Reserves (or more basic 40kisms from Evil Homer)
Let’s talk about reserves. This comes from a comment Big Whit made in a thread below implying that I don’t like reserves. Having played all reserve armies in the past, and partial reserve armies, I can honestly say I like the reserve rules but they have specific uses and purposes.
A unit should not be placed in reserve because you don’t know how to deploy.
I’ve seen players put something in reserve because they don’t know how to deploy. Deployment, if you think about it, is tricky. You have to weight a lot of factors, turn order, shooting lanes, movement rates, threats, are factors to consider.
In some minds it’s easier to skip deployment entirely or at least partially rather than make the mistake and learn from it. (A little aside here, when I started playing 40k I intentionally played an army that did not require me to deploy. I have been paying for it ever since.) In their minds it’s easier to react to the opponent than to deploy and try to dictate to their opponent. The problem with this is you sacrifice the initiative, the ability to play the game on your terms rather than the opponents.
Learn to deploy. Learning to deploy is a key to winning in 40k. Deployment is the subject of many posts across multiple forums and blogs, and still a difficult thing to learn properly. Deployment strategy is beyond the scope of this article but at some point you have to accept that you are going to get hurt regardless of how you deploy, you need to learn to plan for it.
Understand what you are losing when you place a unit in reserve.
Understand that anytime you place a unit in reserve you deny yourself its use until it arrives. Dwell on that for a minute. It seems obvious and it is but consider many of the tactics that get bandied about talk about being able to use a all of your army to fight a portion of your opponents, by reserving a unit your are enabling this not preventing it.
The loss of fighting power a unit represents is proportional to the point value being played. The lower the points the higher the value of a unit, the greater the loss of fighting power the unit represents sitting off the table.
Understanding what you deny yourself, what you sacrifice by placing something in reserve is important in weighing whether or not to do so.
A unit placed in reserve should have a tactical purpose.
Any unit you place in reserve should be there for a specific purpose. Lets use obliterators as an example. I like to use oblits as an example because they illustrate an obvious sacrifice for tactical gain. Oblits are very handy to have on the table from the 1st turn, flexible shooting on a move and shoot platform that is also easy to hide? Yes please. But let’s say you know your opponents has heavy armor. Deep striking the oblits for a shot with the multi-melta nets you a better chance to kill a Leman Russ sitting in the back field or a land raider for that matter.
The oblits being left in reserve have a specific tactical purpose. They are there to accomplish a goal as part of your overall strategy and plan. Leaving a unit in reserve to respond to your opponents actions is rarely wise as it costs their fighting power until they arrive and their arrival is random.
Outflanking units obviously have to be placed in reserves, as these units have a clearly defined role in most lists their use is governed by Principle 3.
The reserve rules are a tool for a general. Understanding how best to utilize them and the cost to your army they represent is a valuable skill that will improve anyone’s game.