Tuesday, 9 August 2016

First Impressions: Phase 2 Scourge

Kids get Christmas, proper adults get that two day payday feeling (before it all gets spent on bullshit, like being a proper adult with responsibilities) and those of us that are balanced somewhere in between, the man and woman-childs of the 21st century, get new toy releases. With the release for Reconquest: Phase 2 finally here and Dropfleet landing on the next pass of New Eden, it's our pseudo-Christmas to spend all our payday earnings on! Balls to responsibility!

To celebrate R:P2 we will all be delivering knee jerk, mostly un-tested reactions on all the new units, missions and rules over the next few weeks. We were entitled enough to have moderate access to the beta rules, so have had time to mull over some of the rules, but some opinions are so knee jerk that I accidentally caught myself in the chin sitting at my computer desk.

In true Danphabet style, we will start with the Scourge.

Quick warning; accidental innuendos may come hard and fast in this review.

This freaky, flying, fantastical flesh-flinger (that's a little gross, but alliteration is for winners) has crept nicely up into a hole that us Tadpoles weren't even sure was there. A non-heavy way of delivering Razorworms has been a long time coming, and Dave was certainly watching to much anime when he sculpted this baby.

The Corruptor adds a number of things to the Scourge force. Thing the first, it allows extra searches for objectives if you want them, as Razorworms can search for but not hold objectives; imagine your dog finding your lost phone for you, but not being able to dial it. Thing the second, it can boost CQB's which you need to win for sure. I have found out recently that having Worms all up in your grill is a rather unpleasant experience. They add twelve dice per base, are only wounded on 5's and get a dodge save, who knew they were so good! Even better than that is the way they suck dice from the rest of your troops, which means your mission winning infantry will be about for longer. The way you can freely inject them into buildings hands the crown of the CQB King back to Scourge. Thing the fourth, they can be occupiers. Can't reach a building this turn with troops? Just tuck your worms in there to wiggle about. This prevents your adversary from searching, and allows you to back up the fleshy projectiles at your leisure. Although do beware falling masonry, the risk is real...

For an army that spends two thirds of its time in the air, focal points are an issue. Scourge tanks are expensive, fragile and hard to fit into an army due to the sheer amount of transports we need to take. Traditionally on multiple focal point missions I will aim to contest one and secure the other, and then win on other mission conditions. That said; Thing the fifth, these cheap, annoying parasites will happily wriggle about near a FP to contest and allow your more expensive infantry to commit where necessary!

They are really very good. Very, very good. I'm not sure you'll see many Scourge armies without them now to be honest. They do have a dirty little secret that unfortunately can't be ignored; you'll be forced to sell your kidneys, house and Aunty Doris to afford them. At 80 points a pop they are very expensive considering they will rarely score, and if they are destroyed before shooting their load (which will happen sometimes, as they are only Reaver shells) you have suddenly gifted your opponent a heap of kill points. This cost will also have a detrimental effect on your army list too, as taking two removes 160 points of anti-tank or air, leaving very hard choices. Expensive, but fair.

They are not a unit to jump into fist first and will require some practise before you get the full value, but once you do they will suddenly become invaluable.

Verdict: Dirty, dirty, dirty

Mikes tuppence worth: This is a very versatile piece. Can be used to maximise infantry searches, or to bolster CQB, it can hold focal points and critical locations and generally be an annoyance to your opponent. It has it's drawback though, as every good unit should - it costs 80 points. It's a hefty whack of your points. But, still, you need to play with 1 or 2 they are great fun. Essentially that is Scourge in a nutshell, great fun to play. 

The alpha and early beta rules for Monitors were mostly underwhelming. As a unit brought into tackle those pain in the arse Hard Infantry squads, who against the Scourge could strut around the streets more brazenly than Shaft or The Fonz, they were simply not up to scratch. Hawk in their wisdom did listen to the public though and upgraded their guns to be necessarily potent; 4 E5 shots, 2+ acc and an un-countered range of 36".

