Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Introducing the next series of articles

I have long advocated for things to differentiate Warhammer. While the basic system is good, there are only so many times I can line up and play “kill them all dead”. That is a strategy that favors whoever is best at pure killiness or survivability.

Whether the model removal is accomplished through magic, war machines, massed missile fire or close combat specialty, the army that has the stronger kill factor wins that game every time.

If one army can stand out of range of the other and drop template weapons on them all day, it is an easy win. Likewise, if one army can cast devastating, unstopped magic on the other without fear of reprisal, it is again an easy win. And of course if an army of unstoppable, untouchable death merchants falls upon weak, unarmored troops, it is going to be a slaughter.

So the idea then is for troops who are vulnerable to shooting to stay out of sight, range, or both. Troops that are going to get devastated in close combat should try to keep distance between themselves and better warriors. And magic users should be sent to the bone pile asap, as defense against magic is seldom effective.

So every game tends to have many similar elements. The same order of targets, the same goals, and so forth. I try to mix it up as much as possible.

In 7th we were rolling on a campaign that I was finding highly entertaining. Armies of different sizes instead of “I have x number of points, you do” were replaced by “I have x number of points, you have y number”. It was quite entertaining.

I also loved the elements of one battle’s outcome impacting the next. Instead of having the same size unit all the time, forces were fluctuating. It kept the game fresh and interesting.

But with 8th, many of the elements no longer worked. Just having straight up fight after straight up fight tends to get stale, but there was a hidden gem within the 8th rulebook.

Enter the scenarios.

While flat out tabling the opponent still works, now there are other ways to win or lose a game. There are a host of new tactics and strategies available. Even list building is affected as the clever list-builder will take into account the need to provide a unit to start in the watchtower, plenty of fortitude for Blood and Glory, and even how to handle not having his troops where he wants them.

However, not everyone has a grasp on how the scenarios work. So over the next few days or weeks, the plan is to briefly address strategies you might find helpful in playing the various scenarios.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How much difference do the 8th Edition Rules make for playstyle after playing 7th?

In some of the last posts I mentioned a few tactics that have altered for 8th edition from 7th. How much difference does that make when actually playing a game?

Lets take a brutally obvious and easy one. In 7th edition it was possible for a weaker unit to take out a much stronger unit simply by getting the charge and having a small amount of fortuitous dice rolling.

This was due to two rules; 1), Chargers strike first and 2) removing casualties that were struck rather than from the rear rank.

As a result it was always better to charge than to be charged. Glass cannon units were extremely deadly as they could wipe out the front rank of the enemy before it ever had a chance to attack, thus winning the combat by virtue of charging.

These days with the “remove casualties from the rear rank” and “strike in I order” rules in place the charge has less importance; Great Weapons no longer go ahead of “faster” weapons, even if your front rank gets wiped out the unit gets to fight and thus recover from a bad start, and troop speed actually matters.

Additionally, Steadfast has a huge impact.

This makes a huge difference. In 7th edition a block of 100 Skaven slaves was just 200 victory points donated to the opponent. At some point they would get charged, lose their front rank, and be testing on snake-eyes to not run. And that was against weak units like Empire State Troops or High Elf spearmen.

In 8th they are still going to lose that combat but will almost assuredly have more ranks than the opponent and thus have an excellent chance of staying around for multiple rounds, thus creating a morass that occupies a tremendous amount of space and alters the battlefield. They do not care about the casualties they are taking as they are likely Steadfast on close to LD 10.

Even if they never do a casualty to their tormentors, they have a respectable role and an important one. So these rules have a huge impact on how the game is and should be played.

These rules alone make infantry viable. All throughout 7th edition I never found value in taking even Chaos Warriors as more often than not it was just giving free points to the opponent…and Chaos Warriors are expensive.

Too many times I got charged by things like Grail Knight units, character-reinforced Cold One Knights, dragon-riders, Ogres…all of whom moved faster and thus had a near-guaranteed charge, did so many casualties that IF I got to attack back it was with my unit champion, and thus my expensive Chaos Warriors fled the field or were run down without ever raising a weapon in anger.

In fact, I cannot think of a single time in the whole of 7th Edition I was able to get the Chaos Warriors into an advantageous combat...I do remember them fleeing multiple times after having their front rank wiped out on the charge...the only time they even saw second rounds was against things with too few attacks (a Gorger) and when they were stubborn.

And that was with arguably the best infantry unit in the game. In 7th edition they were worse than useless; taking them was doing a favor for your opponent. In 8th they are close to a no-brainer; I say close because many people still argue huge blocks of cheap Marauders are better.

In 8th edition even a humble unit such as S3, 1 attack Night Goblin has at least a slim chance of doing some damage, and even if they cause no casualties, they are worth putting on the field which means stronger, harder-fighting troops such as Dwarf Warriors, Saurus Warriors, Chaos Warriors, etc. are not simply worth putting on the field but are often among the strongest choices in the entire list.

Some people have gone overboard the other direction; many people proclaim infantry is the king of the battlefield with cavalry and monsters not being worth taking. I disagree...but I "get" their reasons.

Another huge change was the way marching can occur. In 7th, just planting a single model within 8” of the opponent slowed their movement to a crawl. “Tactics” of flying cheap, pointless units behind the enemy line so they had to walk 4-7” per turn into the face of massive lines of missile fire was considered brilliant. If you could do it with a cheap, pointless model like a 15 point naked Skaven Engineer, so much the better.

Now by the simple expedient of passing a LD test troops can still march. To be sure, this is normally a virtual guarantee as most important units either have relatively reliable LD of 9 or 10 and/or a re-roll from a near-by BSB.

Yet the role of march blocking is still important as not every unit will be within range of the BSB, nor will the flanks always pass their tests. This means the march blockers are returned to their rightful role of support rather than game-dominating.

They still have a place. Sometimes even the chance of slowing that flank unit down is worth the allocation of forces to that side of the field. But now there is a defense against it. It means instead of say…automatically including 4 units of Chaos Warhounds to go march-block the enemy, now you have to decide if the vastly reduced role they play in screening and potential march-blocking is worth the points.

We could add swift reforms and combat reforms to the equation. It used to be that if someone hit the flank the unit would never turn to face them. Now there is the chance they will be able to do so which makes a great deal more sense aesthetically, logically, and from a game-play standpoint.

The negative to the reform if they lost the combat is an excellent deterrent to strategies that ignore flank charges, providing a defense against failed charges becoming THE deciding factor in a game. Those charges are still important as with the bonus for a flank charge, the fewer return attacks you are facing while still usually getting your own max attacks, you can often break a tougher unit with a well-timed flank attack.

At the same time, the clever opponent who hits the flank will also have a second unit hitting the target, thus pinning them in place and preventing the reform. This gives them the advantages of supporting attacks and the +1 combat resolution for hitting the flank that is denied the target. Thus the interplay between the charge zone arc and potential to combat reform becomes important as both generals attempt to maximize their own attacks while minimizing the number of attacks the face.

Even after combat the ability for most units to reform adds yet another level of control for the astute general. It prevents the ridiculous “I throw this 30 point unit in front of your powerful unit who then must stand facing away from my deathstar unit who will now wipe them out because they could not face me” maneuvers and makes for a better game.

It makes “speed bump” units still valuable but not vastly more powerful than their point values. Whereas in 7th, an astute player might drop a unit of harpies in front of a frenzied unit knowing they had to charge or get destroyed, then would over-run and either be out of the battle for several turns as it would take one full turn just to turn around, another to regain the over-run distance, and by then the battle would have moved away. Thus a 60 point unit could remove 300 or more points from the battle with no risk. The gain had no relation to the cost.

Now a move in the wrong direction still rightfully slows a unit down, but with the swift reform option, they can still get back in the action before the end.

Hopefully I will have time to write the second part of this post before heading on vacation...because there are plenty more changes that not only affect how the game is played...they affect how troops are chosen.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Does playstyle matter?

I am looking somewhat forward to the comments on the post that will pop up two days before this one yet dreading them at the same time. I am virtually guaranteed to see lots of disagreement, but I stand 100% behind what is there.

Others may have success with the WoC, but the reason I have had success is indisputably because I figured out a method that worked with their strengths that match mine, and it works well.

At the same time, I have had a lot of success with other armies as well. I never did lose a game when playing with Wood Elfs (though that was 7th edition) and Dwarfs, even though they have vastly different playstyles than the WoC do. Nor did I ever lose with the Orcs and Goblins, though again that was only back in 7th.

Only with the High Elves have I hovered around 50% and, in fact, am probably under. Ironically, the army I have lost the second  highest percentage with is the WoC. In sheer number of games, it is WoC I have lost the most with by a landslide.

The background then is that I play a lot of different armies. I have games under my belt with the Vampire Counts, Tomb Kings, Orcs and Goblins, Chaos Dwarfs, Dwarfs, High Elfs, Wood Elfs, Lizardmen, and Beastmen.

With such a wide divergence in armies, is there a wide divergence in my results? Sometimes.

With the High Elf army in 8th edition, it is mostly been my failure to correctly apply the rules that cost me an easy victory in one game and in the other I just plain got outplayed from list-build to final tabling.

