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A Yellow Wood

Posted March 18th, 2009 at 12:39 PM by Aldin
Major Q9 stands beneath a grassy ledge, his Queeglix gun pouring bullets into the armored hide of the Deathstalker above him without effect. Utgarís robopups had shedded his melee screen and had him surrounded. Another darted in at his left leg and as he moved to deal with it the one above snuck his jaws in past the shoulder armor and gripped his neck. With a shake and a snap, Major Q9ís last thought was for how heíd underestimated the power of his foe. The Deathstalker raised his head and howled in an eerie mechanical shout of triumphÖ

Sporadically, Iím planning on blogging about units that I love. Thereís no perfect correlation on this list to Spider_Poisonís unit grades, though I will probably start with lower graded units on the theory that they need the love more. My man crush on Sir Gilbert will just have to wait. But I will get to him and the Deathreavers someday (as an aside, the Rats were key to my first victory at my first Heroscape gameday), so this isnít quite about rdhightís Embracing the Suck, either. This isnít necessarily about how good the unit is or what itís role is or which units it works well with and/or against Ė though Iíll likely touch on those things. Itís simply units that for one reason or another have a special place in my heart.

For the Deathstalkers it was a Jerry Maguire moment Ė they had me at ďhelloĒ. I simply couldnít stop staring at the amazing sculpts and their wonderful detail. After buying them I took the pack out of the bag and rotated it around a bit to get more angles of viewing delight. The anticipation for getting home and freeing them from their confinement was electric and you can be sure Iíve spent a fair amount of time admiring them since. Even now, the speed and power of the big dogs just radiates Ė they look fast, they look deadly. Beautiful.

I was in a gameday last year when it first occurred to me to attempt to negate Braxas, Cyprien, the Marrden Hounds and all the other units that large soulborgs can mostly ignore. So I took the good Majors Q9 and Q10 and added a couple of squads of robopups to the mix. I did fairly well, though in retrospect Q10 didnít really belong in the mix. I played a game against each of Braxas and Cyprien and the Stalkers crushed them. In a lot of ways it is their speed that I like best. There arenít many units that can get in multiple shots against them before the dogs are at their throats. By the way, the opening paragraph? Yes, it really happened.

It seems odd to me that so many people understand that Drain doesnít make the Stingers, but fail to grasp that Maul doesnít make the Stalkers. Nothing Iíve described so far has been in any way related to Maul. Is it nice when it kicks in? Sure. Did I love it when my Stalkers mauled Raelin? Oh yeah Ė heck yeah! It was awesome! But do I want to stay on level ground to increase my maul chances? Letís talk height and probability for a moment.

Purely on the attack side of the equation, the chance of a three dice maul is 12.5% and a four dice maul is 6.25%. That means that in sixteen attacks you average two mauls from three dice and only one from four. But how many of those attacks are against low to moderate defense squads anyway? How often does a Knight of Weston block three skulls? The easy answer is not very bloody often. And while Iíll get a three-skull maul twice in sixteen throws, Iíll average five rolls of three skulls or better from height. Iíll also get two skulls more often (almost 2/3rds of the time vs. 1/2 from three dice) and only whiff half as often. This is all before you consider the defensive advantage. Maul is nice, but height is a no brainer.

Their double base is a blessing and a curse. Mostly a curse. The ability to bypass an occasional river is nice, but most maps I see are designed to deny height to double-based figures and to make it difficult for them to move around. Speed can make up for some of that, but without the flying ability of the dragons, the terrain that hinders the drakes really hurts the dogs. The worst of it, though, is the way they quickly fill a 24 hex start zone. A mere two squads eats up half the zone and three leaves only six spaces. Combining the robopups with other common squads just isnít practical for the most part Ė though two of each of the Stalkers and Reavers in combination with a big hero or two might be fun sometime.

Because their defense is so high, the Stalkers endurance can surprise foes. It is generally harder to kill a squad of Stalkers than to knock off Major Q10 (extra skulls donít do any good vs. Stalkers), while they hit for more dice, are common and cost two thirds of his price. Theyíll still fall too fast against the four member ranged squads. Theyíre also rather vulnerable to hero killers like the Kozuke. Still, you rarely find a Stalker that didnít die hard, even in death still eager to tear at their foe.

