Dawn of War: Stances

From RelicWiki

Dawn of War logo.jpg This article is part of the Dawn of War Player's Guide.
From RelicWiki

One of the means of automatically managing your troops in combat is through the use of stances. Stances can determine the aggressiveness of your units, their targeting priority, and how they will attack their targets. Certain units will perform very poorly when set to the wrong stance, so properly managing this game mechanic is vital to success.


Combat Stances

Combat stances are used to determine the aggression level of the unit and can also be used to control targeting priority. Most units have one preferred stance that they function best on, but switching stances at key moments can annihilate enemy units that would otherwise escape or save overzealous units of your own that would recklessly charge to their deaths.

Hold Ground

HoldGroundStance icon.jpg

Hold Ground (Hotkey: F1) is the default stance for most units in Dawn of War. Units on Hold Ground will attack any enemies that come within range of their weapons and will chase them up to a distance of 30 away from their starting location. Any further than that and they will come to a halt and only use ranged weapons (if they have any).

This stance is a poor choice for most ranged units, particularly those with setup times. Units with setup times will constantly move short distances to bring the enemy in range again, requiring them to resetup their weaponry over and over. Even if the unit can fire on the move, its damage output will be so dramatically reduced while doing so that it will accomplish little other than moving away from the bulk of the army and leaving itself vulnerable. It is usually better to leave the unit on Stand Ground to get as many parting shots in as possible without moving.

Melee units, on the other hand, need to be on Hold Ground stance, possibly even Attack Stance. Unless melee units have some freedom to move towards their targets, they can't actually engage them in melee and will instead just fire their weak ranged weapons (if they have any) until the enemy comes to them. Be aware that the maximum chase range of Hold Ground stance can also leave your melee units standing out in the open at the edge of their chase range, uselessly firing their weak ranged weapons. Keep an eye on your melee units to ensure that they don't end up straying too far from their starting location, stuck out of melee combat, and cut down by ranged units.

Stand Ground

StandGroundStance icon.jpg

Stand Ground (Hotkey: F2) prevents all unit movement other than what you order. Stationary units on stand ground will remain completely motionless if the enemy approaches or leaves, only using ranged weaponry unless specifically ordered to attack a target in melee. If the units are moving or attack-moving to a location, they will stick to their path but will still fire their weapons at any targets of opportunity along the way that come within range of their route.

This stance is an excellent choice for ranged units, as it will keep them from needing to resetup their weaponry while chasing an enemy or chasing after them and firing nigh-uselessly while moving. It also provides much greater predictability of the behavior of your units, which means it is easier to control them.

On the other hand, melee units should never be on Stand Ground during combat as this will require every single melee target for the squad to be manually specified, a huge waste of time. It can, however, prove useful at quickly reigning in a melee squad charging towards mines or delayed abilities such as the Ethereal's Air Caste Bombardment.


BurnStance icon.jpg

Burn stance (Hotkey: F3) functions similarly to Attack stance, but in addition to allowing the squad freedom of movement, it also forces the squad to always target enemy buildings when available. This can be an excellent choice for a base raid by Fire Dragons and other anti-building units, but be aware that the squads will attack a Listening Post over the Dreadnought ripping them apart, so closely monitor any units set to this stance.

Cease Fire

HoldFireStance icon.jpg

At one time, Cease Fire stance (Hotkey: F4) was forced on units that were infiltrated, but with Dark Crusade's reworking of the infiltration system to allow these units to fire, it serves no real purpose anymore. Occasionally, setting an infiltrated squad to Cease Fire and slipping the squad past enemy lines unnoticed to ravage their base can prove effective, but even a single detector along the infiltrated unit's path will ruin the plan and likely result in the unit's destruction. This stance can also be used to spy on the enemy forces early in the game, before they are likely to have detectors on the field. Keeping your unit from firing will mean your foe has no way of knowing that your unit is there, and so will not use abilities and weapons that can target ground on it and are less likely to prioritize detectors.


AttackStance icon.jpg

Units on Attack stance (Hotkey: F5) will hunt units until they have no more visible targets. Although this can avoid the problems melee units have when they reach the end of their leash on Hold Ground, it also makes them liable to chase a unit too far and straight into a pack of enemy units or turrets. Just like with the Hold Ground stance, Attack stance is a poor choice for ranged units because of setup times and the Fire on the Move accuracy penalty. Melee units on this stance still need to be watched for their own protection, but in situations where it is unlikely the enemy will be able to punish overeager melee units, this can be an easier setting to use than Hold Ground.

