40k for Noobys! Tactics: Assault

Ok, bear with me here. I am sitting at a tire dealership getting my flat fixed. I have gotten an overwhelming number of requests to do tactics for noobys. Probably the most questions I get in general are on how to play the game! So I have decided to write a series of tactical posts for the 40k nooby. If you are here, you were either forced here by my massive Youtube marketing blitz, googled Blood Angels and found the first 40 hits as mine, or probably were directed here from some one elses blog list. At any rate, a good number of you finding yourself here for the first time are new players searching for ANY info on how to start. There is a lot of info for advanced players who know what they are doing... but very little for beginners.

Having said that, allow me to begin.


Not all armies are created equal when it comes to assault. If you have just started playing the game, you may have picked an army you thought was cool like the Tau, and wonder why you buddy keeps owning you with space marines with Jump Packs. There are a few things to consider when looking at assault. The most important stat is Initiative. Initiative determines who gets to swing their sword first. The better the fighters will get to attack first, thus getting a chance to kill your guys before they get to even swing their weapons. When planning what you are going to assault, you need to consider initiative first. After initiative, comes Toughness. You may have a higher initiative, but your target is too tough to wound! An Eldar Guardian has Strength 3, and Chaplain Cassius, a Space Marine Character, has Toughness 6. Those poor Guardians who manage to actually hit him, will only wound him on a roll of 6. Needless to say, Cassius will slaughter entire squads of guardians all by himself.

After initiative and toughness, the rest of the stats come into play. Weaponskill is a measure of how good your model is with his sword compared to his opponent. Leadership matters in assault too.

Armor saves matter too. Space Marine Terminators have a 2+ save. Eldar guardians have what... a 5+ Not fair at all.

Finally comes the matter of what weapons you are carrying. Oh man... lol... soo many variables! I guess this is why there is so little written for noobs! This is hard! Well I will just plug away here and organzie it after.

You need to be aware of the weapons that your squad has and the squad that you are attacking has. You can have a jacked out badass squad of Assault Space Marines, but if they do not have a power fist, they will have a tough time beating a Chaos Dreadnought in assault.

Let me try to simplify things. In the movement phase you need to think about what squads you will want to assault in the assault phase. I know, thinking ahead is not easy, especially when you need to think ahead 5 rounds... but you have to do it. So you need to move your units so that after shooting is done, they will still be in range to assault. (that means if you plop your assault marines just 6" away from the closest enemy model, fire at that squad, kill one, and he pulls that model off, you are no longer in range...)

So if you want to assault, make sure your unit is VERY close to the target unit. Or do not shoot at that unit. I rarely shoot at the units I plan on assaulting. That is because I play on the extreme edges of measurement. I have a fairly good eye for estimating distances, and will take chances for my assaulters. If I think I can get just one of my guys into assault, with just one of his, I will go for it, but shooting that squad may allow him to pull that model off, leaving my squad stranded. Never let that happen! Plus, if you are not sure that you will slaughter the squad you are about to assault without shooting at it... you may want to rethink your target any way.

So during movement, position your assaulters so that they are as close to your enemy as possible. If you are so close that no matter how many guys he pulls off from that squad you will still get into assault, feel free to shoot em up. Otherwise, hold your fire.

Now, you moved your guys, and maybe shot at your target and it is time for you to assault. At any rate, you are committed now so there is no turning back. Charge. The next step is to pick the closest model you have to his squad, and move him directly into base to base contact with that model. If you are short... assault is over. Your guys are stuck in the open. If you reach, assault has started. Once your first guy is BtoB with his, the rest of your guys can go where ever they hell they want. So long as they remain in unit coherency... that is, every guy in your squad has to be within 2" of another member of the squad. What is key about this is that now you can assault the squad you are after, but you can send other guys in your squad out to attack other nearby squads and vehicles. In our little example, we will say that 10 Assault Space Marines have targeted a squad of Eldar Guardians for assault, and there are two other squads of Eldar nearby. The first marine goes in base to base with the first Eldar, but then you can shoot out marines from that squad into the other two squads of Eldar. Lets just say there is also an Eldar Viper too. You can send your marine with the power fist after that!

So lets recap this. You moved your 10 assault marines into range to assault a squad of eldar. There also happens to be two other eldar squads right next to your target and a viper. You get your closest marine into base to base contact with the target squad. You can then send out marines to assault the other two squads and the viper. Your guys are close enough to reach them all, and stay in unit coherency. Now the eldar player has to bring all of his guardians into combat against your squad! Your 10 marines are about to wipe out 30+ Eldar and a tank.

