Posts Tagged ‘Warhammer Fantasy’

40k 6th Edition – Feels Familiar?
40k 6th Edition – Feels Familiar? avatar

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Image courtesy of GW.

Some of you may remember my series of articles on why I was intrigued in moving from Warhammer 40k to Warhammer Fantasy.  As 6th Edition came about this weekend, I was pleasantly surprised by many of the radical changes.  Games Workshop has the difficult task of creating clear, simple rules mechanics that are extensible and offer variety.  One of the ways they’ve achieved such elegance is by borrowing certain mechanics from Warhammer Fantasy, which is currently more mature in its 8th Edition.  As I start to get interested in 40k again, I want to take this opportunity to highlight the new similarities between the two.

Close Combat Modifiers

Close combat weapons now have an AP value in 40k.  While this isn’t exactly the same as save modifiers in Fantasy, it does provide a more robust system than the old dichotomy of power weapons and mundane weapons.  Rather than being an all-or-nothing, weapons will give saves against some armor, but not against other.  The further classification of power weapons (i.e. power swords being AP3) means that many 2+ save troops will become more hardy.

Hull Points

Warhammer Fantasy doesn’t have many vehicles.  In fact, most of them are represented as having wounds, toughness values, and special damage tables.  40k has moved in this direction not by getting rid of armor values, but by adding hull points.  Glancing hits strip off a hull point, and when hull points are gone the vehicle is destroyed.  Penetrating hits are basically a “critical” hit now, meaning that your heavy hitters can still do serious damage.  This will serve to reduce the heavily mechanized metagame, as vehicles can now be destroyed by focused volleys of high-volume/low-strength fire.

Positioning Matters

With the new rules for casualty removal, there are no wound allocation shenanigans.  You remove the closest model, and there are even situations in which your opponent can only target certain models, reducing the abuse of cover saves.  This means that the shenanigans will be focused on where you position models within your unit.  This becomes doubly important with the notion that models’ movement is tracked, rather than that of units.  An IG blob squad can reform around a heavy weapons team, which remains stationary, allowing the heavy weapon to fire but providing more ablative wounds in front of it.  This is a huge boon as it provides a notion of flanking in 40k which previously hadn’t existed.

Psykers

When the rumors came out that 40k was going to get a “psyker phase” I must have been the only excited person in the world.  Psyker powers have waxed and waned over the previous editions of 40k, and I’m glad to see them get some proper attention.  The rules used to be a bit of a mess — some powers take place in different phases, some are unclear on what conditions allow them to be casted, etc.  Warhammer Fantasy has a very clear set of baseline magic rules, and any exceptions are concisely detailed.  40k has stepped in this direction with the way psychic disciplines work.  Most importantly, GW didn’t just shoehorn the Fantasy magic system into 40k.  They didn’t break all of the existing powers, they didn’t use power and dispel dice, and they didn’t add a psyker phase.  Instead, they picked parts that worked and added new mechanics, adding replayability and sophistication to the Psyker aspect of the game.

Premeasuring

This may seem like a minor addition, but it’s a big deal.  40k has been late to the party in forbidding pre-measuring, and all it did was discourage players from taking chances where they might be out of range.  With the increased importance of unit positioning, you’d really be handcuffed if you had no way to premeasure anything.  40k is late to the party with premeasuring, but it’s better late than never, as you’ll always have an idea of where you stand.

Pistoliers, Outriders, and You
Pistoliers, Outriders, and You avatar

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

The Empire Pistolier/Outrider box is one of the fan favorites in the range.  It comes with loads of bits, has really characterful models, and provides a unique unit on the table for the Empire army.  With that in mind, the Pistoliers and Outriders aren’t straightforward to play, so I wanted to take this week’s article as an opportunity to go over them.

Pistoliers

Image courtesy of GW.

