Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rohan Tactics Post: Why You Should Always Take Eomer


Dear Reader,

First and foremost, this post is not exactly a challenge to Tiberius, or Glot, or any other Rohan players I know.  Exactly, ;)  It is the beginning of a series of tactics posts on Rohan, and things that Warbands and LOME players should keep in mind when running a Rohan force.  I wanted to start with a post on Eomer, as he is one of the seminal (and most powerful) heroes available to Rohan, and also because he was the first hero I ever owned.  And, of all of the heroes I have ever used, I feel most comfortable with him.  So we'll start there, :)  In the future, I'll be doing a few more tactics posts on the heroes and warriors of Rohan, much like the series I did on the Shire and the Grey Company on this blog.

I.  Versions of Eomer

First of all, there are two versions of Eomer that are available to Rohan players.  For LOME players, both are available in Theoden's Host, and Warbands players can use either for one of their warbands.  Both Eomers have their uses, though I prefer the second build, for reasons I'll detail in the next section.

A.  Eomer, Third Marshall of the Riddermark

Photo courtesy of Games Workshop; all unattributed photos belong to Centaur
This was the first rendition of Eomer, and it mimicked the profile for Faramir, but added throwing weapons as a bonus.  For 75 pts, you get a F5 S4 D6 hero who could add a shield for D7 staying power.  With the standard 3M/2W/2F Fighting Profile, he is a solid hero, and has the added bonus of having options for a bow and/or throwing spears for 5 pts/each if you'd like to have range options as well.  In recent times, though, this Eomer has fallen by the wayside, as users are favoring the new profile for Eomer...

B.  Eomer, Knight of Pelennor

Photo courtesy of Games Workshop
Eomer got decked out with the new profile: now boasting 3A instead of 2A (so 4A on the charge), and the full 3M/3W/3F fighting profile.  He has less options now: he costs 115 points, comes with the shield, and can only add an armored horse for 15 points, and lacks any ranged options now.  But some players are willing to trade the ranged threat for more firepower in close combat and the extra Fate point.

C.  Why Two Versions?

This is a worthwhile question, especially since they have combined profiles in the past (Grey Company and Rangers of the North as one example, though Faramir is a better example).  I propose that they have kept two versions of Eomer because they want him to be able to fulfill two purposes in an army: harasser or scrapper.  Depending on what you need for your force (and your other hero choices), either version of Eomer will suit your purposes.


For harassing, I'd take Eomer, Third Marshall with a horse, a shield, and throwing weapons, as it gives you 1) the chance to throw spears if you can't quite reach a priority target, 2) only costs you 95 pts, freeing up 35 points for other models (which could be as much as half a volley line or 5 standing infantry), and 3) when he engages his foes he will still be rolling 2-3 dice (depending on whether he gets the charge) and boasts F5 to win the fight, which is solid against any non-monster, non-elite hero opponent.  This Eomer also allows you to pick up a stray kill on the charge before engaging your primary target in melee combat, which is extremely helpful for getting around flanks and taking out soft targets (like banners, casters, and other support heroes).

...Because it wouldn't be me posting about Eomer without a
picture like this, :)  Just going to leave this here, :)
For scrapping, you should always go with the Knight of Pelennor, as he will have 3-4 dice to win combat, sports the solid D7 that should make most opponents wound on 6s, and if he charges and wins combat, he knocks infantry opponents over and wounds at S5, which means 8 dice wounding 4 targets on 5s or better in most cases.  Not too shabby.

II.  Uses of Eomer

Eomer does three things for your team: provides a deep threat against your opponent's backfield, offers a fast attack option for quickly engaging weakened enemy elements, and provides the reliable damage count that Rohan teams need to augment their light infantry and cavalry options.

A.  Deep Threat


From personal experience, there's nothing more scary than seeing a heavy-hitting horseman (S4 or S5, doesn't matter) call a heroic combat against one of your spearmen, kill him off, and then fling himself into your soft archer troop.  Even worse is the poor shaman who thought he was protected by a wall of defenders who suddenly finds himself face to face with a man who is fell and fair and itching to remove that Fury spell that's keeping the soldiers in line.

