Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Thoughts on Tomb Blades, or Math Is Weird Sometimes


So, let's say you want your space undead fast and shooty - why not combine them with a bike?

Well, why not - but man, once you read the sheet, you've got some options to think about.  There's the question of which of three guns, and whether or not you're going to add any defensive upgrades onto these things.  After we look at those, we'll look at the Dynasty options.

The Guns
You have three options for guns, and you can mix and match if you really, really want to - you can go with the base Particle Beamer, the twin Gauss Blaster, or the twin Tesla Carbine.  Real talk here - my initial impression is the Gauss Blaster with that sweet AP-2, but we'll take a look at math and see what works out here.

I'm going to make some assumptions about math here - 
1) Run shots without help
2) Run another set of shots with My Will Be Done
3) Run shots in and out of rapid-fire range (when applicable)
4) Run shots in and out of Mephrit's bonus AP range
5) Shots against T3-4 infantry
6) Compare vs. variety of armor saves (2+, 3+, 4+, 4++) for common infantry targets

I'm going to compare the beamer and the gauss rifle.  Note that the tesla carbine has four shots and needs to pull off at least a six and a couple of hits to get the same number of hits as a particle beamer - so its output is similar to or lower than a particle beamer.

The Particle Beamer
Assault 6, S5, AP0, 18" range

Base shots - 6 shots > 4 hits > 2.66 wounds > 0.88 vs 3+, 1.33 vs 4+, 0.44 vs 2+

MWBD - 6 shots > 5 hits > 3.33 wounds > 1.11 vs 3+, 1.66 vs 4+, 0.55 vs 2+

With Mephrit bonus - 
6 Shots > 4 hits > 2.66 wounds > 1.33 wounds vs 3+, 1.77 vs 4+, 0.88 vs 2+

Mephrit + MWBD
6 shots > 5 hits > 3.33 wounds > 1.667 wounds vs 3+, 2.22 vs 4+, 1.11 vs 2+

The Twin Gauss Blaster
Rapid Fire 2, S5, Ap-2, 30" range
NOTE - AP-2 is the same vs 2+ armor saves and 4++; but when you factor in Mephrit, you get -3AP in rapid-fire, so any saves worse than 4+ armor don't matter

Non-Rapid-Fire - 2 shots > 1.33 hits > 0.88 wounds > 0.59 vs 3+, 0.74 vs 4+, 0.44 vs 2+/4++
Rapid Fire - 4 shots > 2.66 hits > 1.77 wounds > 1.18 vs 3+, 1.48 vs 4+, 0.88 vs 2+/4++

MWBD Non-Rapid-Fire - 2 shots > 1.667 hits > 1.11 wounds > 0.74 vs 3+, 0.92 vs 4+, 0.55 vs 2+/4++
MWBD Rapid-Fire - 4 shots > 3.33 hits > 2.22 wounds > 1.48 vs 3+, 1.85 vs 4+, 1.11 vs 1+/4++

 Mephrit Rapid-Fire - 4 shots > 2.667 hits > 1.77 wounds > 1.18 vs 2+, 1.48 vs 3+, 1.77 vs 4+ armor, 0.88 vs 4++

Mephrit MWBD - 4 shots > 3.33 hits > 2.22 wounds > 1.48 vs 2+, 1.85 vs 3+, 2.22 vs 4+, 1.11 vs 4++

What does the math tell us?

The particle beamer's got volume of fire over the other weapons.  This gives you two things - first, you're more reliable just because you throw more dice; second, you get more wounds and force more saves.  The twin gauss is technically a little more effective, but really pulls ahead when you go Mephrit and go My Will Be Done into 2+ armor.  

On Range

So, let's talk about range - first off, you're on a platform with a 14" move and the FLY keyword.  Odds are good you can get into the range you want, unless you're digging a unit out of the corner.  So, let's look at the weapons.

Particle beamer - it's the shortest range at 18", but you're at full effect at 18 inches.  That gets you charged by jump troops, but foot troops are a bit far unless they can advance and charge.

The twin tesla carbine is full effectiveness at 24" - you're arguably the least effective gun, but you're definitely safe - very little in the game gets to you from 24" away in assault.  

The twin gauss blasters really need to leverage rapid fire to do the work - having a 30" range is neat, but rapid fire is the difference between 'incidental gunfire' and 'closed-casket funeral' - 15" is definitely in range to get tagged if someone wants to make it happen.  

Stratagem Considerations

There are two base stratagems Tomb Blades care about, plus the Mephrit-unique one.  Tomb Blades can pay a CP to turn rapid-fire weapons into assault 2, or fire assault weapons without penalty - obviously this is a little better for the tesla and particle beamer.

