40K Tactics: Doubling Up - Part 1

Games of 40K with more than two players, particularly doubles, have seen a surge in popularity in recent months in our local gaming scene. These 2v2 games require you to rethink your normal gaming procedures, before and during the game. If you aren't used to playing doubles, they can create a few situations to test your nerve!

I've been playing 40K for far too many years now, but recently I seem to be playing more and more doubles games. In fact, they probably make up over a third of my recent games, some with close friends, others with total strangers. I'm really enjoying the new tactical challenges that it throws up, making you consider your game all the more. It all led to the recent 40K Doubles tournament at Warhammer World, where my partner and I got a repectable four wins, a draw and only one loss (to the eventual winners). We took a themed force, which still could handle most things.

Let's look at how to get ready for a doubles game, and then in the next article we'll look at actually playing the game. I'm not going to delve too deeply into army selection, at least not for now, as we would be here for weeks. Just a few general thoughts and ideas.

Friend or Stranger?

How well you and your partner integrate your forces can depend on the campaign or tournament you are playing in. You might be thrust together at the last minute, or you might get some time to plan your forces days before. You may also be with a close friend or a total stranger. This dictates how you go about your list-building.

Thrown Together

If you are thrown together there's not a great deal you can do, it's usually best to treat this as just any other game of 40K. Pick a force you know can do well on it's own, so you can perform regardless of your partner. I would usually suggest bringing a balanced force that can deal with almost anything. Don't be tempted to over-specialise, hoping your partner will "plug the holes". In this situation, Murphy's Law will certainly come into effect, and you'll end up with something daft!

Preplanned Alliance

There are a lot of tournaments where you will know your partner in advance. In this situation you can knit your forces together into an Almighty Alliance of Doom© or just enjoy planning some lists together! You again have a few options to consider, the main ones being whether you have an optimised pair of lists, or you go for a themed alliance. This may depend on the rules of the particular tournament, which may force or prohibit certain alliances.

If you don't mind throwing the 'fluff' out of the window, you can come up with some particularly nasty combinations. What about the Doom of Malan'tai combined with a Culexus Assassin, Necron Pariahs or a Psyker Battle Squad? How about sending in your Khorne Berzerkers on the back of a Dark Eldar Raider? The list is endless. You now don't need a balanced list as you can quite easily put a shooting army (Guard, Tau etc) with a Close Combat Army (Orks, Nids etc), instantly covering your army's weakness with your partner's strengths. Having these two diametrically opposed armies can also help during the game, as I will discuss next time.

It may (depending on the tournament and on how evil you are!) also allows you double up on those 0-1 selections. What's better than a Callidus Assassin, two Callidus Assassins (two "Word in your Ear" moves anyone?). Imagine two Vindicare Assassins and two Sergeant Telions in one force (bye-bye hidden power fists). I'd hate to be on the receiving end of two Eldrads (redeploying most of their army)!

Your tournament may force you down certain alliances though, or you may want to make your alliance seem plausible in the 40K universe. This is by far my prefered option, just because that's how I roll. My last two alliances were Daemonhunters and Witchhunters (painted in the same scheme, totally unintentionally!), and World Eaters and Thousand Sons. Both were 'fluffy' forces, and both performed more than well enough. This is the ideal time to recreate some of those famous alliances from the Black Library books or 40k history. It is still worth considering plugging the gaps in your partners force though, and ensuring you have something between you that can handle anything thrown your way.

Here is our list from the aforementioned 40k doubles weekend (750pts each, 1HQ, 1Troops compulsary per person, whole force must be within standard FOC):

My World Eaters
HQ - Daemon Prince, Mark of Khorne, Wings
Troops - 7 Berzerkers, Skull Champion Upgrade, Power Weapon
Troops - 7 Berzerkers, Skull Champion Upgrade, Power Weapon, Rhino
Heavy Support - Land Raider

My Partner's Thousand Sons
HQ - Daemon Prince, Mark of Tzeentch, Wings, Warptime
Troops - 7 Thousand Sons, Sorcerer, Wind of Chaos, Meltabombs, Rhino
Troops - 7 Thousand Sons, Sorcerer, Bolt of Change, Rhino

As I said, nothing too spectacular, but solid enough, and with a strong theme running through it. It also allowed us to have a 'head count' to see whether Khorne or Tzeentch's children could perform better! (For interest, the general pattern was that my forces caused by far the most damage, but rarely survived the game, where as my partner's held the objectives at the end - seems to fit the character of the two forces really!)

Next time I'll look at how you actually go about playing your doubles game. It's not simple when orc-style animosity can creep into an alliance!

In the meantime, please share your experiences of doubles, and any nasty combinations you've come up against.

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