Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Army: Unit Analysis, Changes, and goals

I wanted to do a more detailed look at how I felt the components of my army worked in the first two tournaments I've taken them to and discuss what changes I think I realistically need to make, as well as discuss what I'll do to go down to 1750.

Baron Sexy!

So first a re-cap of my list:

Baron Sathonyx - 105
Haemonculus (Venom Blade) - 55
7 Incubi; Raider (Enhanced Aethersails; Shock-prow; Flickerfield) - 234
3 Wracks; Venom (Cannon upgrade) - 95
18 Hellions; Helliarch (Stunclaw) - 319
5 Warriors (Blaster); Venom (Cannon upgrade) - 125
5 Warriors (Blaster); Venom (Cannon upgrade) - 125
5 Warriors (Blaster); Venom (Cannon upgrade) - 125
6 Reavers (2 Heat Lance) - 156
6 Reavers (2 Heat Lance) - 156
6 Reavers (2 Heat Lance) - 156
and the Ubiquitous 3 Ravagers (all Lances; Flickerfields) - 115 each
Total: 1996

And now, what worked and what didn't.


The focus of the list is the blob of Hellions with the Baron. These guys clock in at a whopping 424 points all together, 20% of the army! As such, I really need to do something very constructive with these guys to justify their cost. My plan with these guys was to torrent fire then assault infantry of any kind. My math-hammer says they'll beat pretty much any unit around except the meanest: Paladin Deathstars; DCA with Quicksilver; FNP Assault the top of my head that's about all they can't straight up beat.

I'm a big math-hammer fan, so here's some math on them against something mean that at first glance many would think would tear them up: a unit of Assault Terminators.

As Jump Infantry, they'll not have trouble moving to be able to shoot then assault. Against softer targets, though, care must be taken so that your shooting doesn't kill so many of them that you're left with no ability to assault! I've got 18 scrubs, the Helliarch, and the Baron. 20 splinter pods is 40 shots. Two-thirds hit; one-half of those cause wounds; then only one-sixth of those go unsaved: 40 * 2/3 * 1/2 * 1/6 =
2.2 dead Terminators just from the shooting!

Now the might be a stretch to say that I can get all 20 in base-to-base with only 3 Terminators, so we'll say the Baron and half a dozen others are left out, that leaves me 13 bodies attacking three times each with S5 and I7 thanks to Furious Charge that I start them with. That's 39 Attacks. One-half hit; two-thirds of those wound; and one-sixth of those go unsaved: 39 * 1/2 * 2/3 * 1/6 = another 2 Terminators dead! This leaves just one guy left, who gets two attacks with his hammer, killing no more than 2. Next combat phase he dies. It could potentially be a Claw guy, in which case it's very possible that three Hellions could die and I'd lose...but odds are pretty low, and no sweeping advance.

I'm getting away from the intent of the article, but I did want to prove a point: these guys can generate a tremendous amount of damage with their shooting (they're like having 3 more Venoms!) and their Melee (over 60 S5 attacks!) is very capable of tearing up vehicles as well (against vehicles that move 6", every 2 Hellions gives me a roll on the Damage Table...potentially very deadly!). However, I really don't feel like I used them to do this.

In my first game, they went to ground, got assaulted by scouts, barely one combat, hit & run away, and struggled to strongly impact the game because I'd let them get whittled down too fast. In game 2 I used them better, letting them get charged by a handful of assault terminators that died at I6, then chasing down and killing 4 non-melee-equipped Marine combat squads. In game 3 I did the same as game 1; let them get shot at (they do make admirable fire magnet!) and whittled down, yet unable to have any real effect other than saving my vehicles from a few (albeit crucial) rounds of shooting. Game 5 I threw them in to too many things at once, barely managing to survive to help me claim a table-quarter...I don't think it's that I was too reckless with them, as I just felt I had to use them to do too many jobs (mainly due to my failing with other parts of my army...see Reavers below) and tie up too many units. Their survivability was paramount here, and helped me pull off a win when really I didn't play that well, I just had decent tools to help me pull it out. In games 6 and 7 I was far too timid to commit them in to melee. I should have believed my own Math-hammer and used them against the Wolf Guard and Deathwing with a lot of confidence. Instead I held them back and used their movement to help torrent fire on enemy troops. This was not a terrible thing, as they were able to help deal damage while being a very credible threat that my enemy had to account for. Still, it was a lot more conservative than I think I should have been.

I was able to win games, but not because I used my Hellions well, but despite of using them poorly. I should have been using them to smash single enemy units and staying in cover to survive the counter-attack. In particular game 3 they should have endured the shooting then smashed a Wolf Guard unit. Killing one more of his troop units would have given me the win....solidly. The game was mine to lose, and I did. Not to take away from how fun that game with Stephen was (thanks for the shout-out in the last Episode, my friend!), but I really think I could have and should have won.

