Author Topic: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)  (Read 2105 times)

Zelc

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[Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« on: January 27, 2016, 12:10:56 PM »
PEACH = Please Examine and Critique Honestly

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When I was a newbie, I heard from someone that the Undead were intended to be a swarm faction with deep lines. Unfortunately, several things make backup units weak in this game. 2x UNIT is generally more expensive than 1x UNIT with twice the hit boxes. Backup units are also often points sitting behind your line doing nothing for a good chunk of the game. The main benefit of backup units is usually insurance against routs, which has little value in a faction where most units have infinite courage. It takes some strong incentives (e.g. Rome's Triarii 3x backup & extra dice + Courage boost, Persia's Royal Guard) for backup units to show up in high-level play outside of "chump triangles".

This left the Undead faction in a bad spot both mechanically and thematically. The faction has few viable units and is filled with weak units without many good matchups. It can still win games thanks to the strength of Zombies and Abominations, but is fairly one-dimensional. Worse, all of its strong units are vulnerable to Spears. Because it couldn't fulfill its vision as a swarm faction, the Undead faction lacks a strong theme. It feels like a random patchwork of units.

The goal of this variant is to improve the theme and the play of the Undead faction as a swarm faction. I give the faction's Core units a strong ability which incentivizes using them as backup units. Thematically, the horde of zombies or skeletons mingle with the undead ahead of them, intercepting enemy attacks and (for the skeletons) providing additional offense. Mechanically, the faction has fewer options for cheap tanks (although it still has some really strong tanks!) but now has many more viable options for offensive threats.

The role of the Zombie Horde (formerly Zombies) changes with this variant. They are now weaker but still functional tanks on the front line, effectively infinite Courage Brownies. However, their Shielding Horde ability (I'm looking for better names, btw) and their 3.5" MC make them strong back-up units. Put one behind Abominations, and your opponent will never chew through it. The Shielding Horde ability effectively lets you Reanimate the Abominations twice on your turn! Or, put them behind your strong offensive units to give them 2-3 extra health boxes.

The Skeleton Horde and Skeleton Spearmen give you interesting choices in deployment and maneuvering. Do you use them as a backup unit for your strong units? Do you deploy them by themselves on the flank? Or, do you deploy them in groups of two as a "colossal" unit with 12 total boxes and high but rapidly degrading dice? Do you deploy Spearmen on the front to destroy enemy Cavalry, or do you put the Spearmen in the back to get the extra dice on the charge?

The last two units in this variant are a "quality of life" change for the faction. Swarm of Rats is functionally useless and has been replaced with Skeleton Champions, a unit with good offense and high skill that is not vulnerable to spears. Death Knights get infinite Courage and an extra green box at the cost of its 4 toughness, so you no longer lose games when your one unit without infinite courage decides to run away.

The emphasis on deep ranks also gives Ghoul Packs new life. With more backup units, they will no longer leave gaping holes in your line on their first rout. Their propensity to rout still cuts into their survivability against strong units and their damage against weak units, but now they are much more of a viable option at only 130 points + half of a backup unit.


Let me know what you think :). I'd love to try this out on VASSAL sometime.

RushAss

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2016, 03:52:55 PM »
Pretty interesting take here.  This totally changes the way the Undead can be played and you've certainly scored some style points here from me Mister.  Is there any way you could clarify the wording for the Shielding Horde ability?  I find it to be confusing.

Current Death Knight courage can be a liability, but I personally prefer the current version.  the base 2/4 defense is like adding a 4th green hit box.  Yeah they run away on occasion.  You're version reminds me of Hawk Knights with an extra green hit box.  That's not to say it sucks because it certainly doesn't, my preference simply leans towards the old school knights.
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gornhorror

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2016, 05:11:53 PM »
I like the idea of Skeleton Champions.  Why wouldn't there be a land version of the Death Knights....

What are their stats?

Maybe something like:

(5) 6/5 2/3

4 green
3 yellow
3 red

14 Courage

Also,  I have an idea for the Skeleton Trolls.  Why should they be vulnerable to spears?  Their bones for gosh sake. 
Where's this shade, that you got it made?

