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Repeater crossbows: Failures, successes? 
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Malekith's Best Friend
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I regularly see repeater crossbows mentioned as one of many powerful factors in our army. Players often mention repeater crossbows as giving us an excellent shooting phase, one that's truly fearsome and deadly. However, my experience with repeater crossbows in general hasn't convinced me that they're nearly as powerful as our opponents like to think.

Do you believe repeater crossbows deserve their reputation? How have they performed for you? Are they the game winner that they're often cited as, or just a generally useful unit, or even a colossal failure?

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Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:03 am
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I regularly see players field armies of Repeater Crossbowmen and I regularly see them lose because of it. Missile troops are a support unit, more so in 8th edition than in 7th. My experience mimics yours Tethlis.

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Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:15 am
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Cold One Knight

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They are good for many reasons: high number of shots, good range/mobility, armour piercing, only cc unit that can get ward save.

Since they do have a good reputation opponents tend to overcompensate, winning psychological game, rolling more dice always good, again psychological as well as real impact.

They will likely never destroy a unit at range unless it is small, lightly armoured and has low t but they will prove useful in a multitude of roles and that is their real strength.


Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:20 am
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Quote:
they do have a good reputation opponents tend to overcompensate, winning psychological game, rolling more dice always good, again psychological as well as real impact

I agree it is more psychological than actualality. Mine usually dont kill much more than they are worth.

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Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:17 am
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They really shine with magic support. Withering and flaming sword, for example.


Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:28 am
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Repeater Crossbowmen (RXBs) are not a ranged killing unit like, say, handgunners or cannon. They are a medium infantry close combat block with a strong secondary shooting function.

Think about it. Most armies' shooters are about as effective in close combat as a limp noodle. Ours share the same statline as our other core infantry, have the same armor saves, AND get the shield parry which ALL our other infantry choices lack.

So, you deploy them wide early in the game to shoot and knock ranks off big units (to make it easier to remove steadfast in close combat) or sweep away small units (to make it easier to pick our matchups in close combat). Then, once the main event starts, they reform into a combat block and pile in, probably on a flank to bust ranks, and help turn the tide of the combat.

And like everythinge else in our book, they benefit greatly from synergy with other units. Magic support has been mentioned - even Chaos Warriors fall pretty quick if the Sorceress Withers their toughness down to 1-2. Once they get in close combat, cauldron benefits can be useful. And their supreme function is, as I said, to provide rank support to a killer unit without many ranks of its own, like hydras, cold one knights, and cold one chariots.

In short, don't play them like shooting is all they can do. It isn't, and if you don't untilize them fully, then of course they are not going to perform for you.


Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:26 am
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Lord of the Dragon Caves
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I field a block of 20 crossbowmen and between 10 and 20 more shooters (shades and dark riders). They regularly do very well for me, especially with magic support. I use Shadow and Death, and either Withering or Soulblight will do the trick. Targeting priority is key though. Don't waste shots on really big units or on durable monsters like Stegadons or Dragons. Shoot the stuff you can hurt.

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Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:43 am
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Dyvim Tvar wrote:
Targeting priority is key though. Don't waste shots on really big units or on durable monsters like Stegadons or Dragons. Shoot the stuff you can hurt.
... Some armies only field big units and durable monsters or war machines...

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Thu Aug 25, 2011 6:47 am
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sulla wrote:
... Some armies only field big units and durable monsters or war machines...
They lack "scavengers", designed to hunt down the point denying unit's last survivors.

Good opportunity to remind the usefulness of scavengers.
When the remainings of a large unit manage to escape your melee units (maybe they panic, flee, escape and prepare to rally later), you're happy to have either fast units (DR, harpies, Pegasus) or distance attack units (RXBmen, RBTs, magic missiles) to get the victory points.
This is true for your opponent, reversely.
Most armies have warmachine hunters; these units become scavengers in later parts of the game - if they survived so far.

Back to RXBmen:
- they are able to perform scavenger's job at distance
- they contribute to get rid of light units which may scavenge, allowing the remnants of your big block to survive the battle and deny VPs.

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Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:40 am
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Lord of the Dragon Caves
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sulla wrote:
Dyvim Tvar wrote:
Targeting priority is key though. Don't waste shots on really big units or on durable monsters like Stegadons or Dragons. Shoot the stuff you can hurt.
... Some armies only field big units and durable monsters or war machines...


True. For example, I have been fighting a number of Tomb Kings armies lately that are heavy on constructs and chariots and light on infantry -- 2 war sphinxes, a Hierotitan, and a couple units of Chariots and/or Necropolis knights is pretty normal. Even against and army like this, shooting can be effective. On average, a unit of 20 crossbows will reduce a War Sphinx down to 1 wound in 2 rounds of shooting (might even kill it). This will seriously decrease the threat it poses since it could easily die to massed attacks from infantry, whether it charges or gets charged. Similarly, if you are faced with an army like Dwarfs that has multiple big, tough blocks of infantry, focus your fire and erode one important unit over multiple rounds of shooting so that you can make the job much easier for something like Black Guard or a Hydra.

