Thursday, January 27, 2011

Evaluation of Animi available to the Legion of Everblight

As I have started talking about evaluating warlocks and the need to be familiar with all the various animi at your disposal, I figured I'd do a rundown/evaluation of those available to the Legion, my home Hordes faction.

That being said, I intend to provide a generalized list of the animus and their potential utility.

Lesser Warbeasts
Harrier: True Strike
This animus is situational, as it's range is SELF. It lets the next attack this model makes hit automatically. It turns the Harrier into a homing missile, but...the utility of that is debatable. If you think you might be taking your warlock into melee (and, frankly, there are some that might do that, like eThagrosh, Absylonia, and Rhyas) and you can spare some points for a free hit-buff, then grab a harrier. Otherwise, the animus alone is not worth bringing the beast.

Shredder: Tenacity
Ah, tenacity. It's cheap (both to bring the Shredder and to cast) and it's a general utility spell. The low cost of 1 fury gives you a little more leeway in spending your fury. +1 DEF and +1ARM with a 6" range let you give models that little extra push they might need. You can use it to get a little extra armor on a bigger, easier-to-hit target (IE: Carnivean-chassis models) or help push your defense up a little higher (most of our warlocks go to DEF17 with this up).

Honestly, Shredders are versatile and useful, and this is one of the reasons to bring one.

Stinger: Lurker
1 Fury and a 6" range to hand out bushwhack? This is potentially useful, but doesn't quite have the utility of, say, tenacity. Bushwhack lets you switch up the order of activation: act, then move, but you must make a full advance for that move. This allows a ranged model to fire and back away from a threat, or it can let a melee model beat up what's close to it, and then reposition.

All in all, it's versatile, but not necessarily something you'll field in every list as the Stinger isn't quite on the level of the Shredder for damage output.

Light Warbeasts
Nephilim Bolt Thrower: Glider
Yay, flight for one fury! Downside? Two things: 1) RNG SELF, and 2) this is a faction with a lot of built-in pathfinder and flight. It lets the Neph bolt thrower ignore terrain, and if you have one of our warlocks that doesn't have pathfinder (...ok, we have a few, to be honest) then they might be able to make use of this.

On the other hand, you tend to bring a Bolt Thrower for its other abilities; Glider is really just a supplimental thing for it (and often, it alone). 

Nephilim Protector: Safeguard
Two fury and RNG 6. What's this get you? Immunity to knockdown, and a flat 3-inch reduction on slam distance. Given that knockdown negates the normally-solid DEF values of Everblight casters, there may be some merit in the animus.

However, this animus is attached to a purely-defensive beast (...whoppin' MAT5, PS12 attack, aw yeah...right). The animus is at best situational, but it can totally save your hide in those situations.

Nephilim Solder: Massacre
Massacre is interesting, as it's both efficient and inefficient at the same time. It's 2 fury and RNG 6. The target can charge without being forced, and if it kills an enemy model with the charge attack it can advance an inch and make another melee attack.

Now, charging and buying another attack cost two fury. If you botch the first attack, then you're out a fury. So, you're gambling, right? Why would we want to gamble?

Look back to the range: Your warlock (or the Nephilim Warrior itself) can cast this spell on a beast, which can now use all its fury for extra attacks. Take something like a Carnivean with its 3 melee attacks; it's now looking at a potential EIGHT melee attacks (plus the spray for assault) as it runs up, crushes something, moves up, swings again, then buys four more attacks in an orgy of destruction, blood, and maniacal laughter on your part.

The downside is that if you want to maximize Massacre, your boosted charge attack of death is going to be against something you're certain you'll finish off.

Altogether, it's a potentially useful animus, but again the chassis may hold it back as the Warrior is not BAD, but not necessarily GREAT.

UPDATE: this is about the only way the Throne of Everblight is going to make extra attacks.  That thing can ALWAYS love some extra attacks, and the 4" melee range means you can engage a crap-ton of targets.

