Friday, January 13, 2012

The Fundamentals -- Part 1. Reach

I'm excited to say this is the first post I'm writing in response to feedback I've recieved. They wanted me to do a write up about reach and the implications it has on the game of Warmachine/Hordes game. So I'm using this as an excuse to start a series about the fundamentals of Warmachine.

Reach is a very simple mechanic in Warmachine extending the threat range of a model from .5 inches to 2 inches. So the very first and most straightforward implication is reach gives your model an additional inch and a half of threat. This simple extention of threat ranges allows you to play the first strike cascading game better.

Warmachine is a game of first strikes and cascading. This is one of the reasons games of Warmachine are won in the movement phase, but lost in the combat phase. The latter of that statement is for another post though.

Creating the opportunity to remove the first model from the board has far reaching implications. To sum it up as simply as possible, if you start trading point for point in the end you should be in a position to threaten their Warnoun sooner then they will be.

What I'm referring to when I use the statement cascading is the concept of I throw my army at you and kill half of it. You respond, but your army is now at half so you only kill a quarter of mine. This generally forces my opponent to try and change the momentum of the game with a big move, which typically requires risk. Taking risks while required at times is the easiest way to open up yourself for assassination runs or giving up capture points to your opponent.

This leads into my 2nd major reason I love reach, prevention. There are 2 methods of prevention that are amazing about reach. 
  1. It creates much higher threat areas around models with reach. This allows a model with reach to engage multiple models, create much larger free strike lanes if people try to pass you and force weaker enemy models to move around your models forcing them to waste movement. Getting your opponent to waste movement is the easiest way to get them out of position. Warmachine/Hordes is typically won or lost by turn 4(this includes the concept of timed turns, non timed turns can go on much longer). An out of position model or unit can easily cost you the game if you find it being ineffective.
  2. Reach allows you to thwart the opponents method of prevention much easier. Screened models must be much more forward or the models being screened must be much further back if they are to successfully prevent reach models from hitting vital parts of the army. Your opponent also has to now worry about oddly angled charges. Typically you can put lots of models directly in front of a charge path, but as soon as you have to spread out your screen since the enemy model can come from many different directions it is weaker. They can punch a hole in it since there are less models and throw the reach model at you.
The third major advantage of reach applies mainly to units, but warjacks/beasts can take advantage of this as well. You can engage more targets onto one source then normal. By leaving small gaps when you charge a target you leave the opportunity of a model with reach to attack the enemy model. This allows you to bring higher amounts of attack, which means higher amounts of potential damage onto hard to kill targets or models that are critically important to kill.
The final advantage of reach is very simple. It gives you the capabilities of fighting over linear obstacles. Take advantage of walls if you have reach or pathfinder. Even more so if your enemy is lacking in these rules. One common misconception I've noticed playing Warmachine/Hordes is the ruling that you get +2 defense from fighting over a wall. This is simply not true unless that wall is labeled as an obstruction. Linear obstacles offer cover and prevent charging unless the model has pathfinder. That's it, so watch out for this common misconception.

There are a few negative impacts of reach as well. These can be mitigated by proper facing and placement of your models though. The first biggest downside is enemy models engaged by a model with reach has more freedom before he suffers a free strike. You can charge while still in a reach models melee range without ever leaving it (a trick you can take advantage of as well). Something you have to pay attention to and prevent by creating weird facing arcs. In the example below the model is caught in melee range of a reach model, but his facing is preventing him from charging the blue target without suffering a free strike. If the facing was reversed he would be able to engage the blue target and possibly charge it.

My sexy ms paint job.

To recap. 
  • Take advantage of your extended threat ranges. 
  • Look for odd charge angles to surprise your opponent. This will also force them to spread out their screens giving you less models between you and your higher valued targets.
  • Reach models can screen much larger areas for your models, but do this wisely with good positioning.
  • Leave gaps for reach attacks to fight through. This allows you to eliminate the critical pieces much more effectively.
  • Take advantage of linear obstacles
  • Use facing and placement of your reach models to prevent your opponents freedom as much as possible.

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