Saturday, February 9, 2013

2k Tomb Kings v Orcs & Goblins

Lately I have been experimenting with using Gorbad Ironclaw as my army general. He accomplishes a couple of things; 1, he can more or less negate Animosity within 18" which, if you play your army correctly, encompasses all the important elements.

Also, it makes it so I can turn all my orcs into Big uns. This makes them strong, tough, with plentiful attacks....everything I look for in an army (almost). Ironically, I have usually only ended up with 2 units of big uns in armies at 2800 points...

This time I built it a bit different, going with 2 20 strong units of Savage orc Big Uns with extra hand weapon and full command, 10 Big un Savage Orc boar boys with extra hand weapon and full command, Gorbad, a doom diver, a level 2 Savage orc Shaman with shrunken head, a Savage orc Boss with Crown of Command, and a level 1 Night Goblin with Dispel Scroll...a Mangler Squig, Arachnarok, and I was out of points.

But I like it; I have 2 solid infantry blocks capable both of absorbing a great deal of punishment and of putting a hurting on even the toughest of opponents. I have Deathnarok the Arachnarok to tear up small units, the mangler to deal with tough armor, and my smurf-slapping Boar Boy fast moving, hard hitting unit of doom. And I can possibly use the Doom Diver against anything he brings like a Giant, Necrosphinx, etc.

For scenarios, I am well set for Blood & Glory or Watchtower, and only Dawn whatever it is could be an issue if it yanks my infantry away from the warming bubble of Gorbad's leadership, drop animosity and do untoward things like beat each other up.

We rolled up Battle for the Pass and mass quantities of obstacles.

I put the mangler squig on my left, planning to run up that side dodging obstacles, then come horizontally down his battle line which was lined up behind fences. My Doom Diver went in the tall building next to the Squig, giving them line of sight to the whole field and the reach to hit anything.

Then went the 20 strong Savage Orcs accompanied by the Shrunken Head Shaman and Boss, with the second unit behind them. Deathnarok would use his wall crawler to climb over the building in front of him and the Boar Boys had a clean run up the right flank.

This kept everyone within my LD bubble. Between my him hitting on 5s, my T4 meaning he wounded on 5 and my 5+ ward, I figured he would do 5 or 6 casualties as I crossed the field, so my front unit would be softened but would still be able to participate in a good fight.

Meanwhile, he lined up two catapults in each back corner of the field, the Casket of Souls on the hill in the center, Khalida and his hierophant buffing something like 54ish Skeleton Archers, a block of 20 archers to their left (my right flank) and two units of scouting Skeleton Horse archers behind me to march block the Orc infantry and harass them.

Tomb King Turn 1
He was a couple inches behind the fence line that occupied the center of the field so he made a slight advance to defend the barricade.

 He rolls up 8 power dice and the casket adds just one. He rolls 3 dice at Righteous Smiting. I plan to stop that and the Casket and let everything else go. I figure it up and need to average just 3/die to stop it...and manage to average 1.5 per die. Righteous smiting goes off on his big unit. Oh well, just two ranks this turn. Then he rolls a super high total on the casket so I have to use my scroll...and end up with 3 unused dice.

His catapults scatter...let me save time; after this round, every turn one catapult scatters and the other mis-fires, finally blowing itself up. neither ever does a casualty.

The Khalida-buffed archers turn out to hit on 4s and have poison. Double-tapping thanks to Righteous Smiting he ends up wounding 14 of my Savage Orcs (9 via Poison) and I save 5. I actually feel good losing "only" 9 to it, but now I am nervous. Next turn he will have volley fire, and I have lost nearly half my unit already!

Actually, more than half...the other unit does 4 more wounds and I save just 1. In one turn of shooting I lost 12 orcs! With a 5+ ward save and him needing 5s to wound...this is not good. Even his horse archers pick off one of my back unit.

Where we stand
Shooting is great for softening up, but not usually for wiping out units. In this case, one more turn like that and my unit will be entirely wiped out. I know skeletons are weak in close combat, but I will only have one or two units available to take on his massive horde. I am not nervous yet...but definitely know I am in for more of a fight than I suspected.

Orc Turn 1
Too far to charge, so I am going to march everything. Everybody passes animosity (I never fail it all game, in fact). I decide to see if my Mangler can work over his skeleton horse archers. Unfortunately, needing to go I think 7 inches to smash into them, I roll a 4 and 2 1s...6" on 3d6. Yes, that is typical Orc incompetence.

I debate for a few moments; I want to move my heroes from the unit about to get shot to death back to the trailing unit. But I do not want to lose a turn of advancing and cannot figure out how to do it without moving no distance. So I elect just to march and hope his shooting is a bit less effective. Next turn I will move my heroes back.

I pass all my LD tests and march both blocks of orcs forward. Deathnarok marches forward. I thought about moving 7 and firing bows but 8 Forest Goblin archers are not going to do much...better to get into close combat ASAP.

I forget the Doom Diver does not "fire" as normal and give it poison with my night goblin shaman. He stuffs Fists of Gork and I get Gaze of Mork off, wounding 4 skeletons but one saves with MR. Then the Doom Diver misfires.

Where we stand
I am hopeful at least a couple of Savage Orcs can use the power of the Shrunken Head to withstand the withering bowfire for one more turn. Next turn my Deathnarok will smash into his smaller block of archers and my Boar Riders will set up down their flank and head into the big block. He gets one, maybe 2 more turns of firing and then the Orcs will be smashing bones back to dust.

Tomb King Turn 2
His Knights do not turn up. His Horse archers move up behind my trailing unit of Savage Orcs.
He gets 5 power dice and the casket adds 1. He 6-dices it and gets it off irresistibly. Gorbad keeps his unit from getting hurt, it jumps to the Deathnarok and Gorbad saves that, too. Bullet dodged.

Shooting; this time he unleashes the full fury of the volley firing Khalida poisoning and it is super effective; He kills the last 8 Savage Orcs. Worse, his other unit then fires at the now naked Savage Orc Boss and Shrunken Head bearing Shaman. 8 hits, 4 to each. Needing 6s to wound, he wounds the Boss twice...and I duly fail both saves to die. Ouch. Then he wounds the Shaman twice and of course I fail both of those. This is a crushing blow.

His horse archers take down two more of my second unit of infantry.

Where we stand
I am very worried. I did not think there was any chance I would lose my Shaman and Boss. Even if he shot the unit out from around them...which I thought was a long shot...they should survive, hide in the second block and be fine. Instead he took out a unit I was really, really counting on.

Worse, he is whittling down my second block, too. They are already down almost a quarter of their strength and they are two turns from combat they will face another round of that horrific volley fire, but with 16% less chance to save....they might die all in one go!

