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 Post subject: Sheffield Slaughter
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 8:35 am 
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Big, long-standing UK event, multi-system this year. Results here:

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Saurian Ancients 123. What makes them strong?

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 Post subject: Re: Sheffield Slaughter
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:10 am 
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SpellArcher wrote:
Big, long-standing UK event, multi-system this year. Results here:

http://warhammer.org.uk/phpBB/viewtopic ... &start=180

Saurian Ancients 123. What makes them strong?


Well, they were very good in 7th and 8th before they got their new book. They were still pretty nasty with their 8th ed book. In 9th age, just about all of their prayers seem to have been answered. Core Saurus are much better with upgrade options and the new Spears and HW+S, all their characters are good options now, their monsters are good now (and even better with combined profiles), skinks still haven't been reined in... Honestly, I think they're the new DE. Lots and lots of good or really good options, some a bit under-priced. However, from comments on the 9th age forums, we know that about 6 armies including Saurian Ancients have been reviewed (as of about a week ago) and that some of the reviewed armies have been told they don't pay for their army rules properly. Between that and their consistently good performance, I expect SA will suffer in the March release.


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 Post subject: Re: Sheffield Slaughter
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:10 pm 
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lies, damn lies and statistics? The other two saurian ancients became 33rd and 35th. So, one tournament is not really something to base any definitive claim on. It could very well be the case that the three players devised a list that was hard to deal with in the meta and that they got lucky at some point.

Which is of course not to say that they aren't a strong book. I do think Cold Phoenix has a point in his argument. In the end, core choices form the basis of a good book. Since you must that 25% of it, if you have strong options available in core then you're 25% ahead of a book with only average choices. And many of the changes benefit the Core Saurus warriors. S4 really helps lots. And if you then get bonuses, like the new spears, then you quickly become a great choice.

Rod

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 Post subject: Re: Sheffield Slaughter
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:14 pm 
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I havnt played against them but have heard there are a few builds including 4 steg + carno monster mash which are as good as unstoppable.

From what i can see every single HE list was shooty avoidance. Top list was three fire phoenixi (one with archmage on), three heroes on eagles, three rbts and a load of core shooting and silver helm darts. I really hope the march revision moves HE and the meta in general away from this kind of list, because it simply isnt what i want a game of 9th to be.

At the last 8th tourney i went to before xmas i played on the top table game 5 against a DE shooty avoidance cookie cutter list (ie however many dark riders, mage riders, rbts). We were drawing 10 - 10 (ended up losing 9 - 11, wow) and he said we might get paired again for game 6 because of the result. I said honestly that i would rather just forfeit than play again because moving my stuff, and him just moving his fast cav around it to shoot with 5 xbow shots for 5 rounds, was honestly the dullest game i have ever played.

*praying* that the 9th team find a way round this


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 Post subject: Re: Sheffield Slaughter
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:45 pm 
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It's worth mentioning that some of the options in the SA book look reasonable on their own but get really nasty when spammed or combined with other abilities. The engine of the gods can reduce the casting value of a lore by 2. Seems reasonable until you combine it with a slann with +4 to cast and extra channels. At that point you can cast much more reliably than anyone else or throw less dice at each spell and force more through.

Stegs are another example. The Giant Bow is now a 36" S6 QTF bolt thrower. Not really good with BS3 normal skinks unless they can close to 18" and avoid cover penalties, but quite accurate with a BS5 Skink Chief. Each Steg is also stubborn with t6, 3+ armour and 5-6 wounds. They're also good in combat between d6+1 Impact Hits, Thunderstomp, the Steg's attacks and the crew. When you have 3+ (2 from rare and 1-2 as hero mounts) they start to have a big impact on the game because each is a bolt thrower, chariot and tough stubborn monster all in one package.


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 Post subject: Re: Sheffield Slaughter
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 11:44 pm 
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Prince of Spires wrote:
lies, damn lies and statistics? The other two saurian ancients became 33rd and 35th. So, one tournament is not really something to base any definitive claim on. It could very well be the case that the three players devised a list that was hard to deal with in the meta and that they got lucky at some point.

I was picking up on this comment from the Milton Keynes Massacre thread really Rod:

Jal wrote:
HBE are probably strongest army (with Lizards).


Prince of Spires wrote:
Which is of course not to say that they aren't a strong book. I do think Cold Phoenix has a point in his argument. In the end, core choices form the basis of a good book. Since you must that 25% of it, if you have strong options available in core then you're 25% ahead of a book with only average choices. And many of the changes benefit the Core Saurus warriors. S4 really helps lots. And if you then get bonuses, like the new spears, then you quickly become a great choice.