With the Beastmen it was hardly a fair test of tactical acumen as the game was specifically set up to be a "soft game" between too lightly regarded armies and we deliberately did not play to completion.

With the Dwarfs it is a bit more complicated. I had a good plan with them each time and drove it to completion but they are so slow they are just too boring to play.

Some of the other guys have varied their styles within their own book. Fullur, for example, wavers between magic-heavy skink based builds and the occasional close combat build full of carnosaurs, Krox/Skink blocks, and Saurus.

Yet his results have been relatively consistent.

One of the points I made loudly and repeatedly in the prior post was the Warriors of Chaos work very well with my skill set. In every game I have ever played…Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40K, Stars and Bars, Johnny Reb, various Napoleonic's….where there was an option for a small, elite force or a larger but inferior one, I have invariably preferred and done better with the small, elite, hard as nails force.

This is not to say I am incapable of working with other elements. I have had excellent success with the Wood Elf, Orc and Goblin (7th edition) and Dwarf armies, all of which run a different style. I have had modest success with the High Elf army, however.

All of this leads to an easy, obvious question; how much impact does the style of army and its interaction with player play style have on success? Can a good player pick up any army book and expect similar levels of success? Or will he have outlier results with particular books.

For example, if someone picks up the Vampire counts book and wins 90% of their games, can they then expect to pick up the Empire book and have the same success rate, plus or minus a couple percentage points? The armies function very differently.

The same question would hold true for say…the Dwarf army versus the Lizardman army. One relies on war machines and stuffing magic while the other has few war machines and pummels opponents with magic. Can the same player expect similar results with both armies?

In some cases the answer is a clear and distinct yes. Some people are so well versed in the game rules, strategies, and theories that they can bounce from one style to another with no ill effect on their game. Others are so bad it does not matter if they use Beastmen or DoC, they are going to lose.

For the vast majority of us, however, the army we use has a huge impact on our results. Sometimes it is simply because we believe in a particular strategy.

For example, in a recent game I had a Chaos Sorcerer on a dragon. Outside of perhaps the Great Bray-Shamans, Chaos Sorcerers are clearly the best close combat wizards any army has available*. Combined with being on a dragon rider, he had fearsome potential to output attacks. Yet when the chance arose to charge a smallish unit of Skaven Clan Rats, I only did it because the game had gotten out of hand.

It is a clear and obvious charge for anyone who believes in the Glass Cannon strategy (though the ridiculous ward save I tooled him up with somewhat contradicts more traditional glass cannon strategies). With the large number of attacks he is putting out, he is likely to win the combat and, barring ranks and Strength in Numbers Shenanigans, break them in one round.

Because of his rugged nature, he was quite likely to win a grind combat as well since they would struggle mightily to put wounds on him and he should do enough casualties to win the combat despite the SCR advantage possessed by the rats.

It is a charge I make one time out of ten, and that one time is because of extenuating circumstances. Yet it is something I estimate I win, whether they flee the first turn or not, well over 80% of the time. And that might be underestimating it…I just do not trust 9 attacks + thunderstomp to beat 3 extra ranks and a standard all the time. Should hit 6 attacks, wound 4ish, then need 2+ thunderstomps to go through and to me that is not a big enough margin for error.

For others, they are thinking that is an awesome margin for error and they are sending in the dragon every time. They are better at the strategy than I am, something I am aware of and frankly acknowledge.

I also acknowledge there are others better than I am at the Dwarf strategy of huddling around a hill shooting stuff, then having their warriors slam into the weakened troops that come across the field. All too often my close combat Dwarfs wander out from the protection of their guns. Sitting back patiently is not my strong suit.

Clearly, then, a glass cannon type army is one that requires a significant change in approach. For example the Beastmen army has elements that resemble this; the Minotaurs with Impact hits, large numbers of high S attacks but absolutely no defense are very much a glass cannon. Getting them to work requires some thought and planning.

And, demonstrably, I am not good at that, having allowed them to get wrecked by a charge before they ever got to swing. Sure, with some practice I might improve.

The thing about it is, no obvious solution has presented itself as yet. There are a few plans I have bounced around, but for the moment their glass cannon nature has them being one of the last things I take since it is a strategy I struggle to employ correctly.

They end up being for me what the Dark Elf Assassin was for Fixed Dice from a game into last edition; I love the look, love the model, love the potential, and never take it because they just die without doing anything.

At the same time, the remainder of the army is also well outside my comfort zone. The Gor are the best option for an “anvil” but are a very poor choice; they have literally no armor. At all. Their magic has potential but does not get them into combat quick enough unless I take the despised Lore of the Wild.

Their weapon skill is pedestrian, their strength below average (though not, perhaps, below the median score) and their leadership sub-par. Their monsters are wildly overcosted and suffer the same glass cannon drawback as the minotaurs; they hit hard but die easy.

I know there are ways to use them and use them effectively. What I do not know is if I have the gaming personality to do it. I am not a risk taker. Chancy combats, long-shot weapons, and so forth are not my forte.

Contrary to what people who do not get the way WoC are effective think, I am incapable of just shoving them forward ignoring everything else. (A bad strategy, by the way, the WoC are frequently accused of. I suspect there are people out there who do that. I am willing to bet they win some games…but not nearly as good a percentage as I do)

Yet if I were going to adopt such a strategy, the WoC would be the army I would do it with. The Beastmen are forced into it by having even less effective shooting than the WoC but combining it with armor-less troops.

So their apparently strongest strategy…throw hordes of troops straight forward and hope to win grind combats while somehow getting their glass cannon troops into combat unscathed…is one I am psychologically incapable of using.

The obvious take-away is I will not only struggle to play them well, I will struggle to enjoy using them as game after game sees them melt to shooting past the point of combat effectiveness or else play a mindless “Oh, my turn? March straight forward. Are we in combat? No? okay, go” game which I have no interest in.

This is not to say there are not other armies I can play around with. The High Elf army is not my typical style either. Low T, lightly armored, and full of glass cannon units; Swordmasters, Phoenix Guard, White Lions…and units that are far more specialized such as archers, spearmen, Dragon Princes, Repeater Bolt Throwers.

As much as target priority matters for the WoC…which contrary to the interwebz matters a great deal in a 6 turn game…it matters even more for the High Elfs. ASF great Weapons are great for the first turn…but leave anyone alive to swing back and the pretty little elf army gets some new make-up in the form of bloody necks as they get decapitated by the weakest of enemy troops.

Can a person used to using a sledgehammer get used to using a precision laser?

I keep using myself as the example but the same is true of every player. Learning to use a different play style can be extremely difficult. For the Dwarf player used to little or nothing happening in the magic phase to suddenly attempt to play a list revolving around using magic would be quite a shock. For a player used to using the narrow formations of the Brettonian lance formation to suddenly figure out how to effectively use the Empire detachments could cause migraines.

Which brings us right back to the initial question; how much impact does the style of army and its interaction with player play style have on success?

I would argue a great deal. Obviously an average player using the DoC is going to do better than they would using the Beastmen. But would it be a 10% increase in wins? 50%? 80% more wins?

Or does it matter what the strengths of that player are? For example, if they excel at choosing targets for shooting but consistently pick the wrong spell to cast at the wrong time, how well are they going to do going from the Wood Elf army to the Lizardmen?

Or if they have mastered the art of choosing the right spell but are so nervous about failed LD checks that they strive to avoid close combat, how well are they going to do with the Beastmen or Warriors of Chaos? Or if they are afraid to use the glass cannon but strong at using an anvil and hammer strategy, how are they going to do with the High Elf army…oh, wait, we have seen that one. It was not pretty.

Or if they are very strong at using predictable, dependable armies, how will they do if suddenly handed the Orcs & Goblins or Skaven to play?

Mindset, comprehension of strategies, comprehension of tactics, understanding of probabilities, willingness to attempt long-shot maneuvers are all elements that affect how a player will do with an army that does not reinforce his strengths. Naturally if the army suits his strengths as a player his results will be the best.

If he is adaptable he will still do very well.

But if an army does not suit his strengths and he does not adapt well then he will tend to struggle mightily.

All of these things are possible to overcome but not all are worth overcoming. If a player sits down to every game, looks across the table and thinks he has little to no chance will not enjoy the game and soon not wish to play.

I am reminded of a game from last edition where one guy took a list that was maxed out on War Machines; cannons, grudge thrower,organ gun, anvil of doom. The rest of it was shooting troops; thunderers, I think. Just seeing that across the table was discouraging and depressing for the guy who faced it.

I was depressed just watching another player using O&G try to cross a field with NO TERRAIN AT ALL against an army putting out over 100 armor piercing shots per turn in one of the early games we played.

Both games were over before they started and even if the side locked into losing those messes won…was it an enjoyable game?

So for someone who enjoys using hordes of low quality troops to overwhelm good troops with a bit of shooting mixed in, how much fun would it be to play a small number of guys? Or if a guy loves magic, how much will he like using the Dwarfs? Or if he is infatuated with shooting, will he enjoy using the Beastmen or Woc? Or if he likes close combat, will he like using a Wood Elf list? If he likes using small, hard troops, wil he enjoy using vast hordes of wimps?

