Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Undiscovered Power Lists: Archaon Rotbringer

Welcome to the second part of our list-tech series, wherein I explore the dark apertures of a mind so insidious, even the Lords of Chaos can’t come up with lists as broken as his. I refer of course to the mystical augur we know only as ‘Jim’.

Jim comes up with thematic, non-legacy lists that we haven’t yet seen from the international tournament scene, or at least are not as prominent as we feel they could be.

Last time we looked at a badass, Dragon-Riding ‘A(e)lfa Strike’ list. You can check out that post here.

This week, Jim  gives us something far more sinister. Kneel, mortals, before Archaon Rotbringer.

The Destroyer of Worlds is blessed by all the Dark Gods, often taking on their different aspects - including Nurgle.

Archaon Rotbringer


Archaon has been seen on the tournament circuit, but seldom, if ever, gets to a podium. Despite his intimidating stats, he is quite unwieldy, and can get taken out more often than is appropriate for a Destroyer of Worlds.

This list will work probably better with small Archaon, but our goal is to find ways to make non-legacy warscroll lists viable. We think this is a great way to get value out of big Archaon.

The basis for this combo is Archaon’s ability to trigger the Command Abilities for all Chaos Heroes nearby, and the fact that the effects of abilities can stack.

It should be noted here that some tournaments add a house rule that stops abilities from stacking, so if you are looking at running this list, check the Player's Pack well beforehand!

The List

  • Archaon - 700
  • Festus the Leechlord - 120
  • Harbinger of Decay - 140
  • Harbinger of Decay - 140
  • Harbinger of Decay - 140
  • Harbinger of Decay - 140
  • Chaos Marauders (x10) - 60
    • Mark of Nurgle
  • Putrid Blightkings (x5) - 180
  • Chaos Warriors (x10) - 180
    • Mark of Nurgle
  • Chaos Warshrine - 200

Leaders: 6
Battleline: 3
Behemoths: 2
Number of models: 32

TOTAL POINTS: 2,000


The Combos


Deployment

As a unit-heavy list, you have 10 deployments, and are unlikely to get the choice of first turn. This leaves you vulnerable to turn one alpha strikes, so deploy cautiously when up against alpha-strike lists by bubble-wrapping your heroes with the Marauders.


Command Abilities

Let’s crack straight into Command Abilities. Archaon’s Warlord Without Equal ability allows all other units in the army to immediately use their own command abilities. In order:
  1. Harbinger of Decay uses Morbid Vigour, allowing each model within 7” to ignore wounds and mortal wounds on a roll of a 5 or 6.
  2. A second Harbinger of Decay uses Morbid Vigour, allowing each model within 7” to ignore wounds and mortal wounds on a roll of a 5 or 6.
  3. A third Harbinger of Decay uses Morbid Vigour, allowing each model within 7” to ignore wounds and mortal wounds on a roll of a 5 or 6.
  4. A fourth Harbinger of Decay uses Morbid Vigour, allowing each model within 7” to ignore wounds and mortal wounds on a roll of a 5 or 6.
Let us pause here to explain how this works. In AOS, there is no such thing as a ‘Ward Save’. Listed above are four separate abilities, each of which lets each model within range ignore all wounds suffered (after saves) on a 5 or 6.

For example; Archaon is within 7” of all four Harbingers. Say he gets hit by an arrow, and fails his 2+ armour save (he has Mystic Shield on of course). Now he has four more chances to ignore the wound on a roll of 5 or 6 - once for each Morbid Vigour ability in affect.

This means that after Archaon fails an armour save, 19%, or roughly one-in-five wounds are actually going through. Effectively you would have to inflict 100 wounds to him to take him down. If you do factor in his save, which even up against -2 rend is a 4+ with Mystic Shield - that is 200 wounds he can statistically absorb. Plus he gets the extra save against mortal wounds thanks to the Chaos Runeshield.

The rotten cherry on top of this disease-ridden combo is the Chaos Warshrine, adding an extra save on a six thanks to Protection of the Dark Gods.

The Chaos Warshrine could then activate, allowing all units within 16" to re-roll failed Wound rolls with the Favour of Nurgle.

