Thursday, 12 July 2018

Anger and Management

(c) Games Workshop

Darn it, no battle reports in between here as I've spent my time building a demo table for Moonstone instead, however I did find time at lunch yesterday to finish off another ramble about the Necromunda skills. This time we are looking at Ferocity and Leadership, two skills that are of most benefit to the gangs in the starter set curiously (especially Escher with Leadership).

Again, images are stolen shamelessly from the Chronicles from the Underhive facebook group (this time I've focused on leaders that caught my eye) . I do have a few new toys to show off, namely my new lasgun cultists for the 3rd protocol and a 'just in case' spawn model as well as some Van Saar that need painting, but I'll save those for next time as Shooting and Savant are kind of Van Saars thing..

Ferocity skills

Goliath leader by Hurakan Summit Guides

Ferocity was another slightly underwhelming skill set in Necromunda ‘95 (which added to brawn was why Goliath gangs struggled so much in longer campaigns) but again, the new version has brought it up much closer to the other sets level. A good spread amongst houses gives it a good chance of seeing table time, especially in Goliath gangs who really benefit from some of the skills here. Ferocity is a primary skill set for Goliath, Orlock, Chaos cult and Genestealer Cults, and a secondary skill for Escher and Cawdor.  

Berserker: Passive/Proactive      (+1 attack dice on charge actions.)

Berserker is a skill you will find vies with Bulging Biceps at times for warriors equipped with unwieldy weapons to get that extra dice in melee, but it’s also good to give pure combat beasts even more attacks which is never a bad thing. The downside of Berserker- that you have to charge- isn’t actually that bad as charging is the main way to engage in melee, (the only way other than consolidating) and having someone survive a charge from a specific combat monster is actually quite rare.  (Combat is still a more reliable way to take someone out that shooting, even if it’s less common).   Berserker is very good as a starting skill for melee based champions, and if rolled randomly for even a shooter is useful as it gives them a nice bit of versatility on the table. 

Impetuous: Passive/Proactive   (4" consolidation instead of 2".)

A nice carry-over from the ’95 game, Impetuous is a really useful if underrated skill. On the surface it’s an aggressive skill that will let a combat fighter engage again after a melee, but Impetuous is also an excellent defensive skill in that it can allow a model to really shift after a melee win. Clearing 2” walls (or 4” with Clamber or using ladders) and getting back into hiding can take away the suicidal aftermath of most charges and add survivability to Melee beasts. I like Impetuous for sneaky fighters and champions designed to take down enemy gangers and juves- try to focus on models you can smash in one round, and if you can’t get into the safety of Melee you can skulk back into the shadows. There are two great combo skills for Impetuous- Clamber and Overseer. Clamber I’ve already discussed- it makes 4” go a long way on a 3D table, often in directions your enemy won’t expect. Overseer on a prominent leader is also a winner- group activate and charge an enemy, beat his face in and consolidate towards the next one, then use Overseer for another charge at a new enemy and consolidate again- even a 5” move Goliath can get potentially 24” across the table with some careful placing and this move which can be an absolute nightmare for your opponent to deal with.  Not necessarily a starting skill, it’s a good secondary skill and not bad if you get it randomly.  

Fearsome: Passive/Proactive     (WP test to charge or fail and end action immediately.)

Not quite as good as its predecessor, Fearsome now only takes effect when a model is Charged- against fighters with low WP it’s obviously very useful, but as the main form of combat in Necromunda is shooting it’s very situational. That doesn’t mean it’s useless, on a combat beast who’s going to expose himself to counterattacks it’s a nice defensive buff, especially if they have Impetuous and can get into the safety of another melee so don’t have to worry as much about getting shot. The biggest advantage of Fearsome is the psychological effect it can have on your opponent- do they want to risk losing a models entire activation to an unlucky WP test? Not starting skill calibre, Fearsome is nothing to complain about if you did get it randomly- unless you only play against Van Saar, in which case you’ve been a bit unlucky.   

Bobby Gee by Tom Fern

Nerves of steel: Passive/Reactive            (cool test to avoid pinning from ranged attacks.)

Right up there with the best skills in the game, I’ve yet to see a Goliath gang without at least one Nerves of Steel fighter in the mix. I’ve mentioned about actions as a resource before, and pinning an enemy is the easiest way of stripping that resource from them- Nerves of Steel is a great way of keeping that resource. In particular it’s great for models with an excellent cool skill like Goliaths and Genestealer Cultists as they can be relied upon to pass more than they fail, it’s also good for any unwieldy heavy weapon user as getting pinned and losing the ability to fire next turn is a pain in the ass. I’d say not as good as Spring Up due to the versatility of the agility skill, and the fact that Nerves of Steel requires you to get shot before it kicks in. Starting skill= obviously amazing, random skill= loving it.

True grit: Passive/Reactive          (roll one less injury dice when damaged, if this would be no dice instead roll extra die and you choose result.)

True Grit is a weird little skill that I can’t really decide on. It’s very useful, no doubt about that, but using it generally means things are already going wrong for you. I looked at some maths using the old probability and injury dice, and the chances of getting a flesh wound on two dice are actually pretty good- add to this reducing those horrid D2 weapons to one dice and it can really increase survivability. I would say True Grit is a solid second skill for a dedicated tank model, one that already has armour, multiple wounds and maybe a Toughness buff to boot. Like Fearsome there’s also a psychological edge to True grit- your opponent can often choose to not engage them with bigger guns as the loss of effectiveness can be off-putting when they’ve laid out 55 creds for a Boltgun you’ve just nerfed back to D1. I can see certain builds taking this as a starting skill, and not terrible as a random one. Remember you need Champs and Leaders to survive to make money after a game, and anything that helps with that is good for the long term-plan.  

Unstoppable: Passive/Reactive (In recovery phase remove flesh wound on 4+, if no flesh wounds then roll additional recovery dice on 4+.)

