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Shielded Dark Riders as sorceress bodyguard 
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Shade
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Greetings,

continuing the reflections about how to find a combined solution for the need of fulfilling core requirements and having optimal bodyguard for our sorceressess (see thread: http://www.druchii.net/viewtopic.php?t=67371) , I´d like to discuss the use of shielded Dark Riders in that function.

As argued before, your bodyguard units should preferentially stay out of combat, be cheap and, at least in the case of some lores, be mobile.

Shielded Dark Riders could fill a niche as mobile bodyguards for our mounted sorcessess.

1) Their high mobility, even without fast cav rules, should make it possible to avoid CC and even reduce enemy shooting/magic (arcs of sight, cover).
2) They´re relatively cheap. A 5 men squad with shields and mus is cheaper than a small unit of spears or rxb.
3) Even if loosing fast cav. for being joined by a character, they´re still extremely mobile and manouverable, with 18´´ march and small footprint for wheeling etc.
4) Fulfill core requirement and free up points for specials/rare

With shields, and for that role they should always get shields, as they´re going to loose fast cav. anyway, they give 4+ save, one of the best in our arsenal. Particularly for short ranged lores, like Dark and Death, the increase of 18´´ effective range for our casters is not to be underestimated.

Together, these characteristics mean a mobility almost as good as a Pegasus (slightly shorter march, can´t fly above other units etc.), while far better protection for the sorc (look out sir and 4+ save) and using up the mandatory core requirements. It makes for a very interesting flanking sorceress.
The single most important disadvantage I see in this build is that you loose fast cav., arguebly the best characteristic of DRs, while paying the same price for them.

So, comparing with some other options for bodyguards:

1) Against Spearmen blocks:
Advantages: DRs have better mobility, smaller chance of being hit by templates, better saves
Disadvantages: less wounds, high enemy target priority, no dagger/banner of discipline etc. synergies

2) Against rxb:
Advantages: far better mobility, slightly smaller chance of being hit by templates, slightly better saves, though no parry.
Disadvantages: less wounds, high enemy target priority.

3) Small corsairs:
Advantages: better mobility, smaller chance of being hit by templates
Disadvantages: less wounds, high enemy target priority

4) Small elites (BG, COK etc.):
Advantages: core requirement, better mobility, no stupidity, smaller chance of template hits (in case of infantry)
Disadvantages: less wounds (BG) or save (COK)

So, all in all, shielded Dark Riders seem an interesting choice for more mobile DE forces and short ranged magic lores, making it possible for the sorceress to accompany and support the attackers, or flanking and harassing, while keeping some degree of protection for relatively few points and without draining points of vital special/rare combat units.

As alway, I´d be honoured to have the analysis discussed by the community and hear your comments and new insights.

Cheers


Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:30 pm
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Malekith's Best Friend
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I believe the best way to keep a Sorceress alive is to keep her in a unit that has a lot of wounds. Maintaining a Look Out, Sir! roll is critical with the abundance of template weapons out there these days. So Cavalry for me is out. I've tried Dark Riders and while the mobility is convenient, I only seem to have it for a turn or two before her unit is hit and she has to go join another unit anyway. And Cold One Knights are already a big enough target without making them extra attractive. Cavalry in this role does not work for me.

Since I prefer troops as a body guard, I'll recommend Spearmen. They're cheap enough that I don't care about them but plentiful enough to be irritating to kill. I have no problems jumping my Sorceress out of the unit and then sacrificing the Spearmen to keep her alive which I've done on numerous occasions. I like 30-35 Spearmen in this role (the whole unit is still cheaper than the character).

Another option is to place your Sorceress in a unit of Crossbowmen. Unless your Sorceress is carrying the Guiding Eye, I find the Sorceress needs to move too often to get into range and every time you move a unit of Crossbowmen, you lost approximately half the hits your Crossbowmen would otherwise be doing (assuming the difference between hitting moves from a 4 to a 5 or a 5 to a 6). I find it counter-productive to what I want my Crossbowmen to do but it is a safe secondary bunker should the first one be lost for some reason.