Festus can then heal D3 wounds on one of your models with his Delightful Brews, Splendid Restoratives.

The Putrid Blightkings can also heal nearby units D3 wounds with their Virulent Discharge.


Magic Spells

If you need to make Archaon invulnerable, Mystic Shield goes on him.

Festus' Curse of the Leper is a nice debuff that can make key heavily armoured opposing units softer and softer. This combos very well with the Putrid Blightkings, who need the extra help with their lack of rend.


Movement

If you want to make the most of the protection combos, you need to keep your units pretty tightly grouped within range of the Harbingers. This is a disadvantage for when you have to divide your force for objective play, so you could divide the Harbingers between a few smaller pods if required.

Marauders are a fantastic ‘chaff unit as they have Move 6, and can be very fast on the retreat, allowing you to block charges and then move on to contest objectives. As mentioned, they will not die in a hurry.


Shooting

None to speak of!


Combat

There isn’t much to say here. The synergy of the list is that the Nurgle units will not die. All units benefit from the combat buff from the Warshrine, but again it's the protective synergies that are taking you the distance.


Army Cost

This is a bit more of an expensive army to put together using the correct models. Archaon is the single most expensive model in the game at the moment (though if you can obtain the small version that might be an option), and the Harbingers are Finecast direct order only models. You can get around this by maybe converting some Chaos Knights. As is, however, the RRP is £321.50, and you will have 10 Marauders and 6 Chaos Warriors left over from their boxes.


Unit Substitution

This list could work well with a variety of Nurgle units. Epidemius is a great choice - hide him in your backlines somewhere. You could drop a few Harbingers for some more mobile troops like Plague Drones if the confined nature of deployment is too restricting. The Glottkin could be useful to double the amount of wounds the Marauder chaff can take to 100. You can even run the small Archaon if you want to be even cheesier than Jim -  as long as he can trigger the Harbingers, you’re golden. Or at least a sickly shade of green (it’s Nurgle after all).

Fitting in the Plaguetouched Warband battalion adds some nice synergies (such as -1 to hit in combat army-wide) at the cost of some points efficiency, but would allow you to get your whole army down in one deployment. This would also give the whole army the Everchosen allegiance, allowing you to take Varanguard as battleline.

The list would scale very well up to Warhost sized games.


Weaknesses

Once the heroes start dying, your synergies fall apart. The good news is, this is very hard to achieve.

Tactical flexibility is a big issue. To maximse the synergy, your units must all be in close proximity, relinquishing a lot of battlefield control. One way around this is to split your army into two pods, sending two Harbingers with each.

A well-timed Hand of Dust or Curse of Years will also bring tears to your eyes.


On the Table

Jim and I had a game play-testing this list. My army consisted of:

  • Nagash - 900
  • Wight King with Black Axe - 120
  • 5 Black Knights x 120
  • 20 Skeleton Warriors with Sword and Shield - 160
  • 20 Skeleton Warriors with Spear and Shield - 160
  • 20 Skeleton Warriors with Spear and Shield - 160
  • 20 Grave Guard with Great Blades - 320
  • Legion of Death Battalion - 60

We played the Blood and Glory battle plan. It ended up being a poor example of how the Rotbringer army could play. Jim moved Archaon too far out of reach of the buffs. He charged some skeletons and fluffed all his dice rolls. I retreated my skeletons onto his objective, and charged him with my Grave Guard. Over the next few turns I was able to take him down, as he did not have the benefit of the Harbinger buffs. Plus his dice luck failed.

I almost won the game, but missed a run roll with Nagash which would have allowed me to claim all four objectives. As a result, Nagash wasn’t involved in the game at all. Jim stayed in the game somehow, using his marauders and Harbingers to sneak through my army lines with canny use of retreats and piling in, and was able to snatch all four objectives by turn 5. An incredibly exciting and tactical game, which I’m still buzzing about, but not one that shows off the main synergies of Archaon Rotbringer!



I am keen to hear from anyone who has tried this! Please let me know your thoughts in the posts below. Can you think of any other counters? Would you be keen on giving the army a try?