Monday, May 30, 2011

Spotlight: Helldiver; part 2

Continuing this article, I'd like to talk a little bit more about the Helldiver. When I look at my statistics there's no caster I've lost more games with, than I have with Mortenebra, and in the words of Roosevelt "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face". This means I'll be trying for more games with Mortenebra, and that means more thinking.

In every game with Mortenebra, the Helldivers have been instrumental to my success, and when I've lost it's been by no fault of theirs. The Helldivers are three points worth of pure gold, with a mind-boggling amount of game applications. I talked a bit about this in the last article, but I'd like to expand a little on the possibilities that a Helldiver brings to the table, particularly slamming.

Slamming. In every game there are models you would just love to slam. This could be a model you need moved, knocked down, or slammed into another model in order to get that second model on the ground. The main problems associated with this move is the resource investment in Models, Actions, and Focus (M.A.F), as well as the problem of angles because the slam is limited to moving directly towards the target. A Terminal Velocity Helldiver solves every problem in that equation.
  • Resources: The Helldiver is only three points, and often requires no investment of Focus to perform. This means the Slam is incredibly cheap in M.A.F, and allows you to apply your M.A.F to a kill instead.
  • Emerge: When the Helldiver emerges, you may position it as you please in any legal position, which means that if there's room for it, you will get the perfect angle and range for the Slam. Slamming anyone at an angle you choose, makes for some very interesting possibilities.
  • Range: The Helldiver can hit a living target within fifteen inches of the burrow marker. This is a range just rivaled by the Ghordson Basher, does not require a Jack Marshall, and is extremely hard to prevent.
  • To hit: Will be boosted against living targets, but against DEF 11+ non-living targets it will probably require a Focus. This can be supplied by the Warwitch Sirens, if you really need Mortenebras Focus elsewhere, or if the Helldiver is outside Focus allocation range. If this is happening during Mortenebras feat turn, you can assume that anything without DEF 15+ is going down hard.
Since the Helldivers can strike where they like, and at any angle they like, you can keep an eye out for Warjacks on the edge of your opponents control area, and slam them out of it. This will probably hurt your Helldiver, but even heavies will have problems wrecking the Helldiver without Focus, and will have to spend an action getting up in the first place. In a kill-box scenario you also have the option of chain slamming a caster outside the box (as Rick has noted in a comment, chain slamming only works against casters immune to knockdown), in case you have issues taking him down with raw damage, which will probably result in heavy objects being thrown at your face in real life.

Slamming is such a versatile tool, that having multiple slams in a round with a very low M.A.F cost, becomes a massive force multiplier. Whether you need Mulg out of the equation, a caster on the ground, or room for your assassination piece by his caster, a Terminal Velocity Helldiver will solve your problem.

A special mention should go to Head-butting as well. This is much the same as slamming, but only works against medium bases with a Helldiver. This is a nice option if there's no room for picking up speed to slam, or free strikes would become a problem. Head-butt is fun, since it requires no movement at all, so if there's room for the Helldiver, that caster is going down.

Terror. It's not on the card, but Helldivers cause terror, though not as a game mechanic, but against players. These little homing missiles are coming at him, and there's not a damn thing he can do about it, so either he denies them a charge or he takes his chances on the dice. The most effective way seems to be building a castle, but this dictates how the entire game unfolds, and a predictable opponent is a dead opponent. At some point the Helldivers will get an opening anyway, or just slam multiple models on the caster, and you can send in something else to kill the pile of knocked down models.

Defense. Though I rarely get to use them like this, the Helldivers are excellent defensive models. Most opponents seem to forget that you get to choose the facing when the Helldiver emerges, so you can hit anything within 13-15" in any direction. The two Manhunters I took down for the price of one Focus (had to buy an extra attack) was probably the best hit I've made, but the owner of the Totem Hunter (in a forest, behind my army) made the most memorable face.

Objectives. There's no stopping the Helldiver, and we've already established the merits of slamming. Three Helldivers will clear an objective rather effectively, if your opponent relies on tough single models to contest it. Since most scenarios are simply disguised caster kills, a lot of opponents tend to forget that you can actually win on objectives, and if you keep that in mind it will happen (exactly why I lost a game this Saturday... sigh...). With the great slam angles, you can even use the larger models to clear out a few contesting infantry while you're at it, or just load up the Helldivers with a bit of Focus and have them end up in a position to chomp the last couple of guys.

Threat.  I was playing a game of Warhammer 40.000 a while back, and I had a couple of Grot Missiles. For those of you that are unfamiliar with these, they're cruise missiles with a suicide pilot. They have a massive blast, and are deadly to packed infantry. I'd brought six of them, and I'd launched five, doing a massive amount of damage to my opponent, but I never fired the last missile. A friend who watched the game asked me about the remaining missile, and why I didn't just fire it and kill of some more infantry. I explained to him that "as long as I have one left, I dictate how his army moves". He could never bunch up, he could never effectively charge a vehicle (that requires bunching up), and he always had to think about cover, which would slow him down.

Helldivers are like that, because as long as one of them lives, your opponent has to take that threat into account, and then you control his army. When your last Helldiver dies, that threat is gone for good, so before you throw the last one away to kill some random solo, you should think about how that will allow your opponent to play from there on. No, strike that... unless it's a game winning move, you should never throw away your last Helldiver.


  1. You cant chain slam out of a kill box as a knocked down model can not be slammed =( Awesome article though ;)

  2. Hey Rick. For some reason getting a comment on this article prevents editing, so I can't figure out how to get your comment in there.

    Either way you're right, so that's another drawback of being immune to knockdown we've located :D

  3. whats the other draw back to being knocked down? Good article though, nice and insightful.

  4. If you get thrown and you're immune to KD, you will still need to forfeit an action. Some casters have spells (Mortenebra) that will allow you to stand up and function normally, but since you're not KD you'll still need to forfeit.

    Arguably not a huge drawback, but I've had it come into play once. :D

  5. Great insight; I just started a pSkarre force, so it's good to know the Helldiver(s) will do great (especially at P+S 18 with her +D6 focus engine running!).