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Juice up the Steamroller??

Posted August 31st, 2010 at 12:33 PM by Filthy the Clown
With 10 of the top 16 armies in Gencon 2010 playing melee-heavy, ratless armies, and with the focus on melee in D2 and D3 units (along with heroes), does the Gladiator-powered Steamroller have more validity in today's tournament scene?

Although inspired Gladiators have the stats to shred, their weaknesses have been related to their
  1. lack of numbers ~200 point Spartacus is a must, and that leaves room for only 3 squads of Capuan Gladiators, and a hero, in a standard point value of 500.
  2. Vulnerability to rats and other screens that rely on a special attack to eradicate them.

With an increase of new heroes and melee squads, and the lack of points available for consumption after said heroes/squads have been paid for points-wise, the gladiators could potentially have an increase in usage. With that in mind, is it worth forsaking Gladiator Inspiration early in the game to add a rat-hacker to your build? And, is it better to add another squad of inspired gladiators, rather than a second gladiator hero?

For example, the standard build, at 500, usually involves:

Spartacus 200
Crixus 290
Cap. Glad. x 3 500, 11 spaces

~This build can rock on the right map, and against the right build, but otherwise gets bogged down by rats and whittled down by superior numbers.

Speculative builds that could help the gladiators:

Spartacus 200
CG x 3 410
Heirloom 500, 11 spaces (or Repulsors x 2/490, 16 spaces)

~You are sacrificing a gladiator hero for a viable rat cleaning option. Initial order markers are spent on moving up your anti-rat units. The key is to have a leading unit that will be enough of a threat to force your opponent into moving up her rat screen. With 90 points left in a standard 500 point build, your special attackers/anti-rat options lean towards units such as Kumiko. Hierloom, Wyrmlings, and Repulsors. You are effectively moving your gladiators to the mid-game, so you want something that will be able to absorb a bit of damage, or thin out screens from a safe range. The downside is that you lose any board control that early gladiator movement earns you, but you can counter this by creating paths through your opponent's rat screen.

Another option involves going with more warm bodies:

Spartacus 200
CG x 4 480
Marcu 500, 14 spaces

~You are again forsaking a rat cleaner, but you gain safety in numbers, as well as a glyph grabber/wound soak in Marcu, if the need arises.

Either option allows for a bit more flexibility in the evolution of melee-heavy builds, as well as helping to make the gladiators a bit more playable.

I would love to hear about your experiences with Gladiator builds: what works, what doesn't work, and your own suggestions.
Total Comments 16


killercactus's Avatar
It's so tough to do that with the Gladiators because you lose Gladiator Inspiration and Initiative Advantage as soon as you put an OM somewhere else.
Posted August 31st, 2010 at 01:14 PM by killercactus killercactus is offline
S1R_ART0R1US's Avatar
Braxas alone is reason enough not to play the Steamroller-especially seeing as she was in the winning army last year and in at least one army this year-without Greenscales.

These guys can definitely put the hurt on Q9 and the other dragons though, but they're really hampered by any kind of screen.
Posted August 31st, 2010 at 01:21 PM by S1R_ART0R1US S1R_ART0R1US is offline
Cleon's Avatar
For the rat problem:

Capuan Gladiators x3
Red Wyrmling x3


Capuan Gladiators x2
Red Wyrmling x5

The red wyrmlings give Braxas a little trouble, as they are heroes. I would not keep Sparticus back if I played these armies, you need those 4 attacks per OM.
Posted August 31st, 2010 at 01:48 PM by Cleon Cleon is offline
Updated August 31st, 2010 at 05:58 PM by Cleon
kolakoski's Avatar
I'd go . . .

210 Cap x 3
200 Spartacus
90 Red Wyrmlings x 3

Posted August 31st, 2010 at 01:52 PM by kolakoski kolakoski is offline
Updated August 31st, 2010 at 01:54 PM by kolakoski (Ninja'd)
Filthy the Clown's Avatar
Three reds sounds like enough of a force to earn at least the first turn's worth of OM's (taking into account any mobility threats against Spartacus). If your opponent does not lead with rats (basically, anticipating your lack of gladiator move), they are strong enough to fry some squads (just place them on height, which should not be a huge problem)...But their focus should be on taking out rats/screens (who are squads, 9 out of 10 times). But, can they hang against the Greenroller/Braxas threat, at least long enough to unleash the steamroller?

