Wednesday 1 August 2018

If I only had a brain... and a large plasma rifle obviously..

I've finally got around to the last two skill sets, and arguably I've saved the best for last? Shooting and Savant are the wheelhouse of the Van Saar and are part of what makes them the most powerful house gang released so far (together with their excellent weapons list). Why are they so good? well read on...

I've once again furnished the article with images from the Chronicles from the Underhive facebook group as I'm still stuck in Moonstone mode at the moment but I am almost finished so expect to see some new Necromunda stuff any day now! honest! the new cultists, spawn and other bits even have some paint on them! I've looked for nice terrain for a change for this weeks images.

Shooting Skills

Board by Ramon Nanez

without a doubt the most useful skills in the game, shooting skills have a major impact once invested in simply because shooting is the single most common way to take out enemy models. Close combat may be more reliable, but shooting can happen every turn from the first and has very little return risk unlike melee, so anything that boosts your ranged damage capacity is always going to give you an advantage. part of shootings double edged blade however is that the skill is only as good as the weapon you are using, so if you do gain a shooting skill it's always worth popping to the trading post to get the best from it. Only Van Saar having shooting as a primary skill, and only Orlock and Delaque currently have it as secondary so if you want it in any other gang be prepared to pay. All shooting skills perform better on big open sector mechanicus tables but don't underestimate hipshooting and Trick shot in Zone Mortalis games either.

Fast shot  (costed/proactive) Shoot action becomes simple with non-unwieldy weapons
Fast shot basically gives you the ability to stand still to shoot twice, making any weapon twice as effective and giving snipers and ranged support models that don't tend to move once they find a nest more versatility. I don't need to explain why an extra shot (or multiple shots with Rapid fire weapons) are useful but it is worth pointing out that you can target separate enemies with each shot, giving even more chance to pin them and deny them their own actions. I like Fast shot with either weapons with good range modifiers or fighters with good BS as you won't be aiming as often so you'll need to gain those befits elsewhere- likewise scopes are rarely useful on Fast shot fighters so Las-Projectors are the upgrade of choice. Another good combo for an Overseer leader who can effectively gain 4 shots from one gun, watch out for ammo rolls messing you up- don't plan to always have 2 shots just in case the first one leads out with an ominous 'click' (note- a good tactics card against Van Saar and shooting gangs anyway, 'click' becomes excellent against Fast Shot fighters) in addition it's not worth taking on Combi Weapons or other weapons with a poor ammo rule or niche roll. . great to choose and great to roll (as with half of the shooting skills- except with a heavy) Fast shot is going to be a regular in most Van Saar starting lineups.

Gunfighter (passive/proactive) no penalty to using two pistols, may target different enemies. 
In a fairly odd way Gunfighter is one of the only skills to have actually got worse since '95, if only because the basic ability to fire two pistols (tecjnically sidearms since the big rulebook hit) is now available to everyone at -1 to hit. That doesn't mean it's not a good skill mind; pistols tend to have at least +1 to hit at close range, which is normally negated by the two-gun rules, but once you take that additional modifier out even having two cheap autopistols can give you an impressive 6 hits a turn spread out across a wide front. Once you've splurged out on some shiny gear like Plasma pistols on your Gunfighter you'll have an incredibly reliable close range damage dealer, and because unlike Fast shot you can still move and fire both pistols you don't lose any maneuverability. Of course if you have a lot of experience you can get both, giving you a potential 4 pistol shots a turn if you stand still, but personally I think with pistol ranges being so short it'll be a rare opportunity and you'd be better of going with Hipshooting or Trick shot as your second skill. Again good for a starting skill if you want a model who can bring close range pain, also a fun skill to gain randomly unless you get it on a heavy or sniper... (Note- remember Hand flamers are NOT sidearms in the current rules, so no double flame attacks for you!)

