Monday, March 24, 2014

Balance of Power - Helbrutes, Casual Hints

Everything seems to take twice as long when you have children - especially when one is 3 weeks old.  I had intended to followup quickly with a casual army list - but instead I put off that post for two reasons: 1 Sleep Deprivation, 2: The Helbrute data slate was coming out.  I want to hit on the dataslate this week and follow on with my new list.  I am actually having a lot of trouble pushing away from old habits to throw down a ton of wounds and bring some real diversity.

A minimum value for how much trouble 2 children cause.  Synergistic effects expected.

Helbrute Dataslate
I really liked the Helbrute model delivered as part of the Dark Vengeance kit.  Unfortunately, I never really had a great opportunity to use it  This is partly because it was not painted - but I would have pushed for painting if Dreadnoughts had not taken such a huge hit in 6th edition with the changes to Grenades.  With 3 HP, it takes 18 Krak Grenade hits to knock an AV 12 dread down.  I will throw up some mathehammer graphs next week, but when you look at the odds of a dread surviving 10 Krak Grenade attacks, the situation is a bit worse.  Hitting on 4's, that is 5 hits.  With 5 hits, the chance for the dread to survive is (Pascals Triangle for coefficients):

1 * (1/6)^1(5/6)^4 + 5 * (1/6)^2(5/6)^3 = 84%

I will populate the full curve from there, but it gets worse rapidly as the Helbrute can only take two sixes before it goes down.  The Helbrute also suffers from occasionally just not doing what you wanted it to do because of a Crazed result - or maybe doing something really awesome.  The crazed table is a bit swingy, it reminds me of the Warp Storm in how nerve wracking it can be to roll on it.  In spite of these weaknesses, the new dataslate set for the Helbrute is really interesting.  I actually purchased a Kindle Fire with the main motivation as getting this slate, and eventually copies of the new rule books in a more compact form.

So the Helbrute formation is here, yay!  I’ve got a handful of these from Dark Vengeance, because they cost beans on ebay, less than $4...
This formation looks interesting at first - you get to bring along 2 units of Cultists with the Helbrute and the Cultists give the Brute a 3+ cover save.  In a flavorful addition, a cultist bites the dust on a successful save.  The cultists also snag Fearless while the brute is alive, and Zealot if it goes down.  At first I looked at this as a great mechanism to provide some nice fearless scoring bodies - until I immediately realized the units in a Formation do not score (correct me if I am wrong on this please).  If the units do score, this formation is REALLY good - otherwise it is fun but I do not think it is worth adding the superfluous cultist for the sake of 3+ cover.  Grab a bastion to hide behind instead.  All bets are off here if you want to build a 400 model cultist army, in that case definitely take this.

Helfist Murder Pack
The ability to throw down 5 Helbrutes is pretty impressive - even if it is expensive.  From an AV 12 saturation standpoint that is great.  Throw in the ability to choose your Crazed results when the Alpha Helbrute - who also gets a 5++ and benefits from Lookout Sir!, and positioning on the unit to make sure you take down the correct models becomes critical.  Being a squadron, the damage results can be spread across a wide variety of models, and a Warp Smith on repair duty in the back can probably keep these guys alive for a while.

The more I write about it, the more I really like this unit as a shooting unit, maybe behind an Aegis for extra annoyingness.  Being able to Fire Frenzy in response to enemy fire - or to not do so if desired is great.  The only downside, is a general Helbrute AV 12 woe, many armies are equipped to take down AV 12 spam.  Unfortunately, many of those armies, like my Daemons, plan to do so through the assault phase.  A wall of AV 12 can really stop a Khorne Dog army in its tracks, and as a squadron that fight in combat together, makes me think twice before assaulting a Daemon Prince in there too.

Mayhem Pack
This is my favorite formation out of the three.  A major weakness to Helbrutes is they are relatively slow to move up the field and tend to get shot to bits early on in the game.  This formation mitigates that by gaining the ability to Deep Strike.  They also snag It Will Not Die!, which is a huge buff to keep them up a bit longer.  The down side is they must roll on the crazed table each turn - I am not sure how the Fire Frenzy result works when nothing did damage to them to strip the Hull Point.  That discussion aside (please let me know if I am missing something on it), the Helbrute coming in on Turn 2 or 3 means an aggressive list has probably started to engage much of the enemy firepower.  It also adds another dimension with some AV 12 walkers showing up in the backfield.  While not quite as strong as a Drop Podded Ironclad - these guys are much cheaper and have some fringe benefits when it comes to Kill Points.

Overall expect to see some Helbrutes on the Blog from me.  As a minimum I plan to get the two I have painted and ready to go to join a Mayhem Pack.  I might also grab a pair of the new models, and run the Helfist Pack too.  Either way it looks fun and is a cool addition to a Daemon or CSM army.

Next week the new list, but as a minimum I will be bringing at least 1 unit I have never used before:

Seeker Chariot Calvalcade
1x Exalted Chariot, 2x Seeker Chariot

I think I want to couple this with a pair of Rhinos containing some CSM allies - the models from DV look great.  I am also sticking to sacred numbers where possible - Slaanesh is the name of the game.


  1. Congrats! I forgot you had a baby on the way.

    As for the hellbrutes, i think these formations add a lot of new dimension to an already expanding chaos sandbox ( marines, daemons, black legion, crimson slaughter). It would have been nice if the DSing hellbrute formation gained the daemon rule instead of iwnd.

    Also, I think chariots have wonderful potential. I can already see the headache of dealing with a chariot unit thats been grimoire'd.

    1. I think someone ran Chariots at the Invitational and did just that with them. It would be even better if they grabbed Forewarning first for a 2++ save on them. I think the Chariots will be fun, but I expect them to go down pretty quick in general. Maybe Invisibility is a better option with the chariots - although a 2++ lets them save most Dangerous Terrain tests as well.

      I cannot play in the April tourney for the full event, but I am going to see if there is a chance to play ringer to get a game in.

  2. From everything I have read from TO's and GTs the units taken in a Formation count from the slot they are taken from, so troops are troops regardless of where they come from. Of course local preferences may vary.

    1. I did some research on this one, and it looks like it is being ruled that way. I have not had a good justification for why that is the case, especially since the formations seem to be pretty flexible in what armies can take them.

      I am still on the fence claiming this, it can be tricky claiming the Fiends -1 ld is cumulative without an FAQ backup.