View Full Version : Handling rather than beating, Superunits and what to do with them

06-10-2007, 19:00
"How do I beat this unit?", "Help me, this unit is unbeatable", "Oh crap, the new unit for the ¤insert whatever army is the closest to a new release¤ will unbalance the game".

These are all views I shared for a while, the latest being the huge explosion of Swordsmaster "oh-noes" that has run rampant, but after doing the maths, testing a few games, I realised that Swordsmasters can be beaten. But, there is more to it, there are some armies which DOES have a much harder time beating certain units. Low strength armies can't really beat the steamtank other than pointing every gun and character they can in it's direction, slow armies can't really beat knight-armies in straight up fights etc. However, they can still win the game, each of the above examples can still win the game they are playing. And the key to doing this? It is handling the difficult unit, not beating it.

The problem:

The first thing many a player that looks on the field and sees an "unbeatable" unit does is panic, players look on the rumours-forum and panic, armylist forums and, well... panic. Thing is... there is not that much to panic about, for as long as you panick, your opponent has allready won the battle. How many times have we not lost a battle because we were obsessing about that one unit? Or how many times have we not done the maths and thrown a big, nasty unit at a unit that was close to as nasty but would statistically lose? Sure, we cripple our nasty unit, but we do beat the opponents nasty unit, right? Then comes the question? Was it really worth it? Would it not have been better for us to ignore or feed something cheap to the nasty unit so that our own unit could've wrecked havoc? Probably. But did we do it? Nope. And why didn't we do anything? It's because we paniced.

Psychological warfare one-o-one

One of the first places where the battle is won or lost is allready before the game starts, during the deployment phase, when your opponent sets up that one unit, that ONE unit that threatens to tear your whole army to shreds. And you plonk something onto the table to counter that one unit, you panic and pit your best unit against his best unit if you think you can beat it, if you think you'll lose, you'll move the rest of your army away from it, cutting off the allready deployed units from vital support. This is the very first thing on handling and containing the enemy unit, do NOT panic, do NOT at ANY point try to minimise the damage it will do to you if it costs you several options of deploying, your opponent doesn't expect you to put something down where the unit is facing, he WANTS to deny you that area, hoping for you to split or compress your army. Don't fall into this trap.

If you instead of moving your entire army put down one of your more expendable units in front of the enemy killer unit, and put down either similar or harder units to it's side, you will now have gone a long way in containing the problem, since your opponent will either have to move his unit towards your expendable unit or risk his flank to one of the harder units when trying to avoid it and reposition for a new threat. Either way, you have taken the enemy unit out of the equation for several rounds, since if he charges your expendable unit, both fleeing and holding are viable options, wether he beats you or not, you will now have positioned the enemy unit in an unfavourable way and it will either have to struggle to get back into close combat, or fight on anfavourable conditions against at least one unit to the flank.

Your second option is, if you have that kind of firepower or close combat prowess, to set up a single unit to deny your enemy his killing-zone, for instance, a unit of handgunners set up with line of sight across the area in which the swordsmasters will move, or a cannon lined up for a flank shot if those Chosen Knights move forward at any speed. Alternately, as said, you can put up something that is guaranteed to outfight the enemy unit if you get the jump on a flank, Knights, Yehetees, Ogres of any kind and generally any form of semi to long-range charger that has good enough close combat power to win a combat if they get a flank charge. By doing this, you also deny your opponent the efficiency of his unit, given, this will of course limit the use of some of these units, however, your opponent will hopefully try to close off this zone in order to protect the advance of the rest of his army, and, by negating that zone, his protection is now gone.

Remember, you can read your opponents strategy based on where he puts his units, the big-honkin-butcher-unit-of-ultimate-killy-death is no different in this regard and is often used in order to deny you an area of the board, an area which he finds threatening should you get any unthreatened models into it.

Containing the problem:

Onto the gaming shall we? Now, my first point here is that you should always expect to loose units to this enemy unit, always, never expect to be able to outrun, gun down or avoid it completely, you WILL lose units to it, so why go out of your way to try and avoid it? Sure, it is minimising the damage it does to your army, but it lets your opponent dictate the flow of battle, and we don't want that now, do we? Instead, ignore the unit, play as if though it wasn't there, that is not saying that you should leave flanks open to it, of course you shouldn't, but you should NEVER leave flanks open, treat it as you treat any enemy unit. And should it start causing a mess, you should rather direct it away from combat than try to beat it at it's own game. Either show it a target tempting enough for your opponent to order a charge (upon which, if you flee, make sure to have all roads open), you then flee or take the charge and let him win combat, only to leave him stranded in an are in which his unit cannot do any harm, or cannot do sufficient harm to further affect the outcome of the battle. This works for anything barring flyers, these must be caught and brought down or crippled, this is most easely done by throwing suicidal chariots, fast cavalry and knight-charges at it, at least if it's a dragon, a chariot or knight charge should usually see off the rider of a Chimera or Griphon.

