Saturday, June 24, 2017

Back to it in 8th - First Impressions of 'nids, Templar and Guard

So I'm a minute behind folks, but I had to open up some time and dig the old guard out. Well, except for the celebratory Tyrannofex and Tervigon models.  My old buddy and I got together and threw down.  Lists were below -

Tyranids - Battalion Detachment
Tervigon
Tyranid Prime (whip/sword, devourer)
Broodlord
3 Hive Guard (impaler cannons)
3 Venomthropes
20 Termagants (10 devourer, 10 fleshborer)
20 Termagants (10 devourer, 9 fleshborder)
7 Genestealers
Tyrannofex (fleshborer hive)
2x Carnifexes (each w/ 2x Deathspitters, mace tail)

Imperial Forces - Battalion, Superheavy Detachments
Chaplain Grimaldus
IG Commander
2 Commissars
Infantry Squad (Grenade launcher, heavy bolter)
50 Conscripts
Crusader Squad (10 Initiates, 10 neophytes, flamer, powerfist, power sword)
Leman Russ (battle cannon, lascannon, 2 heavy bolters)
Baneblade (additional 4x lascannon, 4x twin heavy bolter)

Scenario - Retrieval

Short Version -
I should've brought more big guns, maybe skipped an HQ choice - turns out that Baneblades HURT.  The Venomthropes bought me a couple turns of defense versus shooting, but I didn't bring enough long-range shooting to cripple it.  By the end of turn 3, I was sitting on one objective, and he handily had two, between the Baneblade and the tattered remains of the Crusader squad.

Impressions on 8th
Overall, I'm a fan.  The rules got streamlined, but thanks to the myriad org charts in the main book (and the faction keywords) you still have some solid freedom in how you build your forces.  Command Points are pretty useful - we both burned through the bulk of ours in three turns, but part of that is getting used to them.

Scenarios with the alternating deployment are going to take some getting used to - horde armies will generally NOT have first turn unelss they can seize.

Tyranid Impressions
Tervigon - it pretty much needs to go along with a couple blobs of termagants.  Replenishing a heap of 'em is nice, and re-rolls to 1's on shooting mean that you end up with about a 60% hit rate, which is great alongside devourers.  That, and The Horror is HILARIOUS, especially alongisde venomthropes.

Tyranid Prime - cheapest synapse HQ choice.  It's the buff HQ for warriors, which I didn't take.

Broodlord - he's disgusting in combat, he gives 'stealers a +1 in melee (effectively bumping them to WS 2+) and is a psyker.

Hive Guard - bring impaler cannons.  S8, AP-2, and 1D3 damage without needing LOS?  Give 'em synapse support, sit back, and start knocking wounds off vehicles.

Venomthropes - MVPs.  -1 to hit at range is huge.  Expect them to draw fire, but a minimum-sized brood WILL absorb some fire.  I think these are going to be in most 'nid lists.  I suppose they'd be ok in melee, assuming they lived long enough to get there.

Termagants - They're cheap, and need to be brought in bulk.  Devourers are a solid upgrade if you're gonna bring a large group; otherwise they're basically chumps with pistols.  I'd go for either a large group with some guns hidden in it.  I'd think about taking them as a tiny MSU for a troops tax, but rippers are cheaper.

Genestealers - they're still nasty, and they're cheap.  However, I didn't bring enough of them to make a difference this time out.

Tyrannofex - fleshborer hives are hilarious, and would be even more hilarious if I ever had a good chance to stand still and fire it twice.

Carnifexes - These guys aren't super-durable - but they have some options.  I think you're either going pure melee (and deciding whether crushing claws are worth the penalty to hit), volume of fire (grab devourers or deathspitters; the big difference is AP and a point of strength), or big gun + little guns.

Black Templar Impressions
Grimaldus - this guy (and chaplains in general) are pretty nasty with re-rolls to hit; Grim gives Black Templars extra attacks on 6s.  Also, gives 'em LD9, which is pretty useful for guys that are running across the field.

Crusader Blobs - These guys can crank out some attacks, what with chainswords/combat blades and pistols.  They can take a heavy weapon or power weapon, but with 1 base attack (and the fact they're probably moving) I'm not sure if I'd use this option.  Not sure what special I'd choose, they're all nasty.  They do need some good leadership, though - and Grimaldus provides that.  You can always go for the smaller squads and take a heavy and special, too.

Imperial Guard Impressions
IG Commander - command squads got a re-work; now if you want orders (and a cheap HQ) it's just one dude running around yelling at guardsmen and telling them to be a little more useful.  See also: sniper bait.

Commissars - their big trick is making sure that your guys don't run - mostly by shooting one of them in the morale phase.  You get one per elite slot.

Infantry Squads - so, now you're stuck with 10 guys with a special and heavy.  It simplifies things from the army-building side, but you're less durable.  They're cheap, and probably exist to sit on an objective with heavy weapons.

Conscripts - oh, they're gonna die by the fistful.  And a commissar is going to shoot one of 'em a turn.  Then again, these guys exist to fire off great heaps of lasgun shots.  The larger squads are also unlikely to ever grab cover.  Also, seriously? GET A COMMISSAR.  Because otherwise you're gonna remove fistfuls of these guys every turn if they're between the enemy and an objective.

Leman Russ - big guns, hard to kill - harder if it stays at long range.  Battle cannons are one of the many former blast weapons that now fire a random number of shots that hurt.  It makes them nasty against larger targets...

Baneblade - OUCH.  So, the main gun is a 3-damage gun that fires 2d3 shots a turn.  What used to be a pie plate of doom is now a humongous anti-tank weapon.  The demolisher cannon is its little brother - and you can still buy sponsons.  The tank puts out a TON of shits, especially since what used to be twin-linked is now just more shots.  That being said, note that the tank does NOT have a rule that lets it move and shoot heavy weapons without penalty.  BUT, if you get it into melee, it can disengage with penalty, shoot at things in melee, or just hit them with tank treads at like S9 or so.

As a former super-heavy, note that it has a heap of wounds, but after you've done a little more than a dozen wounds to it, it drops from BS4+ to BS5+, at which point it's kinda sad.

Next Steps for 'nids
1) Get more venomthropes
2) test Trygons - choosing when to arrive from reserves is awesome
3) test warriors - synapse is extra important for shooters, since instinctive behavior cuts down your options for shooting/charging
4) Exocrines are gonna be fun

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Reflections - Dealing with Genestealer Cult, KDK Experiences

I've gotten a couple more games with the Khorne Daemonkin under my belt - once more against the Genestealer Cult, and against some of the forces out of Gathering Storm 01's book.  I believe I'm getting a better handle on the various forces at this point.

Dealing With a Genestealer Cult
Some stuff has become a little more apparent over time against these fellows - I believe the following apply to any army fighting against the cult.

Short Version - deploy and plan on playing reactive early on.  Hope you brought screening units, and if you survive the initial hit plan on hitting back hard and eliminating units. They're much more mobile than you'd expect from a bunch of dudes on foot, too.

1) Deployment Zones - what are those?
The cult's big schtick that impacts your play is the Cult Ambush.  Some of their stuff starts on the table in their deployment zone.  The rest consults a table, so their guys are going to do one of the following -

a) Walk on from reserves
b) outflank
c) show up 6-9" away with guns, quite possibly shooting
d) show up 3" away ready to assault the turn they arrive

This chicanery is generally limited to infantry and the odd Scout Sentinel.  Note that 'infantry' here ranges from stuff that looks suspiciously like Imperial Guardsmen, to chumps with industrial cutting gear, to straight-up Genestealers.  Also, Sentinels are probably going to have their choice of firing angles.

2) Bring Screening Units / Bubblewrap
It's never a bad idea to have some screening elements for your army.  If you're not out-and-out fast enough to dictate an engagement (Read - can't teleport, can't turbo-boost, that kind of thing) then you want some poor chump in front of you to die and buy time.

This is extra important against GSC for a couple of reasons - units WILL pop up in random spots and you have to assume that they will be a threat the turn they arrive, either by shooting or lucking out and rolling a 6 on the cult ambush table.  You at least want to make them work to get at your important units.