It goes on and on. There are large numbers of possible outcomes, and in most cases, the enjoyment of the game comes down to the style of army he likes to play and play against.

There is probably someone out there hearing that Dwarf list and saying, “Smurf yeah! I want to play against that!”

More power to him. It is a list I would neither want to use nor face.

I do think it is funny that I have seen dozens of lists where the player talked about how strong a list they had made and how much destruction it could wreak in a particular phase and then later  I find out that my lists, which I have deliberately avoided making the strongest ones I could, have been overpowered.

Perhaps I should shelve them forever and just use armies that do not fit my strengths. Then again…that just does not sound fun to me at all.

A lot of it is because I do not enjoy using horde units incapable of doing damage. (Okay, so certain O&G players swear by Night Goblins with nets...to me, they just are not a fun unit). I do not enjoy using armies with no save. I do not always enjoy using armies that have highly specialized units.

And obviously people do not enjoy facing an army that plays to my strengths. So that in turn retroactively makes it not fun for me.

I hear a female of intimidating girth warming her vocal chords.

Really unfortunate in many ways because this edition has been the best one I have ever seen in Warhammer, going back to 1995, but if it comes down to me having fun at the expense of others I just do not want to play. If both players do not enjoy the game then what is the point? Conversely, if it comes down to me playing but it being drudgery…again, I simply do not want to play.
So the trick is to find an army that is fun to play, balanced with our group, and in my possession.
Because yes...playstyle matters. A lot.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to beat the Warriors of Chaos the way Darth Weasel plays them

Our group is apparently pretty unique. Whereas the worldwide scene, both tournament and casual
play, is dominated by DoC, Lizardmen, Dark Elves and Skaven, our local group has
vastly different balance.

There is a feeling within some portions of our group that High Elves are better than Dark Elves, Warriors of Chaos better than Lizardmen and so forth with proven performers on the national scene, both in tournaments and in casual play as seen on the various race-specific forums, being less highly regarded locally.

This is not necessarily a belief held by all. In fact, when I was looking to see if someone had already written a "how to beat the Warriors of Chaos" I went to the race specific forums. Librarium. Warhammer Forum. Dakka Dakka. Bell of Lost Souls. Random blogs. And pretty much the answer was always the same; person A posts asking for advice on how to beat them, persons B,C and D say "what problem are you having? I have never lost to the Warriors."

Including a guy playing Beastmen insisting they are better in close combat than the Warriors...a concept I find laughable. So I decided to go ahead and do the work myself.

By the way, the different rankings of the armies as powerful is something you see in various pockets. I have seen claims for the Ogres, Beastmen, Bretonnians and Orcs and Goblins as being the most powerful in various areas. There are even a few claims of the old book TK being the best army in certain areas.

There are a variety of factors incolved. Player skill, rules neutering (banning stuff like Power Scrolls, altering the 6th spells in each lore to do 1 wound max, allow Look Out Sir rolls, or outright banned, limiting power dice, people breaking steadfast the same way they remove rank bonuses, etc.), perception, and again...playstyle.

It is obvious our play styles are far from standard as the results seen locally repeatedly contradict the
most commonly seen results across the Warhammer world via internet reports, including games within local groups, games at the FLGS, local tournaments, and major tournaments.

Recently it was intimated the reason the WoC in our group outperform their national and
international success rates is because they are overpowered and that I do not understand
how much their overpowered stats cover up my poor play. The explicit statement included an allegation that I do not know how powerful the stat lines and saves of the WoC are.

Naturally insulted by this to a degree I have seldom felt insulted in my gaming career, I said I would post a guide to beating them the way I play them. It is not easy, but it can be done. Nor should it be easy.

I think I play them pretty well, in fact,and the reason they win as often as they do has far more to do with my abilities in using the type of army than with the list.

 In fact, on the two occasions I did not feel I played them well  (both in 7th) I got tabled. In the one game in 8th when someone used the strategies I have always recommended to use against them, it was a draw.

(I should point out here that my way of playing them has shifted dramatically in 8th. in 7th I often would send fewer troops to do a job since 7th was really about "wipe out the front rank on the charge, run them down when they fail to roll Insane Courage and break". That had the same effect as the overwhelming force at point of contact that is the centerpiece of my 8th edition strategy.)

Note that the way I play them is generally considered sub-optimal if not outright bad by the wider Warhammer world.

I do not use the Chosen Star buffed by champion with Favor and the Terror banner to turn them into 3+ Ward monsters of untouchable destruction before the game begins.

I do not tool up Death sorcerers to snipe enemy characters.

I do not run multiple H-cannons. Often I do not even bring one.

I never take halberds with Chaos Warriors or flails with either Marauders or Marauder

All of those are widely considered the premier ways to play them. Included with that is 6x3 Warriors with Halberds and khorne. 24 are seen as a waste and 12 are seen as too small.

I take “wrong size” units. Instead of 6x3 Chaos Warriors, I take sizes I like and trust...like 24 or 30...and typically run them 5 wide except occasions I am too lazy to switch the bases for the 12s they are painted in. Then I do run them 6 wide.

I do not take enough Marauders with mark of khorne and great weapons which are lolzawesomesauceofdoom. I do take them in about half my games, but often I do not. When I do, I take full command...which taking full command is something I also do with my Knight units, another habit widely considered a very, very poor choice.

I do not take the Warhounds. They are losing favor but still widely considered a near auto-take. I frequently see advice on the various forums for army lists to drop Knights and take 5 or 6 units of warhounds and more marauders. I do the opposite.

I do, however, routinely take sub-par choices such as the Dragon Ogre Shaggoth and Dragon Ogres, but not trolls which are again considered the premiere monster available to WoC. I happen to disagree with that, but I am clearly, blatantly in the minority. People are generally suggested to take blocks of trolls instead of knights, in fact.

I take the overpriced and just plain never seen in any other list I have observed Banner of the gods. Ever. I have looked for it. Nobody but me seems to ever take it. Not even once. I love its effects of making units within 6" stubborn. Most guys go either for Talisman of Preservation or some other ward protection for their BSB. I have yet to see a single other list with this item. I am sure they are out there...but I have never seen one.

The lists I take are pretty typically considered full of holes with the wrong numbers of the wrong troop types. My argument goes I understand their power, know what their best use is, and I use them extremely well. I know their strengths and maneuver to maximize those strengths.The argument against that is I play poorly and have super-powered, untouchable troops whose power I do not comprehend..

So either I have mysteriously discovered a secret formula to use these superpowered, unbeatable troops that has eluded GT tournament winning level players, casual players, and even GW itself,  or our group takes lists that are too weak (a ridiculous assessment since most of the lists I face are not allowed at any "comped" tournament because they are considered "cheese", "broken" and/or bent beyond all reasonable levels and used only by "waac" or "win at all cost" players), or our group has really poor players. We know it is one of those three.

There is no room for it to be me emphasizing my troop strengths, covering their weaknesses, having good battle plans and executing those plans very well.

Ironically, in the game that sparked much of this, I was facing a dual Slann list…a list so ridiculously strong it is only ever allowed at ‘ard Boyz tournaments and is oft considered one of the three or four top lists from any book in all of Warhammer, comparable to Teclis in a horde with the Banner of the World Dragon, the DoC with…is it Skulltaker?...Skaven lists with multiple Grey Seers, power stones, double HPAs, and double Hydra Dark Elves.

 Most people seeing dual Slann scream “bent” , “broken”, or “cheese”. But it was my list of Chaos Warriors, Chaos Knights, Marauder Horsemen, a Dragon Ogre Shaggoth, and a dragon-riding combat lord
(which the best WoC players pretty much agree is an egregious waste of points; the very fact that WoC heroes ARE basically equivalent to most other armies Lord-level characters means any non-level 4 Sorcerer lord on disc or else with death magic sniping is a horrific waste of points) that was broken because the troops are too hard to kill and kill others too easily.

One of the first things typically comped, by the way, is a Slann getting the extra power die. Right behind that is the Cupped hands to ignore miscasts. The only things comped as often are special characters, dual rares, Pendant of kaeleth on Dreadlord with Crown of Command, and the power scroll. I do see one WoC item being comped that frequently; the Infernal Puppet. I understand why they would. It is certainly a powerful item.

I can name a half dozen items off the top of my head just as dangerous but every army needs something shafted if you are going to shaft any specific army. Except the Wood Elves and beastmen...I have not seen either of them shafted for a while.


So obviously I am a bit upset at having been told I am a bad player using an overpowered
list to cover my poor play and not realizing how strong the list is. Just as obvious, I
disagree. Strenuously.

Certainly I recognize the strengths of the Warriors of Chaos. They fit very well with the
type of army I have always preferred to play; they have high WS, S, T, A and good armor
saves. Per the series of articles just completed, the only thing I consider important not on this list is M. They can put out large numbers of attacks in a manageable frontage. They should live a goodly long while. They maximize the strengths in my style of play by providing forces that are good blocking forces and good blitzkrieg units.

That point is so important I am going to restate it. They fit very well with the type of
army I have always preferred to play.

