08 April 2012

Colossals and Gargantuans - Game Changers?

So it has been quite some time since my last blog post here on the Scrum, and even though I have always had ideas about to write about, I feel that I owe it to the Scrum followers out there to put out a post that not only gets across certain opinions of mine but also brings up food for thought, makes people think and hopefully sparks debate.  After all there is no such thing as a right or wrong opinion.

I had been brewing on the idea of the topic of this particular post for quite some time, but it was not until I basically walked Goris through my thought process that I was convinced that I was onto a winner.  Essentially this post will be all about why I think that even though Colossals will be well balanced by PP, they will still be game changing pieces on the battlefield for anyone who can afford them.

Essentially if you want to prevent an opponent from killing a valuable piece in your army there are three ways to do it: prevent him from targetting it at all (block LoS, stealth, keep it out of range, etc), buff up its DEF to a value where most enemy models will find hitting it to be extremely difficult, and finally buffing up its ARM to make damaging it just as difficult.

We know already that the first method will be impossible for Colossals (and Gargantuans but I will continue to use just Colossals for the rest of this post) thanks to the most recent NQ explaining that they have the same targetting rules as battle engines (ignore clouds and forests, can't benefit from cover or concealment and no penalties to shoot at them in combat) but in addition they also cannot benefit from stealth.  It remains to be seen if the Choir for Menoth will actually work on the Adjudicator to protect it from non magical shooting, technically however they are Warjacks so this might be the only such protection I can think of that will actually work.

It remains to be seen whether or not Colossals will be any harder to hit than Battle Engines (which are universally DEF10), but even if they are and have typical warjack DEF stats that isn't much to work with especially considering that they can never benefit from cover or concealment.  Actual DEF buffs that can be directly (or indirectly) cast on them are largely restricted to Cygnar, Menoth, Retribution and Skorne through spells such as Blur, Defender's Ward, Deceleration, Krea's Animus and Force Barrier.  These range from +2 to +3 and only Skorne have the ability to stack two of them.

ARM buffs on the other hand are widespread and available to every faction.  It is common knowledge that the more damage boxes a model has the more effective an increase in ARM becomes.  There are several factions out there as it stands who struggle to take down an ARM26 Centurion for Cygnar (easily possible with eStryker, pNemo and eHaley), especially at range before it can be delivered into melee combat.  Some factions (and warcasters/warlocks in particular) are extremely reliant upon their ability to decimate an army at range before it can get into melee combat with them.  I will spell out a couple of scenarios:

eLylyth vs Trollbloods:
Often this is a matchup that Trollbloods massively struggle with, they are not quick enough or have a high enough DEF to close the gap on eLylyth before she either obliterates the battlegroup or just opens up a hole and assassinates the warlock.  The only weapon that Trollbloods have against this is the Pyre Troll who can give immunity to fire to one model within 6" as his 2 fury animus.  The problem with that animus is casting it on several models immediately becomes a massive strain upon the warlock's fury resources (something that Trollbloods are not great at under the best of conditions).

Now let us introduce the Mountain King: judging by the teaser video's glimpse at the damage boxes on the Galleon we are talking at least 50 damage boxes and I cannot possible envision him having less ARM than a regular Dire Troll, so we are talking at least ARM18 (but for the purpose of this example we will use ARM18 as a conservative estimate).  I would seriously consider assuming unlimited resources a list with two Mountain Kings, eDoomshaper, a max KSB with Elder, Runebearer and a Pyre Troll.  We know all colossals will be in the 18-20 point range, so worst case scenario we have spent 41 points, still leaving enough points to add in a unit plus another solo or two for contesting objectives.

The traditional eLylyth lists with 2 Ravagores, 2 Nephilim Bolt Throwers will suddenly be left facing two blocks of 50+ health which are immune to fire, can't be pushed, slammed, thrown, knocked down, etc with an ARM of 20 and immunity to fire.  There is simply nothing that eLylyth (who typically is more interested in assassination than scenario victory) can do to take the Mountain Kings down before they can get into melee combat, and in eDoomshaper the Mountain Kings have access to all the warbeast support they need in the form of his feat, Wild Aggression and Goad, and will almost certainly have a STR even higher than Mulg, turning eDoomshaper into a perfectly viable spell assassin.

