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I've found myself using fewer and fewer of the vaunted Repeater Bolt Throwers in each army I've played with since the release of the 7th Edition book. Bearing in mind that I'm primarily playing 2k or 2250 games, I'm wondering if other players are experiencing the same thing.
Even with the expanded number of Rare slots, and the ability to take odd combinations of RBTs and Eagles (1/3 or 3/1), it seems that most armies I've fielded contain a mix, or only Eagles and no RBTs. This may be due to my particular play style, but IMHO, HE need to worry about enemy war machines or march-blocking far more than picking up extra shooting.
RBTs do not do a very good job of taking down enemy artillery with either of their shooting options because randomization takes place after the roll to hit. If using the single bolt, you probably get a hit half the time, and of those that do make contact, 1/3rd hit a crew member, and while likely get you a kill, you need at least two successful randomizations (assuming a probable kill) to even slow the machine, possibly a third. So by these numbers you get one crew kill approximately for each six firings of the RBT, so carrying three RBTs, you might knock off one crew member every other turn. Assuming a typical machine with T7 and W3, the other 2/3rds of successful shots each only wound 1/3rd of the time, and only a 1/3rd of those will successfully disable the machine. That works out to one shot out of every 13.5 total bolts fired that will end up successfully stopping a machine cold. Again, with 3 RBTs, you'd likely end up killing one, perhaps two machines at best, with all 3 firing all 6 turns of the game.
The multi-shot isn't much better: you probably get 3 successful hits from 6, 2 hit the machine, 1 hits crew. The one on the crew wounds on 3+ or 4+, depending on crew toughness, and the machine only takes a wound on a 6. Still an average of one crew kill every other salvo, and you need 3 6's from your bolts that hit the machine... not spectacular. Focusing a battery of 3 RBTs on a machine, you might be lucky enough to neutralize the crew in a single round, but it will be nearly impossible to take out the machine, and if they have crew on another machine, they'll just slide some over and run both machines with reduced crew.
If you look at Eagles, for the cost of an RBT, you can get two multi-purpose fliers, which are likely to do just as well in combat as the bolts you're firing, and much more reliable since you can choose to attack just the crew.
The other thing to consider is that, when they are available, DoW cannons are capable of causing far more damage than the RBTs. They are cheaper, don't rely on a roll-to-hit, and kill pretty much everything they touch. If I'm playing and DoW are legal, I'm pretty much taking 2 Cannons, 2 Eagles, and calling it a day, regardless of what else I'm taking.
By comparison, look at the basic Dwarf Bolt Thrower with no upgrades. You have an additional crew member, the benefit of T4, and while you lose 1 BS and the multi-fire option, in most cases, the single bolt is better than the multi-fire option. But more importantly, it costs less than half of the RBT. Adding the Engineer upgrade is pretty cheap, you're still at just 60 points, and now you have a 4th crew, and you get back that BS you lost. And unlike HE crew, Dwarf crew can actually defend their machines.
When combining all of this with the relative ineffectiveness of HE shooting in the rest of the army list, I'm not sure that RBTs are worth their points. It's rare that a single RBT will earn back it's points over the course of a battle; you need them in multiples to make a serious dent in a unit. I've been rather unimpressed with the performance of the RBTs I've used, and Eagles have been far above expectation.
I'm not sure what happened in moving from 6th Edition to 7th Edition, but I used to run at least 2 RBTs in every single army I played with. If anything, with the new book advocating the use of more infantry, and moving away from the all-cavalry lists that seemed to dominate 6th Edition, I would have thought the RBT would better in 7th. But now it seems to me that there are better options for the HE rare slots, and for points in general, considering that many lists have a hard time fitting in all the different troops they want. I would suspect that as the point level of the game goes up, RBTs get better and better, but I haven't had much opportunity to play at 3k and above yet.
I would definitely like to hear some other peoples' opinions on this, particularly those seem to advocate running 3-4 in just about every list they make at the 2k/2250 level.
