Staring into the Abyss – Part 5 : Choosing a Vanguard Company

So this post is a bit naughty in couple of ways

  1. I’ve been playing (lots of) games and have more of a perspective on the different units than when I started. I’m writing this retrospectively as I think my initial reasoning was sound and what I’ve learnt since is a topic for another post.
  2. I’ve not quite finished painting my models yet, so rather than use the Mantic stock photos and put my efforts to shame, I’ve attempted to find the concept art and/or renders where I could, and improvised where I couldn’t.

A Vanguard company requires you to select 400 points worth of models that you choose from to build typically 200 point warbands from to play the various missions.

  • Various is key here because the scenarios demand very different approaches to give you best chance of winning – some require speed, some disposable troops, some are more defensive and other even more niche. With this in mind I wanted to buy a really nice spread of choices – if possible include every model option I had access to, but also consider where I needed duplicates and equipment.
  • Another key consideration is that when selecting a warband, you have to unlock the more interesting support, leader, large and spellcaster models by taking grunts and warriors.
  • Abyssals have a faction wide special rule Fury which can super boost a retaliation strike (which is nice) OR can allow a fatigued and activated model to retaliate – this is potentially huge with the potency of some models in the list.
  • Lastly, things can die in the campaign. This means I need to think about redundancy in my company should the worst happen after a skirmish!

Lower Abyssals – Grunts

These little chaps are melee only – they can’t be given ranged attacks even with equipment. No special rules (other than the default Fury rule which can prove useful even on these), super average stat line.

They are the cheapest option in the list at 8 points and grunts are replaced for free in a campaign should they die, so given the need to sometimes just get in the way (Light the Beacon!) or take risks (Secure the Portal) a bunch of them is probably a must take.

With all this in mind, I’ve chosen to take 5, which is the most you can field at once, so this is all I’ll ever need – and 5 came in the warband box, very handy.

Flamebearers – Grunts

These critters are the main source of shooting in the Abyssal list. As lowly grunts they are fragile, but also cheap at 9 points. Relatively short ranged for missile troops with 9″, but with piercing (1), a power to extend range with a command point and being able to move and shoot – potentially twice with forced fatigue they will I think be quite a pain, especially if I take a few.

2 come in the box, but you can make more with the Lower Abyssals sprue. I bought extra, so was able to go for the full 5 in my list, again all I’ll ever need as grunts are expendable.

Imps – Grunts

Imps are the “pet” models on the Lower Abyssal and Succubus sprues, collecting a enough to make a base requires slightly more than comes in the warband starter box however.

Although grunts, they have 3 wounds and stubborn, so more reliable than the other grunts. With swarm and 3D8 dice in melee, these guys love hanging around with other models in combat.

I’d love to include these in my list, but when I added everything up, I was over the limit, so sadly these were the easiest thing to cut. I will seek to recruit these in the campaign ASAP.

Abyssal Guard – Warrior

There’s few warriors in the Abyssal list. The guard are the tougher ones, with armour 4+, 2 wounds and regeneration 6+ they are reasonably sticky, at least on paper. They come with crushing strength (1) and melee 4+ so not bad in a fight either. Nerve 5+ is distinctly average however, so once down, they aren’t that reliable.

At 14 points they are nearly twice the price of lower Abyssals, so I’ll try a couple out, but I am wary of them dying given their front line role.

Succubus – Warrior

The other warrior choice is more subtle than the guards. With stealth and a unique ability that makes them and other models near them harder to hit in melee, these ladies are sneaky and have a utility element to them – they are also movement 6 so quite nippy. They also have vicious so they hit reliably, although not that hard. Once hit however, with armour 6 and nerve 5+ they don’t hang around long.

Also 14 points like the guard, I want to try these out for the utility and speed, but am still concerned about the fragility, so a pair is plenty.

Succubus Lurker – Support

Now we’re getting into to the more expensive choices. 24 points gets you a lurker, which is a succubus that’s even sneakier. With scout and sneaky added to the existing stats of a succubus and rolling 3D8 in melee, there’s a lot here building on the ability to get anywhere, be hard to target and strike hard from an unexpected direction.

Although pricey at 24 points and no more survivable that the normal warrior succubus, the scout ability can be key in various missions and also useful in the campaign phase. I’m selecting one, but really worried about how squishy she is!

Gargoyle – Support

Gargoyles have a very similar spread of stats in Vanguard as they do in Kings of War. Fast, squishy and cowardly, but with a surprisingly good regeneration ability.

At 18 points, they are pricey and they take up a support slot. Being fast and flying, for certain missions having one swoop in late and be able to survive the odd random pot shot seems useful, but expecting them to achieve anything in combat is not a good strategy.

I’m picking one, its a great model, but it’ll only be allowed out with specific instructions!

