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One of the most important things to think about when planning your army layout on the table is the concept of 'threat range' or 'threat bubble'. This is comprised of things like the range of certain shooting attacks or spells, charge range combined with movement values, etc. It boils down to this: How close can an enemy get to this element of your force before they are in danger of taking damage? Certain models have a greater 'reach' than others when it comes to their threat bubbles, and knowing your units well will allow you to understand the region of the battlefield you can touch in any given phase. With this in mind, how should you set up your force? Would it be wise to concentrate your largest bubbles on one side of the field? probably not unless you plan to castle up there, or there are special objectives on that half you wish to target. I find that trying to have overlapping threat bubbles allows me to do multiple attacks or threats on an enemy once they step into my envelope, which can mean keeping longer range attackers or faster chargers behind shorter or slower models. How you want to go about it is up to you, but considering your threat range is an important step to properly arranging your units in your deployment zone.
There is a great deal written about this topic, and I could compose several articles on it alone, but I'll keep it short here. Are you planning on spreading yourself across the whole width of the table, allowing you to engage the enemy in any area? Or are you thinking of picking one portion of your deployment zone and cramming everything in there instead? If you use a 'refused flank', which is also known as 'castling' or 'turtling', you can keep yourself relatively safe by having one area off limits to the enemy (the edge of the board) and having his or her furthest-flung models out of range to combat you effectively early on in the game. This also allows you to bring a great amount of force to bear on one half or third of the enemy at once, concentrating on the side of the board you are on, but makes you much weaker in other areas where there are perhaps objectives you want to deal with or models you need slain for some reason. How broad or packed of a deployment you have will shape a good deal of the game's early stages, so be very mindful of what you are trying to do and why when thinking about how to compose your early macro-deployment geometry.
I have written an article about terrain that you can read here, but in short the use of scenery can make or break your success in Age of Sigmar. Some terrain features as line of sight blocking, so you can keep things protected by hiding them behind a wall, for example. This will keep you from firing through it as well, so make sure whatever you have hidden is ok to hide for your offensive plan. Terrain can grant cover, adding 1 to the armor save rolls of any models within it, so knowing what cover you want to capture and gain while thinking about what terrain your opponent will be utilizing will help you plan out your future moves as you deal with the effects that terrain has. Additionally, if a terrain piece has special rules, you may be able to maximize your effectiveness by having a synergistic choice of who occupies the terrain, and who would benefit the most from the particular effect in your army. Terrain can also affect charge lanes, meaning you might have to funnel through to get certain places, and anticipating what that will do later in the game is vital when considering where to place your units.
Casting and Unbinding
In short, wizards need to be within 18" and in Line of Sight to dispel any enemy casting. Knowing where your casters are, and where any potential unbinding threats are can allow you to prevent your opponent unbinding by keeping your wizards at a distance from their counterparts or by keeping them out of line of sight. Conversely, if you fear one of your opponent's wizards will wreak havoc on your lines, you need to be sure of your ability to attempt to unbind the spells he or she will be casting. Keeping these factors in mind will be very helpful for a player who wants to win the magic portion of the battle, so be aware of what risks and opportunities exist when placing a wizard in particular. this is all in addition to having your wizards n range of a unit they want to attack, or being in proximity to a unit they want to support, so there is a lot to juggle here.
Who Goes Where
Often an afterthought for many players, Bravery and Battleshock are actually one of the more important features of Age of Sigmar. The proximity of low bravery models to heroes who can help with battleshock can be the difference between winning and losing with just a bad round or two. If you have a particularly flighty unit with low bravery, and it is all alone (maybe even near a haunted or cursed terrain piece) then you will get to watch it wither and melt as battleshock strips as many models from the unit as your opponent's attacks do. However, that same unit can be the MVP is you find ways to mitigate its lack of bravery through the use of inspiring presence or some other hero/command/magic ability to bolster its resolve and keep it in the fight. Where your lowest bravery units are, and where the heroes who can support them are placed are two things you will need to keep in mind simultaneously. This is particularly true if you play an army with poor bravery, but still is worth keeping in mind for other armies as well.
What do you consider when setting up your forces? Are there any other factors you think I should have mentioned when preparing to deploy? Let us know in the comments.