On the bright side I still have Deathnarok and my Gorbad-led Boar Boys, and they can do some damage...but I have seen Deathnarok struggle with some wimpy units and was not wanting to run the Boar boys in because that would take them out of the battle for another turn or two and frankly, the infantry block that is left is probably too weak to take out even the weak-fighting horde. I am in danger of getting blown off the field, my best chance of stopping the Casket is gone...I actually think I am way, way behind here.

I am already down nearly a third of my army and have done like 12 points to him. Hmm.

Orc & Goblin Turn 2
I pass to restrain my Frenzy, charge with the Deathnarok. The Mangler falls 1" short of his unit of Horse archers. Garr. I do set up the Boar Boys to flank this 20 man block or, if Deathnarok does what I think he will, flank the big block next turn and start ripping a hole in him.

The Doom Diver actually splashes down dead center in his big block and kills 5 of them. This is awesome...though in truth probably the wrong target. I am intimidated by the T10 of the Casket, but should probably be targeting it anyway.

Deathnarok has 8 attacks needing 3s to hit and 2s to kill. He can only do in 3 of them. They do nothing back. The crew, with 8 attacks needing 4 to hit and 4 to wound...does 3. Then I roll the highest Thunderstomp I have ever rolled, 4...and promptly only wound with 2. Still, another something like 8 guys melt, he is down to just 4 guys left and I think Deathnarok will take them out in his turn.

Where we stand
His horse archers will continue to be a minor nuisance, doing not enough to be devastating but certainly enough to hurt. I figure to lose a couple models either way from 10 more of the Savage Orc infantry which will reduce them pretty much below any effectiveness, even against wimpy Skeleton archers.

But Deathnarok should clear the way to hit his flank and my Boar Boys are going to lay the wood to him next turn.The question is if they can take out the entire block. I do not know. The game kind of hangs in the balance. And not a good balance...I think it is tilted slightly in his favor but not anything that can be overcome.

Tomb King Turn 3
He rolls on his Knights and they "hit" right where he wanted them, in front of his catapult ready to flank my Boar Boys if they flank his archers.The Hierophant leaves the unit anyway for safety.

He only gets 5 pd so again tosses them all at the casket, and again it is irresistible but I pass both LD tests.

This is the turn one catapult explodes, the other hits for the only time in the game but fails to wound.

His other shooting is more effective; he wounds 10 Savage Orcs, I ward save 2. His horses kill another.

In close combat the Deathnarok unsurprisingly slays his last 4 archers in the small unit and reforms to look the big block of archers right in the flank.

Where we stand
Ouch, ouch, ouch. His Knights are a real threat if they hit me in the flank. I will have to charge them with either the Arachnarok or the Boar Boys. Meanwhile, the other one will have to charge his archers because, even if I charge with Deathnarok and fluff my attacks, I have to stop their shooting.

My original 40 Savage Orcs (in two blocks) have been whittled down to 8 by 3 rounds of shooting. I cannot take any more of that. If I do not do something about the archers I am done for anyway.

 On the other hand, if Deathnarok actually goes all Deathnarok on his big unit I will do lots of damage, stop them from shooting, and with only 3 or 4 attacking back, have an excellent chance of either winning the combat outright or at worst losing by very little; by hitting in the flank and minimizing the attacks back, some of his 3 or 4 point static resolution will be mitigated, and I think I can do 5 or 6 wounds.

Orc and Goblin Turn 3
I send Deathnarok after the flank, specifically because his Thunderstomp will help against them but be pointless against the Knights. I send Gorbad and his Boar Boys after the Knights, hoping Morgor the Mangler can do some damage.

I also take a low risk, high reward chance with the few remaining Savage orc infantry and declare a charge on the front of the unit. I need I think a 10 to reach; if I fail, no big deal as with any luck his big block will be engaged anyway with Deathnarok. If I make it, I avoid the nuisance shots of the horse archers and add, if not what it once was, at least some serious combat ability to the Deathnarok.

Meanwhile, the Mangler finally hits the horse archers and one of his 2 blocks of 5 melts away to nothing. For the rest of the game the Mangler will roam around the backfield missing obstacles by an inch every turn. Random dice for the win.

The Savage Orcs roll 11 and make it into combat. The Doom Diver hits the casket and actually manages to wound it!

I choose to do the wrong combat first; Gorbad and company. His unit champ declares a challenge. I want Gorbad to maximize his multiple wound ability so take it with my champ. He hits just once, but it is a killing blow...which I then Ward save. I see your 6 and match it with my own. But then his snake kills my champ anyway.

Gorbad can only hit twice, but manages to do 2 wounds with each for a total of 4. Gorbad saves a wound and pick up the dice. Needing a 4 to hit, I have 16 attacks; I know I am going to melt his last 2 wounds on the regular guy which will crumble the champ.

Unfortunately, there are only 2 dice in that 16 that manage to hit. At least one of those wounds. None of the Boars does anything. He still crumbles, but wow was that fluffed attack a gut punch. On the bright side, because he crumbled I cannot overrun and instead combat reform to face the big block.

Khalida declares a challenge, my unit champ accepts; she hits 5 times, wounds 5 times, I save zero. This is the most overkill I have ever suffered...and I am worried.

Deathnarok does his customary 3 kills, then the Orcs show they are still a force to be reckoned with; the 7 remaining guys do 9 more. The goblins atop Deathnarok continue to show they are as good at he is at killing dead things, doing three more.

He then kills 2 of the Savage Orcs, I do 4 more with game I have ever had with by 10 and his unit is much less intimidating now.

Where we stand
What a difference a round of combat makes. This game is all but over. Next turn my Savage Orc Boar Boys are going to thunder into the rear of his archers. They cannot stand up to my infantry, Deathnarok and the Boar Boys. Other than that unit, he has a pointless catapult, the Casket,, and a Hierophant. I have this game in the bag.

For all the whittling down he did with shooting, he is done in by having no close combat troops that can stand up to my infantry, much less my cavalry or Deathnarok.

Tomb King 4
His Horse archers try to charge the rear of my infantry. A bold move, and a worthy attempt, though they need a 12 to make it. It is a low risk, high reward gamble; if it succeeds, he adds +2 to his combat resolution and possibly more if any attacks are successful. I already have soft targets, so it adds nothing to my combat resolution.

Meanwhile, if he fails, he had nothing else to do with them anyway...maybe shoot at the Mangler, but it is likely to kill itself running into an obstacle anyway, so why not take the longshot gamble that might have a positive outcome? It fails, but was a brilliant move. No downside.