Unlike most other mounted heroes (I'll get to Imrahil in a bit), Eomer will either provide a throwing weapon fast attack or a heavy-hitting S5 D7 4A tidal wave against an opponent's backfield, which can turn the tide in a fight (especially in bringing an opponent to his break point) in a few turns.  Other heavy hitting heroes (like Aragorn and either Boromir profile, for example) either lack the D7 option (in the case of the lesser Aragorn and Boromir profiles) for long-term sustainability should you wiff your dice, or they force you to pay upwards of 180 points (the cost of Eomer + 5 Royal Guards, or Eomer and 2 Sons of Eorl) to obtain a similar advantage.  The only hero who is comparable in price and provides the same advantage is Imrahil, the Prince of Dol Amroth from the Fiefdoms list, and Imrahil's strengths lend him contrary to a deep attack option.

Eomer's saving grace is either that he has a variety of options for attack (in the Third Marshall profile) or he has S5 on the charge.  Imrahil's great strength is that all Knights of Dol Amroth count as being in range of a banner if they are within 12" of him.  This loses its luster if Imrahil is half a board away - it only makes its point cost back up if you keep him close to your front line fighters (as Imrahil only constitutes a deep threat if you pay 150 points to mount him on an armored horse, which is a ton of points for a S4 D7 deep threat).

What is more, Eomer is the only mounted hero for Forces of Good who can hit S5, which means every archer short of dwarves (including Isengard and Easterling archers that can sport D5) will be wounded on 4s.  That's critical if you want to hew through warriors quickly.  For deep attack options, Rohan has a solid attacker in Eomer, and no other hero for them can bring the pain to the backfield like he can.

B.  Fast Attack


Like all cav heroes, having the option to charge when you want to - to pick your battles and isolate weak elements of your opponent is critical to dismantling enemy formations.  Eomer offers a unique boost, in that while moving 10" he can either do an additional 8" ranged attack at S3 with his throwing spears (which is pretty awesome) or he offers a clobbering S5 attack on the charge (which is also not too shabby).  Rohan sports a number of S4 heroes who can potentially be mounted, and also offers horses to basically every hero in its list (it even offers a pony option for Merry).  What Eomer offers above everyone else, though, is a reason to be a fast attacker: either he sports a ranged attack with a F5 2-3A and a decent number of Fate points when he closes distance, or he offers the tidal wave of 4A (more than most pike-supported models will ever have) at S5 for solid wounding power on a quick charge.  Which leads us into the primary reason for choosing Eomer.

C.  Reliable Damage Dealer


Most heroes for Rohan (all except Merry and Eowyn) are S4, which is the "standard" for most heroes that are 50+ points.  This means that against D5 and D6 - which is most infantry and cavalry - they will wound on 5s.  Eomer offers something special to the team: a chance at S5.  This means that your standard D7 "bunker" hero who is supposed to hold a flank and fend off attackers is now wounded on 5s, and as this hero is likely not going to be mounted, Eomer will have 8 (count 'em: eight) chances to deal wounds to that hero.  Because of the sheer amount of pain that Eomer can deal out at S5 - even if he's charging cav models where he only gets 3 attacks - Eomer reliably offers 2+ kills/round, which is what Rohan teams need to stay competitive on the kill count.

III.  Eomer and Other Rohan Heroes

In this section, I want to compare Eomer to a number of other heroes available to Rohan, illustrating why Eomer is generally a better choice for a lead hero in your army.  I'll preface this by saying that if you're playing a 1000+ point game, please don't see this section as, "Never field So-and-So," as each of these heroes have a place in the Rohan list (and I'll detail that more next week).  Instead, I want to show you why Eomer gives you the most "bang for your buck" as you build a Rohan list.

A.  Eomer v. Theoden

Photo courtesy of Games Workshop
Theoden only costs 65 points base cost, and to his credit is one of the most flexible heroes for Rohan.  With two selections of horses, and a chance at bringing his D5 up to D7 with heavy armor and a shield, he is a proficient, reliable hero.  Comparing him to the Eomer, Third Marshall (as they are a closer fit in regards to points), Theoden leaves much to be desired in your lead hero, though: whereas Theoden pays and additional 20 points (for 85 total) to get a horse, shield, and heavy armor, Eomer pays 15 points (90 total) to add a horse and shield, for those 5 extra points Eomer sports 1 more Might point and 2 Will points - which, if you consistently play against casters (like I do), it's really nice having the anti-magic defense, let alone insurance against those low Courage test rolls that every gamer will face at some point.  I've seen heroes who lacked Will points be reduced to F1 statues for a game, and it's no fun.  Add in a chance for a few more points to get ranged options, and I can easily say that you should take Eomer (either version) over Theoden any day of the week.

