23 July 2010

Rock On! A Runeshaper Documentary - by Bakaryu

by Bakaryu ~ Author of The Lost Kriel

Long have the Runeshapers been misunderstood, underestimated and unloved like a red-headed stepchild. Perhaps it has to do with their price cost, or perhaps it has something to do with the man-sized hands and chins more epic than the Mauler Extreme. Rest assured valued reader, that it does not however have anything to do with their capabilities on the battlefield. However I digress, moving on to the basic introduction:

Basic Stats
Like most of our faction, the base statline on Runeshapers does not make for any particularly impressive reading. Decidedly trollblood Average across the board with MAT6 and ARM15 being their only redeeming qualities.

It costs you 4 points for a fixed unit size of three models, but fortunately they come with 5 wounds each so they are somewhat more difficult to kill than the basic statline suggests.

Special Abilities
Like all of the models in our army the Runeshapers are Tough, nothing annoys an opponent more than when they dedicate resources to killing something that won't die on a 5+. However unlike most other models in our army, the Runeshapers also possess Steady, so they don't even get knocked down when they pass a Tough roll.

Trollbloods in general don't like rough terrain and rely on Fell Callers to mitigate it, the Runeshapers have no such worries thanks to the Pathfinder advantage.

Melee Weapons
Again nothing particularly special here, they have slightly above average MAT but a very very average POW of 10. The only saving grace? Magic Weapons. However you should almost never ever be using their melee weapons.

Ranged Attacks
The only unit in our army thus far that has magic ability as standard, the Runeshapers possess a formidable Magic Ability score of 7 and two spells. While this is less than what most magic units/solos seem to get, both of the ones available to them are full of win.

Tremor: If you have faced an Ironclad or Ol' Rowdy then you already know what it does. Compare a magic attack roll to all models within 2 inches, anyone hit is knocked over. Can be handy to help your other troops get auto hits or to eliminate free strikes off jacks/beasts and can be used on the charge.

Rockhammer: Their main offensive tool, this RNG8 AOE3 POW14 magic attack comes complete with critical knockdown and will take down most infantry models you go for and will inflict heavy damage on most light jacks.

Warlock Synergy

Being a unit of magic attackers the Runeshapers are somewhat unique for our faction in that they do not possess the standard synergies one would expect from our army and our warlocks. Often it is not the buffs that are directly given to them by our warlocks that matter, but how they interact with our other buffed units.

A caster that gives them virtually no direct benefit besides an option for +2 DEF via Sure Foot and absolutely no benefit from his feat via their standard attack mode. However they make great line breakers to thread amongst other models benefitting from Sure Foot, a well placed Tremor charge attack can knock down models engaging your own front line ensuring that those other attacks will hit everytime. A common tactic of mine when the enemy engages my Sure Footed Champ line with DEF12-13 infantry.

Sadly there is next to no synergy of any kind here, not even indirect. Their magic attacks do not trigger Warpath and they do not get an extra shot from eMadrak's feat. The don't even get a benefit from Killing Ground as they already have Pathfinder built in as standard.

A caster with more to offer the Runeshapers than most, Fortune is an excellent tool for not only helping to ensure attacks hit, but giving another shot at the critical in the event that an attack does miss. As most light infantry will struggle to deal with Runeshapers sending a warbeast or warjack after them becomes an increasingly attractive proposition, and pDoomshaper's feat can help to punish that course of action.

Similarly to eMadrak, the Rage of Dhunia gives precisely nothing to the Runeshapers. Wasted points in one of his lists...

A good warlock who can definitely give benefits to the Runeshapers. Calamity helps push them up to effective RAT9 POW16 with POW9 blasts and her Hoof It Fell Call allows them to hit and run putting up to 13 inches between them and an opponent seeking retaliation.

While I have yet to try them with Grim the benefits are obvious. Marked for Death and Lock the Target help them to attack at effective RAT9 ignoring stealth and regardless of line of sight respectively. Cross Country helps them to attack through woods and ignore cover while his feat allows them a turn of attacking almost without fear of retaliation.

Don't really offer too much to Borka unfortunately, but what they do give is easy access to AOE and knockdown without Borka having to spend 3 fury to do so. They do make a decent budget bodyguard unit for a caster who likes to be near the front thanks to their multiple wounds and steady however.

Arguably the caster with both the most and least synergy with the Runeshapers, Calandra depending on your list and tactics will either do very well or very badly with Runeshapers. I like to play her AOE heavy and so get a lot of joy from two units of Runeshapers combined with a Bomber and Pyre Troll. The ability to reroll attack rolls (even successful ones) means you have more chance of getting those valuable crits you want whilst her feat makes it significantly more likely to get good blast damage rolls.

Information pending.