Raek: Shadow Shift
Two fury to become immune to free strikes; RNG: SELF. This is a situational animus. You are going to use this when you want your warlock to get into melee and they'll have to eat free strikes (IE: maybe they're flying? Thagrosh can do it...) on the way. Now, one school of thought is that you'd simply hand off those potential hits via transfers.

Really, this one ends up being situatioal: 1) did you bring a warlock that wants to get into melee? 2) Will they HAVE to eat free strikes? 3) How many free strikes are they likely to take? 4) Couldn't you just camp fury and gamble on getting there? 5) Do you have enough beasts to transfer the free strikes to?

Ultimately, it's situational. Nice when you need it, but it's not the reason you bring a Raek. No, you bring a Raek for its crazy mobility, and you may or may not remember it has an animus.

Teraph: Counterblast
See also: situational. The Teraph's not the most popular beast, and the animus doesn't necessarily help: it's 2 fury and RNG: SELF. If someone wanders into the command range of this model, they can make one normal melee or ranged attack and then the animus drops.

So, which warlocks have a ranged attack that's worth spending two fury on as a keep-away? The Thagroshes have sprays, but so-so RAT and the ability to potentially hit friendlies with sprays. The Lylyths have bows and one supposes that they COULD use it, but 2 fury is kinda steep for a 5-fury 'lock.

Overall, this one is very limited in its utility by its RNG: SELF.

Naga Nightstalker: Wraithbane
At 2 fury, it ain't cheap, but.  But.  Blessed and Magic Weapon are NICE traits to get.  Consider factions with buffs like Defender's Ward or Arcane Shield, and this is 2 Fury for something like +2MAT/+2 damage, or just +3 damage.  Also, you can shoot folks immune to non-magic weapons, and mess up incorporeal on anything (though as to the latter, the NIghtstalker itself has a magic gun for a face, so yeah).

This thing is not an auto-include; we have our own buffs that can power through enemy defensive buffs.  On the other hand, eLylyth LOVES this thing (What? Passage, choir, menoth, what?  Whatevs.), and in general our beasts love it.  The downside?  2 fury, single target.  Not an auto-include, but it's on a workable package and you have a hellaciously versatile/useful animus against some folks.

Heavy Warbeasts
Angelius: Repulsion
Ok, it does have the somewhat-limiting 'RNG: SELF' and it costs two fury. On the other hand, it's free movement of enemy models: push everyone that's within 2" of you back three inches in the order of your choosing.

Yep. Two fury to free you from melee. Combine this with a warbeast that's actually reasonably solid rolling this animus and maxing out its fury (as it can then do a charge and boost the hit for a sick, sick armor piercing shot, or fully boost its ranged attack) and you have a reasonably useful animus.

It's not something you go out of the way to include in your list, but it will certainly be useful.

Carnivean: Spiny Growth
Two fury and a 6" range for +2 ARM and d3 damage to beasts/'jacks that hit you but don't kill you? This is a bloody solid animus. Legion's not exactly brimming with high ARM, but this can jump most heavies up from 'so-so durability' to 'groan-inducing.'

If you bring a carnivean as a can-opener, you WILL get great mileage out of Spiny Growth. It's an excellent piece of a solid package.

Ravagore: Dragon Fire
The Ravagore is a carnivean that trades a little bit of MAT for its bite and spray, and brings siege weapon in its place. Dragon Fire goes nicely with that, and since you're bringing the Ravagore in a ranged-themed list, then yeah, you'll get good use out of the animus.

So, what's that animus do? 1 fury, range 6, and all your warbeast's ranged weapons gain Continuous Fire. Considering this comes on a beast with a RNG 14 AoE3 shot, that's a nice little suppliment for troop-killing and generally inconveniencing stuff. Other ranged warbeasts can make plenty of use of this, as it's a nice counter to Tough (ok, you made it this time? Whatever. Do it again next turn.) and makes lighter targets very worried about stray shots.

This one's a solid compliment to the kind of list that would favor a Ravagore by nature.