B.  Eomer v. Theodred

Photo courtesy of Games Workshop
The comparison between Eomer and Theodred, his cousin, is even more interesting.  Both of them sport the F5 S4 and 3 Might heavy-hitting profile, and for only 70 base points, Theodred is probably my second favorite Rohan named hero.  He boasts the same flexibility in gear that Eomer, Third Marshall does, and in most circumstances will be a very reliable hero.

...Unless he gets trapped.  Theodred's "Achilles heel" is that he has only 2 wounds, and lacks any Fate points to boost his survivability.  This means that even if you make him a D7 combat hero, one bad roll and you're done.  This means you can either bite the bullet and play it close to the chest, or you use your Might points conservatively to win fights because losing one can be disastrous.  I don't like being tied down with my lead hero, so I'd prefer Eomer (either version) as my lead attacker.

C.  Eomer v. Eorl

Photo courtesy of Games Workshop
This will be the one that gets me in trouble in the blogosphere, :)  First and foremost, for anyone running LOME, you'll understand why I would always take Eomer over Eorl, as the Theoden's Host list does not allow you to use Eorl (and that makes perfect sense).  For Warbands players, this is more of a sticking point.  For only 90 points, Eorl offers you a comparable hero to Eomer, Third Marshall, including a 12" armored horse, D7 with a shield, and throwing spears, with a 4+ chance at Aragorn's special rule.  To be clear:

This is an awesome hero.

Okay, now for the sticky part, :)  First of all, you're limited to 2 attack dice unless you charge.  That's not bad, especially if you can knock over an opponent on the charge (as you'll get 4 dice to wound).  The problem comes when you attempt to engage a Wild Warg Chieftain (like I did recently) or some other creature that is not an infantry model and you need to do damage to it to keep your team in the game.  Eorl is more of a redirect hero (which I'll go in-depth into in my hero tactics post), focusing his firepower on specific types of units: heroic combats and devastating charges against infantry ranks, picking off units that would otherwise create problems for your rank-and-file infantry.

Unlike Aragorn who boasts F6, Eorl also lacks the combat firepower to tackle some of the larger infantry heroes on the board (like F5 D7 uruk captains, who would wound Eorl on 5s, with Eorl wounding them on 6s and rolling off to win the fight).  For a few points more (or, heck: for 40 points more) I'd gladly go for a hero that can do 3 wounds against a Wild Warg Chieftain on 4s on the charge, kill a Dweller in the Dark outright on 4s to wound if he wins the combat, etc., so that I have more options at taking down the heavy-hitting models of the enemy.  As a team, Eomer and Eorl make an excellent pair: one redirects the enemy, the other tackles the hard stuff.  But if I had to choose between the two, I'd much rather take Eomer than Eorl.

D.  Eomer v. Named/Unnamed Captains


Granted, any which way you cut it, you're spending a lot more points for Eomer than you are on any of the named captains.  Each of the caps, though, have an inherent weakness, which makes them good for niche rolls - possibly some of the rolls Eomer plays in a force, as mentioned above - and I'd definitely recommend you take one or two to augment what you're doing with Eomer.  Need a banner to hold your front line while Eomer romps through the backfield (deep threat)?  Take Gamling.  He'll hold his own in the center, though he has no shield, so be aware of that.  Need a D7 "bunker" to hold the side of the map that Eomer is not on to free him up for a fast attack option?  Take a RoCap with shield/heavy armor (and you can throw in throwing spears if you really want to).  Want a chance at wounding D6 models on 4s to redirect fire from your heavy hittter?  Grimbold is your only option at a 2H, and he uses it well, though be careful: he's only D5 himself, so his opponent will likely be wounding him on 5s or better.

Rohan also gets options at what I'll call "niche heroes": need some cheap Might points?  Eowyn at 40 points sports F5 D5 with a shield for holding a flank, and boasts 2 Might and 2 Fate to boot.  Need to take down a pesky caster before he gets dangerous?  I've seen the King's Huntsman do some pretty serious damage to 1 Wound heroes in my time (and having been the one on the receiving end, I'll tell you in passing that it's not fun).  Rohan has a ton of heroes that offer advantages that augment Eomer's strengths well.

