Saturday, 3 November 2018
MISFITS OF 40K: A LOOK AT THE PAST
Today I go back to the basics of what inspired me to create this blog, and that's talking about shitty units. As I get back into the swing of things on this topic, I'm going to stick with the things that I know and actually revisit a bunch of units that I have already done, most of which were back in the 40Kegger days. Lets see if any of these pieces of shit have actually made a resurgence since the "old days"
First up we have the Warp Talon. Has anyone seen any of these lately? They did have a really small boost when the CSM codex was first released with all their fancy Legion Traits and stratagems. At that time you could also Warptime them right after they dropped in from reinforcements on turn 1 and you can't Overwatch them.
You can't Overwatch them? Why the hell aren't these guys in every damn list? Well, they're 27 points each, they only have 1W, 1A, a 3+/5++, no weapon options other than lightning claws, and they are only impervious to Overwatch on the turn they "deep strike" which now a days means a 9" charge. Not to mention that there are a fair few stratagems that allow you to shoot at a unit that arrives from "deep strike". 135 points for a 5 man squad who can die just as quickly as a 70 point unit is just too expensive.
It's not all doom and gloom though, they are armed with a pair of lightning claws, which means they actually get 2 attacks. They are also jump pack units so move 12" and have FLY, and if you take the Renegades legion trait you can advance and still charge. That means you can use Warptime to move again giving them a 26"-36" move bubble.
But the real magic happens when you ally in Daemons, since Warp Talons have the Daemon keyword, they are affected by many of the abilities in the Daemon Codex. That means if they are near a Herald of a like aligned god, they get +1S and the relative Locus, some of the stratagems need a Daemon Herald to target as well, so you will need a Daemon Detachment.
For Nurgle that means +1D on wound rolls of 6+ for the Locus of Virulence, plus Virulent Blessing gives +1 to wound rolls and double damage on wound rolls of 7+, plus they can use VotLW for a further +1 to wound, and don't forget Prescience. A unit of 5 Warp Talons will put out 11A, hitting on 2+(re-rolling 1's if near a lord), S5, +2 to wound, AP-2, 1D on 2+ to wound, 2D on 4+, and 3D on 5+ AND you re-roll all failed wound rolls! This makes taking out knights a real treat. Then you can get a -1 to hit them and bring them back to life with Grandfather's Blessings.
For Slaanesh, they can advance and charge, fight in the psychic phase with Hysterical Frenzy, get an extra attack on wound rolls of 6 with the Locus of Grace and get extra attacks for each model they kill with Excess of Violence, and get +1 to wound with VotLW plus Prescience. They can also get a 5+FNP to help keep them alive.
Khorne gets to re-roll charges with it's Locus, get extra attacks on wound rolls of 6 with an aura from the Crimson Crown, can re-roll any failed hit rolls with Locus of Wrath (which makes Prescience less of a requirement), World Eaters gives them another attack, they can attack twice with Fury of Khorne, and don't forget about VotLW. So 32 attacks at S5, re-rolling all failed hits, re-rolling all failed wounds and getting an extra attack on wound rolls of 5+.
While Tzeentch is not necessarily a close combat focused god, there are a couple tricks. The Locus will help keep you alive in the returning attacks, as will the Weaver of Fates for a 4++. Boon of Change is also handy for some boosted stats and Gaze of Fate can help you manage those precious CPs.
Well, that felt pretty damn good for a first, second attempt. What's next on the list...
I remember when the Mandrakes used to be one of the most detailed and awesome kits you could get. Now the models look a little dated, and they are resin, which nobody likes even though Finecast has pretty much gotten their quality control sorted out.
They are 16 points a model and they can't have a "chapter tactic" at all. For 80 points you get 10 shots at 18", S4, AP-1, and 6+ to wound does a Mortal Wound in addition, then 16 attacks at S4 and AP-1 in combat. They can "deep strike", have a 5++ and a 6+FNP. If they make the charge they will kill 5 MEQ's and chew their way through 10 Guardsmen with no other buffs. They aren't actually bad. I mean I don't have to lie to you and try to trick you to think they are good, they literally aren't bad. So why don't you see them on the table?
They are kind of on the higher points side of things, they don't get an "obsession", "coven", or "cult", and it would be totally plausible, if a little lucky, for 5 scouts to shoot and charge them and wipe them out. They are almost Warp Spiders to be honest, with a little more damage output and a little less durability and mobility. I think that the main reason you don't see them, is their lack of versatility. They can't take any upgrades and so are relegated to chopping up infantry, like Drukhari have ever had any issues with that.
I had a real hard time trying to sell the usefulness of the Pyrovore in the past, but I think this time is going to be easier. True, I have never seen one on the table, but for a measly 38 points you get 4 wounds and a 10" heavy flamer. He can only move 5", but he has an assault weapon that auto hits so advancing isn't a problem, he only has 2A, but he is S5 and AP-3, he only has a 4+ save, but each wound he loses in the fight phase can do mortal wounds back to the attacker and he explodes on a 4+ for a mortal wound. Not that anyone is going to want to charge him anyway. The only thing I see wrong with them is that you can only take them in units of 1-3. Having said that, putting a couple in your lines will help put a couple wounds on those pesky Eldar Fliers. You could put 9 of them into a Sporocyst and drop them on your enemy. That would be funny to watch harlequins die to 9D6 flamer shots. You're hit modifiers can go fuck themselves.