I didn’t rate Unstoppable at first preferring True Grit for survivability, then I played against Genestealer Aberrants and had my eyes opened (with a power pick). In one of our early campaign games an aberrant was shot up pretty early on, went down by a vent and was promptly ignored by the Goliath he was facing in favour of smashing the rest of the Cult. All of a sudden, he starting getting rid of those flesh wounds, and then pop! Back on its feet, one flesh wound (which isn't a problem when you're S5 to start and have a massive pickaxe) right in the Goliath leaders face- butchery ensued and we all decided that Unstoppable is actually pretty damn nice. Even more impressive if they already have True Grit on board it’s better to think of Unstoppable as a limited Regen ability, it forces opponents to keep hitting injured models before they lurch upright like the Undertaker about to drop a Tombstone on the nearest ganger. Would I start with Unstoppable? Not sure. Aberrants always do and I have seen some impressive use of it so far, so maybe. Randomly though it’d be a fine use of XP. (Edit- it should be noted that we play it that the additional recovery dice is a benefit, not a drawback- we allow the unstoppable player to choose a result from the two dice, rather than applying both which it's been pointed out to me the wording currently suggests as that would be just silly- no-one would take a skill that made you easier to kill!)

Cawdor Leader by Michael Nicholls

Leadership Skills

Genestealer Adept by Eric Paints

It’s so shiny and New!!! Leadership skills! Too many exclamation marks, apologies. But I am quite excited by this skill set, Leadership skills are available to every single gang via a leader’s primary and a champion’s secondary skill sets, so there no excuse for not reading up on them. There are some good skills in here, and some that are very situational. If your chosen gang has a poor Cool stat it’s definitely worth considering a Leadership skill to start with, as without it you may find yourself bottling far more often than your opponent.

Commanding presence:  Passive/Proactive         (can activate one more ally than normal.)

Group activations are a new thing in Necromunda, (as there wasn’t model by model activations in the old game) and add a lot of tactical flexibility but can be a double edged sword. On the one hand bringing a massive alpha strike without opponent’s interruptions is very enjoyable, on the other hand unless you have a big gang you’re handing the same advantage to your opponent at the end of the turn as he gets to act freely after you’ve finished.  Regardless you’ll find yourself using group activations in most games, so what difference does an extra model make? The Commanding Presence skill for me is probably better on Champions than Leaders, as it brings their group activations up to leader’s standard and gives the extra tactical flexibility without having to clump together too much. On a leader you’d need 4 models in the bubble (including the leader) to gain anything, and for most gangs that’s around half the fighters you’re bringing which is both risky and limits the amount of space you can control on the table. Definitely not a starting skill because only Leaders can start with it, and randomly I think you’d be a bit disappointed?  Worth choosing as a second skill for a Champion is about the best I can say of Commanding Presence.

Inspirational: Passive/Reactive (may re-roll failed cool checks within 6" with this fighters LD.)

Cool is a stat from the old days of Rogue Trader, but Warhammer roleplayers and Inquisitor players will recognise it from more recent years.  It is now almost certainly the most important morale statistic in Necromunda, so Inspirational  is always going to be helpful. For gangs with great Cool such as Goliaths and Genestealers it means those rare failures can be re-rolled, but it’s personal taste if you want to use a rare Leader skill for a re-roll you may never use. Gangs with weak Cool stats like Escher and Chaos cults however need all the help they can get, and a re-roll can tip you over that golden 50% pass chance that most gangs get as standard. I would definitely consider Inspirational for an Escher gang leader starting skill though it does encourage a bubble which can be unhelpful- you can however use it reactively with Sprint to send a Leader or Champion to rally troops that have fled more reliably (though Regroup is better for that role). Randomly gained Inspirational is useful for anyone so I don’t think there’d be too many complaints even if there’d be no real celebrations either.

Iron will: Passive/Reactive          (-1 to all bottle test whilst in play and uninjured.)

Again- cool checks are important, bottle checks are really important and If you are Escher you may find you need Iron Will just to stay in the game. Cool 6 is very different to Cool 7, and a world away from Cool 8 as far as the odds of your guys (and gals) sticking around goes- remember once you fail the big bottle checks the all your models who have scattered across the board need to test again, this time on their own paltry Cool (unless you’re Goliaths or Stealers who really just don’t give a damn.) far better to just pass the first one than risk losing gang members piecemeal before the turn even starts.  Iron Will is not a flexible skill, it only works in one specific situation and it’s a situation that you may never get into- in fact the hope is that you won’t. Hope however isn’t a valued commodity in the underhive, so sometimes you have to plan for the worst and Iron Will is a good example of a skill to minimise your losses when mistakes are made/dice aren’t going your way. Worth pointing out is that it doesn’t have to be your leader to gain the benefit- if you somehow end up with a champion with this skill you’ll still test on your leaders Ld with the -1 modifier. Just like Inspirational , Iron Will is definitely worth thinking about as a starting skill for Escher and other high Cool gangs.  And randomly it’s still pretty good- as long as they can avoid getting shot.

Shotgun Miley by Karl Allen-John Bonner

Mentor: Passive/Reactive            (make Ld test when ally within 6" gains EXP, if passed they gain extra point of EXP.)

