Tactica Tuesday: Over the hills and far away…

Ah, the humble hill. We’ve all got some in our terrain collection – that most unseeming, yet vital piece of the battlefield. Often overlooked, I thought I’d take a look at this simple yet important terrain piece, and how it affects some of the games I play.

Hills are actually one of the most major terrain pieces in Warhammer Fantasy. The iconic ‘sweet spot’ for artillery and archers, a good hill ensures that your long-ranged units can deal out the damage while not being obscured by your frontline. This also provides a valuable buffer between your missile troops and the enemy, helping to stop them from being charged and cut down. Of course, artillery benefits greatly from being elevated on a hill, allowing a far greater threat range. While this does increase the potency of missile troops and helps to protect them against front charges, being deployed on a hill does increase their visibility – making them an ideal target for any enemy missile troops.

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Wood Elf Glade Guard are one of the many units that really benefit from this increased elevation and field of fire.

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Hills with rocky outcrops are perfect for missile troops – thanks to the sheer cliff face here any enemy will find it hard to engage the Glade Guard in close combat.

While in theory the same principles apply in 40K – greater visibility, increased threat arcs – personally I’ve found that hills are less important than they are in Fantasy. Generally, everything’s more fluid in 40K, with units moving around more rather than staying still (the lack of widespread artillery probably helps this). As such, hills are less of a boon to set units up on – indeed, depending on the hill it can almost be a curse, as I’ve seen many vehicles (including my own Monolith – that was an embarassing situation…) left imobilized when trying to move down a rocky hill slope. They’re still good – heavily-armoured armies may like to place objectives on them safe in the knowledge that they can tank the incoming fire, or Devastator squads and the like may like the initial advantages of the high ground – but in my experience, they have less of an impact on gamplay than in, say, Fantasy.

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Necron warriors atop a hill.

Hills take on a whole new meaning in Epic – generally, everything’s a lot smaller so ‘average’ size hills can actually completely obscure a unit. They’re less useful for line of fire, but ideal to protect artillery who, thanks to their indirect fire special rule, don’t have to worry about not having a direct line of sight. They’re also great for those more fragile units, offering valuable cover while they move forward – I’m particularly thinking of Eldar Cobras here, with their low armour and short-range devastating weaponary.

Finally, it’s been a while since I mentioned my favourite game Malifaux. As with most skirmish games, their use varies greatly depending on the forces at play. A Guild crew facing the Resurrectionists, for example, will be able to make good use of any elevated terrain – safe in the knowledge that there probably won’t be much return fire coming their way. On the other hand, hills can also be good for strategies and schemes, such as Stake a Claim (as you only need to be in base contact, not on it) and even ones like Claim Jump if you’re confident in your crew’s ability to out-damage your opponent at range.

As always, thank you for reading and I’d love to hear any comments you have :) Hope to see you next time, and take care,

Ben

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