Warbeast Synergy
Again like with warlocks most of our warbeasts offer very little to the Runeshapers directly.

Absolutely nothing to see here, moving on...

No benefit here either, they can bomb the enemy with AOE's even while engaged.

Now here is an animus thats useful, while the Runeshapers themselves are highly unlikely to injure themselves with their own blast damage (dice -8, or -10 under the KrielStone Bearer) this eliminates the possibility entirely. Or it can be used to make other models in your army unconcerned with their blast damage.

Situationally useful, however you would have to spend 6 Fury to give it to the whole unit... not worth it for the (typically) slight speed boost.

Again an animus that gives them nothing, but occasionally it manages to strip away the odd defensive animus (such as Carnivean or Shredder animi) from models they want to kill.

Not warbeasts, moving on...

Can prove annoying to enemy jacks/beasts who can only manage a single attack against the effected Runeshaper before being pushed 3 inches away. An ARM of up to 17 plus 5 wounds, tough and steady means that even the greatest of jacks and beasts might fail to get the kill on one before being left wide open to the mercy of the rest of your force. Generally it goes on your Warlock however.

Sadly their ranged attack is a magic attack, so no Snipe loving for the runeshapers.

I suppose you CAN give them POW12 and critical fire on their melee weapons with MAT6, but is that really better than RAT7 POW14 AOE3 with crit KD?

Same as above, but with crit corrosion.

While his animus is RNG self, his ability to pull small and medium based models out from safety (such as most warlocks and warcasters) means that most enemies will subsequently find themselves at the mercy of the Runeshapers and whatever else you have ready to bring the pain.

Crit stationary on his spray is situational but can give the Runeshapers a round of retaliation free bombing with virtually no miss chance. His animus is situational, but Runeshapers behind a line of Kriel Warriors are hellishly difficult to clear.

Unit synergy
They do not offer anything directly to army synergy so instead I will focus on the models that work well with them.

Kriel Warriors with UA
Another unit with high ARM and immunity to knockdown, the Kriel Warriors are the quintissential front line behind which the Tremor Bomb strategy is built. Ram the Kriels down the enemy's throat and next turn charge your own Kriel Warriors and use Tremor to hit the models directly in front of them. From 40mm bases while in base contact even from the furthest point of the base you can catch models almost half an inch away from the front line. Kriels and Caber Throwers then get to work in the grinder.

Krielstone Bearer
As with all our troops, that +2 ARM is always useful pushing them up to ARM17 with 5 damage boxes. Most infantry will have difficulty taking one down in a single attack. The elder's ability to strip away stealth is also occasionally useful.

Runeshapers (another unit)
Included here because of the usefulness of one unit charging and using Tremor so the second unit can either bomb past the knocked down unit or target them directly with virtual autohitting.

Solo and Minion synergy
I have put these together due to the number of solos and minions out there that would actually have any bearing on the Runeshapers.

Fell Caller
Can give them +2 MAT if your back is really against the wall and there is no other option, otherwise he does nothing at all for them.

Concealment for the Runeshapers could occasionally be nice, but in most cases I find they are hanging around in woods anyway. Not much to offer them unless your first and second waves have already gone down in flames.

Again nothing to give unless they are tied up in combat, where Annoyance could push them up to effective DEF13.

Champion Hero
While they are CMD8, they are not fearless and the advantage of a CMD10 commander cannot be overstated. Doesn't offer them anything directly, but he does love auto hitting threshers if they manage to knock down a clumped up shield wall.

Included here because of the anti-synergy, everytime they cast a spell in his CMD range (even if on the same side) they take a damage point. Be careful not to keep them near him.

Boomhowler and co
One of his calls gives immunity to knockdown, so see Kriel Warriors above and apply similar strategy.

Viktor Pendrake
Beast Lore is handy against warbeasts, boosted attack rolls with crit KD is great.

Gudrun the Wanderer
Berserk is almost as great as Thresher, especially against groups of knocked down models. See Champion Hero above.

Final thoughts
Runeshapers are a unit that currently shares very little synergy with the rest of the faction or with any of the minions, but the ones they do have are all great benefits. I find that it is not worth looking at them a unit of 3 guys for 4 points as we have very little to compare them to at that price range, instead look at them as a unit of 6 guys for 8 points and you can suddenly compare them to Bushwhackers, Scattergunners, Fennblades and Boomhowler and Co.

A flank with two units of Runeshapers for me has devastated Bane Thralls with AOEs and crit KDs and in one game overrun a retribution flank being held by houseguard halberdiers and a scyir. They also work great right behind your front line in a supporting role whenever they are not dishing out AOE3 POW14 death.

They only benefit certain casters however and admittedly their monetary cost is steep, but I have not yet regretted owning two units of Runeshapers.

No comments:

Post a Comment