Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recent Legion Tactics

The evolution of my current Legion list got me thinking through my tactics and strategies about why I use the models I do, and how I use them on the table. This uncharacteristic (for me) post is sort of a (long) brain dump of my own tactics philosophy around this current list. I'm certainly no master strategist by any stretch, but perhaps there will be some random valuable nuggets in here for the readers out there.

First some background...
* For a long time I was predominantly a Protectorate and Troll player.
* I'm not as much of an assassination tactician. I tend to build lists that are more balanced and can adapt as the game unfolds.
* I'm also in it to have fun just as much as to win. I don't like taking "easy button" lists, nor lists that have a single strategy to them. Thinking in the middle of the battle is what makes the game fun!
* When I decided to branch out from Protectorate and Trolls, I wanted to start an army that would play different so that I could build a wider play style.
* Finally, I'm more painter than player now. I would still paint models even if there were no game rules, however I wouldn't play a (tabletop) game where there was no opportunity to model and paint.

Starting Legion was primarily motivated by wanting to paint and play something different. Admittedly, I hadn't read many of the rules for the Legion models, nor faced off against a Legion army hardly at all. I start out by looking through the selection of models and picked out the ones that I was interested in painting without reading rules. Although I knew that this could put me in a diminished army capacity, I decided that, just like when I did this with Cryx for the showdown challenge, it forces me to learn how to make the best use of what I have. I honestly believe that doing this has made me a better player, even though it was frustrating for a while.

The following is my complete collection of Legion models at this point:
* Warlocks: Thagrosh, eThagrosh, Lylyth, eLylyth
* Warbeasts: Typhon, Carnivean, Seraph, Raek, 4 Shredders
* Units: Striders (+UA), Spawning Vessel (6)
* Solos: Deathstalker, Warmonger War Chief, Forsaken, Shepherd, Incubi
* Minions: Totem Hunter, Swamp Gobbers
I'm not going to go into details about each of these models. There's plenty of places to get that sort of info (like Battle College). I picked most of these models because I actually wanted to paint them. My actual list is as follows:
739pts, 22vps: eThagrosh, Typhon, Carnivean, Seraph, Shredder, Incubi, Deathstalker, Striders + UA, Forsaken, Swamp Gobbers, and Totem Hunter.

Small Scale Tactics:
There are many schools of thought on tactics for an army, and I'm certainly not one to expound on them. When I played Protectorate I tried to build lists with a lot of synergy between models so that they could work as a cohesive group together. Playing mercenaries I tended to build smaller "fire teams", where 2 to 3 things worked well together as a small group, but the overall army wasn't designed to have a cohesiveness to it. My current Legion list takes a different sort of approach. I'll break it down into groupings.
* Interception: The first group of my army is an intercept group. This is comprised of the Striders, the Totem Hunter, the Deathstalker, and the Incubi. These models are able to move quickly and flexibly. They can intercept specific threats and either delay or diminish those threats. They aren't meant to be speed bumps like tougher units. I can keep them all together or spread them out equally well, and none of them need support from my warcaster to be effective in this role. Despite the points I pay for the Striders, the UA and the Deathstalker, I find them to be very effective at dealing with swarm threats like Bile Thralls, and can CRA at light arcnode jacks alike. The Incubii are intercept because as Striders get killed, Incubi get to pop out and immediately engage tie things up. This is very helpful against arcnodes I've found.
* Core: The second group is my core. This is eThagrosh, Typhon, Carnivean, and Seraph. This is the tough nasty center. There are some nice combinations here that make for some nasty stuff. Dragon's Blood + Excessive Healing on Typhon is awesome and is a common combo for me to use since Typhon is often the primary target of my opponent. Slipstream allows eThagrosh and the Seraph to move the Carnivean and Typhon into charge lanes. The 3 beasts can provide good cover for eThagrosh as well, keeping him relatively safe. Not to mention, the sheer damage output of the Carnivean, Typhon and Thagrosh is just stunning. This battle group also gets very heavy use from Glory of Everblight, and honestly I feel that eThagrosh makes a better support caster for his battle group than an actual front-line beatstick.
* Support: The third and final group is the support group, made up of the Forsaken, the Swamp Gobbers, and the Shredder. These models are here to provide specific support capabilities. The Gobbers are obviously to provide cover for eThagrosh since he's on a large base, however they are a little tricky since both eThagrosh and the Forsaken are Abominations. The Forsaken is specifically there for fury management. Although his Blight Shroud is occasionally useful, I've found that it's best to just leave him near the core group and pull fury as needed. The Shredder is there to be a damage transfer sink and toss the occasional Tenacity on things. It's amazing how +1 to DEF and ARM can make a huge difference, but kicking eThagrosh up to 14/18 really does have a noticeable effect.

