Using a Warband link effectively requires it to be used efficiently. Sometimes that means thinking in ways that are counterintuitive, like not moving directly between two points (shortest distance be damned). The example I am going to use is a Jaguar/Massacre Haris Link, but the principles should be good for any linked smoke throwers with a good close combat ability and short-range weapons.
So, you’ve decided on a target (this is a skill in and of itself, but that’s a different article). Now, on the surface of things, the best way to get there would appear to be the direct approach using your smoke to cover the advance.
Let see how this would play out:
ORDER 1: First things first, deploy smoke. Try to practice eyeballing 8 inches. The better you get at this, the more effective you will be with these troops. If you can get both within 8 inches you’ll be landing the smoke on 16 or less with Jaguars or Massacre. IMPORTANT: Everything in an order happens simultaneously, so if you move out and expect the smoke you throw to cover you that turn, you are going to be looking at a face to face roll. It is safer to throw the smoke from out of the enemy’s Line of Fire and forgo the movement with your first order.
ORDER 2: Now you can move-move out using the smoke as cover. However, we have a problem. There is no line of sight for throwing more smoke.
ORDER 3: In order to continue the advance safely we’ll have to use Speculative Fire. Since this is a whole order skill, there will be no movement and the burst is reduced to one. Also, the negative MOD for Speculative Fire is -6. That means that within 8 inches the smoke will land on a 10 or less. Assuming success, which is 50-50, the problem continues.
ORDER 4: To reach the target in the safety of the smoke cloud will require another 50-50 speculative shot. The alternative is to charge out of the smoke receiving AROs from the target as well as any models with line of sight behind it. There is also the problem of receiving another ARO because even after you successfully take down the target, any activation afterwards will start in the line of fire of your opponents models.
Now let’s look at a more roundabout approach, moving parallel to your smoke line:
ORDER 1: It is important here to leave that small gap. The idea here is to move parallel to your smoke line, allowing you to use full PH and full burst.
ORDER 2: Be careful not leave gaps. Loosing an inch of overall movement is far less painful than unexpectedly losing your link leader to a keyhole ARO. Since the Smoke Template is 4.7 inches, landing two of them within 8 inches should give you some overlap.
ORDER 3: Move-move again. It isn’t necessary for your smoke thrower to be outside the smoke cloud (which just means that no part of their base is under the template). You can move into your ideal throwing position at the beginning of your next order.
ORDER 4: At some point, you will catch up with your smoke if you are crossing an open area. Use obstacles as much as possible to get the most out of your smoke, but beware of those keyhole AROs. When you do catch up to the end of your smoke line, take the opportunity to shuffle your link team and remember that your thrower needs to completely out of the smoke to have line of sight to anything. However, only the thrower needs to be outside the smoke. Also remember that you need only be outside the smoke and able to draw Line of Fire at some point during your movement. I messed up a bit here and didn’t show this on the diagrams, but it is important to remember.
ORDER 5: It is possible that with some clever maneuvering with order 4 you were able to make it into position with just the first part of this order. However, I’m going to assume that it will require one final move-move.
END RESULT: So wait a minute, it took an extra order to get here. How is that more efficient? Well leaving aside the possibility that you were able to either shoot the model from its rear arc or engage it in Close Combat CC with the fourth order, there are a couple of factors that make this better. First, you didn’t have to use 50-50 speculative fire order. Every smoke template thrown with line of sight have a 60% greater chance of landing (16s instead of 10s). You also never exposed your models to enemy fire. In fact, in the example I gave, you are still in smoke cover after you take down your target in Close Combat. That means you start your next order inside the safety of the smoke cloud. So pick your next target and smoke it up again.
Your Mileage May Vary:
Moving parallel to your smoke line will not always be the best option. On denser tables or tables with big LoF blockers in the middle, the more straitforward approach might be bettter. Generally, I have found that tournament tables tend to have much larger firelanes to cross. In that case you will almost certainly find this method useful. Order effieciency is paramount for a Warband link. They will be very vulnerable in the reactive turn, so it is very important to get the most out of them when you can. Most likely your opponent WILL try to take them out as soon as he can. (if he doesn’t, then you proabably aren’t using them right).
- The Massacre/Jag link has Stealth (through Marial Arts/Natural Born Warrior) most other Warband units have it as well. Beware of 4+ model links and units with Sixth Sense which will ignore Stealth.
- Any Intruder or any MSV2 user loves to see a board that looks like that end result diagram. Do your hunting first and your sniping second to take advantage of all that wonderful smoke.
- (For CJC) McMurrough can use this same method trading -1 Burst for +3 PH and an extra 2 inches of movement.