Sunday, October 28, 2012

Impressions - The Helldiver

The other week, I had occasion to run a pair of the cheapest (read: least expensive...) warjacks in the game: Cryx's very own Helldiver.

Man, are these guys fun.  They're so fun I figured I ought to blog about them ('s also cleaner than taking a cue from a dog and relieving oneself in a fit of excitement without regard for current location).  I'll also explain just why there's a bloody dorsal fin there.

Like other models, this isn't something explicitly called out on the card (I mean, Steelhead Halberdiers have this ability as well).  However, it's a whopping 3 points for a Helldiver.  As such, I'd recommend fielding them in pairs, but I'll get into a bit more on that later.

These things have three systems: the head, the movement, and the cortex.  The damage grid looks an awful lot like a bone chicken's, but you have to pretty much half-kill  the thing to disable a system.  With DEF14, anyone that gets a shot at it is probably thinking about boosting, but ARM15 is so-so at best.  Most of the durability comes from the DEF, the system layout, and then of course how you deliver the boggarts.

HERE is the major perk for these guys - they only have one explicit ability, a special action called 'Burrow.'  On the first turn, you'll contemplate running if you have the focus and the other guy doesn't have anything that could shoot/damage these guys.  Otherwise, they walk up 5 inches and burrow.  When they burrow, you drop a marker in base contact with their front arc.  The marker's about the size of a penny.

The next turn, you place the Helldiver anywhere within 3" (note this is WITHIN, not 'COMPLETELY WITHIN') of the burrow marker.  The only way to stop this thing from coming up is crowding the burrow marker and leaving it nowhere to set the base.  This is...not...easy.

And here's the biggest strength - it's damned near impossible to stop these guys.  Yeah, they can't burrow into rock or man-made stuff, but it's advancing close to 10" a turn and you can't shoot it.

Angle of Attack
Note that they pop up ANYWHERE within 3" of the burrow marker.  If you need to grab an angle, this is how you do it.

Damage Output
You get one PS13 chomp on MAT6 with this thing.  That's it.  You're not going to do a lot of harm without outside help.

Basically, you've got a little dude that can go just about anywhere with relative impunity.  He's not too hot on holding territory but they can do it in a pinch.  Note also that once the Helldiver does something other than advance and burrow, the enemy might experience a reaction much akin to watching a Khador clam-jack open: HOLY CRAP IT'S VULNERABLE KILL IT!

The Slam-Bot
Throw it 1-2 focus and slam.  Resurfacing after a burrow gives you a ton of freedom in grabbing just the right angle and making sure you've got the requisite 3" to pull off the actual slam.  If you're slamming a large-based model, you might want a second focus for the boost, since you kinda take the -2 to hit since it's bigger than you.

Note that the slam-bot can of course play into assassinations by providing convenient knockdowns and/or opening LOS.  Or, you can just make the enemy spend time/resources in forcing jacks/beasts to stand back up.

The Solo Hunter
MAT6 PS13 is probably enough to handle a solo.  They get nowhere to hide.

The Assassin
If you're going to use the Helldiver as an assassination threat, I'd consider a pair.  One may not be enough to get the job done, and it's a lot harder to hide from a pair of these if one starts the game on either flank.  The major perk of using these guys as an assassination vector lies in

You will need to overcome the Helldiver's accuracy and damage issues, but we're Cryx! We can debuff armor and DEF, and of course someone can obligingly slam something into our high-DEF target to make it not so high-DEF.

Casters of Note
Basically, anyone can use these guys as slam-bots.  They need no focus until you want to crank out the slam, and they can always solo-hunt.  However, some casters can really make these guys, whatever squee-like behavior a Helldiver does.  I dunno.

Her feat and Dark Guidance is the perfect storm for these guys - the ideal turn is something like this:
1) Helldivers pop up, draw LOS on enemy caster
2) Thanks to Ritual Sacrifice, Helldivers get focus-loaded
3) Skarre pops feat.  Helldivers go up to PS18
4) Skarre casts Dark Guidance.  Helldivers are PS18 with 6+3d6 to hit
5) Hilarity Ensues

Even outside of feat turn, Dark Guidance is a huge help for these guys, especially if the enemy doesn't camp.

