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War Machines
Just Tony
Since it seems a little dry as of late, I decided to lay down some text from an idle thought I had a while back.

I'm not worried about cannons when I'm facing an army.

There, I said it.

A while back I was building a Dwarf army (which I stupidly sold along with most of my GW armies) and I had two BFSP sets feeding both that army and my Greenskins. I also picked up two of the Dwarf Battalions as I wanted a good Core selection for the army. I got to the Cannon/Organ Gun kit, and made two Organ Guns without hesitation. I figured that two cannons were more than enough, and found myself rarely taking them unless it was a larger battle. At most a cannon could clear out whatever number of ranks you have in a unit, so a cav unit at 10 man would MAX lose 2 people. Yes, no armor save is nice against highly armored foes, but as my local meta (Gods, I detest that word...) was more ranked infantry than anything. So it was a better investment to get either Thunderers or Quarrelers for my army. Yes, monsters. Got it. To me, there were better options every way you looked at it.

What are your thoughts?
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
Just Tony
Also not been a big fan of standard bolt throwers. Far too many times do I see to roll 1 to hit when firing a single shot bolt thrower. And with the same max wound output as a cannon, you see my disdain.

Now template weaponry I like. That, and the Elven bolt throwers. There's enough hit output to compensate for the random involved, and the max potential output is higher.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
I think fear of cannons is due either to your army composition or the number of cannons.

My Wood Elves hated cannons (particularly flaming dwarf cannons) as they'd quickly kill any treemen or treekin, and hard-hitting units like those are rare for such an army. Once they're gone it's an uphill struggle in both shooting and combat, as attrition tends to favour the Dwarfs.

My Orcs and Goblins, by comparison, were never too bothered by cannons.

The exception is when cannons were excessively spammed. I had one opponent field what he called his 'Helmgardt' themed force- essentially as many artillery as he could fit, backed up by handgunners and a single unit of Greatswords or Knights, just in case anything survived the shooting. 4 cannons can quickly make a mess of any single infantry or knight unit, particularly when backed by mortars and helblasters. This was not a fun army to face, as even if you did take a good counter (outshooting, or some magic items) the game was a bore.

I agree with you that bolt throwers are lacking. I think they need shooting rules similar to a cannon, to help improve the accuracy, or cannons need to roll 'to-hit' the potential victims of their shooting. Something to even the two out, as points differences alone just aren't enough to make the bolt throwers feel right.
My "brace of cannons" for my Empire army was definitely overrated. Rarely did I take out 200 points of stuff. When facing Wood Elves, I'd fail to kill anything of note before my cannons were overran by the quick elements. Maybe a couple wounds on a treeman, but hardly game breaking. In fact, recently I've decided to go without cannons, simply because I never seem to get them to work right.

When combined with mortars, the problem I run into is my own mind Frown I could never "switch" between guessing cannon ranges and guessing mortar ranges. Really two different sets of ranges, and I'd often do the wrong guess at the wrong time. User error, for sure, but still a problem I had!

Bolt throwers were always most devastating when cheap and massed. I didn't struggle against High Elf or Dark Elf repeater bolt throwers... it was the 5-6 Hobgoblin or Goblin (for Chaos Dwarfs and Orcs and Goblins, respectively) bolt throwers that only cost a little in points. Hard to send anything after them (spells/shooting/charging) because of how cheap the targets were, and how plentiful.
I never feared cannons until 8th edition. Yes some people (myself included) could guess very well, but more often than not the cannons were dealt with swiftly or had no great targets to prioritize.

As with you Tony, my Empire army rarely had more than 1 cannon, IŽd prefer a helblaster & more crossbowmen instead, I'm not a fan of shooting in warhammer at all, you either have to invest so much in it that you get a gunline which is boring to play with & against, or you just take a nit or 2 with a warmachine & at best you kill some chaff....
Just Tony
And I think that's the rub: you never really got much investment out of shooting unless it was a half-range unit getting to shoot, which rarely happened. The only other shooting unit that was a no-brainer was Handgunner detachments. Stand and shoot with S4 Armor Piercing shots against a unit that didn't even charge you? Yes, please.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
That's one of the reasons I prefer the older editions of Warhammer. Even 6th over 7th, as far as army composition goes.
The point of shooting was never to win battles, it was to weaken opponents in preparation for combat. It doesn't take much shooting to cause a casualty or two, and if that reduces the enemy's rank bonus then the shooting has done its job. Alternatively shooting is fine for taking out the fast, light units that will otherwise get your flanks.
As game sizes (and unit sizes) increased shooting lost a lot of potency. A casualty or two means nothing to 30-40 models, and once 8th edition hit the flanks also became irrelevant.
I think in 6th/7th to properly appreciate shooting try games of 1000-1500pts.
Just Tony
I usually take 40 archers at 2,000 with my High Elves in 6th. It also helps that I can choose my spells and get Curse of Arrow Attraction.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
I think 480 points spent on Archers is a bit too much no? That is about 25% of the army.
"They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library."
Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!
Just Tony
Parked on a hill, the whole unit fires. 1-2 mages with Curse of Arrow Attraction, they get their points back fast. Moreso than the Repeaters.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
I would guess you want the 40 archers in 2 units of 20 or 4 units of 10 to be able to select different targets, and in combat the unit of 20 is more or less the same as the unit of 40, and less cumbersome.
And you can get screwed by spells like Chillwind, Howling Wind, Rain Lord, Pelt of Midnight, Blinding Light.
High Elves have good magical defense so you can just use all your dice/scrolls to dispel those, but still.

Not saying it can't work, but it seems very binary, either you roll good enough to kill stuff or the enemy reaches combat and your Archers are not doing much.
Same with any gunline, even with the added reliability of the Curse.

