The Dark Fortress

Angelica Mortis Tactica I

Note: This tactica is now old and needs an update. Many facts will not be correct for current game. However the general gist is pitched right.

This article was written by Brother Luther in Spanish and then translated. I have gone through it to tidy some odd translations — making them more understandable — but being careful not to alter the original message of the wrtiter.


With permission of the Inner Circle I will begin to develop this article; its objective, or at least what I attempt to obtain with it, is to share my knowledge with those veteran brothers that fight in the name of our beloved Chapter, as well as to offer advice for the new initiated, because we all know that in the beginnings of "service" help is sparse but greatly needed. This article does not try to be a rigorous guide about how to act in the battlefield, because as it is said "No plan survives contact with the enemy". For this reason, to improvise usually is the best trick, but to make it successful our intuition must be forged with a good basic knowledge. This is the reason why I will try to show you "typical" situations that can take place during the battle, and to teach possible alternatives to overcome them without any trouble.

One possible outcome of reading this is that some brothers will find these ideas too simple or obvious, whereas other will perceive them too complex and it is possible that they will need time to understand them. The only certain thing is that within this hobby I am foremost a player. It is true that I like all other facets of Warhammer 40K (background, conversion, painting), but my greatest interest always has been concentrated in the gaming and tactics. The idea of games against an unimaginable number of different adversaries and to have to resort to multiple tricks and stratagems to defeat them is a great challenge, a task that awakens your fighting spirit and does not diminish until it is surpassed.

If you have a soldier's soul or you enjoy tactics and strategy I hope that you can appreciate this work, since my intention will not be other than to recognize those factors necessary achieve victory. Without a doubt you could play for relaxation and enjoy a good battle, but when you are a Dark Angel, a proud member of the first Legion, then the stoic attitude to fight without weakness in search of victory becomes a duty, and, as you should know, duty only ends with the Death. ++

Guardian of the Tradition, Catedral Oscura

To know yourself

Before facing anything, brother, it is fundamental to know all the details of units that you have at your disposal for fighting. Because you do not know what you are able to do with them, probably you will never be able to achieve it. Without considering the personality of each player (another complex aspect of great importance), we will instead just concentrate in the building of knowledge of our own troops.

As such this article is intended for Dark Angels brothers that know a good deal about the units of the Chapter described in our Codex. If not, it is better not continue reading this doctrine quite yet, instead you should spend some time in your cell for that basic reading.

So let's go and focus our attention to the army. When preparing a battle force a general can take care of many factors - although we could mention several, there are some common rules of conduct that must be adhered to.

Searching for perfect combinations

Here the objective of the player is to use a certain unit with the capacity to produce devastating effects against a specific type of the enemy. These are those that we can call players of combinations, because they enjoy calculating the statistics about how that unit can annihilate that other one (normally space marines are taken as reference). The main disadvantage of these players is that they usually think that the repeated use of the combination is going to solve everything. Unfortunately this thinking usually unbalances his army, turning it into a variant that is very specialized and, therefore, vulnerable against other types armies.

Example 1:

A player discovers that Land Speeder Tornado is a killer machine able to fire a hell of a lot of shots. He decides to put as many as he can into his list to win. He plays a tournament and he wins by a massacre in several games, but finally he plays against a Necron player with one Monolith. This unit is deadly and completely invulnerable to the Land Speeders, so that brother virtually has lost the game before playing.

Although this attitude does not have to be really bad for player behaviour, it is certain that it can lead to the lack of inventive games. This means that acting in this way the player never learns real strategy, and the reason why he will be easily defeated by veteran players with a greater vision of the game. In addition, many of these players are not able to understand what happened when they lose, and his philosophy automatically move him to praise the virtues of the enemy unit that caused his own defeat and usually this leads to a drastic change of army to (over)compensate.