Pistoliers are a fast-cavalry unit that’s meant to be on the move, all the time.  As Fast Cavalry, they can march and fire.  They get free reforms, and they even get a Vanguard move.  Their weapons confer the Quick to Fire rule, which  means you don’t suffer the penalty for moving and shooting.

This means that with a unit of 5 Pistoliers (90 points) you get 10 BS3, S4 Armor Piercing shots.  You will suffer a -1 penalty to hit for multiple shots, and will also suffer a -1 penalty for shooting at long range if the enemy is more than 6″ away.  This means you’ll be hitting on 5′s or 6′s.  Considering the free reforms and marching for Fast Cavalry, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get within 6″ of an enemy’s side arc.  This will give you 3-4 hits per turn, resulting in a decent number of casualties against cavalry and expensive, heavily-armored T3 troops (-2 to armor saves!)

Of course, the Pistoliers don’t have much staying power.  In combat, you only get the 10 attacks, including Warhorses, at a low initiative.  You’re better off fleeing and regrouping if charged.  Make sure to use your movement to stay out of the front arc of threatening units, because a single magic missile or volley of shots can really do a number on them.

Outriders

Image courtesy of GW.

Outriders are a totally different story from Pistoliers, despite sharing the same models and box.  They’re Fast Cavalry, but their weapons are move-or-shoot so you won’t be using their mobility for anything but their Vanguard move.  Their Vanguard move will allow them to move up the flanks into a good shooting position, but they will be a target and every time you need to move them to protect them you’ll lose a round of shooting.

The Outriders are a bit more expensive (105 points for 5) but put out a huge volume of shots.  15 to be exact, at BS4 and 24″.  You’ll be hitting on 4′s because of multiple shots, or 5′s at long range.  Thus, you can expect 7-8 hits at short range, or 5 hits at long range.  That’s equivalent to about 15 Handgunners, which cost a bit more.  Of course, 15 Handgunners count towards your Core rather than your Special, don’t get a Vanguard move, and have a few more ablative wounds.

This brings me to the biggest problem I have with Outriders, which is survivability.  Your first casualty reduces your number of shots by 20%, and T3/5+ models aren’t exactly difficult to hurt.  Because of their Vanguard move, they’ll generally be away from your support bubble and won’t have the Leadership backup to stand up to Panics or other Leadership-based attacks either.

Conclusion

Pistoliers and Outriders are a very fluffy, flavorful part of the Empire army book.  I don’t think you’re really handicapping yourself by playing with them, but you have to recognize that their fragility makes them a finesse unit.  You also have to be willing to concede that there may be other elements to the army that are more points-efficient in terms of survivability and lethality.  Nonetheless, they’re an awesome unit to play with and play against, and either one is a treat to see on the table.

The State of Empire State Troops
The State of Empire State Troops avatar

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

State Troops are meant to be the building block of the Empire army.  Like the lowly Imperial Guardsman, the Empire State Trooper presents an array of underwhelming stats.  His only saving grace is the hundreds of equally underwhelming brothers he has at his side.  So what’s the deal with State Troops in the new book?  Well, they’re still pretty underwhelming, but there’s definitely not as many of them.

State Troops pretty much picked up a 1 point increase across the board.  With the exception of Archers, on the whole they’ve gotten more expensive and don’t have much to show for it at first glance.  You get all of the cool Detachment rules, but what are you really paying for?  Rather than compare your troops to troops from 7th Edition books which are universally accepted as undercosted (Marauders, Dark Elf spearmen, etc.) it’s important to remember that 8th Edition changed a lot.  Steadfast, Step Up, and other rules are big factors, and books need to be pointed appropriately.  For every book that’s full of undercosted units, there’s likely a book filled with overpriced units.

So where does Empire fit into this?  The State Troops getting +1 point a piece stings, but it’s not backbreaking.  Halberdiers used to be head-and-shoulders above the rest of the troops options, but that’s no longer the case.  That’s not to say Halberds are bad, but you’re really not shooting yourself in the foot anymore by playing something else.  So dust off those old Empire troopers, and take a look at what they can do now!

