Defensive List Building: Overloading the Zone

Son of Adam here again with another game strategy article from MasterCraft Gaming. Today’s discussion will be about a method for the list building sphere of game strategy, one I like to call overloading the zone. (Please note: any article relating to game strategy is not recommended for friendly play. Not all games are competitive, but these articles are written for the ones that are).

For any of you basketball players or fans, you may already have an idea of what I mean by overloading the zone. In basketball one defensive strategy is called the zone defense. Each of the five players is assigned a particular “zone” of protection that they are supposed to defend against. When someone from the other team enters their zone it is their responsibility to defend against them.

If your opponent is stacked with anti-tank units, consider building a horde army. Now a large portion of your opponent’s army has been rendered ineffective.

We often see this style of defense employed in 40k as well. Maybe you have even considered this when building your lists; I have to have something to be able to take out a land raider, and something for tanks, and something for hordes. This is an approach some people use when building a balanced list. Each part of the army is assigned a part of the possible enemy army to defend against. These are their “zones” of defense. The strategy that we are talking about today is overloading those zones.

First we have to answer some questions about the setting. Where are we playing? A local tournament (where everyone plays marines), a regional GT, or how about one of the big shows like NOVA? (By the way I’m starting a series called “Road to NOVA.” Check out some of my posts as they come out). If you are playing at a mostly standard tournament, that is, a tournament that adheres pretty closely to the 40k rulebook and has a range of competitive armies being played, we can assume some of these answers. Now that we can anticipate a zone defense or an all comers lists, we can begin to try and counter it.

How can you take advantage of overloading the zone in order to counter the balanced defense of your opponent in order to achieve the victory conditions in near standard missions? We can predict that the opponent is going to have some weapons that counter tanks right? But they will also have some weapons that counter hordes, their respective zones. We can overload the zone by putting all of our pieces into one of the defenders zones, such that the other zones of defense will not be able to contribute much to the battle. If all you had were tanks then you could get more of them and potentially overwhelm your opponent’s anti-tank-zone of defense. Furthermore, any flamers or other anti-horde weapons in your opponents force would be wasted; you would be able to use the full weight of your force against the now limited strength of what your opponent would be able to use against you.

This type of thinking has produced some army builds that we are expecting at NOVA; there is the all fliers list, the MSU build, the 2+ save Deathstar units, the full horde, and the full AV14 army among others. Each of these takes advantage of the balanced build defense by giving it too much to deal with in a certain zone of defense in order to gain the advantage. The sweet spot is found in being able to overload the defense, but maintain a defense that cannot in turn be overloaded.

When you find yourself out matched in list builds, do not despair, the game is not yet lost. There are many lists that have counters and whatever list you come up with will probably be able to be countered by some other extreme list. We can try to mitigate this inherent rock-paper-scissor by trying to make a list whose counter is not popular or not very good against anything else and therefore uncommon. If all else fails, there are still the other two spheres of the game that can help you overcome the disadvantage and achieve the victory conditions. However, the goal is to have your list give you the advantage as it helps you achieve the victory conditions, and this combined with the other three spheres will make you a hard to beat opponent.

This is only one of many different ways to approach the 1st sphere of game strategy, and more articles are bound to come. Thanks all for reading. Go ahead and check out our other stuff. Subscribe to our YouTube, like our facebook, and leave some comments.

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About Son of Adam

I am a 40k player and have been since the time of third edition. My first love, and presently an unfortunate one at that, is the Tau. In 4th edition I began a modest IG army, and then started a small yet growing Grey Knight trophy army in 5th. In the recent past, I have succumbed to the desire to play Eldar; that same alluring desire of precision in play, and artistic gracefulness of modeling that many 40k players always seem to toy with. I am finding this last army to be very challenging and enjoyable. My involvement with the hobby is as an appreciator of much of the fluff, an admirer and novice in the art of modeling, and an enjoyer of the game.

Posted on July 25, 2012, in Game Strategy, List Building and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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