The follow-on is that during deployment, it pays to be able to deny them a place to deploy.  When the initial ambush sets up, they'll have all be 3/6/9" away - and if the whole unit can't fit, well.

3) Beware the First Curse
What is this 'first curse', you ask?  It's a Patriarch (think Genestealer with psychic powers and 'roid rage) and 20 of his closest friends.  Every GSC player that looks at this dreams of going first and rolling the 'assault the turn you arrive' perk - because seriously, that's painful.  (See #1 - BUBBLE WRAP - would you rather lose chumps or something important?)

That's a lot of rending attacks - if they can assault something with the bulk of the unit, they can probably kill it.

I honestly worry about this moreso if it DOESN'T start on the table - it's one thing to bubble wrap this on the table.

Just be ready to run from it, or smash it with lots of guns - and if it shows up ready to assault the turn you arrive?  You're going to lose something - simple as that.

4) Kill Them In One Go or Shadow Them
The Cult's also very, very good at slinking off in the shadows.  At the beginning of their turn, if the unit is more than 6" away from the enemy they can return to the shadows - they go into ongoing reserves, pick up a few more dudes (up to max size) and roll on the ambush table again next turn.

...granted, if they're all dead they can't do that.

5) They play a hell of an objective game
Between the cult ambush table and their ability to re-enter ongoing reserves, these guys are pretty nasty at playing objectives.

Stuff To Bring To Kill These Fellows
1) Volume of Fire
The bulk of these models have 5+ saves - but they'll have a LOT of bodies, and with their support HQs you can end up with a lot of fearless guys with Feel No Pain.  Hell, just bring plain FIRE for that matter; they're gonna be close to you.

2) Melee - sometimes
Genestealers, patriarchs, and their HQs in general are nasty in close quarters. Outside of them (and a couple other units, like aberrants and folks with mining tools) most guys are average at best, and their strength is in the buffs from HQ and the sheer number of bodies.  You're just going to have to be selective about melee matchups if you can be.

3) Psychic Defenses
Buffs and summoning are annoying - the latter even moreso when combined with cult ambush.

4) Swift units
They're all on foot - but can cult ambush.  It wouldn't hurt to be able to rapidly re-deploy your own stuff, because this guy can.

5) Cover-busting
Remember how this whole army's got like a 4+ or 5+ at best?  Deny them cover - they'll cry.

Thoughts on Khorne Daemonkin
1) Possessed - ...eh...
I love the models.  What I'm not loving is that they're required.  Don't get me wrong - if they can get into assault they are pretty nasty.

The problem is that 'if'.  Here's a short list of things I COULD have gotten instead of Possessed in a Rhino (or extra body)
-Helldrake
-Maulerfiend
-A BUNCH more bodies for hounds/bikes
-2/3 of another Bloodthirster

And I'm pretty sure all of those would've had more of an impact than the Possessed in most of my games.

I really like the free Blood Tithe from the slaughtercult, but I've yet to feel like the Possessed are anything other than a tax on my army at this point.

2) D-Thirsters are hilarious
I'm still enjoying this fellow - though he doesn't always have a ready target.  Anyone with super-heavies (outside of Knights / anything with Strength D in melee) should worry about this guy, because eight WS10 D-axe swings on the charge will pretty much wreck anything with hull points.

Outside of big, valuable targets he really needs to go after so-so melee troops - WS10 is a hell of a defense against WS4 and lower troops.  If there aren't any big juicy targets for this guy, then it's time to go find squads with WS4 or lower and thrash them.

Also he's pretty much not my first warlord choice - people tend to shoot the big ones.

3) Maulerfiends - not so bad.
I like them for a couple of reasons - they're fast, they can break vehicles, and lasher tendrils are actually pretty hilarious.  It's also kind of important to have more than one big nasty target - and maulerfiends are reasonably likely to grab a turn 2 charge with their speed.

4) Juggernaut Lord is Probably the way to go
The stat buffs on that mount are just too solid - throw in a melee weapon and the 4++ save and you're good, then stick him with a Gorepack's Flesh Hound accompaniment and go.

5) Knight Loadouts - Still Experimenting
I've tried the Slaughtercult a couple of times, so my Knight ally has come via the Renegade Knight versus a Forge World rule set or Kytan.

One mistake I've made - not going with a carapace weapon.  The Knight is pretty much the sum total of my army's shooting at this point; might as well maximize it.  I'm not super-enthralled by the performance of the Thermal Cannon or the Rapid-fire battle cannon.  The Thermal Cannon can at least bring some AP2 to the table, and if it gets lucky vs. a vehicle squadron I can possibly nuke two things with one shot.

My next experiment is going to be a Knight w/ the Avenger cannon (S6, AP3, 12 shots...aw yeah) and the Heavy 3 Krak missile carapace gun.  It'll play the game of 'reach out and touch someone before wandering into melee.'

Coming Next Up
-more hobby pictures, because I hit the painting table hard
-possibly more batreps
-reflecting on CAD vs. Slaughtercult again
-reflecting on Kytan vs. Forge World Knight rules vs. Renegade Knight after experimenting.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Battle Report - 1850 - Khorne Daemonkin versus Genestealer Cult

I managed to get models back on the table again - this time, I wanted to try out my growing Daemonkin army.  I figure it can't get much further from Tau than Khorne - this army really isn't that sure what these 'gun' things are, though a few of them have figured it out.  It's how you kill people BEFORE you start beating them to death.  My buddy wanted to test his Genestealer Cult again, so without further ado here are the lists - we'd agreed on 1850, he was a few points over so instead of making him re-point it and test different stuff I just added a puppy.

KDK 
Slaughtercult
Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury
5x Possessed in Rhino
8x Bloodletters
8x Bloodletters

Lord of Slaughter - Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage

Gorepack
3x Bikers w/ 2 Meltaguns
3x Bikers w/ 2 Meltaguns
9x Flesh Hounds
9x Flesh Hounds

War Engine - Maulerfiend w/ Lasher Tendrils

Allied Detachment - Renegade Knight w/ Thermal Cannon, chainsword

My Warlord was the Possessed champion, who had the 'I turn into a daemon prince / bloodthirster for free' trait

Genestealer Cult w/ Imperial Guard friends
Cult Insurrection Detachment
Magus w/ Crouchling
Patriarch w/ 20x Purestrain Stealers
10x Neophyte Hybrids (2x Grenade Launchers, 2x Mining Lasers)
-dedicated Chimera
8x Neophyte Hybrids (2x grenade launchers) w/ autocannon heavy weapon team
-deadicated Chimera
Leman Russ w/ heavy bolter sponsons, Eradicator Nova Cannon
1x Sentinel w/ Heavy Flamer
3x Sentinels w/ Autocannon
7x Purestrain Stealers
Primus & 4 Aberrants
5x Acolyte Hybrids
5x Acolyte Hybrids
5x Hybrid Metamorphs

Allied IG Attachment
Company Command Squad w/ 2x Sniper Rifles, Lascannon team, Master of Ordnance, Camo Gear
Veteran Squad - 3x Grenade Launchers, Autocannon Team, camo gear
Squadron of 2 Hydra batteries

His warlord was the Patriarch, which translated to "20 Genestealers deploying where they want with a turn one assault."  His psykers end up with a mix of abilities, and naturally one of the jokers ends up with summoning.

The Scenario - we roll up Deadlock, which means there's a diminishing number of tactical objectives per turn.  He gets first turn, and I seize the initiative.


DEPLOYMENT - KDK POV
 I promptly bubble-wrap my army and attempt to deny him flanking placements.  His best-case deployment is 3" away with assaults permitted.  Otherwise he's got to be 6-9 inches away from my guys.  Also, the cult army penalizes my reserve rolls - I'd rather spend my 'letters as Bubble Wrap than deal with crappy reserve rolls.  As it is I've got his Patriarch + 20 stealers at my front door.  There's also the unit of Aberrants nearby.
DEPLOYMENT - Genestealer POV
 He's got his other squads positioned to grab objectives.
KDK Turn 01 Assault Results
 As you can see from the deployment pictures, I've got options - and I also should charge the giant genestealer blob, because I don't feel like letting them have Furious Charge.  The Blob is the only thing that can assault me on his first turn.  So, I charge in with a unit of Khorne Dogs, the Knight, the Maulerfiend, and D-Thirster.  ALL OF MY D ATTACKS FAIL TO WOUND.  Things are looking a little bleak - the Knight promptly lost four hull points, but then rolls up 3 stomps and does a Khornate jig through the stealer blob.

