Sunday, August 15, 2010

Review and Sample List: Renegades and Heretics - Defenders of Vraks FW PDF update

While the original list has been out for quite a while in Imperial Armour 5, the Vraksian Renegades have had a recent rebirth via Forgeworld tweaking the list and releasing it via PDF.

Get the list HERE , and also grab the FAQ, which has some important clarifications, changes and errata. 

At a basic level, the Defenders of Vraks are an Imperial Guard army, but they're somewhat of a hybrid of the previous IG codex and the more recent one, along with some extra options like bringing along some Chaos Marines or Minefields.  I'm going to discuss them in a "regular" 40K environment, where people are OK playing against the list, but you're not going to use FW/Apocalypse-specific things like flyers or superheavies.

They also have a special rule for their Leadership for their core (Renegade Militia) units, "Renegades".  This gives each unit with the rule a random Ld, determined when they first need to test, of 4+d6, so a range of 5-10.  While at first glance, the potential for a 5-6Ld looks pretty grim, there are a number of ways to get the odds in your favor:
  • With a cheap vox-caster, you get to re-roll when determining the Ld, improving your chances of a decent result greatly. 
  • "Leadership" - one of the holdovers from the old IG codex, the Ld bubble.  Even if the squad rolled a bad Ld, if your Champion rolled a good one and is close enough you can use theirs instead.
  • Chaos Banner - good ol' regimental standard equivalent, re-roll failed morale checks within the bubble.
  • Enforcers - the Renegade commissars.  While too pricey for regular use, if you're going to take big combined squads they can be a good investment.
The random Ld, when paired with the re-roll from the vox caster, can also allow you to set things up nicely sometimes.  While often you'll want to get a high Ld, there will be times when the ability to get a low Ld will be to your advantage, and your vox re-rolls can help you get them.  Sometimes you'll want to have a chance to fall back out of assault range, or you'll want your sacrifice squad to get run down in combat resolution, leaving the enemy out in the open for a round of shooting, and random Ld with re-rolls can help you set those situations up.

While the Renegade Militia all have the random Ld, most of the unit selections available don't suffer/have the opportunities.  The more elite choices have good Ld (or are even Fearless, in the case of the Ogryn Berserkers), the Workers Rabble have poor Ld, and of course all the vehicle options ignore Ld.

Company Command Platoon - This is your only actual HQ choice, so you'll have 1-2 of these.  This is another place where the old IG system carries over, as your HW squads are part of a command platoon instead of a troops platoon, so these HW teams won't be scoring.  The HW squads can't get vox casters, so will be stuck with whatever they initially roll for Ld, so keep them near the Champion, hopefully with Chaos Banner.

The command squad itself is not a special weapon spam squad like the regular IG version is, only one special weapon available (plus a heavy team if desired).  No four meltas/plasmas/flamers here.

Enforcers/Rogue Psykers/Apostate Preachers - Yet more carryover, old-style Advisors.  Don't use up force org spots, assign to squads.
  • Rogue Psykers...pretty pointless.  Ld8 psyker with generally poor random powers (and 1/6 of the time, no power at all) even if you do get them off.  Fun special rule where they get possessed if the suffer a Perils test.  If you really can't find another way to spend the points, pick one up.  Otherwise pass.
  • Apostate Preachers - boost the assault power of a unit, can be worth it if you're taking a big Workers Rabble unit or a big combined squad you don't want to have shoot.  
  • Enforcers - again, good with a big combined squad or with a big Workers Rabble (depending on how you interpret the Summary Execution rule).  Shoot the leader to auto pass a normally failed morale check.  (the issue with Workers Rabble is that the Summary Execution rule says you shoot the Champion or Veteran, but Workers Rabble don't have either...if can just shoot a random guy and have it work, Enforcers and WR are a perfect match.  If not, WR themselves become very weak.)  Unlike their Imperial counterparts, do not grant Stubborn, and also have the fun option to take demo charges.  

Disciples of Xaphan - the veteran guardsmen in the list, have Infiltrate, take up to three specials as well as a demo charge, good Ld and BS.  Can take a Chimera, and if you don't want to infiltrate/outflank with them you probably should.  If you can get them into position potential to do some serious damage.

