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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

Friday, January 21, 2011

Herohammer: The Concept Explored In Brief

This is probably my shortest article to date, ever.

Herohammer in Ages Past:

Herohammer as a concept has been around for many years and as per kirby's article here we can see that in the traditional sense, Herohammer is non-existent in the Warhammer 40,000 of today because you simply can't pump enough points into single models with enough damage output to give them the title of Herohammer. In this way, Kirby smacks the nail on the head, but what isn't recognised is that as a whole, things have started to become much cheaper in recent codicies (ie everything from 3rd ed onwards, with 5th ed pushing the boundaries further again - especially as we've seen each marine codex slowly refine itself points wise) and one can fit far more into his or her army then previously.

This has the effect that characters are less domineering because there is more to consider in terms of threats within an army, but is this the case all the time? Many people believe so, but I disagree.
My Herohammer Interpretation:

My Space Wolf Herohammer army started as a concept whilst chatting on the 3++ Chat Bawks explaining how 5 years ago I ran a 91 model Space Marine army at 1500pts, and a discussion about horde marine lists and how they could and could not work with current codicies. That got me thinking about the opposite end of the spectrum: What if I intentionally set out to build an army with as few models as possible. It would have to be competitive to the point of walking into a tournament and being able to win at least one game in a 3 game event if played well with a bit of luck as well (much like my legion of the Damned Army - Chumbalaya, I need to play the SW Herohammer verse your Daemons, lets see if they can last longer then Sgt Chronos at Turn 6 solo verse 30 Bloodletters and nothing else around from my army!) but in general be a challenge to play and win with...if possible.

So I set about doing it and came up with a list at 1500 points that packed in 9 models. It expanded to 1750 by adding another one and 2000pts by adding a Transport, 11 models at 2, We saw a refined list work well in The Cryx Cup 2011 back on the 3rd of January and it did surprisingly well. Not with one or two key models as per traditional herohammer (though it appears that way with the Thunderwolf Mounted Lords doing most of the killing) but with a small army of characters all working in concert. And this is how I see Herohammer today: A group of characters, able to take on all comers individually and as a whole, working together to take on armies many times their size. And it has been a blast thus far.
Herohammer - is it Competitive and if so Where and When?:

It must be noted at this point that I'm from Australia, as is Kirby, Vinsanity, fester and SneakyDan. We all play in a predominantly Composition Tournament Environment (because we don't live in Western Australia where Non-Composition is standard and it's not cheap to fly there.
These Herohammer Armies are competitive in a Comp Tournament System - Sorry Kirby, I'm not gonna have you or other people tell me once again that I played crap armies and beat crap players at Cryx Cup, we'll take Dennis and his Tyranids (my last game at Cryx Cup 2011) as the example here: His Tyranids didn't have Hive Guard, instead they had Twin-Linked Heavy Venom Cannon Harpies, a choice which as discussed both here and on are a good solid redundant choice for anti-tank firepower, more reliable then their Hive Tyrant and carnifex brothers because they will hit more often, have greater range, and are mounted on a highly mobile gun platform. This army list distinction aside, Dennis's army was otherwise a carbon copy of your standard Non-Comp Tournament Tyranid List - Tyrant, Tyrant Guard, Prime, Couple units of Termagants, 2 Troop Tervigons, 2 Tyrannofexes with Rupture Cannons, 2 Harpies instead of 6 Hive Guard (pretty sure that was it from memory). Now, for perspective, Dennis is Australia's current High Lord of Terra. the Lords of Terra which Kirby attended the Open Tournament in 2010 is also home to The High Lords of Terra, the closest we here in Australia have to a Nationals Masters Tournament each year. It's invite only based off of rankings in tournaments of a certain size throughout the previous year, and it is open to aussies Australia-wide and from memory (though don't quote me here) New Zealanders as well. I didn't play a crap opponent, I played a really good opponent who made one error which I capitalised on and he still nearly beat me. You can call the Space Wolf Herohammer army non-competitive, but thus far it is undefeated at tournaments in the Comp Environment. I never said you played crap lists or crap players. It doesn't mean it's competitive in any sense of the word. Comp-competitive =/= competitive and there's a reason I don't talk about comp in my posts. I don't care. I attend tournaments if comp is there, point out the fallacies and misunderstandings it operates under or simply don't attend the tournaments (generally from bad missions). Can a fatally flawed list work at a comped event? Sure. Doesn't meant it gets the label competitive. And you point this out below.

So, Composition Tournaments aside, is herohammer viable in a competitive sense in a Non-Composition Environment. The simple and honest answer, without bucketloads of luck and not making a single mistake capitalising on every mistake an opponent makes and even's a stretch. However, against many armies in a non-comp environment, the Herohammer army as a concept still stands a chance. Why? Because not all the armies have codicies balanced to 5th edition yet and moreover, not everyone in the world understands how to make what one can state in a subjective manner as a Top Tier Non-Comp Tournament army. But this then brings us back to one of the original points on Herohammer as a concept: You want to be able to win at least one game in a non-composition tournament just like in a composition environment. The problem here is it is simply a massive rock list and will do well just like normal rock lists against bad lists. Unfortunately for us people haven't figured this out yet (hi UK Masters). You again seem to have grasped this.
In summary:

Herohammer as a concept, to my mind, is an evolution of the traditional concept that has scaled in line with updates to codicies and general reductions in costs of characters and units Warhammer 40,000-wide in the past few editions of the game. It is no longer 1 or 2 key characters but 4, 5 or 6 or more that combine to create the same effect. It isn't as definite anymore however.

Your aim is to win one game in a tournament, anything else is a bonus. You're out to prove that despite all the weaknesses of the army, you as a player still have the skills to make it work. It's small and brutal, a challenge even for an experienced and good player, and it also presents good modelling opportunities as hey, it's a fraction of the number of models one usually has to paint for an army.

Finally, you're trying to pack in as few models as possible to make it viable, and this means spending big on individual models points wise. A Fenrisian Wolf for ablative wounds on a Wolf Lord is 15 points - that's 1% of a 1500pt army not 10% or more, the same is true of a Drop Pod: it's Herohammer, not out and out Smarthammer in terms of list building.

The skill thus comes in taking these concepts and playing a very strong game and winning. If you want a challenge in tournament play, run the Space Wolf Herohammer Army or try and build alternatives in other codicies, Imperial or Xenos alike.

In the next article, I'll explore ideas and concepts which makes the Space Wolf Herohammer work (no, it's not just Thunderwolf Mounted Lords and no it's not just because Space Wolves can get more solid and powerful Characters then other armies) and provide the tools for one' to extrapolate the concept into other codicies.

Cheers all,

Auretious Taak.

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