Saturday, 14 March 2015

How You Torment Me

"No way, we actually get to shoot some troops this game? Yeehah!"
“A sudden change in the winds of DzC is causing mechanics to clash against one another, creating an unsuspecting spark. This spark is buffeted around in the gales of meta and catches something, an unsuspecting gamer, which lights an ember within him. Slowly but surely this ember burns brighter and brighter, and becomes an inferno within the vessel!”

This is how a bard may have spun the tale of flame weapons becoming a little more useful, and myself deciding to give them a go (pre-FAQ I will add). Although these days we would just probably write something like;

“Flame weapons? Eh, they're alright, I'll give 'em a go, although I don't expect anything special mind you.”

This is all a bit vague and wordy, so let me actually explain what the hell I'm talking about. After Invasion I decided to give generally unloved units in the Scourge army a little more attention, with the aim of finding possible undiscovered uses for them and also for fun. I have always been a little sceptical of flame units in general, so decided to use this opportunity to use some Tormentors, and critique both them and how flame units stand in the current meta at the same time.

The unit itself is a bit of a beast for a flame tank. It has more DP and a bucket load more shots than any other flame unit out there. It is also not slow, and then on top of all this it can carry specialised CQB troops! In my opinion, it is the best flame unit in the game (even before the points decrease) as it burns which ever infantry it targets, which is ultimately what you want from this type of tank. With the flame units of the other races you find yourself needing to focus more than one on a base to guarantee the job being done, and if you lose a single model it can greatly decrease the effectiveness of the squad. The Tormentor being A8 isn't really even an issue either, as it will normally be hiding behind buildings, away from AT shots.

So establishing that the Tormentor is top of its class, why don't we see more on the battlefield? It's a depressingly obvious reason sadly, in that it is because it is a flame unit. Flame weapons are the most specific in the game, so specific in fact that in certain missions they are a complete waste of time. Even AA can shoot ground units, as you have good odds on taking out tanks like the Janus and Prowler . Flame weapons don't offer this kind of flexibility in a list, which is a hard pill to swallow once you invest more than a 100 points in a squad.

I have played four games with them now (all 1500 points), one post-FAQ, and here is a small run down of each game:

Encroachment – Vs PHR (win)

This should have been 'the' mission for a flame unit. Troops worth triple points inside buildings in your opponents board half? I just wait for the Sirens to hop out, and squirt my dangerous jelly all over the copper haired princesses! One small problem did occur however, in which I left them too close to a building, and it fell on them killing both models. This game was fairly moot due to my own stupidity, so lets move on.

Military Complex – Vs PHR (win)

This was against Sgt Slaughter, and he had taken an Athena which happened to turn up on the first turn; as such, I was a little cautious with everything in the air! This being a game of objectives, I parked my Tormentors behind the middle building ready to pounce on any infantry units that deployed into one of the three central buildings. However... The Sgt didn't deploy any Infantry into the middle buildings for the first four turns. I'm not sure why to be honest. This may have been the influence of the flame units in the middle of the park, but when I asked him after the game if this was the case, he merely moaned that 'We've got no speed!'. As you can guess this wasn't very helpful in my quest to discover if the flame unit was viable, but there you go.

In my opinion I think they did have a psychological impact on the game. Jumping into a building only to lose an entire squad of troops (dice depending of course) is a daunting risk. He didn't have the speed to get onto my side of the building and deal with them either, so unless I activated badly I was always going to toast something. This gave me a big edge on a objective only mission, but having said this I never once got to shoot them in anger, which was disappointing. Who realistically wants to play with a unit that you never get to roll dice for!

I learned a very useful trick with Razorworms in this game. Razorworms cannot search for objectives, but they can still be the occupier. As such, I shunted them into a building that two squads of Immortals were heading to on turn five. Come turn six I was the occupier, and because of this the Immortals could not search for the objective. Yes, they turned them into worm skin rugs in CQB, but it didn't matter- the objective was safe. Sneaky Scourge Shenanigans.

Secure The Flanks – Vs UCM (win)

I finally got a chance to use them in this game! My adversary had a couple of Legionnaire squads
You get to roll THIS many dice
with Tormentors!
bunkered up in a building next to a focal point, and in order to win it I needed to take them out. I happened to have the Tormentors deployed on the correct side of the board, and after turning a couple of Wolverines into puddles of flesh stained steel (ten E4 shots will do that to an A5 unit!) they rocked over and covered a couple of bases in the most dangerous jelly known to man.

