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Keeping the BSB alive? 
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Trainee Warrior
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So I have been playing a lot of games lately and have had bad experiences with my BSB. I usually stick him in a 10x4 unit of AHW corsairs with the BON. And sometimes I will put him in a unit of 8x4 unit of executioners with the ASF banner. The units seem to work great until the BSB is targeted by an enemy hero, or with models in base to base contact.

How do I outfit him to increase his survivability?

Icing Death

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Fri Oct 01, 2010 5:10 am
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Corsair
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Several ways to reduce the BSB's vulnerability:

- Unkillable.
Improve his armour (the "unkillable" POK/full armour combo)

- Position.
Place him where he will get less hits (see below).

- Wounds.
Give him a 3rd wound: :mount a Peggy (obviously, you'll loose the "Look Out, Sir", but he still can join a unit and avoid most BS shooting).


The second option leaves several possibilities:

- Wider unit.
In a wide unit, place him in a corner, there will be at most 2 models in contact from a narrower opponent's unit. Sure, the opponent may widen his unit and get more models in contact - at the cost of dropping some ranks. If you are fighting his unit from several sides, he looses that possibility. Not that good.

- Challenge.
In a challenge, he will face a single model. Problem, this model is often more dangerous than the mob; if not (a champion), that "protection" won't last long. Hardly efficient at all.

- Narrower unit.
In a very narrow unit (usually less than 4 wide), the command group must remain in the front, so the characters (including BSB) must go in the 2nd rank. To put that logic to the extreme, in a 2-wide unit, only the muso and the pennant go to the front, so the BSB is safe in the 2nd rank until all but one model from his unit are killed.
That is 100% foolproof, but some gamers consider that "cheap". So what? We're not playing honour-bound Brets, are we (by the way, Brets do actually use that trick).
The drawback of that trick is that you loose all ranks, so you'd better have stubborn troops (BG, Execs with DH BSB) or a stubborn leader (crown).

- Behind the battleline.
You can also put your BSB in a unit which will stay away from the melee, in your back lines. This is the COB BSB strategy. A normal BSB can do that as well, sticking inside a cheap unit of 10 infantry (make them RXBmen so that they can shoot) behind the main battleline.

- Flyer.
Final possibility, a flying BSB. His mobility is supposed to get him out of trouble (not always easy) and his mount provides more wounds.
Trouble: he has no Look Out, Sir, so the cannons are a problem, or anything with a template.
Remember that if his mount is a Peggy, he still can join a unit, into which you can decide to allocate the normal shooting.

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Fri Oct 01, 2010 6:29 am
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Rending Star
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Just don't give him a magic banner, but protective gear instead.

Of course, this means, the Executioners won't have ASF, and the Corsairs won't be Unbreakable (that is the Banner of Nagarythe there, or not?), but you cannot have both, survivability and a magic banner, I'm afraid.

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Thanee


Fri Oct 01, 2010 7:50 am
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To place a BSB in a unit of execs, the best you can do is give her a 5+ ward - either from gifts or the CoB.

Personally I just run a unit of 10x3 execs with a 5+ save from CoB BSB nearby. Keeps my BSB out of harms way, and protects the execs better than ASF with the added option of versatility.


Fri Oct 01, 2010 8:16 am
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Put him in the 2nd rank of your unit... You won't get his offense but hill will not be able to be hit, and if your using a magic banner, that's the best option since he can't have magic items.


Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:55 am
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Quote:
Put him in the 2nd rank of your unit... You won't get his offense but hill will not be able to be hit, and if your using a magic banner, that's the best option since he can't have magic items.


In 7th ed this meant you didn't benefit from the properties of the banner. Don't have my 8th Ed book with me, but surely it's still the same? Skulking cowardly second row BSBs don't get to confer their banner's benefit onto their units surely?

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Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:59 am
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Interesting. I have never had that problem. I have been using the boring, textbook BSB with armor of darkness (1+ AS) and crimson death.

So far, I haven't faced enemies that bypass the armor so I guess I'm lucky that way. I want to experiment with different builds, so I'm sure he'll start dying more soon. ;)

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Fri Oct 01, 2010 3:32 pm
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thenick18 wrote:
Put him in the 2nd rank of your unit... You won't get his offense but hill will not be able to be hit, and if your using a magic banner, that's the best option since he can't have magic items.


Any characters need to be in the front rank; unless impossible to do so because the rest of your front rank is characters.