The other stratagem is just good for necrons in general - Disintegration Capacitors say we auto-wound on 6's to hit.  This again favors volume-of-fire weapons, so the assault weapons pull ahead here.

Finally, we've got Mephrit's Talent for Annihilation - the first three 6's to wound do mortal wounds in addition to normal wounds.  Again, we like volume here - so once again, the assault weapons pull ahead here.

It is worth noting that you could take a single tesla carbine for malevolent arcing - you just need one tesla weapon to target something.  For 5pts, it's an option to get mortal wounds.

Other Gear

You start with a 25pt model - you can go up to 30 if you upgrade from the particle beamer to either option.  You can proceed to dump plenty more points into these guys, but I question whether you'd do that.  Defensively, you are a T5, 2W, 4+ model that takes a -1 to hit vs. ranged combat. 

You can pay 3pts to go up to a 3+ save, or buy a 5++ save for 5pts.  You can also pay 3pts to ignore cover.  You could even, if you wanted to, mix and match the saves.  I think I'd rather get the 5++ or go without - volumes of AP-1 and AP-2 aren't hard to find, but 5++ will at least slow down higher-damage weapons.

I'd consider the nebuloscope's perk for tesla - yes, particle beamers like it as well, but the point of the particle beamer is cost.  Nebuloscope's take that away.

The Configurations

Keep It Cheap - particle beamers, nothing else - take 6-9 for 150-225pts in a unit, throw 36-54 dice at stuff, laugh.  Run mephrit.

Some Quality - Buy gauss, shadowlooms - 33pts a model, pay 198 for 6ea.  You're reasonably durable, you don't care if the inevitable rapid-fire fun coming back is ugly.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Death Guard Testing - Volume 2

 

Got another round in with these guys - and got my Helbrutes painted.  Remember, the mantra for painting chaos is "...where did all this trim come from?!"

The List

The Ferrymen

Lord of Contagion - WL Trait "The Droning", Relic "Ferryman's Scythe"

Malignant Plaguecaster - Relic - Putrid Periapt, powers - Gift of Plagues, Miasma of Pestilence, Curse of the Leper

3x Helbrutes (Multi-melta, combi-bolter, fist)

2x3 Deathshroud Terminators

15 Pox Walkers

14 Pox Walkers

2x5 Plague Marines (Blight Launchers)

2x Bloat Drones (flesh mowers)

5 Chaos Spawn (Grandfather's blessing stratagem)

2x Plagueburst Crawler (entropy cannons)

The Plan

Deathshroud Terminators can start on the board, or drop in where needed.  If the opponet leaves a place to drop them near a backfield objective, I can scramble, I can save a CP for a charge re-roll, or force the opponent to commit something more important than a random backfield squad to hold that objective, since these guys should be able to mulch most objective squads solo.

The Helbrutes and Lord of Contagion are a solid anchor against a variety of targets, and I need the anti-vehicle firepower.

Spawn are hilariously annoying to kill.

I need Crawlers for actual shooting attacks.

My troops hold objectives and take up space.

The Periapt is in there because Gift of Plagues isn't super-relevant after a turn or two, and I'd like to try to use another psychic power after that.  Maybe Curse will do more damage than smite for that CP.

The Lord of Contagion is there because it'll hand out re-rolls and do respectable damage.  I sat around trying to figure out how to make a reasonably kill regular Lord, and they aren't a ton cheaper than this guy.  I go with a couple lightning claws, and...eh?  I take a balesword and a relic for a 2 damage one, which isn't bad.  Or I just go ahead and lean into damage and durability, and the ability to drop this guy elsewhere.  Plus, I wanted to try that silly "swing 15 times with cleave" relic.

Part of my plan was to use the Bloat Drones, Flash Outbreak, and The Droning to try to pin down a chunk of the other army.

The Opponent

I went up against Black Templar.  At a glance, the list included outriders, storm-shield-laden vanguard vets, biker chaplain, a trio of dreadnoughts around a master of the forge (2 venerable multi-melta guys, one plasma redemptor), a brick of hammer/shield terminators in front of Grimaldus and an Apothecary, and a trio of Crusader squads camping in the back.  See Also - half of us will be in your face now, and the other half, immediately thereafter.  Plus I guess some guys brought guns.

Game Summary

I went second - I deployed a touch too far forward, and this let his outriders and vanguard vets get into my lines on one side, annihilate a poxwalker screen (OH NOES!) and tie up a Plagueburst Crawler (...oh, no.).  I also screwed up deployment and lost a Bloat Drone turn 1 (...well, [REDACTED]).  I broke those guys free eventually with the help of the Spawn, and some Blightening and Trench Fighters on the Plague Marines.

Dreadnoughts traded blows in the middle; mine blew up first but had some truly garbage dice.  My Deathshroud secured his home objectives, so he swung into the midfield ones.