Ironically, he maxes out power dice this turn. I cannot stop him giving killing blow to the big unit. I can...and do...stop righteous smiting....and cannot stop the Casket which then kills my Doom Diver.

Khalida hits her cutomary 5 times, but can only kill 1. Deathnarok does...wait for it...3. His skeletons then kill the last 4 infantry, but my goblins probably already know. 3. Thunderstomp returns to normal and does just 1. He reforms to face the Deathnarok.

Where We stand
His once mighty unit of archers now has Khalida, some other character, and like 5 guys. I am about to smash into them with my mighty unit of Boar Boys which wiped out his Knights in one go for the loss of their champion, and Deathnarok will do some damage.

I have lost both units of infantry, two heroes, and my Doom Diver...but I think I have this in hand.

Orc & Goblin 4
Sure enough, in go the Boar Boys; Khalida declares a challenge which Gorbad has to take; she has killing blow so I am nervous. Fortunately, my ASF cancels out hers so no re-rolls...and she whiffs 4 of 5 attacks, can cannot wound with the 5th. I only can hit once in 4 tries myself, but that one wounds...and multiplies to 3. Down goes Khalida!

The Curse does 2 wounds, both of which I save. I wipe out the rest of his unit.

At this point I do not think he has anything left that can hurt me.

And indeed the only thing of not that happens is I cannot stop the casket on the next turn, roll a 17 for my LD test on the Deathnarok which would instakill it...fortunately, Gorbad is only 17" his 18" LD bubble lets me reroll and I pass. Next turn I charge the casket and wipe it out.

What Went Right
10 Savage Orc Boar Boys with Gorbad leading them lay out a serious number of high strength, decent WS attacks.

 Deathnarok is lethal against infantry; consider this; he should have been doing 4.42 wounds per turn, the goblins should have done 2, and the Thunderstomp should have been doing 2.9 per turn. So I should have done 9.33 wounds per turn with that model; I did 29 in 4 rounds of combat for a total of 7.25 wounds per turn....meaning Deathnarok actually UNDERPERFORMED in this game, and he was still possibly my MVP. He is AWESOME.

Passing every Animosity test, every LD test and Gorbad just being well worth the points for giving me Big Uns to do massive damage.

And while my dice were at times just awful (I point to hitting 2 times in 16 attempts when odds were I would hit 8 times, give or take one or two), they were awesome when I needed them to be. Timing is more important than consistency; in fact, on the aforementioned turn, I still wiped out his knights, largely due to Gorbad alone. So the poor dice did not hurt me there.

Where to start? Mangler Squig falling nearly 4" short of expected movement on the first turn, costing me several extra casualties from his horse archers.

Not being able to stop Righteous Smiting or the Casket. Not being able to withstand the shooting and seeing both infantry blocks die relatively fast and easy. I am still in shock over was quite unexpected.

Having two heroes shot to death in a turn I thought they were safe. But that was my own fault; spending thirty seconds looking at the rule book means I would have had them in the second unit and "safe" for another turn.

Summing Up
In the end it was a pretty close run thing. Early on it seemed his lethal shooting would be a difference maker; in the end, he desperately needed some decent close combat troops to consolidate what would have been a victory. Unfortunately, the Tomb Kings book has none of those to offer.

I guess he COULD have sacrificed the catapults and smaller shooting block to put in...I don't know, the over priced Ushabti? A Necrosphinx or Warsphinx, which probably cost as much as the Deathnarok without being as valuable? His version of a giant?

I assume you see my point He really had no good options. Maybe a chariot unit hoping to impact hit away some orcs?

His best combat unit went head to head with my best combat unit. He did one casualty; I did (between actually casualties and crumble casualties) 9. And that is arguably the BEST unit in his army.

Khalida probably means no tomb prince or king (whoever has the "my will be done" rule), but without bumping up S, that only prevents a couple casualties and does not swing the outcome.

This is me being sad about the Tomb King book. It has the potential to be really cool; it ends up sucking very badly. Unnecessarily.

Meanwhile, the Orc book is pretty cool. I can do so many different builds; strong infantry, strong cavalry, strong monster, massed but ineffective shooting, fanatics bolstered by squigs of various sorts, and  mixtures of those.

The Empire book is also varied and intriguing. I love the new Warriors of Chaos book. The OGre Kingdoms book is generally acknowledged as slightly stronger than most but generally solid. Same with Vampire Counts.

But the Tomb Kings? Their best units are chaff, their worst units disappointing.

Still, thanks Fixed Dice for an entertaining game. Beware the Beastmen.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Another Look at Marauders

When I was reviewing the new Warriors of Chaos book my review was derailed by Mac issues…and after it caused me to have to restart two or three times I put a lot less effort into communicating my thoughts clearly and, to be honest, irritation and frustration no doubt colored some of my responses. Sure, that sounds odd when you think about how I gushed over the quantity and quality of choices…I even found a use for the wildly overpriced Forsaken. At the same time, I think I was pretty overcritical of the Marauders.

Lets go back and look at them from a slightly different angle. For a WS4, S3, T3 guy, they are actually pretty affordable. Better yet, who out there would not GLADLY pay 2 points per model on anything but the cheapest crap troop to give their guy a 6+ ward? I would gladly pay it for my Black Orcs…Goblins…Gor…ungor…Lothern Sea Guard…Dwarf Warriors…Men at Arms…Knights Errant…and those are the ones I might hesitate a half second before paying that price. Ironically, for some of those I add much more in cost than the 18ish% save rate I gain...but I irrationally put a higher value on the chance to save than its actual mathematical value.

My more favored stuff like the Arachnarok Spider, Mangler Squig, Dragon Ogres, Dragon Ogre Shaggoth, etc? Oh, yeah. I would pay that cost without even thinking about it. Auto-take. So it is well worth it for Marauders with their stat line even if it is a mildly inefficient use of points (adding 33% to the cost of the model for an overall improvement in durability of less than 33% is inefficient; it is only a 33% improvement if they only ever fight in close combat where the enhanced parry save is in force and never are subjected to shooting, magic, LD tests, etc.)

 For that matter, Goblins envy their stat line. Dwarf Warriors envy their price. Gor will pick them apart, but then again, the rest of the Warriors core will slaughter the Gor or anything else the Beastmen have in their Core. Or Special. Or Rare.

And there we get to the gist of it.

Sure, in a vacuum the Marauders are not too high priced. They become about right when you improve them, but by then they are getting too expensive in comparison to the Chaos Warriors. Or, alternatively, the Chaos Warriors are too cheap (see Math-Hammer non-sense at the end of this post). But they are not in a vacuum…they are in a book comprising sections including characters, rare and special.

