Posts Tagged ‘vs’

vs — Vampire Counts
vs — Vampire Counts avatar

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

The Vampire Counts are the latest army to be redone for 8th Edition, and they present some unique obstacles when it comes to playing against them.

Know your foe. Vampire Counts bring their own Lore, which is focused on buffing and raising their units.  This means that any casualties you inflict can be wiped clean by magic.  While the Vampire Count core troops are underwhelming, the combination of reanimation and buffs/nerfs make them a viable alternative in combat.  The Vampire Counts have more than just graveyard toys, as their special and rare choices are filled with a variety of frightening beasts and creatures.

With that in mind, the Vampire Counts are balanced around a few key weaknesses:

  • Crumbling. If the General is destroyed, then all Undead units take a leadership test every turn, losing wounds for each point they fail by.  Being able to stem the tide of frightening infantry is important if you don’t want to get stuck in a tarpit.  Keep in mind that unlike Tomb Kings, another Lore of the Vampires Wizard can step up to stop crumbling.
  • No shooting. There are a few specialized scream attacks, but for the most part the Vampire Counts will be silent in the shooting phase.  Don’t worry about having a cannon or other warmachine ravage one of your units.
  • Weak troops. Most Vampire Count troops are pathetic in combat.  Sure, they’ll never run away, and they keep standing back up…but they’re not exactly going to kill you quickly, either.  As intimidating as a block of 50 zombies may be, most units can shrug off that kind of charge.
  • Low toughness. Outside of Crypt Horrors (T5) you have to start buying rares to get a T6 unit.  The ranks are swelling with T3 models, so you likely aren’t going to need much high-strength weaponry.  Leave the cannons at home and find something that can do a ton of damage to T3/T4.

Beware. The list of things to watch out for when you’re playing against Vampire Counts is pretty long.

  • Tarpits. Between spamming Invocation of Nehek and bringing a ton of Ethereal units, it’s pretty easy for Vampire Counts to tie up one of your units indefinitely.  Consider yourself warned — don’t get into a fight that you don’t think you can finish; your 300 point blender may not die, but killing 10 zombies per turn isn’t why you brought it.
  • Redirectors. There are plenty of cheap, little units that the Vampire Counts can throw at you to direct your units around.  Your eyes will be focused on the block of 30 ghouls, or that awesome Mortis Engine model.  Don’t forget the tiny units of bats, Dire Wolves, etc. that will stand in your way and maneuver you into a corner.
  • Fast units. The bulk of Vampire Counts units are slow, but they have a few fast options, including some which can fly.  If you get pinned down by tarpits or redirectors, expect to see a menagerie of scary things emerge from cover: Vargheists, Varghulfs, cavalry, and more.
  • Vampire Magic. The Lore of Vampires can provide rerolls in combat to hit, and to wound.  It can move friendly units around.  They can also bring Death and Shadow, so be prepared for direct damage and a vortex or two as well.

Tactics. We’ve got a pretty good idea of what a Vampire Counts gameplan might look like, so let’s bring it all together.

  • Nullify the casters. Lots of Vampire Counts armies rely on their casters, and many will spam a lot of low-level casters just to get extra Invocation of Nehek’s out, standing up more and more models.  If they stay dead, and aren’t getting free re-rolls in combat, the army isn’t that scary.  Don’t forget that the Lore of Vampires attribute can heal wounds on characters as well.
  • Bring magic attacks. This can’t be overstated.  If you’ve got a 500-point deathstar with no magic attacks, you’re going to feel really stupid when a 50 point Ethereal model holds them up for the whole game.  They’ve got Ethereals in spades — cavalry, characters, and more.
  • Bring leadership. Everything causes Fear or Terror.  They’ve got spells that will reduce or do damage based on  your Leadership.  They’ve even got scream attacks and such that will do damage based on beating your Leadership.  Keep your General alive, and keep your BSB safe.
  • Focus fire. There’s a lot of moving parts in the Vampire Counts army.  Mortis Engines can provide regeneration.  Corpse Carts can provide ASF, or reroll Invocation of Nehek dice.  You’re not going to do any good by partially damaging a big scary model and taking down a unit of Ghouls to have strength.  You’re better off feeding the Ghouls for a turn, and finishing off the Terrorgheist or Varghulf.  Or wipe the Ghouls out completely, and let the others live for another turn.  Because of their heals and buffs, there’s no sense in picking a fight if you don’t plan on finishing it fast.

vs — Ogres
vs — Ogres avatar

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

One of the players in our circle runs Ogres, and I wanted to address some of the specific challenges you’ll face against them for this week’s VS article.