By the end, I lost by a few points.  I took Assassinate, Engage on All Fronts, and Scramblers to his Scramblers, All Fronts and Oath - Oath of the Moment racked up the points.  We both Scrambled, and we both did well on objectives and All Fronts, and I'd managed to nail three out of four characters.

Lessons Learned

Plagueburst Crawlers - These are now in the 'hard to leave at home' category.  We need the firepower.  Badly.  We just don't have guns.  T8, 3+/5++ makes them hard to kill - I lost one right at the end when a venerable dread finally got into 12" range and ran hot, and just  barely killed it.  Go ahead and pay 175 for the entropy cannons.

Bloat Drones - Expect these to get prioritized.  Anyone who's played against them more than once knows what they can do - they're fast, they mulch infantry, they heal, they can chew on vehicles, AND they can project Contagion auras.  Also, I have a hard time not starting with two.  I also don't really see the point of the sprays or the gun; the mower is just so much nastier and lets you heal in melee.

Plague Marines - even a five-man squad can spike damage for a few CP.  The Blightening is hilarious when you're engaged - the visual of three guys just dropping grenades at their feet is both great, and getting 18 auto-hitting S4 hits in melee is solid.  Trench Fighters is another winner.

Deployment In General - This army does not forgive deployment errors much at all.  My losses have in part been due to my screw-ups with deployment.

Plague Company Choice - As neat as The Droning sounds as a Bloatie + Flash Outbreak + Gift of Plagues combo, I'm not sure it's as cool in practice.  It goes off on turn two when everyone's moved up, and unless you're locking down slower troops, it's 'eh'.  If it's slow assaulty troops, they may be just fine punching the drone to death - a 2-3" move and an assault is probably still good enough.  

I feel like there are more reliable Contagion auras.  If I keep the Lord of Contagion, I'd tech into the relic Plague scythe that loses the -1 to hit, perhaps.

Lord HQs - I'm still trying to figure out why we'd bother with a regular lord, unless you kept it super-cheap at 85 points.  If so, you're purely getting a re-roll aura and a dude with a chainsword, which is hilariously lackluster.  Demon Princes are expensive, but bring out a ton of lethality and utility between psychic powers and the re-roll aura, and a nice heap of 3-damage attacks.  The Lord of Contagion is, for once, a decent middle-of-the-road choice.  He's about ~20 points more than a regular Lord with a weapon, he's got a neat upgrade, and he starts with a melee weapon that's solidly Death Guard.  Really, you only take a regular Lord or Terminator Lord if you want a combi-weapon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Death Guard - Shooting Things, And You


 The Death Guard codex is full of nasty, durable short-ranged stabby things.  It is a little light on ranged firepower - and let's be real, sometimes you just need to bring guns to a gunfight.  With that in mind, let's take a look at what the Death Guard do have for shooting options beyond the standard-issue boltgun and short-ranged spray weapons.  We'll also take a look at the Forge World index, since the 7 January 2021 FAQ decided to let us use options out of that book again.

The Short Version
We've got ~18 options here, once you look at major weapon loadouts for stuff like Predators, etc.  I'm going to pick the highlights here, and explain why -

Helbrutes - they're cheap, accurate, and effective.  Melta/fist, melta/missle, or missile/las are all solid, and we have both HQ support and stratagems to make good use of them.

Blight Hauler - take a missile/MM helbrute, lose accuracy for speed/durability.  Major con is that they compete with Bloat Drones for slots.

Plagueburst Crawler - strong mix of direct and indirect fire, along with durability.  Stuck on the back lines, but whatever.  You can also spike to 3 damage with stratagems.

Chaos Leviathan - strong mix of weapons options, speed, and durability - either sandblast stuff from range with storm cannons, or consider a grav cannon and close combat weapon and jog at the enemy like a demented Kool Aid man full of plague.

Other options tend to be either really pricy, or have issues with support or just absolutely SCREAM to be focused off the board while being pricy.  The Decimator gets an honorable mention for the Soulburner Petards (because mortals can be fun, right?) and the Sicaran Punisher goes BRRT, which is entertaining in its way.

The Long Version - By Units

The Helbrute

The Helbrute trades durability for lethality.  CORE gives you the ability to benefit from a lord's re-roll 1s aura, and the Frenzy rule lets you re-roll 1s to wound when you're under full health.  Combine this with the Fire Fever stratagem for +1 to hit and wound with your hard hitting weapons, and a Helbrute can reach out and touch someone.

PRO - Range, Cost, lethality. 