The problem Jellys have, or rather had, with these infantry units in the open and on the walls is that we don't have secondary fire modes on our tanks (machine guns on a Sabre's hull for instance) to wittle away wounds, or really any unit with a numerous amount of shots apart from the Ravager. What the Monitor adds is a supreme and almost unrivalled level of anti-infantry fire, which doesn't suffer the same issues that flame does. For a start it boasts extreme range for Scourge weaponry, so you don't need to be hugging your opponent to show you care. Instead you can play it cool, and just give them a wave from across the street. This range gives you the ability to set up fire lanes, something we've always dreamed off! Next up is the reliability of killing what you target; 16 E5 shots will pretty much nobble any two bases of standard infantry, a base of Freeriders or even punch a noticeable hole into a Medusa. Let me repeat that; these floating balls of hate can make a Medusa wince in fear! Also as the gun is E5 you're laughing all day long against Resistance and their poxy wagons! In equal importance to the aggressive strength of the unit is its ability to influence the battlefield, which will force your opponent to alter their plans. You can set up your Sappers there, but do you really want to set your Sappers up there?

Monitors are also Scouts (because our SoI wasn't large enough backboard...) which is an excellent bonus and very easy to make the most of in a Scourge list. Oh yeh, they explode too. You don't really want them that close to the enemy to be honest, and this rule is, although awesomely thematic with their fluff, a little gimmicky and won't be used often. If it is being used frequently, you're using them wrong! I can see that some may think them too powerful, but they are very easy to destroy and if you hide your infantry well enough they may end up with nothing to target all game, so for me they are balanced nicely.

We've never had a tool this useful before. In my humble opinion Monitors are the single most important unit in the whole of R:P2. There is no other vehicle or aircraft in the book which fills in the agonisingly large hole in balance that the Scourge have been forced to live with; not even the Corruptor or Overseer.

Verdict: Top horn. Which is to say, superb.

Mikes tuppence worth: These little critters are very situational, much like flame weapons. But the situations that arise for Monitors seem to happen more and more. That means a 56 point squad is extremely easy to fit into any list. I've only dive-bomed once, failed miserably as the Caimen passed it's passive save!! 
Personally, I think an Intruder is a must. 

We've been waiting so long, so so long, so very long for this. The Prolapse Monster. The King of Chin. Captain Hernia. Was it worth the wait? To the veteran squidies, yes. Let's cover why we were waiting before I get into the meat of it.

It would be perhaps an under-statement to say that I've had my issues with the Desolator. Its weapons are either masochistic or a one-shot gimmick, and it never ever performed for me. It also fails to support the army in any function, although it did support your foes by gifting them kill points with that bloody weather machine. The introduction of the Oppressor was very exciting, and offered a Mecha-crab which gobbled up any tanks in its way! Rather unfortunately that was around the time that the conventional 'tank' stopped being fielded, and instead a host of Hard Infantry and light, fast tanks were released. The stock of the Oppressor fell from there, and weirdly made the Desolator a more attractive option (any port in a storm...). After the R:P1 erratas and slight nerfing of infantry in R:P2 the Oppressor is actually again a good choice (good work Hawk), but the gloss has somewhat faded now, and that giant, floating shadow on the horizon is so very enticing...

The Overseer is great. Fact. That's my knee jerk reaction after a single game, and the evidence is
pretty irrefutable. A standard problem of Scourge, mentioned in the Monitors review, is weight of fire. We have plenty of strength but very little weight. The Overseer changes this ball game entirely! It simply goes, 'Oh, you need more shots? I have this Ion Carriage thang that my dawg Xhibit pimped on me that can double them. Is that enough? Oh, kk, cool, here you go.'. For the cost of one energy it allows plasma weaponry to double their shot profiles, which is a straight up Harley Quinn madness! I play with six Hunters in a despoiler most of the time which can now kick out a whopping 16 E10 shots! Intruders can even make 2 E8 shots (see that Gun Wagon? Now you don't!). This seems pretty overpowered and I was actually a little worried about it, but in practise it feels okay as you are limited by the Overseers bubble. Starting within the required 9" can be a little awkward sometimes, especially as Scourge need to get forward and pounce, and all the Overseer wants to do is chill out behind the mid-table line. It can also extend the range of plasma weaponry by 6" which I think will be used less, but is still very useful (think 12" Intruder shots). Not only does the Ion Cradle do all this shinyness, but it also doubles as a mind-blowingly good AA weapon. Eight shots hitting on a 2+ will ruin any fast movers day, not to mention a cloud of drones. Oh, and it has strafe, in case you happen upon any gun ships. This AA tool has an 18" effective threat, so its not just useful as what can only be described a back board flak cannon, it can at a push become predatory and go hunting.