Spearmen

Image courtesy of GW.

Spearmen are the cheapest, and the only State Troop which didn’t get a point increase.  A block of 20 will cost you a cool 100 points.  When you compare that to say, a Chaos Marauder, it’s probably underwhelming.  But compared to a Skeleton, you start to see what you’re getting.  The extra rank of attacks is valuable, and being cheaper means it’s easier to bring that extra rank.  A horde of these guys can get 40 S3 attacks, which makes them a pretty decent anvil if you can get a Priest buff onto them.  Of course, you only get the extra rank’s attacks if you don’t charge, which may not be an option against armies like Tomb Kings or Ogres.

Halberdiers

Image courtesy of GW.

Halberds are still a strong favorite.  Losing the extra rank of attacks isn’t as important when you’re hitting with S4.  S4 makes it easier to wound, but it has the additional bonus of weakening armor saves.  Whereas Spears are great for standing and taking a charge, Halberds are great when you want to bring the fight to your enemy — you won’t feel that stabbing guilt of opportunity cost whenever you declare a charge.  Still, they’re 20% more expensive than the Spearmen and you have to be willing to accept that you’ll be bringing less bodies to the fight.

Swordsmen

Image courtesy of GW.

Swordsmen took a double hit: they’re more expensive at 140 points for a block of 20, and they lost their Initiative bonus above the other State Troops.  Swordsmen still boast WS4 above the other troopers, and get a 6++ Parry Save in close combat.  Whether this is worth the cost is up to you.  Some argue that WS4/S3 is just as good as WS3/S4 against WS3/T3 armored troops: it’s just a matter of hitting on 3′s/wounding on 4′s or vice versa.  Some argue that their 5+/6++ save in combat makes them more survivable.  Others argue that WS4 is only effective against WS3 and below, whereas S4 is always valuable.  Some also argue that 5++/6++ saves are pretty easy to throw around in the new Empire book, so the extra points increase isn’t worth it.  Swordsmen may not be the most competitive, but they’re hardly useless.

Statistics

With the above in mind, let’s look at some Mathhammer.  The table below details how a block of 210 points worth of troopers would perform.  This is to account for the relative cost.  Keep in mind, as combat progresses the numbers due to attrition will change.  This table assumes a horde formation for offense against varying Toughness values with no save, and a bus formation for defense against 20 attacks of varying Strength values. All attacks assume WS3 for the enemy.

Unit Wounds vs. T3 Wounds vs. T4 Wounded by S3 Wounded by S4
42 Spearmen 10 6.66 4.16 6.66
35 Halberdiers 10 (-1 save) 7.5 (-1 save) 4.16 6.66
30 Swordsmen 10 6.66 2.77 4.62

As you can see, each unit has its merits.  210 points is a relatively small unit, as you can see…a few casualties will immediately start to reduce the combat effectiveness of any of those units in a horde formation!  Nonetheless, for a big block you can make any of them work.  Spearmen can bring superior numbers to the table, and their rank bonus can give you steadfast.  Of course, you can get Steadfast/Stubborn elsewhere in the army.  Swordsmen can provide a more defensive unit by shrugging off 1/6 of incoming attacks with a Parry, although you can get the 6++ from the Luminark (or a 5++ from a Prayer).  Halberds are a middle ground of numbers, providing more offense and the same defense as Spearmen.

This table isn’t meant to argue that one troop type is better than another, but merely illustrate that they all have their uses.  This is a relatively contrived set of parameters (let me know if you play against an army that’s all WS3/T3/S3!) and Mathhammer should never be taken at face value in a vacuum.  Don’t forget Priests conferring Hatred, Hurricanum’s giving +1 to hit, and so on.  Just know that any kit for a unit of State Troops can be effective, so long as you use it properly!

