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Ok, so we know all the usual complaints. Rough Riders don't belong in the FA slot, they don't get carapace to let them survive bolter fire, they don't get +1 Toughness like Thunderwolf Cav do, they can't re-load their lances, they can't bring priests along, etc. All of those are valid complaints, but...
When I think about how good they are at 0-1250 points, vs. their weakness in larger games. The biggest reason stands out. They don't SCALE well. Meaning that the sorts of targets that you want to hit with them start getting too tough to really care about the damage they can do. That deep striking unit of shooty terminators, for instance, goes from being a small 5-man unit to an 8-10 man unit.
So, how about one very simple change? We simply raise the unit cap to 20 or 30 models instead of 10.
Do that and I could take a 205 point unit of 20 Riders that would scare the absolute crap out of pretty much any rock out there.
Give them carapace armor, and I could use them for screening my tanks quite nicely.
I don't object to raising the unit cap but it still doesn't seem adequate. All one-shot units become less effective in larger games, as FOC space becomes limited and redundancy becomes critical, and Rough Riders of whatever size are still one-shots. They need more.
"My tanks have names, my men have numbers." -Col. Edmund Grahvess, 23rd Kronecker Prison Guard
as for ways to improve them:
- i'd rather their unit entry became something akin to a rough rider platoon, allowing 1-3 squads of 10 rough riders.
- maybe even a rough rider command squad for those platoons, with a couple orders that could help enhance the rider squads.
- add a special character to move those platoons count as a troop choice or a company command squad horse mount upgrade that functions the same way as a bike mount for space marine captains.
- alternatively, add a horse mount option for platoon command squads, and taking that upgrade allows 0-3 rough riders squads to be taken as troops within that infantry platoon.
things they used to have and should get back:
- the old doctrine that allowed all rough rider squads to take carapace armor for +xx points
- the old chapter approved doctrine that allowed changing out the horse mount for a xenos (cold ones) mount which provided a +1 boost to toughness and armor save (t4 and 3+ save w/ carapace armor) as well as an extra s4 'bite' attack in exchange for lossing fleet of hoof at +xx points
- and then the chapter approved creature feature with the IG heavy support option of carnisaur and megasaurs to support those xeno-mount riders
in the old 'dex, used a list composed of 30 xeno/carapaced riders, 2 carnisaurs, a couple platoons of feral weapons/carapaced infantry platoons, and then normal stuff like a demolisher and 3 grenadier stormtrooper squads in chimeras, and a squad of ogryns in a chimera. that list was AWESOME... visually, to play with, and for people playing against it. the new dex may have made us stronger, but it's just not the same anymore.
All that stuff seems pretty overpowered to me. All I really want/need is larger units with carapace armor and reload-able lances.
it wasn't that bad, but it did make the riders competitive and costed a decent amount of points for the trouble (around 200ish points for a full squad of 10 ).
the xeno mount upgrade wasn't particularly cheap, but the better save and toughness gave them some staying power in melee while the bite attack (i believe it was at i1) kept some semblance of power after expending the lance, and that lasting combat power even made it debateable whether it was worth sacraficing the +1a for extra weapon for the one-off lance attack. as for the heavy support, the carnisaurs were the standard MC statline at the cost of a leman russ, while megasaurs were slightly better at the cost of a demolisher.
so for the most part it wasn't anything too special... just a very different fluff-flavorful alternative to the usual IG approach of riflemen and/or tanks.
but reloadable lances and more of them per squad... a maxed out squad of 20 charging in with up to 41 s5 i5 power weapon attacks each time, especially with their fleet of hoof and 12" charge range... now that's overpowered imo. with the ability to wipe out most 10-man units that don't have either better initiative or decent invuln saves.
place one in the backfield and pretty soon not even a gunline will have to be scared of units charging them into an assault (though generally most aren't anyways already due to expendibility), just blob up all the infantry squads, stick in a commissar and wait for the cavalry to literally arrive. and then rinse and repeat with reloadable lances. or a variety of other tactics. at that point, they're almost an auto-include unit.
rough riders have the potential to become a devastating unit, but it's a very fine line to do so without causing them to break the game when combined with an IG army. imo chapter approved did a good job of figuring out a way to do so, but only by shuffling around some special rules and stat changes were they able to accomplish this.
I've been reconsidering RRs recently. I was trying out Ogryns which thus-far have failed to impress but the 5x RRs I took on a whim did huge damage. I'm really tempted to double up to 10x. The bottom line with them is that they are really, absurdly, cheap for what they do.
Which is kind of why reloading lances isn't a big deal for me. You'll probably make back your points in the initial charge so it's no big deal. If the lances reload then the RRs need to cost more points and since "low point throwaway" is their niche I'm not sure I like that idea. I'd rather they just got a hand weapon AND pistol rather than it being either/or. Maybe the extra warheads could be an upgrade.
I feel 3+ should be kept for MEQs else it stops being special. 4+ carapace armour seems appropriate from a background perspective for a cavalryman in a fully-encasing suit of armour, but that doesn't need to be self-powered to move.
I think FOC change ideas have been mentioned before but that's really the golden concept for me. Currently RRs block out much-needed fast-attack options which are essential in larger games. Hellhounds, scout sentinels and Vendettas are just too useful to sacrifice for some horsemen. That bars me from taking them in bigger games far more than the unit size itself.
Letting you take Mogul Kamir as an HQ upgrade and letting him unlock RRs as troops solves the main problem for me.
