Vir's Archive

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pithy Analysis: In Defense of the Destroyer

The Destroyer is Your Bestest Friend (after me, that is)


With this blog I am going to try something new - analysis of some Warmachine units/minis. I like to think I have a bit of a different perspective than other Warmachine players (dont we all?). I enjoy taking minis and units that are normally poo-poo'd by the greater Warmachine community and see if I can find the context to make those models useful. I enjoy this doubly so when I have a theme I am working on and slavishly keep a model in the list despite its supposed ineffectiveness. Naturally, the Destroyer, which kicked so much butt in 1e and is now considered obsolete in 2e by many Warmachine players, is the 'Jack I field most often and have the best results with. I think I am going to call this series of Blogs "Pithy Analysis."

Pithy Analysis: The Destroyer

Even now, they cannot escape the shadow of "the Big guy."

The Destroyer gets unfairly maligned by pretty much every Khador player because it isnt the Behemoth. The Destroyer is nine points, gets you good ARM, a great ranged weapon (the bombard), and a solid (if unexciting) melee weapon. The Behemoth is 13 points, gets you two bombards, has great melee, has an extra point of armor, and looks sweet. So, for a measly four points more you get a lot more return on your investment, right? Right? Wrong. The reality is that the Destroyer continues to fill a useful role in Khador's arsenal - and is not supplanted in all instances by the Behemoth. Its All About the Gun.

Business end of the bombard.

Lets get the basics of the bombard out of the way-- long range; great POW (for a gun); 3'' AOE (to force good placement by your opponent and to still hit even when you miss); arcing fire (to ignore annoying screens); and because of that AOE, the ability to hit stealthed solos (I'm looking at you Eiyrss). Thats quite a set of abilities.

Fool'd ya! Its actually all About the Mission.

Two of my three beloved Destroyers 073 and 063 (named after Aircraft Carriers I worked on while in Tokyo)

What the Destroyer does is give a Khador player a mobile and amazingly survivable gun platform that can also defend itself in melee -- for 9 points. That's the key right there, when you have a role to fill, you should fill it as efficiently as possible. Yeah, yeah, the Behemoth is better in many ways, but its also four more points. If you dont have to spend four more points to get the job done - then dont. Simply upgrading to the Behemoth in all cases is wasting a large percentage of your available army list.

To put it another way, if you are trying to save money, and you can buy a nice Mazda for $20,000 to get to work or you can buy a nice BMW for $70,000 - which should you buy? Yes, the Mazda isnt as sexy as the BMW, but for utility, it does the same thing. Drawing the analogy out, you can do the same for making lists. You can choose fluff over substance (which is totally okay by me, heck, I encourage it), or you can choose to streamline your list. Since we are talking about relative utility of the Destroyer and I am (vainly) trying to convince you, dear reader, that the Behemoth isnt always the better choice, lets just put aside fluff and aesthetics for the time being. Phew.

The Behemoth, Focus, and You!

One! Two! Two bombards! Ah, ha, ha!

Amazingly enough, there is something that the Destroyer does better than the Behemoth - focus management with the gun. The Destroyer only has one gun and it can take a full allocation of focus. Thus, there is no issue boosting both to-hit and damage, maximizing the utility of the bombard. Because the Behemoth has two bombards (yay!) but can only have three focus allocated to both those bombards (boo!) you cant put two focus on each shot (boost hit/boost damage). The result is that you are paying for two bombards, but only one of which cant be used optimally (this is, of course, excepting 'jack bond characters - we will just ignore them). Because both the Destroyer and Behemoth have crappy RATs, getting two focus on each shot is a big deal. ...and lets be honest, you are buying the Behemoth and Destroyer for their guns. The other stuff they bring to the table is gravy, but its the guns that make these guys useful.

Ask yourself, whens the last time you took the Behemoth for its melee ability? Right. Never. Khador has better, more points-efficient options for beat-down. So, if the role of the Behemoth in your list is to be the ranged threat not only are you not getting maximum focus use, you are also wasting four precious points on AP fists you dont intend to use. Blech. (Note, if the role you have for the Behemoth is to be your utility jack and do both ranged and melee shenanigans, then yeah, its probably a better choice than the Destroyer - its all about knowing what role you want your jack to play).

