Monday, 23 May 2011

Reserving the majority of your army - is it ever a good idea in 40k?

So over the past year both Andy and Graham have played against me in games which saw them start the majority of their army in reserve and I have to say that they have been some of my most comprehensive victories and both are good players so what's the thinking behind this tactic?

Against a shooty army which even with my Thunderwolves I sort of had it just means that I can go for one target at a time. Early on when I was learning to play one of the members of the first company veterans described 40k as a game of attrition, you look for the most potent threat and hit it until its gone and this was no different to that. There was so little on the board that I could concentrate 10 missile launchers and a dose of living lightning on one falcon and eventually they are going to die.

So my question for you claws and fists readers and in what circumstances do you think reserving more than 65% of your army is acceptable?


  1. I think that reserves are best used for units with alternative deployment options, like deep strike and outflank.  These sorts of things let you get to the position you'd want to be in a few turns in, without having to face several turns of enemy fire to get there.  That's good.

    For units that are primarily long-range shooty, especially those that can't move and fire, or slow units in general without alternative deployment, reserves can be counter productive. 

    When playing a more defensive game where the enemy is going to come to me, some Reserved units as actual reserves can be very useful - a Rough Rider squad that can come on and immediately charge the berzerker unit approaching your lines can be very handy.  

  2. I can certainly attest to the negative aspects of reserving! It always seems appealing to keep some of your units safe for a couple of turns, however Michael has hit the nail on the head - it simply means that your opponent can prioritise his fire and wipe out your army at his leisure.

    Which he usually does to me.  

  3. I think an all reserve army can work but your list needs to be designed for it, DoA Blood Angels or Null Deployment Nids for example.

    I well remember the game you are referring to above and my decision to reserve the whole army was driven by the fact that I didn't have enough cover to make deployment on the table worthwhil. Particularly because of the fire lanes open to you and the volume of heavy weapons fire you could bring to bear on turn 1.

    With hindisight it was a bad call on my part and I was below average on my reserve rolls which all added up to a cakewalk for you :)

  4. "both good players" - wow, I didn't realise there was another Andy and Graham at the club, you'll have to introduce me sometime ;-)

    The big problem comes when you try to reserve a list that hasn't been designed for it. If you just try it with your normal list on a whim then you're on a hiding to nothing. Hand in hand with that you need to be comfortable with the tactics that go with such a strategy.

    Can Wolves go full/majority reserve? It's tricky. Having no way to manipulate the reserve rolls means that your army can come in piecemeal and get easy taken out. Also, our best Heavy Support choices (Long Fangs) can't move and shoot so they are possibly losing 2-3 turns of shooting.

    However with units like BEL Scouts, Dreadnoughts, Predators, Drop Pods and Thunderwolves with their potential 24" charge range, we can still have some "reach" Would I try it in a tournament? Probably not as those reserve rolls are too random but I'd give it a go in a friendly game.


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