Thursday, 8 October 2015

Scream For Me Baby!

Charlie Brown and Snoopy
Over the summer a new unit was spawned from one of Hawk's low hanging fleshy sacks, causing all sorts of controversy and mayhem. On seeing this gooey, amorphous state crawl onto the scene some shouted "overpowered!", and others "the winner of the summer releases". Of course, I'm talking about the Raider and Screamer.

Having taken the pair to Invasion and applied them in an active, competitive environment, I feel I am in a good place to write a critique on the most feared tag team in the Dropzone universe. To sum up this article quickly; they're not broken or overpowered. As to why not, you'll have to read on...

My journey begins a mere two weeks before Invasion, and I was in a right old pickle. The Medusa had been released close to this time, and given the popularity of the PHR on a global scale I knew I would likely play the army, and that I needed a counter to the copper haired fiend. You see, a 'standard' Scourge list is not equipped to deal with units like the Medusa or Freeriders. Our shots are powerful but few, and our template unit unwieldy to use. This turned my attention to the Raider. Being a flame unit it answered my call, and as a bonus also came with the Screamer who seemed useful in every mission on paper. The decision was finally made, and my two squads of four Prowlers were removed to make way for the pair.

Invasion turned out to be a great success for me, finishing second (and the highest ever Scourge placing) and winning the team award with Mike and Joe. This success was in no small part due to the dynamic duo, but also in no large part either. 

You see, for all intensive purposes the Raider didn't really do anything, and the Screamer did even less. Most of my games involved the Raider either loitering behind large buildings looking menacing, or chasing various units around the board like a Benny Hill sketch. It wasn't like the missions didn't lend themselves to flame either; we played both Targets of Opportunity and Military Complex, but even in these missions my Raider only got to unleash its acidic broth once (and dismally failed I would add, stupid dice). Flame is also ideal for Bunker Assault, but due to trying to take out two Medusa's (and failing again, although this time due to two stupid Triton X[tremes]) I lost the dropship before I got a chance to use it against the bunkers fleshy inhabitants. The only time in the whole tournament it actually destroyed a squad was when I jumped on some Freeriders and melted them to their infernal scooters. So no, the unit isn't overpowered, it is at the end of the day just a flame unit.

If we stay very still, they won't see us...
But, butbutbut, but- what it truly is, and is probably how it should be used, is a superb denial unit. mindgames?! That's just plain awesome!
Who wants to jump a unit of Valkyries in a building next to a Raider? The dumb and reckless, that's who, and that type of gamer doesn't tend to last that long in our hobby. By positioning the Raider in awkward and intelligent areas you will cause your opponent to make mistakes and misplace their infantry, which as we all know will win you games in DzC. Although I didn't really use that unit all that much, it reinforces my belief in dropzone being the best wargame on the market by a distance. The fact that I potentially won some battles through mind games?! That's just awesome!

The Screamer on the other hand didn't really have a great tournament. I used it's abilities once, maybe twice? I believe this was in part due to my mis-positioning of the singing alien in some games, and also because of events which had transpired in others (i.e. in Ground Control it didn't get a chance to deny infantry extra points, as all the enemy infantry were dead...). For 40 points though I'm hardly concerned about it not getting used.

All in all I brought the Raider and Screamer as a way of combating dangerous infantry, and even though they didn't get to do this aggressively the very threat of the Raider worked in a different fashion. Are they overpowered? Absolutely not, but they can be very useful. Interestingly, I'm not sure if I would take one if it didn't come with the other.

Ultimately they did their job, which is all I can ask for.

Well, actually, that's not true. I could ask for fun, which sadly these guys didn't bring. Threat is all well and good, but waiting and waiting and waiting can be frustrating when all you want to do is run in front of the bad guys (in the alternative perspective, we're all bad guys to someone) and purify them in the bathing waters of acidic jelly. I found them to be boring, and ultimately ended up wishing that I had brought the eight Prowlers instead. But hey, maybe its just me. I am Cautious Cates after all.


