Cracking The Screen Part 1

Last week I wrote a nice, tasty article about some real game application of advanced screening, found-  here. So today, I’m going to treat you guys to some common methods of cracking those pesky screens. Naturally, if screening is one of the fundamental pillars of competitive 40k, then breaking through those screens is equally as important.

I’ve set up a fairly standard set up demonstrating the classic struggle of Eldar vs Chaos. Here, the Eldar player is using his rangers (who get to set up 9″ away from the enemy after deployment) to shield his fragile, shooty dark reapers and dire avengers from the incoming Bloodletter bomb.


The blue measurement sticks represent 9″ away from the rangers in this scenario. When the bloodletters arrive, they can’t come in within 9″ of an enemy unit, so that is as close as they can get.


The bloodletter bomb has deep struck in 9″ away from all the rangers. I’ve also set the tape measure out to 12″ from my bloodletters and put some of those fancy smancy measuring sticks out at the 12″ marker. The significance of this is that is to show the area in which the bloodletters can charge. Every unit in the game (barring a couple exceptions) may only declare a charge to units within 12″. A highly effective screening tactic against deep strikers is to deploy your screens at least 3″ in front of your main lines to ensure that even if the enemy manages to get into them with a far charge, he can’t allocate any attacks to them. Remember you may only allocate attacks to units you declared a charge upon. In this example, the Eldar player has made it so the incoming bloodletters were unable to charge any of the Dire avengers or Reapers.


Action shot of the bloodletters making their 9″ charge. In this instance I depicted them rolling a 10, the average on 3d6. I was careful to avoid the forest on the left because that would have subtracted 2″ from my charge, but the ruin on the right is fair game.


After the bloodletters activated and slaughtered the rangers, they got to pile in 3″. As you can see this was not enough to get them within 1″ of the avengers or reapers.  It appears as though these bloodletters are about to get lit up and the Eldar will come out of this victorious.  But just wait! With a little brown magic anything is possible!


At the end of the fight phase, the bloodletters used the stratagem to allow them to fight again. The fight again stratagem allows a unit to make an entire fight phase action. This means the unit may pile in again, attack, then consolidate a final 3″.  Here my bloodletters piled in an additional 3″, engaging the dire avengers on the right, but didn’t quite make it to the dire avengers on the left or the dark reapers on the hill. Despite reaching the dire avengers on the right, they were unable to attack them, because they were not declared as a charge target initially. This is because the avengers were outside of 12″ of the bloodletters when the bloodletters declared their charge.


After the bloodletters activated their second fight activation via the stratagem, they piled in and “attacked” as depicted above. This picture shows the final consolidation the bloodletters made this phase. This it the bloodletters 4th 3″ move this turn. Now they are engaged with the dark reapers, and both units of avengers.


While 3CP is definitely a hefty price to pay for a stratagem, (especially since you won’t kill anything) you have to look at the bigger picture. Had the chaos player not spent those command points, the bloodletters would have been left standing there naked in the wind in front of 20 avengers and 5 reapers. Instead the bloodletters have engaged all 3 units, gotten deeper into the enemy lines, and ensured that they won’t be shot by any of those units in the ensuing turn. That sounds like 3CP well spent to me.

Here’s a before and after shot of where the turn started and how it ended.


It’s quite amazing what your army can do with a solid plan and effective use of all the tools at your disposal.  Understanding how to maximize your movement in the charge and fight phase is imperative for your success as a competitive 40k player.

In this article, I covered a creative way to brute force your way through some enemy screens. In my next article, I’m going to cover how to actually use the enemy screens to your advantage and use his own models against him!

Stay tuned for more Brown Magic articles every Tuesday and Thursday!

15 Comments on “Cracking The Screen Part 1

  1. Barring having to know every trick and stratagem (such as this one) from every faction, is there a “safe” distance to be from your front lines?
    In this instance, would having been 6.1” away prevented this scenario?

    • In general, there is no “safe” distance, in this example 6.1″ wouldn’t have been safe either because if the bloodletters rolled a higher charge they could have actually walked right past the rangers on their initial charge move.

      A better way to look at it is to have multiple layers of screens, or alter your army to be ok with with getting engaged in these kinds of situations. Perhaps with some units with fly or units that are better in combat.

  2. Nick isn’t strictly speaking correct here. The absolute safe distance is 25.01″. 12″ charge, 3″ pile in, 3″ consolidate, 3″ pile in, 3″ consolidate, puts the maximum movement at 24″ + the 1″ threat of assault.

  3. Nick isn’t strictly speaking correct here. The absolute safe distance is 25.01″. 12″ charge, 3″ pile in, 3″ consolidate, 3″ pile in, 3″ consolidate, puts the maximum movement at 24″ + the 1″ threat of assault.

    • The max charge range would actually be 18″ because bloodletters charge 3d6. In either case if you are 25.01 or 31.01″ away I could then just deep strike inbetween the screen and the units I’m trying to engage.

      But, I’m trying to give practical and helpful solutions, instead of trying to come off as it’s all doom and gloom. So I suggest shifting focus from trying to find some magical “safe” distance which doesn’t exist to using multiple layers of screening, combat capable units, or other tactics.

      • I find that the best armies now have some sort of back field combat unit. something to keep your opponent honest. they can’t bare down on you quite so readily if there is something ready for counter assault.

      • Does the 3d6 roll for movement remove the restriction of needing to be within 12 inches of a unit to declare a charge against it?

      • It would not, the rules for declaring charges is separate from the rule for how far a unit can charge

  4. Good stuff, it’s got me to thinking about screening from a different perspective already.
    I have a list to send you…problem is just from THIS post I’m already tweaking my list!

  5. Sooooo much better than the sreen tutorial photo wise. Good stuff, keep it up!

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  7. Excellent article.

    Would it be safer if the screen had been big enough that the bloodletters couldn’t move through the screen. As an example I use 2 units of 10 kroot, so even there’s less than 1″ gap between all the models, I can cover a bigger area. For additional screen I have a unit of naked pathfinders (who also have a free 7″ free game move) and some cheap hounds to cover a flank.

    Now when the bloodletters obliterate what ever they charge, they can consolidate 3″ forwards. What happens if after that there’s nothing within 3″ to pile into for their 2nd combat (via the stratagem), do they get to move at all ?

    Or am I just a lost cause playing Tau without Commander and Drone spam 🙂

  8. Now I am a bit confused on something. For something to be able to be picked to fight in the fight phase, you have to be within 1’inch of an enemy model. Since your bloodletters at the time of the stratagem being used aren’t within 1’inch of anythign, that makes them ineligible targets to pick to fight in the fight phase.

    • You need to be within 1” or have declared a successful charge that turn.

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