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D.R.A.I.C.H. - The manticore 
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Noble
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Why the manticore?
Quote:
Because its big and powerful, and we druchii love power. No matter the risks or costs, for we are above it all.
-Gibious

A manticore fulfills the same niche as a dragon in most armies, and since the dragon is stronger, more resilient, and has a breath attack on top of it, the dragon is clearly the superior choice in many armies for just a few more points. So again, why the manticore?

There are certain advantages a manticore has over the dragon. Of course that means there are also disadvantages. But do not despair, owners of the beautiful manticore model, for there are valid reasons to take a manticore beyond fluff. Read on, and uncover the secrets of getting the most out of your precious manticore. It is, after all, an aspect of Khaine, and Khaine loves nothing more than letting the blood flow, not sitting on a shelf collecting dust!

Killing Blow
The main advantage (beyond cost) a manticore has over a dragon. A manticore’s attacks provide Killing Blow. Equip the Master or Dreadlord on top of it with the Deathpiercer, a magical lance forged in the depths of the dungeons of GW, and all attacks provide Killing Blow. With at least 8 attacks and hatred, it provides reliable Killing Blow, designed to get rid of either the big opposing hero, or his escort of heavily armored troops.

Beware! Some armies have resistance to Killing Blow, usually in the form of magic items. Dwarves have. Both Warriors of Chaos and Vampire Counts have access to magical armor, ignoring the effect of Killing Blow. Finally, everything with a Unit Strength of 3 or greater is also immune to KB. If all you care about is reliable Killing Blow, it’s also possible in other ways: an assassin with Rune Of Khaine, Touch Of Death and Black Lotus, or as a blessing from the Cauldron of Blood. What the manticore has going for it above assassins, is mobility and terror.

I am loath to say you can provide Killing Blow to any unit with the Cauldron. It’s true, but there are too much variables involved: the Cauldron must still be alive, be included in the army, within 24”, and there are also other blessings and units to choose from, so it might not be the optimal choice. That’s why I won’t compare the Killing Blow potential of a manticore with that of say a frenzied unit of AHW corsairs: you might need a ward save on your Executioners, an extra attack on your Black Guard or Knights, etc. In short, the manticore has Killing Blow which on its own is not that impressive, but adds to its hammer role and with the additional aspect of mobility and terror, guarantees to have it available when and where you need it most, unlike the other options we have.

Mobile terror
It’s a large flying beast. This means it can charge over anything it can see over. Meaning your opponent has to worry about how he exposes his flanks when aligning for combat. This quality is shared with the dragon, so both are equal in this case. The Pegasus is not a large target, and therefore lacks this ability. It’s also far less deadly.

Another quality it shares with the dragon, is terror. Nowadays, there are lots of Immune To Psychology armies out there, but do not underestimate a US5 terror causer. In the worst case, it provides immunity to terror itself.

Vulnerability to ranged attacks and magic missiles
And here lays the problem: the manticore is extremely vulnerable to distant attacks. That’s why many people prefer the dragon: it’s more resilient. You might be able to smash the Black Dragon down in the middle of the table, and withstand the barrage of magic and shooting that follows. Only war machines pose a real threat to a dragon, while manticores have to watch out for small missile fire and those dreaded magic missiles.

This encourages a line of sight avoiding strategy. Wait till everybody is engaged, and commit late. Seems hard to make up the points like that. Not many people like to play like that. There are a few things you can do to protect your Master or Dreadlord from being stranded and having to continue the fight on foot (the shame!):

- Use protective wargear:
The Ring Of Darkness protects both the character and the manticore against shooting. It does unfortunately do nothing to protect against magic missiles. Null Talismans provide protection against magic, but not against mundane shooting. The Ring Of Hotek protects against big spells (gateway comes to mind), but is little defense against magic missiles, usually cast on two dice. Compromises have to be made.

- Use a Hydra:
Also large, a hydra can be used to block line of sight to and from the manticore.

- Hunt:
You can’t be harmed by shooters or wizards if they’re already dead. This is unfortunately very situational, and thus not easy (or wise) to rely on.

All this makes the manticore a lot harder to use than the dragon. Positioning becomes very important. But we’re Druchii, used to fighting with the “toughest” army book of 6th edition. We should not be bothered by that!

Frenzy
Frenzy can be both a blessing and a curse. It provides two additional attacks (one to the mount and one to the rider), useful when in combat. But it means it has to charge, possibly exposing your expensive character and mount to nasty countercharges, or drawing it in front of enemy shooter/war machines. Screening won’t work, unless you’ve got a hydra for it.

