If there is anything to get good at in 40k, there is one that shines far above the others. Its more important than your list, a higher priority than your target priorities, or your tactical movement on the battlefield; its deployment. Its often not thought about beyond the simple basics, and the least practiced skill a player works on.
The Words of Faeit is a new weekly post, dedicated to my thoughts on the strategy and tactical side of the game. They are not to be written in stone as "No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy's main strength" (or "no plan survives contact with the enemy"). Quoted from Helmuth von Moltke.
I cannot tell you how many games I have won or lost at Deployment. I often know after deployment, how hard the game is going to truly be. Deployment of forces or how you organize your reserves, is the first most important thing in the game. It sets the tempo for the following 5-7 rounds of play, and missteps here will make you suffer.
The first thing to figure out before play is to figure out what type of force you are playing. In tournaments you are handed your opponents list. Do yourself a favor. Look at the list. You are looking for the basics, key things that will effect your deployment. Things like Drop Pods, like Blood Angels Vanguard, Units with scout/ infiltrate/ Deep Strike or other deployment options. To make this simpler, and for time, I even often ask whether these things exist in their list. Just so you know, don't ask if they are going to deep strike (because they do not have to tell you if they have not yet deployed), ask them " Do you have any units capable of Deepstriking, Scouting, or Infiltrating." They will tell you 95% of the time.
Other things to note, how much armour is being deployed. Are there any hammer units? You must figure out a List Type that your opponent is playing.
Once you understand the basics of your opponent. Take a good look at the terrain, and if there are any bad pieces of it, get their type clarified. By a bad piece, I mean that good warhammer terrain should by definition be a non issue on what it is.
Next take a look at your deployment, and your opponents. If you know his list type, take 30 seconds to figure where he is going to deploy. Your opponents deployment should very very rarely be a surprise to you.
Never forget the mission type you are playing. Have your deployments figured out before each standard mission type, or the type of the tournament you are attending. The mission and deployment type are vital after the game starts. Don't shortchange yourself by not knowing what type of game you are playing.
This to me is a must. Practice your deployment. Practice it against what previous opponents have played against you, practice it against various different army types. Practice practice practice.
It takes only a few minutes to mark off a deployment zone and deploy your army. So literally you can do this even at home without a table. In the time frame of an hour, you can get in a ton of deployments. Most people only ever really practice their deployments when they get a game in, so most people are not good at it. Since it is so easy to get in lots of practice deploying, what are you waiting for.
Above are listed the three primary things to consider at deployment, while practicing it is something I advocate time and time again. That is it for the day, (short on time). Get out and practice your deployment.