Warwitch Deneghra
On paper, Denny1 has the knockdown and debuffs to make these guys work, but in practice she's probably more comfortable using stuff that doesn't require as much focus to work, since Scourge is half her focus (assuming we can get a Siren to power boost the arc node and a skarlock for the potential ghostwalk).

She loves her some slam-bots.  They're cheap, and they LOVE terminal velocity.  Hell, a pair of these guys alone slamming living targets make that spell efficient - you're looking at a two-focus slam/boost done twice for three focus right there.  I'm pretty sure Lamoron has a hilarious bonejack swarm army  using a couple of these guys.

She gets the utmost accuracy out of these guys, honestly. (...ok, against living models, that is)

Feat turn TK + Feast of Worms runs you four focus, leaving ~3 to play with for these guys.  As an added bonus, they don't ask for handouts prior to doing stuff, and are cheap and can contribute to board control with the Scav.

Sample List
10 Satyxis Raiders
-Sea Witch
10 Bane Knights
Bane Lord Tartarus
Satyxis Raider Captain
Skarlock Thrall
3 Scrap Thralls
Ogrun Bokur (Skarre as the client, obviously...)
..,.invariably some other stuff, I think maybe I had the Withershadow Combine in there but I could be wrong.

Basic logic is to use Raiders as a first-wave jam if necessary, move the Banes into position.  Helldivers are here to move up on the side; Skarre can solve their accuracy and/or hitting power issues and probably fuel them as well, given Ritual Sacrifice and a Skarlock.

There are doubtless other uses for these guys, but I feel that the above casters can really make them shine.  Otherwise, this is the kind of jack that doesn't necessarily get a ton of table time, so you might also enjoy the 'OMG, what is THAT thing?' advantage.

Also, there's a delightful little psychological advantage.  You might make the other guy feel like they're on a clock, because there's a fair chance that the Helldivers WILL reach his back line, and the only way to stop them is deny them a lane of attack or a zone to dig up in.  Otherwise, they're kinda gonna get there.  For 3-6 points, you can get some decent utility that doesn't cost focus until you're ready to use it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Reflections on the Kraken, volume 1

I finally painted, based, and assembled THE KRAKEN.  It's a sweet model, and before I get into the meat of the post I'd suggest that the purpose-made foam from Battlefoam is NOT a bad idea, considering that the gun and tentacles are kind of jutting out from the main body.

I've gotten a few games with the Kraken under Skarre2 at 50 points.  At 35, I feel you're making a Colossal the centerpiece, and at 50 you can bring enough support and/or a backup heavy hitter, because there's really no hiding these guys.

Why Skarre2?
If you were just to glance over the spell list and errata for her feat, you might think "Wait, you mean I can't protect it with my feat, or move it with Perdition or Admonition?  Wait, what?"

Ok, that's a fair reaction.  However, you're missing out on the fact that Skarre2 still has two things the Kraken really wants: an ARM buff (Death Ward) and an accuracy buff (Black Spot) that is hilarious with that 4" melee range against a unit.  Additionally, if the enemy is using heavy beasts/jacks as their hitters, they've concentrated their power in a few easy feat targets.  I'm accustomed to using Skarre2's feat as a "NYAH! YOU CANNOT TARGET MEE!" deal, but tagging enemy models is not without merit.

The List
10 Satyxis Raiders
-Sea Witch
Withershadow Combine
Necrotech/Scrap Thrall
Raider Captain
Warwitch Siren

I believe that's what it is; it's been a few days and I've reorganized my cards (plus 'real life' intervened and whatnot...).  The logic of the list is thus:

A backup hitter is never a bad thing.  In a pinch, I throw it in front of the Kraken as a reach barrier that threatens free strikes, and while people are focusing on the giant tentacle monster of death, they might not be as worried about the soul-threshering beastie of nastiness.  Plus, Ghost Shot combined with the Kraken's long-ranged gun gives me some shooting options.  I can also Admonition or Perdition this happy little thing, and black spot + thresher is funny, especially if there's a jack nearby so I can wander up, thresher for a bunch of dead guys and souls, then turn around and pummel the jack with soul-fueled smacking action.

