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Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores

 Post subject: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:25 pm 
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I have concerns about the Tunnelers and I wanted to open up this dialogue because I believe it might be fruitful. I also want to discuss an alternate set of rules for tunnelers to make them more flavorful and to appeal to the model-philes out there.

Tunneler Rule
Firstly, I am not interested in debating the tunneler rule here. I think the rule works adequately for the tournament scenario, it appears in the Epic: Armageddon rule book, and it has been played for a long time. Yes, I understand that EpicUK does it differently; that's okay as they are trying to streamline their lists and balance them against each other. I have no doubt in my mind that when the Squat list is adapted to the EpicUK environment, the tunneler rule will be replaced with teleporting. But this is not for EpicUK. We have some threads open for the Squats where the tunneling can be further discussed if need be.

Movement and Models
There is no making everyone happy on the subject and I have gotten an earful (and an inbox full) about the tunnelers in the Squat list. The points of debate can be broken down into the following areas:

To Move or Not to Move
When Ron and I started hammering out the 1.0 Thurgrimm list, we discussed how the tunnelers should just pop up out of the ground and be done with them. They make those little models where the drilling mechanism is breaching the surface for a reason, right? So initially we made the Termites and Moles as disposable so that the tunneling formation could simply walk away from them. Later on there were some complaints that the tunnelers should move after surfacing since they have little tracks on them. I acquiesced and allowed them to move.

Flash forward to present and I believe that making them move after surfacing was a mistake. I play with tunnelers frequently and I find that there is a huge benefit to the formation in the form of a larger number of units. Termites or a Hellbore are always better choices than the Moles because you get more units, and now that they move it is a bigger advantage.

IMO the best way forward is to not have the Termites/Moles/Hellbores count as anything other than cover once they surface. You place the breaching models, you have your formation exit the tunnelers, and you are done. The Hellbore should also block LOS as a War Engine, but beyond that it would be dead in the water too. By doing this, you are fielding the models without getting a multiplier effect on the formation. If we are going in this direction, I would think we would need to discuss pricing as well. But read on before you make any decisions.

Carriages or no carriages: Should the carriages that carry the Termites/Moles/Hellbores be allowed on the board at the beginning of the turn? After all, there are models and we should use them. The problem that comes up is the practical application of using them as units. Are they War Engines? Armored Vehicles? Does the drilling piece and the carriage count as one unit or two for the sake of targeting?

If it is two, it creates all sorts of messes: which one gets struck first, can the drilling piece launch without the carriage, what if it is targeted by artillery? You see, this would be the only example of one unit being on top of another unit in the game of Epic. As such, I believe eliminating this as a choice is a smart move.

If it is a single unit, the obvious drawback is that your tunnelers can be targeted before they launch. Would a Squat player ever want to take that chance? If so, at what point cost?

If the carriage and drilling units are representative (which is how we have them now), we get complaints about the models themselves. Why bother having them? IMO the easiest solution is to have them representative as it speeds up the game. However, others differ in their opinion as to what to do here. What is clear, however, is that by making the breached drilling pieces no longer count as units you make handling the carriage discussion so much easier because you no longer have a single unit splitting to become two units, etc.

So what do you folk think on the above?

Alternate Rules

It has become obvious over the last several months is that there are a lot of Squat players waiting for this list to get completed. Some are new players, but most are long time collectors who felt cheated by GW's betrayal and dissatisfied with every Squat list published in the last ten years. Few players want to win with a Monty Hall list and -let's face it- most of the lists have been too powerful. Above all, though, Squat players want their models on the board.

One thought I had was to make a secondary set of rules for the tunnelers to account for non-tournament scenarios. This set of rules would have the carriages being physically on the board (which means, movement, armor, FF and CC, etc.) as well as a distance that the Termites/Moles/Hellbores could move from the launcher.

Now why on Earth would anyone ever want this? Perhaps the Squat player wants to see where the enemy formations are located before launching, or the terrain does not provide for a good breaching location based on the distance from the start point of the of the carriages (a.k.a. a large impassable mountain or lake in the middle of the board). It is also kinda fun.

These alternate rules would allow for launching in the middle of a game, so we would need to come up with some modified ways to go about this. One might be to have the launch be an action by itself. Another might be to allow the launch to take place after movement, but somehow penalize the formation if it doubled or marched. I'm not set on anything here; just throwing out ideas.