In case it was not clear enough, they fit very well with the type of army I prefer to play
and, by extension, the type of army I am the best at playing. Naturally my results will be better with an army that plays to my strengths than one that does not.

I also recognize that I work hard to maximize those advantages. I seldom get them into a combat I am not a huge, prohibitive favorite to win. I ensure they are Stubborn with a re-roll, thus ensuring that on the rare occasions they lose a combat they have well over a 90% chance of not running which means they have to be killed to the last model, a feat admittably difficult to do. Much more difficult than beating them once and running them down.

I almost always out-point the opponent at the point of contact which tends to lead to very short combats, allowing me to get on to the next one asap which lets me get multiple uses out of arguably the best troops in the game, top to bottom.

As a result, I hit with overwhelming force, make short work of the out-manned defenders,
rinse, repeat.

That is what the Warriors of Chaos do well.

That is what I do well.

Great synergy there. The Warriors of Chaos book is designed to do the things I do well. Sounds like a vaguely familiar point.

The things I do well are the things the Warriors of Chaos book does well.

So when I have troops that are strong at performing the roles I do well employing I tend to have outstanding results.

I also see their weaknesses. Outside of the ineffective 6” throwing axes of the Marauder
Horsemen and the mis-firing H-cannon (which is an excellent War machine when it
works and has been very ineffective of me despite the high strength template it drops on
people) they have a zero inch range.

That means every turn in which they are not in close combat is a bad turn for the WoC. They
can potentially inflict some damage via magic, but that is hardly something they can rely
on and it seldom seems to work out. I routinely have opponents who spent 10% of what I
spent on magic out-perform me in the magic phase.

I must admit I have had a couple highly successful games using magic in 8th. One of the things I love about the new edition.

But every turn I am not in combat is a turn I am no closer to winning the game.

Thus the secret to playing the WoC well is therefore clear; get into combat as quickly
as possible at virtually any cost, make that combat as decisive as possible, and get into the next combat as
quickly as possible.

Ideally, the opponent takes turn one, moves within charge range, I get off a great charge on my first turn as a result and overrun into the next unit, thus keeping me in combat the ensuing turn.

Of course, few and far between are the opponents who will co-operate by moving in such a way as to
allow this behavior from me. They usually make sure there are turns between combats.

Of course, I also recognize  another weaknesses of the WoC army. Typically, losing
1 Chaos Warrior is as bad as losing 2 High Elf Archers, points wise, when taking into
account the inevitable Mark added to the unit. And High Elf armies are supposed to
be “small and elite”. Yet they often dwarf the WoC in size, though not always.

The lack of range means armies which can stay out of close combat for any appreciable
amount of time can use their superior range to inflict casualties without fear of reprisal;
easier said than done, but possible.

This is because the WoC are noticeably slower than the majority of the armies in our
group; the Elf armies are 20% faster, skinks and ogres 50% faster, and cavalry armies
even faster than that, making the infantry options for the WoC theoretically easier to
outmaneuver than their tormentors.

This is exaceberated by the unit sizes I take, by the way. I routinely inhibit my maneuverability in favor of more rugged forces.

The 2d6 charge range helps, though that is one of the things that illustrates the unconventional way in which I play the WoC. If I need to roll an 8 on the dice, I am unlikely to attempt the charge unless other factors force me to. 9 is an "emergency charge only" and anything beyond that requires extreme desperation that dwarfs the emergency note.

Considering I need to be within 11" to make the "7" requirement happen, elf armies need to be within 12", M6 troops within 13", M7 (think most cavalry...except lots of cavalry is M8) 14", I am still slower and less maneuverable with my infantry than anyone but Empire, Saurus, and Dwarfs.

Also, the magic phase is far easier to maximize for many other armies than it is for the
WoC ; they do not build big pools of dice like other armies tend to do, the Slann ability to discard 6s
hurts them badly, they cannot throw more than 6 dice to guarantee that key spell, have no way of getting a free die added to their casting as several armies do, etc. The Infernal Puppet helps by making it painful when theenemies mis-cast and less painful when the Warriors do, but does nothing to help strengthen the Warriors ranged offense.

So the things the WoC fear are legion; things that remove armor saves, things that have
strong shooting, massed war machines, monsters, those who can dominate them in the Magic phase (defensively like the Dwarf, Empire and Lizardmen armies, or offensively like the High Elfs, Dark Elfs, Lizardmen, Beastmen and Empire), things that outmaneuver them, fair close combat fights and mobile enemies.

What I mean by “fair close combat fights” might need some description. Except the
Marauders, Dragon Ogres, Dragon Ogre Shaggoth, and Marauder horsemen, very few
things can stand up to the Warriors of Chaos one-on-one in close combat without magic assistance (debuffs like Mystifying Miasma, the oft-used Okkrams Mindrazor so many people are bragging about wiping o9ut entire units of Chaos Knight in one turn with, etc.)

Knights that get the charge and have multiple attacks, MAYBE Swordmasters, some monsters are about all that stand up one-on-one. Not much else.

So to make it fair, most armies need to combo-charge. They need to mass as many attacks
as possible and also have as many as possible be against my flanks or rear arcs to keep from
facing supporting attacks in return. Charging the Warriors in  their front arc seldom is as helpful due to it giving them supporting attacks back. Those extra 5 - 10 attacks are monumental when I typically hit 66% and wound anywhere from 33-66% of those. It can routinely be 4 wounds dealt. That deals with any Static Combat resolution I would face right up to charge+3 ranks, though a banenr would still be ahead of me...

I can count on one hand the number of combo charges I have faced. Conversely, I would
need all my fingers, all my toes, and several spare digits to count the number of times I
have gotten combo charges off against opponents.

On a completely unrelated note; I can count on one hand the number of times I have lost
a unit to an opponents charge in 8th edition but would need all my fingers, all my toes and
several spare digits to count the number of times I have broken my opponent’s units on
the charge.

And there we get to the key on how to defeat the Warriors the way I play them.

Let me explain my strategy.

As a formerly excellent chess player (I am a pedestrian player today), I know the
principles behind the game; control the center to restrict the opponents movement and ensure you have more pieces you can bring to bear. As a result, I generally start my battle plan by putting a unit in the center that controls the action. Whatever else my opponent does, he must take that unit into consideration.

It might be a primarily defensive unit such as the big block of 3+ armor, 4+ ward save
chaos warriors I recently started using. Yes, they can still put out a good amount of attacks and will win most
combats…but they are defensive compared to a khorne-marked unit, for example which
will deal out more and higher strength attacks.

It might be a primarily offensive unit; a horde of Great Weapon wielding khorne marked
Marauders, for example. Or the Corn Scythes, the khorne-marked, great weapon wielding Chaos Warriors who still have aan above average save of 4+ and are dealing out 3 S6 attacks apiece. Lethal.

Whatever it is, it will be a unit powerful enough to draw attention and large enough to
control a sizable chunk of space.

Controlling a large area of space allows me to determine what I want to do on
each flank.

Typically I will overload one flank. The idea is to lock up the center, use a less deadly, more rugged unit to
delay the opponent on the “weak” flank, and roll up the entire enemy line with a massively overpowered attack via hook on the strong flank.

Typically this means I am charging knights and/or big infantry blocks consisting of considerably
less in points.

A classic example was the 7th edition game against Kev’s Ogres where I sent a small
block of Knights and a chariot to gum up the works on the left flank. I knew he would
eventually destroy them both, but as long as it took three turns I was fine.

My battle plan should be obvious; use the Knights to hold up his entire flank for at least 2 turns. If that fails, speedbump them with the chariot.

Meanwhile, a big unit occupied him in the middle while a couple of units of Knights
rampaged on his right flank. At every point of impact I had more points engaged in the
combats in the center and right.

On the left flank my blocking force was out-pointed in total but only a few points at a time could get to them; this, combined with their very rugged nature and my use of the terrain to anchor my line, meant they were ideally suited to fulfill their role. Had I put the Marauders over there, it would have been all over in one turn; by selecting the right unit to put over there, I actually delayed him 3 or 4 turns. He did eventually kill the Knights, Marauder Horsemen and Chariot. It took him like 5 turns, though.

So while he was making slow progress I was running down 2 and 3 units of Bulls per
turn. (This was abusing the "chargers attack first, if the front rank is wiped out they do not get to attack back" design flaw from 7th. I combined that with :if you hit a second combat in a turn that has not fought yet, you get to fight again" rule. Today I would never think of charging a unit of bulls with "just" 5 Knights in a typical situation.) The game ended up being tilted heavily in my favor.

By contrast, one of the few times I gave up a combo charge, it was to Liam’s Brets. He
slammed into a khorne-marked unit of Chaos Warriors. Mass carnage ensued. Warriors fell like flies to a dusting of fly paper. However,I had my BSB with the Banner close by, so they were stubborn. They held him in place, I then counter-charged his flank and won the fight. Other than being forced to give him the charge due to his having twice my movement capability, my plan worked to perfection. I had the back-up plan in place for just such an emergency.

It was a matter of having the right troops at the right place at the right time. Change even
the smallest detail in those examples and the games have a different outcome.

