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.

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.

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.

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 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,  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.

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'  Yeah, a lotta points.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?
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
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.
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.
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.

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.
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
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.
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).
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

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.

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.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Tau vs World Eaters at 1500

My buddy and I convened once again - I'd wanted to try out new stuff with my Tau, and my comrade wanted to give his World Eaters a whirl.  Let's be honest - there's something to be said for the purity of BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD, as well as a free 2d6 move on turn zero for the foot bobs.  Looking at his rules and the army, I figured this one would go poorly for me if, y'know, he got across the field and got to grips with me.

Tau Army
Hunter Cadre
Crisis Suit Commander - Missile/Plasma
3-man Crisis Suit Team - missile/plasma
10 Kroot
10 Kroot
10 Kroot
8 Pathfinders
Piranha w/ Disruption Pods
Piranha w/ Disruption Pods
2 Broadsides (twin-linked rail rifle, twin-linked SMS)
Riptide Wing
2 Riptides w/ Heavy Burst Cannon/twin SMS, Skyfire gubbin, stim injector
1 Riptide w/ Ion Accelerator/twin SMS, Interceptor gubbin, stim injector

Traded out the normal Hammerhead for Broadsides because of points, and because I want to see if it's worth upgrading to the new kits (since my Broadsides are a few years old and on smaller bases, and heavy conversions).

World Eaters
WE-specific team
Juggernaut Lord (gear includes WE-specific relic of increased movement)
3-man Terminator Squad (combi-flamers, one fellow with a chainfist)
10-man CSM squad w/ meltas
10-man CSM squad w/ meltas
3 Chaos Bikers w/ 2 meltas
5 Havocs w/ missile launchers
Hellforged Warpack
Hellbrute (designated alpha of the pack)
Maulerfiend w/ Magma Cutters

So, turns out that Juggernaut Lords are crazy-killy, and while that's a lot of guys on foot, that's also a bunch of guys getting a free 2d6 move at the start of the game.  WE with turn 01 is bound to be a little silly, and the warpack presents another chunk of fun - also, my crisis suits don't really like that whole Battle Cannon thing.

Spoils of War
First Turn to Tau (which is probably important)

 And so, we deploy.  Note carefully that one of my Kroot squads looks suspiciously like a Fire Warrior team.  It's largely beause I haven't yet bought another box of Kroot and slapped them together.

I set up the Riptides in the middle, with the Pathfinders in the middle, and make ready to face whatever he does.  Since there's a defiler on the table (and it deploys after I do) I opt to reserve my Warlord and his crisis buddies, because he rolled the no-scatter deep strike trait.

Being WE, his plan is going to involve trying to get to grips with me as soon as possible - no if's, ands, or buts.  Kinda brutal, kinda simple.  I should probably avoid assault with his army, or hope that, y'know, he murders what he touches first.
Deployment AFTER the World Eater 2d6 move

Tau Turn 01 Results
 I decide that the warlord squad is the big threat, since it's fast AND rolled reasonably on its WE move, it should die.  Also, I really don't feel like having it go into my Riptides.  So, the Riptide Wing pops Nova Reactors (...and the guy on the right manages to fail even with the re-roll) and uses the Riptide Hail because this is probably the only turn where that's a good move.  

Casualties include the Warlord, his biker escort, and a fair number of the footslogging bobs on both sides.  Here's to First Blood and Slay the Warlord.
Khorne Turn 01
 Because the dice giveth and the dice taketh away - his Defiler forces a morale check on my Pathfinders who fail and promptly run off the table.  Also, his Havocs manage to blow up a Broadside with a whopping two Krak missile hits, which is funny in it sway.  Also, turns out that those Maulerfiends are stupid fast.
Tau Turn 2
 Target priority - the Maulerfiend, which gets a case of death.  Coordinate Fire is nice, which is why there's a Piranha in its backside.  I shuffle Kroot shields around and put Piranhas in between Chaos and my Riptides (and that random Broadside).  My Crisis Suits continue to observe from the safety of reserves, and otherwise I pour fire into the power armor guys remaining on my left flank.

