Monday, June 13, 2016

Ratkin - The 185 Point Horde Question

Since the release of Uncharted Empires, Ratkin have had a Horde of Brutes in the army. This unit costs 185 points and acts as an unlock for other units. Sometimes I have paid an additional 15 points to buy the Brew of Haste (though latterly this has gone by the wayside due to points pressure).

However I have been underwhelmed by the Brutes on-table effectiveness and are considering alternatives.

First, let's have a look at the stats for Brutes:
  • Me 4+, De 4+, Move 6", Attacks 18, Nerve 13/16
  • Brutal
  • Fury
  • Regen 5+
  • Crushing Strength 2
  • Frontage 120mm
  • Rallying
The biggest weakness that the Brutes have is in relation to their Nerve. I find it doesn't take much to start pressuring the "Wavered" button and while they have "Fury" and Regen (5+) to counter this, the Brutes are constantly disappointing. With Me and De of 4 I find that they are very subject to the vagaries of the dice and the lower Nerve makes them susceptible to "disappointment.

Rallying helps. In reality if you keep them in the middle of your line they should be 15/18 - but that puts a tactical limitation on their role. Overall they suddenly become support rather than frontline troops and at 185 points that seems expensive.

So what are the alternatives?

Well the first is a Horde of Warriors:
  • Me 5+, De 4+, Move 6", Attacks 25, Nerve 19/21
  • Frontage 200mm
  • Rallying
  • +30 Points
These guys are vanilla flavoured vanilla. You get a block that is De 4 and 200mm wide but is unlikely to damage much. It is an anvil that is difficult to break in a turn but won't do much damage. It does however free up 30 points while still unlocking other units. Generally you can expect to do 8 hits which means that with no modifiers it will be a slog. however they can likely hold a frontline position and seem safer than Brutes on a flank.

The second are the Horde of Spear Warriors:
  • Me 5+, De 4+, Move 6", Attacks 30, Nerve 19/21
  • Frontage 200mm
  • Rallying
  • Phalanx
So for an extra 30 points over Warriors you get 5 extra attacks and Phalanx (removes Thunderous Charge). The points are equivalent to the Brute Horde. Phalanx is nice as it reduces reliance on Difficult Terrain and also neutralises an enemy's Pathfinder ability (the Caterpillar being one of the more common Magic Items used). The question therefore becomes whether 5 extra attacks (probably 2 hits) and Phalanx is worth 30 points. The extra attacks are likely worth one extra wound at best.

With Rallying the Warriors (both options are likely Nerve 21/23) are very respectable defensively and can be screened by Slaves (same height). The difference in frontage - 120mm vs. 200mm - is interesting as there are benefits to both depending on the situation. In the role of a defensive unit the wider frontage can be an asset in occupying space but can disadvantage you in the case of multiple charges. With the Warriors you can spend the 30 points on the Brew of Strength increasing their offensive capacity but I think their Me 5+ makes it a bit inefficient. You can also give them Helm of Confidence (Reroll a Rout) or Chant of Hate (Vicious) but I am unconvinced in terms of utility.

My Thoughts:

Overall I am erring towards the Spear Warriors as a potentially more flexible tactical option. If needed it can be Bane Chanted should the situation present itself. I am going to be trying all three of the options out in coming weeks.

What are other people's thoughts? 


  1. I find that an Ironclad Horde with Phalanx is a pretty good defensive unit. As you say, the 200mm frontage blocks a lot of space, and the Phalanx means that knights really don't like charging it in the front. However, De5+ and Me4+ does make a lot of difference compared to your Warriors.

    It's main weakness is that it is easy to multicharge and not every hammer unit relies on Thunderous Charge. It can also be hard to navigate your own units around such a large footprint.

    I guess this is one of the strengthes of KOW, very few, if any, units are head and shoulders superior to the rest of their army, there are no units that are Skullcannon/Warlocks/Mournfangs good. I suspect your experiments will find that the Warriors/Brutes/Spears conundrum will have no really good resolution.

    Game balance in action :)

  2. If you can find an extra 20 points I would consider a horde of Blight. They have a higher damage output than warriors or spear warriors, about the same as the Brutes but higher nerve, no waver and good defense with ensnare + stealthy.

    1. Pssst.....Buddy can you spare 15 points

    2. One Horde of Blight is hard enough to deal with heh.

      Aren't brutes more of a hammer/support with the CS2 & brutal? While the warriors/spears are cheaper better anvil's the brutes will actually kill things.

    3. Both are just unlocks for the army

  3. You could roll 2 slave regiments into a horde and save 20 points