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 Discussion: The powergaming potential of human warbands.

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Major Sharpe
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PostSubject: Discussion: The powergaming potential of human warbands.   Fri 17 Jan 2014 - 6:12

I feel the need to start this thread with a disclaimer. I would guess that the majority of people on this forum find the idea of powergaming with Mordheim distasteful. This thread is not intended as a venue to discuss the merits of powergaming vs. friendly/fluffy gaming.

Rather, it is intended as a place to discuss the competitive potential of the various human mercenary warbands.

For the purposes of this discussion, I'd like include human warbands found in the Vanilla Mordheim rulebook, Empire in Flames, and the Mordheim Annuals.

This leaves us with:
-Reikland
-Middenheim
-Marienberg
-Averland
-Nuln
-Ostland
-Kislev
 
The central point of discussion should of course be, which warband(s) do you feel are most competitive for league play, and why? Some additional questions to consider might include:

-Though the core human warbands (Reikland, Middenheim, and Marienberg) have perks that set them apart, the primary difference between most is the skill tables their heroes can choose from. For example, Middenheim has the weakest long-term perk, but arguably the best skill table. Which Warband has the optimal skill-table for a long-term campaign?

-Which warbands have access to the best henchmen? Specifically, how do the swordsmen available to the rulebook warbands compare to the more specialized henchmen like halflings or pistoliers?

-Are Reikland's BS4 marksmen a worthwhile perk, or are Reiklanders better of leaving the experience for their heroes?

- At 500 (or 600) crowns, what's the most powerful game-breaking warband you can put together?

Again, this is intended as a hypothetical to better explore the differences between warbands, not a how-to guide on how to break vanilla Mordheim. Discuss!
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Von Kurst
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PostSubject: Re: Discussion: The powergaming potential of human warbands.   Sat 18 Jan 2014 - 8:14

I don't have much contribute but I do have a couple of thoughts.

-You include Nuln on your list, but it is not an official warband. If you include Nuln you might as well include Hochland and Stirland as well.

Quote :
For example, Middenheim has the weakest long-term perk, but arguably the best skill table. Which Warband has the optimal skill-table for a long-term campaign?
-Why is Middenheim's skill list the best? Reikland is more balanced, as Champions may shoot and/or fight. Middenheim really has to close with an enemy to win. Of the Mercenary warbands Reikland wins the long-term battle because they can meet any threat.

Quote :
Which warbands have access to the best henchmen?
-Gotta like that Ostlander Ogre.

Quote :
Are Reikland's BS4 marksmen a worthwhile perk, or are Reiklanders better of leaving the experience for their heroes?
-You're kidding, right?

What IS league play? Do you still use the campaign rules or is it something different?
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PostSubject: Re: Discussion: The powergaming potential of human warbands.   Sun 19 Jan 2014 - 7:25

Of those I have direct experience with, I'd say it's Reikland hands down. They have balanced skill tables, as Von Kurst noted, and BS4 marksmen is in my opinion far and away the best perk of the base Mercenary warbands. The extra leadership range is an extra bonus on top of that. Mercenaries, with their average stats, always do best with a balanced approach of ranged and melee, and Reikland is the best option for that.

I have never played with or against Averland or Kislev, however. Averland looks like it could be pretty strong on paper. First they have excellent heroes for mercenaries, with only one Youngblood together with two BS4 shooting heroes (with 4 XP to boot, so quicker advances than a Champion). Plus they have cheap BS4 henchmen in the halflings, and WS4 base troops. They lack swordsmen however, and your BS4 henchies are limited to bows. Since I don't have personal experience with them, I'm not qualified to judge how they compare to Reikland, but I'd think if anyone is equal to Reikland, it'd be them.
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PostSubject: Re: Discussion: The powergaming potential of human warbands.   Sun 19 Jan 2014 - 14:34

I played both Marienburgers and The gunnery school of Nuln and from what I experienced they are not top-tier warbands.

The Marienburgers extra 100 GC is a one shot advantage that is not very efficient if the campaign is long and as all mercenary warbands they have rather low maximum stats so they can be outmatched by elves, dwarves, lizards and many other warriors.  I'd give them a 3/10 for ''powergaming'' capacity. Their limited access to strength skills hampers them a lot too.

The gunnery school of Nuln needs to be played with caution if you want some success.  The special equipment is expensive and losing a single henchmen often represent two games income to fill the lost.  However, if you start them well and are a bit lucky (not losing anyone for 3-4 games) they can prove to be efficient.  I'd give them 4/10 for powergaming capacity.

