On the tabletop a gunline army looks pretty easy to run- line up your shooting models across the back end of the table, roll lots of dice and make your opponent’s army vanish.
This will work to a certain extent, mostly against new player who are still learning the wargaming fundamentals, but against veteran players who know how to slip the line?
In this post we are going to explore the tactica components of playing and dominating with an effective gunline army.
At it’s core the gunline is about volume of dice- lots and lots of dice in the shooting phase, which will allow you to beat the statistics needed, be at the far end of the curve, in causing hits and damage to your opponent.
Rolling lots of dice is what allows you to break through both weak and strong units by consistently beating the odds.
Gunlines begin with generating massive volumes of dice.
What that means is that all your army points, battle value, squadron points- the in-game currency used to buy units is 100% spent on units with a shooting capacity. No mixed units- you are either all in our all out.
But there is a division of unit, as the gunline itself in terms of formation is broken up in three parts.
The first is the back field- these are massed shooting units that sit on the edge of the gaming table on your deployment zone and shoot turn after turn. They are the big guns that will grind down your opponent.
This is the target that your opponent is looking to close and engage with- you defeat a gunline army by moving across the table fast and engaging at close range and in the assault- or close combat phase of the rules.
To prevent this the gunline army- an effective one makes use of two other groups. The first is a group of units to move to the center of the gaming table- the mid field and hold it for as long as they can.
This midfield unit is to slow the incoming units of your opponent down- buying more time for the back field units to pound away.
The third unit group is something that can move fast or suddenly appear in your opponent’s deployment zone- again to lock them down and force them to deal with this group, so your back end units can pound away.
These two sub-groups of shooting units are very small and point balanced- they are expendable to buy your time.
Finally, depending on the ruleset of the wargame, systems that are you-go-I-go turn based are ripe for exploitation with the gunline- when compared to unit by unit activation of turn with interrupts.
If a gunline army can take first turn, and unleash massive shooting on turn one, before the opponent even gets to go- wiping out 25% or more of the army this is a massive gain- called the alpha strike.