A fairly unique skill outside Savant, anything that involves sacrificing in-game skill benefits for long term gains can seem underpowered when viewed against the more spectacular skills. Mentor boosts one of the hardest resources to gain in Necromunda ’17- EXP. In the ’95 days experience came from wounding hits and D6 per game so most fighters levelled up every other game after bathing in the showers of EXP. Now however the rationing taps of Hive Primus have been turned off, and with only a paltry 1EXP for turning up, and 1 when you take someone out of action (not from bleeding out either, straight skulls only), 1 for rallying, plus a few scenario based bonuses even a well performing fighter can only look to increase a level every 3-4 games, and even then they’ll be purchasing the cheaper upgrades- for skills and higher level increase you’re looking at 5 or more games barring a lucky run. Mentor offsets this sparsity of EXP by effectively doubling the XP gained to 2 within a Leaders aura, it’s upsides are that it can really speed up a gangs progress in a campaign, it’s downsides are that it requires more bubbling up, and even a decent LD leader can mess up the roll making it a frustrating skill to own. If you are going to choose Mentor, Choose it as a starting skill- the longer you have it, the more benefits you’ll gain from it. Randomly gained it’s something that will be at best a cheeky bonus every so often., but for the most part won’t affect games at all.

Overseer: Costed/Proactive       (may Order (double): target ally within 12" makes 2 free actions immediately.)

I see the Overseer skill a lot, (and moan about it a lot because people keep thinking it’s the best skill ever) but you really need to think before you take this skill. Overseer is undeniably a good skill, BUT it does mean sacrificing one activation for another, so the action taken needs to be BETTER than the other options for it to be worth doing- examples of Overseer I’ve seen-

·         Bad example 1- Orlock gang with leader and two champions all with Heavy stubber- Overseer on leader. – Why does this guy have overseer? It makes no sense? The leader is just as good as the champion at shooting, and has exactly the same weapon? Using it on a ganger would be an absolute waste as so much has been spent on the first three models the rest are going to be sparsely armed and armoured. Drop the leader’s stubber, buy more goons and then if you want to use overseer you’ll be at least using it on a weapon better than your own, getting twice the value for your credits.

·         Bad Example 2- Goliath champion with Heavy Stubber, Leader with Renderiser and Overseer. This is ass backwards- the leader of a goliath gang is the best shot, and a champion without a melee weapon is wasting his strongest abilities. When the leader uses overseer he’s not only wasting a good action for a moderate one, he’s also wasting the credits spent on the renderiser as he’s not going anywhere useful with it! The only gain from overseer here is two chances to fire it a turn, but is that enough to justify your best and most expensive fighter being inactive?   In this situation just forget Overseer and give the leader the heavy stubber- far more sensible.

·         Good example- Cawdor gang with heavy bolter champion and melee/pistol leader with Overseer. First things first- Cawdor champions are better at range than leaders, so you are already swapping a mediocre action for a good one. The Leader can use the skill on the heavy to either fire multiple times in one turn, still be able to move after firing or even have some extra shots at reloading for when it inevitably runs out. The leader himself is very cheap and can avoid taking risks by just acting as the heavy’s guard, giving both a better chance of surviving, and you aren’t wasting many creds when he sacrifices his turn for the HB to go instead as his equipment is cheap and cheerful.

You can think of Overseer as a force multiplier- if you have something great in your gang it allows you to repeat that greatness multiple times, (I’ve already mentioned it in a few skills as a nice combo skill) and the 12” range means you’ll be able to take those extra actions mostly wherever you need. If you are going to seriously kit your leader out Overseer is a waste of a skill, but if you play to its strengths it’s super powerful so definitely worth taking as a starting skill (just not on all Leaders hey?) or choosing as a second skill. Randomly gained  it’s still damn good, but you may have to rethink your leader’s role on the table to get the best from it.

Regroup: Passive/Reactive          (if active at turns end take a LD test- if passed all allies within 6" recovers from broken.)
Regroup (like Iron Will and Inspirational) is another skill that is all about damage limitation when things go wrong. For some gangs they fail cool checks so rarely that this skill is utterly pointless, for others with High Cool rallying on a better models Cool is an Emperor sent blessing. Again the biggest flaw in Regroup is its very corner-case; you’ll rarely have more than one broken fighter unless someone’s chucking scare gas around, and if there’s only one within 6” you’re only really gaining an extra rally chance each turn- nothing to sniff at but hardly game winning stuff. I’d not choose regroup unless you were Escher and even then I prefer the general re-rolls of Inspirational or the better Bottle checks of Iron Will. If you got it randomly you’d be narked off I guess. Good as a second skill on a sprint character though, as they can ensure they are the right place to rally the troops which makes it more reliable and less corner case.  

(Waac protip from miks bag of jank: Take a leader with scare grenades and Regroup, deploy all your gang except the leader in a tight bundle where the enemy can’t see them, preferably in a little terrain cul-de-sac. Leader deploys within 6 and chucks scare grenade into own gang- if any of them fail they’ll either stick behind terrain when they break or run round it toward the leader. At turns end use Regroup- boom, free EXP for everyone who rallies. Combine with Mentor for giggling EXP farming fun that doesn’t actually involve your opponent at all.)

(real protip: don’t do this! Your opponent will earn the right to slap you upside the head automatically)  

Escher Leader by Tom Carter

Well that's it for the third section, next week is the last set of skills, and potentially the most powerful- Shooting and Savant! 

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Daggers in the Dark.

This blog I'll be continuing my delve into the Skill trees of the new Necromunda 2017 with an overview of the 'C' skills, Combat and Cunning.

Both these skill trees have some very strong skills, and even in the couple of dozen games played so far there's been some repeat offenders that just won't go away, so I'm looking forward to comparing them to the other skills available and seeing if they really are the best choice. As before I've looted some nicely painted minis from the Chronicles from the Underhive facebook group to break up the monotony of my mind-spew. Like this one.

House Escher by Tom Fern

Combat Skills

Combat skills are rather surprisingly defensive skills for the most part, focusing on taking advantage of mistakes and surviving combat rather than actually dishing out the damage (that's what Brawn is for after all). and most of them are quite situational (especially considering getting into combat on it's own can be situational at times). Unlike shooting skills combat skills require set up and often a fair amount of input from your opponent before they really start to shine. a primary skill set for Escher and Cawdor, and secondary for Goliath, you are likely to see a fair few combat skills even in skirmish games.