Once launched, the tunnelers would write down a set of coordinates and a turn that they would resurface. Ex. a Squat player may launch on the end of Turn 1, decide he is coming up on Turn 3, and write down a location that is within 2 x Movement Base for that particular unit type.

This might also create situations where a tunneler formation never goes underground. They ride on top of the board in the carriages, disembark, and fight against an enemy formation that has teleported into a squirrelly position.

Thoughts?

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 Post subject: Re: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:28 pm 
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For reference, here is the tunneler rule from the tourney pack.
Quote:
Formations where all of the units have Tunneler (or are transported in units that have the ability) may be kept off the table and can appear at the start of the second turn or after. Set up the units touching their own side’s table edge before the battle starts at the same time that spacecraft are setup (see EA 4.3.1). Any units transported in the tunneler should be placed to one side at this time too.

Secretly write down the location where the tunneler will surface at the same time and in the same manner that you record the coordinates of a drop zone (see EA 4.3.1). You must also secretly record when the tunneler will surface. If it is going to surface in your half of the table it may arrive from the second turn onwards. If it is going to surface in the opposing half of the table, it may arrive from turn three onwards.

Set up the tunneler at the start of the stated turn, before placing units with teleport, at the location you wrote down. Any units being transported are allowed to disembark immediately upon surfacing. Surfacing does not count as movement for the purposes of triggering overwatch fire. Disembarking triggers overwatch fire as normal.

If the tunneler surfaces on terrain that is impassable for it, under a friendly unit, or in an enemy zone of control then it is assumed that on-board sensor equipment will divert it towards another entry point. The unit should be moved by the opposing player to the nearest area where it can surface.

Formations of multiple tunnelers need only record one location where they will surface. Place a unit at this location, or within 5cm of another unit that has already been placed, so long as all units are placed within 15cm of the location and on the appropriate half of the table.

Tunnelers, and any units being transported in them, may take an action on the turn they appear.

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 Post subject: Re: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:47 pm 
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Moscovian wrote:
If the carriage and drilling units are representative (which is how we have them now), we get complaints about the models themselves. Why bother having them? IMO the easiest solution is to have them representative as it speeds up the game.


we already have precedence in this area with spacecraft. they are onboard / table edge, etc as a model but representative of a force ability. "Why do we have models for them then" is not a reasonable argument (Argumentum ad lapidem I border on but ... :) )

Moscovian wrote:
IMO the best way forward is to not have the Termites/Moles/Hellbores count as anything other than cover once they surface.

I agree OR they can be a separate formation that works along the lines of droppods do (again, existing precedence) to represent their supporting fire abilities (if any/appropriate for the unit - Hellbore I look at you)

Moscovian wrote:
Carriages or no carriages: Should the carriages that carry the Termites/Moles/Hellbores be allowed on the board at the beginning of the turn? After all, there are models and we should use them.

Let's be honest. People have models. They are justifiably proud of them. They want to see their pretties played with. I can dig it [cyrus impression]. However as they worked in SM2E is fundamentally at odds with the abstracted nature of 4th Edition and so we must flip the viewpoint a bit I think and everyone can get what they want.

First of all we have units that can carry other units. Some lists require them to be part of the formation, others do not. e.g. Rhinos vs Thunderhawks. While this tends to be the case with WE not being part of the formation (Stormlords aside) there's no hard fast rule with that. This is part of list construction and therefore if an issue can be handled via unit stats and lists instead of special rules, all the better. The point is that units carrying other units that in of themselves are units is not something disallowed, just weird. The various proposed stats for Cap Imperialis for example work like that with their ability to carry AV, which in turn could be chimeras! I should also point out Hellbore and Cap Imp are both the SM2E Praetorian models produced.

Moscovian wrote:
The problem that comes up is the practical application of using them as units. Are they War Engines? Armored Vehicles?

Give the the tunneler stats. Give the carrier stats. Some will be AV. Some will be WE.

Moscovian wrote:
Does the drilling piece and the carriage count as one unit or two for the sake of targeting?
I advocate 2> keep reading.

Moscovian wrote:
If it is two, it creates all sorts of messes: which one gets struck first, can the drilling piece launch without the carriage, what if it is targeted by artillery?

