What’s the least-used model/unit in Minions? Can a list highlight them?
Chalkboard here from Chalkboard War, with part nine in a series of articles exploring how the biggest underdogs in Warmachine and Hordes might find their niche. Why, you might ask? Well, because we all love that moment when an unexpected underdog gets a chance to triumph. We love the rush of emotion that comes from seeing someone (or something) that shouldn’t win somehow manage to pull together a victory. Given that it’s true of books and films and television, it’s no surprise that we do the same in Warmachine and Hordes as well. Finding a way to make that infrequently-used, much-maligned piece shine can be a fun challenge. And that’s my goal in this series. After some thoroughly non-scientific polling, I compiled what many players agree is least-used model within each faction in the game. The goals? First, to figure out why they’re least used (meta has shifted, model is over-costed or under-powered, bad sculpt, strange rules, no clear spot, better choices for the points, no caster to pair with them, etc.). Then, to try and theorize a list that could make these underdogs shine.
As a special note on the Minions (the same will be true of Mercenaries), “least used” was a bit more complex. Least-used overall? Least-used within one of the two Pacts? What about models that are Minions but cannot be included in either Pact? Would they even qualify as “Least Used”? For instance, Brun Cragback and Lug won’t actually work for Minions–only for Circle, Trollbloods, and Seaforge Commission. So are they least used in the faction, as they never appear in-faction effectively? To solve all this, I made a simple decision: to restrict the results to least-used within the Pacts or Contracts when it comes to Minions and Mercenaries.
Least Used Minions
Winner: Farrow Razorback Crew
As I said before Light Artillery for many factions were frequently included in the nomination process, and the Razorback Crew suffers all the similar limitations. Ranging problems, relatively low RAT, and limited flexibility due to needing to stand still to fire are all critical drawbacks. Within Minions, the Razorback seemed to suffer the problem of being outshone by warbeast-mounted weaponry that can boost attacks and damages. And non-warbeast still finds better shooting and mobility from the Efaarit Scout. Not to mention that the Razorback crew is extra, extra fragile due to lack of wounds. It’s sole mode of protection, Dig In, is an order–which means that anytime it does so it’s giving up its shooting that turn.
Runners Up: Swamp Gobber River Raiders received some votes, largely due to their limited effectiveness. They’re fun though, and I think some people are still inclined to field them more than the Razorback Crew as they’ve got a method of potentially jamming from behind their targets. The other choice that got a little support were Bog Trog Ambushers. These too still see lists, and ultimately probably suffer feeling like they’re infrequently played simply because even when players take them they’re sometimes still forgotten and don’t get played (good old forgetting the Ambush rule).
Building a Farrow Razorback Crew List
Given that the list of options was a lot shorter than other factions when it comes to Thornfall Alliance Pact Minions, that helped constrain the full set of choices somewhat. I knew that I wanted to do a generic Thornfall list, as that made sure that the Razorbacks could start the game advance deployed and dug in. The question became which Warlock would suit them best. I’m hardly the master of Thornfall, and while I’ve taken a fair number of beatings from our local Minions expert Andy, I’m still not entirely versed in their casters. The one that stuck out is one that I know isn’t particularly popular (could be a “least used” themselves”), but it seemed to have some upsides for the Razorback Crews: Sturm and Drang. And here I’m mainly looking at Sturm. Vision and Deflection would seem to help make the Razorback Crews unappealing to shoot at–and that’s the critical thing with making them function–finding ways to make sure other things in the list become the targets. Plus, Telekinesis can be used to move the Gun around and still let it shoot, which can add much needed flexibility.
After recognizing a Warlock pairing that seemed to have some upsides, it meant filling out the rest of the list. I toyed with various combinations, and finally settled on a list that sold out to shooting–with enough warbeast support to hopefully finish off whatever is left that gets through the barrage. The added bonus would be that the other sorts of shooting are all more traditionally threatening than the Razorback crew, so given some defensive tech on them from the caster, it could give them a larger portion of the game to get their attacks in and get a shot at being the stars of the show.
The List: “HAMROCKETS AWAY!!!”
Sturm and Drang
Farrow Razorback Crew
Farrow Razorback Crew
Lynus and Edrea
Swamp Gobber Chef
Max Farrow Bone Grinders
Max Farrow Brigands with Brigand Warlord
“HAMROCKETS AWAY!!!” Tactics:
The goal here is to present a heavy shooting front, and deploy and funnel carefully to make sure the enemy takes the bait against things other than the Razorback Crews. The beasts can all melee somewhat after the foe is close, and turns of going heavy on shooting or combat are managed by the Bone Grinders being the targets for the Swamp Gobber Chef’s comfort food to ease fury problems. As I said above, that double-threat of the beasts means that the foes are likely to target them over the Razorbacks–all the more so if they have any additional defensive tech on them from Sturm (and Drang). Lynus and Adrea are there to give a boosted attack roll to one of the Razorbacks, and the Farrow Brigands plus the Road Hog get infantry-clearing duty to keep foes away from the guns. On the turn that the foes finally get up into range of melee, swap Sturm to Drang and rush the force forward to try and finish them. The Razorback Crew, if carefully placed by anticipating what the opponent is likely to do, can be parked in a way to provide more than a few turns worth of destruction with their shots. With luck, and combining other appealing targets to stop and defensive tech on them, the Razorback Crews get ignored and can do their best to contribute all the way.
Underdog Grade: Slap Shot. Like winning by default by having the opposing hockey team captain take a swing at a ref as fallout from one of your players doing a strip tease on the ice, only the most extreme of goofy circumstances are likely to make the Razorback Crews really shine. In particular, you’re counting on opponents deciding not to leverage any threat against the Razorback Crews keep them alive long enough to have the major impact in this list. Too many foes are going to have enough infantry to send a jammer or two up into the crew, and that’s generally enough to knock them out. And that’s especially true if the guns are doing more for you in a game–if they’re going to be a star on the team, they’ve got to take their punches.
Or bloody noses as the case might be. At least they have fun playing with their toys.
I don’t think that the Razorback Crews are particularly bad, it’s just that they’re not particularly survivable at the end of the day. You cannot have a primary impact if they cannot stay alive, and even with Dig In and Sturm’s buffs I’m not convinced that a dedicated enemy couldn’t take them out before they’re effective as a matter of course. And if they do start to shine, they’ll just get all the more focus and get destroyed. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s hard to see them ever being able to be the shining stars of a list beyond some lucky Warcaster kill at range. I’d love to be wrong in my intuition–as I often am, and I like Farrow a lot. but I don’t have a lot of hope that the Razorback can be a true linchpin piece.
Thanks to the Minions folk who chimed in: NuxTakeTheWheel, Cannibalbob, Cannotcope, PG_Onyxweapon, and neonchameleon.
~ What would you pair with the Farrow Razorback Crew to make them better? Is there any chance for an underdog story on this one?
Interested in what underdogs the author is fielding? Check out Chalkboard’s blog at: