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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Leave No Man Behind: Catachans In 5th ED

As you can undoubtedly tell from the photo, I've been busy at work; you know flying around Iraq taking photos and such. But wait! I chose this photo because it is the perfect segue into my next two part miniseries: Catachans in 5th ED. Now how, you are surely thinking, does this photo relate to the Catachans or 40k? Well friends, it's simple: firstly we have a photo of AirCav in action (ok not really); and secondly, look at that death world! Ok so Iraq's not that bad, it's more of a Tallarn than a Catachan but whatever you get my drift..

With that said, part one will discuss the KISS method of making a more "fluffy" (oh god I just broke like a million interwebz cardinal rules of 40K), which is basically the easy way of incorporating more "traditional" Catachan elements into an IG list. Part two will focus more on revamping Codex: Catachan as a whole to bring it into 5th ED tolerance. These are all ideas really, and would require some play testing as well as opponents permission if you all dared to brave the crazy ideas I have and use them in a game. And so, let's begin...

5th ED is all about customization and options. The tone was set with Codex: Space Marines and their ability to make different lists depending upon the Special Character used. For all intents and purposes, you could now effectively field a Raven Guard Army or a Salamanders Army and make those armies fluffy and competitive. So I eagerly awaited the release of Codex: Imperial Guard thinking that finally we could make pure Elysian Armies or Pure Mordian Armies, or, in the context of this article, Pure Catachan Armies. How I figured GW would do this was of course through some crazy ability/FOC unlocking system akin to the Space Marines. Well much to my chagrin, C:IG didn't meet these lofty expectations of mine. While they have some very awesome SC's, the lack of FOC unlocking or army wide abilities was a semi let down. Fast forward to last week, I reacquired a copy of Codex: Catachan (C:C) and much to my amazement I discovered our good friend COL. Straken and his awesome FOC altering ability of allowing Catachan Devil Squads to be taken as Troops. This was the spark that fired my overactive and over-worked imagination and so, here are the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principles of bringing the Catachans back by doing very minor adjustments / additions to the current C:IG

Firstly, I figured we could shamelessly steal the idea from C:C of Straken unlocking some cool units. So change 1 would be allowing Straken to unlock 0-3 Catachan Devil Squads as an Elites choice and 0-1 Booby Traps as a HW choice. Why? Well as is, in an elite Guard style army (think AirCav or even Mech Vet) there are very few...worthwhile Elites choices that are effective AND fluffy to these styles of army. Straken's unlock ability is a chance to rectify this and allow for a unique and competitive choice.

So now we have a new unit, the "Catachan Devils". Who or what are they? Quite simply, they are slightly stronger Vets. The one thing that struck me about C:C was how GW basically gutted it by taking most of the strong units in their (like Devils) and watering them down a bit to make them more acceptable as regular units in :IG (i.e. Veteran Squads). Problem is, they watered down some of the elements that made them unique and fluffy. Therefore, to bring them back into the 5th ED fold, they would be basically be:

Catachan Devil Squad:
Cost: 90 pts
Stats: As per C: IG "Veteran Squad" with +1 WS
Weapons: Lasgun, CCW, Laspistol, frag/krak
Options: As per C: IG "Veteran Squad", no options for doctrines, no option for dedicated transport.
Special Rules: Infiltrate, Stealth, Move Through Cover (all as per 40K Rulebook), Ambush

Basically they are a slightly more powerful Vet Squad. The difference is that they have a completely different role and mission set. Whereas regular Veteran Squads can be widely used as either a mobile strike force (in Valks or Chims) or a solid base of fire, the Devils are a more specialized force that is truly a pure disruption style unit. For cost comparison, here's a quick break down of two squads:

AirCav Veteran Squad: 2X Melta, 1x HF, PW, Demolitions: 150pts
Devil Squad: 2X Melta, 1X HF, PW: 140pts

Before people say "wait they're cheaper! Unfair!" think of this: they can't take a transport and they can't get doctrines. In place of that they get 3 USR's. It is a fairly even trade off, doctrines and transport in exchange for 3 USR's and 1 Special Rule. Where the AirCav unit can do all and fit in anywhere (and can have a dedicated transport...or ride in a Valk) the Devils cannot. Given the lack of vehicular support or even carapace armor, Devils are weak in that they RELY upon terrain to make them survivable. Take away terrain (or mitigate it with template weapons), they become a slightly more expensive Vet Squad.