Hell Hound – Support

The hell hound at first glance looks like an expensive fast lower abyssal – a bit disappointing. Smash and Vicious as skills start to suggest a role for the beast however, and ooo, they roll 3D8 in melee. This means if you get a charge in (and with move 7 you should) and considering boosting the roll, with 5D8 re-rolling 1s, you have a good chance of getting 3 hits, which with Smash means you knock the target down, avoiding any retaliation and making it easy for other models to take the victim down.

At 19 points (originally) they are expensive, but I have a great model in mind so I’ll risk taking one to try my tactic.

Despoiler – Large

The only “brutish” large model (the Warlock below is a bit of an oddity) in the list, the Despoiler feels like a must include. With armour 4+, 5 wounds, nerve 4, steady and regeneration 6+ this monster is pretty hard to take out of the game completely. Offensively with melee 4+, crushing strength (3), Smash and rolling 4D8 its terrifying when it hits – but without vicious etc. its not as reliable as some.

At 37 points is expensive but I think a bargain. I can only field 1 large model so I will hope it doesn’t suffer any terrible injuries and hire a single monster to start with.

Warlock – Spellcaster

The Warlock is the only spell caster in my list (although to be fair most factions only get one) and really strangely its large too. This is a problem because it makes me choose between the Despoiler and the Warlock when making my warband.

The Warlock’s spells are useful but not exciting, Fireball, Hammer and Mindstorm. With the ability to extend the range of spells at the cost of command points, the boosted fireball can be quite nasty, but really this guy is going to struggle to convince me vs. the sheer power the Despoiler brings to the table.

With 4 wounds, armour 4, steady and regeneration, he’s almost as tough as the despoiler, but combat is the last place you want this guy. At 35 points hes pricey too. I’m taking one for completeness and the model, not sure how much play he will get.

Hellequin – Support /
Hellequin Blood-Masque – Command

Now things get interesting. Same model, two different choices in the list.

The Hellequin is pretty beefy. Armour 4, 3 wounds, nerve 4+ and 6th sense makes quite tough. Offensively also effective, melee 3+, crushing strength (1) and 3D8. All this on top of movement 7 and being Cavalry.

The Blood-Masque brings 2 red command dice, a wound, an extra level of crushing strength and the unique “expert rider” to the table at the cost of an extra 13 points.

I tried the Blood-Masque out in a test game, facing off against the undead, the werewolf causing particular problems for me. I liked the general package of the cavalry model, but the extra points the command version doesn’t seem to be really outclass the other leader options in the list. I’ve opted for a single normal Hellequin in my list as a result.

Tormentor (Champion) – Command

This character doesn’t come in the Warband starter or booster, however as I bought the starter army box to get more Lower Abyssals and Succubus models, this guy was included in the set (although he’s also available individually).

Bringing 3 red command dice and Inspiring, he’s a welcome addition to the company as a leader. Offensively, with melee 3, crushing strength (3), vicious and rolling 4D8 he hits really, really hard – combined with the Faction ability he can be retaliating with 6D8!

Defensively with armour 4+, nerve 5+, 3 wounds, Inspiring and the unique defensive roar he looks like he might be quite survivable. Movement 5 and no other tricks means he’ll be a foot slogger like the Despoiler however.

At 44 points he’s not even slightly cheap, but Inspiring isn’t available on any of the other command models and between the good command dice pool and the rest of his stats he feels like a powerful and unique addition, compared to the Blood-Masque just being an upgrade, so I’m bringing one to act as a secondary commander. Why secondary? Well read on…

Seductress – Command

Ok so the model in the booster box is pretty nice, so that’s a good start. I used a Seductress in a demo game against some goblins and I discovered just how good she could be.

Movement 6, fly, melee 3, vicious and rolling 5D8 in melee she’s an absolute beast. If you consider the fury faction special, she positively wants to be surrounded by the enemy, every time they attack her if you have a spare command dice you can attack back rolling 5 dice, hitting on 3s and re-rolling any 1s. With those sorts of numbers I was getting 7 or more hits some rounds thanks to exploding 8s.

Defensively she has the same -1 to be hit in melee unique ability as the other succubus models in this faction. She can also spend a command dice to counter any outnumbering bonuses, which combined with the desire to retaliate with this model is nice. Armour 5, Nerve 4, 3 wounds and stealthy is not bullet proof, but not wet paper bag weak either.

Oh, and she’s a command model bringing 2 white command dice to the pool, although no inspiring.

Overall she’s the poster child for this Abyssals. Fast, hard to hit and absolutely deadly in melee. I’m taking one and probably using her in most games, and to the Abyss with the 45 point cost!

The complete list then looks like this:

Lower Abyssal8540
Flame Bearer9545
Abyssal Guard14228
Succubus Lurker24124
Hell Hound19119

This leaves me with a few points for some choice items. I’ll look to pick up more as the campaign progresses and I get my hands on the equipment deck. To start with a Heavy weapon for the Seductress seems wise as she has no Crushing Strength and 3 lucky charms might be useful to soak up spare points and give me a sneaky trick for Secure the Portal missions.

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