A Sorceress is also fairly well protected in a unit of Corsairs. However I actually DO want me Corsairs in combat so I do NOT want my Sorceress in that unit. Again though, it makes a fine secondary bunker should the original be lost.

Shades are busy enough usually on the opposite side of the table and in the Black Guard she'd be taking the space of someone who can actually swing and do damage so again neither of these units would be my first choice.

Over all, Spearmen are fairly consistently where I put my Sorceress or at least where she starts (even if she's on a Pegasus).


Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:28 pm
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Scourge
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I agree with Phierlihy, spearmen are probably the best bodyguard along with maybe crossbowmen, DR just have too few bodies for their points and as with the shades bodyguard discussed in another thread, a sorceress turns the unit from a low priority target to a high priority target, it will get really hot, really fast for that unit so you will have to play them very carefully.

As Harry S. Truman once said, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen', which brings me onto my other point, if that unit takes a bad hit and you need to get your sorceress out, where does she go? Being cavalry, she must go join another cavalry unit, be on her own or join infantry which will not give her LoS! On her own or in infantry will leave her very vulnerable, so she will have to go gallivanting across the field to another cavalry unit during which time she will probably get minced, unless you've kept more cavalry units nearby to serve as backups, which unless you are taking a cavalry-themed list, is impractical. All in all, I think a sorceress in DR will get squished alot easier than in spearmen.

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Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:24 pm
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Shade
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Hi guys,

I agree that in general Spearmen are better bodyguard units, as I posted myself in the other thread above. The question here is whether in specific circumstances and for specific armybuilds, that is, more mobile/agressive armies, which go to more direct assault and that use short range magic, the DRs could be viable.

They should attract a lot of fire, but if the army has other, more pressing threats, like Hydras, flying monsters, big COKs etc. plus other warmachine hunting elements like harpies and shades, the opponent should be hard pressed to keep so many rounds of shooting at the DR/Sorc.

A particular comparison I´d like to hear your oppinion about is with the Dark Pegasus Sorc., as a the risk of being shot at is even more accentuated in that case, while it seems that many druchii generals still use this build.

Finally, another reason for this debate is that I´d like to find a way to keep fielding my mounted sorceress miniature! :P


Tue Dec 07, 2010 10:59 pm
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A Sorceress on a Dark Pegasus is usually fine for two reasons. She can park herself behind another unit and be -2 to be shot at which is really excellent protection from missile attacks. And With a nice Ward Save and or a Focus Familliar, she is fairly well protected.

Four wounds, very maneuverable, get even regain wounds with the right lore - it's an awesome package that a lot of other armies only wish they had!


Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:38 am
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Shade
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Hi guys,

I really see that overall foot troops are better suited for bodyguard roles, but I think the specific discussion about possible (not optimum) choices for more mobile forces is interesting and hasn´t been exausted yet. Several spells have only range 12, particularly Soul Stealer, for example, and being in infantry makes it difficult to get them in range, so, though certainly better all round, I don´t think that infantry is the one and only way to go.

So the discussion revolves more around the comparison between a Sorc. on Pegasus or other flying stuff or a mounted sorc. with some kind of bodyguard.

From what phierlihy just wrote, about using other units as shields, not as bodyguards with the sorc inside them, a mounted sorc. behind DRs would be similar to the Pegasus version. Ward saves and familiars can be put on both, to the same effect.

Comparing both possibilities, the Pegasus gices more manouverability and more wounds, but is also more expensive and can´t get inside DRs, if that should be a necessity (even if only for one turn). Also, the difference in range and manouverability between a Pegasus and a Dark Steed is not particularly accentuated (20´´ to 18´´, pegasus can fly over stuff, but single rider can pretty much ride around and between most stuff too). Finally, the Pegasus sorc is larges and more difficult to hide.

So, the question is: comparing points costs and advantages, are pegasus sorcs that much better, that simple mounted sorcs become utter rabish? For the case of highly mobile/agressive DE armies, with lots of COK, flying monsters etc., how would you make your sorcs more mobile?

