Fantasy 101: a Guest Editorial by Adam from the Dice Abide

Hey everyone, it’s Adam from Last week, I wasn’t able to get in 2500 game, with my Wood Elves, but instead, I played 1000 points with a friend of mine who was fairly new to the game. While playing this game, I realized that there is a lot to understand to actually win a game of Fantasy, certainly much more to pay attention to than most games of 40k. So it is for him, and anyone else, that I’ve decided to compile some articles I’ve written for people who are new to Warhammer Fantasy (WFB).

General Concepts

WFB is a deceptively complicated game. It’s core mechanics are very similar to 40k, but plays nothing like it. The objective in Fantasy isn’t to control points across the board, but is instead about completely destroying enemy units. I say “completely” for a very deliberate reason, a broken unit with even 1 model left on the board at the end of a game yields 0 victory points… Nothing, not a single one. To score points, you must absolutely annihilate a unit, so keep that in mind, while we talk a bit about the phases of the game.


Many experienced generals will agree that the game is often times won and lost in the movement phase. Unlike 40k, and many other skirmish scale games, movement in WFB is extremely rigid. Generally a unit can only move directly forwards, wheeling around the outside model when they need to turn. This means if you move out of position, or into a spot that can get you in trouble, it is considerably more difficult to correct.

Every time you move a unit, you should be checking to see if this is putting you in charge range of the enemy, or within LOS and/or short range of their shooting units. By carefully considering where you move, you can often times make accurate predictions of how the enemy will move in return. Did you move your mage bunker within 11″ of your enemy? Well if they’re M4, then they have a 58% chance of successfully charging you, but if you stop just over 11″ away that goes down to a 42% chance.

A huge part of fantasy movement is understanding how to control your enemy through using your own chaff and redirectors. If you can position a cheap, fast unit, in the path of a huge enemy unit, but angled in such a way that if they charge, it will make them vulnerable, then you have set a perfect trap. Cheap fast units are undeniably one of the most important tools that you can have in your army. In addition to having your own chaff, you also need to be sure you have a solution to enemy chaff (see Shooting below).

Recommended Reading:

  1. Math Hammer – WFB Charge Distance
  2. The Art of Redirection
  3. To Charge or Not To Charge


The Magic Phase is where a lot of novice players also make catastrophic mistakes, the most common of which is rolling too many dice for a spell. If a spell’s success is not critical for your strategy, then you don’t need to roll a ton of dice! For example, casting Wildform with a level 2 requires you rolling an 8+, which can be cast extremely reliably on 3 dice… Even if you have 4 dice left, the odds of miscasting nearly double, going from a 7.41% chance with 3 dice to a 13.19% chance with 4!

That all said, magic spells can be extremely powerful, so you really do need to weigh against the results.

Recommended Reading:

  1. Mastering Magic
  2. Winds of Magic


When approaching the Shooting phase, people may be less impressed with the results than in 40k. Generally, there is no equivalent to Taudar in Fantasy, it is seldom that an army will win through pure firepower alone, though Dwarfs and Empire may beg to differ from time to time. The reason for this is because shooting in WFB is much less reliable than it is in 40k. When you are taking ranged units in Fantasy there are a couple primary roles they can fill. First is to eliminate chaff, a few archers shooting off a unit of 5 hounds can actually be quite impactful, since that will remove a charge redirector from the board. The second role is to strip rank bonuses. If a unit of 20 warriors is arranged in 4 ranks, then killing just 1 model will reduce that units rank bonus in combat, and make them count 1 less rank for Steadfast, allowing one of your units to cut them down more easily in the following turns. The last role is mostly for cannons and bolt throwers, which is killing monsters. A single cannon has the potential to kill a 6 wound monster in one shot, though the odds of that happening are far slimmer than internet cry babies would lead you to believe.

Recommended Reading:

  1. Nice Shootin’


Large fights of close combat are generally the meat and potatoes of the game, if you don’t have a strategy around how you’ll win a few rounds of combat, you’re in for an uphill battle. If you are running an army like Goblins, or Skaven, you might actually not have a solid chance of winning a combat, especially against armies like Warriors of Chaos and Lizardmen. Instead however, you can take large blocks (40+) of cheap models, run 5-wide. This minimizes the amount of damage that you’ll receive, while keeping you steadfast as long as possible, giving you time to have your own hard hitting units join the fray, or to at least gum up the opponent so they can’t kill something more valuable. The opposite of a big steadfast unit would be a horde. Some units excel in combat and really need to be sure they hit as hard as possible to cripple their opponent, running them in 10-wide units means you’ll get another rank of attacks, though typically at the expense of being steadfast. This is a solid strategy for units which are naturally Stubborn or immune to psychology.

Using redirectors (see Movement above), if you can control which combats are fought and when, you should be able to make sure that the combats are heavily weighted in your favor. Generally, a risky combat is suicide, and if you really want to ensure victory, you should only engage when the odds suit your favor (or when you’re desperate, you could surprise yourself!).

Recommended Reading:

  1. To Horde or Not to Horde
  2. Hammer and Anvil


Further Reading

Understanding the phases of the game will give you a great head start into competitive play in WFB, but to really dominate the game, you must understand all the nuances. This ranges from understanding how to place and take advantage of terrain, to actually winning the scenarios! If you’ve made it through the reading above, I’d suggest checking out the other articles I’ve written on how to play Fantasy, though some of it is dated due to new books (mostly the “Looking at Everyone’s Redirectors” part). Even if your army doesn’t use Monsters and Chariots, reading the articles on those will help give you insight into what to expect from your opponents.

