With the release of 8th edition warhammer fantasy has taken a turn for the better. Tactically the game is more rewarding than it used to be as various issues have been addressed (firing in two ranks and volley fire, just to name a few). Because of the drastic nature of these changes the tactical knowledge of all past warhammer fantasy (WHFB) wargamers has been put to the test, challenged and changed.
In this series of articles I will explore various tactical basics that can help any commander improve their game. We are all new at WHFB 8th edition and it is time to re-learn what we thought was "the way".
Today we are talking about Hammers and Anvils.
As you can see in the opposite picture the enemy
unit is held in place and the cavalry then charges in and causes massive damage from the flanks or rear.
The unit used to pin the enemy unit in place is the anvil and the unit used to cause the damage is the hammer. In 7th edition, the game had evolved into a series of competitions about who could bring the biggest hammer. Hammer units, such as knights and other elite units could fight a fully ranked infantry unit to the front and escape with no damage dealt in return. Taking an army of infantry was paramount to suicide the only real units that stood a chance at holding the enemy at bay were units that were stubborn or unbreakable.
In 8th edition we have witnessed the rise of the lowly infantryman. Suddenly armies are using their "rank and file" more than ever before in 7th ed. Granted, armies that relied on heavy cavalry (such as Bretonnians) have taken a bit of a hit. This and the new percentages rule assures us that there will be more boots on the table. Together with the boots come a series of rules that have all allowed the rank and file to be the true backbone in any army. Units that at the end of combat, have more ranks than any enemy that they are fighting become steadfast and therefore gain the old stubborn rule. Also, the step up rule allows units to make attacks back no matter how many casualties have been suffered (usually) and the enemy unit is prone to take some damage in return. This means that we are seeing more brutal combats that can gruel on for a few turns when it is infantry on infantry.
And here comes the hammer. To break the deadlock you need units to butcher the enemy and cause massive amounts of damage or charge them in the flank or rear and hopefully disrupt and break them. The sooner you do this the sooner the units that were involved in the combat can reform to face the other battles on the field and lend their support where needed. This is all the more possible due to the free reform that units get after winning combat allowing them to better position themselves and get back to the thick of the battle instead of being stranded facing in a random direction for example.
So in 8th edition armies are composed of units that can take a charge and hold (the anvils) and units that can deal damage and break the deadlock(hammers) . The proper deployment of these units as well as the combination of hero support and spell support is key to combine it all and form an unstoppable and balanced force capable of dealing with the diverse missions in the book as well as the diverse armies that are seen on the table. These issues are topics for another article.
Join me next time when we will discuss some example hammer and anvil combination within each of the warhammer armies, and their theoretical application on the tabletop.