In this particular set up they were very useful, and allowed me to consolidate my win. All they did all game was take out some cheap Legionnaires but it was an important task to complete. It is probably worth noting that one squad of Destroyers decimated the other squad of Legionnaires (who were lining the walls) with their shard cannons. Twelve shots on each base will do that! This means that an all round infantry unit caused equal damage to a specialised flame unit. Yes, the infantry had to be lining the walls, but still it is food for thought.

I will credit where it is due however- when I did get to pick up and roll twenty dice it felt SO good!

Take And Extract – Vs Resistance (loss)

Another disaster unfortunately. I fudged my activations in turn two, and Skulsword deployed three Gun Wagons, shot the Tormentors Marauder and killed everything in the ensuing explosion. I really hate that spawny bugger sometimes. Not really a fair run out, but in order to make use of them I had to rocket forward resulting in leaving myself vulnerable. As it turned out I could have really used them, as Occupation Veterans in a large building are a total nuisance!

To summarize, every time I use this unit I feel like I am wasting my points. They were helpful in two games (granted I screwed up in one of the other two) but I think I could have won both without them. 150 points could get me eight Prowlers, two Slayers, or even a third unit of Destroyers (hypothetically of course, three would probably be overkill!). Each of those units would have been more useful in three of the four games played, and Tormentors were only more useful in Secure the Flanks because of a very opportunistic twist that went my way. Certainly in my loss against Skullword I would rather have had eight Prowlers; I'm confident I could have at least drawn the game using them through multiple high energy attacks on his Alexander, and unit saturation to distract from my Hunters.

Closing in to administer
the jelly flood
There are currently cheap flame units that you will see get a run out due to low cost or numerical nuances. Fire Wagons for instance are very cheap at 92 points with a Kraken, and you have the option of taking one or two Menchits with larger standard battlegroup in a Poseidon. Each of these units is a small points sink, and may be worth a try. Units like the Tormentor and Fireblade however are pricey and will limit what else you can take in an army, and ultimately are not worth it. To put this into perspective eight Prowlers with Intruders are only 120 points, and two Longbows and Ravens are a mere 90!

In a game of adaptability flame units remain to specific for me. They sit in a very awkward place, being very good at certain missions and utterly useless in others. Every other unit in the game can do more than one thing- For example, AA can also shoot infantry and AT can shoot buildings at long range. Flame as a rule doesn't offer the same utility, and even with the rules now ignoring Evasive counter measures it is a cost in an army which many will not be willing to pay, and for a good reason too.

In order for myself to consider using a flame unit it would have to be more multi-purpose. Something like a small AT gun, E9 maybe or something similar, would be a good start. Or even perhaps a unit which offers a local buff (like the Dreamsnare, but less douchey) and packs a flame weapon to go with it. The unit would suddenly have more purpose than simply waiting about for Infantry to perhaps expose themselves.

Finally to conclude, do I think the flame tank is a viable, take on all comers unit? No, absolutely not with the current units in the game. If you know which mission you will be playing though, they can be very useful indeed.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with flame units, and perhaps get a discussion going as to how we think they could become useful!


  1. Agree on all points, maybe in large games they might work better were 150pt ish is not so important.
    I don't own any for any of my armies.

    1. It's worth grabbing a squad in case you play a 2k+ game, because they become worth it then. It's at less than that, that they suffer sadly.

  2. I agree on all points. And would suggest that flame units need to be cheaper in points for most armies because of their single specific roll. The expectations : A. being for PHR as you can mix your type one walker squads so only have to take one in with your larger numbers of more useful AA and AT walkers. And B. Resistance given the internal balance of the army (being an infantry dependent army without OP infantry) fire wagons are a force multiplier and because they can disembark and shoot from the hovercrafts.

    I play alot of Scourge and my poor UCM infantry have a hell of a time with destroyers. No one takes less than 2 squads. And why wouldn’t they are awesome almost an auto include. Not even Praetorians can deal with these monsters. Indeed, I had 6 legionaries and a unit of Praetorians trying to dislodge 2 bases of Destroyers and they could not do it in 2 turns of CQB.

    As the situation where dropping the building is not an option or would cost too much shooting, keeps coming up again and again. I am thinking of getting some fire blades when I can next afford it.

