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Church14

Archer Evaluation

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Vipers are out. Let’s look at how all 4 factions stack up compared to each other. 

 

Max Damage (6 trays):

Crossbows (76, Fire Rune, BaronZ): Attacks at I5 for average around 9 and 4. Peaks at 18 and 16. This requires stuns inflicted on your blockers. Can add piercing strike for a one off mortal or armor busting. A significantly cheaper build can cause close to as much damage in the late game using Forged in Battle

Reanimate Archers(55, Fire Rune, RSB): Attacks at I4, averages 5.25 and 2. Peaks at 9 and 8. Can add CI to inflict an average .75 blights if rolling only for damage or keep options open to blight out deathstars.

Deepwoods (63, Maegan, Fire Rune, Hunter’s Guile): Shoot at I5, averages about 7.25 and 3.5 with guile. Peaks at 12 and 11. Maegan is particularly hard to quantify. 

Vipers (59, Cacophony, Fire Rune): Attacks at I5. Against enemy without a bane, averages 6.2 and 3.7. Peaks at 10 and 11. Against enemy with a bane, averages 7.2 and 3.8. Peaks at 11 and 11.

 

So, no surprise. Crossbows are the most reliable big damage archers. Deepwoods and Vipers are surprisingly right on top of each other. Reanimate Archers lag behind. An interesting note is that crossbows get additional damage by adding more dice, rolling 5 total instead of 3. This gives a much higher potential damage even if the averages aren’t a lot higher. Deepwoods and Vipers gain damage by adding lethal. Deepwoods through green runes and Vipers through morale icons. The lack of any form of lethal or added dice for ranged attacks for Reanimates keeps the overall damage down.

 

Well, how about Damage per point (DPP). Biggest swing is nice but players want efficiency. Let’s see how the top two configurations of each stack up for DPP. 

 

DPP Rankings:

.250 - 2 Tray Deepwoods with Tempered

.243 - 3 Tray crossbows with Tempered and Rank

.227 - 2 Tray Vipers with Rank (target has bane)

.225 - 2 Tray Deepwoods with Fire Rune

.220 - 2 Tray Reanimates with Tempered and Rank

.209 - 6 tray Crossbows with Forged and Tempered

.208 - 4 Tray Vipers with Cacophony and Fire Rune (target has bane) 

.183 - 4 Tray Vipers with Cacophony and Fire Rune (target has no bane)

.182 - 2 Tray Vipers with Rank (target without bane)

.158 - 2 Tray Reanimates with Rank

 

Ok.... well, Deepwoods are awesome cheap units. The 3x1 Crossbows places well, but surprisingly isn’t top. Points not captured in that list that I found:

1)A 2x1 Viper Legion shooting at a target with a bane has almost exactly the same points efficiency for damage as a 2 tray with Rank. The additional 1 damage Rank adds is almost exactly offset by the 4 points.

2) I did not include Rune manipulation in my numbers. The 2 tray Deepwoods with Fire Rune actually claims the top spot if Malcorne’s is on the table.

3) The top Reanimate build requires Ardus. 

4) The Reanimates with Rank might be the lowest ranked in the list, but they are the only build reliably inflicting a bane and does so without sacrificing damage. 50% of the time they will inflict at least one blight. 

Speaking of banes (ignoring corruption Rune as everyone gets it).

-Deepwoods can inflict Immbolize (2pta), Stun(6pts), and blight(7pts). None naturally, though they can inflict 2 in an activation. Either 2 blights, or Immobilize and blight/stun. Though to do immobilize and stun also takes simultaneous orders.

Reanimates inflict blight naturally. They are the only ranged unit to reliably inflict a bane. With no upgrades, they average 0.5/turn. With Combat ingenuity, average 1.5 per turn and possibly up to 4. They could theoretically also inflict an additional blight with  Vilexium Bearer but I’d not rely on it.

Crossbows don’t inflict banes. They just punch you in the face.

Vipers can inflict a panic naturally on 50% of turns. They also can swap a bane (2pts), or kill some of their own for a bane of their choice (3pts). Both mechanics are excellent but require self harm or other units to help apply banes. Ritual Venom is also a very finite number of banes applied.

 

Given my experience, Vipers can inflict banes, but Reanimates are the only ones to simply inflict them and keep doing so without additional cost.

 

Last, mobility. Each has its own special niche for maneuvering.

Crossbows - Marching Cornicen allows bank marches after shooting. Hooray for the mentality of keeping eyes on target. Special mention that they can reform and then Wind Rune at I3. This gives a chance to dodge long charges.

Reanimates - They get no real movement shenanigans save for Wind Rune. But they can reform and Wind Rune at I2. This beats virtually everything non-hero and even a lot of units with Raven Tabards. That I2 compared to Crossbows I3 is non-trivial.

