Fantasy Fisticuffs #39: Mission Critical (Blade’s Edge)

Blade’s Edge asks more of players than most missions.  Let’s see how we can get the most out of this scenario.

Welcome to the first “Mission Critical”, a series of articles taking a closer look at some of the competitive AoS scenarios.  As much as we have, so far, focused on the Generalship of one’s army and units, the specifics of a scenario often demand serious reconsideration of how to approach the battle itself.  All the list building tricks and efficiency in the world won’t mean much if you get outplayed, so let’s get into some general advice on doing better in specific scenarios.

The Mission:  The Blade’s Edge

New to the 2020 General’s Handbook, Blade’s Edge has an unusual twist that I expect players will want to get very familiar with.  Player’s set up six objectives, three per territory with pre-determined locations.  It is a relatively typical “score vp at the end of each of your turns”, right up until one learns that at the beginning of each battle-round, after the first, the player who will go second can entirely remove an objective.

The relevant part of the battlefield functionally shrinks all game long, and players have a very real reason to not automatically snap up an opportunity for a double-turn.

How to Win:

This scenario really rewards players patience.  With objectives starting only 6” away from where one can deploy, it is safe to say that most armies will each claim their home three on the first turn (barring movement tricks, and variables we can’t account for in such a wide view).  However most armies can “toe in” to range of their opponent’s as well should they go first.  As a result, most players will want to go first, and if presented the opportunity, maintain an alternating turn order from there.  Claiming those first 5-6 VP will be massively advantageous as they get increasingly hard to claim as the game goes on.

The player removing the objectives has a massive benefit in the form of board control.  What is poised to be a draw turn one, over time becomes more advantageous for a force that can simply hold the line.  As a result, use your first turn to set up as defensively as possible, and ensure bodies on your three objectives (claiming all of them only by the slimmest of margins, if you can).  Over-committing early needs to result in absolutely decisive losses for your opponent, because if it doesn’t, a durable line will simply outscore you by game’s end.

With the reward of choosing the objective to remove, you have a lot of tactical options open up.  Did your opponent over commit to one of their flank objectives?  Pull it and leave them out of position.  Did they go hard down the middle?  Pull it and force the game into a battle on two fronts.

As the game continues there are other cheeky plays that emerge.  With few objectives left you will eventually be pulling your own from the table.  As your own units thin, consider removing from a weak flank where you expect to be overtaken.  Likewise, low model count armies might remove an entire flank early and funnel opponents into a smaller battle-field where they can better play to their strength.

Who Does It Favor: Durable Armies, Counter-Punch Armies

Armies happy to see this scenario roll up are pretty wide ranging and diverse.  Much maligned artillery armies have a great change to let their relatively static units prove an asset rather than a limitation.  From behind lines they can chip away at opposition, letting their largely disposable screens score early, and then merely buy time as shooting proves resilient to the disappearing objective (they can project their killing power without feeling as out of position).  Do remember to keep a couple token, fast objective grabbers on hand, but an early lead, plus enough fire-power should leave you comfortable.

Armies with ready access to teleportation and redeploys will also do well, but truthfully they are currently at a huge advantage game-wide.  Starborne Seraphon, and Changehost can easily adapt to moving objectives, while still exerting their will.  Good players will want to do their best to force these units to at least drop outside of scoring range.

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About Mark Gottlieb

Writer, Game Designer, and owner of Fortunate Sun Studios, I have always tried to lead a life in some way built around paying back to gaming, and the gaming community. This hobby, and everyone in it, saved my life on more than a few occasions, and now I get to put my heart into helping it thrive for everyone!

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