Mind Games: Taking Down A Warboss


Over the last four weeks we looked at playing to our strengths within our preferred playstyle. In this next series, we’re going to look at playing into our opponents’ weaknesses in their preferred playstyle. To begin, if you haven’t already, read back to the first article in this series, where we broke down the four main playstyles and some of their characteristics.

In this all-new continuation of the series, we’re going to look at some on the board strategies focused on taking down each of the four main playstyles! If you look up and see one of these opponent archetypes across the table from you, you’ll have all the tools you need to take them down! Throughout this series, you may see tactics referred to as “tilting”, which is a term borrowed from professional poker. Essentially, it refers to throwing your enemy off-guard, and forcing them to scramble to adapt to abrupt changes in the flow of the game.
With that in mind, let’s get into the first opponent, the Aggressive-Loose Warboss. Today, we’ll be looking at how to identify them, exploit their weaknesses, and put them on tilt.

Identifying a Warboss:
As we covered previously, a Warboss is a player who favors an aggressive-loose style. This play-style can be sometimes correlated to a person’s personality outside the game, so we can look for some indicators before the models even hit the table that our opponent may lean toward the Warboss play-style.
Identifying our opponent’s tendencies early is helpful not only because it gives us more time to implement our counter stratagems, but it also can help us identify early on when someone may be trying to play counter to their natural play-style and may be more prone to going “on tilt,” playing their reactive tight list loosely and aggressively when put under pressure. That is, a Warboss who is attempting an Archon game approach, may start to throw away units for the sake of aggression, with few, if any traps set up.
Let us start by looking at some personal traits of a potentially Warboss-inclined player:

  • Loud, boisterous, direct personality: this player is more likely to be chatty and look to start and maintain outside-the-game banter.
  • Boastful: this player may take the first opportunity to brag about previous wins and successes.
  • Disorganized: this player may be disorganized in their pregame setup; their models may not be out of their case, or scattered haphazardly on a carrying tray; they may have scattered their other resources like dice, mission packs, lists, and tape measures across the table, their bags, and carrying tray.

Basically, we’re looking for someone who displays elements of a loose approach by lack of planning or organization, combined with elements of an aggressive personality by leading or dominating conversation and generally making their presence apparent. Obviously, these traits aren’t exclusive or required for someone to lean toward a Warboss play-style, and simply act as possible indicators.
When identifying an opponent’s play-style and approach, it’s important to be regularly reevaluating and reassessing. A wily opponent can be aware of these very same categorizations and actively misrepresent themselves in order to give their opponents the wrong read.

Countering Warboss Plays:
The Warboss play-style is built on a desire to dictate the action and force the issue on the table with little pre-planning required. It is a momentum-based play-style and wants to be “running downhill,” aggressively pushing further and further until there is nothing left to oppose it.
On the table, we can implement a few strategies to counter or exploit this playstyle’s aggression and looseness through careful placement or play around objectives, setting obvious traps, splitting focus, or being over-aggressive in turn.
As we all know, objective placement or positioning around objectives is crucial to winning the game. Knowing a Warboss’s tendency toward aggression without forethought, we can use the positioning of objectives or our positioning around objectives to counter a Warboss’s aggression and use it against them to win the mission.
Assuming the Warboss’s list features predominantly short-ranged and combat threats, spreading objectives into corners and edges of the board can allow us to funnel the Warboss into one part of the board and away from most of the objectives. Even in preset objective missions, we can usually still direct their aggression away from the majority of objectives by presenting juicy targets and a path for his main hitters to take that lead them away from the middle of the board into positions from which they will only be able to threaten one or two objectives in the late game.
If our Warboss opponent has a list more focused on ranged aggression, this task is a little more difficult, but essentially the same; we can try to use terrain to position our high value targets in places where our opponent must place their own shooting units away from objectives in order to draw line of sight.
If objectives are placed after sides are determined, we can look to put objectives opposite of where the opponent wants to be. That is, if their aggression is primarily combat based, placing objectives in their backfield can force a defensive posture. On the other hand, if their aggression is more based on shooting, forcing them to come across the board or into positions with poor firing lanes will force a choice between game objectives and aggression.
Another way of countering a Warboss and their aggressive plays is to set blatantly obvious traps. For example, if their offensive punch is primarily centered on a single, large combat unit, we can place a throwaway bait in range for that unit to obliterate in our opponent’s next turn. We then position the rest of our forces to collapse on that spot in our next turn, but out of range for the upcoming turn. The Warboss is then presented with the choice of just taking the bait and hoping to endure the counter-attack or holding back and, as a result, not executing any degree of aggression in their upcoming turn.
If we don’t have the means to take on a Warboss’s main brick unit head on, we can instead try to split their focus. This works particularly against combat focused opponents, but we can still execute this strategy against shootier lists as well. We can exploit a Warboss player’s aggression by feeding them easy and obvious targets that will pull them in different directions, putting them out of position to achieve mid and late game victory conditions. This tactic can result in a pyrrhic victory, where we lose most of our forces to win the game. However, we can also use this tactic to potentially pull the opposing army apart and then use a more concentrated force to destroy enemy units one at a time.
The previous tactics look to exploit the weaknesses of the Warboss playstyle, feeding into it and allowing it to take control. Another approach is to put the Warboss off their game by being even more aggressive and force them to play more defensively.
Even if our list isn’t completely capable of taking on the Warboss’s aggression head on, we can use an element of our army to push forward aggressively and put them on the back foot. Specifically we want to use a unit or element that is fast enough to get to the other side of the board before our opponent has been able to really move out, and threatens their backfield elements if they do move out. The goal here is to force the Warboss to stay at home, dealing with this forward threat. By the time they clean it up we have hopefully taken control of the rest of the board and are in position to punish move-outs.
So there we have some high-level tactics to employ to counter an aggressive-loose Warboss opponent. The earlier we can get a read on this being their playstyle, the sooner we can implement these strategies to take advantage of their tendencies and exploit their weaknesses. Next week we will look at how to approach and gain advantage over an opponent with another playstyle. Thanks for reading, and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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