And while I might trade Marauders for Gor, lets say, straight across…unmarked Marauders, that is…would I trade Marauders and Chaos Warriors for Gor and Ungor? Uh…no. And while I would dearly love to have a line of Repeater Crossbowmen lined up next to my Chaos Warriors in lieu of those Marauders and their zero inch range, I would not trade the Chaos Warrior option for anything in the Dark Elf core section. I would rather have the Marauders than Men at Arms straight up…and so forth. It is not the Marauders alone that must be considered, it is how they perform their role in the book they are in relative to their points.

And therein we see part of the problem.

If I have a guy with 1 S3 attack and have the option to give him 2 attacks by marking him and thus giving him Frenzy, it is hard not to. I come close to doubling his overall effectiveness but only add 33% to the cost. Unlike the save, that DOES seem to be an efficient use of points. When I need to pay 3 times as much for another model as I do for another attack, it seems an excellent value to corn it up and take frenzy.

 If I plan for these guys to die in droves but be a problem for high armor guys, it seems silly not to give them S5 via Great Weapon. And of course maximizing the attacks of each model in that scenario is a must, so along comes khorne. But suddenly I have nearly doubled the cost of the model.

And therein lies the rub; the basic, unenhanced Marauder on the surface seems to be a very good value in the book. 50 Marauders in a block will take up a ton of space and do they job I need them to do…namely, pin the opponent in place with superior numbers until my high-priced death units get involved. And when 50 Marauders cost the same as 21.4 unimproved Chaos Warriors it even makes a kind of sense. (Unless you math-hammer it out…if you horde both up, which you would do with the Warriors to take up the same frontage, the Warriors end up with MORE attacks than the Marauders and there are still 16 CW standing when the Marauders are dead…so yeah, even for pure cheapness, Marauders do not make sense.)

But the temptation is always there to enhance those Marauders…a mark here, an equipment upgrade there…and suddenly the price difference between them and the Chaos Warrior shrinks. You see, with the equipment costing basically the same for a Marauder as a Warrior,  even if you add the same equipment to each at the same cost, the cost ends up being higher for the marauders.

Consider this; 7 basic Marauders cost the same as 3 basic Chaos Warriors. But 7 Marauders with say…mark of tzeentch, light armor and shield to provide a steadfast block with a 5+/5++ close combat saves as 4.118 Chaos Warriors with tzeentch and shield…who are better S, T, I, and armor save with a 3+/5++. So when you start adding on options, suddenly you essentially get “free” Chaos Warriors due to the difference in base cost. Adding 67% to the cost of a Marauder to get the same enhancements you get by adding 18% to the Chaos Warrior means the more enhancements you add, the better value the Chaos Warrior becomes in relation to the Marauder.

Worse, there is no role the enhanced Marauder does better than the enhanced Warrior. Trying to be steadfast? Warriors would have to have the help of a character using the Crown of command in theory…but in sheer ruggedness and combat ability, they probably never NEED steadfast…Going after a low quality horde? The Marauders melt away faster than the Warriors. Going after a high T target? The Warriors damage it faster while absorbing less punishment. Unless you are facing something that ignores or eliminates armor, the Chaos Warrior is better in every respect.

Yet I still think the Marauders are a valuable addition. They just make much more sense taken with little to no upgrade. Why do they make sense? Because you might run into someone rolling the lore of metal…or the engine of the gods…or some other armor-ignoring thing such as…oh, I don’t know, every #$%^&%$# Skaven weapon). And then when you sit there having paid a high price for an all-armored army only to see your weaselly opponent disregard it. But when they kill EVEN MORE Marauders with no more effort you can simply laugh and say, “Well, I did not have armor on them anyway.”

Of course, outside of that or needing a 60 point mage bunker…I think the Marauder nerf-bat says leave them at home. Or take them because you want a “friendly” game. Unless you are running into a Dwarf, Empire or Elf gunline, or a Skink horde, or a goblin horde or…okay, point taken. There is really no reason to take them now. Even if your opponent tones down his list to face them, you are behind the 8-ball…

Ironically, I started this post out to praise the Marauders. But the truth is, I think Chaos Warriors are pretty reasonably costed for what they do compared to their weaknesses. And I cannot find any permutation of Marauders that provides even a reasonable facsimile of the same value. As you can see if you waste time on the math-hammer portion of the post...Warriors rule, Marauders drool. 

Lets hope I still take a block as I was doing with the last book just because I have them already...

*************** Here begins the math-hammer ***********************

The Marauders seem over priced in comparison to the Chaos Warriors I spent so much time comparing them to. It is almost certain a guy with better WS, S, T, I, and armor is worth more than the 5ish extra points. We can always math-hammer it out. Figure basic model (and one thing I failed to notice is if Chaos Warriors are still required to upgrade). 7 Basic Marauders cost the same as 3 basic Chaos Warriors, so lets pencil it out.

If we line the Marauders up 5 wide with 2 guys in the second row, they all get to fight. 3 Chaos Warriors swing first; 6 attacks needing a 3, so 4 hit. They need 3s to wound so 2.668 wounds. In this round we will round down just to help the old Marauders out. 5 Marauders swing needing 4s to hit. 2.5 hit so we will round up to 3. They need a 5 to wound so 1 wound, 50% chance to save so we will say he fails. Marauders still have a rank so are steadfast and stay 58.3% of the time so we will go another round.

2 Chaos Warriors hit 1.3 times, say 1 hit, .667% change to wound, we will round up the wound this time so now 4 Marauders left. 4 swings back, 2 hits, a 1 in 3 chance to wound…we will say it wounds, but this time the 50% chance saves. No longer steadfast, now the Marauders need a 6 to stay around so there is actually a 58.4% chance they run…but they are rolling hot dice for this and stay. I am trying to make a case for them so will give them every advantage.

2 Chaos Warriors hit 1.3 times, and if this wounds then over the last three rounds the statistical probability of 2.668+.667+.667 wounds = 2.002 and we are right on schedule. 3 Marauders get to swing back, 1.5 hits, 1 in three chance to wound, we have already given 2 hits in that circumstance so they will miss this time. Again 58.4% chance they run…

Will 2 Marauders take out 2 Chaos Warriors when 7 could not take out 3?

But lets change the game a little bit. Lets say we want them to stick around so we are giving the Chaos Warriors a shield and the mark of tzeentch to give them a 3+/5++ in close combat. We will make the Marauders as rugged as possible with light armor, shield and the same mark. Now we need 10 Chaos Warriors and 17 Marauders. I can already tell this will not end well for the Marauders. I will line the Warriors up just 5 wide (instead of the 6 they should be or possibly even 10 wide). The Marauders will go 7 wide to give them the most possible attacks.