Also, comically, I got the Lasher Tendrils on the Patriarch - who's in a challenge with my D-Thirster - and my D-thirster.  Suddenly the Patriarch isn't as scary with only two attacks a turn.
DERP
 ...I also assault his aberrants with my regular 'thirster.  I forget that I have no grenades and that unit's full of guys with S7 and S8 attacks that blow through my 3+.  So, I kinda hand over first blood because sometimes I'm dumb.  Also, the other unit of dogs assaulted something nearby.  Honestly, I'm fighting a LOT of units here - I can barely keep track of it, but there's a lot of blood for the blood god.

His turn one (which I generally forgot to photograph) involves his Chimera dropping his psyker and squad into cover, some gunfire (which does little) and some summoning.  It also resolves the assault - D-thirster crushes the patriarch into a paste, and my units consolidate.
KDK Turn 02 - BLOOD!
 So, on turn 01 I have 1 Tithe because of the Slaughtercult.  On turn 2 I have 8 to start the turn, so I summon a Bloodthirster.  My Warlord explodes and scatters back.  Bikers sweep forward to grab objectives, and one squad murders a handful of 'stealer cultists off of their objective.  Hounds sweep towards his psyker's squad, and D-thirster wanders up to the Leman Russ.  I would've assaulted the Chimera with the Maulerfiend, but it doesn't get the 11 it needs to make it.
I'ma boop it on the snout!
 The D-thirster promptly does 2d3 + 1d6 + 6 hull points of damage to the Russ.  Sometimes you don't want to drive close enough to hit it with your sword.
Cultists Turn 2
 His reserves show up - the three autocannon sentinels wander in and grab a firing solution on my Knight, and the flamer sentinel draws a bead on my bikes.  They survive the burnination from the Chimera and the sentinel.  He also gets a squad in my backfield, so that means the bloodletters are going to get to do some work.  My D-thirster absorbs a LOT of gunfire - pretty much all the heavy weapons on the board go into him, and he manages to lose three wounds.  His psyker and squad lose to the Khorne Dogs in assault and get away.
KDK Turn 03
 My D-thirster claims his IG veterans in assault.  The Maulerfiend bounds over to the flamer sentinel and decides to play with it.  The fiend is a bit too enthusiastic and breaks his toy.  One biker squad finally gets to use its meltaguns in combat, and manages to beat up the chimera - but not kill it.  The Khorne Dogs run down his psyker, murder it, and consolidate back into the woods.

In the backfield, my warlord-bloothirster decides to have words with the sentinels while my bloodletters go have words with the 'stealers that showed up in my backfield.

The other squad of Khorne Dogs continues their melee with the aberrants.  The Knight uses its Thermal Cannon to nuke the other Chimera - woo, impressive, it blew up a transport! But no tithe, because it's not got Blood for the Blood God.  As I had only 3 blood tithes this turn, I used Feel No Pain.
CHAAARGE!
 On his turn 3, his neophyte cavalcade decides to bail the sentinels out.  They've got heavy mining equipment that would be painful in an assault.
...oh, crap, he's I9 and we rolled a 3
 He rolls a 3 for the assault, and the 'thirster murders all the heavy weapons before they can swing.
OH HOLY CRAP
 His army continues to unload into my D-thirster...
 ...and then some schmuck with a lasgun lands the final wound.
End of Turn 4 and Game
Turn 4 - I summon a Skull Cannon and nuke his command squad off the board with it.  Maulerfiend mops up stuff, and we call it between the hour and the fact he's got under ten infantry left on the board.

Closing Thoughts
KDK absolutely LOVES opponents that bring lots of small units.  I think I went through ~20 blood tithes this game, and actually lost some.  My comrade and I discussed it - this is a rough matchup for GSC because they like to have lots of threat vectors.

KDK also has a tactical objective that involves manifesting a psychic power, which is a head-scratcher.

D-Thirster is NASTY if he can get into assault - though low-initiative high-strength weapons are probably unhealthy.

Bloodthirsters in general really need to think about what they're assaulting if it has cover - throwing away I9 is silly if the other guy has low-initiative high-strength weapons.

I still have no real idea what to do with the possessed - maybe skip the rhino, buy a couple more bodies?  Otherwise they drive around and look to grab objectives.

I like having the Knight's fire support - not sure if I want to make room for the points to upgrade it via FW rules to have Blood for the Blood God, or just go whole hog and try to fit a Kytan in there.  The problem is that the latter two require a CAD for the Lord of War slot.

I like the big gribblies - though part of me wondered if having a cheaper Lord instead of the Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury would be good - though a Lord with mobility is still going to like 1/2 to 2/3 the cost of the 'thirster, and he needs a unit to hide in.

Genestealer cults are a pain to deploy against - and diagonal deployment means that unless you saturate your backfield (with units that might not contribute much to the fight) you may get to deal with a fight on two fronts.

After discussion, we're not sure that the 20-strong stealer blob + patriarch is the way to go - it's begging to have every last resource dropped on it ASAP, and if it's going to be deployed forward to assault early then there's a fair chance you're handing over Slay The Warlord and/or First Blood.

Bloodthirsters don't like Hydras.  Even if I do make an inordinate number of 3+ saves.

Knights should worry about genestealers in melee - though good stomps go a ways towards getting them out of a jam.

Overall, it was educational - I like KDK, but think this list may not be my final form.

Friday, February 3, 2017

KDK - Hobby Post

No tactics this time out - just getting back into the wonderful world of painting. Ok, I mean, I got back into it already, but I've seriously enjoyed painting the bigger stuff for Daemonkin.  The Bloodthirster kit is prettty sweet.
Here's Johnny!
...and there goes Johnny


Shot from above.  Which is safer than looking up from below, amiright?

Cannon - AKA 'thing that gets summoned and fires a pie plate'

I'm pretty thrilled with the base on this big 'un.

DRIVE US CLOSER! WE WANT TO HIT IT WITH OUR SWORDS!

Blast from the past - the weapon conversion is cuz one broke and I'm not pinning it.


New sculpts - plastic is nice.

These won't be the only Khorne Dogs I paint.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Khorne Daemonkin Brainstorming - Slaughtercult Vs. CAD, and Does Khorne Really Need Friends Anyway?

So after last time's first impressions, time for me to actually sit down and think through this.  I'd recommend this approach to anyone - first impressions count, and so does the more thorough read-through.

For this run-through, we're going to assume that KDK is going to be my primary (if not only) detachment, and I'm going to build around a Warlord in there.

So, we've got a couple of choices here, really - do I want to run a Bloodhost, or do I want to run a CAD? Or, do I want to run both?


Detachment Perks - Efficiency in Blood Tithes vs. Obsec and freedom in builds

Option 01 - Bloodhost
Note that we're going to look at the Slaughtercult first - because it's your core choice for this.  Then, we're going to look at the limitations of the Blood Host when it comes to building out from there, as you must take at least one auxiliary choice.

Slaughtercult perks
The Slaughtercult gives you four perks - Blood Frenzy, Boon of Khorne, Blood Sacrifice, and obligatory warlord trait re-rolls.  The Blood Frenzy and Boon of Khorne are your moneymakers off the bat - you get a free blood tithe point in a turn, AND when you spend blood tithes you can buy twice if you have the points.  So, you're generating more points (in addition to MURDER and offering your own skulls, that is) AND you're potentially more efficient.

Blood Sacrifice is nice if you brought cultists - when those guys flub a leadership check (...assuming they aren't murdered outright) you can just sacrifice them and get that Blood Tithe.  You're making these guys as cheap as possible because they're either going to provide a screen, or you're going to try to snag objectives with them and don't want to devote points to that when you could be KILLING.

Slaughtercult Requirements
First off, you're committing to taking a unit of Possessed.  If you want them and a Rhino, they're 185 on the dot for 5 guys and a ride.  Possessed aren't bad, but I'm going to assume that you're going to buy them a rhino.  If we go with a naked Herald and minimal Bloodletters (absolute minimum required in the slaughtercult) then you're looking at 430.  Not bad, but a Herald is kinda 'meh' and seems like he's in there to keep it cheap.  Plus, he's a character that can't explode into a Daemon Prince or Bloodletter through tithes, which is sad.