Know your foe. The Ogres are a tough bunch of brutes, almost entirely classified as Monstrous Infantry.  They bring a large number of wounds and attacks per model, meaning that you effectively need to deal 3 wounds to diminish any attacking power.  While they have a number of ranged options, their real strength comes from close combat, where they can absorb a ton of damage and dole out even more.

There are a few weaknesses that you must use to your advantage if you want a fighting chance against Ogres:

  • Initiative. Leave those Great Weapons at home; Ogres strike at I2. Unless you’ve got a similarly terrible Initiative, you’ll be going first and will have the ability to inflict maximum damage before they can hit back.   This, combined with the general expense of their units and relatively small unit size, means you can start thinning ranks.
  • Low Leadership. The Ogres have a lot of Leadership 7 in their army.  While their Lords can boast LD9 and many Heroes LD8, the Ogre player will likely have to keep flankers outside of his Leadership bubble.  This makes them prime targets for Fear, Terror, or other psychology-based warfare.
  • Outrank. Because of the big base sizes for Monstrous Infantry, and their relatively high cost, you should have no problems outranking the Ogre units.  If Ogres can claim steadfast against you, something’s probably gone wrong.
  • Multiple Wounds. Much of the expense of Ogre units is based on the fact that they’re getting 3+ wounds per model.  Anything with killing blow or multiple wounds can negate this advantage, making them just a group of slow, T4 lightly-armored models.

Beware. Ogres have a handful of nasty tricks available to them, and you’ve got to keep these in mind when you’re up against them:

  • Charging. Ogres get nasty bonuses for charging.  They get impact hits, but can add their rank bonus to the strength of the impact hits.  Additionally, if they roll high enough for the charge distance, each model gets d3 impact hits!  If you’re ever in doubt, charge them before they charge you.
  • Mournfangs. These cavalry units are pretty renowned.  There’s a ton of stomp attacks to go around, plus they can be tough to kill with a 2+ save and a parry.  Make these a priority, because they’re fast with 8″ movement and hit like a pile of bricks.
  • Gnoblars. Yes, they’re Goblins.  But they’ve also got trappers that can make charging them an irritating prospect.  Gnoblars will often be used as a fence to make you take dangerous terrain checks.  They’re very effective as redirectors because they can give the Ogre player a turn to tweak his lines, and may even inflict a few casualties.
  • Lore of the Great Maw. Ogre magic may not be as fearsome as other races, but don’t discount it entirely.  Their Lore is filled with buffs to make their troops even tougher in combat.  Don’t forget that they also have access to Fire, Heavens, Beasts, and Shadow, so there’s a variety of magic to face.

Tactics. When you’re at the table, try to keep some of these tricks in mind:

  • Schoolbus formations. Ogres sit on 40mm bases.  Keeping in mind that they only need 3 for a rank, or 6 for a horde, you’re looking at 120mm or 240mm of frontage, respectively.  Depending on whether your army uses 20mm or 25mm bases, you’ll likely be better off avoiding the horde formation so that you can stack up extra ranks against your opponent.
  • Strength 5. Generally speaking, many Ogre units won’t be getting better than a 5+ armor save.  Aside from parry saves (which even mounted units get with Ironfists) there’s little in the way of ward saves.  Don’t bother spending money or extra power dice to get to high strengths above 6.  S5 will erase most saves, but will generally wound on 3′s.
  • Unique shooting. Ogres have a few ranged units that are pretty distinct from other armies’ options.  The Leadbelchers, for example, can fire a flurry of d6 S4 shots.  Ogre Pistols can throw out 2 S4 armor piercing attacks at the same 24″ range.  Outside of 24″ though, your only real threats are the warmachines, which are technically classified as Chariot stonethrowers.
  • Leadership battle. Make sure your Leadership infrastructure is up to the challenge — you’ll be facing Fear units in every combat.  Either make sure that you’ve got a general/BSB nearby, or bring your own Fear and Terror-inducing units in response.  Ogres don’t do too well with Terror.

vs — Tomb Kings
vs — Tomb Kings avatar

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Tomb Kings present a unique foe by bringing a slew of special rules along with them.  While they’re not really considered in the top-tier of competitive 8th Edition armies, they’re very flavorful and can catch you off guard if you don’t know what to expect.