Moving along, since I mentioned this new rule (well it's "new" to those of you who haven't played 3rd ED Catachan), "Ambush" is, in my opinion, the one thing that really distinguishes the Devils from a normal Vet Squad. The rules for "Ambush" in 3rd ED were somewhat obtuse and complicated and I feel 5th ED has a system already in place that accurately represents this ability. So, in "keeping it simple", "Ambush" in 5th ED would work exactly like the "Dormant" rule for Ymgarl Genestealers, with the following caveats:

- The unit must fit entirely within the piece of terrain or no more than 1" outside of it
- The unit is automatically "discovered" if an enemy unit comes within 1" of the terrain piece. If this happens, the Devil Squad is immediately placed in the piece of terrain. The discovering unit may not shoot/assault the Devil Squad, but other enemy units may.
- Assuming they aren't discovered, they arrive as per the rules for "Dormant". They may move/shoot/assault as normal the turn they appear.

With this rule, they become a "go big or go home" disruption unit. A smart opponent will move towards all terrain quickly in order to not only force the Devils to appear, but also to get cover saves. On the other hand, if the enemy doesn't do this, or just picks the wrong terrain pieces, there's the possibility of a nasty unit appearing on your doorstep, loaded out with some heavy firepower (3X meltas and a Missile Launcher? Yikes!) This unit could either be a colossal flop or a game changer.

Next up, Straken would allow 1 Squad of Ratling Snipers to be upgraded to a Death World Sniper Squad for +30pts. The upgraded unit would not be able to add additional Snipers and would have one new rule, "Death World Toxins" which would allow them to re-roll wounds (just like in C:C). Additionally, they would gain the IC rule, allowing them to set up separately and alone. So you end up getting 3 DW Snipers for the cost of 6 regular Ratlings, but instead of bodies, you get 1 new rule and the Snipers become IC's.

Finally, the last thing Straken would do is unlock the option for 0-1 Booby Traps as a Heavy Support Choice, where you could get 3 Booby Traps for that 1 HS slot. These would also follow the set up rules for "Dormant" and "Ambush" with the following changes:
- they are not held in Reserve and thus cannot become available
- they are triggered when an enemy unit goes into, through, out of, or within 1" of the terrain piece it is hidden in.

The choices and rules for Booby Traps would be the same as in C:C, with some minor tweaks:
- Plasma Charge: 30pts; same S and AP, use small Blast template
-Shredder Mine: same price, S4 and AP remains the same, as does the template.
- Spring Mine: same price, S5 AP4, use large blast
- Trap: remains the same

To add some more Catachan flavor doesn't require wide ranging rules changes or a whole new Codex. In fact, bringing our Rambo wannabes into 5th ED would require an additional ability to an already existing character, 3 new units for the Guard 'dex, and 2 new Special Rules. None of these add ons are game breaking or "OTT", and in fact fit perfectly in with the current incarnation of the Guard codex. The benefit is it allows for a more fluffy, yet competitive, Catachan style (or Death World style) force. Heck, it would even allow GW to create a new model line, or at least revamp the Catachan model line so players would have more bits to play with to make and customize their own "Devil Force".

To summarize, the KISS method of bringing the Catachans and other Death Worlders into 5th ED would require:
- Straken having 1 more ability to alter the FOC (allow for 2 more Elite Choices and 1 more HS choice)
- Introduce 3 "new" units (two of which is already in C:IG, and both are really just slightly boosted versions of them)
- Introduce two "new" rules

If only GW had considered doing things like this when writing the IG codex, it would be possible to create fluffy/themed and competitive armies. This could have been done for all the major IG armies, so Alrahem, Mogul Kamir, Chenkov, Creed, etc. could have all allowed for minor FOC adjustments to have been made (in addition to their normal bonuses). I mean I think it would have been pretty awesome that if you took Kamir, Rough Riders could count as scoring, or would be considered Troops instead of FA.

