It’s an Infernal Guardsman with an Ensorcelled Weapon and a WS upgrade. WS5 and S5 isn’t shocking, but they only have a single attack, and crucially, they cost as much as an Infernal Guardsman with a Fireglaive, who’ll actually be able to contribute a turn or two earlier, has the same saves against shooting, and who strikes at the same S in close combat. If they had a second attack or inherent Stubborn or something else special about them, but for the points cost I want something a damn sight better than a single melee swing. Plus they compete for Special points with a lot of other stuff that’s far, far more interesting, so let’s pretend they don’t exist and get on with the show.
Bull Centaur Renders
I’m not entirely sure what to make of these lads. They’re pretty fast, which is nice in a list where most of the combat units waddle six inches per turn; they unlock a quality Hero choice in the Taur’uk; they have an innate 3+ save, although no access to Blackshard armour, so the best you can hope for is a 2+; they are T5 with W3 and that’s not too shabby; they have one of the rare I-of-more-than-2 stats in the army. The problem I’m having, though, is S4 and A2 on a 40 point model. I think they’re there to be a bus for the Taur’uk, or a decently tough speedbump, toting the shield option. Other possibilities include the great weapon – S6 is nice, but it feels like a waste of I3 – the spear or the additional hand weapon.
The problem I’m having with these and the Ironsworn is that I keep comparing them to Warriors of Chaos units and they keep coming up short (pun intended). I don’t normally like to directly compare units across army books, but the thing is, the Legion of Azgorh can bolt onto a Warriors of Chaos army and get faster melee troops with a smaller footprint and more attacks, or monstrous beasts that just do more. The Bull Centaurs are just not Dragon Ogres or Chaos Trolls, that’s their problem. I might take three to unlock and deliver a Taur’uk but I’m not sure I’d go beyond that.
These chaps are a bit odd. They’re slightly slower than Bull Centaurs; they have an innate S5 and A2, plus a stomp, plus a free S4 hit on anything touching them at the start of combat. At first glance they look much squashier, but that T4 and W2 is mitigated somewhat by the 4+ Ward and the -1 to wound suffered by non-magical attacks that come their way. They’re Unstable and expensive; one bad round of combat will see your at-least-165-points-of-stuff just bamf off the table. And, bugger and arse, they take a T test or sustain d3 unsaveable wounds at the start of every game turn.
I want to like them. They have a certain fire-and-forget appeal to them; a couple of small units or, more likely, a big brick that just runs hell-for-leather toward something you want to land some attacks on and, for whatever reason, don’t feel like shooting. The thing is, 330 points (for the unit of six) is quite a lot for something which has quite a few chances to just evaporate without really doing anything. They might be quite good at ploughing into big stodgy infantry units and ripping through as many as they can, especially if you’ve made the targets Flammable with the Lore of Hashut. Then again, ripping through infantry seems to be what the war engines do best, although some of them have multiple modes or a capacity to deal with big stuff so maybe it’d free them up to do that. Your choice of war engines and the range of available targets are going to be a huge deal for the Fireborn, more so than perhaps anything else in the list. My gut reaction is that these guys are OK, provided you’re a big boy and don’t throw a strop when your big expensive models do nothing and go poof. I can’t entirely be relied upon to do that, so I’m on the fence about the Fireborn.
A squeak under 150 points for the budget version, or 200 for the survivable version, featuring the steam carriage and Hellbound. It’s a bow-ranged cannon which, instead of cannonballs, chucks out a breath template’s worth of S5 Multiple Wound Flaming death; you put the pointy end where your cannonball would land and the fat end along the line where said ball would normally bounce. Absolutely brilliant, I think. Should mow through infantry and middleweight cavalry/monsters like nobody’s business and should at least put some damage on bigger things. Short range means that if it’s set up too far back and the opponent doesn’t come into range, it might only graze them with its template; my suspicion is that damn near the front of your deployment zone might be the best place for this, at least sometimes, unless you think the enemy are going to want to close in.
