D.R.A.I.C.H. - The Handbow Corsair tactica.
Page 1 of 1

Author:  Calisson [ Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:35 pm ]
Post subject:  D.R.A.I.C.H. - The Handbow Corsair tactica.

1 sentence Summary: 10 RHB corsairs are the best escort available for infantry, especially BG or WE.

Table of content

Part 1 - Description
Introduction: an ill-understood unit.
What RHB corsairs are NOT.
RHB corsairs characteristics.
Unit’s size & setting.

Part 2 - Using the expandable RHB corsairs
Screen for a special infantry unit.
Screen for a frenzied unit.
Comparing screening units.
Stand-alone harassing unit.
Babysitter for sorceress.
Babysitter for assassin.
The AP variant.

Part 3 - Choosing RHB corsairs or other units?
RHB corsairs or AHW corsairs?
RHB corsairs or harpies?
RHB corsairs or DR?
RHB corsairs or RXBmen?
Taking RHB corsairs in a competitive environment.

Part 4 - RHB corsairs in a large unit
The fatty babysitter.
The Tchoot Tchoot weird killing machine.
The Wild West Gunmen.
Give it a chance?

Part 5 - Conclusion

Author:  Calisson [ Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:36 pm ]
Post subject: 

Part 1 - Description

Introduction: an ill-understood unit.

When the new army book was released in August 08, one of the novelties was the corsair’s repeater handbow.
Sadly, it was found that the RHB is less efficient than the improved Repeater Crossbow, and when taking the RXB, corsairs loose one attack, at a time when even corsairs with two handweapons struggle to compete favourably against mere DE warriors.
As a result, a majority of DE generals discard this option as a GW weirdness with no use.

Actually, Corsairs with RHB are very different from corsairs with AHW, nearly to the point that it's like saying that warriors with spears are very different from warriors with crossbows.

In this article, I will try to explain that no matter if, indeed, this unit does not compete against other units in their own traditional roles, it has however its own niche of usefulness for which it will reward the general innovative enough to use it.


What RHB corsairs are NOT.

Regular corsairs are made for melee. Crossbows are made for shooting.
What about corsairs with crossbows?
Well, they are worse than other choices both in melee and for shooting.
Corsairs with crossbows are neither melee corsairs nor crossbowmen. Don't use them as such, they would suck.

RHB corsairs are pityful in melee.
At the same cost, regular corsairs have twice as many attacks.
For much cheaper, warriors with shields can select either to be better protected in melee, or to have twice as many attacks and the same protection.
Even crossbowmen with shields, barely more expensive, are better protected in melee.

RHB corsairs are bad shooters.
They have a very limited shooting range, 8", and they cannot double-march and shoot so the effective threatening range is 13", not much. Worse, their crossbow is not even Armour Piercing.

Not brilliant in melee nor in shooting, they won't shine either in the movement phase, and they don't have any asset in the psychology phase.
This is why many generals don't even give a try, unable to see any use for this new unit.


RHB corsairs characteristics.

Let’s review the characteristics of the RHB corsairs.

Unexpensive core, that may be sacrificed.
You don't use any special/rare slot, you even tick one mandatory core slot.
At 10pts each model, you may sacrifice them, so to be charged is not much big a deal.
This unit is in the same club than warriors, RXBmen, AHW corsairs and harpies. DR are much more expensive and other infantry units are special.

Sea dragon cloak.
This is the main interest of corsairs: they are very resistant to distant attacks, both shooting and magic, with their 4+ armour save. Only warriors can soak more distance attacks per pts spent, i.e. taking into account the cost of the unit, and if warriors are more cost-effective than corsairs, it's only by a small margin. Harpies, protected only by their skirmisher rule, are slightly less cost-effective than corsairs. DR are too expensive to be considered as a shield.

Repeater handbow.
This weapon ought to be considered as a very nice hurled weapon rather than a lame range weapon.
Compared to hurled weapons of similar range, it shoots twice.
Once you've realized that, you start to understand some unique uses for "hurled weapons" RHB corsairs:
they can be an irritating harassing unit, in complement to their main role as a shielding unit.
In a small unit, they have too little a pts value to be worth fighting but, thanks to this RHB, they cannot be ignored even if they shoot only twice in a game. Difficult to get rid of at distance, the stand & shoot ability requires the use of heavy troops to take care of this expandable unit, wasting those heavy troops' time.
With this weapon, they can effectively get rid of light march-blockers more easily than by charging them.

Sure, this unit is not designed for melee. But they may charge in complement to a more killing unit. Only 1 corsair needs to be in contact for the slaver's rule to be in effect! Between the 3d6" pursuit of Dark Riders/COC/COK and the Slaver rule, you should be able to catch anything that breaks.

Ability to use a banner.
As a matter of fact, they don't benefit much from any banner, except possibly the "AP" banner of murder (which works both for melee and missile) or when they are taken in large units. AP RHB corsairs and large units of RHB corsairs will be covered in specific chapters or paragraphs.

The drawbacks are:
- infantry, slow moving, needing to wheel,
- minimum size of 10,
- shooting threatening only for light troops,
- unit not threatening at all in melee.

Overall, the three most useful characteristics of this unit are its low cost, its resistance to distance damage (shooting and magic missiles) and its ability to shoot at anything light in vicinity.
Secundary advantages are to fill up a core slot, the slavery rule and, in certain settings, the ability to take a banner.

Any efficient use of this unit will make good use of the unit's qualities: expandable, resistant to shooting, threatening in close vicinity.

With these qualities, RHB corsairs are your best escorts!


Unit’s size & setting.

RHB corsairs are usually seen in one of the three following settings:

Expandable RHB corsairs.
10 + musician = 105 pts.
This is a cheap unit. You don't worry too much about loosing it, but as the opponent doesn't worry too much about destroying it (it's not worth the effort), it is likely to remain US>5 till the end of the battle.
No champ, no banner, in order to remain as expandable as possible.

AP RHB corsairs.
Dark Alliance signalled to use 10 Corsairs with RHB and the Banner of Murder. "I march them across the board in front of my Black Guard unit, straight at the target. Sometimes I will fight any opponent that charges them, rather than fleeing through the immune to psych BG. The armour piercing nature of the BoM helps their combat prowess against certain enemy units, but other times I will flee and draw the opponent into the asf BG. It's a blunt, unsubtle tactic but it works either way. I like it when the enemy is presented with a no win choice situation such as this."
It is roughly the same as the naked unit, but more expensive, more offensive and overall more specialized and even better as an escort.
The full command should be taken.

Large unit of RHB corsairs.
Here, the spirit is very different. The idea is that in most melees, core infantry of any kind won't do much damage and count on their Static Combat Resolution. Having said that, it becomes irrelevant to have AHW corsairs, warriors, RXBmen or RHB corsairs. If your main opponent always brings a large monster, then the whole unit of RHB corsairs has a chance to shoot just before receiving the charge, and 50 shots are freightening to anyone.
FC must be taken, along with the AP banner. You beef up the unit with a character or an assassin, possibly a high sorceress with PoK.
This very specialized large unit will be discussed in a specific chapter.

The next chapter deals with the light setting of 10 RHB corsairs, and most of what is said applies to the AP variant.

Author:  Calisson [ Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:37 pm ]
Post subject: 

Part 2 - Using the expandable RHB corsairs

Screen for a special infantry unit.

RHB corsairs have one very specific use, for which they are really handy:
they make an excellent escort for all special infantries.

. Screening against magic/shooting.
They make a great moving shield against magic & shooting, with an impressive 4+ save. That's easy to understand: it takes much more effort to shoot/cast away 100 pts of corsairs than 100 pts of any elite troop. If the enemy spends a lot of energy killing the corsairs, they are progressively reduced to a small unit but who cares? They did their job taking hits instead of the most expensive unit behind. What they soak in did not hurt your Execs nor BG behind them.

. Getting rid of march-blockers.
Did the opposing light cavalry get in position on the side of your troops, out of charge LOS? If the corsairs and their escorted unit are march-blocked, it means that the foe is within RHB shooting range. The corsairs turn towards the march-blocker and shoot it. And this can be done in pretty much any direction, as they can turn 90° or 180° and shoot (and THIS is better than charging, for which you would need a LOS before moving - for this reason, they are superior to AHW corsairs in this role). Usually, the march-blocker is a light unit which cannot withstand 20 bolts.
Harpies could do the same job by charging, however their charge is lame, and furthermore it forces them to leave their assigned position.

. Deterring light troops's charges.
Light cavalry, harpies and the like never hesitate to charge a small screen: getting the charge, they will kill a few, meaning less retaliation and a likely win.
However, when charging RHB corsairs, you get the retaliation before hitting, and that's 20 shots. Chances are that the charging unit looses half of its strength and what remains won't hurt much, or they may flee alltogether before even reaching the corsairs. The RHB is a nice deterrent for light charges. No matter where the fast cavalry comes from, they can interpose, shoot and stand & shoot if charged. Light cavalry hates that.
No more light charges, which could have forced a hate-pursuit by your special units!

. Charge redirectors or softener for heavy charges.
They are an obstacle also for incoming heavy troops, who would rather directly take care of your more expensive units. In case something nasty threatens to charge the corsairs, this is when your own nasty unit gets ready for a juicy fight!

a) Flee and countercharge.
If the attacker is heavily armoured and coming from far, they sometimes better flee and surprise the enemy who will move only half-charging movement. Even if they are cought, who cares for such a small unit, as long as the foe is now presenting his flank or lost his charge bonus? However, finding the appropriate distance between corsairs and escorted unit is rather difficult and depends on the enemy you're facing. Easy against dwarfs, impossible against flyers.

b) Redirect the enemy.
RHB corsairs placed angled make for charge redirectors with firepower (stand and shoot) for relatively few points and the exes/BG behind them will be happy at the flank newly presented. Sure, such positioning isn't any easy. Or you can select to flee and determine exactly where the charging unit will end up.

c) Flee and receive the charge.
You can allow them to flee through the ITP ASF BG and have the BG receive the charge themselves.
Hey, remember, you wanted to protect your ASF BG from shooting, not from charges? Job done!

d) Soften the charge and be sacrificed.
RHB corsairs provide you with the unique option to Stand & Shoot, likely killing at least one foe with 20 bolts, hence reducing the opponent's rank bonus. After that, of course you loose combat, flee and have the foe meet (with one less rank bonus) your ASF BG.
By the way, only RHB corsairs allow you to select this option. Oh, and it's soooo nice against HE!