Now to decide just who is attacking who.

This is a little confusing. Lets start with your first marine. He, and any one who is base to base with the first eldar squad can attack it. Also, any one behind him, up to 2", can attack it even if they are not in base to base. Lets say 5 of your guys qualify to attack the first squad and you will direct all of their attacks into it. Now, two of your marines are base to base with Eldar squad 2. They will attack that squad. Two other marines are base to base with squad 3 and they will attack that one. Finally, your Sgt charged the Viper and is going to punch the crap out of it.

Now lets look at Initiative. Space Marines are initiative 4. We will say guardians are initiative 3. The space marines get to attack 1st. Assault marines have one base attack. They get a second attack because they have an off hand weapon. In this case, their bolt pistol counts as a club. They get a third attack because they charged. So they get 3 attacks each. 5 marines are attacking the Eldar, and they get a total of 15 attacks.

Holy crap i think I just lost myself... Let me post this, if you think it is ok, i will continue writing it! :)


Ace said...

As someone who enjoys painting, but has yet to test my models in a real game, this is very helpful.

I have read the manual over and over, but there's nothing like an experienced player sharing some hard earned wisdom with the rest of us...

Keep it coming!

Anonymous said...

I'm not really a noob myself but it never hurts to have someone who knows more than you to share some of their knowledge and insight. Keep it coming always good to read the updates on your blog.

lordmagyar said...

your description, about multi-assaulting eldar has given me a warm funny feeling in the crotch
region, this is close too 40k porn!!!

Deo said...

Say I am play blood angles and have a Death Company in a Rhino...How far can I move the Rhino and still assault with the Death Company in the same turnn

jawaballs said...

You cannot move the Rhino at all and still assault. One of my favorite, and useful tactics is to move the rhino 18", to within definite assault range for my Death Company, and pop smoke. Hopefully the rhino survives the next enemy turn. If not, I unload the guys and hide them behind the destroyed rhino. If it is exploded, hopefully most of the shots are done and they will not be slaughtered. If they get assaulted... oh well... They are Death Company after all... getting assaulted is the next best thing to assaulting. :)

If the rhino survives the next enemy turn, on your turn, you can deploy them 2", move them 6", and assault 6". That is a 14" assault range from the door of the Rhino. Once your guys have left the rhino, it can then move and do its own thing. The beauty of this is that you can drop off your troops, they can go assault and win an objective, and your rhino can move on to another objective, tank shock and contest! Pure sugar.

Eriond said...

Niecee... Like someone already said, it's great to have someone experienced share some of their "tips'n'tricks" with the green ones :)
I myself am just starting with the hobby (furiously painting atm, as I don't want to go with "grey's" to the table :P) and wanted to start with Black Templars (ergo: assault army).
BTW you can include me into the group of ppl who will curse you until end of time (or rather whose wives/girlfriends will) for getting them into the hobby in the first place ;)
FTW J-balls :)

jawaballs said...

haha, that makes me happy!

Flekkzo said...

High level tactical guides are more than welcome. Especially if they do explain the principles behind. It's all too well to know that I should run a seer council and fortune the ever loving Emperor out of the marines, but it would be even better to jump down one notch and go for some basics.

Oh, and I have many armies that are going to be assembled (750p Imperial fists almost assembled fully, one squad painted, 750p Orks, tons of p Eldar), painted, and played, so feel free to not lock stuff into the Blood Angels:)

Lord Captain Valentine said...

I am a noob...to 5th edition. Although, I placed in the top 50% in some recent tournaments and even when losing, I have denied my opponent any bonus points like general killed, table qtrs, etc.

I found this post to really point out a lot of the stuff that I have had to learn over several painful games. Like Initiative being important. Good job, Jawa.

I have started using a rough variant of your tactics with Corbulo/Dante, specifically to get the initiative bonus from FC, and I recently smashed a jetbike Seer Council and almost pulled out the win...seriously, one dead firewarrior away from the win.

I posted a rough (really rough) batrep of it on my blog.

keep up the good work!

eriochrome said...

