Posted 09/11/2017

Battleplan Tactica – Knife to the Heart

Matched play in Warhammer Age of Sigmar is built on six battleplans, and having a strategy for each is just as important as building a powerful army or reading up on your opponents. In the first instalment of Battleplan Tactica, we’ve got legendary competitive Warhammer Age of Sigmar player Russ “the Face” Veal to take us through how to deliver a Knife to the Heart of your enemy without taking one yourself…

Knife to the Heart is one of the hardest battleplans to secure a major victory and requires a well-thought-out plan from the outset.

Key points to consider:

  • The game can be won or lost from battle round 3 onwards.
  • You need 5 models within 6″ of both objectives, and no enemy models in that space, to win.
  • If neither player wins the major victory, the win will come down to kill points.
  • Units can be within 18″ of each other at the start of the game.

Setting a plan for the game

When approaching this battleplan you need to decide if you can play for the major or the minor victory. This will depend largely on the type of force you have selected. Remember that in order to effectively attack your opponent’s objective, you will need to keep enough back to stop any fast enemy units or units with special deployment rules from getting around your flanks/attacking force. The diagonal deployment zones can make covering your objective very difficult, especially against special deployment rules such as the Stormcast Lightning Strike ability.

Plan 1 – Minor Victory through Ranged Attacks

This is probably one of the easiest plans to execute, but you need to be able to outrange your opponent’s abilities and shooting attacks. For example, if you have Judicators and Vanguard-Raptors with longstrike crossbows, but your opponent is using short-range spells for ranged damage or a Kunnin Ruk. In this case, you should be able to plan your range and shoot with little to no returning fire from them. Using your superior range and keeping track of your kill points during the game will really help here. You still need a strong defensive force to protect your objective or use the combat threat to keep enemy units away. You can also use a resilient attacking unit to keep them occupied whilst you pick off enough points from afar to take the minor victory by round 5.

Plan 2 – The Bait and Switch

Using units which your opponent needs to kill, but which you don’t fully commit, can make your opponent overextend, moving their troops off the objective. This can weaken their defensive force and leave them open to a sneaky counter-attack on the objective. Of course, you need to capitalise on this early or they can sweep back in and put you on the back foot. This strategy can also lure an opponent into an attack on a weak-looking centre, allowing your fast units to flank and clear the units left behind, claiming their home objective. However, you also need to keep them away from your own objective using a large and sturdy defensive unit; you can’t go wrong with a block of 30 or so Dryads. Fast-moving armies such as Sylvaneth are really effective at this strategy, using the superior movement to pull the opponent out of position.

Plan 3 – The Counter-Attack

This plan is all about effectively shutting down your opponent’s attacking force and quickly eliminating it, before pushing through to claim their objective. Having one special deployment unit is great for this, as you can use them to attack the objective whilst your main force repels your opponent’s assault. You’ll want to hold 10 Vanguard-Hunters off the board for this purpose, thanks to their versatility, possessing both ranged and close-combat attacks. If your opponent is playing very aggressively, with lots of close combat units, you can play around them by letting them come to you. Play carefully, hope they score a double turn and strand themselves in the middle of the board, then bring in your counter-attack units from the back to drag them back.

Plan 4 – Overwhelming Force

This is a very straightforward plan, but is very hard to execute – armies like Ironjawz and Soulblight really excel at this plan. The goal here is to try and get the double turn between rounds 2 and 3 so you can automatically win on the end of your third turn after taking two turns back-to-back. You need to play accordingly; try and hold back, let your opponent play tentatively in early turns, then to push hard in turns 2 to 3 with enough combat superiority to attack effectively. By being patient, you also reduce the chance of a successful counter-attack if your attacking force is wiped out; while your opponent might pick up the minor victory, they won’t have time to rout your defences and take that second objective.

This approach is very effective if your opponent has weaker combat army and they push early. Be wary of armies with flanking and special deployment units. Defensive shooting armies also dislike this approach and you may need to be more aggressive early on. While your rearguard should be under little to no threat, again be wary of fast-moving units such as Vanguard-Palladors and Tzaangor Skyfires. One thing to bear in mind is to keep back enough units to have 5 models around your objective.

Top Tips for Protecting your Objective

Protecting your objective effectively will require spreading out multiple small units or single characters at the max 6″ range spread out around the objective to hold it. Maintaining the 5 model requirement here is key to winning a major victory, but also helps to deny your enemy the same.

A large unit of defensive models can be used to push back and stop enemies getting around and within range. A unit of 30 Plaguebearers can comfortably sit on the objective, resist shooting and stop combat units dead in their tracks. Cheap battleline units which can regrow, like skeleton warriors or zombies, can also be great as a defensive holding force.

Using aggressive units to threaten your opponent’s attacking units can be effective at deterring an attack, making your opponent think twice before pushing towards your objectives – Fulminators and Blood Knights are great for this.

Putting it all together…

Knife to the Heart is a battleplan which asks a lot from your army selection, so having a flexible mix of units will allow you to play any of the above strategies and counter your opponent’s plan. Understanding how your opponent will approach the game is key to winning this mission with a major victory. If the fight is on their objective and they cannot get to yours, you’re probably on the right track. Patience, a flexible army and a thought-out plan should help you emerge victorious in this mission.

Thanks, Russ! If you’re looking to play Knife to the Heart, you’ll need a copy of the General’s Handbook 2017 – order yours here.

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