You CAN grab a lightweight Bloodthirster as your HQ, but that's a couple hundred points above your herald.  You can, if you want, grab Cultists or Spawn, but Cultists are screens that turn into Tithes, and Spawn are bullet sponges either on their own or for a Lord taking a speedy choice.

Note that your core choices are gonna be power-armored bobs, deep-striking demons, and some choices for HQ that range from 'cheap herald' to 'lord with crap-ton of options' up to 'daemon prince' and 'Bloodthirster.'

Slaughtercult Limitations
Now, the Auxiliary choices are where we really start to see the price of taking a Slaughtercult.  You're taking tradeoffs now.

I see two immediate perks - you can grab the Gorepack (swift disruption) and you can grab your nominal heavy support choices as an aux choice.  These mean you're thinking about a faster army - the Gorepack involves scouting Khorne Dogs and bikers, and the bikers are either thinking about melee (and possibly escorting a lord) or they're small and packing meltaguns (I'm a Blood Tithe OR a messed-up vehicle, your opponent's pick).  I feel like those would mesh well with your Maulerfiends (who also move 12" and care not for terrain) and anything you're bringing that has wings.

Now, there are drawbacks - if you want Raptors or Terminators, you're going to have to grab some extras - your Terminators only come out to play if you've got Bloodcrushers, which are. Um.  Either jogging across the field with a laughable save, OR deep-striking assault troops with a laughable save and no shooting.  Raptors aren't bad, but have to be taken en mass (read: 2 units of raptors and a unit of Warp Talons).

I'm not saying Talons/Raptors are bad, but I am pointing out the opportunity cost - if you want to bring 'em, you'll be looking at more than 400 just to field the minimal units - but at least the Helldrake isn't mandatory with Khorne's Bloodstorm.

My gut feel is that the Slaughtercult wants you to take a decent number of fast, assaulty units.  Guns are what you use to make noise while running at the other guy and screaming.  Or it's what Soul Grinders have and the rest of your army doesn't.

Option 02 - Combined Arms Detachment
You can always skip the Blood Host, and start out with a CAD and formations.  You are losing out on the aforementioned perks of the Blood Host - which is the efficiency of the tithes, and the ability to take a crap-ton of heavy support choices.

Combined Arms Detachment Perks
So, first off, obviously there's Objective Secure.  That's one thing.  Considering you like to hit things, and your troops are punchy, well - if you don't absolutely crush something in assault, your troops can be all "Hey, we're Obsec and you're not!  Also, please let us kill you in your assault phase so we don't get shot at."

Now, here's the other thing - you've got some flexibility in your build.

You're still stuck bringing an HQ and two troops.  Now, if you want to keep it cheap, you can take cultists and/or Bloodletters.  If you wanted to grab two Bloodthirsters (and wanted more than one of them to be the D Thirster), go for it.

Now, there are some actual options this opens up - you're not stuck taking units in gobs.  If you want to grab some Terminators (...and probably Deep Strike them with combi-weapons) then you can, because you're not stuck grabbing a handful of Bloodcrushers as well.  If you want a lone Raptor unit, go for it - but note that you can still take the Gorepack if you really, REALLY wanted to throw in a ton of Fast Attack options.

You could also grab a Land Raider without grabbing a Terminator squad - but seriously, it's still a Chaos Land Raider with long-range guns and an assault ramp, which still seems confused.

To me, seems like the biggest perk of taking a CAD is double-tapping on Bloodthirsters with D-strength axes, since you just can't do that with a Slaughtercult.  That, and Terminators.

Also, as discussed in the Allies part, you can grab a Lord of War - the Kytan and the Chaos Knight forge world rules are Lords of War, and those need a CAD.

CAD Limitations
Honestly, I see a couple of limitations - if you really, really wanted to bring a lot of heavy support, well, you can't.  AV12 and AV13 walkers really kind of like numbers.  The other is that, obviously, you lose the fun perks of the Slaughtercult with respect to Blood Tithes.

Nothing says you can't take a CAD and throw formations on top though.

A Thought on Allies 
So, there's one thing your allies won't have - the ability to produce Blood Tithes.  You want your guys to either kill things or die trying - you're playing KDK for the fluff and for the Blood Tithe mechanics.  This is the first thing you want to keep in mind.

The second thing you want to keep in mind - GUNS.  You just don't have a lot of them.  You're an assault army.  There's kind of a second thing to keep in mind, and that's AP2 - you don't have a ton of that outside of Bloodthirsters or a Lord hitting things with an Axe of Khorne.

Lords of War
Honestly, there's a couple of things that aren't in the book that are worth looking at - the Kytan Daemon Engine and the Renegade Knight.  The Knight can either come in Renegade flavor (1-3 per detachment, lots of options).  If you want to go Forgeworld Experimental rules, you get the Kytan or a different flavor of Knight.

So, here's the comparison you need to do - Renegade Knight versus CAD with Kytan or Chaos Knight.

The Renegade Knight (out of Traitor's hate) will NOT have Blood for the Blood God.  However, it will be cheaper than the Kytan, and potentially more shooty than the Chaos Knight.  You have more options than the Forge World rules - which means more guns.  The Forge World option is also slightly more durable since it gets the Daemon of Khorne rule and gets a nice 5++ in melee (and when the Ion Shield isn't helping it).  But you're stuck with a CAD.

The Kytan is a little tougher (better side armor and worse rear armor; you have no Ion Shield but you get Daemon of Khorne.  You get an 8-shot Krak missile launcher that somehow has pinning as well, and if you murder your shooting target, you can charge something else.

Honestly, the Chaos Knight is kind of in between the Renegade Knight and the Kytan.  The Renegade can take two guns, and the Kytan is a bit more killy.  The Kytan is about 100pts more than the Chaos Knight, but AV13 on the sides is pretty nice, along with It Will Not Die.

I'd recommend picking one or the other - grab the shooty of a Renegade Knight (along with the part where you don't have to go Forge World) or go big with a Kytan and enjoy the Forge World experimental rules and go axe to mouth on something.  Plus it looks better than, y'know, the Lord of Skulls.

Other Friends
Seriously, you're taking other friends for shooting, including potentially aircraft, as your anti-air is the Soul Grinder and maybe Helldrakes. (...because that flamer is gonna do stuff, really.)  Look for guns somewhere - if you're willing to either grab the formation OR pay the HQ/troops for it.  and remember that any non-KDK guys ARE cutting into your blood tithes.

Why not CAD and Slaughtercult?
There are two reasons to take two - you're willing to take four troops, and you want the flexibility in HQs - which, really, honestly, the only 'flexibility' you get is taking a Bloodthirster with D-strength and you get the Lord of War slot (...which you'd fill with a Kytan, realistically)


Closing Thoughts
If you're going to tack a CAD onto a Slaughtercult, you're doing it to get the freedom to take troops that are otherwise taxed - like Raptors or Terminators, and you want a Lord of War that isn't from an Allied Detachment.  Otherwise, pick one or the other.  You're looking at freedom in your build (and freedom from Possessed and other taxes) OR you get the fluffy fun of Blood Tithes for free.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Khorne Daemonkin - First Impressions

As a contrast to Tau (and because I want something to model) I've opted to pick up some Khorne Daemonkin.  Because what's the opposite of shooting and alliances? BLOODSHED!  Also axes.

Why KDK?
I have a few reasons - the Bloodthirster kit is friggin' sweet, and after a quick once-over it looks like the Blood Tithe mechanic is fun (and actually fluffy, since Khorne gives approximately two tugs of a dead Khorne dog's tail about where the blood comes from*) and actually encourages fluffy play while not being that useless at all.

Also, I got tired of painting up robots, so now I'll be painting demons, space-bobs and the occasional possessed robot.

So with that out of the way, let's take it from the top - the Slaughtercult - and then get into formations.

