Monday, May 24, 2010

The 30 Ways That People Win 40K Games

by SandWyrm

I'm reading a very good book right now called Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace, by Edward N. Luttwak. It's military focused for the most part, but there's lots of good insights in it for anyone that's in a competitive relationship with another person or group. It's going to provide fodder for a lot of future posts, that's for sure. :)

While reading it, I started to wonder... If one were to list all of the competencies that go into making someone a good 40K player, what would they be?

Well, let's list them:

Strategic Competencies

The Strategic category includes everything you do on or off-table before the game begins. From research on Odds to planning out your lists.

1) List Efficiency
2) Knowing Your Weapons (Odds & Probabilities) 
3) List Redundancy (Risk Reduction)
4) List Focus (Having Set Roles)
5) Unit Flexibility (Sometimes Called Duality)
6) Strategic List Flexibility
7) Deployment Planning
8) Game-Phase Planning (What does each unit do when?)
9) Competitive Objective Placement
10) Strategic Misdirection (Not Lying)
11) Knowing Your Units
12) Knowing All your Enemy's Codices
13) Understanding the Top-Level (not just local) Metagame
14) Knowing When To Seek Failure

Tactical Competencies

The Tactical category includes everything you do on-table during a game to ensure that one unit prevails over another. If Strategy is the big-picture 10,000 foot view, then Tactics are the micro-view from ground level.

1) Rules Familiarity
2) Effective Movement
3) Proper Target Priority and Focusing Fire
4) Multi-Charging Your Assaults
5) Effective Blocking and Delaying
6) Properly Understanding True Line of Sight and Cover
7) How to Pull Models For Advantage
8) How to Shape Assault Moves To Your Advantage
9) Becoming Objective Focused
10) Knowing Your Opponent's Army.
11) Knowing What Your Opponent Must Do
12) Learning To Estimate Distances
13) Timing Your Advances Properly
14) Proper Use of Reserves
15) Proper Deep-Strike Defense
16) Reading Your Opponent

Added by sonsoftaurus:
17) Knowing When Not To Shoot
18) Knowing When Not To Assault

Added by Chumby:
19) Multi-Turn Maneuvers (Or, thinking 1-2 turns ahead)

What do you think? Am I missing anything? If we can come up with a fairly complete list, then I (and others) can start discussing the details of each competency in greater detail, one article at a time.


  1. One could argue that the local metagame is the only one that matters.

    I'd add "Knowing when NOT to shoot/assault something" to the tactical competencies. Not about when you'd get stomped in the assault, but recognizing that sometimes it's more to your advantage to leave something alone as an obstruction to your enemy rather than destroy it now.

  2. Stratey: List building, deployment, and overall plan.

    Tactics: Maneuvers over short times (1-2 turns) that support your overall strategy and allow you to winz0r

    Both are incredibly important

  3. This sounds like a great idea. The last two times that I've been badly beaten have been due to poor use of reserves.

    I could definitely use some schooling.

  4. I believe List Efficiency is one of the most important factors of a competitive game. Having a list that compliments itself and flows like water between all it's units will often bring the force a tidal wave to your enemies when they work together.

    The area of list efficiency could be expanded to contain several items in the first list.

  5. The two lists presented seem to break down most of the game, it will be interesting to see how you apply each to 40k.

    I am also reading a book right now, the new Dreseden files book. The lessons I am learning from it are not to trust wizards and vampires. While that may not apply directly to 40k I think that we can all agree that this is a good life lession.

  6. SOT's and Chumby's additions added.

    Anything else?

    I'll be re-compiling this list into more of an outline form later. So list-building will have it's own strategic category. I just want to make sure I hit every major topic I can.

  7. mastering baiting, puns aside, is something that is related to many of those aspects and may deserve its own attention. my current marine army, for example, relies heavily on effective baiting. maybe this fits under "Strategic Misdirection", but i think it has some shorter term aspects while in-game.

    "How to Pull Models For Advantage" might better be called "Allocating Wounds/Damage for Advantage".

    "Knowing What Your Opponent Must Do" should be "Knowing What Your Opponent Is Likely To Do". 'must' implies that your opponent thinks the same way and sees the same things you do, which isn't always true.

    there's also a host of psychological aspects that may not belong here, but could eventually be included.

  8. All fantastic. But going a little more in depth may help some, list efficiency? Yes, absolute must, but there are ways to determine efficiency properly and ways to do it wrong. And redundancy plans are important to all lists, but more important to SM than, eldar don't require as much redundancy, and usually unit versatility will help compensate for redundancy. If you have a dedicated tank hunting unit, it's usually a good idea to have a few backups. But you could for-go the option altogether and choose to play units that effectively handle infantry but just so happens to also be lethal to armor...*cough* guass *cough* etc. I recommend that everyone take all of the principles listed in this post to heart and learn how to practice for efficiency. I have a blog as well that focuses on just that. it's new, so there's only some Tyranid info so far, but I'm going to overview every unit in 40k, if anyone would like to know about anything in particular, just let me know.


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