Consider a missile launcher and either a multi-melta or twin-lascannon.  Without re-rolls, this loadout can knock about 3-4 wounds off the average T7 3+ armor save vehicle, or go up to 4-5 with Fire Frenzy.  It only gets uglier when you factor in Fire Fever and a Lord's re-roll aura.  A missile/melta helbrute is 120; a missile/las helbrute is 140.  Consider the las when possible for the ranged option.  If you need a hybrid loadout and want to punch armor to death, melta/bolter/fist for 125

CON - Survivability, speed

You are T7 with a 3+ armor save and 8 wounds.  Even if you have a passive -1 to damage, you can take a big hit or two and then get chipped down with bolters.  Heavy weapons like other lascannons and missiles will rip through your armor.  At 6", you're fast enough to start out of LOS, and possibly grab LOS on a target.

Myphitic Blight Hauler

They're back, they're BS3+, and they're ready to get close and do some damage.  You get out of the Elites slot and into the Fast Attack slot.  Compared to the Helbrute, you lose some lethality and accuracy for durability and speed.

PRO - Speed, Survivability, Cost, Versatility

These little fellas are zippy with a 10" move, and that means it's easier for them to get the melta into range.  You're still T7 with 9 wounds, but you also pick up a 5+ invulnerable save.  If anyone charges you, you have a few AP-2 attacks and a -1 to hit aura, which matters more when it's not a fist or thunder hammer.  Of particular note is the Belching Fumes stratagem, as it reduces rate of fire by 1 for incoming shots (minimum 1).  A lot of stuff does, especially anything with two shots.  Weirdly, rapid fire doesn't care.  Note also that at 140pts a model they're priced to move - and if there's not a lot of armor, you still have frag missiles and the bile spurt to use versus other targets, and you've got speeed.

CON - Likely to get prioritized, shorter range, FA slot competition

Missile launcher aside, these guys are medium-to-close-ranged combatants.  They have the speed to get there.  Anyone that can do so is likely to prioritize these guys just because it's something in the army that moves faster than 5."  Furthermore, unless you're taking multiple detachments, your fast attack slots are one of the few ways to get, you guessed it, faster units.  (Your other options are transports, or using reserves for positioning).

Plagueburst Crawler

Anyone want to play 'catch'?  Not for long?  That's fine.

PRO - range, durability, output

Hey, we have 36" and 48" high-strength weapons here.  Wait, one ignores line of sight?  SWEET.  For 175 points you can get a crawler with paired entropy cannons.  The entropy cannons are essentially lascannons light; you're only S8 but you ARE 3+1d3 damage, and you hit out to 36" instead of 48" but it's probably enough range.  This is reliable firepower that dictates movement.  The big gun is pretty versatile - while it's 1d6 shots, you're still BS3+ to start with and it's S8, AP-2, 2 damage.  You can spend CP to use Disgusting Force, which gets you up to 3 damage per shot (...save a CP to re-roll you off of that '1' for shots, it's coming.  Trust me.) and threatens mortal wounds to packed targets.

If it's on the table, you probably hit it.  Additionally, our Heavy Support slots aren't exactly that contested.  You're also T8 with a 3+/5++ and a dozen wounds in the backfield, which requires work to kill.

CON - Speed, cost, random shots, wants babysitters

175's not the cheapest option here.  You are paying for 1d6 shots out of the primary weapon, which means you're liable to use a CP re-roll or two on this thing over the course of a game.  Finally, unless you kept the plaguespitters, you probably want a screen - fast bodies will hug this, and it's up to your slugger and side-mounted guns to clean that off.

Chaos Predators

Hey, it's the same predator as everyone else, but with Contagions and a Smoke Screen.  They're serviceable, but our book doesn't really provide a ton of support, and as the one item without -1 damage (and a LOT of long range guns) they kinda scream 'shoot me.'

PRO - range, firepower, surprisingly spry

The annihilator can pick up four lascannons (well, a twin and two singles) for 170 points while the destructor can bring its trademark autocannon and two lascannons for 180.  Go ahead and buy that Havoc Launcher for another 5.  These might be the most expensive dedicated gun platforms in the codex, but they reach out to 48" and will leave a mark on something.  They also move a spry 12", unlike 99.9% of the codex.  You'll probably use that speed to hide out of LOS and then grab a position.

CON - comparative durability, cost, allergic to assault

Outside of guns and the speed you may or may not use, the predators have a couple big issues.  First, they have a glaring neon SHOOT ME sign on them - while they're T7, it's 11 wounds on a 3+ armor save.  Your only other form of durability is the smoke screen stratagem - there's just not a lot in the book that really HELPS these guys.

Defiler

Ah, the angry spider-bot.  It got better and you could theoretically tech into long-range anti-tank shooting with a twin-lascannon and Defiler Cannon.  The defiler cannon's a solid S8, AP-2, 3 damage weapon with 1d6 shots out to 72", and we all love lascannons.  My problem with it is that kitting it out for effective shooting means you're skipping out on melee, and realistically this thing leans better towards melee/smashing stuff.