I could probably go Deathripper if I wanted, but the node is out there for a timely Black Spot or Perdition.  I feel kind of light with just one node, but this guy starts out with Admonition and can always get the feat for additional protection.  In a pinch, the gun can mesh well with a Black Spot that's already in place, as a RAT7 POW14 is pretty fun to dole out to single-wound infantry.

Raiders + UA + Captain
This module is for jamming up infantry.  I can stop heavy hitters with the feat, but no one really wants to deal with a bunch of high-DEF, knockdown-immune blast-immune reach women.  Additionally, Backlash and Feedback on the whips is a potent combo against anyone that has jacks.  If I can't score the backlash/feedback assassination, I can make the enemy worry about the shooting from the Harrower and Kraken.

Also, the Captain makes Skarre herself immune to knockdown, which means they've got to deal with her DEF16.

Withershadow Combine
They're a solid utility unit, what can I say?  Skarre2 is potentially rocking three upkeeps a turn, and while she CAN cut herself to upkeep them, I can also just get one for free.  If there's a crucial shot, puppet strings, and if the enemy has something like an ARM buff (...because I don't have a good way to buff damage output beyond corpse tokens on the Kraken) I can undo that.  Plus, it's more shooting.

Warwitch Siren
She's solid, what can I say?  If I need to KO infantry, she might not get a second Venom off of black spot, but an effective magic ability of 9 along with ignoring concealment/cover is nothing to scoff at.  She also helps out with focus efficiency (duh) and can contribute to the fun with a timely Shadowbind on a heavy, which makes her one of the few things that can stop a colossal.  I mean, the big jack is going to flatten her for her temerity, but sometimes halting that opposing heavy hitter is worth it.

Necrotech/Scrap Thrall
Why not bring repair with a colossal?  If I take some early-game plinking, I can likely hammer the dents out.  Anything I can do to get more boxes on a stupid-durable ARM21 monstrosity seems like a good idea.  And scrap thralls amuse me.

Skarlock Thrall
Why not get more focus efficiency?  Most of the time this guy is just re-casting Death Ward on the Kraken, though he gives me an option for getting an Admonition back out, or even tossing Perdition out on lower-DEF infantry. 

In Battle
Some highlights of this list and the colossal include -

Death-warded kraken surviving a charge from Stormblades.  Black Spot + tentacles = hilarity and a LOT fewer Stormblades.  Then it beat the hell out of the accompanying Stormclad; rolling 2d6+2 for damage is sweet against a heavy.

Against a Hyperion under Vyros1, a long-distance charge from mini-feating Raiders (only about half got there) and Backlash meant Vyros lost about half his life, and suddenly the odd Killshot! from a Kraken punching out things is a LOT more frightening, especially with Seas of Fate and/or Puppet Strings. 

The Harrower's presence meant that heavy hitters had more than one target to go after, and of course black spot + reach + thresher is always funny.  He cleaned up a unit of Storm knights, then proceeded to unload soul tokens into a nearby Lancer, which was a bad time for the Lancer.  It was also feat turn.

Further Thoughts
I like the ARM buff and Death Ward's ability to let me pick the column.  Sadly, it doesn't let me pick the grid so the enemy still has some flexibility in knocking out systems (...ok, mostly an arm).  However, ARM21 is still much nicer than ARM19 when you're going to absorb that many hits.

Offhand, I'm tempted to gravitate towards casters that can buff my ability to hit with the Kraken's MAT6, and possibly run another heavy hitter.  Asphyxious3 and the Witch Coven come to mind as likely candidates, hampered only by the fact I need to assemble them (...and Vociferon).

I'm not sure I want to try this thing in 35, as the average caster's jack points plus an arc node is going to be around 16-17 points of the army already, which means an infantry unit and a minimum of support.