Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spotlight: Croe's Cutthroats

A successful empire needs assassins, and our empire doesn't really have any. It's a sad fact, but when we need someone dead, without revealing our intent, we need outside talent. This is where Croe comes in, bringing his band of merry backstabbing poisoners to the table.

Nil Mortifi Sine Lucre

The Cutthroats bring a ranged game, and while often regarded as complete failures, they work surprisingly well with the right setup. In addition to a list of abilities that spans a mile, the Cutthroats have both stealth and pathfinder, so they fit our faction theme well.

I'll begin with a story about underestimating the Cutthroats. I was on the receiving end of a Molik Karn missile, but before touching down he incurs a free strike from Croe. I pick up my dice, and my opponent get's a quizzical look on his face.

I show him that Croe has reach, and I pick up my dice. My opponent looks slightly bored, since I'm going to die anyway, and a free strike from some random dingbat won't matter. I roll my free strike, strip Molik Karn of his spirit, and win the game.
Croe's Cutthroats: Abilities
As always I'll leave most of the explaining to Battlecollege, but I'll have to take you through some of their abilities, since they're so crucial to the way the Cutthroats play. The list of abilities is exceptionally long, and remembering them all is quite hard.
  • Bushwhack
One of the abilities that keep them alive. This allows you to fire, and then retreat out of charge range. It also allows you to kill models that are engaging you, and then retreat to safety. In combination with stealth, it allows them to remain almost untouchable, though you should be very careful around blasts or things that ignore stealth.
  • Stealth
While essential to their survival, it won't keep them safe unless you Bushwhack. Stealth isn't an excuse to leave that linear obstacle either, because quite a lot of things ignore it. Blast damage will destroy their pathetic armor, so spread out!
Croe's Cutthroats: Support
The Cutthroats are short ranged, and cant hit a barn door from three feet away. Dougal MacNaile is an auto-include with the Cutthroats, since the additional two inch range can allow them to aim, but they really appreciate working with defense debuff casters.
Croe's Cutthroats: Warcasters
There are few casters that really appreciate the Cutthroats, though a couple of the others can run them with a modicum of success.
  • Warwitch Deneghra: I rarely ever get to assassinate with them, since people quit when they do the math. Their caster is knocked down, and each cutthroat will put a 3d6+15 bolt in him/her.
  • Wraith Witch Deneghra: Web of Shadows allows for some interesting rounds, where stealthy assassins annihilate your enemy, while he's easy to hit and unable to retaliate. Marked for Death or Curse of Shadows, will add the last bit of punch to their volley.
  • Lord Exhumator Scaverous: Oh dear god! Telekinesis, Icy Grip, Feast of Worms, and you've got each cutthroat putting a 4d6+12 bolt into something, and you're doing it at RAT 9.
Croe's Cutthroats are slightly less effective against non-living models, but I've never found it problematic. The raw power they grant the casters above, is close to game breaking, and I've killed heavy warbeasts with a minimum unit (and then Bushwhacked backwards to line up for the next kill).

They're viable melee assassins with several casters, though they are downright scary with Lord Exhumator Scaverous, and I've had two of them take Karchev the Terrible down to half health, after which the player surrendered.
Croe's Cutthroats: Damn dirty tricks.
Everything else has been an introduction, but this is where the real meat is to be found. The Cutthroats have a pile of abilities, but the real power of the unit is their leader: Croe. Unlike most other characters he's not an officer, which means you can promote a grunt to "Croe" when he dies. This allows for some really impressive tricks, and knowing them is they key to their success.
  • The Screen: Croe can cover quite a bit of ground with his free strikes, and it often takes people by surprise. None of the grunts have reach, so opponents often miss that little detail, and if you're living he hits like a truck. I usually leave Croe about four or five inches in front of the unit, and when he dies you simply promote a grunt.
  • Hiss: Croe has a fancy gun, and hitting people shuts down their spellcasting for a round. He might have poor RAT, but hitting an enemy caster could very well win you the game. Journeymen Warcasters, Lesser Warlocks, and other spellcasting solos are perfectly viable targets, and it's always fun telling your happy opponent (his solo survived), that he's still screwed. It's not Eiryss, but it's wroth remembering.
  • The annoying ****: This is my favorite trick, and like the screen tactic it works because Croe has reach, while his men lack it. This takes a little more explaining, and probably only works a couple of times against any given opponent, but I love doing it.
The annoying **** happens because the Cutthroats have stealth, and this occasionally leads to opponents advancing close to them with ranged units. The real fun happens, when he shoots Croe, and you promote a grunt, because that model now has reach, and your opponent suddenly finds a couple of his ranged models engaged.

Another version is where you promote a grunt to block his carefully arranged charge lanes with reach, or promote the grunt next to his important solo, so he has to deal with the engaged defense bonus, and risk blowing his own models to hell if he misses (Thanks to Jason for pointing out, that a promoted leader cannot actually make attacks, so remember that models can just walk away from him).
Croe's Cutthroats: Summary
The Cutthroats are assassins and should be treated as such. These guys are ninjas, and not the Hollywood version, but the "death from out of nowhere" type, that will die horribly if forced into a fair fight (so don't fight fair). Hide them behind linear obstacles, screen them with Croe, retreat with Bushwhack, and use whatever tricks your chosen caster has available to: make sure they survive.

These guys like having the first turn, so they can run like the wind, and spend every turn after that falling back with Bushwhack. If you can get away with aiming then do it, but keeping them safe takes priority (unless you can end the game of course).

If you commit them to melee you better have a damn good plan, because they will be brought down hard, and they're awfully expensive. If you find yourself engaged, pop a Ghost Walk on them, see what you can take down with melee attacks, and then retreat with Bushwhack and let something else handle the remaining offenders.

Retreat, Regroup, and Re-engage.


  1. I really love these guys, a great characterful unit. One of the best things is that they rarely see the table and so opponents are often not prepared to deal with them.

  2. Indeed! I've had more than one opponent go "RAT 5, what the hell?" and ignore them (it never ends well for them). :D

  3. A model promoted to unit commander can not make an attack the turn it was promoted.

    So your Croe isn't necessarily blocking those charge lanes and nothing prevents your opponent from just walking away from him--assuming the model now engaged hasn't activated yet.

  4. Doing it wrong: I'm doing it right :)

    The ranged units are still engaged, but I'll have to go apologize to a player here and there about the free strikes (though the one in the example I used, wasn't an upgraded grunt).

    Thanks for clearing that up!