This is another article I wrote about buffing ordinary troops:R&F superheroes - Improve the masses
In a moment of Soviet nostalgia, I had a thought that WHFB is not a game for the ruling class only, but proletarian Rank & File deserve the best as well!
In this sub-thread, I am going to examine what can be done to transform a unit, in order to make it a killing machine or a perfect tar pit (or both).
The main interest of this sub-thread is not the originality, but to be exhaustive. At present, the information is scattered throughout the rulebook. Here, it will be sorted and summarized.
I’ll consider only improvements which apply to whole units, applicable to R&F, not only on champions or characters, although they will benefit from similar improvements themselves.
These improvements may come from a unit’s special rule, or from the influence of a champion or character nearby or within the unit, including spells. I include in my analysis spells from all Lores available to Empire, and magic-objects coming from the BRB. Please complement with the objects found in our army book.
I’ll use the following references and abbreviations:
(X nn) = item of type “X”, costing nn pts.
(Wnn) = weapon, (Ann) = armour, (Tnn) = talisman, (Snn) = standard, (scroll nn) = scroll, (Enn) = enchanted.
Lore Y #n = spell number n; if n=0, it is the signature spell.
The name of the equipment is usually shortened or skipped altogether. With the category and the pts value, it is easy to find what I am referring at, even with a book translated in other languages than English (like mine).
I have to admit that the army lists, nowadays, are difficult to read with strange names of magic objects.
In order to get a real death star (or at least to get closer to it), you want a unit which charges reliably, hits early repetitively and accurately, resisting fear, wounding a lot, piercing armours, cancelling regeneration.
You also want your unit to survive melee, for which it needs to resist hits, to avoid wounds, to save them, ward save or regenerate.
You want a guarantee that the combat resolution tilts towards your side, or at minimum that you have little chance to loose your break test.
Finally, you want your unit to have survived so far distant attacks, resisting magic and shooting. As specific anti-flyers buffs are available, I’ll examine them as well.
Let’s see each of these aspects, and how to improve them.1. Charge further.
Cavalry and chariots are fast on the charge, but they desperately need the charge to get their full efficiency.
Infantry is slow and could benefit from getting faster.
Flyers are naturally fast but who wishes not to be faster?
It is possible to increase the likelihood to get the charge with one of the following standards:
(S55) Reroll charge: requires a BSB, useful for units who need the charge.
There are also several useful banners available for our units from our army book.
(S50) Strider: requires a BSB. It is of little use for infantry.
(S15) +1M: low cost, more useful for slow units.
Light #6 (double M, ASF, +1att). However, you know about this spell before your own movement phase, so you can act accordingly.
Also, note that Heavens #2 (pushes back D3+1”) may prevent a countercharge. 2. Faster hits.
As the opponent will step in and retaliate, striking first is meaningful only if one or both units are small sized.
Shadow #0 (opponent’s WS, BS, I, M reduced) can help our troops to hit first.
Light #2 which can give I10 WS10 to a whole unit.
Light #6 (double M, ASF, +1att). 3. More hits.
Units with only one attack dream to double their efficiency with a second one.
Light #6 (double M, ASF, +1att). Uh? It is already the third time that I mention that spell. Seems powerful. 4. Accurate hits.
Yes, we can make our hits more accurate.
Some spells can make the task of our fighters easier.
Metal #5 (opponent has -1WS).
Shadow #0 (opponent’s WS, BS, I, M reduced D3).
Light #2 (I10 WS10).
Heavens #1 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 1). 5. Fear/Terror/ITP.
A failed Ld test may influence a lot a combat: someone not controlling his fear becomes WS1 and requires now 5+ to hit pretty much anything; it will be hit on 3+.
(S50) Terror banner. This banner requires a BSB. The benefit depends on the low Ld of the enemy, and the enemy has plenty of ways to mitigate that effect.
Death #1 (Fear/Terror) allows to make one more unit fearful.
Also, don’t forget that anybody wielding flaming weapons causes fear to war beasts, cavalry & chariots. See §8.
Resisting fear/terror is achieved with ITP. 6. Wounding hits.
Hitting the target is not enough. We need to wound it.
Poison helps (autowound).
Otherwise, there are three ways to increase wounds: increase S (which also helps piercing armours); rerolling wounds; reducing the opponent’s T.
A high S is obtained by getting the charge for Cavalry.
Shadow #6 (use Ld instead of S) is a highly interesting spell, when we benefit from a high Ld.
Beast #0 (unit +1S+1T).
Flaming attacks allow to reroll wounds in buildings. Occasional, but not to be forgotten.
Heavens #1 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 1).
We have access to two ways or reducing the opponent’s T:
Shadow #3 (reduces T by D3, RIP).
Death #3 (-1S -1T). 7. Armour piercing hits.
(S45) AP. Remember that this banner provides an AP which works only in melee.
Metal #2 makes all attacks AP, including shooting (contrary to standards), in addition to getting +1 to hit.
