Before GW revised the Warhammer with 6th edition the game was all about characters.
Whether you played these to try to defeat the opponent or you needed them just to
control the other player's characters, that was what the game was all about.
The magic item lists made the game a bit of rock paper scissors, as you tried
to create combinations which would be better than the combinations. Fortunately those days are over.
Sixth edition brought with it magic item limits, cheaper troops, and most importantly
more combat bonuses. As a result the games became about size of troops.
This is a basic fact which is inescapable in Warhammer and so constant that every
army can be improved by adding more troops. Even when faced with large monsters
ridden by Lords with the maximum of magic items in most cases a unit with 3 ranks,
a banner, a musician, and lots of guys requires that monstrosity to score six
wounds just to win by 1. Thus the most important rule is more troops are
These troops are only good if they can keep the opponent in front of them. As
troops on the flank take away rank bonus and get a bonus of plus one it is
important to cover the flanks so even a weak unit of fast cavalry will not beat
your large block of troops. This is often easier to say than to do. One way
to protect your flanks is to have your troops stretch all the way across the
board (more troops the better), but this is not always possible or fun. In many
cases it is possible to place terrain so the flanks have woods on one side which
may be hard for the opponent to deal with. Of course it is also usefule to have
the very maneuverable troops like skirmishers, or fast cavalry. It is
often harder by scouts can slow opponents down on a flank so they can not get
around to the flank until it is too late. Finally it is often necessary to
place a flank guard whose only job is to protect the flank. They need to be
capable of beating any flank attackers and need to turn to face flankers so
they will have to attack a unit on the front.
If you have enough troops and can keep the opponent off your flanks it will be
hard for your opponent to beat you but this does not assure you of victory. It
is always possible that your units will just be better, but assuming the point
costs are correct, then this means the opponent has more units to win else where.
So to consistently win it is important to outflank the opponent on a unit by
unit basis. This is often easier than it sounds. The simplest way to do this is
to have more units than your opponents and just advance. Eventually the
opponent will be in hand to hand combat and then some unit will be able to
flank. It is also able to out flank the opponent by using units to slow down
a section of the opponent's advance. This is best done with scouts which can
just wait to move out and either outflank or force a section of the opponent's
advance to stall opposing the soft flank of other units.
All the troops in the world and lots of play skill will still have a hard time
winning if your troops run away. Warhammer is basically a game leadership. The
side which misses more leadership tests should lose. It is always good to force
your opponent to make a leadership test as the more they take the more likely
they will miss one. For this reason, terror is good and should be used to
force leadership tests. All the panic conditions are things which should be
played for, because warhammer is above all things a game about leadership test.
Occasionally it is impossible to flank an opponent due to their good play or
difficult terrain placement or other problems. To take the results out of the
fickle rattle of the dice is still possible in several ways. First it may be
possible to arrange favorable match ups against the enemy. As some units are
better than others and some may be harder hitters and others have better saves.
It is important to try to line up your units to break the opponents line by
setting your hard hitting units against their weaker units without letting
them do the same. Do not let your opponent do the same but line up your
defensive units against their good hitting units. It is also possible to shoot
to an advantage. As this is a game of combat resolution it is important to have
as many of the free bonuses as possible. When units collide and the dice
start to fly it is nice to already have a one or two point combat resolution
advantage. Thus shooting should be concentrated upon the units which will
soon be in combat. It is important to realize where this can be of some good.
As the goal is rank bonus it is important to identify those units which can
be reduced below 3 ranks of 4 for shooting. Finally many players just put
their characters in their units. An unopposed character is often the difference
between a victory and a lose. Thus remember to move your characters to where
they can be of the greatest benefit to your side as your units close.