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I've decided to resurrect an old debate as to which is better: War Hydras or Bolt Throwers?
The difference, this time, is that I'm going for 2250 pts - where I can take either four RBTs or two Hydras. Either option is often condemned as "cheese," but the question still remains: Cheddar or Swiss?
On the upside, Hydras are fast and can eat people - literally. They're resilient and attract a lot of missile fire away from your more important units and make great flankers. Their mobility also means they can't be taken out by infiltrators (Gutter runners) or other scouts / typical war machine hunters.
Bolt Throwers, however, lack any combat prowess whatsoever and don't do much after Turn 3 when combat is (usually) engaged. With a few rare exceptions, I've never seen a unit of bolt throwers make back its points (for a unit of four, that's something like 35-45 basic troops shot dead by round three - not gonna' happen). However, Bolt Throwers soften up targets, can target big creatures well, get a Dark Elf player a competitive shooting phase, and influence how your enemy moves - an advantage not measured in points!
long story short: Which sohuld I use in my CC non-magicy army - two War Hydras or Four Bolt Throwers? Why? Thanks
Hmm... Why not take 2 Reaper Bolt Throwers and a Hydra?
I do.. And it works fine.. At least give it a go..
That would be the balanced thing to do, but I'm in a very competitive Fantasy group and I know from expieriance that two RBTs just don't do much while four can concentrate their power a lot more effectively. Similarly, two hydras are a lot better than one - twice the fun terror-ness.
I suppose I can give it a try, but given the choice only between two of each, which pair operates more effectively?
I think you should take one of each, and I'm not sure how fair it is to make a comparison of the two choices. So much depends on what army you face. Two hydras can wreak a lot of destruction, as I learned tonight. (See my local tourney battle report in the fb bat report section). But four RBTs is a lot of shooting.
Why not have the best of both worlds? Have your cake and eat it, too? Walk on both sides of the fence?
Two Hydras without a doubt. Hydras are never really situational, though they are better in certain scenarios. Bolt throwers never make back their points unless your opponent leaves a large target in plain view, and even then it's a maybe. Bolt throwers will never win an artillery shoot off either. Hydras are more useful in every way and can stay mobile throughout the game.
Well I think you should take four Reapers. The Dark Elves have some pretty sweet firepower, and why not use it to its full extent. Taking four will not only allow you to completely own any large targets they may bring, but if you are facing an army with heavy cavalry you have a potential four shots with no armour saves, which can be a huge difference in the punch they planned on punching with.
Another reason is that even if your just facing infantry firing a potential 24 strength 4 bolts is a pretty nasty way to say hello, or goodbye . Either way four bolt throwers is pretty awesome, especially when combined with other units in the army that have repeat shots as well.
I find that reaper bolt throwers are useful for knocking out warmachine crew or large monsters, other than they don't really impact the battle. Magic or small units of shades is enough to deal with those pesky warmachines but that still leaves large monsters, which a hydra or well equiped lord can be able to go toe to toe with.
In short I would probably go with two hydras, fast and hits hard, coupled with some heavy cavalry and other fast moving units you can pressure your opponent quickly. Also because alot of the Dark Magic lore isn't magic missile they can be used in combat, so it doesn't neuter you in that depart if you go for a turn 2 combat.
I'm very happy to have gotten some good feedback!
Why don't I use two RBTs and one Hydra?
> Just two RBTs are totally worthless as a rare slot IMO. I always take a Hydra when I can't take multiple rare units for this reason. The ability of four RBTs to concentrate fire on one deadly unit and take it out of the game by turn three is much more effective than two RBTs getting an average of just 3-4 wounds per turn. A pair of RBTs can take advantage of some targets of opportunity, but they won't swing the battle in the same way four can.
What style of army do I use?
> I'm not a fan of Dark Magic or Repeater Crossbows - neither of them have ever devistated my opponents who usually outmagic or outshoot me anyway. As such, my list is Close Combat focused with a Cauldron of Blood, Black Guard, Executioners, with some cav support. It's not exceptionally fast (mostly infantry) and have bad AS across the board (like all DEs). The only reason I'd consider four RBTs is to balance out my force by getting it some firepower - deadly against Wood Elves, High elves, and armies without shooting themselves.
Thanks all of you for the comments. Cheers.
It also depends what you are using your RBT's for. If your only goal is to inflict as many casualties on infantry as possible, then I agree that you should go with 4, or none at all. I use mine more to take out other warmachines, units of cavalry, and the occasional large target.
They also play a very useful roll in making your enemy avoid sides of your army with march blockers.
So personally, I would use 2 RBT's and a hydra, because I am not looking for my RBT's to take out whole units on their own. I guess I don't tend to think of my units as each needing to make their own points back, I think more on how they add to my overall strategy.
"I am the architect of fate!"
Are RBTs really that effective at killing crews? I would imagine (what with randomization and all) that by the time the crew is killed combat will already be engaged.
I agree that the RBTs will probably not make their points back - but I also agree that the most important objective is fitting with the grand strategy. That's really why I considered four RBTs in the first place - to supplement the overall ability of the list (my army has no shooting and, effectively, no magic).
Thanks again, glad to hear more perspectives.