Playing for scenario is tricky, because you need to take into account a lot of stuff in order to succeed. It is usually not something you can master in a short period of time, because you need to get yourself used to the scenario play mindset. That mindset means that you need to take into account: how to score in the scenario, identifying key models and how to deal with them, and all while keeping your caster and key models safe.
Identity How to Score the Scenario
At the beginning of the game, quickly identify how to score in the scenario. Some scenarios are more difficult to score than the others. Scenarios that require you to destroy your opposing objective before scoring, which is usually deep behind enemy lines, is going to be very difficult to score; and therefore your scenario-oriented list might not be a good drop. Unless you have a plan for it, of course.
The opposing army composition can also prevent you from playing scenario. An army with a lot of models with high ARM and unable to be moved can be a big problem. The same also goes to an army that can run a lot of models up the field very fast. Shae’s pirates army with two full units of Press Gangers can move well past the middle line even in his first turn; that’ll be a problem if you wanted to grab the zone in the middle. In contrast, an army with a lot of models that can be easily removed from the table, or slow such as Khador jacks, will be easier to beat in scenario. Now, if you think that there is a big chance for you to score reliably in that game, then your scenario-oriented list will be the correct drop.
You also need to calculate the number of turns you need to win the game by scenario. Some scenario have the potential to give you 3 points per turn but some can only give you 2 points tops. Plan your game accordingly. Example, if I play eMagnus, I know that I can get 2-3 consecutive turns of scoring using his feat if the situation is right; which usually means that there is little to no contesting models in the flags/zone at the beginning of my second turn. That’ll usually end the game immediately; and this is an example why models with movement restricting abilities is very good in scenario.
Identifying & Dealing With Key Models
The next step is knowing the key models on the table, both yours and your opponent’s. My definition of a key model is a model that is important for you to score the scenario reliably and models that are threatening your scoring capability or can score more reliably than you.
Example 1: in order for you to score reliably then you need to keep the opposing models away from the scoring flags/zones. One way to do this is by having models with a high threat range and reliable damage output (to scare away contesting models). In my Cygnar list, usually that’s either Stormclad or Stormlances; therefore those models can be considered key in my list. If the opposing player managed to take them out, the list is practically crippled to win by scenario.
Example 2: Centurion in a Cygnar army is a heavy jack that is very hard to remove from the table and can’t be charged, plus they have access to Arcane Shield. If the opposing Centurion moved contesting the flag/zone, then it’ll be hard to play scenario. Therefore, Centurion (and potentially Jr. Warcaster that gives Arcane Shield too) is/are key models in the opposing army.
Then you have to deal with the opposing key models. Sometimes this doesn’t mean that you have to destroy them, you just need to prevent them from scoring or contesting the flag/zone; When you play for scenario you need to remember this. Destroying is still the best option because it takes them out from the table permanently; but if you can’t, you only need to prevent them from scoring or contesting.
Example in the Centurion case, the best option is if you can take out the Jr. Warcaster first then take the Centurion out. But if you can’t, you also can try to slam/throw it away from the flag/zone. While in the Stormlances case, if you can’t take them out of the board then you can try to debuff them using something like Crippling Grasp, or put a difficult terrain in front of them using spells like Rift or Inhospitable Ground if they don’t have access to pathfinder. Knocking them down or put them into Stationery works too. The main idea is to cripple their threat range/damage output so that they can’t threat your scoring model reliably any longer, and in best scenario prevent them from contesting as well.
Keeping Your Caster (& Key Models) Alive
After everything I’ve shared with you, this is the one that you must always remember: Keep your caster alive. In scenario lists that relies heavily on the caster’s involvement in the game, you will need him/her to be in a bit more aggressive positioning that you’d like. For example, when I play eMagnus catching all of opposing key models in his feat is critical to his scenario game, But that means he will be within 12″ (his control area) from the furthest key model. That could also mean he is less than 12″ from other big threats on the table. If I don’t plan carefully, that game could end with a ranged assassination.
This is the dilemma of playing a scenario game: you need multiple scoring turns to win, but if you put guard down, an assassination will end the game quickly. I’ve had games where I’m clearly ahead in scenario and attrition, but because I put my caster too upfront that he/she supposed to, I lost the game to an assassination (a reliable one, not even a hail mary). This often happen because you misjudge your caster’s survivability: Control casters usually have a powerful feat like eHaley, eMagnus, or Cassius. During that feat turn, your caster is practically untouchable, or at least you can create such condition. After the feat turn however, you have to remember that he/she is no longer untouchable: Pull him/her back! Don’t get lulled into that false sense of security lingering from the previous turn.
Chain Attack podcast have a great Dojo (episode 5) specifically teaching you how to keep your casters alive, you should definitely try to listen to them. But for this article, let me summarize:
- Remember to keep some focus/fury on your caster.
- Put some range between your caster and opposing threats, but still keeping him/her relevant to the game.
- Block LOS using intervening models.
- Use terrain to your advantage.
The same goes with your key models, remember these tips because you’ll need them alive in order to play scenario reliably.
Mix Them Together & Practice
Last step, put your plan on the table and practice. Planning to play scenario is not as easy as it sounds, because there are so many variables on the table that you need to take into account. Most often than not, you’ll find something works or not only after your tried it on the table, not in the vacuum of your planning session; and sometimes you’ll find an epiphany there too. And if you lose your first game, don’t be too quick to judge too, because you need to find out what causes the loss: is it your misplay or the list is truly ineffective? Then make adjustments accordingly.
That’s all I got for scenario play right now. As always, if you have any additional questions drop a comment below and I’ll try my best to answer them.
– Daniel –