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Let's Talk 4: Anti-Air Guns!

 Post subject: Let's Talk 4: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 2:51 pm 
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Anti-Air guns

The part that seems to get the most flak in the Squat list is the flak itself. (Bad pun intended). Squats come with no aircraft or spacecraft at all, which denies them a very mobile facet of the Epic gameplay. Secondly, the only decent AA gun they have is on a very fragile and most importantly immobile chassis, the Thunderfire.

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There is also the smaller 45cm 5+ AA flak cannon on the Overlord, so the army is not *completely* without AA, however there are enough issues (and guns!) on the overlord that it is a whole separate topic!


What balance issues have arisen with the way the Squat army handles AA?

No other army has no aircraft and no mobile AA. There are a few AA pieces with zero move (Siegemasters, Death Korps etc) , but the vast majority of them have some sort of transport option. As a result, this leaves the Squats with the following fallout:


1) Squats are *VERY* susceptible to losing the air war.
If the opponent has little or no aircraft, then the Squats do well. If the opponent is Aircraft Heavy, or they at least manage to knock out the Squat AA early, then the game can end up very one sided.

2) Overuse of Castling Strategy.
With immobile AA the only serious choice, the Squat general is then forced to lean towards the concept of a static army build. Lots of immobile Goliath cannons and other static artillery that can hide inside the AA bubble and protect each other. This can be a very boring and frustrating build to play against.

3) The Thunderfire cannon is exceptionally shooty.
Ignoring the AA portion for a moment, the base cannon is AP3+/AT3+ and quite long range. Considering that the 0cm move means that you are likely to issue Sustained Fire orders that means you are hitting most AT on a 2+, which is a shot that is only matched by the exceptionally rare and expensive IG Vanquisher cannon.

3) The Thunderfire cannon is exceptionally Fragile.
The TF cannon has paper thin armour and is bought in formations of two units. i can't think of any other formation in the game that is bought in such a small number. (War Machines don't count as they have multiple hits.) Sneeze at the uni hard enough and you will kill/break them immediately.

The upshot of all this is that that the thunderfire cannon rules as they stand lean heavily towards the bad reputation that the squats currently have:

A largely static army with overpowered cannons that either wins big, or is smashed apart easily.

It's this static glass cannon brittleness that leaves a bad taste in a lot of players mouths, weather they be playing with or against the Space Dwarves.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 2: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 2:53 pm 
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Suggested solutions to the Squat Anti-Air

Righto, we've been throwing around ideas and playtesting them for the last month, let's see what we've come up with:

1: Thunderfires becoming mobile/transportable.

This is a yes in nearly everyone (and epic UK's) opinion. No need for special rules, the statline that UK has put forward is almost exactly what I wanted anyway so let's go with that.

Speed 5cm. Armour 5+ CC - FF 6+.
Thunderfire Cannons 60cm AP4+/AT4+/AA4+
Can be transported in rhinos/leviathans etc. Takes up two slots
.
[/font]

So this fella is pretty much a SM Hunter with slightly less armour, slightly more AP ability.
It needs to be transported around in a Rhino which means that it does up the break point of the formation. However it has to take a double action if it wants to move and shoot.
Note that I have given it a 5cm move, which denies the garrisoning loophole, and allows the Squat player the ability to nudge slightly without having to take a double action.


2: Thunderfires formations removed, Thunderfires become 50pt add-ons to the core choices

An idea floated around earlier, that the stand alone Thundy formation is deleted and the unit instead becomes a 0-2 +50pt add on for Warrior and Thunderer formation.

This a) Prevents Thunderfire spamming
b) Forces you to take more core choices
c) Prevents the Thunderfires from being too 'brittle' as well as allowing the unit some reasonable ranged AT shots.

I am pretty certain that idea of making them a formation upgrade is a good one, but i'm 50/50 on weather we should delete the Thunderfire-only formation too.

3: Add a AA cart to the Land Train

One of the four Land Train cards can be given over to a specialist (probably decent) AA gun.