. Complementary charge.
When the escorted unit has finally reached he enemy's line (or the enemy has reached your lines), then the corsairs are not anymor useful for screening. Worse, they are now an obstacle for your own elite troops.
Don't worry, they may well charge themselves, either at a distinct foe or simultaneously with the special infantry they were escorting, in both cases providing the latter with a clear path. Both charging, you have to maximize the models in contact, and you must try to get an even number from both units (BRB p.23). The elite's job is to kill, the corsair's job is to catch the fleeing opponent with the slavery rule if you win. Our special infantry should be able to win the combat alone, and having some corsairs in the fight not only provides numeric superiority and a muso (which BG often lack) but also, in case the opponent flees, the slavers rule.
Here, the drawback of having the screen in the way (happening whatever the escort) is mitigated by the advantage of the slaver's rule (exclusive to corsairs).

. Leaving the escorted unit.
We've seen that if the enemy destroys the corsairs by shooting/casting spells/charging, then they've done their job and the escorted unit is free to run and charge.
However, if the elusive enemy let them live and tries to avoid both units, ultimately, when you're close enough, they have to leave a clear path for your special forces.
You'll wheel the corsairs away towards one direction, hopefully facing the most threatening shooters, while the elite, behind, wheels the other diretion towards the most interesting target. It leaves one round of reaction to the enemy, which is much better than having to cross the whole battlefield with no cover at all.
One good way to make room for the unit behind is as follows:
wheel 2.5" away from the desired direction, then reduce the front line by 5 from 10x1 to 2x5, removing the 5 in excess exclusively from the side in front of the screened elite unit (yes it's legal, you don't have to reduce from both sides). After that process, you should be able to move forwards your elite unit with a double-march around the former screen. Problem solved.

. Fleeing corsairs.
If a sucessful shot/spell or charge forces the corsair unit to flee and if they are still at US5, they may trigger panic to the escorted unit behind. For that reason, it is better to let them escort ITP troops (BG, WE, SSS corsairs) rather than Execs. Afterwards, the corsairs will likely pass their Ld test and rally (but if they fail, who cares?) and still be able to contest a 1/4 table. At least, they have done their escort job and they are no more in the way.


Screen for a frenzied unit.

The annoyance for frenzied troops is that they are likely to be baited away and find themselves flank-charged or dragged out of your lines.
This is why you need an escort in order to canalize them.

Everything in the previous chapter remains valid, except two very minor points if the escorted unit is SSS corsairs, because all corsairs cost the same per model (hence AHW corsairs don't need a screen) and have the slavey rule.

Corsairs with RHB are great babysitters for frenzied units:
- they are very resistant
- when a small unit of fliers or fast cav comes within range, they get mowed down in a hail of small arms fire that will decimate the usual 5 man march blockers willing to pull away frenzied troops.

If no such frenzy-trigger/march-blocker gets close, then everyone just double-marches.
If ever RHB corsairs panic or have to flee, the frenzied unit behind does not care.


Comparing screening units.

RHB corsairs compete in the escort role with other core troops.

- DR are too expensive for that job, let alone DR with RXB. Don't screen with DR, it is not cost-efficient at all, they are just a treat for the opponent's shooting.

- Spear warriors are less expensive than corsairs but survive less to shooting & magic and achieve nothing else by themselves.

- AHW corsairs have the same price, same survivability, but they threaten only a 10" charge zone in their LOS rather than a 13" shooting zone regardless of the LOS.

- RXBmen are less effective as a screen, because they can soak less shots. However, they can more efficiently shoot when they don't double-march, and they can more efficiently provide a supporting flank charge - better save, same attack but forfeit the slavers rule. They threaten light troops at much longer distance, however suffer -1 to hit if moving at all.
In real-world psychology, during a game, it is always so tempting to shoot with them that they will be reluctant to double-march instead, while corsairs won't ever complain about that, but you know how not to listen to your troops, don't you? ;)

- Hapies are the real other good choice for an escort.
Harpies are the easiest to use in that role, but they are more fragile, they don't have the slaver's rule and they don't threaten as much light harassers.
They can move 20" & charge at 360°, and 5 harpies cost half the price of 10 corsairs, and furthermore they won't panic anyone by being destroyed or fleeing. However, they will shield the escorted unit only until the first shot, to which they will loose enough models to let the next shot have a direct LOS to the escorted unit (and probably they will panic: they are prone to flee if 2 of them are killed, which corsairs are not).

Therefore, you have really to compare 1 unit of corsairs to 2 units of 5 harpies or 1 unit of 10, for a similar pts cost. In that way, the enemy has to shoot/cast twice at harpies before he can have a LOS to the escorted unit; by comparison, shooting twice at corsairs will destroy less models. After that shooting, either harpies or corsairs may panic but corsair's Ld is higher; however, 4 fleeing harpies won't panic anyone, while 5-7 fleeing corsairs may panic Execs (but not BG nor frenzied troops).
Later, the harpies may charge/march block easily with their exceptional speed; on the other hand, corsairs are more likely to remain US5 and constest a 1/4 table, or help capture an opponent, so each has its role, easier to fulfill for harpies.
I'd rather suggest to use many harpies for screening the units when having the general near in a troop behind them.

Another factor to take into account is that, if you have a special-heavy army, you may be happy to fill up a core slot with 105pts corsairs. If this is the case, they might compete with RXBmen rather than harpies.

