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Units and what they should do


Beliman
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Hey people!

This lasts days we had a lot of new threads in this forum about what is wrong and what is right, wish-lists and what we need (or don’t need).

 This thread will not be really different but I want to focus on roles. Reading the Strength/ Thougness or the Horde discussion, I was thinking, why people are upset about that things?
I want to believe that’s because some units don’t behave like they should. Some examples written in S/T discussion were about why Dwarfs or Chaos Warriors have worst “to wound” than a simple goblin (with Horde buffs) even if they use better skills or better hand-crafted weaponry .
So, simple question, what should standard units do?
And for standard units, I mean units that are generic enough to have an specific role. Some examples that I have in mind:

  • Battleline units (Horde).
  • Battleline units (No-Horde).
  • Cavalry (Light).
  • Cavalry (heavy).
  • Archers (generic).
  • Archers (special)*.
  • Elites (generic).
  • Elites (Special)*.
  • War-machines.
  • Transports.
  • Monsters (Troop--monsters).
  • Monsters (Giant-monsters).

I know that there are a lot of hybrid units but I want to focus on simple generic roles (without heroes).
(special) units are just there for harashers, units that can unbind or use spells, etc...

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Well the most strict picture I have is what heavy cavalry should do. It should absolutely destroy. Heavily armored cavalry was a game-changer in warfare and dominated the battlefields for centuries. Why? Because a coordinated charge of a full plated group of knights was a sight of terror. Sure there were Pekimen and other units that could stand their ground if they played their cards right. But the general rule was: if you found yourself on the relieving end of a full clad cavalry charge, you were done. 

Accordingly, what I would expect from a group of 5+ Chaos Knights or Dragon Riders of the Storm Cast is that - if they charge successfully - most ground units should be done with no fighting back. I know that this seems quite strong, but heavy cavalry has a lot of disadvantages otherwise. Starting from the high expenses up to the bad maneuverability. The only thing they should be absolutely outstanding at is charging and destroying everything they have charged. 

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3 hours ago, Naem said:

Well the most strict picture I have is what heavy cavalry should do. It should absolutely destroy.

While there was a historical period in which this was true (and plenty of examples of battles that were decided by heavy cavalry charges), there were also long periods of history in which heavy cavalry did not function like this. For example, even though heavy cavalry was often a decisive factor in many ancient battles (see the major victories of Alexander, for example) it was rarely due to a simple frontal charge.

Similarly, there are plenty of examples of heavy cavalry getting absolutely wrecked even during the heyday of armored knights (plenty of examples during the crusades and especially during the conquests of the Mongols).

The medieval dominance of heavy cavalry was largely a function of there being broad homogeneity in military tactics and technologies in Europe for a period of time, and that dominance collapsed under technological diversification and contact with military cultures that used dramatically different strategies and tactics to those of Europe. 

Given that Age of Sigmar represents a technological and tactical diversity far beyond anything that has ever been seen in the real world, I'm not sure that it makes sense for heavy cav to dominate.

 

 

 

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Agreed, the domination of heavy cavalry would make sense in Warhammer Fantasy, but not in Age of Sigmar. Warhammer Fantasy was more grounded in history drawing more on traditional block-of-troops historical wargames. Age of Sigmar is heroic high fantasy, more character-driven, focused on skilled and differentiated infantry. 

Heavy Cavalry in this kind of setting is closer, I think, to the Hellenic era cavalry that swarmofseals refers to, where it's role is yes as damage-dealer, but only against the right targets and in the right circumstances. It shouldn't be able to destroy any heavy infantry, or any units that are geared to fight larger monsters or anti-cav units. This is because the main weaknesses of heavy cav (maneuverability and the need to have a long straight charge) can't really be shown in a skirmish wargame like AoS like they could in Warhammer Fantasy. 

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Even with WHFB the dominance of heavy cav would be highly questionable. Even with mass formations of infantry, there is still a lot of gunpowder not to mention Mongol-esque horse archers, elf archers that would make Agincourt look like a picnic lunch, magic, undead that don't break and would easily bog down heavy cavalry, and, well, giant monsters that heavy cav would smash into like a brick wall.

Overall I like the point that @Beliman is making. I think there could be a lot of potential design space in creating clearer roles for certain types of units. These already exist in a soft way:

  • Infantry tend to be the most efficient
  • Monsters tend to be better at concentrating damage in a small space
  • Artillery tends to have bonuses against larger blocks of troops
  • Cavalry tends to be good at charging and mobility
  • Missile units tend to be good at killing glass cannons

These effects are usually pretty small though. I'd like to see more interesting design space opened up. Perhaps something like this on heavy cav:

  • LINEBREAKER: When this unit ends a charge move within 1" of an enemy unit, that unit counts as only having one model for the purpose of calculating bonuses until the end of the turn.
  • SHOCK CHARGE: When this unit ends a charge move within 1" of an enemy unit, that unit must take a battleshock test at the end of the turn. Until the end of the turn, if an ability would cause that unit to not take battleshock tests that ability does not apply to this unit.

