I did a lot of trigonometry and wrote a thing about charge blocking and 1" zone-of-control tactics, especially using those poor, disposable grunts.
Vanguard and the Art of Chump Blocking
“Chump blocking” is a term I picked up from Magic the Gathering for when someone attacks you with a giant goddamn 6/6 creature and you’re like, whatever, I’ll just block it with this little 1/1 weenie dude who is totally going to get murderlized. But that’s fine if it buys you time to focus on other stuff that’ll hopefully win you the game.
I’ve started thinking about Vanguard tactics in a similar way. Vanguard games always last 5 or 6 rounds, so if you can make your opponent’s key models waste a turn or two dealing with chump blockers, that can be a huge tempo swing in your favor.
(If you play regular Kings of War, this will all be conceptually similar to chaff, however thanks to the extreme mobility of Vanguard units and the smaller base sizes they play a bit differently.)
23 POINTS OF OGRE WASTING A TURN KILLING 7 POINTS OF FOOT SOLDIER. (GRAPHICS THANKS TO UNIVERSAL BATTLE.)
The simplest tactic is to just run up and engage a foe with a cheap grunt. If the Ogre player wants to attack something behind the grunt, they have to Disengage, take an automatic hit, sidestep a little over 1″, and move in to engage. And since it’s not a straight line, it doesn’t count as a charge, so they’d need to Fatigue to attack. Or they can spend a turn killing the grunt. Either way, that’s a decent use of 7 points.
I mean, if there was an artifact that cost 7 points and it said “once per game prevent an opponent’s model from charging” you’d buy that magic item, right? That’s kind of what a chump blocker is.
All models also have a 1″ zone of control around them, which enemies cannot move through unless they are engaging your model or another one very close. So you can use this 1″ bubble to prevent a direct charge, or even put a model out of charge range entirely.
“I’M NOT TOUCHING YOU!”
By jamming up 1″ in front of the enemy, it now takes an extra ~2.3″ for the Ogre to reach the Wizard – well out of the Ogre’s charge range, while still leaving the Wizard safely able to lob spells at the Ogre.
AND, OF COURSE, IT GETS EVEN BETTER WITH MULTIPLE CHUMP BLOCKERS. THERE’S NO GETTING THROUGH THAT SCREEN.
AND IT PLAYS NICELY WITH TERRAIN, TOO.
And there’s no reason to limit this to protecting your models – this is a great tactic for denying your opponent access to objectives, too!
The biggest mistake I often see is putting blockers too close to the target you’re trying to protect. The rules say attackers can ignore the blocker’s 1″ zone of control if their engage move leaves them within 1″ of the blocker. So a good rule of thumb is to keep your blockers more than 2″ away. More if you are trying to screen against a Large or cavalry-based attacker.
This is a little unintuitive, as it feels like you should be able to “bodyguard” a model. And if you come from Kings of War and think of these models as chaff, it’ll definitely feel weird – you can run effective screens pretty close to other units in KoW, but not in Vanguard.
Secondly, grunts aren’t entirely disposable in Vanguard – every casualty counts against your warband morale, so you can’t be cavalier about chump blocking. But if it’s a choice between losing a 7 point grunt and a 24 point support model, well… morituri te salutant !
BY JEAN-LÉON GÉRÔME, PUBLIC DOMAIN, HTTPS://COMMONS.WIKIMEDIA.ORG/W/INDEX.PHP?CURID=40030937
The other problem is where exactly you put your models and how big the bases of the attacker, the blocker, and the target are, as that can change the math.
For example, if a 20mm attacker and a 20mm target are 10″ apart, and you run a 20mm model exactly into the middle, that’ll cost your opponent ~0.6″ of movement to go around. But if you get right up 1″ from the would-be charger’s face, that takes up 1.9″. If the attacker is on a 40mm base, it actually costs them 2.3″.
You get the idea. There’s no easy rule of thumb – you’ll need to measure it out each time, and it requires a fair bit of precision to get right. That said, it’s definitely doable and, if your opponent is reasonably chill, you can just agree on the approximate position and intention and move onto the fun bits.
I mean, I’m assuming you don’t find trigonometry fun, but clearly I’m not one to judge.