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therisnosaurus
30-09-2007, 04:01
It seems to me that the wide frontage/minimal ranks style of regiment is becoming more and more popular on elite combat units (or ones armed with multi-rank weapons) and even cavalry, in part due to the increased width required to make ranks (making the CR from ranks proportionately more expensive to that from kills) and in part due to the increased lethality of elite troops (such as black orcs, dwarf elites, HE elites and so forth).

So, today we look at the advantages vs disadvantages of the wide frontage style formation.

The standard wide frontage elite unit will usually be fourteen or 21 models, as the ideal width of models is 7 as this will allow all models to attack against any enemy ranked unit of 5 wide troops, regardless of base size (though 7 25mm bases lose one attack against 5 20mm bases). for the purposes of this analysis, we will assume an elite unit (higher than average combat ability) with a numerical count of 14


So, what are the pros?

- obviously, on the charge a unit with two additional models can deal a world more hurt, and this can make all the difference. in situations where your elites have 2-3 high strength attacks, often the two extra models attacking will generate an extra 2-3 extra CR points over the probable 1 rank point you'd get from a traditional 5x3 formation.
-even when charged by fragile but dangerous units (elves, plague monks etc) the expanded frontage will be more likely to have a few models left after casualties are taken off to strike back and punish the enemy. take for example skaven plague monks against chaos warriors with 2hw. in a 5v5 front rank scenario, the PM will on average kill 2-3 warriors, leaving 2 including a champ to fight back. 5 attacks will usually not deal enough to win the combat, neither will 7, admitedly, but you're far more likely to DRAW (or hold if you lose), and then crush the puny ratmen next turn. The same applies to charging cavalry, which usually inflict roughly 5 kills- enough to wipe out the front rank of a standard infantry block, but with a wide frontage, you'll get to unleash your multiple-high strength attack vengeance.
- the wider frontage generates a bigger threat zone to the enemy. It's harder to dodge out of the charge arc of a unit with a frontage of 8 than one of 5 and the unit generates a charge threat over a wider front.
- minimal ranks makes using artillery against such normally juicy targets a lot more risky. Bolt throwers can kill less models (assuming you only have 2 ranks), as can cannons, stone throwers have to be far more accurate with their guess ranges to be dead on, and even when they are they hit far less models. I think this is one of the most valuable and under-noticed strengths to the wide frontage formation.
- a full battle line using this formation can present a line almost the length of the board, making it a very solid army-wide strategy as it presents very few opportunities for flanking, and is extremely intimidating
- cheap units that are likely to lose a lot of models (such as goblins) will still have a lot more to strike back if deployed in a wide formation. once your units start hitting 35 models strong, 7 wide is the way to go as you not only get your full rank bonus, but all those extra attacks as well!


Cons:
-Compared to the classic square block of 5x4, the wide frontage formation is more difficult to manouever and pivot
- combined with the above, their lack of models on the flank make them far more vulnerable to nimble flanking units such as fast cavalry and combat skirmishers (compounded by the lack of rank bonus to see off the pesky skirmishing agressors). This is slightly mitigated by the fact that your units deployed like this will likely be realllll nasty (temple guard, chosen chaos warriors, HE swordmasters etc) and so able to dish out the pain to any skirmishers that happen to be stupid enough to try and engage them...
- the wider frontage means enemy traditional missile units are more likely to be in range with more models, meaning you'll probably take more hits in that department
- in an army with a lot of models, or a large amount of missile weapon equipped troops, units with wide frontage can choke up and block line of sight of your own units and turn your advance/line into a mess very quickly

the upshot of all this? the wide frontage works well in elite infantry armies with relatively small numbers, allowing them to take less pain from artillery, present more pointy things for your buck and a battle line that is considerably more difficult to break up and flank.

Any commentary?

grickherder
30-09-2007, 11:02
Fabulous post. I'm beginning to think that way as well. Here's what I see as a good guide for some: If you have a 5 man 20mm base size unit, have it be wide enough to be the same as a 5 man 25mm unit, maybe one more guy as well.

Also, run the numbers-- figure out the percentage chance the extra attacks will get you same net CR result as if you had another rank.

