Tuesday, December 21, 2010

[40K] [Beginner's Project] Target Priority

Last night I went to the 40K night at the FLGS. Due to it being winter break for the local university, holiday break for the public schools, it being "free play" rather than league, and a butt ton of snow coming down, there was a pretty small crowd.

I wound up hanging out with some friends and the guy that runs one of the role-playing games I am involved with. Some of our conversation was roleplay related, but we did talk about real life and joke around a lot. The guy chose to spend time hanging with us, rather than play 40K. The Imperium was not his target priority last night.

That choice of where he was focusing his attention got me to thinking about the strategies involved in chosing primary targets in an actual game. I've learned through a little bit of watching and a lot of listening that mech needs to die as quickly as possible if you're smart at all. Other than that, I don't really know- but I know it's important.

How do you decide what targets need to be eliminated first, and wat alters those plans? How do you respond to a "Death Star" in such a way that doesn't scream "panic"? Do you let target priority interfere with capturing objectives and/or win conditions? Are there other factors I should consider, and why?

Thanks, guys. I'm getting a lot closer to confident.


  1. When I played 40K I always prioritized my shooting like this.
    1. Things/guys that can kill my vehicles.
    2. Things that can fry an area.
    3. Leaders
    4. Big blocks of troops, especially fast assault types.
    5. Any opportune targets.

  2. Well the general answer to this question is pretty easy. Try to neutralise the enemy units that pose the most threat to your army.

    Now if you want to get more specific then things get a bit more complicated. It all comes down to what army you are using, what army your opponent is using, the mission and setup and also many times the terrain.

    For example if I am using my IG mech army a playing an Orc army, Nob bikers would be my priority target because on turn 2 they could do a multiple assault on many of my vehicles and possibly destroy the lot. On the other hand those 2 big blobs of 30 footslogging boyz would't be so scary because they are strong and their shooting weapons are laughable (rokkits). Lootas would be somewhere in the middle. Against deathstars I usually hit them with Weaken Resolve with my Psyker Battle Squad and then force them to take a pinning or leadership test which they almost auto lose. Hope this helps.

  3. Generally I approach it like this:

    #1 - Destroy the most immediate threats
    #2 - Destroy potential threats
    #3 - Attacks of opportunity

    As Antipope said, the specifics are variable. If you're a mech heavy army then you immediate threats would be, as Antipope said, the things that can get to you quick and destroy your tanks. It could be Nob Bikers, Deffkoptas, a Chimera full of meltas, etc. If you're a horde army then you'll be trying to destroy anything that has template weapons: Vindicators, Devestators with missiles or plasma, units with lots of flamers, etc.

    Of course you need to take into account things like range. If my Orks are close to a unit with a lot of flamers then I'll focus on them before I try and eliminate the Dev squad that's 36" way from me.

    Potential threats are just that, things that could make things hard on you if given the chance but aren't an immediate threat. If you remove your immediate threats then you move on to potential threats.

    Sometimes you're given an attack of opportunity. Maybe an independent character detached from a unit and is now vulnerable. Could be that a vehicle immobilized itself on some terrain right in front of you. These things you generally save for last unless the opportunity is on an immediate threat. If you have units that can't deal with immediate or potential threats then use them for opportunistic things like this.

  4. Sounds like I prioritize similar to Thor. I target whatever's going to be the threat soonest. Also, I prefer to pound a unit into the ground before moving fire onto another unit - "Overkill is my style, and I think big." (bonus points for that obscure quote)

    Another factor is "how long will it take me to kill/destroy the target?" If I know I'm going to need a few turns of firing to do the job, I start early.

    For example, since I usually play Nids, this means that the closest swarms get pounded first and MCs start getting shot at early.

    Another important part of target priority is firing order. When using templates, you want to cover as many units as possible - if you shoot first, you'll thin the hear and templates won't hit as much - then you followup with normal fire and hit just as much.

  5. I'm with Dave, focus firing is extremely important. During your shooting phase you want to fire until that target is dead or useless before choosing another target. If you have two threats in front of you then you're better off completely removing one than you are hurting each a little bit...typically anyway, there's always exceptions.

    I also agree about firing order. In addition, if you have units that are dual purpose then save them for after units that have a sole purpose have gone. For example, if you have a Dev Squad whose job is to bust open tanks and transports then fire them early. You might bust open a transport and the guys spill out. Now you fire your Vindicator on the dudes who lost their transport. If the Devs didn't pop open the transport then you could consider firing the Vindicator on it if nothing else can bring it down and it has to die.

  6. Ok, so.... this really illuminates the parts I DON'T know- how do I determine what the "job" of any squad or unit is?

    does it depend on what the unit is called?

    IE, I still don't know the difference between assault and command squads so I wouldn't know what their JOBS are.

    Does it matter how they're equipped?

    I know I want a TON of assault squad guys just because I like the weapons (but I'm going to have an interesting time justifying it for BT)... I can't even guess what the job is... except "looking awesome" which doesn't count.

    Does it matter where they are on the FOC?

    I'm still figuring that part out; it's so different from other games I've played it makes me confused at times.

  7. Honestly, experience will tell you most of what you want to know. The job of a given unit can depend on the equipment given to it. Take a Command Squad, it could be given lots of close combat weapons or ranged weapons, at least the Vanilla Marines.

    The slot something is from may give you a vague idea of its job but that's about it. Something out of a fast attack slot is likely to be fast and probably offensive. Heavy support is where you usually see tanks or artillery. The job of these units will again depend on the options given to them though.

    So yes, it does matter how they're equipped, not their name or the slot they're from. That's what you'll learn in time, what different weapons are and what they do.

  8. As usual, my experience is far more from friendly play, but the advice above is excellent!

    Once you've got some of the hang of target priority though, here's a thought for something which I've found useful:

    If you get the chance in a friendly game, take a tea break before each of your turns (including the first) in order to plan your moving and shooting. If you can, literally note down where each unit is moving, what they're shooting/charging and the order in which they'll shoot/charge.

    If you can do this, it'll force you to think carefully about ranges, arcs-of-fire and contingencies. This makes you think (for example) "If this weapon can knock out the vehicle, then the next one can neutralise the occupants. If it fails to damage it, then the next squad are can switch from that [lower-priority target] to take on the vehicle."

    Now admittedly, this is a far more involved process with a sprawling army like my guard - especially when you have to account for barrage weapons, orders and the inability to hit a barn door at ten paces, but trust me: if you can get the chance it can really open your eyes to the process in slow-time.

    Then you just have to anticipate and accelerate the process!

    - Chris.

  9. This is a good question, one I'd love to answer.. but I've never really had a lot of experience with 40k. I played it for close to 10 years, but the majority of my games were at the GW store, and were fought against a rabid pack of min-maxing rules lawyers.. I 9 times out of 10, my army put together on a shoe string budget never even made it to the 2nd turn in any kind of shape capable of contesting table quarters..

  10. I have a blog post that I'm working on especially to answer this question for you. I should get it up in a couple days (maybe Christmas?).

  11. You mention death stars and if you don't have Luke on hand it's interesting to know about road blocks and tar pits. Stopping your opponent from reaching his or her goals isn't just about shooting or assaulting them to death. Cheap small units can be used to delay an enemy unit if done right. Maybe even better tar pitted. Why do this? Why sacrifice a unit? So you don't have to deal with all of the opponents army at once. Or you can feed an 800 point death star 200-300 points for a whole game and it won't reach the rest of your army:)

    Guess it's a round about way of saying that target priority isn't just about shooting, but also about maneuvering and having a plan (that you will love when it comes together). Figure out how do deal with your opponents army.