Renegade Ogryn Berserkers - Ogryn with no guns, Fearless, Feel No Pain, random attacks, smaller squad sizes.  One can take a power weapon.  Risk killing themselves if they roll high with the random attacks.  A potential question for them is if their FNP helps against wounds they take from their combat drugs; they way the rule is written I would say that it does not help them.  Can be pretty nasty, but it's a footslogging dedicated HTH unit in a primarily shooting army, so consider how they're going to fit before taking them.  If you're going to mob up lots of them and a bunch of Workers Rabble and go charging across, great.  If you intend to play more traditional IG style, maybe leave them at home or at least keep them in Reserve to enter and charge enemies that have closed to your DZ.

Alpha Legion Squad - CSM with Infiltrate free, can also get a Rhino (or Dreadclaw, if you're using flyers).  Very standard CSM, with addition of Infiltrate and downside of only being able to take one special weapon (and no heavy).  Could be a good unit to stiffen the militia lines, or to infiltrate/outflank into the enemy to distract them and so allow the firing line to keep plugging away.

Renegade Militia Platoon - bascially guard squads and command squad.  Can combine (along with the command squad, but no medic option so not really ugly), no transport option so if you want mech take the Renegade Armored Fist Squads (see below) instead.  Again, no quad-special weapons in the command squad.

Worker's Rabble - conscripts with pistol/ccw (you can swap for lasgun, but little reason to do so).  Poor Ld, so to be worthwhile as more than a one-turn screen you'd need a favorable answer to the question about interaction with Enforcers.  If Enforcers work with them, a full squad with an Enforcer and a Priest could be pretty icky, especially if the Enforcer and Priest are packing PF, as they're not ICs so are untargetable in CC.  As with the Ogryn though, keep in mind that would be a dedicated CC unit in what is primarily a firepower army.

Renegade Armored Fist Squad - guard squad in a Chimera, this is your Troops choice if you're going mech.

Fast Attack
Hellhound, Scout Sentinels, Armored Sentinels - pretty much as per IG.  HH only, no Banewolves or Devildogs.

Salamander Scout Squadron - faster, open-topped Chimeras in squadrons of 1-3, no transport capacity, run around and do some shooting.  Cheap but pretty fragile.

Heavy Support
Can take many of the familiar IG tanks and arty pieces, singles only; no squadrons.  Also have some more unique options.

Artillery Strike - similar to the Inquisition orbital bombardments, with some differences.  Basically off-board artillery called in by spotters.  In general you'd probably be better off with an on-table piece, but this option is cheaper and allows for some neat tricks since you can target a spot on the table vs. enemy units if desired, so can ignore Shrouding, Veil of Tears and things like that.

Sentry Gun Battery, Turret Emplacement - immobile, so probably best in special scenarios vs. regular games.

Heavy Weapons Platoon - command squad with extra heavy weapons squads, can also get some Sabre Platforms, but again since immobile those would be better in special scenarios.  If you really feel the need for more heavy weapons squads after maxing out your HQ slots, here's where to go if for some reason you're not getting tanks instead.

Minefield - here is one of the gems of the list.  Be sure to read the FAQ for this entry, as it completely changes it.  For a very cheap cost you're basically able to lay down significant areas of dangerous terrain, which is a godsend for a shooty army.  The ability to reshape the battlefield is golden. 

I could write a whole article about the potential joy of the minefields, but I'll contain myself at least for now.  Instead just a few points/reminders:
  • One selection's worth is too easy to bypass; if you're going for mines, get two sets.  Keep in mind that this seriously limits your other HS options.  With proper spacing two sets can cover the whole 6' of table length, and it's even easier to box in an enemy with Spearhead deployment.  
  • The mines make dangerous, but not difficult, terrain.  It won't slow down infantry, etc.
  • You only need to take one dangerous test when you move through "one or more" areas of dangerous terrain in a move.  So where possible consider proper spacing if going for depth, so regular vehicle, jump packs, etc. can't 12" move over two minefields in one move, only requiring one test.
  • Remember that things like dozer blades, siege shields and grots can let the enemy get through fields more easily.
  • Adjust your use to the mission, your opponent, and the rest of your own army.  Use for Outflank/Deepstrike defense, make objectives dangerous, make those Land Raider assaults more risky, etc.  Don't just string them across the length of the table if there could be a more useful way to deploy them.
  • It can often be a good idea to shoot for deploying second, as you'll be better able to respond to the enemy deployment with the minefields that way.  In Dawn of War you probably want to try to go first, so that you can set them up closer to the midpoint if desired.
 And here's a sample 1500pt list.  There's many other possible builds of course, but here's a sample of how a Defenders of Vraks army might look.

