Monday, 22 October 2018

TACTICS TALK: INTRO TO ITC


Most of us are aware of the ITC, or Independent Tournament Circuit, and that it is a huge factor in the Warhammer community.  It has become the generally accepted default way to play Warhammer in any sort of large capacity and if you are planning to go to any of these events, you will want to know how it works.  This is going to run down the basics, and some of the not so basic ways to play in the ITC format using the "Champion's Missions".

The ITC mission scoring format is a progressive scoring system that basically uses the same formula in each mission.  There is a primary mission, 3 secondary missions, and a bonus mission.  Completing the objectives in these missions will score you points as the game progresses and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.


The Primary missions is simple in concept.  If you control an objective at the end of your turn you score a point, if you kill an enemy unit during your turn you score a point, if you control more objectives than your opponent at the end of the battleround you score a point, and if you have killed more units than your opponent has at the end of the battle round you score a point.  That means, over the course of a game, you can score up to 24 points for the Primary mission.  The only thing that is different from game to game is where and how the objectives are placed.

The Secondary missions get a little more complicated.  You get to choose 3 objectives from a list of 11, and each one can earn you up to 4 points for a total of 12 points for Secondary missions.  The 11 missions are:
Head Hunter - Score 1 point for each character you kill.
Kingslayer - Choose an enemy character.  Score 1 point for every 2 wounds inflicted on that character, or 1 point for every 4 wounds if the character is a monster or vehicle.  Earn an additional point if the character is killed and is the enemy warlord.
Marked for Death - Choose 4 enemy units of PL of 7+, score 1 point for each one killed.
Big Game Hunter - Score 1 point for each monster or vehicle with 7+ wounds killed.
Titan Slayer - Score 1 point for every 8 wounds lost by titanic units.  These wounds can be spread throughout titanic units, so if you take 4 wounds off of one and 4 wounds off another, you score a point.
The Reaper - Score 1 point for every 20 enemy models killed.
Recon - Score one point if you have at least one unit in each table quarter at the end of your turn.
Behind Enemy Lines - Score one point if you ave at least one unit wholly in the enemy deployment zone at the end of your turn.
Butcher's Bill - Score one point if you destroy 2+ enemy units in a player turn.
Ground Control - Score 1 point for each objective held at the end of the last battle round.
Old School - Score 1 point each if you kill an enemy unit in the first battle round, slay the enemy warlord, have a unit in the enemy deployment zone in the last battle round, and kill something in the last battle round.

Finally we have a bonus point that can be scored at the end of your player turn.  They are all objective related and requires you to hold a certain number of objectives, specific objectives, or hold them with specific models like characters, for a bonus 6 points

To sum up the missions we have a grand total of 42 possible points.  30 of these points are what I call "equal opportunity" points, meaning that anyone can score them.  Each player can earn the "kill" and "hold" objectives, and each player has the opportunity to score their secondaries and the bonus points.  The 12 points that only one player can score are the "hold more" and "kill more" points.  Since you can't rely on your opponent being incompetent and picking poor secondaries, it's these 12 points that are going to really determine the outcome of the game.

Now that we know the missions, we have to take a look at what works best to accomplish said goals.  Through hundreds of games of play testing these missions have been devised, and they are designed in the attempt to give every army the possibility of competing.  Now of course, this does not mean that every single army list will have a shot and these missions have given way to 3 main army styles, Denial, Horde, and the Beat Face list.

Not what I meant by army style...
Denial armies are designed to prevent you from scoring points.  They typically consist of elite durable units and can reliably kill 1-2 enemy units per turn while not dying, Custodes and Death Guard are good examples.  This helps them score "hold", "kill", and "kill more" for 3 Primary mission points and makes it hard for you to score "kill" and "kill more".  In missions with smaller number of objectives they can even score "hold more" as they don't need to spread out so much.  They are really focused on denying the opponent secondaries as many of the missions require killing things.  In fact, only 2 of the 11 secondary objectives are not focused on killing something so having extremely durable units makes sense.