Last edited by ga1661; June 5th, 2008 at 10:11. Reason: Fixed the MAJOR math typo in demonstrating shooting problems!
ach, I don't really know about the validity of comparing relative effectiveness of Eagles vs. Bolt Throwers, as Eagles have to get to their targets and can get shot up pretty easily unless you use cover, although of course using them as march blockers is a good use against fast armies.
However, the 6 shots are great against heavy infantry blocks, certainly better than 10 archers at causing casualties, and a nice skewering of a Knightly unit is always game for a laugh. Placing a bolt thrower at the end of the line, with nice open scenery for it to fire at, is a great tactical ploy, as you could conceivably catch a unit of cavalry in the flank with a single bolt - and subsequently Bretonnian/Empire/Chaos Knight on a stick...
Elves are now a lot better at defending their machine than they used to be by virtue of ASF, though I agree Dwarves are better. But let's compare relative usefulness between armies, when we consider the relative points cost. Dwarves and Empire have access to Cannon and organ-gun or equivalent, and Dwarves can also access bolt throwers. Elves can only access Repeaters, which instantly makes the Bolt thrower more valuable in the High Elf inventory since it is the only war machine..
The only alternative to Bolt Throwers the HE have is longbow-equipped infantry. These infantry are core vs the rare of the BT. But the Bolt Thrower can engage targets that no other unit in the HE army (excpet mages) can attack, whilst they are much more effective against the units that the HE infantry missile units are normally used against. One thing I'd push for is the option to attach a Prince or Noble to a Bolt Thrower, or all the Bolt Throwers within a certain distance, so that the machines can use his BS, but maybe this would have too many cries of Cheese!! However it would be a simple change to implement as a single additional special rule for Nobles and Princes, or implement a talisman, and would again indicate their "support" role above their combat role - after all, how many nobles and princes of Ulthuan have probably served in naval units, and have personally commanded batteries of bolt throwers?
HE aren't really a shooty army, so RBT don't seem to fit in with a mobile army , for me it comes down to a question of how much damage each will do. 2 RBT will rarely make their points back whereas 2 eagles for half the points can take down lone wizards, units of skirmishers and of course war machines and be worthwhile. The RBT just don't cut it for the amount of points they cost. Maybe BS5 and they'd be worth it, but eagles are the way to go in my opinion.
For a RBT shooting a unit of typical heavy infantry (lets say saurus), they'd be killing 1.5 a turn (does the armour save modifer include the Strength reduction?). By turn 6, they'd have barely made their points back and thats if the unit never gets into combat.
Last edited by Calenavarion; June 4th, 2008 at 10:11.
Agreed that they don't make their points back against most T4 heavy infantry, but most armies are T3, and why shoot at the Saurus infantry when the priority targets are the cavalry? Eagles are great at picking on lone wizards, and the odd war machine, but against a savvy foe, this simply should not happen. I use Eagles solely for march denial, as the moment I make them a priority target unit, ping, they go down. Using them as bait unit against heavy troops is also fantastic, as then I can set up that unit of Chosen Chaos knights of Khorne for flank bolt Thrower shots from both sides of the line...
All I am saying is it is down to tactical choice. Eagles won't cut it against anything other than skirmishers or lone mages, and most armies with war machines such as Empire and Dwarves tend to have lots of back-up firepower in their gun line, sufficient to take on the enemy forces. Eagles are great in an end game, when most stuff is engaged or fleeing, as they can help run down enemy fleeing units, thereby eliminating them, and can usually take out war machine sunhindered. But they are sitting around stopping march moves early battle mainly for my RBTs to get some good shots in against enemy heavy cavalry...
I was taking your example of heavy infantry blocks, possibly using a single bolt would be more effective vs T4 heavy infantry.
Frenzy means that you can get an eagle to draw them away and get a flank charge with swordsmen, they'd go down alot faster than shooting with a RBT
I just think that HE should use their mobility rather than static warmachines that don't really compliment the army.
