So, to start again.
This week we are looking at the Valhallan Ice Warriors, a grim and determined lot, where life is cheap (if not worthless) and only success matters.
The Valhallans doctrine, Grim Demeanour, is a pretty good representation of the Valhallan attitude to warfare.
I was expecting the Valhallan doctrine to help out with moral, and the doctrine does not disappoint. As usual, it is formed of two parts, one for infantry and one for vehicles. So how does it work? Well for infantry it means that you are going to loose a lot less men from failed moral tests and to some extent removes the need for commissars. With a standard infantry squad, normally if you loose half of the squad, you are in real danger of being wiped out in the moral tests, with this doctrine, you need to loose over 7 of 10 men in order for the squad to be wiped out and that's assuming that you roll a 6 for moral. In other words, your men are going to be hanging around on the table top a lot more, meaning that your enemy cant rely on the moral phase to finish off the job of destroying you. This means that they will have to dedicate more firepower to destroying your units and as such, this means that there will be less firepower to dedicate to the rest of your army, resulting in your troops lasting longer.
For vehicles, the same idea is represented by doubling your remaining wounds when consulting the damage table. For most Imperial vehicles, they drop down a tier after loosing half their wounds, but with this doctrine, they will have to loose over three quarters of their wounds instead. This means that they will be on there top tier until they are down to about 2 or 3 wounds, before dropping down a tier with almost every wound. In reality this means that your vehicle are going to be working at full efficiency until they are destroyed. This is because most weapons that are going to destroy a vehicle are multi-damage weapons, and will usually remove 2 to 4 wounds at a time. Again, this means that your enemy cannot just cripple you vehicles by taking them down a tier or two and then ignore them, instead they will have to continue firing at them until they are completely destroyed. This means, that similar to infantry, your enemy will have to keep shooting at a vehicle until its destroyed, mean that they wont be able to fire at any of your other vehicles, saving them from damage and keeping them on the table longer.
The unit highlighted this time around is no surprise, as its pretty synonymous with the Valhallans.
There is also an ulterior motive for showing this unit off and that's the changes to the rules. Now, we all know that Conscripts have been ruling the roost somewhat at tournaments, even with there poor leadership and BS, once massed in to a 50 man squad with a commissar and an officer, they form a very hard hitting and hard to shift unit, soaking up shooting and combat with ease. The days of the massed Conscripts maybe number though. The two key rules updates have come in the form of reduced numbers and the removal of automatic orders.
The reduction in numbers has almost reduced the unit in half, dropping the maximum from 50 to 30. This is still a big unit but it does still drop the shooting output quite significantly. For a lot of people, this probably wouldn't change the situation much, as they would just split up the conscripts in to two 25 man blobs and carry on as normal, just upgrading the platoon commander to a company commander to get the extra orders. What really damaged the shooting output of these units though, is the fact that orders will now only work on a 4+. This means that it will only be a 50/50 change of getting that FRFSRF order off, and if you fail, that's it, no second chances. In some respect, this actually encourages the two 25 man squads, as at least your likely to get one of the orders off. If we think about this in terms of averages, over 2 turns, this will drop the shooting output potential from 400 shots (at rapid fire range with FRFSRF) to 150 shots (with one successful order and one fail). That's quite a difference is firepower, and makes quite a difference to what you will kill. I haven't run it through MathHammer, but I imagine there will be a significant difference in how many marines you could kill.
The next thing mentioned is the Valhallan order, Fire on my Command, is very similar to yesterdays, just the other side of the coin, firing IN to combat.
We all know that you can't fire in to combat right? Well now you can, there's just one drawback, roll a 1 and its your own men your hitting. As it stands, I cant think of any aura abilities that enable you to reroll 1's, otherwise this would be prefect. Being able to shoot IN to combat is great, as it means that you can shoot in with whatever weapons you like and your men don't have to fall back from combat. You could issue Fix Bayonets to the engaged unit, let them take a swing at the enemy and then fire in with some other models to kill a few off before you went in to combat and had another try. If you were running a Vostroyan detachment and a Valhallan one, just imaging the look on your enemies face as he watched his squad getting shot to bits, while locked in combat. Very situational, but also very fun. Valhallans we looking to be a good army already and this just adds to it, while still keeping in with there play style and fluff.