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Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:28 pm
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How effective RXBs are in 8th in my oppinion all depends on what restrictions you play with (note: not just shooting ones).

In ETC for exemple, you can't rely on shooting to win the game. But if you have no restrictions, certainly you can.

I had no problem getting most BPs in two tournaments with a shooty list. Something like this:

dreadlord: peggy + unkillable/stubborn
S Sorc (shadow)
Sorc (dark)
master: peggy bsb

18ish warrior unit for s sorc
2x 5 harpies
3x 14 RXBs
3x 7shades add hw
2 hydra

Granted, much is owed to that dreadlord and the hydras, but what they do is to supplement the shooting (rather than the other way around!). Rarely have an opponent ever even reached a single crossbow unit when I have played this...


Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:30 pm
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MarkusSWE wrote:
I had no problem getting most BPs in two tournaments with a shooty list.


I bet you wont get much friends with such a list either...

As for RxBs, i completely agree with some things mentioned before ie not rely on shoot ability but use big block for CC in later turns, great with magic support, great for psychology war...

There is one more use no one mentioned here before (at least i think) and its killing pesky things such as OaG squiggs and fanatics, eagles, ... and they can be used in blocks of 10 with musician only to have some early units for early deploy so you can choose where to push with killy units.


Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:49 pm
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Diablo wrote:
I bet you wont get much friends with such a list either...


I expect all players that come to a tournament to build the armylist they think is the absolutely best. If they don't, they have failed.

If someone have built an effective list I will definately compliment them. "Fun to play against" or not.

If you go to a tournament to get friends, you are at the wrong place. You go to a tournament to win.


Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:52 pm
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MarkusSWE wrote:

If you go to a tournament to get friends, you are at the wrong place. You go to a tournament to win.
In tournaments, as in life, there are boundaries some will cross, and others will not.

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Thu Aug 25, 2011 7:23 pm
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Finally a topic that I actually have the enthusiasm to reply to. Recently D.net's threads are a little...anyway enough of that.

With the exception of my battles with Empire with a million mortar shots, RXBmen have earned their spot in my lists as I have explained in some of my posts. I can see why it may or may not work for people because of how they use them. Some people still expect them to take a unit out as they did in older editions. In 8th however, their role has changed a bit in accordance to the current game environment.

They are the only shooting unit in the game right now that serves a dual purpose in a sense that they are no different with our Spearmen in terms stats and the ability to generate SCR trading the extra rank of attack for parry saves. Thunderers for example are too expensive to serve such a purpose even with better armor and toughness, while Empire troops lack the ld and armor(shields) to use the swift reform into a combat block strategy. With the advent of kill a unit entirely or get no VP, RXBmen are useful for taking out that last 3 models of a broken unit you were not able to catch. Then there are the usual annoyances that you simply need the shooting power RXB provide. You are most likely win combat with monsters and units that you have taken a couple of wounds of to shooting. Say for example you manage to get 2 or 3 wounds of an HPA with RXB fire, you can pretty much charge it with a Hydra and win as opposed to it having all his wounds up. There is also the synergy with Hydras. Have you seen the amount of damage you can do with 40 RXBmen and 2 Hydra breaths on one unit? And no it's not overkill, its killing a unit without it having the chance of retaliating which we all know something DE doesn't like. I've once cleaned up a 30 man unit of Bloodletters with that exact combo and kept all my points and units safe.

Despite hatred and COB buffs and all, there are instances where you just don't want to get into combat yet or the tournament scenario favors you to hang back. RXBmen have proved to be invaluable to me in a sense that when push comes to shove I have a unit that can reform into blocks and hold objectives, tarpit a scoring unit, keep a flank safe while still having the option of shooting when they are free. The only problem I have is the amount of times I reform them in a game thus I carry 2 extra 20man movement trays for my RXB and there was not a single game where I didn't reform atleast one of them once.

Let us not forget the small annoyances that you need them for. Fast cavalry, scouts, Skinks and other small forces that you need to take care of from a distance fast. I cannot imagine the horrors of needing to take a close combat unit to take out Salamanders or DOC Flamers or waste time trying to catch up to Gutterrunners and whatnots. They excel in making a list well rounded and balanced and since DE is all about balancing a list, they fit right in whether you use them as a firebase, a secondary blocked unit or a character bunker.


Then certainly there is that Psychological factor. When played aggressively, you actively dictate your opponent's deployment for while he will surely march and charge your spearblock with his Marauder horde, he will think twice about aligning to your RXBmen. In short they are a very flexible unit that happens to have built up perhaps a more than deserving reputation which is always a good thing. Perhaps if opponents rank them 9 our of 10 maybe they are just a 8 or 7 but they definitely are a very threatening and imposing 8.