Hipshooting (costed/proactive) May Run and Gun (double): make double move followed by ranged attack with -1 modifier (non-unwieldy)
Surprise! Hipshooting is possibly one of the hardest skills to counter, giving most models an effective 10" bonus to their threat range, and meaning objective grabbers don't have to choose between going for the prize or shooting.  The versatility of a Hipshooting champion with a nasty close range gun (see: Combi Melta) is hard to plan against and allows it's owner to move quickly to close down gaps, take advantage of fighters out of cover or even sprint past cover entirely. Note that because Run and Gun is a double action you can't combine Hipshooting with many other skills (no aiming or second action) but it does work pretty darn well with Gunfighter (otherwise you'd be at -2) or template weapons (hit modifiers are for other people). Another great skill to choose as a starting skill it's the first skill I bought my Escher champ as a second skill as it's just too good with Clamber to pass up.  randomly rolled guess what? That's right, it's great unless you're a heavy.. (Another note- there's a lot going on today: abilities like extra arm or equipment such as the suspensor won't allow you to Run and Gun with unwieldy weapons as they don't remove the Unwieldy trait, and it's the weapons trait that stops these skills working rather than anything with the character, I know, I'm sad too.)

Escher Gang Goliath by Tom Fern

Marksman (passive/proactive) May choose target freely, double damage on 6 to hit (only first rapid fire hit)
Do you need a dedicated sniper? Is your cool stat up there with Escher's and Chaos cults? then Marksman is the skill for you! The number of times my boys and girls have let me down and shot the closest model instead of the horrific heavy-bolter lugging brute right behind them is more than I have fingers to count them on, so the ability to bypass my terrible stats and just shoot them in the face would be a godsend. whilst that's the main part of the Marksman skill you'll use for the most part, the extra damage is pretty immense too, especially if you are using a damage 2/3 weapon anyway. Great for ranged fighters designed to take out enemy champions and leaders, Marksman means your opponent will have to think very hard when moving around the table as there's no safety in the back ranks with you around.  Not the strongest shooting skill, I do think Marksman has a place in a gang so could be a starting skill, and again as a secondary skill (for someone with a long-las and fast shot perhaps) it's definitely a winner. randomly you'd still be happy, and even heavies can use this one, yay!

Precision shot (passive/proactive) no saves vs 6's to hit with shooting attacks
All skill sets have that one skill that just doesn't quite keep up with the others, the rhino at the back of the Jumanji stampede if you will- it's not that it won't trample stuff, it's just other skills are better at trampling stuff first. Precision shot is that skill in the shooting set.  For one- any skill that only triggers on a six (Disarm, Dodge and Marksman also suffer from this to a degree, but they have additional benefits or can be improved with weapon choice) is a bit too unreliable for me to spend hard earned XP on, and secondly you can remove the need for this skill at all by simply buying better guns- and credits are a lot easier to find then XP let me tell you. Precision shot is still not a bad skill by any stretch of the imagination- early game it will be removing some saves completely and if the weapon already has -1 pretty much all starting fighters are susceptible, and late game it can be the only way to take down serious tanks with their 3+ save. (damn makeshift armour). Not really a starting skill unless you want it for fluff reasons as pretty much every other shooting skill is better, but you'd not be unhappy with precision shot if you rolled it (and then remembered it in game!). works with Unwieldy for a change but as they generally have save modifiers anyway it's not exactly great for them.

Trick shot (passive/proactive) Shooting attacks suffers 1 less penalty for targets in cover
Every single Necromunda board should be jam packed with stuff to hide behind, from barrels, and crates to walls, pipes and walkways, drawing a clear line of sight should be a rare occurrence. This profusion of cover is what makes Trick shot such a great skill- practically every shot you ever make will be against a target in cover so ignoring even one point of it is good news. Strangely whilst I'd consider Trick shot as a starting skill I'd only buy it for a secondary skill once I'd maxed out my BS increases- after all +1 to hit all the time still trumps +1 to hit when they are in cover, and at only 6XP BS increases are cheap as chips. A good skill to start with and a good random skill, Trick shot does see a lot of board time and when combined with the right scope/las-projector can make a ranged killing machine you really can count on to hit.  Again- works with Unwieldy weapons! and is actually a great choice as a starting skill with them as it can let you get the best from your most expensive purchases right from the word go, especially as they tend not to be able to aim.

Board by Jon Wyatt

Savant Skills

Scatter terrain by Chris Prules

Ooh, where's techno you say? Back in the 90's where it belongs that's where. (I guess there were some limits after all) Now known as Savant the horrifically overpowered skillset of my youth has been dropped back to keep it in line with others, it's still a damn good set, but nowhere near the must-take it used to be. Several interesting skills in Savant are only useful out-of-game when trading, so no use in skirmishes and frustrating early on in campaigns as it can be hard to see the benefits on-table.  However, these skills are amazing in a longer campaign, and can pay for themselves very quickly by kitting your boys and girls out in no time at all. Savant is a primary skillset for Orlock and Van Saar, and secondary for Delaque and Chaos Cults so it's a pretty common sight in most campaigns.

