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Dread's take on the fine and oft overlooked RHB Corsairs 
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Slave (off the Altar)

Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:30 am
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Alright guys, after discussions with Masamune and Callison the other day I vowed to write something of a manifesto to champion the relative value of the RHB corsairs...and here it is!

I know that in the last edition the rhb corsair was considered the AHW corsair's shoddier cousin, and best taken if at all in a small unit of around ten to deal with march blockers and war machine hunters. I would put forth the contention that in many situations under 8th the rhb corsair unit is a better choice than many of its contemporary alternatives, and is in fact a very good choice to be taken in previously unheard of numbers.

To begin with, I'd like to outline the common objections i've seen to dumping large numbers of points into rhb corsairs:

1. Point for point, why not just have repeater crossbowmen? They are 3x the range and have armour piercing which handbows do not.
2. They are'nt as good in combat at AHW corsairs, but will get into combat with that short range, so are'nt they just the inferior choice?

Both of these issues raise valid concerns about the wisdom of taking the RHB corsairs in large blocks, but my analysis and experiences have led me to believe that they stem largely from 1) a misunderstanding of the unit's best uses and ideal role, and 2) an overestimation of the value +1 combat attack for a dark elf corsair block holds.

The ideal role of the rhb corsair is as a massive attention and fire drawing Horde--when properly supported it is a synergistic lynchpin for a DE army.

So why a horde? and why rhb corsairs versus another core selection?
Firstly, as a corsair unit the rhb corsairs have the most survivability from shooting available in our core pool. For the same price a repeater crossbowmen would have a 6+ save rather than a 4+, and spearmen, though cheaper, also remain less survivable at 5+. Given the DE points economy, we can really generally only ever afford 1 horde sized unit without sacrificing too much in other areas, so maximal durability is important. Secondly, and the reason the rhb horde is prefferable to the AHW horde, the rhb corsairs have much more flexibility in what they can do to influence the battle in any given turn.

A horde, while dangerous in combat, can be very easily skirted and outmaneuvered due to its vast frontage. by the time it can react to some movements of enemies on the battlefield, they are long gone, and where the battleline has been breached at some nearby point, the horde is going to be helpless to use its weight to eradicate the threat in a time efficient fashion. The best units are those that are effective in the actions they take, and which have the most opportunities in a battle to make a difference. I prefer to think of this concept as Impacts per Game, or IPG. The IPG count of a typical combat horde is determined most of the time by what is placed in front of it, and it substantiates its worth through performance in crucial combats. Normally, its size prevents it from doing much beyond participating in these slugfests and otherwise anchoring the line, keeping its IPG, while significant, rather low. The beauty of the rhb horde is that with the swift reform rules it is possible to consider the unit as having a sphere of threat radiating 8" from all sides in each and every turn. In a typical 4x10 formation that's 40 potential shots that can be called upon when the unexpected happens and another horde would only be able to reform, and translates to high potential IPG.

In regards to the role of the rhb horde in combat, unassisted it still has 31 attacks--only 10 less than its more dedicated AHW cousin. This difference can easily be mitigated by giving the unit the SSS. Now it would be 41 vs 51...and if necessary a cauldron blessing can even further narrow the relative gap by making it 51 v 61. At these volumes both corsair units will perform more than adequately against almost any foe, and in most cases the difference in their performance will be negligable. This is a marginal price to pay for the rhb flexibility.

As far as the corsair shooting itself, despite not being armor piercing it is far more accurate than repeater crossbow fire. With no long range or move and fire penalty, your shots will be hitting on 4+ and doing potentially a lot of damage each and every time. Also, the corsairs always get a stand and shoot, and are free to march into advantageous positions where a similar unit of repeater crossbowmen would have to remain largely static to take advantage of its longer range with increased fire. The high number of hits the corsairs can expect also combines well with druchii casting to create power turns. Fire and metal both have augments that can make that kind of highly accurate shot volume nightmarish, and the tougness hex in shadow can make S3 handbow fire a thing to be feared.

Lastly, hordes are really valuable for the canny DE general because they can get in the way of things--blocking true LOS for nasty enemies, and impeding unwanted charges with their sheer bulk. Since the rhb can march or walk up to an inch in front of the enemy and still expect to stand and shoot they excel at forcing the enemies hand and directing the course of the battle without sacrificing their utility.

So...hyper flexible...resilient...great COB buff target...and wonderful distracting damage soak for our more fragile elements...

what is not to love?