While I feel slow, solid infantry can be a decent pick (Plaguebearers for example) I would rarely point to them as a decisive strength of an army. Helpful though.

PadForce wrote:
I havnt played against them but have heard there are a few builds including 4 steg + carno monster mash which are as good as unstoppable.

I take what you and Cold Phoenix are saying here Padforce but it wasn't that great in 8th. I guess the Engine Ward could be very helpful. The fact that cannon can't kill them in one shot anymore matters too I think.

PadForce wrote:
From what i can see every single HE list was shooty avoidance. Top list was three fire phoenixi (one with archmage on), three heroes on eagles, three rbts and a load of core shooting and silver helm darts. I really hope the march revision moves HE and the meta in general away from this kind of list, because it simply isnt what i want a game of 9th to be.

My take on this is as ever. The odd game against that kind of list is an interesting test of skill. If most of your games are, it gets a bit depressing.

Cold Phoenix wrote:
It's worth mentioning that some of the options in the SA book look reasonable on their own but get really nasty when spammed or combined with other abilities. The engine of the gods can reduce the casting value of a lore by 2. Seems reasonable until you combine it with a slann with +4 to cast and extra channels. At that point you can cast much more reliably than anyone else or throw less dice at each spell and force more through.

This makes sense. I played the winner of this tournament under 8th edition, he brought a Slann with all the upgrades. One of the very few games I've lost to magic. If anything the magic seems stronger now and other people's got toned down.

Things that struck me first read-through:

1) Unconquerable Will looks great.
2) Caiman Ancient interesting, not overpowered, ditto the new unit upgrades.
3) Animal Totems. +1 Movement?
4) 25 Braves min for Skrox unit.
5) Weapon Master any good on Temple Guard?
6) Raptor Riders look improved.
7) Poison from Thyroscutus interesting.
8] Engine on Ancient looks very strong.
9) Predatory Roar on Stygiosaur could be a game-winner.
10) Tricks with Skink Palanquin Hatred possible?

I guess it's how it all fits together.

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 Post subject: Re: Sheffield Slaughter
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 8:32 am 
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SpellArcher wrote:
I was picking up on this comment from the Milton Keynes Massacre thread really Rod
Jal wrote:
HBE are probably strongest army (with Lizards).

Interesting to read, since many people here actually consider the HBE to be one of the weaker books. Was any specific reason given for the HBE statement?
SpellArcher wrote:
Prince of Spires wrote:
Which is of course not to say that they aren't a strong book. I do think Cold Phoenix has a point in his argument. In the end, core choices form the basis of a good book. Since you must that 25% of it, if you have strong options available in core then you're 25% ahead of a book with only average choices. And many of the changes benefit the Core Saurus warriors. S4 really helps lots. And if you then get bonuses, like the new spears, then you quickly become a great choice.
While I feel slow, solid infantry can be a decent pick (Plaguebearers for example) I would rarely point to them as a decisive strength of an army. Helpful though.

In itself I don't think slow infantry will win the game. They lack some crucial things to do so. But if you have to take slow infantry as part of your army, it pays if they are a strong choice that can actually do something. It's the reason why in 8th you wouldn't see spearmen (or LSG) in a HE list. They weren't just slow infantry. They were also expensive and didn't actually kill anything (having about the same hitting power as a clanrat...). However, get them to S4 and suddenly they become a lot more attractive (since in combat, S is still the single most important attribute). And they change from something that can be ignored to be dealt with later to something that needs at least some attention.

In my mind, if you want to improve an average book, the first place to look is core. It will always make up at least 25% of the army. And if it sucks then you are always starting from behind.

In general I think that any list that spams something is bound to give some trouble in some instances. There is little way to get around that without very complex rules I think. And it's simply due to the rock-paper-scissors nature of the game. By building an extreme list, you reduce the number of ways your army can be dealt with. Especially by all-commers lists.

Rod

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 Post subject: Re: Sheffield Slaughter
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 9:52 am 
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Quote:
In itself I don't think slow infantry will win the game. They lack some crucial things to do so. But if you have to take slow infantry as part of your army, it pays if they are a strong choice that can actually do something. It's the reason why in 8th you wouldn't see spearmen (or LSG) in a HE list. They weren't just slow infantry. They were also expensive and didn't actually kill anything (having about the same hitting power as a clanrat...). However, get them to S4 and suddenly they become a lot more attractive (since in combat, S is still the single most important attribute). And they change from something that can be ignored to be dealt with later to something that needs at least some attention.

In my mind, if you want to improve an average book, the first place to look is core. It will always make up at least 25% of the army. And if it sucks then you are always starting from behind.

In general I think that any list that spams something is bound to give some trouble in some instances. There is little way to get around that without very complex rules I think. And it's simply due to the rock-paper-scissors nature of the game. By building an extreme list, you reduce the number of ways your army can be dealt with. Especially by all-commers lists.

Rod


Err, Sarus start at M4, but one of the new upgrades they can buy gives them +1M. Also, one unit of Saurus can also take a 25 point magic banner. If the SA player wants to be fast they can easily get a block of 35 Saurus with M6 or M5 with the Icon of the Relentless company (banner which allows a one use triple march). If you've seen Ogres, you know that M6 isn't really slow anymore. The Icon also has a similar effect. Sure, it's only one turn, but those extra 5" can easily translate into charges a turn earlier.


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 Post subject: Re: Sheffield Slaughter
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 11:46 am 
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Prince of Spires wrote:
Interesting to read, since many people here actually consider the HBE to be one of the weaker books. Was any specific reason given for the HBE statement?

No Rod. Jal has fantastic results with elves, he knows what makes them tick. To some extent High Elves have historically been an army which can either bomb or fly, depending on how they are played.

Prince of Spires wrote:
In itself I don't think slow infantry will win the game. They lack some crucial things to do so. But if you have to take slow infantry as part of your army, it pays if they are a strong choice that can actually do something. It's the reason why in 8th you wouldn't see spearmen (or LSG) in a HE list. They weren't just slow infantry. They were also expensive and didn't actually kill anything (having about the same hitting power as a clanrat...). However, get them to S4 and suddenly they become a lot more attractive (since in combat, S is still the single most important attribute). And they change from something that can be ignored to be dealt with later to something that needs at least some attention.

Looking back, It's hard to find much of this kind of infantry in Warhammer that has been a real threat to the enemy. Once you get to 3+ Wards and the like this changes somewhat but on the whole. These units just really struggle to get into meaningful enemy and land real blows. Even when they're quite powerful, like Chaos Warriors say. They always need other unit types to get them into combats and keep certain enemy threats quiet. Historically, Saurus haven't been that great, despite being S4. I guess once you get up to M5/6 and they get stronger in combat, then they become functional.

Prince of Spires wrote:
In my mind, if you want to improve an average book, the first place to look is core. It will always make up at least 25% of the army. And if it sucks then you are always starting from behind.

There have been weak books with great Core (WE's in early 8th) and strong books with dodgy Core. If your characters, cannons, Monstrous stuff for example is strong enough, you can suck up bad Core. But yeah, it has to help. I guess Skink Skirmishers have always been good, which complicates things.

Prince of Spires wrote:
In general I think that any list that spams something is bound to give some trouble in some instances. There is little way to get around that without very complex rules I think. And it's simply due to the rock-paper-scissors nature of the game. By building an extreme list, you reduce the number of ways your army can be dealt with. Especially by all-commers lists.

I think what PadForce is unhappy about is that 9th Age is pushing armies, especially HE's, towards avoidance builds because those work best. If stand-up-and-fight builds were buffed, they'd become more popular and games would be more fun. Is that right PadForce?

Cold Phoenix wrote:
Err, Sarus start at M4, but one of the new upgrades they can buy gives them +1M. Also, one unit of Saurus can also take a 25 point magic banner. If the SA player wants to be fast they can easily get a block of 35 Saurus with M6 or M5 with the Icon of the Relentless company (banner which allows a one use triple march). If you've seen Ogres, you know that M6 isn't really slow anymore. The Icon also has a similar effect. Sure, it's only one turn, but those extra 5" can easily translate into charges a turn earlier.

I think this depends a lot on the enemy and to what extent this Saurus block has a solid target to head for. Part of the reason Ogres went from fearsome in 8th to mid-table was because the subsequent books, elves obviously, WoC, Daemons, were so damn mobile that even M6 blocks (lacking Swiftstride and especially Free Reforms) were slow in comparison. Give a powerful M6 block a fairly static target and it's golden. How many of the stronger builds in 9th Age need to fight this head on could be a key question.

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 Post subject: Re: Sheffield Slaughter
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 3:08 pm 
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Yes you are spot on SA. I play Warhammer to have fights, not spend 6 turns with skirmishers dancing around each other pinging s3 arrows about.

