Psychology in 40K – Psychological Tactics by Mike ‘The Situation’ Marlow

1 Dec

So in the last two blogs I’ve talked about how to deal with events totally out of your control that you have to deal with mentally to get a better chance of winning your games. However the last blog of this series will focus on how you can psych out opponents.

Now before I start on this topic I’ll have to say two things….

1. What I will say now is all very high risk. These tactics can backfire. Badly.

2. I do not mean actually physically intimidating your opponent or being generally aggressive. Or even underhand or anything like this. This is a form of cheating and could get you chucked out of a tournament and is generally bad form as were all trying to have a fun time after all.

However when used effectively psychological tactics can turn a marginal win into a massacre. Think back to your last game. Was it clear at some point that your opponent really didn’t like one of your units and was avoiding/concentrating on them? This is regardless of actually how effective that unit was.

This is where psychological tactics could have been employed. There are several examples of this that’ll ill go through below. These are: Army Selection, In Game Events, Out of The Blue. The beady eyed of you will notice I’ve already covered how to deal with this in my previous blogs! However knowing how to defend against them lets you know how to use them against others….

Army Selection:

There’s always ‘That Choice’ in every army list that no-one wants to face…. Mephiston, Wolf Lords, Massive so called ‘Rock’ units. These units are demoralisers, units that when the opponents see them across the table they focus on them can’t keep their eyes off them. This in turn draws the focus away from other equally lethal units in your army and focus on them. Has anyone ever played a thunder wolf unit with a wolf lord in there? I know I have, I also know that instead of shooting things like grey hunter Rhinos with lascannons and Long fangs with anti infantry weapons I’ve shot them at the thunder wolves. The reason why people go to town on such units is the army will no longer look like several pieces of one puzzle you have to unlock. My friend Steve At toe mentioned to me a few times that his 1750pt Blood Angel army was just a 1500pt army and Meph! Rich Fielder took 2 Thunder lords and a unit of Thunder Cav to the masters purely to psych people out into shooting it. I’ve always found with The Baron and his 20 Hellions, there are 2 reactions normally….. ‘You’re using Hellions? Why?’ and ‘Oh god not the Baron…’

So how do you use this to your advantage? Picking a big unit isn’t necessarily an advantageous tactic. To use this to your advantage it’s all in the opponent’s reaction. What do they think about the unit, are they scared of it or dismissive? This may mean you could get away with more things than normal such as putting the unit in the open, generally being more aggressive with the unit, holding it back as a deterrent. As you can see this is very high risk, having hellions in the open for example is a cardinal sin, however I do it on occasion because I know the opponent is too dismissive of the unit.

In-Game Events:

I’ll only touch on this briefly as my previous article covered this well. This is all about taking advantage of things that have gone your way that have demoralised the opponent. If something totally weird has happened, (I shot 6 venoms at 5 terminators for two rounds of shooting at Brighton Warlords 1750pts this weekend for example and I didn’t kill one), then get that unit in their face and use this to your advantage. Is the opponent backing off because you’ve just had a strong shooting phase? Go on the offensive and be aggressive to stop the opponent from reasserting himself. If you do this, tactics not normally viable may become useful. If an opponent isn’t thinking straight keep pushing and hell ignore some easy to counter tactics and end up losing by a heavier margin.

Out of the Blue:

Opponents will generally have played your army before. This my friends is fact. And thus tactics such as outflanking Genestealers, Land Raider rush from blood angels, the pain point shenanigans with the Baron… people have seen it and are expecting it. But there’s allways certain tactics people simply do not expect…. they may have played your army 100 times and never seen it happen. This is pulling something out of the blue. They may have heard of it before but thought ‘no-one will try this…..’ I’ll give two examples of this to illustrate my point…..

1. Steve Attoe, A total master of these tactics, played an imperial guard army at Brighton with his blood angels. In one turn he moved a razorback towards the gun line with a sanguinary priest in it. At this point he jumped the priest out of the razorback and used his smoke launchers. At this point I’m sure your wandering….. why did he get his sanguinary priest out of the razorback? His opponent asked him this question, he told him to ask him the same question at the end of his own turn. So it came to his shooting phase and he split his fire at the sanguinary priest and the razorback and neither had died. At this point the beauty of this tactic revealed itself. By jumping the sanguinary priest out of the razorback it presented his opponent with a choice, one that would of been made for him if the priest had stayed in the razorback. Instead he ended up shooting the wrong thing with the wrong gun and killing nothing.

2. Sharan Reddy and Pete Cooke have done this tactic. You’re playing blood angels and your going first you deploy defensively hoping for 3 turns of shooting at their pesky land raiders. So when it’s their turn to deploy, they say there gunna deep strike their land raider….  Since when do people even do that?! It’s a shock tactic and it puts people off as it’s really not what people expect…

These tactics are high risk but can be very effective especially if your opponent panics

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little series on psychology!, I may be back on the keyboard again to maybe talking about South Vs North or a series on my army, the Dark Eldar.

Have fun!


4 Responses to “Psychology in 40K – Psychological Tactics by Mike ‘The Situation’ Marlow”

  1. BadBoy December 2, 2011 at 11:55 #

    You know your shit man, all of your articles have shown that. I AGREE that hammer units may well intimidate your opponent but, but your friend who took his lords to your English Master to psych out his opponents, no way that works. They are the best 16 guys in the UK, that ain’t going to work against the best. Either that, or the top 16 guys in the UK just aren’t on the level of the US.

    • 40KUK December 2, 2011 at 12:27 #

      Oh dear, I’m not sure whether they are better in the States or not, but I am def one of those players that can be intimidated by Mephiston.

      • Kaelarr December 2, 2011 at 12:37 #

        As one of the people who played that list at last years masters, I can say it was intimidating, and it forced me to change my play style against it. The difference is that the best players can change their playstyle and tactics when the situation arises, its when you cant that you have problems.

    • mike marlow December 4, 2011 at 12:53 #

      Wow dont i just love the positive comments!

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