Against kev if my blocking forces were saving on 2 points lower (Chaos Warriors instead of Knights), they would have melted much quicker and he would have had my flank and rear. If I were not using my fastest, hardest hitting troops for my blitzkrieg move it would have taken too long.

Against Liam if I was not stubborn at the point of impact he would have swept them
away in one turn (barring Insane Courage roll) and not been there for me to flank charge
him in my turn.

Thus my strategy with the WoC should be pretty obvious; use my most rugged troops to
allow a small number of points to occupy large percentages of the opponents points while
I use overwhelming force in the combats I intend to win to ensure they are won quickly.

Lets look at examples, the following examples from all the 8th edition games I have played, regardless of army:

Classic 7th edition; I kill every model that could strike back at me every turn, thus being set up to take him down at my leisure.

In the inaugral game of 8th edition,
First, I attempted to charge his  5 mounted men at arms with my  10 medium cavalry Marauder Horsemen; I had equipped them with light armor and shield, giving them a 4+ save; I win that combat a fair amount of the time with my better weapon skill and save, banner and rank. I rolled a total of 4 and needed a 6 so failed the charge.

This is a charge where I have overwhelming superiority; I will have 15 attacks before he gets to strike back, then as many as 5 more if I make any of my 50% chance saves. I have a banner and rank. I am going to win this combat the vast majority of the time, even with my S3 guys.

Instead of moving my army forward, this blocked my advance so I made a modest advance that set me up to flank any of his units that charged my stubborn Chaos Warrior block.

A typical set-up; a small but rugged portion of my force placed on the left to occupy large portions of his force while I gain a 2-1 advantage on the right flank
 He then charges my marauder horse with his men at arms horse but sees my trap and refrains from charging my Chaos Warrior block with his Grail Knights; he is between a rock and a hard place. Due to my BSB being nearby, he knows they are stubborn and thus will probably still be there after the charge, and next turn I will bring overwhelming force against his isolated Knights. I can charge with my own Knights, with another block of Warriors, and have backup knights besides. If he does not charge, another clear win for me as I do not face his S6 attacks. So whether he charges or does not, I am well set up to have more guys involved in the combat. I have it won before it starts.

After my marauder Horsemen wipe out his men at arms in one round of combat, I have a choice; I want them out of the way so I can bring my powerful center to bear so I charge into peasants behind knowing it is probably a suicide charge.

On the left, my Marauder horde charges his clan rats, to hold up that flank and to get out of the path of his plague furnace; my shaggoth charges his HPA to keep it from hitting something important like the knights and also because that is Shaggys role; take down high T targets.  In the center I charge his peasants, comboing with the marauder Horsemen.

Only him rolling insane courage on the left saves him from a disaster over there; Had he rolled anything else, my Horde gets past all his units and is safe. Instead, I am locked in place to get roughed up by his Furnace.

In the center, my devastation of the peasants locks his Grail Knights out of combat. This leaves me with more guys locked in the combat.

His insane courage allows his plague furnace to hit my marauder Horde. I still have more attacks but they are Always Strikes last, my guys ar save-less and easy to hit and wound, comparatively.

10 Knights charge and kill Doomwheel. I have vastly more attacks. And more points involved.

The Knights overrun into some clan rats or plague monks or whatever. Forced charge.

My Warriors go after his Knights of the Realm.

His Grail Knights charge my Knight block that is engaged with his Plague Monks in the flank. Due to the small size of his Grail Knight Unit, I have more men involved in the combat.
The 23 chaos warriors remain after destroying his Knights of the realm.

I did not know what Queek did and let him charge me. He wrecked my Knights. My other Knights wrecked every war machine in his artillery park.

So to sum up; There were three combats where I did not have more men involved in the fight;
1) when I charged my Marauder Horsemen at his peasants to allow me to keep his knights from charging me, thus allowing me to outnumber him at every point of combat.
2) When he rolled insane courage and held me up longer than expected after I won a crushing victory.
3) When Queek was much, much stronger than I realized.

Outside of those, I had overwhelming superiority at every point of combat; it was usually two or three of my units teaming up on one of his. Almost without exception, my troops start with better S and usually, though not always, more attacks amd WS. Add more numbers of troops for me than he has and the outcome is academic.

Next game, versus Beastmen;

My Knights charge his Minotaurs needing an 8, this done to stop him from getting the impact hits. This is one of those rare situations where I chance that...though a bit more frequent with Knights since they have strider. But I try this charge with any troop I have for the exact same reason. Minotaurs are far too expensive for what they are and do, and a lot of that is because of their impact hits. By denying that, I turn a third of their points into waste. Well worth the risk as it tips the balance of power heavily in my favor.

I have higher I, higher WS, I think equal attacks, better armor saves and more models involved. By charging I eliminate the Minotaur advantage of impact hits.

Optical illusion means knights cannot get to bray Shaman and fail charge declared to get away from Doombull's impact hits. He would have allowed me to redirect the charge because he is a good guy. I refused because I need to learn from mistakes like that. 10 seconds of measuring tells me I am wrong.

Marauders forced to charge by failed LD to restrain Frenzy, charge Gor so Knights charge Ghorgon to protect the Marauders, Chaos Warriors combo-charge with the Marauders into the Gor unit.

I have more models involved in the combat. Easy win.

I break him this turn and game ends (Blood and Glory) with me successfully making exactly one successful armor save all game...and that did not matter as it was one of three wounds on my champion and he failed the other two. So not one model took advantage of my awesome armor. I cried a little bit.

Well, not really...

I either took away his advantage through timely charges or else flat out had more models involved in every combat. There was not one "fair combat" in the entire game.

High Elf V. Lizardmen, Watchtower scenario.
Dragon Princes getting shattered by shooting, make charge on Kroxigor to get S bonus and since they die to shooting next turn. If I have my full unit, I am happy about this charge. here, I am just trying to whittle him down and keep him away from the tower.

They were dead either way, so it was desperation charge hoping to do some damage on their way out the door.

Swordmasters v. Skinks in tower. Equal numbers of models, mine had infinitely superior stats. Also, this was the goal of the scenario, so SOMEONE was charging the tower this turn. It just happened to be the guys I know are most lethal.

His carnosaur charges my LSG. Though he got the charge, this fit my plans very well as I wanted to keep his Carnosaur away from the tower which was all that mattered; who owned the tower. I would be steadfast for quite some time, no matter how deadly his Carnosaur was.

My eagle charges his carnosaur.  This was done because I noticed I could actually break his Carnosaur with a bit of luck; by declaring a challenge, it kept his Carnosaur from racking up SCR; my ranks, banner, the charge and rear bonus meant he actually would lose the combat even if he got max overkill on my champ. It was low-percentage chance that he would fail his LD, but a small chance is better than none, and it would lock his carnosaur in a pointless combat.

His Skink/Kroxigor charge my LSG. Clear win for him. Clear win for me in that it was not at the tower...except his Engine and Salamander and magic were killing so many Swordmasters every turn I was in deep trouble there, and he had no need of more troops...

 Other skinks charge my RBT. Clear win for him. Only win for me is they were not poisoning more of my beleagured Swordmasters, but they did stop the RBT from shooting at his Krox more so a very prudent move.

His Saurus charge my 3 Swordmasters in Tower, game. Nothing I could do to stop it as his Engine and Salamander had whittled them down.

This battle I should have dedicated everything I had at the tower. It was a mis-match, I got the tower, through everything I had at keeping his units away from the tower and just got outnumbered, outmagiced, and had no answer for the Engine, Salamander, or his better magic. He outplayed me by a wide margin and well deserved the win.

Nevertheless, in what I considered the 1st key combat, I had overwhelming superiority. His skinks lose that combat 19 out of 20 times at least. Their goal is to keep one alive and pass break test. In THE key combat, he had overwhelming superiority; even if every one of my Swordmasters killed a Saurus with every blow, he would still have had full attacks back. He did to me what I typically do to others.

Dwarfs vs. Wood Elfs
Spend time keeping his treeman from getting the charge on me. I probably win the combat, but it is closer than I like. I want overwhelming superiority. So I just avoid the combat.

His Eagle charges my cannon; my fighty Dwarf Lord heads over to kill the eagle.

The Dwarf was in little if any danger from the Eagle and I had other troops moving that way in case I fluffed my attacks.

So the only close combat was one I win 9 of 10 times at least.

Warriors of Chaos v. Wood Elfs
Another Blood and Glory scenario.

His shooting wipes out large percentages of my screening forces which I actually included in this game; I cannot get to his main unit before the game ends which means I can only lose, not win, so I retreat out of range. No combat.

Since I cannot bring overwhelming superiority to the battle, I do not engage. At some point I need to math-hammer Treeman and Dryads v. Chaos Warrior flank.

High Elf v. Brettonia, Blood and Glory
Pegaus Knights charge RBT; Pegasus hero charges RBT.

Both clear wins for him. He wins these combats almost every time. Ironically, I won one of them...but he did not flee.

White Lions charge peasant bowmen, break them. White Lions win this even more often than the two attacks versus my RBTs.  Too many high strength always strikes first high WS with re-roll attacks in his flank where he has maybe 2 or 3 attacks back. 99 of 100 times I win this. Easily.