Horde armies flood the table with bodies, and in some cases can be a type of Denial army.  They try to keep you from moving around the table and scoring objectives while mobbing all the objectives they can with a ton of bodies.  Unlike traditional denial lists, they engage with the enemy as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of fire power they take.  Cultist heavy CSM, Daemons, Orks, Tyranids, and IG can all pull this off.  IG will tend to hemorrhage kill points though as they have many 10 man units which are usually easy to kill.  This can be a bit of an advantage though as any time a unit is overkilled, those are wasted wounds that would have otherwise killed another Ork or Cultist.  These armies will try to score the "kill",  "hold" and "hold more" Primary points in the early game, then switch to "kill" and "kill more" while still scoring "hold" and sometimes "hold more" around mid game.  With their units being so large, they typically don't start giving up "kill" points until mid game when their units are depleted, but things start to get hairy from then on as killing a couple models is not hard to do.


Then there are the lists that completely ignore the mission and simply look to destroy the enemy army.  Eldar, Tau, and Knights are examples of these, and IG can fit into this category as well.  They tend to spend turns 1-3 focusing on killing the enemy and worry about objectives later.  These armies tend to do pretty well in ITC because you can make it so that 24 of the possible 42 points you can score revolve around killing stuff.  They tend to actually focus on the objectives later in the game when it's safe for them to move freely.  These armies are usually not very durable, and thus really rely on getting the first turn to do maximum damage before taking any in return.


So we know the missions, we know the armies, now to look at some tactics in order to maximise your points, starting with the secondaries.  As I have mentioned before, most of them rely on killing things, so if your army is good at that then it shouldn't be too difficult to grab those points.  This is going to go back to Target Priority, which becomes very important now.  Pay attention to what you need to do to with the game, which units you have to kill to survive, and choose your secondaries accordingly.  For example, if you are playing against a Ynnari double Shining Spears/Reapers list you could choose Marked for Death and pick those units.  Yes they are pretty tough units, but you will be wanting to kill them to stay alive anyway, earning points off of it makes it all the more necessary.  That goes for other armies as well, cheap "deck chair" objective holder are easy to hide and can avoid you if needed.

Another thing you need to prepare for is games not going the full 6 turns.  If you are playing a horde army and/or your opponent is playing a horde army, know that you may be pressed for time which will make scoring some of the secondary missions really tough.  Recon, Behind Enemy Lines, and Butcher's Bill require at least 4 turns in order to score all 4 points.

Now for my biggest point of advice, and I touched on it earlier.  Work to get those "hold more" and "kill more" points.  All of the other points can be scored by both players, so when you get a point you get one point.  However, by getting "hold more" you deny him the ability to score that point, essentially doubling the worth of that point.  For this, taking the second turn is a huge advantage.  It allows you to remove his units from objectives and lets you know how many units you need to kill.  Knowing this information will help you greatly in your target priority.  I highly recommend that you practise lots taking the second turn, learn to deploy your units in safety and still be able to move out and accomplish the goals you have set out.  Sometimes, if you can picture how a game will end, reset after turn 2 and go right into deployment again.

I hope you enjoyed this post and learnt something from it.  Get out there and play games, as many as you can in this format, it takes some getting used to as you need to remember the missions throughout the whole game and score them when you can.

Until next time, keep them dice rollin.


My sponsor for this episode is, once again, Idle Hands CPU.  Donny is a good friend of mine and has been painting models for a long time, that's why he's so damn good at it.  Don't take my word for it, have a look at these actual models that he actually painted.

Lord of the Ultramarines, Robute Guilliman

Tylos Rubio from Forgeworld

Gabriel Angelo, Chapter Master of the Blood Ravens from Forgeworld
If you want something in your army, or your whole army, looking as good as these models, Donny is your guy.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

TACTICS TALK: TARGET PRIORITY


Hello everyone, today we are going to talk about a really difficult subject, target priority.  The reason it's so difficult is that every army treats every threat differently.  This thread is going to stay pretty basic and keep it's focus on choosing targets, but it should give you what you need to make an informed decision and hopefully make you a better player.

NOTE:  I will not be discussing exactly how you will kill the targets, but how to choose your target to optimise your chances of winning the game.  How you kill the target is going to be up to you.  You will find that as you determine your target priority, you may need to adjust your list in order to be able to accomplish these goals.

There are a few things to take into consideration when choosing your targets.  At the most fundamental level you need to ask yourself 3 things, "What is the mission, will it kill me, can I kill it?"

There are 3 types of missions typically played, end game, progressive, and a combination of the 2.  End game missions have a win condition that is determined at the end of the game,  This means that the whole 5 turns before don't necessarily mean anything, what matters is who is scoring the objectives after the last turn is played.  Your average objective based missions that we all grew up on are the perfect example of these.  Progressive missions score points for players as the game goes on.  Maelstrom of war and the ITC missions are Progressive missions, each turn being critical in earning points and denying them to your opponent.  The third type is a combination of the 2 earning points both throughout the game and at the end.