Combat master.  Passive/Reactive. (no interference penalties, may always assist)

Combat starts off with a fairly weak skill in Combat Master, this skill doesn't jump out of the page at you immediately with it's amazing powers of Wow, but it can be useful. The ability to take on two enemies at once is a valuable skill in later games when players have been ab;e to afford more fighters, and can be very useful in the close confines of the Zone Mortalis tables when you can often find a lone ganger defending a doorway from multiple opponents. This skill falls down however when attacked by elite opponents- if they didn't need the +1 anyway then you're not doing yourself any favours dismissing it. Likewise the always assist part of the Combat Master is only good when you have relatively inexperienced fighters, as most champions that want a good brawl are starting with 3+ and can buy equipment to give the extra +1 if they desperately need it. Like Mighty Leap this skill is never going to be a starting skill choice, and if gained randomly it's not the best, but you may find yourself changing your play style to get the best from it.

Counter-attack. Passive/Reactive. (+1 dice per opposing miss when reaction attacking)

Counter attack is one of the most situational reactive skills- in the right place at the right time it's amazing, and the threat of it can often be enough to make any non-melee expert decide not to charge. The biggest downside with Counter attack is the requirement for the enemy to miss- against elite opponents (the ones you most want to avoid) it's less effective, and you also have to survive the attacks that do hit before it kicks in- not always easy. That said- If you can give this to a fighter who already has a couple of parries you are already swinging things in your favour, and if you play clever you can taunt your opponent into a fight that may well not be in their best interest. A good starting choice pick for dedicated tanks, it's a skill that requires a survivable warrior to get the best from it. If you gain Counter attack randomly it's worth investing in a parry weapon and some armour as soon as you can to increase the odds of actually managing to use it.

Disarm. Passive/Proactive. (all weapons gain disarm, disarm weapons work on 4+)

Disarm is another skill that you can replicate with equipment, but when you have both on a model it is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. The biggest issue most players have with Disarm is that you have already attacked them, and hopefully they should be dead if you didn't fluff it. Disarm is therefore a back-up skill for when things really didn't go your way and you've dropped yourself in the brown sump. On it's own it's useful, but no more than that- so you'd be okay gaining it randomly, but not ecstatic. However- buy a Disarm weapon, and maybe get Iron Jaw on the rebound, and you'll have a fighter that can survive any melee even if he does mess it up the first time around! Better against elite fighter's who have paid a lot for their fancy kit, it's a good starting pick for an assassin, especially early on when you aren't guaranteed to get the kill on every charge.

Matsumi, Escher Champion by Hurakan Summit Guides. 

Parry. Passive/Reactive. (may parry one additional attack as though armed with parry weapon.)

Parry is a classic skill straight from the 90's and it's still good- not quite as good due to the changes to the combat mechanic- but still pretty good. Even the best fighters have a chance to miss in melee, and forcing a re-roll increases that chance, in the cases of average or poor fighters quite considerably. This is another skill that equipment can replace, but it does mean you could have three parries if armed with two swords, and a single Parry even if you don't have any melee weapons at all. A decent starting pick for a champion who wants to go bully the little guys and will be putting himself in harms way, it's less useful against opposing champions and leaders due to their generally superior weapon skill. It becomes even more useful when attacked by fighter wielding high end pistols (bolt or plasma for example) as they can only ever attack with one dice with that profile, and parrying a damage 2 pistol can be the difference between life and death for a champion. As a random skill you wouldn't sneeze at an extra Parry, and you may choose it for some fighters depending on their role.

Step aside. Passive/Reactive.  (may take INI test to avoid one successful enemy hit each CC round.)

Step aside is a great skill, especially in gangs with good initiative such as Escher. Unlike parry which requires your opponent to roll badly, Step Aside is all on you which means with a buffed I stat (one of the cheapest increases in the game) you can almost guarantee immunity to one hit per round. Combine this with a parry or two, and you can have a fighter who is very hard to put down in melee, even when being targeted by reaction attacks.  Not as useful versus pistols as parry because rapid fire weapons can cause so many hits dodging one of them is almost immaterial, but still a very good skill nonetheless (and when a pistol does only get one shot off, dodging plasma bolts is both fun and recommended.) Start with it, Choose it, get it randomly, Step Aside is a strong skill that can alleviate an enemies best attack and really throw a spanner into the works.

Rain of blows. Costed/proactive. (Fight action becomes Simple)

Melee combat in Necromunda is often pretty fast, furious and fatal, and because of that a lot of fighter design is put into how much damage they can do on the charge- berserker, bull charge etc all play on this desire to kill straight away without fuss. Rain of Blows is different- you need to start engaged if possible, which means either you or your opponent has already charged and fluffed it, (or someone has consolidated into another fighter) and that isn't always easy to plan in. Once you are in melee two melee attacks is very useful- particularly when combined with other Skills such as Combat Master so you can charge multiple enemies and fight without penalty, and still have a chance of taking them both the following turn if they survive. It's also a good combo with an Overseer nearby- having a group activate, seeing the charge go in and then if it fails overseer giving the fighter two more attacks before the enemy gets to activate is usually fatal for whoever is on the wrong end of it. Worth picking if you have a plan for it, Rain of Blows is situational in that it needs either work to set up, or someone to mess up a charge. For this reason it's not great, but it is the only aggressive Combat Skill, and if you did get it randomly you'd definitely find a use for it.

Grub by Jason Wingett

Cunning Skills

Previously called Stealth, Cunning has undergone probably the most changes since 95, some very situational skills have gone altogether and a few more aggressive skills have appeared instead, giving gangs with access to Cunning a wide choice in play styles that they didn't quite have before. With Infiltrate and Overwatch it has two of the best skills in the game, and the other skills are still good (if a bit corner case at times.) so expect gangs with cunning skills to be full of the sort of tricks and traps that the name would suggest. Cunning is a primary skill in Delaque, both Genestealer and Chaos Cult and secondary for Escher and Van Saar, so expect to see these skills in most campaigns and skirmishes. Or not, depending on how cunning they really are..