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Fri Oct 01, 2010 3:54 pm
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blackbone wrote:
Interesting. I have never had that problem. I have been using the boring, textbook BSB with armor of darkness (1+ AS) and crimson death.

So far, I haven't faced enemies that bypass the armor so I guess I'm lucky that way. I want to experiment with different builds, so I'm sure he'll start dying more soon. ;)

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Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:19 pm
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Rending Star
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Guinea Pig Hydra wrote:
Any characters need to be in the front rank; unless impossible to do so because the rest of your front rank is characters.


There is also the command group, which needs to be in the front rank as well (and even has priority over characters, IIRC).

Bye
Thanee


Fri Oct 01, 2010 5:08 pm
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Thanee wrote:
There is also the command group, which needs to be in the front rank as well (and even has priority over characters, IIRC).

Bye
Thanee


I meant the command group when I said characters :) I think of the command groups as little characters.

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Fri Oct 01, 2010 5:29 pm
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Yes, that's the trick:
Muso & Pennant take 2 slots and are the last to die.
Champ and other characters take 1 slot each but can be individually aimed at and killed, which results that 2nd-rank other characters are pushed to the first rank (something you don't want with BSB or magic users).
So either you have 3 first-rank characters and your BSB/sorc is safe in the 2nd rank (and can participate to the combat, too, with 1 attack only), or you have to reduce the frontage (and loose all your ranks).
One solution is the 2 row unit, with a BSB or sorc in the 2nd rank till the unit has only 1 or 0 left. It supposes that your unit is stubborn (BG or crowned character).
Another solution is to get 3 very fighty characters and pray that they don't get KIA.

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Fri Oct 01, 2010 8:50 pm
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But if you have a front rank more than three or four (all of these either CG or a Character) then your BSB or Sorceress has to be in the front rank. And ranks of three or four don't give you rank bonus so why would you have them?

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Sat Oct 02, 2010 9:04 am
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The mechanics for placing your command group and characters is the following one:

Your command group gets up to 3 models (muso, pennant, champ).
Your unit may get many characters. Some of which are fighty ones willing to go into contact (lord, master, 'sass, DH), some of them are vulnerable ones preferring to go to the 2nd rank (sorc, sometimes BSB).

As long as there is some room in the first rank, all command group models must go there.
If there is still some room in the first rank, all characters must go there.
If all the first rank is taken by command group or character models, then other character models have no choice other than to go in the 2nd rank (or further back if, similarly, the 2nd rank is filled up with command group & characters).


In order to keep your vulnerable characters in the 2nd rank, there are two strategies:

- increasing the number of characters.
In this strategy, your unit is 5 wide, including 3 command group, plus at least two fighting characters (lord/master with tough armour, 'sass, DH). With 5 characters/command group models filling up the first rank, your BSB or sorc can remain in the 2nd rank.
Problem: the champ has only 1 wound; a 'sass or a DH have no armour; even a lord or a master can die.
Consequence: when one slot becomes free in the first rank, a character from the second rank must fill it up.
If you have more characters available in the 2nd rank (assassins or the like), you can choose which one moves forwards. But sooner or later, your vulnerable character will have to move to the front.

- narrowing the unit's width.
In order to avoid the drawback mentioned above (replacing dead fighty characters in the front rank) and in order to keep the unit's cost reasonable (i.e. not commit 3 or 4 characters just to protect your BSB), the other possibility is to narrow the frontage. As long as there are 2 command group in a front rank of 2 (namely the muso and the pennant, who cannot be individually killed), then the BSB has no obligation to move to the first rank.
Of course, the drawback is that you don't get any full rank, so you cannot be steadfast, you have no rank bonus at all...

Ranks of 3 or 4 are the least interesting in my eyes:
at least one of the characters/champ is prone to die, and you dont't get any rank bonus still. Lesser protection, higher cost than for a 2 wide unit.
I favour 1 or 2 wide units for that reason.

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Sat Oct 02, 2010 9:57 am
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For all the reasons above (kudos to Calisson for having the will power to go into such detail) this is why second rank characters don't work. You either have a unit that gets rank bonus, steadfast etc, but that has far too many characters in it (one stone thrower/flamer attack and bad things happen). Or you have dinky ranks that have no bonus, will probably be thrashed and run in combat, and that look silly.

CoB BSB anyone?

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Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:11 am
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COB BSB is one solution. An excellent one. But not the only one.
Indeed, the COB cannot participate into a combat, so the BSB +1CR is wasted. If you take the BoN, the BSB's unit gets no +1CR either (assuming nobody wants to charge it).


