Thursday, January 17, 2013

Warhammer: Mark of Chaos - Unit and Combat Overview

This is an overview of Units (and combat) for Warhammer: Mark of Chaos v1.72. A list of all our Warhammer: Mark of Chaos articles can be found here.

We are looking at Units and Combat from the perspective of the CAMPAIGNS, not multiplayer wargaming.

Unit Cards
These three slideshows all feature the same cards. Use them to find various units to compare stats. For each unit type, we went with full upgrades (level 3, tier 3 weapons and armor, etc...) whenever available. For heroes, we left them at level 10. Where units were only cosmetically different (e.g., elven archers of the various elven factions), we chose only one unit to represent the type.

Units have various attributes that are not visible from unit cards or the screen where you buy units in campaigns. To look at those attributes, you need to be in a mission. Click on a unit and click to see its inventory (banner and siege equipment). The unit stats are shown, and below that are small icons that indicate traits. Hover your mouse over them to see what each trait means.

Combat Basics

  • The basic idea of an army is the projection of firepower. Despite the quirks of combat with the AI (which we discuss below), this rule holds true. The concept of projection of firepower means that your units are all basically protecting another unit that can project firepower further than their own and strike at the enemy without fear of retaliation.
    • Melee units are there to prevent the enemy from reaching missile units so they can fire.
    • Missile units are there to intercept all enemies trying to get to your artillery, which has a minimum firing range and a much longer maximum range.
  • Magic that can restore your lost models gives us a secondary objective in combat: To emerge without losses. Your choices in regiments to field then becomes limited to which ones you can attach to heroes that can resurrect.
  • Magic that can restore lost models or aggressively heal heroes also means that you can often win a mission against a force of superior size if you can manage to keep healed and to keep your model numbers topped up. The Chaos Campaign is very much like this, where just a couple of regiments and heroes can secure a castle without much of a bloody siege.
  • The AI typically targets the closest regiment and, unless scripted, does not use any special tactics like trying to flank you or break through your lines. You can use this to your advantage by drawing their attention to one survivable regiment, allowing a rear rank composed entirely of ranged regiments to fire without retaliation.
  • The AI does not care about friendly fire. If you have your cannons on Fire At Will, they will target the closest regiment, even if they are in melee with your own regiments.
  • Because there is no friendly fire with missile weapons (but not artillery), you can safely fire at enemies in melee with your own forces.
    • This typically also means that if you have a LOT of missile regiments, even if one of them gets tangled up in melee (which stops all models in that regiment from shooting), you can typically focus fire on the enemy regiment and destroy it quickly enough that everyone is back to shooting.
  • It typically takes too long to coordinate flanking unless your regiments are already in position to do so.
    • This is because you need to walk your regiments around in stages. Otherwise they will try to walk past or through enemy ranks because the engine chooses the shortest not-impassable route. Enemies, though hostile, are passable -- you can ultimately push through them, although you are getting attacked in the process.
    • While you are doing this manual pathfinding, several regiments of missile troops will typically already have destroyed the enemy or near-routed them. You would typically have done better to bring more missile troops than regiments that were idle while running a wide ring around the enemy force.
  • For the front row "blockers", who are responsible only for keeping the enemy from reaching your back row, the typical wide row formation works fine. However, if you have a number of missile troops in the rear, you may want to use the narrow line formation.
    • Individual models typically need to move into their place in formation before they fire.
    • Wide rows stretch out and can take more time to form.
    • Only one model needs to be able to hit another model in the opposing regiment. Once that condition is satisfied, every model in the regiment can target the opposing regiment even if the range is too far for that particular model. By using lines, we can typically get all regiments firing sooner.
    • A wide front compared to just having one or two blocking regiments means your wide rear row is more susceptible to being targeted by reinforcements coming from another angle. By keeping them packed behind the front row, you need to move the front row less before you have positioned them between your rear forces and the enemy.
  • You can choose to move the entire formation to a location exactly as it is positioned at the moment. If you choose that option again once your forces have moved, their CURRENT positions will be used as the template. So move short distances when you use this option, in case you need to reposition because of enemy activity.
  • When you have a lot of regiments selected, sometimes the engine will arrange them in too long or too wide an arrangement. Break them up into smaller clumps of two to three regiments and manually position each group.
  • When the ground has a lot of little bumps and slopes, the formation grid you see is generally never the actual formation that the regiments settle into. Instead, the result is typically a huge mess. Look for roads or angle your view to find flatter terrain.
  • A formation does not need to turn to face the enemy, only the individual models. So you could use the line formation but arrange them parallel to the enemy's row formation, and once in place the models will simply turn to face the enemy and start firing.
    • The Knight's "V" formation is very slow to turn as they really do need to face the proper direction for a V-charge.
  • Movement orders are not cancelled by enemies being in range, so try to have enemies come to you instead of having to change march orders to attack orders. And if they have been marching for a while or stop on sloped terrain, getting into formation can take a long time. Only skirmishes (who have no formation) can immediately attack after stopping movement.