Metal #5 reduces AS, which is like AP (and it reduces the BS and WS of the opponent, too).
Metal #1 lowers the AS, which is like getting AP.
Heavens #3 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 6). 8. Flames.
Flaming attacks are useful for four reasons:
- Regeneration, cancelled during that turn
- fear to cavalry/chariots/war beasts
- flammable targets (like some Woody trees)
- attacks against buildings (rerolls to wound). Remember, there is a scenario with a tower!
Many units can take a cheap standard:
The unit can get flaming attacks with Fire #2 (also granting +1 to hit). Best given to shooters.
Lore of Fire #0,1,2,3,4,5,6. (E25) Ring of fireball.
Lore of Metal #0,4,6.
Light #09. Resisting hits & wounds.
Many spells help to resist hits & wounds by reducing the opponent’s performance:
Shadow #0 (WS, BS, I, M reduced).
Shadow #2 (S reduced, RIP).
Death #3 (-1S -1T)
Beast #0 (unit +1S+1T). Beast #4 (-1 to hit).
Light #1 (-1 to hit).
Life #2 (+2T).
Heavens #0 (-1 to hit & Ld). Heavens #3 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 6). 10. Saving wounds.
Not all wounds are fatal. Armour saves lives.
Of course, you can replace dead bodies with more bodies. This is the best way to go with cheap troops. It reaches its limits quicker for more expensive ones and is hardly available for the more expensive ones.
We can improve that further:
Metal #3 (scaly 5+save to units) will improve armour saves.
The best to aim at is the range 2+ armour save, which effect is to triple the amount of S3 hits necessary to kill the unit. Next is the range 3+, for which the S3 hits necessary are doubled. In the range 4+ and 5+, the enemy needs 1.7 or 1.5 more hits, it is not that effective.
If you intend to run a large unit of 4+ troops, I’d highly recommend the use of that spell.
There's also defensive Heavens #1 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 1) and offensive Heavens #3 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 6).
And Life #5 (regrowth of a unit), and the Life special effect (restoring wounds). 11. Combat resolution.
At the end of the combat, you want to be on the winning side.
Each side endeavours to get the highest Active Combat Resolution (kills/challenge), Static CR (Ranks, Standard/ BSB) and Manoeuvre CR (charge/side/rear/hill – this is often included in SCR).
However, in the 8th edition, with the Steadfast rule and the ability to use the General’s Ld for stubborn rolls, CR matters much less. Nowadays, a unit failing its break test has become a rare sight. At least, ACR means that you have reduced the opposing unit.
How to get more ACR has been dealt with in detail, in most § above.
As long as you kill enough more opponents than they kill back, or have a higher SCR, your opponent will take the risk of loosing his break test. However, sometimes he brings much more SCR than you (especially if you play MSU), and sometimes the ACR is not there (especially after hatred is lost and charging bonus is lost too).
It is time to start taking measures to pass your break test. This can be planned also on purpose, using one unit as tar pit while the rest of the army positions itself for the final kill.
Steadfast rule requires that you had more ranks than the largest enemy unit. One way to achieve that is to reduce sufficiently the opponent.
Of course, if you’re stubborn naturally (Greatswords, Archers in woods), you don’t need steadfast.
(E35) Crown of stubbornness let one more unit become stubborn. This item allows units to become a tar pit of they own. 12. Ld test.
Stubborn or not, if you lose a melee, you end up in relying on passing a Ld test.
This event can be helped with two banners, cheap enough to be available for most units:
(S15) +1Ld (not using general’s Ld), useful for BG and even more for COK who test more often, if your general is a sorceress.
(S5) Reroll once Ld. Very cheap.
Light #3 (passes all Ld). Handy.
We can also “help” the opponent to fail a Ld test:
Death #4 (RIP, -3 Ld)
Heavens #0 (-1 to hit & Ld).
To be mentioned in addition, as we mention Ld tests, there are some spells which force a panic test if one casualty is suffered:
Fire #3 (burning head).13. Massive magic damage.
If your unit is not quickly engaged in close combat, it will face not only normal shooting but also DD and MM.
Some spells are true weapons of mass destruction, either because they potentially can destroy all R&F models (and characters failing their “Look Out, Sir” roll), or because they use a template to determine their victims. I’ll not consider MM as mass destruction, unless it can manage to deal more than 6 autohits.
Note that template spells are not massive killers against units inside buildings, and skirmishers or units with wide bases resist them better.
Some genocide spells threaten whole units, in which all models risk to die:
Fire #5 (all models suffer S4 if moving)
Metal #6 (all models have 2/6 chances to die, no WS)
Life #6 (all models test S or die, no WS).
Templates spell are real weapons of massive destruction:
Fire #6 (small/large template, S4)
Shadows #5 (small/large template, I test or die, no WS)
Death #6 (small/large template, I test or die, no WS)
Heavens #5 (comet, all units within 2D6” suffer 2D6+m hits, S4+m)
Milder spells still can cause havoc, especially if used repetitively:
Fire #0 (1D6 or 2D6 or 3D6, S4 MM)
Fire #1 (each unit in contacts suffers 2D6, S4)
Fire #4 (D3 per rank, S4)
Metal #0 (2D6)
Light #5 (2D6, S4)
Beasts #1 (2D6, S2) 14. Resisting magic damage.