Backstab. Passive/Proactive. (all cc weapons gain backstab, if they have it it adds +2 damage not +1)

Even weapons that have Backstab aren't getting the most use out of it in my games so far, as it takes a bit of setting up or dumb luck to actually get it to work, but I think you could still get a lot of work from this skill in a dedicated combat gang. Essentially +1 damage if they aren't looking at you, Backstab is at it's best in densely packed terrain or Zone Mortalis tiles where you can use the cover to sneak around your opponent's models. Best used in conjunction with another fighter or group of fighters to ensure the enemy is looking the way you want them to look by either engaging them in combat or drawing their fire, it's also worth  considering as a secondary skill for Infiltrating and Sprinting fighters who can punch through enemy lines easier than their slower counterparts. I don't think Backstab is strong enough to take as a starting skill unless you are doing it for fluff reasons, but as with many skills it's a good second skill choice, and if you gained it randomly you would find a use for it.

Escape artist. Passive/Reactive. (+2 to retreat initiative check roll, 2+ to escape capture in end game)

I'd have to say still probably the weakest of the cunning skills, escape artist is nonetheless very useful for certain builds of fighter. There are two parts to the skill- the first is new- the ability to almost guarantee escaping from melee with a medium ranged support fighter (such as a shotgun or flamer armed fighter who can then immediately turn the tables on their opponent) is excellent although again- it means surviving an initial charge (or follow-up move) and this can be pretty rare against combat gangs and fighters. The second part we all remember from Necro '95- the ability to escape when captured. this is less reliable than in days of old, but the addition of a useful in-game effect definitely improves the skill regardless. Not having to run rescue missions or risk losing a fighter to the guilders is pretty big, especially in gangs where the maths give you more odds of getting captured than not.  I can't ever see escape artists being chosen as both parts are far too reactive to be able to plan for, but it would be a good boost to a fighters long term resilience if you gained it randomly.

Evade. Passive/Proactive. (if active and in open, enemies have -1 short range, -2 long range vs shooting attacks)

The Evade skill is so dependent on external factors it's very hard to really give a good review of it. If you play on very densely packed tables full of terrain, then this skill isn't much use at all outside chance encounters. On the other hand if your terrain collection is a bit sparse this is the skill for you.  Personally I feel NOT being in cover in Necromunda should be a rare moment, and the amount of terrain on the board should reflect this- that said there's always times when you need to dash across the open for an objective or are unexpectedly outflanked by your opponent and then Evade is very useful, even if it just removes an opponents aiming bonus. Would I start with Evade? only if I knew I'd be playing into open tables, or against fast opponents that are likely to get up close very quickly. If you did roll it randomly I'm sure it would be useful in most games so you wouldn't be too disappointed in the long run.

House Delaque by Joshua Powers

Infiltrate. Passive/Proactive. (deploy anywhere on battlefield outside enemy LoS and not within 6" of enemy)

If any Cunning skill could be said to be ubiquitous then Infiltrate is the one. A skill that seemingly only affects deployment it can have a massive, MASSIVE effect on a game as it plays out. There are no restrictions on placing infiltrators in contact with scenario objects (like spook deposits), relics, crates and other markers so it can give you a jump in VP's from the very first turn. Relics are definitely worth mentioning again here as a lot of players drop their relics as out-of-the-way as possible, and can often leave them undefended so they can focus their troops up front. Knowing there's an infiltrator in play forces them to leave models by the relic, which either denies them flexibility in deployment or makes them place the relic closer to harms way than they usually would. Infiltrate also  gives close ranged weaponry like flamers and grenades added range early on that can cause carnage if an opponent deploys too clustered together. Finally infiltrate is useful as a way of stopping other infiltrators- if you are deploying first you can place your infiltrator further out forcing your opponents infiltrators away from your lines (or towards them if you want to punch their faces in). Probably the single most chosen starting skill I've seen across my games so far, if you can take an infiltrator from the start I'd definitely consider it, though don't get caught in the trap of infiltrating too many fighters up front as it can leave your actual lines quite sparse. If you rolled Infiltrate randomly you'd be pleased as a Goliath with an All-You-Can-Eat grox-burger buffet.

Lie low. Passive/Reactive. (whilst prone cannot be targeted by long range shooting attacks)

There is a champion in one of my local gangs who has earnt himself the name 'One shot willy', entirely due to his Lie Low skill. Even if caught clean in the open, without so much as a fig leaf to hide behind his opponent only gets one shot at him- if he is hit, he is pinned and that's it- nothing else gets to target him (he hides at the back with a long-las so is rarely in short range). that pretty much sums up why Lie Low is such a useful skill, it limits the amount of fire a single fighter in the open can take in a turn- give this to a multiple wound champion or leader and without some heavy damage weaponry your opponent is going to struggle to alpha strike them off the table. remember though, models in cover get this benefit already, so if you play on very dense terrain this isn't anywhere near as useful. Combine Lie Low with the take cover action and the Spring up skill and you have a model that can be almost impossible to shoot at if they don't want to be. watch out for grenade launchers and other template weapons mind- they can still get you by just blowing big holes in the ground around you. A consideration as a starting skill, definitely a good choice as a second skill for a Spring up fighter, and not too shabby if gained randomly, Lie Low is a decent skill if a bit situational like Evade.  

