Crux of the Matter: Playing to the Objective
By Frank “Glorious Spacenoid” DiSalvo
Hello everyone! Before we get to this week’s topic, I’d like to introduce you to myself and what hopefully will become a frequent article on Field of Fire Gaming: Crux of the Matter. My name is Frank or Frankie or Franky DiSalvo, known in some other online circles as Glorious Spacenoid and I’m our local ‘Space Marine Player.’ I’ve been playing Warhammer 40,000 since I was a little Frankie Boy in the closing days of fifth grade, and by just a few months I’ve nearly been playing Space Marines for just as long. (My first army was actually 3rd Edition Daemon Hunters!)
Regardless, I’m looking to use this weekly bit of content to focus on specific aspects of the game that I feel that I know at least some sense of. I tried thinking of some other Space Marine-related names for the title, and almost called it Service Studs but then I thought about what would happen if you Googled that and…yeah. *ahem*
I might not know the in-game meta the best or stay up to date with what dank ‘meme-lists’ are commonly running around but I can proudly say I’ve never used a net list, and even when I do rarely use popular detachments or components of a list like Gladius or Hunter’s Eye, respectively, I always try to make the list my own. And I even do alright! I promise!
That all being said, I’m sure you didn’t come to look at this just to hear me talk about myself, so without further ado let’s tackle today’s topic!
Playing to the Objective. Yes, I know, it’s pretty basic, but you clicked on this hopefully having seen the title, so what were you expecting? Now, having said a few words on our topic, let’s go back to me for a second!
You know what else I’m hugely into? Fighting games! I love Street Fighter, Soul Calibur, Guilty Gear; most of them! “Now what does this have to do with little plastic space men!?” you might be asking. Well, there’s one, specific, tiny, little, oft-overlooked word that they have in common: Fundamentals!
Playing to the objective is a fundamental skill; a basic aspect, in just about any game, but, it is definitely a very important one in games involving tactics, like everyone’s favorite grimdark 4-dimensional chess game! And it’s one that I see, when neglected, causes people to lose games. Myself included!
Don’t get me wrong, in the end, Warhammer 40,000 is a dice game. If your dice have decided to screw you, at a certain point, it simply doesn’t matter what sort of ‘perfect, flawless strategy’ you may have devised. However, especially at recent events like ATC, playing to the objective is a fundamental skill that can help you at least get points for your team, or even tie it if you have a mind to. (As well as the loaded dice you’ve kept in your left pocket.)
Now, let me go the rhetorical question route, take off my imaginary glasses, step up to my podium (mic-stand) and ask: “What is playing to the objective?” I can’t hear any of you answering, even though I said it was a rhetorical question, so I’m going to guess it’s alright for me to answer: “Single-mindedly focusing on one goal you have decided is sure to bring victory.”
Let me use my recent experience at ATC as an example. Now, I did pretty well. I won 4 out of 6 of my games, running a Gladius I had seasoned to my liking. When making this Gladius, I stuck to two commandments in my head. The first and foremost being: I will hold the objective. This is by far a Gladius Strike Force’s greatest strength, between its bodies and Objective Secured rule. It’s what it does, and very few to no other lists can compete with it in that way.
The second thing I kept in mind was firepower. I had eight Razorbacks in the list. Six had assault cannons, two had lascannons. The Devastators had four lascannons in each squad, and I had even brought two Command Squads on bikes, each with four grav-guns on those not giving their sorry asses Feel No Pain. There was a meltagun in each Tactical Squad, and the two Assault Squads had two flamers each. Needless to say, I was packing heat! Coupled with the army basically being twin-linked for four turns in the game thanks to Ultramarine chapter tactics, I was very confident that I could out-shoot whatever was coming to fight me on those objectives.
Unfortunately, on the two games I lost, I had forgotten about my primary tenet. The first was against a brutal Eldar list that belonged to the leader of the group that would go on to win ATC: Team Happy. For whatever reason, I wanted those space elves dead. The primary mission was Emperor’s Will, and, looking back, I could have easily won it if I had practiced what I am trying to preach.
A Gladius, and other lists with a focus on board control usually has dudes. Lots and LOTS of dudes. Dudes for days! Dudes to blot out the sun! You will be losing on Kill Points almost every game, but if you really focus on controlling something as small as two objectives you should be immovable. My Gladius had twenty-nine possible kill points. If I had split those down the middle, half of my army on each objective, I can say that I may have pulled out at least a victory on the primary against my opponent.
My second loss, against a Fleshhound/Screamer Daemonic Incursion was more or less the same problem. It was even the same mission! I had Drop Pods in the list as well! I could have just landed them on their home objective while I bubble-wrapped my own and wait for game to end! Why didn’t I do that!? I really must have caught blood lust or something! I am so damn stupid sometimes! Man, hindsight really must be a thing Tzeentch made, or something. Does anything torture wargamers more!?
[insert games workshop logo here]
…I went for the easy joke. And it turned out to make a headache…
My own personal failings aside, I’m talking about more than just camping objectives in the right or wrong way. I’m talking about if you are a Tau player, that you make sure you focus fire and pick apart an enemy list until they can’t grab points when they need to. I’m talking about surviving long enough as Eldar to wait until the end of the game and jump on every objective with your bikes or warp spiders. I’m talking about going balls out with Imperial Knights and making sure you win…by tabling your opponent.
I’m talking about, sometimes, putting what you want to do in the game to the side and doing what needs to be done if that’s what it takes to win. Legally, of course! You may really want to mulch some Imperial Guard in close combat, but, when there’s objectives on the field you need to be controlling by the end of the game, or even the beginning of your next turn, getting stuck in a dogpile with the Emperor’s Hammer is, perhaps, not the brightest idea.
And at the same time, keep in mind of what you and your opponent’s armies can feasibly do. You shouldn’t be expecting a Khorne Daemonkin player to hold home objectives as well as Necrons do. And if your opponent feels like guarding his home objective with them, then, by all means, shoot him off of them! Nine times out of ten, as much as he’d really like to, he can’t shoot back!
Some old Chinese guy wrote in a book one time:
“If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred games of Warhammer…” – Son Zoo
Indeed, part of the basic fundamentals of playing a game of tactics and strategy is making sure you stick to the mission at hand. And while, again, in the end, Warhammer and such games do come down to dice rolls or jank-ass rules, it doesn’t hurt stacking the deck the best you can by playing the best you can. No matter the contest, even the greats, whoever they may be, have a solid grasp on fundamentals. That’s the basis; the brick and mortar, the core…..the crux of what makes them great.
So until next time, this has been Crux of the Matter. And this is Frankie, signing off.
-Frank “Glorious Spacenoid” DiSalvo