Hello friends, Nick Nanavati here to show you exactly how to break down a tournament format and put yourself in the best position to win before the tournament even starts. In a previous article, I wrote 7 Steps to Win a Tournament, and my second step is to “Read the Rules.” In this case, I’m referring to the most recent rules updates put out by Frontline Gaming. In short, the top 100 tables at the event will have the same terrain set, and its layout will change every game based on what deployment you’re playing. This setup is a great idea and helps balance out the tables a lot to ensure gunlines don’t just turn one win. However, as with any change to rules, it can have unforeseen consequences, and it can also usually warrant a shift in “power” for what’s good and bad. In this article, I’m going to break down the six different missions and what has gotten stealth buffed and nerfed at the 11th hour before LVO list submission.
Please excuse my poor photo editing skills.
As you can see here, this deployment has a large L shaped ruin at the very tip of the deployment zones (a common theme). This arrangement means you can start a vast majority of your army out of line of sight of your opponent and only 18″ away from his side. That’s an enormous buff for fast assault ”death star” units, such as Possessed, Centurions, and Shining Spears/Seer Council. On the flip side, this format is also a massive boon for artillery. The red smear above represents a prime spot to put some artillery. Your standard 48″ gun can shoot into your opponent’s building from that spot while being safe from your opponent’s artillery should he do the same on his side. For shorter range artillery like hive guard, or in scenarios where you want to shoot behind your opponent’s hill, you can deploy your artillery in the ruin for optimal range, but this does put your artillery in the danger zone for getting charged.
Vanguard is similar to pointy hammer (above) in that the ruin is at the tip of your zone, and there’s a prime artillery hill behind. The main differences are the ruins are 24″ apart, so it’s a bit far for something like centurions or possessed to traverse in one turn (although with the pregame move from alpha legion’s forward operatives stratagem they can still do it), and there are two more hills in no man’s land. These hills can make an excellent “rest stop” for an assault unit trying to close the game midfield. However, they are especially brutal for units without fly because they will need to go around them as opposed to through or over. Spears and Seer council love this terrain, though possessed can benefit too. It’s very realistic to hide Nurglings or even a Plagueburst Crawler behind the hills in midfield, then stick a beefy character like a daemon prince behind them but clearly in the open, and then use the conceal stratagem on the possessed to traverse the table impunity.
Search and Destroy
Table Quarters deployment is oddly more similar to pointy hammer than vanguard. The midfield hills are pretty much as useless as they are in pointy hammer, whereas in Vanguard they are integral to that deployment’s gameplay. Additionally, your ruins start 18” away and the corner hills have the same dichotomy of being able to shoot into the opponent’’s ruin, but not behind their hill.
Hammer and Anvil
Hammer and Anvil is surprisingly unique compared to pointy hammer (as these are often considered one in the same). The distance between the ruins is 24” in this one, and there isn’t a good pit stop are for assault units like in Vanguard. The backfield hills have the same interaction as the above deployments as far as to reach down table. Still, you may be able to get away with deploying artillery in your forward ruin a bit more liberally due to the increased distance between the ruins and no rest area. I think Hammer and Anvil games will lend themselves to be being much cagier and point denial based due to the safety blanket of the ruins and the enormous no man’s land to traverse. Armies with lots of artillery will shine in this deployment. Just what we needed, amiright?
Pointy Dawn of War
Pointy dawn of war, which is historically a competitive player’s least favorite deployment, is one of the most interesting in LVO’s terrain setup. As depicted by the rainbow I drew on it, this is another deployment that has the ruins 18” apart but also has two hills in midfield for making a pit stop. This setup is a fast assault armies wet dream and is horrendous for an artillery based list going second. (Which is rather interesting when you consider how heavily Hammer and Anvil favors artillery) . The hill ruin dichotomy I’ve covered in literally every other deployment also doesn’t exist here. Instead, there are functionally two spots you can put your artillery. The first is dead center. This placement will likely be the most common. It has the strength of being able to hit the far corners of the table, as demonstrated by the black line above. However, the area behind your ruin might start to get crowded if everything tries to go here, and prime real estate for deployment is already an exaggerated problem in pointy dawn of war. Not only this, but from the far corners of the table, long-ranged shooting can see behind the middle ruin and draw a bead on the artillery. Of course, you can put your artillery further up to circumvent this problem, but again real estate is an issue, and that puts the artillery in easy turn one charge range from the opponent’s ruin. The other spot which is feasible is the red smear behind the hill on the side. This solves your real estate issue but not the line of sight one. The green line diagonally cut through the table represents a clear fire line from behind a hill to behind a hill. Winner of this round goes to fast assault armies by a landslide.
Dawn of War
And here we have the most unique deployment: the old classic dawn of war. This is the only deployment where the ruins aren’t in a deployment zone but instead make the classic NOVA L formation. For line of sight blocking, you have two hills on opposite ends of your deployment zones. The blue smear marks the prime spot for deployment for both shooty and assault armies. Assault armies will be able to hop into the L, which faces them, bringing them even closer to the enemy.
Conversely (from the perspective of the shooty army player), an opposing assault army will need to stay on the far side of the L ruin before trying to close the gap. The issue here is that the hill is only so big. Real estate again becomes a big issue, and players will need to choose between deploying in the open with some units or splitting the army and deploying in the red zone. Splitting your army in conventionally unwise for most lists, so this is a pretty tricky decision if you’re playing against a shooting-based list.
I’ve been to a lot of tournaments around the world, and most commonly, they use a terrain layout that most closely resembles that seen in Dawn of War. This format rewards durable, angular, direct line of sight shooting. Armies that historically do well in these formats have been Eldar planes, iron hands, and triple Calliduses. This is not the case for five out of six of the deployment maps at LVO. I believe that the armies which will see the most success in the LVO meta are the opposites of each other: fast, assault-based armies (possessed, spears, seer council, and white scars), and indirect heavy armies like Imperial fists. Armies designed for a different layout (like my traditional Iron Hands Brigade or Ad Mech) will likely take the back seat in this event at the higher levels of play.