Friday, November 13, 2009

A concept I struggled to put into words

Since we Starving Crazed Weasels love to discuss the merits and detriments of our various armies, we often have different ideas over what constitutes good or bad troops, over or under costed troops, and so forth.

A fine example would be the debate between Fixed Dice and myself over the relative value of Chaos Marauders and Dark Elf Repeater Crossbows. Our agreement-though-it-sometimes-looks-like-disagreement over the effectiveness of Cold one riders. (Hint: they are very good and I fear them)

My own internal debates over Shaggoths versus Hydras. Skinks versus Peasant bowmen.

The list goes on.

Well, I found an expression that tells what I was trying to say and not expressing very well in discussing the accuracy in differing point values for similar (or even superior stat lines having cheaper costs).

People are quick to compare raw stats and conclude units are useless/overpowered. Personally, I think the Storm Vermin are one of the weaker units in the Skaven book because they aren't good enough at their primary function, eg they don't gain enough resilience or killing potential to justify double the cost of a clanrat (because you will be giving them shields), and as the closest thing to elite infantry Skaven get they don't cut it against Saurus, let alone Black Guard/Swordmasters/Ironbreakers/Templeguard etc

Let me say up front that I am completely unfamiliar with the new Skaven book. I assume that they are a rare or special choice based on the above.

And that is one of the problems I have had with...say...the Saurus.

As I state just about every time I discuss the Lizardmen, I am very, very disappointed with the new book. I think it substantially weakened them the way we play.

Note that this is different from say...the way a tournament list or the way a truly hard list would be played. Those might include multiple Stegadons, Engines of the gods, and so forth. I am sure in those cases it makes a truly dine book, as evidenced by people arguing they have broken into the top 3 or 4 of tournament lists. But the way we play...the list got weaker.

In my opinion, that has a lot to do with neutering the Kroxigor and the Saurus not being worth the points.

Because they cannot do the jobs they need to do for their cost.

For the Krox, to not have to carry casualties around, they have to carry around "free combat resolution for the opponent" as I like to call any T2 model with no save and low weapon skill. Alternatively, they can take up a special or rare choice...which hardly seems worth it. Add to that they have a hard time doing enough damage in a combat to win it and you have a recipe for a unit that most of us will struggle to have success with.

The Saurus are admittedly a nice core unit, maybe even above average.

But they do not have enough power surrounding them to deal with truly hard enemies. I think in the last game where his elite Saurus faced my Shaggoth and Knights, his base Saurus faced my Marauders and Shaggoth and did very little, certainly not enough to win combats, told the tale quite tellingly.

I can tool up my Marauders to have almost as good a stat line as the Saurus for about 4 points less i think; mark of khorne to give them 2 attacks, in a sizable unit that works out to a shade over a point apiece, light armor and shield and great weapon; if they get the charge, drop the shield and hit with 2 S5 attacks on WS4. If they are charged, 2 attacks, 4+ save and S3. I like my odds against the Saurus.

Which somewhat counter-acts my argument that the Saurus are not good at their primary job...except their primary job, in my opinion, might not be head to head confrontations with the opponents' core infantry.

The Lizardmen are built around niggling shooting, mobility, hard-to-break units, and magic.

I have yet to find the Saurus hard to break.

But perhaps I just do not understand their use.

The Marauders I think are wrongly costed because their primary functions they just cannot perform; they are not good as a screening unit due to low mobility and slow speed. They might actually be most effective in doing the jobs I would normally use my Knights for since people will concentrate their anger on the Knights (and rightfully so) and allow me to sneak my seemingly harmless 2 attack S5 unit of killers into combat with them :-)

The overall point, however, should not be lost in these side trips.

Points cost should bear more relation to a units' ability within its overall army to fulfill the desired function.

Example; I find it ridiculous that Tomb King skeletons, which cannot be over-raised like Vampire Count skeletons can, cost the same for the same stat line. They fulfill the same role in both armies; suck your best units into a quagmire they win every turn, only to see the same number of enemies as started the round, and be held there until flank charged or else just kept out of the REAL fight while the VC or TK good units polish off the opposing army.

So if they have the same essential role, one is far better at it than the other, why the same points?

Chaos Warriors would be another fine example. Let me say this up front; they are AWESOME. Get into a combat with them at your own risk (this of course ignores the fact that they got run handily by Grail Knights and Cold One Knights, both of which hit them head on when I had rank bonuses, standard bearers, and outnumbering...I STILL like my chances in the confrontations).

At the same time, I think they are over-priced for their role.

They are too slow to catch any mobile opponent who does not want to be caught. Their huge points cost makes them a tempting target that ugly stuff like cannonballs, repeater bolt throwers, and magic make surprisingly soft. They struggle to bring the opponent to grips...and their primary role is winning combats. Which means they are over priced for their primary role, which is tough for them to achieve.

