View Full Version : Anti-gunline tactics

13-04-2008, 17:42
I'd like to see more discussion on anti-gunline tactics. There's a ton of folks who whine about gunlines/shooty armies, but not nearly enough discussion about how to beat them. If more folks published their thoughts/successes on how to beat gunlines, perhaps folks would complain less and just get on with it tactically.
Guns dominate the battlefield in the 'normal' non-magical environment. It works, historically. Warhammer introduces non-'normal' elements into the equation. Magic, placing terrain to be disruptive to fields of fire, many other factors can help change the equation. Proper use of terrain helps a lot, too.
Sometimes it's not your troops at all, it's what you did with them.
Let's hear from folks who have successes against gunlines, and we'll all learn how to play effectively against guns.

13-04-2008, 19:36
Whilst I have little actual experience, something leaps at me from your opening statement., which suggests a specific tactic.
Wood Elves have Tree Singing amongst their capabilities. Being able to strategically reposition woods to block LoS I believe to be very valuable, along with the extra wood they get to place at the beginning of the game.
I'm not sure if this is even effective, but it's an idea none the less.

English 2000
13-04-2008, 20:34
Summoning based VC are great against empire gunlines.

Ward saves plus look out sir "should" keep vampires safe from cannon sniping.

Ghoul infantry - T4 and can be summoned.
Spirit Hosts.

Just move forward and summon ghouls every turn.
Save d. scrolls to keep ethereals safe.

IF he takes a more balanced style gunline (ie counter chargers) you can take grave guard to counter his hammer unit.

Well built undead won't have too much trouble against the gunline.

Mike KK
13-04-2008, 21:43
a better gunline :D

2nd turn charge armies

more models than they can kill ie massive horde armies

edit: howling winds spell from lore of life

Bob the Butcher
13-04-2008, 22:11
My experience with facing gun lines has not been nice.

Bretonnians for example even with 2+ AS and 5+ Ward Saves tend to be carved up by Organ guns and Cannons.

When my Ogres faced off vs. a moderate Dwarf Gun line I tended to hang back out of range and the game ended in a draw. Boring for both sides.

I don't see that Ogres can successfully assault a gun line? as although toughness 4 or better their armour is almost non existent.

13-04-2008, 22:19

Gunlines have to deploy wide in order to fit all their troops in.

Deploy tight, on a single flank, and a lot of the opposing army will end up out of LOS/ out of range/ at long range to you.

Put all the fast stuff up front, follow with infantry, go for a shock attack on one flank then turn and roll up the rest of the line.

13-04-2008, 22:45
I think the problem with the gunline is that it can't be handled very well by a balanced army. The list has enough firepower to deal with the 'problem' elements of your army (anything that's fast and hitty) tehn deal with the slower elements as they struggle to get across the table and into close combat.

Really from the get go your army is going to struggle so look to maximise your advantages. Refuse to play on a table that looks like a bowling ball and make sure that there is enough terrain in the center of the table to break up open lanes of fire. When deploying look to set up as much stuff in cover as possible and set up your fast stuff on the flanks where the amount of fire they will be taking will be less than if you were to use them in the center.

Try to maneuver out of sight of as much of your opponants stuff as possible. When using missile troops try to concentrate them in one place (preferably in cover) where hopefully they can out shoot the section of your opponants army that's set up across from them.

Really though at the end of the day you're probably staring down the barrel of defeat. Best thing to do is hide everything and just stay there. Game ends a draw and if your opponant gets annoyed then just point out that there's no point in comming out to get shot and sugest that he moves his army forward. There are some armies that deal well with Gunlines (all knight Bretonnia springs to mind) but most aren't and the gunline has no real place in games of Warhammer outside of tournaments.


13-04-2008, 23:48
Agree Kahadras, Ive always said why these left of centre armies do so well is because you go in severely disadvantaged with a standard tourny army.

Brets, Tree spirit,Gunlines etc all need a tailored army to be competitive against.

14-04-2008, 00:04
I think the most important thing to remember is to not play on their terms. Playing a battle with a gunline army involved means it's going to be a bit tedious anyway, so you might as well make the honourless git who fielded it suffer a little as well. Don't go charging out to meet it, instead hold yourself above hesitate hunkering down behind a forest or something, if the situation warrants it. Especially if you're playing a tournament: Make him work for his precious VP's!