  1. I think that you are a way too good player so you never need to use their full potential! As you said, you killed all the enemy infantry in Ground Control! ;)
    But in the hands of Egge, that is a mediocre player, these things can be terrifying! :P

    1. Excellent - as a mediocre player myself, I look forward to getting mine onto the field!

    2. I actually think you have validated Dan's point. Mind games. You are already terrified of it, meaning when you next face one you will change your game plan to try and either mitigate it or destroy it.
      1 round of shooting from a dedicated AA squad should kill it, if not it will probably be limping around with 1 dp left which essentially turns it into an Intruder. You may lose a squad of infantry, but on average dice that shouldn't happen (well not to a 10 dp A2 squad at least) Sirens need to be seriously on their game when facing any flame!!!

    3. I love it it fits totally in my hands...wait a minute!? Who's a mediocre Scourge player? Training against a more inbred group of gamers than the Swedish royalties in the 11th century is not easy. I have like one player to face. Once each month. In contrast Brittish and German people bathe in opponents and continuously just ignore people they find poor in skill while gaining sponsorship because the game is so big there they can live on it while we swedes struggle to get through the day and the Brittish gamers sleep around because a miniature gamer is the coolest guy you can be there while we swedes never get laid with the comment "want to come home and see my Screamer?" and the Brittish players just wins the lottery each time they play, bathe in sunlight all year around, and the women are the most beautiful in the world.

      Ghaa! other words. I'll think about testing the Screamer...

    4. I think all the mediocrity has turned Egge mental.

    5. But he speaks the truth.............

  2. Fair points!

    I think it is pretty clear that the Raider is not balanced internally within the Scourge army against the Tormentor. What is your solution to that problem? It bothers me to see that type of imbalance persist within the game, even if we accept for a moment that the Raider is balanced against other top-tier units.

    1. I completely agree with you marmot, the problem with the Tormentor is that it has always been in the wrong slot (Heavy). It should have always been support, that way they could be take with troops and exotics within different battlegroups.
      I don't see the justification of making it Heavy, just because it shares the Slayers chassis. The Hunter and Reaper share the same chassis, as do the Stalker and Ravager, and they are both have different slots.
      If this simple change was implemented, I could see Tormentors taken more readily. They really do annihilate what they douse in flamey acid

    2. Mike's right in that the slot needs to change, but there is a bigger problem which can't really be addressed. The issue with the Tormentor is that it is a dedicated flame unit, whereas the dynamic duo aren't. Sure the Raider is for the most part, but the Screamer adds another dimension that makes it worth taking them for.

      Also a Raider and Screamer are cheaper! 2 Tormentors trully anhiliate squads, but in reality 20 shots is overkill. If they lost some shots and went down in points maybe, but then you still have the issue of it being a flame unit, and the shoddy E8 armour, not to mention their fragile dropship...

      Really, why would you bother with Tormentors?

    3. Played vs a Raider/Screamer AND a Tormentor squad in a Marauder tonight, Ground Control. DarkNite sent the Raider to his right, and the Tormentors up his left flank. Put me in a real pickle. He also had two squads of Reapers, each of which went in basically the same directions. I was able to get the two Tormentors with one of my Medusas after they disembarked, but I messed up that activation and activated the wrong Medusa first, I was so freaked out by the Tormentors, and subsequently lost both of my Triton X's. The Raider came back towards his deployment zone and hid behind a normal sized structure so I never could get a shot off on it with any of my 4 Phobos, then it eventually flamed out the one Medusa by Turn 6, but the other survived unscathed.

      I made a couple of key mistakes in tonight's game, but having the two Flame units going in opposite directions from the get-go, and then the speed of the Raider to double back and eventually take out one Medusa, was tough to handle.

      We ended up tying on VPs, so in a tournament setting we would have drawn, but he had me by just less than 100 KPs difference, so he won...