Part 3: Tactical Considerations
New players often get hung up remembering the rules, rather than thinking
about playing the game. The following is my list of tactical considerations
that beginning players should be considering as they work through a turn!
While you need to know the rules to do these things, knowing what you want
to achieve decides what rules you need to know!
So here is a shorthand set of
things to think about in each game turn. You can always think of them as
Russell's Rules, if you like!
Before anything else - are your
reinforcements set up to come on board???
Do the Wind Change - if you've done that, you know you've at least done
SOMETHING right this turn!
Do leaders first - but before I try an MMC, remember if it is my turn I could do
one MMC who is not stacked with a leader. So - who do I need most? Or - who has
the best chance?
Do I need to trade equipment between troops?
Do I need to deploy any half squads? (Only possible if it is my player turn.)
Even if I failed to rally - don't forget to get rid of the DM badge (if I am in
Big Note #1:
If I am going to shoot SMOKE, it has to be the FIRST SHOT!!!
(So - where do I need it to cover my troops that will be moving later?)
Big Note #2:
If I shoot with a unit in Prep Fire, I can't move - so ask yourself, does
shooting achieve my objective?
Movement might be more important than Firing. That is almost
always true for the attacker.
If I'm the attacker in a scenario:
I usually have to get
take control of something. Should I be sneaking closer to my objective hex
instead? Or getting closer to trying for a better shot on troops that are
blocking my way?
Yes, units that you shoot and break might run away, which is
good. But broken units come back, especially if you shot so many of your troops
you can't take advantage of the fact you finally broke the enemy, because
everyone prep fired!
What do I mean? Think of it
like this: If you had enemy troops blocking your troops from moving forward. So,
you start shooting to try to break those enemy troops. If you eventually have to
fire almost all of your troops to break the enemy, you have no one left to move
And it is altogether possible
that your opponent will, in his half of the turn, rally his troops and bring
them back to their original location! Or, more likely, he will shift some
other troops into the recently vacated spots - and then rally the broken troops
Movement, however, can be much
more powerful a weapon for you. He has to decide where and when to take the
shots. And if you have a lot of troops, that means he might run out of people to
fire, or he may miss.
And if you are coming closer,
your next fire phase becomes more effective. And that might force him to pull
back in fear of you breaking him, since units that break AND that have your
units in front and behind them will surrender (or die for failure to rout) which
is much better! (for you!)
If I'm the defender in a scenario:
Would I be better off not shooting Prep Fire so I can duck behind something, preventing
the enemy from shooting at me this turn? (If I only move one location, I can
Assault Move out, and then advance back into where I was at the end of the turn,
minimizing any DRMs for shots coming my way!)
For everyone, there is one question you should be asking yourself:
Is there someone I should shoot? Like that broken guy, so I can put a DM back on
First Thoughts: What am I trying to ACHIEVE? How will this move help
Next First Thought: Did I get SMOKE where I needed it? Or, can I maneuver
some troops close and then use their Smoke grenades to cover the next squad who has
Rule 1: Non
Assault Movement in open ground is DEATH! (Repeat often)
Rule 2: Assault Movement in open ground is often DEATH! (Repeat
And consider: Non Assault Movement in a wood building will still make it likely
your troop will BREAK!
And most important:
Rule 0: Moving in a stack is JUST PLAIN STUPID!!! And remember how
bad this is when you add in Rules 1 and 2 above....
Your goal for Movement:
Use your movement to get a
Use your movement to get
within Normal FP range for your troops.
Use your movement to threaten
to get behind an enemy unit. (See note above about units that can't Rout
But if you don't need to
advance fire (for example, the enemy would be likely to laugh off your pitiful
half FP Advancing Fire, or you are armed with a LAW) stay behind your intended
final location - and advance into it during the Advance Phase.
Now, if you have enough troops, and you can move to good TEM within your normal
FP range, especially if you have Assault Fire Bonus, it might be worth
it. But think about it first.