Overwatch. Costed/Reactive. (if active and readied may interrupt visible enemy action when declared with a shoot action. Lose readied)

I know a lot of people were wondering how Overwatch would change in the new edition, some (Van Saars) wanted it to stay the same as it benefited their play style, others (myself included) were hoping it still existed but with a few more limitations to stop certain people (Van Saars) hedgehogging it up and making the game a bit boring. The answer GW came up with for the action I think is a good fix- it's now something you don't have to plan ahead for, so can use on the fly (though it cancels your whole turn for that fighter) and it no longer has an accuracy penalty making it even better than before. The downside? Well it's a skill, not a basic action, so there's going to be a lot less of it in play. Overwatch is still a strong skill, it can dictate the course of play without ever being used which is super powerful all on it's own. It helps to be in a larger gang so the Overwatching fighter can leave their activation until late in the turn, and on Unwieldy weapons losing the second action is no different to firing normally so it's very much worth taking on heavies. Obviously the better the weapon the more scary this skill gets. A completely unique skill that can't really be compared to anything else in the game, placing it in Cunning rather than Shooting may seem odd, but it works here, and choosing between this and Infiltrate is going to very much depend on how your gangs are equipped, and how you like to play. Choose, it, roll it randomly- it's all good.

The Vega Rams, Squat gang by Finlay Robertson, 

That's it for this weeks skill ramblings, next time round we'll be checking out the revamped Ferocity and the new Leadership skill sets, which means I finally get to have my rant about why Overseer ISN'T the only skill a leader ever needs.

Monday, 2 July 2018

This is your brain on Spook.

Game three of our Mini-campaign between steve and myself took place last night, this time we decided to go get ourselves some spook from the old domes down the bottom of the hive. My leader 'The Mouth', Witch 'Rotbringer' and Helot cultist 'Sepsis' were all in Recovery, taking me down to a bare 4 members, so I thought I'd get me some reinforcements first.

The 3rd Protocol gained a fair bit of experience last game, and The Mouth had enough to upgrade something shiny, but being in recovery meant I'd have to wait till next game. I moved straight on to my income and did pretty well, earning enough to purchase a replacement for Bitterboil, as well as a long-las for my accountant 'The Compiler of Miseries' so he can actually take part whilst staying as far from an actual enemy as possible! This still left me with creds in the stash but I sat on them for now. The injured Tetanus was going to be too slow to make use of his combat set-up, so I gave him the unfortunate Bitterboil's shotgun, and shuffled the combat gear to the new cultist, named 'Urban Decay' (we are allowing weapon swaps in our campaign as we don't mind models being changed around)

Steve's Genestealer's had done very well in the post game, earning enough to hire a new Neophyte equipped with a grenade launcher to give the cult a good deal more punch at range AND replacing the mining saw Acolyte he lost in Game one. The heavy stubber wielding Hidlystorm had got the magical 6 EXP and increased his Toughness by 1 point, oof. Finally the aberrant Mhogg-Rhise got enough to purchase an upgrade, but chose to hang on until he could up his Toughness too.

Before the game both cults decided it would be worth calling on their patrons for a bit of help, and whilst the Chaos powers in the Hive declined to give any aid to the paltry techno-cult, the Patriarch back in Hive Secundus rewarded The Brotherhood with a crate containing two shiny hand flamers. Each Acolyte took a flamer as a back up weapon and prepared to move in. A new dome full of Spook had been found nearby, and the chances of the Stealers getting it without a fight were pretty slim.

My available gang-   Sporeslinger, Tetanus, Bilebeetle, The Compiler,  Urban Decay. 

Scenario and Deployment.

The Genestealers deploy wide, taking advantage of their numbers.

Th Chaos cult focused around the low bridge on the right 

We followed the Spook Harvest scenario, and both gangs spread out fairly evenly across their table edges, whilst both The Compiler and the new Acolyte 'Spinsser' used their infiltrate abilities to drop on a spook counter each. 

Turn one. 

 Closely matched so far, the next turn will be crucial. 

As the temporary leader of his grubby mandroids, the Compiler kicked the game off by grabbing initiative and harvesting a spook counter straight of the bat. He took the opportunity for some quality control product testing while he was at it and gained the 'slow time' psychic power, which he was clearly never going to use as time is money, and he isn't about to go throwing it away. Spinsser followed suit by scraping up the Spook he was stood on, but accidentally got a face full of the stuff- luckily his hybrid metabolism shrugged it off. the usual early skirmish shuffling shenanigans took place, with Bilebeetle and Urban running for the next Spook sets and the genestealer's swarming into two groups either side of the raised road to present a solid front against the outnumbered chaos skitarii.

A spectacular amount of 6's saves the day.... 

The turn ended by Sporeslinger attempting to copy his last games snapshot against an acolyte by riddling Spinsser with bullets, miraculously the acolyte's Hazard suit saved every single shot, so he was only pinned, dammit! 

 Turn two. 

Bilebeetle is on the Spook, but way too exposed for my liking.. 

Chaos took the initiative for the second turn, and without solid lines of sight they continued to consolidate their positions, with two Neophyte's including the heavy stubber armed Hidlystrom preparing to pin down the currently hiding Bilebeetle. Glodsmyth was up to his old tricks again and sprinted far up the table, trying to cut off Urban Decay who had reached another Spook stash. The compiler legged it back to safety with his precious load, and Spinsser stayed put behind his pillar until someone dealt with Sporeslinger. Speaking of which, the new grenade launcher armed neophtye Tuhrna stepped up and attempted to drop a frag grenade on the wall Sporeslinger was hiding behind, but ended up sending the shell far into the distance, exploding somewhere in the ruins.

The aberrant 'drops in' on Urban Decay. (the last shot the pict-skull grabbed before failing)

Mhogg-Rhiss crawled under the bridge and dropped to the floor right next to Urban Decay, pinning himself but preparing to bring the pain when he recovered. The Familiar and Bilebeetle both reached the remaining Spook stashes and now had to weather a turn harvesting it under potential enemy fire.