Overall, the real choice for an escort is between 10 RHB corsairs, 10 shielded RXBmen or 2 x 5 harpies.
Each has advantages and drawbacks.
- 10 shielded RXBmen screen least and can be charged by light troops, but they can shoot and fight better.
- 2x5 Harpies screen well and can move & charge very far, but are not resistant.
- 10 RHB corsairs screen best and resist light charges, and they can shoot light march-blockers easily.
That is why I always take one of each!


Stand-alone harassing unit.

Sometimes, you have this unit available but don't need to screen anyone. Several reasons:
The opponent has brought little shooting and his magic requires no LOS.
There are two hills and three buildings in the opponent's deployment zone, hence the screening is useless.
A clever shot in turn 1 destroyed your elite unit.
Or the screening is done as in the previous chapter, and your unit is now available for other duties.

Are these 105 pts you've spent wasted? Of course not, there are still many uses for that unit.
It's a tiny unit, so if the enemy takes care of it, it allows something more expensive to survive and fight, and if the enemy ignores it, they can easily become a pain for him.

. Flanker.
Enemies have often some sort of light cavalry or scouts. Having some small units of these shooting corsairs means that he can't play with our flanks easily, and has to consider charging them instead of just avoiding them. Think about your own fast cav and whether you would get in range of that unit with them. You wouldn't b/c you would get killed.
This allows our main efforts to ignore enemy fast cav/skirmishers and concentrate on getting into position for that critical flank charge turn 3, our scouts can go after enemy artillery and our harpies can do the redirect march block thing.
RXBmen would perform better in that job, and I would recommend them for this specific task; but when available, RHB corsairs are as painful, as they are more difficult to get rid of.

. A trick for flankers: move them in 5x2 formation.
A 5x2 unit can move and wheel more easily than a 10x1.
In your turn, if the enemy gets close enough, even out of your LOS, you will add/reduce a rank with 5 corsairs, at a cost of 1/4 of your movement. First you rotate 1/4 or 1/2 turn if necessary, then move/wheel a little bit, finally you augment the first rank to 10*1 and shoot 20 bolts with no penalty (except -1 for multiple shots)!

. Taunting unit.
The unit can get close to the enemy and taunt him by firing bolts at whoever it can reach.
If ignored, it will be a pain.
If shot at, it is quite resilient.
If spelled at, then it prevented a more expansive unit to be spelled at.
If charged, it stands & shoots, kills a few, normally looses combat, so what? It was positioned in order that the pursuing unit finds itself in trouble or at least away from the heat.
In any case, it is fun to play.
Less efficient than DR, but cheaper also and more resistant with more wounds. Excellent against HE.

. 1/4 table contester.
Most of the time, this small unit earns back its price, if only by claiming a 1/4 table after being ignored for the duration of the game.
If it gets inside a building, then it is extremely difficult to dislodge: impressive missile protection, stand & shoot guaranteed... only template weapons and magic have a chance. If ever an infantry wants to get them out, they get 10-bolted when they charge (only 5 can shoot from a 1-storey building), and, if they don't succeed, they are pushed back 1" away, where they got 10-bolted again (with no more penalty for charging troops) and they get once more 10-bolted if they can charge again. Ouch.


Babysitter for sorceress.

. Usual babysitters.
Often, sorceresses are babysitted by warriors or by shielded RXBmen.
- Shielded RXBmen are lesser missile absorbers, but their shooting at 24" takes care of most shooters and light chargers, and in any case their shooting complements well the long distance spells.
- Warriors, in a passive role, have a greater capability to absorb shots & spells, and, if charged, provide a good SCR. You would take them over RXBmen only if you were mostly worried about the sorceress' safety, or if you knew you would face a very shooty opponent.

. RHB corsairs offer the best protection against attack from a distance.
Have you ever considered RHB corsairs instead of warriors, for an improved protection?
100 pts of corsairs absorb pretty much the same as 100 pts of warriors, so they provide the same protection at distance.
However, warriors are helpless to prevent "suicide snipe-charges", i.e. a unit of light cavalry (or harpies) which charges the unit, three of them hit the sorceress and they don't care if they loose the fight, the damage is done.
This is where the Stand & Shoot capability of RHB corsairs comes handy: they are indeed the best passive escort you could dream of, because they protect against shooting, magic AND snipe-charges.
If your intention is to babysit a sorceress, then a champion is mandatory, with a pair of RHB.

If you can manage to put them all inside a building, with far reaching magic such as Metal or Fire, then the enemy's only hope is to cast them out, to reduce slowly the number of building occupants with template weapons, or to move far away and ignore that unit.

A sorceress with short range magic (shadow, death), possibly mounted, can benefit as well from their protection. They rush towards the enemy, the corsairs providing an excellent protection (only COK can offer a better protection). You double-march at 10", the enemy is at 14" and you're still protected (and more so than with MXB or DR).

. Two slim babysitters.
Overall, I feel that generally RXBmen are more useful with their ability to shoot while the sorceress casts.
But I appreciate to have both options available (i.e. 1 MXB unit and 1 RHB corsair unit) and select the babysitter in accordance with the foe I face. I like even more to be able to move my sorc back & forth between the two units if one gets depleted too much or better positioned.

For example, deploy both units 10 wide, one behind the other, slightly off on one side.
As you deploy the characters last, you'll put your sorc either on the front or on the rear unit depending on the opponent's deployment.



