Coach’s Corner: Understanding Presence and Patient Play

In this article, I hope to help you all to start thinking of the long game in 40k, and have you realize that sometimes it’s the moves you don’t make that win you games. 

At our cores, we all just love to roll dice. We have all been a little too headstrong in the early turns, going for risky charges, trading Tau Commanders, or bringing in all of our deep striking bombs out of position turn 2. 

I think the pressure to get performance out of your units is perfectly natural, as we are all under the gun as our army takes losses every turn. I would challenge you all to take a step back and maybe look at the other factors at play which may have a much bigger impact on the game than you realize. To do this I want to highlight the concept of presence

There are some units in the game that are just so powerful, they force your opponent into certain actions. I am defining the influence a unit has on your opponent’s army as Presence. While sheer offensive power is one way to get presence, such as Magnus or a Knight, there are other ways too. Deepstrike threats often force your opponents to screen and move in certain ways, and things like Eliminators have less total offensive output, but their output is very focused on key components of your army. 

Sometimes the influence the list has on your opponents’ actions is more important to getting you to win the game. Remember our article here (, that denying victory points can be just as potent. The Relic Leviathan in the infamous Brohammer list from LVO 2020 didn’t even need to shoot once all game to give them the win. It’s main role was to stomp its way midfield and use its incredible Presence to dominate a circle in a 24” radius, restricting their opponents movement options. 

 The Curse of the Wulfen

When I was a fledgling Space Wolf player I would constantly rush to get my Wulfen into combat. I would charge up the board, or outflank them for the hail mary 9” charge, or put them in a Stormwolf.  Each attempt was: 

The Wulfen would accomplish little, and get taken down by small arms fire. So I ended up shelving the unit. I struggled with the idea of having such a useless, yet so powerful unit tied to my army. Suddenly, literally overnight a light switched on in my brain. 

I still remember the game I was playing against BMoy when this concept clicked for me. There was a large central ruin I had a large unit of Wulfen behind (7-8 in total). It was turn 2, and I was poised to run into the midfield and attempt a fairly long 7″ charge or so. Just as I was about to pick up my first model to move, I hesitated. 

There was no way his Aeldari list could approach the middle of the board. The Talos have to respect the Wulfen’s melee prowess, and at best he could get some Crimson Hunter Exarchs behind in order to get line of sight on the Wulfen. They are more than durable enough to tank those shots, and bringing the Crimson hunters into my lines would let my jump pack characters deal with them. The Wulfen were controlling so much of the flow of the game by simply not moving, that I had to leave them there. 

Wannabmoy did bring his Crimson Hunters forward, which let my Wolf Lord take one out with a krak grenade (thus starting why he thinks I always hit with those). The positioning on the board ultimately led to the Talos being forced onto the midfield objectives later in the game, letting the Wulfen make an easy charge and destroy them. 

The unit went from being a source of frustration to an all-star unit. Everyone says to remember it’s a 6 turn game, but understanding what your units are doing for you other than just killing enemy models is a big part of that. 

To help all of you with your own Curse of the Wulfen, I have created a 40k assignment. These are designed to challenge you in some way to try and think differently about 40k. To complete the assignment just follow the steps below, don’t be afraid to discuss it on our discord as well!

40k Assignment
  1. Identify a unit in your army that has a high presence 
    • If this task is easy for you I would suggest finding a unit that has high presence due to some ability other than offense!
      • Think of units that are fast or can deepstrike anywhere
      • Think about units that are really good at removing specific aspects of your army
      • Think about units that can counter key aspects of your opponents game plan (overwatch denial, holding in combat, psychic auto-denies)
      • For example: Possessed bombs, Paladins, and Talos all have high presence.
  2. Play a game and perform the following:
    • First, identify what your opponent’s plan is for a turn.
    • Use your unit’s Presence to alter their plan.
      • Consider holding that charging unit back another turn, or waiting until turn 3 to deepstrike! Save those Commanders until the late game!
    • Talk to your opponent! This can be done during the game if they are willing or in your post game breakdown. You should check to see if you were correct in two areas: first identifying your opponents plan, and second if your actions were able to alter it.
  3. Post game analyse the following questions:
    • Were you successful at identifying your opponents plan? Why/why not?
    • Did you force your opponent to alter their plan in your favor?  

E.g. I played a game and got my Wulfen into a midfield ruin. I left them there for two turns forcing my opponent to stay back outside of close assault range. 

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