So, to be honest, I was going to open with a joke referencing the band OutKast but was warned I would be banished on the spot... With that warning in mind I will forgo my original joke idea and just move directly into this week's tactic's article: Hey Ya! Playing With Your New Outcasts.
So by now I'm sure everyone is abuzz over the new releases from GAMA, namely The Core and the slick new models for the Cult of Metamorphosis, but let's not forget the tried and true factions of Samaria! This time we're going to be going over the bulk of the Outcast army, namely the Warlord, Bully, Fixer, and the Brutes. I personally have a love for the ascetic of the faction as, well, the fact I get to play the bad guys from Mad Max makes me smile, as well as the fact that the faction boasts what very well may be my favorite piece of gear in all of Dark Age: the Zip Gun. So, what makes these guys the baddest bunch of Road Warriors this side of Lord Humungus? Let's take a look...
"Keep moving or you'll get the chain again! Faster, faster, faster!!" -Pusher
I chose to start with the Brutes for the simple fact they are my favorite unit in the Outcasts (and just happen to be their heaviest hitter, go figure). While most of the Outcast faction relies on their ramshackle guns and other assorted toys to win the fight the Brutes and Pusher have a very simple motto: Smash 'em! Of course saying this betrays the full tactical value of the unit, and I wouldn't want to make you think they are a simple gang of thugs meant to beeline the enemy!
Looking at their stats we see one of the slowest units in the game, moving a mere six inches a turn- when I speak to people regarding this unit honestly that is the first thing that comes up, and often deters people from buying them. Well here is where the Pusher comes in: Basically for a mere ten points more than the standard Brute one can be upgraded to a Pusher, bringing with him all the abilities associated with such- most importantly the "Push" ability. What this handy little Special Ability does is give the entire unit an additional Action Point, assuming the unit does nothing else but move that turn (this includes not charging!). So in actuality the Brutes have a decent full move of eight, bringing them more in line with standard Dark Age units.
So in just one simple Special Ability we have removed the main drawback of the Brutes. What other drawbacks do they have? Well, they have a high Defense, or so it would seem. Again, here we see a seemingly large drawback canceled out by the inclusion of a Special Ability, in this case "Blok Stopper". "Blok Stopper" says that, regardless of where they are on the battlefield, the Brutes have Partial Cover, namely due to the large Uber Blok they carry around, more so, should they already have Partial Cover, they now gain the benefits of being Completely Obscured, which makes all ranged attacks against them automatically fail. One way of looking at this is that, in the end, the Brutes actually have a standing Defense: 4, while being immune to ranged attacks while in cover.
One little Special Ability, that's all it took to turn an otherwise easily shot at unit into one of the hardest to hit in the entire army (assuming, of course, the opponent plays them correctly!). Now combine all that with the fact they are Tough as Nails and via the Pusher the entire unit is Never Panic (another key benefit passed on by the "Push" Special Ability!). They won't run away, they won't be slowed down; they will keep coming for you like an unstoppable wall of hate. Fear the coming of the Brutes and Pusher!
Ok, so let's switch gears now and look at the offensive capabilities of the Brutes (my favorite capability!): Assault: 6 Power: 6x2 Brutal, Extreme Damage (2)- an attack group usually reserved for the equivalent of army leaders and generals. These guys embody muscle; they will make short work of anything unfortunate enough to get in their path, be it Numbskull, Raze, Saint John, or even the toughest of the tough Saint Johann and Father Mayhem- no other unit in the game wants to be in melee with the Brutes, and it is easy to understand why.
The last thing I will mention is the fact you are getting all these abilities, all this potential for extreme damage for the low, low price of 65 points per model. Compare that to anything else in the game that does that much damage- ok, unfair question, there isn't anything else in the game that can do that much damage! Especially for the point cost! In closing I'll return to an earlier comment: I far too often see people pass up the Brutes due to what, at first glance, seems like a slow and shootable unit that will die long before it reaches the fight, and that needs to change. The Brutes are a decent moving, easily protected melee powerhouse unit, well worth their cost, and in my eyes should be an addition to each and every Outcast army out there.
"The wrench is multi-purpose. Just think of teeth like lil' yella' screws."
