The Balanced Line is an old workhorse that has been around for centuries. The reason why it has withstood the test of time is that it offers flexibility and is based on sound basic principles that haven't changed. It's greatest strength is it's ability to react to any situation.
Classic Balanced Line. This setup has all the features of a Balanced Line. This is a more offensive setup, as it allows the infantry to advance freely.
Static Balanced Line. The embedded artillery and shooters leave little room for movement. This is primarily a defensive setup.
Strengths The advantage of this formation is flexibility. With the slower units in the centre and faster ones on the flank, the army is able to react to enemy deployment by swinging to either side as required. This is an adaptable formation, allowing for many variations to be played.
Weaknesses It may be successfully broken by some other formations, but has no critical weaknesses in itself. Balanced lines are especially susceptible to formations with concentrations of power. Because they are spread thin to cover the whole board equally, it can be easy for an opponent to set up a situation of localized superiority.
Cannae Tactic. At Cannae, Hannibal's Carthaginians engaged the Roman cavalry on the flanks while their centre fell back steadily before the elite Roman legionaries, who were inexorably drawn forward into the trap formed by the lighter Carthaginian units on the flank, who remained stationary. When the Roman cavalry broke, the Carthaginian cavalry swung around and closed the trap. The Roman legions were hemmed in from all sides and slaughtered. The massacre drove the Roman army to the brink of defeat.
The same tactic can be used against an opponent trying to Drive a Wedge, our main units falling back in the face of his strong centre while our support units advance to outflank his centre.
Pincer Movement. Basically using faster harder hitting units on both wings while the infantry line advances to engage his.
Swing Right. When faced with a Weighted Flank, the Balanced Line is flexible enough to swing across to meet the threat. This is also known as a hammer & anvil.
Ilipa Outflank. A variation of Scipio Africanus' outrageous tactic against Hasdrubal, brother of Hannibal. The line suddenly splits into two halves, which advance against the enemy wings. In the actual battle, Scipio also had units in the centre to pin the stronger enemy centre while his own stronger troops were hammering the weaker enemy units on the flank. His victory broke the Carthagian power in Spain.
You can use this offensively, as shown, or defensively, forming a V shape with our infantry line, facing inwards. Units advancing down the middle can be catch in the middle of a fire fight or engaged from both sides with multiple units.Comments
The Balanced Line is a steady formation that is very useful to beginners and veterans alike. It allows response to a wide variety of enemy formations and has no critical weakpoints. It is good for when you're unsure how the enemy is going to come at you, especially during scenarios with hidden deployment or multiple objectives. 4th ed 40k tends to force armies into this formation to deal with many of the missions and plethora of special deployments.