Thursday, September 4, 2014

VC: The book is not so bad

I remember when this card dominated..

Coming back to WHFB after a long hiatus, I took the last couple of days to learn about the new armies.  I stopped playing a few months after Dark Elves got their new book and during that time, Dwarfs and Wood Elves also got their proper updates.  Good for them.  It's been a long time coming since these armies got their updates and I hope everyone gets updated relatively soon.

So what prompted this post exactly?  Well, I've been hearing quite a bit from the online community that VC lost a lot of their appeal.  Wood Elves bring a lot of magical arrows into the fray and Dwarfs just have enough shooting to make your Terrorgheists miserable.  While these are both true, I don't think it's all doom and gloom for VC.  Out of all the books that have been released so far, I think VC has the best magic item selection and very powerful playstyles overall.

There are three main playstyles that is VC for the most part:

  • The offensive style plays with a Blenderlord, loves to apply pressure with a knight bus and fast movers that jam up and annihilate the enemy.  He sustains himself via magic, chews through units through his lord and plays a more isolate and destroy game.  The lord likes to focus on one unit, annihilates it utterly and then moves onto the other while the rest of the army supports this action.  When you look at the army itself, it runs with fast movers like Hexwraiths, Terrorgheists, multiple drops of Dire Wolves, Vargheists, Bat Swarms, basically anything that can keep pace with the Blenderlord's bus of Black Knights.
  • The defensive playstyle is on the completely opposite ends of the spectrum.  You like to footslog, keep your army as compressed as possible and win the game through attrition.  In order for VC to do this, they must have a strong magic phase in the way of magical items, namely the Black Peripat.  You might see one or two Master Necromancers in this list, forming your basic casting engines to be combined with the Mortis Engine's +2 to cast for Lore of Vampires.  The rest of the army is made out of anything with good staying power:  Big units of Ghouls, a big unit of Crypt Horrors, Mortis Engine for additional Regen, and anything else that can take a beating and stick in combat.  These lists tend to be slower than the offensive style of playing.
  • The last style that you'll see is a mix of both.  You might have a Blenderlord bus, a fat stack of Crypt Horrors with Mortis Engine, and/or anything else that combines the ideology of both.  These lists might have more options when fighting against specific archetypes in the metagame, but they're definitely not as focused as the other two playstyles.  Personally, I think players that focuses on either pure offense or pure defense have better lists overall.  The reason for this is because the VC army likes to either move and move fast, or move slow together.  Breaking that 12" march bubble with your General causes some serious problems most of the time, especially when most of the spells you cast are best in an AoE.

I will say one thing that is the major flaw in the VC book:  Some of the units are gimmicky and very swingy in terms of effectiveness.  For example:  Hexwraiths can be great against something like Ogres, but they'll be hiding for their lives vs. Wood Elves.  Terrorgheists basically have nowhere to hide against multiple cannons, but against an army with little shooting, they can dominate.

At the end of the day, you gotta take what playstyle you playing with most and utilize units that can face anyone in a tournament setting.  That means knowing your meta and which archetypes out there give you the most trouble.  If you're expecting to see a lot of magic flying around, you probably don't want to load your list with Hexwraiths.  If you're expecting to see Ogres, Dwarfs and Empire a lot, multiple Terrorgheists might be a point sink more than anything else.  You just gotta know what you're fighting against and build a balanced list based on your own playstyle.

Lastly, for christ sakes people, revisit your magic items selection once in a while, you'll be surprised with what you'll find.  Black Peripat allows you to absolutely dominate magic phases and it might be one of the best Arcane items in the game, rivaling that of Book of Hoeth.  Nightshroud has been absolutely absurd for me, shutting down opposing ASF and removing the threat of magic weapon/GW-totting models entirely.  Shit, even that cheap little Cursed Book that you have there for 35 points might be one of the best items in the game right now.  A little Lv.1 Necromancer can potentially cast a Soul Blight with 1 dice that'll normally take him 3 dice to cast.  Not just that, but your opponent will throw at least 2 dice on his Lv.4 to dispel it.  If that's not magic power, I don't know what is.

Know your meta, know the archetypes, and know your opponents.  Above all else:  Know your own army.  It will drastically increase your win % as far as preparation is concerned.


Yrellian said...

You are totally right. VCs still have one of the best books out there. On par with Ogres and WoC. I find people trying to place the HE book in that tier as well, and I would disagree, as the only broken build is the WL with Allarielle with BOTWD, the rest is balanced IMO. The WE and Dorf release was quite underwhelming in our meta, with only 1 dorf player representing. But people that argue that VCs are bad because dwarves came out is like saying zerglings are bad because siege tanks exist. Not everyone builds siege tanks or even plays Terran, there is a plethora of race/unit combinations that can arise in games such as these. I still fear fighting VCs with any of my lists, especially the super defensive ones. They are fairly popular in my group with 2-3 armies floating around. Mannfred has been a fan favorite of one, and blenderlord in skele block is another.

Von said...

I'd be halfway interested in the defensive list (I can't stop myself wanting the Lichemaster in it, Black Periapt be damned, but I'll get over that) if it didn't involve replacing my entire army.

Von said...

I find it sad in some ways that the books are 'best' if they have more than one 'broken build' in them, which is what I'm reading in to your statement here.

HERO said...

Were you referring to VC or another army Von?

Von said...

'The books'. Read carefully and you'll get it.

The inference I draw from Yrellian's post is that 'the best books', across the range, are the ones with multiple 'broken builds', given that High Elves miss out on being top tier because they only have one 'broken build'.

HERO said...

lol, read carefully? Really guy?
I also don't agree with your assessment. You can have many of these power builds as you call it, but if you're getting stomped by the same one broken build from another book, then you won't reach the top tables.

Von said...

Really, guy. You seemed to make an error of comprehension.

I'm only discussing an inference from someone else's words, you know. My own frame of reference isn't especially concerned with top table play at events, since... well, I've never cracked the top 50%, not even in six or eight man shows.

The vibe that I'm getting, ultimately, is that the 'broken build' (Yrellian's words, not mine) makes the book. If your book can do something which solves the game in a majority of cases - like all the movement shenanigans you were discussing in your Legions of Undeath post, or the +4-to-everything-teleporting-into-the-zone Circle Orboros lists in Hordes - then it's top tier.

I'm sad because I'm not especially interested in playing solved games, or in inducing them, and rating books by the likelihood of doing so indicates something about the way our games are often played.

Perhaps, at top table level, these 'broken builds' don't have the same result for whatever reason, and the games remain viable? I imagine they must do, or you'd see more chess-like outcomes, with concessions at the point where victory is no longer possible. In WFB terms I suppose that'd be when the Victory Point gap has grown so wide that it's mathematically impossible to move back into 'draw' territory, or when some sudden death condition like "no standard bearers left" has been met.

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