Friday, 6 November 2015

Some opinions can move fastly

Latest pledge rank on Dropfleet Commander.
I will very quickly note something that is oh so off topic for this post, but incredibly on point for the current game being funded, that Dropfleet Commander has now (at the time of publishing) hit £299k! Last night Hawk gave us another update to sink our teeth into, with renders of the fighters, bombers and the mighty torpedo as discussed in First Wave's interview with Dave Lewis. Not only this, but there is a brand new Lionel Richie inspired pledge level named 'Commodore' which more or less just gives the public what they want. Should it have been around from the start? Probably, but we have it now, so stop moaning. 

Melting the renders of the PHR Ajax class cruiser on to all of this, like the proverbial cheese on the Kickstarter toast, is leaving me incredibly hungry for cheese on toast. I mean, Dropfleet Commander. Hm, no, I mean both now.

But but but, let's bring ourselves back down to Earth for a few minutes, and move our attention from the ever bloating pledge fund of Dropfleet Commander. Let us focus our consideration instead to ships that move well inside of the atmosphere, rather than outside of it. Zoning in even further, let's concentrate on single or duel piloted aircraft, rather than that of some with cities worth of crew.

That's right, I'm talking about Fast Movers! A post on these elite units from myself has been a long time coming, so right off the bat let's get one thing straight:

I don't hate them any more.

Yep, I said it. I don't. I just, don't. Now, I don't love them, oh no, but the hatred is no more. Unless we are talking about the Corsair; I still hate them. Or playing against an Athena which turns up on turn 1. I hate that too.

You see, over the last month or so Resistance have been my chosen flavour, and the army has housed a single Archangel Pathfinder. This single model point sink has opened my eyes a little to how useful a fast mover can be within a game, and also has helped me criticise the choice with a little more guidance.

As mentioned on many occasions in the past, the job of most fast movers is to hunt down light dropships or vulnerable air targets (like a wounded Eagle, for example). They nip on, perform the dirty deed and then like a bat out of hell are gone when the morning comes. Most of the units will also perform this action very well, as they have been engineered to the task, and excel within the predatory role. I have found that the Pathfinder performs exceptionally well for the most part, and when on the table can be considered incredibly reliable!

As well as being good at eliminating those lighter aerial targets, FM's are also very talented at disrupting your enemies plans, simply due to the fact that they are so good at popping aircraft. When you get that successful reserve roll, you can visibly see your opponent begin to rethink their AA deployment and dropship manoeuvres. In any general's arsenal that is a very powerful tool to have! Causing this level of disruption to your opponent can sometimes cause them to make errors, which you will be sure to lap up like a dog at a urinal on a hot day.

So, yes, I like fast movers now. But...

They are still a pain if your reserve rolls are bunk. Dropping to five activations on the first turn is a frustrating possibility which is, as the odds tell, very likely to happen. Not only is it annoying, but it can have large consequences if you are made to go first, as your opponent will have the potential to out position you from the off set. If come turn two, and even sometimes turn three, the fighter hasn't arrived it is going to potentially have very little impact on the game, meaning wasted points and a wasted activation.

They also have the chance to waste your troops activations too. In order to remove the, still stupid, attack run roll, you have to commit a unit of troops to line the windows and spot for it. This can lead to mistakes being made in troops placement and objective extraction, and if your fighter fluffs its rolls means that the troops may have wasted their turn. In armies like UCM and Resistance where you have a gazillion bases of infantry this isn't such an problem, but for more focussed armies like the PHR or Shaltari it has the potential to cause issues.

These are old threads to pluck at though, and ones I don't really ever see going away. Running fast movers in a list is for the gambling man, and they just aren't for me (this salty old war dog hasn't earned the title 'Cautious Cates' for nothing!). I do however believe that if you have the brass ones (balls or boobs, no discrimination here) big enough to run them that they are absolutely viable for a tournament list. Our very own Mega Mike came fourth at Invasion, and he was running two Archangels in his list! This actually brings me to a rule I have learnt somewhat the hard way; you always need two separate fighters in one Air battlegroup. This gives you two chances per turn to get them out of reserve, and risking the attack run rolls isn't so bad when you know you have another go up your sleeve. Also, if one gets shot down you don't all of a sudden drop a BG, and that was my mistake. In my last game using a single Pathfinder I lost it in turn three trying to pull of a risky manoeuvre, and felt it for the rest of the game. An exception to this rule would be the Athena, which is far too expensive to have two of in a list.

