Friday, October 12, 2012

Ahriman Ideas

I'll bet you he's really poring through a skin mag.
So like many of you reading this I've been digesting the Chaos Codex for the past week and seeing what silly combos are available and what units have been grossly undercosted/overpowered with the book. So far there's nothing that I've found that's quite that ridiculous as its been very balanced: if you want something then you have to pay for it or you have to mess around with your very limited HQ slots to get what you want (usually Fearless units as Troops) and things start to add up very quickly. I note that one of the playtesters over on the B&C forum (the jeske, iirc) reckoned that the army operates best at 2k points levels.

I'm going to go with 1850 though as that it what is usually played in tournaments over here. Aside from the general overview above I wanted to throw out some thoughts about Ahriman as he is one of the characters I've always liked and I've wanted to include him in a list for quite a while and now thankfully he might be worth including as he's got a few things going for him.


The man himself
So he's now a Level 4 Psyker so he'll be getting 4 powers (1 from Tzeentch) and he'll have a 4+ Deny the Witch roll against anything that targets him or his unit. He doesn't get Divination though which is a big let-down, but he might have abandoned it after he was unable to see the Wolves at the door before the Heresy and thought 'Fuck this noise, it doesn't work' so started to set people on fire instead. Ah well, we'll just have to deal with it.

Ahriman: All about the pew pew.
As a consolation prize he's able to shoot like a Yank in the NRA with 3 witchfire powers a turn which doesn't look at good on paper but when you delve deeper (as done here on YTTH) you see that he gets the opportunity to roll on 4 different tables and if he doesn't like the power he's rolled he can default to the Primaris one - all of which are witchfires. Well, that's one approach.

The one I'd rather go for is the Biomancy route and try to roll up the (de)buff spells (particularly Enfeeble and Endurance) and keep his units alive or buff himself before he rolls up into combat (Iron Arm and Warp Speed help a lot). He's got S6 (but only AP 4 sadly) and a Force Weapon as well as re-rolls to hit Spehss Mahreens in the first round of combat so he's able to handle himself against plebs alright but like almost all of the characters in the Chaos book he'll struggle against many enemy characters, which is hilariously ironic seeing as they *have* to issue a challenge every round of combat. The Boon of the Gods table is of little use to you if you have to face off against some combat guy with a 2+/3++ or similar (Lysander, I'm looking at you, you asshole) because you'll probably get squashed before you get to roll on it even with a 3+/4++ so all of your HQ's are usually going to need babysitters so they can get stuck in and earn their keep and not get bogged down at the very least.

Wobbly Model Syndrome proves a picture is worth a thousand son...uh...words.
Thankfully Ahriman is mainly a support character that can do plenty of damage outside of combat either directly with offensive powers or indirectly with buffs/debuffs (and his AP 3 Bolt Pistol with Precision shots). Thanks to random charge length he'll still have to be kept safe from combat for at least one round though so putting in with a squad with a Champion equivalent is an obvious choice. With his non-random Warlord Trait being Master of Deception you are encouraged to run with infantry units in any case so there should be plenty of places for him to hide out in even after sacrificing D3 Infiltrating units (preferably cheap damage dealers and non-scoring).

Finally he gets to take Thousand Sons as Troops. Hooray for fluff I suppose. No, I'm not a fan of the 1k Sons at all as they're a tad expensive for what they do (killing Marines) and they pay through the nose for their 4++ (Invul save) when they'll fall down like other Marines to Bolter fire and Lasguns. Wait - I can give the Sorcerer a roll on the Boon table with a Gift of Mutation. My bad, never mind the fluff so.

Who does he take to the party? 
So who can Ahriman roam around dancing Gangnam Style with while blasting fools? Actually, maybe it should be 'Who should he roam with?' Tzeentch-marked units are one obvious choice as he's only able to join them and unmarked units but Tzunits tend to be expensive compared to their counterparts (especially Nurglites) and their Mark is only useful for units that already have Invul saves. We won't even talk about their Icon even if it gives +1 Combat Res because its just bad.

