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Horus Heresy (2010)» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Overall Strategy Disscussion: Imp. Traitor, Initiative... rss

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John Poniske the younger
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I'm going to preface this with the fact that I like many of you have not played anything close to an exhaustive amount. When I get closer to ten or more games I'll fell like I can actually speak to consistent strategies, but for now I’ll just ramble about my impressions and (if you can call them that at this point) tactical insights. I’m not going to get it all out right away, I will add to this as I have a chance to write more.

Topics Covered in the thread so far:

Traitor General Strategy...........1st Post
Imperial General Strategy..........6th Post
Initiative Track Strategy..........9th Post

More To Come...




I'm going to start with the traitor side overall strategy today.

Things to pay attention to:

Initiative track - You unlike the Imperial player are on the clock. your opponent has all day for you to make your move, but you have to make gains quickly and not relinquish the overall tactical initiative. What this mean is in practice is two things.. one don't allow the Imp. player to have too much room to do things between your initiative phases, and try to control the special phases wherever you can. (especially events where command decisions are coming up, you need those to free up your actions to actually do stuff.)

Imperial Heroes - watch what your opponent does with these guys if he does anything, they are a strength that can be made a weakness if you pull them out of position.

The Emperor - If the Imp player moves him anywhere but to the Vengeful Spirit hammer him while you have the chance... fighting your way to him is tough enough but if he comes to you that's a freebie you shouldn't pass up.

Horus - Do not get in a knock down drag out fight with Horus unless you know you are going to obliterate your opponent, Heroes are glass cannons powerful but easy to kill if your opponent really wants to.

Tactical suggestions:

Bring in them boys - your first priority early in the game is putting as many boots on the ground as possible the imperial player is not going to get any stronger so this is entirely to your benefit. use drop pods and port landings from the strategic map exclusively where possible for pods it's cheaper and for ports landings it just gets you out there faster.

Kill the lasers - You should make some early attacks to neutralize laser batteries, trust me if they are on they will murder you.

BE Aggressive B E Aggressive - You have a finite limit of resources your guys die and don't come back, neither do most of the enemy troops you have to worry about and you have deeper pockets, you can win a well executed war of attrition. Also time is against you an intelligent aggressive approach is your best shot for any of the victory conditions.

Die you deluded fool - when picking your targets always try to remove entire bases where possible and focus on marines over most other targets, titans may be tempting but they can come back marines (and related primarch powers) don't.

Winning the game:

Port victory - by far the easier of the two possible win scenarios for the traitor side, in fact possibly the easiest victory condition anyone has, balanced by the fact that the Imp player has more ways to win. to pull this off drop guys, dig in and let him grind himself to dust against you. He may try to pull a boarding action on you to distract you, don't be distracted just evac Horus to the planet and keep doing what works. key factors here are consolidating your forces where you are strong and then picking off the lighter defended ports first working up to the last of them. this should be entirely doable by the time it is possible to actually win the game with a port victory.

Killing the Emperor - Good luck with this. I'm not saying it's impossible but this is the one where your opponent has to either let you have the opportunity or you are doing so well you could have already taken the ports. honestly your best bet on killing ol Empy is when the loyalist player moves him out of his strong hold otherwise unless you've got no other choice or incredibly overwhelming force. I wouldn't worry about it.

Next I will talk about my imperial impressions.
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Antigonus Monophthalmus
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Re: First Impressions of Strategy and Tactics.
My impression is thus: your goal is to capture the four spaceports, which isn't that hard. When the Emperor inevitably comes out to stop this, you need to pounce on him.

However, I did almost win from an emperor kill because due to a little luck and some traitors within the walls it didn't take too long to break in. One big attack can kill the emperor, especially with somebody like the Khorne leader picking and choosing cards, or Mortarion reducing the Emperor's defenders (because if you can kill the defenders, you also get 8 rounds of intervention combat. Using the combat card that lets you attack with previously ordered guys or a "path of skulls" to attack then attack again makes this "one turn assault" very doable. Sure the Emperor will see it coming, but if he runs then you're already halfway there to controlling the board. If he retreats he's locked down and you'd have to screw up royal to miss that opportunity.

However, if you can't do it in one turn he can run away, sometimes fast. My opponent got an order phase and drew 6 cards, then drew 6 more by the play of some card just to find the "Secret Passages" card. It was very thematic, but kind of upsetting.

