9 Principles of War and 40K: Objective

Applying the Nine Principles of War to Fifth Edition Warhammer 40,000: Objective.

by: Rogue428

Last week we started our discussion on how to reconcile 40K and the Nine Principles of War, consisting of Mass, Objective, Simplicity, Security, Maneuver, Offensive, Unity of Command, Surprise, and Economy of Force. We’ve talked about the Principle of Mass and how you can use it to create a localized area of superiority on the tabletop. This week we’re going to talk about the Principle of Objective.

  • Objective: Direct every military operation towards a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective.

“If you take more than your fair share of objectives, you will have more than your fair share of objectives to take.”

  • Murphy’s Laws of Combat

We’re lucky; many of the objectives in Warhammer 40,000 are very easy to spot due to the nice markers used to represent them. Some objectives aren’t so simple. Last week we mentioned a unit of Necrons that decided to deep strike on your flank. Wiping that unit out is definitely an objective. So you may not want to get distracted by the small unit of scarabs that just turbo-boosted on your other flank. In my local gaming club, we refer to these sacrificial distractor units (such as the scarabs) as ‘popcorn’ units. They do a fantastic job of confusing an unwary opponent’s target priority and disrupting their plans. A fantastic example on the use of a distractor unit in fifth edition is the act of throwing a sacrificial unit in the path of a particularly powerful assaulting opponent’s unit. With any luck the opponent will assault the sacrificial unit and then be caught out in the open on your turn so you can shoot it to pieces or assault it on your terms. To an extent, this also applies to non-sacrificial units. Avoid that Eldar Avatar that’s across the table, rather than confronting it. Take the Necron army for example. That terrible C’tan and those monoliths go away if you can phase out the army, so feed that C’tan some ‘popcorn’ if it will buy time for the remainder of your force to hit those Necron warriors. Concentrate on the objective.

This Principle also applies to denying your opponent the objective. Use ‘popcorn’ units to disrupt and distract your opponent, but avoid them yourself unless you have a nearby unit that is standing idle. Know what forces in your opponent’s list can capture objectives and which of your units is in range to contest (and therefore is in danger of becoming an enemy objective). Try to put yourself in your opponent’s, head. If his Marines are within three inches of an objective and your empty Waveserpent is twenty-four inches away, you’d better count on that Waveserpent being one of your opponent’s objectives and plan accordingly. Tempt him with juicier or more threatening targets to ensure the Waveserpent can get in there and contest that objective in the late game.

RTFM! Read The Full Mission! It seems obvious but people don’t do it. Not all games have objectives as neatly laid out as Capture and Control and Seize Ground. Sometimes, the final objective depends on how many units can be near the center of the table, or removing the enemy HQ, or table quarters, or combinations of all those. If you’re in a tournament, do you get extra battle points for keeping your HQ alive or for having units in the enemy deployment zone? It almost goes without saying but don’t play a kill points game if the mission is Capture and Control. Simple right?

That leads us into next week’s Principle. Simplicity. All the good moves tend to look simple in hindsight, the trick is coming up with them first. But in the meantime, consider ideas dealing with the Principle of Objective and how target priority goes hand in hand with it.

Bottom line: Not all objectives come with markers.

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