Another fine example from my past would be my formerly beloved, now despised Wardancers.

Theoretically great troop. Their price makes them a bad, bad, bad option. They are horrible at their primary role. They cannot win a combat by them self; yes, they have a great WS and 2-3 attacks...and even get S4 IF THEY CHARGE...but with no standards, ranks, etc., they are going to lose combat more often than not and that means they are going to run. Make them Stubborn or Unbreakable and I think they are worth the cost.

As is...they are just free points for the opponent. And at 18 points...EQUAL TO MY TOOLED UP CHAOS WARRIORS...they are about triple the cost they are worth.

At the other end of the spectrum might be a unit like the Waywatchers. Deadly, great at their job...well, okay, so at 24 points, maybe not over priced. But at least they can do their job for the cost. March block, control a table quarter, threaten tough troops thanks to great BS and Lethal Shot.

Of course, you could then take entire armies and argue they are priced wrong for their job. Ogre Kingdoms, anyone? Too expensive. Yes, T4 is nice...but hey, most of my army is T3. 3 attacks is nice...I can get that with Chaos Warriors and Chaos Knights by marking them with khorne. 3 wounds is nice...but at the price, I can rank up and win via SCR.

Ogres are good at their job; they keep hitting back long after other armies would not. But they just can't get enough troops to withstand the inevitable SCR losses because they cost too much (and are surprisingly easy to slay).

So the long and short of it...I think the pricing for models should deal more with how it interacts with its own army, what its role is, and how other armies with units in the same roles are priced. S3 is not always equal to S3, 8 points does not always equal 8 points.

Hope that all made sense.


Shrink to Fit said...

"Points cost should bear more relation to a units' ability within its overall army to fulfill the desired function."

Additionally, point costs should be dependent upon the style of an army. For instance, any form of shooting should be expensive for Warriors of Chaos, who are known for the smash-mouth, in-your-face style of play. This is reflected in the armybook, because their one ranged weapon (excluding thrown weapons) is not only expensive point-wise, but it takes up a rare slot.

Fearless or unbreakable Skaven units should be expensive, because that goes against their style of play--you know, running away from anything bigger than a Goblin. I haven't seen the new book, but I have read that you can get a few unbreakable/fearless setups, which (personally) seems to go against the fluff, so it be spendy.

It shouldn't matter how much this spearman costs compared to that spearman in the other armybook. It should, as you stated, depend on the function of the unit within the context of the entire army.

Fullur said...

As far as the kroxigor go, I would actually argue that they are overpriced because of the Cold Ones. A kroxigor is 55 points. A Cold One knight is 35 points.

The kroxigor fulfill mostly the same role as the cold ones (who are also a special choice but can be Core under the right conditions). The difference is they are slower moving, too expensive to take many of, and cannot take standards. Both units cause fear, both units get S5 if they charge, with the Cold Ones dropping to S4 after. When Krox had S6 they fulfilled a valuable role in allowing you to deal with higher-toughness enemies or get through tougher armor.

The two benefits the Krox have are Aquatic and 3 wounds.

The only times I would take them over Cold Ones is if I knew there was going to be a lot of water on the field (aquatic allows them to move through water without slowing) or if the enemy was going to have a lot of single-wounding no-armor-save-allowing weapons on the field.

There is more to say on that, but I am not thinking well right now...

Darth Weasel said...

Shrink, I totally agree. I almost even think Marauder Horsemen are a point or so too cheap with their marvelous throwing axes...though the 6" range is quite limiting.

As for the cannon, it is too "iffy" for me. Things that scatter and misfire 18% + are just not worth it to me...particularly when for the points I can run something dealdlier and more certain to hit where I want instead of 2-10" away is at hand...

Fullur, I agree they are over costed. S6 would help, not having to take Skinks would. As is, there are 3 advantages over the Cold Ones:

1) no stupidity
2) easier to maneuver
3) can you take them in smaller unit size? 2 minimum...probably 5 for CoK so never mind
4) Opponents perception.

If I have to choose between attacking an Engine or a Krox unit, I will go after teh Engine. If after Krox of Saurus, I am going after the Krox. So they can provide a useful distraction role.

But yeah, for comparison within army, for effectiveness in cacum, and comparison to what they need to do...badly over costed.

Fullur said...

Minimum unit size for Krox is 3, which makes them equal (or close to it) to the minimum cost of Cold Ones, and little more maneuverable (25mm x 5 width for cold ones, 40mm x 3 wide for Krox at one less base movement which also means 2d6 instead of 3d6 pursuit) unless they are in water.