Company Command Squad
Chaos Banner, Vox Caster, Autocannon.
Chimera with Autocannon/Heavy Bolter.

Mortar Squad (60)
Autocannon Squad (75)
ML Squad (90)

(The Command Squad's main purpose is to provide a Ld bubble to squads that roll lower than the Champion and the Banner re-rolls, while also throwing a little anti-transport firepower downrange. The R&H Chimeras get a nice option to upgrade the multilaser to autocannon.)

Renegade Armored Fist Squad
Vox Caster, meltagun, autocannon.  Chimera with Autocannon/heavy bolter, hunter-killer missile.

Renegade Armored Fist Squad
Vox Caster, meltagun, autocannon.  Chimera with Autocannon/heavy bolter, hunter-killer missile.

Renegade Armored Fist Squad
Vox Caster, meltagun, autocannon.  Chimera with Autocannon/heavy bolter, hunter-killer missile.

Renegade Armored Fist Squad
Vox Caster, meltagun, autocannon.  Chimera with Autocannon/heavy bolter, hunter-killer missile.

(Toss out a lot of anti-transport fire early, try to de-mech enemies and force them to slog through the minefields/be exposed to firepower longer.  Meltaguns if anything dangerous manages to close, or if need to take a hard target off of an objective.)

Disciples of Xaphan
5xDisciples, 3xPlasmagun, Champion has Demo Charge
(Outflank and cause some pain, especially if you've gotten the enemy to cluster on the flanks to avoid mid-field mines.)

Alpha Legion
10xCSM, Icon of Chaos Glory, Meltagun, Champion with Powerfist.

(Also Outflank around the mines, distract the enemy and keep him from advancing on the firepower base.  Primarily included here as a "fun" option, to add some variety to the IG-ness of the army and add some of that old Lost and the Damned army feel.  This is an easy place to swap out for some other flavor options, like a unit of Renegade Ogryn Berserkers, or a unit of 40 Worker Rabble with an Enforcer.)

Heavy Support
Minefield (50)
Minefield (50)

(Cheap and different.  Have fun reshaping the battlefield and hopefully fouling up the enemy's plans.)

Manticore (160)
(High-str ordnance to help bust things like Land Raiders, and potential for multiple templates to punish enemies who bunch up to go through supposedly "safe" channels through the minefields.  This is another place for easy substitution, just plug in preferred HS unit.)

Total  1500pts


  1. Hadn't downloaded this or looked at it yet, but you have now made me do both. Shame on you! :-)

  2. Excellent...

    If you haven't done so yet, sign up for FW's email updates - when they release the updated PDFs for other things (like Vraks 6 & 7 lists) it will be via those emails.

    And after they do, I plan to do reviews of those as well.

  3. Thanks so much for the review, I also haven't gotten a chance yet to really look this stuff over but it sounds very exciting. I love the idea of purchasing minefields for your army to deploy, it sounds like a really interesting way to change things up a bit. I wonder how well it would work to let other armies use them too (maybe at a higher cost?), or even just give each player a section of minefields to deploy with the option of purchasing more as Heavy Support choices.

  4. @Papa JJ - I'm sure it could work to allow others to buy them, keeping in mind a few things. One, doing so would make this particular army a good bit less special, but if you don't plan to use the army in your group, no biggie. Two, if everyone has them, it certainly could change a lot of balance issues that would need to be considered.

    GW also has similar minefields in one of the extra missions in the back of the hardback rulebook, and Cities of Death strategems have some similar things (not minefields, but other terrain-changing things like razorwire). Apoc has some version, and I assume that Planetstrike has something for the defender too, but I'm not sure.

    Incorporating mines, wire, barriers/trenches, bunkers etc. that players could buy could be a fun house rule system. Again, keep in mind balancing issues, as if you make them too good you could change the game to favor a lot more static types of builds. IMO would be fun for scenarios/part of a campaign, but not for general play. If you added some other options for attackers/faster type armies too to balance out (allow ways to remove/avoid obstacles/mines, give extra units infiltrate/outflank, etc...) it could make for a fun optional set to lay over regular games.

  5. Great points, I agree that it could cause havoc with balance and potentially slow things down too much by making such defenses more widely available. My usual gaming group tends to be fairly experimental in our approach so I'll probably be able to mess around some more with the idea just for fun. I would totally be in favor though of not letting anyone else take 'em if someone did end up using the IA Renegades army list. Thanks for all the great ideas!


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