He'll slow the Fast Attack slots down too much if he signs up with them so that leaves the Elites, Troops and Heavy.

Elites
I'd like to take advantage of him being Fearless and conferring it onto a unit. Terminators with a 2+/4++ are tempting as they're very survivable and would be able to march across the board killing stuff but they're not scoring and might actually be more suited to the Master of Deception suicide bomber role. Chosen are shooty if they want to be but again, they're not scoring and will usually be small in number (sans Abaddon) because they're pricey. Possessed? Meh - they've no guns or grenades and will want to race toward combat which is not necessarily where Ahriman wants to be. Mutilators - again a combat unit but this time it's limited to 3 per squad and there's nowhere to hide from challenges. There's also the fact that I reckon these guys will only work where they're spammed.

Heavy
Havocs might be an option. They like hanging back and pouring fire into units or Flyers and Ahriman going with them means they don't need to splash out on a Fearless Icon and can buy another 14 point warm body because VotLW will be handy for the unit if Ahriman wanders off. Having 4 Witchfire powers in a unit with 4 Assault weapons will make a mess of a lot of units: Say hi to Psychic Shriek, Smite, Tzeentch's Firestorm and 8 Plasma shots as well as all of the bolters at short range for me. It would be a tad expensive and wouldn't normally be scoring though, apart from the Big Guns Never Tire mission, so that's something to think about. The other problem is that you are potentially down an Anti-Air unit as Ahriman's powers won't work that well against them, if at all.

The other unit to think about are Oblits: 2+/5++ with the option for Mark of Tzeentch to make the 5++ into a 4++ for 8 points isn't too expensive for the unit and can give them a decent chance of surviving low AP instant-killing weapons. You can also put Ahriman out front and use his 2+ LO,S to put big hits on the Oblits but its a bit risky, especially against something that throws out lots of shots at once. This unit does allow you to throw out savage amounts of firepower like the Havocs above but is quite expensive when you add Big A's points into the mix (almost 500 pts) considering how fragile it would actually be seeing as it would be exponentially weaker everytime one of them is removed.

Troops
This is arguably the best place for him seeing as it allows him to hang back with lots of warm bodies between him and the enemy while he flakes out AP 2 damage spells or buffs the other units doing the heavy lifting (see the units listed above). Making them Fearless is a handy boost too as it means they won't run away from shooting and since units get a Champion as part of their base cost that buys him time in combat to avoid challenges. Like a boss.

Why are the Orks there?
So we've got regular CSM and Cultists and 1k Sons.  I've had a go at 1k Sons as being too high maintenance but the more I think about them the more I like the fact that they've got Fearless built-in so they don't require a babysitter freeing up a HQ choice to sit elsewhere. There are usually better Cult units to include in an army (Plagues & Noise Marines) but if you are playing to a theme then including a solitary unit of 1k Sons isn't a bad idea because you'll want to forge that narrative (note to self: make a meme of this). Especially when they can join the Feel No Pain party when a 2nd Sorcerer is added to the army and he becomes Fearless too. They can then waddle across the board pew-pewing Marines into oblivion shrugging off small-arms fire which was usually a bigger problem for them than anti-tank rounds were.

At 150 for a basic squad and 23 points a pop they aren't cheap. A unit of 10 in a Rhino costs 300 points. That's the same as 2 units of 10 basic CSM with 2 Meltas in each or 2 units of 30 Cultists with Autoguns. Hopefully that'll give you pause for thought just like d'Angelus. Normally we'll look for a unit that won't break the bank and can still dish out pain. 8 of them is 219 but whether that is enough is another matter. It does give you 9 guys in the unit when a character joins them though, which being their sacred number is kind of cool. See, I'm forging a narrative with religious worship. Suck it Caol├ín.