When at the Cardiff GT next week i really hope the lists are not so dominated by shooty avoidance and i will be genuinely unhappy if over the long term its what the 9th rules trend towards. I may even stop playing if that is the case, which would be a great disappointment to me personally as i do in general really enjoy WHFB.

That being said i fully acknowlesge the difficulties in balancing the game. In my mind the problems flow as follows:
1) dont want the game.dominated by deathstars (absolutely fair and noble aim)
2) need redirecting / blocking mechanics as a result of 1)
3) 2 problems immediately arise now: a) because of the way monsters function (on spot pivots, fly) in the game they cant be as easily blocked and therefore become relatively better compared to infantry
b) stuff that can shoot becomes relatively better because it can do stuff in everyphase, rather than just sitting there like a turkey because there is one horseman in its charge arc.
4) further to the above as a result of monsters becoming better shooting becomes better indirectly because you typically either want to be able to shoot stuff before it gets to you, or if monsters are pivot moving / flying around out of your charge arcs shooting can still do something to them, whilst infantry if outmanuvered is completely useless. Add to this that it is way easier to get skirmishers out of anyone else's charge arcs.
5) spamming shooting or monsters exacerbates the above issues, and as mentioned by PoS all comers lists only have so many solutions against different types of opponents be it skirmishers or monsters.. this makes it even better for use in tournaments given the benefit of points denial.

Anyway thats completely imo.. TBH if it were me i would probably be happy to have 0-1 (or other limitations) on either individual monsters, unit types or otherwise. The current system doesnt seem to be working to promote varied lists.. you just get more and more benefit from each unit of skirmishers or monster you take.


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 Post subject: Re: Sheffield Slaughter
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 11:22 pm 
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PadForce wrote:
When at the Cardiff GT next week i really hope the lists are not so dominated by shooty avoidance and i will be genuinely unhappy if over the long term its what the 9th rules trend towards. I may even stop playing if that is the case, which would be a great disappointment to me personally as i do in general really enjoy WHFB.

As it's 80+ players, hopefully you'll get some decent variety PadForce. Some armies just don't support avoidance.

Your analysis shows well the links between all the popular elements and just how things are as they are. Traditionally the ETC (and 9th Age is of course heavily influenced by the ETC) for example seems to have treated Deathstars as a lesser evil, HE World Dragon buses being a prime example. This was the price of reining in the magic (and shooting) phase. Magic is still nerfed, though I guess auto-protection for only one character balances this. World Dragon though, is history.

Again, unless there are counters, players will bring faster, more flexible elements, in this case flying/monsters. In 8th, these were kept honest to some extent by cannon, other shooting (RBT?) and magic. Nerfs to magic help flying monsters because there are a limited number of counters here. Just how nerfed cannons are I'm finding it hard to judge. They still inflict D3+2 wounds on Flyers. They are slightly less accurate. Maybe changes to army lists like Engine of the Gods and new limited access to Skillcannon for example, are more significant.

Traditionally there are solid counters to Skirmishers. Magic Missiles, heavily armoured Flyers, some shooting. But I guess what we come back to, as with your analysis PadForce, is what are combat infantry actually good for, if they don't answer the above issues? This question recurs in Warhammer. In late 7th guys like Ant Spiers and Russ Veal were making infantry blocks work in a very challenging meta. By mid-8th...

Seredain wrote:

I love Infantry

The reason I think infantry is still the heart and soul of this game (in 8th more than ever) is because, firstly, it has more wounds and attacks per point spent than any other unit type. You get more attacks per points spent out of swordmasters or white lions than you do out of a monster (it should be noted that thunderstomps, unlike basic attacks, are not universally applicable). You also need to put a lot of wounds on (or ranks into) an infantry unit before you can claim the points for it. Infantry is therefore less prone to rolls of bad luck: more attacks and more wounds means more dice: a redundancy of bad luck that doesn't mean the end of your unit when you roll six 1's (especially if it's steadfast at the end of it all).With the right kind of weapons or the wrong swing of luck, by contrast, non-steadfast monsters can get killed or broken and instantly surrender a ton of points. A couple of doom divers render the average armoured cavalry unit just a small unit of T3 models. These can be brittle units in a game of luck.