So step one when choosing your targets is to figure out what units your opponent is using to win the mission.  For example, if your opponent is charging up the table with everything he has except for a few "deck chair" units holding objectives, then you need to take out those units.  Prime examples of "deck chair" units are nurglings, scouts, cultists, and guardsmen.  In end game mission you have til the end of the game to deal with them, but the longer you wait the less army you will have to deal with them.  On the flip side, if you are playing progressive scoring, then you are going to want to take those units out ASAP as they are scoring your opponent points every turn you ignore them.


Next on our list of things to kill is things that are going to kill us.  Those units that are charging up the table, they are looking at taking your objectives from your model's metaphorical, cold, dead, hands.  If those things are going to kill you NOW, then you have some adjustments to make.  Sure, killing those deck chair units is going to help you win the game, but so is having an army.  You do need to make sure that if you are going to change up your priorities, you actually need to.  Trying to bring down a Hive Tyrant to stop it from killing an attack bike is not a smart change of priorities.  What you want to focus on is the things that can actually hurt you on the next turn.  These are the units that you will generally want to target if you get the first turn, if you can.

Our last question is "Can I kill it?"  Well, this isn't entirely the best way to phrase this question, more like what is the best way to kill it?  Quick example, if you have a Carnifex and a bunch of Termigaunts nearby, you would direct your anti-infantry weapons at the gaunts and bigger weapons at the Carnifex.  Simple, right?  Well, not entirely.  Lets throw out a different scenario.  Your opponent is playing Ynnari and has a bunch of Grostesques and Shining Spears both ready to wreck your face.  Lets assume they are both in position to do equal amounts of damage, so there is no difference which unit you wipe out.  You are playing Marines and have 10 Helblasters, but don't know what to shoot at.  Lets take a look at the profiles, and we will see really quickly which unit we should target.  The Grotesques have T6 (when they are next to a Haemonculus), 4W, a 4++, and a 6+FNP save while the Shining Spears are only T4, 2W, and 4++.  Odds are you will only kill 1 (maybe 2) Grotesque but you will kill 5 Shining Spears.  Guess what, 5 is higher than 1.  I double checked.


Of course throughout a game you will be presented with several options and you may be able to act on many of them at the same time.  Multiple units will be able to engage multiple units, which now brings us to what to shoot first.  Once you have determined the order of what targets you will engage, start shooting with unit that have the fewest options.  For example, if you have a Tactical squad that can only see enemy unit A, and a Devestator squad that can see enemy unit A and B, fire with the Tactical squad first.  That way, if by some run of luck the Tactical squad does a significant amount of damage that unit A is no longer a threat, you can then put the Devestator squad into unit B and eliminate 2 units.  Had you fired the Devestator squad at unit A and wiped it out, the Tactical squad would not have a target.  Or if you fired the Devestator squad at target B first and the Tactical squad wiffed it's shooting, unit A is still alive.


There are times where you don't want to kill a unit.  Yes, it sounds crazy, but if you're playing a good player, and he puts something that's kind of important somewhere you could kill it if you move out of cover, or jump forward, you're being baited.  I won't tell you specifically not to kill it, but you are going to have to weigh your options and decide if you want to sacrifice something to kill his sacrifice.

My last word of advice is to play a ton of games.  Practise, practise, practise.  I've even played against myself.  I actually kind of like those games because I can reset a turn and choose a different target, or intentionally fail to kill unit I should have killed or a charge I should have made just to see if I could come back from it if it happened to me in a real game.  Failing that, there are a ton of big events with amazing players streaming games live and posting games on Youtube.  Watch and learn.

That's it.  It's pretty basic and fairly straightforward when you type it all out.  But there are so many other features to the game that I can't possible cover them all in a single post, so keep a eye out for other such tactics articles.  If you have any thoughts or questions feel free to leave a comment.

Until next time, keep them dice rollin.

This article is brought to you by:


Donny is a good buddy of mine and has been doing commission painting for quite a while.  Have a look at some of the recent items he's done and gauge his skills for yourself.  If you think you want to have an amazing piece of art painted by him contact him on his FACEBOOK PAGE.

Lady of Corruption from Creature Caster

Obliterated Warrior Mutants from Wargames Exclusive

Ogre Kahn from Avatars of War