Ballistics expert (passive/proactive) INT check on aim action- if passed gain additional +1
The 'meh' skill of the Savant list, Ballistics expert is also the only one that can have a direct aggressive impact on the game. So why don't I like Ballistics Expert? Firstly because it only works on a certain action, and even then only if I pass a test, and if I do pass the test I only gain +1 to hit. Which I could get all the time with a BS increase, or a Gunsight, or Trick Shot to ignore cover, or emperor knows how many other ways. Frankly of all the skills in the game this is my least favourite, even though it's probably more useful than Mighty leap or Dodge it's limitations make it
less likely to actually occur than those skills, and they at least bring something extra to the table rather than a very easy to replicate +1 to hit. I wouldn't choose Ballistics expert, and I'm pretty sure it only exists to give Van Saar something bad to roll on their primary tables.

Connected (passive/proactive) may make additional seek rare item action in end phase
Connected is a cheeky little skill, as it means you can maximise your cashflow by working  turf but still get all the nice toys from rare trade, or even lug some fool to the doc's and not lose your rare trade roll as well as the cash. as with all out-of game skills it will have little effect early on in a campaign, and is of course completely pointless in a skirmish. For gangs with a long-term plan I definitely recommend Connected as a starting skill as you can really make the most of your turf and still take some new shinies into the next game. Combined with Savvy Trader it's an unbelievably powerful combination on a leader although with two out-of-game skills you may find yourself fielding them less than more punchy champions. Connected is a good skill however you get it you'll really start seeing the benefits after you start losing champs to recovery.

Fixer (passive/proactive) extra d3x10 creds in post game gain rewards if uninjured/captured
Sometimes a little extra income can make all the difference when you have some moron bleeding out and the doc's prices are a little steep, especially as you can't work turf when you are carrying the chump. Fixer is a good skill for the patient planners out there, and if you do have a champion trying to stay out of the way and stack those C-notes instead of skulls then Fixer is the skill to get. (hoping The Compiler will roll it in my next game as he has the 9 XP to randomise on savant) other than that not a lot to say, more money = less problems. Could be a starting skill as the earlier you get it the better it is, but it's not exactly glamorous so I can't see it being chosen a lot. randomly rolled it's all good obviously.

Board by Trevor Goddard

Medicae (passive/reactive) re-roll first out of action result whilst assisting a recovery
Not quite the awe-inspiring '95 version where you dodged serious injuries Medicae is still pretty good if massively situational. If you're the kind of gang that actually cares about each other and actually move to assist in recoveries (I.E. not my chaos gang who have no empathy at all) it can get people back in the game and avoid having to roll for serious injuries at all. If you do want to use this skill to it's best effect then pick up a medipak on the rare trade chart, and get it on a fast model with minimal kit like a Juve, then dedicate them to getting allies back on their feet. A dedicated medic will find this skill useful and can be a big asset for any gang, but other than that I probably wouldn't choose it, though I'd be pleased if I rolled it randomly.

Munitioneer (passive/reactive) re-roll failed ammo rolls within 6"
Wow, what a skill. Munitioneer works best when you bubble up which has it's own down-sides but on a heavy with multiple rapid fire dice it's a brutal emperor sent blessing for keeping them in the game. Combines well with Fast shot too as you can keep the 2 shots a turn more reliably. One of the only non-leader skills that effects models around it Munitioneer is up there with the best skills in the game, reloading is an action (that may not even work) and this drains your pool of actions for a turn- Munitioneer can stop that happening on multiple models every turn. Always worth considering as a starting or chosen skill if you can take it. Obviously the biggest downside is if you don't fail any ammo checks it's a totally wasted skill, but in that case you're probably doing alright anyway so quit whining. You aren't going to be complaining if you get this randomly either as everyone could do with a few bullets more couldn't they?