White Lions flank charging peasant bowmen is a contest the way chocolate versus a rock is a contest. fair fights are for the noble and valiant, not High Elfs. know your place, peasants

White Lions charge rear of knights Errant to keep them from charging lone archer and over-running into LSG, and to get their banner.I need the banner and figure to win the combat most of the time; my ASF GW elites with multiple attacks, including supporting attacks, against just 3 single attack guys. I have overwhelming force here.

His grail Knights charge my LSG; I would stop this if I could. I could not.  Normally he wins this easily, clear win on his part. Only flaw; his own Comet hits and does in so many Grail Knights he barely wins the combat. I am steadfast.

Solo archer charges to get out of way of Dragon Princes who flank charge Grail Knights locked in combat with LSG. The solo archer charge is simply to guarantee me having overwhelming force against his grail knights.

White Lions charge Knights errant. We already saw this is a clear, obvious advantage for me.

Swordmasters flank charge peasants to avoid trebuchet fire.

I had to get away from the Trebs. My only chance to draw or win the game. I did win the combat, but he passed his steadfast break test, then charged in with his own overwhelming force amd killed them. I was forced into a desperation charge, it gave me a chance, but ultimately this is the type of combat I avoid. Not a fair combat...I have the advantage...but he is unlikely to break.

Once more, except where I was outplayed or extenuating circumstances existed (gonna die anyway in one case, in the way of charge that mattered with model that did not) I consistently have more men, more attacks, and more Strength at the point of contact.

Beastmen v. Tomb Kings
Chariot horde magic-charges my Minos.

I thought I did everything I could to stop this. I could not. I faced more attacks and rightfully got my tail kicked.

The Minotaurs brace to face 13 impact hits and a boatload of attacks. they will not survive.
 My Gor Horde flanks the Chariots.
I had vastly more attacks, this time.

His Bone giant and Ushabti flank and rear charge the Gor.
Could not avoid this. If my unit stayed in place for 2 turns I would have been able to add a Doombull, Ghorgon and couple of chariots to it...but there was a 20ish percent chance I would not last that long.

In this game I was hoist on my own petard when the chariots did to me what I try to do to others; inflicted overwhelming force at the point of contact.

My Gor did the same thing in return.

The Gor horde moves to wreak their bloody vengeance on the chariots.
 In the first case, his chariots melted my Minotaurs like so much wheat to a scythe; the Gor then wreaked a terrible vengeance.

Warriors of Chaos V. Skaven

HPA charges Marauder Horsemen who had killed a couple Jezzails.
The Horsemen had done their job, stuffing shooting that would hurt my important units. A worthy sacrifice, and there was next to no chance the HPA would not obliterate them in one turn. he did.

Queek and Co. Charge other marauder Horsemen who had killed Warp Lightning cannon.
Again, the Marauders had done their job. I will trade that unit to get rid of WLC every day of the week. He generated overwhelming force and the Horsemen evaporated like a squishy snowball in death valley.

Knights charge weapon team which dutifully flees, redirect into flank of Queeks's unit, making it combo charge with my block of Chaos Warriors.

By the way...this is a typical example of having him in a no-win situation; if the Weapon team stays, I still charge the Warriors in. then I fight the Knight combat first, wipe out the Weapon Team something like 1,999,999 times out of 2,000,000 then charge into the flank anyway and get to fight twice. At least by fleeing he gets a vague chance of escaping and fighting again, while there is a 3ish percent chance I will fail my re-rollable LD redirect chance.

I end up with more models, each with more attacks and am able to challenge Queek out of the combat for all intents and purposes.

Will I trade a unit of Marauder Horsemen and a unit champ for a Warp Lightning Cannon, Queek and his unit? Yes. yes I will.
 Small unit of Knights v. Small unit of Clan Rats
An exception to my usual rule; I did not have overwhelming force in this one. In fact, this is as close to a "fair fight" as I ever get on purpose. In this case it was to allow my more important strategy to develop and I figure to win the fight anyway. It is just closer than I like, but extenuating circumstances argue it is the right play.

This is one of those cases where I count on troop superiority; I have more attacks, better Weapon Skill, higher s, Higher T, better armor; my unit also cost pretty close to as much if not more than his.

Even though I am likely to win this, it is more a 65-35 proposition. I do not trust my dice enough to get into these combats very often as even with the Mathhammer advantage, I expect to lose when it will be most inconvenient.

Plague Furnace and Slaves combo-charge Chaos Warriors who are stubborn.

I was stuck there from having combo-charged Queeks unit and gotten appalling pursuit rolls. I am okay with it because I am stubborn. But more importantly because that particular unit cannot die.

This is the one where I save 4 of 17 wounds with my 3+ armor, 5+ parry save and say, "Well now. I had 21 Warriors about 30 seconds ago. Now I have 3. That 3+/5+ combo is not so good, is it then?"
Armor Saves are awesome for me.

I guess it can die after all. Easily.
Nevertheless, I was not overly worried; my BSB with the Banner of the gods was right there to keep them stubborn. Even with the massive casualties, they were not going anywhere.

He uses my strategy; combo charge to build sheer volume of attacks.

His clan rats charge my other Knights, kill 3, then are overrun.
My Knight unit took a beating and is down to I think 1 Knight at that point.

Shaggoth flank charges his slaves who are flanking my Warriors facing the furnace. My other Chaos Warriors combo into those slaves. My big block of knights charges the other flank of the furnace.
I now have more attacks involved in the combat. I am still stubborn in every case with a re-roll.

What is the best way to handle a combat that is too large? Add more troops!
I should point out...score one for units of 24. I still have 7 Warriors fighting.

 Dragon rider charges one globadier in building. There is really no contest here. I have 8 more attacks + thunderstomp. I feel good about my chances...

His warlord charges shaggoth; hpa gets enough movement to careen into dragon rider.

I do not like receiving either of these charges but having brought overwhelming force to bear elsewhere, cannot avoid them. And really, the Warlord is just trying to take the Shaggoth out in one turn, because I am winning the combat by double digits regarless of what happens there.

His clan rats charge my Rampaging every turn H-cannon.

Having failed every LD test I remembered to take, I had no choice here. However, I am not overly worried; I am unbreakable with excellent T. He will have to win via attrition. Or die slowly. Either way, no real impact on the outcome of the overall battle. I still would prefer to avoid it...but LD9 just is not high enough.

Wulfrik led Marauder Horde charges couple jezzails. Such a laughable no-contest that kev flees them but is overrun.

Having died and come back, his HPA again charges Dragon Rider.
I killed him on my turn. I had no option here. Still, with this build I feel good about my chances.

After again killing it, Dragon Rider makes charge on Skaven rats,

I made this charge because the game was out of hand. I wanted to see what would happen with I think 9 attacks, Thunderstomp, and breath weapon. Answer; good things. Still, if the game is in doubt I do not make this charge as the combat could conceivably be too close for comfort. A combat, I should point out, I won by double digits. I am uncomfortable making that charge. Something to think about.

Knights charge swarms Virtually guaranteed victory; I have more attacks, am superior in every way. Easy call.

Knights charge storm vermin

This is another questionable charge that mathematically I probably win but is a charge I typically do not make. This game was out of hand so I made the charge.

So once again, we see in almost every combat I have more models involved. The WoC book starts me with more attacks per model but fewer models; in this game, I think it was his Storm Vermin that matched me attack for attack...but I managed to get more models into every combat that mattered.

More models with more attacks at better strength with better WS and equal or higher I is a formula for success.

Warriors of Chaos v. Lizardmen, Watchtower scenario
Knights charge 10 Saurus in Watchtower.

This was designed to wear down the Saurus without taking casualties on the unit I hoped to occupy the building with. 16 A hitting on 3s should hit 10.67 times, I should wound 7.11822, he should save just more than 1; My BSB attacks 5 times, hits 3.335, wounds 2, less than one save My horses then attack 5 times, hit 2.5 and wound less than 2, about one save. So the Knights actually performed at reasonable expectations. A casualty more or less would not have surprised me.

Terradons charge Marauder Horsemen; I flee.

Saurus charge marauder Horsemen I stand, die without doing an unsaved wound. In each case I faced overwhelming force.

Knights suicide charge temple guard to keep them out of the Tower.

I normally never make this charge. In this case, it was scenario driven trying to buy time for my unit in the tower without being attacked. Thus the long-shot charge was done to accomplish a purpose. And it did turn out to be a suicide charge as every Knight died within 4 turns. But they did the job I assigned them...removed the Temple Guard from being a threat to the tower. Of course, I later learned the TG were no threat to the tower...but the fact remains, I made an unusual charge to accomplish a specific goal and counted on delaying 2 or 3 turns, maybe 4 if lucky.

Shaggoth charges Terradons.

Done for a couple reasons; first, to keep them from dropping rocks on my unit in the building. Second, to hopefully distract the opponent from the Watchtower.

Dragon moves to attack Engine of the gods threatening Chaos Warriors in tower.

I figure to win this usually, though the T of the Stegadon and his probable high S attacks mean I would ask to see the book before contemplating this charge in a non=watchtower scenario. In this one, it was more important to stop the Engine from wrecking my guys in the tower and thus would make more chancy charges than normal.

