I venture to say that timing is perhaps the most important aspect in TOI. Unless your opponent should somehow keep rolling fives and sixes, it should be the decisive factor in the outcome of a given scenario, of course assuming the scenario is balanced and players are of comparable skill.

Timing of actions

It’s very important to get the timing of actions right. Typically each player has three actions and players take turns until each unit has been assigned an activation token. What many players tend to do is to first activate their most high profile units, whereas often the opposite might be more appropriate. For example, when you have a Tiger and a panzer III which would you activate first? Chances are the Tiger. This gives your opponent the immediate benefit of knowing what you have done with your most powerful unit, whereas keeping them in the dark for as long as possible is probably a strategically much sounder choice.
Typically the following sequence of activations is recommendable:
  1. Activate those units that are important and will likely be eliminated if you don’t shoot and/or move first and/or those that will be able to immediately inflict critical damage on the enemy.
  2. Activate “less important units” in order of reversed importance
  3. Activate your “most important” units that do not meet criterion #1.
Let’s first define “less important” and "most important":

By less important units I mean those with relatively low firepower, those that are not under immediate enemy threat of being mauled; those you do not currently wish to move and those that are not (yet) needed to claim or hold objectives.

Most important would hence basically be the opposite of the above.


“Less important units”-mentioned under 2 above- can thus actually be used to “stall”. Typically [empty] trucks are used for this purpose, although many, understandably so, consider this a gamey tactic. What you do is you simply fatigue the truck(s) (I believe there’s been a rule change in the Next Wave rule book that prevents the trucks from being put in op fire mode, or perhaps this was a rule suggested to become and advanced rule...), expending actions and forcing your opponent to perhaps activate units that are much more important , while he is still kept guessing as to what your more important units are going to do. Of course this doesn’t only apply to trucks: typically you can also “stall” by activating units that you do not wish to move before activating those that you do. As we all know, intelligence is a highly important aspect on the battlefield, and one could say that this is one area in TOI in which it manifests itself; you know what your enemy’s key units have done whereas he doesn’t yet know the orders yours will receive.

Provoking enemy op fire

Another aspect of the game in which timing comes into play is when do you use op fire (of a non-MG unit) and when don’t you. This can be a tough choice. For example, do I target an empty half-track-which is, mind you, quite a powerful unit when it comes to anti-infantry firepower and speed-with my AT gun, or do I hold my fire until an often even more lethal Sherman tank is activated? In the first case, being much more lightly armoured, one or multiple hits are much more likely, but the Sherman will in most cases form the bigger threat. How the phasing player can use this to his advantage is to try and provoke op fire by moving whichever unit he deems less important first, whereupon the enemy AT gun, in this example, of course assuming he takes the bait, will be fatigued when he moves his more important unit.

Similar to this, what I often do, is I move a heavily armoured tank first ( e.g. a Tiger (armor 6 + heavy armor) will often draw fire (-;-) calculating that unless my opponent has a great die roll, it should come off either unscathed or at most lightly damaged. Now that the enemy unit is fatigued, I can now safely move e.g. a panzer III (armor 3) which would otherwise, in all likelihood, have sustained heavier damage.

Activating strategy cards

When it comes to playing strategy cards, it’s geneRally best not to do so right away. Instead save them for the most opportune moment. Below I will give two examples using the suppressive support card, which allows for a pinned token to be placed next to an enemy squad or flip a pinned counter over to its disrupted side, and the critical objective card, which grants an active unit two additional movement points. To my mind, the most effective use of the suppressive support card is when it enables you to prevent a certain enemy squad from claiming a(n) VP objective or scoring VP’s by exiting the map. Less effective would be to use this card to prevent a unit from claiming a VP or command objective mid-game, even though of course situations can be imagined in which this would be highly effective, e.g. when claiming a certain command objective hex would give your opponent the advantage in command points hence claiming initiative and being able to put it to devastating use. Poor usage of this card is to stop a unit from activating which would at most have been able to make a move and fire attack, perhaps even at poor odds, against a unit of yours you could actually afford to lose.

The critical objective card from the Command I deck is, in my opinion, best used-to move a unit off the map or onto an objective marker which wouldn’t be able to do so without the +2 bonus movement provided. An additional benefit is often that your opponent may not expect you to be able to do so as he falsely believes you do not have the required movement points. Certainly useful, but perhaps somewhat less so, is to use this card to accomplish the above but now with a fire and move rather than just an advance action. Whereas this will allow you to fire, you will often not have the benefit of surprise as noted above; after all, your opponent knows you could reach the objective and/or move off the map with a regular move. Thirdly, the card can be used to make a “regular” fire and move action, whereas otherwise you’d only be able to make a move. The worst use, but certainly not uncommon in my experience, is to simply give a unit 2 extra mp’s for no apparent reason. This is basically wasting the card.

Fresh and fatigued enemy units

Another important aspect is when to target which enemy unit. Although this already came up above, I’d like to add one more thing here: in principle fresh enemy units should be targeted over already fatigued ones; after all, the fatigued units geneRally can’t hurt you anymore this round, while the fresh ones still can. There may be exceptions, e.g. when the already fatigued unit will pose a much larger potential threat in the following game round than any of the fresh ones left and/or when on the next round you’re unlikely to get the chance again to target an important, but already fatigued enemy unit.

Timing of Assaults

Before conducting an assault, try to ensure you won’t be blown away by enemy op fire first. Secondly, try to pin or disrupt the enemy squad(s) in the target hex by using suppressive fire (when pinned they only defend at half firepower; when disrupted, they can’t defend at all) or at least weaken them by normal fire. Assaults can be lethal, but, if not carefully executed, they could prove more lethal to your own squads than to the enemy’s! For more information on assaults, please read my article called “The Beauty of Assaults”.


Rather obvious, perhaps, but still worth mentioning is, I believe, the fact that you can move your units around a lot more safely when enemy units in op fire have been, as much as possible, neutralized. For enemy squads this means pinning them by suppressive fire (or eliminating them straight out with normal fire, but that’s often much more difficult as it typically requires more hits) and vehicles can be heavily damaged which will halve their firepower. Most of the time you won’t be able to deal with all the enemy threats in this way-you should be willing to accept some casualties; actually many a scenario is lost because the attacking side may be overly cautious-, but the exact opposite will often mean you running into a wall of fire and the lessons of the First World War should have taught us by now what the likely outcome of that course of action is!

Timing of “offensives”

The final point I’d like to make is that in certain scenarios it’s important to execute your offensive at the right time [and place]. Often the attacking side may start out with a clear advantage in troops while the defender keeps getting stronger as they receive reinforcements over the course of the scenario. Rushing in may cause the attacker to suffer heavily from e.g. enemy op fire, unnecessarily losing assaults etc. (see above) and waiting too long, on the other hand, may present you with overwhelming enemy force. The trick is then to find the exact right time when the odds are most in your favour.

In other scenarios it may be you as the attacker who needs to build up strength before moving out, as several smaller attacks may be repulsed, whereas one big one may not. However, wait too long and you may not have enough time left to achieve your objectives before the game ends.

As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this article, that it may have provided you with some fresh insights and, most of all, that it makes you want to get TOI onto the table and enjoy playing this great game!

Happy gaming!
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