Savvy trader (passive/proactive) +1 to seek rare item rolls for this fighter, reduce any items found by 20 creds (minimum 10)
I would say it's not worth taking Savvy Trader on anyone who isn't your leader as it would still make them only just as good at rare trade than him, but on a leader- average score of 10 on the rare trade, yes please! That's before we even get to the price reductions which is even more of a bonus- 20 creds off the cheaper end of the rare items can make them much more affordable (remember to add the full cost to the fighters value though!) and knocking heavy bolters down to almost heavy stubber prices is great at the top end too.  The biggest downside to Savvy Trader- once again you aren't going to be seeing any in-game benefits short term. however long term (and as long as you can keep the credits flowing) having a savvy trader can make you the most tooled up gang in the campaign with ease. definitely worth taking as a starting skill on a leader if you're the patient type, if you roll it randomly on a champion it's still good, just not brilliant. on a juve or specialist it's tears time...

Scatter terrain by Hurakan Summit Guides

that's it for skills! after my next battle report I'll be looking at each gang in depth, what they are good at and how I'd rank them in terms of ease of play or competitiveness if you're that way inclined. 

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Things that go bump in your face.

Back to the battle of the cults, and the 3rd Protocol have been on a recruitment drive picking up a scraggly techpriest named Colitis from a nearby sumpworks as well as Gastroenteritis, an unfinished electropriest found wandering the pipes- more importantly both brought with them Lasguns, reliable ranged support for the autogun heavy Nurgle worshippers.

The Nepotism Brotherhood had also been out recruiting, and added Ghrylls, a Neophyte with the most pimped out Lasgun you have ever seen- Hotshot pack, las-projector and telescopic sight giving him an accuracy only the boss could equal.

both gangs also had a few increases after the last game, Tetanus was the focus of a ritual and regained the point of Movement he lost to a leg injury a while back, whilst the hulking Mhogg-Rhyse gained a point of Toughness to make him a terrifying T5. The genestealer's were further enhanced when their patron back in hive secundus sent a specialist trainer out who gave them tuition in the finer points of gang warfare spreading some more increases out amongst the crew. The chaos elders finally decided it was worth spending some creds on the Protocol as they deigned to send a supply crate down, giving Tetanus frag grenades and giving everyone who needed one a backup autopistol or knife. 

We're going for another GW 3 scenario here Monster Hunt, one that luckily doesn't require us to force our morons to take intelligence tests for a change! This is not going to be my most accurate record because this game went crazy at several points, and the absolute carnage that followed disrupted note and photograph taking, so bear with me if not everything in the photo's and notes match up!

also yeah I forgot pre-game photos of my crew- mainly because the new guys aren't 100% painted yet..

Both cults had been briefed by their respective patrons of a large creature devouring imperial citizens in a slime reclamation plant down sump bottom, and whilst neither cared much for the victims the potential that it could be recruited to their cause if it was a potential ally or sold for a bounty if not was too much of a temptation for them to pass up. Once again the rival cults found themselves facing off, this time in the cramped confines of the zone mortalis slime tunnels beneath the plant.. 

Scenario- Monster hunt- Deployment

For deployment the compiler infiltrated purely to force the infiltrating acolytes backwards and deny them the centre room. The rest of the Nurgle skitarii deployed in three groups of three forming little Nurgle symbols on the board which was hopefully pleasing enough to the boss he’d give us a hand this time..  The Genestealer cult deployed second and chose to go heavy on their right flank, with only Hidlystrom and his heavy stubber holding the left. The acolytes predictably infiltrated fairly central behind a bulkhead door. 

Turn 1

t's all gone a bit quiet...

Nothing much happened in the first turn (unusually for one of our games, this could be down to the denser nature of Zone mortalis or maybe we were just getting cagey;) Lots of moving up and getting into position, Rotbringer summoned levitation and nipped forward whilst the rest of the cultists on both sides moved towards the centre. The central corridor was starting to look like a choke point and I wanted to get into a position where I could take advantage of that.  