The Power of Prayer
The Power of Prayer avatar

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Last week I went over the new Detachment rules in the Empire book, and now I want to go over one of the most exciting components of that equation: the Warrior Priest.  Warrior Priests add a lot of power to a combat squad, including giving Hatred to the unit and having the ability to cast Prayers in the form of innate bound spells.  Because of the Detachment special rules, all detachments within 3″ of their parent unit gain Hatred…and the effects of the Prayers!  Let’s take a look at what Prayers are available:

Image courtesy of GW.

  • Hammer of Sigmar — Reroll failed to-wound rolls until the start of the next friendly magic phase.This is a huge deal, because if you get it off in the first round of combat you’ll be re-rolling to hit and to wound.  Keep in mind that a reroll of X is generally statistically better than a reroll of X-1.  For example, hitting on 3′s with a reroll is generally better than hitting on 2′s!  Getting this Prayer off will generally up your to-wound chance by 12 to 25 percentage points.Keep in mind that you get this bonus for 2 rounds of combat (your turn and your opponent’s).  On top of that, it is conferred to detachments, who get a free counter charge if the parent is charged.  You can have a hammer-and-anvil setup and make them both hit pretty hard.
  • Shield of Faith — Gain a 5++ save until the start of the next friendly magic phase.This cuts wounds by 1/3, plain and simple.  Keep in mind that aside from Greatswords, your troops generally have no armor (Free Company) or Light Armor (State Troops).  The Swordsmen are the most expensive option, bringing a shield which gives them a 5+/6++ save in combat.  Of course, any time you see Strength 4 (read: often) you may as well have no save.Shield of Faith is going to give you a save where you normally wouldn’t get one.  Between this and the Luminark giving out 6++ saves, there’s little reason to pay the premium for Swordsmen if you plan on including either one in your list.  This affords  you a way to give 3 units protection for a single 3+ Casting spell.
  • Soulfire — Gain Flaming Attacks until start of the next friendly magic phase.  Enemy models in base contact take a Strength 4 hit, Undead take a Strength 5 with no armor saves allowed.Soulfire is the most situational spell in the list.  It can do 3 Strength 4/5 hits, but that’s not why you cast it (unless you may be able to put wounds on a specific model in base-to-base).  Flaming attacks are primarily going to hurt Flammable targets, and stop Regeneration saves.  Regeneration is most commonly found on monsters, Trolls, and other scary things that you really shouldn’t be fighting in combat with your State Troops.  Still, if you find yourself in a sticky situation, it’s a good option to have!In a list with very few options against Etheral units, Soulfire is an option.  Those initial S4/S5 attacks are considered Magical, although the units’ subsequent Flaming attacks are not.

There you have it!  The Warrior Priest can add a bit of punch to 3 units at once, although due to their required proximity they’ll likely be focusing on the same target.  Still, you can pair a damage buff and a protection buff with 2 dice!  Now that Warrior Priests can channel power/dispel dice, you’ll be hard pressed to leave them at home.

Detachment Issues
Detachment Issues avatar

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Detachments are meant to be a fun, fluffy part of the Empire army.  Normal battle lines would have supporting units, so GW wanted players to have the option to emulate that with special detachment rules.  If someone charges the parent unit, a detachment can lend a hand by charging into the flank of the attackers or opening up a volley of missile fire.  Unfortunately, there were a few limiting factors in the last book that made detachments an unattractive option.  Chief among these issues was that the points spent didn’t count towards Core, a place where Empire players try not to spend more points than they have to.

The new book has addressed this issue — detachments to a unit count towards that unit’s selection slot.  So if your Spearmen take a detachment of Crossbowmen, they both count towards your Core.  If your Greatswords were to take the same detachment, they would be Special.  This isn’t really a buff, this is just the way things should work in the game.  But there are a few very exciting buffs to detachments:

Image courtesy of GW.