In the future, I'm going to strive to get them in to the enemy, in melee, right away. They have enough tools that they need to be using them all, not sitting around going to ground and holding objectives.

The Stunclaw was never used once. Every game I wished it was an Agonizer, but the points are excessive. I really want to like the Stunclaw...I think I can do some really fun things with it in the right situation, so I'm going to leave it for now. It's only 5 points, so I'm going to keep it.

The Baron was incredible. He did almost no fighting the entire tournament, but the +1 was a champ, the ability to shuffle pain points around was priceless, and the Stealth and Rerolls were absolutely crucial. A story of Ordo-Rolling...I moved the Baron inside Tempest's Wrath range: he failed his Dangerous Terrain; he failed his re-roll; then he failed his Flickerfield save. Arg!! Despite that, he was of little or no value in the fights, but the special rules he brought to the table made him well worth his 105 points, and the threat of his S7 on enemy vehicles is very potent.

So really no need or desire to change the composition of the unit, just the way I used them. I may drop a couple to make room for other things...see Reavers below!


I have no illusions: this guy is a 50 point pain token. He does nothing for me but make Wracks troops and give FNP to the Hellions to start, then tries to not give up a Kill Point. I did discover a very fun use for him in the game vs. Stephen: I'd rolled the free Pain Point drug, so the Hellions didn't need I stuck him with the Incubi. 3+/FNP is pretty powerful, but moreover I was able to allocate wounds to him and save a couple Incubi! Other than that, he just hunkered with the Wracks and tried to hold objectives. Is he worth the points? Yes, I think he's worth the 50 points to make my Hellions function, but I won't be giving him the Venom Blade again...I don't want those guys anywhere near a fight since they have no Pain Points to start...he needs to run and hide, not fight!


Really just a 'deck-chair' unit that has their Pain Point stolen on turn 1. 95 points for a scoring Venom. Absolutely worth the cost, and often a priority target by enemies...I'd much rather these guys die than the Warriors! No change needed here.


125 points for a Venom and a Blaster that scores. The Blasters were able to pull out some clutch damage from time to time (killing the Land Raider in Game 7!), the Venoms are of course incredible. If an enemy got in range to charge them, they died, but that's expected, and nothing other than wholesale change to the army will prevent that. I see no need to change anything here.


These guys did everything I could have wanted and more. Once they got that first Pain Point they become incredible. They really look terrifying, so attract a tremendous amount of firepower right away. I struck a good balance between deploying them forward enough to be in range to go somewhere scary on turn 1 and keeping them in cover from first turn shooting. Only in one game did their Raider die before moving, and I then did stupid things with them instead of letting them take some bullets.

See, as I've said before, I don't expect these guys to kill much...but I expect the threat of their killiness to attract bullets. Mine is a "pressure list", with many things amongst your army on turn 1/2 that are hard to kill but need to die...pressuring you to make bad decisions early. Incubi have a scary reputation, so attract lots of attention, saving the Reavers and Hellions (mostly).

A recap of how they did: Game 1 they ate Long Fangs and most of a GH unit; Game 2 they ate an entire unit of 10 Vanguard Veterans and Shrike (~500 points?) and politely died to a lone Librarian so he could be shot down. Game 3 they killed Long Fangs then played patty-cake with Wolf Guard squad for 2 turns, not horrible, and they stood a chance to take down the wolf guard, but the dice didn't work out. Game 4 I didn't give any of my army a chance; Game 5 they ate Long Fangs and two Grey Hunter units; Game 6 I didn't use them right at all; Game 7 they cleaned up two units of Deathwing and were in position to hit a third when the opponent conceded.

So, I'm quite pleased with their ability to be a threat, to carry out the threat if given the opportunity, and they look great! No change on the unit itself.

However, I may drop the Shock-prow off the Raider. The FF and Aethersail are staying (the sail letting me get to my opponents deployment from the back of mine!), but that Prow I never used, and if I need 5 points that's one of the first things to go.


I've got to say, I was absolutely thrilled with the Reavers. Admittedly, they didn't really kill all that much. I really don't like to blame dice, but in one game I had 8 hits; 2 pens (one was cover-saved) and 6 others failed to even glance. I mean, come on...Just needs a 6 on two dice! That's why I'm in Ordo Ineptus, though...rolling low and rolling proud!

Not only did they not roll well when given opportunities to shoot at armour, but I also failed in getting them charged earlier than I wanted...I absolutely suck at guesstimating charge ranges! I also did several failtastic things like move them OUT of cover to get away from a charge by 5 Grey Hunters, getting them shot down when they had a decent enough chance to not get charged if they'd stayed put!