Know your foe. The Tomb Kings have two main classes of units: skeleton-based and constructs.  The former tend to be relatively cheap, adding big blocks of troops to the table.  The latter tend to be scary monsters with staggering toughness/wound/armor save stats.  They don’t really synergize, so Tomb Kings armies tend to be either more defensive and reactionary, or offensive and aggressive.

There are some special rules and weaknesses that make the battle a little easier:

  • Undead. Being Undead means a lot of different things, and a lot of them are limitations.  Tomb Kings can never march, and must always hold as a charge reaction — no fleeing or stand and shoot!  They’re also Unstable, meaning that they suffer a wound for every point they lose combat.
  • Crumbling. Tomb Kings are forced to take a Hierophant, or high priest.  If he’s killed, then the whole army must start taking Leadership tests, suffering wounds for each point they fail by.  Due to the inherent low Leadership of many Tomb King units, this will start to hurt.  Hit the Hierophant.
  • Initiative. The highest Initiative in the army is 3, with many of the models on the table being a 2.  You’ll be hitting first.
  • Armor Saves. Most of the Tomb Kings units don’t have great armor.  Their troops are squishy, their monsters have high toughness and wounds, but aside from the Necropolis Knights you probably won’t see too many armor saves being rolled.

Beware. The Tomb Kings have some tricks up their sleeves, so you’ll want to be prepared for them:

  • Undead. Remember how I said it means lots of things?  It also means they’re Unbreakable and cause Fear.  These guys will never run away from a fight.
  • Arrows of Asaph. Poor Ballistic Skill is irrelevant; the Tomb Kings don’t count any penalties or bonuses when rolling to hit with ranged weapons.  This means that their hordes of archers will always hit on a 5+, no matter what trickery you try.
  • Casket of Souls. This is a nasty Rare choice, because it adds d3 dice to the power pool.  It also contains a bound spell that makes a target take a Leadership test on 3d6, suffering wounds for each point it fails with no save allowed.  Also, the effect can jump into nearby units.  Since it’s a bound spell, they can throw a ton of dice at it to get Irresistible Force, and not care about miscasts.  Oh, and it’s Toughness 10.
  • Entombed Beneath the Sands. This special rule allows a unit to show up anywhere on the table as ambushers.  They’re fine no matter where they land, as long as a misfire isn’t rolled when they arrive.  They can’t assault on the turn they come in, but will surely disrupt your lines.

Tactics. The above bullets paint a pretty unique picture for the Tomb Kings army.  When you’re in a game against them, consider the following:

  • Kill the characters. A lot of the Tomb King army is based on the characters.  Hierophants make the army crumble, Princes/Kings can confer their weapon skill to an entire unit, etc.  By removing these, the Tomb Kings army becomes more manageable.  Remember that most of the characters are Flammable, so bring flaming attacks to score extra wounds.
  • Bring poison. There are a lot of high-Toughness units in the Tomb Kings book.  If you don’t have access to a lot of cannons or other high-strength shots, then consider poison.  None of their rares are lower than Toughness 6, and some of their Specials aren’t exactly soft either.
  • Combat Resolution. Tomb Kings will never flee; they just melt away.  Any time you can add to your CR is killing off another free model.  Don’t worry about negating steadfast, because they don’t need it!  Getting a single rank of cheap troops in a flank can help mitigate a tarpit.
  • Dispel with care. With Casket of Souls, the magic phase can be terrifying.  Remember that anytime they augment their troops, wounds are regenerated.  Also remember that if enough dice are left over, the Casket’s spell is going to happen.
  • Beware the charge. Their Chariots, Sphinxes, and plenty of other units cause a ton of damage on the charge.  Don’t get caught in a bad spot, because those combats aren’t ending until one of you is dead, or you flee.

vs — Dwarfs
vs — Dwarfs avatar

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

In continuation of the “VS” series, I wanted to address one of my regular foes — Dwarfs.  These stubby-legged stalwarts can bring an interesting mix to the table, so you should watch your step!