In this example, the sorc in the rear unit has a LOS on the target you wish, but the enemy has a reduced LOS on the rear unit. The sorc benefits from "Look out, Ma'am" and won't be hurt, while less enemy models can shoot at your babysitting unit.


Babysitter for assassin.

Assassins may be used in your main lines, defending a character or boosting a melee unit.
Or assassins can be used as warmachine / character hunters, especially if they use the cloak.
In this latter use, the problem is to get safely the assassin within range of the target, allowing him to survive even if ever the cloak is dispelled.

The most popular unit for sheltering & delivering such an assassin is probably shades, if they manage to get inside a convenient wood.
However, the convenient wood does not always exist.
Also, the trick is very obvious and the experienced opponent will be weary of shades.
Finally, when you reveal the assassin, move the shades in LOS of the targeted warmachine/magic user, cast the cloak and see it dispelled/scrolled, now you have your assassin inside a unit of 5 pricey shades with no armour and only the skirmisher rule to protect them from the retaliation of the former intended target.

Now, consider a unit of RHB corsairs with the same assassin hidden inside.
Your opponent may start the first round. Who in the world would spend any shooting or magic against this strudy, non-threatening unit?
When it's your turn to play, you reveal your 'sass, double-march at 10", and, in the magic phase, you trigger the cloak at 20". Or, if you're too far from any interesting target, don't reveal it yet, just move forwards and remain innocuous for one more turn.
If/when the 'sass finally manages to fly and charge his target, then you can use your RHB corsairs as a stand-alone harassing unit, as mentioned above, while the 'sass butchers the warmachines.
If the cloak fails, then the 'sass is safe in a unit very resilient to shooting & magic missiles, that no one will charge in fear of the RHB and the ASF 'sass. Much better than shades!

Shades or RHB corsairs?
Actually, I'm happy to have both available.
Shades are likely to shelter the 'sass, but, as my usual opponent get used to the trick, he always sets the terrain in an unfavourable position. This is when I find corsairs handy. Or sometimes I put the 'sass in the corsairs for no reason other than for a change.


The AP variant.

The RHB corsair unit can be made more threatening with the AP "BoM" banner, which works with range weapons as well as with melee weapons.
In this setting, you emphasize the shooting performance over the expandability.
Hence, the champion becomes interesting, but the unit soars from 105 pts to 153 pts.

DA's combo is to put this unit just in front of the ASF BG, and to move all of them forwards towards the enemy.
Usually, the prudent opponent avoids the BG (because he assumes they have the ASF) and tries to shoot them instead.
With a screen, it's more difficult. The corsair's job is to screen against magic/shooting, as usual.
In addition, the two units combined rush towards the enemy and the corsairs pin them with bolts at up to 13" distance, when BG alone would only be able to charge at 10".
If charged, they have the option to:
- S&S, the 22 AP shots are sure to deal some damage before the corsairs loose combat and run across the ITP BG, who receive gladly the reduced charge and recover the captured banner.
- fleeing across the ITP BG remains an surprise option.

The idea here is that BG benefit as usual from the screen, but here, in addition, the screen benefits so much from the company of the BG that you can afford to beef it up and make it more effective and less sacrificeable.

In that setting, RHB corsairs screen better than RXBmen, and they are superior to any other screen because they can shoot efficiently.

Author:  Calisson [ Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:38 pm ]
Post subject: 

Part 3 - Choosing RHB corsairs or other units?

RHB corsairs or AHW corsairs?

As explained already, as a small escort, RHB corsairs are more useful than RHB corsairs because they can get rid of march-blockers more easily.

In large units, cumbersome to wheel, made for combat, I would rather take AHW corsairs, especially if they have the SSS and a CoB is in vicinity. There are however some fancy RHB settings presented in the following chapter, but they could be considered in addition to AHW corsairs inside a corsair-themed army, so that there is no competition between the two kind of units, but a complementary use for more variety.


RHB corsairs or harpies?

I will always take two units of 5 harpies. Now, assuming there is a unit to escort, is it better to take two more units of harpies or one single unit of RHB corsairs?
If you know you'll face only light shooting, then probably more harpies would be better, or you could well do with not that many screens.
If you fear you would face heavy shooting, then it's wiser to get 10 RHB corsairs alongside your harpies, they are more resistant and take better care of light march-blockers.
If in addition you need babysitters for your sorc/sass, then no hesitation, because they can't join harpies.


RHB corsairs or DR?

For about the same points cost, you can get either a unit of 10 corsairs or a unit of 5 Dark Riders with RxBs.

DR are arguably the best fast cavalry in WHFB.
The only negative factor is that DR cost quite a lot for a model with a single wound and little armour.
For this reason, I believe it's an heresy to use them as meatshield.

If you want to harass the enemy, nothing beats DR with crossbows except possibly shades.
RHB corsairs come far behind because of their shorter range (albeit deadlier), however they are much, much more resistant for much cheaper. If you want to harass a shooty enemy - and survive, then RHB corsairs are worth considereing.

The Dark Riders have the maneuverability advantage and the advantage in overall range of their shooting. But the Corsairs are harder to get rid of with missiles or magic, because of the Sea Dragon cloaks and because they can soak up twice as many wounds.

Dark Riders are more useful overall and should be taken first, but Corsairs with handbows can be valuable additionally as escorts in an infantry-based list.