PRO - Can bring some nasty ranged guns, durability

T7, 14 wounds and 3+/5++ is solid.  You regenerate a wound a turn, and can crank accurate shots out the length of the board - hot rolls on the defiler cannon can outperform the Plagueburst Mortar as long as you can see the target.

CON - versatility, cost

Versatility can be a con - if you are making the most out of your range, you've got around 190 points on something with a defiler cannon, havoc launcher, twin las, and some wicked melee.  And you're just not going to use all of that all the time.  Versatility's not a bad thing per se, but it's also not super efficient.  It would be a decent babysitter, but a squad of 5 dudes with objective secured can flip an objective on it unless your dice go hot.  You take these guys in a demon engine army and enjoy the fact they can shoot.

-The Forge World Options-

Remember, per the 7 Jan 21 FAQ, if it has the <LEGION> keyword and can take the NURGLE keyword, we can take it.  Thank nurgle.

Decimator

Hey, it's a weird demon engine with a variety of guns.  We can get some use out of this thing.  Pay attention to the butcher cannons (4 shots each, S7, AP-2, 2 damage) and the Soulburner petard (only 24" range, but they're assault 2d3 and on a 2+ to wound it's a mortal wound).

PROS - Reasonable durability, range OR mortal wound output, reasonable speed

You're T7 with 12 wounds, 3+/5++ and a regenerating wound per turn.  Sadly, there's no damage reduction but we can't have everything.  Paired butcher cannons are plenty serviceable - 8 shots out to 36" with S7, AP-2 and 2 damage can grind down anything that doesn't have a -1 to damage.  The average vs T7/3+ armor is 6-8 wounds per turn with a pair.  The soulburner petard gets interesting; you lose range (and increase risk to yourself) but average around 3-4 mortal wounds vs. everything, with a range of 4-12 shots a turn.  Also, you move 9", which is nice.

CONS - Degrading statline, little support

This thing isn't that bad, honestly.  The major cons that come to mind is that Death Guard just don't do a ton for generic demon engines outside of, say, a stratagem for a 4++ save and a weird relic for healing them a little.

Chaos Contemptor

You like options?  Welcome to options.

PROS - range and firepower

You're spoiled for choice, but if you really want raw firepower it's two twin lascannons and a cyclone missile launcher.  If you want to trim points you can go for autocannons, but that's your call.  Reach out and touch someone at 48 inches, hard.

CONS - cost, target priority, lack of support

If you go with the all-out crazy firepower, it's around 215 points.  You're T7, 9W, 3+/5++ and your only defense is a -1 to incoming damage, so um.  Yeah.  Be careful.  Note that you also pay a CP to bring the dreadnought as well, and you have neither the CORE keyword nor the HELBRUTE keyword.  That being said, I can definitely see testing these guys.

Chaos Leviathan

You like options and you want them on a vintage, beefy chassis?  Now you're in the right spot.

PROS - Really pretty murderous, some solid options, reasonable speed

Two guns stick out - the storm cannons and the grav-flux bombard.  I would consider two loadouts - paired storm cannons, or a grav-flux bombard and close-combat weapon.  Storm cannons drop eight S7, AP-1, 2 damage shots out to 36" per gun.  You'll chip 5-6 wounds off the average T7 transport, and once Contagions come into play, it gets worse.  The grav-flux bombard is a weird, nasty weapon - it's Heavy 2d3 Blast at S8, AP3, 2 damage (up to 3 damage vs saves of 3+) but it has a max range of 18".  That's one reason I consider a melee weapon - (which is S14, AP-3, 3 damage and has a built-in meltagun because why not).  You're also getting all this on a T7 platform with 14 wounds and a 2+/5++ save with -1 incoming damage.

I skip past the melta lance mostly because it's crazy nasty but not quite as versatile or reliable as the grav-flux. (1d6 shots vs 2d3, 1d6 damage vs. flat).  It can spike, but the bombards engage a variety of targets.

Also remember you've got a pair of heavy flamers, but you could always replace those with volkite calivers for more S5 shots out to 30". (S5, no AP, 2 damage, mortal wounds on 6s.  Man, the 30ks were weird times.)

CONS - cost, target priority, lack of support

You're 220 points base, and a CP - 240 if you went double storm cannons.  You're neither CORE nor HELBRUTE.  Honestly, you kinda don't need either.

Chaos Deredo

Pure shooty classic dreadnought.

