Thursday, March 21, 2019

Preparing your Battle Plan Now so you Can Enjoy your Game Later!

Hey Everyone!  As the next Warhammer event draws ever closer I wanted to share my method of preparing for a major event in order to have less stress at the table and be able to focus on having a great time with my opponent.  The method I have worked up is very much inspired by The Workbook created by The Honest Wargamer that you should really check out.  While reading and working through the book it dawned on me that I meal prep, lay out clothing, etc… in order to prepare for the day(s) ahead in order to be less stressed and enjoy my day without worry.  I never really did this in my Warhammer Hobby other than a few “practice games” and reading my Battletome a few weeks before an event.  That has all changed and today I hope to show you how I prepare for one-day and two-day Warhammer Events so my stress is minimal and my fun is maximized for both me and my opponent.

The first and most important task is to read the pack from front to back without skimming haphazardly through.  It can be easy to just want to get to the points you are looking for, but a full read through of the pack is essential to make sure you prepare properly.  After you read through the pack I then read through the pack a second time, but with the second reading, I take notes, usually on a Google Doc.  Typically I will look for the following to note down.
  1. Will the event use Realm Rules/Features?
  2. Will Realm Spells be available for us?
  3. Which Realms are we likely to play in, if any.
  4. What scenarios will be used or will the scenarios be blind at the event?
  5. Will Secondary and Tertiary Objectives be used?
  6. Are there any limitations or changes to what I can bring that are outside of the basic ruleset?
At this point, I will begin working on my list for the event.  The Honest Wargamer Workbook goes into nice detail on this so I won't repeat what is always covered in there, but I typically tend to play similar lists using the same army over long periods of time.  Last year, for example, I played my Witch Aelf Horde with a heavy focus on Khainite Prayers and typically ignored magic in my lists.  Whatever way you settle on a list it is time to begin thinking about your army in context with what you know about the event using your prior notes.

Before you really dive in through I suggest taking a bit of time at the table with your new army.  I do not mean heading out to play some games, but find a table set up with terrain similar to what you might find at the event and deploy your army.  Seeing your force laid out ready for a fight will help you to see its board presence and how much board it actually covers.  Even go so far as to measure our your first round of movement and shooting.  This might seem like a silly idea, but sometimes you might be surprised how small or large your army can be based on how you deploy them which will only help you while working through the prep notes.

Now that you have your list and know the general footprint capabilities of it you can now dive into preparing your notes!  While you can mix the order up for what works for you, and in fact, you will often bounce between the sections as new insight comes to you.  I tend to start by looking at the Realm Rules/Features first.  If I know what Realms and Features the games will be set in I will focus on just those, but it will be revealed at the event I go down through each Realm in turn.  I tend to keep each Realm notes to the following
  1. What are the Realm Features and should I use them in my army or plan to stop my opponent from using them against me.
  2. What is the Realm Command Ability and when should I be using it, if at all, in my games or watch for my opponent to use against me.
This list can be short if the Realm Feature is known or can get very long if you need to look at each Realm Feature on the list.  I would caution to not omit any feature because you know you will have no use for it as you still need to plan for your opponent to use them against you and your army.

After the Realm Rules and Features have been planned for you should next look at the Realm Spells.  Knowing how your army plays in the Hero phase is important.  For example, my Priest heavy army had no use for Realm Spells in general, but it was important to know what Realm Spells I could let through and which I needed to dispell.  This kept my list very short, but with an army who can fully utilize these spells, it is important to look through every spell and find a reason why you might use the spell and note it down.  I would even recommend listing the spells and their notes in order of importance for quick review during the game.

Next, I like to look at the scenarios for the upcoming event.  Sometimes you will know which scenario you are playing each game and other times you will be finding out as you walk up to your table.  Either way, having a general plan of attack for the scenario is a great way to have a mental edge going into your games.  I like to keep these notes as short as possible so a quick look can refresh my mind before the game begins.  You will likely find your notes being longer than expected as you plan how to deploy, defend, and attack the objectives, but with the aim to keep it short you will be able to restrain typing out a novel for each scenario.  When I look at scenarios in my early notes there is no way to know what army you might face with 100% certainty so I tend to focus solely on the objectives and how I plan to capture, hold, and sometimes burn them in order to win the game.

While this will still leave you with the issue of how to handle the army you will be facing it does at least give you a plan on how to win the game and all you need to focus on is how to get around your opponent to enact your plan!  Keep in mind even the best-laid plans need to be adjusted and altered, but having a plan, even in an unadvantageous matchup will be helpful.

The last bit of note taking is focusing on the secondary and tertiaries that may be used in the event.  Thankfully this list is usually shorter in my method.  I simply list them all out and then go through each one and note if, based on my army, the objective is Easily Doable, Doable despite being a challenge, Doable, or Not Doable.  You opponents army might change these a bit, but generally, I find the initial thoughts are spot on.

After you have your notes it is time to paint and play games!  As you know I am a big fan of a Hobby Journal to track games and if you are preparing for an event it will only serve to help you refine your list.  I would caution to not make massive changes to your list, but subtle tweaks to shore up any weaknesses you might find.  Practice in a way that helps you learn the army so by the time the event rolls around you won't be needing to look at your book often, if at all.  Also, as a Horde Army player, I highly suggest you practice rolling your dice in order to not slow games down.  Rolling your max attacks with uniform dice and teaching yourself to quickly spot the misses is a great skill to have for both you and your opponent.  Being quick while being clear and clean with this is key and in my personal practice with this, I totalled over an hour of just rolling dice at home for a max unit of Witch Aelves with Witchbrew.  It was a bit boring but very much worth the practice when it comes to having an enjoyable time at the table.

Fully prepared you can head to the event with confidence and with your plan laid out you can fully focus on having a great game with your opponent.  I hope this little guide helps you prepare for whatever your next event might and I would love to know how this guide worked out for you as well!  Until next week, Happy Hobbying.

Chuck Moore