20 June 2011

Scattergunner UA--Game Changer?

So after weeks (years, from a certain perspective) of waiting, the Scattergunner Unit Attachment (UA) is out at Lock & Load, and the details are in.

**Special note: we've got confirmation that there are going to be additional Epic versions of some warlocks/warcasters, so instead of using eDoomshaper for Epic Doomshaper, I'm going to start using shorthand like Doomshaper2 to avoid confusion for the future.


Granted: Quick Work--If a model kills something, it gets to shoot its gun.

Tactics: Combined Melee Attack (CMA)--It's in Primal if you want the details, models can get bonuses for ganging up on a target.

Tactics: Clear--Sprays don't damage friendly models.

It's an officer and Standard, so the officer is most likely +1 MAT/RAT above the rest, and the Standard has Take Up and allows CMD check rerolls as per usual.

Cost: same as the Kriel Warrior UA or a Stone Scribe Chronicler.

Going Deep:

So what does all of this mean when pulled together? What it means is that unless you're brain damaged, if you own or ever want to own Scattergunners, they just became a 7/10 unit because this UA is mandatory. I own a minimum unit of Scattergunners, and this UA makes me willing not only to buy it, but to actually fill out the full unit.

Quick Work isn't as good at extending threat range like Assault would, but on a low-cost UA with ridiculously easy access to melee buffs, in balance it's a gift straight from Dhunia. My first thought on hearing it was that we can start using Scattergunners in a different way in some lists than we traditionally have. In pre-UA games, the Scattergunners were chiefly a flanking force. There was never good call to take the whole unit, because it was expensive and too easy to shut down. Now, being engaged is no longer the penalty it was, as the unit can kill off models, and then get to make ranged attacks. The real gem in all of this is that Quick Work allows you to make attacks against a target other than the one you attacked unlike Assault, and doesn't require a straight-line movement to work. You can sidle and kite your Scattergunners all over the place to line up the perfect sprays and melee kills. If you take a Fell Caller in nearly every list like I do, having him toss them a War Cry makes a lot of sense. The thing to watch out for is Reach models though--if your Scattergunner polishes off a model and is still engaged by another model with Reach, he's out of luck; however, it's not really a big deal, as I will explain.

The new tactic is really the meat--the black, terrible heart of this UA that should strike terror in the souls of men. A unit with this attachment doesn't have to worry too much about the problem of Reach troops, because a second rank or any of the non-engaged members can feel free to hose down their friends with shrapnel to clear out and problem models for getting Quick Work to pop. In fact, if you layer the unit two ranks deep, the front rank can act as a skirmisher/shield and absorb charges. If they live, it's no biggie because you can spray over them with impunity, allowing your Scattergunners to get the aiming bonus you've always wanted them to have. Since you can count on them for multiple turns, there's no real downside to having them walk and spray the opponent's front rank, which they do at a respectable 14" away (6" walk plus 8" spray). As one of the fastest Trollblood units, they could also charge the opposing models with a 9.5" threat on most warlocks, but a more respectable 11.5" with Borka--a surprising pairing that we'll get to soon.

It gets better though--since the immunity to the Scattergunners' sprays extends to all friendly models, you can run a typical tarpit such as Kriel Warriors or other difficult to kill unit like Champions, and have the Scattergunners bathe them in buckshot whenever they're engaged. The unit might very well become free enough that it can mount a charge against the remaining models. It's also a great way to extract warbeasts like the Bomber when they become engaged, and makes this unit absolutely sickening--enough so that I'm not sure I would have allowed something like this to leak through playtesting with a rule like this, but I take what is given and so should you.

The last piece of the pie is CMA, which on most units can be a major boon. I actually find it a little lackluster with the Scattergunners though. As a medium--based unit with low P+S, poor MAT, and no Reach they're unlikely to be able to effectively combine attacks against anything substantial. Worse, for each CMA you'll only ever get a single trigger from Quick Work. Unless the unit is up against extremely high DEF or ARM troopers, this ability won't even come up. Especially since we've already got a ready source of attack buffs via the Fell Caller to support them, there's no call for this except against Kayazy or when stuck in with multi-wound troops. Don't get me wrong--I'm glad they have it, and it provides flexibility on the table, but it doesn't sell the UA the way the other two abilities do. In concert with them though, I think it's an interesting addition that reveals the way PP visualizes the use of the unit.