IV.  Why You Should Always Field Eomer

Four things come to mind in light of our discussion, and I'll touch on them briefly as they have been covered in-depth above.

1.  Well-Rounded Profile


Eomer, Knight of Pelennor is the only hero in the Rohan list to sport a 3M/3W/3F profile, meaning that he is sustainable and powerful in close combat, and has a solid defense against magic as well - definitely enough defense to get him into close combat with the caster.  F5 also means that against most lesser heroes and warriors Eomer will win ties, and against most heroes and warriors generally, he will win ties or roll off against his opponent.  His natural bane is monsters and the elite of heroes in the universe, as well as the inherent chance to wiff your dice on a roll against what should have been an easy opponent.  As far as his build goes, however, Eomer offers you the most well-rounded attacker and defender Rohan has access to.

2.  Solid Defender


When you show me another Rohan hero with 3 Fate, 3 Wounds, and a F5 D7 static baseline to ward off attackers, I'll concede the point.  Rohan offers a number of "bunker" options with different heroes, but Eomer is the most survivable of them.  Since your front line will likely consist of F3 D5 warriors (perhaps S4 if you field Grimbold of Grimslade), Eomer provides you with a solid attacker that can defend himself, causing casualties and taking attention away from your weaker elements.

As you'll see later in my tactics posts, Rohan needs models - either cav or heroes - to take attention away from the peasant core units they need to field, and with no options for spear support, the problem of a weak center is compounded for Rohan armies.  Eomer helps to not only take firepower away from your infantry, but can also defend himself when things get hot.

3.  Strength 5 - Your Army Needs Strength 5


Players are going to disagree with me on this - that's fine.  From my experience playing with Rohan, I have found that the most helpful thing for me in a given combat is having someone who is S5, who gives me options for tearing through spear support (which is usually D5 or lower), can rip through non-D6+ front lines if necessary, and can challenge basically any hero and most monsters and wound on 5s.  Rohan's greatest problem is damage output, as they can get overwhelmed and caught in a shielding war if they start taking losses.  Eomer provides you with the reliable kill count you need in order to keep up in the casualty count.

4.  LOME and Warbands-certified


One of the big hold-ups for players is, "What units can I use and not use if I field a certain hero?"  This was more a question when LOME was the leading scheme for army building, but even under Warbands we are forced to ask that question.  If I want to field a certain number of warriors, I now need to work around heroes that are independent of warbands (the Huntsman, for example) and heroes that will cost so much to field that I won't be able to field the troop count I need to defend them and keep the break point up.  The advantage of fielding Eomer is that, as mentioned above, he's versatile, filling different roles for your force.  Whatever role you need filled in a Rohan army, Eomer can help with that role.  And since he can be fielded in either Theoden's Host from LOME or Rohan under Warbands, he's easy to integrate into your force for either army builder.

Conclusion

Is Eomer an overpowered or unbeatable hero?  Absolutely not - the Red Knight has been killed before on this blog, and I fear that it will happen again.  Is Eomer a powerful and reliable hero?  Yes - and I'd argue, the most reliable hero you'll find this side of the Isen.  And for only 90-130 points, he's an excellent deal.  There are places and circumstances where other heroes will come in handy (and that will be the subject of my next tactics post), but across the board Eomer should always rank high on your list of weapons to take with you to the field.  From my experience with Rohan over the past few years, you should never leave the house without Eomer - he's critical to success with Rohan.

In my next post I'll be discussing the various heroes available in the Rohan list, going in-depth into their uses and combat roles, and then I'll follow up with a post on the warriors in the list.  Until then, may your days be merry and bright,

Watching the stars,

Centaur

"Firenze!  What are you doing?  You have a human on your back!  Have you no shame?  Are you a common mule?" ~ Bane, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

2 comments:

  1. Fascinating breakdown... this sort of analysis I rarely manage, probably why I lose so much!

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    1. Hey Scott!

      Oh - I lose all the time, :) As I spend more time thinking about why I take certain models, though, I've learned a lot about things to look for in a power hero, support hero, frontline troops, etc. And I enjoy looking at the various units GW has given us to play with, :)

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