Saturday, April 24, 2010
CAMPAIGN: Thoughts on Using Battle Missions, part 1
As a bit of a follow up to my initial thoughts on using Kill Team in campaigns I thought I'd post a bit about using the other parts of the Battle Missions book... namely, the Battle Missions.
For those of you not in the know, each race in 40k gets 3 specialized Battle Missions, each with unique deployment options, objectives and special rules. Each race's Missions are intended to be very true to the central tenets of that faction- Space Marines strike with careful planning and plenty of orbital drops, Dark Eldar raid opposing militaries for slaves and lead them into ambushes, and the Imperial Guard march to war with the backing of heavy artillery and well constructed defenses.
After paging through the book a few times, I noticed a pattern emerging. Almost all of the races' missions can be categorized as one of three options: Attack, Defend, and Envelopment. Attack and Defend don't need further explanation, but Envelopment probably does. I see this as a risky gambit used by an army that could either turn out amazingly well or turn into a crushing defeat. Examples might be all or nothing Alpha strikes, desperate counter attacks and any tactic that tries to use the enemy's momentum against them.
For example, let's take a look at the Imperial Guard missions. Prepared Assault is the Imperial Guard's Attack mission, as they bravely surge against the enemy's lines with the thunderous boom of their cannons (mostly) aiding their approach. War of Attrition is a good example of an Envelopment mission, as the Guard decide to use the enemy's momentum against them by using their superior disposability to force the enemy to commit ever more troops to the conflict. It's a risky strategy, but one that can pay off big if they win. Finally, Trench Warfare has the Guard in a supremely Defensive position, as units that don't move are considered to have dug in and therefore receive area terrain cover saves and there are plenty of prepared obstacles available.
Here are my thoughts on which races' missions are Attack, Defense and Envelopment.
Chaos Space Marines: Pillage, Black Crusade, Scorched Earth
Chaos Daemons *: Night Fight, Invasion, Fight to the Death
Dark Eldar: Dawn Raid, Slave Raid, Feigned Retreat
Eldar: Pre-Emptive Strike, Flank Attack, Mobile Defense
Imperial Guard: Prepared Assault, War of Attrition, Trench Warfare
Necrons *: Ambush, Reconnaissance in Force, Implacable Advance
Orks: Blitzkrieg, Waaaagh!, Cut & Run
Space Marines: Vanguard, Surprise Attack, All-Around Defense
Tau: Vertical Envelopment, Counter Attack, Fighting Withdrawal
Tyranids *: First Contact, Wave Assault, Infestation
This is just my personal view on things- you can of course make your own designations. You may also notice that several entries have an * next to their name. These are the ones that I believe don't necessarily hold to the archetype.
Chaos Daemons are no surprise as they tend to be format warpers, ha ha. And yes, you can feel free to hit me for that one. Their missions are thematically based on either location or time of the attack rather any kind of strategy. I chose Invasion as an inappropriately named Defense mission because often other forces will try to close the portal, thus making the Daemons defend it, but it could just as easily be used in an assault (I hear those things can just pop up wherever they damn well please!).
Likewise, Necron missions are more about time and location than anything else. They represent the formulaic strategy that the armies of the star gods use to wage war. The Necrons do not defend, as they simply materialize near the battle site, execute the mission, and then go on their merry way. Ambush is about as close to a defense mission that they have, but that's really only emblematic of people unknowingly awakening a Tomb World at the start of the hostilities.
Tyranids, like the Necrons, have a bit of an escalation feel to them. We start with first hostilities, escalate to repeated assaults on the defenders, and finally escalate to the final part of the campaign where both sides have well adapted to each other. Infestation is the closest to a defense mission as the world's counterattack would probably involve battle hardened veterans of earlier assaults, and the Nids will be on ground that they are familiar with. Still, not as clean cut as the others.
Next time, I take a look at how we can integrate these missions into the different types of campaigns. See you then.
The above image is from Games Workshop and is used without permission.