PROS - no frills rate of fire

Base model packs 8 shots of S7, AP-2, 2 damage and you're probably buying a missile launcher for 3d3 shots of S6, AP-1 fun as well.  You also get heavy bolters, and have the option to trade your main gun for a six-shot plasma cannon, a two-shot 3+d3 lascannon, or a weird 6 shot S8, AP-2 2 damage gun that drops 2 mortal wounds on 6s to wound. (Volkite! Lightning! DEAD STUFF!)

CONS - Expensive, lack of support

Same thing as the other dreads from Forge World - you're around 200 points and a CP and have minimal support.  You're still kind of nasty.  

Greater Blight Drone

What would happen if someone sped up a Bloat Drone and gave it longer-ranged guns?  This.  This is what would happen.  It gets a plague Reaper autocannon, a spray, and a so-so melee attack.

PROS - cheap

It's 125pts for a bloat drone stat line that got a 14" move and a reaper autocannon that re-rolls 1s to hit.  

CONS - Competes for fast attack slots

It's cheap, but it's not a lot of output.  Bloat Drones cost around the same points and demand attention because they will drop a dozen marine-shredding or vehicle-crippling attacks.

The Sicaran Tank Family

The Sicaran chassis is essentially a faster, beefier predator that costs CP to take.  They're T7, 14W, a 2+ save and a 14" move.  They also start with a hull heavy bolter, and have the option to take sponson lascannons or heavy bolters.  There are three options.

Regular Sicaran main gun - 48" range, 6 shots, S7, AP-2, 3 damage

Venator - 48" range, 3 shots, S12, AP-3, d6 damage (6 if stationary)

Punisher - 36" range, 18 shots, S6, AP-1, 1 damage

PROS - Solid ranged firepower, speed, reasonable durability

All three options can lay on the hurt at range.  The venator looks sick while stationary, but is a bit more swingy due to low volume of shots and the lack of any support.  The punisher actually stays a little more reliable just due to straight volume of fire - it's also the cheapest.  Take your sponson heavy bolters and you end up right at 200pts, and you just sandblast targets to death.

CONS - Price, lack of support

You're going to pay around 200 points for these tanks.  The only real support you have is the smoke screen stratagem.

Rapier Carriers

Do you like crew-served artillery?  Who doesn't.  You have a choice of four weapons -

Graviton Cannon - 36", 1d6 shots, S6, AP-3, 2 damage (3 damage vs. 3+ or better saves)

Laser Destroyer - 36", Heavy 3, S10, AP-4, 3+d3 damage

Quad Heavy Bolter - 36", Heavy 12, S5, AP-1, 2 damage

Quad Launcher - EITHER 24", Heavy 4, S8, AP-2, 3 damage, OR 60", Heavy 4d3, S4, AP0, 1 damage, may shoot at what you can't see

The only one that doesn't call out to me is the Graviton Cannon.  The quad heavy bolter cranks out enough firepower to sandblast stuff to death, but we really like the Laser Destroyer and the Quad Launcher

PROS - firepower

These are all about guns.  Or rather, one big gun.  Get into position, take the shot. 

CON - Mobility, Durability

These things move 4", and are a whopping T5, W5 per model for an 85-120pt model.   You really want to stay back and out of range.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Death Guard - First Game in, First Impressions


 I threw dice with the new book.  Unlike 95% of the community, I didn't drop Mortarion on game one.  I hit up an old buddy's Black Templar.  My list was a little something like this -

Mortarion's Anvil - Battalion

Winged Demon Prince - 2x Claws, Warlord - Gloaming Bloat, Warp Hive, psychic power - Putrescent Vitality

Malignant Plague Caster - Gift of Plagues, Miasma of Pestilence

5 Deathshroud Terminators

2x5 Blightlord Terminators - Flail, Blight Launcher

Plague Surgeon - Fugaris' helm

Foul Blight Spawn - Revolting Stench Vats

Helbrute - Multi melta, missile launcher

Helbrute - Multi melta, fist, combi-bolter

2x5 Plague Marines - blight launcher

2x Pox Walker Blobs

2x Bloat Drones w/ Flesh Mowers

BLACK TEMPLARS at a Glance

Primaris Biker Chaplain

Grimaldus

Primaris Techmarine (master of the forge, relic of 4++ invuln for a turn)

Blob of Hammer/Shield Assault Terminators

Apothecary (WL trait for free revives)

Blob of storm shield vanguard vets w/ a few hammers and a Sword of Judgment

2x MM/bolter Venerable Dreads, Ironclad w/ Hurricane Bolter, 2x Hunter-killer missiles

3x Crusader Squads to babysit objectives

Suppressor Squad

2x Outrider Squads

IMPRESSIONS

OVERALL - This army is slow, durable, and requires careful deployment - unless you're deep-striking or coming in from strategic reserves, you're not going to go that far.  We don't have a lot of shooting or long-range assets, so be prepared to protect those.  Being tough doesn't mean you break cover and walk in the open, daring the enemy to attack you.  2+ saves like cover just like everyone else.

