Harrison’s Tactics Corner – Blocking

Hello all and welcome to the first article in the new series ”Harrisons Tactics Corner”. I couldn’t think of a funky name that would have sent a shiver down your spine and a bit of a naughty twinge down below, but this will have to do!

Today I’m going to discuss the nature of blocking. Blocking in a game of 40k has a lot of merits and a number of ways to work. This is similar to the term “Bubble wrapping” but rather than just preventing a unit charging your line directly, blocking covers the board.

To block a unit is to effectively slow them down or stop them entirely, and this can be done in many simple but effective ways.

Infiltrate

First and foremost, units which infiltrate provides a great source of blocking and screening.  There are many reasons to choose a unit that can infiltrate; prevent enemy units scouting forwards, prevent enemy deep strikers dropping down early, prevent abilities such as Gate Of Infinity deep striking a unit close nearby early, prevent units getting close to your lines with a stratagem and slowing down enemy infiltrators. They are also a great way to start the game on objectives, especially when you’re playing the “Relic” mission or scoring points every turn.

Scouting

Units which scout before the game starts, such as Pathfinders and sentinels, have a massive benefit to gunlines. In the same sense as infiltrators, the scouting unit is done before the game starts, meaning that you can reposition to counter something your opponent has done. As it is also done after the roll for first turn, you don’t necessarily require them to push forward. I have played games in, say Hammer & Anvil, where my opponent has placed many units in deep strike. Due to the large amount of space between my gunline and the backboard, I would not have enough time to react by moving back if it had not been for scout. This is effectively providing you with a blocking unit for the Beta strike. Always consider what options you have for your scouting units before deploying them.

Charging

Charging is the most effective way of blocking a units advance, but can also have the opposite effect due to some peoples miss-understanding of the assault phase. So for example, I am playing against a mobile combat army such as Custodes. Now although they have fantastic shooting, if there is a way to stall them from charging your main lines, then do it.  One way I did this with a few of my army’s was vehicles. Custodes aren’t great at killing T7+ units without charging, so by charging them with something like an Immolator, Rhino or Hellhound, you can prevent them charging next turn.  Consider where you are charging as this may result in your opponent moving close (if stretched out) or killing you (if they are clumped up and can get, say, the full unit of 9 hitting you).  Always have a look at the way the unit is setup before you charge it, and try to hit its flanks.

This can, however, cause more problems when facing a large block of infantry. If you charge the corner of the unit, they can pile in and consolidate the other end towards another unit (as they may be closer to the other end) and manage to pile onto an objective or lock one of your key units in combat.  Always consider this before attempting to slow down a unit as this could have adverse effects on the game plan.

Locking units in combat

A simple manoeuvre but something I think a lot of players forget. To shut down a unit from advancing onto other objectives or your gunline is to simply lock them.  The way to do this is, when charging, do not move directly into combat, but stay within the 1” required.  Then, when you pile in and consolidate, you wrap one of their models entirely so they cannot flee.  This can lock a unit in combat on the wrong end of the board and also prevents your opponent shooting at your unit next turn which is a very viable strategy if you’re using a combat army.  Not only have you blocked your opponents advance, but also blocking your opponents access to objectives which you are now sat on which could be game changing.  Watch your opponents salty wet tears as they realise what you have done, buy them a beer after then stroll off with a pimp swag.

Terrain

Yes, even the terrain you can use to your own advantage.  See that big wall your models are behind? Well guess what, it’s not a ruin so good luck going around it. The amount of time people forget that terrain rules have changed in 8th is unbelievable.  Forcing your opponent into hiding those units by bottlenecking them into a gunline can sound like a good idea at first, but when they try to move and charge they have just slowed themselves down. Make sure that your opponent is measuring up those hills rather than directly forwards, and don’t let them off an inch here and there for poor movement.  “Damn Daniel” you say, and sure this sounds gamey, but isn’t it your opponent who is being gaming by gaining such a big advantage? Each inch counts (yes it does lads, sorry to be the breaker of bad new), so make sure you punish your opponent for taking advantage of poor choices and not considering the terrain!

Don’t forget that enemy models cannot pass within an inch of your models! By measuring 1.75 inches away from a solid wall, with the size of a base being  less than an inch, the enemy wont be able to pass by, potentially forcing them to charge your crappy bubblewrap, or slowing them down entirely this turn. This can be great against things like tanks which don’t have the FLY keyword.

Remember, every decision you make could affect the end result, and by following some simple steps will help you claim that well deserved win (and don’t forget the pimp swag walk away)

That’s all for ‘Blocking’. If anyone has any ideas on how to block enemy units, be sure to leave a comment and lets discuss!

2 thoughts on “Harrison’s Tactics Corner – Blocking”

  1. I’m struck by how much some of the essential tactics of 8e 40k remind me of some basics in Go. Locking a unit/model in CC by surrounding it resembles eyes in Go.

    While not blocking per se, one can use an opponent’s over aggressiveness against them, which can create a blocking like effect. There was one top table game at a smaller tournament where an IG player responded to a relatively inconsquential flank attack by sending his powerful unit of super-buffed Ogryn to deal with the flanking enemy forces. By combination of movement and charging they ended up way to far to the side, and not able to help in the middle where they were meant to be and ultimately needed.

    You can’t always count on your opponent being over-aggressive but you can always bait them and see.

    1. Very true!! Baiting a big unit into making an unnecessary action such as charging the wrong unit can effectively put them out of the game for a turn or 1 which is certainly of form of blocking said unit from effecting bigger targets.

      Some people get trigger happy when presented with a target!

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