Scythean: Slaughterhouse
1 Fury: target Trollblood or eAsphyxious player cries. This animus is a limited-use compliment to the Scythean,as it's a 1 Fury RNG: Self animus. Simply put, the target ignores Tough and removes the dead stuff from play.

Is it situational? Absolutely. Is it golden in those situations? Oh, yeah.

However, the Scythean's a popular choice for its threat range and sheer damage output; SPD6 heavies with a pair of PS17 reach weapons are capable of reaching out and touching something; add Chain Attack: Thresher to that and, well, yeah.

Slaughterhouse is highly situational, and mainly serves to make a select few opponents weep in public when the Scythean goes chop-happy on them.

Seraph: Slipstream
This is a 1-fury, RNG: self animus that has an insane amount of utility. Why? The model using this animus moves. Then, if it moved within 2" of a friendly faction model, you can place that friendly faction model 2" completely within its current position. Limit: once per turn.

Yep. 1 fury for a free two-inch move. This is in the category of stupid-good. There are a variety of uses for this, and I'll list a few of them below:
1) Another two inches to your threat range
2) pull a model out of melee without eating free strikes
3) another 2" of movement on something
4) get a shooter in range AND keep the aiming bonus
5) non-linear movement: get around an obstacle

Frankly, it's on a workhorse beast (the Seraph is workable at melee and ranged without being spectacular) but you end up with a package that can melee, shoot, AND provide you with out-of-phase movement with very generous conditions.

Honestly, I think Slipstream takes the cake for the most versatile animus in the book at this point.

Typhon: Excessive Healing
2 fury for a 'SELF' animus. Man, there's a lot of 'SELF' stuff in here, isn't there? Well, this one lets you heal d3 from an attack that doesn't kill you, instantly.

Yep. Any time the enemy damages you, you get to heal d3. Maybe there's a reason it's RNG: SELF.

That aside, it basically makes Typhon (and potentially your warcaster) laugh off snipers and low-POW attacks. It helps soften the blow against harder hits, but frankly the enemy can work around this by just hitting you. It really does force the enemy to go for fewer, harder hits to deny you more healing rolls.

This animus is bloody important for harder-to-hide warlocks like, oh, Epic Thagrosh and his DEF13 large-based self. Combine this with the affinity, and suddenly eThags becomes a little more survivable.

Bottom line: you generally take Typhon for his damage output, but he goes very well with eThagrosh because of this and would generally help you with any hard-to-hide 'lock.

Proteus: Snacking
Heal whenever you mulch the living, and RFP 'em to boot.  This is a bit situational, and Proteus himself is far from an auto-include, but the animus is a situational way to RFP stuff and repair minor dings/dents to your beasts.  Bottom line: situational at best; it completes Proteus as a beastie with a lotta random tricks, some of which you'll use.

Closing Thoughts
Legion has access to some pretty solid animi. Tenacity is a wonderful little piece of kit; most of the time you don't see folks leave home without a Shredder because the animus is cheap and useful.

The light beasts don't necessarily have stand-out animi. When you get down to it, they're either situational, or don't come on beasts that lots of folks take (if not both).

The heavies have some great workhorse and general utility animi. I'm a fan of Spiny Growth (ARM18 to ARM20 is a nice jump in durability, methinks) and Slipstream as general utility animi. The others tend to be just plain compliments to the army, but that's not a bad thing. It's just that when you're picking heavy beasts, well, you're dropping 8-12 points on a model that should be crucial to your plan. I mean, it's a chunk of resources, and the animus is only part of that. Bring the beast because it can work for your plan, and integrate the animus accordingly. I mean, frankly, ignoring tough and removing models from play is highly situational.

At any rate, I hope this has served as a useful resource for both Legion players and those that might play Legion.

Ok, someone might have noticed that Belphagor is missing from this list. It's deliberate; I can see Belphagor where his green stuff is drying. However, he only comes with Bethayne; I'd rather keep him in with an evaluation of her because of this.

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