Turn 2

Door based pop up attacks are both big and clever apparently

 It got heavy real fast in the second turn when Sepsis opened the heavy bulkhead in front of him and opened fire into the Acolytes, followed by Urban Decay and the mouth, who closed the bulkhead again with his last action.  This only pinned the abominable Spinsser and his nasty saw, but the combined fire did flesh wound Johrnson, summoning the first tentacle which Steve placed in the doorway by ventrot and sporeslinger to stop my crossfire getting into place, the tentacle took no time making it’s mark on the game, giving Sporeslinger a slap that seriously injured him, knocking him to the floor. This in turn allowed me to place another tentacle, this time right on top of the Acolytes. On the other flank a sporadic exchange of fire saw both Glodsmyth and Colitis take hits, with Colitis taking a flesh wound and bringing up another tentacle from the gaping chasm between the two.  The compler continued to move to safety whilst Gastroenteritis sprinted up behind the far wall to close down the tough Heavy Stubber of Hidlystorm

Turn 3

The first tentacles start causing havoc. 

The autopistol Trio behind the bulkhead repeated their pop-up attack from last turn but due to cover and the intervening flailing tentacle of death their shots went astray. Spinsser had more luck, allowing the shockingly lucky familiar to draw the tentacles lash out then carving it cleanly in half with his buzz saw before backing off and letting MhoggRhise take the lead. The rest of the Genestealer cult gathered around the barricades that lined the crucial corridor and waited for an opportunity to strike. The other flank was dominated by a large exchange of fire at the lone tentacle in the centre, with both sides managing to wound the beast but neither being able to finish the job. Ventrot managed to wound the tentacle that had injured Sporeslinger with is Autogun, but it didn’t stop the beast lashing out at Rotbringer who luckily dodged the attack. 

Turn 4

wait- just how big is this thing? 

A picture is worth a thousand words, and this map sums up how mental this turn got pretty darn well… Genestealers won initiative for the first (and potentially only?) time of the game and sent the familiar in running past the tentacle in the doorway. The beast lashed out but missed, however if the familiar was to take a hit (or open the door next turn) the Chaos Skitarii using it as mobile cover would be left very exposed ad at risk to tentacle death.  I decided to seize the moment rather than letting the Xenos dominate the play, and opened the door with a tactics card before exploding out with my gangers. Firstly the Mouth heaved a frag grenade into Mhogg-Rhise before ducking to one side, this missed bloody spectacularly, scattering all the way down the corridor and landing in the heart of the alien scum! Ghrylls, Turnha and Caamrhone were all hit, with flesh wounds on both Neophytes summoning more Tentacles in the surrounding area, nice arm boss! Urban decay then charged the diminutive Familiar, smashing it to paste then ducking behind a wall, unfortunately the tentacle called by the mini-me’s blood appeared right next to Sepsis, who was smashed down and seriously injured by it before he could take part in the glorious charge into the mouth of hell. Johrnson activated next, but he was just within the furthest reach of one of the newly summoned tentacles which lashed out, crushing his ribs and sending him into recovery.  The witch and Ventrot hammered away at the tentacle before them, giving sporeslinger time to crawl away but having no effect on the monster itself. Even more fire poured from both sides into the tentacle in the central chamber, (including the Compilers long las, although he was actually aiming at Glodsmyth) with Hidlystorm moving into range the Xenos finally destroyed the beast- 2 down, 4 to go (tactics cards hijinks at this point meant Hidlystorm’s stubber went Click too…). Sporeslinger and Sepsis both succumbed to their injuries at the end of the turn (one day I’ll remember Nurgle’s blessing and re-roll one!) although only Sepsis injuries were grave enough to damage him permanently, the beasts acid melting part of his spine.

Turn 5

right, we've got this..

With a swathe of casualties starting to mount up on both sides it was time to start checking for bottling, but both sides held their nerve so far. The mouth opened things up with his last grenade, though it missed and scattered into nowhere so he hid round the corner before they returned fire. Mhogg-Rhise finally got his claws in and after Caamrhone tricked the tentacle into striking at him far at the end of his range the Aberrant charged into the it, gouging a great chunk out of it’s rotting hide with his pick. Spinsser revved his saw up again and Put urban decay down for the count, though again he was only knocked out (we both got hellish lucky with injury rolls for such a brutal game) in the other room Gastroenteritis decided to make his debut game a bit more interesting by popping round the corner and gunning down Hidlystorm at very close range, the Las rounds only pinned the Neophyte, but between pinning and lack of ammo he wasn’t a threat for one more turn at least. Small arms and scattered shots littered the rest of the table but the turn was a suspiciously quiet one after the initial carnage.. 

Turn 6

Hidlystorm facing ineffectual lasgun death. 