I would disagree with you kithre that most armies are T3. Besides Empire and Elves, most armies have T4 (Demons, Vampires, Ogres, Lizzards, Chaos, Dwarves of all varieties and O&G) more than half at least.
I agree with you that RBT's are overcosted. I do get a pretty good result from 2 in taking out opponents warmachines and eagles are never good at warmachine hunting for me. I don't know what to replace the RBT's with however. I could, field 2-3 units of fast cav or some silver helms or shadow warriors to attempt to take out warmachines, but none of those are particularly good at that task as well. Do I wish the RBT was cheaper? yes, or at least more powerful (str7 or flaming would be an added boon)
But I still don't know what to replace them with. Yes, DoW cannons are probably more effiecient, but I have a hard time fielding them fluff-wise. If you're playing a super mobile army, RBT's are maybe not for you. Eagles are not a suitable replacement in my opinion for war machine hunting though. I have yet to have an eagle hit anything in combat in the last several games, so I don't even put them in combat anymore.
Well, we play a small elite army. Being able to remove static CR and deal with hard targets like Dragons and Steam Tanks is way more than worth it.
You don't seem to think it is worth it against 'soft' targets...
Lets see. Assume you go shooting heavy (I agree, 1 isn't often worth it.)
So, take 4.
FOCUS FIRE. Panic a unit or make it unable to win fights.
Lets take a look at what the numbers are. Both with and without CoAA (curse of arrow attraction)
Against T3 more than 24" away.
8 wounds, with CoAA 12 wounds. (10 if they have a 4+ against shooting or 6.7 with no CoAA)
As their army moves towards you it only gets better.
Within 24 inches,
10.7 wounds or 14.2 (CoAA).
Even against Dragon Princes, (who only have a 50% of making their armor saves) it is incredibly effective.
Your big fear is against T4 units?
Outside 24", that is 6 wounds or 9 with CoAA
Inside 24", that is 8 wounds or 10.667 with CoAA
Yes they would make every 6th armor save. But that is still a lot of dead dwarves or saurus every shooting phase. God forbid you hit them with magic as well.
Problem is that to remove 5 (or 7) Dragon Princes in a single round of shooting, you have used 400 points of War Machines. If you get two rounds of shooting at said targets, then brilliant, but like anything in WH, not even the most foolproof plan survives contact with the enemy (or even the rules!!)
I agree that they are the best thing we have for hard-target hunting, as they are ALL we have. But they are too expensive. CoAA is a greate equaliser, and I suppose that it is one of the spells that may get through given that it's a subtle spell rather than one which is overtly dangerous.
CoAA makes Bolt Throwers amazing, almost BS 6. They do have a fear factor well above their general effectiveness though.
As for T3 vs T4, I'd say that T4 foes are fewer as no Elven armies have T4, humans are by and large T3 (Empire/Bretonnian) and the majority of a Hordes of Chaos army is normally T3. Orcs are T4 (poor armour, so should be easily killed), Dwarves are T4 and probably our toughest opponents (but ARE slow, so whilst we can't outshoot them, we might be able to pick apart certain elements in the army), Beasts of Chaos have a large number of higher toughness guys, BUT they are all really low armour, and priority targets such as Minotaurs or Dragon Ogres are great choices as targets.
Lizardmens have at best a 2+ save when mounted on Cold Ones, but Cold One cavalry is obscenely expensive, slower than horses, and is prime target for the skewer..(Kill 3 Cold One Cavalry and get your points pack). Similalrly, Salamanders are not cheap either, and if you kill the handlers, they become a liability. Finally, is there anything apart from our own monsters that you can use to take down Stegadons or Carnosaurs?
Its not always about removing a unit entirely, just making them ineffective.
I love the thing, being able to fire a volley which can punch through most armor like it was paper in addition to the single shot. It makes up for the lack of firepower. I intend to fill all my rare slots with them.