Warhammer Army Tactics - Missile Units
Missile Units: Missile units are obviously a critical part of a Warhammer army. Battles can often be won or lost depending on how you use these troops What you choose to shoot at and when is much more important than some Warhammer gamers realize. Choosing the wrong target can be a waste of valuable shots. Since most battles are five or six rounds you have to make certain your selection of a target is the right thing to do. OK, so what to shoot at and why. I really don’t think there is one best type of unit to shoot at, because it all depends on the circumstances of the armies and the battle. So, what I have tried to do below is describe some tactics when shooting at different targets.
Shooting at infantry – If you are going to shoot at an infantry unit you should always look to reduce their rank bonus, or cause enough casualties for them to make a panic roll. If you have a choice between a unit of 16 orcs ranked 4 deep, and a unit of 30 goblins ranked 6 deep and 5 wide, the orcs should probably be your target. If you cause one casualty on the orcs it will take their plus 3 combat modifier for rank bonus down to a plus 2 once hand to hand combat starts. If you shot at the goblin unit you’ll have to kill 12 goblins before you would reduce their rank bonus from plus 3 to plus 2. You should always think about how many shots you have and how many enemy you might kill. Try to reduce unit rank bonuses as much as possible. Also consider the type of unit you’re shooting at and how powerful they are. In the above example the unit of 30 goblins even with full rank bonus of plus 3 can easily be matched by one of your units. You could expend many shots, and several rounds on a goblin unit of this size just to kill enough to reduce their rank bonus. Once they are in hand to hand combat you probably can match them, or beat them in combat resolution even if they still have 30 goblins. If those same shots and rounds are used to reduce rank bonus on 2 orc units you will be much better off. For example say you spend 3 rounds targeting this goblin unit and kill a total of 12, or those same 3 rounds are used to kill 8 orcs (4 toughness compared to 3 gives you less orc kills obviously). Depending on the size of the orc units you could have reduced 2 orc unit rank bonuses which will be much more advantageous to you when hand to hand combat starts. Another key tactic for missile fire is trying to reduce units enough to force a panic roll. Units must make a panic test when they lose 25% of their unit size so you should always keep this in mind when deciding who to shoot at. Causing a key enemy unit to panic and flee can make a huge difference in a battle, so the more units you can force to make this roll the better. Again, do the math and determine how many models you need to kill to force a panic roll. If you have more then one missile unit, it’s usually a good idea to concentrate your fire on one unit. However, if you can shoot at 2 units and have a decent chance of forcing them both to make the panic test it may well be worth it.
Shooting at other missile units – Depending on what type of army you have compared to the enemy should dictate if you shoot at enemy missile troops or not. In our first example let’s say you have built a defensive army filled with missile troops, artillery, and minimal infantry. Your strategy is to stay on your side of the table and pound the enemy as long as possible before hand to hand. If your opponent also has a defensive army filled with missile troops then you should definitely target his missile units. This is the classic shoot out battle, and who ever gains the missile advantage first will probably win. If you can reduce his missile units and gain the upper hand you will have a significant advantage. If your opponent does not advance with infantry or cavalry for one or two rounds (because they were planning on staying on their side of the table), then the battle will almost certainly go your way. It is important to note that if your enemy seems to have the upper hand before the battle even starts then you need to adjust your strategy and immediately advance your infantry and cavalry toward him the first round. For example say you have your defensive army and your stay on your side strategy, but you also have a few infantry units and a small cavalry unit. When your enemy sets up he went even more defensive then you and you can see that you could easily be out matched in shooting and artillery. Don’t hesitate on the first round, immediately move your hand to hand units forward. You also should probably target his hand to hand units (which he will only have a few). Your goal now should be to get stuck in as fast as possible and hope to break a unit, and run down his missile troops and artillery. Ok, on to a second example: Say you have this same defensive army, and your enemy sets up and has a fast attacking army with perhaps one support unit of missile troops and maybe a war machine. Do not waste time shooting at his missile unit or war machine. Chances are they will not do much, and you will need to use every shot at his advancing army. Hand to hand will happen quick, so you will need to reduce his rank bonuses and cause some panic tests as soon as possible. Third example: You have a nice well balanced army, and plan to advance carefully, and perhaps try to concentrate on a flank. If your enemy is going to advance too, I would not shoot at his missile troop. In general if both armies are advancing I almost always concentrate my missile fire on the enemy units that I will engage in hand to hand combat with first. If both sides are advancing, hand to hand combat will come very quick. Reducing his rank bonus so you can get the combat resolution advantage is much more important then hitting his unit of missile troops on a hill. Chances are if you can break one or two of his front line units you will be running those same missile troops down later in the game. Ok, overall I would say that I usually do not target other missile units. At times I will, depending on the circumstances, but more often then not I target infantry to reduce rank bonus and cause panic tests. Most Warhammer battles are won and lost from the results of hand to hand combat.
Shooting at war machines – Taking out a war machine obviously can be very advantageous. However, often shots can be wasted if your missile troops do not get the job done. Because of the toughness of a war machine it can be very difficult to cause enough wounds to destroy it. I have seen battles were a unit shoots at a war machine for half a game and does not destroy it before they are run down by the advancing enemy. The whole time the war machine fired away. If you do not destroy the war machine those shots are completely wasted and could have been used to reduce an enemy unit’s rank bonus and cause a panic test. Often I will completely ignore a war machine and focus on other targets. If I don’t have enough shots to have a decent chance of destroying the war machine in one or two rounds then I will usually ignore it and go after easier targets.
Shooting at cavalry – If I have strength 4 weapons like crossbows and especially hand guns then I will very often concentrate fire on a unit of cavalry. However, you have to be careful about targeting them with strength 3 weapons obviously because of the high save of most cavalry units. If you shoot 20 arrows at a unit of knights and don’t cause a single casualty then it was a complete waste. If I do target heavy cavalry I usually will concentrate almost all my missile fire on them. If your opponent has a big unit of expensive knights out where you can shoot them more then likely he is going to charge the following round, so you better hit them with everything you have. As for light cavalry I almost always try to shoot at them because of their poor save. Light cavalry is costly in points, so any time you can actually target them you should more then likely light them up. Of course most Warhammer players (if they are smart) will keep their light cavalry out of your missile unit’s line of site. However, if they don’t fire them up.
Well, that is all on missile tactics for now. Some of the above is very basic, but I hope it helps some of you. Of course you can add your suggestions or comments by sending us an email.
We would be very happy to add your comments and tactics on missile fire, or anything else related to Warhammer army tactics.