The Warriors go first and have 15 attacks. 10 hit, .6.67 wound so say 6 wound. 1 saves with armor, 1.65 save with ward so lets say 2 save, they take 3 wounds. 14 left. 14 attacks, 7 hit. 2.3 wound. Lets round up to 3. 1.5 Warriors save with armor, .33 with ward. To keep it vaguely fair, I will let a second warrior save, but next round-off, he goes down. So 9 Warriors left. No, we will take the 17%...we want the Marauders to win and are going to twist numbers. 8 warriors left.

13 attacks hit 8.67 times = 9 hits (for math ease with wounds), 6 more Marauders wounded. 1 saves with armor, this time the ward whiffs. 9 Marauders attack with fury, hitting 4.5 times, say 5 =1.65 wounds = 2 wounds. 1.334 save base, we are well over 1 more saving, so all that fury is wasted as no Warriors fall.

13 attacks hit 8.67 times = 9 hits (for math ease with wounds), 6 more Marauders wounded. 1 saves with armor, this time the ward whiffs. 4 Marauders attack, hitting twice, .33 wound, and somehow it goes unsaved.

12 attacks hit 8 times, 5.339 wounds = 5, we will let one save with armor…even if the other saves with ward he is fleeing. Or dying next round to a blizzard of attacks.

In other words, when you make the Marauders better…they get worse in comparison to the improved Warriors. Much, much worse….

But what if instead we go offensive? The Marauders cackle madly as they take up their great weapons and khorne, knowing the superior Warrior initiative is now irrelevant. This is just a slugfest. 19 Marauders show up so armed to take on 11 Warriors. This should be fun. 19 Marauders hit 10 times (as always, we will be nice to the beleaguered Core guys. Their bare chests and bdsm-inspired gear almost require it.) 6.67 wounds rounds up to 7, this is promising. 1 Warrior saves, so 6 will fall. The Warriors have 22 attacks, 14.67 hit, so 14, 11.67 wounds, we will round down to just 11. 5 Warriors now face 8 Marauders. Oh, and with the Marauders NOT having more ranks (I leave it to you to figure out how 19 got to attack…I guess I went 10 wide with the Warriors) they run 97.2% of the time. This time they roll Insane Courage. 8 attacks, 4 hit, 2.668 wound so call it 3, and no Warrior saves. Just 2 warriors left, but on their way out the door the other three still get to swing. 10 attacks, .667 hit this time proper math says 7 wound, so 1 Marauder. 2 Warriors v. 1 Marauder…

That was actually much closer. In fact, this is the closest fight yet. Never mind the Warriors have 58% more points…

Mathhammer says heads up, equal points in Marauders loses quite handily to Chaos Warriors.  In every permutation. Outside forces could affect this...the aforementioned armies that ignore armor, for example. And that is where value must be found in Marauders because it certainly cannot be found in the WoC book.

Monday, February 4, 2013

It is always tough to know how to review a new book. On the one hand, it is almost impossible to do it without comparing it to the old book. "Oh, their points went up? Now they are terrible (even though they do the same thing). "Oh, that magic item went away? I needed it"!" without seeing the new one that is...maybe not better but perhaps equal yet different.

On the other hand, it is in many ways a new book. It is balanced against itself and other current books (in theory anyway; many people think Games Workshop puts little to no effort into balancing.) as opposed to against the previous incarnation or previous enemy books.

Of course, since I have a relatively extensive collection of Warriors of Chaos models, I look at it hoping that the models I have will still be useful, allowing me to field a competitive but not overwhelming army.

With that in mind, I did what I typically do; I casually glanced at the cover and then sped to the magic item section to see if the underappreciated, possibly overpowered Banner of the gods had made the cut.

See, in the last book I used that banner to essentially turn my entire army unbreakable. That meant you had to kill every model in a unit to get points for it. Against Chaos Warriors and Chaos Knights, their armor made that a difficult task. Marauders were so cheap they could be taken in ridiculous numbers. It was tough getting points off that version of the army. In comparison to that, the Crown of Command was ridiculously overpriced because it only worked for one unit.

Naturally, since I am literally the only person I ever heard of taking it, that banner was not popular enough to make the cut and is gone. So back to the front of the book to look at this one on its own merits.

The cover art is what it is; skulls hanging everywhere, a decent drawing of a fierce warrior whose like shall not appear anywhere within the pages and some nice flaming axes. The next 23 pages are a mix of bad story-telling and slurred artwork. It is not until page 24 that there is any value in the book. That is where we encounter the army-wide special rules.

The Gone
So long, farewell, and don't forget to write. The Will of Chaos rule is gone. Since it duplicated the mark of slaanesh and was invalidated by the mark of khorne it is no big loss, but the loss of flavor is a little unfortunate. I like the differentiation of things such as High Elf ASF v. Dark Elf Hatred, or the Beastmen Primal Fury rule for example.

Of course, the irony here is that I think I only ever rolled for the Will of Chaos once in the entire run, so it is not as if the loss is a huge deal.

The New and Changed
The Eye of the gods table is back and expanded, so now it is easier to get and some of the things are pretty cool. There is a remote chance (saw a guy math-hammer it out at like 2% per game) of gaining a D-prince. This is good if it replaces a unit champion...but a pretty bitter blow if you lose an exalted hero or chaos lord. lose the points for whatever model gets the boon.

The marks are back and little changed; the mark of tzeentch is better as it helps with ward save re-rolls and channeling. Nurgle is better in close combat (a true -1 to hit instead of a hit to the WS which sometimes mattered not at all) and non-existent against shooting.

Special Characters: Lord Level
In the old book I used a handful of the special characters, and the only one that regularly made the cut was Wulfrik. He was good for bringing a large unit on the opponents back line and completely awful in combat. He has an awesome stat line and somehow managed to fluff his attacks every time out. I think he once killed his target and otherwise lost every time...including to a unit champion.

I cannot think offhand of any special characters that are no longer with up. Archaon is still overcosted and pretty much not worth taking. Galrauch came down in points and seems a good value. Kholex could wreck some things, though it is questionable if he is worth the hefty price tag.

Valkia got better but more expensive. Vilitch the Curseling seems unchanged off the top.

I could see myself taking Galrauch to fill two goals; use of a dragon and magic. Why play fantasy if you do not enjoy the elements of fantasy? People who whine about magic crack me up. Go play historical. Fantasy is all about swords, sorcery and monsters. At least, well-written fantasy is.

Unfortunately, they shafted the other Lord-level character I would take. Sigvald the Magnificent lost two valuable attributes; first off, he cannot re-roll his stupidity test. Having had him fail it at least once every game I took him, that hurts. Worse, they took away his special rule that let any unit with him have the strider rule.