But First, Blood for the Blood GOD!
Remember how I mentioned fluff?  BLOOD TITHE!  Remember, Khorne doesn't care where the blood comes from, so long as it flows.  Everything from KDK has a rule that generates a point for dying or killing stuff, and for killing a character in a challenge.  Khorne's watching, and might like what he sees.  You've got access to 8 buffs out of this (and a max of 8 Tithe); you can get 1 per turn unless running a Slaughtercult, which lets you spend leftover points.  Lower levels involve army-wide Feel No Pain and bonuses to attacks.  Once you've got 5+ points, you're summoning stuff - bloodletters/khorne dogs, 3x Bloodcrushers OR a skull cannon, a Daemon Prince, OR ultimately a Bloodthirster.  Note that the Prince and greater daemon require a non-daemon character - which can be inconvenient if you're out.

The Slaughtercult
Blood Tithe is great - you can get anything from army-wide Feel No Pain or attack buffs to summoning stuff (ranging from Bloodletters to a Bloodthirster).  The Slaughtercult does two things for you - it generates a free Tithe point each turn, and lets you use multiple benefits in a turn - so you're unlikely to lose 'excess' points, as otherwise you get to buy one benefit and call it.

So, what's the Cult gonna cost you?  Short answer - unit of possessed.  Even with a CAD, you'd have to take an HQ - and you'd be taking troops also.  Slaughtercult requires at least two troops-type choices, outside of Cultists (which are Tithe points, but just don't know it yet).

If you want to go absolute minimalist, you can get a Slaughtercult for under 400 points, though your 'letters have a Herald and your Possessed are walking.

A Slaughtercult requires 1-8 choices of extras, though one of those is the War Engine - which essentially your heavy support category.  So, y'know, you could always drop a minimal cult and 8 heavy support choices, but I'd be surprised if you own all of that AND can avoid the surprise gonad-attack that might result from fielding that.

Honestly though, I'm favoring the Slaughtercult as a default option for armies versus a CAD, and this army prefers a pure KDK army versus allies, because of the Blood Tithe mechanic. FLUFF!

Leadership - The Chaos Lord
Here's your choice with options.  On the one hand, he can turn into a Daemon Prince or Bloodthirster if you do well enough, and the other guy's got to kill the resulting daemon to get the Warlord kill.  This guy's wide open, and it's a question of "What do you want him to punch?"

Want to get into combat quickly?  There's the Bike or Juggernaut, which meshes neatly with your bikes and Khorne Dogs.  Note the Juggernaut offers more buffs, but the bike's cheaper.

Want to deep strike?  Grab Terminator Armor or a jump pack.  I'm calling these out for deep strikes because they allow it, and you can hang out with daemons OR fast stuff (assuming you have a jump pack lord).  Problem is that of course the other dude gets a turn to shoot at you after deep-striking, which can be sad.

In addition to the usual power weapons (including fists and lightning claws) you can also grab the AP2 Axe of Khorne, and you can also get the Axe of Ruin that summons a bloodthirster after you die - note that the axe ain't cheap, and its chief buff while you are alive is AP2 melee.  And the 'thirster takes wounds when it's out there.

People really seem to like the idea of killing their Axe-of-Ruin-bearing Lord to summon a Bloodthirster via tithe AND getting a 'thirster out of the axe, but let's be honest - that's an ideal scenario that's AWESOME when it happens.

Leadership - The Daemon Prince
Grab wings, expect to pay a chunk.  They're kinda nasty, but if you're going to take one you need to commit to taking multiple threats.  You're going to want wings and armor, and after that you're more expensive than your Heavy Support melee choices - and you aren't a ton cheaper than a Bloodthirster, who's more durable and killy.

I'd recommend keeping one around as a Blood Tithe reward.

Leadership - Heralds
Heralds are cheap - they're your cheapest option for an HQ, and already have a nifty power sword.  Otherwise, the only thing they have over a Lord is initiative - which doesn't include armor.

Leadership - Blood Throne
It's a chariot.  It's got a herald on it.  If you aren't going cheap, and want to throw a chariot into the mix, then go for it.  It will draw anti-tank fire (since it's comically immune to small arms because of AV12) so if you're set on it, build around it.  I don't have a desire to run one, but that's me.

Leadership - Skulltaker
He's a Herald that figured out how to wear armor, and hit the gym before picking up the sword.  If you can deliver his footslogging self to melee, well, he's liable to wreck non-Terminators in challenges.

Leadership - Bloodthirsters
Note that you can take any of 'em as HQs in a CAD, but in the Slaughtercult you can take the base model (unfettered fury) and the one more heavier hitter (pro tip - INSENSATE RAGE for the D axe).  They're all 5-wound flying monstrous creatures with reasonably toughness and saves, and a jolly WS/BS10 on top of power armor and daemonic saves.  Seriously though, you should be flying until assaulting.

You've got three basic flavors - and they demand to be spelled in all-caps, because Khorne.

UNFETTERED FURY!
This is the cheapest one.  You basically get a pistol and an AP2 melee weapon with instant death on 6's.  This is also the one that you get through Tithes and the Axe of I-Died-And-Gave-You-An-Expiring-Greater-Daemon.  It's sick unless it's going against walkers, at which point you'll be using Smash.

INSENSATE RAGE
Here's your odd-one-out.  You lose your initiative, but your have Strength D on melee.  Which is something you get either here, or on an allied renegade Knight. This guy will wreck whatever he gets to hit - but note his weapon makes him I1 here.

WRATH OF KHORNE!
He's the most expensive one - so what do you get?  It's essentially an upgraded version of Unfettered Fury.  You get a d3 pistol (...yay?) and a heavy flamer, and that pistol (actually a whip) is a specialist weapon like your axe, so +1 attack?  Honestly, I'd rather shave the points.

Fodder - Chaos Cultists
So, these guys are cheap - which is nice, because they're kinda sad.  In a CAD, they're the cheapest thing you can get for troops.  If you're taking a Slaughtercult, they're extra on top of your killy troops - but if they botch a morale check (...which isn't that hard, considering the average Guardsman has better armor and leadership) you can just flat-out sacrifice them for a Tithe point.

They have the potential to be screening units - IF you're taking footslogging guys who would like the cover.  You can buy rhinos, or you can get Khorne Dogs.  If you want a cheap camping unit you could always go up to 10 guys and grab a heavy stubber, at which point you're about as much as a Bloodletter squad, but have a stubber.

Troops - Chaos Space Marines
Hey, they're the same basic thing out of the CSM book!  You can go up to a ten-man squad and grab a couple of special weapons (or a special and heavy).  If you're going to go melee, then everyone might as well grab a close combat weapon as well - which costs extra.

Honestly, I feel like there' a bit middle-of-the-road for this book.  You can grab a heavy weapon and sit back, but at that point the rest of the squad is just babysitting an objective.  Or, you're trying to be Berserkers - which have are two points more than you for better WS and Furious Charge.

Troops - Khorne Berserkers
Compared to the bog-standard marines, you're just more focused - you skip out on weapon options outside of plasma pistols, but have a better WS and Furious Charge.  You want a delivery system, you're either going with a Rhino, or fitting in a Land Raider (...which means you're going CAD, because they're a bit of a pain to get into a Slaughtercult without Terminators taking it as THEIR designated ride).

Troops - Bloodletters
Bright side - they're you're cheapest option for a Slaughtercult, and they deep strike.  On the downside, they're kinda one-trick ponies - they have a power sword (I mean Hellblade) and deeps trike.  You can summon them via blood tithe in 8-thing squads.  Note that the enemy WILL get a chance to shoot at them, and they've the durability of guardsmen.

Also note that in a pinch, you can deep-strike an HQ choice in a Bloodletter unit.  But unless they're deep-striking, they're walking.

My first impression is that I'll be taking a Slaughtercult with a pair of minimum-sized units of these to fill out my troops, and these blokes will grab objectives.

Slaughtercult Tax (I mean Elites) - Possessed
So, on the one hand, these guys ain't cheap.  You may be asking "why should I bring these guys?"  You look at the stat line, and they look kinda like a marine with an extra attack and +1 strength.  Then you should look at their special rule list - furious charge, 5++ save, fearless, fleet...and the possessed table.  The bonus changes each assault phase, but you could end up with AP3, a bonus attack/initiative, or re-rolls and failed wound rolls.