Crazy Harborc
14-04-2008, 00:35
Use very large units supported by fast, smaller, cheap units in front to draw shooting, to block sight of the HtH units moving up behind the screening units. Flanks, go for the flanks. Advance PDQ across the field. Gunline troops don't usually do well in HtH.......little or no saves.

Fliers/monsters that cause terror checks. Lots of cav that move 12 inches or more on a march move. Magic toys, magic spells that do D6 or 2D6 hits. Hard hitting war machines. Gunlines of your own.;)

If all else fails, try to find more opponents who don't field gunline armies.;)

14-04-2008, 02:53
Most have mentioned the tactics to use (flank attacks, stack one side to deny shots, flyers, screening troops). However, in a pickup game where you use the actual terrain deployment rules, you can use hills or woods to block LOS. I realize that tournament terrain is preplaced for variety and speeding up games, but a tactical element is lost in such situations that favors certain 'gimmicky' armies (gunlines, brets, etc.).

Also, magic is an option. My son's Slann dropped Comet of Cassandora on a gunline one time and wiped out a third of it, as the stunty dwarves couldn't get out of the way and failed on the dispels. The rain spell and howling wind from Lore of Life are quite useful. T

14-04-2008, 03:51
My Black Orc warboss on a wyvern declared Waagh and managed to charge on the first turn before a shot was fired. You have to close in quickly. As was previously mentioned, war machine crew and shooters are not much chop (sorry) in close combat. Any troops you have that are fast and relatively cheap are useful, enough units to provide plenty of targets and close the gap quickly. Even if your troops are dealt with, it may give your more solid core time to get within charge range.

Also, look to magic and magic items that give your troops bonuses to movement. My experience has been that the right balance of fast movement and number of targets has been successful, especially (and strangely) on open plains. It seems that while some units are blown away and some panic and flee, there is usually enough left of some units to charge war machines and shooters. Once they are engaged they lose combat resolution and are gone. Even if they stick around, that's another round of them not shooting at your steadily advancing core.

14-04-2008, 07:50
I like playing against well designed gunlines, they're part of the environment and it changes the way you look at army construction and table top tactic's.

The problem I have most is defining a gunlines. Whats a gunline and whats an armylist with alot of support fire? How much is to much?

For me; 40 hand gunners is cool ... 80 is alittle insane. 8 B.Throwers is fine .... 8 B.Throwers + 14 P.Dice and 6 units of shooty units is crazy. But hey each to their own, my job is to build a list that can play against such armies.

The other problem for player's is balancing out the pro's and con's of taking to many support units and what units to take. But thats part of the game. Making a list the balances out against other army types is the basis of most other games, but this idea seems to be missing for alot of WHFB players.

I think most every army book has ways of dealing with static gunlines.

The best advantage is having big units and lots of them. a basic horde core units win games against gunlines more than anything else. They'll still need to be supported, but 100+ models is hard task for most gunlines to whittle down.

A weakness with most gunlines is that their deployment has to be spot on. The reasons being is that the battleline is flat, so its really hard to support it's self in combat. Meaning if it hasn't shot out enough of the opponents unit strength the battle line its going to be smashed up bit by bit.

A other weakness in gunlines is that shooty units are brilliant targets for all most anything to charge. As an opponent you have no worries about targeting units when you get to the other side ... the problem is getting to the other side.

The other thing you should be watching out for in deployment is how he angles and deploys his shooty units like handgunners for example. The angle of his static firing platforms is all important to how much concentrated fire he can target your units with. For example if he stacks alot of concentrated fire in one part of the board you generally don't want your units there.

Deployment is a tricky subject since its reactions more the anything above all for me. First of all, deploy out of range of gunners :).

Generally he'll deploy a unit then react to see where you deploy and then build his gunline's concentrated fire power on your deploy. One option is to deploy your light cavalry or flying units first and let him react to your units that can easily be redeployed. This lets you shift out of the concentrated fire arcs easier.