Khorne Scythes into other Temple guard.

Turned out to be a great charge but not one I would normally make; too close to being a "fair fight". I want help here. My Knights side by side into the unit is more what I am thinking. But again, I wanted to keep the Temple Guard from assaulting the tower. So the charge was to achieve my personal goal for the game scenario. Game state requires altered choices.

Dragon Rider into razordon moved to protect Engine.

Easy charge. Razordon has little to no chancve against a Chaos Lord equipped for close combat riding a dragon. Maybe if he gets insanely lucky on the stand and shoot and rolls double 10...I will take my chances.

Overruns into Engine.
A little closer fight than I typically would make. Not really a desperation charge...but close. Done entirely to accomplish my goal of protecting the Tower at all costs. I really should look up Steg stats to see how dangerous it actually is. I still have those massively oversized models Mike made for the tournament in my head that were like a foot tall. Looking so impressive may have altered my perception of their stats.

Replace the word "may" with "unquestionably and irrevocably did" and you are closer the mark.

Shaggy charges 10 Saurus
I was going to die in one or two more turns to Skink poison shooting, having failed 3 of 3 3+ saves.. This doubled as protection against sure but pointless death with keeping away one of the few units left my opponent could threaten the tower with. Not normally a charge I would make. Not a unit that was a legit threat at this point, but I was looking ahead.

Krox block charges tower.
I am static, cannot stop this. Even though the combat was in my favor, clear win for him as it was taking a shot at the scenario goal.

Temple Guard charge BSB.
Only possible because I suicided Knights into Temple Guard and had to position him to keep the Knights and Shaggoth stubborn. When the Knights died on my turn, I was caught in a bad position. This was great for him because if I did fluff a LD check in the tower, it would allow no re-roll if the BSB died.

Knights charge in to support Shaggy v. the Saurus.
I now have close to overwhelming force and will have after combat reform.

Warshrine and H-cannon charge Temple Guard attacking BSB.
Trying desperately to save him and, more importantly, keep the Temple Guard occupied and away from the tower.

This game saw me make a lot of unusual charges. Not once did I have the overwhelming force I usually bring to any combat. These were done to accomplish my armies goals, not to crush units decisively.

And, atypically, I lost a couple combats. I lost more combats in this game than in the rest of 8th edition combined. I also took longer to resolve most other combats than I usually do, even where I had clear superiority, which reduced my overall army effectiveness from a pure destruction standpoint. But it was done in pursuit of the scenario goals, which I achieved.

I had one unit outperform expectations; the Corn Scythes; Great Weapon wielding frenzied Chaos Warriors against Temple Guard.

So we see a clear pattern emerging. I use my army to eliminate things which allow me no armor save, then ensure that in any given combat I am dishing out more attacks than my opponent. I almost always have more models involved in any given fight, even if I am outnumbered on the field.

I can be outnumbered 2 - 1 or 3-1 on the field, but at the point of impact I am going to have such a massive advantage that for my opponent to last more than one round they either need Insane Courage or to be Stubborn or Steadfast.

As can be seen quite plainly, except where forced by desperation or where out-played, I
have had overwhelmingly more force at the point of impact than my opponent. That is by
design. That is what you have to stop to beat the WoC the way I play them.

1) Stay as far back as possible to allow you to shoot as much as possible. Every inch you
move forward, even with your close combat troops, is an inch to my advantage. Even if
you are rolling BS1 S1 weapons, your shooting is more lethal than mine. And even if you have 2 attacks each at WS4, S4, T4 with a 4+ save my troops are more lethal than yours when battle is joined.

2) Do not maneuver or set up in such a way that a small blocking force can tie up large numbers of
your points.

If part of my plan...okay, the majority of my plan...revolves around winning unfair fights and part of my plan for that is to use a few points to tie up a lot of points while I gain mass power against minimal power, I win if you let me do that through deployment or maneuver.

3) Do not let me combo charge you.
Sometimes it is unavoidable. It happens to me sometimes. When it does I USUALLY lose the combat, but even then I have a plan to make my guys stubborn.So if you must let superior troops outnumber you, have a back-up plan to keep you around until you can turn the tables.

4) Do not let me get your units engaged in one-on-one combats. Very few units can match the Warriors of Chaos one to one in close combat. There is a reason Chaos Warriors cost more than any other infantry and Chaos Knights are more than double their points. Grail Knights, Blood Knights...who else is even close on a one-to-one basis? Fair fights are not your friend...because they are not fair. You want the combo charges.

This sounds like a reiteration of point 3. It is not. Sometimes my first unit is there to hold you in place. Sometimes you hit me first. Have a plan to make sure the next unit to hit is yours.

Of course, all that is easier said than done since my entire WoC battle plan is based on
maximizing the number of high WS, high S, high I attacks I can get onto your unit in as little
time as possible while minimizing the attacks you can throw at me...no matter how ineffective your attacks are.

If you are rolling the famous and hated (by the wisdom of the Internet) 100 slave block, you know going in you are unlikely to successfully wound a Warrior or Knight more than once every 4 - 5 turns. That is a good blocking force. Going in to win a combat there...not very good idea.

But it is a great back-up plan, because it will take those knights or warriors several turns to chop through the cheap, pointless seeming unit which gives you more points elsewhere to fight me with. And since they cost less than any unit I use except the Marauder Horsemen, it is advantageous.

Those are the types of edges to look for. Where can fewer points of yours hold up or damage larger point totals of mine?

It also means taking some weapons people seldom take. It was a happy, happy, happy
day for me when I heard I never had to face another Repeater Bolt Thrower. Its ability to
eliminate armor saves entirely instantly made it as despised as the lore of metal. Sure, it relies on 50-50 or worse die rolls...but it has more probability of doing damage when it hits than most other weapons.

I put all "no armor saves" weapons in this category. Any time you have access to one and do not put it in your list, it is a win for me. Same with weapons that struggle to wound due to being low S but have AP rule. Or high volume poison shots.

I am able to not mark my Knights with tzeentch and put the 5+ ward v. Shooting banner on them because they seldom get shot. If that changed I would have to change my build which chops their offensive capability by 33%.

6)Which brings me to my next point; do not disperse your attacks unless you have to. In all too many games I will have one unit of Knights that started at 10 and has 4 left, another that started at 5 and has one left. My matching 24 warrior blocks will each be under half strength.

I love it when my opponent shoots at multiple targets. They do enough damage over the course of a game to severely weaken me. In fact, if they concentrate their fire I lose entire units. But they do not, so they score few or no points despite having done far more than enough casualties to have wiped out half my army or more.

7) The hidden gem. Snipe my Battle Standard Bearer. So long as he is alive my important units will be stubborn on an 8 or 9 with a re-roll which means even if you win a combat by a lot, I will still be there. He is the lynch-pin of my battle plan. Kill him and I will be in a world of hurt. I lose my safety net, my feeling of invulnerability. Suddenly you no longer have to kill every model...just find a way to win the combat and over-run me. I would have run when the Furnace slammed 17 of my Warriors in one turn...if my BSB was dead. Instead, I was virtually guaranteed to be there the next turn.

That is the plan I use against enemy knights and it works exceptionally well. Except few of them are stubborn with a re-roll.

Note there is no magical formula. There are troops out there that, in the words of the people on the army-specific forums, all claim "make the Warriors of Chaos cry". I seldom see those particular troops in our games, though there are exceptions. I am fine with that.

8) Do not dismiss player skill out of hand. Yes, I have some very strong troops. I pay a price to have them; poor range, high cost per troop, slow army. I work around those things. Either I am exceptionally lucky (a point disputed by the sheer number of armor saves I fail that defy all statistical odds) or else I am actually a pretty good player by the standards of our group.

I would point out that in the tournament I went to, I technically won it. I could have won all three games had I desired, 2 by massacre, the other closer. Having played those guys and played our group, I think we have an above average group compared to the broader Portland scene. If our group went as a body, we would either take all 3 spots or at worst 2 of the top 3 if match-ups forced us to knock each other out.

So being a good player in a good group with an army that fits my strengths means you are going to have to work to win against me consistently.

9) Select dfifferent magic. The Warriors of Chaos despise Okkrams Mindrazor. It eliminates their save and wounds on a 2. Numerous beastmen players point out the ease with which they obliterate units of Chaos Warriors and even Chaos Chosen after debuffing them via key spells, gicing their troops the advantages usually possessed by the WoC.

I can honestly say that currently, having played both books, I have no f3ear of the beastmen...their troop stats are laughable as credible threats to the WoC...but a spell here or there completely flips the combat and makes them dangerous.

The road map is laid out here.

And I think the claim I am a poor player should be laid to rest by an examination of the games, the moves made, and why they were made. I got the combats I wanted. I had advantages in most combats, despite being up against faster, more agile troops.

I have an army that fits my playstyle. I would do okay with other armies, but never as good because no other army provides the elements I thrive on. Maybe Brets.

There are other styles I fool around with...my High Elf army is going to be very dangerous soon. But I could take an extra 30% points and not do as well because I have never consistently played an army that does not match my strengths. Which they do not.

