Thursday, 2 October 2014

Total Domination

In this article, I want to talk about something I've been trying to figure out an answer to. Maybe whilst writing this, it will become clearer.........who knows.



Why do Shaltari seem to dominate the tournament scene? 

Is it only in England? I'm not sure - I think our friends in Sweden and the US have the same or similar problem. Shaltari keep winning tournaments. 
Don't get me wrong, the Shaltari are certainly not a "point and click" army. You can't just cobble together a force and expect to win your games. They take time to learn and master, but in the hands of a tactically good gamer with some experience they can be a very potent force. 



The main problem (as I see it) with Shaltari winning tournaments, is the influx of more players using Shaltari. I think this was seen at Autumn Invasion 2014. There were a lot of Shaltari players. I played 4 games against Shaltari and 1 against UCM (I didn't lose to any though). There were Shaltari everywhere!
Below is my analysis on why I think they are possibly unbalanced in a tournament setting.


Troops


Any Dropzone Commander player with an ounce of common sense knows that troops win games. It doesn't matter if you kill every vehicle and all the aircraft, if you don't have enough troops doing their job then you will lose. 
The Shaltari have the best basic infantry in the game, obviously they are the most expensive...........hold on a minute! Not even close. 

Legionnaires (2 bases) 52pts (3 bases) 78pts
Warriors (2 bases) 54pts (3 bases) 81pts
Immortals (2 bases) 72pts
Braves (2 bases) 64pts

The Legionnaires, Warriors and Immortals are costed well. 2 bases of Immortals is comparable to 3 bases of Legionnaires and Warriors.
Braves are better than Immortals, they have Warsuits that prevent falling masonry from doing much damage and makes them A4 (other infantry need 6's to hurt them in CQB), they are CQB 2 and have an E9 gun which has an 18" range - and hits on 2+
Braves kill Immortals in a straight fight so why are they so cheap? 

Another factor with the infantry for the game is their mobility and manoeuvrability. Infantry need to quickly move from building to building. The common (and most utilised) way of thinking is light transports. They are quick and do the job very well. 
So factoring in the dropship/gate:

Legionnaires (2 bases) in Raven 80pts (with missile pods 88pts)
- 24" move (12" for disembarking)
Warriors (2 bases) in Intruder 94pts 
- 30" move (15" for disembarking)
Immortals (2 bases) in Triton 104pts (with stealth missiles 119pts)
- 20" move (10" for disembarking)
Braves (2 bases) with Spirit 104pts
- 30" move (15" for disembarking)

Again the Immortals are well costed compared to the Warriors and Legionnaires; they are vastly superior in combat compared to the lesser infantry, especially as they can only have 2 bases inside their light dropships. 
The Braves are the same cost as Immortals, the Spirit moves 50% faster than the Triton and as stated earlier Braves>Immortals

The final thing to consider is that when finding an objective, you need to extract it. This means getting into your dropship and getting off the board. The unit goes into reserves and comes back in 2 turns if your lucky. Braves don't, they teleport through a gate (or 2) and can carry on searching immediately. The gate leaves the table and goes into reserves - but the Braves can use any gate they like and are not contained to only one.

Personally, I think Braves should be about 74-76pts for the squad as they are, or if they are to remain that cheap (64 pts) they should be a bit more squishy, maybe removing the falling masonry only hurts them on a 5+. This would mean that being in a building would be far more dangerous!
It's not a massive change, but I think it will even things out a bit.


Passive saves


I'm not going to complain about passive saves, I like them, they add a uniqueness to the army. I just want to highlight the difference to dice rolls it actually makes. Some people get lucky, some don't.
The tables below show the % chance of doing damage on any set of required dice rolls. 

For example if I had a Kodiak trying to hurt a Scourge Stalker that moved, it's 3+ to hit and 2+ to damage (which on the table is 55.56% of the time I kill it)  


To Damage
2+ 3+ 4+ 5+ 6+
To Hit 2+ 69.44% 55.56% 41.67% 27.78% 13.89%
3+ 55.56% 44.44% 33.33% 22.22% 11.11%
4+ 41.67% 33.33% 25.00% 16.67% 8.33%
5+ 27.78% 22.22% 16.67% 11.11% 5.56%
6+ 13.89% 11.11% 8.33% 5.56% 2.78%
To Damage (incl. 5+ Passive Save)
2+ 3+ 4+ 5+ 6+
To Hit 2+ 46.30% 37.04% 27.78% 18.52% 9.26%
3+ 37.04% 29.63% 22.22% 14.81% 7.41%
4+ 27.78% 22.22% 16.67% 11.11% 5.56%
5+ 18.52% 14.81% 11.11% 7.41% 3.70%
6+ 9.26% 7.41% 5.56% 3.70% 1.85%

So as you can see there is quite a bit of difference between the 2 sets of figures (about a third). Having passive saves across the board makes using the armies skimmers hard to kill. Skimmers are  at best 4+ to hit, even if you only need a 2+ to damage it is only a 27% chance.