Initially when I first got involved in AC'ing the Squats, this was one of my planned implementations, now I am not so sure. The Land Train definitely has 'space' to include such a weapon, but I do not think it is a good solution for the overall list, as it forces to the Squat player to pick one powerful Reaver-class War Engine as their AA. Secondly the Land Train is a pretty good artillery weapon and I don't want to encourage the Squats to sit back and huddle around the arty any more than they currently do.


4: Turn Gyrocopters into fully-fledged Figher Aircraft (TBolt style)

This isn't too far fetched. I mean, when Gyros first debuted in 2nd edition they were proper 'flyers' and the model can certainly be used as a flyer as is. Give it a cheapish 175point costs and weapons that are comparable to a TBolt and you're done.

5: Keep Gyros as skimmers, but still give them a weak 15-30cm (AA6+) weapon

I'm toying with this too. I am not aware of any list with light skimmer/scout AA but it I could certainly see it as balanced. The Gyrocopters could 'orbit' around large squat formations to protect them as well as double move to bring their guns to bear on any enemy aircraft.

6: Rebuild Overlords as massive AA fighting platforms (3x AA5+ was the suggestion)

Again, I like this suggestion. Overlords as they currently are need to be torn down and rebuilt and one 'style' I would like to see is Overlords as more 'support' craft rather than outright long ranged lone killer warmachines. Loading it up with AA is a way to do so!

7: Allow all war engines to take a small AA upgrade (as AMTL, but weaker

"All Squat War Engines (Except Goliaths) may take 0-1 Pintel-mounted Autocannon with the following profile for +25 points
45cm AP5+/AT6+/AA5+"

Note that Overlords would be stripped of their built-in AA under this scheme.

I kinda like this idea as it a half-strength AA upgrade that is similar to the AMTL AA option. It is a weak gun, but it is hard to suppress. Feral Orks (which similarly lack aircraft) are able to mount their AA on War Engines (and they are Macro-Weapon AA too!)


8: Give the Thunderers a slight AA ability, like the Obliterators

Again, not something that I had thought of previously and not such an odd idea either. Thunderers could be a 0-4 option for core units carrying something like 2 x Missile Launcher 45cm AP5+/AT6+/AA6+.

The only downside is that is almost exactly the planned roll for Thunderfires (attached core AA)...


Proposed Solutions to Squat Anti-Air


After a month of kicking the ideas around and playtesting I've decided to move forward with the ideas of implementing proposals 1, 2 and 7. And here is my reasoning for it:

1. It's boring. It's very much like other list structures, with Thunderfires = Hunters/Hydras and War Machine Autocannons = AMTL. This should cut down on the amount of playtest needed as the design has been testing in other army lists.

I can still see that there is a lot of scope for altering the exact composition eg: plus or minus 15cm range here, a decrease from AA5+ to AA6+ there, if any parts of it should be to strong.


2. It forces the Squat players to cluster around the large War Engines and big blocks of brotherhood warriors. Instead spamming tiny immovable TFires and hiding the artillery near them, the Squat army is free to now grind forward. It's a design goal I am very happy with seeing, as I will say it again:

The Squat army should now cluster around large War Engines and big blocks of brotherhood warriors.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 2: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 4:56 pm 
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For reference (I know Elsaurio knows this). Epic UK is running 3 rhino towed AA guns, 4+ across the board at 60cm for 175. They're definitely a good unit but not overpowered (within the confines of the lists limited AA options). These have been seriously playtested and have featured at 3/4 UK tournaments so far this year.

Other untested options are;
    turn the mortar on the land train into a flak car
    lose some of the main guns from the overlord and buff it's aa up to say 3x5+ @45cm. This also has the advantage of encouraging people to bring the overlord out of its long distance shooting range and into more assault territory.
    turn thunderers into an obiliterator type unit you can attach to infantry and (maybe) bezerkers to give some aa fire (eg 1/2 shots per stand 30/45cm on 5s/6s)

The other point worth flagging is that thunderfires are also a problem because they're a 100 unit which combined with 175 bezerkers give you access to the much loved 7 activations for under 1000 points spam build. So any change needs to have the effect of closing this loophole.