In contrast to the Brutes and Pusher we have the Fixer, who acts as standing Weaponsmith and Field Medic to the Outcast, all for about half the cost of both units combined. Here we have support in it's very embodiment, another trait of the Outcast's philosophy of being worth only what you can do. The Fixer may not be the hardiest member of the faction, but he definitely is one of the most valuable.
So what does he bring us? Well for one he has Superior Maintenance, which allows you to ignore those pesky Malfunctions that the Outcast are known for (hey, scavenged guns aren't exactly "reliable"!). Next up he shows off his medic training by having the Just a Flesh Wound Special Ability, meaning that in addition to keeping the weapons of the warband working he does the same to their troops, allowing basically every unit in the army an additional wound.
Now, of course they may not always get to use said wound, but it's going to create a dilemma with the opponent of Should I dedicate more firepower to keep a unit down, ignore them, or am I forced to go after the damn Fixer?? Regardless of what they chose they are now spending additional resources which they could have used elsewhere, had you not brought the Fixer to the fight!
Other than the support role the Fixer does have a rather impressive ranged attack in his Slug Gun. Now, I know looking at it may not seem all that impressive, a common trait in the Outcasts I'm learning, but looking closer we see the Scavenge Special Ability in full use, meaning that towards the end of the game (or beginning if it turns out particularly bloody) his meager Slug Gun can raise to the ranks of a Assault:9 Power: 7 weapon, which is one of the highest available in a ranged weapon! Never let it be said that Macgyver's legacy doesn't live on...
Really I'd love to say more about the Fixer but in the end he's pretty simple: a fantastic deal at 75 points who brings one of the best combinations of Special Abilities to the table. As mentioned before a negative trait to the Outcasts as a whole is the fact their tech doesn't always work right, so having someone in your ranks that can not only fix machines but people is worth whatever price he demands!
"The sad truth lads is that most of my childhood friends are dead, and ya' know why..? Because they were too stupid to listen to what I told 'em!! Now get back in line before I slug yer' eyes out!"
I can respect someone who takes pride in their work, and the Bully is no exception to that. I mean, someone has to keep those Scuts in line, and who better to do it than someone who has been there? Of course, we can't really talk about the Bully without talking about the Scuts themselves. I'm sure I could get into a whole article just over the tactics available to those cheap 20 point units but I'll refrain and just give a basic overview:
When dealing with the Scuts the thing to remember is they have only decent Defense, horrible Armor, low Action Points, low Pysche, and should their weapons kill anything then it's a rare feat. Their primary purpose, however, is an important one and should not be overlooked.
The role of the Scuts in an Outcast list is first to swell your numbers with cheap units, thus allowing scenarios to be obtained easier- for those of you who have not yet moved on to scenarios I implore you to do so as it brings a whole other level of strategy and tactics to game-play. The second use is cheap shield units to draw fire from your more important guys in the form of Target Priority- it is worth noting they have Infiltrate to make this job easier, as well as the aforementioned scenario capturing. Third they are extra bodies to drop Scavenge tokens, meaning when they die the rest of your army, the ones who can actually hurt the enemy, can pick them up and become even more reliable in dealing damage.
Lastly, they have Whiplash, meaning a unit of Scuts can effectively lock-down an enemy unit should they prove easy enough to hit- I'm looking at you, Numbskull. What this means is that, despite being a cheap twenty-point throwaway unit they will still prove to be a major annoyance to the enemy, one they will have to deal with or suffer the continual lose of Action Points turn after turn after turn. Think of them as flies- really they aren't a danger being around you, but if they keep pestering you are going to start swatting at them, finding a rolled up newspaper, and generally devoting a disproportionate amount of energy and time to killing something which, in the end, was just a mild nuisance at best.
Now let's get back to the Bully...
Understanding the role of the Scuts we see the one major flaw they have is that while you want them to stick around and be a nuisance they will often run away without much provocation, also the unit itself lacks any real ranged hitting power and, should the enemy engage them in melee, they have no chance at surviving. How do we mitigate all these issues? We stick a Bully with them! Sure, it may not be the most reliable way of managing them, as he only has a Pysche:12, but what he lacks in Pysche support he makes up for in melee capability.
