Friday, January 10, 2014

Rohan Tactics Post, Part II: Warriors

Hey Reader!

Happy New Year!  From all of us here at TMAT, may 2014 be even better for you and your hobbying than 2013, :)  This post is the second installment of my discussion on the Rohan civ for LOTR SBG, and today we'll be examining the warrior selections for Rohan.  For an in-depth look at the heroes available for Rohan, you can find that post here.  I'll be referring back to some of the styles of heroes in that post, so if you hear about me talking about a hero and you're confused about what I mean by a "bunker-style Rohan Captain," refer back to the post, :)  Since there are only a handful of unit selections for Rohan, I'll also be tying my discussion of each warrior in with a hero or two that work well with that unit.

1.  Rider of Rohan

Two of my Riders of Rohan - all riders of Rohan come with a shield
and a bow; you can purchase throwing spears for +2 pts/model
Riders are fun.  With 10" move and the ability to shoot a 24" attack and still move 5" on your turn, Riders of Rohan provide some of the flexibility in skirmishing and winnowing down a column of warriors that Rohan needs to survive.  They are generally pretty susceptible to archery (as the rider is only D5, and the mount is only D4), so be careful when taking on enemy archers.  This is also, by the way, why I would generally recommend against giving a Rider of Rohan a banner - at 13 base cost, if you add on another 25 points for a banner, you're just asking for your banner to get shot up by the enemy.  Still, they provide a unique niche for units in your force: fast attackers that possess a ranged attack (and a throwing spear at 8" for only 2 points) to weaken an enemy element before closing for combat.

If you field Erkenbrand, you can also pay +1 point to make them all Westfold Redshields, bringing them from F3 to F4.  Since Erkenbrand's horn is also a Courage +2 bonus to all Rohan models, they also move from Courage 3 to Courage 5, which helps a lot when charging casters/terror-causing units.  Not a bad purchase; depending on how you run your Rohan force and what role you want the riders to fill, you may want to purchase Erkenbrand.  I don't think he's an essential unit to a heavy skirmisher army, for example, as you'll want to limit how much you get into close combat with such a force, and F4 will only benefit you up close and personal in combat.

For a heavy skirmisher army, I'd recommend a mid-range cost hero like Theoden, Theodred, and Eomer, Third Marshal, because they also have an option at skirmishing, and they can provide the F5 S4 D7 profile that you'll need to distract the enemy's attention.  Plus, with 2-3 attacks (based on whether they are on the charge), they can put out a good amount of damage.  These are some of the things you should think about as you consider how to run Riders of Rohan: do you want them to be skirmishers that close the distance to finish off an enemy, or do you want them to be more effective on the charge?  Since they're D5, though, I'd recommend choosing: don't try to do too much with them, or you'll lose points fast to archer civs.

2.  Rohan Outrider

Photo courtesy of GamesWorkshop
I'm currently working on converting all of my Warriors of Rohan w/ bows into Rohan Outriders, because with the new update in the Kingdoms of Men Sourcebook, there is no reason to take a Warrior of Rohan w/ bow anymore.  Both units used to cost 7 points (with the option of taking a horse for the outriders), and Outriders had a 3+ Shoot Value (instead of 4+), but were only D3 (instead of D4).  With the new sourcebook, though, Outriders are now D4, still have the 3+ Shoot, and are still only 7 points.  This means that for the same cost as a Warrior of Rohan w/ bow, you get a better Shoot Value and a special rule that allows you to use the "Stand Fast!" of a hero without respect to range.

Rohan Outriders serve two purposes in your army.  They give you the "ranger"-style shooting at a 3+ Shoot with the durability that you expect for most archers (D4).  Because of the special rule, though, they also will hold their ground as long as a hero calls "Stand Fast!" so they are more reliable to leave at an objective in a Domination game (which is handy).  Coupling them with a bunker/bruiser-style hero who will attact attention far away from them, like Eomer, Knight of the Pelennor or a Rohan Captain, would be optimal if you are planning on using your Outriders for this style of combat.

