1. #1
    McNs's Avatar
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    New Forsaken: Melee unit analysis

    The new Forsaken book has been out for about three months. I've been surprised that there's been little analysis of the book here. I've been playing Forsaken almost exclusively since the book dropped, so I thought I'd post my two cents about the faction as a whole and my thoughts on the melee units available to Forsaken (as, IMHO, there's pretty clearly a "best" ranged unit).

    So Forsaken faction strengths:

    Flexibility: Compared to many factions, the Forsaken are spoiled for choice. Good, specialized "Unaligned" models, access to some awesome Bounty Hunters, and eight subfactions. There's not a playstyle that's not represented for the Forsaken.

    Big models that can Squadlink: Having 200 point models that hit like trucks and can Squadlink with friends is fairly new to the game. Granted, Command used to allow something similar (Commanding a models sans a squadlink keyword), but that's going away in the books. Outside of Johann, Prevailers, and Joan, Forsaken have access to some nasty heavy hitters that can either wombo-combo with friends or make one very large push as a group.

    Cheap on-hit effects: Forsaken lost a lot of cheap, 4 AP models but gained a lot of nasty on-hit effects (e.g., - Fire, Victimize, Bleed) in the book. Given how potent Regeneration is looking with the removal of Cauterize as an ability, having access to Bleed on common models (Strikes) is quite helpful.

    Multiple sources of healing: Forsaken can keep their troops in the fight with healing, which helps deliver melee troops in spite of ranged harassment and can help deny giving early, incidental VPs to secondary objectives. Both Unaligned Medic options are great, with a *FANTASTIC* option available to Prevailer players.

    And, IMO, Forsaken faction weaknesses:

    Low model count armies: Forsaken don't, IMO, have the best 25 point models. Most of the models that you really want to take cost 50-75 points. You also commonly want to a 150+ "Leader" model in the form of a Saint. As a result, particularly at 500 points, Forsaken armies don't have very many boots on the ground. This can lead to opponents bleeding activations out of players, which can be costly for some scenarios. On the plus side, the many Unaligned troops have a Leader variant, which is considered a distinct model name for deployment, so at least you don't get punished as hard there for taking multiples of the same type of model.

    Few Force Multipliers: This is probably more of a trend for the new edition books, but Forsaken don't have any big "buffs" outside of Inspiring, Stim Injection, Order, and Johann/Prevailer Volatile Enhancements. Compared to other factions with psychogenics that grant areas of regeneration, vegeance tokens for Salt Nomads, Fortitude granting rituals for K3... Forsaken can feel like they lack "tricks". On that note...

    Predictable: Forsaken are generally easy to pick-up-and-play, but as a result, they (generally) have more straight-forward abilities that lack the flexibility of other factions' models.

    Susceptible to Panic: Again, this seems to be a trend in the new books, but Forsaken lack large numbers of troops with Never Panic. That's probably good for the health of the game, but its something to be aware of.

    So, all that being said, I thought I'd do a summary/review of the melee troops (so models with an availability >1 at 500-750 points) available to Forsaken. I'll eventually get to all troop types, but thought I'd start here as this category has a lot of diversity, lends itself to talking about faction characters/individuals next, and I generally tend towards melee over range in my armies so, I have some more thoughts here. That being said:

    25 Point Options:

    Flock: Have a respectable AR for a 25 point model in the new system, but otherwise are unremarkable. Final Strike lends itself to using these guys as fire-and-forget melee missiles, but you're probably taking these guys to increase the number of activations in your army. I've tried them with a Shepard and while Furious Charge is nice, I still think I prefer other melee options. Still, for 25 points, you get a decent DF/AR profile that can grab objectives. Can be cute with Volatile Enhancement from Lilith, Dexus, or Johann, I'll grant that. Oh, and Esh can squadlink with them and give them Incite. I don't love that combination, but they can effectively bully models and take objectives (though they die fairly easily).

    Repentent: They have a melee attack, but you're probably taking these for their Psychogenic ability. Even so, I feel like that ability is limited to armies that really, really, really want to spread Panic. Not my favorite choice, but their AP denial and; if you guess your enemies secondary objectives right, VP denial, makes them interesting.

    Buzzblades: Probably my favorite 25 point option (for those that aren't familiar, Dominique "unlocks" these as an option when she's taken in a Followers of the Heretic list). In conjunction with Dominique, these guys are able to hit almost anything and hit fairly hard if that model can suffer Panic. If nothing else, Buzzblades are functionally DF 4 AR 14 in melee (against non-Never Panic opponents), which is a defensive stat line closer to what you'd normally pay 50 pts for. Good unit, good objective grabbers, and great base to Volatile Enhance as needed.