I don't see any problem with allowing larger unit sizes but 10x seems fine to me, assuming you can take them as troops.
So how about this:
Mogul Kamir - Company Command Squad upgrade +95pts
boosted up to normal commander stats(+1W +1BS +1LD), keeps special rules
CCS becomes Cavalry and gain sabres, laspistols and hunting lances
RR Can be taken as troops
Priests, Lord Commissars and Primaris Psykers can be upgraded to cavalry for +15pts per model.
RR equipment is changed to include sabres AND laspistols
The whole unit can be equipped with carapace armour for +3 points per model.
The whole unit can be equipped with extra lance tips for +3 points per lance-equipped model (can use lances on every charge)
Copy, Improve, Innovate
I guess I'm looking at it this way:
In a terrain-heavy 2K tourney like the NOVA, most games come down to being able to take the center of the table. In the NOVA's case, that was always a big hill. If I take my standard 2 Vendettas, then that leaves me one FA slot open for something that might either help me dissuade my opponent from moving onto the center hill, or help push them off of it.
Scout Sentinels can't help much. They're nice and mobile, but the sorts of rocks players put on that hill can't be hurt or tar-pitted by them.
I could park a Hellhound on the near side and scare away scoring units. But that has limited utility vs. Monstrous Creatures or Power Armor.
I really need an assault option, but Ogryns don't win combats vs. TH/SS Terminators or Carnifexen. They just hang on stubbornly and frustrate my shooting.
A decent 30-man blob squad with power weapons runs 225 points, and you really need to add Strakken or Creed too if you want a chance to hurt Thunderwolf Cav or MCs. I don't feel like that's efficient.
So that leaves Rough Riders. But I can't take enough of them in a single unit to put a decent number of wounds on the targets that matter. On average, 10 Rough Riders will put just 2.3 unsaved wounds on a Squad of TH/SS Termies, 3.3 wounds on a unit of Thunderwolf Cav w/3 Storm Shields, 3.5 wounds on a Carnifex. Given the typical unit sizes and total wounds for those, it's laughable for a throw-away unit.
But with 20 riders in the unit (for 205 points), I would do a decent amount of damage. Not enough to wipe out most dedicated assault units, but enough to dent them to the point that my shooting has a chance to finish them off. Yes, I'd wipe out tactical squads of Marines, but I'd be paying more than the points of the target to do it. With a unit that would have limited utility afterwards, and which is still extremely vulnerable to flamers and bolter fire.
the additional +1 armor bonus represented barding/scaley skin on the mount similiar to fantasy. but i could concede maybe taking riders to a 6+ armor norm and then 5+ carapace upgrade with 4+ barding upgrade simply due to just how exposed their horses are normally otherwise while still keeping 3+ out of reach for IG.
but anyways, doctrines and chapter approved are dead and gone, which i always felt was the IG equivalent of taking all the variant SM chapter codices and just forcing them all back into using the one generic SM codex (that feral rider-themed list was what got me into ig in the first place, now my guys are the same as basic cadian guardsmen).
i do sympathize with a desire to fit more rough riders in your list than you're currently capable to, really hate that they didn't put in a 0-3 rough rider squad/platoon option (can squadron most individual vehicles but you can't platoon any of the individual non-vehicle squads, ie ratlings/stormtroopers/roughriders/ogryns/etc)
as for the for the bolter/flamer threat, 4+ cover behind tanks (if not almost completely out of los via tanks and terrain) and a 18-24" assault range limits their vulnerability to short ranged small arms, while the tanks will usually present a better target for the bigger long-range guns (unless its 4x heavy bolters).
Perhaps using the advisors list you could expand the rules so that by taking a Storm Trooper sergant or something simular, you could make Storm Troopers a 1+ troops choice with some added bonuses to the command squad to boot.
Another use for Kamir maybe...
Back on topic however, I feel the 10 man limit on Rough Riders would seem limiting if the IG weren't built for a mech or infantry force in this codex. Were the list designed to promote specialisations (the old doctrine system), where you could opt to make Rough Riders a core part of the army, changes would ensue to make this playable.
But in the recent codex they seem to have been given a niche role and that's it. As awesome as it would be to have a unit of 10+ cavalry charging in, that's simply not what the IG do on a regular basis.
Here's hoping for some Chapter Approved expansions in the coming years...
GLORY TO THE DICE GODS!
@ Sand, have you considered the boost adding Mogul Kamir (Lieutenant Khamis?) to the unit would add?
Even with 20 guys you won't wipe out Terminators on the charge and he does make the unit a bit better after the first assault thanks to his furious charge. 3.2 wounds from 10 RRs + Kamir vs 4.6 from 20 RRs. Furious charge also means you can swing simultaneously with any GKs with halberds which is golden. Also you're not so useless in subsequent charges. Yes rage sucks but a 12 inch charge radius really compensates.
With either setup it's not a one-shot nuke to instagib terminators. You'll have to shoot first to whittle them down then charge in the RRs to clean up the mess. I'd definatly give him a try. If you can take the unit down to half strength I think you stand a good chance that 10 RRs plus Kamir can break it. Worst case, if you do get bogged down due to him making the unit fearless you can always assign a TH wound to him in the opponent's CC round and let the unit break...
It's a bit ambiguous if the furious charge stacks with hunting lances but thankfully the NOVA FAQ says it does, so Kamir isn't a lemon, at least at this event
Copy, Improve, Innovate