As an adendum, I´d like to make another commentary to something I´ve noticed in the tactics and armylist discussion (and that has already been said by others, but I can´t give them the proper credit now).
Very often, the discussion comes down to what is THE perfect, most efficient army build and unit choices overall. But I think the discussion has to be more open as to which options exist in general and are viable in certain circumstances and with certain play styles and model collections.

Otherwise, lists and tactics become more and more restricted to half a dozen optimum builds. There is a wide spectrum of choices between utter uselesness and perfection and I think that tactics and units are more like different tools in your kit, from which you choose according to what´s needed and available in each concrete and specific case.


Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:00 pm
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Generalissimo
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Quote:
Very often, the discussion comes down to what is THE perfect, most efficient army build and unit choices overall. But I think the discussion has to be more open as to which options exist in general and are viable in certain circumstances and with certain play styles and model collections.


True, to a point. The thing about most warhammer army troops is that - particularly dark elves - is that almost any unit build can be justified as effective in a particular set of circumstances. However, these same unit builds can be - and rightly are - analysed for general performance, where certain builds are recognised as good, whereas certain other builds are recognised as bad.

So, yes, for example a hero on a manticore can be a good choice: both mobile and hard hitting. If you're playing against an army with low shooting and magic then it's excellent. However, as a general analysis, it would be fair to say that it is not an optimum choice. Mantis are too easy to shoot down (T5 with no AS and just 4 wounds = one quickly dead manti when exposed to mass bow or crossbow fire) or bish with magic missiles.

So yes, most builds in warhammer could be good for something. But generally there are some set ups, such as running a dark elf sorceress in a unit of dark riders which could work in very specific circumstances, but are - generally - a bad plan. (Sorry, but it's just not a cunning idea: you lose the flexibility and hiding abilities of having a single model on a dark peggy or even a single dark steed, but don't give enough 'body guard' wounds to the new unit to make it worth losing this flexibility).

I do like your 'outside the bun' thinking, but suspect it may be time to go back and think again on this one.

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Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:17 pm
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Shade
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Hi Red...,

it´s alright to get the idea criticized, that´s what I put it here in the first place, as I´m not really convinced of it myself.

I´m looking for ways to solve some problems I´m perceiving for my own lists, that is, the search for a way to have a mobile sorc., protect her, use my mounted sorc miniature (of of my favorite and best painted model) and fill up core requirements. The DR idea is something that came in mind, but it´s not something I want to sell around (though I´d like to see it work, as it´d help solving my list problems).

I just wanted to focus the discussion and the criticism more at the particular problem at hand, and the commentary I made was more of a general nature, not only for this thread.

Your accessment: "you lose the flexibility and hiding abilities of having a single model on a dark peggy or even a single dark steed, but don't give enough 'body guard' wounds to the new unit to make it worth losing this flexibility" is exactly the kind of stuff I was hoping to stimulate in this debate. Not saying that malus comment on the genenal fragility and target priority issues of the DRs or phierlihy analysis of the Pegasus sorc. and its advantages were out of the focus either.

It was more to push the discussion to a more systematic comparison of the options current DE have for mobile Sorc., bodyguards and core units and why certain stuff is or isn´t viable, not necessarily optimal, and keep our minds open to stuff that may seem strange in a first thought but still could be interesting.

Also, I´m a lawyer and like to have issues systematically argued and proven wrong :lol: and make the devil´s advocate sometimes.

Anyway, even if the DRs idea doesn´t work, the question of mobile sorcs and bodyguards remains, as no alternative has been presented that would cover this niche (maybe there isn´t one), as Spearmen bodyguards aren´t mobile enough and Pegasus sorc. doesn´t have bodyguards at all (there is of course the proposition that this particular build doens´t require anything else, as the sorc. would be protected enough by the extra wounds, ward save and use of cover). Also, in that same vein, do you guys think a single mounted sorc. could survive by using similar tactics as the Pegasus one?

Perhaps there should be a new, more general thread, discussing this particular problem as part of the more general problem of sorcs, bodyguards and core requirements.

Thanks to all that have written here and read my prolix reasoning and I still hope more comments and analysis will come.