Use your movement to set up advances so you will have fire groups of multiple
hex locations. (I mentioned moving in a STACK is stupid, right? Well,
often, creating STACKS of troops is an invitation for trouble in the form of a
single lucky dice roll by your opponent! So SPREAD OUT to make a chain of units
in multiple hexes.)
Use your movement to end where you can gain Concealment.
Use your movement to put pressure on your opponent.
Defensive First Fire Phase:
Recognize often the THREAT of a Def. First Fire SHOT is more powerful than
SHOOTING would be! Meaning - if they have to WORRY about you shooting, they
change their course, taking safer, SLOWER terrain routes, or using assault
However, if you shoot, now they don't have to worry about that unit again for
any later troop movement. Then they take the fastest route, and go where they
want. That is BAD!! (If you shot and MISSED, it is REALLY BAD! If you shot and
COWERED, it is ANNOYING AS HELL!!!)
So, the idea is, hold unless you have a GOOD SHOT. (Almost anything moving in
Open Ground is a GOOD SHOT, by definition - but don't COUNT ON IT. See above
list for other 'good shots.').
Cowering SUCKS! And if you do, your opponent might be able to completely run
past you since you now have earned a Final Fire badge! If you don't have friends
around for more protection, you might find yourself surrounded - so hold your
fire unless it is TOO GOOD TO PASS UP!
If you can, use your DFF shots as they pass through locations to leave residual
in those locations, This is true of places you don't want them to 'get through'
in case you can't shoot again. But remember, TEM still counts for them on later
residual fire shots. So: shooting First Fire shots at units moving in stone
Bldgs is NOT a GOOD SHOT.
Best thing to remember about shooting - ROLL LOW.
Second best thing to remember - if you aren't named 'Lucky' for a reason, don't
count on rolling low!
Do I WANT this enemy to break, or might I rather get into Close Combat with
them? (if CC is better, don't fire!)
If you have Assault Fire bonus, you can get a bonus if your troops are Advance
Firing within their Normal FP range.
Don't waste LAW shots in the Adv. Fire Phase. If you have an BAZ shot now,
you'll have it in Def. Fire, too. (Or you will have made him shoot you in Prep
Fire, meaning his guys aren't moving!)
Your DM badge is your 'Ticket to Ride' - What is my NEAREST Woods or building?
Can I avoid open ground to get there?
I can't move CLOSER to a known enemy unit - Yikes!
Where is my Sgt when I need him????
Avoid 'dead ends' if possible - up stairs in buildings are often death traps.
I can change one location - but don't do it with too much equipment or you might
Advancing is a great way to move and still maintain concealment! (as long as I
am not advancing into an Open Ground location, defined as a location with no
TEM. (but don't overlook hinderances!)
And about advancing into enemy occupied locations...
BIG RULE ON HEAVEN'S GATE: Close Combat is a CRAP SHOOT! You can outnumber
someone 3 to 1 and STILL DIE!!!
But sometimes, just a chance to tie enemy units up is good enough reason to try
CC. (BUT also remember, if he has troops around and can reinforce, well, you
will likely have that chance for a Bronze Star posthumanously... if you can roll
Don't forget if you AMBUSH someone, you can LEAVE CC without penalty!
Also remember - statistically speaking, Ambush is NOT a GOOD ODDS die roll!! So
even at a -3 differential, DON'T BET THE FARM ON IT!!!! (and see Big Rule on
Heaven's Gate for additional details....)
Ending of Player Turn:
Don't forget to remove Pins.
Don't forget to take
concealment if possible.
Don't forget to request a
free LOS check if your opponent tries for concealment.
Don't forget to get your
troops ready for next turn if you have reinforcements.
Don't forget to advance or
flip the turn record counter.
Don't forget you are
having fun, and remember that no matter how bad your dice may seem.
More on that next issue. Until
then - Move out!
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