Magic resistance provides (or improves) a ward save against DD and MM.
Except for the Standard of MR1, any magic resistance requires a character wearing either armour or talisman.
Remember that MR does not stack, although it adds to the ward save.
(A45) MR3. MR3 increases the amount of MM or DD required to kill a unit by 100%.
(A30) MR2. MR2 increases the amount of MM or DD required to kill a unit by 50%.
(A20) / (T15) MR1. MR1 merely increases the amount of MM or DD required to kill a unit by 20%.
(S15) MR1. A mere standard allows a pennant bearer to provide MR1.
You can pick up the MR you wish, noting that the cost/efficiency ratio is much better at MR3 than MR1.
(scroll 15) The unique Scroll of shielding (WS4+ against magic) is the only way to resist magic fire. 15. Massive shooting damage.
Shooting can affect masses:
Breath weapons and, above all, warmachines, especially those which use the large template (21 models can be hit) and even the small template (up to 16 models can be hit).
Cannons and bolt throwers can hardly kill more than 5 models in a shot, I don’t consider that mass shooting.
Note that template weapons are not massive killers against units inside buildings, and skirmishers or units with wide bases resist them better.
A very large unit of shooters could well deliver a massive amount of shots. I’d consider it mass shooting only if effective hits are more than 10, which requires usually more than 20 shooters. 16. Resisting shooting.
Two specific items can help whole units against shooting.
(E5) Unit’s 6+WS against warmachines. It is very cost-effective.
In addition, if we know who may shoot at us, we can make sure they become ineffective:
Shadow #0 (WS, BS, I, M reduced D3) can make one shooting unit useless.
Metal #5 (-1 to WS, BS and AS) is just equivalent to providing a light cover.
Beasts #4 (-1 to hit), just equivalent to providing a light cover.
Light #1 (-1 to hit), 4+ to hit for non-WS shots.
Heavens #3 (reroll hit, wounds & save of 6), painful for us at long distance. 17. Resisting flyers.
Dragons and BT are fearsome. If these are difficult for you to deal with, then a standard and an item can help:
(S5) Fear against flyers. A good way to resist the terror caused by many flyers.
(E35) Featherfoe (flyers reroll to hit unit). Very effective to combat flying monsters (and their rider).
Heavens special effect anti-flyers (#0,2,3,4,6).18. Cumulating effects
You can reinforce the strengths of your unit, compensate for a weakness, or tailor a specific unit to your needs.
Here below is a worksheet summarizing what we have just seen.
It is useful to have it in a single view, because:
- you can take only 1 standard in a unit, or 2 with the unique BSB;
- each character in the unit may take a single item of each category;
- in order to be certain to get a specific spell, you better get 2 wizards mastering the same Lore.
If you intend to build up a single über-unit-o-doom death star, try to pick up one of each effects listed above, to boost a unit which preferably benefits naturally from some of the effects.
After that, you’ll need to protect your characters from the opponent’s attention, but that is another story.
_ S Standard
_ _ W Weapon
_ _ _ A Armour
_ _ _ _ T Talisman
_ _ _ _ _ E Enchanted
_ _ _ _ _ _ Sc Scroll
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ Fr Fire Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ Mt Metal Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ Sh Shadows Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ Dt Death Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ __ Bs Beasts Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Lt Light Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Lf Life Lore
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Hv Heavens Lore
_ S _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Lt __ Hv __ Charge further
_ S _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ Sh __ __ Lt __ __ __ Faster hits
_ S _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Lt __ __ __ More hits
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ Mt Sh __ __ Lt __ Hv __ Accurate hits
_ S _ _ T E __ __ __ __ __ __ Dt __ __ __ __ __ Fear/Terror/ITP
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ Sh Dt Bs __ __ Hv __ Wounding hits
_ S _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ Mt __ __ __ __ __ Hv __ Armour piercing hits
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ __ Sh Dt Bs Lt Lf Hv __ Resisting hits wounds
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ __ Mt __ __ __ __ Lf Hv __ Saving wounds
_ S _ _ _ E __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Lt __ Hv __ Combat resolution
_ S _ _ _ _ __ __ __ Fr __ __ Dt __ Lt __ Hv __ Ld test
_ _ _ _ _ _ __ __ __ Fr Mt Sh Dt Bs Lt Lf Hv __ Massive magic damage
_ S _ A T _ Sc __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Resisting magic damage (Buildings, skirmishing)
_ _ _ _ _ E __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Massive shooting (Templates weapons, many shooters)
_ _ _ _ T E __ __ __ __ Mt Sh __ Bs Lt __ Hv __ Resisting shooting (Skirmishing)
_ S _ _ _ E __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Hv __ Resisting flyers
That's all, Mates!