Although it may be the the best support commander in the game, it's not an easy beast to wield. Timing and activation priority is going to be very important in getting the most out of this Leviathan, and as amazing as it is I do not suggest new players start with it. I would recommend this order of commander use; Desolator>Oppressor>Overseer. By learning each commander you will benefit from learning 'The Scourge Way', and only then will you be able to truly appreciate the Overseer.

Verdict: Desowho and Oppressowhat?

Mikes tuppence worth: I've not used it, but I have played against one. WOW. It is the 1 piece that just makes the Scourge tick. This will help promote them to a much healthier showing at tournaments. It is not an easy unit to use, and is a thinking mans piece. It will need to be well placed to maximise your output, not only in game but in list design too. 
I think that Hawk need to clarify how it affects Scourge Warriors with their combined fire rule. If I choose to double my shots (up to 10 per base) it gives me the chance to get more than 1 E11 shot, potentially 3 - which is too much. 
I will be trying out an Overseer this week and I can't wait!

<Dan> "Lads, do I have to?"
<Mike> "You picked Scourge, get on with it, bitch."
<Dan> "...but I have nothing nice to say..."
<Mike> "When do you normally?"
<Dan> "...eh...*sigh* Fine."

Points fillers are useful in every wargame, including Zone, and until recently the Scourge had pretty much none. If there were competitions for lists to finish the closet to 1500 points the Tadpoles would come 5th pretty much every time. Well, with an agenda to solve that, Hawk produced the next bio-organism to slither into the Scourge ranks. Enter the Vampire!

Now exit the Vampire, go on, get out of here! It's poor guys, it's just so, so poor. A single E6 shot with a nothing range, average accuracy, bad armour and worst of all no reaction fire, Whywhywhy would I ever bother when Minders exist for the the same points? Sure, they bolt onto medium or large dropships to eat up those spare points, but I would rather find the extra 24 points for that Intruder (who can now shoot 12"). Vampires are a points gift to your opponent, as they will do very little work and when they finally get an opportunity to shine the winged beasties will be blown out of the sky.

If I have 25 points spare in a list I would rather finish it with 1475 points. Vampires suck.

Verdict: Vampire stew, anyone?

Mikes tuppence worth: Bleurgh. So they started at 14 points, went down to 10, now they are 8. Personally I think it is still too much. 5 or 6 points each would be fine. I would probably take a few then. I think their weaponry should be altered, 2 'shots' E5 would make them interesting. 

Other Reconquest: Phase 2 Tweaks

Screamer squad size changed to 1 - It could be taken as a squad before?
Oppressor points decrease to 140 points and walker rule addition - It makes it the same cost as the Desolator, and the change is fair. It didn't have the walker rule before?! #typo
Ravagers down to 40 points - This happened in the last errata, but is still a good change. They are absolutely worth taking now.

A very strong and much needed showing for the Scourge. I'm happy, and I'm literally never happy with anything, just ask the lads. Hell, just listen to the podcast! I have tools on my belt which feel new and dangerous, and they make everything much less of a chore. When thinking about playing PHR or Resistance I don't just sigh anymore and think 'let's get it over with then'. I feel like I can compete! The early hardships for all new hosts are still there, and that won't ever change I feel, but if you can get past those early batterings the future looks wibbly my friends.


  1. So you would take a corrupter by replacing a AT ot AA unit. You wouldn't replace a infantry slot for it? Can you not go a bit lighter on infantry with the corrupter?

    1. That's a fair point, and yes infantry could be 'watered' down a little to include less Exotics. I would still always have 4 squads, as Razorworms are not a substitute for infantry, but you could certainly get away with 1 squad of Destroyers/Eviscerators and 3 warriors, or if you're careful no Exotics at all!

