Saturday, September 15, 2012

In Defense of the Carnivean

When it comes to heavies for the Legion, I think a lot of people look for something flashy - the Scythean is a SPD6 reach heavy hitter, the Ravagore has a long-range continuous-fire gun, the Angelius has crazy armor-piercing and speed and utility...and where's that leave the Carnivean?

The Carnivean is Legion's attrition-based beat-stick with a side of trickery.  Attrition isn't always a popular style with Legion, but those who think the Carnivean a pure beat-stick with so-so threat range are in for a shock.

The Basics
If you're familiar with the Scythean and Ravagore, you're familiar with the base chassis - you get a solid SPD value with pathfinder and eyeless sight, a solid damage spiral with so-so ARM18 and laughable DEF11.  You get a solid FURY4, and Legion-standard MAT6.

The 'Wait, what?' part of the show
You also get a point cost of 11.  This tends to make folks sit back and think; the Scythean is a couple points cheaper and the Ravagore has a long-range direct-fire weapon.  The Carnivean's gun is a cool 10" spray, which happens to be tied to a comically-sad RAT4 (Khador doesn't feel bad for you, but that's about it).

The beginning of 'Oh, ok...'
So, that PC of 11...bothersome, yes?  Well, first, consider damage output.  You get a pair of PS16 open fists, so you've got all your power attacks.  You don't have reach, but you DO have a PS18 bite, which is just plain fun.  You have arguably the highest damage output in Legion, unbuffed: a pair of PS16s, followed by five bloody PS18 smacks.  You also get your spray on the charge, so that's a PS14 for free if you get the charge off.

Attrition, what?
Legion gets a rep (deservedly so) for assassination.  Attrition is a viable game strategy, and the Carnivean is an enabler - spiny growth is a stupidly useful animus for attrition.  ARM18 is so-so.  ARM20 is annoying to crack, and DEF11 vs DEF12 isn't really that big a deal so if you have the spare fury and the lower DEF then Spiny Growth is a superior defensive animus.

The other fun part of attrition is thus - when a jack/beast smacks you and doesn't kill you, they eat d3 damage in return.  So, you're cutting their damage output and you are in turn damaging their heavies that want to crush your beasts in hand-to-hand combat.  If you've already softened up the heavies, you might luck out and KO some systems.  This damage also ignores armor value, so a pissed-off Khador heavy can take the same few-d3 that an angry Cryx jack can muster.

There were tricks, y/n?
The biggest trick that Carnivean has is assault on the SP10.  People talk about threat ranges, and if you want to maximize the threat range, you can reach out and touch someone 19 inches away.  THAT is why you're on a bloody RAT4.  The ideal way to pull off the hail-mary is slap Spiny Growth on the Carnivean from an outside source (IE: Warlock or Succubus), then charge and double-boost the POW14 that's coming from nowhere.  If you have a Succubs and Ravagore, you can get the continuous-fire animus and then perhaps the spiny growth up as well, too.

The other big trick on the spray is tagging support models and/or casters.  Most of the time, people assume blocking LOS is enough.  Not so much with the spray.  If you can get the angles right, you can drop fire on support models, and then decide if you want to spend fury boosting those rolls (...which you do if you want to kill the support, as RAT4 is once again comical and Legion's only RAT buff is aiming, outside of feats and a few DEF debuffs).  Note also sprays get around a lot of things, including 'can't target me!' crap like Skarre2's feat.

The Team Player
The Carnivean loves a few models.  It's an attrition-enabler with hideous damage potential, so that's what you're adding to/emphasizing with the thing.  As a rule, anyone that can make our heavies hit more accurately is always a bonus, but this thing is more of an attrition piece.  With that theme in mind, here are models to consider -

Honestly, this guy and the Carnivean are a match made in hell.  With his passive Death Shroud for -2STR, a Spiny-Growth'ed Carnivean is effectively ARM22 in melee, and hits jacks/beasts for 1d3 each time he gets tagged.  He can also use Fog of War to pump the bugger up to DEF13 vs ranged, which is actually missable.  Attuned Spirit[Legion] means a 2-cost animus isn't that terrible, since pThags gets one off for free.  Finally, pThags has an attrition-oriented feat, so if you can avoid remove-from-play you'll enjoy getting a heavy back.  This means you can over-extend on a crazy spray, try to snipe some support, and then spiny-growth something without fear of losing your Carnie.

