Screening 101

February 6, 2018

I begin this article on the back of the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl for the first time since their establishment in 1933. While screening might not win you the Warhammer 40k equivalent of the Super Bowl, no one who wins a major tournament does so without knowing how to use screening to their advantage. We will be covering the following four areas for this 101.


  1. What is screening?

  2. How do you screen?

  3. Advantages of screening

  4. Dealing with screens



What is Screening?

One of the strongest tools a player has in 8th edition is deep strike. Being able to place certain units in the webway/teleportarium/warp and allowing them to appear anywhere on the table more than 9" away from enemy models lets you dictate where the engagement takes place and allows those units to get the first shot (aka alpha strike) in. Screening is one of the key counters to protecting your more valuable units with less valuable ones (but more numerous) ones against deep strike and assault. As each weapon has a maximum range, by knowing the effective range of the deep striking units, you can either prevent them from shooting your more vulnerable units by placing screening units at the right distance or reduce their effectiveness at the very least.


How do you screen?

Consider the following scenario:



















A drop pod carrying a unit of Multi-melta devastators deep  strikes them just over 9" from your Baneblade and unload 4 multi-melta shots within half range of your tank, possibly doing quite a bit of damage to it with their melta rule.


With a screening unit, you could mitigate the damage by preventing them from deepstriking anywhere within 12" of your tank (though they could still get the shot in as their weapon range is 24").


Now your Baneblade is unlikely to take as much damage as it took in the first scenario. Do remember to cover other possible avenues of approach to the unit you are trying to screen. Board edges and terrain can be made use of as natural obstructions as well to reduce the number of screening models you might need. 


Advantages of screening

For more experienced players, the advantages of screening might be obvious but I'll list them anyway for the benefit of those new to the game. 

  1. Keeps your valuable units alive longer from deep striking or assaulting units

  2. Gives you a turn to deal with the above-mentioned units before they get into threat range

  3. Board control (which we will go into detail in a future article)

These are the three main advantages of using a screen.



Dealing with screens

Now that you know what screens are and how to use them, the question becomes how do we deal with them when they are used against us?


Screens are usually made up of cheap, expendable, infantry units like Infantry Squads, Brimstone Horrors, Cultists and the like. Thus, the easiest way to deal with them is to have a lot of anti light infantry firepower (Leman Russ Punisher, Termagants with Devourers, Scout Bikes) or units that can dish out a lot of attacks in assault (Genestealers, Death Company, Khorne Berzerkers). 


You might not be able to deep strike the unit down on that turn (as the shooting or assault phase comes after the phase when deep strike happens), but you open up the space on the board for your units to deal more damage the next turn rather than waste their weaponry against chaff.


There are some units or combinations that are able to circumvent the 9" deep strike limit like the beacon carried by T'au Stealth suits, and Tyranid Mawlocs but these units usually have other restrictions placed upon them like being unable to charge the turn they arrive or limited quantities (once per game, etc) and dealing with these exceptions comes with experience and playing against these types of units.


That brings us to the end of this simple 101 article. The Crossroads will be covering more Tactics 101 articles in the coming weeks and the best way to internalise all this information is to practice so go out there and start grabbing some games!

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