Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tactica: Dogs of War Light Cavalry RoR

Hello all, Slick here. Continuing with the mercenary cavalry tacticas, we now move to a review of mthe various Light Cavalry Regiment of Renown units available.

Al Muktar's Desert Dogs
The minimum unit comes in at 245 points for 6 cavalry (technically 5). Extra riders may be purchased for an additional 13 points per model. The Desert Dogs actually feature three named characters, however Ibn the standard bearer actually does not have any attacks so you are actually losing some offensive punch with this unit. Although he is named, Ibn cannot be specifically targeted (read challenged). The other two named characters are Al Muktar himself and Sheikh Shufti. While Al Muktar is the unit's captain, Sheikh Shufti acts more like an overpowered champion. The Desert Dogs are also one of the few Regiments of Renown that come with magic items - the Scimitar of Dakisir and the Black Banner of the Muktarhin. You might think that the unit's captain would be the one to wield the magic weapon yet the Scimitar actually belongs to Sheikh Shufti. The Scimitar provides Sheikh with an additional 2 strength on the charge and +1 strength bonus at all other times. Having S6 attacks in a light cavalry unit does provide some serious offensive punch. Unfortunately, Sheikh is hampered by only having a measly 2 attacks. The other item is the Black Banner which adds D3 to the Desert Dog's combat resolution.

With two solid combat characters as well as two magic items one would think that taking the Desert Dogs would be a safe bet. Unfortunately, the Desert Dogs suffer from some serious flaws that make them a second rate unit and best left to casual games and/or themed armies. As mentioned above the Desert Dogs are expensive! You are paying a hefty price for the characters and magic items. The Desert Dogs also seem to have a bit of an identity crisis: Are they a combat unit or a fast cavalry unit? Aside from the characters the regular Desert Dogs riders have an average human statline and their equipment is also generic. They do count as fast cavalry and so are quite maneuverable. Like all other light/fast cavalry, the Desert Dogs are fragile. Generally speaking, expensive units that are extremely fragile are a gamble and rather difficult to use well. As discussed in the Light Cavalry Tactica, the role of such cavalry is generally to serve as flank units, march blockers, bait & redirection units, and on occasion to engage targets of opportunity. While the Desert Dogs can certainly fulfill this role, you certainly do not need to spend an exorbitant amount of points for such a unit. To really recoup your invest would require getting the Desert Dogs into combat. While they do have some offensive punch and should be able to break small and lightly armed units (many skirmishers, war machine crews, vulnerable non-elite infantry flanks etc.), they simply do not have the staying power for protracted combat. If you were to just take the minimum unit you could lose a total of three regular riders before you get to the named members of the unit and losing any of them will essentially spell certain doom for the Desert Dogs. The Black Banner should tip combats against weak units in your favor (on the charge) and between Al Muktar and Sheikh you should be able to wipe out a front rank. Unfortunately neither Al Muktar nor Sheikh have any better armor than the rest of the unit so you really want as few attacks coming back at the Desert Dogs as possible. Like similar units, the Desert Dogs also will not stand up to shooting or magic. Sadly, the Desert Dogs, like many Regiments of Renown, are a really cool concept with excellent minis, that are let down by mediocre rules. Taking enough Desert Dogs to ensure that you can deliver a solid charge will push the unit close to 300 points. Are you really going to invest that many points on a fast cavalry unit? Should you be unlucky and the Desert Dogs break from combat you will of course be handing your opponent a 100pt bonus for losing their banner. They are simply too much of a liability when you can accomplish more with generic mercenary Light Cavalry and for far fewer points.

Oglah Khan's WOlfboyz
The other Light Cavalry Regiment of Renown are the infamous Oglah Khan's Wolfboyz. This unit provides some interesting tactical wrinkles for the mercenary general. The basic unit comes in at an hefty 190 points with additional Hobgoblins costing 15 points per model, however you are also starting out with 6 models like the Desert Dogs sans the standard bearer who doesn't attack. Oglah Khan's unit is unique that you are actually fielding a unit of Greenskins but do not have to worry about that pesky Animosity rule. This is also the fasted Dogs of War cavalry unit as the Giant Wolves have Movement 9 which helps to close the speed gap against armies that also have access to M9 cavalry (see Elves). As far as stats go, the unit is average across the board, although their leadership is a paltry 6 (good for Greenskins though!). Oglah Khan essentially has Captain-level stats although he only has BS4, and is quite slow with I3, and his average leadership of 7. You certainly do not want to put these guys into situations where they have to take leadership tests! The Wolfboyz are also one of the few units that have a capped unit size. A unit of 20 would be rather unwieldy but it is nice to have that option for those crazy enough to try it! As for equipment, the Wolfboyz are loaded and come with spears, bows, light armor and shields! They also have the fast cavalry special rule. Their equipment provides them with an armor save of 4+ which does grant them some solid protection. The Wolfboyz also benefit from a rather cool magic item, the Pelt of Wulfag, which lets them pursue an additional D6 inches. Yes, that means they can pursue 4d6 for a potential total of 24 inches! You should be able to catch any fleeing unit.

On the tactical level, the Wolfboyz present some interesting options. They can fulfill all the roles of Light Cavalry while also having solid offensive punch (for Hobgoblins!). If the Wolfboyz can find a beatable enemy unit on the flanks, their pursuit roll should place them well within your opponent's deployment zone where they can wreak havoc. If an opponent is unlucky enough to have units along the Wolfboyz' pursuit route, they may face a dual threat - a potential panic check from the fleeing friendly unit (if the Wolfboyz do not catch them) and the Wolfboyz slamming into them off of the pursuit roll itself. The Wolfboyz would also seem to make an excellent flanking unit to support charges of your hammer units, as you can be fairly certain that the Wolfboyz will catch broken units while you can attempt to restrain pursuit with your hammer unit(s) if pursuing with everything would place the other units into vulnerable positions. I would certainly recommend trying Oghlah Khan's Wolfboyz. For those of you who do not want to shell out a large sum of money for the actual models, it is entirely possible to make the unit out of the plastic Goblin Wolfriders set. A little bit of conversion work to give the unit a more unique appearance would not require a great deal of work. The money you save by going this route will go a long way towards completing your army! Hopefully the above tactica has been helpful to you.
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