Despite the funsies it still seems kind of expensive when you consider that a Heldrake is 170 and can punch a Flyer, roast a unit with its AP 3 Flamer which denies cover saves and then scoot off the board for a turn while the 1k Sons, who perform a roughly similar role have to waddle forward or use a Rhino to cover ground and they have to contend with cover saves all the while. They also seem a bit wasteful to Infiltrate as they'll likely get bogged down in assault relatively easily even if they have blown a unit away beforehand. All of this does make the alternative Troop choices more palatable.

Chaos Space Marines (CSM) start out at 130 points for 10 before you hit them with upgrades like Veterans of the Long War (VotLW) and added combat weapons to Grey-Hunterise them. Those, before special weapons are added take them up to 16 points each which still isn't nearly as expensive as 1k Sons but quickly adds up when you do decide to give them Plasma or Melta - its 190 for the same 10 guys to have 2 Plasma guns and this is all before a Mark or Icon is added to them, let alone a transport. Add in Marks and then it climbs even higher. Bear in mind that if you add in a non-Tzeentch Mark then only an unmarked character or one with the same Mark can join the unit so if you want a unit of CSM with Mark of Nurgle (probably the best Mark, tbh) then you'll have to run an Undivided or Nurgle Sorcerer in order to join them.

The Mark of Tzeentch on a regular unit is a waste because you should be using cover which is better and free until you get to combat, where your Power Armour will be far more useful. If you're fighting a unit or a guy that cuts through your 3+ save so your 6++ kicks in you are probably in trouble already. Or you're cunningly weaving Tzeentch's plan. Narratives. Whatever.

I do like the idea of a cheap unit with Plasma infiltrating laying down fire and drawing attention away from other units though. 10 guys with 2 Plasma guns and a Combi-Plasma is 170 pts. I'm not sure if that's wasteful though. I wonder if a 5-man unit with Plas & C-Plas will do just as good a job? Or would it just be better to run with a unit of Chosen loaded up with guns? They are still 49 points cheaper than 8 1k Sons and they have enough Plasma shots to compensate for the loss of Inferno Bolts, but they are more infinitely more likely to run away because they have neither And They Shall Know No Fear or Fearless - both of which are very big deals, especially the lack of ATSKNF because it means if they flee from shooting and are under half strength they're *far* less likely to rally and run a very high risk of being destroyed by sweeping advance. Ahriman mitigates this but should he wander off when enemies come near, it drops their survival rate. I should probably talk about this a bit more but this article is focusing upon Ahriman so I'll park it for now.

Onto Cultists. I reckon they are the best unit for him to hide in simply because they are so cheap that you can buy a horde of them and surround him with scrubs so that it will take ages for any firepower to get near him. Fearless scrubs, mind, so you can happily plonk them down on an objective and they'll mind their own business while the war rages on around them. They don't kill much but it takes some doing to get rid of all of them with a 5+ cover save (better if in Ruins) and again, there's always the ability to throw FNP onto them. Whether its worth casting FNP on them is another question. Probably not if I'm honest.

But as Stalin is oft mis-quoted as saying: 'Quality is a quantity all of its own.' Having loads of guys on the board means they draw more fire, and if they don't then they are more than able to sit back and take an objective while fanning out and contesting more.  Plus, if you give them all Autoguns they are able to pump out a half-decent amount of firepower at 12" and get a few hits when they fire on Overwatch. It won't annihilate anything but it is a few more rounds in the enemy's direction. It does give you a good footprint and acts as an area denial unit to Flyers as well as an unpalatable tarpit to units as long as Ahriman is able to tackle whatever is in front of him.

They're also the cheapest option by a country mile - 30 of them with Autoguns and 3 Flamers (for multiple hits and Overwatch fire) is 165 points which can free up large amounts of points to spend elsewhere. Whether it's worth throwing them forward as your infiltrators is open to debate though, as they'll need a Fearless babysitter or they'll fold like nobody's business if they are hit by a dedicated combat unit or multiple half-assed units. Ya, they're better used as deckchairs (sitting back and watching the world go by) and/or as support for other units while babysitting any characters.