    Harpies: Not exactly 25 points, but close enough. If you have the points for Harboya in a Heretic list, take a few of these gals too. Harboya lost her old, crazy buffs, but she still can make for a mean Squadlink with a few Harpies. A model that almost always gets its points back, bar really crazy scatter roles.
    Last edited by McNs; 12-15-2015 at 04:20 AM.

  2. #2
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    50 Point Options:

    Banes: The gold standard for 50 point melee models (and 50 pt models in general). High AR, 2 dice melee attack with an average Knockdown value (10), and a respectable AS and PW. Their ability to get Guard from a Bane Leader can make sniping your shooting pieces/Leaders all but impossible, particularly when taken with a Medic. Decent line troops, bodyguards, and objective grabbers; you'd have a hard time not getting your points back from Banes.

    Flenses:Whoa boy did these guys get changed in the new edition (though they used to be pretty over-the-top good in the hands of a good player). This is a unit that I feel like is the definition of "hard to master", but has the potential to be terrifying if used correctly. They have a near average DF/AR (3/12), a one-die melee AG with the same AS/PW as a Bane. So, why take these over a Bane? Reaction Strike, Horrible Death, and Retaliation make these models fantastic "bully" models against Skirmishers. If you combo these models with AR debuffs (Sunder Armor) or AS debuffs (Blind), they can be really annoying. If you can "jam" with them, then go into Berserk, Flenses are terrifying. That said, that combination is very, very hard to pull-off. Fun unit, but you need to build a list around them to really "work".

    Stingers: Another interesting unit. Stingers have a solid DF/AR (4/16), the ability to Pop-Smoke in combination with Enviro Filters, and a one-die melee attack with same AS/PW as a Bane, but with either Reach and Finishing Blow or ARC and Knockdown(12). Additionally, they have Vault for terrain mitigation and helping them hit harder. A solid, defensive unit that can hit really hard (and still be safe) if played smart. These combo amazingly well with Marionette in their sub-faction, who gives them Stim Injection, helping extend their threat range and/or helping them get an extra attack or two on models. Its really easy to rush these guys outside the "smoke brick" that Luke lists tend to build, but if you play these guys cautiously, I've found they're probably the best "bang for buck" 50 pts melee model. Add in a great Squadlink keyword (Luke, shared by Arsenals) and these guys make a fantastic "trick" unit in a faction without a lot of flexibility/tricks.

    War Knight: A good, defensive unit, that's very similar to a Bane. Relative to a Bane, you lose a die on your AS 6 PW 4 AG, a Knockdown value, and access to Guard, but gain Shield Formation (situational access to +2 AR), RE range, and a second AG with a lower PW but Knockdown(10) and Stun. You're generally going to play these in conjunction with a War Knight Bondsman (a ranged unit) and a War Knight captain, where the War Knights act as chaff/AP denial pieces and the Captain casts his Psychogenic and kills knocked down targets. Outside of this list, you're probably off with Banes, though these guys are by no-means terrible.
    Last edited by McNs; 12-15-2015 at 04:23 AM. Reason: Spelling/grammar

  3. #3
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    75 point options:

    Note that, in all cases, 75 point models have 2 HP. This makes taking a healer more attractive for these guys (as they're a larger investment and less likely to die to incidental shooting). Rather than repeating that for each entry, I thought I'd just state that here.

    Strikes: The definition of "glass cannon", these are troops that, if delivered, can tear through an enemy line. Granted, they've lost a bit of their delivery mechanism/threat from the last edition's rules (they used to have 4 AP and elusive), but I feel like what they've gained more than makes up for it. For starters, these models have a high AS AG with 2 dice that causes Bleed, which is a fantastic on-hit effect against enemies with multiple wounds and Regeneration. In addition to that, Strikes have Combat Reflexes (no charge/gang-up bonuses and stand-up for no AP), Hit and Run (if they kill a model during their activation, they can immediately make a move which can result in a charge), and Retaliation (if missed with an attack, the strike can make one attack [not 1 AG; note the difference in language] in return). Given a Strike's low DF, these can be a brutal unit for non-melee specialists to deal with.

    In addition to the above, the Strikes also have a second, one-die AG with a high AS ( 8 ), high PW (6), and Finishing Blow. This gives Strikes a flexibility to take out both high-AR multiwound targets and large swarms of low AR, single wound models. So, what do Strikes have to worry about? Well, they only have AR 12, so high AS template weapons that either SP/ST directly at Strikes or BL weapons that deviate onto Strikes can cause them fits. Additionally, if an enemy can put a Panic token on a Strike, it makes it just easy enough for most things to hit (and lowers to the odds of Retaliation connecting). That said, if you can avoid those as well as sending a squad of Strikes into an AS 10 melee monster, they'll do quite well.