This adds to the problem. While staying out of LOS helps, it’s no good when some fast cavalry can just rush in to divert you. However, our heroes have good leadership, and you should be able to use terrain and a hydra to your advantage until you are ready to commit. You can also adjust your facing to help negate this problem, as monsters get to pivot on the spot for free during their movement.

And lastly, the manticore must charge, but is still able to choose his target. And with a 20” charge range, that’s a lot of movement control! How many resources is your opponent willing to commit to destroying this manticore?

Army composition
The next point is, for me anyways, the deal breaker. A lord on dragon costs a lord and hero slot. A manticore costs a lord slot OR two hero slots (depending on the rider). This makes the manticore not only possible in games of less than 2k points, combined with the saved points (120), it also allows for the inclusion of another character or unit. This also means the manticore master can be given the Battle Standard Bearer option, providing some extra combat resolution. Worth mentioning is the Standard Of Slaughter: 2-4 extra combat resolution on top of the active combat resolution, equals a nice break test if you manage to take on the rear or flanks.

Of course, there doesn’t have to be a competition. For those that wish, there is the option of taking both a dragon and a manticore. The infamous monster list (which works equally well with two manticores) is not seen often, but has it’s uses. While on paper it looks tough and good, it’s most certainly not without weaknesses. Magic , shooting and static combat resolution will take a heavy toll.

Another advantage to the manticore is a social one. While dragon builds are often seen as powerful and not very friendly, a manticore usually isn’t. If you have a sensitive gaming group that doesn’t smell like cheddar, you might consider the manticore instead. You even might be invited back. If people start complaining about the overpowered Dark Elves, you can silence all resistance with : “I’m using a manticore build for crying out loud!”.

A word on wargear
Some argue that the best combination for wargear is magical armor, a magical weapon, and/or a talisman. Mundane gear will do, but makes the prospect of missile fire even riskier. The general consensus is to protect yourself against those pesky ranged attacks, and arm yourself for dishing out some hurt. The usual combinations work out fine, however there are some comments in regard to using them together with the manticore. Here are some items included in the favorite builds of D.netters who contributed in previous discussions:

Talismans:

- Ring of Darkness: as mentioned earlier, it halves BS and WS and works on both character and mount. I’d only take this on a Dreadlord, as it’s high points cost prevents you from taking anything else on a master.
- I however, prefer Null Talismans. Two (on a master) or three (on a dreadlord) will help your defensive magic phase, as your opponent will be worried about the big flying monster sneaking up his side. It’s also ideal for those pesky lonely well armoured chaos sorcerers on steeds and discs. The downside is they only work when casted at.
- Ring of Hotek: allows for a combination with a decent magic armour or weapon. I don’t use this, because I want the ring to form an umbrella over my own troops, not far away on a flying monster. Useful when you have sorceresses on your own or want to disrupt some enemy casters.
- Pendant Of Khaeleth: while not necessary, it’s still one of the best protective items there is. I’d rather see this item on a dark steed BSB, to maximize its advantages. But if there’s no one else to carry it, it’s most certainly worth considering.

Armor

- Armor of Darkness: Very good, basically renders your character immune to low strength shooting, which is exactly what we want. Beware for armor save ignoring weapons and high strength attacks. However, on a big flying beasts, you should be able to pick your battles.
- Blood Armor: Not so good, as the improved save kicks in after melee kills. Remember the idea is to stay save from shooting.
- Enchanted Shield: also excellent choice for a moderate cost. Improves armour save to 2+ if you include the full mundane kit. Leaves room for a more expensive weapon or other item on a master.
- Armor of Eternal Servitude: As one can see in Bounce's excellent summary of magic items article, the Armor of Eternal Servituted is not so great at protecting a character from S4 shooting as the Armor of Darkness. Since most shooting will be at strength 3 or 4, I feel Armor of Darkness is better suited for a manticore rider.
- Cloak of Hag Graef: Would be excellent if it also protected the mount. As is now, I’d rather take the Armor of Darkness. But that’s a personal preference, I have to admit I never used this cloak.

