Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spotlight: Deathripper

The great debate/debacle of 2011 was behind me, but this question made me decide to write a Spotlight on my favorite Arc Node: The Almighty Deathripper. I'm having a hard time understanding why such a simple debate has so many people up in arms, so while I do compare the Deathrippers to the Nightwretches several times during this spotlight, you should know that either one works well.

The Deathripper made the dubious decision to become a melee Arc Node, which we can all agree is pretty darn silly, since you can't arc while engaged, but I still find myself reaching for them in most games.
Deathrippers: Abilities
As always, the Battlecollege will sort out the details, but there's not a lot to say about it's abilities, so feel free to skip this part.
Deathrippers: Survivability
Disabling your Arc Nodes is a priority for most opponents (this should come as no surprise), so making sure they're safe is just common sense. That means the Arc Nodes should hug cover/concealment when at all possible, and stay away from obvious targets (blast damage will hurt them).
Deathrippers: Arc Node
The Deathripper is an Arc Node, and that's why we bring it. The thing is, that I find it's melee ability to benefit this assignment, and while that might sound strange, there are perfectly good reasons for it.
  • Enemy models blocking your Arc: It happens quite often, that a model is parked just where I need my Arc Node to be. I could use other models to clear the zone, but I don't always have the luxury of surplus activations, or the models required to do it without getting in the way themselves.
As light jacks our Arc Nodes can slam, which is a way of clearing an offending model available to all of them, but the difference between a charge lane (toward) and a slam lane (directly toward), can be all it takes to deny you a win. A ranged Arc Node can charge of course, but the pathetic PS of their melee weapons will allow even single wound models to survive.
  • Locked-down: An enemy model engages your Arc Node, but you don't really need it that turn. Instead of spending resources freeing it up for next round, you can spend less resources and it can free itself, while removing enemy resources to boot.
Usually you would rescue the poor thing, spend a Ghost Walk on it (and quite often they're outside Skarlock range), or dedicate some nearby models to freeing it. That leads me to the second reason I like Deathrippers: They can be devastating on offense.
Deathrippers: Losing the Arc Node
It happens all the time, and the boxes marked "A" vanish to some random rifleman with nothing better to do. In my experience, this makes the Deathripper invisible, as it instantly leaves the opponents hit list: Big mistake.
  • DEATHRIPPER: Parasite (Skarlock) + The Withering + Dark Shroud + Full Focus. I almost shat myself when I pulled that one, and the Khador heavy parked outside Bane Thrall charge range (Tartarus died, again, but one Thrall was within running range) got ripped apart by the Arc Node it was locking down (it failed to hit that sweet defense fifteen).
You can add Rust Bomb, Scything Touch, Curse of Shadow or whatever your caster brings to the mix, and it adds up quickly. I've seen Deathrippers take down casters and heavies alike, which is simply not possible for a Nightwretch, and it gives you something to do when that Arc Node disappears.
Deathrippers: Losing the Cortex
You lost the Arc Node, and you've lost the Cortex as well, so it's time to go angling for some free strikes. With a Nightwretch you get a RAT 5 shot per turn, and with a Deathripper you get a MAT 6 attack per turn, but the Deathripper can lock down models where the Nightwretch cannot.
  • Free strikes: It's a boosted PS 13 attack, and it hurts. Your opponent has to spend resources to avoid damage when he leaves (or simply take it, and hope for the best), and as such our crippled Deathripper retains a tactical application beyond hoping to hit.
Usually my opponent simply kills the Deathripper instead, which I still consider a win, as that's what I wanted him to do: spend more resources on the crippled Deathripper. I also do my best to make sure it dies somewhere that hinders my opponent, as the nifty 40 mm terrain patch can really blow his plans out of the water.
Deathrippers: Losing the Head
A little dented, but still a defense fifteen road block, and when it dies it leaves that fine patch of terrain. Try and die in a position that hinders your opponent, and mock him like crazy if he spends everything he has, just to have his kill piece lack Pathfinder and fail.
Deathrippers: Summary
I favor the Deathripper, because it has applications beyond the Arc Node, and I think the ability to destroy casters and heavies (last ditch, never plan to end up in that situation) outweighs the ability to shoot. I like being able to clear models with melee, since it allows me to place myself where my opponent thought he was covered, clear his block, and arc on his caster.

Nightwretches are fine, but I never seem to get a shot off, and I'm always wishing I had the ability to rip out some throats instead. The Deathripper has the ability to threaten anything in the game, with enough debuffs, and it remains useful, even in death.


  1. I have had similar experiences with the Deathripper. Just last week I ran one up close to a cluster of Khador including his caster to arc spells off. On his turn, after he disabled the node, he left it alone to attack other stuff. On my turn, I was able to walk up to his caster and eat him with a still functioning light jack with 3 focus.

    I bought two Nightwretches right off the bat because logic says that on a node, range is better, but I have never had as much success using them as I have with Deathrippers.

  2. Agreed on everything - a great confirmation of my thoughts. Have just picked up a Nightwretch and it instantly fell to the absolute bottom of the priority painting list. Two Deathrippers are the first jacks I assembled and I've never looked back. One boosted hit (assuming the target wasn't Knocked Down already!) followed by bought Sustained Attack goodness against an enemy under debuffs... all kinds of awesome.

  3. I gave up on Nightwretch after the MKII nerf. Before then they were in every Denny list I ran. Nice article. Good tactics rundown on system loss.

  4. I too almost always run Deathrippers as arc nodes. To sum it up, I just think there's a lot more utility in the Deathripper than in the Nightwretch. I've thinking about trying out the the more expensive arc nodes, but there's always something else I feel I can use the extra points on. I have a feeling that both the Defiler and the Ripjaw are nice in the right list, but I can't seem to figure out which lists that might be :)

    1. Ripjaw's good in larger games where the extra point doesn't hurt as much, and only with a caster with Parasite (since the Parasite applies AFTER the sawblade halves the target's armor). for example, The ripjaw rolls dice+3 against a parasited khador heavy.