Anyways, this is my take on the rhb variant and its uses, but I'd love to hear the thoughts of all my fellow Druchii generals! I admit I have a soft spot for these troops :D

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Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:58 am
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You know dread ill admit im alil skeptic when it comes to cosairs but at the moment I have an opportunity to switch a horde of RXB's and try this unit out your arguements on the benifits have intrigued me so im going to give it a try. The opportunity im referring to is the 2nd round of the 'Ard Boyz they will be my center block with two smaller units of 20 RXB's to support them long ranged.

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Sun Sep 12, 2010 6:35 am
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You brought up some very good points in support of them. Lately I've been trying really hard to come around to them myself (well, corsairs as a whole, not necessarily either flavour).

Determining a metric for scoring a unit's overall effectiveness is extremely difficult. I'd suggest the following:

Take your list that includes your 400-500 point RHB corsair horde and consider what ELSE you could have gotten for those points that might make your list more effective overall.

The key here is that the points would most likely have to come largely from core, which is where I think the strongest argument in favour of taking corsairs lies.

Naturally if you are designing a list specifically around this corsair unit this probably isn't going to work. Also the "getting it's point back" from a unit (measuring what it kills) is a poor metric in many instances as well (think cauldron of blood for example).

So anyways all that aside I'd like to respond to a few of your points, throw my two cents in for what it's worth:

The idea of using them as a "goading anvil" of sorts is pretty solid. Something that is going to sit there firing away until it is charged (and then more pain comes from a stand & shoot). The positioning here is the key element vs. something like RXB. Since it will be up the field to get within close range it will also serve to hide some of your other units as you mentioned. (On the note of RXB I don't think you should bother comparing to them without shields as I don't know why you would ever take them without shields.)

I think this is a solid tactic but let's compare it to using warriors as the anvil instead. You lose the shooting abilities but is that a big issue? Well, when you are within 8" to shoot you are definitely within charge range with your warriors (barring double 1 of course at a 1/36 chance). At best you are getting 1 round of shooting in (whether you shoot or the enemy charges you). What does it cost to do so? Well you could trade that to be warriors and increase your numbers by about 65%, that's no small jump. You also lose the sea dragon cloaks and slavers rule though. You could be warriors with shields and still have 43% more bodies, and that's getting the same save in combat of 5+. Not to mention that the spear elves fight in an extra rank, so they get as many attacks as the corsairs.

So the question is, what's more valuable? The shooting attacks or having 43% more in numbers (or alternatively saving the points and being the same size)? Unfortunately... it depends.

I'm also assuming here that your opponent isn't going to just sit there 8" away from you taking shots all game, which I think is fair.

Anyways sorry for the rant, very late and very tired. I'll just say 1 thing further.

I think the best use for RHB corsairs is in units of 10 with musician. Use them to protect and support your other units. Guard a flank, go fight annoying skirmishers, give cover to other units by marching ahead, give a support charge to use the slavers rule, and so on. For this role the RHB makes them very flexible and I think this is where their strength may lie.


Sun Sep 12, 2010 8:35 am
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it is certainly a good point about their ability to swift reform and fire. It was something I only had realised not too long myself and thus making me consider them for the first time since their ability to fend off skirmishers and fast cav like WE that continually reform around your flanks to shoot you.

It would mean a shift from dark and shadow magic to metal and fire combination in order to compliment and maximise their uses, and it'll be a nice change from the huge static blocks of spears I've been using of late. It'd be a good chance to test out the effectiveness of the combination between metal and fire magic too, since Corsairs can potentially have a 2+ AS against shooting when given the glittering scale spell, making them a VERY durable screen against gunlines.

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Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:32 pm
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Slave (off the Altar)

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@Melikai: I'm glad you are giving them a shot! There is actually a good chance i'll be utilizing them as well in 'Ard Boyz round 2:)

@Masamune: Thanks again for your thoughts! I see your argument for the 10 man squads, but I still really like the utility of having a horde that has an effective response to nimble threats and can even potentially resolve a nearby breach in the battleline within a turn. That is not to say you don't have a good point about numbers of warm bodies in that unit and cost, but I feel that in the lodestone horde role their flexibility and antagonizing presence still may give them the edge.

@Meteor: I really like the glittering scales combination as well. Combining that with the COB ward save makes them perhaps the most resilient toughness 3 infantry ever.

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Sun Sep 12, 2010 5:05 pm
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One use for corsairs must not be forgotten:
participating into a combat in order to provide their slavery rule.
For that, a small unit (of RHB) is fine. In a conga line, they leave as much space as possible for the main fighting unit, only one corsair participates as well to the fight.
In case the opponent is broken off, then the slavery rule is useful to increase the chances that the opponents dont get anywhere.
But that is a use for small units of corsairs, not a large one which has to sustain itself.