If you opt for the option of taking a horse, Outriders offer you an option for a deep attack ranged force, being able to quickly run in (or flee a charge) and do ranged damage to a spear formation, a few lone defenders at an objective, etc., or you can charge home for melee damage.  Similar to my thoughts on the Riders of Rohan above, I'd recommend one of the skirmish-ready heroes, but probably with an emphasis on Eomer, Third Marshal or a mounted Rohan Captain, as they can also take bows for 5 points, which gives you more options for damage at range.  All around, these guys are very useful to your force, and I highly recommend taking a few in your army.

3.  Rohan Royal Guard

I'm pretty sure these guys are still my favorite unit in the game,
and I've held this view since I first picked up the hobby
If you've followed this blog for a while, you'll know that I don't go anywhere without these guys, :)  If you like the F4 D6 combat warrior build, Rohan can do it.  For 10 points (12 if you purchase throwing spears), an RRG will give you the F4 to win a combat, and the D6 with a shield to protect you from most attackers.  What RRGs add to your force, though, is the Bodyguard rule.  At the start of the battle, you assign each RRG to a hero (I usually assign all of mine to Eomer), and as long as that hero is alive and on the battlefield, they will pass all Courage Tests.  This is extremely handy if you are facing a heavy terror-causing team, or if your army hits its break point.  Naturally, I try to pair these guys up with a hero that is D7 and has a sizeable amount of Fate and Wounds to take a beating (so that they will maintain their special rule as long as possible), but that gives you a pretty wide selection of heroes (from Eorl and Eomer down to Theoden and a bunker-style Rohan Captain).

It also makes them excellent deep attack warriors.  Since you have the option of mounting them, you can have a F4 deep striking force that can hold their ground and will not run away, even if your heroes are miles away and out of "Stand Fast!" range.  And with the Expert Rider rule, these guys are more than capable while mounted if you need to jump an obstacle.  They meet a niche role in the army, but in my experience their role comes up all the time.

It is also possible for you to purchase a banner on an RRG.  I...personally don't recommend it, 1) because you're paying over 35 points for the model, which is just asking for some Dead-Eye to shoot at it, and 2) do you want a -1 to win the fight on your F4 guy?  What is more, do you want a D6 warrior not on the front line fending off the incoming attack?  I can understand why someone would want the D6 on their banner (to protect it from S3 attackers), but I think there are better ways to use your points to protect your banner.

On the whole, I think RRGs are one of the best deals in the game in terms of points, as you get the solid Fight Value and defense that you need to protect them plus a helpful special rule pairing for 10-12 points.  I highly recommend them.

4.  Son of Eorl

Picture courtesy of GamesWorkshop
One of the most expensive cavalry units in the game, Sons of Eorl are worth every point you pay on them.  Like other heavy cavalry options for Easterlings and Gondor, Sons of Eorl boast D6 on armored horses (D5 instead of D4), and like Black Dragon Kataphracts, they are also F4, putting them on-par with elite infantry.  What sets them apart from all other cav models is that 1) they have 2 attacks base, for 3 attacks on the charge, and 2) they are S4, so while they lack the option of a lance, they still do roughly the same damage as a warrior with a lance, does not require you to be on the charge, and the bonus carries over if (in most cases, read: when) you are dismounted.

These warriors are most effective when teamed with Eorl, as they will all move at 12" while mounted, they will all boast S4 and D6 or better, and they complement his special rule well, as they can fend off would-be attackers to place him in a good position to attempt to use free Might points for either heroic actions or to win a critical fight.

3 attack dice on the charge is extremely beneficial when facing pike formations, as it (finally!) places cav models on the same footing as a pike brick.  And with a 12" move armored horse, you will almost always have the choice to charge your opponent and gain the drop on them.  I have used these guys in a few games, and I've never been disappointed with them.  Mounted, they form a devastating charge; dismounted, they shield and wound like a Rohan Captain for half the cost.  Not too shabby.

