Monday, November 17, 2014

Post 100 - Acknowledging our "special" cousins

Yay.

To celebrate this monumentous occassion, I thought I should do an utterly biased/brutally honest review of our sister sub-faction, the Thornfall, in the style of this grading article. Please don't expect anything of serious value :)

Overview

Pigs have been pretty terrible thus far. I would argue they are the worst "faction" in Warmahordes. This is mostly because Pigs (like Gators) are super restricted, but unlike Gators don't have access to Posse. You can take Rhulic/Pirates casters and jacks in Highborn/4-Star with good troops/solos.
Pigs beasts are really bad for their cost, their infantry options are limited and in no way compare to Gatorman Posse as a faction backbone, they lack a strong sense of in-game faction identity and they are pretty much worse or equal to Gators in 95% of matchups.

Recently however, they got a few good releases that could improve to their viability as a faction: the Arkadius theme, Maximus, the Efaarit and the Meat Thresher. If things keep going like this, they might catch up to Gators within 2 releases cycles (circa 2017!)

Pigs' greatest strength at the moment is that nobody expects them. And Carver's massive balls.


Casters


Lord Carver - 9
Potentially one of the best warlocks in the game. Incredible spell list, very solid feat (damage boost + infantry shred in one package?), very survivable and good personal damage output.  He brings much destruction - one could argue the most destruction, in very large quantities. His biggest weakness, is of course being in Pigs, which keeps him chained down at a solid 9.
He is one of the best Who's the Boss casters out there, where he gets bumped up to a hard, highly overpowered 10 with almost any balanced Hordes list. At my last Who's the Boss tournament, I managed to get a free pick and chose Karchev because everyone always thinks Unearthly Rage with beasts is totally insane. It is indeed nuts, however the downside is you have Karchev as your caster (who sucks more than ever in a meta where lists have to deal with Colossals). Next time, I will not hesitate to take Carver, a man's pigman.
He even has his own tax, applied to Pig heavies and lights - the Carver tax. Ruthless imperialism has its downsides.

Arkadius - 8
A really good beast spamming warlock who finally got his time in the sun with a tier list that makes up for his garbage warbeasts by reducing their PC by 2 across the board AND giving him access to an even better version of one of the game's best light warbeasts.

PP: Pls buy plastic War Hogs, we will be nice from now on :(

Arkadius makes warbeasts grind hard and often. He also happens to have one of the most overpowered spells in the game (Crippling Grasp), which has made people believe he sucks because he doesn't have an arc node, rather than because his beasts are garbage.
Solution? The Ark's Ark, the best thing Pigs have received since Carver. The good thing about the list is that it specifically names out the 3 current Pig beasts for the discount (allowing for new, less garbage pig beasts in the future) and still takes a lot of practice to use effectively due to his very chaotic, frenzy-heavy playstyle.

Midas - 6
Midas does some cool stuff and has very solid spells. His tier is also sweet in that it gives you good Boneswarms and most of a heavy warbeast for basically nothing (at least pre-Efaarit and Meat Thresher).
His downfall (other than being in Pigs) is that he is skewed towards Hordes matchups due to his anti-beast abilities, and has no defensive tech to speak of yet needs to get up in the fray to have an impact (ie. mostly casting Calamity, Curse and using his feat). Not to mention that he wants to spend a lot of fury to cast his sweet spells in order to carry his army.
If the Bone Tokens gave him some defensive tech (ie. Ancient Shroud effect per Bone Token), he might be Carver-levels of legit since his spell list really is that good and he can grind pretty effectively (mass RFP not withstanding).

