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jdripley

Caster Protection

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"My casters keep on getting killed before I can use all of their SP."

"I can never get anything out of my casters. They're a waste of points."

 

Unfortunately, these are common sentiments. Casters typically have low DV's and are easily killed off in melee or picked off by archers. But since they are often very powerful, you need to get them involved in the fight, which puts them in quite a bit of danger. So is it a catch 22 and you're better off just picking up a few more soldiers instead?

 

I say no. Casters are very important and to me, an army isn't complete without magic in some form. So how can you get the most out of your casters without them getting splattered all over the place?

 

I propose several methods to protect your casters:

A) Bodyguard

B) Screening

C) Angle of Attack

D) Bait the Trap

 

First a quick thought on caster strengths and weaknesses defensively - Typically casters have high MD, so you really don't need to worry about a magical attack directed at them. Especially with the ease of counterspelling. That leaves melee threats and ranged threats. You've got to assess the chances of facing both of those threats and choose one or more of the above defensive maneuvers to mitigate the threats your casters face.

 

A) Bodyguard:

Place your caster on the table. Place four quality warrior models (at least 2 DT, DV of 10 or higher) on the table, one each square on each side of the caster's base. Then, going clockwise, start with one warrior and shift it "clockwise" 1/8 of an inch. The intention here is to block LOS for ranged attacks (there will be no gap larger than 1/8" leading in to the caster, so no LOS may be drawn) and to block any model's ability to charge the caster (if you hadn't done the 1/8" shift on all 4 models, an enemy could have reached b2b via the corner of the caster's base). This is an ideal defensive formation to keep your caster tucked into all the time as it provides a challenge to break and only requires 4 soldiers. The downside is that you're vulnerable to a Trample (but what isn't?), the formation CAN be broken (ranged attacks can bring down just a single defender, then a charge is possible), and Indirect Shot can still screw you.

 

B) Screening

This method involves having a line of soldiers deployed ahead of your caster. Typically you deploy the screening line 1" less than the Mov value of your caster. This way you can move the caster forward through the screening line, the caster ends its move in b2b with the front of one of the soldiers, the caster uses a spell, and the screening line advances out in front again. The benefit here is that you've got plenty of models in between your caster and your opponent. The enemy will have to burn through most of your line before your caster is vulnerable to a concerted attack, and in that time you can use most of the SP on your caster and begin finding a new place to hide if the line crumbles quicker than you expected. This is especially good against non-cavalry melee attacks and ranged attacks. Typical soldiers will not have the speed to circumvent your screening line and arrive at your caster with any actions left, but cavalry (especially Nefsokar cavalry, or any cavalry that can be enhanced by the Burst of Speed spell) can become a real nuisance. It is also fairly effective against ranged attacks. Archers will either have to flank way around the sides (probably using two actions to do so) before they can gain LOS. They will probably not be in range for Indirect Shot, as they can't use that SA on the move and they can't use it in their extended range - thus they would have to close to normal range on the previous turn, which leaves them in perilously close proximity to your melee screen.

C) Angle of Attack

How are you bringing your caster to bear on the opponent? Straight up the middle, or off to the side? Which side? There are alot of factors involved in how you deploy your caster. More than can easily be discussed in this post. But, with an eye towards keeping a caster alive, think about placing your caster on a flank that your opponent has not deployed into heavily. This can reduce the number of threats your caster will face, and the power of a caster on a flank can help you to quickly turn the flank. This is really an under-developed thought, but hopefully it gets the brain-juice flowing in your own head.

 

D) Bait the Trap

What kind of targets are you presenting your opponent? What risks are they running when they go after those targets? Take example 1 - You advance your caster up, blow some bad guys to bits, and as an afterthought run some soldiers up to stand next to the caster as bodyguards. Your opponent has this big, juicy meatball right in front of them and they can focus on it and kill it easily. Example 2: You cautiously move your caster up, fire off a spell at extreme range, and then run some soldiers up way past your caster. Now, when your opponent activates, if they want to snake some soldiers in through the mass of soldiers you've flung out ahead, they're running the risk of spreading too far and they leave their own soldiers in a very vulnerable position in the midst of your army. This is different from screening because instead of having a defensive picket out ahead, you have some soldiers far ahead, some more middle, and some nearby the caster. To leave the caster alone is risky because the model presents quite a bit of offensive potential. They're in a bit of a bind now.