By Assets

Demon Prince - I realize claws are now AP-1; I realized this when I charged storm shield terminators.  I'm lucky I'm not dead.  The sword is 100% the way to go on these guys.  Wings are expensive, but I like the FLY keyword.

Psychic Powers - Miasma's basically an auto-take.  Gift of Plagues depends on your warlord traits, but debuff contagion auras (and Flash Outbreak) along with this are dumb.  Gift of Plagues can do work even as turns tick over, since debuffs are great!

Blightlords - mine are modeled with axes.  I am still reasonably pleased with axes - S6, AP-2 means I'm hitting on 3s and wounding on re-rolling 2s vs most infantry and swords are 3's and 3's.  S6 also lets me grind at vehicles in a pinch.  I'll see if I keep that opinion, but the flail and the blight launcher are obvious keeps.  I'd considered a combi-weapon or two, but didn't miss it much - we're so slow that you might get one productive melta shot, or a turn or two of plasma plinking at best.

Deathshroud - If you're going to bring a brick of terminators and characters, you're bringing a unit of these.  They're murder, though the spray pistols need contagions to kick in for that S3 to be meaningful.  No one really wants to get close to them.

Pox Walkers - if you've got enough other threats out there, people probably aren't going to waste the volume of fire necessary to kill 15-20 of these guys off an objective.  If you're going to tie up stuff, don't be like me and derp out and forget dreadnoughts with hurricane bolters can fire those in assault.

Plague Surgeon - take Fugaris' helm.  That is all.  Seriously.  

Foul Blightspawn - take revolting stench vats.  Seriously.  A 6" no-charge bubble is a lot more user-friendly and harder to avoid than a 3" targeting "you fight last" power.  The spray is a mop-up ability here.

Helbrutes - we get our big guns where we can.  I think most of my lists will start with either a couple of these or a couple Blight Haulers.  These things get terrifying if someone chips a wound off them; Fire Fever means I'm hitting on 2s (and possibly re-rolling 1s) then I'm wounding most armor on a 2 (and re-rolling 1s if wounded).  I really don't care if I have to put a combi-bolter into an armored target for those bonuses.  One of mine got popped early after whiffing, and another smoked the Ironclad, then almost beat a second dread to death (..before someone made a couple 6s to shrug).

Bloat Drones - Our book needs mobility badly - this is an option.  Again, if I'm not taking Blight Haulers, I'm probably take a couple of these.  The heavy blight launcher isn't bad per se, but the flesh mower is just terrifying.  One guy tanked dreadnought multi-meltas (more luck than anything else) and then delayed them; another used the "eat guys for wounds" stratagem, and managed to do some solid work and last the game.  Any sane opponent with guns is going to do their level best to murder these to deny you options.

Hilariously, bloat drones are allergic to AP-1 bolt guns, or 1d6 damage weapons.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Death Guard - First Impressions of Plague Companies

 

So, we have a pretty solid new codex - and unlike, say, most other books, we're just one chapter.  However, we have seven options for companies.  Each plague company offers us a unique warlord trait, a relic, and stratagem.

So, what do we want to do with these?  Note we already have some solid warlord traits and relics, so you may just be looking at stratagems.

First Company - The Harbingers

SHORT VERSION - The Harbingers are melee-oriented, with a stratagem for helping Pox Walkers and a so-so relic and warlord trait.

LONG VERSION

The meat here is The Wrathful Dead - for a CP, your poxwalkers re-roll hits.  Throw that on top of the Mutant Straint stratagem, and suddenly you're fishing for 6s to hit for mortal wounds with poxwalker mobs.

The Warlord trait is 'eh' at best - it's not bad if you're around multiple minimum-sized units since stuff in Contagion Range (other than vehicles) takes mortal wounds in the opponent's movement phase on 4+s.  You can luck out and drop d3 mortals.

Infected Remains is gimmicky at best - your relic-bearer drops it on an objective marker, which then has a contagion aura as long as the character lives.  Not saying this can't be useful, but we've got a ton of cool relics.

Second Company - The Inexorable

SHORT VERSION - This company's pretty utilitarian; the stratagem is solid for a melee army.  The warlord trait is neat if you're helping out plague marines, and the relic can actually help heal vehicles - which is kinda rare for this book.  (We're more about just not dying, rather than getting better.)

LONG VERSION

Ferric Miasma is 1CP for a flat -2 to charge - you REALLY get to laugh at stuff trying to charge you from deep strike; hitting a 9 isn't bad, but hitting 11s is...unlikely.  Anyone with charge buffs will need them, and anyone without them is in some shape.

