before they even try. But, with a few nifty tips and tricks, we can work our way around that. Before that, however, let's examine the why.
At the most basic level, multi-assaulting allows you to stack combat resolution from one combat to another. Let's say you've got two squads of assault marines against two squads of guants. A decent combat that the assault marines should win by a few kills each. However, if you manage to turn it into one big assault, those 4-5 fearless wounds each guant squad takes now doubles up to 8-10! At its heart, this is the single biggest reason to multi-assault. Whether your opponent is fearless or not is largely irrelevant. Stubborn's the biggest stumbling block towards this goal, as they tend to not care about how high the resolution is (however, any non-stubborn squads that are stuck in with you will care). Multi-assaulting is useful when you want to win combat on the round you charge, an important distinction that I will return to later.
Combat Resolution! Combat Resolution! Combat Resolution!
The Basics of a Good Assault
Before we move onto assaulting with two or three squads, let's focus on one vs one.
Picking Your Battles - Can you win this assault? No? Then why are you assaulting? Sometimes there are plenty of good reasons, not the least of which to tie up the opponent. Whether it's a death star melee unit or a big shooty unit, if you absolutely need to tie up a unit, do it. All you need is one guy left at the end of your phase and, all of a sudden, that unit your opponent owns is locked down. If you can win assault, then let's make sure you do it as efficiently as possible.
After the Bigguns! - Let's say you have a big mob of Orks with a Nob with a powerklaw charging into a TH/SS squad with an attached chaplain. Where do you want your Nob going? The chaplain, of course! Throw every attack your nob has at the guy! Not only does the chaplain make the squad fearless, but he counts as two wounds towards resolution (this is important!) when he fails that invulnerable save. The rest of your boys should go into the termies and hope to bring as many down as possible before I1 crops up. By the same logic, when you assault, do not throw your big, expensive IC up against a powerfist. I don't care how much of a "sure thing" the assault is, it's better for your IC not to swing than to risk getting insta-killed (now, if your IC's T6, that's much different, but the same principles still apply... why risk it?).
The Little Guys Take the Hits - Going along with what my previous point, throw your cheapest guys up against their most expensive and throw as few of them as possible if you can't easily kill the IC. Remember, we're not necessarily trying to kill the IC through actual assault. If you can win the combat by seven or eight wounds, then they're going to be either rolling a very low leadership test or taking no retreat wounds. Remember: if you've got a powerfist or the like, feel free to throw that model against the opponent. If you don't, don't bother with him any more than you have to.
Know Where You're Headed - Before you even start your turn, have a plan for what you're going to do in assault. Where do you want to head afterwards? Plan on the worst possible consolidation roll and set yourself up so that you're not screwed if it does happen. You can think of a consolidation move kinda like a ball bouncing off a wall: it doesn't always go straight back, it can hit at an angle and go all over the place. Be flexible, know where you're headed, and try to get there.
Consolidate Into Cover - I know you can get all happy and worked up after a wonderful assault, but keep your troops safe. Unless you've got TH/SS termies or something, keep your guys protected if your enemy has guns left.
Still not at multi-assaults quite yet! This section isn't as critical for this guide, but there are still a few tips here that might help you.
Go Lose Combat - There are some situations where losing combat is what you want to do, not win. Examples are against a Tau or IG gunline. If you win combat and do anything less than wipe his infantry off the field, you're getting shot the next turn and it's going to hurt. So, try to lose combat and get stuck in! If you "may" re-roll to hit, don't. If you can avoid having furious charge, avoid it. If you can throw 9/10 of your guys against a vehicle and not the squad, do that and throw all your attacks against the vehicle. When you start looking for these kinds of situations, you may be surprised how often it comes up. It's often much easier getting stuck in against big, tough things like TH/SS termies, so keep that in mind.
Hide Your ICs - There are plenty of ways to hide your ICs if that's what you need to do. One thing you can do is form a + sign with your IC in the centre and four standard models around him. If done properly (it's really very easy, go try it), you can completely block off your enemy's access to your IC. 6 minis will fit around a standard infantry base, but if done properly, enemy's will not be able to get into B2B with your IC with only 4 of your own. Remember the rules for assaulting and try to assault from 5-6" away if you can range it so that you can control your troops better.
ICs Move First - Continuing with the previous point, during pile-in (and defenders react), ICs always move first. If your IC is stuck in amongst 4 of your own guys, remember that he can't phase through your models' bases. He is, in fact, stuck. He "moves" first, remains stuck, and then then rest of your models move, your IC left in place, safe for another round. Your characters are, in fact, using your own men as a screen.
