Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Horus Heresy Army List Building: Synergy

There are many ways to build a Horus Heresy era army. In the previous post, we spoke about the simple basics. This ranged from how to think about the rule differences from ten millennia in to the future (e.g., fear), and how to start constructing an army from 1 HQ and 2 Troops slots using various rites of war. In this post, we will turn to making a start at looking at synergy (but won't finish it in this post).

Most armies that you will face from the Horus Heresy range are built in a thematic and fluffy manner. This does not mean in the slightest that they are not competitive. They can be absolutely devastating - whilst remaining fully thematic at the same time. Some though are thematic, but lack the punching power and competitiveness of others.

The key difference between those that can do well and those that do not is synergy.

By synergy, I mean that one component of an army enhances, combines with, or boosts (i.e. force multiplies) another component above and beyond what it would be otherwise.

In this post, I'm largely (but not entirely) going to avoid talking about individual legions, and instead try to focus on generic components. In later posts, we will look at the individual legions in turn (well: the published ones at any rate) to see how we can enhance the synergy inside them. In fact, I've already noted one extreme synergy in regards to the Alpha Legion when I looked at how to blow up tanks automatically. All that you need is a saboteur, Armillus Dynat, and the combat augment array relic. The total points cost for that synergy (or combination) is something like 130 points for the saboteur (although this could be less for a basic saboteur), 200 for Dynat, and 35 points for the array. That makes a total of 365 points to take out a tank automatically. An Alpha Legion army army will make at least half of these points back by taking out a land raider. The rest of the points might sound expensive, until you figure in to this deal that you were probably going to take Dynat anyway. Therefore the "real" cost is simply the addition of the saboteur plus the array (165 points) to the army you were going to have Dynat command anyway -- this is easily cheap enough to take advantage of and will make the points back. Dynat is effectively a praetor replacement and is giving access to the rites of war which you also wanted to have as per the previous discussion. Hence his points cost is not material to this equation in my view of these things.

I will start by looking at the consuls (with a large section on Apothecaries), and then move on to the generic Rites of War available. For the main part, these are available to everyone. I'll finish off by looking at fortifications. Most of these synergies are not powerful or game breaking, but they're meant to just get you going with thoughts and concepts.

Both an apothecary and a Primus Medicae provide a strong bonus to any unit which they form a unit with in the guise of "feel no pain". As such, they are a really basic example of part of an army that provides synergy with other components. Or put another way: they improve the survivability of a key unit.

Which unit to attach them to is a more interesting question though. Clearly, almost every unit in an army would benefit from having feel no pain and consequently improving their survivability. Yet, there are some units that would benefit more than others. For example, a back field heavy support squad that is in cover would do well out of it, but perhaps a more front line unit would do even better.

Hence, for an apothecary or Primus Medicae, I would want to attach them to:
(a) an objective seeking or objective camping unit;
(b) a large squad that already has plenty of wounds (or multiple wounds each) and will take a while to whittle down;
(c) a squad that already has excellent survivability and would be enhanced even more.

The first two suggest that core troops such as tactical squads or breacher squads would be ideal. However, it is the last possibility that will scare opponents even more. Consider attaching to a terminator squad for example. You have now formed a unit that potentially has a 2+ armour save, a 4+ invulnerable save (with Cataphractii terminator armour), a 5+ feel no pain save, and potentially a cover save as well. This is downright excellent (if a little bit rude to your opponent). With some legion specific terminators, this gets even better (or ruder!). Consider for example attaching a Primus Medicae to a Salamanders Fire Drake squad armed with storm shields. You now have terminators with two wounds each as well as all the good saves. That is simply amazing. But it will categorically not earn you any friends whatsoever. Heck, with thunder hammers and storm shields, such a unit can probably take on a Primarch and stand a good chance of winning.

Add in to the above mixture a Spartan, and this will no doubt form the core of many (generic) tournament 30k army lists simply because of the awesome survivability synergy.

Treat this consul as you would in games from later millennia. Specifically, squads that are meant for melee should be joined by it. In particular, I like assault squads to be accompanied by chaplains, or generally anything that is fast moving, and wants to get in to combat, and preferably with a few power weapons (or similar).

Master of Signals.
Here is a consul that should be placed alongside a heavy support squad - or even a tactical squad using fury of the legion.

The main reason for doing this is the bonus to ballistic skill that the Master can give the accompanying unit.

Additionally, the large pie plate he can bring once per game can be very complementary to a build that has lots of such pie plates. Take a couple of these, along side items like plasma cannons, havoc launchers and the like and you have the makings of a strong pie plate focussed army. You just need some anti-air really.

In some ways, vigilators are odd units. But, if your army is build around a swift alpha strike concept, then the vigilators can really help it to shine. By inflicting some early wounds and perhaps even gaining first blood, they can turn the tide of an entire battle.

Additionally, with the ability to grant scout, certain units that they join can be boosted to get in to range of deadly weapons (or even melee) very early on in the game. Clearly this suits legions like the Raven Guard and Alpha Legion very nicely.

Forge Lord.
This is a surprisingly versatile consul choice for an army. Able to get a 3+ invulnerable save thanks to a familiar, they can be really good alongside other terminators for a close combat boost. But in terms of synergies, they make an excellent way to open the door to robots in your army that can complement other approaches. The spread of rad grenades is also really important as it allows the squad to take on a (monstrous?) opponent even easier.

Siege Breaker.
In a nutshell, they add wrecker and tank hunters to their attached unit. This is very nice for enhancing heavy support squads! Their Voxes can also help with lines of sight to provide your heavier weapons a good way to see other targets.

You'll notice I've not mentioned Moritats, Champions or Centurions. In general, these are not force multipliers and don't directly provide synergy or boosts to squads that they join beyond their own attacks. What they do provide is a tool to caused extra damage in a very particular way (depending on the build).

Rites of War.
Every rite of war can act as a force multiplier for an army. Hence if you do take a particular rite of war, you will need to exploit it as best as possible.

For Angel's Wrath, we want an army that has a number of units with jump packs. This might mean assault squads, but could also be other squads (and independent characters) as well. It is important to add in characters that complement jump packs and the "hit and run" rule. So, chaplains, and almost everything that adds to attack and durability is important here.

With armoured spearhead, taking some characters able to repair tanks is a suggestion, but not a necessity for the army. If all your infantry must be in a transport, then you might as well take infantry that want to be somewhere else. Like terminators getting to the front line and anything that helps them get there. Or objective secured troops having a boost to survivability. In general, this is one to think about bonus survivability in (e.g. Apothecaries).

Orbital assault provides deep striking. Hence you might want to think about characters and units that can take upgrades to ensure no scatter on deep striking in. And ones that ensure infiltrators can't get close as well. Clear a landing zone if required and get on with the job is the order of the day here.

Pride of the Legion provides excellent synergy for most things. Making an elite unit even more elite is what synergy can do for you here. Add in apothecaries and so on to make your enemy think carefully about that they're going to do.

Promethian Pipes.
As fortifications go, this one is outstanding for its torrent boost to anything armed with a flamer. Consider placing a tactical support squad (with flamers) or heavy support squad (with heavy flamers) behind these pipes. Sit somewhere critical and watch as assaulters think twice and thrice about assaulting your position. Buy some tank traps to go in front of the pipes and the job is done. Death Guard and Salamanders will like this even more than other legions too.

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