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.
Every unit in your army should be used to its maximum capacity, every round of play. A unit that loses a turn or two very quickly loses its efficiency. We play a 5-7 round game here at the Warhammer 40k table, and its very important that during those short few rounds, that your unit is actually doing something.
This starts at list design. Mathhammer is never absolute, but an understanding of how it works, will help you during list design. Making sure that your units are able to do something the entire game is very important. I will start off with one of the most popular units in the game.
Veteran Melta Squad in a Chimera. Here is a very strong unit choice that people use. Game after game, I used this unit, so I could say I have easily fielded over a 100 times on the tabletop. It was far too many games later that I discovered something about this unit. First off, it is a dangerous unit for my opponent. It keeps people away from my lines, as 3 meltas (combined with orders) keeps heavy armour back, if not it destroys that armour.
Great unit. It is keeping heavy armour back, and destroys it if it comes within 20" of the chimera. Highly effective, but only moderately efficient. I started noting a pattern, that my vets were just not participating in a good number of battles. They would either get de-meched, or there was nothing for them within range. Literally the unit was really participating in half of the battle. (Firing a Multi-laser every round does not really count as participating, although it is suppressive fire).
I was sure I could make it even more efficient. I added a heavy weapon. I Kept it cheap, an autocannon or moved up to the punch to a lascannon. For 10 pts more, this unit was now able to take part in the entire battle. Able to destroy at long range from round 1. If the chimera was taken out, the unit would already be in cover, and can return heavy weapon fire immediately. This made a huge difference when being on the opposite end of an alpha strike army. This addition, made this unit extremely efficient, and able to contribute every round of the game.
It is vital, that every portion of your army be effective every round of the game that they are on the board. If you have reserves, they had best be making up for lost rounds when they appear. Analyze each unit from list creation, to after the game thoughts. Did the unit spend 2-3 rounds on the board doing nothing, or moving to position? If so, that is far too much.
Nob bikers for instance. Did you just turbo boost down the side of the board all alone?, or did you maximize that rounds efficiency and jump in front of another of your units or trukks to provide cover. There are tons of small things you can do to make your units more effective. Some people call them tricks or sometimes combinations, but learning these small tactical tricks can often times make huge differences, and make your units much more efficient.
Of course a lot of this comes down to on-the-board tactical play. You may have just messed up, or your opponent may have taken that unit out of game play for a bit. Part of your tactical game play, should be using every possible opportunity to make your opponents units less efficient, while trying to get the most out of yours. The most obvious of course, is when your opponent sets up first, and you deploy in such a way that their heavy weapon support is no longer in range, and must move or wait to engage you. This happens more than it should, and I can relate to you dozens of games were I removed a unit from play simply by making them walk for a round or two (or even 3 or 4, lol).
Not every unit is going to effect every game you play, however, do your best to make the most out of your entire army. Every unit should be doing something significant every round of play. Holding back with your assault terminators had better have a good reason. Get your units into the battle, that's what they are here for.