Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The next best thing to being at home relaxing with a cold drink.

Artillery.

Yep. I said it.
While some of us think that the majority of the artillery units available are simply pants I dispute this with a single caveat: A single artillery unit is typically just as poor as one might expect.

Lets look at some of the great reasons to dislike single artillery pieces:
Slow
Medium hitting power
Can't aim
Medium to short range
Low model count
Susceptible to AOE
Limited function in faction

Wow. That's more than enough to explain why they're not flying off the shelves at the LGS.  Even the staunchest of fans are hard pressed to find a place for artillery in their faction...and sometimes jealous of what other factions get.  If you have faction jealousy, then you're probably not seeing what your tools can do. Except the Iron Lich Overseer.
No one likes him.

What do they have going for them:
Hard to kill:  Nope, no kidding. Three models, cmd 8, and that stray AOE still only kills 2 (see also p.72 Prime, last paragraph...) and the damned thing pops up 8 inches away. So much for wiping stopping it from firing next turn. Remember that the leader has the artillery piece!  The RAT may drop, but you still have the punch of that gun next turn. 
Persistent threat range:  Light artillery has a persistent area that it threatens. No need to move, no risk of being overextended. Not powerful for highly mobile forces, but very effective for slower forces that need to funnel units into an area.
Accurate: While the Trenchers can reach a distressingly high RAT, an easily reached RAT 7 is solid.  Solos and Warcasters now must be more careful within their threat range or risk being a target of opportunity.

This makes them a pretty niche tool.  The niche: Scenarios.
The Steamroller scenarios almost beg to have these brought to bear. With so many objectives and flags a persistent artillery threat can be terribly valuable.

  • Or, in the case of Trollbloods, hilarious!  POW 14 slams at up to 14 (18 with Snipe or Far Strike!) are like playing pinball. I only wish they could teach a dire troll to carry a thumper! Between this and the Impaler Trollkin can bounce an opponent out of position with relative ease. 
  •  Cryx are the masters of "Don't go near there!" with their Revenant Cannon Crew and Ghost Shot.  
  • Khador understands artilery. Their Mortar Crew places yet another bombard from the safety of 20 inches and the Field Gun at 16.  This means that they threaten half the board at setup. 
  • Cygnar with their Dig In, and the Bieberesque fandom of Max Finn can murder enemy models that have an urge to get anywhere close to an objective.  Should never have sold the Thumper to Trollkin.  Their Artillerist makes up for most of their shortcomings
  • Protectorate's Deliverers...well, darn. The MKI one was freakish, but AOE4 is no slouch.
  • Retribution....those cheating bastards can wreak hell on a target. Armor Piercing? Really?!?
  • Mercenaries get two mentions - the Talion Charter who have few choices but to bring 4 cannons: the Commodore, Dougal MacNaile, and all the deck guns you can muster.  Even a Galleon if you must...and when you do, giggle.  And the Searforge Commission's Artillery who know the distinction of actually being able to hit from behind a wall.
The important questions then turn out to be "but X is better! Especially when I can Y, Z, and..."  WTFBBQ!!!
Sometimes, yes.  We're talking about what artillery can do today.
The main issue is: How do we use it in a game that pays us to be aggressive and mobile?


In Pairs !
I envision a great gnashing of teeth and wailing in lament "Its too expensive! My Points are better elsewhere!!"  Yeah, you were really using that Iron Lich Overseer.  Artillery is for area denial and single units simply do not do the trick.
Think of them as half units of infantry and you have a more healthy perspective.



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