This is, though, why I think if I'm ever trying to storm the palace I will keep a drop pods in reserve. Those are too good at killing an Emperor "in hiding" to all be wasted getting troops down. If you need men that badly use port landings!
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John Poniske the younger
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Re: First Impressions of Strategy and Tactics.
i do tend to agree with you in that getting the Emperor is very doable, but it does require some luck and either completely blind siding your opponent or timing it perfectly to be able to finish the job. I can see it's possible and i almost pulled it off however, i watched him runaway and the resources i committed to dealing with him could have secured me a victory rather than now having to react to my prey no longer being where i wanted him. As I said IMO your best bet for a dead emperor is to wait fo rhim to come to you.

Also I do agree that drop pods are best used to bring down forces when and where you need them and that port landings are your heavy lifters when it comes to bringing your forces in, their draw back however is that there are only four points you can bring those forces in.

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Tim Kelly
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Re: First Impressions of Strategy and Tactics.
Seems to be a good idea to play "Drop Pods" on the factories, to prevent the Imperials from building replacement units.
TK
 
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Antigonus Monophthalmus
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Re: First Impressions of Strategy and Tactics.
Waiting for the Emperor to come to you is fine unless he all but clears the palace driving you from the nearby spaceports and you find yourself either using a drop pod to land guys to take back spaceports (an unpalatable option) or you resign yourself to working from the fringes again. Then so what if the Emperor comes out and you only have two turns to fight him, and worse you're fighting on his terms. A good thing about palace assault is that it keeps the initiative with you, and that's what you need as Chaos because of the activation tokens.

Honestly in my game before fighting the Emperor I should have dropped Horus into the spaceport near the palace and done my best to trigger the "Titans Clash" event.

For the end game, evil needs to trigger at least one of those after getting all the movement he can out of his leader (since cards override activation markers) if he's going to kill the Emperor. Failure to take advantage of this, on further reflection, was my biggest mistake.
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Antigonus Monophthalmus
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Re: First Impressions of Strategy and Tactics.
tkelly wrote:
Seems to be a good idea to play "Drop Pods" on the factories, to prevent the Imperials from building replacement units.
TK


Replacements aren't all that bad for Chaos. They take time to deploy and time to move. I'd say two of the three factories at most (the one with the Fabricator General and maybe the one closest to your starting spaceports [since that will generally be the most fortified]) are all you need. Let the third one build up, let him waste those actions.

I'd say drop pods are best for taking out high ranking generals who wander outside the palace (especially Janghtai Kahn who is a monster) or for hunting down the Emperor in the end.
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John Poniske the younger
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Imperial Thoughts
Once again reiterating these are just my impressions from a limited set of games. Now for Imperial strategy, enjoy.

Things to pay attention to:

Initiative Track - Once again You really need to watch this aspect of the game and manipulate it to your advantage. As the imperial player you do have a bit more of a devils bargain however. The faster the track approaches the end the closer you get to winning by default, however the faster YOU move it the more the traitor can do before you can react your best bet is a careful anticipation of his timing and use high initiative attacks to drive up the track while striking him where it will disrupt his plans. Again as with he traitor player you are going to want to watch those special phases and try to secure the events wherever it is tactically sound to do so.

Space ports - Every time you get initiative count how many space port the traitor player controls and then consider neutral ports to essentially belong to the traitor player... ask yourself have I lost? Where ever possible deny the traitor at least two ports... not just by clearing his units but by occupying them. yes you will have to fight coexistence battles however he won't get it for free. the traitor can snake ports from you very quickly so watch them carefully.

The strategic map - This is where the traitor will kill you. You may not use it as much as he does though I would encourage using it, however what you should be doing is capping any and all orders he places in this area. it delays him and runs up the initiative.

The palace - this is your stronghold don't give the traitor an in, ensure you always have at least one non corruptible unit in each space. Deny those drop pods.

Traitor heroes - this is a bit more critical for the Imp. player than the traitor in that you are defending and need to be very aware of what your opponent is and can do to you, which is essential for the inevitable disrupting attack or counter assault. Keep an eagles eye on Mortarian of all the heroes this guy will ruin your anywhere anytime... the only defense you have is Rogal dorn and even then only in specific circumstances.

Horus - well honestly as long as he is in the Spirit he is cornered, if he makes planet fall he's harder to grab... but his power is worth noting his location.

The Emperor - for obvious reasons you need to be crystal clear on his situation at all times, he is not invulnerable so keeping him well away from danger until/if you are ready to engage with him is important.

Tactical suggestions:

No hurry - Play the waiting game, the longer the game goes the closer you get to a delay victory and the more desperate the traitor player gets. you will force him into making ill-conceived or unsupported attacks and if you are prepared you should be able to crush him. As aggr3essive as the traitor player should be you should be equally patient and conservative.