That's it for part one! Part two will be up shortly, in which I will actually tear apart Codex: Catachan and rebuild it for 5th ED, with honestly only minor changes (primarily relating to points costs). After that, I will FINALLY post the map and recruitment thread for the 3++ Campaign: Assault on Kastorel-Novem II: The Revenge. Hope you all enjoyed reading this rambling of mine and if you have any input as to what YOU'D do to bring the Catachans into 5th ED (or ANY of the old Guard Regiments of Renown), I'd love to hear it!

15 pinkments:

Auretious Taak said...

You could just use the Codex Catachans as written instead. That'd be KISS far more then trying to make up rules et al. Sure, bit overpriced for some units but that's what you pay for being awesome. :)

VT2 said...

Why would you do this?
You already get 'catachan devils,' and they're troops now. The only thing that's really changed is the name, and them being cheaper, more versatile, effective, and customizable.

I am of course talking about veteran squads.

Roland Durendal said...

DAMNIT TAAK! Don't give away my big secret for part 2 :-p

In answer to your question, yes and no. I decided that it'd be easier using the current IG codex with minor additions to start with as opposed to trying to revamp the old Codex to bring it up to 5th ED speed. As I'll get into in my next article (spoiler alert!) using the old Catachan 'dex is viable, it will just require needing the 5th ED IG codex on hand to make price adjustments easier. That...or just cross out all the prices in the Catachan 'dex and then hand jam in the corresponding C:IG prices...

Wait for it, my part two will get into the tweaks needed to make Codex: Catachan playable. I figured I'd give people two options: Codex: IG with Catachan flavor or Codex: Catacchan with some 5th ED flavor :-)

Roland Durendal said...

@ VT2: I know and I point out all those factors in the article. But a lot more has changed than that...

They're -1WS, -1LD, lost the ability to get shotguns or Laspistol and CCW for free in addition to their lasgun, can no longer have an attached officer, lost Infiltrate, lost the 3rd ED equivalent of Move Through Cover, lost Scout...and gained the ability to take a HW, dedicated transport, and doctrines. So it truly is more than a "changed name..being cheaper, more versatile, effective, and customizable."

I agree C:IG Vets are cheaper, versatile, and customizable (on account of doctrines and dedicated transports), but they aren't more effective, nor do they add that unique flavor to the army (outside of a paint job). As I said, both regular Vets and "Catachan Devils" have specific niches they fill: Vets are the be-all end-all role filler, where as "Catachan Devils" are by design (both 3rd ED and with 5th ED adjustments) designed to severely disrupt your opponents movement and plans. AirCav an only partially do this to an opponent.

Think of it this way, outside of Ymgarl Stealers, how many units make you wary of going into or near cover? Marbo is one. Outside of that though? The sole purpose of the "Devils" (and Booby Traps) is to get into the other persons head and make them decide whether the potential risk of going into cover (or going near cover for a save) is worth the potentail fall out if said cover has a Booby Trap or Devil Squad.

That is something that no regular Vet Squad could ever hope to do. The closest is, as I said, the surprise outflanking Vet Squad in a Valkyrie/Vendetta.

Auretious Taak said...

Lictors, Deathleaper, Callidus Assassins, Vanguard Veterans are some units that spring to mind in terms of Ymgarl Genestealers and don't go into cover!

Whilst I can see your point in updating points values, look at my point again:

There are many codicies that haven't been updated since their first release in 3rd Edition 40k (Dark Eldar) or only very recently and many still from 4th ed which are still functional in 5th ed, though with limitations of course but none which can't be overcome withs kill (okay so Necrons are fail, but even so!). The variant space marine codicies for example DA, BA, SW, SM and BT's all have differing prices for similar units and yet people play with those rules differences all the time. Just run Codex Catachans as standard. The only modification you'd need do is modify the 4+ cover save in woods to a +1 cover save in wooded terrain so as they still retain that extra point of cover save on anyone else in the game when in cover. ie, they have the stealth rule in forests, jungle, wood et al.