5.  Warrior of Rohan

You have a couple of options for Warriors of Rohan: you can
purchase a shield, a bow, throwing spears, and/or a banner

The rank-and-file of most Rohan armies, the irony of these units is that, like the dwarves, they do not have the option for spear support, meaning that the "rank-and-file" style of play that other civs (like Gondor, Easterlings, Moria, etc.) use to anchor their army doesn't work for Rohan.  Instead of spears, Rohan gains the option to take throwing spears for 2 points (instead of 1 point), offering an 8" S3 throwing weapon attack (courtesy of the new Hobbit rules that extended the range from 6" to 8"), hitting on a 4+ Shoot Value.  If you want to run a skirmisher army, this can work very well.  Just be aware: at a 4+ Shoot, you're missing half of your targets, and wounding about 33% or less of those that you hit.  So don't expect a ton of damage from these in a given game, though it may give you an edge as you close for combat.

As I mentioned in my tactics post a little over a year ago, Rohan utilizes infantry differently from any other civ in the game.  Unlike dwarves who boast a heavily armored (albeit thin) front line, Rohan cannot simply "take the beating" on its frontline as they chomp through enemy ranks, and without spear support, it is difficult to beat your opponent on the dice count in a fight if it comes down to a massive wall of melee fighting.  Because your front line will also be primarily F3 D5, Uruks and S3 opponents will still do a number on these guys, but for their stat line these guys take the beating well.  Don't let a F3 D5 front line dissuade you: they can hold their own.  They just require more tact to use.

In terms of upgrades, you should always take the shield.  Period.  As was mentioned above, you should probably forego the bow in favor of Outriders for your archer core, but you should always take the shield.  If for no other reason than having the option to shield in a fight gone south, the shield is one of the most helpful weapons in the game, and it allows you to get that second dice in a fight that could use it.

For offensive capability, think about taking Grimbold of Grimslade and upgrading your warriors to Helmingas.  Helmingas are Warriors of Rohan who are S4 instead of S3, which is especially helpful for cracking through those heavy armor/shield warriors who boast D6.  Be careful, though: at F3, if you face off against elite infantry at F4, make sure that you are winning fights, as you will likely be spending points to upgrade a Strength Value that you may not use.  And if your opponent is using pikes/spear support, the problem of winning the fight is exacerbated.

If you want the equivalent of spear support in a number of your fights, consider getting a banner.  If you look at the re-roll as a second dice in the combat (if you need it), you get the equivalent of spear support without the fear of trapping your models on the front line.  It also gives you a chance at redemption against a unit with higher Fight Value so long as they do not roll a 6.

Conclusion

Like the Grey Company, there aren't very many warrior choices for Rohan.  That's okay: with a core of niche heroes, you can buy a variety of cheap, durable heroes to offset any of the niche deficiencies in your list.  What is more, your warrior core is cheap and good at what they do: Rohan Outriders are cheaper versions of Rangers of Arnor/Rangers of Gondor (albeit with a lower Fight Value, but with a helpful special rule in its place).  Rohan Warriors do the basic job that you need your frontline fighters to do without paying for it in a low Fight Value (like goblin warriors do) or paying much more for a higher Fight or Strength Value (like uruks or easterlings do).  And Sons of Eorl are among the best cav in the game, with Riders of Rohan being the most versatile cavalry in the game.  The list isn't bad; it just requires a bit more tact than your cut-and-dry heavy armor civ.

Over the course of the next few weeks I'll be posting some updates on my Misty Mountains army, as I'm doing some work on new models for them.  That army is now almost up to 600 points, with the only unit missing being Bolg (who will be a ton of fun to use! :) ).  I'll also be releasing further information on the Comp System that Tiberius and I have been working on for LOTR, as well as the last mission in the Dunharrow Campaign against a very unique dwarf team (which will hopefully be coming up next week).  Until then, you'll know where to find me,

Watching the stars,

Centaur

"I set myself against what is lurking in this forest, Bane - yes, with humans alongside me if I must." ~ Firenze, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

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