Once more Jens is rocking our world with the third part of his “lessons learned” from Wexio’s tournament. As always please comment to encourage him to continue with this! After all, if you read it and didn’t comment it meant you didn’t like it and think he should stop writing.
In this third article, I will review the Shaltari army list I used at the Dropzone Commander tournament at Wexio 2014. The article discusses the initial thought process followed by an evaluation and a final judgement on a battle group per battle group basis.
Warrior clan battle groups
First Warrior clan:
Troops: 2x Braves
Troops: 2x Braves
Second Warrior clan:
Troops: 2x Braves
To bring home objectives you need infantry. I wanted to have enough infantry to not be lacking some when push came to shove and therefore planned to include plenty of Shaltari Braves. Infantry, I thought, would save the day and bring home victory finding and whisking away objectives like no one had ever seen. The Firedrake on the other hand would impose and destroy the enemy formations, with an impressive ranged area of effect weapon which could be used to beat the enemy into submission, this together with the ability to function as an auxiliary medium gate when needed. I also opted to include a Dreamsnare to boost the survivability of my other units and providing some infantry support with its dragon cannons, microwaving enemy infantry manning the walls.
Both Warrior clans performed well with their respective support units. In short Braves were impressive, their ability to survive falling masonry and enduring even the elite close quarter battle specialist thrown against them rank them high among the different Troops in Dropzone Commander a great backbone for searching for and securing objectives. Combined with Spirit gates they are phenomenal. I also found out that their anti-tank capabilities are pretty good with their E9, countered range 18 inch shot with shape charge is pretty good against almost anything, except UCM:s highly armoured Rapier and Sabre tanks. Braves are truly a good troop.
The Firedrake left me with an impression of being underwhelmed; I never managed to get a golden shot off and only picked off a few units in each game, if any. What it do well is to catch my opponents imagination and attention. The Firedrake is impressive and have the potential to do game altering shots with its area of effect weapon, it is also a great bullet sponge and its gate ability came in handy more than once. BUT it is expensive; the 130 points could be used to get another Jaguar, a far more reliable unit in my opinion, and contributing to fill out my Tomahawks squad. The impression still lasting from its performance is that it is a neat, versatile unit bringing something unique to the Shaltari faction, but I will not field both a Firedrake and an Ocelot in my next list it will be one or the other.
At last it has come to pass the verdict on the Dreamsnare. The Dreamsnare rocks! It was my most valuable player through the whole tournament. It did not kill or shoot much, it did not find or carry objectives, the Dreamsnare saved lives ladies and gentlemen, turning a 5+ passive save to a 4+ passive save does a lot it also boosted the Coyotes 4+ passive save to a 3+ save turning the commanders warstrider into a beast. The shield boosting support is both thematic and great in making Shaltari units a bit more durable against weapons which more often than not have the ability to do damage on 2+ or a 4+ resulting in husks of metal and really scientific advanced paperweights. And at 65 points it is in my opinion a must have. The Dreamsnare have one downside though, in my case it makes me gather all units in one spot, which is a bad thing in a game about mobility, especially with a faction focused on being the most mobile in my humble opinion.
In short, Braves are really good and solid which have convinced me to keep fielding three squads of them, making sure I have one backup squad to send in wherever needed. Since Shaltari infantry uses warsuits they seem to be a lot more durable and does not have to worry about falling masonry as much as the other factions. The Firedrake has the potential to be great and perhaps I will miss it if I choose to leave it out, it is nice to have a floating gunship able to take some punishment but for now I think it will be put on the side-line while I try out some more dependable units.
And now on to my summer fling. Dear Dreamsnare, I have fallen in love, you could be my number one choice when considering support choices. I have a hard time imagining a list without a Dreamsnare, its performance where nothing short of legendary. It also besets the opponent to make a choice, either try to destroy the Dreamsnare or what it protect, a choice which could impede your opponent’s ability to do battle.
Swordpoint battle group
Standard: 3x Tomahawk
Support: 2x Birdeater
Swift skimmer tanks with sturdy anti-air made sense with Shaltari. The Tomahawks is quick enough to not need gates and the Birdeaters tough enough to withstand a bullet storm. This battle group was going to be my quick response force using the Tomahawks to hunt down enemy anti-air and delay anti-tank units. The Birdeaters were supposed to establish air coverage by using their climb ability providing early anti-air capabilities able to deter an aerial strike force and deadly fast movers.
I did not use the speed of the Tomahawks to my advantage; instead I tried to go toe-to-toe with sturdier front line units with bigger guns, a mistake I do not want to repeat. By using the Tomahawks a front line unit I denied them their greatest asset, their speed and good range. One E10 shot per Tomahawk was great against buildings, less great against A 10 tanks. The Birdeaters performed as planned, but I think fielding three Kukris instead would be better, more shots may be better than sturdier units. The gimmicky climbing ability of the Birdeater might be good but need some planning to be used since you need to be within two inches to be able to use it. As far as I know it never made a difference whether they were deployed on the roof of a small building or in the middle of the road, it might be used to get the jump on a transport believing itself to be safe, but it is in my opinion a bit to situational.
A small number of Tomahawks will not cut it; I believe they should be fielded on mass as a response force rather than as a frontline force trading blows, an idea I will actually execute next time. I will also try to field some Tarantulas to see if they may be an alternative, they are sturdy and can hit hard at the loss of mobility and numbers. Mobility can be achieved by utilising gates though, but including them will most certainly reduce my army’s numbers even more and reducing my opponent’s necessity to choose target. Time will tell. The standard choices of the Shaltari army is in my opinion the hardest choices when designing an Shaltari army list, both the Tomahawk and Tarantula seems good on paper and are both rather expensive making it difficult to field a larger number. I will probably sacrifice the Firedrake or the Ocelot to try out greater numbers of these two units in the future.
The Birdeater is a great unit, its sturdiness and two weapon systems makes it capable of spending time in the heat of battle bringing both anti-air capabilities and some potential demolishing, but it is expensive at 55 points each. The squad is a bit less expensive at 110 points then a Kukri squad at 114 points but at 4 points more the Kukris will bring another anti-air gun with four E6 shots but losing demolishing assets. Since Shaltaris anti-air capability is a tad weak, more shots are needed to achieve and even more to guarantee success. I will therefore replace the Birdeater squad with a Kukri squad and see if my impression and line of thought is valid.
In the next part we will be reading Jens’ last part in this series where he will take up his last battlegroup and the Strengths and Weaknesses of the army in total. Stay tuned for next Thursday!