Mission 036: Fighting in a Fishbowl
We’ve all been there. It feels like there’s nowhere to go on the table that isn’t covered by a sniper, a missile launcher, or both. You start off with your linked HMG, that should work, right? You roll well, but your opponent gets one DA hit from that MSR through and your HMG is down. What now? If only you had remembered to bring smoke or some tool for moving safely… but they have MSV on the table. What then?
You’re not alone. It’s likely that you were playing on a fishbowl style-table, so named because everyone around the edges of the table can see into the center, just like everyone can see into a fishbowl.
Ideally, the table wouldn’t have been set up this way, but sometimes you arrive at a tournament and that’s what you get! Of course, you might be able to alter the table, but that’s not always possible. It’s important to know how to fight your way out of a fishbowl, and the lessons you learn while doing so are applicable other games and other tables with… less open firelanes. I don’t believe in advice out of context, so I’m just going to dump a bunch of battle reports on you with some commentary.
This is a very old battle report, but is an excellent example of a fishbowl table. Lots of very tall buildings ringing the center of the table. My opponent Alex even had three infiltrating snipers, two of which could see the entirety of my deployment zone. I lost a fair amount of material on my first turn and was under pressure from a TR bot and a Tiger Soldier as well.
I played very cautiously and prioritized my targets. Thankfully I had taken an Intruder, which helped immensely as it remained safe during my opponent’s alpha strike. After systematically removing some key AROs, I was able to use some mobility tricks to get a Lieutenant kill and get me back into the game. Patience and prioritization was key. It ended up being a very low scoring game due to all the effort we spent–he trying to contain me, me trying to break out.
My Mt. Doom Ariadna table is designed to be a partial fishbowl intentionally. There is a very tall feature on one side of the table which commands a good deal of the table, but there is also enough intervening terrain to allow you to advance in relative safety through the far end of the table. I’ve been trying to dial it in over the years, and this is an early incarnation.
Even though I ended up having an Uhlan commanding the fishbowl, Erik, as is his way, very carefully focused on the mission and kept the important pieces of his force alive. Sometimes, a fishbowl can lead to a false sense of safety for the player commanding it. If you encourage them to over-extend while carefully shepherding your own forces, you can sneak out a victory.
Sometimes though, you can just shoot your way out of a fishbowl. It’s important to remember that troopers set out to command a fishbowl generally have long range weapons, so if you can get a camo token into their close range bands, you have a chance. Again, I was commanding the fishbowl with a Swiss Miss this time, and my opponent Dan cleared it with a lucky DEP shot (a DEP is a 16″ panzerfaust, only available in N3 and earlier editions). This allowed him to push forward and secure the victory.
Also, Dan carefully placed his link to protect key members. Sometimes it’s okay to leave something out in a link even though you know you’re going to lose it. The burst bonus is quite powerful, as is the ability to move together for one order. Losing that +3 BS hurts, but it’s not the end of the world. Also, obvious lieutenants are a good ruse to encourage your opponent to spend resources fruitlessly. The fishbowl is less about winning the firefight and more about winning the game.
One of the side effects of a fishbowl is that while your troopers can see everything, everything can see your troopers. This means your opponent doesn’t have to spend much in the way of order resources to be able to draw line of fire to your stuff. Sometimes this is okay, but eventually you’re going to fail some rolls! I was able to shoot my way through this fishbowl by leveraging movement tricks–specifically Super Jump–to clear out important pieces.
You might be tempted to leave your own stuff out to control the fishbowl, and you should leave some stuff out, but do so in a way where you’re dictating the engagement. If any one of my models can see yours, then I’m going to choose the one with the best odds and right tools to win the firefight. If you remove options from me by not leaving stuff out to see everything, then I might have some bad decisions to make!
Sometimes it doesn’t work though, and the fishbowl gets you. In this game, my Ninja Sniper did a great deal of work and sapped much of Adam’s energy and tempo. Even if you control the fishbowl, you still need some way of accomplishing the mission. That’s what cost me the game with the Uhlan a few battle reports ago in this list.
My choice for doing the mission in this game was Kuroshi Rider, because she couples durability, mobility, and order efficiency into one package. Her toolkit is fantastic as well!
Playing in a fishbowl is incredibly hard. I think the biggest problem you’ll have is prioritizing tasks. This game has me completely lock down Adam with a pair of MSV snipers. It just so happened that we built a table with X-shaped firelanes. It was very difficult for him to get anything done, and I had a follow up punch of having a pair of Impersonators to really keep him bogged down.
He had a good number of tools to address the issue though, and attempted to extricate himself from his predicament with some pretty clever plays. I think this game is a good study in what goes through someone’s mind when they’re under pressure. It’s easy to miss some slightly better decisions, and when the dice don’t go your way it can start to be a real problem.
Okay. Last battle report link. I promise. Going back to the prioritization thing, this game would have gone completely differently if Frank had killed my Crusher. He had the tools to do it with the Kaeltar in the building, but chose to focus on other things (like the mission), not realizing the threat he was under.
What ended up happening was I pushed the Crusher into a commanding position and got shots on the elements Frank was using to control the fishbowl. It’s often difficult for ARO troops that are holding down different parts of the center of the table to support each other–generally you’re high up so prone troopers may be able to engage something on a roof while the other controlling elements cannot see, for example. In this case it was a billboard protecting my Crusher when it engaged the Gao Rael, and then I was able to aggressively attack the other elements of Frank’s forces.
So in summary:
- Plan your turn carefully and prioritize targets.
- Make use of movement tricks, smoke, etc. to attack from unexpected angles.
- Focus on the mission at hand.
- Try to distract your opponent and lull them into a false sense of security.
- Carefully dismantle the fishbowl control elements, and then use their positions to punish your opponent!
A big thanks to Obadiah (nehemiah) for coming up with the idea for this mission! If you have ideas for missions that you want to share, send ’em in!
- Set up a table in a fishbowl configuation.
- Play on that table, paying special attention to mission objectives.
- Write in with your thoughts on the experience!
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