Last point is, the unit structure should not be restricted by the fact the models originally came in packs of 2. There's loads of good proxies out there and making a balanced army shouldn't be hindered by how a model was distributed 20+ years ago.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 2: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 5:12 pm 
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Hey I've solved it. Two Thunderfires (NetEA stats) plus rhino transport for 175 pts. Add an extra one for 75pts.
You're welcome ;D

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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 2: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 8:37 pm 
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Lol - my concern about that is that it's a bit too fragile and have too low an fire output for the points. That extra shot from 3 guns really makes a difference both in terms of supression and warding off alpha strike runs from aircraft.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 2: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 12:53 am 
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Quote:
No other army has no aircraft and no mobile AA. There are a few AA pieces with zero move (Siegemasters, Death Korps etc) , but the vast majority of them have some sort of transport option.


Approved necrons, no aircraft no mobile AA, AA also stuck in WE allotment.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 2: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 2:52 am 
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atension wrote:
Quote:
No other army has no aircraft and no mobile AA. There are a few AA pieces with zero move (Siegemasters, Death Korps etc) , but the vast majority of them have some sort of transport option.


Approved necrons, no aircraft no mobile AA, AA also stuck in WE allotment.

good point, well made, haha.. are you suggesting we turn thunderfires into fearless, teleporting death machines with 90cm TK AA?? ;D
Two Pylons cover the entire board (unless you teleport one into a forest, fail the dangerous terrain test and then roll a crit...)


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 2: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 1:35 pm 
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taiaha wrote:
atension wrote:
Quote:
No other army has no aircraft and no mobile AA. There are a few AA pieces with zero move (Siegemasters, Death Korps etc) , but the vast majority of them have some sort of transport option.


Approved necrons, no aircraft no mobile AA, AA also stuck in WE allotment.

good point, well made, haha.. are you suggesting we turn thunderfires into fearless, teleporting death machines with 90cm TK AA?? ;D
Two Pylons cover the entire board (unless you teleport one into a forest, fail the dangerous terrain test and then roll a crit...)


Atension is technically correct......the best kind of correct!

Seriously though, the Necron players do not have any problem with Anti-Air!


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 2: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 2:09 pm 
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Elsaurio wrote:
Seriously though, the Necron players do not have any problem with Anti-Air!


Richard L has won two tournaments using an AA free Necron list. I think he dropped 2 points in the second tournie.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 2: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 3:21 pm 
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StevekCole wrote:
Other untested options are;
    turn the mortar on the land train into a flak car
    lose some of the main guns from the overlord and buff it's aa up to say 3x5+ @45cm. This also has the advantage of encouraging people to bring the overlord out of its long distance shooting range and into more assault territory.
    turn thunderers into an obiliterator type unit you can attach to infantry and (maybe) bezerkers to give some aa fire (eg 1/2 shots per stand 30/45cm on 5s/6s)


I like all these options, paired with just making Thunderfires a bit less good (and a bit less spammy). No Thunderers in Berzerker formations though, that way lies accusations of Berzerkers just being the go-to unit again.

In an army with zero offensive aircraft capacity, it makes sense to train/equip many units with the ability to shut down aircraft assaults. They don't want their precious holds shot up by strafing flyboys, after all. Reduce the offensive output of Overlords a little, up their AA and call it a wash - people won't spam them as they won't positively contribute to knocking out the enemy, just defending the rest of the force on the way to doing that job.

Buffing a Land Train to being a core assault unit makes total sense, that's really how they were always billed in "The Days Of Yore". They are the fortress that leads the charge, as much a core as big, chunky Brotherhood formations. Adding a Thunderfire Carriage (with nothing higher than 4s, or even two/three AP4/AT5/AA5 attacks) would be a superb choice, in my opinion. Add limits to Thunderfires to prevent spam (no more than one per warrior formation/per 100points/whatever to represent rarity) and let people play some games with the list in the wild.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 4: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 12:09 am 
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Stevekcoke and doomkittens suggestions sound quite reasonable. I like the idea of buffing the AA on the overlords and nerfing the battle cannons a bit. 3x5+ 45cm range seems about right.

I was just poking fun comparing the squat AA to the Necrons.

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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 2: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 12:44 am 
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StevekCole wrote:
Elsaurio wrote:
Seriously though, the Necron players do not have any problem with Anti-Air!


