Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Offense vs. Defense

It's the age-old question: which is better, offense or defense?

Obviously, I'm applying this concept to tabletop gaming, not football.  More specifically, I'm applying it to unit upgrade choices, speaking to the debate between increased Strength and Attacks or a better Armor Save.  In the not-so-glorious days of 7th edition, the answer to this question was simple -- both!  The one good thing I will say about 7th ed. is the fact that you could take a great weapon and a shield, and then choose which one to use at the onset of each combat, based off of what you were facing.  Since that's gone now, choosing between the crunching power of a great weapon or halberd and the protection of a shield is a serious consideration.  Even though the +1 Armor Save modifier of hand weapon and shield are gone, using a shield in close combat does still improve your save by one, so my Dwarf Warriors would go from a 5+ save to a 4+.  The Parry Save is very "meh" in my opinion, as you'll only save one model for every six saves you take, but that does come in handy when facing units whose Strength will negate your armor save completely.

In my games of 8th, I've been highly favoring "The Best Defense is a Strong Offense" mentality, equipping my Longbeards and Warriors with Great Weapons as opposed to increasing their melee survivability with a shield.  Dwarfs are already very hard to kill, with all-around high Weapon Skill and Toughness, not to mention that all of my melee infantry comes standard with Heavy Armor.  Improving their save by one may seem pretty great, and is, but considering how many high Toughness or heavily-armored threats there are out there (nearly all of the new books have some great monster or another, and there're always those pesky Chaos Warriors running around), packing a Strengh 5 or 6 punch and kill your opponent far outweighs the ability to slightly increase your chances of just bogging the enemy down.

Another aspect to this choice in 8th edition, although I don't face it myself, is whether it's worth it to increase your unit's number of attacks.  While my army of choice does not have this option, most combat-oriented armies do.  Chaos Warriors, Marauders, Ogre Bulls, etc., all have the opportunity to increase their number of attacks by one with an extra hand weapon (or, in the case of Chaos Warriors, two with the Mark of Khorne).  These were somewhat frequent in 7th edition, with Ironfists being a very popular choice for Bulls.  Not many in my area play these armies, so I can't speak to a change having been made for 8th edition, but I can imagine they would be just as popular.  If you were willing to pay the points in 7th edition, when only the front rank could attack and had a chance of not attacking at all, I would think in 8th, where front rankers will always get to strike and with bonus attacks from rear ranks, this would be an even better choice.

I'd love to hear more on this last issue.  For those of you who play armies with such a choice, are more attacks the more attractive option to increased save?  Or do you prefer halberds, great weapons and flails to additional attacks at lower Strength?

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