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Homebrew: Rebalancing OBR subfactions


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Intra-faction balance in OBR is actually pretty good, at least on the level of units, formations, and spells.  But the subfaction mechanical design is sadly kind of terrible, and kind of obviously terrible to everyone from the moment they leaked.  In actual games, particularly pick up games and of course tournaments, we'll be stuck with what's written, which will end up being an awful lot of Petrifex with the occasional Crematorian gimmick list mixed in and maybe a Null Myriad here and there as an anti-meta choice if Tzeentch or Hallowhart look to be ascendant.

Which kind of sucks, as all of the OBR subfactions are at least conceptually pretty cool.  So, purely as a for-fun thought experiment, how would you fix the situation?  Here's my take:

Crematorians: they're perfect as they are.  Best designed subfaction in the book, maybe in the entire game.  Fun, not overpowered, change how the army plays, etc.

Praetorians: they benefit more than other factions from katakros, which is already worth something once Petrifex are toned down to not make that benefit obsolete.  The main problem is that -1 Bravery just doesn't count for much in a game where battleshock matters less and less and other bravery-targeting mechanics are referencing unmodified bravery more and more.  Heck, OBR as a faction provide the latest example of both those trends.  So what I would do instead is double down on the praetorians being the most disciplined faction, so instead of -1 bravery, Praetorian units would generate additional relentless discipline points on a 5+ at the start of the turn, instead of a 6.  Combined with their command trait (or, more likely, Katakros), they'll be able to take more advantage of the various warscroll command abilities in the faction than any other legion.

Petrifex: the problem child.  +1 save flat out is just too much.  Instead I'd give them re-roll 1s on saves.  This is still decent, but nowhere near as strong.  It also would mean their mortek guard would benefit less from shield wall.  They'd still benefit some, just not as much.  To soften the blow on both accounts, I'd let the Petrifex take Stalkers as battleline.  Makes sense to me - the faction is made of big monster bones, so they have more big units.  Notably this takes the faction from the most synergistic with Nagash in the rules as written to the least, but I don't think that's a big enough problem to bother me, and we'll get to Nagash anyway.

Stalliarch: mostly decent, but the redundancy of their command ability with the kavalos formation is, imo, really frustrating.  Personally I would change it so that instead of letting a mounted unit retreat & charge in the same turn, which the formation already allows, instead I'd have their command ability give a mounted unit flying keyword until the end of the turn, allowing shenanigans like retreating a kavalos unit over an enemy unit into their backfield, then using the formation ability to charge enemy support units.

Null Myriad: their trait is decent, but when combined with the command ability imo it makes games swing too heavily on your opponent's composition, as enemy armies that build heavily around offensive magic basically don't get to play, while those with no offensive magic at all leave you essentially without a subfaction.  Personally, I'd change the command ability to something unrelated to their subfaction trait.   Specifically, I'd add to their fluff to make them powerful both against magic and with magic of their own, changing their command ability to let you spend a discipline point to re-roll a failed casting attempt.

Ivory Host: I honestly have no idea what to do here.  +1 to hit seems too good to let through without a disadvantage, but -1 save is just too much.  And unlike with petrifex, I don't think swapping out for re-roll 1s works as there are just too many redundancies there.  I'm open to suggestions here.


Special Characters:  In addition to thinking the subfactions as written mostly have problems, I also don't like how they interact with the special characters.  I don't like how all the OBR special characters are concentrated to one subfaction, nor do I like how Arkhan and Nagash can pick up OBR subfaction - most of those rules relate to the particular construction of the ossiarchs who make them up, and neither Arkhan nor Nagash are ossiarchs, let alone Ossiarchs made in this or that particular way.  As such, I'd change how special characters work with the OBR rules as follows:

Arkhan and Nagash: do not gain legion keywords.  They can still be included in Legion armies, but they don't benefit from their legion traits or command abilities.

Katakros: keeps his Praetorian keyword as it currently is.

Zandtos: is rewarded for his victories by being given command of the Stalliarch Lords, but when needed he still fights alongside his former master.  To represent this he gains the Stalliarch Lords keyword but still keeps the Mortis Praetorean keyword.

Vokmortian: is similarly rewarded for his service with a new body infused with powdered gravesand and command of the Null Myriad.  Like Zandtos he still responds to Katakros's call when needed, so he gains the Null Myriad keyword but still keeps the Mortis Praetorean keyword.


That way the Praetoreans still have first claim to Katakros and can still field all the special characters together as full members of a single legion, but a couple of the other legions can play a bit more nicely with the special characters that most match their aesthetic and narrative themes.



Thoughts?  Am I wrong about the problems I see in the OBR rules?  If you see the same problems I do, how would you fix them?

Edited by Sception
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Ok, so here's an attempt at revising the Ivory Host:

Trait: Battle Rage.  Ivory Host units are said to be either 'disciplined' or 'enraged'.  At the end of any phase where a disciplined ivory host unit suffers unsaved wounds that are not negated but is not destroyed, roll a die.  On a 5+ that unit becomes enraged.  During your battleshock phase, roll a die for each enraged unit in your army that is more than 3" away from the nearest enemy unit, on a 5+ that unit becomes disciplined.  An enraged ivory host unit does not generate relentless discipline points and cannot use or be the target of friendly command abilities other than 'bone frenzy' (see below).  If an Ivory Host unit is already under the effect of a friendly command ability when it becomes enraged, that effect immediately ends.  Enraged units gain +2 movement and +1 to hit with melee attacks but suffer a -1 penalty to hit rolls with ranged attacks.

Command Ability: Bone Frenzy.  You may activate this ability at the start of the combat phase on your turn.  Choose an enraged ivory host unit that successfully completed a charge move in the previous charge phase.  That unit piles in and fights before any other units during this combat phase.  If your opponent also has units that fight before other units blah blah standard wording for strikes first.  Additionally, the chosen unit suffers a -1 penalty to armor saves until the start of your next hero phase.

Command Trait: Controlled Fury.  During your hero phase you may choose up to d3 friendly Ivory Host units within 12" of this general.  If a chosen unit is disciplined it becomes enraged.  If it is enraged it becomes disciplined.

Relic: I forget what it currently is, probably unchanged?


so they still have the battle rage for +1 to hit, but the cost is a loss of discipline, in terms of generating and using relentless discipline points, rather than a flat save penalty.  Instead of the versatile OBR command abilities the unit gains a flat +2 move (good but not as good as the +3 move command ability) and +1 to hit in close combat.  The save penalty is still there, but optional, and in exchange for a more tactically significant out-of-sequence combat round.

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