If he castles, He'll leave you with part of the board where you can move with out alot of problems. You can actually set up away from alot of his concentrated fire and push down of one flank.

If he slaps down his army in one long line, then as before you target one flank with the main thrust of your force.

Basically you either want to split up his shooting phase making it hard for him to panic units and whittle down ranks and unit strength. Or you want to make him redeploy and waste a turn shooting.

1st turn march, 2nd turn march 3rd turn march .....

Its much, much more important to stop your opponent using march blockers than it is doing anything else. It's thee most important thing. Use your support units to take out march blockers first and foremost.

More later must eat ....

14-04-2008, 09:52
There are some interesting high level magic options as well like sending them a comet to play with or winds of undeath. Of course these might take some effort to get off but if you do they should be able to take some guns off the table or at least make them less efficient.

14-04-2008, 09:55
If you know you are facing a gunline, try messing with it in the terrain set up phase. For instance, setting up two hills or forests in the middle of the neutral zone makes for a more fun game. If used wisely to shield and protect your troops, you can minimize the number of turns your troops are out in the open to one.

My main problem with shooty armies is that, at least in the case of Empire, there is still a substantial army protecting it. If your opponent manages to whittle your troops down sufficiently, even a horde army finds itself smaller than the one it is facing.

As other people have stated, whatever you do, do not get bottle-necked and shot to death. Refuse to play your opponent's game, and hang on to your side of the board. Shooting tends to be ineffective over half range. It is boring, but forces both players to change their armies to create a more exciting game. Perhaps the key is to introduce objectives instead of VP:s. I really like the Legendary Battle's approach to VP:s, and would like to try it in standard games.


14-04-2008, 10:17
Well I can only comment on the tactics I use with my three Fantasy armies, as my experience outside of them is fairly limited.

With my Dark Elves, it's a matter of concealing my main force as a sorceress (with Lore of Shadows) and an Assassin use tree's to near the enemy. With a little careful management of the Magic phase the Assassin is launched via Steed of Shadows at an unsuspecting Warmachine, and then rolls through the line (usual load out of Additional Hand Weapon, Rune of Khaine and Manbane poison). At 179pts it's not a disaster should his overun fall short of his next victims and he gets pasted by firepower, and his killing power is such that once he's finished with the guns he can happily go toe-to-toe with other heroes (such as the ever present BSB) and pick them out. Then once the main danger of shooting is done away with, the main army comes out and grabs objectives/table quarters.

With my High Elves is usually play with a balanced infantry/magic list. Shield of Saphery is a life-saver here, and should one of my 3 Mages get Curse of Arrow Attraction? Cake ;) Sneak him to a position where he can cast it on the opponents war-machines and watch your own Bolt Throwers riddle the crew in short order.

With Vampire counts? Zombie screens. I always play an Infantry/Summoning heavy army and so it's just a matter of advancing as quickly as possible whilst simply replacing any loses I take from shooting. Just a matter of prioritising where to spend your powerdice.

14-04-2008, 10:18
So its really important that your main force move in one wave, if it partly stagnates then its easier for the opponent to target your units and pick them off bit by bit, since your offering only partial threats to his battle line.

Its also important that AFTER your supporting fast unit have stopped march blockers, that the rest are protected, by either terrain or hiding behind other units.

When light cavalry and flyers actually do charge at your opponents gunline, it should be a combines charge at units that can't stand and shoot. Its important to combine supporting charges so that the opponent thinks twice about fleeing from all the charges.

If you have a limited amount of supporting units, then keep them safe, hide them behind your battle line, then open up lane ways for them to charge down or snake through when they're ALL in range. Down just charge them down the field and hope for the best and loose them to overwelming fire.

Personally, I'm playing V.C. at the moment so gunlines aren't that much of the problem, except for cannon sniping which I totally accept as a viable tactic. Even saying that I still play with about 20 odd dire wolves and at the moment 4 x 5 B.Knight units for fast support for my horde list.

You shouldn't take flyers and L.Cavalry JUST for taking on shooty lists. They are both brilliant unit types they're both real work horses on the table top and fill both aggressive and defensive roles. imho they both add mobility, depths and options to a list and balance an army list out to take on a wider scope of problems.

