Sunday, 16 March 2014

March release round up

Brand new shiny toys for our dirty little fingers!
Another month has raced past us, with time almost willed forward by the many impatient DzC fans out there waiting for the next Hawk update (myself included, and my over-inflated sense of self importance makes me think that we definitely affected the physics of time in some way). Well wait no longer! On the 14th as many predicted were given our prize, the line of numbers for the newest 4 units; the Birdeater, the Fireblade, the Helios, and the Ravager.

One thing I have enjoyed about this release is that we haven't been expecting the next 'big unit'. There was no Hades, Caiman or Eagle on the horizon and instead what we have been left with is four solid alternative choices which fit snugly into their respective race lists.

I will also reinforce the point that they are all good and seem pretty balanced as well. As quiet as the release may feel I think it is possibly the best since Christmas, as it expands the armies very evenly and will go towards making lists even less similar.

Anyway, lets get down to business!

Birdeater Battle Strider
This is the model Jeff Wayne has been waiting for. Now he and many budding War of the Worlds fans can make their tripod walker list! The Birdeater holds the same modest stat line as the Tarantula and just basically swaps one weapon over, an identical match to the twin ion cannon on the Kukri. The balance between the two units is very even really; the Kukri is a little faster, easier to deploy and you get more shots for a similar points cost, where the Birdeater brings more durability for your fire base and a couple of lasers to help pick of lightly armoured units. I don't see this unit replacing the Kukri, but rather I think you'll find a very even spread. The choice of this unit will depend a lot on how aggressive a player you are and how many gates you like to play with.

Fireblade Light Tank
I am a fan of flame weapons as I feel they bring a different element to a game. As such I welcome the Fireblade to the UCM line up. They are another light chassis tank and can share an Albatross with 3 or 6 Katanas, which I can see happening if a player wants to field nine of the light tanks. Their threat range of 12” is pretty sweet and means they can hang around a middle building and jet off to barbecue any unfortunate troops that aren't in a CQB. The extra dimension that a flame support weapon adds to the UCM shouldn't be overlooked either. With the current points cost of the Ferrum you only really need to field one squad of rapiers, leaving some very useful support slots open. The only question is whether people will be able to find points in their lists alongside the UCM's other excellent choices.

Helios Jetskimmer
The Helios is a tank which has been highly anticipated by the PHR majority, and it has turned out to be worth the wait. It stands as the only unit in the game which can kick out six, yes six, AA shots each. An even bigger bonus to this is that it can shoot two different targets in the same arc and anyone shooting back at it will be at +2 accuracy due to it being a skimmer. And then to dump more sweetness on it all 6 of the shots have shaped charge, so it isn't bad at killing tanks either. Drawbacks? Well it's not cheap at 165 points for two and a Neptune and with a 12” range against active countermeasures you are almost guaranteed to be shot back. All in all I have mixed feelings about this unit that won't really be answered until one of my PHR chums plays with them. Having shaped charge on the guns seems a little too much, even with the high points cost. As a Shaltari man I am used to units being gunned down by AA but I can't imagine a UCM player is going to be too happy about losing a sabre to AA fire. As with the Mercury drones we will have to wait and see, I do kind of expect Hawk will drop the SC from the guns and keep it strictly AA in the next update though.

Ravager Pack
I kind of expect the Ravagers to be the most controversial unit out of the bunch. As a whole the Scourge are short ranged and have beastly weapons. The Ravager breaks these confines and instead has an 18” range AA fire, with 4 shots (two guns with two shots each) at a mere E6. I can hear the more anal players of the game now, squawking their fury over the range of their guns and how it it doesn't fit the template of the game, and blalabla. Personally I think the unit is great, and fits the Scourge just fine. So what if they have an 18” range gun? That's still not a good range and to support the rest of the short ranged army they are going to have to deploy on turn 2, just like everything else. If anything Scourge needed this unit to play on a truly competitive level. One thing I didn't expect though was the CC attack, which makes sense as the stalker has it, and is a nice addition (though it probably won't get used that much to be honest). The unit isn't cheap which reflects how good it is, coming to 205 with Harbinger (including the obligatory AA upgrade). With this squad you get a reliable AA bubble that can cover your airspace much more efficiently that the Reaper could ever do. Sadly though the Ravager may well have put the final nail in the coffin for the poor Minder.

As always comments and opinions are welcomed; let us know which your favourite release this time round has been, and which your not keen on!



  1. I would claim the Foreblade to be the unit that fits best into the their army. UCM doesn't have the best infantry and a unit that weakens the opponent's infantry is just perfect and fits nicely into a UCM army.

    Second best feels like the birdeater. But I don't know the effectiveness of the Tarantula yet so can't say anything on their performance. Really cool to only have walkers in a army though!

    Third is the Ravager. Cool for us Scourges and fits with the harbiner. Then again. The harbinger is slow and the Ravager, as written, needs a second turn drop where as the Reavers work with a first turn drop. Perhaps moving 16" on the harbinger, next turn 8" and let out within 3" and walk 2" for a 29" position in the end of turn 2 to be in the place where the Ravager can make a reactive fire against enemy light dropships that have stormed to the center objectives early, perhaps?

    Fourth is the Helios. As a strictly AA unit. I would say it is a very close call with the Phobo. But then is has SC which makes it really, much better. Then again. Range 12...

  2. Egge, the Harbinger moves 18" (9") with the drop. I think 1st turn drop is fine. I do it with my Rapiers for UCM, and the movement stats are the same.
    Love the Fireblade, 3 plus 6 Katanas in an Albatross is gonna do some damage.
    I don't share your Helios view though. I'm not worried about the SC on them, is has very short range, which means they need to get close, if they are close then they will be shot, and if they are shot they will go boom.

  3. Yeah, I have started to come around on the Helios but still think it is the "worst" release this time around. Though I have to say I feel this round of release is really great! I think the Helios without the SC would still be a very luring choice for the PHR as it still adds a lot of speed to the army. As a DP 2 unit, it is hard to estimate how much fire it takes to take one down meaning the opponent often places overkill or not enough firepower - either way it soaks up important fire - unless the opponent hope for a lucky shot and gets it, of course.

    Regarding the Ravager, Mega Mike. You don't feel that a turn 2 drop is needed for the Scourge? The rest of the army will be much further ahead and if the Ravager are supposed to give supporting reactive fire/long range AA they still need to be where the army is. So I feel they will need to played different from UCM's Rapiers which will be around the mainstay of the army when they drop turn 1. Or am I totally wrong?

  4. I don't think there is a hard and fast rule for dropping. It depends on mission, opponent faction, and even opponents play-style. The good thing about the Ravager is that it gives you options of a turn 1 or 2 drop. I agree that normally the Scourge will be in the opponents half of the board, especially with a turn 2 drop for most units, but a Ravager pack that drops turn 1 can be 14" on the board, therefore turn 2 they can move 4" and cover another 18" making effective range of 36" from your own deployment edge. This is enough to cover all your armies moves if you need to.

  5. I like all he releases but as a Shaltari player I'm a little disappointed that the have the same weapon on all our AA choices. I know from the pictures it looked the same but I was hoping it would have slightly changed stats just to make it a more diverse choice compared to other units.

    On the helios I feel that SC is a little much, make the unit a real all rounder which anti-air just shouldn't be.

  6. After all the furore over the Ferrum I wonder if the Helios will also attract hate being a good AA and viable AT, plus a pretty impressive Urban Redevelopment unit too