The only problem in my mind is that you're going to grab a Rhino with them - because you want 'em in there.  If you feel like splurging, grab an Icon of Wrath for re-rolls to failed charges.

Overall - not that bad; just grab a Rhino.  And maybe another body or two.

Chaos Terminators ('elites')
So, these guys are actually reasonably versatile - you've got access to a plethora of melee weapons, and you've got combi-weapons along with heavy weapons.

The challenge lies in delivery - you can either splurge on a Land Raider as a dedicated transport (and go for melee broke), walk (...why?) or deep strike.  If you deep strike, grab combi-weapons (...probably combi-melta) and maybe a chainfist.

Note that with deep striking, you're gonna run into the challenge of delivery - you don't have a good way to mitigate scattering.  At that point, I'd advocate for keeping 'em cheap and grabbing multiples.

If you are going to run 'em, you're leaning towards a CAD - otherwise you have to take two units of Bloodcrushers to get 1-2 units of Terminators, and that's sometimes sad.

Bloodcrushers (...wait, what?)
Bright side - they're cavalry with S5 power weapons and a reasonable volume of attacks.

Cons - they have a whopping 5++ on top of three wounds.  Volume of fire WILL cut them down in a hurry.  A Lord gets away with a 'crusher because of his armor and the fact he's hiding in a unit.

Overall, they're a little underwhelming - you've got speed, but not each one's got three wounds on T4 with a 6+/5++, which is...um. Yeah.  You need target overload, or you need an overload of targets.  And the cost of these guys makes target overload harder.

Chaos Spawn (GRIBBLE GRIBBLE fast attack GRIBBLE)
These guys exist to eat bullets.  They have no save, period.  They're swift because they're beasts, and as a perk they've got T5 so you can hide a Lord in 'em.

Also, you may want at least one for if/when your character fails his leadership check to ascend to daemonhood.  Though there's at least one KDK cult in the book that actually aspires to become spawn, so...um.  Yeah, there's that.

Though these guys do get a random perk each turn - they can fart out a 4+ armor save, higher attacks (2d6 pick the highest, versus 1d6) and 4+ poison.

Chaos Bikers (Fast attack)
So, these guys are solid - you've got speed, and they can deliver a couple of meltaguns into melta range without a ton of pain.  You can keep 'em minimal, or grab a heap of guys and then either get into CC with non-melee troops, or hide an HQ in there.

Also, they're in the Gorepack formation, which is arguably one the most useful for the Slaughtercult.

Flesh Hounds (Fast Attack / GOREPACK MVP)
These guys exist to do one thing, and do it well - get across the board and be fearless.  You could deep strike them if you wanted - OR, you could deploy them, and get that sweet 12" scout move.  Grab cover, move towards the enemy.  You want cover because while you ARE fast and you have two wounds, you have a whopping 5++ save.

These exist to be rammed down the other guy's throat and either absorb shooting, or tie up something scary in melee.  This is something a melee army needs.

Raptors
IT's like assault marines, but they can pick up meltaguns.  On the bright side, they're swift and not too hard to hide.  However, they compete with hounds and bikers - and bikers get to go in the Gorepack.  It's not that Raptors are bad (...and they're named after me, so there's that) BUT they're stuck competing with the 'hounds and bikers.

Warp Talons
Raptors got more expensive, but picked up a 5++ and gave up their weapon options for lightning claws and the ability to blind anything they deep strike close to.

Remember how you don't have a means to get a scatter-free deep strike?  Well, technically, these guys have Daemon of Khorne, but that involves getting Bloodcrushers with a banner of blood nearby, and that's...um.  Yeah, a lotta points.

If you must take talons, consider a CAD versus a Slaughter cult.

Heldrake
FIRE!  At BS3 you're taking the baleflamer, and otherwise fling around executing vector strikes on stuff.  Or you're going into hover and torching stuff.  I'm not saying it's bad, but again, you have plenty of ways of murdering infantry, and getting these guys in a Slaughtercult either involves a formation OR a War Engine choice.

 Chaos Land Raider
It's a heavy support choice in a CAD, or it's a dedicated Terminator delivery system in a Slaughtercult.  Note that it's still conflicted - you're an assault transport with standoff weapons, and want to get in close.

I'd wave off it in a Slaughtercult, and outside of it they're confused in a regular army - not bad, but I think we can do better.

Forgefiend
Pro - it's a walker with guns.

Cons - it's BS3.  You're either kicking out eight S8 shots, or going for plasma cannons.  And they're expensive.

Maulerfiend
Pros - it's fast.  These guys care not for difficult terrain and barrel across the field at 12" a turn.  I'd go ahead and upgrade the magma cutters to lasher tendrils, because they help mitigate incoming attacks.  You're still an AV12 walker, after all.  You get a 5++ and It Will Not Die as well.

Cons - you're not actually that badass in melee - you have three attacks after counting for your paired powerfists, and with infantryman WS and initiative you need to be careful about who you fight.  These guys can and will draw fire and get across the field, but may not stand up against other enemy walkers/etc.

That's why you take multiples, or none at all.  Remember how we've talked about taking multiple big gribblies into melee, and using hounds to tie stuff up?  That's what these guys are for.

Defiler
Remember that part about the Land Raider, where were saying "It's kinda conflicted?"  This is a walker with some nasty melee potential (flamers and powerfists galore) AND some shooting capability (Battle Cannon plus an autocannon to snap-fire).

Pros - battle cannons make multi-wound T4 models cry and make people stick to cover, and while you're AV12 you also have 4 hull points, a 5++, and It Will Not Die.

Cons - you're multi-role.  You're so-so at just about everything, other than taking up space.  And you're already close to a Land Raider in cost.  Also, seriously, who made Extra Armor an option for something that's got demonic possession?

Soul Grinder
Hey, it's your one source of anti-air in the book!  On the outset, it looks both cheap and nasty, but you're still dropping points in there to get a better gun.

Pros - durability - you're AV13 with four hull points, a 5++, and It Will Not Die. You can also grab mastercrafted melee weapon (you trade powerfist strength for accuracy, which isn't a bad thing)

Cons - it's not as cheap as it looks; if you want more than a heavy 3 autocannon you're paying for it, and you'll end up close to a Defiler's cost.

Overall, these guys are a bit pricier than Maulerfiends but you get some fire support.  Target saturation is still a thing to consider with 'em.

Hellbrute
Previously known as Dreadnoughts, these guys are your cheap war engine choice.

Pros - they can provide fire support with a solid BS4 and variety of firearm options.  If you're going for shooty, you're going to be more accurate than Forgefiends, but you aren't getting the S8 volume of fire that the 'fiends can bring.  Then again, hey, twin-linked autocannons are great.

Cons - they're slow.  If you're bringing shooty bits, you aren't bringing melee.  Focus is an issue.

Skull Cannon
Summon these for fire support / objective camping.  They bring an S8 AP5 large blast that ignores cover.  Moreover, if you just HIT the other guy (no need to wound / kill) you get frag grenades for assault the target.

So, y'know, you summon it, camp in the backfield, and scream 'danger close' while doling out pain and free frag grenades.

Lord of Skulls
Hey, want to pay almost 900 points for a stupid durable Lord of War?  Then buy this.  Or consider allying in a Knight (or go Forge World for a Kytan Daemon Engine).  It's killy as all get out, but it IS almost 900 points before options.

FORMATIONS
Slaughtercult
It's your basic building block.  It's not too restrictive, and you get to economize on Blood Tithe points by using up to two boons in a turn AND generating a free point a turn.

Brazen Onslaught
Here's how you get Terminators in a Slaughtercult.  Take at least a unit of terminators and two units of crushers.  If you're outnumbered in melee, all your guys get an extra attack.

It's about the only way you get terminators into a Slaughtercult (outside of getting another CAD), but I'm not feeling the Bloodcrushers.

Khorne's Bloodstorm
Grab a couple units of raptors, a unit of Warp Talons, and maybe a Heldrake.  This is how you get Raptors and Warp Talons into a Slaughtercult, and the perk is +1S to Hammer of Wrath or Vector Strike attacks.  If you like jump troops, go for it.  Otherwise, skip.  You can get Heldrakes in just as War Engine choices.

