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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review: Wyvern, part one

Every now and then on Da Warpath (da place for all thinz green!) the topic of wyverns tend to come up; why one should include one in any army, when to field it, how to use it, who to ride it and how to equip the rider. I thought I'd offer my opinion on wyverns in the Orcs & Goblins army, and a take on some of the different questions that normally comes with using one. This is how I would use the flying beasty.

First of all, we have to understand the limitations of the beast. More than anything, we have to realize that wyverns are not dragons, even though it usually ends up costing about as many points to field. It is not very impressive in combat, considering its cost, which means that even with a hard-hitting Orc Warboss on top of it, it is usually a bad idea to charge the front of a block of enemies and hope to break them (which you could be doing with a dragon, or similar monsters). More likely, you'll be stuck in prolong combat for a round or three, until finally you break and flee. Considering that this will most likely be your general riding it, it'll mean the rest of your footslogging army will be left behind without his leadership to keep them from panicking as they march forward, which is usually a bad idea seeing as how greenskins have some of the worst individual leadership in the Warhammer world. So if we cannot simply fly forward and kill the nearest enemy, or even if a soft enough target would present itself the rest of the army would suffer for it, what use is there to field a wyvern, and how should we best take advantage of its strengths?

Well, there are several ways in which you can use the monster successfully. I'm not by far the most experienced wyvern player, but I feel I can list at least a few ways in which you can take advantages of its unique abilities as the only flying unit in our entire army range.

It makes enemies flee!
This is perhaps the most obvious use of a flying terror-causing monster. Although we probably won't break anything in combat, we can still roar and look dangerous in hopes of making enemies run away as we get close. Simply fly up next to a group of enemy units and try to position yourself out of their line of sight so that they can't charge you. This is probably best accomplished close to their flanks, where the general's leadership won't reach. Then hope for the enemy to fail their terror tests. Don't worry so much about shooting, mostly because whenever you field a large target in a game, your opponent will find a way to shoot at it if that's the plan.

If you can't stay with your army, have the army ride with you!
While Greenskin armies tend to be infantry based, with hordes of footsloggers in large blocks, it does have quite a few swift moving (and hard hitting) units that work very well together with a wyvern, and indeed sometimes must be fielded in order to get the most out of your big beastie. This is especially true if your general is the one riding the wyvern (which is often case). Since we green guys tend to field enough units to outdeploy our opponents, I would suggest stacking a flank with all your fast moving units (savage orc boar boyz, boar boyz, chariots and giants) and deploy your wyvern with them, while the other side contains your orc and goblin blocks that hopefully will hold the other side until your fast flank has taken out their enemies and can swing around to help out.

Build your ranks and we will break them!
The combat abilities of the Wyvern and his rider at times leave a lot to be desired, which means that if we do decide to charge something, we should make sure not to charge it alone. If we initially fly up close on the first turn and hope to scare away a few of our enemies, while our fast moving cavalry (and similar) ride up and position themselves for the charge. On the second turn, we can then try to hit the flank of the same enemy to break their rank bonus should they have one (since Wyverns and their rider count as US6) and together with our hard unit in the front hopefully inflict enough wounds to break the enemy and chase it down. Or, if our cavalry is late or the enemy is backing up, we can fly up behind the enemy lines and charge them in the rear on turn three, or simply catch and destroy enemy units that the boar boyz break on their own.

Fielding a wyvern means we can easily get the charge off on the enemy (a welcome change) but in reality usually means we have to employ far more restraint to our tactics than what it usually means to play O&G, and combine our charges with other fast moving units. Since it's such a hefty point investment (around 500 points, a lot for an orc unit) we usually have to tailor our entire army design around our flyer, or risk putting a lot of points into something that will struggle to get it back on its own.

In the next post, I'll talk a little about the rider, who should be flying the wyvern and how should we equip him?

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