Weapons

- Deathpiercer: many cannot resist the extra killing blow attacks. And who can blame them? Only downside is you may need to pack a secondary mundane weapon for if (or when) your character gets stranded without the mount (that is, if you don't want to rely on his basic hand weapon).
- Caledor’s Bane: Dragon, Treeman, chariot and Stegadon killer. Take it if you’re worried about those, although I’d rather not see my manticore in combat with them unless they have only a few wounds left.
- Crimson Death: solid all-rounder. We all know this one. However, the logic goes that your manticore should pick it’s battles carefully, and break anything it charges. The big benefit is you don’t need to rely on your basic hand weapon when your mount dies though.
- Hydra Blade: always a good one in combination with Potion of Strength. No killing blow though, unless blessed by the cauldron. Bucket load of attacks when going into frenzy though.

Enchanted items

- Black Dragon Egg: nice consumable item. Useful for “dragon light”, especially in smaller scale battles.
- Hydra’s Teeth: it has its fans (and its uses), a nice to have on a very mobile hero. I just never seem to find the points for this luxury.
- Potion of Strength: I consider this a dreadlord only item, and then in combination with the Hydra Blade. Attack another character on a monstrous mount, let the manticore attack the rider and hope for the killing blow, and direct the S7 attacks at the mount. Good combination. Beware, for the fickle dice rolls might decide to leave both intact, so it’s usually better to focus your attacks and strike out that which you’re certain to kill.


There are others, but these are the most commonly used. If I can’t find the points for a magic weapon (or if I have a magic lance), I usually just take a halberd. All round S5, strikes in initiative order, and leaves, even on a master, room for armor and a talisman. A lance is also good, until you get dismounted.

About missile weapons: I prefer not to count on them. While it may be a nice addition when I have some points to spare (can’t remember the last time that happened), it also “encourages” getting in LOS and taking a few shots. Decide carefully if you can resist the temptation of making unwise moves for a few crossbow shots.

The hydra-manticore terror bomb
Calisson came up with this tactic. It involves a list with two hydras and a manticore master/lord. The hydras move forward forming a V shape, keeping the manticore out of sight. When close enough to the enemy, the manticore flies over the hydras, landing behind the enemy units. This will result in a terror test, and the enemy running away to a US 5 monster or flyer. If the enemy doesn't run, it will also result in a rear charge and a double monster sandwich, no matter which way he decides to face. Nasty! This might also work with a single hydra, though it’s a lot harder to keep the hydra out of line of sight.

I myself believe that a single hydra and a manticore master make a perfect refused flank for an army, for about a third of the points in a 1500 points army. They are fast enough to catch up, and the enemy has some hard choices to make between your main army and two fast moving monsters.

Know thy enemy: a word on tailoring
Against some enemies the manticore is more useful than against others. It seems Wood Elves can punch out the amount of shots needed to take the beast down quickly, especially with the Hail Of Doom Arrow. Lizardmen also have a huge benefit: their skins have poisonous blowpipes, capable of bringing down the beast quickly. Both armies also have the mobility to use those shooters where needed most. Skirmishers are also very annoying, because they have no facing and thus can always stand and shoot.

Some other contenders are High Elves and Vampire Counts. Both armies have easy access to Always Strikes First, something the fragile manticore doesn’t like. Though it might be worth it versus certain other Vampire Counts builds, as they have no shooting. Beware of magical movement though!

Against other armies, they can be most certainly worth it. Even against gunlines, because a manticore can be fast enough to sneak up on the flank, and start hunting war machines better and more reliable than any other unit in our army.

On the field of battle
I've had so far only two battles with my manticore, with mixed success I have to admit. Here are a few things to consider which I've learnt the hard way ;) :

- Sometimes the flanks are better than the rear
Specifically when it comes to charging heavy cavalry and elite regiments. The reason being you want to minimize return attacks, and most elite regiments and cavalry units have only one or two ranks. Should you fluff your rolls, you're better off when only a few models can strike back.

- I challenge thee to a duel!
Challenging can also reduce the number of attacks you take back, and with killing blow the manticore is ideally suited to take out the opposing character or hero. Thanks to the overkill rule you can still score some nice combat resolution. Do not forget to challenge when the situation arises, it is often advantageous. That is, unless you're up against a Chaos lord, which will eat you and your little pet for breakfast. Also beware static combat resolution (remember the rule of 5!).

- Combined charging
This is the mainstay of all druchii tactics, but it cannot be repeated enough. The manticore is far more efficient as a force multiplier, adding terror, active combat resolution and rank breaking to another unit within charge range. The main benefit of a big flying beast is also you can set it up to threaten multiple units in the flank or rear, giving your opponent quite a headache!

- Keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer
The closer enemies are to you when charging, the better the chance you'll catch them when they flee, instantly destroying them (beware kamikaze baits!). Charging a unit within 10" also prevents a stand and shoot reaction from the enemy.

Putting theory into practice part I: the monster list
Right, enough rambling about theory. Let’s get dirty with some army lists. First of all, the infamous monster list. Copyright goes to Count Zero, who originally posted the list:

Characters:
Lord on Dragon, Armour of Eternal Servitude, Ring of Hotek, Deathpiercer, SDC, Shield.
Master on Manticore, BSB, Standard of Slaughter, HA,SDC, Shield, Lance.

Core:
5 Dark Riders, RxB’s
5 Dark Riders, RxB’s
5 Dark Riders, RxB’s
5 Harpies
5 Harpies

Special:
5 Cold One Knights, Full Command, Null shard, Cold Blood Banner
1 Cold One Chariot

Rare:
2 Hydras

It’s 2000 points. Pretty brutal if you ask me. I’d personally go for less upgraded but more knights instead of the chariot, to keep the speed up. But of note here is the combination of the dragon and the manticore. The dragon’s weakness is getting bogged down, and the manticore is there as a failsafe. With the Standard of Slaughter, it already provides an extra static combat resolution, but it might as well kill some other things too. You are also now charging with US 10 worth of terror, and that might mean enemies vulnerable to psychology might be outnumbered after the dragon, the manticore and their riders are done with them, meaning your opponent is very likely to break automatically. And all this talk about the dragon being better than the manticore is pretty futile if you can just take both.

This is not the only variant of this list, equipment changes can be made, and the chariot can be replaced with knights, but the basic is form is the three tag teams: dragon and manticore, double hydra, and knights/chariot or knights/knights. The dark riders and harpies are even a bonus to control the enemy movement even more. Azimyth has another list, this one containing two manticores, which nets him another hero slot.

Some prefer unupgraded knights, others prefer upgraded knights with full command, magic banner and magic item on champion. If you go for dual manticores you might even include a hydra banner BSB in the list with a retinue of knights for a third hammer powerhouse. But the basic idea of the list is to be fast and hard hitting to compensate for the lack of ranged protection and static combat resolution.

Putting theory into practice part II: the manticore mage
Ah, the manticore mage. If you’re up for a challenge, this is the way to go. What’s the problem with the manticore mage? Number one, the manticore and the rider share the same weakness, shooting. This means that using this combination, you might as well paint a bulls eye on them. Problem number two: frenzy. One failed test, and your supreme sorceress flies into battle, not quite the effect we were hoping for.

But Dark Alliance has faith in one of our arcane items that helps mitigate both problems: the focus familiar. His list goes something like this:

Characters:
Level 4 - Manticore, Focus Familiar, Dispel Scroll, Black Dragon Egg, Null Talisman
Level 2 - Dark Steed, Scroll, Darkstar Cloak
Master - BSB, Dark Steed, Heavy Armour, Sea Dragon Cloak, Shield, Pendant, Sword of Might

Core:
5 DRs - RxB’s
5 DRs – RxB’s
10 Warriors - RxB’s
5 Harpies
5 Harpies

Special:
5 Shades - Assassin - Cloak of Twilight, Manbane, Rending Stars
6 Cold One Knights - Standard, Champion, Banner of Hag Graef, Ring of Hotek

Rare:
2 Repeater Bolt Throwers
War Hydra

2249pts

The thing about this list is, while a Supreme Sorceress might look vulnerable in combat, the combination of Steal Soul and Black Dragon Egg might make her a T6 monster with 6 wounds, who can cast both into and out of combat! While not the unit to take on your opponents death star or general unit, it can munch through smaller units, leaving the real work to your knights. With flying assassin and unkillable BSB this list has very good mobility and some suppression in the form of shooting and magic.

It’s a crazy idea, and requires an expert hand, but it just might work!