Looking at the Attack Groups of the Bully we see for our sixty-point investment we're getting a Range 12 Power 4 Slug Gun that can infiltrate. Yeah, it's not the strongest hitting weapon, but against moderate armor you're still forcing a save with a 50% chance of wounding. You're also getting two Poisoned Shiv attacks in his first Attack Group, which, while again being a meager 2x2 hit, are going to be affecting the target unit with Paralyzing Poison for each successful hit. Now seeing that he has four Action Points and two attacks per Action Points spent we have a unit with decent Assault delivering a staggering eight worth of poison, enough to reduce any unit down to skipping it's next turn!
All in all, combined with the Scuts, the Bully works as part of an often underrated harassment unit that is more than capable of literally locking down a unit until the opponent decides to dedicate resources towards removing them, and once they have done that what do they have to show for it? The removal of maybe 150 points worth of models and probably more than a few turns of trying to do so. Is that really a winning scenario for your opponent? Absolutely not! Meanwhile you sit comfortably with the knowledge that your squad did exactly what it was intending to do, hopefully allowing the bulk of your force to get into a tactically sound position and win the game.
"I'm no Saint, never once said I was. I take what I need from whomever I can take it from. I protect and shelter those that follow me and make their lives better. A Saint? No, I'm above that." -Kjell the Unvanquished, Warchief of the Northern Wastes
Every group needs a leader, and for the Outcasts that role is served by the tribe's Warchief. While the Fathers of the Skarrd hold sway via psychic dominance, the Saints through faith, and the Arbiters through sheer might the Warchief must possess strength, cunning, tactical genius and enough charisma to rally his warband- not an easy task when it is composed of raiders, bandits, and anyone else caste off from "normal" society. Given all that, the Warchief is one of the most versatile units available to the Outcasts, combining a strong melee presence with ranged skills and a horde of useful Special Abilities to top it all off with.
Going from the top we see the usual "leader" loadout: Never Fear, Never Panic, and Command (2), all of which being useful abilities which need no explaining. Next we have Survivalist, which grants him superior skills at running away (or tactical withdraw, if you prefer that!), and the ability to Take Charge of Wasteland Warriors, should you wish him to have his own retinue/meatshields.
Looking at his Attack Groups we see a decent Assault with his Slug Gun, giving him a bit of a ranged bite, albeit nothing to write home about. This weapon will more so be used to soften up target while you are advancing up the field, and of course a twelve inch range is nothing to sneeze at- noting that the Warchief has a Move of only two you can understand why a long-ranged option would be needed. Don't ignore it, and don't think it's not a threat. Remember: Everything Dies.
Continuing our look at his Attack Groups we come across the first of his two melee options, the Halberd. A respectable Assault 7 combined with a Power 5x2, Reach(2) make it a decent option, but really it's the combination of Parry and Brutal which makes the weapon shine. Sure, he doesn't have the highest Parry rating, but ignoring 1/3 of all incoming melee attacks is still something I'd rather have than not, and I think you'd be hard pressed to disagree! Lastly the Warchief can also use his Halberd as a 360 Knock Prone(10) attack, handy for the times when he gets swarmed by Puds, Spearslaves, or just needs to bring some nasty combatant to the ground.
Does it seem like I breezed over those Attack Groups? Well, it feels like that to me, but there was good reason in it. See, the Warchief does something that not many units in Dark Age do, expectantly "leader" units: he follows the Jack of all trades master of none style. The thing is, usually when you see a leader model they are dedicated to melee or range and often subpar in the other. In the Warchief we have a unit that dabbles in all-of-the-above, though not excelling in any particular field. Of course this captures the essence of what a Warchief is, and should not be viewed as a negative! No, instead you should view the Warchief as a unit capable of handling any threats around the battlefield- being able to support the Brutes as they advance, being able to rush into melee to keep the Scuts alive, and so forth.
Basically, what I'm saying is don't make the mistake of shoehorning him into a specific role. You have at your disposal one of the most versatile units in the game, second only to maybe the Forsaken Warwind. Treat him as universal backup for all your dedicated melee/ranged forces and he will pull you through more often than not!
~And there is this week's article, dear readers! What will we discuss next time? Maybe another look at the Skarrd forces? Perhaps we'll delve into the Bounty Hunters? Who knows, we may even take a sneak peek into the mysteries surrounding the newly unveiled Core. Tune in next time!- Mr. Black