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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, January 22, 2011

Herohammer In Summary: Key Army Design Concepts

In a Herohammer mindset, you are trying to build in all of the key concepts which we as gamers here on 3++ as well as on associate blogs profess as being the strong building blocks of a good player. Things such as army-wide redundancy, target saturation, blocking, suppression, resilience, and mobility to name just a few. The only issue is, you can't, not all of them anyways and those that you do are on a compacted scale. Herohammer is like taking everything that we here at 3++ is the New Black take as gospel in terms of a Competitively Balanced Army and throwing it out the window because no matter how much you try, you simply can't do it all. Instead you have to prioritise a few key concepts and work with them.

For me with the Space Wolf list it was i) Resilience, ii) The Ability to Take on All Comers for Each Model, iii) Emphasising Combat Superiority, iv) Mobility Without Armour, and v) The Cool Factor.
i) Resilience - you have to be able to survive everything thrown at you and keep on marching, luck may be needed, but the ability and the possibility is essential to the army. This is in essence invulnerable saves to as many models as possible. You don't have a commanding prescence on the board, your army is not a target saturated force, with 10 models at 1750pts against any of my standard lists where I am suppressing upwards of 12-16 targets on my opening salvo, each of those targets becomes one or even half of one of the 'Heroes', and so you need to be able to survive anything thrown your way.

ii) Ability to Take On All Comers for Each Model - Each model chews up massive amounts of your points, they need to be able to take on everything as losing your army is going to happen and happen fast and you simply do not have the target saturation to afford to specialise in one or two aspects only in different, but not all, units of the force. This is basically the only way you can work in redundancy to your army. Everything can take on everything else to an extent so it doesn't matter what your opponent kills or targets because every model in your army can deal with the opposing army to a degree.
iii) Emphasising Combat Superiority - You don't have the numbers or the individual firepower to be a firepower army. This leaves combat. If you hit combat, your opponents will get wiped out no matter what. Bells and Whistles, no holding back, ramp up those upgrades so as you can ignore armour saves and if you ran some light anti-infantry firepower (combi-flamers for example) take an upgrade which makes you better in combat (Mark of the Wulfen). See Points I & II above: You are resilient so can take hits in combat if you are packing a Thunder Hammer before you strike and still be around, but the ability to take on even toughness 8 monsters and wound them on all your models in the army is key (Frost Blades are brilliant on strength 4 bikers!). On that point, the difference between a Powerfist and a Thunder Hammer is usually 5 points, but that Thunder Hammer also auto-stuns vehicles and reduces enemies to your Initiative of 1 for future combat rounds, making sure you can stay alive to finish the job so don't skimp on the inferior items! Now, the best thing and a complete surprise as it didn't occur to me when building the list, is if you ignore armour saves in combat, you by-pass Feel No Pain. Dark Eldar, Blood Angels and Tyranids, all 5th ed codicies have Feel No Pain easily available to massed numbers of models and in the Dark Eldar and Tyranid cases especially, it is usually what keeps them alive, so ignoring it completely is a massive bonus in this emphasis on combat superiority.
iv) Mobility Without Armour - In the previous article, I mentioned how you are minimising models in the army design, in essence there's only room for the Heroes themselves and so vehicles don't really find a place in the army. This is important because against a Competitively Balanced Army with 2 or 3 Armoured Vehicles in your army at most, your armour is dead in your opponents first turn. It's as simple as that. So in a way you are mitigating all of this anti-tank firepower and eliminating it to a point, but that is another discussuon point entirely. The focus is that Mobility is key to a successful army as without it your opponent simply drives away and destroys you at range whilst you try, and fail every time, to play catch ups. So this is where other mobile options come into play. Bikers, Jump Packers, Cavalry, even Infiltrators/Scouts/Out Flankers wall into this category: Any option which allows your army to engage with the enemy sooner rather then later and in addition continue to engage with the enemy in later turns even if they decide to flee in their own transports, is one which needs to be seriously considered with the herohammer army in question.
v) The Cool Factor - This is nothing normally even considered in a Competitively Balanced Army. For Herohammer however...the simple rule of 'if it is cool and rarely seen because it isn't optimal or you can achieve the same thing but get extra bonuses with other options (e.g. TWL with twin frost weapons in my list instead of one witha Frost Weapon and a Plasma Pistol to still gain the extra attack in combat with the Frost Weapon but also gain a handy plasma shot at range just didn't gel with me, I've done some Historically Accurate Viking Re-enactment and know how easy and indeed smart it is to use a hand weapon and shield but two hand weapons is horrendously difficult to do and requires serious amounts of practice, especially when you are in the front rank of a battle line hundreds strong, it's the bad ass factor which appeals here and why the TWL has two frost weapons) then do it' is what drives this. I originally had The Warrior Born Twin-Frost Blade TWL with twin-Thunder Hammers because 15 str 10 TH attacks is epic...but practicality in army design still influences this point. It's personnal preference really. You have less then 20 guys in an army which usually numbers for foot at 80+ in the same points bracket, you want to go to town on the little touches. In all seriousness, I do reccommend people run the occasional guy with two chainfists, it is just sweet badass fun.
So, in a nutshell, that's the design premise behind a Herohammer list: You want the list to be as competitive as you can but you can't do everything so you need to excel in one or two key areas and be able to last long enough to deliver the blows, or at least to start delivering them.

Cheers everyone,

Auretious Taak.

P.S. One thing I forgot to mention in the last article was that I got bored of winning all my games when I put my mind to it and ran strong Competitively Balanced Armies, so i wanted something different. The Legion of the Damned army was the start and that was hilarious and indeed that is partially built as we speak, but the Herohammer concept and list provided a different avenue for game play and like my experiences in Mordheim, I appear to be making very few mistakes whilst running the Herohammer army for Space Wolves but also picking up alot more of the finer points of gameplay and the rules and how to apply them to my best advanatge on the field of battle. With larger armies, you don't always get that as you aren't being overly critical of every move you are making, it doesn't matter if you make a mistake you've got redundancy built in so prevalently that this protects you from your mistakes, but Herohammer is different, and that makes all the difference in continuing to want to play it against harder armies and better players.

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