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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Split Deployment: The Art of Throwing Half Your Army Away

I stumbled upon a post entitled "Split Deployment- the art of firepower" on Librarium last month. A lot of people have thrown a lot of praise at this article about splitting your force into two completely independent flanks. It's not entirely without merit and it took me a while to figure out exactly what didn't sit right with me about it. That being said, you wanna know the fucked up part? The "tactica" was written in 2007 for a different edition of the game and people are still sycophantically sucking off the guy who wrote it. This may have worked really well in 4th edition, but I really think that this is horribly inefficient for 5th. Hell if you didn't have an army that could assault, I'm pretty sure you'd have to do something like this to not get run into the ground in 4th. So in a rare move on my part there is no (or at least less than usual) offense intended for the original poster. This rant is directed at the yes men that still think this is valid advice.

I'll let the post, and my snowmobiling of course, speak for itself on this one. So enjoy....

Cheredanine- Split Deployment – The art of firepower

Split deployment is a tactic princely for use in static firepower armies against assault armies. It can be adapted and used for many other situations, but that original concept is where it is at its’ most eloquent.

The best article to date I have seen on split deployment is in WD(UK 295) but since not everyone has this, and since my friend, Jon, needs to know it.. this is 101 split deployment. ~I remember reading something similar online a while back and seem to remember that it dealt mostly with spearhead deployments. It was probably an updated version of what you're refering to. I think splitting your forces in a spearhead deployment with the sacrificial half in front of the keeper half might be the only way to make this work.

First Principles

The principle of a static firepower army is simple – shoot your opponents, generally the more firepower you have the better. But certain assault based armies or short range firepower armies are damn quick and will be on you before you get to wipe the floor with them in sufficient numbers to make them ineffective.

The first thing any firepower army must learn is fire discipline – the correct prioritisation of targets, I am assuming you have mastered this to a large degree and will only illustrate where this tactic enforces a change on target priorities ~me thinks you've assumed too much :)

The principle of split deployment is this: I am going to split my army in to two halves, I am prepared to lose one half, I don’t care wich, but in so doing, I will wipe out my opponents entire force – think of it as a two for one offer! ~problem, when your opponent sees what you're trying to do and brings 100% of their assets to bear on 50% of yours after refusing the fuck out of one of your flanks, you won't have the firepower left to stop him wheeling around on the rest of your army. Good luck trying to work around that problem.

So what do I do?

OK well the basis is, as above, firstly split your army into two equal halves, try and have a similar amount of firepower and if present, counter assault in both half, ensure you have a good mix of anti tank and anti infantry in both half. ~well at least you're arguing for redundancy

Now when you deploy, put one half on the left hand side of your deployment zone and the other on the right. The bigger the gap, the better. ~this is presumably to stop 4th edition assault units from crushing several of your units in one turn. Made sense back then, now it just makes it that much easier for your enemy to refuse your flank.

Lines of sight: This is the numero uno important thing, 99% of the time it takes consideration over all other things, each half of your army must have three good lines of sight:

1: It must be able to shoot in front of it at what comes at it ~see refused flank
2: It must be able to shoot diagonally at what comes at the other half ~are you using terrain?
3: It must be able to shoot at the other half ~seriously, terrain? Even now in 5th when LOS is much more open, I don't think this is possible if you're playing with the proper amount of terrain. Unless you're playing on a WFB table with a completely open midfield.

Failure to meet all three of these can be exploited by your opponent, this is not necessarily an earth shatterer but it can diffuse the efficiency of the tactic which is rather the point. ~the nonexistent likelihood that you can accomplish 1,2, and 3 is precisely why I think this tactic fails now

Cover: subject to the above, if you can do it, deploy in to cover, doesn’t really need explaining for any firepower army commander. ~yeah, cover good. So you must be using some terrain

What he does: here is the beauty – I don’t care, other than obviously being as far away from him as possible, I really don’t care! ~Well you should care, because he's probably off on a quest to claim objectives where your flank just collapsed. Good luck getting those back from him. Plus your opponent's behavior is always important and should alter your strategy every time you play.

The Next step

OK we are going to split your army, to make this easy to explain, one half is called the victory flank, one is called the sacrificial flank (volunteers please).

So you have the army in two halves, you have both deployed, now. Based on the assumption he is an assault army, you can see what is going for each half, he may be split in some degree or may be going all for one flank. You can judge, with ease, which half stands the best chance of surviving yes? Well done, you just identified your victory flank, commiserations to those in the other half of your army . But wait I hear you say.. I really cant call it! – not to worry, of you feel it is about even, pick one, if it is that close it really doesn’t matter, go for the best painted, that would be my advice – you want your survivors to look cool!