Deepwoods - Double Surge to move, support scion, lay of the land, Wind Rune. Yeah, they are kind of the kings of short shifting. Around terrain they are particularly irritating with their ability to hug right next to a terrain piece better than most.

Vipers - simultaneously the best and worst for maneuvering. Shoot-reform is excellent for keeping eyes on target. They have Warsprinter, but not the ability to reform and trigger where Berserkers shine. They can take SimulOrders, Wind Rune, and Warsprinter to shift, reform, and march after shooting. Meaning they can be kings of movement if you sink impractical amounts of points into them for just that. 

 

So, this is meant as a sort of base guide to archers and a starting point for players to comment with their take on how they’ve been liking/disliking their archers  

 

Some numbers I used for reference. These aren’t exact:

Blue die damage: .5 first roll, .75 second, .875 third roll

Red/White die damage: .75 for first roll, 1 for additional

Average green runes: 1.5

Average morale icons: 1.7

 

 

Edited by Church14

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Thanks, 

I'm a numbers guy and love stuff like this.

Curious on the Tempered Steel math though.  Did you account for how it exhausts?

Would like to see Ventala included in this as well; with a short range(range 3 or less)/long range (range more than 3).

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25 minutes ago, Darth Matthew said:

Thanks, 

I'm a numbers guy and love stuff like this.

Curious on the Tempered Steel math though.  Did you account for how it exhausts?

Would like to see Ventala included in this as well; with a short range(range 3 or less)/long range (range more than 3).

I punch a lot of numbers myself, and I'm not sure there's a good way to account for exhausting.  You're always getting to get one use of it.  You're probably going to get a second use out of it.  Beyond that, board state can drastically affect whether you get more out of it or not.

Ventala math isn't hard.  I think coming up with a damage efficiency per point spent is dubious for them, because although they have a ranged capacity, they also have a melee capacity.  They won't ever out-archer the archers due to precise, but they'll do a lot better in melee than archers, thanks to their red hit modifier.

Ventala, 2x1, no upgrades:  long range:  1.5 average damage.  R1-3:  2.5 average damage.   Point efficiency:  .138 at close

2x1, Rank Discipline:  Long range:  2.06 average damage.  R1-3:  3.56.  Point efficiency:  .162

1x3 Flank Fire, if you can reroll 1 die due to Warsong Herald or Greenwatch Herald:  Not quite 5.34 (I've done the math on single die rerolls before, and the biggest benefit is from being able to reroll one die, so it is going to somewhere around 5.2, off the top my head).  Point efficiency (using the 5.2 estimate):  .184

2x2 Tempered Steel:  This one is a really odd one to account for.  You don't have more threat, and therefore no more damage than the 2x1 Rank Discipline.  You have no surge modifier dial to guarantee the upgrade.  You're absolute best roll is a hit/surge, so you don't sacrifice a hit.  Otherwise, I think you always reroll for damage and save the ugprade.  That's a 23.5% chance that you pull at least one hit/surge on the opening roll before rerolls.  Then you add a 5% chance that you need to reroll the red die AND it comes up hit/surge, and a 17% chance that you need to roll the blue and it comes up any surge.  So that's a 45ish chance that you actually use TS for any attack, it is worth 2 damage, and therefore prorates to .9 damage.   4.46 at range 1-3 for a point efficiency that will obviously be less than the 1x3.

The 2x3 runs into the same problem the 2x2 did with having to prorate TS, which is what will cut its damage far below the other 3x2 Archer units.

I think understanding the Ventala correctly is figuring out a way to play them that lets you use ranged attacks once or twice, and then melee attacks very well.  They are one of the best hedge shroud recipients in the game and a really good melee blocker.

 

Almost all of the 2x1s are the best damage efficiency per points spent, I noticed that fairly early, and Church's numbers assert this as well.  The 2x2 have an important utility role, in taking good support upgrades for each faction, even if they don't bring the same damage as a 2x1.  They also double the health of that 2x1 and the 2 trays come much more cheaply than the first 2 trays.   Finally, some of the cheapest trays in the game come in the upgrade from a 2x2 to a 3x2, and the extra threat can make those points really well spent even if you don't deck them out with a lot of upgrades.  

I'm also of the mind that I'd rather have TS giving me 3 damage on the 3x2s.  Sure, things like Maeghan and Cacophany Reaver offer ways to multiply the damage across two shots, but Fire Rune's threat is now less than the tray threat, and even if you're rerolling aggressively toward red runes, you're still only equally the average damage of TS on that unit.  Sure, you've got to exhaust, but build to make that possible.