Now, page 2 of the Catachan Codex has rules for using Catachan Units in Imperial Guard Armies, allowing assault teams, making units and characters Deathworld veterans and also allowing Catachan Devils, Deathworld Veterans, Sniper Teams and Deathworld Sentinels and Assault Teams to boot. Just grab your opponents permission or a TO's and have at it. You can always use the angle which GW used that they priced the whole army a bit too much for the codex relative to all other codicies instead of pricing relative to the codex itself.

Cheers mate,
Auretious Taak.

Roland Durendal said...

Actually Taak, that's a good point I didn't even think of. I had my head wrapped around the idea of either adjusting Codex: Catachan to reflect current point values or adjust Codex: IG to permit incorporation of traditional Catachan units.

I think Part Deux (or however it's spelled en la Francais) will go over that: the minor adjustments to Codex: Catachan to make it 5th ED legit and possibly throw out some fun/competitive builds.

Thanks for the refinement of my idea :-)

Auretious Taak said...

Glad to be a help. :)

Post pics of your army! :D

Auretious Taak.

VT2 said...

I don't know about you, but I'm not exactly 'wary' of going near a terrain piece that may or many not have toughness 4, 4+ armor save dudes in them, that hit my rhinos on 6's, and need additional 6's to do any damage.

I don't even sweat Rambo.
He comes on, throws his bomb, and gets killed by boltpistols.

r4gn4r said...

@VT2 I know what you mean about Rambo. But he should never be taken lightly. My friend has taken out multiple groups of Space Marines with him, and the rolls he made weren't absurdly good.

I've always liked the flavor of the Catachans, and is nice to see someones take on them

VT2 said...

Space marines hide in rhinos.
Still don't sweat Rambo.

Roland Durendal said...

I think you're mistaking something here VT2....the Devils appear, fire off 3X meltas, wreck your rhino, and then if they feel so bold, assault the remaining Marines. Granted S/T3 v. S/T4 is a long shot, but as I said, they excel in doing what regular Vets don't: disruption. So this whole 6 to hit, 6 to do damage bit is sort of...leaving me confuzzled.

That's one of the key strengths of certain elements in the Catachan list (Snipers, Devils, Booby Traps, Patrols) - the ability to disrupt your opponents plan by forcing potentially unnecessary caution (or hesitation). Heck if you look at it, the ENTIRE army can outflank if it wants to.

In essence it's an army based on terrain denial, which in real military operations, is key. It's the same here - sure you might not be afraid of a bunch of S/T3 dudes, until they randomly appear in your backfield next to that unprotected tank, or right next to that unsuspecting Rhino.

Gimme a day or two when I do part 2 and I'll post the 2K list I drafted up. It has the potential to deny (or threaten) up to 10 different grid squares/pieces of terrain. Basically makes it a possible liability to go near any cover without possibly taking casualties.

Roland Durendal said...

Which reminds me, I'm not saying this Army or list is "uber" or super crazy "competitive", it's a very thematic and fun army that has some potential to be mildly competitive. It's all about broadening the gaming horizon, for we don't always play competitive games (least I don't), and having a good campaign type army (and playing in the upcoming 3++ one! Shameless plug I know) is where much fun is often had.

Auretious Taak said...

When's the next 3++ Campaign? I miss all the awesome!

Roland Durendal said...

Haha Taak it's the same one I've been trying to get off the ground for the past 2 months. Soon (like this weekend) I'll make a post for players to see if there's still interest.

Arcades Dolor said...

For the simpler Catachan experience:
CCS with Straken
Vet troops, maybe Harker. Camo cloaks doctrine
Ratling Snipers
Scout Sentinels
Easy on the Heavy Support (maybe a Hydra).

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