My first experience with Battalions in Aos was with the starter set -- I'd looked into them in 40K before, but never really got into that game, and had already sold my old 8th Edition Lizardmen Army as part of a move from California to Texas. So, when that shiny box art caught my eye, I was in for a surprise...
Lord-Celestant on Dracoth
2 Units of Liberators
1 Unit of Retributors
1 Unit of Prosecutors
That's right, battalions! True they were just the contents of the Starter set, but to me, they were so much more than that. They were an excuse to role-play my army. I was going to do it anyway, but hey, between the scenarios and the new battalions, I didn't even have to work all that hard at it. Even better, since then, this one has gotten more useful.
A big part of that change in usefulness is the new Lord-Celestant on Dracoth warscroll that came with the Extremis
Battletome. On the original Lord-Celestant warscroll, there was only one weapon option (the Tempestos Hammer).
Sure, it was a good weapon and still is, but more options are always better. That, of course, raises an even more
LORD-CELESTANT ON DRACOTH; WHICH WEAPON IS BEST???
Tempestos Hammer (the original choice)-- 2" Range, 3 Attacks (+ D3 on charge), 3+ to hit, 2+ to wound, Rend -1, D3 Damage
And the math says...
1. Always Be Charging. No, seriously, D3 extra attacks is really very good.
2. Beware the Tarpits. On the charge, this weapon will average 6 wounds. In the pit, you're looking at only 3. You've got a decent save, but not a huge amount of stamina at only 7 wounds. It might be better to hold back and shoot with the Dracoth's stormbreath, or find a unit already in combat to charge into the rear of.
3. Big, but not too big. Where this weapon really shines is against groups small enough to be broken in a single charge. Against a unit 20 Bloodreavers, for example, you'll probably kill 6 (and then between 2 and 5 more due to battleshock), but after that, you'll still be in the midst of 12 Bloodreavers. You only have 7 wounds, and that's a fair number of attacks coming at your Lord- Celestant. Against a unit of 10, though, you've just wiped the entire unit, more or less. Cavalry are situational tools, and should never be run headlong into a block of anything that won't die quickly.
THE VERDICT: Great if you're playing an army with low bravery, but be careful. Better to retreat and live than die in a pit of enemy corpses.
****Thunderaxe (the Team Player) -- 2", 3, 3+, 3+, 2****
Remember everything I just said? Forget it all.
1. Get in there with the men and kill some people. +1 attack for every Stormcast Eternals unit within 5".
2. Shoot at the enemy as they approach, then chop them to bits when they arrive.
THE VERDICT: Are you playing against the Skaven or someone who like zombies and skeletons a bit too much? Thunderaxes.
lightning Hammer (Saves, what saves?) -- 1", 3, 3+,3+, -1, 2 (+2 Mortal Wounds on 6)
Delivers 2 mortal wounds on a 6. Use it on those pesky 3+ save elite infantry and watch your enemies weep.
1. Will literally vaporize chaff units, but is better spent on negating tough enemies -- let your regular troops do something for a change.
2. No need to charge, just wade in and start turning Blood Warriors to ash.
THE VERDICT: Best used against armies built around small units of elite soldiers (Ogors, Chaos Warriors, etc.)
Stormstrike Glaive (Go for the Eyes!) -- 2", 4, 3+, 4+, -1 (-2 on charge), 1 (3 on charge)
You know that annoying Khorgorath that's controlling a quarter of the board? This thing just killed it in one charge. You're welcome.
1. If you aren't charging or retreating, why are you using this weapon?
2. General killer, monster killer, big unit killer. Don't waste time with the chaff.
THE VERDICT: If you're opponent is really proud of some big centerpiece model, it will feel even better when you kill it.
So...in other words, there is no best weapon. What the options create are opportunities to customize your general to your opponent. The Lord-Celestant's Command Ability, on the other hand, gives me a hint towards the Thunderaxe in general.. If this unit is able to keep it's allies from routing, then it makes more sense for him to be around those allies in combat too. Might as well get a bonus for that, right?
But that's enough of that, let's look at that Battalion. General is, of course, the Lord-Celestant. The Lord-Relictor is better for healing than killing. The Liberators hold the line, the Retributors kill things really well, and the Prosecutors run around pelting people in the head from space. Why bother taking the formation?
Oh, that's right.
The big deal for this Battalion is the Lightning Strike ability, which allows you to hold your troops in reserve and deploy then after the battle starts. That sort of tactical flexibility is priceless, given the relatively small size of a Stormcast army when compared to, say...pretty much everyone else. I'm particularly fond of holding back Retributors until the enemy engages my Liberators, then, while they're bogged down against that shiny shield wall, charging into their rear and watching their puny little units crumble. Prosecutors are also great fun to spring on your opponent, what with their great movement and non-insignificant ranged attack.
There's also the Brothers in Arms ability, which gives all units within a 6" range +1 to bravery. That stacks nicely with the Lord-Celestant's Thunderaxe and that 24" battleshock immunity rule.
Altogether, these rules mean my general strategy for using this battle is as follows:
I. Deploy Lord-Celestant, Lord-Relictor, and Liberators
II. ADVANCE!!! Take some potshots with the Lord-Celestant and Lord-Relictor. Charge those Liberators into whatever chaff the enemy offers up. If they play hard to get, drop in those prosecutors and kite them into your lines.
III. Drop in those Retributors. Watch your opponent panic under the rear charge, or inability to protect his general.
IV. Mop up.
No plan ever survives contact with the enemy of course, but this one seems to be a good start. (Happy to hear other strategies in the comments).
MATCHED PLAY: NOPE
NARRATIVE PLAY: SURE
OPEN PLAY: GO FOR IT.
Minimum Models (Matched Play): Starter Set (or 22)
Minimum Points (Matched Play): 820
Cost: $125 (Starter Set)
And... that's it. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. Leave a comment, and look for the Goreblade Warband next time!
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