 

 

 

Those are just a few ideas. I've used them in the past to great success (especially A and B, and D to some extend) If you're finding that your casters are dying too quickly, try out one or more of these ideas!

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E) Dynamic Duo.

Place your big nasty beastie near your caster. It can function as a good meat shield and block LOS. The enemy also has to decide if they risk the Caster and ignore the beast which will shred them or hit the beast and ignore the caster which will shred them.

 

F) I Stand Alone.

If your opponent has a low number of ranged attacks, deploy the caster completely alone but 12-18+" away from the rest of your forces. If the enemy sends too few models after the model the caster eliminates the threat. If too many models are sent, precious time/resources are lost and drawn away from your main force. You can compound that by doing a Run action rather than attack. This serves to distract the models as they are drawn further away from the main force where you now outnumber the enemy models and have an advantage. If they give up the chase you harass them at range.

 

G) Interns and Apprentices.

Take multiple low point casters rather than your big nasty casters. Hunt in packs doing multiple "weaker" attacks. Or spread to total opposite sides and allow the spreading of your fire from multiple angles. Weaker mages also tend to provoke unnecessary levels of fear and can lead to the "I Stand Alone" tactics. This is particularly true when dealing with opponents unfamiliar with your faction. They assume all casters are extremely dangerous and will target them quickly. In reality a 20-50 pt model is a distraction. In the mean time hit them where they have left themselves exposed.

 

H) Windu Death Globe

Don't wait for death to come to you. Embrace it head on. When you are getting attacked by multiple grunts, run in the midst of them and cast Blade Barrier. It's one of the best spells on the market for it's price.

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Blade Barrier is a Merc faction only spell, so as long as you are Mercs, that is a great tactic. Although other factions and/or tomes have some fairly potent or fun btb type spells as well that should not be overlooked.

 

Great suggestions all around though.

 

One thing to note is that most of the answers I have seen so far are all about casters that are "direct damage" type of casters. Whereas support role casters for the most part are just sit in the back and boost your friends in some form or fashion.

 

Also, don't forget Familiars. You can cast spells thru familiars (even btb type spells) as long as you have LOS to them while you sit on the back edge focusing.

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Blade Barrier is a Merc faction only spell, so as long as you are Mercs, that is a great tactic. Although other factions and/or tomes have some fairly potent or fun btb type spells as well that should not be overlooked.

Thanks for the added clarification. It's basically just a different way to be a glorious Martyr.

 

A good fireball/firestorm at your own feet is a great way to go out with a blaze of glory (literally) too. :D

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How about the Supporting Advance option? Most casters have the ability to boost friendly troops capabilities as Stubbdog pointed out. Keeping them well back and with a familiar while slowly advancing them allows you to support your friendlies until they can tie up or chase off the biggest threats to your casters.

 

I've found that the biggest threat to my casters isn't range, but fast melee. If I face an army with heavy range I keep my casters back and opposite angled to enemy archers, or what have you, and use their Direct Damage (DD) spells to soften up the frontline before my own soldiers mow them down. Then it's a mad dash to gobble archers. Conversely, if I have lots of range or very fast troops (like Flyers or Cavalry) I'll direct them boldly towards the enemy's casters in an attempt to draw their forces off in defence. When facing fast melee, often times your only chance at protection is a screen maneuver and against some enemies even that is futile (models with Leap for instance).

 

One should tailor one's defense to suit the foe you face. Sure it feels great to get a caster out there and watch them blast enemies to bits, but sometimes it's better they chill back and pop out an Exhume to disrupt a burrowed charge, or a winglock, or even a dispel. Utilize casters to their full versatility and you'll find that not only are they alive towards the end, but so are larger portions of your army and lesser portions of your enemy's.

 

Joshua

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Actually I think Bill is anti-castatic. He very rarely brings them....he even has a shirt saying "Well I lost again..." on the front and "Blame it on the casters" on the back.

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