Check the rest of my Bell of Lost Souls tactics series, or take a look at the WFB Tactics section of The Dice Abide.


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

21 Responses to “Fantasy 101: a Guest Editorial by Adam from the Dice Abide”

  1. Reecius
    Reecius October 10, 2013 12:38 pm #

    Thanks for this, Adam, we need to lure you into the shop to learn us some Fantasy trickery!

    • Adam
      Adam October 10, 2013 1:18 pm #

      It just may ruin 40k for you.

      • Reecius
        Reecius October 10, 2013 1:50 pm #

        I doubt that is likely to occur, but it may certainly steal away some of my attention =)

  2. Cruzcontrol39 October 10, 2013 6:52 pm #

    Fantasy use to be a game of strategy where maneuvering was key… Not so much anymore… Über magic, blocks of 50 dudes, standard bearer, large monster, meet in the middle and throw a shit ton of dice, scrape off a ton of models that you will never get painted, rinse and repeat… I remember when Fantasy was cheaper and more interesting to play than 40k… I dropped both games for Infinity and its a blast!

    • Adam
      Adam October 10, 2013 9:08 pm #

      Honestly I’ve heard this argumeant before, and generally it’s entirely based on not understanding or willing to learn the new edition. Uber magic and huge death star hordes win when played against novice players, a skilled player should have little to few problems with this. Claiming that is how the game works now only shows your lack of understanding of the rules. It’s a shame really that so many players, like you, read what was on the surface and came to these kinds of shallow conclusions. Fortunately my local group actually learned the rules in depth and can appreciate how complex the strategy is now in 8th edition and it’s overall vast improvements over 7th.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2013 8:34 am #

      I’ve heard folks saying you need terrain to mitigate that style of game you mention. Terrain breaks up the field and forces people to use clever movement to win.

      • Adam
        Adam October 11, 2013 9:50 am #

        Yeah, once you actually have to maneuver those blocks around things, hordes become much less effective. There is something to be said about using hordes as point denial though, but that doesn’t make a list unbeatable, instead you just have to remember that winning fantasy only means 100+ points.

        I always think it’s a little funny people mention huge units and mega spells together as being bad things, since mega spells generally obliterate huge units… Our game group went through that evolution pretty quickly. First it was huge units, then it was big spells, then we learned how to play.

  3. Grant Theft Auto October 11, 2013 8:25 am #

    Adam great write up,

    It’s interesting how much this fantasy league has opened up my understanding for the game again. I’m gonna look into more of those articles to better understand how too win at those higher point levels. My lizardmen will need it when all the other armies get access too all their more expensive and advanced units.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 11, 2013 8:29 am #

      My Wood Elves shall destroy all before them, especially all you weak ass Lizardmen players! Muahahaha!

      • Adam
        Adam October 11, 2013 9:51 am #

        How to beat Lizards with Wood Elves.

        Step 1: Shoot down 100 points of Skinks.
        Step 2: Run.

        • Reecius
          Reecius October 11, 2013 11:35 am #

          That’s how I beat every army! haha

          • Adam
            Adam October 11, 2013 11:46 am


      • Grant Theft Auto October 11, 2013 3:41 pm #

        Dream on Reece hahahaha, scoreboard baby look at the scoreboard

        • Reecius
          Reecius October 11, 2013 4:16 pm #

          I’m undefeated too, son! You’ve already lost, you just don’t know it, yet! Muahaha!

  4. Cruzcontrol39 October 11, 2013 9:39 am #

    I’ve played a lot of games… Just not interested in 8th… You either love it or hate it… Most of the veterans I know hate it and so do I… Hopefully 9th will be better, until then Kings of War with less randomness 60% of the time all the time….

    • mm3791 October 11, 2013 2:17 pm #

      Cruz, if you don’t like it then you don’t need to be posting here, no one is trying to convince you to play. This thread is for people who want to get better @ 8th ed. I personally find this article very helpful for improving my fantasy strategy.

      • Grant Theft Auto October 11, 2013 3:46 pm #

        Trolls like him need to stay on BOLS.

        Make an infinity article first then you can talk shit about other games

        Adam great article again

        • Reecius
          Reecius October 11, 2013 4:13 pm #

          Woah, guys, take it down a notch. I don’t think anyone was trying to put anyone down, just chill out and give people the benefit of the doubt before taking it to an 11, haha. I think he was just saying he doesn’t care for Fantasy, not attacking anyone in particular. Let’s cut this one off at the knees before it turns into anything more.

      • Cruzcontrol39 October 11, 2013 3:51 pm #

        It’s a decent article, just my opinion… Agree or not free country… Don’t tell me how to live my life…lol…

        • Reecius
          Reecius October 11, 2013 4:14 pm #

          Hey guys, let’s all be cool here. It’s fine to disagree with one another but the one and only rule here at Frontline is that we do it with respect. Thanks, and please just keep it civil.

      • Reecius
        Reecius October 11, 2013 4:14 pm #

        Hey guys, let’s all be cool here. It’s fine to disagree with one another but the one and only rule here at Frontline is that we do it with respect. Thanks, and please just keep it civil.

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