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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pushing Flanks: An introduction

Pushing the flank... this is a term many of you have heard in reference to particular games, decisions, etc. What exactly is "pushing the flank"? How does one execute this maneuver? Why should one do so? How do I know which flank to hit? These will all be covered by this series.

First and foremost, a definition. What does it mean to push a flank? To understand this, we have to define flank, and a push. Whilst the majority of you likely know this, a flank is one of two things:
a) A subdivision of the enemy's army, specifically the outer groups.
b) The extreme right or left of an army.
Either of these definitions work.
A push, in military terms, is best defined as:
a) To move forward whilst removing obstacles

Now, looking at this in the context of the Tau Army. Unlike the majority of pushes, our army is in the unlucky scenario in which it cannot end said push in an assault (save for a random Kroot+Suit finish, which I don't recommend). This is not good for us. Whilst other armies get to gain extra movement and damage, we are stuck with shooting everything to death. This means that we are far less likely to be able to pull off massive pushes such as, say, Blood Angels, can do. We have to be tricky.
Hence the pushing of a flank comes into play. When looking at an attacking force, you need to be able to identify where it has weakness, and then pound that weakness into the dirt. If you are lucky, you can find a weakness on one of the flanks. This will allow you to move toward that side, clear it, and use the new found area to maneuver away from the bulk of the force.
You can use a spread out attack line against an opponent by getting to its side. For example, against a foot army, you may see something like this:

(Obviously, this is simplified, and not to scale)
We can see that the enemy has stacked the majority of his attacking force, specifically the hard-hitter, the Hive Tyrant, on the left. The Tau player thus should push the right flank, taking out the fastest threat, the genestealers, as well as hitting the secondary threat of the Hormagaunts.
 The Kroot Wall then does its job of taking the initial assault; for all intents and purposes, I assume it falls.
 The Suits then maneuver around the right, into open area, and kill the Hormagaunts who could have easily threatened them.
From here on out, it is easy; the remaining forces do not have the speed to catch the suits, only, at best, match their pace.

While a push is almost never this clean, this is a good example of what I mean. You take out the least durable enemies and use that open space to get away.
Next up in the series is identifying flanks and their composition.


Firewasp said...

Nice write-up of a handy tactic. Like the diagrams, Certainly keep it easy to follow. The only improvement I could think of suggesting is moving the kroot wall forward and to the right to limit the space that the tyranids can move about in. This would allow more space for the suits to withdraw into while limiting the space the Nids can advance into as part of their charge.
I look forward to more tactical hints and tips

Aloh'Nan'El said...

You are correct that that is the ideal situation... hell, If I could, I'd wrap around them on the right.
I didn't take running into account for this and just moved the Kroot 6". If you had the chance, this would definitely be the best course of action.

Sheik Yoboddi said...

When u say the remaining units don't have the speed to catch your suits what about orks on a waaagh, fleet/winged nids or pretty much any BA army? This all seems great on paper but I'll remain a skeptic until I see a batrep where it actually works.

Aloh'Nan'El said...

Sheik, do the math; If I can get myself to be 6+" away at the end of their turn, it is their 6"move+D6"run versus my 6"move+6"move.
They can't catch me.
Not to mention using terrain to escape, secondary walling units, etc.

You probably won't see a batrep for this because I:
a)Post practically no batreps. I know I should, but I never get to it.
b)This is a last ditch maneuver. If your dice are with you, you shouldn't even have to move from your castle.

Sheik Yoboddi said...

If we "do the math" then your system assumes the board is infinite, their troops are all in one line in the middle and that u are always moving directly away. In practice you'll be limited by terrain as you'll still want to shoot, you'll reach a board edge and get stuck and if that 6" head start drops slightly below then they're on you. Theories are fine but crunching the numbers always assumes your opponent does what u expect him too. He won't.

gustmic said...

Sheik Yoboddi,

You are of course right in that this is all theoryhammer. In a game, there are a lot of other factors to consider.
However, I belive that this newest article series covers something that is very important to Tau, and perhaps especially to a Kauyon playstyle.

These articles have to look at the basics of this particular tactical manoeuver as it would be impossible to cover all the events that may take place in a game.
Instead, players are encouraged to apply their wisdom and experience when this tactic may work to their advantage during a game.

Aloh'Nan'El said...

Board edge, use of terrain, unit type and positioning, etc. are all things I will delve into on their own time.
The example assumes infinite space in this case to give a simplified example... though honestly, barring other units working up a flank, you should have enough space to move away, especially if you deployed centrally.
As to terrain. Terrain is not of a huge concern to me. All terrain harms the enemy pursuers more than it harms the Tau. Difficult and Dangerous can be moved through at full speed for a little danger, whilst impassable can be flown on top of, making us immune to assault (effectively). Even Impassable that we cannot jump up on we can likely hop over, breaking sight and forcing the opponent to move around.

The above was supposed to point out the fact that you should hit a flank and escape to it, and use whatever means necessary to gain that 6" gap.

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