For unbreakable units like Dwarf Slayers, go quite wide. Worst case scenario is that your single rank gets flank charged and you slowly fight it out without breaking-- no big deal.

Another advantage-- the wider your units, the tighter your battle line can be, which can reduce the chance of getting flanked and rolled up.

If you have cheap guys, get a ton of them. Even things like Empire Spearmen are cheap enough to field truly substantial units. Toss heroes into these units if you can. An aspiring or exalted champion in a unit of marauders is a great example. Might only want to go 6 wide if you're fighting against a mostly 20mm force though.

Dogs of War Pikemen - 7 wide, 3 or 4 deep, 21 or 28 strikes first attacks while still keeping your rank bonus -- nice! +1 strength if that unit gets charged by cavalry, chariots and monsters, -- double nice.

Urgat
30-09-2007, 11:23
Why elite only? Yesterday, I've tried a 6 wide unit of 30 night goblins with spears. Well let me tell you, that delivered :p they managed to hold two rounds against a unit of chaos warriors including an exalted champion with additional hand weapon (and the chaos guy was killing gobs by the bucket).
I have to try the 8-wide unit, just for the sake of having 17 attacks a turn with goblins :p
(plus that makes the fanataic danger zone" much larger, keehkeehkeeh!).


Another advantage-- the wider your units, the tighter your battle line can be, which can reduce the chance of getting flanked and rolled up.

I see that as a problem actually, you have to fit all these units in your deplyement zone.



If you have cheap guys, get a ton of them. Even things like Empire Spearmen are cheap enough to field truly substantial units. Toss heroes into these units if you can. An aspiring or exalted champion in a unit of marauders is a great example. Might only want to go 6 wide if you're fighting against a mostly 20mm force though.

Bingo :)

therisnosaurus
30-09-2007, 14:22
elite units traditionally have a smaller unit size, you lose some of the defensive bonuses of the wide front, less ranks formation in big units of 30+ models as templates will pwn them something nasty...

Vattendroppe
30-09-2007, 20:11
Great post with a very nice conclusion :)

Nothing for my araby build from an empire list ^^

therisnosaurus
06-10-2007, 00:37
no further comments? has anyone actually used this style of unit successfully, I'd love to hear from you as I'm mostly theoretical at the moment...

sephiroth87
06-10-2007, 01:33
I play it from a cavalry angle. I always run my savage boar boyz and black knights 6 wide. I've found that expensive troops are cannon targets, so I'd rather having them killing just one or two models at a time instead of the 3 or 4 that they would have been getting.

Works pretty well, actually.

Good article also!

Vattendroppe
06-10-2007, 07:33
no further comments? has anyone actually used this style of unit successfully, I'd love to hear from you as I'm mostly theoretical at the moment...

I've been quite inactive to the hobby for a while, but I remember forming up heavy cavalry units with wide frontage works very well, but that's quite standard since it costs a fortune to rank up cavalry :p

JonnyTHM
06-10-2007, 12:35
Funnily enough, I use your example of a horde in a wide unit. I have a 6 wide unit of plague monks (2 ranks). I debated 7, but went with 6 mainly due to point constraints.

Believe me, that extra monk makes ALL the difference (3 extra attacks, even at WS3, S3). The unit is ~111 points or something like that and dishes out 19 attacks, by sheer numbers things just die.

Reticent
06-10-2007, 14:23
Wider frontages do require particular care in the movement phases; a truly savvy opponent with any arbitrary fast moving cheap unit(s) can really abuse your reduced ability to wheel.

Just something to watch out for.

zak
06-10-2007, 19:43
With both cavalry and elite infantry rear ranks are often too expensive and ineffective. With elites you need to get them attacking to pay for their points hence the wider frontage, whereas medium and light infantry rely on ranks and epending just how cheap they are a wider frontage as well.
Cavalry are a complete waste in a second rank. Not only are they usually one model away from losing that rank, but 2x5 will usually do far better than 1x10 and the only benefit is the outnumbering possibilities.

I run my Orcs 6 or 7 wide as well as my DE CoK.

Urgat
07-10-2007, 10:11
Wide frontage on cavalry is pretty common sense, even GW can mix their weird (buy more models!) formations with that, sometimes (see the monstruous 7 wide, 1 rank deep unit of boar boyz in the cover of the army book...)

