21 February 2012

Someone to Watch over You

A Tannhauser strategy article from guest writer Jeremiah Terry

In this Tannhäuser spotlight, Jeremiah Terry, guest writer and Tannhäuser aficionado, shares some insights on using Overwatch. Dive in and discover the strategies to using this powerful ability.

When the Tannhäuser Revised Edition Rulebook was released, it brought with it a vast number of rule changes and new game play mechanics. One of the most underappreciated and underutilized of these new mechanics is Overwatch. Overwatch is a versatile tool that can be used by Tannhäuser players for both defense and offense.

Basic training

Because putting characters on Overwatch takes place before any of the characters activate in a turn, the use of Overwatch requires foresight and a good understanding of when it will work to your advantage. A character may not activate on Overwatch, but he will have the ability to interrupt the currently activated character and attack if that character enters your path or performs an action while on your path.

The other thing Tannhäuser players need to know when deciding to use Overwatch is who will be the best at this unique task. All characters in Tannhäuser can be placed on Overwatch, but not all characters can take full advantage of it. There are a couple of important limitations that one must always keep in mind when selecting a character to place on Overwatch. First, you cannot use heavy weapons or Mental attacks to make an Overwatch attack, so characters like Karl Zermann and Barry Brown should not be your first choice. The second thing to keep in mind is that Overwatch attacks are resolved like any other attack, so they will be affected by smoke, range limitations, etc. 

Some characters in Tannhäuser are especially useful when placed on Overwatch. The Schocktruppen, for instance, has the ability to remain on Overwatch even after making an attack. While you’ll roll fewer dice, the ability to make multiple attacks more than makes up for it. There are also characters like John MacNeal who can use a token to go on Overwatch without spending a Command Point. Combined with his ability to see through smoke, he can be extremely effective while on Overwatch. If placed on a narrow path, characters without any ranged ability can make successful use of Overwatch. The Stosstruppen, for example, has an excellent hand-to-hand attack and can be used to block your opponent from his objective.

Standing Watch

Now that you have an idea of which characters make the best use of Overwatch, you need to look at where you should place your Overwatch characters. In general, narrow paths and choke points make excellent positions for characters on Overwatch; the long halls of Castle Ksiaz are a good example of the perfect location for an Overwatch character. A Schocktruppen placed at the intersection of two of these hallways can cover a large number of path circles, giving you a decided advantage over your opponent by allowing you to dictate what paths are safe to enter. This is the greatest advantage of Overwatch, allowing you to exert your influence over your opponent. If you use Overwatch to limit your opponents’ choices, you can guide them into an ambush, or prevent them from reaching their objectives by the shortest route.

Long, narrow paths like this one are prime locations to set up Overwatch.

While knowing where to place your Overwatch characters is important, it is just as important to know when to use this tactic. If you place characters on Overwatch too soon you risk giving away your plans and allowing your opponent a chance to outmaneuver you. Because you have to place your characters on Overwatch at the beginning of a turn, you should wait for a turn when your opponent has already committed to a particular route to their objective. If you can outmaneuver your opponent and catch them out of position, your Overwatch tactics will be even more effective on the following turn. For example, hanging back and allowing your enemy to come to you can be very helpful. After your opponent is beyond the half way point to his objective, you can swing in and block their advance. Once in position, you can use Overwatch on the next turn to force a retreat. These tactics can double the distance your opponent will have to travel to reach his objective. If your opponent is not the retreating type, he risks losing his forces to guaranteed attacks.

Resource Management

The final hurdle most players have to using Overwatch effectively is Command Point management. Command Points are a precious resource in Tannhäuser, and many players find it hard to spend them on something that may never be used. Most players feel that Command Points are better spent on shaking off wounds or counterattacking, because these are far more tangible and give a better sense of their value. However, while it’s true that a character on Overwatch may never actually make an attack, this can be just as valuable as an actual attack. You have to look at it as paying a single Command Point for map control. Forcing a retreat or funneling your opponents into an attack are both very valuable tactics, but it’s not always as easy to see this before the game ends.

If you’re still feeling like your Command Points are better spent elsewhere, remember that there are some items that can grant extra Command Points. Using your regular Command Points to set up your Overwatch, and then using an item like Eva Kramer’s Iron Cross First Class to restore your Command Points is like getting Overwatch for free.

Thanks, Jeremiah! Now that you have some solid strategies for using Overwatch, you have a new weapon in your Tannhäuser arsenal. For more tips from Jeremiah, check out his previous article Picking the Right Pack that offers tips for choosing and equipping your Tannhäuser team.

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