In the end, the special characters in this section are pretty disappointing; they do not let you alter army structure, cover up holes in your list, or do anything particularly unique. Pass on all.

Generic Characters; Lord Level
The generic Chaos Lord remains what he was; a death merchant par excellence. He will almost always hit on 3s even against Lord-level characters, with high S and T, great I and lots of attacks. Pop him on something like the oft-maligned manticore and you have someone who can single-handedly wreck units of the enemies' deadliest fighters.

Chaos Sorcerer Lords got better as they now have access to better lores.

It is the D-Prince that really changed. I already took him fairly regularly. In the old book I would bump him up to a level 4, creating a highly mobile wizard that could wreck small units on his own in close combat or destroy big ones with magic. He was pricey.

Now he is cheaper, though somewhat weakened by Tendrils of tzeentch no longer being an option. On the bright side, he can now take armor and some magic items. Oh, he is unbreakable. A 4 W, T5, WS 9 4+ 4++ close combat monster that is unbreakable? Oh, if I must...and of course there are rumored to be ways to make that 4++ a 3++ that re-rolls "1"s...which I will neither confirm nor deny. I will just say he is a much better general than the Chaos Lord ever could hope to be.

Special Characters: Hero Level
Wulfrik is far less useful than he used to be. Instead of his own Ambush type rule, now he uses the rule book version. The shift from "Come on the board at the side I want you" to "Come on a board side that may or may not be helpful" moves him from "a real positive every game" to "meh". Mobility is king when you have a slowish guy roaming away.

Throgg is popular in the Warhammer community at large. I am not a huge fan of Chaos Trolls and am unlikely to use him. Festus the Leechlord has some uses but the model is so repulsive I have a hard time seeing my way clear to using him.

Scyla Anfingrim is better; no random movement, the highest LD of any model in the book (yes, the highest you can get other than him is LD9, he has LD10) and pretty affordable. It is tempting to take him for the army general. But he is not very survivable and not a particularly scary close combat guy.

Overall I am a little disappointed. Wulfrik used to really be beneficial but now he is pretty meh. I like special characters, but these all feel...well...generic. Except Throgg, who I do not use.

Generic Characters: Hero Level
Not much change here except getting better. The Exalted heroes are still equal to or better than Lord-level characters for most other armies. The Sorcerers get access to better lores from the rule book. Bucket full of win.

The natural inclination is to look at the Marauders first and think "this is a disaster".

Their points cost increased 50%. Their upgrades for Great Weapons tripled. The much less useful Flails (perhaps the single most over-rated item in the game) doubled. The extra hand weapon option is gone entirely...sure am glad I have dozens of models that are no longer game legal.   The cost for marks of khorne and tzeentch went up significantly for every model past 15.

And certainly, in a vacuum, comparing them to what they were last book will lead to this conclusion. However, in the new book, there are other benefits elsewhere in the book that may make these changes worthwhile.

First, the good; they are still flexible. You can still build a unit capable of putting out 31 S5 attacks with ablative wounds. Or you can build a tarpit with a 5+/5++ save. You can make them hard to hit or survivable. You can horde them up.You can make them one-hit wonders that count on breaking the opponent in the first round (flails, I am looking at you).

Next, the bad; if you could take a Marauder with 2 attacks at S5 that always strikes last and no save, how many points would it be worth to add a point of WS, S, T, I, LD and an extra attack that still always strike last while having a 4+ save? Would it be worth it at 8 points per model?

Or if you prefer defense and gave them light armor, shield and mark of tzeentch, so now they have S3, 1 attack, I4 and 5+/5++, how many points for the same adds of 1 WS, S, T, I, LD, extra attack, but a 3+/5++ save? Would it be worth an extra 7 points/model?

Let me put it in perspective for you; I routinely include a 20 strong of defensive minded troops with full command in every list. This prepares me for both Watchtower and Blood and Glory games.

Marauders: 230 points.
Warriors of Chaos: 340 points.

The Warriors are better in every stat except wounds and M. You have to be really, really tight on points to take the Marauders over the Warriors.

But wait; what if we go offensive, with great weapons, mark of tzeentch for maximum damage?

50 Marauders w/great weapon; no armor save, 2 attacks each. 580 points
50 Chaos Warriors with the benefits above (including the 4+ save) and 3 attacks each:980 points. Now there is a difference; but you will get more out of 30 horded up chaos warriors than 50 marauders for just 20 more points.

I can think of no sutuation where 50 Marauders >30 Chaos Warriors.

In fact, the Marauders seem to have one efficient use now; 10 of them can be a nice Mage Bunker.

On the bright side the Forsaken have moved into the Core section. They also gained Chaos Armor, so they now have a save. They are fast moving, have the potential to hit somewhat hard hitting. Then they crippled them by making them more expensive than a tooled up Chaos Warrior but not unbreakable.

Lets compare 10 Forsaken to 10 Chaos Warriors, both tooled up as much as possible:
Forsaken will end up with Mark of...lets say khorne to give them Hatred. 210 points for 15-25 attacks (assuming ranks of 5) at WS4, S4, 1 Static Combat Resolution.

Chaos Warriors with same mark, additional hand weapon to use their initiative; 210 points with full command. 25 attacks with higher WS and Initiative, 2 SCR.

But the Forsaken do have 2 extra points of movement...

I guess they would be good to go after war machines or chaff. They are fast enough to cause some problems and between their T4 and Chaos Armor, they have some survivability. But the opportunity cost of losing more Chaos Warriors hardly seems worth it.

Chaos Warhounds are now true core. Cheap, they have the same uses as forsaken.

Chaos Chariots are now core. Not a good idea to use entirely as your core, they can be a tremendous line breaker if used in conjunction with a unit that needs just the little extra oomph to win a combat. I love their inclusion here.

Marauder Horsemen are essentially the same.

Overall the core is outstanding. 6 choices and honestly, all 6 have value and could see use. Total win. If I sounded harsh above, it is only because math-hammer says most always it is better to take Chaos Warriors.

Special Units
If the hallmark of a good book is choices then the Warriors of Chaos have it in spades. The 6 Core choices are dwarfed by the whopping 9 Special choices. Lets see if they suffer the same problems.

First up are the H-striders of slaanesh. Faster than any other ground-based thing in the book, they have excellent I, above average Ws, and typical human S and T. They are fast cav, cause fear, are immune to psychology and have spears, or can replace that with the ASF weapon. Great for seeing off pesky war machines (if they were not cavalry), or chasing off other chaff.


