Warmachine and Hordes Tactical Tips: How to Play Against Long Threat-Ranges

One of the biggest hurdles to developing players is understanding how to play against an opponent who drastically out threats your army without getting crushed or losing on scenario. 

There are multiple parts to this, and I will only address a few of them, but in general playing around longer threat ranges can start with list construction. Once you've got a list on the table, the next piece is understanding terrain and deployment, and finally positioning. 

As always, I can't cover every aspect of this concept in a single article, but if you do have questions or disagreements please let me know! I love discussing these nitty gritty pieces of the game. 

Solving Threat Ranges in List Building:

When building a list that you know does not have tremendous threat ranges, you have lots of different options.

I'm going to break these down into two broad categories: Charge Denial and Ranged Denial.

Charge Denial

Melee threat ranges tend to be the most common kind of extreme threat ranges that players have a difficult time mitigating. 

Most factions have some ways to deny charges flat out to enemy lists. These could include feats like Madrak 1, Rask, Witch Coven, and Vindictus, Cloud Walls from Trenchers, Kolgrima, King of Nothing or the upcoming Combat Alchemists, terrain generation like Sentry Stones, Rift, and Cipher Shots. 

Oftentimes, threat ranges come down to an inch or two of difference, and so preventing a charge can completely change the dynamic of the engagement. Here's an example of Rask using his feat to deny a very fast Troll list the alpha strike. 

From left to right, Rask has popped his feat, the middle picture is the Troll turn where the Troll player does basically nothing, and then the right hand picture is the Rask player getting a strong first strike and killing a lot of Long Riders. 

Charge denial has a lot more nuance usually than simply popping a Feat, but this is a basic example of what that looks like.

Ranged Denial:

Ranged models tend to dislike Stealth, terrain that they can't see through, and cover or other Defensive tech. When you're building your list, models that have innate defensive tech against shooting are often worth a look. 

Units and models with the *action Dig In (or the ability to gain something similar) are extremely effective at fighting ranged-based armies. These include Idrians, Reeves of Orboros, and Trenchers. Other abilities that make Ranged armies sad are Blade Shield, which shows up on Keltarri in Skorne, Carapace, which is a staple of the Cryx theme Black Industries, and spells that increase DEF and/or ARM against shooting like Deceleration and Deflection

Many of the feats mentioned above that mess with melee armies also mess with ranged ones, such as Rask, Kaelyssa, and the Witch Coven. This is a big part of what makes these casters so incredibly powerful. 

Typically speaking, ranged only armies aren't seeing a lot of play in SR 2017 and probably won't be seen in SR 2018 either. If an army is composed completely of ranged elements, it tends to fall apart on Scenario pretty quickly unless it can alpha strike so hard that nothing is left to really contest or threaten the ranged army. 

Terrain and Deployment:

I've written a rather large article (two of them actually) that you can read here and here on this subject, but it is worth mentioning again that the way in which the way you deploy and interact with terrain can massively change the game. 

If you have the ability to defend a zone or flag really, really well with something like an obstruction, forest, burning cloud, etc. it often won't matter if the enemy list outthreats you since you can just sit on the flag or in the zone and hold it down while you slowly win on Scenario. 

Similarly, huge threat ranges often don't come with Pathfinder, so a big piece of rubble can cut their threat range down to something smaller than that of your Pathfinder models'. Ghostly can make buildings another way in which your smaller numerical threat ranges can compete with humongous ones. 

Finally, long threat ranges tend to rely on charges or guns, and both of those dislike LoS blocking terrain in the middle of the table. If you can park yourself in the middle of a zone, your opponent has to put their big scary models in their eventually or else they'll lose on scenario, and then it doesn't matter how far they threaten. 

This is all something you have to think about at the very beginning of the game, definitely by the time you've picked your list. 

This is a topic that deserves a full article, but suffice to say you should be actively thinking about how to use the terrain on the table before you deploy. It can be used to blunt your opponent, give you a safe place for key models, and much more. 

Placement and Positioning:

This is a mountain that everyone has to climb eventually, and no one can really tell you how to place your models perfectly in every game. A lot of it comes from experience and seeing it happen time and time again. 

With that in mind, let me give a couple of key ideas. 

If your opponent has massive ranged threats that are AOEs, learn to space out your models so that direct hits won't catch more than one model in them. If there are a lot of sprays, don't line your guys up in a straight line for the incoming death. 

If your opponent massively outthreatens you with a melee heavy, you can often put out a sacrificial lamb to take the charge from that model, and then come in with your own model that you have placed behind the sacrifice to take out the offender. The Sacrifice should be a less important piece to you so that you are up in the trade. 

If your opponent has to put a lot of effort into getting a piece to you, make them go through all the steps. Sometimes that means they have to expose their warcaster or some other key piece in the process. 

You can bait out enemy models with your Warcaster or Warlock. This is one of the scariest plays you can make since if the dice go wrong, you lose, but if you can manage to have them send a heavy into your caster and not lose the game, that often means that you get to win the game afterwards since you have traded nothing for that piece. 

If you're playing with a Colossal or Gargantuan, don't let your opponent get multiple charging heavies into it in a single round, especially if you have healing tech. Oftentimes you can tank the first heavy, kill it, repair, and then tank the second heavy the next round where you wouldn't be able to take two heavies at once. 

Again, the best way to learn this particular skill is to practice a bunch. Play dummy turns against yourself to figure out the best way to handle enemy models that threaten farther than you. It doesn't take a lot of space or time to proxy out a few moves. 

Conclusion:

Warmachine is a really hard game, but that's one of the best things about it. Huge threat ranges can seem completely impossible to handle when you're learning the ropes, but with time and practice it's very doable. 

As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions. What tricks do you have? What have you tried that hasn't worked? Let us know, and thanks for reading!