Sunday, October 2, 2011

Intervention: Bane Thralls & Tartarus

Intervene: To come between disputing people. This series of articles will attempt to present a realistic picture, of the model/units we generally accept, as slightly overpowered win buttons. I apologize in advance for the trite quotes.
Our scout's torch and lantern went black, and we heard him scream. A moment later a horrible chill washed over us. We could feel them before we could see them. - Tyrell Forlaine
Bane Thralls are the undisputed kings of problem solving, and simply putting the unit in your army ensures a fairly decent return on your investment. They're a unit with a very high offensive potential, and exceptional defensive abilities tossed in for good measure. They can engage and annihilate just about anything, ignore half the feats in the game, and presents your opponent with some really difficult choices. The Bane Thralls are amongst the best units in the game, and every time I take to the field without them, I end up regretting that decision, but they do have issues.

The first problem they face is a lack of Flow: The ability to ignore terrain, enemy models, and slowing effects. That means you can't charge across obstacles, will get stuck in terrain, and will die to free strikes. This can be solved by bringing Saxon Orrik, or using them with a caster that has access to one of the Flow spells or abilities, but this will add to the resource investment the unit requires.
Terrain is often of more value than bravery
- Flavius Vegetius
The second problem is: threat range. The Bane Thralls can really move it when Tartarus is around, but without him they become laughably slow. It's a well known problem, but even with Tartarus, the Bane Thralls are half an inch slower than a speed six reach model, and there are quite a few of those around. That in turn means, that when you face another melee army, your Bane Thralls might be lacking the range to engage. This is a huge problem, because receiving a charge really hurts, and Bane Thralls lack the reach to truly layer their way out of that problem.
He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.
- Sun Tzu
The ability to force you back half an inch every turn might not seem like much, but it's worth a lot more than you might think. He can move up ranged models and fire at will, which means you face a problem without obvious solutions. You can stay back and suffer his guns, or you can move up and receive a charge. There are several ways of getting around this (Darragh Wrathe, slowing/rooting feats, or having more guns than he does), but it's something to keep in mind when building a list. You really want to avoid being in a position where you're getting shot to pieces, and have to absorb a charge in order to advance.
Being shelled is the real work of an infantry soldier, which no one talks about. Everyone has his own way of going about it. In general, it means lying face down and contracting your body into a small a space as possible.
- Louis Simpson
The conclusion is that we need a lot of bodies (8 points), the Unit Attachment (3 points), Bane Lord Tartarus (4 points), Saxon/Skarlock (2 points), and Darragh Wrathe (4 points) in order to cover the issues. That's a rather large package, but I actually feel it's worth it. The models we include just need to serve multiple purposes, because twelve Bane Thralls rarely carry that amount of weight in a game, if they stick to hitting things.

Bane Thralls are walking debuffs, and it pays to remember that. A further ARM debuff is always welcome, and will turn other units from average to deadly, simply by running in, if they've got nothing better to do. I was also recently made aware, that when a model is knocked down it cannot be engaged, but since it's still in the melee range of nearby models, you can apply Dark Shroud without giving the model the added defense.

At this point I've done very little Bane Thrall bashing, and that's because very little is needed. There are a few things we need to keep in mind, but the second Bane Lord Tartarus leaves play, the unit becomes a whole different animal, so I'm going to bash Tartarus instead!
Linchpin: A central cohesive source of support and stability.
Bane Lord Tartarus is crucial to the success of the Bane Thralls, and if he dies your fast, accurate and deadly unit, turns into a slow and inaccurate unit, with some very real problems when it comes to applying their deadly blows where they count. This is actually a big problem, because Bane Lord Tartarus isn't that hard to kill (I've even had him die to boosted blast damage once), and taking him out is such a major blow to your pumped up unit of killers, that an opponent can dedicate a substantial amount of resources to do it.

Bane Lord Tartarus is a four point solo, with some beefed up defenses, but he will still die to a weapon master landing a hit. He will die if he engages, if something ignores stealth, or if you mess up his placement, and when he dies your Bane Thrall monster unit becomes a lot more manageable for an opponent. No more spawning Thralls, no more hitting solos on average dice, and no more useful threat ranges, so choosing when to sacrifice Tartarus is vital. I've seen Tartarus charge in and create three new Bane Thralls (heck I've done it myself), get killed, and suddenly the entire unit of Bane Thralls are stuck fighting Winterguard or Kayazy Assassins, without a realistic chance of ever hitting them.

The Bane Thralls are, without a doubt, amongst the best units in the game, but only while Tartarus roams the table. If you loose Tartarus, you not only loose a four point model, but also take a massive hit to your offensive power, since your main offensive melee unit just got nerfed badly. Keeping Tartarus safe, and knowing when to sacrifice him is what I consider the key, to squeezing that extra gallon of juice out of a superb unit.

No comments:

Post a Comment