Please forgive the following lengthy rant.
The problem of the Giant Kings:
This list is a bit of an anomaly, but sucks worse than most for a few reasons. Special abilities are like flies…the more you pack onto one model the more effective it becomes. A good case in point here is the phoenix, who has virtually every defensive special and several offensive ones that makes it over perform almost every time. Now what is it about the giants list….
1. All the troops are elite. On a frontage of 3 the worst of their troops can shell out up to 10 skill three attacks at strength 3 (enough to negate virtually any armor) or 2 skill 3 attacks at strength 4 that do d3 wounds. It can kill little or small and for its frontage (base 3) it can pour out upwards of three attacks per base. This is made even worse by the addition of rollers, which provide a shocking 12 skill 3 strength 2 rams for a mere 35 points, that’s up to 32 attacks for 3 inches of frontage, NEARLY 11 ATTACKS PER BASE FRONTAGE. Sure their move drops to 6” if they carry rollers….that means they move as fast or faster than your average infantry man. If the giants can purchase 228 point models with normal troops why cant their lizardman opponent buy his 146 point giant war lizard with normal troop points or the samurai player buy samurai longbowmen (56 points) with normal points.
2. High armor and high wounds combined with the way large models take melee wounds means giants maintain combat effectiveness for much longer than their opponents. Right up to their last breath these beasties shell out major pain, while their “normal” troop counterparts lose gobs of effectiveness each turn as potential attacks are lost with each one or two wounds.
3. Giants are fast. At 8” of movement they will outpace the vast majority of infantry models on the table. This allows them to pick and choose which infantry units to engage much more easily.
4. All giants are fearless. Fearless is a handy attribute to have. When combined with large numbers of wounds it becomes even more useful. If the giant somehow loses a model to missile fire it never has to test because it is fearless. Even when they do test the giants have great morale, and barring a truly horrible test can take the wounds to stay if they need to.
5. The giants all have a missile save of 5! Normal bows have a minimal chance of wounding them. Longbows fare better but are found in a handful of armies. Artillery has a fair chance…if anyone fields it…but one artillery piece cost as much as a giant….and has very little chance of actually slaying the giant before the giant trashes it. Point per point artillery is not an effective counter. If you are lucky enough to have heavy xbows (found in one list) you might have a chance…except for the fact that you will only shoot a couple of times before they reach you….and they wont run if you kill one….and once they do reach you the xbowmen are goners.
6. All of the giants have ranged weapons…and access to artillery for a killer price! The rocks the giants carry allow them a constant barrage of high strength multi wound, and usually high skill, attacks. Now at first glance the ballista and the lobbers may seem to push the cost of the giant up to hefty levels….I would actually disagree. A young giant with a lobber for example costs around 90 points more than a light catapult. However it has twice the move, two more wounds, better missile armor, better magic save, better morale, and fantastic attack capability (4 skill 2 no strength attacks vrs (10)3 sweep or 2/3 multi wound). And the giant only pays 72 points out of his elite allowance, where for another army to field the light catapult costs 166 points of their elite allowance!
7. Negate long weapons. An elder giant pays 40 points (5 per wound) for the ability to negate first strike on long weapons. If he is fighting an equal number of goblin spearmen (20) they pay 100 points for their long weapon ability….they lose their first strike on the first round of combat (which wouldn’t have helped much since the giant isn’t likely to go down in the first round of combat) and the other “benefit” of long weapons, IE fighting in two ranks, is matched by the giants sweep attack, which provides him with an equal number of attacks as they have with a better skill value and strength sufficient to deny any save. They do 10 skill two no strength attacks in RAF, 3 hit, one or two of those are saved, maybe one or two wounds. The giant attacks back with 10 (maximum sweep 5 front and two deep), hits and kills 6. The goblins test on a 5, the Giant tests on 7 fearless for facing a superior enemy in RAF, minus two for remaining RAF models and minus one for the wound taken. Who wins…I think we both know (the spearmen can always skirmish to gain extra attacks against the giant, but as I will show you this does not help since, of which one third will hit (roughly 5 out of the 16), half of those the giant will save(3) for two wounds (out of
. His attack back (15/4 4)will hit with 10, all of which wound…they both test, and the skirmished goblins testing on a 2 and the giant on a 9 fearless…. Try the combination with any group, the picture doesn’t improve.
8. No need for heroes. Giant kings have great morale, and they can choose to attack normal troops or heroes….so they can go for the kill or for the mass casualties to force the test. Wait…I thought that was something only monsters, paid for out of your elite balance could do…… The fearless attribute also means they are immune to fearsome attacks, so the only way to make them test is by taking down models (tough) or with superior units (lots of models or wounds, which giants are great at wreaking havoc with).
9. The giants have one weakness, period. Magic. And, even with this, their save of 2 is better than what most armies have. How many armies have access to eldritch attacks to take advantage of this? A handful….and most armies only have one unit that will be able to do it. Wizards can do some harm to giants….if you mount them on something fast and get away before the giants trash the rest of the army! At least they have one weakness, since they have advantages in melee, ranged, movement, and morale…..
10. The most effective way to counter even a normal giant is with elite points, heroes and monsters and spell casters who can dish out enough pain to hopefully get one to go down. But since the giant doesn’t really need heroes, a smart giants player will spend their elite points on monsters that allow them to counter the elite points their opponent NEEDS to counter even the most basic of the giant troops. If the giants can split elite losses with their opponent point for point their regular troops will more than make up the difference.
The net result is almost any “balanced” normal list will be at a strong disadvantage against a giants army of virtually any make up. Lists that are optimized to beat a giants army would have to be extremely lame (such as a wolven list made up primarily of great wolves) and epitomize what I despise most in an opponent, power gaming over playing.
What to do about it? The one that makes the most sense is a new giants army list, one that provides base 9 giants as regular troops that cost less than 100 points, such as the Cyclops. I would also throw in some base 4 troops like ogres. The existing giant troops would still be available for purchase out of their ELITE points.
I would be interested in hearing any explanations of how the existing list is balanced and fair (the magic deficiency is duly noted above).
End Rant. Bluntfang