The 6th Turn is usually the end of our games to ensure they don’t go on forever, but as I was actually looking to at least draw for a change I was hanging on for more if we had time. Gastroenteritis started play with another pinning shot on Hidlystorm- no injuries were inflicted so unfortunately he’d be able to fire this turn… oops. The stealers continued to spread out, backing Ventrot and the Witch further into a corner after they failed to inflict any wounds with their firing. The mouth Inadvertently helped the Stealers with this when he and Colitis hammered fire in to the Aberrant’s back, giving Mhogg a flesh wound which then summoned a tentacle right in front of the two trapped skitariidoh! Things got a little better when The compiler managed to pick off Glodsmyth who was sneaking round the back again, the resulting tentacle was out of the way even with a 6” range, and although it tried to swipe Glodsmyth it didn’t connect. Hidlystorms  time to return fire finally came and he unleashed an epic 5 shots into Gastroenteritis, and somehow missed him entirely! Tetanus saw his opportunity and quickly sprint up past the crevasses in the floor to give Gastro support next turn. 

Turn 7

the tentacles are starting to outnumber the cultists..

The skitarii inevitably did what they have become renowned for and failed their bottle test under mounting pressure, however for a nice change the filthy Xenos scum also decided it was a bit too hot down here for their liking. The Chaos amusement at this turn of events was only increased when Caamrhone himself promptly failed his cool check and did a runner, leaving the rest of his boys to fight the beast leaderless! That almost took the sting out of both Ventrot and Rotbringer (the most cowardly rogue psyker in history) also legging it, though based on the tentacle right in their face this was probably the right decision.   More impressively a fair number of the Chaos did decide to stick around for a change, (in retrospect not their greatest plan) so I was still in the game. The Stealers won the initiative now the dithering Caamrhone wasn’t about to complicate things and Spinsser opening proceedings by charging into both the Mouth and Colitis, seriously injuring the Mouth and cutting Colitis down so badly he’ll be out of action for a while with a gushing head wound. The tentacles this produced burst around the melee in the small room and they began flailing around, flesh wounding Spinsser for his temerity and mouth in the process. Ghrylls put a hot shot round squarely into the tentacle before him, but Redmayhne was in turn taken out by a grasping tendril of the beast. The compiler took pot shots at another pseudopod but failed to hit. Gastroenteritis finally managed to put a flesh wound on the super tough Hidlystorm but his jubilation was short lived when his skull was crushed by a tentacle appearing right behind him taking him out for at least the next skirmish. Finally Tetanus skipped round the back with the intention of ambushing the remaining Xenos from the rearand Glodsmyth bled out on the floor near him.  

Turns 8 and 9

Having rarely played to turn 8 before it was no surprise that both gangs were looking a trifle battered at this stage, and with only two fighters active and in play the Chaos gods were obviously happy enough to see a bit more carnage as they both decided to stick around for at least one more turn (though the Mouth fled the table at this point, escaping serious injury at the last second) . Reallising that the tentacles were the biggest threat to his gang Spinsser directed all their fire and melee attacks towards the tentacles round them, finally bringing down enough to summon the beast we had been hunting all along into play! It appeared within charge range of Spinsser unfortunately, and wasted no time taking revenge on the unfortunate acolyte before it was lightly wounded by the Compiler’s long-las. The ineffectiveness of his prized rifle was seemingly the last straw for the Compiler as turn 9 was  cut short when he called a full retreat, both tetanus and himself disappearing back into the shadows leaving the Xenos scum to deal with the problem they had brought to the surface. I gave Steve the option to finish out the duel with the beast but as it was past midnight and he wasn't exactly tooled for the job he declined. 

We're going to need a bigger... everything? 

Look at the carnage in the large corridor- just look at it!  It was an absolute slaughterhouse in there on both sides but we had an amazing game, and were both spectacularly lucky with injuries, I only had one in recovery (Gastro) and two proper injuries (Sepsis took a spinal injury and Colitis a head trauma), and Steve took a head wound on Glodsmyth with Jorhnson going into recovery. 

Not exactly a win, but as both gangs bottled, and the beast was still standing not a loss either- a draw for a change, could this be a turning point in my fortunes? This is a savage scenario, let alone in the close confines of the Zone Mortalis tiles, so I'd recommend not opening that particular trapdoor until you have some very tooled up individuals on board. 

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 then 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!