Cygnar vs anybody but Retribution:
Straight away just by looking at the Stormwall we know not only that he has guns, he is positively bristling with them.  We know that he has at least four guns (2 chain guns and 2 cannons) plus the as of yet unknown funtionality of his super structure which fires Lightning Pod solos onto the battlefield.  So not only is he formidable in melee combat (all Colossals have reach and can make a quadrant based thresher power attack) but he has guns enough to almost certainly be just as dangerous at a distance.  Again working off the theory that there is no way his ARM will be less than a Cygnar jack, we expect him to be at the very least ARM18 and with roughly equivalent damage boxes to the Galleon.

Cygnar do two things brilliantly, shoot and buff.  Taking the humble pStryker for our example, we have a warcaster with access to Snipe, Blur and Arcane Shield (plus of course Jr who can throw up a second Arcane Shield).  First turn casting Snipe on a Stormwall giving his small army of guns +4RNG, second turn allocating him focus and leaving two focus free on Stryker to cycle Arcane Shield.  Your Stormwall (who presumably ran 1st turn) now has at least 4 guns who I am certain will all be at least RNG10 and focus to burn.  He walks up and fires away into your army, he may be close enough to counter charge in your turn but wait, Stryker now activates next and casts Arcane Shield on him and pops his feat.

Suddenly you are facing a massive block of ARM26 with 50-odd damage boxes and lets face it, not even Trollbloods (with the best melee buffing of any faction) can take down that level of ARM and health.  You can't move him, you can't kill him and in his turn you know he is either just gonna shoot you again or start churning his way through your troops.  And he is still at worst a mere 14 points out of Stryker's 50pt list.  The introduction of the Colossal gives Cygnar something that they have always wanted, something durable enough to make the maximum use out of the multitude of ARM buffs available to them as a faction.

Now I am not saying that Colossals will be the be all and end all of the game once they come out, I am certain that over time strategies will form that will help minimise the impact that a Colossal can have on the game until it has been slowly ground down and taken out.  However even if they were simply big jacks with more guns but statistically similar to for example the Ironclad, the very fact that they possess a literal half ton or more of damage boxes makes them game changers.

I am somewhat fortunate I feel in that my two factions are quite possibly the two factions best equipped to deal with Colossals.  Retribution have a widespread access to weapon master, blessed and arcane assassin (which eliminates most ARM buffs), and Trollbloods through their naturally synergistic playstyle are capable of buffing models/units to ungodly levels of damage which previously was simply overkill.  Now they might find themselves facing things where that insane level of damage output is actually required.


  1. ......

    Mercs can give 2 of them +5 arm every turn & you take a D3 damage if you hit them. Batten down the hatches & spiny growth offer great stupidity.

    if you look at buffs; consider this. Every buff in the game is limited to affecting ~9 points. If the buff makes 9 points ~20% more effective your net number of points is 11. Now these buffs can affect ~18 points, meaning you are at ~22 points post buff. at a 50 point game, a 2 collosal army that utilizes buffs has an effective 10% higher effective points.

    This is a problem. They know this is a problem, so a number of buffs can't affect them to try and keep things in check. And where they can't squeek a blanket ruling the change the abilities to limit the base sizes it can affect. So if the models are good w/o buffs then buff stacking will be amazingly obnoxious.

  2. DEF/ARM UPKEEP-stripping 'casters, and/or Eiryss2/Thrullg may help for some armies. Others will have no recourse but to attempt to almost completely ignore the Colossal and go for the 'caster.

    Concentrating OFFENSIVE buffs on Colossals/Gargantuans will also be particularly effective due to the increased # of attacks possible from one model, and will mean the opposing player will have little recourse, except perhaps Lamentation.

  3. Hmm?

    Excluding Gators, most people can deal with collosals pretty easily if you ask me. You're also not taking into account the single target debuffs nearly everyone has access to. Just like buffing being 'stronger' on a collosal, so too will debuffing be far more of an effect on the army with that giant model in it.

    Apart from arm buff ignoring, don't forget that some factions also hit hard enough to laugh. Khador, Cryx, Skorne, Protectorate of Menoth...and Im sure some I'm missing, but for examples, these guys can push p+s 19-21 +3d6 fairly quickly. Assuming sense is intended, they's be def 10 which makes boosting to hit unneeded so boosting damage will be much more common/easy.

  4. Neither eStryker nor pNemo can get a Centurion to ARM26.