Zelc

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2016, 05:13:51 PM »
Pretty interesting take here.  This totally changes the way the Undead can be played and you've certainly scored some style points here from me Mister.  Is there any way you could clarify the wording for the Shielding Horde ability?  I find it to be confusing.
Fluff: Skeleton Trolls are backed up by Zombie Horde. Some Chosen come in and try to kill the Skeleton Trolls, but some Zombies get in the way and absorb some of the Chosen's attacks.

Mechanics: Chosen attacks Skeleton Trolls backed up by Zombie Horde, rolls 3 wounds. Skeleton Trolls take 2 damage (1 is prevented), and Zombie Horde takes 2 damage since Skeleton Trolls is a Greater Undead. If the Skeleton Trolls were backed up by 2x Zombie Hordes, it'd still take 2 damage (only 1 damage is prevented), and only one of the Zombie Hordes would take 2 damage.

If you can help me out with the wording, I'd be very grateful :).

Quote
Current Death Knight courage can be a liability, but I personally prefer the current version.  the base 2/4 defense is like adding a 4th green hit box.  Yeah they run away on occasion.  You're version reminds me of Hawk Knights with an extra green hit box.  That's not to say it sucks because it certainly doesn't, my preference simply leans towards the old school knights.
Yea, there are two reasons I made the change. First, randomly losing because your Death Knights routed kind of sucks, especially since this faction should be designed for players who don't want to deal with bad Courage rolls. Second, D 2/4 Death Knights are probably too good with the Shielding Horde ability.

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Why wouldn't there be a land version of the Death Knights....
Interesting thought, but I'd imagine they'd be a 6/6 attack. Also I'm not a fan of units with Courage in a faction that should otherwise appeal to players who don't want to deal with Courage checks :).
« Last Edit: January 27, 2016, 05:15:27 PM by Zelc »

Karasu

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2016, 04:05:27 AM »
Certainly a new and interesting take on the Undead, and my first instinct is that it feels more like the image you portray it.

I think the reason that Shielding Horde sounds wrong is because it's a bit of an oxymoron: Shielding gives the impression of a disciplined action, whereas Horde sounds like an undisciplined rabble.  From the way you described it, I don't think the Skeletons or Zombies are actively throwing themselves in front of their big brothers, it's just that they are continually pressing forward without any thought for proper ranks and just kind of get in the way.
Can I think of a better term?  Depends on whether you think it is IC planned or accidental
Disorganised: Shambling Horde, Impetuous Horde,
Organised: Intervene, Sacrificial Escorts
Bit of a pun:  Forlorn Horde
Purely functional:  Damage Transfer

Help on the wording

Quote
Undead units each have an animation level, which is used in the army abilities.
Lesser Undead = 1.  Greater Undead = 2. Major Undead = 3.

Reanimate
You may spend Command Actions to Reanimate one of your damaged Undead units.  A Reanimated unit heals one damage.  You may only Reanimate each unit once per turn, and you may not Reanimate a unit that has been destroyed.  This costs a number of Command actions equal to the animation level.

Interpose
When backing up, units with this ability will intercept damage done to the unit that they are backing up.  Prevent the first damage from each attack on the backed up unit, then deal damage to the backing up unit equal to the reanimation level of the backed up unit.

Zelc

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2016, 10:19:25 AM »
Thanks Karasu, that rewording is very helpful and I'm going to use most of it :).

Kevin

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2016, 11:16:22 PM »
Seems like backed-up Death Knights = table flip.  I'm also thinking of all the ways I can try to get my Ghoul Pack to back up a unit for one turn in order to pop off that one annoying green box.

I do like that the Death Knights are fearless, though.  And the Undead faction desperately needs some decent infantry such as the Skeleton Champions, so those are plusses.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. - Winston Churchill

Zelc

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2016, 09:26:09 AM »
Ghoul Packs don't have the Interpose ability.