Lol, I can see a time when everybody starts running units 7 wide, and then some guy thinks "hey, I'll run mine 9 wide!", and in 5 years, ranks are considered obsolete, until someone notices that if he makes unit 5 wide, he can own that 15 wide unit with no ranks :p

Vattendroppe
07-10-2007, 11:26
Lol, I can see a time when everybody starts running units 7 wide, and then some guy thinks "hey, I'll run mine 9 wide!", and in 5 years, ranks are considered obsolete, until someone notices that if he makes unit 5 wide, he can own that 15 wide unit with no ranks :p

It would be fun if it happened, but I don't think it would :/

theunwantedbeing
07-10-2007, 11:33
7 wide for 25mm bases.
8 wide for 20mm bases
4-5 wide for 40mm bases
3-4 wide for 50mm bases.

Unless you want to go deep then you take the bare minimum of 5 required,unless your objective is to hold the enemy up(with a stubborn/unbreakable unit) in which case you have a single wide formation many ranks deep...possibly with a character leading them who is very difficult to kill to be really annoying.

Going wider than 7 is generally pointless as you leave yourself with models on the edges not attacking anything, and being faced by multiple units far more easily.

Makaber
07-10-2007, 12:08
If the unit gets too wide, it gets very hard to maneuver, because wheeling gets so expensive. Thus, I disagree with theunwantedbeing: I think 6 is the pain treshold on 25mm, and maybe 6-7 on 20mm. This is of course largely dependent on movement of the unit as well: Elves can typically get away with wider units, while M4 or (god forbid) M3 will be more or less crippled from a 8-wide formation, unable to do much more than go straight ahead, being very easy to predict.

Urgat
07-10-2007, 13:51
Well, with orcs and gobs, you can technically cover the whole width of the battlefield this way, so good luck avoiding anything lol.
I've just got an idea for a very beardy army... ah well, better forget about it :p.

brettz123
07-10-2007, 14:59
What I do is go for frontage and depth. I will take 17 or 22 models. It is not much more expensive then taking 15 or 20 and gives me a 7 wide front in the first rank and still gives me the rank bonus. A nice little hammerhead formation. Works pretty well and doesn't cost much more.

Crazy Harborc
07-10-2007, 18:41
I like to use 5 to 8 wide units, 4 or more ranks deep. I started doing that during 4th Edition. I do that whether my units are on 20mm, 25mm or 25 by 50mm bases.....Well my cav units are usually 5 or 6 wide and two ranks deep.

BO units 6 to 8 across and 4 or more ranks deep. NG units 8 across and 5 ranks deep(with OR without the 3 fanatics opponent's will think they are there;)). I do try to have small units intermixed between my larger units.

brettz123
08-10-2007, 01:22
@Crazy

I would like to see a list you would put together at 2000 points. I am interested to see what you lose out on by taking the extra troops. I tend to like to have more units to allow me to flank and such.

SV_Harlequin
08-10-2007, 01:29
This is a thing thats been discussed recently on Asur.org aswell. With the points reduction of Spears and the increase in rules about 5 wide min form 7th ed.

Spears in a unit of 21 formed in 5x4 then changing to 7x3 and elite in 15 in 5x3 then changing into 7x2 all for maximsing attacks and and for defensive bonuses.

brettz123
08-10-2007, 08:38
I don't see why you bother changing to the 7x3 just add an extra body and take 22 that way you can always deploy as such:

*****
*****
*****
*******
It is one more body or three is you want two ranks of seven and you still retain your max rank bonus. I think I will do that with my greatswords actually. What a pain to make a movement tray though

Urgat
08-10-2007, 09:24
But you can't do that: BRB page 6 (well, in french edition), you hav e to try and keep all the ranks equal, excepted for the last rank if you can't do otherwise, so your unit above with the 7 wide formation would be 3*7. Doing your way is against the rules.

Vattendroppe
08-10-2007, 17:34
Might just add that it's the same page in the english version.

brettz123
08-10-2007, 23:08
Man thats not cool.... I better not let my friends know ;)

Urgat
09-10-2007, 17:57
But that would be cheating and we do not want that, do we? :p