Well, The CID has come with the Bane Knight UA in it, and it is an interesting peice. It has everything that the Lock and Load preview said it would have and more. I want to take a look at what it does, does not, and can possibly, do.
The Officer Comes
Back in June, the Lock and Load keynote panel on the first day of the convention showed us a number of models that they were going to get put into the game this year, and one of them was the Bane Knight Command Attachment, Shown below.
Here we get the basic and very simply preview of what the Bane knight officer will be, and there are only three, very specific, points that are made here. He is going to be defensive, which fits the bill here of the new and revamped Bane Knights that came about from the Bane CID so, so long ago. Second, they are going to get Serpents Coil. This is a rule from the Eylowyr Swordsmen, and reads like this:
Lastly, we got Reposition 3″, which is just a really solid rule on a unit that both wants to charge and also wants to stay in base to base for Wall of Steel.
Honestly, and I know I’m in the minority here, but I really like the flavor and style of the model. While the Bane Warriors are the damage dealers and can easily punch holes into a ton of targets, they do suffer from delivery problems, especially against models and lists that prevent healing and/or capitalize on their slow speed and fairly mediocre MAT score. Bane Knights, on the other hand, do a touch less damage, but have a better defensive stat against charges thanks to Set Defense, and have a better armor stat thanks to both a shield and Wall of Steel. 2″ Melee range gives them a better threat range, as well. Bane Knights are meant to epitome a defensive unit, and bane warriors do that with offense, and I think they both do their jobs well.
Often, in this game, Defensive pieces are overlooked due to how the game wants you to engage quickly, score points, and piece trade. This leads to an over evaluation of models that are fast and destructive, and a general distrust of defensive pieces. I understand that is how the Bane Knights are viewed, and they are a pain to try and fit into lists. I, personally, like where they sit in the way the game is played but not how they fit into the Dark Host list building.
For me, the problem was never the Bane Knights themselves, but the fact that, in order to maximize your free points to put you on par with every other list out there in terms of parity of free points. Dark Host lists often are fairly pigeonholed into starting with 2 min units of Bane Thralls, which eats 20 points into the list right away, and is often a pain to overcome in the list building phase. This ability to feel like you’re getting value from taking Bane Knights will absolutely open up list building in a way that wasn’t available before.
CID Upon Us!
Last week, on Wednesday, the CID dropped and we finally got our first glance of the Models rules that are to be tested as well as the final render/concept. When I saw it, I was happy with it. First, though, the Concept Image:
This is a really cool concept that I’ll be happy to have on the board. It looks cool, is commanding, and feels right. Its a cool model, but how do the rules fair?
Alright. Everything clears on first glance. MAT is 1 higher, as expected. Undead, Ghostly, Set Defense, Wall of Steel, Brutal Charge, P+S 12, 5 wounds and RNG 2″, all as expected as well. No surprises with the basic stuff.
Reposition does come with a pretty bothersome Granted clause. I don’t traditionally enjoy units losing rules when the Command dies because they are already losing enough as it is, especially if they have not used their
The final and the only thing to be a bit of a surprise is the Practiced Manuevers Tactics that he brings along. To be honest, it really fits the kit of the unit and makes for an interesting and complimentary ability to toss in on him for little to no cost. Charging is extremely easy, as is reposition, and I really enjoy that the unit is a much more cohesive force than their Bane Warrior brethren, and PP seems pretty intent on differentiating them, which seems like a good idea. In their words, from the CID overview
What to Test?
Looking over the UA and seeing where he fits in the grand scheme of things isn’t something I’m really proficient in. Instead, when I am testing a model, I like to see what that exact model can do when pushed to its natural limits. To do this, I want to look at a few aspects of the model and how it, and the unit, can be stretched.
There really is only a single aspect that I see and really want to push with this model. Reposition and Practiced Maneuvers aren’t really abilities that can be stress tested. They are abilities that are good in nearly any circumstance, no matter what type of model – ranged, melee or hybrid – the rules are applied to, they make the model or unit better. Defensive strike is really where this model can be pushed to try and get value.
To that end, there are a couple hiccups you want to be aware of when trying to use defensive strike. First, the ability says “advances into and ends” which means that you cannot engage a .5″ or 1″ model with your 2″ reach and get a defensive strike against it when it closes. in order to do that, you’d need to have two layers of models, one which is slightly back from the other to get defensive strikes. You lose about half you’re potential with that method, but depending on the opposing model, it may be worth it.
Second, you need to be wary of shooting. Shooting is the worst when you’re trying to tempt in Defensive Strikes. Saying no to Melee is a really, really good way to entice the opponent to try and pop bullets through your face. making sure that you can either whether the storm or simply cannot be shot, through Occultation, a Wraith Engine, or Deceleration it doesn’t really matter.
Additionally, the Defensive Strikes are MAT 6 and P+S 12. It’s not world-shattering, but it’s pretty solid. Any way to up the power or accuracy of the attack would be welcome, and any way to up both would be extremely welcome.
So, we are looking, if possible, to get casters that can
- Reduce incoming ranged damage
- Increase outgoing damage on the opponent’s turn
- Increase the accuracy of attacks made on the opponent’s turn
Realistically, any 2 of the three will likely work, so lets take a look at our possible casters:
Sturgis 2 – Occultation, Parasite
Goreshade 2 – Curse of Shadows, Occultation
Skarre 1 – Feat
Deneghra 2 – Breath Stealer, Curse of Shadows, Feat
Deneghra 3 – Mortality
Skarre 3 – Deceleration, Draconic Blessing
Venethrax – Mortality
Skarre 2 – Black Spot, Death Ward, Feat
Deneghra 1 – Crippling Grasp, Parasite, Feat!
Coven – Feat, Occultation, Curse of Shadows
Asphyxious 3 – Cloak of Ash, Calamity
Some of these are clearly worse than others. Casters with offensive upkeeps are vulnerable to the opponent dispelling them, and friendly buffs can only be on one of the Knight units a time – not a problem if you’re bringing just one, but a big problem if you have more than one unit.
Honestly, I think that really eliminates (assuming we want 2+ units of Bane Knights in a list –
Mortality (Denny 3 and Venethrax), as well as Breath Stealer (Denny 2), are spamable front line spells that really feel like they should get a lot of use with Knights in holding zones. Skarre 1, Deneghra 1, and Coven all show promise, as their feats affect a greater spread of models – either friendly or enemy. Skarre 3 gives the whole army some solid protection against shooting, making it far more likely that you’ll make use of the Defensive strikes.
Getting the most work out of defensive models is hard, and often requires fairly precise positioning, a good sense of the tempo of the game, and a strong knowledge of the enemy army. Using your feats, spells and abilities in conjunction with all of that is a skill that is not particularly concrete, and often is not reflected within the hard numbers of the rules, and this UA seems no different, provided he ends the CID with the same abilities he started with, and I really have no feeling that he won’t.
The biggest problem will be shifting the paradigm on the casters that want to have the abilities that these guys bring. Denny 1 is the most likely target, but she looses a large chunk of her desirability when you don’t get to toss around ghost walk everywhere. Skarre 1 and Coven both have their favored lists, and fitting in the Knights isn’t really in the cards. Skarre 3, having been out for some time, has formed her preferred list as well, and will be hard to dislodge. I like the knights, and have had good luck with them in both the lists that I used – Deneghra 1 and Skarre 1, and think that he definitely has a place in the roster, and will make the knights more valued and more used.
That’s just me, though. What do you think about the Knights Command Attachment?
Until next time!
If you want to hear more of my stupid opinions, listen to the Battle Driven Podcast!