I like them with other soulborgs Ė mostly because Cyprien annoys me. I also like them with Raelin. The SotM Raelin can be useful here in opening up the area they can roam. Since they take up so much starting zone room, it is good that they function well with big heroes like Nilfheim and Major Q9. Mostly though, I love the mind's-eye image of this incredible cyborg flashing through the trees, jaws loosely open, muscles straining and pistons pumping in the thrill of the hunt.
Total Comments 16


rym's Avatar
I very rarely play the Deathstalkers. But now, thanks to this wonderfully illustrated, descriptive piece, I think I will most certainly do so at my next game day.

Very nice and pleasant read, Aldin.

Posted March 18th, 2009 at 12:46 PM by rym rym is offline
Aldin's Avatar
Thanks, rym! Glad to hear you're inspired to play with them
Posted March 18th, 2009 at 04:06 PM by Aldin Aldin is offline
ollie's Avatar
Great article, Aldin, thank you. I used the deathstalkers in my very first game (a single squad; I didn't know what I was doing then). They did not perform well (more accurately I did not perform well) but they've always had a place in my heart as part of the reason I went out and bought the game.

You hit the nail on the head with the start zone issues. If the tournament standard was a 24 figure limit rather than a 24 hex limit I think we'd see them much more frequently.
Posted March 18th, 2009 at 04:42 PM by ollie ollie is offline
Pickledpie's Avatar
After your suggestion about using them in tandem with Reavers and a big hero, a nice NHSD 540 army popped into mind:

2x 'Stalkers......200
2x 'Reavers........80
Raelin (RotV)......80
540 points
23 hexes

Great article! Also I think I'll second rym's notion. I look forward to the next ones!

Posted March 18th, 2009 at 05:29 PM by Pickledpie Pickledpie is offline
Updated March 20th, 2009 at 03:13 PM by Pickledpie
While the hounds are decent, I really enjoy playing with Marro hounds. They have a lot of drawbacks, mostly because, being marro, they're affected by Chilling Touch. But all in all, I love the risk that comes with them. So while I agree that the robodogs are good, they cost more, and IMO, aren't as much fun.
Posted March 18th, 2009 at 05:37 PM by ABOMINATION ABOMINATION is offline
nyys's Avatar
More support for increased start zones... I like it.
Posted March 18th, 2009 at 06:00 PM by nyys nyys is offline
arp12's Avatar
Nice, I'm inspired.

Sorry Pickledpie but this sounded funny...
Originally Posted by Pickledpie
a nice NHSD 540 army pooped into mind
Posted March 18th, 2009 at 08:10 PM by arp12 arp12 is offline
arp12's Avatar
Played 2x Deathstalkers, Krug, and 3x Stingers today. I crushed SuperEsenwein's Nilf, Q10, 2x Rats and Raelin. The problem is that I didn't really see how good the Deathstalkers were, because I hadn't used them much before Krug destroyed Nilf and Q10(who were backed by Raelin) in 2 turns. The Deathstalkers seem better than at first glance, though.
Posted March 19th, 2009 at 05:43 PM by arp12 arp12 is offline
jotun7's Avatar
hmm... very nice, inspiring to use the deathstalkers. Now we just need an inspiration to use the marrden naggrubs!
Posted March 23rd, 2009 at 11:07 AM by jotun7 jotun7 is offline
temp.nerd's Avatar
I don't wan't to sound stupid, but where did you come up with the title?
Posted March 23rd, 2009 at 11:50 AM by temp.nerd temp.nerd is offline
Aldin's Avatar
From a Robert Frost poem, _The Road Not Taken_.
Posted March 23rd, 2009 at 01:48 PM by Aldin Aldin is offline
Eirikr's Avatar
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Posted March 23rd, 2009 at 05:06 PM by Eirikr Eirikr is offline
scorpionslayer's Avatar
Another good thing is the deathstalkers size allowing them to avoid powers like chomp and trample stomp.
Posted March 23rd, 2009 at 06:08 PM by scorpionslayer scorpionslayer is offline
About the starting zones, if I run out of room I just through in some hexes in the back.
Posted March 24th, 2009 at 10:22 PM by Scapegeek Scapegeek is offline
Will T's Avatar
Scapegeek, that is not an option at a tournament!
Posted March 25th, 2009 at 01:07 AM by Will T Will T is offline
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