  • Watch out for frequent path-finding errors causing traffic jams where nothing wrong can be detected.
  • Enemies on battlements that are too close to your ranged attack regiment on the ground cannot be shot at. If they are on the battlements but further from the regiment, it should be possible to shoot them.
    • Enemies that are standing where a wall used to stand (but was destroyed by cannon fire, for example) still get this same protection.
  • Line of sight is very strange. A regiment can be on the battlements and near a tower, but be unable to see the cannon on the tower.
  • Destroying a section of wall typically also kills all models that were on the battlements of that wall section at the time.
Unit Types
Here we present various categories of units based on their traits. As these are generic and apply to the same type of unit across all factions, we will not repeat this information in each of the articles on units of a specific faction.

  • Flying regiments cannot be directly attacked with melee, BUT whenever a flying model makes an attack, the target immediately retaliates. There is no change in animation and the model continues doing what it was doing, but it gets an attempt to hit the flying creatures. Therefore, despite what the description of their flying attribute says, flying creatures can really only safely attack siege engines with their attacks without fear of retaliation.
  • Because they can fly, all models can attack, unlike melee regiments where only models in contact  with the enemy formation can attack. However, unlike melee regiments, they do not stop a missile regiment from shooting.
  • Because the enemy can have flying regiments, missile regiments are preferred so that in the case of aerial assault, all regiments can actively attack the flyers.
  • In general, medium or small humanoid models can go up ladders, but this is not a rule. Some creatures not classified as "Large", such as Warplock Jezzails and PlagueBearers, cannot go up ladders or into Siege Towers. They will need to go through a gate or a collapsed section of wall.
Large Creatures and Piercing-Vulnerable Creatures
  • These include Knights. To be sure if a unit falls into this category, hover your mouse over their Armor score and see the % of damage they take from the Piercing category. Knights can have over 200% in that category, meaning they take double damage or more.
  • When these creatures encounter Piercing weapons (typically wielded by creatures with a trait that indicates they are good against Large creatures), they often go down very quickly. Knights, for example, have 2-3 HP and models can be killed off very quickly. Monsters, which can have 8 HP or so, go down more slowly but are still more vulnerable.
    • This said, melee is still not the best way to engage them as you could instead focus fire from several regiments of missile troops to get the same or better results, and those regiments are more versatile all-round.
  • When you field this class of regiment, you must be careful not to hit the wrong enemy regiment, or at least engage them from the flank or the rear while they are busy. Even then, they could just turn around and destroy your Knights or what not before turning back to the original regiment they were fighting.
  • Many Large or Huge creatures cannot run.
Single Monsters
  • These include WyrdSpawn and Warpfire Throwers. These are basically one high-HP model to a regiment, and cannot attach any heroes.
  • These are tricky regiments to field because if they get into trouble early, you need to retreat them and they will be idle for the rest of the battle. You cannot attach heroes to them, and therefore cannot heal them with spells or unit-refill potions. You can still heal them with something like a Flame of the Gods or Warpstone Pinnacle, but not every mission has one.
  • Typically these will need careful positioning -- i.e., micromanagement to effect tactics. You are generally better off taking a regular unit, one more versatile for various situations.