Thursday, 27 February 2014

On the merits of burning things...

I’ve been a Shaltari player from the start, and like everyone else I’ve been loving the new releases (redesigning my army already to include mini-walkers). As a race we seem to be on to a winner at the moment, with more and more tournaments having high rankings for Shaltari, and any holes in the battle group being plugged with new releases or changes in tactics. 

But I’ve always looked at the other races with envious eyes when it comes to one thing: flame weapons.

Now, any Shaltari commander worth their salt (or a thorough reader of the rules worth their spice of choice) will instantly jump up and down waving the Yari with microwave gun, and even more advanced condiment users will brow-beat me with the dragon cannon of the Firedrake or Dreamsnare. But I say nay, ‘non’ and indeed no. These are all very well and scary enough in their own right, but lack a few key rules of their flamier cousins. 

So why do I want them? Well, first off they can cause havoc with infantry. Strength 4 tends to be the standard, and Armour 1,2 and 3 units (the greater majority in game) don’t like those odds. Added to the fact that they have a great number of shots, you’re looking at several crispy husks where your infantry used to be. This doesn’t work so well against my infantry, but then there’s few anti-personnel weapons that can hurt heavy infantry like Scourge Destroyers or Warsuits. Throw in body cover for an extra +1 to hurt, and my suits are sitting there laughing at your 6+ to hurt me. 

But flame weapons ignore body cover. They also ignore soft cover, so relying on that +2 AC to save your all-important-objective-searching troops isn’t a good idea either. Crispy fried trooper. A final defence is not to go to the windows of a building, to sit inside safe and sound, the only danger being the chunks of air conditioner and girder falling around you. And this is why I pine after flame weapons most of all. You don’t have to see the troops – just be in range of the building, then up the temperature from ‘mild but slightly dank office block’ to ‘hotter than the fever dream of Satan’s most beguiling she-devil. With chilli sauce. On the sun’. Yes, those pesky troops furtively searching filing cabinets and behind the boss’ chair for that intel or all important objective will be having a bad day with the liberal application of heat. 

Flamer weapons give you options. Shatari are known for their fluid, option-filled play style; from hop-skip-jump ‘I’m over here now’ redeployment, to ‘Bing! A wild totem appeared and shot STRAIGHT AFTER DISEMBARKING!?!?!?!?’, they are often held up as the trickiest of the races. But when it comes to enemy troops in structures your options diminish. For all their toughness, battle suits are few and easily swamped. Their younger brothers can pack a wallop, but I’m still not sure I’d bet on them against Praetorians, Sirens, or even six bases of Scourge warriors. So your choices come down to destroying the building outright or blowing chunks out of it until the inhabitants have more office accidents than an ad for injury lawyers 4 U. And sometimes I would quite like to go in the building afterwards without the opponent coughing on it and it collapsing on my guys. 

So. Flame weapons. I really want some. Which is why it constantly surprises me that - from my experience at least - people don’t often take them. Now in Scourge armies you have to dedicate a heavy tank to taking flamers, with the other option being big guns, so I can see that choice. But with the addition of razor worms this can reliably clear out a building of most things, offering a 1-2 punch option if you back it up with warriors in a transport. It’s a definite choice to be made rather than an extra in the army, true. But PHR armies can have Menchit walkers for a very reasonable 37 points, sit behind a central building and do the Dropzone equivalent of saying ‘come at me bro’ to infantry. UCM forces are as lacking as Shaltari in terms of full on flame at the moment, but the sneek peeks from the advent calendar last year clearly show a UCM tank with an unmistakably flamer-like gun mounted on it. Whether it has the ‘flame’ rule or is more like the Shaltai microwave is yet to be seen, but if it turns out to be even a little flame-ish, I might just combust.

Let me know what you think about flame weapons, tactics and why you do/don't take them below. You know, just to make me even more jealous.

Get to da Dropship


  1. Personally, I haven't had enough games in yet to say if the Menchit is worth it.

    However, I feel like the Menchit's placement in type-1 walker groups makes it awkward to field.

    1 Menchit, 2 Ares, 1 Phobos
    Too little AA, only 2 AT shots

    1 Menchit, 3 Ares, 2 Phobos
    Now we're at 6 walkers, and only 3 AT shots.

    2 Menchit, 2 Phobos
    The closest I have come to workable, just ditch the AT and let another battlegroup handle it. Still feels iffy.

    Also maybe 3 Menchit, 1 Phobos, and 2-4 Apollo in the same battlegroup. Since we're gonna be in the thick of the buildings, Apollos help establish a safe zone early and hop rooftops. Still a big investment for the ability to burn infantry when we can blow up the buildings much easier.

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  3. I see the point, and I know that flame weapons tend to sit slightly uncomfortably in a slot that less situation-specific units (like AA) can fill. One thing I forgot to mention is the prevalence of bunker or hardened building scenarios that we're seeing more of. Cognisant of the fact that building destruction can often circumvent all the cool stuff like CQBs, going to the windows and flame weapons, the Hawk gents seem to be moving - certainly in the tournament scenarios that we've seen recently - towards tougher or indestructible buildings. In which case, flame suddenly becomes even more important for shifting those Sirens/praetorians. I think this weapon type will become more flexible and nuanced as the game expands; not superseding other choices as an auto include, but certainly equalling them in utility.
    Used a lot of flowery vocabulary there. Sorry, in a florid mood. :)

  4. It's not so much that the position Menchits sit in, as the limited number of walker squadrons that the PHR can field. In a Skirmish, you're looking at 4 squads max, and likely more like two.

    Also of note is the small (comparative) number of shots the Menchit's flamer gets. The Scourge Tormentor gets the job done, but I feel like I'd need 3-4 Menchits to handle the same task.

    Again, I've played very few games so far, so grains of salt are key here. And don't worry about waxing poetic, I'd be more verbose if I weren't working all these extra hours. :-)

  5. If you are playing at a skirmish level I can understand why your having problems, but at a clash (1500pts) the options become a little more viable. Also there is nothing to say that your Menchits have to finish the job, Immortals are excellent troops and more than able to clean up any stragglers!

    I personally would like to see flame weapons become a little more used, I really think it would change the face of the game and gathering objectives!

  6. Yeah, as I get more assembled from my Xmas haul I'm creeping towards Clash territory. :-) Its just extra slow since I'm the only one with any DZC minis here, so I need two armies at a certain level to play.

  7. Also, you're absolutely right that the Menchits don't need to do it all on their own, and I don't know why I didn't think of that.

  8. I think that Shaltari not having flame weapons is really good for the game. Just as UCM shouldn't have the best infantry in CQB in the game. The lack of flame weapons in the Shaltary army is something I feel gives flavour to the army and making sure each faction really lacks something is a good way to make each faction unique.

    But I do think the Shaltari that created the microwave gun and sold the idea have been neutered by his employer. It's like building a Toyota car and not add wheels...