Cheers


Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:38 pm
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Generalissimo
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Have you considered putting her into a unit of cold one knights?

With the new stupidity rules, the chances of a unit going stupid has gone down significantly (re-rolling from BSB and/or the banner of +1 leadership help a lot...). The unit has a much higher chance of surviving enemy missile attacks, and the sorceress herself can benefit from a 5+ save by being on a cold one. Combine that with a ward save from the black amulet, pendant of khaine or other ward save item and she's starting to look quite well protected.

I run a similar model with my warriors of chaos: my unit of chaos knights is led by a sorceror on a daemonic steed. That said, this unit is a bit more logical, as chaos sorcerors can wear armour and are actually quite potent in combat, whereas a dark elf sorceress is not and could get reamed if the unit got into combat.

Some other options to consider could include giving the sorceress the focus familiar, taking lore of shadow and throwing her as quickly as possible across the table so that she can find cover in the woods in your opponent's half.

I don't endorse any of these ideas, but wonder if they might give you some more food for thought.

Finally, discussing these issues on druchii.net is a good idea. However, sometimes people will recommend things that you don't agree with. In that case the proof is in the pudding. If a particular build gets a bad review on here, but it works for you in play testing, then you have two outcomes: A) You can report back that, in real game terms, it worked and in what situations/contexts it worked and B) you can keep on using it, as long as it works for you. So do, by all means, test your dark rider with sorceress body guard theory and let us know how it goes. It is possible that most opponent's ignore the unit or that you find it's easy to use and hard to kill.

Good luck with your efforts in this area :)

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Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:18 pm
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Shade
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Actually, I´ve thought about using a 5 strong vanila COKs for that role. In some way, the shielded DR idea came exactly as a kind of alternative to this option, after I thought a little more about the body guard issue in the first thread about Spearmen (see link above).

Comparing both, COKs have some advantages, but I think that the disadvantages weigh more:

COKs have excellent save/protection for the sorc but:

1) Even with the new rules for stupidity, it´s a risk (and one I got to feel in my own skin in 7th, while trying out to remain faithful to wysiwyg and field the mounted sorc. as actually mounted on a cold one...). To counter that risk, one is kind of forced to a) have a BSB, which, despite it´s improvement, is still something that I don´t find mandatory, considering DEs very high Ld, particularly with a DL build, and b) keeping the mounted sorc near the general and bsb, diminishing her mobility and autonomy to harass on the enemies flank/rear (which was the whole point in the first place).

2) COKs in that role take up precious points from fighting units to be a mere body guard support. As discussed in the Spearmen thread, you don´t want your sorc in CC (even with wards etc.) so your brutal COK shock troops are underused. I´d rather have them as flank chargers in support of my infantry blocks.

3) Even the vanilla build is roughly 50 pts more expensive than the shielded DRs.

4) Taking COKs for that function doesn´t fill the core requirements, so I´d still have to take many points in core for battlefield roles that I´d rather have filled with specials, such as COKs...

5) COKs have 14´´ march, while shielded DR keep the 18´´

After these considarations, I started thinking about the shielded DR as a better alternative: cheaper, decent save (4+), fills core, more range/mobility.

About the pudding :P that´s of course the way to go. But I find that previously discussing the theory before trying to put it in practice is a good thing to do. Plus, I like to discuss things at a more purely conceptional level and I think it´s an interesting and relatively broad problem for druchii players in general.

One point of the idea that I don´t think is being considered enough (or maybe it´s just that I´m being a little to idealistic about it... :? ) in the criticism, is that this DR/Sorc unit isn´t a stand alone unit, but something that would work together with the rest of the army. Alone, its a huge and relatively fragile fire magnet. But in an army with COKs, Hydras, flyers, shades, other DRs and/or big blocks of fast marching elite infantry, the enemy should think twice before focusing his fire on it. It´s still just a lv. 2 sorc and under 100 pts of DRs. Also, like the Pegasus variant, it should rely on its high mobility to be able to stay outside enemy fire/charge arcs and use cover, rather than rely only on the 4+ saves and 5 extra wounds to protect the sorc.


Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:10 pm
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