I like the Beastmen army, but it is a poor match for my playstyle and even though I can put together something on paper that looks great, because I am not good at covering the weaknesses of that army, it will have poorer than average results.

In theory the Dwarf army has certain synergy but their pathetic footspeed and poor, poor troops put the lie to it overall. they are too slow to make up for their good points.

So I will never be as successful with any other army as I am with WoC. But that has a lot to do with my skills at maximizing their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses. That is one point I am 100% confident in.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What stat is the most important? Drawing it all together

It would be great after all this work to simply type out a formula such as "S=T>A>LD=M>WS>W>I>BS" but that would be inaccurate. Stat importance is a matter of much more than just raw numbers.

Honestly, I had some ideas over what would be the result. But I ws not certain. Hopefully the things written over the last couple weeks will help it all make sense.

You have done all the prep work. You built your list. You found an opponent. You scheduled a game, rolled up terrain and scenario, figured out your battle plan and it is time to run the game. How do you know when and where you should alter your battle plan?

The answer to that question lies within the topic we have been discussing for the last month or so. Knowing how the stats of your troops interact with the stats of your opponents troops lets you know which units you should use to target which units of your opponents.

It is unwise to compare them on a model per model basis. Otherwise, nobody would ever take a skeleton knowing the opponent had access to Witch Elfs.  By the same token, nobody would ever take a Witch Elf knowing the opponent had access to Swordmasters. They might or might not take Swordmasters knowing Chaos Warriors existed.

It is the points values of each model and the synergy created within the army that help figure out which model should be taken when writing the list, and comparing the number of models you have and their stats that should guide your movements on the playing field.

Models have different costs, different strengths and different weaknesses. Those strengths and weaknesses can even change based on what else is accessible to the army as a whole. It depends on the use you have for a unit.

A unit intended to force the enemy to move in certain directions has as its most important component M. That exceeds all other considerations. It needs to get where it needs to be as quickly as possible. Ideally you are looking for fliers, closely backed up by fast cavalry and behind them by skirmishers with high M characteristics.

All of these can get where you need them quickly, have ease of maneuverability, and thus are going to impede the opponent when that is what you need to do. Much like the Russians traditionally use Old Man Winter, you trade space for time. Or, in this case, a relatively inexpensive model/unit to protect your own plans.

In 7th it was an easily abusable tactic called diversion where units were helpless to stop idiotic moves that removed them from the battle. In the vastly improved rules for 8th edition, units behave more intelligently. It is still an effective tactic, except now it saves a bit of time instead of breaking the game.

A unit intending to hold up the enemy for any length of time by contrast has two vital stats; T and LD (if you consider saves to be a stat, add that in.) A and S are nice bonuses. This unit will often be slow and ponderous, filled with models to absorb the inevitable casualties.

Hordes are ideal for this. many players dismiss hordes as "hard to maneuver" or "easy to flank attack", which the skillful player laughs and says, "And your point is?"

A tar pit or anvil type unit is not designed to be maneuverable, it does not care if it gets flanked and turns these theoretical weaknesses into strengths.

First off, when too many people overuse strategies such as the  "refused flank", a properly used horde needs not worry about getting flanked and can occupy a surprisingly large number of enemy units for a great deal of time, allowing you to outpoint them at the point of impact.

Second, against a more standard battle line, a horde formation should have its own flanks protected by fast-moving, maneuverable, hard hitting units. Glass cannons can work well for this, best used in conjunction with the aforementioned speed bumps.

The point is, a unit, whether you are using 100 Skaven Slaves or 18 Chaos Warriors with Hand Weapon, Shield and mark of tzeentch, if it is a unit that wants to hold up the enemy for a long time it has as its most important stats T and LD. This is one reason Skaven Slaves are good at it...but Chaos Warriors are better. They die slower. (And kill more stuff on the way out the door).

It is also the reason something like a hundred Chaos Warhounds would be laughably bad. Between their low T and non-existent LD, they would flee instantaneously.

Units designed to win through wars of attrition...grind it out combats lasting numerous rounds...value A first, S second, T third and LD fourth. They want the capability of putting out high volumes of attacks in a small amount of time for the pure potential.

Glass cannons care about three stats only; I, A, S. Give them I5, 4 attacks each and S5 somehow and they are ecstatic. Add Always Strikes first and they are almost broken good. Add a good WS and they are the superman of the Warhammer field. Of course, if they attack the wrong unit...say the tar pit we discussed above, prior to softening it up they will lose, and rightfully so. You need to wear down that opponent first.

Naturally, you are not always able to get the ideal troop for any given job. No matter how much they whine, no matter how much they beg, no matter how much they plead, no matter how many times you feed them after midnight*, an elf is still not going to mystically develop a reliable T4, 5 or better. Sure, you will sometimes be able to buff them up with Wyssans Wildform, Flesh to Stone, or something similar...but counting on that turn after turn is a recipe for disaster.

So how do you determine the best unit when you cannot get a decent number on one or more of the key stats? Take the High Elf army as an example.

Designed to be an elite army, they have T3 across the board, seldom have better than a 5+ armor save if that and that only with upgrades, are expensive compared to units like Skaven Slaves, goblins, Chaos Marauders, Gor, Peasants, State Troops, Skinks and so forth.

Nor are they loaded with high S troops. They have a couple in units like the Swordmasters and Phoenix Guard, but these units are prohibitively expensive, costing the same as a Chaos Warrior before his mandatory upgrade yet with lower T and armor saves, though with higher LD.

It is easy for a High Elf army to maximize their glass cannon units. With Dragon Princes, they can even fit in some relatively durable units that can hit like a ton of bricks if they get the charge.

So what stat is most important for the High Elf armies that need an anvil?

They really cannot create a viable anvil from any unit outside their core. Points restrictions alone ensure that it must be from their core unit.

So the next thing we look at is what stats are most important for the job at hand. We know they will be at best lightly armored with a T3. This means they cannot accomplish a traditional anvil. The best unit they have to serve as an anvil would be either Dragon Princes or Phoenix Guard, but neither of those is practical for multiple reasons; it is using those units in a sub-optimal role for their stats, they are limited in size due to being Special choices, and they cost far too much to serve as anvils.

Spearmen would be a clear best choice if they did not have spears. Their light armor/shield and relatively low cost would allow them to fulfill the role using the parry rule to enhance their durability. But of course their having spears eliminates this possibility.

Thus the High Elfs find the most important stats for an anvil are by and large unavailable to them. Only LD is at a high level. Their best hopes therefore are adding a Noble with Crown of Command and excellent protection to keep him alive, and combining this with reducing the enemy threat as it comes in to keep the anvil alive longer.

Thus they need a powerful missile and magic phase. If they let sledgehammer units like ranked up Minotaurs, Cold One Knights, Tomb King Chariots ranked up, etc. then they are going to melt far too fast to effectively perform their assigned role.

So it becomes a matter of either going without the anvil or working around being without the key stats. There is a way of doing that;  as mentioned before, put in a well-protected character with the Crown of Command and keep the BSB nearby to make them a re-rolling LD9 or LD10 unit. Give them enough bodies and they can hold up even the most determined buzz-saw unit for a few turns.

Obviously then different stats are more important for different roles. Yet there are some stats which clearly rise above others in importance.

Hitting on 3+ is nice but over the course of may games, both WS and BS will prove to be less useful than a high score in S, T, or A.

You have to fit these things in with your own play style. Take the Repeater Bolt Thrower, for example.

Numerous charts are available showing their value or lack thereof in comparison to say...10 Repeater Crossbows for the Dark Elf army (an easy comparison as they are exactly equivalent in points). Yet despite the math showing a clear winner, you will see several distinct camps;

-Those who swear by shooting the RBT as a single bolt.
- Those who swear by shooting the RBT as a volley.
- Those who swear by not even taking an RBT.
- Those who swear by the RxBs.
- Some who vary it by target; single bolt versus monsters, heavily armored troops, etc. and volley versus everything else, for example.

It will depend on the nature of the player which is the right way to go. Some people really like to gamble and take long shots...rolling 2 dispel dice hoping for double 6s, running 10 skeletons against a horde of Empire Greatswords and hoping to win, etc.

For this player, they are going to like the single bolt. For them the most important stats are BS and S.
For the player who hates to put their hopes in one die roll, the volley is better. they value the A stat. Or maybe even prefer the RxB line with its lower S.

So once more I have gone off on a tangent. Back to the primary topic.

If I were given the ability to max out one stat it would be S. If I were given a second it would be A, third would be T, 4th LD, then M, WS, I, and last of all BS.

The difference in importance is often negligible and can often be compensated for. But in my eyes, those are the important stats and a bit of why.

I am not dogmatic about it, I can certainly see where others might disagree. In fact, that is what I hope to see; people disagreeing with my assertions and explaining why. It will illuminate different strategies than the ones I use.

And be much less controversial than the post I am working on; how to beat the Warriors of Chaos the way I play them.

Hint; as was said at the close of the Charlie McCarthy/Edgar Bergen show; it ain't easy. And that ain't cause I suck.

* For those too young to have seen Gremlins, this sentence was intended as a homage to that flick. For those who have seen it, I hope you laughed.