Turn three

The Chaos cult regained the initiative this turn, and Bilebeetle started by harvesting the Spook next to him, this left him in visible to a lot of enemies unfortunately and a barrage of heavy stubber fire flesh wounded him and even more importantly knocked him off the ledge and out of cover, allowing Caamrhone to finish the job with his boltgun, taking Bilebeetle out of action and giving him a head injury to boot. Sporeslinger tried to support the beleaguered Urban decay by hitting Glodsmyth in the back, but his aim was way off. Glodsmyth didn't need to be warned twice, and blazed into Urban Decay, pinning him and denying him the spook (this turn at least). The Compiler encouraged Tetanus to drop the grenade launcher before it could do any more damage, but Tetanus completely ignored him and blasted a solid shot into Glodsmyth instead, pinning him in cover and blasting him back. Turnha did not miss twice in a row, and the grenade seriously injured Sporeslinger, who hilariously rolled down the stairs one at a time after being hit to lie in a heap on the ground. Urban decay rose to his feet and desperately emptied his pistol into the abberant beside him and somehow managed to wound the beast, though this did not stop it lurching to its feet ready for next turn. Snorting Spook is not for those of a delicate constitution, and whilst the familiar easily scraped the substance up, the dose he got for his trouble caused him to go a bit wild, sprinting into the open. The Compiler moved up to see if he could recover the day, but as soon as he crested the wall he could see the jig was probably up..

Turn four. 

Chaos inevitably failed their bottle check, but this wasn't over yet.. To turn the game in the Chaos favour the Compiler just needed to

  1. Not have anyone fail any cool checks.
  2. Win initiative. 
  3. Take the familiar out of action or seriously injure it with one shot from his long-las. 
  4. Activate Tetanus with him, and have Tetanus at least pin the Aberrant, in hard cover, at long range.
  5. Have Urban decay harvest the spook,and survive a round of shooting. 
  6. Bottle next turn to take the win. 
Seemed a bit implausible, but to hell with it, he'd give it a go. The chaos cult elected not to voluntarily bottle despite the odds against them.

Every surviving Chaos cultist then proceeded to spectacularly fail their cool checks and leg it anyway like the spineless wind-up pieces of rusty junk they are.  The only upside to this was Sporeslinger avoided a serious injury and at least they had one Spook spore to the Genestealers 2, so it wasn't a total whitewash.  

Again dammit!  next time you weirdly limbed monstrosities! 

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Archeotech vaults and grudges to settle.

As our formal big everyone gets involved campaign is taking a while to get started, Steve and Myself decided to carry on our vendetta in a two player mini-campaign until it does. Here is the second battle, finding the respective cults deep in the oldest parts of the hive, searching for archeotech when they spy the familiar shadows of their foe in the distance.

We are playing the Archeotech Hoard mission from Gang war 3, and the only house rule we are using at this point is D3 XP for taking part in a game rather than just 1.

The terrain is Terraclips sets we quickly built on the day, , as all my actual terrain is stuck at the club!

The Third Protocol

Left to right, Sepsis, Rotbringer, Bilebeetle, the Mouth of Rust and Bile, The Compiler of Miseries and Sporeslinger. 

After our first game (which you can find here) I took one straight out casualty when Bitterboil got lanced by a rocksaw, and 2 other cultists got stuck in recovery, leaving me with a much smaller warband. I didn't get enough experience last game to increase anybody, but I did earn enough to spend in the trading post. The compiler went along with the cheque book and bought himself Mesh armour with an armoured undersuit (he knows he going to have to take part in the next game, so he's prepping) and some frag grenades for the Mouth, plus a bit left over to hopefully replace Bitterboil after the next game. My Yaktribe roster is here and is nice and up to date:- 

I managed to pull off a ritual before the game too, calling on Grandfather Nurgle to get my back, though I didn't dedicate it to anyone in particular, as I'd rather not lose another model just yet! 

The Genestealer cultists (still no pics, he's working on it, but you can find his gang and the actual names he has on his roster rather than the ones I made up here) also got a fair bit of cash last game, so they bought their leader a shiny boltgun, he had enough XP to increase something, and after a while decided to up his leaders BS to 2+, a terrifying prospect with a boltgun. (hilariously he's utterly inept with it this game, but as a long term investment it's going to hurt someone pretty bad.)

You will also notice some other changes where eqipment has been swapped, or sold between games. And after this you'll also notice  the genestealer adept losing infiltrate as he doesn't actually get a starting skill and we made a mistake in the first two games... (my roster says I have overseer, but that was a mistake I knew about, I just can't erase the damn thing!)


Chaos Deployment- pay attention to the compiler, as he is not moving from that spot. 

Genestealer deployment- yes we now know his leader can't start with infiltrate... 

Overall board view- terraclips ahoy! 

Both the Adept and the Acolyte infiltrated near the automata in the centre of the table, whilst both bands spread out across their table edges- the Compiler declined to infiltrate as there were few places better to hide than the tall ruin right in his deployment zone. he is literally only here due to random gang selection. 

Turn 1

Sporeslingers sniper shot. 

Winning the initiative (for a change!) the Mouth of Rust and Bile led his small fireteam of corrupt Skitarii up the stairs in front of him, he tried a speculative shot at Jorhnson on the bridge ahead but missed wildly. Sporeslinger more than made up for this though by shooting Johrnson from the foot of the stairs, a clean hitting straight between his filthy Xenos eyes taking him out of the skirmish straight off the bat. It can only go down hill from here. (Johrnson awoke after the battle ended and went on quite the adventure getting back to the cult’s turf, surviving against the odds). With no-one in a position to return fire the Stealer’s went for the objective, and the Adept moved to the ancient automata, just about finding the on switch with his limited knowledge of machinery (doesn't matter how smart his stats say he is, he almost fluffed it every time- not a machine head). Whilst he was mucking around in the mechanisms his familiar scampered up through the ruins eager to reach it’s master, and the remaining fighters from both teams advanced (Rotbringer once again summoned the levitation power to aid her advance, whereas the Compiler used the take cover action to hide exactly where he started). 