Other methods which will be discussed later on will be damage controll and handling of dangerous units, however, my time is running short at the moment, so I must bid thee readers farewell for the time being.

07-10-2007, 06:59
Similar to the idea of containing the problem, Damage controll is focused on, well, controlling the ammount of damage you let the enemy unit do to you, this often requires the dedication of one or two units, so unless you can spare these units, do not go fully for damage controll other than for early turns.

Damage controll:

Big bad enemy superunits wants to mess with your deployment, your movement and your army, and as has been said, don't let them, turn both of these into your advantage. However, there are times when there is hardly any chance of avoiding direct confrontation with such a unit, these are the times when you have to try and limit the damage the unit can do.

Limiting this damage can be done in several ways, one of them being to dart in with a sacrificial unit in between the apparant target and the superunit, for instance, placing a unit of fast cavalry in between a block infantry unit and anything nasty enough to tear said infantry unit appart. Of course, you should always angle the intercepting unit, but not in too large an angle, you still want to force a frontal charge so hat the enemy unit, when victorious, will pursue or overrun away from the original threat. This should give you enough time to get the intended target out of harms way without having to go out on a limb and change your entire movement.

However, when doing this, you always have to weigh the importance of the two units, is it really worth sacrificing a unit of fast cavalry in order to save that one unit of rank and file troops? Or would you perhaps be better off with the enemy taking out your rank and file unit and thus placing the superunit in an unfavourable position for the other player? This kind of questions must always be carefully thought through if you aim to limit the damage which the enemy superunit can do.

Otherwise, stubborn or unbreakable units with the capacity of soaking a lot of wounds is a good option to tie down and thus limit the superunit in both actions and damage output. If even a single Black Guard or Slayer is standing in the opponents turn, the superunit has been neutralised for yet another turn, this is something they do not want. Blowing through one unit at a time is of the essence when using a superunit.

Other aspects of damage controll involves the aspect of choosing your wargear, when in combat, there are several units with handweapon, shields and another weapon, lest the superunit has strength five, lightarmour, handweapon and shield is a lot better to choose when recieving the charge from such a unit, simply due to that configuration being able to save more troops and thus gives the the opportunity of countercharging in your own turn. However, should the opponent have sufficient strength to negate or close to negate your armoursave, then maximising attacks is of the essence, since there is such a thing as luck in games of Warhammer.

Handling of dangerous units

We have discussed ways of minimising damage done by them, forcing your opponent to react to you and how to best neutralise the killzone created by the superunit during deployment. However, sometimes, damage controll and forcing the unit to react is not enough, sooner or later, some units cannot be ignored, no matter how skilled the tactician.

This is where you deal with it.

The key to superunits is that they can seemingly take out whole armies without support, however, this is only partially true, since there are enemy units supporting the superunit. We have units of baiters and flankers that prevents us from engaging the superunit, we have shooters that lower the rank bonuses of intended targets, we have hefty units of infantry that ties down our support.

Once you start removing these elements, handling the superunit becomes increasingly easy.

First of all, you need to take out the quicker units, BaronDeSade from the old GW forums (and I think Druchii.net), always had a plan which he followed suit to deal with the opponents army, a slight adaptation of said plan gives you an excellent way of dealing with superunits.

First of all, you take out fast support, this enables you to easier dictate the flow of battle, and when dictating where the enemy superunit can and cannot move, you are allready on your way to dealing with it. This first step also severly cripples an army, allowing you to move onto the next step.

Take out ranged support. Wether it be magick or shooting, ranged support must be taken down as a second step, this opens up for your magick users to wreck havoc on any remnants of the faster support units. This also further weakens an army, making it easier to go into the following steps, which not only handles the superunit, but the army as a whole.

Remove the element of threat, aka. faster units that hits hard, knights and the likes. Once you have eliminated these units (do note, wait with the superunit, tie it down or bait it away as discussed earlier), this leaves only the infantry and the superunit to deal with.