RHB corsairs or RXBmen?

This comparison triggered the hottest discussions, most likely because people failed to understand that corsairs, even with handbows, are NOT to be considered for a mostly shooting job.
If you want mostly to shoot, of course take RXBmen.

10 RXBmen with Shields = 115pts, shoot 24" S3 AP, 5+ save against missiles, 4+ save in melee.
10 Corsairs with Handbows = 105pts, shoot 8" S3, 4+ save against shooting, 5+ save in melee.

Shooting : Shielded Crossbowmen > RHB Corsairs
Fighting : Shielded Crossbowmen > RHB Corsairs
Maneuver : they are =, but corsairs don't loose much by double-marching.
Receiving fire : RHB Corsairs > Shielded Crossbowmen

RHB corsairs are superior only for moving and receiving fire, i.e. as an escort for an elite infantry, a sorceress or an assassin.
WHEN they fire, they are more accurate, but that is only IF they can fire (not very often).
RHB corsairs can be used more agressively because of their resistance and their short missile range. They can move agressively to act as bait, combat support, and charge-redirectors. Regular crossbowmen lose much of their effectiveness when used in this kind of role. Corsairs are made for it.

RXBmen can be used equally agressively as the RHB corsairs, but will die faster because they have a -1AS compared to them. Furthermore, if you use crossbowmen in the same way, you lose your shooting advantage. On the other hand, they can be used defensively due to their long range, and even though they will not hit as often due to shooting penalties, it is still better to shoot with a penalty than it is to not shoot at all! They do however cost 10 points more for a unit of 10.

If you want a shooting or general-use troop, take Shielded Crossbowmen.
Also, RXBmen are probably easier and more intuitive to use.

In short, they fill entirely different roles.


Taking RHB corsairs in a competitive environment.

I don't play in a very competitive environment, but I always play with RHB corsairs, shades, RXBmen, DR and harpies so I can compare them.
Also, I play with a unit of BG to escort, a unit of frenzied corsairs to canalize, and two sorceresses and one or two assassins to babysit, so I do have many reasons to use RHB corsairs.

I am convinced that the single good reason to take them competitively is because you have an infantry unit to escort, especially the ASF BG or frenzied/armourless WE. In addition, if there is a second unit to escort or if you have a sorceress or an assassin in your army list, then don't hesitate!

Execs or frenzied corsairs would benefit a lot from this unit, however more harpies are probably a better option because they would not panic Execs, and because corsairs need no other corsairs to cover them, but just to get rid of frenzy-baiters (so harpies may just do that by staying in ambush or positioning carefully).

There may be a combination of reasons to take them:
if you play magic-heavy with a cloaked assassin, RHB corsairs will provide you with interesting opportunities which will justify their cost. All the more if you have some SSS corsairs or Execs, or if you have difficulties to beat HE. All of this, combined together, makes a sufficient reason to take a small unit of RHB corsairs.

Finally, when you have already some RXBmen, DR, harpies and shades, instead of duplicating one auxiliary unit by taking one more of these, you could well consider a unit of RHB corsairs, which beats them all in shielding and threatening march-blockers, and can do a bit of aggressive maneuvres in addition, and which will surprise your opponent who quite possibly has never faced that unit.

Author:  Calisson [ Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:39 pm ]
Post subject: 

Part 4 - RHB corsairs in a large unit

RHB corsairs have been investigated as a large unit. That's a very unusual mass unit, which won't fail to surprise your opponent.

The reasoning is that infantry cannot be guaranteed to get the charge, so let them consider that they are charged instead. Actually, RHB corsairs are the ideal infantry you want to be charged! These guys can put out more shots than xbowmen as you are shooting on both players' turns.

If the enemy is soft, the stand & shoot will kill many (especially if you set them 7 or even 10 per rank).
If the enemy is hard, then the AHW would be no more effective than the RHB, in that case only SCR matters (set them 5 per rank).
Against opponents with “large target” rule, keep them 5 wide, all of them can shoot!

SCR would be up to 6 with 3 ranks, banner, possibly the warbanner, and likely outnumbering (since S&S has probably reduced the number of charging opponents if they were a horde).
The AP banner is useful for such unit against medium armour opponents, but prevents the use of the war banner, which is the best banner for the SCR. Both options make sense.

The problem with such unit is that it is completely helpless in case of flank charges, against which corsairs cannot shoot and their SCR is low.

A number of 20 seems adequate, in order not to increase the price too much.


The fatty babysitter.

That large unit would shelter one or two characters, for example a high sorceress and an assassin. The PoK sorceress would answer challenges and protect the unit from excessive ACR loss, or the assassin can do the same.

A large unit of 20 RHB corsairs with magic banner & FC would cost 275pts.
The cheaper version costs 205pts with only a muso, nothing else, but is more likely to be defeated on the charge.

Here's a batrep using that large RHB unit.
SUAT vs. Orcs


The Tchoot Tchoot weird killing machine.
"Tchoot Tchoot" is short for "Shtand and Tshoot", and that's how it works.

Master BSB - Standard of Hag Graef, GW, HA, SDC, rhbx2
20 Corsairs - FC Banner of Murder and rhb's

For 421 pts (quite a big amount), you get to shoot once 18 shots (S3, AP) (at -1 against charging troops)
and then strike first with 8 corsair hits (S3, AP) and the 3 master's (S6, AP).
You get CR = 5 + your kills - his kills - his CR.