Versatility


I have always maintained that the UCM are the most versatile army. They have units that can multi task like my wife! The Ferrum has anti-tank and AA capability coupled with scout drones, the longbows can attack and defend, but both are a bit immobile so going after focal points is tricky, they are also very fragile with low armour. 
The Shaltari have, in my opinion, the best and most versatile unit in the game. The Jaguar. For starters it has 3 weapons, meaning it is effective against hoards of scouts. It has good range anti-tank and AA with a great amount of shots. It is pretty mobile with a 4" move and resilient with A9 and 4dp. The Jag is great in all types of mission, it's expensive so great for focal point holding. It can go after light dropships and handle what's thrown back at it. But the Jaguar isn't the only versatile unit, the Firedrake is superb; a very long range blast that gets bigger the closer you get a tail mounted bonus gun that can go for units lining windows and if you are in a bit of a pickle and lost your gates it can do that too.

Commander


It's difficult to decide whether the Zeus or the Coyote is the best Commander in the game (at the moment). I think the Coyote edges it. The Zeus is a tremendous boss. He has an E11 shot, can be in a squad and has a 3+ passive, but if you get through it can be killed in 1 shot and he does only move 2" per turn. The Coyote is more mobile, has 2 E10 shots, has a 4+ passive with 4 damage, and if you kill the warstrider, the command node is still there! This means that the Coyote is a very reliable choice and just like the Jaguar is very versatile in it's uses. Also it's the best commander for Focal Point missions, he can gate around to wherever you need him most..... which leads me seamlessly onto......


Gates


This is what I think people fear the most. It is very "alien" to non Shaltari players. 
The ability to be on one side of the board and then the other is never to be underestimated! Added to this, the fact that the gates are not tied to one particular squad and can be used for any makes them far superior to dropships for about the same cost. 
Although gates are amazing, they are also the key to unlocking the destruction of Shaltari. If you destroy the gates to the detriment of all else, you will be able to control the Shaltari. They will be stuck where you want them, then you can start hitting them. Hard.  

Conclusions


I don't think Shaltari are unbalanced, they are not overpowered either. So what is it about them? 
It could be that they are the most adaptable - they can cope with any mission, whether it is a fast paced building hop as in Recon, an objective grab & extract or a Focal Point holding mission. Shaltari are the best faction to deal with all the different missions, they can also react well to different game situations. 
I don't know if I have hit upon a reason why, I don't think there is any one particular reason more than any others. Maybe it's a culmination of all the reasons, but this will lead me onto my next series of posts.........

If you can't beat them, join them....

As I embark on my 3rd Dropzone Commander army I will be keeping a record of play-style and also painting progress. Here's a couple of shots of my first game against SkullSwords Resistance.



4 comments:

  1. Though I must confess that Scourges have 100% of the victories right now in Sweden I do agree with the advantages that Shaltari have. I have started to think that they are not the hardest army to get right but the easiest. You don't loose infantry getting off the table with objectives, you can quickly relocate and infantry can appear anywhere on the table. These things make them really much more easy to play. Try placing you Gladius wrong and see what happens if you would really need them on the other side of the table.

    Though I don't feel they are that over-powerful.

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  2. I must admit it is funny how the general feeling towards Shaltari has altered. At first no one wanted to play them, because they seemed overcomplicated, and now look at things! I'm led to believe that they still sell the least though.

    It makes me wonder if people had seen which armies were winning tourneys and bought the Shaltari for that reason, or if was simply luck of the draw.

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    Replies
    1. It's like in 40k. "I just started to like the godzilla list - it just happens to be right now they are best." *A few seconds later when Eldar is tha new shit "I play this army cause I really like jetbikes - it just happens to be right now they are best" a minute later "I hate special characters as they are game breaking" *GW says special characters are ok to use "I think that it is Fluffy that Eldrad is in each Eldar army".

      I thought the Shaltari was hard to use fully but damn, they have lots of helping parts in the fact that their gates aren't locked and that their infantry can relocate so fast.

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  3. Their adaptability is probably also helped greatly by the fact, that they don't have the "dedicated transport " rule other armies have to content with?
    With Shaltari before every game I can decide what to do AND I can later on "recycle" a transport to transport different units.
    When you take/don't take a dropship with other factions you always have to come out of readiness/walk on. The choice was made when you made your army list and can't be altered later on.
    And if they lose their transport(like infantry with an objective) they’re out of luck even if other dropships are still around…
    I agree that they’re not overpowering, but that flexibility might explain their success (Besides good generalship),
    if it really is a trend.

    Interesting post, keep it up!

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