Overall, they are not very powerful warbands.  Dwarves(10/10), elves (7/10) and lizardmen (9/10) outclass them easily and warbands with weaker warriors (skavens - 7/10) have often the maximum warriors cap at 20.

If you really wants to ''powergame'' I'd recommend looking for other warbands than those 2.  Ostland with their ogre or Kislev with their bear should be  better bets (I guess).
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PostSubject: Re: Discussion: The powergaming potential of human warbands.   Wed 22 Jan 2014 - 0:32

Quote :
-Why is Middenheim's skill list the best? Reikland is more balanced, as Champions may shoot and/or fight. Middenheim really has to close with an enemy to win. Of the Mercenary warbands Reikland wins the long-term battle because they can meet any threat.

Regarding hero advancement, I'd argue that Reikland's access to a broader range of skill tables doesn't necessarily translate to it being more balanced (or better) than Middenheim. Here's my argument for why:

1) I would posit that access to the combat, strength, and speed tables is required to turn a human hero into an optimal CC brawler. Perhaps more to the point, I would argue that speed is the most crucial skill table to a hero, but more on that in a minute. Combat is somewhat obvious and a non-factor in this discussion, as all humans can take essential Combat skills such as Step Aside or Combat Master. Rather, it's the combination of Strength + Speed that's of primary interest.

Reikland champs (more on youngbloods later) can choose from: Combat, Shooting, Strength
Middenheim champs and youngbloods can choose from: Combat, Strength, Speed

Of course, Reiklander champions can choose essential shooting skills like Quickshot or Nimble. This means high BS reiklanders can pump out arrows/bolts at high BS whereas Middenheimers must relegate their ranged weapons to opportunistic potshots. The problem is that Reikland champions can't take speed skills. This is an unbelievably big deal.

We'll take this one in two parts:
A) Reikland champs cannot take essential survival skills such as Dodge and Jump Up.

These are obvious ones, and don't need a lot of explanation. Dodge is arguably one of the top skills on any table. A 5+ ward save against all ranged attacks that cannot be negated or modified in any way. The worth of Jump Up is more dependent on how prevalent maces/hammers are in your metagame, but still an invaluable skill for keeping your downed heroes from squishing in multi-model moshpits. Bottom line, Reikland champs suffer from reduced survivability in important ways.

B) Reikland champs cannot take Sprint, Scale Sheer Surfaces, or Lightning Reflexes.

This is where Reikland champions suffer most. To be fair, the usefulness of Scale Sheer Surfaces is largely dependent on the terrain you typically use. But that being said, an archer that can climb high early in the game is going to be safe and effective. SSS is a top skill pick for shooting characters, and not having it significantly limits the potential of Reikland champs.

While it's probably not necessary to have both Sprint of Lightning Reflexes, choosing one that fits with your favored doctrine greatly improves your mobility and allows you to assure first-strikes. Essential for any high-level character that wants to minimize his chances of dying in combat. Not having either seriously reduces the worth of Strongman, and limits Reikland champs away from 2-handed builds.

Bottom line: Reikland champs can cherry pick Shooting or Strength skills, but lack the mobility/survivability to excel as strength characters.

Which brings me to point number 2.

2) It's easy to make a top-tier ranged character from a TLGT advance.

Human mercenary TLGT henchmen have access to all vanilla skill tables via the Captain. Middenheim isn't locked out of having ranged heroes, they'll just show up later in the campaign. While a dedicated marksman suffers from not having Combat skills, he can gain his most essential advances (Quick Shot, Trick Shot, SSS, Dodge) by choosing from Shooting and Speed.

On the flip side, TLGT heroes have limited potential as brawler carries. By forgoing either Combat, Strength, or Speed tables, they're blunting a key element of their survivability and damage-dealing potential.

Which brings me to point three:

3) Zero level youngbloods are much better suited to close-combat setups than ranged setups.

Reikland YB can roll: Speed, Combat, Shooting
Middenheim YB can roll: Speed, Combat, Strength

Unless you have ideal shooting conditions, BS2 means 6+ to hit. WS2 is still fairly capable against anything below WS5. While yes, eventually Reikland YB's can level to the point where they're fit to roll on the shooting table, Middenheim YB's can A)level their essential skills immediately, B)Benefit from essentially any advance roll they make. By which I mean, a YB slated for shooting can fail to roll his required BS advances for a while.

