chessNew Kids on the Blog: How to generate good trades

Author: Mike East

Welcome to the first in a series of Epic Flail articles aimed at teaching the new player how to improve their game. There are a number of key concepts that are useful to understand when positioning your models on the table and bringing their arms to bear on the enemy.  This article will go over the basics of a term commonly known as “Piece Trading”, and if you can get to grips with it, you will find that your game will improve greatly.

So what is “Piece Trading” anyway.?

Piece trading is a method by which you position your models on the table in such a way that the flow of the battle swings back and forth, rather than getting a huge chunk of your army wiped out in a single deadly charge.   Much like a game of Chess, you position a piece in such a way that the opponent has to deal with and remove it from the board.  You then take the piece that just took yours and on it goes back and forth.  Simple really.

So lets first look at an example of poor positioning. Many new players make this mistake and it generally cost you dearly.


In this example, the Cygnar Warcaster Coleman Stryker (in blue) orders his jacks to form a line to protect him against the oncoming Khador Warjacks lead by The Butcher (in Red).   Stryker sets up so that the Khador jacks cannot get by his warjacks and will have to charge into them if they want to get to him.


The Butcher grins, and orders his mighty Warjacks to charge into the Cygnar Jacks. Loaded up with focus, the Khador jacks charge into the Cygnar jacks and put a tonne of damage into them, knocking out systems and seriously degrading their capacity to effectively hit back next turn.   This leaves the Cygnar player in a very poor position game wise from this point onwards.

Lets look at a better way that Coleman Styker could have postioned his Jacks and how Piece Trading really helps.


This time, Stryker sends just one of his Warjacks out into the fray.   The other two stand back out of the charge range of the Khador Warjacks.   The Butcher then takes his turn and sees that he must take out this single enemy Warjack or it will come in next turn and start smashing things to pieces.

Stryker essentially begins the Piece Trade


The Butcher sees that he only has charge range on this single Cygnar warjack so he commits a fully loaded Khador Jack to it. With some nice high dice rolls, the Khador Jack smashes the Cygnar jack to pieces and removes it from the table.


Play then swings back around and Stryker sends his next Warjack flying into combat with the Khador Warjack that just killed his Piece Trading Jack.

This kind of tit for tat trading is the difference between getting a chunk of your army charged and destroyed all at once and positioning well for a counter attack on yout next turn. You position a model in such a way that the enemy has to deal with it,  but make sure that you have something in range that can counter attack next turn.   When you Piece Trade well, you make it difficult for your opponent just sledge hammer your army off the table in one go.

There are of course more advanced elements that can be added to these situations. Stryker could cast Arcane Shield on his initial piece trading ‘Jack to limit the chances of it being eliminated, The Cygnar ‘Jacks could make ranged attacks forcing the Khador player to commit first to the piece trade swinging the game in their favour as one of the most important elements of this strategy is ensuring you are the player with ‘Jacks remaining at the end of the trades!

Lets now have a look at how this works with units.


In this example, Stryker orders is swordsmen to make a defensive line so that the Khador pikemen (in red) cannot charge into him and assassinate him. This is a poor tactical decision by Stryker however as we will see below.


As predicted, the Pikemen charge in and make mice meat out of Strykers defensive line, killing swathes of them in one foul swoop.


Styker should have ideally set up his defence something like this, as now the Pikemen can only charge the front 3 swordsmen or risk getting free strikes on them if they try and go deeper into is lines.


The Pikmen charge into the front 3 and manage to take them out in short order. Fortunately, as he set his unit in up with piece trading in mind, he now has a load of swordsmen in the back lines ready to counter attack next turn.


Stryker sends the second wave of swordsmen in and thins the ranks of the Pikemen significantly. As you can see,  this tit for tat positioning makes a huge difference to the your ability to be able to come back with something next turn.

In Conclusion.

I hope that these examples help you in your future games. Remember that you don’t need sent you models into combat like lambs to the slaughter, but you must often offer up something to initiate the piece trade. Also make sure that when you do start a piece trade, you have something that can meaningfully get stuck in on your next turn.

Good luck Rookie, now go and make your faction proud!