Allies
Finally. I've only dealt with Infantry units in the new Chaos dex and made no mention of Daemonic Allies but they'll fit nicely in here. Running with a Tzeentch there it's handy that Tzeentch Daemons are the best ones now in the Elite and Fast slots and while the Plaguebearers are arguably the best unit in Troops because they're still resilient, Horrors are a close second because they have a decent save and can shoot at nearby units, so running all-Tzeentch is a penalty in any way.

CSM also look to make decent Allies for other armies but since they are so limited as Battle Brothers (only Chaos Daemons) there are probably better armies available to fill that role.

Lists
So going with a Tzeentch theme here are a few lists.

Ahriman
230 pts
Sorcerer with Mark of Tzeentch, Terminator Armour, Mastery Level 3, Spell Familiar
165 pts

35 Cultists with Autoguns and 3 Flamers
190 pts
9 Thousand Sons
242 pts
10 Chaos Marines with 2 Plasma guns, Combi-Plas, VotLW, Combat Weapons
200 pts
10 Chaos Marines with 2 Plasma guns, Combi-Plas, VotLW, Combat Weapons
200 pts

5 Spawn
150 pts

3 Oblits with Mark of Tzeentch
236 pts
3 Oblits with Mark of Tzeentch
236 pts

That should be 1849 pts. It's got a bit of everything - two tough units of scoring Troops (Cultists and 1k Sons) but for different reasons with 2 Fearless characters that fire out all of the buff powers. Ahriman and the Sorcerer take 5 Biomancy and 2 Tzeentch powers between them, with the 1k Sons Sorcerer rolling first to draw out the more sucky powers as he's best with the Primaris or the Boon of Mutation power: he's better off throwing Boon at Ahriman and his buddy rather than vice-versa.

The Marine squads can be used to sprint up the board bringing Plasma into range or they can be used to Infiltrate. As can the Oblits although they're probably better hanging back and pouring supporting fire into the enemy, as well as tackling enemy Flyers. They might not have Skyfire but thanks to Assault Cannons they now have a chance to torrent them down by throwing out 12 shots per unit. If you are worried about them being pasted early on then you can always put the characters into them to keep them alive. They'll also be able to unleash a decent amount of anti-tank and anti-infantry fire to boost the rest of the army.

Meanwhile the Spawn scamper forward with their 15 T5 wounds soaking up all of the firepower for one or two rounds buying time for the other units to get onto objectives.

It's an-all rounder but there are other ways to play the list with the A-man in it.

Ahriman
230 pts
Sorcerer as above but no Mark of Tzeentch and a Meltabomb
150 pts
Tzerald on Disc
65 pts

9 Flamers with Pyrocaster
212 pts

35 Cultists
190 pts
10 CSM with Mark of Nurgle, 2 Meltas, CCW, VotLW
210 pts
10 CSM with Mark of Nurgle, 2 Plasmas, CCW, VotLW
220 pts
10 CSM with Mark of Nurgle, 2 Plasmas
180 pts
9 Horrors
153 pts

9 Screamers 225 pts

Lots of scoring Troops in this list but there is a distinct lack of anti-Flyer and Heavy Support units but this is made up for by the inclusion of tough-as-balls Daemon units (thanks to Lo,S and/or the sheer number of wounds: just ask Mr. Stowe over at In Midnight Clad) with huge amounts of firepower/combat ability in the Flamers and Screamers respectively with  a wall of T5 Marines to back them up and hold the centre while the Horrors and Cultists move to grab objectives.

Thanks to the loss of the Mark of Tzeentch on the Sorcerer you are now guaranteed all of the Biomancy powers, or whatever discipline you are having yourself although I would suggest Biomancy as it means that you will have at least 1 Endurance and 1 Enfeeble and possibly 2 of each. Then you can start flinging FNP around onto whatever unit needs it most, although I like the idea of either the T5 Marines or Flamers getting it as it makes it much harder to drill through the army.

There's also the NRA Ahriman approach where you go for all of the witchfire powers and since another Psyker isn't needed for that you can find more points to squeeze in units, or even a combat character to tackle enemy ones.