And the opportunity cost is murder; they are competing for space with Chosen, Chaos Knights, Chaos Ogres, Dragon Ogres, Chaos Trolls, the Chimera, the Gorebeast Chariot and the Chaos Warshrine. Are they good enough at their role to make up for taking away points from some or all of those other things?

The Chosen lost the hated 3++ using the EotG table. However, they now get a roll pre-game instead of needing the War Shrine to take a shot at it...which makes sense since the War Shrine got shafted massively and can no longer affect units. More on that later.

Chosen are what they are; Chaos Warriors with 1 extra WS and the chance to roll on the Rewards table. Possibly a good choice, definitely in the discussion for best infantry unit in the game. With WS higher than many Lord-level characters, a reasonable strength and T, they are a threat to kill characters and wreck other elite units.  Their only downsides are they are slow and again, the opportunity cost.

Chaos Knights got slightly more expensive and lost the ability to take the mark of nurgle and then still gain frenzy with the banner of rage. But they are still awesome and well worth the points.

Chaos Ogres are pretty cool. I obviously like stacking up large numbers of good S attacks on a narrow frontage. Add impct hits (and potentially D3 impact hits) and stomp and you have a solid unit. They are a bit of an anomaly in the book with just a WS3. They also have a low I so taking the Great Weapons to give them S6 and letting them go beast hunting (which admittedly makes a mockery of their stomp) is a reasonable option.

My beloved Dragon Ogres are still awesome. With a 4+ save, 4 wounds, incredible M and good LD, they are awesome. With the option of Halberds they can keep their initiative and deal out 10 S6 attacks on 120mm frontage. Too bad they are nearly a third more expensive than GW wielding Chaos Ogres without having the impact hits.

Here is a really nice example of balance; I can see uses for both the Chaos Ogres and the Dragon Ogres. The cost difference seems more in line with the effectiveness differences. Great job.

Chaos trolls are another high attack, low WS, fast moving, hard hitting unit. I think Regeneration is better than the protection ffered the othter monsters, and I can see cases I would take a unit.

The Chimera is interesting. Large numbers of high S attacks are great. The ability to fly and deliver them is outstanding. Having a S4 breath weapon is so much better than a S3 breath weapon that I do think they are very comparable. Having armor save instantly classes him better than any monster in the Beastmen book (which is kind of like saying smelling a fart is better than smelling a skunk; better is true but not really relevant) LD 5? Suddenly he is almost unusable.

I can see a flying circus type thing where a D-Prince general teams up with the Chimera to fly around making combo attacks and wreaking havoc on unsuspecting units. Otherwise? His low LD means he is almost free points for the opponent.

The Gorebeast chariot hits like a ton of bricks. If you need a stormtrooper type unit, this is the one. Oddly, it is slower than the base chariot and with no marching, that can hurt but when it gets there it is going to do damage.

The Warshrine has two problems; first it is an ugly, repulsive model. Second, it no longer buffs units. The Giver of Glory rule is great for unit champs, a little risky for heroes and lords. 

It is hurt by the section it is in. It is arguably the worst choice in the section and, with its now limited usefulness, probably not worth taking.

Rare Units
once more with feeling; choice is good. 7 choices are here in the Rare section.

First off we have the H-cannon. It is almost the same...still the S5, now has to cause a casualty to force the panic check...but now it has a ward save. Well worth the points.

Second is the Dragon Ogre Shaggoth ho got a little bit cheaper. I already used him to good effect and see nothing to change my mind.

The Chaos Giant is like most giants, except his points are cheaper and he can be marked. If you like giants he is an excellent choice and he has his uses. 

Chaos Spawn remain too low WS to really be much use. They are good for holding up key enemy blocks with being unbreakable and have some use there, but with points at a premium in the rare section they will be tough to justify.

The Skullcrushers of khorne are interesting. They got weaker and more expensive than their release. Yet when you look at them as constituted, they are still an excellent value. Strong, fast, rugged, they can deal out a whooping after taking a ton of abuse. 

Any unit that can deal out 6 WS5, S5 attacks PER MODEL plus a stomp, so really 7 attacks while being T4 with a 1+ armor save is pretty solid...yeah, it would be nice to have the T5, but being a 3 wound moel is pretty stout. They are almost a must take and will chack in between 250 and 300 points for just 3 of them...and are STILL worth it. 

The Slaughterbrute model is ugly and expensive. The model itself is interesting. On its own it is madly overcosted. 4 WS3 attacks...meh. Even the 2 bonus attacks are not that impressive. I mean, sure, 6 attacks with S7/S5 is nice, but what are you going to hit? And his pathetic ld if his controller is killed ensures even a unit of skaven slaves has an outside chance at making him flee.

But couple him with a high LD, high WS controller and suddenly he is a beast, hitting on 3s, good LD. 

I really, really wanted to like the Slaughterbrute. Then I compared him to the Shaggoth. He is 1" slower, worse ws, one extra point of S, 1 fewer wound, 1 less I, 1 less attack pre-enhancement, lower LD and equal armor...but depending on someone else. Add an extra hand weapon to the shaggoth and the extra claws to the Slaughterbrute and they cost the same, both have 6 attacks...but the Shaggoth is slightly better unless you really, really need S7, and if so, take the Shaggoth with a GW for S8. 

If one was rare and the other special I could see taking them is, I think the Slaughterbrute combination of expensive, confusing, ugly model and slight disadvantages mean it is a no-go. But certainly a valid choice anyway.

The Mutalith Vortex Beast seems like an epic fail If it does not get off its bound spell and get a lucky 6 it is a fairly weak choice. 3-8 S5 attacks are nothing to sneeze at...but at WS3 you are likely to need at least a 4 to hit. If you do 3 wounds a turn pre-Thunderstomp you are making hay. It is rugged enough to survive for a while, but there are better combat monsters. It really, really relies on getting its magic off.

Speaking of magic...
Lore of tzeentch
The lore attribute is kind of cool except it only works for th wizard that cast the spell so will only be useful on a high level wizard with multiple useful spells...which he will probably not have if marked tzeentch.

Warpfire has the possibility of doing an extra d3 wounds with no armor save. It has a better chance of giving the enemy regeneration. For the rest of the GAME, not turn. High risk, low reward. Very flavorful and fitting. But it really sucks.

Blue Fire is easy to get off. D6 S6 an average of 3.5 S3.5 hits. Typical magic missile. In my eyes not very useful.

Treason of tzeentch has possibilities. It stops Inspiring Presence and Hold Your Ground. Used in conjunction with the H-cannon it can run some units off the table pretty easily. Good synergy. If it were the Signature Spell the lore would be 100% better and probably useful.

