Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Elephants That Cross The Urban Jungle

Interesting things are happening in my dropzone related life at the moment. I've managed to successfully flush my Scourge host from my body (a diet of Tabasco sauce and ghost chillies will rid any parasite within you) and turncoat completely, by joining the good fight against the alien scum! Playing the Resistance has opened my eyes slightly to the issues other armies face (for instance, manoeuvrability is a luxury within junk-town forces), and also reinforced a few issues I had with the aliens (focal points are no issue at all for the Resistance, which is the opposite for the Scourge).

More interestingly than that though is you get to learn about all the units, y'know, get all up inside the infantry and tanks to see what they're really about. We do a lot of theorising and postulating here at OB, partly because it fills blog space, and mostly because we're vain enough to think we know what we're talking about. As it turns out, we sometimes talk out of our arse's - I know, shocking stuff!

Take the Hannibal for instance. After all of our initial bad mouthing, the tank is pretty useful despite its flaws, and has a little hidden utility if played in a perhaps unconventional way!

My first encounter with the brutes was after the Scourge had been shelved, post Invasion, and I was cobbling together my first Resistance list. Deciding to go for something nice and balanced, and more importantly a list I could be suitably cautious with (old habbits die hard), the Hannibals seemed to slot into the roster nicely. I had a couple which I had just finished rusting up, and as it is always nicer to play with painted models (and I find the dice hate you less, anyone else feel that?) I decided to take them for a test drive.

The issues with the vehicle hit me in my few first games, and a while before I began to see the positives. The overwhelming lack of speed, and general clunkyness of the tanks and Lifthawk make deployment challenging. With a gob-smackingly terrible move of 2" you have to deploy them to exactly where you want to be, and not only that but they will normally have to be in the open. You can't hide around a corner when you simply can't move fast enough to clear it next turn! I also ran into issues with the guns, in that they just weren't potent enough. Two E10 and two E9 shots from a couple of heavy tanks felt a little underwhelming, and I couldn't even trust them to take out something as simple as a couple of Sabres. Although four shots from two vehicles is decent, the energy was just lacking to make any noticeable dent.

That's when it hit me though; I had been simply choosing the wrong units to target. The Resistance have high powered weaponry (Thunderstorm, Occupation Vets) and low energy guns with numerous shots (Freeriders, ATV's) in abundance, which is better suited for taking out highly armoured units. The Hannibals have a different target entirely; A9 units, scouts and backboard solo units.

It makes sense when you think about it really; a light squad of Katana are going to have a very difficult time getting rid of these hunks of solid metal, and scout units will more or less have no hope at all. Better than this, if you are able to park them half way up the board, or even into your opponents table half, Hannibals can make a real nuisance of themselves if your opponents has vulnerable units such as the Ferrum or Taranis. These static, low armoured units are typically invaluable, and as such your opponent cannot risk them being targeted. This will leave them with the awkward choice of either sacrificing the unit in risk, or with having to deal with these Elephants of war, which is easier said then done!

Rusty and ready
I mentioned utility earlier, and this lies in the ability to counter the awkward, hard infantry units
which now cover our tables; Freeriders and Medusa to name a couple. These two annoyances have had most generals reaching for their rulebooks, looking for any kind of high volume weapon to pick the odd wound of, and as fate would have it Hannibals have a machine gun! As a squad they can pump out 10 shots worth of infantry damaging projectiles, and if you add the Lifthawk into the equation you can get up to 15! Granted, this isn't typically going to be game changing but it is incredibly useful. A Medusa at full strength is going to have issues removing two Hannibals, and if it happens to have had 3-4 wounds removed before hand it makes the task even harder.

Much to my initial surprise, this makes them an excellent anti-flank unit, and for the low-low price of 155 points (including Lifthawk with AA attachment; it should never be considered without it when carrying these tanks!) it is worth the investment in the right list build. The old issues do raise their head every now and again, as lighter armoured units can run rings around then, but there is an art in Dropzone of getting the jump on units. If you understand how to utilise activations to their best this issue can be avoided. I also found their range to be a little short, being only fully effective within 18". This means a turn two deployment a little closer to the enemy lines than you would like, but they are hardy enough to take most flak sent their way.

In fact, let's touch on that hardiness. They have a perception within the community of being a big, butch, focal grabbing unit, who will just soak up fire-power and release the hearty belly laugh of a sumo wrestler. This is true to some extent, but with the volume of E11 weapons rocking about these days they are no-where near as safe as they were on release. Unbelievably, because of the points reduction to the Hannibal, three bases of Freeriders cost more points and are a ton more resilient. Go figure! Focal point grabbers they are, but at only 80 points and with a tendency to lose at least one each battle, I'm going to continue to use Freeriders, Krakens, Occupation Vets and my trusty Thunderstorm to hold most focal points.

As a very last point, at any more than 40 points these tanks would never have been viable in any role. I salute both the community for whinging about them, and more so Hawk for having the courage to make the necessary change. All we need to do now is keep whining about the Alexander, and the dream of a ex-army Resistance force may become a worthwhile option!


  1. Hanibles are kind like Meh. Not good or bad at anything. Well except speed. I've used as you have described. Spend 2-3 turns flying up the board, then deploy to be annoying.


    1. I love Hannibals. You just need to know what to shoot at with them. Nothing above A9.

      Although, I haven't seen any UCM that I can remember in your barrels, FM, so this could be why you don't find them very useful. Getting backfield and popping a Ferrum and/or Kodiak is golden!

    2. El Welcho has got it spot on. During the game in which I realised their strengths, they took out a Kodiak and Ferrum. Good times!

      They can be a great distraction unit, and sometimes mind games supersede a units physical strength. A good example of this is the Raider; in practise, it's fine, but serves as a much larger psychological threat which is where the strength lies.

      On the other hand Hannibals can go toe to toe with units which cost more than them, like the Jaguar. Application is key, and frankly it's nice to have a unit for the Resistance which forces that approach. So many of their units are so robust and agile they can be plonked anywhere without a care.

      I'm a fan of the nellie.

  2. I'm glad to see that you've shaken off your jelly parasite, Dan, at least for now. Looking forward to hearing about your Resistance at the upcoming Invasion!...