One other thing that is hard to gauge by numbers is finding a way to do the right kind of damage at the right time.  For example, I'd rather have Maeghan/Fire Rune on a 2x2.  You'll usually have some lethal damage, and this helps a unit which does two chip shots suddenly start chipping away at armor, like Death Knights, something Fire Rune archers cannot normally do.  There's less competition from Tempered on the 2x2, so Fire Rune feels more natural.  Meanwhile, the 3x2 often just wants all of its damage in a lump sum.

Finally, although each faction is going to do more or less damage than another at a particular price point, and have more or less access to utility options, I find that archers have a similar roll in the game regardless of faction.  And there are also very critical ways they interact with infantry, siege, cavalry and heroes.  I think brainstorming exactly what is the right amount of ranged firepower in the right kinds of lists is worthy.

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3 hours ago, Darth Matthew said:

Thanks, 

I'm a numbers guy and love stuff like this.

Curious on the Tempered Steel math though.  Did you account for how it exhausts?

Would like to see Ventala included in this as well; with a short range(range 3 or less)/long range (range more than 3).

I wasn’t sure about including Ventala. I can work out that math though. 

 

I assumed that that Tempered was reliably refreshed. All but Waiqar have Rallying Musicians, Latari have Faolon, Uthuk have Gorgemaw, Daqan have Hawthorne and BaronZ. Waiqar are a bit different. So long as they aren’t facing Ravos, the shift+rally has been really effective for me to get the 2 Inspiration tokens you really need to get mileage out of Tempered. 

 

I probably should add a huge asterisk by the Maegan builds. I am not sure how to quantify her splash damage options. 

 

Fire rune builds get a big big bonus if their faction brings Rune manipulations. 2 tray deepwoods with Fire Rune become the most efficient Damage build if you flip for Unstable runes aggressively. 

 

I also realized I had some bad math for Viper Legion. I used the average 1 surge they roll and the dialed in surge to assume they managed to get an average Lethal 1 when the target has no bane. That isn’t true. They average .75 because you don’t get anything extra on the turns when you roll 3 surges. It would only affect the .182 that was listed. 

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2 hours ago, Vergilius said:

Almost all of the 2x1s are the best damage efficiency per points spent, I noticed that fairly early, and Church's numbers assert this as well.  The 2x2 have an important utility role, in taking good support upgrades for each faction, even if they don't bring the same damage as a 2x1.  They also double the health of that 2x1 and the 2 trays come much more cheaply than the first 2 trays.   Finally, some of the cheapest trays in the game come in the upgrade from a 2x2 to a 3x2, and the extra threat can make those points really well spent even if you don't deck them out with a lot of upgrades.  

I noticed that pattern as well. I agree. Seems like 2 trays are there for relentless efficiency and effective filler. Only Viler legion and Reanimates can really deal babes at that size. 

 

I agree that 4 trays becomes the utility unit. Jukey’s beloved Dispatch/Rally Star arrives at this size. Same for my Vipers. They start bringing Ritual Venom and don’t feel so guilty bringing Aim of the Serpent over Rank. Crossbows never really become a utility unit. They just facepunch. 

 

6 is for when you want a ranged unit that can smash heroes and smaller units in an activation. 

 

2 hours ago, Vergilius said:

I think brainstorming exactly what is the right amount of ranged firepower in the right kinds of lists is worthy.

Yeah. I’ll ponder some of that and see if I can suggest some sort of rule of thumb for balanced or ranged armies like Rule of 8 is for melee armies. I know Jukey has a Latari specific balance he likes. 

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Maegan is really hard to grasp what she can do.

I've been running her in a block of 4 Ventala with flank fire, fire rune and metered march.  Shooting twice can bubble a lot of damage over a game.

Max damage isn't super high, but at range 1-3 of the initial target, they can out surge the latari archers if you're looking to do bubble damage.

They are also a lot more agile with being able to slow down or turn on any march, which really amps up the effects of flank fire and meter march.

 

Right amount of ranged firepower is really tough.

I've run fairly successfully a list really focused on ranged damage and immobilize tokens. (2 units of 2 scions with fire rune and root, 2 units of 1 scion with roots, 4 tray ventala with Maegan, fire rune, flank fire, meter march, and Aliana with Malcorns and ambush predator).  It's pretty much pure shooting damage banking the tons of immobilize to stop larger blocks while smaller blocks get shot off.

I've also seen tons of lists with no shooting at all.  

I don't see any mission or mechanic right now where shooting is required.

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13 minutes ago, Church14 said:

They start bringing Ritual Venom and don’t feel so guilty bringing Aim of the Serpent over Rank.

I've been running Aim of the Serpent on the 2x1.  This has the effect of making them more of a utility piece, something that only Reanimates or maybe Maegan/Latari Archers can do.  The panic seems to be there well over 50% of the time, at least in my games so far.  Maybe one day someone will figure out a build to manage/control Uthuk banes, but I haven't seen it yet.  A single rallying unit doesn't cut it, though it does help.