  2. Vampires + Overseer: It's a "plasma" cutter. Interesting eh? Discuss.

    1. I had noticed that, because if the way aircraft work they had to give it a range, surprised the name of the weapon wasn't changed. I just imagine these surprised bats being propelled around with Iron Man beams shooting from their claws.

      I think the weapon name will get changed, but until that happens it's a very situational.l combo. The Overseer doesn't want to be anywhere near where the Vampires should be deploying, and they still don't have reaction fire!

  3. Nice review, Dan, thank you! I was in need...

    I agree with everything, even though I've yet to face or use an Overseer, but all-in-all spot on. The only thing I feel differently about is the Vampires -- I don't think they're utterly useless, and would certainly take enough to fill up those extra points I can't fit anything else in with. But I'm splitting hairs, I think. They're certainly not great enough to make me bust them out of their clamshell package and start working on them...

    Speaking of which, at the risk of sounding like a bandwagoner, I almost ordered an Overseer and blister of Corruptors and one of Monitors when I placed my order on the Hawk website this past Sunday. But, I realized that I still have work to do with my UCM challenge, and Dropfleet is coming soon, or at least it's breathing really hard, so I won't have time to focus on anything gribbly for many months, so I decided to pass with this order. Perhaps 2017 will be the year I turn into a host and get working on my Scourge... And at that, most of my order was the new PHR goodies (except the Angelos A2 -- still feeling meh about it, and that I'd rather take a regular old Angelos and indulge my demo itch) so I will have to make a slight detour away from UCM for a while to figure out what new PHR goodness to include in 1,500 points, which might push becoming a host even further into the future. But I've already faced Corruptors and Monitors, and know that I'll see an Overseer across from me before too much longer, so that will be fun.

    Looking forward to the other reviews!

    Thanks again! 8^D

  4. Hooray! They all sound like a lot of fun, and it'll be good to have a command unit who contributes for a change...

    Is he really going to be so much harder to learn to use than the Desolator? I've never fielded an Oppressor, but I can't say I feel I've ever used the Desolator well.

    I suppose another important question to ask, is are there any game changing units for the other factions that are going to render everything you've written here about our new units obsolete? Or is it too soon to tell?

    Oh, and also, what are the new Scourge character(s) like?

    1. The Overseer is a lot less point and click than the Despoiler, and requires an extra level of thought in my opinion. There is one fabulous commander, and she has an AA Oppressor!

      As for 'enemy' units making these redundant, traditionally (and rather cynically) when something game changing for Scourge is released all the other races get something that makes them redundant... There is nothing in Phase 2 which does this though, so for at least the present we can enjoy this moment!

    2. By Despoiler, do you mean Desolator? (I just had to google to check I know which is which...)

      The trouble with the Desolator being point and click is that whatever you point at, when you click, I always find myself killing more of my own units than my opponents. Making it not so point and click in practice...

      I would have thought that the Overseer might be easier to use because a) it doesn't have the weather machine to tempt you into nuking your own guys and b) it has its own AA cover.

      I've deliberately held off on getting most of the Phase 1 units, and everything that's come out since then, as I play relatively rarely and wanted to have fun with the first wave. But I'm mightily tempted to replace my Desolator, and quite fancy playing around with the Corruptor and Monitors too, though I'm willing to wait on them for a bit...

    3. The hardest thing about the Desolator to learn, and its more really about just accepting rather than learning... is that its never going to kill anything you want. Hide at the back, jump on a focal point, but don't try and do something heroic with it.

    4. @Angelic Despot: Don't wait, get it now. Get everything! Stay current! Stay up-to-date! Buy it, buy it ALL!!! Bwahahahaha!!!...

      ...or not...

      But, really, why are you intentionally denying yourself the new shiny stuff? The stuff from the Core Rulebook still works, for the most part, and they aren't going anywhere, you can still use them, but there are whole new vistas of listbuilding to explore with the units from Reconquest: Phase 1 and Phase 2. I recommend expanding your horizons (and your list options) to the extent your budget will allow...


    5. @JD In principle I agree with you, but I don't have the opportunity to play very often, so I'm sort of savouring it. Kind of like someone introducing you to a cool TV show half way through. You could carry on watching from there, or, as I'd prefer to do, you could start at the beginning with episode 1, season 1, and appreciate the full story.

      I'd like to have some games with the original wave of units under my belt so that I can appreciate what comes next.

      That said, I didn't resist the destroyers (I take some every game), and I've tried the eviscerators too. Oh, and reavers, although they didn't work very well for me.

      But I think I might just cave and get all of these new things. Certainly the Overseer should allow me to play the way I'd like to play. I want to like the Desolator but I mostly find it very frustrating.

    6. I see your point. My wife is always trying to get me to join her in watching a TV series she's currently into, but I find it frustrating to do so not having started from the beginning. I recently purchased the new Battlestar Galactica Seasons 1 & 2, and if I hadn't seen the two pilot/miniseries episodes, I'd be totally lost.

      But I think getting the Overseer would be a great exception to your rule. Makes Hunters and other plasma weapons so much more viable in the current R:P2 meta!

  5. Dan/Mike/Ed: There's something broken on this post. One of the guest blogs has a picture of two nicely painted Malifaux mannequins that is HUGE and pushes all of the main section of the post off to the left and squishes it small. Thought you'd want to know...

  6. So next up we have, what?

    Ed prattling about PHR?
    Joe rambling on about Resistance?
    Mike quipping the light fantastic re: UCM?
    And who will do Shaltari? Dan? That makes sense, since he's going to go Hedgehog Wild next, or so he says...

    Who will review the new rules?
    Who will review the new scenarios???
    Who will review the Fabulous Commanders??????

    Come on, lads! It's Friday for you, which is your usual day to post, right? Well, it's Thursday night for me, 1:00 AM (technically Friday, I know). I expect by the time I awake (which will be late, because I don't have a job to go to, so why the feck not?) I expect the latest installation. You are on notice. Don't make me come to your house! (OK, make me, I'd love to...)

    And I've already told the Swedes, so I might as well tell you -- I *promise* to put up that post on my much neglected blog about the exciting results of last Saturday's tournament tomorrow. It really was a barn-burner! (I'll give you a tease -- On the top table there were (wait for it...)... "Shape Charge Shenanigans!" Nyuk. Yeah, you'll see.) I promise. But it won't be until my afternoon cuz I've got stuffs to do midday, so look for it on your Saturday. OK?

    Oh, I know, you're all antsy with anticipation. It'll be worth it... 8^D

    1. UCM going up imminently

      And JD, you are welcome anytime to my house to chill and play Dropzone!!

    2. Awesome! I hope I can take you up on it sometime, and vice-versa! (Although we can't play Dropzone at my house, but the FLGS is just a short drive away!)


  7. I'm thinking there's going to be a big shift in the Scourge over to Overseer lists. Huge benefits with taking one over the other commander choices. We'll see, but at least for more experienced players I think Overseer will the only choice for a commander.

    1. I agree, it's just so good! What's even better is it doesn't even need tweaking, all the rules seem bang on. It's pretty much the end for the Despoiler, but the Oppressor will see table time still, perhaps with the Overseer in the same list; The Oppreseer List.

    2. With the buff to Hunters that the Overseer gives, do you think that will have an impact on people taking Stalkers? Or will there still be "walker-heavy" lists featuring Stalkers and the Oppressor?

    3. Stalkers are likely to become even rarer now I think. Hunters can now do pretty much anything; elite and light tank hunting, demo, shooting Hard Infantry, and speed to FP and CL. The Stalker is thr loser of 'The Era Of Speed'. Ravagers are still good though, they'll pop up here and there.

  8. Does the overseer interact with prowlers? To extend their weapon range

    1. It extends the reach if their plasma hose, but does not affect their CC attacks.

  9. Interesting, now if we had a minder-esque unit (doesn't even have to have any weapons) that has the bodyguard rule to protect our command from shooting as we sit on the center line

  10. Like the end of battlefield:los angelos, when the marines are targeting the command ship, enemy ships are intercepting the missiles to protect the command vehicle

    1. That's an interesting idea... Very specific function, but an interesting image...