Its not just for Imperial Guard!
Choosing your targets carefully should be a priority for any 40k player. Having a strong sense of target priority shows a commanders matured 40k skills. Being able to recognize and manage the threats your opponent presents before the dice are even rolled and models are placed set the pace for your game and your control over the board which, mixed with some luck, will win you the game.
When you have control over a game and your battle plan is working and the threats are managed, you should feel it. I can't describe it, but some signs and symptoms are that you're not under stress, you're not feeling like you need to milk the wordings in the rules, you're not stretching distances and your not blaming bad rolling. Its called board control, and its an amazing feeling!
I wanted to highlight examples of target priority and thus board control from a recent game I had with a long lost writer here on DFG, Capt. Obvious! This is in no way me bragging about winning or trying to rub it in. I brought a hard list versus another hard list and played against someone who hasn't played in about 8 months. It was a great game (for me at least) and was perfectly executed and I only want to highlight the choices I made in hopes that our readers might better understand one of my favorite aspects of 40k. To quote the great Hannibal, "I love it when a plan comes together!"
Mision: Annihilation. Deployment: Pitch
My list was:
1 Wolf lord, saga of the bear, thammer, twolf mount, ss/runic
1 Wolf lord, warrior born, frost weapon, twolf mount, ss/runic
2x2 twolf squads, ss x2, thammer x1
2x10 grey hunters in pods meltagun x1
3x 6 long fangs missles x5
2x rune priets jaws/tempest, jaws/living lightning.
3 Princes (very little upgrades)
4 chariots tzeench
2x6 fiends (or seekers, which ever ones are the better ones s/t5, rending)
2x6 pluage beares w/ banner x2
6 blood crushers
10 pink horrors w/changling
I won the roll off and took first turn (to move my long fangs into a better position for those that are gasping)
Capt's preferred came in (chariots, 1 plague squad, horrors and crushers).
My first goal because of the threat of the changling vs my long fangs and the thought of shooting my own units with 5 missles terrified me was to kill them. Despite being in cover I was able to kill them with two squads shooting 10 frag missles into the still tightly packed squad (ran 1 inch)
After that threat, I knew the blood crushers would tear apart marines if given the chance so I knew that the two units of twolves (lords attached always) were more than enough. I never like getting into close combat with blood crushers but in this case, I'd rather charge than be charged considering the crushers have furious charge, so after few wounds were spread out in the thunderwolves with no casualties the crushers were destroyed.
As a side note to this, I'm a huge fan of over powering. Its like in casino, where De Niro was talking about Joe Pesci and said "If you beat him with fists, he'll come back with a bat, and if you beat him with a bat, he'll come back with a gun..." I play 40k that way. If you have an assault squad, I bring an assault squad and a terminator squad. I'll set up plays to shoot one poor unit with 30 tac marines. I don't get into fights that aren't 2 v 1 in my favor.
In the back field I knew that the plague bearers were third on my threat list because of the banner. Also, the fact that they landed on a weak flank coupled with the terrain layout I wouldn't be able to get my hammer units (the twolves) over there to deal with the things that are going to be deepstriking there next turn. As a future threat and not a present threat it was low on my list but because the other threats were being delt with I turned the grey hunters and long fangs to gun down all but one bearer, however I did kill the banner carrier so it was mission accomplished, threat dealt with.
I left the chariots alone because they represented no threat at all. They had two shooting attacks, one was an 8/1 single shot and another 5/3 3 shot. Considering all my twolves have storm shields and all my other units are in cover, there was very little threat compared to a changling causing me to shoot my own squad, blood crushers charging a single twolf squad with st6, I6 power weapons (and the extra attack for charging) and units landing without scatter on a weak flank, I left these guys alone.
In the following turn the remainder of the army arrived except one squad of fiends. Because of the loss of the banner, his fiends scattered and mishapped to be deployed by me. I placed them in a spot where I would be able to chain assault them, and two demon princes. I knew that because of the 2 wounds it would be harder to shoot them down so I ignored them and shot instead at the demon princes which would be a bigger close combat threat and would be counter charging next turn if I don't get them into the planned chain assault.
After shooting and a lucky jaws, I managed to down both princes and a couple fiends. The fiends are still a threat priority so I ended up charging them and killing them with my twolf unit. On the other side of the board I charged a chariot and the 6 plague bearers. I allocate most of my attacks on the bearers because I know that the more easy wounds I cause there the more fearless saved they'll both have to take. In the end I generate about 5 wounds total for them each to take due to the fearless mechanic.
At this point all the threats are managed. The game was a massive victory because I prioritized my targets and used my combat advantages (basically only fighting unfair fights like mulit-charging a strong unit and a weak unit and killing the weak unit to force fearless saves on the strong unit) and combined them for one round knock out punches each time.
My list relied on heavy fire power and I needed to eliminate anything that threatened that, therefore the soft pink horrors were most important. I could have put missiles into the blood crushers but math hammer tells me I'd only inflict 6ish wounds which would be a waste because I'd still have to charge them with the wolves. I also relied on a very elite, high points cost close combat force that needed to mitigate as much damage to its self as possible. I knew that I had to charge into and kill the blood crushers as quick and fast as possible. By taking his charge away I took away 6 attacks and his ability to wound on a 3+ instead of a 4+. Statistically this is the difference between 9 saves and 6.
Now, with this giant wall of text coming to an end I want to first restate that this isn't me stroking my ego. This was just a game where it all came together. Good rolls, plus perfect strategy are going to produce a win. I just hope that you the readers out there can get something from me putting my thought process in writing.
And secondly, always keep your target priority in mind. Don't let yourself get ADHD and start spreading out your damage. Pick a kill target and kill it; whatever is going to certainly kill you needs to be isolated and gang raped. If your opponent brings a 300 point unit of badassness, you bring 1200 points back; if he brings fists, you bring a bat!