Caamrhone gets the automata going. 

Finally the Automata itself activated, it’s rusted joints screeching as it powered up and began moving toward the bulkhead door. Old and crotchety the machine may be, but it’s welding beam was certainly in working order as it turned and blasted Sepsis clean off the stairs and into recovery in a single shot. (the other Skitarii just shrugged and carried on in a remarkable display of not giving a crap) One casualty each and the Chaos worshippers were playing catch up on the objective. 

Turn 2

Grenades are big and clever. 

Already both Cults were checking to see if it was time to run, but both stuck around for the time being. The Stealer’s won initiative, and elected to activate Caamrhone, who had been left in the open after the Automata moved. He jogged to the automata and again narrowly succeeded in manipulating it’s arcane controls (seriously, the guy is an idiot) whilst his familiar finally caught up with him.   Their reunion was to be short-lived however, as The Mouth moved within range and threw one of his newly purchased Frag grenades into the Adept, the Automata and the familiar. The adept was knocked from his feet and wounded by the blast, and the automata shrugged the tiny explosion off. The familiar was not so lucky however, as it was knocked clear from the bridge (catfall don't matter if you're already dead!) and down to the ground beneath, taken out of the game by both the blast and the fall (no worries, he'll get a new one, they're like guinea pigs...). 

Next turn is going to get sticky, one way or another. 

The remaining Stealer’s gave up on shooting and pressed home their objective advantage by moving forward as quickly as possible, as did Bilebeetle and the flying Rotbringer. Seeing the Chaos champions closing up Caamrhone decided to get on with the mission rather than melting stuff (as amusing as that was), and commanded the automata to head toward the door as fast as it could, which was admittedly not that fast. The compiler was still happily hidden where he deployed, and was not about to change that status any time soon. 

Turn 3

Not the face! The Mouth goes down for the count. 

Neither cult bottled it turn 3, and the Stealer’s kept the initiative.  Glodsmyth noticed The Mouth’s lack of cover and engulfed him with Autogun rounds, shredding the cultist demagogue and leaving him seriously injured on the ground. Rotbringer attempted to reciprocate by summoning warpfire to blast the already wounded Adept, but the shadow in the warp must have been blocking her connection to papa Nurgle as she couldn’t gain the power, (alternatively Rotbringer knew she hadn't actually taken that power as a skill yet so couldn't actually manifest it, keeping me from cheating..) settling instead for pinning the adept with a poorly executed autopistol shot. In return he stood and made a giant hole in a nearby pillar with a Boltgun shot that may go down in history as a spectacular miss.  

This mission was literally the worst one we could pick- cultists are not bright. 

On the east flank both Hidlystrom and Mhogg-Rhise moved to the automata, attempting to get it right up to the door for next turn. Despite the fact that neither of the two were particularly bright, by some miracle Hidlystrom actually managed to power the machine up, (he's been fiddling with stuff again apparently) and it was soon striding towards the objective. Bilebeetle climbed to the top of  the building near the objective, with the aim of getting into the vault as soon as the enemy opened it. At the rear the Compiler was sitting calculating the current value of his Catallus Corporation shares, despite Sporeslinger encouraging him to get involved as he ran up the stairs firing an inaccurate volley toward Hidlystrom.  No sooner had Sporeslinger got within sight of his demagogue however, than the Nurgle leader passed out, unconscious and out of play (for the next game at least, Nurgles blessing kept all my injuries down to just recoveries thankfully).) 

Turn 4

And there goes Rotbringer.. not her finest hour. 

Whilst both cults were still holding their nerve it was getting touch and go for team Nurgle. They managed to snatch the initiative though (it's becoming a habit!) and Rotbringer once again tried to summon forth witchfire to burn the enemy leader, but the warp was still evading her and she ended up spraying autopistol rounds into the stonework instead. (Still keeping me honest by accident there.) Glodsmyth was determined to get his mutant of the match medal, and stepping to the corner casually hosed Rotbringer down with another burst of precision autogun fire, stripping both wounds and seriously injuring the rogue psyker. Caamrhone failed spectacularly to do anything useful with his shiny Boltgun. Again. (New toy syndrome is well and truly screwing him this game.) 

If Sporeslinger can make this shot, I have a chance... 

Mhogg-Rhise ran toward the isolated Bilebeetle, but was thwarted when Bilebeetle leapt the gap and landed right beside the automaton! This move caught Hidlystorm off guard too, and he could only wound the bloated Disciple with a burst of heavy stubber fire. Trying to stay in the game Sporeslinger took aim at Hidlystrom’s back, but despite acing a sniper shot that hit multiple times he failed to penetrate the neophytes tough hide. Rotbringer decided she wanted to be part of the bleeding out squad and succumbed to her injuries too. not looking great for me at this stage.  

Turn 5

they think its all over? well it is actually. Damn Xenos. 

At this point The Compiler stuck his head round the wall and using mathematical wizardry decided the odds were not in Nurgle's favour today, and promptly called a retreat. The chaos forces bottled leaving the Xenos horrors the vault, though the automata could only hold the door open for a limited time before it came crashing down, forever sealing what the Stealer’s left behind in it’s adamantium depths. (we made an arbitrator ruling that as two of the Genestealer cult’s model could have moved into the vault this turn, we would count them as being in the vault for victory conditions- otherwise I would have caused a draw by bottling, which is not the spirit of the game) The game was pretty close, but turn 4 was a conclusive one for the Genestealers as they turned in another victory over their rusty nemesis. 

We've got game three coming up, and we've both got enough credits to replace a casualty or two- I will get a win against these alien scumbags one day!