Always have a Game Plan: Deployment and Turn 1

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This is a guest post from Owen at

A game plan, eh? It’s hard to predict how any game of Warmachine/Hordes will go, but it’s always worthwhile having a game plan. This plan should be pretty concrete in terms of how your force deploys and how you’d like the first turn will go down. There are some variables, specifically exceptional ranged threats in the opposing force or really awkward/opportunistic terrain, but in general you have the most control over your army in the first turn of the game. Here’s the kind of scribble I produce for most of my armies. You may also have a plan for what components of your army are best suited to deal with what types of threats and you may have idea for how you think your army may win the game. For now I’ll concentrate on Deployment and Turn 1.


Looks like gibberish, but I know what it’s saying. Let’s start with the Placement of my units. The center of the diagram shows how I’d ideally like to set up my units during the deployment phase. This is important as deployment can be on the clock in certain tournament formats, so it’s good to know how you’d like to beforehand how you’d like to place them. What do I think about here? Well, the targets for my spells and animi is a key consideration. I want my warlock to be able to cast her spells on targets that are actually in range when I come to casting them! The potential for different units to ‘trip each other up’ is also important – I want to ensure units don’t get in each other’s way. This plan may change if you’re deploying second and want to react to the enemy. I consider any sketch to be invertible, swapping all units from each side of the warlock to the other. A major factor in placement may be the scenario you are playing. Are you planning to contest and deny the scenario or are you trying to win it? This will determine how reactive your deployment needs to be.

Next up I consider the Spells I’d like to cast in the first turn. These are typically buffs that I’d like to get up early or spells that will help my force in Turn 1. You can see them noted on the right of the scribble. These spells impact a number of things. If there is a movement buff in there I need to ensure my warlock activates early to guarantee as much of my force as possible benefits. This in turn may impact their placement as I’d like them to be able to move! As indicated above the range to spell targets is important, so I need to place my targets nearby.

The final main thing to consider with regard to the first turn is Order of Activation. This is related to spell casting, but there are other factors. Here are some questions I ask of each activation. Where do I want each unit to end up? Are they running? If so, how far? Are they in danger of outpacing my army? Will I be able to screen all of my valuable assets? By screening, I mean will I be denying LoS to the valuable things in my army.

Let’s consider the basic 25pt army, which this sketch was done for.

2013-04-23 at 21-35-17Rhyas, Sigil of Everblight (*6pts)
– Harrier (2pts)
– Shredder (2pts)
– Angelius (9pts)
Blighted Nyss Legionnaires (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Blighted Ogrun Warmongers (Leader and 4 Grunts) (8pts)
Succubus (2pts)
The Forsaken (2pts)

Rhyas is fast and can buff the speed of a lot of her force. Her speed could actually be a problem if she outpaces her army! She also ignores other models when moving (Acrobatics), so being placed behind a unit is not a problem for her. I want the Legionnaires and Warmongers to get up the field fast. They are melee troops, so there is little merit in hanging too far back. They are placed front and centre, with Rhyas just behind them. The Angelius is placed within 6″ to benefit from a spell later and the Shredder and Succubus are placed close Rhyas if I want to cast an animus on her. The Forsaken is placed to chase the Angelius in case I need some Fury management later.

As speed is important to me I want Dash cast early in my turn, probably forst thing. I’d also like to cast either Occultation or Rapport. If the opponent is ranged heavy it’ll be the former, with the Legionnaires (or possibly Rhyas herself if I’m very worried) the likely target. All of this means Rhays needs to activate first. This would leave her on 2 Fury, which is fine.

Order of Activation
We know who’s going first, but the question is where will she move to. Thanks to Dash Rhyas has SPD 8 and can charge any enemy model (Acrobatics again!). It’d be a failed charge, but she’ll go 11″. 11″ straight forward would be a little far, so I’d probably go for an oblique angle. Next up the Legionnaires run 14″. If they have occultation up I have to be careful as they won’t screen Rhyas. The Angelius can serve that function, so it goes next. The Warmongers then run, though not always their full distance as they are my counter charging unit for use during the feat. Everything else then piles forward, though I have to be careful to generate enough Fury for Turn 2.

So there you have it. Not rocket science, but I guarantee that you can generate a starting game plan for any force. As with any plan, be flexible enough to change it as the situation warrants

Until next time,



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