Every wargame has those killer units. Warhammer 40K Deathstars. Battletech Alpha Strikes. Chain of Command Wonder Weapons. Historical to sci-fi, units that your opponent puts down on the table that signal big problems. Powerful, scary stuff. So how can we, should we deal with these units? Let’s take a look at a few tactical options…
The challenging part of powerful units in wargaming is that they both dish out a ton of damage and often also take a ton of damage to destroy. This creates a duality- let them run free and they can wipe out large parts of your army, engage them, and they will take a large amount of model and dice resources to stop. Both are not very good options. The first step is to understand potential- just what can the unit accomplish, and for this the starting point is the game turn(s) of your system. Is the game finite in turns? Games like Warhammer 40K have a set number of game turn, and then the battle is over, while other games like Battletech are open turn, meaning the game plays until the mission is completed or both sides are destroyed. Wargames with a set number of turns make it easier to deal with powerful, units as the damage they can do is somewhat limited.
This opens up the option of either destroying them or keeping them busy and limiting what they can destroy till the turns run out. Engaging them with small, expendable units to tie them up or slow them down can effectively nullify their power- in a finite game turn system, you don’t have to destroy it, just slow it down, or force it to burn game turns. Systems that are open in turns are a bit harder since any delays against a powerful unit are just that- in this case mobility is KEY. Wargames are broken down into turn- often moving units, shooting them, assaulting (close combat) with them. Try to keep your units always moving so more powerful units can’t always shoot or assault them every turn. This is why we see powerful units being taken in attacker vs. defender base like missions. If you have a base to defend, most of your units are going to be there- a perfect cluster of targets for me to send my powerful units into attack, and by the nature of the mission you are stuck there. Try to use the movement phase of the game to limit the reach of powerful units, while you focus on winning the mission.
If you can’t, based on the average of dice, destroy a powerful wargaming unit in a turn or two, can you slow it down on the table to buy your other units game turn time to win the mission? Which bring up the third point of tactics: Are you building your list in such a way that it limits your liability if an opponent bring powerful units? One of the ways this is done is through the tactica of MSU- Multiple Small Units. If a powerful unit can destroy a unit per turn, and you can’t stop it- take lots of small units. Limit your losses by having quantity.