Putting theory into practice part III: the balanced list
I’m not a tournament player by any means, and I don’t know if the manticore can stand up in that kind of environment (depends on the tournament for sure). All I know is I found this list from benji, which seemed like a great army to play in a non hardcore environment. I’ll post his 2250 points army here, because it’s a more common army size then the original 2300 in his post. Here we go:

Characters:
Dreadlord – Manticore, SDC, Shield, Armor of Eternal Servitude, Ring of Hotek, Caledor's Bane
Master BSB – Dark Steed, Heavy Armor, SDC, Shield, Pendant of Khaeleth, Sword of Might
Master – Dark Steed, Lance, Heavy Armor, SDC, Lifetaker, Enchanted Shield
Sorceress, 2x Dispel Scroll

Core:
19 Dark Elf Warriors; Shield; Standard; Musician
5 Dark Riders; RxB’s
5 Harpies
5 Harpies
10 Warriors – RxB’s, Shields
10 Warriors – RxB’s, Shields

Special:
5 Shades – AHW
5 Shades – AHW
1 Cold One Chariot
1 Cold One Chariot

Rare:
2 Reaper Bolt Thrower
Hydra

The benefit of this army is it fully uses the potential of the extra hero slot afforded by the manticore. Here we have three very mobile combat characters capable of performing on their own, while the rest of the army provides support. I’d describe this list as an all comers list with interesting play options.

The afterthought
When starting this quest, I was looking for ways to include a manticore in my army while still being competitive in a friendly environment. As you can see, options are plenty, and some are even very viable! Time to touch up my manticore model and get some games in with it. :D

If anyone with lots of experience with the manticore wants to chip in, feel free to do so, I will edit this article when something insightful appears in this thread. Or just post some of your manticore's battlefield exploits, and what configuration you used, to inspire others. Remember, Khaine needs you :twisted: .


Last edited by Thanatoz on Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:58 am, edited 7 times in total.



Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:18 am
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Corsair
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Thanks, Thanatoz.

Excellent, comprehensive article on everything anyone needs to know about the Manti.

Jus a single, small comment:
• Weapons
you DON'T need to pack a secondary mundane weapon for if (or when) your character gets stranded without the mount.
Reason: All characters are provided with a mundane handweapon; if, for whatever reason, they cannot use their magic weapon, then they use the mundane one.



I did remove from the D.R.A.I.C.H. the previous hyperlinks about the Manti, which were all of little use except Riding the Manticore: deep in the discussion.

Your article not only supersedes everything that has been previously written, but adds its own ideas, in a well written single, organized thread!

Kudos,
Thanks again!


...and have a good hunt!

_________________
Winds never stop blowing, Oceans are borderless. Get a ship and a crew, so the World will be ours! Today the World, tomorrow Nagg! {--|oBrotherhood of the Coast!o|--}


Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:23 pm
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Thanks Calisson, it's true about the weapon, and it's what I meant, it's just bad wording. I'll edit it in. I was just reading bounce's article, maybe I should color code the titles for extra readability.

While I tried to include everything important from all previous threads without repeating myself too much, I can make mistakes too, so please point it out if I missed something.


Sun Sep 13, 2009 3:02 pm
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Thanatoz wrote:
maybe I should color code the titles for extra readability.
=> excellent idea.
Titles highlighted with colours and/or underlined, and spacing between paragraphs, help a lot to read long articles.


While I tried to include everything important from all previous threads without repeating myself too much, I can make mistakes too, so please point it out if I missed something.
=> I read your article and sew nothing else to correct.
I also read one last time the previous threads related to the topic, and found nothing that you would have missed.
Good job on that, looking forward for the next article.

_________________
Winds never stop blowing, Oceans are borderless. Get a ship and a crew, so the World will be ours! Today the World, tomorrow Nagg! {--|oBrotherhood of the Coast!o|--}


Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:02 pm
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One thing:

Quote:
[...]When close enough to the enemy, the manticore flies over the hydras, landing behind the enemy units. This will result in lots of terror tests,[...]


Any unit only tests for terror once during an entire game, no matter how many terror causing monsters are floating around.

_________________
7th edition army book:
Games Played: 213
Games Won: 114 (54%)
Games Drawn: 33 (15%)
Games Lost: 66 (31%)

8th Edition army book W/D/L:
Druchii: 36/4/16


Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:21 pm
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Some revisions:
1) I added some color to the article to be more conform with other D.R.A.I.C.H. articles.
2) I added some comments about the Armor of Eternal Servitude, after reading Bounce's magic item's summary.
3) I added a battlefield tactics section with a few tips, which might be obvious to the veteran gamer, but might help out some fresh recruits.
4) Touched up the afterthought.

Dalamar wrote:
One thing:

Any unit only tests for terror once during an entire game, no matter how many terror causing monsters are floating around.


Thanks Dalamar, you are of course correcto , article has been edited.


Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:45 am
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