Crush them utterly - if you are going to attack, and that should not be something you do often, do so with overwhelming force and preferably denying your opponent a retreat avenue. You will lose a war of attrition. Plan your attacks carefully and try to wipe out whatever you attack wherever possible.

You were my target all along - target selection can be tricky for the imperial player but this is roughly the metric I would use. Cultists first (if there are appropriate daemons ready to come in otherwise ignore them), Thunderhawks second (the extra damage from bombardments will really hurt you), marines third (for obvious reasons), then what ever you can kill in one shot. As with the traitor pull full bases wherever possible. Also do as much damage to heroes whenever you can it will make the end game easier.

Angels of Death - Blood Angels and Sanguinius... USE THEM. If you need to attack or choose to board the Vengeful Spirit these are your heavy hitting thugs. the traitor will be hard pressed to even defend the damage you can deal out with these guys in the first couple iterations of a combat. Secondarily keep Jagati where you can use him.. he and his boys help immensely with the whole doctrine of overwhelming force getting to the fight from nowhere.

To Smite or not to Smite - The emperor is an interesting case with his ability he is formidable but he is also the imperial Achilles heel. I would say all the rules for caution and overwhelming force apply double for the Emperor. If you chose to use him use him in short combats where you are going to win no doubt. Also though it is nifty in a "historical 40k" way I would not risk him against Horus if you didn't absolutely have to, send Sanguinius and his leg breakers instead (and you still get your fluff).

Winning the Game:

Port Victory - well right off the bat I’m going to say that while possible if you pull this off you have done very very well, and the traitor had some very bad luck. the problem is the traitors ability to dump guys on these spaces, in the end while you can win this way trying will most likely expose you and string you out.

Reinforcements - Run out the clock... probably the easiest Imperial objective to achieve. All you have to do is not lose and you win. it isn't glamorous but you do deny the traitor scum an essential victory. Most of the above tactica will allow for the clock run out victory.

Killing Horus - This is more feasible in most cases than the traitor killing the emperor. this particular tactic has the advantage of drawing the traitor off another plan if you come at him with a sizable force, Horus will have to run or face destruction. But as with killing the Emperor barring poor planning or luck the opportunity to kill Horus is only really going to happen if your opponent want to have that fight. (Titans Stride the Earth is a great way to pull off a Horus / emperor assassination attempt.) in the end killing him isn't the hard part getting him to fight in a battle where he might die is the tough part.

So that's my take on the imperial side, next I’ll take a closer look at the initiative track and strategies surrounding it.

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John Sutcliffe
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Re: First Impressions of Strategy and Tactics.
nice straegic overview of the thoughts people have so far on the options to win in this game.


it leads me to 3 questions however.

1: does khans special allow him to move and attack a target area from 3 spaces away and that he never needs to be near the fight before it starts.

2: the titans stride the earth card. Does this card allow horus to essentially jump off his ship and land next to any hero he wants to try and kill?

3. if horus is attack on his ship and retreats. does he retreat to the catacombs or can he jump ship to anywhere he wants if he runs.
 
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John Poniske the younger
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Re: First Impressions of Strategy and Tactics.
Okay so here are my answers to those questions:

JSutcliffe wrote:
1: does khans special allow him to move and attack a target area from 3 spaces away and that he never needs to be near the fight before it starts.


Correct, except that he still follows normal moving rule. i.e. may not ignore enemy forces or spend only one Movement point to pass a crevasee. And he cannot start in a space that is activated.

JSutcliffe wrote:
2: the titans stride the earth card. Does this card allow horus to essentially jump off his ship and land next to any hero he wants to try and kill?


No, heroes and their forces must obey normal movement rules.

JSutcliffe wrote:
3. if horus is attack on his ship and retreats. does he retreat to the catacombs or can he jump ship to anywhere he wants if he runs.


If horus is on the bridge and attacked from the catacombs he may not retreat anywhere, it is a no retreat situation. If he is in the catacombs then he could retreat to the bridge. as i read it the only way on or of the vengeful spirit are drop pod, port landing, and boarding action cards.
 
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John Poniske the younger
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Initiative Track
Okay, now having covered my initial impression for each sides strategies I’m going to get into my early evaluation of the individual major pieces that make up the game. Specifically how they work and how you can make them work for you and against your opponent. First up the initiative track (and a little about the strategic map).

I wanted to speak about the initiative track as a mechanic first. I love it. It creates a lot of flexibility and in its own way breaks down the old 'you go I go' structure of most games. That said it has potential for being more than just the thing that drives player turns and into something that can be manipulated as a primary strategy. The fact that you have many options to 'use' initiative gives you plenty of ways to control the pace of the game, on top of that most of those options only cost one initiative make it very easy to slow your pace and get allot done.