Notable Combos:

The heart of this game is combos though, and we should delve into some of them. I won't cover everything here--that would be a heinous amount of work--but here's some initial pairings to get your list-building started (in no particular order).

Calandra: Calandra is incredibly friendly to ranged and melee units alike due to her feat, and spells like Star Crossed are a real boon for units with poor defensive statlines such as Scattergunners. Pack a Fell Caller and Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (KSB), and you've got the makings of a great secondary unit to the usual Burrowers. Throw in Janissa Stonetide to keep them ticking defensively, and you've got a killer combination. Burrowers pop and hit the first wave, and then the Scattergunners spray them and anyone near them for the coup de grace. Much the same strategy can work with Grim Angus as well.

Madrak1: Believe it or not, there's ludicrous combo here that I had to double-check. So check it: Quick Work allows a model to make an normal ranged attack after destroying a model. Under Madrak1's feat, a model gains Overtake and can make an additional attack after destroying an enemy model. See where this is going? That's right--Scattergunners have just become whirlwinds of destruction with Madrak1. Combine with a Fell Caller's War Cry, Madrak1's spell Carnage, and a melee damage buff of choice (mine would be Rage), and you can have the Scattergunners tear through melee units in an orgy of sprays, killing, spraying a target of choice, moving an inch, and spraying again. The sprays are unlimited as long as you keep getting attacks from the feat, and you can direct them anywhere, so you can use the sprays to attack models that would take you outside of Madrak1's pitiful Control Area. Depending on positioning, this could be big.

Madrak2: With the World Ender, these guys have serious potential. Not only can you take the Long Riders and Fennblades you love so, but with Madrak2 you can double the normal sprays. That was a reason I always considered taking them in the past, but now that there's no chance of damaging your own models, they make an excellent second-wave to really tear apart infantry armies in short order. Even if they have to move like charging or advancing to get into position, once they're in place the fact that you'll get twice as many attacks makes the action on Madrak2's feat turn that much more devastating.

Grissel: As the Number One Grissel Fan in the universe, I can't help but see the possibilities. The real kicker is that Scattergunners fit into her Theme list, and would make a great second-wave unit behind the Kriel Warriors that you would be stupid not to take. The Kriel Warriors leap forward to capture the midline, and the Scattergunner's run up behind them. This is where the combo kicks in--once the opponent closes with the Kriel Warriors, they can use a Caber to Knock Down an opponents model that Grissel can drop Calamity on top of. Then the Scattergunners are free to spray over the Kriel Warriors intervening to get highly accurate, very high-damage sprays on top of the unfortunate target. People familiar with my work on the forums will note that I've previously used this tactic with Trollkin Sluggers, but the Scattergunners with their UA blow that maneuver out of the water. On this basis alone, I will be buying the full unit and UA.

Borka: Remember how I mentioned the Scattergunners as a tarpit replacement? With Borka, they can really make that happen. Under his feat they get a pretty nice 11.5" threat range for charging and using Quick Work. Due to their spray immunity, getting them stuck into melee really isn't a problem, so they're also an excellent choice to give Iron Flesh to. My Borka lists always have a problem getting any ranged attacks into play, and with their versatility, the Scattergunners give the player a really nice in-faction option. Speaking of in-faction, it's worth reiterating that new tactic works on minions too, so you can always run DEF 18 Nyss Hunters in front of the Scattergunners to get a mixed melee/ranged block of death, with Scattergun sprays clearing off enemy models so that the player can keep those bowstrings twanging.

That's just to start us off--I'm sure more will be coming soon as people really dig into this UA.


  1. Anonymous20 June, 2011

    Madrak1's feat requires the killing blow to be a melee attack and only grants additional melee attacks.

    So the Scattergunner would have to chop a guy down with the gunblade, get the Quick Work spray, move 1", use the additional melee attack on whatever he sidled into melee with, cut that down, and get another Quick Work shot. Lather, rinse, repeat. All while making sure it's not engaged through that process. The number of successful rolls required put that in the realm of "Awesome if it works, but will not happen a lot."

  2. Once you've layered Carnage and War Cry to get up to MAT 9 though, you're hitting and killing DEF 16 ARM 15 on average dice. Yes, you have bad dice rolls, but you should still be able to wreck some decent face as long as you aren't pitted up against a unit with reach. That puts a kink in things.