Terminator Deep Strike, meet Interceptor
 His Terminators arrive on turn two - in true form, he opts for a no-guts, no-glory strategy.  Considering that the Ion Accelerator interceptor guy has coverage of most of the table, well.  There's nothing to do but drop in and hope it works.  He sticks the landing, and loses two of the guys to AP2 fire.
Khorne's second turn
 My Kroot on my right end up dead, and my brave Piranha gets immobilized.  Also, Khornate rockets kill my OTHER Broadside, which is honestly kind of funny at that point.  Otherwise, everything pushes up close.  I managed to leave one Marine and the Warpsmith alive on the left flank, who assault a drone squad and Kroot.  Who promptly pass their morale checks after losing the assault.
Tau Turn 3
 I kill the Hellbrute, in spite of its 4+ save.  Which is about the ONLY thing that happens.  The gun drone keeps at it in assault, and the Warpsmith finishes killing Kroot.
Warpsmith wonders just what's wrong with this guy.

Khorne 3
 Defiler continues to advance and open fire, without much avail.  His Warpsmith grabs cover and starts advancing on Riptides.  Between cover saves, his guns, and an axe, I'm actually a little concerned - if my Riptides flub combat, they die.
 Yes, this assault continues.  The drone makes a save and even wounds the marine, who promptly saves.  The Warpsmith continues to be confused.
Tau 4
 My Crisis Team finally shows up, and applies a plasma enema to the Defiler.  The Riptides light up the Hellbrute, because it's probably unwise to get into CQC with that thing.
Tau 5
 At this point, I've managed to weather the onslaught and stay out of assault - we've been going neck-and-neck on objectives.  I finally focus fire on his Havocs.
We're I'm helping!
 They found some good cover and spent the game lobbing rockets.
I DID IT!  Only several rounds of assault required.  Think I'm gonna get shot now.
 End result is I table him.  We were neck-and-neck on objectives for several turns, but it turns out sacrificing 30 Kroot, six fire warriors, and four drones means you can win.  And you avoid paying the Kroot, as a bonus.

Thoughts on the Tau
Riptide wings are nasty - not that I really needed to test that, but I think this loadout is the way to go.  I ended up using Ripple Fire later on, largely because I managed to wound my own suits fairly reliably with Gets Hot and Nova Reactor rolls, in spite of re-rolls and 2+ and FNP.

I'm going to have to test Broadsides more, but they've got less mobility compared to the Hammerhead.  Durability's a toss-up; AV13 and a silly Jink versus 2+ and two wounds with cover saves.  One S10 railgun, or two S8 railguns?  Or S7 missiles with skyfire?

Otherwise, the Kroot and Piranhas did what I needed them to do - get in the way, and provide lightweight shooting for Coordinated Fire.

I do kinda like having that no-scatter Warlord Trait - not enough to always build for it, but rolling it gives me some tactical options, and a chance for the reserve dice to laugh at me.

Thoughts on World Eaters
I think there's some serious potential in that army - his list was more of a test.  Seems like there's a balancing act regarding unit size - you want enough bodies to get into assault, but more units on foot mean more chances to roll amazing 2d6 rolls on.

I'd be scared of what that Warpforged Hellpack could do with more than one Maulerfiend.  That 12" move is kinda nasty, though the Pack was a mix of 'experiment' and 'what models were available.'  I think getting some shooting in there helped, even if the Defiler's got its detractors.

The Warpsmith is surprisingly nasty with his upgraded chaos-style mechadendrites; that's extra S6 attacks, some nasty shooting (flamer and melta?  Ok, what can't this guy do, other than strike at initiative?).

I think his particular list needed more fast threats, and man, if that had gone first, I'm not sure I would've won.

In Closing
Getting first turn was crucial in that matchup - World Eaters getting a free turns' move at the beginning is pretty nasty.  Had he seized the initiative, well.  Things would've hurt, and I would've had less time to try to break his back.

That, and it was HILARIOUS to watch a Gun Drone and World Eater flail at each other for like five assault phases, especially while the Warpsmith just watched and shook his head.