These abilities would represent a heavy cavalry charge disrupting the formation of an enemy unit and/or causing panic among otherwise levelheaded troops. It would offer some counterplay against hordes that is, imo, more interesting than abilities like the Warpfire Thrower or Gaunt Summoner which simply melt large units. 

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I'd say most of the time AoS doesn't really suit interpretation in the classical warfare context.

I think units are pretty easily broken up into a few categories:

MURDER:
Monster
Blob

UTILITY:
Screens
Point Grabbers


Murder may come in shooty or stabby forms, and there's a fair bit of overlap between the sections in plenty of cases. It looks oversimplified, but that's because I feel the game actually is oversimplified if you look at it as a strategic, combined arms war game. It's rarely ever a question of "is this unit of this role effective against the unit of THIS role". It's always "how fast can I get this/these thing/s into combat and how many wounds can it/they do before dying."

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5 hours ago, soak314 said:

I'd say most of the time AoS doesn't really suit interpretation in the classical warfare context.

I think units are pretty easily broken up into a few categories:

MURDER:
Monster
Blob

UTILITY:
Screens
Point Grabbers


Murder may come in shooty or stabby forms, and there's a fair bit of overlap between the sections in plenty of cases. It looks oversimplified, but that's because I feel the game actually is oversimplified if you look at it as a strategic, combined arms war game. It's rarely ever a question of "is this unit of this role effective against the unit of THIS role". It's always "how fast can I get this/these thing/s into combat and how many wounds can it/they do before dying."

You're missing things like healing, annoying enemies, buffing, and the like in utility.

For murder, I think it would be wise to differentiate between long range, short range missile and melee, and maybe make a category for murderisers of specific targets (such as a deep strike unit taking out enemy wizards).

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5 hours ago, soak314 said:

I'd say most of the time AoS doesn't really suit interpretation in the classical warfare context.

I think units are pretty easily broken up into a few categories:

MURDER:
Monster
Blob

UTILITY:
Screens
Point Grabbers


Murder may come in shooty or stabby forms, and there's a fair bit of overlap between the sections in plenty of cases. It looks oversimplified, but that's because I feel the game actually is oversimplified if you look at it as a strategic, combined arms war game. It's rarely ever a question of "is this unit of this role effective against the unit of THIS role". It's always "how fast can I get this/these thing/s into combat and how many wounds can it/they do before dying."

I completely agree with you. In Malifaux we have similar roles. The “Beater” (offensive dudes), “tank/blocker/frontline” (defensive dudes), “scheme runner” (objective grabber) and lastly the “support” (summoner, snipers, etc…).

I know that hybrids are what makes the game interesting (melee beater with tank characteristics is what we could call an “elite melee unit”) but before going in to that, the roles should be well established.

In AoS, we already have two type of tanks: Screens (tank one turn, then die) and Tanks (can soak dmg with high saves, high wounds, abilities to regen/heal, etc..).

We already have Supports (magic/prayers/buffs/debuffs/etc…).

We already have Beaters (melee, ranged, magic).

But I’m not sure about Objective Grabbers: At this moment, we use all unites as objective grabber. Of course the ones with high movement are better for that role, but if we can teleport them, we just throw our chaff /tanks to an objectives.

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, but if we don’t have he roles well stablished, we are going to have units with “meh” characteristics because they don’t have a role in our lists. That shoudn’t happen, even if they are bad at doing their job, they should still have one.

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16 hours ago, swarmofseals said:

These effects are usually pretty small though. I'd like to see more interesting design space opened up. Perhaps something like this on heavy cav:

  • LINEBREAKER: When this unit ends a charge move within 1" of an enemy unit, that unit counts as only having one model for the purpose of calculating bonuses until the end of the turn.
  •  SHOCK CHARGE: When this unit ends a charge move within 1" of an enemy unit, that unit must take a battleshock test at the end of the turn. Until the end of the turn, if an ability would cause that unit to not take battleshock tests that ability does not apply to this unit.

These abilities would represent a heavy cavalry charge disrupting the formation of an enemy unit and/or causing panic among otherwise levelheaded troops. It would offer some counterplay against hordes that is, imo, more interesting than abilities like the Warpfire Thrower or Gaunt Summoner which simply melt large units. 

I really like this, it would make heavy cavalry units a solid counter to the current horde meta.

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