Sturm & Drang - 3
I love the design on this guy. He looks so fun. But.... he  actually kinda sucks to play and feels incredibly limped dick - again mostly because of his crappy beasts.
Sturm can do cool stuff with TK (one of the best spells in the game), his neat spray and his defensive spells. Drang brings really good bonuses to melee warbeasts.
But they are both polishing turds - badly. Sturm has lots of defensive tech, but none of it really stands out as serious playmakers with his current model pool. Drang only has access to craptacular heavies that are not even a quarter as good as Mulg. Not to mention they are on a medium base in a primarily small-based faction with no worthwhile anti-shooting tech and are SPD 5. WHY SPD 5? If they had SPD 7 with Ride-By, they could do a lot more stuff and not need to worry about constant death.


Helga - 7?
I haven't seen Helga played much yet. I think she seems at least as good as Midas and her feat can be really devastating, especially against medium-base spam like Gators. Like most Pig casters, her spell list is incredibly solid. Dash, Defender's Ward, Distraction are easily top tier spells, and Cyclone + Muzzle are pretty close too. Her passive beast bonus is also really legit (especially since she also benefits).
The main issue I see is not being able to speed up beasts, or buff the damage of her troops. Again, another story of a good caster with a good feat and excellent spells, but is probably carrying too much.

Beasts


War Hog - 3
The War Hog is across the board a crappy heavy. Its one redeeming feature is being able to hit somewhat hard, and a crit KD initial attack. Apart from that it is slow, costly, not that survivable, has a bad animus and is not generally fury efficient. Pigs make do with what they have, and this subpar beast is it. You take it because you have to.
Bebop also does not understand why War Hogs are so bad.
Road Hog - 5
The Road Hog is also pretty lame. It is expensive, has bad base stats, and hits like a wet noodle. However it does have a somewhat useful animus, a speed buff, a pretty decent ranged weapon with auto-fire, and can offer an element of surprise - none of which the War Hog has. I think at a point less, it would be solid, but 9pts for a heavy with no real damage output is hard to stomach.

Gun Boar - 5
Useless animus, bad stats... the pig story. However it gets at least mediocre because it can two-handed throw and it has quite good defensive stats for a light. Also, has a gun.

Razor Boar -7
Pigs' best beast IMO. The animus costing 2 makes it basically blank which frustrates some people, but if you think of it as a really tanky 2pt solo that benefits from battlegroup buffs and doesn't really care about frenzying, then it's pretty legit.

Midas Boneswarms - 7
Boneswarms how they should be - starting with 3 tokens! Makes it a very tanky light, well worth the cost. The animus is also somewhat useful to Midas in cornercase situations since he doesn't have unrestricted access to Spiny Growth like the Gator Master Race.

Arkadius' Goraxes - 10
Holy shit, these are totally insane. Goraxes by themselves are probably 8s, and these have Shield Guard as well (big deal for Arkadius), and the animus does HUGE amounts of work since the downside (auto frenzy) is really an upside in Pigs. Also you can autoplink them in the ass with Arkadius for a free charge before buffing them up to the gills and sending them to one-round a heavy twice their cost.
And the best part is these Goraxes alone were not considered enough to make up for the pig heavies and light, you also have to include them in a tier with -2PC on your other warbeasts and some aggro deployment bonuses.

Troops

Brigands - 4
Mediocre in a nutshell. Have a lot of potential and Hog Wild is a pretty good rule, but bad base stats, pretty high cost, and no really defined role in Farrow (are they tarpits? counter-chargers? how do they trade?, etc) makes them not so great. They are quite a bit better with Carver due to CRA increasing their flexibility a lot.

Slaughterhousers - 6
I quite like these. Bring anti-tough/RFP and a good counter charging toolset. However they don't have access to a great tarpit in Pigs, so don't get to shine as much as they would behind a row of Gators in Skorne.... other most other factions for that matter.

Bone Grinders -7
Sweet unit. Very cheap way to get an accurate magical missile, save animi after beasts die (would be excellent in Gators), boost caster spell range - solid, no real downside other than horrible stats, but for that cost, who cares. They make Calaban less terrible too :)

Razorback Crew - 5
Phew, I almost forgot about these. I graded them very average because it kinda depends on the terrain and the rest of your list. It is a RNG 14, POW 15 AoE3 gun which more than likely gets to AD due to the Thornfall Pact. That's not too terrible for 3pts if you get to make at least 2 shots with it, which you are likely to do if terrain is in your favour. If you don't, then it's not really worth it. Still one of the better artillery models when it gets to AD. Without AD, forget about it.