Backing up Death Knights with Zombie Horde is basically paying 88 points for 6 CAs worth of Reanimates, which is roughly average. The real benefit is if the Zombie Horde manages to live to your turn (not guaranteed since they die after blocking 2 turns of damage backing up Death Knights), and lets you effectively Reanimate the Death Knights a third time for only 1 CA. The +1 dice from Skeleton Horde is nice, but again they die pretty fast. In any case, you'd be sinking 600+ points in one spot on your line, so it better be good :).

If anything, I'm actually worried the backup ability is still not good enough to get people to take deep ranks.

Kevin

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2016, 09:32:38 AM »
OK definitely a good thing that Ghoul Packs don't get it.
Quote
Backing up Death Knights with Zombie Horde is basically paying 88 points for 6 CAs worth of Reanimates

18 CAs, yes?  It normally costs 3 CAs to heal a point on Death Knights.

And it's still better than that, because you can both prevent the damage and reanimate.  Add in the "Vampirism" cards and they become virtually impossible for anything shy of a T-Rex to chew through.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. - Winston Churchill

Zelc

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2016, 09:58:58 AM »
18 CAs, yes?  It normally costs 3 CAs to heal a point on Death Knights.

And it's still better than that, because you can both prevent the damage and reanimate.  Add in the "Vampirism" cards and they become virtually impossible for anything shy of a T-Rex to chew through.
Quote
Interpose - When backing up, units with this ability will intercept damage done to the unit that they are backing up.  Prevent the first damage from each attack on the backed up unit, then deal damage to the backing up unit equal to the reanimation level of the backed up unit.
So each Zombie Horde prevents 2 damage on Major Undead like Death Knights, and you can spend 1 CA to prevent a third. In theory, you could also spend another 3 CAs to heal the Death Knights again, although that would seem to me to be too many resources spent in one place.

OTOH the new Death Knights are 503 points, Zombie Hordes are 88 points, and Skeleton Hordes are 104 points. It'd be a very tough unit, but it's also effectively a ~600 point unit. The lower 2/3 defense also reduces the value of the extra heals. It's probably good, but I'm not 100% sure it's worth the points.

I'd be more concerned about Zombie Hordes backing up Abominations and Zombie Trolls, creating a tank that lives forever. Most of all, I'm concerned that the backup ability isn't good enough to get people to have a bunch of points sitting behind their lines :).
« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 10:00:43 AM by Zelc »

Kevin

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2016, 10:07:19 AM »
Ah.  Note to self:  read more carefully.  :-[
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. - Winston Churchill

Zelc

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2016, 10:09:34 AM »
It is a good thought though. I definitely had the same concern, which is why I threw that variable damage in. Otherwise yea, it'd be way too good on the good Undead units :).

Kevin

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2016, 04:25:42 PM »
I suppose one issue is do you let interposing units be "overkilled"  e.g. can the 6-hit-point Zombies backing up Death Knights prevent a damage, reanimate one point, prevent another damage (leaving them with one hit point), the prevent a third point of damage? Might be worth looking at the Formula to see if that overpowers the Death Knight/Zombie combo.  Easy enough to tweak the phrasing of the rule to prevent that if it does.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. - Winston Churchill

Zelc

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2016, 04:33:23 PM »
That's definitely a lever we can play with. Right now, I've chosen to let them be overkilled for two reasons:
1) I'm worried backing up isn't good enough. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's not worth the points to add the extra green boxes, but flexibility is nice and it roughly breaks even from the perspective of command actions.
2) The +dice is really strong from Skeleton Horde, and letting them get overkilled rather than hang around limits that.

I think it'd take some playtesting before we can say for sure which is better.

Dave-SWA

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Re: [Variant] Undead Horde (PEACH)
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2016, 11:39:41 PM »
Bohan, I like these ideas a lot.  Would love to see them in action. 

Re: Backing up Death Knights
One thing to consider - if you back them up with an infantry unit, you are sacrificing some movement (5" vs 3.5").  They are not speed demons, but that is something...

I think fearless Death Knights is an improvement.  It has always seemed very counter-intuitive to me that the Undead faction's super-leader-unit is one of the very few units that can fail rout checks and flee.  They should have always been fearless - make that assumption and balance them out in other ways.

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