The Searching for Optimization

We do not have to confuse this with the previous section, since here we can include the players that use a wide range of different units. Nevertheless, although one is not a player who looks for a quick and efficient combination like the previous one, this one concentrates his mind on the relation between the cost of the unit and its yield on the battlefield. We talk about them as "optimizer" players, which reject or use one or another unit depending on their capacity to produce or to resist damage, despite the fact that tactically other units/weapons type might be more flexible.

Example 2:

A player with a Deathwing army decides to use the same weapon configuration on his 3 squads of terminators (5 terminators: 2 x lightning claws, 2 x storm bolters + power fists, and one assault cannon + power fist) because he considers it is the most powerful and multipurpose combination in relation yield/price. In spite of being a good combination, during the game, two of the squads have been unable to shoot much, owing to the assault cannon's limited 24" range. In addition, another of the squads had to assault a Land Raider and they could not damage it. So probably to include some cyclone missile launcher and a chain fist would have given more options during the battle.

Once again, to be meticulous with optimizing can be beneficial for any player, but giving too much importance to it can bring a serious lack of game vision. This is because it is very difficult to make a perfect evaluation of the value of unit at the beginning of the game. In fact this is indeed one of the best aspects of Warhammer 40K, since all units could have a different behaviour depending on the enemy faced, the battlefield, and the precise situation at the time.

Example 3:

We try to evaluate the effect of a Land Raider in games against two Elder players. In one game, the Eldar player has 3 bright lances, which turns our tank into an expensive and vulnerable option. The second Eldar army does not have any lances in his army (since it is fully loaded with star cannons and scatter-lasers); conclusion: here the Land Raider will be worth its weight in gold.

Searching for invulnerable armies

Perhaps this term can lead to confusion, when what really we want to focus on here are those players who, by means of the careful preparation of their list, achieve an army that is virtually invulnerable to certain types of units or weapons of the enemy. This renders a part of the resources of the opposite player as being totally useless, leaving him at a clear disadvantage.

Example 4:

A player decides to use only infantry units, so therefore the anti-tank guns (normally more expensive and with low rates of fire) could not produce great losses. Another player decides to use Sammael (speeder), armoured units (tanks/dreads) and the minimum number of troop units as infantry in transports. In this way the light fire of the enemy will be totally ineffective; as soon as he silences the anti-tank units he will almost have won the game.

These are simple tactical tricks that can offer you great advantages, but it often happens with the players of tuned armies, they risk meeting their true Nemesis army (and being in great inferiority beforehand) and the player does not learn any real strategy (since it is a way of comfortable game that avoids complicated situations). For these reasons using these highly tuned armies should be avoided by those brothers that who are beginners, as when always them his learning development could be very slow or seriously hampered.

Searching for thematic armies

A thematic army is that which is restricted to use only certain units established in their background. Not that this has in many occasions anything to do with the strategic/tactical logic and this is the reason why many thematic lists usually use tuned combinations of units that result in overall, very unbalanced lists.

Example 5:

An army compound exclusively by Terminators. With approximately 25 miniatures of infantry it is a formidable and ideal force to represent a space hulk assault. Nevertheless, a poor man it is who tries to use them in a tournament thinking he will annihilate his rivals without problems. Terminators are very powerful heavy infantry, but they have great deficiencies that should be compensated with other types of unit.

Of course romantic fluff-based armies have place in Warhammer 40k too but, if they look for consistent victory, the majority of them usually suffer many loses in tournaments and ultimately failure.

If your opponents are continually winning and you losing, you would need to continue reading this, because I am assuming that you look to overcome this and to maintain the glory of the Chapter in it's highest place. A battle is a serious confrontation, and in those circumstances it is where certain concessions cannot be allowed. To win with a thematic army is an additional level of difficulty that a veteran player can accept, but believe otherwise is to be deceived. It is necessary to recognize that thematic armies only aspire to win with guarantees if you are far beyond your rival at a tactical or strategic level; if not then your possibilities of winning are greatly reduced.

The next installment: Angelica Mortis Tactica II


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