Solos


Gudrun - 5
This guy would be really sweet if he had Perfect Balance or some other ability that lets him stand up for free so he could deliver himself effectively after getting shot or whatever. I am guessing he will also be pretty legit with Helga + Defender's Ward as a Turn 1/2 tarpit. Aside from that, I have never seen him really pull his weight despite his pretty solid base stats - when he dies, he just gets killed again.

Maximus - 7
I like this guy a lot, and it mostly revolves around him being like Gudrun, but better, for a point less. Basically just the unmounted version of Fenris, but trading a little bit of damage output for survivability and Pathfinder charge (excellent way to protect himself on the advance). Great raw combat solo.

Efaarit - 8
I am really tempted to give these a 9 because they are so good - basically a free, accurate, no consequence ARM piercing every turn on a really fast pathfinder solo. However, I will stick with an 8 because Pigs don't really have much good ranged support to really push them over the top.

Saxon - 8
Saxon would be worth his 2pts without the ability to give something pathfinder. Great stats, good survivability, and some good combat potential. But on top of that, he can also douche warbeasts and give pathfinder to your Slaughterhousers (one of their biggest drawbacks as counter chargers). I am probably slightly biased about how sweet he is, because he is the manliest man on Immoren. Also, his book art makes him look a lot like our favourite Slovenian Press Ganger :)


Alten - 6
It's hard to say really bad things about a RAT 8 RNG 14 hand cannon shot with AD, Camouflage and Swift Hunter. And he gets some free damage against beasts on top of it. Basically a better Widowmaker Marksman (the archetypal mediocre ranged 2pt solo in my book), minus the Stealth.

Pendrake - 5
Ha, I didn't even grade this guy in Gators (would be a 6). Usually Pigs will want Saxon over this guy (as they are mutually exclusive), but Beast Lore can do some cool stuff for your Slaughterhousers, which means they can shred high DEF warbeasts. Aside from that, meh. In Gators he is a bit more valuable because guns are so rare, which isn't really a Pig problem.

Targ - 4
 The only Farrow solo, and he wears their trademark crappiness with pride. He can heal, he can Anxilliary Attack. Wow. Again, polishing turds. Herding does help with control area, but that isn't a problem I've seen Pigs have. Since his special abilities only work on Pig beasts, I assume he was supposed to be a tag-along for Brine in other factions, while also giving those other factions Herding?

Rorsh & Brine-5?
You only hear about them in super janky theorymachine because they are hypothetically able to go super fast. Can do cool stuff but I literally cannot remember a time I have seen them played in Mk2 :(

Raluk Moorclaw also goes here, but I will continue to pretend he doesn't exist. Hypothetically best in a Sturm&Drang list with a marshalled Vanguard so he can repair your BE and Shield Guard for your caster.

Battle Engine


Meat Thresher - 7
I like it. It's not the Gator BE but it's still one of the better battle engines in the game. Again, a good counter charging model in Pigs with no good tar pit in front of it. It is DEADLY in melee with Trash and auto-KD - it basically one-shots Gatormans reliably, which is scary. Not to mention boosted hit rolls against small bases. Bulldoze is also one of the best abilities in the game, and having it on a huge base is really good. It doesn't quite make up for the lack of reach, but it comes close in a lot of situations. The gun is also pretty decent, despite the targeting restrictions and low RAT.


Conclusion & Discussion:

Can you win games with Pigs? Absolutely. I'd go so far as to say that if you are a player with sound fundamentals, you can even win the majority of your games with Pigs in a casual setting. However, if you were put in a situation where there was big money on the outcome of a game (ie. a serious competitive situation), Pigs are very likely the very last lists you would reach for, regardless of familiarity.