I'm eager to hear about the result that a large unit gets during actual battles.

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Sun Sep 12, 2010 8:18 pm
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I'd also like some reporting from the front lines if you actually try out your horde idea. Can just proxy some models if your opponent doesn't mind (unless you actually have that many with RHB modeled :p)


Sun Sep 12, 2010 11:00 pm
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Conga lines are about the most frowned upon tactics in Warhammer, ever. ;)

Don't use them!


As for RHB Corsairs, I tried small units of 10 and was extremely disappointed by their utter uselessness. I seriously hope, they will up the range of RHB to 12" (as they did with pistols) once a new armybook comes out.

AHW Corsairs (or Spears/RXB) for me all the way! :)

If I want to play a horde unit, it will be Spearmen or maybe Executioners.

I don't think, however, that I will ever play a horde unit with Dark Elves (though I did think about using COK as a horde once, but it proved to be a weeeeee bit too expensive). ;)

BTW, what you completely overlooked in your attack comparison is the fact, that 2x 20 AHW Corsairs (one with SSS, one with CoB blessing) have up to 82 attacks. :P

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Mon Sep 13, 2010 12:08 am
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I'd defiantly try 30 rhb Corsairs + SSS in horde formation. Only 10 less attacks for the ability to touch your opponent up to 13" away.


Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:01 am
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I am initially sceptical at a 300+ point unit of short ranged archers.
Yes they get a lot of attacks but those attacks aren't particularly effective.
Consider you are charged by a unit of 5 Chaos Knights
A stand and Shoot kills about .37. In combat you'd kill about .83. So lets assume 1 Knight dies from your combined attacks. The Knights attack back and kill 4.44 Corsairs.
You have 3 ranks but they have a standard you lose by one
Not too bad I suppose but not really ideal.

Consider a unit of 25 Orcs though
Stand and SHoot kills 1.5
Close Combat gets 3 of them
They attack back and kill 3.
They still have 3 ranks while you only have two. They have a banner and you don't. You lose by two and are testing on 6. That unit is only half the points of yours :shock: and Orcs aren't even particularly good.

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Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:05 am
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Slave on the Altar

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I have to agree with OP. Just starting DE myself and I must say I would rather have 2 ranks of RHB fire on my turn and the same on his charge than 10 more attacks in close combat. In horde formation that is 80 shots! vs a measly 10 attacks gained in HtH. Add a CoB and the math changes, but not by so much that 10 less attacks, roughly 1 KB on average really makes THAT much of an impact VS 80 s3 shots.

@Bounce:
350 pts of Corsairs = 30 Corsairs Full Command and SSS.
Move and Shoot = 40 Shots. Thats 20 hits. Wounding on a 5+ thats 6 wounds vs the orcs. Stand and fire is another 5 kills.
Close Combat: Is 41 attacks. 36 hits on 3+ with reroll. Thats 12 wounds. 2 saves = 10 wounds. 21 out of 25 Orcs dead. Lets assume the largest feasible horde of orcs. Roughly 40 with AHW.
Orcs: 23 are already dead. 10 in front rank + 7 Support = 28 attacks. 14 Hits which is 9 wounds. 8 wounds. The combat is roughly even. In subsequent rounds it remains even. We loose hate, they loose strength.


VS the Knights its 1 dead to shooting. 1 dead to stand and shoot (panic check) 1 dies in close combat. They strike with 3. Kill rougly 4. Banner and charge = 6 CR. We have +1 banner, +2 ranks and 1 kill = 4 CR. Close... but we are worth 135 points more :P


Bottom line is it depends on opponent. VS T3 I would pick Corsairs, vs T4 I would pick speamen and hold/grind. But in any case if im picking Corsairs it would always be RHB over AHW.


Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:08 am
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I found the same results as halk. Also, I found out that about 40 just RUNS over the Popemobile from the Empire :D

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Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:41 pm
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Slave (off the Altar)

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I used the unit again tonight, and it performed quite well. The short range shooting potential forced a charge by two medium sized HE units (Phoenix Guard & Swordmasters) who otherwise would have probably been pretty happy to let me come to them. with the cauldron providing a ward save and the assistance of an assassin they pretty handily dispatched both through sheer weight of attacks. My opponent really was'nt expecting their 41 return dice even after the 40 shot stand and shoot...

@ Masamune: believe it or not, I actually have 40 rhb corsairs with full command all built up! Nothing like a cortez style burn your ships moment to truly force you to appreciate a unit :)

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Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:07 am
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Amazing! Dead HE make me happy.

He didn't have lore of ilfe and dweller's below then I take it. That seems popular among HE and would have dealt with them rather swiftly.