Oh. Oh, this is how you make the enemy want to close in. 12 – 48″ stone-thrower-a-like, with two modes of fire. The first and simplest is a S8 d6 wounder with no blast – bearing in mind that your Daemonsmiths can force a scatter re-roll, that’s actually not that inaccurate. The second is… well. Basically, you work out where the shot’s going to land, and if it lands on a unit, down goes a large blast’s worth of S3 Flaming pain. If it doesn’t, then another scatter roll sends a small blast off to do the same to anything it touches. You’re not allowed to shoot into combat, but if you happen to scatter into combat, the damage is done. And it’s 50 points cheaper than the Magma Cannon. I think we may have a best-in-slot here.
This fucker has so many rules that it almost deserves its own separate post, but I’m determined to stick to one section at a time, so you’ll have to bear with me. First point; the Daemon unlocks the Steam Carriage as an option for other war engines so you’re possibly going to want one just for that . After this there’s almost a phase-by-phase breakdown of what it can do.
Movement: it either chugs six inches per turn or speeds up to 2d6, stalling on a double 1. The 2d6 option is the only way it can declare charges, it still makes that move even if it fails to charge, and if it contacts a unit by accident, bad things happen. It barges through and removes terrain that doesn’t reach over its wheels, too. Also, it can tow other engines that have the carriage upgrade – one with no loss to movement, two at half pace. Uncoupling the other engines allows the Daemon to move freely and the engine to set up facing any way it likes, counting as having moved – so you’ll lose at least one turn of shooting.
Shooting: the Daemon itself has a neat fixed-arc gun. Pick the best of two Artillery dice and fire that many S6 Armour Piercing d3 wound shots 18″ straight forward with no move-or-shoot penalty. Almost misfire-proof and very unlikely to blow up the whole Daemon – chances are you’ll take some wounds and lose the gun. Towed engines on carriages can’t shoot if the Daemon moves them along, and can’t be shot unless the enemy can draw Line of Sight to them.
Combat: d6+2 S8 impact hits in the first round, and it Thunderstomps in the second and subsequent. You can, if feeling devil-may-care, replace the cannon with an extra d6 impact and Thunderstomp hits. It also has crew, who can poke things ineffectively. If it charges accidentally, the enemy get Always Strikes First against it, and it can do impact hits to friendly models. The Daemon can never pursue or overrun because it’s slow. If towing, the train is only engaged if the Daemon is; otherwise it can simply haul the other engines away.
Taking Hits From Other Stuff – T and W 7, 3+ save, but beware the Pit of Shades.
What I Actually Think Of It: at 310 points with Hellbound (and you will, because T and W 8 are good) it’s basically a poor man’s Steam Tank. Since the Legion has easy access to the Lore of Metal it’s not impossible to smack Glittering Robe on it for a 1+ save. If it ends up engaged by anything it can’t Thunderstomp I bet you’ll be kicking yourself (that’s happened in some of the reports I’ve read), and so it seems very vulnerable to being chaffed into ineffectiveness.
I’m not so sure about towing things. Turns when expensive war engines don’t shoot are bad turns. I might make an exception for the Magma Cannon, since it has that fairly modest range, but the thing is, you don’t often know if you’ll be going first, and if you’re not, the enemy might be moving into range on their turn and you might dip out on a turn’s cannon fire.
It’s cool, it’s potentially very destructive indeed, that gun is not at all bad… but you could take two Magma Cannon or three Deathshriekers for those points, and they wouldn’t be so picky about what they’d want to deploy opposite. A cavalry or monstrous unit appearing in the wrong place could spell disaster for the Daemon. I… don’t think it’s the solid, reliable pick that a couple of conventional war engines would be, but maybe a build that focuses on a few mobile war engines might work out; a Daemon or two and some of the fun from the Rare section.