Make them two separate formations that a list design then makes a fixed compulsory amount to take. Carrier + exactly 1 tunneler.

Moscovian wrote:
If it is a single unit, the obvious drawback is that your tunnelers can be targeted before they launch. Would a Squat player ever want to take that chance? If so, at what point cost?


They should be valid targets but if they're separate formations then why even target them? Treat them as allowing a scatter reroll in the list IF present on the board. The player then can drop them (similar to transport) but they then lose the ability to better target the breaching location. They've all launched prior to the first turn (call it turn 0) but the force then decides to advance providing "spotter" support and can be a target. Perhaps that's not a risk they want to take but then they're considered in the rear baggage area and effectively out of game.

Now I have a reason to take my pretties and show them off. The opponent has a reason to target them. Also gives me a reason to leave them behind. Seems pretty fair and balanced. Special Rules are totally kept to the list level and do not change core global rules.

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 Post subject: Re: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 7:57 am 
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TBH I find the tunnelling rules too restrictive for a 3-4 tournament game. Scenarios are a different matter.

I will end up keeping my tunnellers in the box as at the moment the flexibility of taking Rhinos suits my style of play better. It would be good to see the carriages back on the table, but I'd have a special activation for them to deploy their tunnellers or force them to sustain fire as the deployment


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 Post subject: Re: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 3:40 am 
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Hey Moscovian, I like the current rules for tunnelers staying a part of the formation that they carry. Another option could be to have Termites, Moles and Hellbores turned into support formations. That way when they are done surfacing, they can be an independent formation and can split off from the troop formation that just disembarked. Unlike a Drop Pod that just sits there after landing, tunnelers can still move. To make the separate formation idea work for Moles, I'd make them each DC 2 - they're big enough and that way they wouldn't break just by being shot at. If I'm not mistaken, the Hellbore is huge so maybe bump it up to DC 4? I don't think that point costs would have to be changed by much or at all - they were kind of pricey to begin with IMHO. Just throwing those ideas out there - this way people get to use their models for more than placement markers or immobile cover. I do like the alternate rules for special scenarios.


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 Post subject: Re: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:30 am 
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Has there been a consensus on adopting the alternative rule that allows for on table carriage use? I personally would like to start using mine.


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 Post subject: Re: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:22 pm 
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I would definitely prefer the way tunnelers work now. Carriers for tunnelers onboard doesn't make any sense tactically. Would not benefit players in any way (except in bragging about hard to get models).

What i Would like to see to improve tunnelers is perhaps Moles and Hellbores being able to shift their point of entry. The only use I've seen for tunnelers is a third turn objective grab. And that means you have 1 formation not contributing anything for 2 turns (less activations, less shooting). That for me is a big drawback. If I am to deploy Termites I will lose the benefit of the extra units from rhinos. And a formation in rhinos could move as far as tunnelers could (albeit they could be shot at in the meantime).
If they would be allowed to shift their point of entry, they could perhaps be allowed to assault directly from the tunneller. Then the tunneller could provide extra FP in the assault and then they'll be abandoned (turn into terrain features).

Having them move around afterwards is as much a hindrance as a benefit. Most likely they would end up with 10cm movement, and making the entire formation slower.


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 Post subject: Re: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 6:39 pm 
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Just spitballing here : trying to work out why you might have Transporters tactically... could the tunnellers be part of some kind of "special squat" engagement rule? The WE formation engages from the front and the tunnellers get a "infiltrate" rule where they tunnel ahead and come up behind the target... Or somehow are able to make a special "move and cross fire" engagement?

Bonkers probably ! Personally I like the current tunneller rules (as used by nids) but I'd be narked if I had a helbore! :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:34 pm 
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how about if the Tunneler rule works as Planetfall rules with the following additions
the player may choose to not bring the carriage on table setup in the deployment zone
carriages may not be used to claim or contest objectives (they're too busy helping calibrate the tunnelers)
if the carriage is on table when the unit surfaces the scatter dice may be rerolled for the tunnel breaching if the player chooses
-the results of the rerolled scatter stand

this gives a tactical reason to bring carriages on the table (for more than the same reason the spaceship models are used at least). It also brings a tactical reason to attack them if present.