    In terms of what makes Strikes even better, the Strike leader offers Survivalist, which is fantastic for avoiding shenanigans on turn 1. Strikes notably start with MV 4, so both Dexus and Marionette become attractive for Stim Injection, which ups their threat to 15" and their "Hit and Run" move to 5". Dexus and Lilith also offer a really nasty Volatile Enhancement, which ups the odds of a Strike wounding on a charge (clutch for Strikes) at the cost of a wound at the end of the activation. St. Johann can give them +1 AP (at the cost of a wound), which is really, really nice. In generally, I find these guys best in a Heretic or Luke list (as Smoke makes getting Retaliation off even easier), but they're the gold standard I compare to all other 75 point melee models.

    Ravages: Definitely a "combination-ranged-and-melee" unit, but they do melee fairly well, so I've included them here. These are Banes that, for an extra 25 points, gain 1 HP, +2 PS, +1 AS with their maces, and a ranged 8 BL(2) attack with either Stun or Knockdown(10)/PW 6. The leader gives Furious Charge rather than Guard (as on Banes). I loved these guys on paper, but my play experience hasn't really wowed me. These are good, generalist troops that if you can pair them against enemy models that they're good at killing (low AR swarms, slow, high AR models that struggle with high AR), they do fine. But, compared to more specialized melee troops, I've found their threat range to be lacking and their positioning to be difficult to get perfect. Not a bad unit, but not an amazing melee unit.

    Junkers: Bar-none my favorite 75 point melee specialist. Average DF/AR, 2 wounds with Tough as Nails, MV 4, and an AS 8, PW 8 RE attack with Brutal, Extreme Damage, and Knockdown(12). Oh, and they have Berserk, because why not? These guys have one job: kill enemy multiwound models. They do that very, very, very well. These are one of the few units that kept flat-out Extreme Damage and Brutal. Given the amount of infantry thresh in Forskaen (e.g., Firestorms) and the prevalence of high-point value, 6 HP models (e.g., Father Johann, Mongo) in the competitive circuit, my monies on seeing a lot of these models in 2016. Here's hoping they get a resculpt soon!

    Clergy Ann: Another hybrid ranged-melee unit, though I prefer the melee output of these guys over Ravages. They have average DF/AR (4/14), a two-dice AG with two awesome on-hit effects and low PW, and a great gun with a fantastic on-hit effect (Fire). They come packing Furious Charge to help connect on the charge, Final Strike (which is awesome on a high-PS unit with a gun), and Rage, which keeps their damage output high. Combo these with Joan (in Mary's army, not St. Joan) to help ensure their attacks connect and I've found them to an efficient, reliable, generalist unit.

    Paladins: Where Strikes are all offense all the time, Paladins are almost entirely a defensive piece. They have extremely high AR (20), 2 HP, Guard, and Shockwave. I'll confess to not having a ton of experience with John, but my experience with these guys is that they make excellent bodyguards to a gun-line (due to Shockwave for AP denial/KD and Guard). Their attacks are actually handy due to Bleed and Brutal, though they suffer from having one dice, moderate AS, and middling PW (for a 75 pt piece). While Sir James makes them hit more reliably, I don't feel he bumps them up enough to make them reliable strikers.

    Faithful: These guys are interesting. Relative to a Ravage, they lose two AR and Knockdown(10), but gain +1 AS, +2 PW, Stun, and get Unstoppable. With PS 14, Unstoppable will probably proc 1-2 times, which makes these guys functionally 3-4 HP (before factoring in healing).

    I have a hard time figuring out what to do with these guys. On the one hand, they have the capacity to be solid strikers. On the other, they don't have the speed to get the jump on other melee specialists. They're vulnerable to direct shooting at AR 16. As a result, I'm always tempted to have these guys be objective grabbers. At the same time, John and Paladins are probably better suited for that role... so...? I've found these guys do get a lot from Sir James (removal of Panic/stopping enemy effects that drop their PS, re-roll once per attack). Not a bad option; IMO, there's better options for offensive hitters for John, though your mileage may vary.

    Drillheads: Close enough to being 75 pts that I'm listing them here. These can be taken via taking a Worm Shepard in a Followers of the Heretic list. These things are very, very points efficient (3 HP for 85 points), to the point that I feel bad comparing them to other 75 point options. I'll say take them while you can get them; they'll probably either go to 100-125 pts when the new Skarrd book drops (or drop to 2 HP and 75 pts).