Melee Stances

One of the innovations of Dawn of War's combat system is the competition between melee and ranged combat. Almost all units have both ranged and melee attacks, unlike earlier RTS titles in which units were restricted to a single type. In general, units focused on ranged combat (such as Fire Warriors and Imperial Guardsmen) do poorly in melee, and vice versa. In addition, most units have very poor accuracy when firing on the move (e.g., while fleeing Khorne Berzerkers). This means that melee units can be used to neutralize an opponent's ranged firepower (but may take a great deal of damage while closing). A unit's melee stance will dictate which mode of combat it prefers.

Players should remember that units engaged in melee benefit from bonuses similar to cover. Particularly important is the fact that units in melee take only 10% of morale damage from ranged weapons.


RangedStance Icon2.jpg

Putting a squad into the ranged stance (Hotkey: F7) forces the squad to attack with only ranged weapons, if any. The squad will still engage in close combat if an enemy unit manages to get close enough to it.


Dancing is an advanced technique in which a player with two or more squads dealing ranged damage retreats squads under fire while keeping remaining squads trained onto the enemy. This keeps the squads under attack safe, yet allows for some damage dealing. If the enemy switches targets to an attacking squad, the previously running squad is stopped (Hotkey: Q) and the squad under fire retreats. Under ideal conditions, a skilled player can eliminate most of an opponents forces with little or no casualties.


MeleeStance icon2.jpg

Putting a unit into the assault stance (Hotkey: F6) forces the unit to prefer close combat over ranged combat. Rather than standing and shooting at enemy units, a unit on assault stance will charge straight at the target and attempt to engage the enemy in close quarters combat. The unit will still use its ranged weapon, provided it can be fired while moving, while closing the distance between it and the enemy squad. Units without melee weapons cannot be put on assault stance.

Be sure you set the unit to an appropriate aggression stance along with assault stance to ensure the squad behaves as you expect. If a unit is on Stand Ground stance, they will not charge into melee because the stand ground stance prevents them from moving from their assigned path or position. Likewise, a unit on Hold Ground has limits placed on how far they can chase enemy units, which may leave them standing still and firing their ranged weapons at a fleeing enemy. On the other hand, if a unit is on Attack stance, it may end up chasing a lone enemy squad all the way into a new army and get blown to bits. Keep an eye on your melee units and adjust their stance or orders as needed if they either stuck out of melee or running too far from the battle.

Tying Up Squads

If any member of a squad is in close combat, the entire squad switches to melee fighting. This can effectively force an enemy squad to stop attacking with its ranged weapons. A typical example would be to use a Stormboy Squad to enter close combat with a Fire Warrior Team, thus denying them their powerful Pulse Rifles.

If even a single enemy unit engages a squad member in melee, the entire squad joins in the fray. However, squad members need not engage the same enemy squad in melee, they will attack whatever enemy unit is closest to them regardless of whether it is in the same squad as their fellow squadmates or not. In this way a single squad can actually tie up multiple enemy squads in melee. This can only be done if the squad has not been given orders to attack a specific target. Also, squads will generally try to maintain some level of cohesion, so the enemy squads must be standing close to each other or the single squad won't be able to spread out enough to reach them all. This is far easier to achieve with a large squad (such as Slugga Boy Squads or Stormboyz) as the squad can attack a larger number of enemy units simultaneously and can also spread out further without losing cohesion.

Commander Duels

When two commander units of opposing sides square off in melee, they will engage in a special commander duel. Note that the Command Squad and Archon cannot enter into a duel, even when they are alone. During a duel each commander slugs away at the other as fast as their melee weapons can fire, but no special effects trigger, such the Chaos Lord's poison, the Force Commander's stun, or the Farseer's knockback. Commanders that can engage in duels will still do so when attached to squads, but only if they are attacking another duel-capable commander (who will also enter duel mode). Melee-capable uber units and walkers will also trigger a commander duel. Should one combatant attempt to flee, the duel will be broken and normal combat rules resume. The animations in a commander duel do not match the actual rate that damage is dealt, but they look much cooler than the normal melee attacks used by the two units, another of the nice touches that lends Dawn of War its unique style.