Ahriman
230 pts

30 Cultists (no Autoguns)
130 pts
30 more Cultists as above
130 pts
10 CSM with CCW, VotLW, 2 Meltas, Meltabomb
185 pts
Rhino with Dozer
40 pts
10 CSM with CCW, VotLW, 2 Meltas, Meltabomb
185 pts
Rhino with Dozer
40 pts
10 CSM with CCW, VotLW, 2 Meltas, Meltabomb
185 pts
Rhino with Dozer
40 pts


Heldrake with Baleflamer
170 pts

Heldrake with Baleflamer
170 pts

Predator with Sponson Lascannons
115 pts

Predator with Sponson Lascannons
115 pts

Predator with Sponson Lascannons
115 pts

It might look like an ode to 5th ed but there's enough lot of Hull Points and fire power here to make this a solid list as it has plenty of AP 2 (Ahriman's default powers, the Marine's Melta and the Pred Lascannons) with an aggressive element pushing forward in their Rhinos supported by the Heldrakes attack. The Preds have enough shots to do damage to Flyers even though they hit on 6's and they will usually do enough to finish off a Flyer damaged by a Heldrake's Vector Strikes. All of these vehicles are pulling attention away from the boots on the ground and there are enough of them to pull you through most objective missions, especially with 5 scoring units even if you want to throw one of them away with A-man's Master of Deception rule.

I've glossed over some of his uses and this isn't exhaustive by any means but if there's anything that has been glaringly omitted then feel free to add your own suggestions here.


4 comments:

  1. Just a note Merv; unlike in Fantasy Psykers can have the same powers, so having 6 Biomancy rolls across 2 different Psykers doesn't guarantee you 6 different powers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having re-read pg 142 of the mini-BRB you are indeed correct. I'll edit that and another detail in the morning. Thanks for that Jay.

      It does force me to slightly alter power selections with him but on the whole if you have 6 rolls you are obviously more likely to get the useful ones. In Biomancy its Enhance & Enfeeble are the two best respectively while Iron Arm & Warp Speed are next with Smite & Life Leech bringing up the rear. We won't even mention haemorrage because it simply won't do what it says on the tin (kill hordes).

      Even Tzeentch's Firestorm is arguably better than that.

      Delete
  2. Hmmm I'll couch my comment with the disclaimer I have played bugger all 6th edition and I ma rusty as hell at 40k.

    That said, preds only have 3 hull points, the light loadout indicated you expect them to get blown up how much are sponsons is it worth having them?

    Also with the two large blocks of cultists are you hoping to get "Invisible" or does a Warlord trait allow him to infiltrate? I don't see them being much of support of offensive role?

    Great read thought very insightful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, technically everyone is rusty as hell at 40k now, although I haven't played as much as I'd have liked to. ;)

      I take it you're referring to the last list? The Preds only have the 3 HP but its much harder to shake/stun them than it was before so they can throw out a lot of suppressive fire and also provide a decent amount of anti-tank for about half the points of a trio of Oblit units. They're also arguably more effective at tackling any Flyers.

      No, I'm not going for Invisible: I'm using them as meatshields to give Ahriman 30+ wounds by shrink-wrapping him so he won't get into shot or into combat until everything around him is dead. They've also got big 'Shoot Me!' sings on them to take attention away from all of the other units bearing down on top of them, which is fine, because one unit is Fearless and the other needs to have 8 dropped before they take a Morale test. Plus, having 60 or so shots when within 12" of an enemy or when overwatching is nice. They're not normally a unit to be used aggressively - they're just there to get in the way and give cover saves to stuff. Like the Preds if they're caught sitting in the open.

      Ahriman has the Trait allowing them to Infiltrate so if I want to start applying pressure right away I can dump the Cultists and/or some CSM right in his face or pull them out and sit them on an objective covered by the Preds.

      Cheers for dropping by and adding to the discussion.

      Delete

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