Saturday, October 9, 2010

Praetorian Swordsmen: Thoughts/Tips

Swordsmen are the basic rank and file members of the Skorne army, and with their rules, plus abilities gained by the other members of your army, they'll be capable of performing a few roles for you, and are cheap enough to be put in most armies.

They have fairly basic stats, actually.  Nothing really amazing or terrible.  A CMD of 9 is nice, letting them spread out a bit.  Their MAT is decent as well, and they are SPD 6, which is on the higher end of Skorne models.  Costing only 4/6, however, they are so inexpensive that you'll take them and find uses for them in almost every game.

Each Swordsmen has two swords, at a hefty P+S of 9.  Against light infantry, they are fantastic, against anything else, they struggle.  However, the swords come with Combo Strike, which means they can make a single P+S 12 attack instead, which is a lot better against heavy infantry and light jacks/beasts.  On the charge, you could even damage heavier jacks/beasts.

Special Rules:
Penetrating Strike: Of course, if you're going against that heavy beast or jack, you'll want something that can deal a little more damage to it without needing to charge.  Thankfully, Praetorian Swordsmen get this rule, meaning that if you hit a warjack or warbeast, you can have the target take a single point of damage instead of rolling for it.  Now, you're not going to be bringing down heavies with this alone, but it does help that a unit of Swordsmen could take 10+ points of a Khador jack reliably. 

Of course, on the charge, you'll have to decide what's going to help- a boosted damage roll from Combo Strike, or two attacks dealing a point apiece?  If you're going against ARM 21 or higher, you'll always take the Penetrating Strikes, most likely.  ARM 19 or lower, I find myself always taking the Combo Strike (unless they are in range for the P+S 9 swords to do some damage).  ARM 20 is a bit trickier.  Yeah, you'll likely get those two points of damage easily using Penetrating Strike, and Combo Strikes 'average roll' on the charge will net you a total damage of 22.5 (so 2.5 damage).  The 'Expected Value' for damage is 2.8.  You also only have like a 37% chance to NOT deal those two damage.  So I'd recommend going for it- if you get a lucky roll, you could even make your opponent really nervous about the condition his poor jack is in. (Yes, I know I could have made that paragraph a lot smaller, but I had a person ask me, so there).

Regardless, with Penetrating and Combo Strike, Praetorian Swordsmen have a way to deal small amounts of damage to almost anything.

Currently, Swordsmen only have one attachment available, the Officer & Standard.  Let's see what they do, and whether they are much worth it.

To start, the Standard Bearer has no attacks.  Yes, really.  Despite the fact that the Venator Reiver Standard Bearer can both hold a flag and swing a sword, this guy can't.  I don't get it.  Maybe the flag is just too big?  Regardless, the Standard Bearer doesn't really give you anything other than the regular Standard Bearer rules, so it's still moderately handy.

The officer, however, brings a bunch to the table.  First, he has an extra point of MAT and CMD.  Both are nice, especially the extra CMD.  He has all the regular Praetorian Swordsmen rules, so there's no need to cover them.  He does give three extra abilities, however.

First, his 'mini-feat': Perfect Strike.  Once per game, models in the unit can deal 1 point of damage instead of making a damage roll.  Although it's not useful against warjacks/warbeasts (since you have Penetrating Strike), it's really awesome against ARM-buffed single wound infantry.  For instance, against Kriel Warriors w/ a Krielstone Bearer + Stone Scribe Elder (using Protective Aura) backing them up, they're ARM 18- with Perfect Strike, Swordsmen will mow right through them.

The Officer has Tactics: Ranked Attack, meaning friendly faction models can ignore them for LOS.  This is occasionally handy, as it allows you to attack through them using either Venators or models with Reach.

Finally, the Officer has Granted: Side Step.  This is the main reason to take the attachment, in my opinion.  After a model hits with an attack, the model can advance 2", ignoring free strikes.  On the turn Perfect Strike is used, you could really easily mow through a full unit, and advance several inches in the process.  It's helpful for getting the Officer to swing his swords while ending his activation far enough away that he won't get killed (since the unit loses Side Step if he dies).  It's such a handy ability on this unit.

The unit attachment costs 2 points, which, compared to the 4/6 points you spend for the unit, is a little high proportionally.  But honestly, if you're taking a full unit of Swordsmen, you'll probably want to take the attachment.  8 points for a 12-man unit (with 11 fighting bodies) that can reliably deal some damage to anything it faces, as well as doesn't block LOS from your own models is going to help you in many games. 

Master Tormentor Morghoul:  No real synergies.

Archdomina Makeda:  Well, Makeda is really an 'infantry warlock' in a sense, so they go together with her really well.  First, if the unit is within 9" of her, they'll never flee.  Her Feat can keep them alive, especially if the unit is mostly full, since the enemy isn't going to have an easy time eating through 12 cheap bodies.  If they have Defender's Ward on them, they become a great tarpit unit on her feat turn.  15 DEF/16 ARM aren't amazing for defensive stats, but they are both high enough to cause difficulties to various threats.  Carnage is great for helping Swordsmen hit, since they'll be able to hit DEF 15 fairly reliably.  Great for when they need to mow through high DEF infantry.  Overall, it's a decent match, since Makeda can enhance the unit pretty well (of course, some of these spells are going to better used on other infantry ;)).

Titan Gladiator: No real synergies

Titan Cannoneer: Park the Cannoneer behind the Swordsmen, use Diminish, and you have a moderately effective wall to advance your army behind.  Of course, there are going to be better choices for this role, but the Swordsmen will at least eat through a few models en route. 

Cyclops Savage:  No real synergies.  Backing up the Swordsmen with the Cyclops might be nice though- my Cyclops always seem so fragile, having some warm bodies around it to keep him out of too much enemy contact would probably help.  The Savage does have reach, so they won't hinder him from fighting either.

Paingiver Beast Handlers:  No real synergies.

Agonizer:  Putting the Agonizer near the Swordsmen actually gives them a really good chance against beasts or jacks, since the Agonizer can hinder the enemy model enough to buy the Swordsmen enough time to chip away at it.

Tier Thoughts:
Praetorian Swordsmen can be taken in both of Makeda's theme forces, and if you take two units in Epic Makeda's, you can get a unit attachment to one of them for free. 

Lord Tyrant Hexeris also requires two units of them, and vies them Advance Deployment, which is really great.

Void Seer Mordikaar and Supreme Aptimus Zaal can take units of Swordsmen as well, but don't provide any benefits to them.

Like I've said twice, I think you can always find a use for this unit in your army.  They are fairly versatile, and cheap enough to fit into most lists.


  1. Dude, I like these "little" strategy articles about your units and casters. I think it is really cool to see how different factions work. Great post!

  2. Yeah, for now there isn't as much strategy as I'd like. I'm hoping that as I try new things out, and look at other things I've tried out, I'll find some combinations other people haven't thought about yet. One never knows :).

    I imagine most of this isn't earth-shattering, but it is sure nice for me to think about things, and how I'd use them, after playing with some toys a bit.