    Red Sisters: Interesting option. Average DF/AR (4/14), high AS on a Reach/ARC weapon with Decapitate. MV 3 is less than ideal, but Rage, Retaliation, and Furious Charge help keep these girls hitting hard in the middle of a fight. When backed up by a Crimson Mother (who help give them Critical Strike(3)) they have the capacity to take down a variety of foes.

    However, when supported by a Voice of the Prevailers, these girls really come into their own. Voice operates as a Medic (when she takes Light of the Lord), can help them hit even harder against single, non-Character targets (+2 AS/+2 PW via Wrath of God), and can bring one of them back for a turn right in the middle of a fight (Holy Revival). I think the worst thing I can say about these models is that they have no synergy with Marius, who is otherwise a very attractive piece. There's definitely a solid 750 pt list to be made around Red Sisters, Skylancers, an Arcangel, and a Voice of the Prevailers.

    Deathknight: Bane stats with 2 HP, a one-die AS 6 PW 6 RE attack with Brutal and Victimize. These guys natively have Never Panic, which is quite rare in new Forsaken (and appreciated at PS 12). Sadistic, which ups their striking power, and Unstoppable round these guys out to be a good, bruiser of a model melee specialist. They have good interactions with the myriad of ways in which Joan's specialists can spread Panic (and spread some Panic themselves via Victimize).

    They do have Masochist (Empower), but I've found its rare I'm in a position to use this ability. Much like Berserk, its probably a niche ability, but nice to have when you need it. Solid melee specialists with good interactions with Joan's other specialists.

    Sin Eater: Where Deathknights can take a few punches and give back as good as they get, Sin Eaters trade some durability for hitting power. They're harder to hit/easier to wound than Deathknights (DF 4 AR 16), but trade Unstoppable for Fueled by Combat (with PS 16). Much like Deathknights, they're Sadistic (so Deathknights combo well with Sin Eaters/Inquisitors/Joan).

    When Sin Eaters significantly differ from DeathKnights are their attacks. They have a two dice, AS 8 PW 4 with Bleed (!!!) and can trigger Masochist for Rend and Horrible death. If they can Panic their target, they're swinging at functional AS 10, PW 6x2 (assuming Rend), which is enough to worry even the toughest models. Much like Deathknights, they're not the fastest melee specialist (MV 3), but they're good mid-line scrummers. In tandem with Forsakens' solid ranged support line-up (Firestorms) and Deathknights, Joan can put out a melee threat that makes melee specialists like Skarrd or Brood blanch.
    Last edited by McNs; 12-15-2015 at 04:32 AM.

  4. #4
    Never Knows Best's Avatar
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    Very interesting, especially from the standpoint that the Forsaken used to be defined a little bit more by their range models than melee. Now they not only have a ton of melee options but also a lot of variety - even to the point where, as you mention, at the 25 and 50 point range, you get some overlap of "why take X when you can take Y?" This is perhaps also a result of standardizing point values but I think it will make for some interesting choices of preference and I almost wonder if min-maxing a particular unit might go away a little bit in favor of this new variety.

    For me, Forsaken used to have a very vanilla feel to them. They were the faction that had the fewest special and weapon abilities per troop, they had the highest average armor and access to more healing than any other faction outside of Brood. Now, while I don't think they lost any of their identity as the hang-back-then-strike force, they definitely gained enough in the weapon and special ability side to make them more interesting to play.

  5. #5
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    Re: "why take X when you can take Y?" - I don't think there's a melee unit in Forsaken that I can't see putting in a list for a given role. I think Mr. Black did an excellent job at providing interesting tools across the faction. Moreover, once you commit to a subfaction, then cross-subfaction comparisons become moot. As a result, I think a creative list builder can do some neat things (e.g., take Junkers sans Mark in a St Mark subfaction list). I do think lists will become less spammy, though Squadlinking is getting more powerful with Command going away, so... who knows?

    For ranged units, well, I think Firestorms are top-of-the-crop for out-and-out "killin' stuff", particularly relative to Coils. Coils become scarier if ranged penalties go away, but at the moment I have a hard time finding a list that Coils excel in where Firestorms don't. Likewise, for specialists, there's a few direction comparisons to be made (Deacon vs. Lucky) where, IMO, one unit flat-out wins versus the other for their commonly used role.

    I feel like Forsaken still are the beginner-accessible faction that usually wants to play reactively. As a more aggressive player, I like some of the options Forsaken have been given though.

  6. #6
    Thank you so much for this McNs. I have just joined the world of DA (literally one proxied game under my belt, toys coming for birthday) and there are only a few of these kind of very helpful articles about. Just the other day I was lamenting Monthly Model reviews coming to an end. Keep up the good work sir.

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