Posted 07/01/2018

Battleplan Tactica – Starstrike

Starstrike can catch an unprepared player off-guard, featuring a tricky core mechanic where the objectives deploy randomly! Victory requires balancing risk and reward – do you cover as much of the board as possible, or take the fight straight to your opponent? We caught up with Russ to pick up some top tips on winning Starstrike:

To win in this scenario, you need to be patient and play the long game, as holding the objectives in rounds 4 and 5 is more important than doing so in rounds 2 and 3. The player with the most victory points at the end of round 5 will win a major victory in this game. This battleplan rarely comes down to the tiebreaker that is the minor victory, but it’s worth bearing in mind throughout the game.

Key points to consider

  • The objectives do not appear until later in the game, with the first arriving at the start of battle round 2 and two more at the start of battle round 3.
  • Objectives come down randomly, one along the centre line and the others on the 12” line of each territory.
  • You control an objective by having more models than your opponent within 3” of it at the end of your turn.
  • The objectives are worth a number of points equal to the current battle round, so on battle round 4 each objective will be worth 4 points.

Setting a Plan for the Game

It’s a good idea to start thinking about kill points from the very beginning of the game. Try to eliminate fast-moving units and, if possible, control the central area of the table. Don’t get bogged down in combat away from the 9 potential Starstrike locations, because this could leave your units engaged and tied up when the objective lands.  Usually it’s a good idea only to focus on two objectives and let one go, rather than spreading your army too thin and leaving it vulnerable to attack. I would also generally deploy centrally and avoid deploying anything in the extreme flanks of the table, unless it’s a particularly fast unit.

Plan 1 – Defensive Counter

Because the objectives won’t appear until the start of rounds 2 and 3, and they’re worth more later in the game, it can be beneficial to play very defensively. It can even be worth taking the turn 1 advantage to move backwards, ready to give your opponent the double turn from round 1-2 and then giving you the double turn in rounds 2-3. Of course, this can be risky because you’ll be giving up board position, and if the opponent has any fast-moving or alpha strike capabilities, such as a unit of tunnelling Vulkite Berzerkers, then you’ll need to decide if it’s worthwhile. Usually this is a good idea if you have fast-moving, hard-hitting units like Blood Knights, Fulminators or a horde of Bloodletters.

Let your opponent spread out and minimise the damage they can deal on the double turn and then counter-attack and claim the objectives when they are worth the most points.

Plan 2 – Anticipation

Just because you don’t know where the objectives will be doesn’t mean you can’t capture the table locations early. You know there are 9 possible locations around the middle of the table, so why not use defensive units to seize and hold position, ready for the objective to land on you? Saurus Guard, Plaguebearers, Crypt Horrors, Dryads or Vulkite Berzerkers can be great holding units with the right buffs or supporting heroes.

This does give your opponent the chance to attack you on their terms, but, ideally, you have a counter-attack prepared. Your opponent will break upon your defensive wall, allowing you to counter and win the game later on.

Plan 3 – Divide and Conquer

If you have an army capable of playing out the early turns chipping away whilst keeping units off the table in reserve, you can adopt this strategy. You can achieve this by spreading out your units, relying on shooting and avoiding combat early on in the game. When the objectives land, be ready to counter-attack. If your opponent doesn’t have many units, try to take out the vulnerable units rather than the big combat threats; a unit can only capture one objective at a time, so if you get rid of the softer units your opponent intends to score points with, they might have to use a combat unit to camp on an objective rather than using it to attack your units.

Sylvaneth armies are fantastic at this approach, with the ability to melt away through the realmroots and keep units in reserve. They also have access to one of the best shooting units in the game in the form of Kurnoth Hunters. You can move your combat power around the table and pick off vulnerable scoring units in the first couple of turns, putting your opponent on the defensive. Not to mention their added benefit of being about to put Wyldwoods down on potential objective locations.

Stormcast Eternals are also very adept at this approach, with the Celestant-Prime warranting a special mention. Because the objectives are worth more points towards the end of the game, bringing the Celestant-Prime down in turn 4 or 5 and clearing an opponent from an objective can be game-winning in this scenario.

Putting it all Together…

Your army composition will dictate how this mission is played. If you have a lot of large, slow-moving defensive units, then you will want to push centrally and take board position early. Remember, you only need to take two objectives for the majority of the game to win, so it might not even be worth going for your opponent’s objective. Patience is key, but don’t play too cautiously; a canny opponent will take up board position ready for the stars to fall, and you might not be able to remove them from the objectives quickly enough.

Try to reduce the number of scoring units your opponent has, taking out the weak, smaller units rather than the large combat threats. If you can, keep larger units busy with a defensive horde, then use your fast-moving units (like an Anointed on Frostheart Phoenix, for example) to remove the opponent’s scoring units before the objectives arrive.

Using units to block space, or to screen your objective holding units, can also buy you extra turns scoring, so use your units wisely.

Be patient, be flexible and don’t give up those scoring units cheaply – think about the objectives and try to focus on two of them whilst maximising your kill point tally. This should see you to victory in this scenario.

You can read the previous entry in the Battleplan Tactica series here, while if you want to try Starstrike out for yourself, you’ll need the General’s Handbook 2017, available in-store or online.

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