The alternative:
A BSB in a small unit, just behind the main battleline.
Problem: the unit costs more pts than a COB upgrade.
So how could a unit behind the lines influence the battle, just like the COB brings its benefits at distance?

The answer is to put the BSB inside a small unit, 1 or 2 wide.
This unit is not there to do the fighting, but to keep the BSB safe.
You need also a real fighty unit to do the real fight.
The BSB unit is there only to barely touch the combat, so as to benefit from the BSB +1CR, which will last a long time, since the BSB cannot be hit, and his unit has such a small frontage that it will loose its bodies only slowly.
Another reason to go in few lines is that it leaves more room to the real fighting unit.

If the unit is made of a single column, it needs only a muso.
If the unit is made of 2 columns (my recommendation), it needs a muso and a pennant bearer (so the pennant bearer for the main unit is not required anymore).
In both cases, the champion is not necessary, so the unit can remain cheap.

Several possibilities:
- spearmen: the cheapest. 69pts and you get a BSB with 12 wounds! However, these wounds are not tough.
- RXBmen: when not in melee, they shoot. However, when about to be charged, they just waste their shooting.
The warbanner can be taken, for an additional +1CR.
- corsairs: the very good point is that a single corsair participating into the melee is enough to get the slavery rule, which will help you capture the opponent. As they are not supposed to be many of them in melee, RHB corsairs are fine.
The warbanner can be taken, for an additional +1CR.
- WE: only for DH BSB. The plus is that you can take a WE champ, with cry of war, hoping to reduce the WS of the opposing unit for the duration of the combat (the champ needs not to be in the first rank).
- Execs. Only for DH BSB. Less interesting than WE (more expensive, no cry of war).
- BG: the very good point is that they are stubborn. Furthermore, the champ can take magic objects, sometimes it is useful.
- DR or COK:No! too expensive, too cumbersome in lines of 1 or 2.

My preference would go either to corsairs, because of the slavery rule, or BG, because of being stubborn.

The BSB can take either a magic banner (BoN springs to mind) or a magic object.
If you're happy with the banner being mundane (getting +1CR is nice already), then giving the BSG a crown makes his unit stubborn.


As a summary, two kind of units may work for Icing Death (see initial post):

- 10 corsairs, muso, pennant (warbanner) for 140pts.
It goes along with a BSB with a mundane banner, and the crown (~150pts range).
Their setting is in a narrow unit, with a width of 2.
The BSB goes in the 2nd line, of course on the safe side (towards the fighty unit), just in case his unit was side-charged.
For 300pts, you add to your fighting unit +2CR (warbanner & BSB, assuming the fighting unit has a pennant already) plus the slavery rule.
If, out of a melee, you're annoyed by a small unit, your RHB corsairs can shoot it on the spot.
If you're side-charged, your AHW corsairs can fight with 2 attacks each.
Ths choice of AHW or RHB corsairs is yours.

- 10 BG, muso, pennant (warbanner) for 176pts.
It goes along with a BSB with the BoN (~240pts).
same 2-line setting.
For 420pts, you add to your fighty unit +4CR (BON for 2 units in combat, the BSB & the warbanner - the BG pennant is not included). Not forgetting that a few BG are going to participate into the combat.
To be compared to the meagre +1CR that your BON COB BSB adds to the same single fighty unit.


conclusion:
A COB BSB is fine, adds its blessing but no CR for 225pts, or +1CR for 350pts.
A corsair BSB bodyguard adds the slavery rule and +2CR. ~300pts.
A BG bodyguard for BoN BSB adds +4CR. ~420pts.

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Sat Oct 02, 2010 1:57 pm
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The biggest issue I have with a Master/DH BSB is that if its unit breaks from combat, your BSB dies automatically in 8th ed. Which is why the COB BSB is a more attractive choice for me, on top of pretty good protection and useful blessings. A geared up Master BSB usually costs almost as much as a COB BSB anyway, so might as well.

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Sat Oct 02, 2010 4:28 pm
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Calisson wrote:
Several ways to reduce the BSB's vulnerability:

- Wounds.
Give him a 3rd wound: :mount a Peggy (obviously, you'll loose the "Look Out, Sir", but he still can join a unit and avoid most BS shooting).


I checked but couldn't find anything that prevents a Peggy mounted character from joining a unit. Can you do this now in 8th ed.?

Cheers

FG


Sat Oct 02, 2010 8:40 pm
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Yes.
Only monsters and chariots cannot.

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Sat Oct 02, 2010 9:58 pm
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