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Reaper Bolt throwers 
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Highborn
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Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 7:57 pm
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Granted, since in 8th edition the wound tables allow a 6 to wound regardless of strength versus toughness, the value of the bolt thrower, in general, has decreased. That, more than the changes to wounding the RBTs, has altered people's perceptions to their worth. At first glance, who wouldn't look at 20 shots, armor piercing, with a no worse than 6+ chance to wound, as better than an RBT?

I would not overlook the reach of the RBT, however. It may not be better in all situations, but I'm quite certain some scenarios, like battle for the pass, will more than highlight its assets.

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Thu Jan 20, 2011 4:10 pm
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Trainee Warrior

Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:58 pm
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Agreed. Crossbows are good for getting close and unleashing a hail of bolts against the enemy, especially lightly armoured foes. They can then reform and take a charge. If you're sitting them at a distance and hoping they will have the same effect then you're wasting their strengths.

Likewise, if you hope your RBT will fill the same roll as crossbows then you'll be disappointed. They don't have enough shots to really cut down the big infantry blocks, so don't try. What they can do is to hit heavy cavalry where it hurts (str 4 Armour piercing will make a dent on most). Or monsters. Or eagles.

Sure your enemy could be directing his artillery/magic/cavalry units at them, but if he is then its often going to take a couple of turns to do so. Take advantage of his eagerness to kill your bolt throwers to get in his face. If he is firing at your bolt throwers then it means the rest of your army is advancing unmolested. If he sends his fast cavalry against them then these are your targets.

Sure, they will fall apart like a house of cards against melee scouts such as our dearly beloved shades, but that is a problem that all warmachines suffer.

Don't think about "are they worth it." Instead think "how can I MAKE them worth it"


In my 2500 list I'm taking 30 Crossbows and two Bolt Throwers. They will each have a role to serve. They may or may not make their points back, but that is a term I loathe and despise. I want them to keep the rest of my army safe by picking off or thinning out threats from long range. I have a Pegasus Master who can act as a swift moving anti-scout force. I can even deploy my own shades on my back field to protect my rear if I know my opponent has scouts himself.

Deployment wise, there are three viable options:
1) Stick them both behind your lines, ideally on a hill and preferably with cover. If your opponent wants them then he will have most of your army in the way to get to them. If he is hitting them at range with magic or artillery then he is not hitting the rest of your army.
2) Deploy both of them on a flank, a long way from your main force. If he chooses to divert resources into dealing with them then they have a long way to go, and it means that you have more turns to shoot them on their way and that his RBT Killers are a long way from the rest of the battle
3) Deploy one on each flank. Similar to option 2, but this time he would need to either send two hit teams to get rid of them, or he would have to spend a long time getting from one to the other. And they and the rest of your army are not going to sit idly by while they do so.

Of course, their two biggest weaknesses are magic and shooting. As such, determine how best to negate that threat. I don't know who you're fighting, so I can't state the best way of doing so, but if your artillery is weak then his is also.

Personally, I'm more than happy for my opponent to throw cannon balls against my bolt throwers if it means they aren't going against my Hydra. And if he has magic, then so do you. That's why the good lord gave us dispel dice.

I'm far from an expert on Bolt Throwers, but I enjoy the tactical challenges they represent. Using an overpriced/underpowered unit and getting the most from it will encourage you to think in new ways and make you a better general. It also gives the enemy something they might not have expected. Everyone facing Dark Elves expects to see a Hydra or two. They may not expect bolt throwers which can target his anti-hydra units - knights and cannons.

Apologies if any of that seems ranty. I seem to be determined to stick up for the poor much maligned Bolt Thrower crews who are sobbing into their dwarf-skin handkerchiefs. :)


Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:42 pm
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Cold One Knight
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Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2003 5:36 am
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@Kadahn, you sum it up rather good in my opinion. So +1 from my corner. Go Reapers!


Fri Jan 21, 2011 9:35 am
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The Guiding Eye
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Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2002 9:19 pm
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Location: Sat drinking 'soul stealer' cocktails in the city of Vilebrier with Morathi...
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Kadahn wrote:
Don't think about "are they worth it." Instead think "how can I MAKE them worth it"
Excellent point [+1 for you!]

I think that as Kadahn also points out - the concept of succeptability of reapers to shooting is a bit of a misnomer: except when poison is concerned - a high elf playing friend of mine pointed out his reasoning for this argument (which mathematically I cannot accurately recall so shall not try though please flaw me if I'm wrong!) was that taking wounds from average missile weapons (str 3/4) has not changed: a 7th Ed 1 in 3 chance of hitting crew and then wounding crew (forget armour saves) equated to 6s to wound in this edition (again - ignoring poison here however).

My criticism is that with larger units and more 'big play gambles' being taken in 8th, Reapers initially appear to impact this less: for example against hordes the 10 man crossbow unit is theoretically more efficient.

However the subtlety is in consistency: Reapers will almost always be hitting on 3s, 4s or 5s (depending on range and average soft cover) and can be a real psychological thorn in your opponents side (in a similar way to 5 dark riders crossbows in 7th psychologically distracting your opponent).

In the debate about bolt throwers in general however, I should like to point out another subtle difference between Asur and us: magic.

3 spells stand out as obviously aiding bolt throwers directly:
- Blades of Aiban (Metal)
- Flaming Sword (Fire)
- Curse of Arrow Attraction (High)

The last of these being perhaps the most all round effective spell to put on reapers. Furthermore, due to us having armour pen on repeater crossbows, blades of aiban has less utility for us than high elves whose archers lack AP. Flaming sword is negligiable as it applies equally well to both sides but certainly aids in Reapers killing off Hydras (an eg used as a 'nasty monster' earlier in this thead).

This bolt throwers with an average-strong magic phase would have more use in a High Elf army than ours (particularly also *pointed out by Tethlis earlier* when we have a very competitively priced Hydra for less than 2 reapers).

I havent tried them in 8th yet (due to preconceived scepticism) but this thread and my high elf friends advice has convinced me: fire magic + reapers = ranged death! :D

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Fri Jan 21, 2011 9:15 pm
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Trainee Warrior

Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:53 pm
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Kadahn wrote:
Don't think about "are they worth it." Instead think "how can I MAKE them worth it"

That's a great question anybody can ask themselves. In my opinion, the role of the Chariot is very similar in a Dark Elf list to that of a Bolt Thrower. It is not there to win you the game, it is not there to devastate infantry (or even cavalry, which usually only have one rank and rarely give away their flank to such a warmachine). Is is there to distract and possibly pose a threat to the enemy.

If they don't shoot down that Chariot, it will eventually impact something. And if it is from a flank or rear, it might just as well tip the scales of combat. If they do fight it, they have to go through T5, AS3+ and 4W.

The same with Bolt Throwers. If they field a lone hero, he's suddenly in danger. So is a dragon. And their chariots. And monsters. And if they decide to kill the threat, so be it, they are dedicating part of their army in order to achieve that goal. If they don't - great - the Bolt Thrower will actually kill those 100pts of units. And as I said, it's not even the matter of being worth its points in terms of kills rather than some psychological warfare.

I would think twice before deploying it for 1500pts, but I would gladly do it for 2000-2500+.


Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:30 pm
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