On March 11, Imaginary Wars will be hosting an Age of Sigmar tournament–but it won’t be just a regular ‘Sigmar tournament, this time around, we’ll be doing a day-long campaign using the fan-made Hinterlands rules! (You can download the free rules HERE.)
The Hinterlands rules focuses on skirmish gaming and also frames your Age of Sigmar games as an ongoing story, with your models gaining experience (and abilities). It also makes attrition and casualties a real factor in your games. No longer is it always a smart move to pour soldiers into the meat grinder when the are a finite resource available to your warlord. With that in mind, I asked one of the city’s more rabid Age of Sigmar fans, Paul Ting, if I could reprint a post he had made on the Alberta Age of Sigmar facebook group regarding the Retreat rule.
Post by Paul
I want to talk about a tactic and rule in the game that I have used to great effect; however it seems too often be overlooked, or underused by many players I have played against. This is the Retreat rule.
The Retreat rule simply states the following:
“Units starting the movement phase within 3″ of an enemy unit can either remain stationary or retreat. If you choose to retreat, the unit must end its move more than 3″ away from all enemy units. If a unit retreats, then it can’t shoot or charge later that turn (see below).”
In an Age of Sigmar normal movement phase, you are not allowed to move within 3” of an enemy. If you are within 3″ of an enemy unit (which can happen a variety of ways—previously in combat, spells abilities, and enemy Pile in), you can choose to either remain stationary or move away; this does prohibit you from shooting or charging (with some exceptions) later in the same turn. That’s the only penalty for retreating.
But here’s the kicker: you can still run. You don’t take hits. You don’t roll to break away from the enemy. There’s nothing at all to it; you just move your models AWAY from the opponent and end at least 3” away.
This rule is easy to overlook and not see the value of. However, this is a game that is not only about killing enemy models but is now evolving into something much more dynamic. Units now want to secure multiple points, get off the board, and capture objectives. Suddenly a unit’s ability to “retreat” or tactically distance itself from an unfavorable enemy is a very different tactic that has not been available to generals before.
For example in previous editions if a unit of combat troops, such as Bestigor where engaged by a Steam Tank, chances are that the Bestigor unit would be tied up for either a good portion of the game …or its entirety. This effectively took a unit out of play (on both sides); the Bestigors spend their turns hammering against the side of the steam tank, doing on average a couple of wounds per round, while the steam tank has locked a very dangerous unit up. Likely, it’s frustrating from both players’ perspective: the Beastmen player is missing some crucial hitting force in the army and the Empire player is not really playing with the Steam Tank the way he may have envisioned it.
The same could be said about any model armed with missile weapons or ranged attacks. Often these units were tied up by single combat heroes, or small units, with their only hope being to have real luck on their side while attacking (or to lose the combat, not die, hope to fail the Break Test and then luck out and outrun the pursuer). Using a hero to lock down ranged attackers not only kept the hero safe from most harm, but it also locked up the missile weapon units who could no longer fire and contribute to the game in their intended way.
Now imagine the same scenario in Age of Sigmar with its Retreat rule. That same unit of Bestigors, realises there is no swift victory for them against a Steam Tank, and they take off; or the missile-armed units decide to leave for a better position and continue being effective in other ways.
There are many units that have bonuses when they charge, so you may be better off with multiple smaller units that work in tandem, alternately charging and retreating: one unit charges in with its bonuses and fights, then retreats just as the other unit charges in with its bonuses (and then fights and then retreats…you get the idea). This kind of tandem-charging cycle can give you some extra oomph in times of need, while perhaps minimizing the damage those units might take as well.
Some units in the game have abilities that allow for retreats and charges; this is a very cool tactic that can allow your models to gain a better position in the combat or a more favorable fight with a potentially weaker unit. It could also be used to make way for a larger, more powerful unit that could not have assisted otherwise to help swing that combat.
Flyers. I have found flyers to be very efficient using the retreat tactic in combination with “blocking.” I use my flyers (Plague Drones) to get into a position where an opponent will either have to engage with them (charge them), or move around them, outside the 3” that they can’t enter with charging; they’re not only large models that have a big foot print, but they’re also not the easiest to fight. If players engage them but don’t kill all the Plague Drones survive, when my next turn occurs I may retreat with them—and I would combine, where possible, this retreat with the Run rule through my enemy unit, right into the back field of my opponent, getting me into choice positions for single model hunts or towards an objective.
Sometimes you just have a combat that is not going your way, or you are failing dice rolls or whatever. The Retreat rule now gives you the ability to make that unit leave, perhaps regroup, heal or just re-position yourself in a better place or where the models unique talents may be better used somewhere else.
“One thing to add on to the ‘reasons to retreat’ list; if it’s your turn, it can better for you to have an odd number of roughly even fights rather than an even number. For example, let’s say I’m playing my Undead vs. Skaven, and at the start of my turn, my Dragon lord is in combat with a VL Warbringer, and Bloodknights in combat with some Stormvermin. In both these fights, whoever swings first has a major advantage. If I leave both combats intact, and choose to attack with my Lord first, my opponent’s Stormvermin then do terrible things to the Bloodknights before they get to swing. I win 1 combat, my opponent wins 1. However, if I retreat with one unit, then I win 1 combat against my opponent”
– Alan P.
There are many interesting possibilities and combinations that are hard to fully comprehend outside the game, and only through lots of play will we really start to see the effect this can have for players. The above listed examples are only many of a few I am sure we will discover as the game continues to grow. Generals will now have a powerful new tool that they can use to hone their skills on the battlefield, and I know I, for one, am excited to make use of it.