After the order we get the Stratagem and also this is where the "classic and much loved rule" returns.
This stratagem is very reminiscent of the old rule, which use to apply only to conscripts but now applies to all infantry units. At its basic level it enables you to regenerate a single unit that has been wiped out. There's seems to be a couple of clear winners here, firstly, those expensive specialist units, such as plasma or melta command squads. With this stratagem, you can do those suicidal charges to take out a character or vehicle, without worrying about the repercussions. Kill that captain but loose the plasma squad in return? Ok, ill just bring them back next turn. If you have a chimera spare you can just taxi the units around all game. The other winners with this are conscripts, as now you can throw them at something, like a squad of dark elder wytches and watch them get destroyed, knowing that they'll be back next turn. Its a great stratagem and opens up lots of options for just pushing forward and dam the consequences.
But the part I really find interesting is the bit that says "the combined squad stratagem". Now, I've had a look around and it seems that this will not be a before game stratagem to combine X number of squads at deployment, but an in game stratagem to merge squads together, to form a reinforced composite squad. I guess the idea is to take two squads that maybe down to half strength and combine them to form a single full strength squad, however, if there are no limitations on it, then I can see it being used a lot for first turn amalgamations of squads to form good old blob squads and i'm assuming that it will limit things to just the basic infantry squads and not allow things like conscripts or veterans to benefit. Its not quite what I had hoped for as I would have liked to be able to form proper blob squads at the start of the game, but as long as its not an expensive stratagem, then I think it will work out just fine. We will have to see the proper wording to really see how good it is and how it will work best, but its good that the option is there.
The next highlighted unit is one of my favourite super heavies in the game, the Stormlord, with its Vulcan Mega Bolter. If I had the money, I'd have one of these in my armoury for sure. But why is it here? Well, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they Steel Behemoth rule has been updated to include the fact that heavy weapons no longer suffer a penalty to shoot after the vehicle has moved, which is good, it should really have been that way from the start, its a mobile fortress after all. The second reason for it being here is to introduce the next stratagem, Crush Them.
This card has several uses, as it enables you to advance and charge but also means that your hitting on a 2+ instead of your usual 5 or 6+. I can see this card being used one of two ways. The first way is purely to get a unit up the field, to contest an objective or to try and grab line breaker, yes you are going to need to charge, but with careful planning, you can pick a unit that has a very slim chance of actually doing any damage to the vehicle, that way you could get up to an extra 12 inches from your movement, giving you a potential total movement of anything up to 30 inches, depending upon which vehicle you use. The other use for this is to finish off a unit of enemy models, either in your own deployment zone or on an objective, this general means that you need to use a vehicle with a lot of attacks, which is another reason the Stromlord is being highlighted, as it has 9 attacks. Most times when your charging in a vehicle its as a last resort, as your not expecting to hit, but when you do hit you have a fairly good chance of wounding, with this stratagem, you can pretty much guarantee to hit. Getting hit with 3 attacks from a Leman Russ will do some damage, especially against some of the softer squishier units. This could clear out the last of a unit from you deployment zone or to remove that last model from the objective. As a stratagem I like it. Its not one that will be used very often but its one to keep in your back pocket for those last minute moves.
Overall, I think that the Valhallan doctrine is a good doctrine. While it doesn't directly help with shooting output or combat potential, but it does help indirectly by keeping your men on the table longer or keeping your vehicles firing at full power. I don't know if I will use this for any of my armies but its defiantly a strong doctrine.
Today see us looking at the Armageddon Steel Legion and is the last of these previews. That means that we will have to wait and see what the Cadians, Tallarns and Militarium Tempestus doctrines hold.