Fusileros del justo Castigo!
Fusileros del justo Castigo!
It’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote with great passion about the unsung heroes of the retribution. What I’m writing about today is a unit that is oft much maligned and generally regarded as a distasteful joke more than anything else; Yes, saying they’re good but I’d never use them because of the ‘better’ options qualifies here! You certainly guessed it – House guard Riflemen.
My main purpose in writing this article is three fold; firstly to dispel the negative mythos surrounding the riflemen, secondly to highlight their attributes and thirdly to provide real world examples and scenarios that illustrate just how useful and rewarding they can be for players that wish to broaden their horizons within this faction.
One of the biggest hurdles typically thrown in front of the riflemen is that of the other ranged units belonging to the retribution. This is compounded by the fact that the rest of these units are specialists whereas the riflemen are a budget generalist unit. The selling points of the other units (Invictors, mage hunter strike force [MHSF] and the stormfall archers) are all well known and will be referenced here as they compare back to the riflemen.
In short the MHSF have the tri-fecta of harassment traits (PF, Stealth, and AD) reasonable range, arcane assassin, phantom hunter and jack hunter but with low power and very poor armour. Their ability to bring fire to bear on anyone from anywhere and ignore any defensive buffs is their key selling point as well as the ability to punch significant holes through light and medium armoured jacks.
Invictors on the other hand fall at the other extreme of the spectrum being slow and unwieldy with good armour yet poor defence. They hit hard both and accurately at range and (with the help of a jack for flank) in melee. The down side to Invictors is that some of their power is conditional (flank), they’re slow and have poor range (outside of the mini-feat turn [extended fire]) and they are the most expensive of the ranged options
Storm fall archers are different again being somewhat of the gun mages of Retribution. They come as small expensive units and have middling defensive stats (shared by the riflemen) and they also lack accuracy. In their favour though is that they hit hard (At POW 12) and innately have aoe’s (3). In addition to this their shot types really help them to tailor their efforts to the relevant task. Snipe allows them the benefit of aiming or much deeper threat ranges, brutal shot gives them phenomenal hitting power and star strike is very utility in its ability to set things on fire.
With these three very solid and well purposed range options its easy to fall into the trap of under estimating what the riflemen can bring to the table, with an open mind and some experience though one can soon start to discern the benefits of the riflemen over other ranged options in a given situation.
Looking deeper at the riflemen; like the stormfall archers they have middle of the road defensive stats, and whilst these aren’t at all impressive they hit key peaks where it counts. For instance the 13 defence is not as good as 14, however the jump from 12 (Invictors) to 13 is a very significant one. Again whilst the armour is not as good as that of the Invictors it is again just on top of a critical point. Typically AOE’s come in at POW 6 and start tapering off on 7 which means that the 13 arm on the riflemen is enough to put them just out of bounds on the majority of AOE’s. With the other myriad tools that ret has and the Riflemen’s tendency to play in the rear centre section of your army this means that they potentially have immunity to blast anyway but errant ones that come in are more likely to bounce than break armour. In melee and against direct shooting the jump from 13 to 15 is highly irrelevant and the jump from 13 to 17 is only relevant vs. POW 10 shooting.
So whilst the Riflemen’s defensive stat’s don’t look like much at all on paper they do come in at the right places which gives them protection from mat/rat 6 as well as pow 6 blast – which are typically the kind of throw away attacks that will target them. Again DEF14 and stealth would certainly be better (And are for a front line/flanking unit – like MHSF), for the role and position they play in though 13/13 is exactly where you want the riflemen to be.
The offensive output of the Riflemen is also something that is typically judged unfairly. Firstly they are range 14 which is the highest native range out of all the ret shooting units giving them an instant pip in the ability of stand of that they are able to provide, additionally they have both CRA and ranked attack as innate abilities which means that they have all the abilities that a back field shooting unit needs to effectively contribute to the battle as they can bunch up and don’t need to constantly shift position to gain los through themselves. The down sides are that their rat is only 5 which are lower than both the Invictors and mhsf, however, with much greater opportunities to aim and the ability to CRA that downside is balanced out. POW 10 is low and lacking any other boosters (such as AA) makes them the ‘weakest’ of the shotting units. This innately low POW though can be balanced out through target selection and their CRA’s.
The next ability that the Riflemen have is one that is particularly interesting as it is unique to them. Anytime that an ability in a game like warmachine exists on only one entity it is almost always incredibly powerful and of extreme interest to me. War tempered is the Riflemen officers granted trait that allows them to CRA into melee. Opponents of this ability typically cite that it is not good, or not worth the risk because it does not negate the shooting into melee penalty (+4 def). The 4 def penalty is easily overcome in two ways though, firstly by aiming and secondly through the use of CRA. With range 14 and ranked attacks it is typically very easy to engineer a situation where you can have two riflemen shooting at the intended target while aiming. Granted this does only get you back up to an even footing, however, it does provide +2 POW on the shot if it hits.
Additionally War tempered combos extremely well with the riflemen officers’ mini-feat: White’s of their eyes. This mini-feat gives all the riflemen and additional dice to hit when they are shooting a target within 8” of themselves. Now it might seem counter intuitive to give them an extra dice to hit and restrict the range at which they can do it, however, the flip side of that position is that rather than being an alpha strike tool (of which retribution has many) the mini-feat is a recovery tool.
The point is that it allows you to recover from being jammed in and having your front lines stymied by enemy trash. The whites of their eyes, particularly when combo’d with war tempered allows the ret player to free up their front lines in a manner and with efficiency that no other ret unit can match. The simple order of activation allows the riflemen to activate first and disentangle the front lines so that they can resume their role rather than having to play defensively or waste their activation recovering from a sub-optimal position (being jammed).
Retribution as a faction is extremely fine tuned in that the right tools need to be performing the right jobs or they typically lose a lot of mileage. Whilst on the one hand they have a phenomenal degree of adaptability and improvisation available to them, conversely if the primary elements are being engaged against their terms then they can find themselves fighting uphill very fast.
In a faction based around the concept of insurance the riflemen provide a very optimal coverage that can ensure the other units and elements of the army are free toe engage at their discretion rather than on the opponent’s terms.
An example of a list that I like to use the riflemen in is:
Charge of the Battle Mages (Tier 3)
Adeptis Rahn (+6)
Arcanist – (1)
Battle Mages 5
Battle Mages 5
Halberdiers Max + UA 9
Riflemen Max + UA 10
Total: 56 pts.
Typically I like to use Riflemen in this fashion coupled with halberdiers in Rahn’s charge of the battle mages theme list. The halberdiers provide a solid front line and anchor whilst the riflemen operate from behind them providing fire support. The two units work particularly well as the halberdiers also have ranked attack which allows the riflemen to easily concentrate fire on the targets of their choice.
In this list the battle mages and magisters also play an integral role as the horns of the Buffalo and having that additional support or a final POW 21 cra from the riflemen to put on an opposing caster is also an extremely useful asset. The phoenix provide heavy hitters and Rahn does what he does best (which is everything).
Thanks for reading; I hope that this illuminates the possibilities of the Riflemen a little bit more. Initially I had hoped to insert diagrams and figures to help illustrate what I am talking about, however, I ran out of time so those might have to wait or will possibly be available to anyone that’s interested.