Gorepack
Grab a couple units of bikers and at least one unit of hounds, and everyone gets move through cover and Preferred Enemy (Psykers).  This is your mainstay speedy formation - all these guys dig Move Through Cover.  Hounds excel at crossing the board and tying up the enemy (or killing lightweight troops) and Bikers deliver melta and/or HQ choices.

Seriously, go grab the stuff for this formation.

Charnel Cohort
This is your demon-heavy formation.  You grab a herald or prince, some bloodleters, some hounds, some crushers, and maybe some cannons.  Why would you do this?

Well, you get counter attack (in case someone charges you when you deep strike).  You can make it your primary detachment (or slip it into a Slaughtercult formation).  You can have everything land without scattering near the HQ when the HQ is on the board (even if it fell out of deep strike first).

So, the perks aren't bad, but you're still trusting reserve dice and hoping that the other guy doesn't nuke your HQ off the board to deny you accurate deep strikes.  Also, everything you're deep-striking has crap for saves (unless it's a Daemon Prince swooping the turn it arrive).

I'd have to experiment with this but I'm not sold, and if you take this in lieu of the Slaughtercult you're missing out on the Slaughtercult's stupid-useful perks.

Closing on the First Impressions
I'm planning on building around a Slaughtercult and Gorepack to begin with - get across the board fast.  First SWAG at a list involves Possessed in a Rhino, a couple of Bloodthirsters, deep-striking Bloodletters, and a Gorepack.  Next steps involve possibly a Renegade Knight (because guns AND melee are hilarious) and bulking out the bodies.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Tau - Where to get those markerlights

So, today's topic - where do I get my markerlights in an army?

Wait, why do I want markerlights?
Trust me, you do.  There are a few reasons you want them - some are unit/gear specific
1) Bonus to BS
2) remove cover saves
3) seeker missiles
4) Stormsurge destroyer missiles (because Strength D is silly at range)

Ok, ok, I'm sold!
Good,  because you should be.  Note that you're a shooty army that loves BS3 - as such, you really don't like missing or watching the other guy just duck you shots.

Seeker missiles are kind of TBD - most of your vehicles (and your Broadsides, if any) can take them, but you don't necessarily want to take a bunch of these.

Finally, note that your Stormsurge(s) pack four Destroyer missiles - they're S8 AP1 rounds that can upgrade to Strength D with Single Use.  And honestly, why wouldn't you pay the upgrade them to 'D' when you have a 60 inch range?  Figure on firing these at BS5 with a 'D' upgrade, which is 2 lights plus one per D missile.

So, where do I get them?
You have multiple sources of Markerlights - but they aren't all created equally.  You can get Markerlights off of a variety of sources -

1) Markerlight Drones (NOTE - they're BS2) as wargear for various leader types and/or suits
2) Leader types (IE - Fire Warrior vet sarge types, Ethereals)
3) Pathfinders
4) Drone Squads
5) Skyray missile boats

So, let's narrow this down a little, and talk about a crucial piece of gear - the Drone Controller.

Why Do I Care About the Drone Controller?
Very simple - the Drone Controller lets any drone hanging out with the owner use the owner's BS.  Considering that drones are otherwise BS2, this is huge.  A BS2 markerlight is sad; a BS3+ markerlight is worth considering.

So, what are my practical sources of Markerlights?
Pathfinders
They're the classic markerlight source.  Each guy in the squad has one.  You have the basic Fire Warrior light infantry statline, with a bonus of Scout
Pros
They fit neatly into a hunter cadre, and with a Scout move you can react to the other guy's deployment a little.  You can also get other weapons in there.
Cons
They're static, and it's not THAT hard to shoot them off the board or force a morale check.  Also, anyone who's been playing for a minute knows what they can do.  And while you COULD get other weapons in there (like an S7 gun, for example) those guns don't benefit from the markerlight.
Overall
If you're going to take them, take them as pure squads of markerlights, but be aware that they've got slightly better than a 50/50 shot to fail a morale check.  And if they do, they run out of position (if not off the board) and are potentially useless for a turn or two, which is a Bad Thing.

Skyray
These guys pack a pair of Networked markerlights.  The 'networked' bit basically means that the Skyray can paint its own targets - which is important because it's toting a half-dozen Seeker Missiles.
Pros
You've got two BS4 marker lights - and they're on a well-armored platform.  The other guy has to devote anti-tank assets to deprive you of markerlights, and in a pinch you could always jink - which means the other guy can just keep you jinking.  You don't die, but again, BS1 markerlights are...um...useless.
Cons
They're difficult to get into anything other than a CAD - you've got to take either a Hunter Cadre or go Farsight Enclaves (Hunter Cadre OR Retaliation Cadre) and then grab a formation that involves them.  That aside, you're paying a chunk for durabilty.  Also, you're still not getting that many markerlights.  Also, you have to keep track of how many missiles the thing fired, which is annoying to me at least.

Drone Squad
So, here's where it gets interesting.  And I really need to test these guys.
Pros
If you're going with a Hunter Cadre, you can take a unit of drones and satisfy your 1+ auxiliary choice.  That being said, there are two other perks these guys have going for them - the drone controller, and jet pack infantry.  You can get up to BS3 (if you're hanging with a Crisis Suit) or better (if you're hanging with a commander).
Cons
You're still stuck with the same durability as a Pathfinder, though probably not in cover.  That being said, you've got a slightly better chance of hiding out of LOS because you can jump-markerlight-jump.  Also, you are relying on a Crisis suit (or commander) to boost your BS.  You could theoretically glom on to a Cadre Fireblade or something else, but your biggest defense is not being in LOS - which is a bit of a challenge with those commander types who AREN'T in a suit.  Also, if you have one Commander means you might want to reconsider who ends up being the Warlord, since that Commander is going to be lending its BS to the drones.  But hey, BS4 markerlights?

Other Sources?
Look, you can grab a markerlight here and there if you're taking Fire Warriors and other units - but understand that without dedicated units, you're deciding to hand off fire one after the other.  If you have a small Fire Warrior team with a

Conclusion
If you didn't know already, you should bring markerlights because you're a shooty army.  That being said, you ESPECIALLY need them if you're going to get the most out of a Stormsurge's D missiles.

I'd recommend giving a Drone Commander a shot - Pathfinders can fit into an army, but need to be in position early on and are going to be a fire magnet.  There's nothing wrong with carrying multiple sources of Markerlights, but you can easily fill out a Hunter Cadre with a Commander with Drone Controller and a Drone unit.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Tau - Hunter Cadre Thoughts

So after several games, I have come to like the Hunter Cadre out of the Tau book - though it's got its perks and drawbacks.  Now, I'm gonna sit down and run through its requirements point-by-point, and explain my logic behind army composition.

Why Take a Hunter Cadre?
First off, re-rolls on Warlord Traits can be nice.

Second, you get Coordinated Fire - if 3+ units pick the same target, they get +1BS, share markerlight perks, and resolve fire simultaneously.  The bonus to BS helps with markerlight economy - especially since those are priority targets.

Filling out your Cadre
Step 1 - leadership
First, take a commander.  You have to.  Unless you're going to take multiple commanders, I have to recommend skipping the Coldstar Commander - he's not terrible, but he's likely to end up dead (and giving up the VP) moreso than an XV8 commander and you're probably not hurting for anti-air in Tau.

Step 2 - troops
Next up - troops.  You need three.  Your options are regular Fire Warriors, Breachers, and Kroot.  Personally, I'm a fan of Kroot - they're cheap, they infiltrate (so you can grab objectives) and have the magical ability to die in one assault phase.  They're also good in cover.  And if you want to burn the points, they can all grab sniper rounds for those fancy kroot guns.  Also, they die horribly in assault.

Fire Warriors - they've got range and you can snag a single markerlight in there on the leader.  They otherwise excel in bringing the S5 shooting.  You're either taking a sizeable group to camp in your DZ with markerlights and pulse rifles, or mounting up in a Devilfish - which can serve as mobile cover for your other assets.

Breachers - so, they're total murder at short range.  They'll much through any infantry short of terminators, but you're basically trying to use them either as a pseudo counter-assault, or mounted in a 'fish.

My personal favorite is kroot - they're cheap, they're assault screens, they can infiltrate and let you react.  Also, if you need some inconsequential shooting for the Coordinated Fire perk, well, it's a buncha BS3 guys with S4 shooting.  They're either helping out some anti-personnel fire, or they're contributing to some anti-tank work.