The Warlord Trait is useful IF you tech into a quantity of low AP attacks - it's an aura of +1AP equal to your contagion range.  Terminators don't really care about it, but other stuff does.  It's build-specific, but don't keep The Inexorable for just plague marines.

The Leechspore Casket is...I dunno.  You want someone already killy to carry it, and they need to punch models to death in order to heal a vehicle for some wounds.  If you're going to support some front-line demon engines (anything other than your mortars, really) it's an option, but maybe not the first option.

Third Company - Mortarion's Anvil

SHORT VERSION - This has a hilarious durability warlord trait, a defensive strategem, and a hard-to-fight relic.

LONG VERSION

Gloaming Bloat is just sick - it turns off re-rolls to hit and wound in Contagion Range.  You really want to bring Gift of Plagues for a boost to that range.

Relaptic Assault is a neat stratagem because it's going to make folks be careful about positioning - if you've got multiple units next to each other, it's going to be very hard for them to just hit one in assault.

The Warp Insect Hive is good for full hit/wound re-rolls.  A Demon Prince with two claws and Virulent Fever would like this.  A LOT.

Fourth Company - The Wretched

SHORT VERSION - The stratagem and warlord trait aren't terrible utility, but the relic is 'meh' and other stuff has more straightforward utility.

LONG VERSION

You get a Requisition Stratagem - one psyker gets another power, and one free re-roll a turn.  You'll definitely get some economy out of that.  This might let you get away with one psyker.

The Warlord Trait is good for auto-wounds on sixes in contagion range - so it's a turn 2-3 melee buff unless you commit to Gift of Plagues (...which you should.)

Your relic buffs the Pestilential Fallout on a Malignant Plaguecaster.  These guys aren't super durable, and I'd really rather keep 'em away from the front - and real talk, we've got better relics.

Fifth Company - The Poxmongers

SHORT VERSION - Are you leaning into demon engines like the Blight Hauler or Defiler?  Look at these guys.  Otherwise, skip.

LONG VERSION

Your stratagem is all about letting that demon engine fire at point blank range with blast weapons, and a nice +1 to hit as a bonus.  The Defiler and Blight Hauler find this hilarious.

Your Warlord Trait is so-so at best, since it's a leadership debuff and a combat attrition debuff - small beefy units don't care about it, even if we do have a neat -4LD stratagem laying around.

The Relic leans into your demon engines - someone gets a 4++ instead of their 5++.

Sixth Company - The Ferrymen

SHORT VERSION - There's a bonkers warlord trait, a decent buff stratagem for your elites, and a decent relic for your scythe-wielding guys.

LONG VERSION

The Droning is one of the ugliest-looking warlord traits we have - 1/2 movement to enemies in your Contagion Range.  Gift of Contagion is a hard must here, and you need this on a mobile warlord to throw at the enemy - you may lose it (unless it's Mortarion) but you can potential hobble an enemy army for a turn, so there's that.

The stratagem is pretty reasonable - +6" to your FOETIED VIRION (aka - your elite buff guys) auras is a tool you can find a use for - IE, a 9" range for your "you can't fight 'til we're done here" off the Blightbringer is ugly.

The relic isn't quite as insane as some - it's a manreaper that lets you crank three swings on scything swings instead of two, but you also can't dump one of our plague upgrades on it.  Considering our other stuff, eh.  Not too worried, and we have other relics.

Seventh Company - Mortarion's Chosen Sons

SHORT VERSION - Do you like sprays?  Are you bringing lots of Death Shroud?  Then this is your company.

LONG VERSION

The stratagem is pretty specific, and very ugly - plague belchers, spewers, and plaguespurt gauntlets are damage 2.  A unit of five Death Shroud can crank out 6d6 shots (admittedly at S3, but -1T is a thing) and stuff's gonna notice.

The Warlord trait, Nurgle's Fruit, is pretty utilitarian - it turns cover off in Contagion Range.  Not bad, but we're also not the shootiest army - I feel like we can kinda skip this.

Vomitryx is a hilarious-sounding relic - it's a flat 7 shots at AP-3, 2 damage - cool, right?  There is literally only one problem - it replaces a plague sprayer, which means it goes on a Foul Blightspawn, which means it competes with Revolting Stench Vats.  What do you want more?  A really neat flamer, or a an aura of "you didn't charge, you don't fight first" in a slow army. If you're taking two of these guys, maybe this would be cool - but eh.

The Wrapup

Some of these companies lean into certain builds - the first helps your Poxmongers, the Seventh Company is tailor-made for Deathshroud terminators, and the Fifth is all about Demon Engines.  The fourth is...well, it's a plague company.  The remaining ones offer different types of utility, but don't necessarily scream for one type of unit over another.