In the Destroyer you got a very versatile weapon, and for a modest amount of focus, you can devastate just about any target -- at what amounts to extreme range (in Warmachine, at least). Thats really good. Better yet, if the Destroyer's target survives the hit, its going to have a hard time eliminating the Destroyer in response - since the 'jack is (naturally) heavily armored and mobile (not "fast" - "mobile"). Thats a nasty combo. There is nothing else in our lists that has the hitting power, focus efficiency, mobility and sheer survivability that the Destroyer brings to the table. Even heavily armored targets and warcasters have to steer clear of a Destroyer because of its hitting power and arcing fire. Lots of other models do one or maybe two of those things... but not all of them (mortar moves like crap, Widowmakers can have problems with multi-wound models, most other Khadorian jack guns are much shorter range). The exception to this rule, and one other jack that can do everything the Destroyer does, is the Behemoth -- but it has its own pitfalls as I note above. Indeed, if played correctly, the Destroyer should strike fear in your opponent so much so that they leave a nice big halo of empty space around your jack out of the fear or well-placed bombard shots.

I Love me Some Axe.

One unexciting melee weapon, coming right up!

Lets talk about the axe a little bit. No one loves the axe. Its solid, but unimpressive in a faction known for having so very impressive melee options. However, I love the axe. Lurv. It. Why? because its crappy, and you dont pay a premium for crappy melee weapons. Every stat, ability or advantage in Warmachine comes with a cost in points. Its the reason great options cost more points. When I build an army a lot of my selection process is based around paying the least amount of points for the stats/abilities I want to use. Everybody does this even if they dont think about it - why pay for Croe's Cutthroats (and all their special abilities) if all you want is a cheap tarpit unit? So, being happy with a crappy axe is due to using the Destroyer for the right role - a mobile gun platform. I dont want to have to pay for great melee in the Destroyer simply because I dont ever plan for it to be my primary melee jack. If the Destroyer were designed with a kick butt axe, its points cost would go up. I dont want that. I dont want to pay a premium on an ability or item I dont plan on using.

I have the same problem paying for solos that modify other units like the Marksman or Fenris... if I take one of those solos without the unit it modifies, I better have a very good reason. I hate choosing units with abilities I dont plan on using. What I do want out of that axe is reasonable hitting power, nothing more. The crit is nice, but nothing spectacular and is of such middling utility didnt drive up the cost of the Destroyer appreciably. So, I get what I want. A melee weapon that i can use and buff with focus if I really need to, but that doesnt waste points forcing up the price on the jack to add abilities or crit effects that aren't going to be used.

Take it! Its Yours!

Waitasec! I used this pic already. Boo.

Dont overlook the fact that the Destroyer is arguably our best model for taking and holding objectives. If you play games as something other than run-run-melee (which many Khador players seem to think is the only option - more power to them I guess), then the Destroyer is extremely valuable. It can advance to a spot, and with its armor absorbing hit after hit, hold that point for a couple rounds (at least). Better yet, since its bombard has great range and amazing hitting power, the Destroyer can camp that spot and still participate in the battle -- hitting challengers and severely weakening them before they ever get close to the objective point. When/if your opponent gets something to the point to try to push the Destroyer off, it has that handy axe for defending itself. There are other ways to take and hold an objective, but none so menacing and hard for your opponent to deal with than the (wrongfully-maligned) Destroyer. ...oh, and the Destroyer can hit stealthed targets at range. I've seen my opponent bring Eiryss to the table, just to see her wiped off the map by a nicely deviated bombard shot -- and then the Destroyer (in subsequent turns) deals ranged death to my opponent's most valuable models. Great armor + strong gun + great range = ideal unit to take and hold objectives.

Destroyers! Magetize and attack!

Pithy Analysis Conclusion: Use the Destroyer when you need:

1) A powerful shooty unit in your army (one of the best Khador has to offer).

2) To hold an objective (the best Khador has to offer).

3) When the Behemoth is too expensive.