Conclusion:

I'm not saying Reikland is bad, or even that it's conclusively worse than middenheim, because it's not. Rather, in the question of which warband has skill tables better suited to creating theoretically optimal heroes, Middenheim wins hands down. There are a lot of practical problems with this analysis. First, Shooting heroes can gain experience with significantly less personal risk than brawler heroes. Second, Reikland's +1BS bonus is anything but trivial. Reikland marksmen will kill early and often, leading to more rapid advances than their BS3 counterparts.

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PostSubject: Re: Discussion: The powergaming potential of human warbands.   Wed 22 Jan 2014 - 13:38

@Major Sharpe

You're quite right here about the fact that access to strength skills is one of the key to a powerful warband. And you're also right when you say that Reiklanders have great potential too.

The drawback of Middenheimers is only their tendency to be more focused on Hand-to-hand and thus receive more permanent injuries in the long term.
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PostSubject: Re: Discussion: The powergaming potential of human warbands.   Wed 22 Jan 2014 - 13:53

Quote :
-You include Nuln on your list, but it is not an official warband. If you include Nuln you might as well include Hochland and Stirland as well.

I tought he was talking about the gunnery school from the Nemesis Crown supplement.


Is there any other Nuln warband I missed ?
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PostSubject: Re: Discussion: The powergaming potential of human warbands.   Wed 22 Jan 2014 - 18:50

Goglutin wrote:
Quote :
-You include Nuln on your list, but it is not an official warband. If you include Nuln you might as well include Hochland and Stirland as well.

I tought he was talking about the gunnery school from the Nemesis Crown supplement.


Is there any other Nuln warband I missed ?

That is my assumption as well.  The Major had indicated that he wanted to keep the discussion to "Vanilla Mordheim rulebook, Empire in Flames, and the Mordheim Annuals" , a list of publications that does not include Nuln.  The Gunnery School, like the Hochland Bandits from the Nemesis Crown, is an unofficial warband published much later than the above sources.

@Major Sharpe--It is wonderful in these latter days to find someone with a refreshing opinion.  I do hope for the Middenheimer's sake that people take note.  In the 14 or so years I've been running Mordheim campaigns I have only seen two Middenheimer warbands played, while I'm pretty comfortable saying I would see at least one or two Reiklanders a year on average.  And since I am trying to approach this topic from a 'competitive' angle I am looking at which warbands the competitive players in our campaigns choose.  I chose Middenheimers (once), our competitive players chose Reiklanders (when they chose a human warband).
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PostSubject: Re: Discussion: The powergaming potential of human warbands.   Thu 23 Jan 2014 - 3:09

I agree that Middenheim has the best theoretical warband. It depends on play style, but as I see it, Reikland Champions are just faster Dwarves, who are much easier to kill.

I agree with most of your arguments:
1: Yes, Combat, Strength & Speed is needed to excel in melee, which is why Lad's with Strength/Speed is getting my combat manuals.
1a: I agree that Dodge is an essential survival skill - Jump Up is not that essential as it loses power when meeting Maces, Strike to Injure (and those to combined), Hunting Arrows and gaining more wounds. One might argue it's good when facing Crossbows or Guns, but that's about it, and can be countered with wounds and Healing Herbs. You might want it in the start of your Hero's career, but later on I find it almost worthless. Also, if you get it on a ranged Hero, you can just recover and shoot anyway - even with our -1 to hit when recovering after being shot, we still rarely find it useful.
1b: I suppose we might play a bit differently, which is cool, but I just find Leap much more useful then Sprint, since you can still shoot after having made That Leap, while you cannot shoot after sprinting. You might want both for higher ground, but I believe Leap at least should be on that list before Sprint. I don't know about Lightning Reflexes though, it's cool, but not a must. It's more useful in a melee imo., since you can charge one, kill him, get charged in the next round and still strike first. In a ranged warband I'd just shoot away and charge next round. If you got the spare skills and have it with Strongman it's much more powerful, but both warbands can do that with a shooty Captain.

2: Agree, except that Reikland Marksmen start ahead with 1 BS more, which is quite essential for a ranged Hero.

3: Agree. Not much else to say Razz

To the conclusion: It's still harder to kill at range than in melee, so the might not advance faster. Also vs. T5 Heroes, Bows with Hunting Arrows will still do worse than Crossbows, but not make it easier to take something OOA. It's a good point, however, as Goglutin notes, that melee Heroes tend to have a shorter life expectancy.
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