The Quest for Mediocrity: I am a Special Unique Snowflake

Special snowflake is special

In the Protectorate, it snows fire.

Greetings all!  I’m back to regale you with more tales of my epic adventures in failure.  Well, actually I plan on discussing with you some of the more eccentric aspects of my list building and play-style; why I choose some of the unconventional units that I do and why I favour some of the “lower tier casters”.

It’s been recently suggested (on and off the podcast) that I suffer from “Special Unique Snowflake” syndrome.  While this may or may not be the case (I really don’t know for certain, I haven’t been tested) I do admit to having a soft spot for the lesser used casters and units.  Especially if the forums espouse said caster or unit as being universally terrible.  I often choose to test less than popular casters/units for several reasons.

  1. Every meta is different.  Just because a certain list choice is optimal in one area does not mean it is in another.  For example if your meta is more Hordes dominated, then units that effect the focus mechanic, constructs or unliving models will have a tendency to be less useful.  The corollary of this is that models/units/etc that impact the fury mechanic, healing and living models will be more useful.  The particular skew your meta has will impact what units are optimal against the opponents you most often face.  To further compound this, there will be differences across regions and playgroups.
  2. The forums are not always correct.  The forums are a (very) vocal minority.  Much forum “wisdom” is touted by a few and repeated by many as gospel.  Note that this does not mean that the few people relating their experiences with certain lists and models/units are incorrect but that the knowledge of the poster is limited to their own subjective experience.  In terms of tournament goers a person who plays mainly in timed turns environments will favour certain list builds and units etc over a tournament player that plays mainly deathclock.
  3. There is no “auto include”.  Many units are phenomenal across metas and lists.  The Choir of Menoth, for example is a fantastic unit that contributes a lot to the majority of Protectorate lists.  It still isn’t an auto-include (Crusaders of Sul Theme Force for example).  The opposite is also true, no unit is truly useless.  With the right caster, support, deployment or scenario any given unit/model can shine.  Some units may have a more limited scope than others or have a more specific role but each one has its place.
  4. It’s a game.  I play this game to have fun.  I also enjoy playing in tournaments and winning games.  Part of my enjoyment comes from using the models I like the look of.  These are not always what is considered the “most effective” by the forums.  As well by using lesser used units it allows me to explore my faction(s) more thoroughly and learn new effective (and ineffective) tactics and strategic approaches.  I really enjoy finding a particular niche where units excel then following that up with finding the list and caster that complements those units best.
  5. I enjoy the novelty, the challenge and the learning curve.  I have found that by using what is considered less popular or what requires more experience to use helps me more in improving as a player.  For example, if I want to improve at finding ways to exploit the different types of power attacks I’m not going to field a list composed with a majority of infantry or a battlegroup without any open fists.

So that’s my reasoning.  To supplement my argument (or perhaps to explain my madness) I’ll take you through my assessment of two often compared Protectorate units:  Exemplar Errants and Idrian Skirmishers.

Let’s start with the forum favourites: Exemplar Errants

errants

They’ve got some solid stats (5,6,7,6,12,16,9 TOTAL:61 ) with Fearless and Advance Deployment.  As well they’ve got Blessed range 10, POW 10 crossbows and they’re P+S 9 weapon masters.  Lastly their claim to fame is Self Sacrifice.  The full unit costs 8 points.  The UA costs 2 points and has Tactics: Quick Work, Pathfinder and while the standard is in play they cannot be targeted by enemy spells.

PROS:

  • utility in melee and ranged
  • 10 points for 16 wounds
  • self sacrifice allows for situational board control
  • immunity to spells is very strong in some matchups
  • fearless
  • good jam / first wave unit

CONS:

  • don’t specialize in any one area
  • damage output is low compared to most other protectorate units
  • self sacrifice is “skornergistic” with Protectorate soul collection and abilities proc’d by enemy damage

In my assessment the Exemplar Errants are a good “jack of all trades” unit.  Errants are able to fulfill roles in many protectorate armies that need a unit flexible enough to stop-gap potential weaknesses and hold a line long enough for the main line to arrive.  Not a bad unit at all, but it doesn’t excel in any one area.