If you add fast support to a good rank and file list then you have both the numbers and options to deal with most gunlines. Other things like banner that help with panic or leadership roles, high L.d, ward saves are all good things that not other work well against gunlines, but most armies in general.

14-04-2008, 10:34
I find that most often the gunine boxes it self in.
Claim 3 quarters, eazy Vps.

try magic that affects every one under it path or every unit within a certain radus.
Vermitide for example. moves a large blast 4d6 through units, damaging every unit it touchs. 3d6 S2 hits. Sounds crap, when you hit 8 units at a time, its about 3 models per unit, 24 models. it's a laugh.

I also, snipe back. Most armys have a 24 inch range spell, move a unit into range of just one unit, unleash, move to the next target.

Also find a one way fire system. My warplighting sits behind this forest.
I shoot you, you cannot shoot me. see my line of thought.

If you want to run the line, find a first wave that will take the big hits for you, slaves, night runners ect

my 2c's worth.

any guesses what army I play

14-04-2008, 13:32
I once read a list on the 'Earl cadfafels/round table' Bretonnian website made up of MSU knights (about a dozen units of 6) led by a Prophetess, 2 damsels and one 'naked' bsb (no extra equipment. None of the characters were given any extra equipment!).

It looked like the perfect Anti gunline army, slam it up one flank and see it roll along the line. If you loose 2 or 3 regiments on the way it still leaves alot of hitting power, even one regiment of 6 KoTR can beat a missile regiment in a fight.

Multiple redundancy is the key, don't rely on one regiment to do the job, send 4 or 5!

My own Bretonnian Army is not, sadly. Too balanced with foot-sloggers!

14-04-2008, 13:48
When my Ogres faced off vs. a moderate Dwarf Gun line I tended to hang back out of range and the game ended in a draw. Boring for both sides.

And this, I think, is really what the complaining is about. Gunlines are just boring to play against, win or lose...

14-04-2008, 14:06
Went up against a Dwarf gunline with my VC recently, I would have been able to take the damage but for his anti magic which was very high and I took a moderate amount of magic.

So, with the same scenario in mind I think that an army that consists of four large Ghoul units backed up with enough magic to allow for at least 2 casters of Vanhels plus book of Ahrkan and the Ghoulkin power lets you have a free move of 8" for all Ghoul units before first turn, followed by a standard march and lots of Vanhels being cast in the magic phase will give you a second turn charge easily ;)

14-04-2008, 19:38
Facing a gunline doesn't use tactics, just dice. That's what makes them lame.

14-04-2008, 21:19
I think the first thing that comes to mind for me when facing a gun line is a ambushing lead by kazark the one eye, then your whole army can ambush (i believe), its about as much fun as the Gunline ;)

15-04-2008, 00:37
I actually like playing against gunline armies. I like playing against any army that poses a particular challenge. It forces me to come up with effective strategies and re-look at my army list to consider all its resources, not just take the same old, albeit effective, models.

One of the things that gives me great joy is to play a competent opponent who has an unfamiliar army and getting massacred. My joy is to be found in going back to my army book and looking for ways to get even. (At the moment my Vampires are trying to beat Teclis's 16 power dice - I WILL find a way).

Mr Squeakems
15-04-2008, 02:15
any guesses what army I play

Same one I play.
Long live the horde, and all its furry glory. Even if you kill 40 guys, theres 300 more standing behind them. :D

One thing i found that seems to work is get something that scares your opponent and protect it 200% Most likely they'll see it as a very big threat and shoot it with everything, leaving most the rest of your stuff untouched.
I know with non-horde armies its harder, but if your elite unit is big enough he cant kill em all unless they target their entire army with it, and that leaves everybody else untouched.

15-04-2008, 05:38
So, with the same scenario in mind I think that an army that consists of four large Ghoul units backed up with enough magic to allow for at least 2 casters of Vanhels plus book of Ahrkan and the Ghoulkin power lets you have a free move of 8" for all Ghoul units before first turn, followed by a standard march and lots of Vanhels being cast in the magic phase will give you a second turn charge easily ;)

Thats brilliant. That kind of list is not only going to be well against gunlines, but it'll also be effective against other army types as well.