Step four is the cleanup step, this is where you use all of your units to gang up on whatever unit you wish to destroy, this is one of the few ways of beating superunits which would otherwise be unbeatable in a straight up fight. This ganging up can be done by melee units, however, it can also be done by engaging the enemy infantry with your melee units whilst supporting them with flank-charges and the likes. This frees up one big, juicy target for you to trace any cannons, bolt throwers, archers, handgunners, mortars, hellcannons, screaming scull catapults etc. at, and this is where you let loose the hail of death.

These steps also does help you win the game, picking appart the enemy in this or similar ways gives you more tactical advantages the more turns the game goes on.

And this concludes this humble article on Handling rather than beating those superunits which we all dread.

07-10-2007, 07:06
I sorely do hope people will add their own views on the matter, but I did feel something needed to be written on the topic of superunits with all the hype on how new units always seem unbeatable

Johan Chill
07-10-2007, 13:45
This is a great article and asset to new players.
As one of these new players myself there is not really anything i can add to the thread but I thought I'd express my appreciation.

Thanks for the effort!

07-10-2007, 14:03
Nice article but remember there is no k in panic and it is lose not loose :)

07-10-2007, 16:02
i liked the thread i have found that i do exactly what you have stated. in 40k and WHFB and now i am learning to just wipe out their easy beat units and heroes and save those bigger units for last in games i tend to play like this now so that way when i have gotten through most of their army i still have enough power to take out that nasty unit.

i am now close to keen on starting a settra army full of chariots and i will throw in some screaming skull catapult for the panic factor i havent seen any TK games and i have herd they are not the best fighters and my army is going to be based on jabbing a sickel bladed spear into the head of the enemy with lots of chariots and i think when some one sees about 20 chariots drop on the field with settra and some nasty catapults i think they will have no clue on what to attack. which is good for me.

i was also thinking of a necromancer army and just constantly summon skeletons around my enemy but for what i was thinking of doing it would require months of building painting and working for me to get enough money

07-10-2007, 16:46
Nice article but remember there is no k in panic and it is lose not loose :)

What do you mean by that :angel:

Oh how I love the "Edit" button :D

07-10-2007, 17:55
Nice article, very true and all ... and then I ran into those damned Treemen.

- They contain so much VP's that it's almost impossible to win without taking them out (the set-up was Ancient, two mounted Mages hiding in forests, mounted BSB trailing the Treemen and a regular Treeman) I killed the rest of his army ... not enough.

- They can't be outrun or ignored. Good movement, Tree-surfing and Strangle-Root attacks means they pretty much dominate a large area around them.

- They refuse to go down. I trapped the regular one between a unit of Khornate Knights, a Khornate Chariot and a lonesome Minotaur ... some 70ish strength 5 and 40ish strength 4 attacks later the brute was still standing, the Ancient had arrived to help out so both the Knights and Chariot broke and ran for it. My Khornate Daemon Prince refused to go near them because he had already been on the receiving end of those trangle-Roots (so he went hunting Dryads instead).

My Khornate Cavalry army truely hates those trees and there's not much I can do about it ...


07-10-2007, 18:26
This is one of those rare instances where you need to put something in there to deal with them first chance available, a unit of three Dragon Ogres with Greatweapons is the first thing that comes to mind, they should see the beast off rather quickly. Second would be to replace the daemonprince with a Khornate Lord wielding the Hellfire Sword, that sword is BRUTAL against treemen, however, an Ancient with the Anoyance is, well... anoying.

The problem with these treemen is that you cannot negate their killzone, since they place a forrest in between your negators and themselves, otherwise it would be simple. If not tooling to beat them, I would suggest including a unit of Centigors, these are vicious against anything that thinks it can hide in forrests, they would force the opposing wood elf to dedicate the treemen towards the Centigors lest they brutally slaughter the mages and the battle standard bearer. With the aid of other fast units such as Marauder Horsemen and Fleshhounds, you should be able to take out the Battle Standard Bearer and force your opponent to pick a target with the treemen shots, either centigors but leave fast support units to further weaken his army, or fast support units but leave centigors to take out characters.