For me the fighter jet is being called back to the hanger, and will stay under a tarp until my first 2k Resistance game.

P.s. Corsairs are still bunk, and I'm still waiting for my flying Reaper. One day...


  1. For me, it depends on the mission. Focal Point missions = No FM. I'd like to see FMs useful in Focal Point missions, somehow. As it stands, they are a giant points waste in these missions which I think is why folks don't take them much.

    I honestly don't like the Reserves roll as it stands. I run PHR and 135 points is a lot to risk on that roll. I'd like to see some way to mitigate the risk. Maybe you can add half your CV (rounded down) to your dice or something?

    Something needs to be done to make the FM segment of the game more viable, I think.

    1. Oh, and great post! I've done the opposite as you, I'm not a big fan of FMs anymore because tournaments don't usually use Intel/Objective missions. Though, when I play pickup games with I/Obj, I always bring an FM!

    2. Cheers fella. Down our club we tend to write all comer lists, and then pick a scenario on the night- so basically we are always tournament training!

      The CV idea is a good one, perhaps the roll would depend on your CV? I.e. cv3/4+; cv4/3+, etc.

  2. You know what's worse than an Athena showing up Turn 1? A bloody Warspear, that's what! They're viscous, and now their tough, with 2 DPs, and of course that lovely P5+ save. We hatessss them!

    1. I've only played against one, and that was well before the tweak so I wasn't too worried, but now you mention it they are kind of scary!

  3. I agree with pretty much everything you've said, i do like my Archangels but it's a pain if they don't make their reserve rolls or botch an attack run.

    I've definitely seen it before but i'd love to see the FAC role shifted to scout units and depend on line of sight to the actual target.

    Another thing might be to include a scout slot with the Air Wing so you at least aren't down an activation until your planes show up.

    1. For balance I'm not sure scouts should be FAC, as much as it makes sense, unless it was a special kind of radar scout.

      The idea of a limited scout or troop slot being added to the Air BG has been suggested a few times, and I'd like to see it happen!

  4. I've been on the FM wagon from the beginning. If you know the scenario (friendly game) you can plan accordingly if one is worth it or not. In a tournament setting it is a gable as you said.

    So for all comers IMO;
    UCM/Scourge/Allied Resistance should get 1 FM. At 60-80 point for a BG activation that when it arrives you can just burn the actions is worth while. Better if you make an attack run w/o the risk of losing it.

    PHR/Shaltari is really your choice. 107-130pts(?) is a hefty risk, but reward is great.

    Now if you are a real gambler or FM fanatic;
    UCM Arch x 2 or 1 Arch and 1 Seriphim. More than that is too many points.
    Scourge take 2 or 4 in 2 groups.
    Shal/PHR take 2
    Allied Rest, take 2 Arch or 1 arch 1 hog or 1 hog

    Just my "out in left field opinion.

    Generally early in the game I try to use the FM to hit targets with very low risk of getting shot down.
    T5-6 it is all out kill that unit I need killed.


    1. I would disagree slightly, and for UCM either take 2 or none. They work very well as a pair! 80 points a pop for Resi is too much though. I think 4 is a nice number for Corsairs, but then it's SO expensive. Stupid Corsairs.

  5. Glad you finally said so. I almost pointed out that Mike nearly won Invasion w/ 2 FMs elsewhere when someone said FM were not competitive.

    Poor Corsair, I think they could go down 20-30pts.

    I look forward to the FM release rumored to be in Phase 2

  6. My local meta love their FMs. I'm seriously considering moving back to Invaders because of how these chaps chew through my dropships.

    Two Archangels or a Warspear make for a real big hole in my light dropships and stop me from extracting anything... or moving my infantry much at all afterwards. - although a base of Destroyers surviving 3 Archangel bombing runs in a sprint across the road to catch a focal point was well worth it!
    I'd love an extra dice on the Corsair, or even just an accuracy improvement to 3+... or give them Devastator 2 for the gambling man so they have a chance to pop medium dropships.