Friday, 11 July 2014

Advance forces!

Upon reading the Third Edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle Rule book, I came across a very cool but under developed idea called Special Deployment. I have never seen this concept in any of the following games but have become quite interested in the idea.

Special Deployment splits the traditional deployment phase into three distinct sections.

Advance Forces 

Advance forces represent task forces sent ahead of the main army to secure certain vantage points and assets or just to cause havoc. This is a tactic often used in historical warfare but is completely absent from most wargames.

In Third Edition, advanced forces are chosen by the player in secret, their movement value written on a piece of paper and then compared with the opponent. The player with the lowest movement value is considered the losing side. The winner then chooses to deploy the advanced forces first or second, using the standard rules and a normal turn is resolved. Movement, shooting, combat etc.

The main force then is deployed on the table edge and moves on during its first turn.

I think that this is a really neat idea. It adds another layer of tactical flexibility and could really help build a story. It does however present a few.... issues, which would need to be house ruled.
  1. There is no limit as to how much of your army can be in the advanced force. Why not put an entire Bretonnian army in it and get a first turn charge?
  2. All units can seem to go in to it as well, even war machines. It seems a bit odd to march ahead with a cannon or catapult.
  3. The only requirement or restriction is that you can only have one advanced force and that it must have an officer in it, if the force contains fliers, it must have a flying officer.
Reasonable adjustments can be made to get the rules in to playable shape though. Restricting the Advanced forces points value to 25% of the total army, saying no war machines and that any units should have an officer would resolve these issues in my eyes. What does the wider community think?

Standard Deployment

Normal, run of the mill deployment unless an advanced force is in place. Then entry location of units is marked on the board edge, rather than plonking them down anywhere in the deployment zone.

Trailing or Outflanking Forces

This is another interesting one. You can put anything you want in to the trailing force, these units are not deployed normally instead at the beginning of the game you simply write down what turn you want them to arrive on. On the specified turn the trailing force takes a leadership test on the leadership of its officer, if it is passed the trailing force units move on to the table as described above in Standard Deployment, if it is failed they are delayed by a turn and must take the test again next turn.

This is demonstrated in the Gathering of Eagles battle report Orlygg has posted recently. The trailing force rules were used successfully by keeping two counter attack units in reserve and safe from artillery fire.

Outflanking forces are exactly like trailing forces but they can turn up on the flanks from turn 3 onwards or the enemies rear from turn 4 onwards. The board edge has to be chosen before the game begins, so your units could end up far out on a limb, especially if you play on a large table.

There doesn't seem to be as many rules implications with this as there is with the advanced forces, the only possible thing I would suggest (as well as the 25% point limit) is that the unit is placed on the entry point the turn before it arrives. Just to reduce the surprise charge of twenty knights from off table. This one turn announcement can still be pretty shocking but at least gives the opponent a fighting chance of getting their forces in to position before hell arrives. If anyone can think of any other possible implications, please let me know.

Overall the concept seems to be a fun one, it changes the deployment phase from one where you plonk your stuff down to a potentially three stage split in which to try and outwit your opponent. The thought of applying this to other games has now occurred to me, an advanced force of marines in a Rhino hurtling up field towards a critical emplacement sounds just awesome. Or a flanking jetbiker squad ready to come tearing on and get behind the enemies cover. It could be applied to pretty much any game to increase the level of strategic flexibility.

However this is all just theory, I have never used these rules personally, have any of you out there used these rules? Success or failure, leave a comment below.


  1. Good stuff, I have not read my copy of 3rd in ages but I do remember this. I need to dust things off and start a few games.

    1. For something that is described in just over a page it really does change the face of the game. Not sure if it is a change for good or bad, only play testing will show!