Step 3 - suits
Here's where you get to grab some battlesuits.  This is where it gets a little tricky - do you know what other formations you're going to take?  You're going to take some Crisis Suits, Stealth Suits, or Riptides at this point.  Think about what you're going to take as Auxiliary choices before you grab suits here.

I lean towards Crisis Suits here unless I'm deep-striking, though this is a place to grab Riptides as well.  Your Crisis Suits really, really want cover - either terrain or something like Devilfish.  Riptide suits don't care about cover, and can provide anti-air support OR interceptors support, because guns.

If you're thinking about grabbing a deep-striking formation/squad, then Stealth Suits are worth considering because of their Homing Beacons.  Take a couple - if the other guy figures out what you're tring to do, he's gonna try to delete your homing beacons, and that's sad.

Ghostkeel suits aren't as killy as your other options, but have a bit of survivability on them.  But they're also readily available as formation fillers.

Step 4 - Fast Attack types
Now we're onto some of the fun.  Here's where you start grabbing the good stuff - markerlights.  You'll now need to grab 1-3 fast attack types.

Vespids - not saying they're bad, but this is where you get Pathfinders and Piranhas - one has markerlights, one has speed and AV.  Also drones, but you can grab one set of drones as cheap auxiliary units if need be.

Pathfinders - here's your markerlights / distraction unit.  You could, if you wanted to, kit them out as shooting units with fancy-schmancy Ion Rifles - but why?  You want markerlights, because cover isn't your friend at all.

Drone Squads - here's your other source of markerlights.  HOWEVER - note that you'll want something like a Commander with a Drone Controller to really make use of these.  Drones aren't known for accuracy (BS2 is...sad?  Yes, sad.)  If you want Markerlights, you're using your BS4 Commander (and his Drone Controller) to get 'lights this way.

Piranhas - remember how I was talking about screening units?  Here's your other choice.  I'd slap a disruption pod on them and forget about the rest of the wargear.  If they split off their drones, then you now have two units to contribute to Coordinate Fire.  Also, you now have two screening units after you kick the drones out, and if you jink (with your 3+ from disruption pods) then you're extra annoying to kill.  Granted, you can only snap fire next turn, but if you're just trying to abuse Coordinated Fire then who cares if you're accurate?  You just need to fire.

Step 5 - Big Guns
Now you're gonna get 1-3 Heavy Support (or Lord of War) type choices.  You can go as cheap as a Broadside here, or you can go as high as a Stormsurge unit here; it's your choice based on what you're going to do with the rest of your slots.

Broadsides - grab some anti-air here, or grab some accurate long-ranged shooting if you'd like.  If you're into the minimal spending here, grab one and call it.

Hammerheads - they're still survivable, they're still nasty, they're still S10 AP1 railguns with backup pie plates.  It's hard to argue with that kind of versatility, especially with a jink.

Sniper Drones - technically they're cheaper than Broadsides, but you can get some sick anti-air out of those guys.

Stormsurge(s) - hey, you can grab a Lord of War as part of your base detachment.  Is it cheap?  No. (Especially after you grab the obligatory shield generator, and markerlight support to make those Destroyer missiles worth it).

Now You Have Your Hunter Cadre - Grab an Auxiliary!
So, your hunter cadre has run you a good chunk of points already (as it should).  You have to take at least one Auxiliary Choice.  And here's where some of your thinking is gonna have to happen, because your aux choice gets a vote on your core choice.

Drone Squad
This is your cheap choice.  Take a drone squad! BAM.  Done with your aux choices.  If you want a backup source of markerlights, grab a marker drone squad and you can grab a commander with a Drone Controller and have backup markerlights.

Optimised Stealth Cadre
Perks - you get rear-arc shots on vehicles with your massed S5 guns - which is funny.  You're also taking some sources of positional relays, so you can deep strike stuff if you want to.  You'll be taking a couple units of Stealth Suits, thus freeing up your other slots for Riptides and XV8s.

Drawbacks - your stealth suits and ghostkeels aren't super-tough.  If your enemies aren't taking AV10 rear vehicles, then your biggest trick is useless.

Retaliation Cadre
Perks - that's a LOT of suits falling on top of the other guy, and they're going to be accurate that first turn.

Cons - you really, REALLY need a positional relay to make this work.  If you're willing to grab a couple units of stealth suits and can keep them alive, this is going to be fun.  If not, that's a lot of deep striking units that aren't necessarily going to be accurate.

Allied Advance Cadre
Perks - your Vespid infiltrate, and your formation gets to use Tau-style self-supporting Overwatch.

Cons - you took a heap of infantry that could've been battlesuits and/or hovertanks.  I'm not saying it's necessarily bad, but I'm saying that it competes with points that could've been spent on something other than speed bumps.  You're already taking three troops choices, and none of your infantry are good at swatting tanks.

Firebase Support Cadre
Perks - hey, get you some Tank Hunter / Monstrous Critter Hunter love on your broadsideds and Riptides!  Buy something else in those compulsory slots in your Hunter Cadre.

Cons - really, the only con of this is that you're focusing several heavy units on a target - and that doesn't quite seem to synergize with the Hunter Cadre's Coordinating Fire rule.  Still, you economize on marker lights, which is good.

Allied Air Caste Cadre
Perks - self-repair and extra armor on flyers.

Cons - your flyers aren't that killy.  Not necessarily bad, but not necessarily great for the points - you're gonna need more bullets elsewhere.  Also, as Tau, you don't need a ton of anti-air, because Broadsides and Riptides can make mulch out of flyers.

Assigned Air Caste Asset
Take a flyer.  Just take one.  Not as cheap as drones, but hey, it's your auxiliary choice, so there's that.

Infiltration Cadre
Perks - grab some pathfinders, piranhas, and stealth suits.  You don't have to take those in your normal Cadre, and they can provide precision deep strike places (Stealth Suits) and free seeker missiles that you didn't pay for.

Cons - none of these guys have a ton of firepower.  Not bad per se, but these are all units you can take in your normal Cadre and you're probably taking more of them here.  It's the opportunity cost that's likely to get you, unless you fill out your core detachment with a lotta firepower.

Heavy Retribution Cadre
Perks - wait, re-rolls on Stormsurge to-hit rolls?  Yes please.  Keep that Ghostkeel unit alive and they'll call down accurate fire from the big guys, and also slow down whatever you're targeting.

Cons - honestly, there are only a few real cons that come to mind here - 1) Stormsurges aren't cheap (in dollar or points), 2) that Ghostkeel unit is going to take a heap of fire, and 3) Stormsurges have their own capability gaps.  Seriously, this formation STARTS at like 800+ points.

Not a con, per se - but I'd wager that more than any other, this is a formation that absolutely dictates how you build your army - you want markerlight support and screening units as a start.

Armored Interdiction Cadre
Pros - hey, this is pretty much how you get Skyrays into your army here!  And those guys are hard to get in otherwise.  Also, if the enemy congregates around a spot, you get more accurate, and you can move that spot from turn to turn.  Skyrays are nice because it's another source of marker lights - and they don't die to anti-infantry fire.

Cons - Honestly, the con of this perk is the points spent on units. Then again, you could do worse than take some Hammerheads in an army - bring the right support and this will probably be fine.  The other con is that you're building around this.

Conclusion
Honestly, you're gonna have to think about your auxiliary choice with your Cadre, and your points values.  Ask yourself the following when you're building your cadre -
1) Do I want to keep it cheap? IF yes, THEN buy a drone squad.
2) Do I want to deep-strike stuff? IF yes, THEN consider a Retaliation Cadre - provided you have the points and a willingness to bring some Stealth Suits to vector them in.
3) Do I want to bounce S5 off someone's rear armor?  IF yes, THEN grab an Optimized Stealth Cadre.  Also grab some fusion blasters for that, because it's fun.
4) Do I want to grab some Broadsides and a Riptide?  IF yes, THEN consider a Firebase Support Cadre.
5) Do I really, really want to bring some Stormsurges? IF yes, THEN consider a Heavy Retribution Cadre.  And hope you're playing like 1800+ points.