Thursday, March 4, 2010

Reserves Interference: A New Trend?

While I think about what to put in my 1k list for the tournament, my brain has been grabbed by all of the hooplah surrounding the Blood Angels rumors. Like many people I downloaded the now apparently fake 'dex that was hanging out on Scribd and read through it with a discerning eye. Some things looked really cool for weird reasons (devastators with Astartes Grenade Launchers? Yes please!) but some other things spoke to interesting new trends that I can see GW furthering in each new codex. In particular, Reserves Interference.

Having not played before 5th ed, I hear that in earlier editions of the game reserves were not a core part of the battlefield. Many missions did not include reserves as an option, so building your force to take advantage of reserves could be a dicey proposition depending on which mission you rolled up. But now in 5th ed, reserving all of one's forces has become a common tactic. I use this liberally, especially with my "I come at you from ALL sides!" IG lists featuring deep striking Stormtroopers, Outflanking infantry squads and Lumbering Behemoth'd Battle Tanks rumbling out from reserves, all thanks to the Astropath's chicanery. Even back when I was playing Eldar and still learning the system I played a lot with the reserves games, especially for a brutal series of introductory games at 2k vs Daemons (note: do NOT have new players play game after game against a Daemons player, especially when neither of you know the rules very well. Ow.)

But something from the "leaked" BA dex caught my eye- Dante's "Seen It All" ability. For those without the 'dex, it basically allows him to roll a d6 plus leadership against the enemy commander for each enemy unit held in reserve. For each one that Dante wins, the formerly reserved unit is forced to deploy on the field with the rest of the army. For armies that are built on reserving everything, this ability can be devastating... especially if your commander has a low Ld. stat.

But then I got to thinking about the other 5th ed codexes and realized that this was merely the latest part in a growing trend- ALL of the 5th ed 'dexes (except Space Marines, as always with these trends) have some form of reserves interference available to them. IG have the Master of the Fleet which adds 1 to the number needed to get enemy reserves onto the table, Wolves have (to some extent) the Rune Priest with Chooser of the Slain and Tempest's Wrath, and the Tyranids have the Parasite of Mortrex which impregnates outflanking models with Rippers.

I think that this is a good trend for the game, as as a user of the All Reserves tactic I can say that it can lead to degenerate situations. It also helps add some more "realistic" influence to the game, as the battlefield in 40k is supposed to be a skirmish rather than the full extent of the war. It only makes sense that armies would have some way of influencing the outcomes of battles this small. It also helps firmly plant armies in a 5th edition mind set- if reserves and Outflanking are part of the game, then by God everyone should have a hand in affecting them. An army that doesn't make use of every way to harry the enemy just doesn't make sense.

So, generals- what do you think of this trend, and how do you think it would be best extended to the non-5th ed armies in their inevitable updates?

Image on top taken without permission from

*EDIT* Switched from Reserves Denial to Reserves Interference- thanks sonsoftaurus!


Col. Corbane said...

Well, there goes my 'reserve everything' and then go for a brew tactic!

sonsoftaurus said...

I thought "reserve denial" was more associated with keeping things in reserve yourself - using reserves to deny targets to the enemy, esp. vs. first turn alpha strikes like Drop Pods or Daemons.

Things like Officer of the Fleet and Parasite are more like "reserve interference".

Max said...

@ Col. Corbane: yeah, I'll miss those quick first two turns that I normally give the enemy. Oh well, it means I actually get to try this "playing a game" thing now :)

@ sonsoftaurus: I KNEW that title was bugging me for some reason. I think I'll switch to your term... will hopefully make things less confusing.