I would also be worried vs O&G or Skaven that can simply screen their important units with slaves, goblins and other garbage units, and you are very unlikely to kill them fast enough.
"They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library."
Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!
Even without screening or anything else, there are plenty of armies that can give those relying on S3 shooting a very bad time.

I often used to run 40 Wood Elf Archers back in 4th-6th ed (pre the 6th ed book release for WE's), mainly because I didn't have much money so the old 'clone troops' were the easiest way to build a force. My most common opponents were Bretonnians, Chaos, High Elves, Lizardmen, Skaven and VC. I very rarely did well.

Chaos and Lizardmen could field a tonne of T4, 1+ save cavalry- running the numbers on 40 shots, even at close range, that's 1.5 casualties from a full lot of shooting. Brets were only T3, but had the Lady save plus some banners which not only provided full shooting immunity, but also reflected shots to wipe out your archers. High Elves and Skaven could counter-fire my archers with ease. VC were the worst- cavalry as tough as Lizards, able to be resurrected and impossible to break.

Playing as High Elves would have given some benefits (shooting in an extra rank would be a godsend, plus bolt throwers), but even so- I ended up converting some Wood Elf Crossbowmen and Cannons (all counting as dogs of war) because regular archers just can't cut it sometimes. Nothing makes you appreciate war machines (or S4) by never having access to any for years!
(PS this probably influences my love of the 6th ed WE book, though gaining money also helps no end!)
Just Tony
Against every army except Undead, my archers' job is to do enough damage to cost the unit a rank and outnumber. THAT is more than enough. The spears and Swordmasters I run with those blocks can them choose their battles as I select which units are the dangers.

Now I had a friend who threw down an Orc Shaman on Boar out on his own, he drew an entire unit's shots simply because I wasn't happy with the numbers from the RBTs. Those whittled down the Giant, which was a better use of their time.

Yes, it's a combined arms force, but as I really don't flex the Cav muscle in that army for financial and time reasons, what I have is more than up to the task.

Now chariots are probably the worst item in that army for me. I know some people love them, but they just aren't fast enough, unless you're charging. Why they made them unable to march is beyond me...
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
I used to run a cannon, a pair of bolt throwers, an organ gun, and two crossbow units in my dwarf army. That is by far not a gun line level of shooting, but it did provide some punch. The organ gun was a late edition to my game as I ran a stone thrower prior to that. Both the Organ Gun and Stone Thrower filled the same roles of large casualty generators, but the Organ Gun was better at it.

I never expected for my Cannons or Bolt throwers to win the game for me, so if they did what they needed to do, than I was satisfied. What I did expect them to do was to take out large items like Monsters, chariots, and the like. Short of that they were to whittle down my opponent so that I could get a favorable outcome in CC. Massing two bolt throwers and a cannon on a large unit will take them down at least one rank and likely two. Flank shots of Cavalry was always very satisfying.

I always try to remember that fear of something like an organ gun can be just as important as the actual ability. I had one guy who hated my organ gun so much that he changed his High Elf magic lore to Shadows so that he could drop a pit of doom on the organ gun as soon as he could.

Concerning Gun Lines, you need to be all in for a gun line to work and I think that gun lines can be very situational. For that reason I never invested in taking them. That and they had a bad reputation which I am sure all here remember.
Your Benevolent dictator

My Miniatures Blog http://www.tinyle...gspot.com/
Just Tony
Also have to say I have yet to understand the desire to run chariots. In every way possible there are better choices.

One of my favorite game nights culminated in a Swordmaster Prince with the Armor of the Gods in a 14 man Swordmaster unit getting charged by two Cold One Chariots. My opponent rolled extremely well, wiping out every last Swordmaster, leaving my Lord to respond with his St 7 attacks. I managed to hit and wound once on each chariot. Destroying them got me a 2D6" Overrun into a fresh unit. THAT RIGHT THERE was enough to swear me off Chariots for the forseeable future. That, and them not being able to march move. Too slow.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
I like chariots, but using them right can be hard.

They move slowly, but they're not supposed to be like cavalry- they're mainly infantry support. Keep them slightly behind the infantry- they can charge when the infantry charges (the extra movement helps here), or they can countercharge whatever hits the infantry. They can easily swing a combat, for fewer points than a character- but at the expense of being a 'one hit wonder'.

Your anecdote is not really the greatest example of chariots Pfft
For one thing, that damage output from two chariots is extremely lucky, but more importantly S7+ models are pretty rare- particularly in elven armies- so that was really an example of luck on the High Elves' part (if you had have failed to kill both chariots, you'd almost certainly have lost your Prince).
Just Tony
Probably so, but I look at both ends of the spectrum when I decide I don't like something. Look at random charge lengths in 8th. There is a possibility, however unlikely, that you could get a Dwarf unit to charge farther than a cavalry unit in the same game. NOTHING about that is "right". So both extremes show me the flaw. In my above example, ANY chance of a S7 hit runs the risk of one hit killing a chariot. Chaos characters do that with impunity.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
I always did find that S7 rule a strange one, and think I'll drop it when I get around to properly making my home-brew version.
Has anyone ever had an experience where they think it's a good rule?
I think it's fair enough that a cannon hit can blast a chariot apart- but that's why they do multiple wounds.

I fully agree with you on the charge distance problem of 8th. I've been watching a lot of 8th ed battle reports on youtube recently, and they're all kind of... dull. After deployment it's all up to the dice- tactical movement is absent- and chariots are pure chaff.
That S7 rule was weird imo, I never included more than 1 chariot in any army I used & then always to support my infantry, I didn't think highly of them especially since my main army was Chaos so all my characters had S7 along with my Dragon ogres, so splintering chariots was probably what they did every time they had lunch.
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