One of the things that I have always found the most interesting part of Epic: Armageddon is the casualty removal system. For those of you who might not know, in Epic casualties are removed from front to back, no exceptions. So while this might seem like quite a simple issue, or even a non-issue, it really becomes an important factor of the game when you start having different unit types in one formation – transports or commanders, for example, or even mixed-type formations such as Aspect Warriors.
Understandably, you’ll want your Farseer stand (for example) at the front since he’s better in close combat and therefore benefits from leading the charge. However, this almost inevitably means that he’ll be taking the first hit – and possibly more than one, since when you’ve allocated a hit to every stand you go back to the front of the formation and start allocating again! In this sense, it’s a bit of a condundrum between ‘Do I want my commander beastin’ it and leading from the front’, or ‘Do I want to prioritize keeping my commander alive so his special rules can hopefully help me win the combat / game?’
Speaking from my own experiences (that’s what this series is all about after all!), a lot of my decision depends not only on the unit, but how the combat – and indeed the game – is going. I’m not going to risk my Farseer at the front when charging a weakened formation of Imperial guardsmen as I’ll be pretty confident that the Guardians can wipe them out, and on the other end of the spectrum I’ll probably keep him a bit further back if I end up in combat with a formation of Khorne Beserkers since their superior combat abilities means that they’ll benefit from being in close combat more than he will, and I may well need his Farsight ability later on.
This becomes even more of an issue with the higher-ranking units, such as Autarchs or a Daemon Price / Supreme Sorcerer. These units inevitably not only have combat-enhancing abilities such as Macro and Leader, but also have game-changing abilities such as Supreme Commander. In these situations, I often tend to err on the side of caution with my Autarch, but – perhaps due to his daemonic status and better save – I’m far more blasé with my Daemon Prince! Again, a lot of this can boil down to what you’re fighting, how far along the game is, and a myriad of other factors that make a difference. It’s weighing up whether you want the extra macro attack from the Autarch, or would prefer his Supreme Commander re-roll later on; if you’ve got a super-heavy with blast markers that needs to activate to help you push through the enemy – say a Storm Serpent that isn’t close enough yet to practically use its webway portal – you might keep the Autarch back in safety, keeping that re-roll for if the Storm Serpent fails its activation roll. This is, of course, assuming that the Autarch doesn’t lose the combat and get run down…!
This doesn’t just apply to commander stands, but can also impact regular units. There’s been at least one occasion where I just haven’t thought before assaulting, and left my Rhinos in front of my Thousand Sons – essentially offering three free kills to my opponent! Of course, that’s not to say you should never do this – if you’ve got a lot of first strike attacks coming your way it’s better to sacrifice the Rhinos in the hope of keeping more of the Rubrics alive to fight back.
All in all, how you deploy your units is something I’ve always considered a very important part of the game, and something that there’s no easy answer to. I hope that this has given some insight into my own thought process, and I’d love to hear your own ideas – feel free to leave a comment, and let’s get a little discussion going :) Also, apologies for the low-quality of the pictures – unfortunately I didn’t have access to my regular camera this week, and had to make do with my phone!
Thank you as always for reading, and take care,