Now, the much maligned Idrian Skirmishers:

idrian

Their statline isn’t quite as high as the Errants (6,6,6,5,13,12,8 TOTAL:56).  They’re armed with range 10, POW 11 rifles and P+S 10 weapons.  They’ve got pathfinder, CRA, advanced deployment and camouflage.  The full unit costs 10 points.  The UA costs 3 points and has Assault & Battery, Tactics: CMA, Huntsman and gives Go To Ground once per game.

PROS:

  • pathfinder and camouflage means they’re effectively def 17 – 19 most turns
  • 13 points for 20 wounds
  • against prey target, stat total becomes 62, higher if benefitting from camouflage
  • flexible damage output
  • huntsman combined with assault & battery allows them easily threaten multiple units in a single turn
  • often underestimated by opponents because of forum perspective

CONS:

  • low arm means that if a model is hit, it’s most likely dead
  • vulnerable to command checks
  • weaker on boards light on terrain, especially without a defenders ward caster
  • board function is projected owing to prey target
  • guide needs to be protected to preserve huntsman

When I examine the two units, the conclusion I come to is that if I know what I want dead and want to play a more aggressive style the Idrians are the better choice.  They require more skill to play but reward good play more than the Errants.  If I want to play more defensively or want a more flexible unit then the Errants are the better choice.  Errants are also much more forgiving to errors in play and to less experienced players.  As well, I feel that it needs to be pointed out that there is a “dark horse” factor with the Idrians – if you’re playing units that your opponent has little experience with, that’s to your advantage.

So, there you have it.  A small peek into my methods and reasoning.  How do you feel about these two units?  Do you feel my analysis is flawed?  Comments, discussion and constructive criticism is welcome.

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4 thoughts on “The Quest for Mediocrity: I am a Special Unique Snowflake

  1. An excellent glimpse into the way you analyze things, Darrell. And, for what it’s worth, I agree with you about Idrians vs Errants… while I can comfortably reach for Errants and be pretty sure they will perform acceptably in any situation, the Idrians really shine in some cases and are much better choices with the right support/warcasters.

    Which, for the record, makes them almost perfectly analogous to my beloved Trenchers. In the right situation, and with the right warcasters, one of the most powerful units in the game. However, in the wrong situations or in the wrong lists… man are they useless!

    And, for the record, your Special-Unique-Snowflake Syndrome has resulted in me being super excited to get the Testament of Menoth and Kreoss3 (neither of who were on my radar until you played them). So keep it up!

  2. Great post Darrell. I admit to having the same syndrome as you (my mother had me tested). Sometimes, this syndrome can cause meta-shakeups, so keep on being unique man ^^
    Testament is legit yo!

  3. Thanks for the feedback guys. I also forgot to add a bit about effective threat range but the stats speak for themselves in that respect (Idrians win out). To follow this article up, it seems that the use of the Idrian Skirmishers is on the rise. I think that this is thanks largely in part to the High Reclaimer gaining popularity. The High Reclaimer’s Burning Ash spell. The spell allows the Idrians cover exactly where they need it and therefore they’re always getting their def bonus against ranged and the clouds grant the unit a def bonus against living models in melee as well. Additionally the FEAT allows you to really abuse the Huntsman rule.

    While playing like I do gives you a lot of ups and downs in terms of performance, it needs to be said that my games are always interesting; and yes Bennep, Testament is fantastic (I love the Reliquary Guard list). I’m trying to convince Marc to play it. I think it’d be right up his alley.

  4. I like your analysis and agree with it. EE’s don’t require you to think too much, but will also tell that to your opponent, and probably perform as such.

    Playing a unit like Idrians that requires more attention, but rewards more too, might actually help sharpening your play, while Errants could negatively impact your game.

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