Richard L has won two tournaments using an AA free Necron list. I think he dropped 2 points in the second tournie.

It sounds like Richard L wins lots of tournaments. That says more about his (excellent) abilities as a player than it does about the list he used.

At Cancon, I played against a list with 3 Thunderfire formations and 3 Overlords. For anyone to suggest that the Squats lack for AA seems like creative thinking. And for the record, that wasn't the tournament winning list which had 5 Overlords and 2 Thunderfire formations.

Most ground based AA in EA will not stop a well planned aerial assault/ground attack. It is generally much more about placing BM's and making your opponent second guess their activations. The current Squat list is excellent at doing that.

I like the idea of placing Thunderfires in with the troop formations. My preference would be to slow the towed Thunderfires down to 20cm but 30cm would be ok for gameplay.

Really, I don't see why Overlords need AA. They already have amazing firepower, outstanding armour, Support Craft (negating many armies best assault units) and are a spammable war engine. I hope we never see the reintroduction of the Spotter rule.

I'd far rather see the Land Train gain decent AA (and maybe the other big War Engines as well).

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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 2: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 2:41 am 
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Onyx wrote:
Really, I don't see why Overlords need AA. They already have amazing firepower, outstanding armour, Support Craft (negating many armies best assault units) and are a spammable war engine. I hope we never see the reintroduction of the Spotter rule.

I'd far rather see the Land Train gain decent AA (and maybe the other big War Engines as well).


I'd like to see the Land Train get that AA ability too, but Overlords having that ability makes the most sense out of any unit (short of the Thunderfire, obviously). They are effectively the flyers of the Squat army, for them to not have anti-flying firepower is nonsensical. If the worry is that they're spammable and too shooty, then work on making them not spammable and reduce their overabundance of direct firepower. Squat AA belongs on Overlords and Thunderfires first and foremost, with anything else about the units as secondary.


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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 2: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:39 am 
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Onyx wrote:

It sounds like Richard L wins lots of tournaments. That says more about his (excellent) abilities as a player than it does about the list he used.
...
Really, I don't see why Overlords need AA. They already have amazing firepower, outstanding armour, Support Craft (negating many armies best assault units) and are a spammable war engine. I hope we never see the reintroduction of the Spotter rule.

I'd far rather see the Land Train gain decent AA (and maybe the other big War Engines as well).


Richard's top 5 here in the UK, in my experience good players create good lists rather than just throw down with any old things.

I'd rather keep the overlord discussion to another thread and cover thunderfires here. I think everyone agrees thunderfires need changing up, overlords are a lot more contentious (eg I wouldn't use overlords if they didn't have aa). Agree, an AA car on the land train is a decent option (I'm sure it got looked at as part of 1.4 as well). Would provide a good use for the mortar car.

I think everyone gets that squats need decent aa given their lack of CAP and (unlike say necrons or dark eldar) lack of sneaky hiding teleport to protect from air assaults.

I'm quite keen on the idea of thunderers being obliterator style AA units. That way you could split between more powerful but static thunderfires (say 3/4 for 150/200 points with no rhino option) to more mobile but less powerful thunderers who can join warriors (thus removing the need to put in a rule about garrisoning).

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 Post subject: Re: Let's Talk 4: Anti-Air Guns!
PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:59 am 
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Thurgrim V1 had no AA on Overlords.
V1.3 had a single AA shot at 45cm 5+.
V1.31 removed the AA shot.
Overlord AA was reintroduced in Thurgrim V1.32.

When Moscovian (I think it was him?) started Thurgrim, The Overlords got a huge boost in abilities.

Before then, the Dvergatal list had Overlords with 3x 60cm AA6+ (it also only had 2 battlecannons and no other weapons). Dvergatal/Squat also had a 4X45cm AA5+ version...?? (again with only 2 battlecannons and bombs).

It hard to talk about Squat AA without mentioning Overlords. They are a great source of AA (tough WE's, spammable etc).

I believe this is a case of game balance trumping fluff. It might seem apt for giant armoured balloons to have AA but when all their other abilities are poured into the mix, they are just too good.

The main problem with giving Thunderers an AA shoot is that they are a core formation (under the suggested changes) and there could be a LOT of them on the board.

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