I think that your description of moving in multiple assaults is not properly representing the rules for assaults. Maintaining coherence is the bare minimum of what is required for assault moves. The list of what you are required to do is much more complicated. Each newly moved model must be checked in order:

1. If it can get into base to base with an opponent not already base to base.

2. If it can get into base to base with any opponent model.

3. If it can be within 2 inches of the model from its unit already in base to base(can he be engaged)

4. If non of the others are possible then you only have to be in coherence.

While multiple assaults can still happen under these rules especially if the opponent has his units in essential coherence they are more challenging to arrange than you imply.

The key is the order in which you choose to move the models. Moving farther models first to block access to close opponents allowing for your closer models to fan out to the sides.

jawaballs said...

Eriocrome, the only thing that really matters when determining assault is can one of your models get base to base with one of the models in the squad you have chosen to assault. Having accomplished that, you can then move any of the models in your squad into base to base with whatever squads you want. You do not have to pile in all of your models into the squad you initially targeted, just because they fit. The only rule you have to follow is the same rule for assaulting just one squad. If you want to get another squad, your closest model to that squad has to go to the closest model in the squad. If it was possible to reach 10 squads, you could assault 10 different squads at once, so long as you remain in coherency.

If I am wrong on this, give me page numbers with rules! I, unlike most dudes, gladly admit when I am wrong and love learning new things.

And yes, you are right that I simplified this whole thing. Yes, all models must get B2B if possible. Of course it will be challenging to land this sort of an assault since you will rarely find squads lined up in such a perfect arrangement. This is written for noobies with the intent to demonstrate a point.

But very often you will get a squad and their vehicle. You can often catch two or three squads that are hiding in cover. When facing IG gun lines, it is likely you will be able to get a command squad and two other squads. (Of course the new codex might change things, I dont know the new guard rules.)

eriochrome said...

I did not say you were wrong. I was just pointing out the fact that the movement was more complicated mainly due to the requirement of getting models into base to base with an enemy(not required to be initial target unit) if possible.

I have seen that if the opponents units are essential in coherence(or just deployed out of a vehicle) it is easy. If they are near coherence where the width of the assaulter bases make up the difference(good for 40 mm termi bases) it is also easy as long as your are attacking near the gap.

Once you need that model engaged between the unit but not is base to base it gets harder. You really have to plan the positions and movement of the models in the movement phase and know which model s could be the bridge in that case.

I also do not think that for additional targets after the first you have to move the closest model to the closest enemy. I think that only applies to the very first model moved in the assault for each assaulting unit. Having that requirement on each target unit would probably cause breakage of coherence problems.

jawaballs said...

Assaulting a second squad does require you move your closest to their closest. (I looked that one up before replying) It says that you may attack multiple squads, so long as your closest model gets directly base to base with their closest, then all the rest can fill in. Page 34. However, with that being the only requirement, it is still not an issue. You can use the rest of the squad to fill the 'coherency gaps'. Move first model to B2B with first squad, move second model to B2B with 2nd squad, fill in the holes with the rest. So long as your guys are getting B2B, and staying in coherency...you are good.

eriochrome said...

I think we might have different readings of the rules for the multiple assault. With the book right in front (pg 34) of me it seems to say that your unit:

First declares an assault against 1 enemy unit. You then move the closest model to the nearest enemy. Then you move the rest of the models according to the bullet points in the other column. You never declare the assault against the other unit it just gets caught up in the combat by the fact you can bring models into b2b with them with breaking the already moved models coherence. You are not starting a new combat so you do not move closest to nearest for each unit.

An interesting note is that these rules can actually force you to assault enemy units you might not want to. Like placing a dread near the front or in the middle of some unit which is weak in assault to make it more scary to assault.

jawaballs said...

At the top right of page 34
Assaulting Multiple Enemy Units:
OH wait, I did read a lil wrong. The closest to closest part was just recapping the regular rules. It goes on to say Remaining Models can assault models belonging to other enemy units, as long as they keep following the rules for moving assaulting models. So we are in agreement. I think earlier you were saying that it is not so simple to assault multiple squads and that I was over simplifying it. This makes it sound easy...

Get one model from squad 1 into B2B with a model from squad A, then models from squad 1 can charge models in squad A, B and C so long as they remain in coherency.

I think the key word with the last part of your point is CAN in Assaulting Multiple Enemy Units. The section says that you CAN assault multiple units. Not that you MUST. The Moving Assaulting Models rules apply only for one squad assaulting another as written. If a guys Terminators are assaulting your Devastator squad and the only unengaged model in range is a Dreadnought, I think you will have a hard time forcing him to charge it if he does not want to... But he sure can if he chooses, so long as he follows the rules for moving models.

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