As you can see, Pigs do have access to some good models, especially in the warcaster and solo department. Where they fall down is crappy warbeasts, lack of consistent engagers and lack of an effective tarpit. The best tarpit they have at present is a swarm of Razor Boars, which is just a tad expensive, and small bases without reach don't take up enough of the board to really jam up. It seems to me that if the beasts were cheaper on the whole, they could be used as good frontline models..... and lo and behold, the Ark tier (one of the two good Pig lists). I guess this is also part of what makes Carver so good (the other good Pig list) - making heavies fast and high ARM allows them to take the initial hit and/or engage.

There are many perspectives on what Pigs as a "faction" are supposed to be, since PP has certainly not made it obvious over the years. Many believe they are a combined arms factions - if that is the case, they are a really bad one as Cygnar and Khador both do that significantly more effectively even at only their Prime release level. By this reasoning, Pigs are then purely aesthetics.

Others, like myself, believe the primary design of Pigs is supposed to be chaos, frenzy and gambling: their warlocks are built heavily around improving warbeasts (two of which have random, self-damaging mechanics); they have no fury management to speak of (one warlock actively encourages frenzy); and their beasts are mostly crap and work best when thrown away to frenzy and hope to get lucky.
The latest wave of releases confirms this approach between:

  • Maximus (literally: a Pig Doom Reaver, just because) 
  • Meat Thresher (a crazy Mad Max contraption) 
  • Helga (slams everywhere, fat Valkyrian lady singing)
  • Arkadius tier 
Let's see if the design keeps going this way. If Pigs get a few more releases in this style, they will develop enough of an identity and tactical niche to make them a viable competitive choice over Gators in the realm of Miniondom. Right now, they still suck and are mostly just things for Carver to carry on his manly back and look neat. Sorry, Bacon lovers :)

Also, gator meat tastes better than pig meat. Sjakk matt, griser.


Extending an olive branch

In the meantime, if anyone wishes to contribute Minion-themed quality guest articles, please get in touch. I'd be happy to discuss it! I made this blog primarily as an easily accessible, semi-permanent (1) depository of Gator information for players interested in playing the faction, and I have more or less kept it up to date these past years despite lulls of interest and long periods of no gaming activity. Especially with my tournament attendance about to take a massive nose dive for the next year, and only getting one release in the next ~18 months, there won't be too much to write about.

However it'd be really nice to have a foreign and/or Farrow element to the website: either stand-alone tactics articles, fluff articles, hobby articles, you name it. So if you know your stuff and can write nicely, leave a comment or send me a PM on the PP boards (Yertle4 - the guy who only posts in sarcasm).

Article on the Sacral Vault will be posted when the model comes out (late 2015 is likely!).

Also thanks to anyone who takes the time to comment or let me know they value this site, your comments and opinions are appreciated.

(1) Unlike the PP forums, I have control of what gets posted here and can be as critical or expressive as I want :)

4 comments:

  1. Tis a sad life being a pig player yes! I love them even if they are crap haha

    Ive been reading your blog for ages and it been a great help for me as I have just started to put together a gatormans force of my own.


    Rid

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    1. Cheers, happy to be helpful :)

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  2. Don't forget Rorsh and Brine become very very scary under Carver due to the feat and them "not" needing the speed buff. Also, with access to quagmire on Brine acting as a +2 mat. Weapon master + additional die can be wicked scary with a 13" threat, or you can forgo the animus and instead take 7 attacks at mat 8, pow 15 weapon master against a warcaster/warlock. I find that R+B aren't the strongest without some kind of damage buff and so they find themselves in Ark (non-theme, so meh, they'd be wicked strong in Ark's Ark) and Carver.

    Pigs are cool :P Carver + Ark's Ark + Helga really allow for some good pairings with Gators and could even potentially hold up their own at this point whilst still being behind the game with Gators (Who are totally getting the Sacral Vault in MARCH!!)

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