And Cleon, I also agree that Spartacus has to be active for this build to work...Just not too active that you lose him early on.

Sure, Crixus is missed, but he won't do much good if he is bogged down in rat hell.
Posted August 31st, 2010 at 02:29 PM by Filthy the Clown Filthy the Clown is offline
dok's Avatar
It's funny you bring up the steamroller. A couple days ago when I was looking through the complete listing of GenCon championship armies (in the spoiler section here). I ran through them and mentally filed them into four categories:

Good: Armies that, while maybe I wouldn't play, I would definitely take seriously.
OK: Armies that make sense, but are in some way flawed and are at a pretty bad disadvantage against several top builds.
Bad: Armies that simply don't make sense to me in a competitive setting.
Disaster: Bad armies that feature 1x commons or serious obvious issues.

The disaster armies were all zero or one win, with maybe one exception. Every army with three or more wins rated "good" in my mind. The highest-ranked "OK" army in my mind was the Steamroller.

The Capuans suffer from a severe lack of numbers, especially given the power of Grimnak and Braxas in the metagame. Not being able to mix in a rat-clearer is another major blow. It's sort of like combining the weaknesses of the Minions and the 4th Mass.

At very high point levels, I could see a bulked-out steamroller fronted by a powerful multiple special attacker being an effective combo. For example:

90 Crixus
200 Spartacus
350 Capuan Gladiators x5
185 Nilfheim
725, 19 hexes

Of course, the popular builds can get pretty nasty at those point totals, too.
Posted August 31st, 2010 at 04:29 PM by dok dok is offline
Filthy the Clown's Avatar
Interesting breakdown, Dok. At that point total, it makes sense to me to break your army into two distinct factions and definitive game points (opening and end-game), situation dictating. To modify your sample army:

90 Crixus
200 Spartacus
210 Capuans x3
185 Nilfheim
120 Greenscales x2
705, 19 hexes

~Lead with the greenscales, and then move the gladiators up after the dragon falls.

However, at 500, it seems that the gladiators inevitably suffer from one of two mentioned weaknesses (as you confirmed in your comment): lack of numbers and rats. The lesser of two evils seems to be the numbers. I would choose a special attacker(s) over numbers, as
  • Red wyrmlings are great against rats (not so much against Braxas/Grimnak, but they should be able to clear a path for the inspired gladiators to strike where needed).
  • Inspired gladiators have that magical defense of 4, which keeps them alive long enough to pound away with 3/4 strong attacks (once the screen is removed from the equation).

I would be anxious to see if this is confirmed by the armies that the Gencon steamroller's faced (heads towards Dok's link).

To further speculate, it seems the best solution is a gladiator-bonding hero that offers a special attack...But that appears to be wishful thinking at this stage in the game.
Posted August 31st, 2010 at 04:58 PM by Filthy the Clown Filthy the Clown is offline
Updated August 31st, 2010 at 05:04 PM by Filthy the Clown (I only saw one steamroller player in the day 1 championship; Ian B had 2 wins, 41 out of 72nd place, with standard steamroller; anyone know what he lost to?)
dok's Avatar
Originally Posted by Filthy the Clown
I only saw one steamroller player in the day 1 championship; Ian B had 2 wins, 41 out of 72nd place, with standard steamroller; anyone know what he lost to?
I don't, and I don't think he's on HSers. I don't know whether R˙chean has the round-by-round matchup data, but it would be interesting to look at, for sure.

ETA: I almost made the same point about a special attacker.
Posted August 31st, 2010 at 05:24 PM by dok dok is offline
nyys's Avatar
Looks like we need a new Gladiator Hero that has a special attack and affects multiple targets.

Hmmm... sounds like a fun custom project.
Posted September 1st, 2010 at 11:08 PM by nyys nyys is offline
Kaemon Awasome's Avatar
I think part of the key is you really won't be able to field them at a straight 500.

I used to give my wife a Steamroller army all the time when we would play because it's so easy to manage. I would always play builds that struggled against melee to to make the game competitive. I would often think about how I could make the Gladiators stronger so I could play some better armies against it.