Know your foe. Dwarfs are hearty troops, and they can be really tough to grind down in combat.  Their troops are moderately expensive, so don’t expect to face endless ranks like with rats or undead.  Instead, you’ll be staring down a line of adorably tiny miniatures that have an impressive number of high statistics.  They have an even scarier number of high-strength weapons available to them, both in combat and at range.  Their ability to march more often makes their low movement of 3″ more palatable, but they really come to shine when it comes to the shooting and combat phases.

Dwarfs have a few drawbacks though, and you’ll want to keep these in mind when you’re fighting them:

  • Initiative. Most Dwarfs are I2, which will often guarantee that you go first in combat.  Not only will fewer Dwarfs strike back at you, but this also makes them particularly weak against character tests, or anything that rolls against their Initiative.
  • No magic. Dwarfs swore off magic a long time ago, and aside from bringing Runes as buffs, they don’t have much of a magic phase.  This means that you can get away with less magic defense if you know you’ll be facing off against Dwarfs.
  • Charge. Dwarfs have a measly movement value of 3″ and it shows.  They can march towards you, but determining charge distance hampers them.  Combine this with the fact that you’ll be moving more than 4″, and you should be able to charge on your own terms — both in timing and positioning.
  • Move or fire. Dwarfs have a lot of Move-or-Fire guns.  This only affects certain units, but has a ripple effect across the army, because such units need some sort of protection.  This and reduced movement speed make Dwarfs a more predictable army in the movement phase, which you can use to your advantage during deployment.

Beware. Dwarfs have a few key drawbacks, but they make up for it with a ton of cool features.  You have to be really careful when you pick a fight with a Dwarf:

  • High leadership. Most Dwarfs have Leadership 9, with a few Leadership 10′s thrown in there.  Most psychology won’t work against them, and they’ll often run into battles knowing that even if they won’t win them they can tie you up until reinforcements arrive.
  • No magic. Because the Dwarfs gave up their attachment to magic, they’ve developed an innate resistance to it.  They can bring a ton of dispel scrolls, generate a bunch of extra dispel dice, and even steal your power dice away.  Don’t expect your magic to be too potent against them.
  • Runes. Although they don’t have magic per se, the Dwarfs still imbue their items with awesome effects.  Be wary of a character that’s chomping at the bit to get into combat with you, because they can modify all sorts of rolls, stats, and effects coming in and going out.
  • Great weapons. Their low Initiative makes great weapons an appealing option.  They’re more expensive, but they’ll often strike last anyways, so you can expect to see a bunch of S5/6 attacks coming your way.
  • Firepower. The Dwarfs can field a lot of war machines.  Don’t just expect cannon fire, but also organ guns.  And their troops have a high BS, and armor piercing guns that give +1 on all to-hit rolls.  The shooting phase will hurt you, so the more cover you can get, the better.

Tactics. There are a few tricks you can employ to mitigate the Dwarfs’ advantage.

  • Deployment. If you can, you want to flush out the ranged units.  If he commits a cannon or squad of Thunderers to one side, you can try to limit their impact based on terrain or maximum range.  Remember that cannons can’t fire if there’s a possibility of hitting friendly troops, so cross-fires are usually out.
  • Table edges. The Dwarfs have a unit that can come in from a table edge, so be careful hugging them.  The last thing you want is to have your flank or rear suddenly exposed.  The Dwarfs may set up a pretty predictable battle line, but if your opponent has Miners the line will shift during the game.
  • Target saturation. The Dwarf shooters hit heavily, both on the table and in the points department.  Don’t expect to see a ton of small units on the other side.  This limits a Dwarf commander to only targeting so many squads per turn.  If you can overwhelm them with things to shoot, then something’s going to get through.  Remember, you only need one squad in combat to prevent a scary unit from shooting for a turn.