Saturday, June 18, 2011

What stat is most important? Leadership

Your army is led by the prince of death (Why is it oft called the angel of death? In modern times are angels not regarded as sweet, kindly protectors?) wielding weapons too terrible for words. His very gaze slays dozens, the gesture of his hand wipes away hundreds, the sweep of his sword decapitates thousands.

Mithridates, Dealer of Death and Destruction atop Phangoria, Dragon of Demolition
Where he walks the blood of his victims forms mighty rivers, where his steed thunders are oceans of gore. Death itself flees from his martial splendor. He is good at what he does, and what he does is wield death and destruction unmatched.*

The only problem last turn he fluffed his attacks and is fleeing for his life. At this point, a single WS4, S3, 1 A model is more dangerous than he is.

See D-Pince be stubborn,. See D-prince fluff his attacks and fail LD. See D-prince run.
 Failed leadership checks are what keep models with good WS, S and A from destroying this game. Otherwise it would be a simple matter to math-hammer out what units will win and just skip playing the game entirely.

There is a reason a LD7 unit is infinitely better than LD6 and LD 10 units are in a whole different world. They tend to stick around much longer.

LD checks are everywhere these days. Certain artillery weapons and spells cause them on units. Lost combats and large numbers of casualties sustained force them to be taken. Sometimes a models' own rules force it to take tests.

A couple of failed LD tests can really ruin your day, no matter how well you have played.**

Conversely, unexpectedly rolling insane courage can give you an unexpected bonus when your unit holds up that buzzsaw rampaging through your army at a frenetic pace.

Earlier in this series I talked about how typically most close combat units might only spend 4 - 6 rounds actually engaged in combat. Failed LD tests are the main reason why. These days there are some combats that last longer due to the new improved steadfast rules, items such as the Crown of Command and things of that nature.

Even with being steadfast, however, failed LD checks happen. They happen less frequently with the re-roll which leads to a game within the game as savvy opponents try to kill your army Battle Standard bearer while you strive desperately to keep him safe and where he needs to be.

So how important is LD? Here comes an answer you are probably tired of if you have read the entire series.

It depends.

How did you build your list? If one failed LD check destroys your day, you arguably did a very poor job of list building. (Or are the Vampire Counts general, or a Slann BSB in Blood and the Tomb Kings still melt when their big guy dies? If so, include him.) Then again, your list may work very well in your environment and this just happens to be the chink in the armor.

Be that as it may, the more important a unit is, the more important LD is.

Example: a Warriors of Chaos army has a block of Knights to finish combats against weakened opponents, a modest frenzied Chosen unit with great weapons, a big block of tzeentch marked Chaos Warriors with shields, and 10 units of Chaos Warhounds serving as shooting cover.

Rund, dogs. Run!
 LD is important for the Chaos Warriors primarily, the Chosen and Knights less importantly, and the Warhounds not at all.

If all the Warhounds run the Chaos player is still in excellent position to win the game. But if they lose their block of Chaos Warriors they have lost their ability to provide an anvil and control space. Indeed, failing a LD test and being run down could be a disaster from which they cannot recover.

The end result is the clever player will typically have ways to make his key units either steadfast or stubborn and keep his BSB nearby and protected for his important unit(s). This way, even modest LD levels have a good chance of holding their place in line and continuing their job.

The Ogre flank melts as unit after unit is wrecked in combat, fails LD and runs.
 So how important is LD then? Obviously, I am arguing it is very important. However, there are ways of improving/altering LD to ensure your key units consistently operate with LD 8, 9 or even 10 while being stubborn through one means or another.

There will still be those unforeseen disasters when you fail the re-rolled LD 10 check. It happens. When it does, you feel the pain.  Recognizing how important LD is, you should have done your work ahead of time to minimize the number of times it happens.

With that said, if your unit has high scores in the other key stats, you are probably winning your combats. With proper use of your general and BSB, you should minimize the impact of tests forced upon you by your opponent or self-inflicted through rules such as stupidity.

Properly handled, even low LD scores can be protected and have little impact. It is very important...but also relatively easy to deal with. Improperly handled, you will not even do well with LD11.

The biggest single factor that turns a good LD into a disastrous one is losing a combat by a massive amount. Hint; work to prevent that. I know, hard to do...but indisputably the key.

When it comes to LD, in the hands of a great player low LD is a problem but a minor one. In the hands of a poor player, high LD is nice to have but will not protect them.

Me'n Sguiggy thought the dragon looked hungry. We also remembered something important we need to do in the other direction....
 In summation, LD is vital to your battle plan; make sure your plan includes keeping your LD high and used as seldom as often.

*Yes, I could write the fluff people chastise Matt Ward for. They are is jolly good fun to write. No, it does not make sense or have any bearing on reality. Says the guy playing a game filled with magic and fantastic races.

** Unless, of course, you are immune to taking them. Naturally, most though not all units that do not have to take them  are penalized in other ways such as crumbling.


Fnurgn said...

Always enjoy these posts. Cheers.

Darth Weasel said...

thanks for stopping by. I do enjoy writing them and am working on a few more strategy-style posts. We will see if I follow through...