A possibly good army at 520:

Sparticus - 200
Caps x2 - 340
Q9 - 520

If they could make a Day 2 (big if), then you would have good upgrade options. You just can't spare Sparticus. When you use the Gladiators you need the four attacks. And Q9 is the kinda guy you don't mind taking 3 full turns with.

At 510 you could try:

Sparticus - 200
Caps x2 - 340
Mimring - 490
Marcu - 510

Marcu is actually really important to soak up the wound glyph, as Mimring is fragile enough and you can't afford unearned wounds on any of the Gladiators. Use Mimring to kill rats and draw out your real targets.

Or, you could go with a CaT bomb:

Sparticus - 200
Caps x3 - 410
Crixus - 500
Theracus - 540

Fly Crixus into the start zone, hope he can wreak enough havoc, while you gain board control. It would be best for you to go last on the first round (so Crixus isn't completely exposed for 2 OM's), or you could go OM 1 Glads, OM 2 and 3 Theracus.
Posted September 1st, 2010 at 11:54 PM by Kaemon Awasome Kaemon Awasome is offline
kolakoski's Avatar
Kaemon, if you are going with only 2 squads of Capuans, that leaves 160 points in a 500 point army. How about Shurrak?
Posted September 2nd, 2010 at 09:06 AM by kolakoski kolakoski is offline
R˙chean's Avatar
Originally Posted by dok
I don't know whether R˙chean has the round-by-round matchup data, but it would be interesting to look at, for sure.
I do have this info. I will look when I get home but I believe I can extract information like this in report style with minimal effort.
Posted September 2nd, 2010 at 02:11 PM by R˙chean R˙chean is offline
Filthy the Clown's Avatar
With six movement, and the stamina of a bull elephant, Shurrak works fairly well at sucking in rats and other units in the beginning of the game. He earned his points in a Werewolf-core build that I was toying with, where Shurrak was unleashed early, did as much damage as he could, and then held out until the wolf horde moved in. However, I don't see a good translation with the Gladiators, at least around 500 points...Mainly because I find it hard to justify using Spartacus with only 6 Gladiator commons (Spartacus, Capuans x2, Black Jack Sherrak; 500, 9 spaces). I want to give this a whirl at 570, though, with another squad of Capuans to inspire.

R˙chean, that would be great if you can locate the information (the wins/losses for the GenCon Day 1 Gladiator build). Many thanks in advance!
Posted September 3rd, 2010 at 10:21 PM by Filthy the Clown Filthy the Clown is offline
Filthy the Clown's Avatar
MegaSilver was kind enough to share his record and opponent's armies for his first tourney outing with the Steamroller (Spartacus, Crixus, Capuans x3). He went 3-2, and his opponents stacked up to:

Raelin 1.0
Warforged x3
Stingers x3
Outcome = WIN (lost 2 squads of Caps)

Sir Gilbert
Mass x2
Sgt. Drake 1.0
Knights of Weston x2
Outcome = WIN (lost 2 squads of Caps)

Marro Warriors
Dividers x2
Drones x3
Outcome = LOSS (opponent had 1 squad of Dividers left, and capitalized on good d20 rolls for divide)

Sir Dupuis
Templar Cavalry x1
Knights of Weston x2
10th x1
Outcome = WIN (lost 2 squads of Caps; opponent initially though Dupuis bonded, which could have affected his army choice)

Axegrinders x3
Outcome = LOSS (very close game; Crixus vs 2 Axegrinders)

It is interesting to note that all opponents were primarily melee (the first two builds were comprised of at least 40% of ranged units, but I am not sure if the melee acted as screens for them), and that his two losses were close games.
Posted September 20th, 2010 at 11:08 PM by Filthy the Clown Filthy the Clown is offline
Updated September 21st, 2010 at 09:49 AM by Filthy the Clown (Added MegaSilver's additions)
MegaSilver's Avatar

When I was facing Dupius, I pointed out his error when he tried to used, so he didn't use the bonding.

And against the Dwarves, it was Crixus vs. 2 dwarf squad figures.

Posted September 21st, 2010 at 09:18 AM by MegaSilver MegaSilver is offline
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