Saturday, 2 October 2010

A Brief Overview of Shooting in 8th.

Shooting attracted a lot of attention to itself in 8th edition. With the ability to fire in two ranks you can effectively double the number of shots you can produce in fire lanes/areas with limited frontage (and in empire handgunner spam, that can be the whole table). In addition, gunlines no longer have to camp on hills to receive bonuses like this. So gunlines have been cropping up a lot more lately. My own skaven army is shooty. But this article is weighing up the important pros and cons of the shooting phase in 8th edition.

Ok, let's start with the bad. BS reliant shooting. In 8E terrain barely hinders the game anymore, so people are in it quite a lot. In addition, units in the way provide hard cover. Finally, there's a lot more terrain on the board. What does this mean to you guys? Modifiers. Lots of them. Example. Unit in their deployment zone and in a forest. That means that your unit of Dark Elf Crossbowmen, or Empire Handgunners is hitting them on 6s. In their first turn they will move out the forest and hopefully in to/behind a nice terrain feature. In addition, against an army with a lot of BS reliant shots, I tend to put my 3 slave units (so that's 30 models wide) in a nice line in front of my army. Stormvermin are large enough to see over slaves (no, really) which means my whole army tends to get hard cover with no negative impacts other than a slightly hindered movement phase.

What this means is BS reliant shooting tends to need to be brought in absolute bucketfuls to achieve a significant result. Or be poisoned (which makes hitting on 6s a good thing). Or you could be Tomb Kings (whose archers actually gained by comparison this edition). Of course this isn't always the case, but it does mean an entire army of BS related shots isn't so good. Lookin at Woodies, for example. Dark Elves work out fine just cause they have the form of BS related shooting that IS good. Bucketfuls of it and...

Fast moving high BS skirmishers and fast cavalry (but the only good fast cav I can think of are dark riders and pistoliers). These guys are still good. Flamers, Shades, Gutter Runners, that kind of thing. These guys are good because they can march and shoot. This means they can get in to a position easily that doesn't suffer modifiers other than "moved". But by that point you wont be suffering long range, so it doesn't really matter. The ability to march and shoot really helps skirmishers with half decent/good ranged weapons, because now they're really really hard to catch, if they don't want to be caught. But they can still easily remain within short range and pelt your guys to death. You'll find these units tend to hit on 5s most of the time, with a lot of shots. Shades, being the cocky dark elf pricks they are, hit on 4s.
Now, the shooting that really got buffed. We all know what's coming here. Yup, tequila. I mean, templates. This includes cannons, as that line is technically a template. More specifically I mean non ballistic related templates. The ones you just place and they go a random range. For example, short of a misfire, it's very hard to miss a monster/chariot with a cannon. And no amount of modifiers could save it. It could be 66" away in a ruin wearing a cloak made of shadow magnet trinkets and rings of darkness, while also being a single character and a skirmisher. Don't care, you're getting slapped by a cannonball, flying towards you which will wittily say "Buona Giorno" like Bradd Pit in Inglorious Basterds before scalping you and moving on to the poor block of infantry behind it.

Tangents aside, these kind of weapons are really really good in 8th edition. That's why my army has 8 of them. I can't really go in to this, but I can point out something important relating to army balance within your missile troops. As the number of enemy units decreases, the power of these weapons decreases. It's fairly simple, and you could work it out by looking at pictures of how these things fire, but it needs to be said. Moving on, because of that, as I found out, an army that uses templates and blasts to the exclusion of all else doesn't function so well. Because if you have a small cadre of elites left they'll munch your units anyway (4 chaos warriors or something like that). So, what can we do? In this hour of need who do we turn to?

Well, it's the underdog. The downtrodden unsung hero of 8th edition. No, not you Korhil, get back in your cage. BS-reliant shooting. BS reliant shooting doesn't change in effectiveness in relation to the size of the units you're shooting. They can shoot a unit of 50, 20, and 2 guys with the same effectiveness, all along the watchtower. BS-reliant shooting stands up tall, among the horde of template weapons you brought, holds his head high, swings his sling around his head and breaks the faces of that unit of 4 swordmasters you just can't get a good template hit on, before receding back in to the folds of mediocrity, and the bards shall laud that shot that did save your general from certain death for all of history.

Hope you guys enjoyed the article.


  1. Another very informative article.

    I've added you to my Blog List as well.