Dealing with Threats:
There are a number of threats I've faced in other lists, and this army has a number of tools to deal with them:
* Swarms: Infantry swarms are always oppressive to deal with. In order to handle them, this list uses the Striders with their rapid shot, the Seraph's Strafe, the Carnivean's spray, eThagrosh's spray, and Typhon's 3 sprays. That provides a very large amount of anti-infantry ranged attack. Also, the Musician's mini-feat can really throw a kink into a unit's plan to charge.
* Speed: Although there are faster lists out there, and this one does not have cavalry, the slowest thing in the list is eThagrosh at a 5, with about half of the list having SPD 7. Slipstream is also very helpful to give that extra 2" of threat range on something. Slipstream on a Carnivean means he can reach something with his spray on an assault charge that is almost 19" away.
* Hard Targets: The Carnivean, Typhon, and eThagrosh all hit hard, without a doubt. However the Strider's CRA is nothing to scoff at, particularly with rapid shot. If they all team up together they are delivering a pair of POW 18 shots.
* Ranged Assaults: An army with a heavy amount of ranged attack is still no walk in the park, but the Striders, Deathstalker, and Totem Hunter all have stealth. In addition, Tenacity and the Gobbers' cloud is driving DEF up by 3 on the core group which makes most of them a DEF 16+.

Assassination Tactics:
There's a couple of key combos that I use most of the time:
* Carnivean: The Carnivean's assault charge has a really big threat range, and should never be discounted. I've had him pull off an assault charge and incinerate two members of the Witch Coven with just the spray. With Glory of Everblight and a boost from Slipstream he's got a 19" threat range and on average can hit a single target with DEF 16 doing an average of 25+ damage. Honestly I'd say that the Carnivean has more caster kills than everything else in my Legion army combined.
* Typhon: This guy is a rockstar. Slipstream up for a 13" threat range and then fling something with no STR check either. It's pretty ridiculous. Especially if he's throwing it so that it lands somewhere for the Carnivean or eThagrosh to beat on.

Dealing with Scenarios:
A list is not complete if it only aims towards assassination. To that end I wanted a list that could deal with at least the Steamroller 4 missions fairly well. I'm not going to list out each of those missions here, but basically they all amount to having models in specified sections of the board. When my army needs to spread out I use the intercept group to hold one section and the core group to hold the others. In the case of Mosh Pit, I tend to just drive the core group right up the center like a Mack truck. The Striders' and Deathstalker's advanced deployment are invaluable in scenarios as well as they give that extra boost toward the middle of the table while the rest of my army is making a mad sprint to get there.

The Achilles Heel:
There are some specific things that are not easy for this list to deal with:
* Dispelling: This is a bit of a problem. Losing Dragon's Blood means more fury drain on eThagrosh, and if animii can get dispelled it makes things far worse since Spiny Growth, Tenacity, and Excessive Healing are the cornerstones of the core groups survivability.
* Terrain: Most of the list is pretty effective at overcoming terrain (Carnivean, Seraph, Striders and Totem Hunter), but eThagrosh and Typhon are not, and they are the rockstars of the list.
* Preventing Forcing: Skorne is great at this, and preventing forcing is a huge problem for this list. Glory of Everblight helps quite a bit to overcome it, but it's still a big hit, especially for the Carnivean, to not be able to boost attack rolls.

What Next:
Where do I go from here with this list? Honestly I don't know. I really enjoy playing it and although I want to try out other stuff, I'm mostly limited by my ability to get stuff painted since I want to limit myself to one unpainted thing at a time. However, I have been pondering some stuff that I think would make an interesting addition:
* Angelius - Yeah, duh, it's freakin awesome. I'm just not sure what to drop to put him in.
* Bone Grinders - These are debatable, but I think a minimum unit could be really useful. Adding +3" to eThagrosh's knockdown AOE spell could be just the ticket to move that spell from a 5% spell into a 50% spell.
* Legionnaires - I love the look of these models, and I think pairing them with a second batch of Incubi would just be brutal for an opponent to deal with.
* Nephilim Protector - This guy would make a good addition to eThagrosh's protection and generally a good addition to my army.
* Other warlocks - Eventually I'll move on to Saeryn, Rhyas and Absylonia. I really enjoy playing beast heavy lists, so it's going to take some serious thinking when I swap to one of them, especially Rhyas.

In Closing...
Well, that's certainly turned out to be longer than I expected. Hopefully something in here was useful, and of course I'd love to hear thoughts from people. Everything I've talked about here is heavily tied to my play style, so there's definitely going to be other opinions, but I'd love to hear about other combinations or changes to consider trying out.


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