Her feat is attrition-oriented, and she has quite a selection of beast buffs.  Access to Spiny Growth only helps her out by making her other beasts harder to kill.  Also, you can give the Carnie reach if/when he needs it. 

Respawn and melee immunity are both fun on this model.  She'll let it overextend itself a bit more, and you don't always have to pop the feat just to keep this thing alive.

These are heavies that benefit from the +2ARM, as DEF11 vs DEF12 isn't that huge a difference, so tenacity is probably not as cool a choice.

Anyone who plays/has played Legion knows the Shepherd is nasty.  My point in mentioning her here is reminding you that Beast Master lets you force the Carnivean outside of your control area, which can be a useful tip when you're taking full advantage of that 19" threat range.  You pretty much HAVE to boost that RAT4 spray.

If you're fighting against Hordes, there's a good chance that they'll run heavies hot on fury to kill your ARM20+ Carnivean.  Forsaken are nice for making sure it's a costly kill.

Throne of Everblight
The Throne loves all the durability you can give it.  This is especially fun with either of the Thagroshes, as they can pump it to an effective ARM23 with Spiny Growth.

Sample 25pt Mangled Metal
Thagrosh1 [+5]
-Carnivean [11]
-Ravagore [10]
-Scythean [9]

Thagrosh1's feat is stupid-potent at this level.  Additionally, you can start the piece trade with either a Carnivean's hail-mary spray, or a Scythean's long natural threat range.  You can also gun for a ranged assassination with the spray and Ravagore shot + continuous fire.  Finally, if all else fails you have three ARM22 heavies and an effective fourth, provided there's no RFP out.

Sample 35pt Legion Attrition
Thagrosh1 [+5]
-Carnivean [11]
-Ravagore [10]
-Shredder [2]
5 Gatormen [9]
Forsaken [2]
Annyssa Ryvaal [4]
Deathstalker [2]
Succubus [2]

Much as I like the unholy Carni-chassis trinity, this is another nasty build for attrition.  I've opted for Gatormen over Legion heavy infantry, for a couple of reasons - Dirge of Mists + Fog of War + Tenacity = DEF16 vs ranged Gatormen.  Get into melee and if you can bring Death Shroud into play, your medium infantry are basically ARM20 multi-wounders.

The Gatormen also screen Thagrosh, which is a hell of a bonus.  Thagrosh can choose between buffing his DEF or buffing his ARM.

The Ravagore is in there as another high-ARM heavy, and because of the gun.  That gun is sweet.  Furthermore, you always have Dragon's Blood to pump STR and make this guy hit almost like a Carnivean.  Kind of.  Well, it helps.

The Forsaken is there for fury management, and because anyone in Hordes is going to run up some Fury clawing through the wall of ARM20+ models. 

The ranged support solos give you a little more oomph and some actual flankers.  I suppose if you didn't want the Ravagore's gun,m you could always drop the Ravagore down to a Scythean and switch the last 2pt solo out for a Totem Hunter.  I've had great luck with our raptor solo, and enjoy her immensely.

The Succubus is a solid model in terms of helping hand out 2-cost animi, and unlike Thagrosh2 you're not going to be crapping yourself with abomination.

If this list went up to 50, I'd add a Shepherd, battle engine, and consider bringing mor flanker-type things, possibly up to/including squeezing in raptors (maybe a min unit and the battle engine?).  Speedy flankers, and use the battle engine + spiny growth to tie up the enemy while everyone else gets into position.

 I'm a big fan of the Carnivean and I don't think it gets enough love, to be honest.  It doesn't have the melee threat range of the scythean or the spectacular defender-like gun of the Ravagore, and it's not a sexy long-range assassination/armor-piercing shot like the Angelius.

It DOES boast a solid defensive animus, a high volume of hard-hitting attacks, and some wonderful options with an assault SP10.  Give this guy a chance, you'll like what he can do.  Also, given the number of hit boxes a Gargantuan is going to have, Spiny Growth is bound to be awesome on the Archangel.