@smarr10; I like your attitude. I've found that a good thing about losing is that you stand to focus alot more of your list and how why it runs. I like to sit on a good 50% win rate outside of tournaments, this means I'm also testing the lists looking at faults, trying different combo's, looking at how well the list plays against different army types, its always means I'm playing challenging games against good opponents and thats where I get alot of joy from, the challenge of other well constructed army lists.

Bumble the Great
13-05-2008, 15:37
As a WE player I quickly learned that longbows are a very useful tool and against alot of gun lines the extra range forces your opponent to move towards you bringing him out of his comfort zone.
Another tactic i have had great success with (especially against Dwarfs and the empire) is keeping your HtH troops marching forward behing trees with one of them poking their head round the side to maintain LoS charging through at the last moment.
Also there is nothing that says a wood cant go on top of a hill so even if their warmachines are snug on a bit of terrain in their deployment zone does not make them safe

Also I would add that just because your opponent thing its ok to have a hill in your deployment zone it does not mean that it should be placed neatly across so that his whole handgunner unit can fit on top of it while being a couple of inches back from the deployment line, the amount of times that i have seen this happen when a hill at an angle would provide a real problem for LoS and consentrated firepower is staggering and just the type of ploy you should not let them get away with!

13-05-2008, 17:03
the only problem w/gunlines is getting to them..... once you do you just bounce from warmachine to warmachine.... killing everything in your path......

i started a dwarf army..... and i believe that a dwarf player needs some hard hitting units to counter charge a threat roaming along your gunline..... i usually only bring 4 warmachines and one unit of thunderers..... rest of my army is there to wait for the counter charge....


13-05-2008, 18:27
I play dwarves and my army consists of two units of thunderers, a unit of quarrelers, a unit of longbeards, Hammerers, a cannon and two organ guns.

The people I have beaten with the list have spread across my line and tried to win head on.

The people I lose to have used large numbers of cavalry, out ranged me with missile weapons or magic. They have used the available cover with units such as white lions and attacked hard on one flank without me being able to bring all my firepower to bear.

I don't know whether this suggests the latter methods work.

The Red Scourge
14-05-2008, 11:55
I like guns.

If I had the chance I'd base my army on them. Rows and rows of guns and lines of cannons, and I'd blast away.

But I joined the HoC and counter gunlines by focusing heavily on one flank and sweeping down the line. (and I use my dirtcheap warhounds to go for the warmachine crews). Just take care never to expose the flanks of 1-rank units (like heavy cavalry) to a cannon or bolt thrower.

14-05-2008, 12:19
Tomb scorpions
Burowing skaven
Ambushing beastheards

Also, if the gunline has its warmachines in a line, fly a flyer into the side of that line, and charge 1 warmachine per turn. Most of them wont be able to shoot at him because they will block each others line of sight

14-05-2008, 13:29
Nothing screws a gunline more than 2 screaming skull catapults and a casket of souls. SSC can potentially shoot twice per turn, add skulls of the foe and see the gun line start to develop swiss cheese mentality as blocks start running off. The casket is great, since if you can place it on a hill, the whole gun line will have LOS to it. :skull:

14-05-2008, 13:55
When my Ogres faced off vs. a moderate Dwarf Gun line I tended to hang back out of range and the game ended in a draw. Boring for both sides.

I don't see that Ogres can successfully assault a gun line? as although toughness 4 or better their armour is almost non existent.

I'm not an OK player, but admit that they seem like they would have the toughest time vs. gunlines. But my first thoughts would be:

1. Pile everything on one side of the battlefield, as someone else mentions. Chose your position based on advantages of terrain. Force his shooters to redeploy for a turn or two if they want shots at you. This will give time to move into position.

2. Screen your troops with cheap gnoblars.

3. Yhetees & Gorgers to jump on shooters & artillery from unexpected positions.

Also, as a generic anti-gunline tactic that should be used by everyone, if you're facing a lot of 24" range weapons, always set up 24.5" away from your opponent unless you have a good reason not to.

