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Unit Discussion: Darkling Covens Dark Shards 
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Malekith's Best Friend
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Another oldie but a goody, we have a fairly unique crossbow.

Historically, the Chinese invented the repeating crossbow, and what it lacked in power and accuracy, it made up for the number of hits it could get, with a 8 or 10 round clip, and the use of wolf's bane on the tips to poison the target.

In more recent times, a variant of a double crossbow was used in the Film Lady Hawk, and the typical repeating crossbow was given the power of a 50 caliber bullet and the rate of a M-16 in the more recent Robin Hood film.

Now just like the historic one, what our repeaters lack in power and range of a Bow, Longbow, Crossbow, or guns it makes up for attacks.

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Like the other two options in the box same box they come out of, this is a unit meant to be taken in mass or at least 20, but probably shouldn't go the 40 like the Dread Spears

Like their Bleakswords and Dreadspears cousins, they get a 6 inch movement, 5+ save, 1 wound and 6 bravery.

The difference is the number of attacks and their range of attacks. Like most shooty units, they shuck in closecombat, with even the weaker combat heavy units designed to have units like archers or a gunline of muskets with a side of marinara.

Their shooting at first looks abysmal, hitting on 5’s, just like their melee options, that has a slightly better build with wounding on 4’s instead of 5’s. However this is where Iron Hard Tips rule comes into play.

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Guardmasters, the unit champion, get +1 to hit for their own scores. For him and the rest of the unit, Storm of Iron Tip Bolts give the unit +1 to hit so long as the enemy is more than 3 inches away and the unit has 20 or more minies. Add the 2 attacks each crossbowan gets you can get a lot of hits in.

Several units of 10 was good in the olden days as harassment units, but with a unit of 20 you get 40 attacks with 38 of them hitting on 4’s and 2 on 3’s. Even without rend and doing one damage each, that is still quite a few hits and wounds you will inflict, And there is nothing quite as satisfying as rolling so much dice you need both hands to hold them all.

Should they take damage, their standard gives them +1 to their Bravery, +2 if they have a Darkling Covens character within 8 inches near them.

And on the off chance an enemy unit is too close for comfort, their horn player gives them a chance to reroll a single charge dice. After all, yes they suck in close combat, but you can shoot, charge, and attak. And unless I am mistaken, you can shoot in close combat now, so do it. Charges are EMERGENCIES ONLY!!!!

Their shields also come in handy as the Dark Shield Rule allows the to reroll saving throws of 1, and in the combat phase 1s and 2s. So the rolls that generally are going to fail might not fail as much.

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This said, their weaknesses are as apparent as their strengths. Their unit wide +1 to hit only works if A. they have at minimum 20 warriors, so if they have 10 or 19 you do not get this rule. It also doesn’t work if an enemy unit is within 3” of you. So this is a unit you almost need to take longer, and unless you are doing skirmish you can't just take 25 or 26 guys.

Add the fact you are probably put them in gun line (2 or 3 rows of shooters) they might not stay cohesive should they get into combat.

As mentioned earlier, shooty units do not do well in close combat. Most fish do not do well on dry land, people with a fear of snakes probably shoudldn't go into a reptile store, and shooty units shouldn't go into close combat. In the past they had a pretty good chance of survival with the same gear and stats of their cousin warrior units, but now they are just like nearly every other shooty unit: They need to be in combat like Uwi Boll needed to make another video game based movie.

Again their daggers only hit and wound on 5 and 6, so chances are you are not going to hit much. About a 1/3 or 30% chance to both hit and wound. Yeah, get your favorite funeral songs ready for them. I prefer Oh Danny Boy as performed by Celtic Women.

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How to use them.

You are going to want to keep them away from combat for as long as possible, and may need to keep something close by to keep them alive. As a range unit, they hit things from affair, and while they may not get many kills in, they are will dwindle a unit’s size quite a bit. So when you get a more costly close combat unit like knights or executioners in combat, there is less to attend with.

Against lightly armored foes, they could definitely rain death from above and deal massive damage. THis makes them quite effective against monsters as most have a moderate save value like themselves, and as I and much smarter people have said before, bit things are easier to see therefore easier to hit.

Put them in a building or on a hill so they always have a great line of sight, and since they have to remain in the background, they can be the perfect unit to guard something.

A couple units of 20 should do. 30, maybe, but 40 is too much. Not everyone is going to hit, and units that size tend to standout, and when you suck in close combat, standing out is a bad thing.

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Overall a good unit from the past that has kept its usefulness.

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Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:39 pm
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Malekith's Best Friend
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Personally they are one of my two favourite battleline choice for a GA order Aelven list (the other is Witch Elves).

Decent damage output plus that shield rule serves as good front line speed bumps as the relatively short range meant that I often need to put them in the front, with witch elves as a counterattacking force.

In a Darkling Covens army, you can use the allegiance ability where bleakswords and dreadspears are also counted if determining if your darkshards unit count towards a min size of 20. So even a diminished darkshards unit get to enjoy the bonuses.

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Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:46 pm
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