Conferring Rules

Starting with the new army book, parent units confer a selection of rules to their detachments, provided that the detachment is within 3 inches.  If the parent has Stubborn, Steadfast, Stupidity, Frenzy, Hatred, Immune to Psychology, or Hold the Line then the detachments get it too!  Let’s take a minute to look at these implications:

  • Stubborn – This will mostly come from Greatswords, which means you’ll be paying Special points for normal troops.  Still, it’s pretty neat to have a couple detachments of Halberdiers get Stubborn for free.  Don’t forget that you can get Stubborn in your Core troops, using Crown of Command on a character for example.
  • Steadfast – This is similar to Stubborn, but is something to think of if you have a defensive block of Spearmen, for example.  Deployed 5-wide in a bus formation, they’ll have a ton of ranks, and can thus confer a similar bonus to detachments.
  • Frenzy – This is a great way to get a bunch of free attacks.  If you get Frenzy on a parent unit, through a spell or magical item, then you can have two 10-wide detachments running in to bring an extra 20 attacks to bear!
  • Hatred – Hatred’s quite prevalent in this army book, with Warrior Priests and War Altars abound.  Having a Warrior Priest in a parent unit allows the detachments to re-roll to hit in the first round of combat, which is huge.
  • Immune to Psychology – This is a pretty obvious benefit.  Immune to Psychology means you don’t care about break tests, panic tests, fear tests, etc.  Human Leadership isn’t the best, so this can save you quite a headache.
  • Hold the Line – This is a new little gem in the new book.  Any unit with a Captain/General in it basically takes Break tests cold-blooded (roll 3d6, choose 2 lowest).  Combine this with a BSB reroll, and you won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

You can begin to see what kind of synergies this list has.  Keep in mind that there are plenty of other sources of these buffs: spells, prayers, and of course the new entries such as the Luminark and Hurricanum!  Next week, I’ll take a look at the benefits of the Warrior Priest, and the powerful cascading effects of his prayers.

The Empire Strikes Back!
The Empire Strikes Back! avatar

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

If you haven’t been paying attention to WHFB news lately, the Empire is getting redone along with the Citadel Paint line on April 7th.  I’d been considering starting an Empire army, and now we have an idea what new toys will be available.  Let’s take a look at what’s coming out this weekend:

Imperial Griffon

Image courtesy of GW.

The new Griffon kit is massive.  You get a 50x100mm base for it, and options to make one of a three Griffons — a generic one for your Empire General, an Amber Wizard on a two-headed Griffon, or the Emperor Karl Franz and his trusty steed, Deathclaw.  The generic Griffon’s gotten beefed up to match the size of the new Imperial breed: T5, S6, and 5 wounds!  This is definitely something to look forward to.

Demigryph Knights

Image courtesy of GW.

What are they feeding those animals down at the Imperial Zoo?  In addition to the enormous Griffon above, the Empire now gets monstrous cavalry in the form of Demigryph Knights.  These guys boast a 1+ armor save and a Movement value of 8, and count as a special choice in the Empire army (Inner Circle Knights).  In addition to the beautiful models, your trusty new steeds confer a trio of S5, armour-piercing attacks, meaning -3 to Armour Saves.

Hurricanum

Image courtesy of GW.

The Hurricanum, just like all of the carts in this release, are a love it or hate it item.  I personally love it, because it adds some whimsy to the Empire line and is a really unique kit.  The rings are rumored to be completely movable post-assembly.  The actual rules are rumored to be even better: additional power dice, +1 to hit in close combat for nearby units, and the ability to create storms.  At the very least, you know you’ll be getting a ton of cool bits with it!

Luminark of Hysh

Image courtesy of GW.

The Luminark is the other “wizardmobile” you can make out of the dual kit.  This means that you’ll be using the horse and cart base for either one, but you’ll either end up with a death ray or planetarium left over for conversion or terrain bits!  The Luminark is reportedly a more defensive unit.  It’s rumored to confer a ward save to nearby units, as well as generating extra dispel dice.  The Archimedes-style lens magnifying array on top is said to function as a bolt thrower of sorts.  It’s worth pointing out that either of these kits can be used as a mount for a Wizard, or as their own rare choice.