15-05-2008, 10:44
my friend plays dwarves and fields a very effective 2k gun line list, he can counter many anti gunline tactics, he deploys 3 units of quarrelers with gws, 2 organ guns, 2 bolt throwers, 1 cannon, an anvil with a runesmith tooled up for defense, 1 unit of slayers with 3 champs, and a unit of miners with thane.

the anvil, slows down key enemy units, and speeds up the miners.

the slayer do what they do best of course.

the miners counter the flank and roll tactic, by flanking the flanking force.

the quarellers with GW can make life more difficult to charging units, and support other units by counter charging.

- i think he will only have major problems with horde armies and undead armies.

15-05-2008, 16:42
i really dont like gunlines
i think someone who uses gunline is a bit boring
i mean he just kill you without being able to do anything back at him

i hate feeling helpless in a battle, like it is unfair

but a quick question, i saw a thread where it said that this guy had used a lothern sea guard army and won a tournament cos of his shooting and no one clapped

what makes a unline so different?

15-05-2008, 18:34
Last time I played a gunline was with my older Ogre Kingdom list Vrs. Dwarves and I was still tuning my list, trying out different units.

What I did in that case was use the terrain to my advantage. On the right side there was some nice impassible terrain that I sent my Yhettees through. On the left a Hill towards the center of the board. I timed it so that he had a choice, shoot at the Giant and Ironguts coming up the middle or shoot at the Yhettees that just crossed through the terrain on the right, or shoot at the couple units of Bulls that just crested the hill on the left with a Tyrant in their midst. He had already wasted a turn shooting at a Butcher that had a Ward Save and Regen on it(does anyone else think I would expose a Butcher to cannon fire without some protection?) :)

He didn't know what to shoot at and shot in all directions which really had very little effect. He chose Grapeshot for the one cannon and fell short on the Yhettes. The Organ gun wounded the Giant. Another Cannon wounded a Yhetee. Another killed a Bull. The second organ gun wiped out the Tyrant's unit around him. Then suddenly everything was in CC with him and it was ugly.

So my general tactic was to give him some bait to shoot at, protected Butcher and a Giant, and otherwise move up in the shadow of terrain until I could come out in mass and charge.

15-05-2008, 19:23
1- Some good terrain. Deploy units outside LoS/range.

15-05-2008, 20:32
Specific army, but Slaanesh daemons can rip a gunline apart!

Take 4 characters with Siren Song and level 1 magic, and try to get lots of speedy Seekers and Fiends. Deploy on one flank, and about 26-30 Inches away from him.
His first turn is out of range, so no problems. In yours, sprint up to below 20" and try to cast Acquiescence. Aim it at counterchargers, like his generals units or cavalry. In his turn, let off all 4 Siren Songs at his missile troops, so he can't shoot with them. At worst, it might be 20 handguns and a couple of warmachines that fire, and you can weather that no problem. Then, just turn 2 charge him with your Seekers, preferably with the must-hold standards.

For extra dickery, you could have the no-magic-for-you banner on one of your heralds.

At least, it works in theory.

15-05-2008, 20:48
With my Wood Elves....

Speed is the main weapon. Hit them hard, in the flanks and roll up the line. I 've found Wild Riders to be particularly good at this.

Tree singing is great. not only block line of sight, but once you get a tree near enough, use the damage side of the spell - your opponent gets really annoyed ;)

Longer range missiles can annoy them too - make them move - this reduces their effetiveness

Flyers and scouts to disrupt / remove warmachines..

and a bit of luck with the dice rolls...

Count William Grey
15-05-2008, 21:39
Perhaps, another solution to the gun line is dealing with it with skirmisher screens. I know playing as Empire, which we all know can be famous for its gunlines, one counter is deploying skirmishers right in front of the gun line. Not only does it block LoS for them, skirmishers are hard to hit especially if they are over half range (-2 modifier). Perhaps if you are lucky with a bit of terrain it becomes even -3. Granted it doesnt work in all cases, its funny when the opponent needs to get a seven, and buys some units time.

16-05-2008, 02:51
A full skink army now that could do the trick! :P Sorry its just that gunlines are the only kind of army my lil lizards can take on with a certain ease block just are to though for me ( but i loove skinks!!)