I'm still not sold on spending that many points for such a unit but if you keep winning with them then I might have to come around to the idea. Maybe the biggest advantage (that we didn't discuss) is that no one uses them. The opponent might not know what to expect and be blindsided, as sounds to be the case in your game.


Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:24 am
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Hehe, well I will do my best to keep the victories coming...

I definitely agree that the rarity of such a unit appearing is a substantial advantage in and of itself.

My opponent in that last game was actually running a somewhat nasty lv4 with death magic and that magic item that makes any double a non-miscast irresistable force. He rolled the six to improbably go first in dawn attack, then immediately leeched the life from my lv2...but since i then knew it was impossible for him to have a ward save the hydra made a mad dash and devoured him.

Better that way--dwellers would have hurt.

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Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:27 am
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Corsairs will never replace RXB for their roles least of all in 8th edition. Yes you can argue on paper how they can compare to RXB but to be honest people are forgetting two things about having RXB. First is the pyschological impact 20 RXB has on your opponent's deployment. By controlling you opponent's deployment you effectively force them to come to your terms. Second is the fact that on the averages, RXB have the potential to fire more shots all the time and eventually hit 6's to wound against that high T monster on a good roll. I don't see why people are trying so hard on trying to make corsairs work with rhb at the moment. I don't know but I tend to be see our units as specialized ones and would rather have 20 spears and 20 RXB as opposed to 2 sets of Corsairs more often than the latter. If I were to use Corsair I will simply use them beside my main battle unit and block any potential counter charges as their rhb excel at close range shooting.Simply put both units have different uses and I don't see a need or reason to interchange them.If you want shooting, choose RXB, if you want rank and file killer, use Corsairs. If you want tin car openers Execs and Witches. Our choices were made simple so we concentrate more on tactics as we are really fragile and require finesse to win.

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Thu Sep 16, 2010 8:18 am
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Oh, heck no. RXBs and RHB corsairs are nowhere near the same, they don't have the same role and trying to use them interchangably is foredoomed to fail.

The trick of using RHB corsairs to understanding how they differ from RXBs (and their AHW corsair cousins) and using that difference to its best effect.

Look at it this way: If a unit charges RXBs from 13", the RXBs S&S is at -2 right off the bat. If the chargers start within 3-4", the RXBs don't even get to S&S.

RHB corsairs, on the other hand, will S&S the first group at full BS and will hit roughly twice as often, and actually gets to S&S the second. In both cases, the expected damage is likely to be higher - perhaps even significantly higher.


Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:52 pm
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Vulcan- You shouldnt be relying on stand and shoot reactions to kill stuff.. if your shooting units are being charged, then your in trouble anyway.

RHB corsairs are too mediocre IMO. Alright in combat, alright at shooting, but not really good at either. The only way I would run them (and only in a corsair themed list) is in units of 10 5by2 with a musician. This units a decent flanker, and if its lost, its only 105 points down the drain.

The main problem with RHB corsairs however is the range of 8", 13" if you move first. Now from that range, a unit of AHW corsairs could have been charging... and the damage they would do in CC would actually count towards CR.

All up, leave them at home. If you really want corsair missile troops, convert them to "corsair RXBs".

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Mon Sep 20, 2010 1:42 am
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If we could stay on topic, please (even myself did not do it previously :oops: )
DreadImperator's thesis is that as a HORDE, RHB corsairs are better than RXBmen, AHW corsairs and spearmen unit.
This discussion is not about the usefulness of hordes for DE (although a comment can be made on that, too). This discussion is not about the best setting for RHB corsairs (unless horde size). The discussion is NOT whether RHB corsairs could replace RXBmen in their usual roles (units of 10 to 20).

In order to compare hordes of RXBmen, RHB corsairs and AHW corsairs, I would welcome either testimonies of actual wargaming experiences, as DreadImperator does and is kind enough to share, or real mathammer comparisons, as Bounce & halkias82 & L1qw1d started doing but did not publish to the full extent.

Is anyone willing to do the maths for the following scenarios?
DE units:
1. 30 RXBmen, M
2. 30 RXBmen, shields, FC
3. 30 RHB corsairs, M
4. 30 RHB corsairs, FC, SSS
3. 30 AHW corsairs, FC, SSS (as I see no point in taking them without SSS)
6. 30 spearmen, FC
7. 30 spearmen, shields, FC, warbanner

Opposing unit:
A. 5 Chaos Knights, M
B. 25 Orcs, FC, 7 wide
C. 60 goblins, FC, 3 fanatics, 10 wide
D. 30 HE spearmen, FC, 7 wide
E. 30 long barbs, great weapons, FC, 7 wide
F. ... any idea?