War Altar

Image courtesy of GW.

Finally, the War Altar has its own model!  Wait a minute, this looks really familiar.  Can you build this out of the Luminark/Hurricanum kit as well?  No, fortunately there’s no triple-kit.  That would only serve to jack up the prices and leave you with 2 sets of bits for each model you wanted to build.  Instead, GW’s got a separate box that uses the cart sprues as well as the War Altar/Volkmar sprues.  The War Altar is rumored to confer Hatred to nearby units, and boasts a 4+ Ward Save.

And more!

Of course, we can’t forget the half-dozen new characters that GW’s doing in Finecast.  If you were hoping for new Engineers, Captains, Witch Hunters, or Wizards you’re in luck!  GW’s also re-cast a fair number of old metal characters in Finecast, with corresponding price increases.  Stay tuned next week, where we try and take a look into the new Empire book!

Magnetized Movement Trays!
Magnetized Movement Trays! avatar

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Movement trays are a necessity in Fantasy.  I originally discounted them as a convenience, a luxury item that I didn’t absolutely need as a 40k player.

Then I played a game.  Even as Warriors of Chaos, where I can have a 12-model unit cost 250 points, I quickly found myself frustrated moving blocks of troops every turn.  Even if you play a static gunline army, any time you want to pivot or move you’ll be annoyed if you don’t have trays.  Also consider that a lack of movement trays makes things like wheeling way more difficult than they should be.

After picking up GW’s modular movement tray set, which I consider to be the most reasonably priced thing they sell, I was amazed.  $10 gets you two 200x200mm trays which are easily cut and even come with some corner/side bars to make proper trays.  I was thrilled, but moving large trays around still presented some hazards for models, especially on steep terrain.  I figured magnetizing would alleviate that, as well as give me an easier transport option.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/8″ x 1/32″ disc-shaped Rare Earth Magnets
  • A roll of Magnetic sheeting (I got 2 square feet from Michael’s for $10)
  • Some green stuff/Kraftmark ProCreate
  • An Exacto Knife
  • Superglue

Step 1

Here’s the magnetic sheeting I used, it’s called Adhes-A-Mag.  It’s available all over the place (Michael’s, Walmart, etc.) in craft sections, and I think it’s meant for making magnets out of pictures and such:

Take your roll of magnetic sheeting and measure out the footprint of your base.  Remember that this is going on top, so you want to measure the actual footprint of your models and not the whole tray (which includes some of the piping on the sides):

Step 2

Glue the sheet to the tray using superglue.  The original purpose of this particular brand of sheeting was to stick to photos, so you could make your own fridge magnets.  This isn’t conducive to sticking to plastic movement trays, however.  I used Zap-A-Gap superglue around the edges of the magnetic sheet, so that it would stay stuck firmly to the tray:

Step 3

Now we need to magnetize the bases.  This part can be daunting, so take it one unit at a time.  Depending on the weight of the model, you may need 2-3 magnets to get a good grip to the sheeting.  Also remember that some cavalry bases have bars/slots on the bottom, so you’ll need to use your exacto knife (or a small drill bit) to carve out a nice notch for the magnet to sit in.

Ball up a bit of green stuff and stick the magnets to it.  Make sure the magnets aren’t too close together, or they may attract/repel one another.  Finally, make sure that they’re flush with the bottom of the base and that there’s no extra green stuff sticking out!

Final Product

Once the green stuff dries, you should have a rock solid magnetic base.  Even if you stick two models together by the bottoms of their bases, they shouldn’t rip the magnets out.  Now you can consider all sorts of things, like gluing magnetic sheets on the bottom and transporting your trays full of troops in a metal toolbox or something!

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.