    I agree I would never take them in an all comers list – ever! 3 fireblades and a condor are more expensive than a squad of praetorians in a Raven by 3pts. WHY!!!???!!!

    But the fact that you can’t keep a unit of destroyers out of a building by manning the walls mean I am going to get them. I only want them for dealing with Destroyers.

    Now the game seems to have the following thought process in mind for most casual games: “Know the mission and make a list.” At least this is the impression I would get reading the rule book and not reading on the internet. It would seem that the original intention and rules design is that casual games would be the bulk of play worldwide not tournament and tournament prep. If this is the case than flame weapons do have a useful and valuable place (I know Im playing scourge and it is not one of the few missions were infantry is not as important I better get me some fireblades). If not then they need a bit of a shift to reflect that people play all comers list more often than tailoring a list to an individual game/mission.

    The question is:
    Are ‘all comers lists’ the norm? Or are we misreading the place of flame weapons because Dav’s vision of now most games are played are not generic list games and we just have to work with the fact that all comers lists are not going to work with flame tanks (but thats OK because these types of games are an outlier overall)?


    P.S. love the pod cast. I get so much more painting done when you guys put one out.

    1. Hi hold pattern, great comment. I think there are different ways to deal with Destroyers. The best way is to strand them by taking out their dropship. Arcangels help with this, also star sprite drones.
      Fireblades are not the answer to Destroyer problems. 12 shots will hit 8 times, so you are looking at 2-3 wounds, then the destroyers get their passive save!! You could get lucky and take out a base, then again your opponent could and he could save everything.

      Maybe concentrate on the Warriors more, use sacrificial squads to hold up the destroyers.

    2. Sacrifical squads are good to keep the Destroyers away. With only 18 attacks for two bases enemy units have a tendency to stay in the fight for a turn extra. So against other exotics they don't clear buildings as fast.

  3. When I play UCM and have to take out Destroyers/1stborn/Sirens, I've found you need 2 base of Praetorian and 6 bases of legionnaires + some cards. Then I win the CQB with 1 partial base of Praetorian and 1.5 bases of legionaries. Not too economical.


  4. Destroyers are hardy. Im glad to hear that it is not simply that I am a dice gimp. I like that scourge have their ‘CQB awesome’ feel. I was just hopeful of a use for the fireblade. Sure you can burn out regular infantry but who whats that when you can have fast roping SAS.

    Downing light dropships has been the normal way to deal with them. Was thinking flame tanks might give me a way of dealing with them head on for those times when you just have to get them out of a building quickly. Looking at Mikes the numbers the fire blades don’t seem appealing. You just saved me some money! This is a good thing – one decision closer to a Phoenix.

  5. You bet me to it! I will try the following list at GothCon sweden for a one day event. We will see what happens. Nedless to say I am doubtful. At the same time I really really look forward playing this type of list. It will be great fun ant very challenging.

    Standard Army
    Clash: 1489/1500 points
    Standard Army
    Standard Roster [1489/1500 pts]
    Oppressors [372 pts]
    Desolator: Desolator(Overlord) [260 pts]
    Minders: 4x Minder, Intruder Beta [56 pts]
    Minders: 4x Minder, Intruder Beta [56 pts]
    Vanguard [304 pts]
    Hunter Squad: 3x Hunter, Marauder [146 pts]
    Reaper Squad: 3x Reaper, Marauder [158 pts]
    Warriors [237 pts]
    Warrior Horde: 3x Warriors, Marauder, 2x Invader [156 pts]
    ^ Sharing ^ Warrior Horde: 3x Warriors [81 pts]
    Warriors [124 pts]
    Aged Ones: 2x Aged Ones, Intruder Alpha [124 pts]
    Invasion Host [332 pts]
    Slayer Squad: 2x Slayer(+Razorworms), Marauder [191 pts]
    Tormentor Squad: 2x Tormentor, Marauder [141 pts]
    Attack Swarm [120 pts]
    Corsairs: Corsair [60 pts]
    Corsairs: Corsair [60 pts]


  6. You should do alright fella, you're a good player and in dropzone experience speaks volumes. Having said that your list isn't really optimised, but I gather that's the point! You need more troops for sure; aged ones are useless. Puting them against exotics is great for a one turn boost, but they get horribly murdered In return...