OK so now we know which half is which, and it is very important we have done this before we start shooting.

So now we change target priorities:

You shoot everything that can at his units going for the victory flank. Everything, ignore the 30 genestealers bearing down on your sacrificial flank, shoot the victory flanks opponents with both halves of your army until everything going for it is dead. If your sacrificial flank has units that don’t have the range then fine they can shoot at what is going for them. If your sacrificial flank has a load of bolters and the only thing going for the victory flank is a Land raider crusader then fine again shoot at what is coming your way, but excepting that sort of easy decision, shoot at what goes for the victory flank. ~but a smart opponent won't split his forces in response to your splitting, so you're pretty much fucked. Remember what happened to Germany when they tried to fight a two front war? Stretch limited resources across too wide an area and you're doomed to fail.

Once your Victory flank is free from threat, if you have the time before he reaches you, start shooting at what comes for the sacrificial flank. ~pray he's not in fast transports...

Your sacrificial flank then sells their lives as dearly as possible, if you can do it, move units further away from the victory flank.

As Victory flank is now free it can pick targets going for or finishing with your sacrificial flank. ~if it can actually see them.

Net result: ~FAIL

Normally you have the time it takes his army to cross from his deployment zone to yours to shoot him

With split deployment, you have the same time, plus the time it takes for him to cross from one side of your deployment zone to the other, with half your army shooting him, plus he has to do this as his units become free from combat, which means it will happen peacemeal rather than the big rush on turn 1 ~but also means that you will most likely only get to shoot at your opponent's army piecemeal at best, while he crushes you with his concentrated forces...

Word to the wise

We all know tactics and strategies go out the window on turn 1, those of us with static fire power also know that you must keep fire discipline, but because of the out the window thing, you need to be adaptable – same is true with split deployment, try it, learn how to use/adapt it ~well at least that much is still true :)

So alright smartypants asshole Dethtron, what should I do instead, if you on your high horse say this won't work? Well, adapt the strategy. The basic strategy is still soundish. If you have a firepower based army, feed your opponent some crap units to keep him away from your good shit. But big tanks in front of your little ones. Stretch a Commissar led infantry blob in front of your lines. Wrap yourself in Kroot. You get the idea. A certain somebody refers to this as bubble wrapping. It gives you the ability to sacrifice units to keep your opponent busy while still allowing you to consolidate your own firepower instead of diluting it across the table. If you're unfamiliar with this concept, you should probably go to this YTTH article.


kennedy said...

Hell, I remembered when I used this article during 4th ed. Cheredanine is not a terrible guy, he once gave me some good advice on Eldar light vehicle... not that I can remember what it was....

However, you're right. This won't cut it in 5th ed. Go go moron of LO. I love their site for hobby stuff, but on gaming they all fall very flat.

Hoagy said...

What about denying your troops that have been split the ability to 'fire at everything going for the victorious flank' by suddenly plopping a bunch o' tanks in the way, not only does it screen them, but the tanks can unleash on the 'sacrificial' flank as well. Granted they could be cracked open with meltas or whatnot, but even if they're shut down, what do you have? terrain! I get the basic premise, but everything moves pretty quickly now, so I really don't see this having the 1-2 punch this chap is describing.

SandWyrm said...

Yep, it's a 4th Ed tactic that no longer applies in 5th. Killed by the lack in 5th Edition of consolidation into combat and the existence of objective missions.

All you need to nerf assaulters is to Mech up or deploy your infantry in blocking lines. Simple as that.

Von said...

"Normally you have the time it takes his army to cross from his deployment zone to yours to shoot him..."

But since people in the forty-first millennium have invented Deep Strike, outflanking, jump packs, transport vehicles and above all these miraculous things called GUNS, they can avoid playing keepgoingforwarddont'getkilledhammer and are not actually obliged to trudge grimly over the board since they can either drop on your head or kill you at range. It might work against armies that don't manage to do any of these things (i.e. bad ones), but really?

I think you had it with the comparison to WFB, really.

SandWyrm said...

Turns out, this "tactic" was published in White Dwarf last January in their multi-page Imperial Guard tactica. You can download the PDF off of the GW website now.


Ugggh! It gave me heartburn to read it.

Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Splitting forces - I take it Hitler opening the second, Eastern (Russian) Front doesn't resonate? And look how well that worked for him...