Manipulating the track:

Pacing - The first thing you have to look at with the initiative track is that whatever you doing you are giving your opponent at least that many "initiative points" to spend to do what he wants. with that in mind and the fact that the strategic map allows orders at one point apiece you can easily put yourself in a bad position if you choose the wrong moment to give your opponent enough rope to hang you with. As a general rule the Imperial player wants the track to move as quickly as possible and the traitor wants it to move only as fast as he can make gains. the trick to the pacing game is in part knowing how you plan to win, in part making bold moves when you can, and in part using the track defensively to block your opponent. Control the pace of the track in IMO very important for both sides.

Giving Orders - okay so you have a lot of options when it comes to orders and they range from 0-3 initiative cost. It is important to take a moment before you start throwing cards down to figure out *exactly* what it is you are trying to accomplish and be as efficient in the order you play your cards, this will allow you to control the pace and set yourself up for long range strategies. Like in most war games thinking 3-4 moves is important, but it is always good to remain flexible to counter your opponent. When done right you can hold your 'reaction' cards until you need them and use our 'action' cards through either direct play or the strategic map.

When it comes to giving orders the biggest point I can emphasize is always play your high initiative actions (2 or 3) after you have done everything else you are going to do while you are active. The ability to surge past your opponent gives you some latitude in doing stuff but remember you pacing plan.

The strategic map is a valuable tool. Now at first glance it may look like a waste of time to use the strategic map to use 1 and 2 point orders, I argue that this is a false assumption because of three things that the strategic map provides: Obfuscation, Flexibility, and Access to Special effects.

Obfuscation - the strategic map allows you to hide what you are doing from your opponent while telling him something may be coming, allowing for good bluffing opportunities and misdirection. For example as the traitor player spend an initiative turn or two looking like you are prepping some big for the palace your opponent may spend his actions counter preparing and then you hammer a space port that is now vulnerable. You can also have your opponent commit to blocking your planned orders which can be a useful tactic.

Flexibility - The strategic map allows you to have orders out of your hand but still available to your where you wanted to use them anyway. allowing you to get more orders into your hand and therefore more options. also in flexibility is that for 2 point cards, with or without effects, sometimes it is in your best interest to not spend those two initiative at once but rather spread them out over to active phases.

Access to effects - This one is pretty self explanatory and I strongly recommend looking closely at the strategic effect on order cards because there is always going to be a situation where a seemingly useless ability can be important.

Control the special phases - I will talk about each individual phase below but a good rule of thumb when looking at the initiative track is to figure out which Special phases you want to grab and which ones you want to force your opponent to grab. This in combination with an eye on pacing and good order discipline should give you an edge especially if your opponent isn't doing the same to you. The easiest choice you have to make when planning how you spend your initiative is to either stop right before a special phase (forcing your opponent to hit it) or land on and/or pass it to grab it for yourself. on dirty trick I found is parking exactly three spaces short of a phase I know my opponent wants so if he wants it he is going to give me plenty of time to do my thing.

Special Phases:

Events - This is a tricky one because it all depends on where on the track you are. In most scenarios the first act most events are going to be imperial only or traitor only so there is no real benefit to being the one to grab them as they go to that player anyway. In the second act you are going to start seeing things that are worth being the one to grab (command decisions for example), it is at this point it is probably in your best interest to try and grab these where it is prudent to do so. In most 3rd acts there are one or more 'Titans stride the earth' you want these if only so your opponent doesn't get them. In the end paying attention to the event in a scenario will inform you when you need to be trying for event and when you can just let it slide.

Refresh - Well as I see it there is really only one good option when it comes to these, park yourself one space short of it and force your opponent to hit it. The reason is that if your opponent hits it his units are still activated on his activation if you hit is he gets to use them, like all of the track manipulations this is always contingent on other factors though I have found it a useful trick.

Order - This is one that really depends on your situation at the time. If you have plenty of orders it doesn't behoove you to activate it yet, also if your opponent has a tiny hand force him to activate so he has limited options on his turns rather than you handing him a fresh hand. My rule of thumb is to try to empty my hand as much as possible prior to it getting hit regardless of who activates it, though stuffing your opponent with 1 or no orders when he though you would grab it is funny.


So that's my take on using the initiative track as part of your strategy. Feel free to post your own idea here as well. I'm not sure what the next article will be but I think I’m going to be able to get a few more games in before I post it.
 
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