It is, therefore, much easier to direct the movement of monsters (hide!) and cavalry units (rush!), with your ranged power, than it is an infantry unit with wounds to spare. See the psychological effect of a mealy 2 bolt throwers on a daemon prince and you'll see what I mean. The attacks/wounds ratio also makes infantry, generally speaking, the best target for your magical augments, simply because a weaponskill or strength-boosting spell does more where it's boosting a larger number of attacks, and a ward or regen spell does more for a larger number of wounds. These wounds also gives a unit critical mass. You can take a load of models out of an infantry unit but, as long as there are a certain number left, it can stand steadfast and keep fighting. Almost uniquely, infantry can serve a useful purpose against any unit even where it loses combat.

This basic strength in attacks and numbers means infantry, by its nature, performs equally well in attack or defence. This means that it can control board space without having to rely on a specific set of circumstances, in particular a successful charge, coming about to give it effectiveness. By contrast, if a cavalry unit or chariot (relying on movement and temporary strength/hit bonuses) doesn't get the charge, it usually isn't worth the points you've spent on it (the notable exceptions are units like the helm bus, where high strength ASF characters and excellent leadership effectively turn the unit into mobile armoured infantry). For units like this, board space is therefore something to be exploited but also feared: you want to get within charge range, but you don't want to get charged. Infantry doesn't care about charges (except in the face of lance and/or impact hits in enough numbers to destroy its critical mass of attacks and/or steadfast): it will fight just the same regardless. Properly supported and defended, therefore, infantry controls board space better than any other type of unit. It therefore gives you the best chance of hemming your opponent in, pinning his forces in such a way as to make them sitting ducks for your fast attack units - like a prickly fence. If you can't find a way to break enemy infantry with those fast attack units, however, anyone can show up with some basic rank and file and grind your best laid plans to a screaming halt.

Now, I have spent most of this thread trying to argue that all-infantry armies are a dumb idea. And I hold to that. Infantry is the slowest type of unit, it's the easiest target for harrassers and it's the easiest type of unit to put wounds on with the largest number of 8th Edition weapons: a pattern that has only increased with the new prevalence of monstrous cavalry and core chariots. So, if it's not properly supported, anyone can shove a couple of templates and 5 khorne chariots into an infantry unit and grind it into nothingness. Properly supported, however, infantry will block and then overwhelm units like this, without losing any points in the way that expensive single models will. Infantry is how you control the board without relying on those rather random charge rolls: that hard place on which you smash the enemy with your rock units. It's no surprise, of course, that movement is the key to this support: in particular shooting/direct damage spells and cavalry charges to force your opponent into inconvenient movement, disrupting his formation, and cheap fast harassment units to block the movement he is able to make. But get those elements right: win the support battle and then advance your infantry alongside your specialist weapons to break some faces!

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 Post subject: Re: Sheffield Slaughter
PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2016 8:16 am 
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In my mind this discussion shows a reality about creating a game as complex as Warhammer. It's a lot harder then it looks from the outside. Now, I do think that the guys from the 9th age team are doing a good job. But they keep running into unforeseen consequences. Weaken magic and something else becomes stronger. Create a strong build in one army, and the meta shifts in another direction.

Things like canons and pit of shades kept monsters honest. You don't want to lose your general T1 to some high rolling lvl 2 mage with a spell. Also, I have the impression that access to monsters is slightly bigger in 9th then it was in 8th. Getting two dragons on the table for a HE army was tough and not worth the investment (since the dragon mage sucked). But it's easier to do so in 9th and a lot stronger.

The quote from Seredain (we should give that guy a statue...) and the reference to Ant Spiers made me think a bit more about all this. And infantry is actually a lot stronger then we give them credit for. Even in late 8th, when everyone discounted infantry and wanted monsters and monstrous infantry, regular infantry performed great in the hands of a great player. Just look at these tournament wins in late 8th HE win US Masters! and HE win Throne of Skulls

Here we have 2 lists winning prestigious tournaments running the lists normal people would discount as being weak. We have spearmen, PG and sisters and spearmen, archers, PG and WL , no monsters, no SH bus in either of them. Performing well at a time when people considered them to be weak. But it takes a great player to get the most out of them.

And I think that last thing is key. Great players can get all the benefits from infantry that Seredain describes. But it takes thinking ahead, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your own units and those of your opponent and building a cohesive army with a lot of internal synergy and support. Normal players struggle to achieve this. And then running a monster list or a shooty avoidance list is a lot easier.

A monster is simple: make sure it doesn't get shot and point it towards the thing you want taken out. Shooty avoidance takes a bit more planning, but is still very forgiving. With the high movement you can get out of tricky situations easier then with regular infantry. And since there are a lot more normal players then great ones you will see more monster or shooty avoidance lists then infantry centric ones.

Rod

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