07-10-2007, 19:31
Should work against almost any other army ... but not this one:

Treeman Ancient
Mage, mounted
Mage, mounted
BSB, mounted

7 units Dryads
1 unit Treekin

1x Treeman

- It doesn't matter how hard you try, you will never get those Mages hiding between the trees. They only have to move out of the 2 inch sight range to prevent any charges. Meanwhile there's that nasty Deepwood Sphere that hits any enemy model in the forest with strength 5 and all Treesinging Spells (of which he has 5) turn into d6 strength 5 damage spells. It ain't nice ... believe me.

- His "soft" support units ain't soft at all and hit very hard when you wander too close. I need my main assault units to carve a path through them because my own support don't have a chance (mounted Marauders, Warhounds, Furies).

This horde of Dryads is simply too different from regular armies to be beaten by the same tactics ... it's just a very bad match-up for my Khornate Cavalry. **** happens.

I probably will give the Hellfire Sword a try ... just for the fun of seeing that suckers burn ... :evilgrin:


(PS Killed all but one of the Dryad units, the Treekin and half a Treeman.)

07-10-2007, 19:46
If thats his list is it even legal? Is that 3 core choiches (pardon my ignorance of the tree-huggers)?

And Neknoh, great stuff!

07-10-2007, 19:49
If thats his list is it even legal? Is that 3 core choiches (pardon my ignorance of the tree-huggers)?

And Neknoh, great stuff!

I changed the words so it's a bit more clear now ... 7x Dryads meant 7 units of Dryads (and not one unit of 7 Dryads).


07-10-2007, 20:14
I do see what you mean, now, based on what you have told me, I am inclined to agree with you, use the main assault to take out his support and use your support to try and bottleneck his main units, you can only ever cram that many units into one area at the time when they start ranking up. Horsemen with Flails should be strong enough.

But in your case, encirkling and isolating the treemen before hitting them with Dragon Ogres and Hellfire Sword seem to be one of few sollutions.

09-10-2007, 12:25
I feel sorry for chaos generals facing the bearded tree list. As an Empire player I can always fall back on the ol' great cannon to solve nearly any problem! (I guess you could always opt for the lore of fire...)

Back to other super units, as stated by Neknoh sacrificing or diverting is often a way to go (if your shooting hasn't worked!). One tactic is to offer said unit a nice juicy target, such as a unit of infantry with your general and/or standard bearer in it (mounted preferably). Bait the super unit towards it then simply move your characters out. Instead of charging all the way across the board expecting to claim a 500 points, he's left with a 100 point disposable unit.

warlord hack'a
09-10-2007, 13:22
well, I do not know how you set up terrain but you can have only 3 or 4 pieces of terrain on the table if you follow the normal setup rules and then add the forest that comes with the treehuggers. Now with a bit of luck this leaves the woodelf player with only one, maybe 2 forests (nobody says you NEED to include a forest in your terrain). He can never cram all his units into this one forest of only 6" diameter..

problem solved: annihilate anything that sticks out of the forest!

warlord hack'a
09-10-2007, 13:24
and Neknoh, thanks for the article, indeed taking out fast support early in the game is mopre important than firing away at the slower enemy infantry super unit. But still if his superunit consists of knights I'd rather start aiming my bolt throwers at that unit from turn 1.

09-10-2007, 14:37
I had a game not too long ago where i was using chaos, and was up against an empire army that contained the stank/ war alter combo, and ended up killing the alter and containing the stank by sheer intimidation. I had absolutly nothing to effectively deal with the stank at all.

He plunked down the stank and alter on one flank in responce to my non chosen unit of knights. flanking my knights was a unit of pestigors.

Throughout the game, i kept my pestigors in such a way that if the stank charged, my knights would flee and pestigors would flank charge.
I always positioned my knights so that i was about 13"-14" away from the stank, so he would start second guessing himself about how many steam points he would get. The second he failed the steam point test, the knights and my lord would have their way with it.

However, he kept going for 4 pts. moving the stank backwards, and firing the cannon. this lasted the entire game, the stank didnt kill a thing, and the rest of my army preceded to beat the empire troops in an all out slug fest, with the pestigors killing dead the over anxious archlector.

Yeah, i didnt kill the super unit, but i delt with it rather reasonably for not having another super unit of my own to take it out.

09-10-2007, 15:38
Pretty good Neknoh.

i wish i could add to it but my experience of fantasy is very restricted.

My way of dealing with super units is thus:

1. Green fire (if immune to psy go to step 2)
2. Blue fire (if this fails see step 3)
3. Chosen Knights/warriors

never had to get past step 3...