- Either the enemy charges with mundane troops and he looses many to the shootings (and looses some SCR) and to ASF hits (he looses many strike back attempts), kills back few corsairs and looses combat,
- the enemy charges with elite, armoured troops, looses few to shooting, a couple to ASF hits (especially the Master's), kills back a big number of corsairs but, because he has no SCR, he looses anyway - a danger in this case is that his elite troops would remain in combat and eat progressively your SCR while not loosing anymore on shooting and loosing little in HtH.
- the enemy charges with a big monster/mounted Lord, the animal faces a lot of needles while charging since back ranks can shoot at a big target, possibly killing it; in melee, the Master has little chances of killing the beast (a monster does not take challenges from the champ) but SCR makes the difference and corsairs will reroll the highest fleeing dice of the monster.

An analysis showed that this unit compares well to units of regular corsairs or warriors of similar cost.

But would you really dare to take one unit of 421 pts with all the risks it brings (think about if you're playing against VC... he'll throw against you the first unit of ghouls available pumping it over and over, so your unit will be wasted, let alone the risk for panic/fear/terror checks that even at Ld 9 can be missed)?
Or would you rather take 3 units of RXbows with shields that cost less and shoot at 24"? Less fun but more reasonable.
Also, if the enemy refuses the charge, the 421 pts über unit will not earn its cost... just like any über, non shooting unit unable to find an opponent waiting for it.


The Wild West Gunmen

A still relatively expensive option, being fifteen corsairs, full command, handbows, banner of murder and an assassin with manbane, RoK and a handbow.
While this unit is pushing 350 pts, it really is capable of fulfilling multiple roles. I will start in 3*5 formation, march them up and expand to full frontage - this way it can usually get ~30 shots, hitting on fours, plus the assassins high BS attacks. Then they get a stand and shoot, and the assassin going silly in close combat with manbane - sweet. Plus, the banner of murder has the synergy of making handbows equivalent to RXB's and buffing the assassin significantly, i.e., giving him strength five handbows with -3 to saves against toughness four infantry!

Note (thanks Kuanor below): Manbane doesn't work on handbows because it only modifies the model's strengh and the handbow (unlike death stars) has it’s own one.

All this being said, you have to pick your targets, and while the unit actually operates pretty well on its own, it is better used on the side of a unit of black guard, so as to force a hard choice on which unit to attack. Don't be afraid to flee, to give other units flanks, it has worked quite well. Surprisingly enough, the unit works very well against smaller, elite units - so far they've handled such units as chosen quite nicely. In these cases, the impact of the shooting is enough to diminish the combat effectiveness, and to get back points in larger chunks, while the assassin doesn't care how good a fighter you are, he's still going to town.
Bring your harmonica!

Idea provided in How to use RHB's effectivly? by woodenanteater.


Give it a chance?

Few people have tried the large RHB corsair unit. Hot debates have investigated how effective it could be.
The least to say is that it did not fully convinced everyone.

Overall I would not personally recommend any of these strange units except for a change once in a while in a non-competitive game.
Beating your opponent after he charged you is better than beating him after you charged him...

Author:  Calisson [ Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:39 pm ]
Post subject: 

Part 5 - Conclusion

If you like the beautiful models of corsairs, or if you field a fluffy raiding party, I hope that this article provided you with some new ways to use efficiently that unit.

If you were previously convinced that the new corsairs are just good for converting the WE glade rides into better-looking and cheaper DR (which they can do indeed), I hope that in the future you will consider that a unit of RHB corsairs has its own, specialized use.

As a corsair myself, I never fail to use one small unit of 10 RHB corsairs.
They never disappointed me, and they proved more than often to be fun to use!

You can find there some examples I provided of their uses.

