Tactics: Order of Activation

Another day, another Dropzone! Or, maybe the same Dropzone…  but who cares!

Today I want to talk about activations and how I like to evaluate my choices before I activate, in order to make sure I am making the most tactically sound decision that I can. The order of activations in a turn can have game changing effects. I can’t tell you how many times a game hinged on one activation.

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The Critical Question

When selecting a battlegroup to activate, it’s waaaaay too easy to get caught up in the moment and in all the excitement activate something that may not be as critical as you think. I know for a fact that I am sometimes guilty of this as well. However, to mitigate this, I stop and ask myself this key question:

What would happen if I DON’T activate this battlegroup right now?”

The next step is to evaluate the rest of your available battlegroups and your opponent’s unactivated battlegroups to play out different scenarios in your head  in order to determine the best course of action.

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For example:

Ian’s infantry FINALLY found an objective on his last turn. He really wants to get them off of the board in order to ensure that he gets the victory points. But before he activates them, he notices that he has a group of Hunters that are right in his opponent’s line of fire. So, he asks himself the critical question and then evaluates his options.

After looking at what his opponent has left to activate he determines that his opponent doesn’t have the ability to completely destroy either the transport or the building/infantry unit in their next activation. So, he figures that the best course of action is to activate his hunters first, because they are the ones who require the most immediate attention. This is true since the infantry will still be able to do exactly the same thing on his next activation, but the Hunters may not be as lucky.

Or in the opposite case:

This time Ian has found an objective and is ready to take it off of the board, but his Hunters are in the perfect position to strike a really juicy target. He almost activates his Hunters first because of his excitement, but he stops and asks himself the critical question. 

He notices that his opponent has not yet activated his Fast Mover battlegroup and his Forward Air Controllers have line of sight to his units. This means that in his opponent’s activation, his opponent can activate their FM and potentially destroy his infantry’s dropship before they can escape with the objective!

So he determines that the best course of action is to activate the infantry and get them off of the board first, even though he may not have the juicy target for his hunters anymore. 

Go Slow Bro. But not too slow…

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Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating taking a really long time to take your turn because you’re slowing down to evaluate every single scenario. You always have to keep your opponent and their enjoyment of the game in mind as well. However, I do think that getting caught up in the moment can potentially cause you to make mistakes that you might not have made if you slowed down a little bit.

What I like to try and do is try and evaluate scenarios and “What if…?” During my opponent’s turn so that I already know pretty much exactly what I want to do once it is my activation. That way I can make my moves as quickly as possible. This isn’t always important, but in a tournament setting, time is often a factor and the outcome of games can change fairly quickly from turn to turn. So, I try to take my turns as quickly as possible to try and make sure that we are able to get as many turns in as possible, if not all of them.

Closing Remarks

This article was just a couple of suggestions for some practices that I have found useful in my games. Maybe they won’t be your cup of tea, but it could be worth giving it a try to see if they help you out at all. Also, if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a comment below!


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