Scenario:
S1: move and shoot if you can at 19"
S2: move and shoot if you can at 7" (triggering fanatics if applicable)
S3: stand & shoot at 7"
S4: be charged
S5: 2nd turn of melee

Comparison:
- cost of DE unit
- how many pts worth of opponents did the DE unit killed during S1 to S5?
- how many pts worth of DE were killed by the opponent during S1 to S5?

Analysis:
only after such mathammering can a reasonable discussion occur on the merits of different DE hordes, and if hordes are viable at all.

Would anyone try that? :)

EDIT:
30 rhb Corsairs with SSS playtested.

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Last edited by Calisson on Sun Oct 17, 2010 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:15 am
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Slave on the Altar

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@Demetrius: I really dont think that 10 additional attacks at s3 compare to 80 additional shots, even when factoring the possibility of additional combat rounds. Against t3 you decimate the enemy unit and against t4 the casualties cause will either remove ranks (if unit is 5 deep) or limit number of attacks recieved (if unit is horde). Both of which will have a significant effect in the combat. RHB on corsairs are far more versatile and effective than AHW on Corsairs.

Comparing RHB to spearmen and RXBs is another kettle of fish. I would never pick them over spearmen and RXBs in a GENERIC ROSTER. But against a T3 army I can easily see an argument for them over spearmen and RXB. When buffs come into the picture, magic and CoB, I think RHB get even better. But its so situational i couldnt come out one way or another. My only solid argument is between the two different types of Corsairs where i believe RHB is better in most if not all circumstances.


Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:55 pm
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Demetrius the Betrayer wrote:
Vulcan- You shouldnt be relying on stand and shoot reactions to kill stuff.. if your shooting units are being charged, then your in trouble anyway.

RHB corsairs are too mediocre IMO. Alright in combat, alright at shooting, but not really good at either. The only way I would run them (and only in a corsair themed list) is in units of 10 5by2 with a musician. This units a decent flanker, and if its lost, its only 105 points down the drain.

The main problem with RHB corsairs however is the range of 8", 13" if you move first. Now from that range, a unit of AHW corsairs could have been charging... and the damage they would do in CC would actually count towards CR.

All up, leave them at home. If you really want corsair missile troops, convert them to "corsair RXBs".


As I said, the key is to understand the difference between them and use them to best best effect taking those differences into account.

Stand and shoot is what RHB Corsairs do best. So, you look for roles where S&S is a vital part of it. Things like flank or warmachine guards and sorceress bunkers benefit greatly from being able to reliably S&S when charged.

I have lately started using RHB corsairs 5x2 as a sorceress bunker. S&S shreds most wizard-hunters pretty thoroughly, and if the sorceress blows up... oh well. No big loss.


EDIT: Back on subject...

I haven't had a chance to try the 40 RHB horde being proposed myself, but the theory looks good. If the unit you are trying to hit maneuvers to avoid your charge, you just reform and shoot at full BS, which could be almost as bad as having been charged. It might persuade the other player to accept action... which, since you've been manevuering your horde that way in the first place means he is going along with your plans rather than trying to frustrate them.

I'll have to try it out and see what happens.


Thu Sep 23, 2010 12:55 am
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I am intrigued by the concept of the 40 RHB Corsair unit. I have been theory hammering it up a lot in my head lately and I think it definitely can work.

I have been using a Lvl 4 with metal lore lately. I am really liking how it works with the army as a whole and specifically the corsairs. Giving them +2 armor is really nice as is +1 to hit and magical armor piercing (cc and shooting).

If you think about it the things that don't mind 40 missile shots (like a horde of cheap troops) the corsairs will shred in combat. The things that will put a hurt on them in CC won't like taking 40 RHB shots on the way in. (*there are exceptions to this of course)

And if folks are charging at the upper limits of charge range to stop your "move up shoot, then S+S reaction" plan then they may fail the charge, which is a free S+S for you. I like a horde that can do more than just move around.

I have been thinking of adding a noble with guiding eye and whip of agony into the unit. That is one use of re-rolling missed shots and a hero with 5 strength 5 AP attacks with a 3+ AS in combat. (Frenzy banner+HA+SDC+Shd) It is a lot of points, but it is flexible and resilient.

They have value added for me as well since I run a Witch Elf heavy themed list (75 Witches in 2500 pts). The frenzy banner on them makes them fit the army feel better.

I'll report back my in game experiences

I have started working on the models. They are fantastic kits really. I am excited to be using them in the army.

-Erik

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Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:26 pm
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