Flayed ones still really suck. They are basically Mandrakes that are more expensive and don't have a shooting attack. Sure they have Reanimation Protocol, but that rule means diddly shit unless the unit is 20 models large, and no one is spending 340 points on a unit that size. There are some positives though, they can "deep strike", they can re-roll failed wound rolls and with the Novok dynasty they can re-roll failed hit rolls as well (in the first round of combat). With 3A each, they are pretty good at taking out light infantry, if they can make it.
Roughriders have gotten good...ish. They are a very respectable 10 points and get a S+2 AP-2 Dd3 hunting lance which only works on the turn the charge. They have a 10"M, 2W, and can "outflank", which keeps them safe and gets them across the table to get at the juicy backfield units. They are also a really good counter punch unit. You can keep them hidden in the middle of your deployment zone and as soon as you front line buckles they can rush out and start lancing. They only have 1A and WS4+, so don't expect miracles, but they can definitely get some work done. They are fairly hard to hide effectively as they are relatively large models and have to be taken in larger units to be menacing and because they are not infantry they are hindered by terrain more. But their biggest downfall is that they are not in the Codex. Yes, since they are in the Index you can still take them, but for how long? When will GW finally say that the Index's are off limits?
What can I say about Dreadnoughts, you still don't see them competitively. Now, I'm not talking about the fancy Forge World ones, or the Redemptor, I'm talking about your basic run of the mill Dreadnought (or Helbrute). The Dual Scourge Helbrute is probably the best variant, otherwise the guns are just too expensive and don't put out enough damage to justify taking them. A Wraithlord has more wounds, a higher T, cheaper weapon options and more weapons for LESS points. Unlike the Wraithlord, the Dreadnought's stats do not degrade as it takes damage, but the points difference is skewed way off to make up for this advantage.
The Nephilum jet fighter, you never saw it then, you won't see it now, not when you can take a Dark Talon. Which is too bad because this little guy is really not that bad. With 16 shots hitting most targets on 2+ and wounding most infantry on at least 3's. It's killing 8 Guardsmen and 4 Marines fairly reliably and with it's range of 36" it can fly around the outside of the board staying out of trouble, but it has enough movement that if you need it to get right in the middle of the table to snipe a character, it can. So why don't you see it more often? Cause the Dark Talon. The stasis bomb and rift cannon are so much better than what the Nephilum has to offer for only a few points more.
The last bad unit in my list are the Vespid. And they are still bad. Now to be fair, they are not bad in their stats or weapons. They have a 14" move with FLY and T4 with a 4+ save, their gun is 18" assault 2 S5 AP-2, and they can deep strike. Not bad, until you realise they don't get the Sept benefits nor do they have "FtGG". So it's fine if they are charged, but they can't help if someone nearby is charged. Unlike Kroot, Vespid are not cheap and at 15 points a model you're not going to really want to use them as a speed bump. You can use them to get deep into the enemy lines with "deep strike", and with their decent weapon they can do some damage to those weak backfield objective holders.
What have we learnt here today? Well, none of these units has seen top tables in a very long time, with one exception. The SoCal open had a Drukhari player in the top 5 with a Brigade, and taking up the Elites slots were 3 units of Mandrakes. Now I haven't watched any of the games yet, and have only had a cursory look at the lists, so I can't tell you if they were an integral part of the plan, or if they were simply a way to fill 3 Elites slots. Aside from that, since the last 3 rules editions of the game, these units have been hot garbage. That is kind of disappointing. You really can't teach an old dog new tricks.
So what would have to happen to get these units on the table. Well, a simple thing would be to drop their points cost by at least 20%. That would be a very simple way to make everything "better". However, I don't think that is the best way to deal with this situation. Adding attacks to Warp Talons and making their "ignore overwatch" ability work all the time would ensure they see the table WAY more often. Or giving them an extra W, making them more like flying Possessed. If Mandrakes could show up on the table closer than 9", even if it was 7" away, would be a HUGE boost for them. AND they are not such a durable or deadly unit that it would make them "OP". Pyrovores would see the table if you gave them double the shots. 2D6 per model would be pretty darn scary, and/or maybe a stratagem that deals mortal wounds if 3 units all fired at the same target. Flayed ones need a better weapon, some thing with an AP value. Also something that modified hit rolls targeting them, they are covered in human flesh after all, wouldn't that be a little unnerving? Roughriders need a model and to be in the Codex, plain and simple. The Dreadnoughts rules are fine as they are, they just need a straight up point reduction, the same goes with the Nephilum. Vespid are a tough one to figure out, a points reduction would be a simple solution, but I can't really think of a simple and effective ability to give them to make them worth their points. Maybe if they had an ability like Swooping Hawks where they could leave the table, with a similar grenade pack weapon they could use when they arrived via "deep strike" or if they moved over an enemy unit.
Well, this was fun. With the Chapter Approved a short time away, we can only hope that they do something to make these poor units see the light of the gaming table.
Until next time, keep them dice rollin.