Pink Fire can do some damage with its Sd6...but it is pretty iffy. First you have to get the spell off...then you have to roll well on the artillery die...then you have to roll a decent Strength. Pretty bleh.

Bolt of change is a magic missile bolt thrower that if you get lucky will be S10...and if not is S5. Unlikely to penetrate ranks very often. Worth taking though and easy to cast.

Glean Magic is situational; when it works it is devastating, when the opponent has no useful spells or is out of range it is awful. 

Firestorm is another d6 strength hit. Those are so iffy to use that I have an extremely low opinion of them. It is already so hard to get a spell off that you would like for it to be useful when you get it off. Random S spells are not the answer.

Infernal Gateway is weaker than it used to be. It still has the potential of doing 18 S10 hits...and if I ever hear of it happening I will be surprised because everything has to go right. But it should average 7 S7 hits and that is worth trying, even with the Warpflame idiocy.

Overall, tzeentch would be a half decent lore if you could choose your spells or be sure of getting treason, Infernal and glean. As is, a tzeentch marked sorcerer choosing between tzeentch and metal might lean towards metal.

Lore of nurgle
The lore attribute is one of those cool little extra sauce bits that are great when you get extra point of T or an extra wound is always welcome, even if it only happens one in 6 times. That is strong.

The signature spell, Stream of Corruption, is a breath weapon that you have to cast. It is great...if you want your wizard within 6" of the enemy.

Miasma of Pestilence is great; lower your enemies' WS and I. Of the Warriors, with their WS5, I4 really NEED to lower those two stats? they are likely hitting on 3 and being hit on 4 already. I guess against WS3 guys they now are hit on 5s so it has some value...and if you boost it, even more likely to be awesome. I have succeeded in the past in lowering an enemies WS to 0 with a high S unit and the result was utter carnage. Again, if this were the signature spell it would improve the lore tremendously.

Blades of Putrefaction giving poison is pretty useful. Guys who have lots of attacks and poison like the additional chances to wound...

Curse of the Leper is awesome. Bouncing T up or down by D3 is strong. 

Rancid Visitations is stronger than any magic missile tzeentch offered. Great magic missile.

Fleshy Abundance giving Regeneration 5+ is pretty cool as well.

Plague Wind can wreak havoc on low T 1 wound units...which, by the way, are not something the Warriors typically struggle against. Hordes do not bother the Warriors. 

Overall, a very strong lore. If the rules for these spells were in tzeentch it would make a ton more sense for fluff-bunnies who think tzeenth the master of magic should, you know, have strong magic. But from a game balance standpoint, having a wizard designed for close combat and giving him spells that make sense for it...well done.

Lore of slaanesh
The Lore attribute is another one designed to enhance the wizard's close combat effectiveness. If you are flying around a slaanesh D-prince, upping his WS, I and A makes sense. If you are a more typical sorcerer, sure, they are better than most wizards, but still easily slain even by Empire spearmen, for example, so getting them in close combat is not conducive to effective magic phases. Fail.

The signature spell is S3 armor piercing hits. Lame.

Acquiescence is pretty cool, giving them ASF and random movement. Easy to get off, good effect. Perhaps redundant in WoC, but cool nonetheless. If you plan lots of GW wielding Warriors, it would synergize beautifully with them.

Pavane is palame. Yay, less than 50% chance to do a wound. Not worth the casting.

Hysterical friendly gives either friend or foe frenzy and d6 s3 hits. Uhm...yeah. Is this the Orc and Goblin book with zany "help and hurt us both" nonsense?

Slicing Shards has the punchers chance of doing lots of damage if you can roll high on d6 and work with treason of tzeentch to make them keep failing LD tests. Realistically it will not do much damage.

Phantasmagoria could by that synergy, making them roll 3d6 for LD and discard the lowest. Lets look at the prerequisites; roll up both spells (or all three if you add tzeentch), get both or all three off in the same phase, profit. Good luck with that, let me know how it turns out for you that one game in a hundred when that combo goes off and wins you the game. 

Cacophonic Choir has potential; 2d6 hits that wound on 4+ with no armor saves and, if one wound caused, give ASL and random movement. Pretty funny to hit a steam tank or war machine with it. Especially a war firing for you next turn. 

Overall, Nurgle is strong, slaanesh has possibilities but the book lores are pretty meh.

Mutations and Powers
D-blade gives random attacks of 4-10 attacks. Could be useful. 
Flaming breath is awesome. 
Chaos Familir is great too. Scaled skin adds survivability. Give it to a D-prince and Chaos armor, mark of tzeentch for a 2+/4++ monstrosity....Burning body is great for hitting regenerating units. Soul Feeder can regenerate wounds in a hurry for a death merchant. 3rd Eye lets Ward Save rolls of 1 be re-rolled...pretty awesome. The other ones are pretty so so. But these are some great powers.

H-fire sowrd; flaming, multiple wounds, and 1 in 6 chance to do extra d6 S4 hits...but a 1 in 6 chance of wounding yourself. Very tempting.

Sword of Change; at first this was an auto-take and vastly undercosted. I was already thinking of how many chaos spawns it would create...then I re-read it. You have to kill a character or monster to have a 50% chance of creating a spawn. Still good...but situational. You have to be pretty sure your guy will kill characters and/or monsters.

Filth Mace gets better as the game goes on but requires mark of nurgle. Boo for requiring the mark.

Helm of Many Eyes is good for armor and ASF, bad for stupidity. Skull of Katam is almost an auto-take. Ooh...might lose a LD point. If your wizard's 8 is being counted on for LD in a unit of Chaos Warriors...LD already have issues. Take it, channel like mad.

Chalice of Chaos is another...uh....I mean, sure, maybe you get lucky that 1 in 6 times and your Exalted hero becomes a D-prince...oh, wait, less than 1 in 6, you have to pass a LD test....and you give up points for it. The other effects are often good, sometimes unnecessary. It is a high risk, modest reward item. Cheap though.

Pendant of slaanesh requires that mark. Expensive. Marginally useful 

Blasted standard is weaker than it used to be.

Banner of rag requires specific mark and only keeps you from losing frenzy. 

Nothing superpowered here, lots of situationally useful stuff. 

Summing Up
Overall, I really like the book. You have a ton of choices, very few if any "bad" choices...even Forsaken, which were horrifically badly done before, have their uses. You can play a variety of styles, have access to tools to deal with any opponent...but you are not overpowered. It appears to be a well written book.

Go with elite warriors and you will be small in number, tough to kill, but vulnerable to a bad round of combat. Go with Marauders and you will have better numbers but fall like flies. Pick monsters and you can do lots of high S attacks in narrow frontage. Go magic heavy and you can really manipulate stat lines.

Great work, excited to try them out.