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And on a side note, they are very fluffy on top of being so versatile. I've loved Cold One Knights since time immemorial and till this day I find myself reading that fluff on our old AB where Crossbowmen shot at slaves before a COK charge against Bretonnians making it difficult for their Knights to charge a supposed clear field. The image of Cold Ones leaping and striding unhindred on top of dead bodies against mounted knights struggling just to keep their horses from throwing them is just awesome. The little nerd in me just smiled. :lol:

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Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:17 am
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I find myself forgoing them entirely in exchange of corsairs being a good throw away unit with magic augments.

Shooting just doesn't last enough turns these days with my play style.

Also, I killed a casket of souls with 5 harpies today, feeling pretty good about that.

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Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:00 am
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I think it depends on what your shooting. High toughness, well armored foes such as Bretonian knights or a number of dwarven units, and warriors of chaos signature troops won't do much as you need 5's to wound, and their armor can withstand most attacks.

Against lighlty armored foes, such as ogres, and most infantry or light cavalry, they can make you suffer. However, again, against those who can withstand musket fire, you need a new source.

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Fri Aug 26, 2011 5:03 am
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It's nice to have a unit for your sorceress to sit in that can do something outside of combat, but other than killing disruption units (which I see a lot less of in 8th) or knocking a couple of wounds off large targets, I don't get a lot of value out of my crossbows.


They'd be great if I faced other elves, or even skaven with their weapon teams and jezzails etc, but I mostly face huge hordes of WoC or undead that heal quicker than i can hurt them, or dwarves that just make me bitter about how much better their war machines are than my shooting.

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Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:14 am
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I've found them to be extremely useful. I tend to move them up the board, firing as they go. 80 shots a turn does a good psych out number on my opponents :evil: . They do however need some help to make them work well.
Guiding Eye works wonders for that one turn when you have to make sure you do enough wounds to cripple the enemy unit. It is also very useful for stand and shoot to get that 25% casualties.
They also combine well with a number of spells; The Withering increase the number of wounds caused by dropping the toughness. Flaming Sword makes them effectively S4, and Enchanted Blades increases their hit rate(they already get armour piercing).

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Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:41 pm
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The consensus seems to be that they're good as a versatile combat/shooting block, and can cause some key wounds (without support) or have impressive killing power (with support.) I suppose that meshes well with my own experience. I guess the idea here is that players generally seem content with crossbowmen being more versatile, and less specialized, than most competitive shooting options out there? I know that when I want dedicated crossbow fire, I take Shades, and they always seem to excel in that dedicated role. That being said, I can easily appreciate repeater crossbowmen for the many roles they can perform.

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Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:19 pm
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I have grown to love and hate these guys. In fact they often to better in combat with shields and first round rerolls to hit than 40 shots at 5+ to hit.
.

Last tournament . There was a round where I had 40 shots go off and did 3 wounds....

I found that single shots vers multi against infantry / Average toughness does well and Multi shot against High Tough monsters does well. (6s to wound)


Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:37 am
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Statistically speaking, always double-fire.

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Sat Aug 27, 2011 3:42 am
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Also, stratagicly speaking, take 20 of them. If you go less, put a hero in the mist. Right now I'm in the middle of a move, so my projects are a bit underpowered at the moment, but I plan on having a lord choice charecter with the folding fortress. And since it simply says it's a tower and now how high it is, I could get all my shots in the safety of stone walls.

Yes it's cheesy, but you know there are a few players I go against that need to meet cheese with cheese.

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Sat Aug 27, 2011 8:22 am
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i think it highly depends on the opponents army whether RXBs are usefull or not. In games with opponent only having large horde blocks and very little support they are better of traded to corsairs or more spears.

That being said I tried my corsairs instead of the RXBs a while ago against my friends orc horde and I think they performed much better than RXBs ever did. Even though I had to drop also chariot from my list to get 25 corsairs instead of 20 RXB's but with the little excess points I could get some other bits here and there more.


Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:29 pm
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Tethlis wrote:
Do you believe repeater crossbows deserve their reputation? How have they performed for you? Are they the game winner that they're often cited as, or just a generally useful unit, or even a colossal failure?


RXB cover a large chunk of the table with fire, and can seriously hurt light units. They are excellent for taking away an enemy's mobility by intimidating or destroying flankers, loose characters, skirmishers and other minor units that cannot survive RXB shooting. Most armies have units like this and so they fulfil a role versus these units,

Their secondary role is as a flanking/minor unit that can nullify steadfast, claim objectives and occupy buildings. They can also take command so they expands their utility.

They are a first class CORE unit and one of the best archery units in the game. Just don't expect them to achieve much against massively armoured units.

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Sun Aug 28, 2011 1:25 am
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