....\~| \
.r/_\ /___\ç
~~~~~~~~~.....GO Navy!

Layne wrote:
They don't directly control the movement phase because they're too slow, but they are very much the worst enemy of your opponents' board control type units. Light cav and skirmishers be gone! Then, with the Slavers rule, they have one of the nastiest flank charges going around. Plus we have nice models readily available, unlike Harpies or Riders.
From theory to practice:

For a comprehensive series of battle reports with a tourney-winning army including four units of RHB corsairs, see the excellent: Skulls Tournament Report 2250 Comped (long)

Author:  Kuanor [ Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:34 am ]
Post subject: 

I see a rules problem with the assassine:

The Wild West Gunmen

A still relatively expensive option, being fifteen corsairs, full command, handbows, banner of murder and an assassin with manbane, RoK and a handbow.
While this unit is pushing 350 pts, it really is capable of fulfilling multiple roles. I will start in 3*5 formation, march them up and expand to full frontage - this way it can usually get ~30 shots, hitting on fours, plus the assassins high BS attacks with manbane. Then they get a stand and shoot, and the assassin going silly in close combat - sweet. Plus, the banner of murder has the synergy of making handbows equivalent to RXB's and buffing the assassin significantly, i.e., giving him strength five handbows with -3 to saves against toughness four infantry!

Manbane doesn't work on handbows because it only modifies the model's strengh and the handbow (unlike death stars) has it’s own one.
It doesn't change munch on the tactic but the assa is less deadly this way.

Author:  Oryxwild [ Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:20 am ]
Post subject: 

This stuff is amazing. You guys are amazing. You especially Calisson. I don't know how I could possibly have started truly enjoying the hobby if I hadn't found this place.


Author:  Timz [ Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:21 am ]
Post subject: 

A good tactica, although most of the plusses of handbows aren't big plusses because they're done BETTER by crossbows (same troop slot.)

Good points of RHB Corsairs
A. Low cost (RXB are also low cost, I can't see them ever not earning back the extra 1 point per model when they have a 29" threat range to the 13" of the RHB)
B. Resistance to distance damage (only 1 more point of save than Xbowmen, I guess their offensive power is so bad the opponent might shoot something else instead.)
C. shoot at anything light (Crossbows amazingly better at this.)

Flanking - Crossbows much better at flanking and killing fast cavalry. They also have the range to harass wizard units or war machines sometimes, that RHB never will.
A 13" Threat range for handbow, 29" for crossbow far more than twice.

Occupying buildings or forests - Crossbows much more useful in both.

1/4th table contester - crossbows cost a few more points but they would be able to kill a unit of RHBs.

Flank charge - crossbows better in combat.

If you get to run up and take 20 shots with a 4+ to hit with RHB, it's still far inferior to getting 60 shots with RXB because the long range let you shoot earlier. Not to mention the -1 to enemy's armor save for Xbows if within RHB range.
With 3 times the shooting range, Xbows stand a chance of killing enemy archers or an enemy war machine. Both of which will easily be equal to the defense of the sea dragon cloak.

So, in short, if your primary need is a MEAT SHIELD with very weak offense, RHB Corsairs are one of the best.

If you're thinking of taking them for offensive purposes, first take a look if you'll earn far more from Xbows.

Author:  Calisson [ Fri Mar 05, 2010 7:31 am ]
Post subject: 

Agree, as I said already in my chapter 3, "RHB corsairs or RXBmen?":

If you need shooters, take shooters.
RHB are not to be considered shooters.
RXB are better at this.

If you need a screen, take a screen.
RHB corsairs are the best agressive screen.
RXB are worse at this.

Everything else is a side use (occupying places...).

Author:  Auere [ Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:56 pm ]
Post subject: 

Nice article, Calisson!

Nearly no matter which list I play, I always tend to end up with the same configuration for core choices:

2x5 harpies
2x10 crossbows (shields, musician)
5 Dark Riders (naked)

I REALLY do not want to be missing out on a single of these units. 2 units of crossbowmen are four times the threat compared to a single unit!

So where does that leave corsairs? Since my core choices are covered, I am moving on to the much more potent special and rare choices.

I just shield my Black Guard with harpies initially, and in my first turn I move up agressively with harpies and DR. If the enemy has magic or shooting he will proberbly use it at my support units rather than the Black Guard anyway. I have tried corsairs with handbows, but they usually find themselves in the thick of battle with no real combat ability.

Harpies are a screen for my entire army, because they are such a threat and the opponent usually wastes his shooting and magic on them.

I found that a cauldron ward save is a better way of protecting a Black Guard once the harpy screen is gone. When they are within the safety of combat, I can use the cauldron offensively instead. This is a much more versatile screen!

105 points of corsairs are not wasted at all, but with the huge amounts of potent choices we have in the army list, I could always find something better to use those points for.

105 points is WELL under way to a cauldron. And if not, it is two more units of harpies.

Author:  Kuanor [ Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:53 pm ]
Post subject: 

If corsairs weren’t one of the weakest choices in our army list they didn’t need such a long DRAICH article. ;)
Imagine, there are people out there who like the models, the fluff, the theme or just have the models laying around from their battalion or want to play something different. Of course a cauldron is better than two little units of corsairs. But maybe their opponent call it cheesy (and is right) and alleges you not to be able winning without it but with non-beardy corsairs instead.
You see: Uncountable reasons to use them. ;)

Seriously: It is more interesting to use an (in comparison) weaker unit effectively than one more BG (which is effective without any thinking).

About your list: Even if you need all your remaining points for special stuff, you still could replace the 2nd RXB-unit by corsairs, it just means less shooting and more CC. No real tactical disadvantage.

Author:  Calisson [ Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:46 pm ]
Post subject: 

Kuanor wrote:
If corsairs weren’t one of the weakest choices in our army list they didn’t need such a long DRAICH article. ;).
RHB corsair tactica: 12.5 "screens" long.
BG tactica: 18 "screens" long.
Therefore: RHB corsairs are nearly 50% stronger than BG :twisted:

Thanks, Kuanor for the scientific scale! :lol:

Author:  Timz [ Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:56 pm ]
Post subject: 

Kuanor wrote:
If corsairs weren’t one of the weakest choices in our army list they didn’t need such a long DRAICH article. ;)
Imagine, there are people out there who like the models, the fluff, the theme or just have the models laying around from their battalion or want to play something different. Of course a cauldron is better than two little units of corsairs. But maybe their opponent call it cheesy (and is right) and alleges you not to be able winning without it but with non-beardy corsairs instead.
You see: Uncountable reasons to use them. ;)

Seriously: It is more interesting to use an (in comparison) weaker unit effectively than one more BG (which is effective without any thinking).

About your list: Even if you need all your remaining points for special stuff, you still could replace the 2nd RXB-unit by corsairs, it just means less shooting and more CC. No real tactical disadvantage.

Must be a typo:
should read "it just means less shooting and less CC. A real tactical disadvantage."

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