In any event, since the surge/surge produces the same damage (with bane) as a hit, that die does not need to be rerolled.  That gives you an extra die face on each die that does something, and more or less I'm choosing to live with the fact that the single surge icon does less than a hit, but still does something.  That leaves 2 die faces out of a 8 that are actually a bust for damage.

Another way to look at the dice is to describe the damage value per die and divide by dice sides:  So the blue die for Vipers is 12/8 or 1.5 damage per blue die, or 3 damage total expected, provided the opponent has a bane.  That's the same basic 3 damage a Latari Archers does after its precise rerolls.  That also means that Rank Discipline has a different kind of effect on them than say Reanimate Archers.  Presumably you don't reroll the double surge.  The acc/blank are easy choices to reroll for damage, adding .375 damage to the damage average.  The single surge is awkward, because you have a 62.5% chance of rolling to higher damage, 12.5% chance of staying the same, and 25% chance of rerolling to lower damage.  .125*2=.25, .5*1=.5 =.75 improvement.  .25*1=.25 disimprovement, overall improvement for rerolling single surge .5 average damage, but that's on that one die face when it comes up, so by .125 again, .0625.   Average damage with Rank Discipline is 3+.375+.0625 or 3.4375, plus the one surge on the dial or 4.4375 average damage for an RD Viper Legion.  So precise takes Latari archers from 2 to 3.  RD takes Reanimates from 2.5 to 3.56, but it only takes Vipers from 3 to 3.44.

To go back to that 2x1 without Rank, the surge dial takes their average damage to 4, and with plenty of armor 3 out there, there will be plenty of times you have three damage for a wound.

That's why I'm ok with Aim of the Serpent on the 2x1.  The damage improvement is not near as great on other archer units, and it makes them slightly more of a utility piece.  I suppose it depends if you want to fish for die faces or just accept what comes up with the roll.  Granted, using Aim of the Serpent does cut into the damage the unit does, but then the purpose of the entire unit is changing.  One always has the option just to do damage if the bane switching doesn't fit the situation.

Also, that would correct some damage efficiency numbers:

Naked Viper Legion:  4/18 =.2222

RD Viper:   4.4375/22 = .2017

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2 minutes ago, Darth Matthew said:

Right amount of ranged firepower is really tough.

I've run fairly successfully a list really focused on ranged damage and immobilize tokens. (2 units of 2 scions with fire rune and root, 2 units of 1 scion with roots, 4 tray ventala with Maegan, fire rune, flank fire, meter march, and Aliana with Malcorns and ambush predator).  It's pretty much pure shooting damage banking the tons of immobilize to stop larger blocks while smaller blocks get shot off.

I've also seen tons of lists with no shooting at all.  

I don't see any mission or mechanic right now where shooting is required.

Strategically speaking, ranged firepower provides an incentive for the opponent to move up.  It can harasss/weaken/break up units before the rest of the army deals with them.  On the other hand, if you have too many ranged units in the list, they blow through the blockers and take out the archers, and its gg with a high MOV to the opponent.

In that respect, I'm wondering if you can pick one good Archer unit, but need a core from your other units elsewhere in the army.  It might also vary by faction.

Waiqar:  I've seen the 3x2 put to really good effect.  Shooting at I4 means you outshoot other archers and likely win that exchange.  I've not seen much of the others on the table and usually its for the bane generation with a little chip damage on the side.

Daqan:  We've all seen the 3x1, but not that it doesn't have more damage efficiency than some other formations.  I think people just knee-jerk to the threat-3, and once the upgrades are on it, you're paying about the same as two 2x1s from other factions.  The 3x1 is also really vulnerable to someone outplaying it on initiative, taking the first I5 shot and dropping its threat before it can shoot back.  The 3x2 has more merit and probably could make more of an appearance than it does.

Latari:  I've played all three types across the board.  I'm starting to settle into no more than one 2x2 or 3x2, but the possibility of adding a 2x1 to either of those, or playing 2-3 2x1s.  You either need to make good use of blockers, or attempt to play a really shifting style with Lay of the Land, Wind Rune, Etharyon.  Scions and Ventala are both going to play a roll here.  Oddly enough, you can get 3-4 ranged units into a list sometimes, while also preserving a good front.  That's not something I've seen any other faction really do much of or as well.

Uthuk:  I've now got 8 trays of Vipers, just on the chance I want to field two 2x2s with Fire Rune/Cacophany, but in most of the lists I've designed, it generally boils down to a single archer unit.

With all factions:

2x1:  light damage, but damage efficiency.  Small utility with Undead or Vipers

2x2:  Utility piece, but usually with lots of options.  You have to pick which utility route you are going to do carefully.

3x2:  Damage piece, but perhaps with some utility.  Can be a really centerpiece/star unit

 

I've just been really uncomfortable lately with multiple archer pieces.

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