The Dawn of War Player's Guide

The Dawn of War Player's Guide - Thought of the day: Knowledge is power, guard it well.
Space Marines Chaos Eldar Orks Imperial Guard Tau Necrons Dark Eldar Sisters of Battle



Scout Marine Squad

Space Marine Squad

Assault Marine Squad

Grey Knights

Terminator Squad

Assault Terminator Squad

Skull Probe


Force Commander





Cultist Squad

Chaos Space Marine Squad

Raptor Squad

Khorne Berzerker Squad

Horror Squad

Possessed Squad


Chaos Lord

Chaos Sorcerer

Daemon Prince




Guardian Squad

Ranger Squad

Howling Banshee Squad

Dark Reaper Squad

Fire Dragon Squad

Warp Spider Squad



Seer Council

Avatar of Khaine



Slugga Boy Squad

Shoota Boy Squad



Nobz Squad

Flash Gitz

Mega Armoured Nobz

Mad Dok

Big Mek



Techpriest Enginseer

Guardsmen Squad

Heavy Weapons Team



Command Squad




Vindicare Assassin


Earth Caste Builder

XV15 Stealth Team

Vespid Stingwing Strain

Fire Warrior Team

Kroot Carnivores

Kroot Shaper

Pathfinder Team

XV88 Broadside Battlesuit

XV8 Crisis Battlesuit

Kroot Hound Pack

Tau Commander


Shas'Ui Bodyguard


Builder Scarabs

Necron Warriors


Flayed Ones



Necron Lord

Essence of the Nightbringer

Essence of the Deceiver


Tortured Slave

Mandrake Squad

Warrior Squad

Hellion Squad

Scourge Squad

Wych Squad

Warp Beast Pack




Ecclesiarchal Servitor


Battle Sister Squad

Seraphim Squad

Celestian Squad

Death-Cult Assassin

Sister Repentia Squad


Avenging Angel


Living Saint

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Land Speeder


Hellfire Dreadnought

Land Speeder Tempest



Land Raider


Chaos Rhino


Chaos Predator

Hell Talon


Falcon Grav Tank




Shuriken Grav Platform

Brightlance Grav Platform

Fire Prism




Killa Kan


Looted Tank







Marauder Bomber

Leman Russ



Devilfish Troop Carrier

Skyray Missile Gunship

Drone Squad

Drone Harbinger


Hammerhead Gunship


Greater Knarloc


Tomb Spyder

Attack Scarabs


Heavy Destroyer

Lord Destroyer

Restored Monolith


Reaver Jetbike





Dais of Destruction


Rhino Transport


Lightning Fighter


Penitent Engine

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Listening Post

Plasma Generator

Thermo Plasma Generator



Machine Cult

Sacred Artifact

Orbital Relay

Heavy Bolter Turret

Mine Field


Desecrated Stronghold

Listening Post

Plasma Generator

Thermo Plasma Generator

Chaos Temple

Chaos Armoury

Sacrificial Circle

Machine Pit

Daemon Pit

Heavy Bolter Turret

Mine Field


Webway Assembly

Listening Shrine

Plasma Generator

Thermo Plasma Generator

Webway Gate

Aspect Portal

Soul Shrine

Support Portal

Support Platform

Mine Field



Da Listenin' Post


Bigga Generator

Waaagh! Banner

Da Boyz Hut

Pile O Gunz!

Da Mek Shop

Mine Field


Field Command

Listening Post

Plasma Generator

Thermo Plasma Generator

Infantry Command

Tactica Control

Mechanized Command

Mars Pattern Command

Heavy Bolter Turret

Mine Field


Cadre Headquarters

Listening Post

Plasma Generator

Thermo Plasma Generator

Tau Barracks

Path to Enlightenment

Kroot Shaping Center

Vehicle Beacon

Kauyon Command Post

Mont'ka Command Post

Coalition Center


Dormant Monolith


Plasma Generator

Thermo Plasma Generator

Summoning Core

Forbidden Archive

Greater Summoning Core

Energy Core

Gauss Turret


Kabal Fortress

Tower of Loathing

Plasma Generator

Thermo Plasma Generator

Slave Chamber

Hall of Blood

Haemonculus' Laboratory

Dark Foundry

Wych-Cult Arena

Soul Cage


Ecclesiarchal Chapel

Listening Post

Plasma Generator

Thermo Plasma Generator

Adepta Sororitas Convent

Pristine Sanctuary


Holy Reliquary

Shrine of the Living Saint

Inferno Turret

Purgatus Mine Field