The choice if a breached tunneler is a unit on the table or simply the equivalent of the drop pod model is up to the list / unit. I'd suggest that if you make them units and part of the formation they gain expendable as they need to not be a millstone around the assaulter's necks.

I don't see any issue with the T3 emergence. After all, it works just fine with all spaceships with Slow-And-Steady. They dont pay off in 3k games but are good in large games. Same here.

=============================

An alternate idea is to ditch the whole emergence location based on T1-2 vs T3 and instead give them all self-planetfall and give the large stuff slow and steady. There's nothing that cannot be balanced from small tunnelers from popping up on T1 just like marines and tau can planetfall already. The "carriage" or tunneler base or whatever takes the place of the spaceship capacity JUST LIKE everything else and becomes points you spend to enable the units to be taken as part of list structure.

I feel we're overly complicating rules when the existing ones work well enough.

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 Post subject: Re: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 8:21 am 
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Scouts? Infiltrators? Let them move like jump packs until the troops finally disembark?

I find I rather like the idea of jump-pack moving warriors. To explain movement - perhaps as they're far away from their carriage they have to surface to regain calibration or navigation lock. Would also give Squats the potential to have some more fast-moving assault forces other than trikes and copters which, as far as infantry goes at least, they really lack.

Purely brainstorming here. The ideas are probably all terrible. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:17 am 
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Sorry but the idea of tunellers starting a game deployed on their tunnellers and tunnelling under the ground during the game is utterly, utterly ludicrous and should be abandoned. Even using melta assisted cutting it is going to take several hours for a tuneller to cut through underground rock to get from the squats deployment zone to the other side of the board. That's way, way longer than the period of time an epic battle takes place over. Launch vehicles should just be placed off table (along with aircraft, spacecraft, ect) with their troops by them, the tuneller itself getting placed on the board when it emerges. They can still be painted up nicely and used that way, there's no need for them to actually be on table.

Definitely no to tunellers moving once on table! I don't care if they have little tracks on them - that would be used for moving around underground, not for moving around on table.

Since we're talking about squat tunnellers thought I want to mention again that their current rules are poorly written and thought out, open to abuse and definitely in need of fixing (I raised these issues in a long post in the main squat development thread some time ago but they haven't been addressed). The worst issue is that each emerged Termite counts as a ruin and if you have one on say a 40mm round base you could have around 12 stands (on strip bases) touching each one and all counting as being in ruins. Madness for such a small vehicle! It really needs to be reduced to just giving -1 to hit when touching it like all other vehicles. The Mole having a critical where it auto-breaks is bizarre and inappropriate too - it's a formation upgrade and 10-20 stands of squats in it's formation all auto breaking due to it getting damaged doesn't make sense for troops that should be stubborn.


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 Post subject: Re: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 2:33 pm 
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I agreed with several of the above sentiments. I would like to see termites/moles/hellbore used in the same way as drop pods. They are there as markers and nothing else. If a player wishes to have the correct models painted up more kudos to them, but they shouldn't be needed.

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 Post subject: Re: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 3:53 pm 
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GlynG wrote:
Even using melta assisted cutting it is going to take several hours for a tuneller to cut through underground rock to get from the squats deployment zone to the other side of the board.


And yet this is the same army that has mortars that shoot man portable mortar rounds underground at roughly the same speed as normal mortars fly through the air; certainly not so much slower that different rules are needed to model their shooting.

Duplicating the drop pod rules does seem to be by far the best way of modeling Squat tunnelers though.


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 Post subject: Re: Tunneler Discussion - Termites, Moles, and Hellbores
PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 9:46 pm 
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The existing tunneler rule already duplicates most of the mechanics of drop pods. You plot the location and mark the turn, they come up, the troops fight, the troops die, etc. The one remarkable difference is that the turn they come up out of the ground is secret. No biggie.

I'm going to leave the tunneler rules for tournament scenarios as they are right now. However, I appreciate the desire to use the carriages. They are cool looking and fun and the parts move on the Hellbore. But really, what application does it have in a tourney scenario? None, really, except exposing the vehicle to enemy fire. A Hellbore on a carriage will be the new favorite target for Deathstrike missiles. Boom, game over.

Alternative rules are fine with me and I'll be happy to consider any and all ideas, just as long as I don't get badgered about putting them in the tourney list.

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