Friday, April 8, 2011

Spotlight: Helldivers... Part 1.

Since I now have three Helldivers in my army (until I change my mind like I always do), I got to thinking about it. It's actually a pretty survivable little machine at three points. With DEF14/ARM15 and 22 health boxes, it's a lot tougher to take out than your average three point solo, can boost it's attack and damage, and benefit from Battlegroup buffs. Add to that the ability to burrow and the Helldiver strikes where it likes, and has a pretty good chance of surviving it.

So why is this wondrous machine just three points... There have been epic discussions about this on the privateer press forums, and some of it actually made sense:
  • Focus: Operating at the front or behind enemy lines, makes it hard to keep the thing within control range so you can assign Focus. This drawback is made less annoying with Terminal Velocity, as Mortenebra can move up and fire her pulse, to allow the Helldiver to be 20" away from her at the beginning of the round. There's also Deryliss, but having him so far up the front is asking for trouble.
  • Movement: The Helldiver is slow and tops out at just above ten inches per round, with burrowing, which is faster than running. It does so without using any Focus, but the main issue is, that the Helldiver works best when it's out in front of the army, pushing back ranged units or making the opponent jump through hoops to avoid a burrow charge through his lines. Cryx is a faction of SPD6-7 models, and being left behind means the Helldiver will do nothing for the entire game. With Mortenebra there's a slight offset in the T4 bonus, that increases the deployment zone by two inches, but this really isn't enough. The thing I see here is, that I'll have to slow the rest of my army down in order to maximize the three Helldivers, and that could be an issue in scenario play.
  • Offensive capabilities: It's only MAT6 & PS13. While this is true, when running it with Mortenebra it becomes able to charge for free and roll 3d6+6 to hit with Terminal Velocity, making it able to pull of a fully boosted charge without spending any Focus at all. Giving it two Focus allows it two fully boosted attacks, which will take down a lot of the weaker casters, and if Mortenebra burns her feat on it, something is going down hard. The Helldiver also has the option of a boosted slam for no cost, as Terminal Velocity allows free power attacks and slams. This can set a caster up for some real world hurt, if they get slammed through their own troops and into the arms of a FULLY OPERATIONAL DEATHSTAR... or Slayer/Harrower. There's also the added little thing, that a Terminal Velocity Helldiver is amazingly fast on the charge: 3" Unburrow + 1.57" base +10.5" charge = 15.07 inches... not a lot of jacks that can do that.
  • No Arc Node: Typically the only bonejacks that see play in Cryx are Arc Nodes, and the Helldiver doesn't have one. The argument is, that for one more point it could be a Nightwretch or Deathripper, and this makes the Helldiver bad. Guess what, Mortenebra doesn't need a node.
So why am I bringing three? Well the main concern when facing a Helldiver is the astounding number of angles it can attack from, and as Aduro from the Privateer Press forum says: having one coming at you, with pretty much Nothing you can do about it until it attacks, has a Very distinct psychological effect on most opponents. (...) really messes with your opponent's head and plans.

This means that with three Helldivers coming at him, not only will it be next to impossible to stop them all from coming through, but it will mess up everything from deployment to assassination attempts, since he constantly has to worry about three little diggers turning his day into a nightmare of Terminal Velocity boosted charges. Fielding Helldivers is not about averages, it's about potential, and the potential for three free charges/slams at almost any angle is exceptional.

I've been thinking about letting my opponent go first in scenario play. Edit: This turned out to be an amazingly bad idea, and has been removed from the post!

Part two of this article is now up.


1 comment:

  1. One thing you didn't mention in the "why is the helldiver so cheap" section is "ABSENCE", or "the real price of burrowing".
    One or more bonejacks replaced by tokens means less models on the table, less screening for your caster, etc.
    It can be terribly dangerous in scenario play. Once I was about to declare a burrow action but realised my fleeing satyxis were no longer contesting the circle, so burrowing would have allowed my opponent to score during my own turn. It's not a huge problem, but something to keep in mind: Helldivers are selfish, they do what they do, but don't count on them to save your **** when you're in trouble.

    PS : I do love these jacks though. One great thing with burrowing you did not mention is the ability to avoid pulse effects like feats (Sorscha, Feora, Nemo...)
    Oh and beware of Mohsar, with just a few models running and carefully placed pillars of sand, he can fill up the space for the helldiver and it will be removed from play :P (again, very unlikely, and if a player actually spends his turn doing that I guess it's worth losing a diver...