All right, so you've decided to go for the gusto and enter a multi-assault. Awesome! The easiest way for me to show this, for those of you who have never had the pleasure of witnessing a multi-assault before, is a quick diagram:
As you can see, there is a 10-man squad of boyz and a 10-man squad of nobz. Because of how close the two are together, it's very easy for our assault marines to assault both (although perhaps not the best idea!). This method of multi-assaulting is generally only acceptable if you're planning on losing combat or if you're facing two very weak squads (think guardsmen). Every AM to the left of the yellow line will assault the boyz, every marine to the right will assault the nobz. Very simple, quick and easy. Now let's look at the better way of doing this.
Ah, much better. As you can see, we now have two squads of assault marines entering combat. Normally, either squad swinging into the orks would give a meh-ish result (either slight win or decent loss). However, if even one marine from the squad on the right assaults the boyz on the left, all the combat resolution from the squishier boyz is going to move over onto the nobz, hopefully making the overall assault that much easier for the marines. As you can see by the yellow line, I've indicated which marine should assault the boyz and exactly how he should do it. Declare your assault against the boyz and, after moving him, declare a multi-assault into the nobz. You'll easily maintain coherency throughout the assault move.
And that's the big difficulty with muti-assaults, maintaining the coherency. While some examples, such as this last one, are very simple, you'll occasionally run into some very tricky situations. I'm going to go over an example very similar to what I've done several times on the tabletop to hopefully explain this better.
As you can see from the picture, we have a group of blood angels assault marines and death company staring down some imperial fist tactical marines and assault termies (just pretend they're TH/SS ). While the death company are going to absolutely cream the tacs, the assault marines will only kill one, maybe two TH/SS termies at the most. So, how can we help this? Combat resolution! However, there are no easy multi-assault here right now. I'm going to go over this as slowly as I feel necessary, hopefully it will be clear.
The assault marines will assault first. We don't want forced assault moves from the death company messing up our placement. They declare their charge against the termies and move the closest model forwards. Since this still doesn't give any easy access to the tac squad, we'll move the front two into the termies.
Models with M have been moved. As you can see, so far we're making a pretty standard assault. However, now it's time to get into some shenanigans! I've purposefully placed some of my assault marines very far back. They won't be able to get to b2b as they're outside of 6, but will make it within 2" of one of my models. Because of this restriction, I can place them wherever within these 2" I feel like. The rules do not state you need to move as far as possible, only to within 2" if you cannot make base to base (usually, as far as possible is the best idea, but not for what we're trying to do). So, what you're going to do is move the back two marines up and choo-choo train towards the tactical squad.
Note: remember that your models can't move through friendly models, only around, so keep that in mind when setting your assaults up
A little messy on Vassal, but hopefully you get what's going on. Now, you can declare the multi-assault onto the tactical marines and move the closest model from your assault squad into base to base with the tacs.
Ta-da! It's as easy as that. From here, move the rest of your assault marines into base to base with the termies (might as well drop as many as you can). After that assault move, move your death company into the tactical squad. If all goes well, the tactical squad will dissapear and you'll take out a couple TH/SS. While you'll probably lose two or three marines, the odds are good you'll end up winning combat overall by 8 or 9, much better than if you had charged all the squads individually.
And, really, that's the basis for effective multi-assaulting. You win via combat resolution, rather than by simply beating your opponent into the ground. Play the game sideways, not forwards, and you'll do some amazing things.
As an example of how silly it can get, I was playing a game against a 'Nids player yesterday. He lined up his models and I lined up mine. Because of my faster movement, I got to dictate assault. I threw my entire army up against almost all of his; it essentially became one assault to determine the game. What I did was throw roughly 3/4 of my army up against his guants. I absolutely massacred them, as expected. It threw my powerfists up against his warriors, instant deathing those. I threw as few marines as possible against his carnifexes and hive tyrant. When it was all said and done, I had won combat by a whopping 37 wounds. If you've never seen someone try to make 37 saves over a carnifex, a hive tyrant, and what few guants were left, let me tell you that it was something. Granted, these types of situations won't come up all that often, especially against a smart opponent. However, situations like the one I depicted above in Vassal, do come up quite often. Master multi-assault on the small scale and you'll quickly be able to apply it army-wide.
Happy hunting and bloody victories to you all!