And moreover, I brought them to help me deal with tanks. I didn't have to fight too many tanks, so one of their primary rolls was absent.

But despite all that, I wouldn't trade them for any number of beast packs after seeing how much they can do by just being in the enemy deployment zone.

Here's an anecdote about my army from the 11th Company guys. During my game with Stephen, I shoved two Reavers, Incubi, and Hellions down his throat. He spent most of the first 4 turns trying to deal with that while my Venoms and Ravagers were gunning down his army. Neil from 11th Company walked over about that point, and looked at the table, and said to Stephen, "Why is all that still alive?!" motioning to my fleet.

It was alive because I gave him bad choices on what to do, and I used the Reavers to do it. They can blow apart infantry with fly-overs; they can melee half-way decent; they can help torrent fire; they can blow open vehicles.

Game by game: Game 1 they popped some vehicles and attracted a ton of shooting (shooting that wasn't directed at my other units); Game 2 they were admirable sacrifices to draw in the melee marines so the Incubi could finish them, and made great bubble-wrap for the Hellions until they could pull away; Game 3 they wrecked a Long Fang squad, tied up a Wolf Guard squad, and bubble-wrapped and provided cover to the Hellions for 2 turns; Game 4, my most suck-tastic game, they blew up Sean's Archon & Harlequin; Game 5 they blew up several vehicles, and attracted tons of fire...they got charged earlier than I wanted here, but that's my fault; Game 6 they did great duty shooting at marines, then doing multiple fly-overs and finishing off weakened squads that charged them; and Game 7 they failed to wreck the Land Raiders, but did draw a charge that set up killing a Deathwing squad, and finished off two weakened squads in melee.

Note in most of those games they were used in a sacrificial role, but I accept that from a short-ranged melta unit. What really got me in the tournament was how resilient they were to fire (3+ cover on turn 1; and 4+ from jetbike move after). Moreover, they really didn't suck in melee as much as I thought they would, especially in the games where they had S4 or FNP.

So these units were the ones I enjoyed using and felt helped me win (or nearly win) the games I did well in (hell, they were the only good thing about the game in which I sucked!). There were several games I wish I had their Leadership up to 9, so they'll be upgrading to Arena Champions. With that, they can be made a bit more productive in melee...I'd like to fit an Agonizer in there, but at 20 points each that's too much. I can fit in a Venom Blade (2+ poison) on the Champion for a mere 5 points, meaning I have to scrape together 41 total points to do this. This does make these sacrificial units a tad more expensive, but I think it will also make them far better to handle the effects of getting shot up and be a good power boost to their melee power.


The Ravagers were just right. Not overpowering, not underwhelming, but just right. The put out some some high AP shots to deal with terminators, high S to cause some ID, and did a number on enemy vehicles...just right. They were also able to take a fair amount of incoming fire...AV11 isn't horrible, particularly when combined with cover of even just flickerfields. I have no desire or need to change these, though for fun I may throw in a Razorwing to replace one after I paint it up a bit.

So what will the army evolve to? At 2000 points, the changes will be pretty minor. Here's how I think it will end up:

Baron Sathonyx - 105
Haemonculus - 50 (Lost his Venom Blade)
7 Incubi; Raider (Flickerfield; Enhanced Aethersails) - 229 (Lost the Shock-Prow)
3 Wracks; Venom (Cannon upgrade) - 95
16 Hellions; Helliarch (Stunclaw) - 287 (That's 17 guys total, down from 19 total)
5 Warriors (Blaster); Venom (Cannon upgrade) - 125
5 Warriors (Blaster); Venom (Cannon upgrade) - 125
5 Warriors (Blaster); Venom (Cannon upgrade) - 125
5 Reavers (1 Heat Lance); Arena Champion (Heat Lance, Venom Blade) - 171 (Still 6 total, add Champion with Venom Blade)
5 Reavers (1 Heat Lance); Arena Champion (Heat Lance, Venom Blade) - 171
5 Reavers (1 Heat Lance); Arena Champion (Heat Lance, Venom Blade) - 171
and the Ubiquitous 3 Ravagers (all Lances; Flickerfields) - 115 each
Total: 1999

I think this will really allow me to be aggressive early with the Incubi and Reavers, and be able to dish out more melee damage with the latter while having a much higher chance of passing Morale tests. The loss of Two Hellions will hopefully not be significant, and I'm sure I won't miss the Haemi's Venom Blade nor the Shock Prow.

Next up is how to trim this down to 1750.

The easy cut is the Incubi, taking me down to 1770. 20 more points...1 Hellion is 16, and the Stunclaw is 5, for 1749. Doable, I think.

As always, I'd love to hear any thoughts!

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