Author Topic: MSU in Fantasy  (Read 5769 times)

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Offline Zero

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MSU in Fantasy
« on: August 31, 2012, 03:05:53 PM »
I'm sure almost everyone is well aware that big blocks of guys is considered the most competitive way to play Fantasy, with MSU being frowned upon as not viable, but I really think MSU has some serious potential.

There are some armies where MSU obviously wouldn't work, like Skaven, Orcs and Goblins or Vampire Counts (I don't think it'd even be possible to MSU Zombies), but there are other armies that I think could be run quite effectively with a MSU list like Warriors of Chaos and any of the Elves, especially Wood Elves.

I haven't played an MSU army yet, so this is all just theory and what I've read, but I will be starting up an MSU Wood Elves army after my Skaven are mostly painted and I feel I've got a reasonable Chaos Space Marines army after the book hits.

Anyway, from what I know, MSU does have a few key advantages:
  • Throws opponents off their game because it's almost never run
  • When something dies, it doesn't matter because it was cheap enough not to care about anyway
  • You have the upper hand in deployment with a huge number of unit drops, potentially making the opponent deploy a certain way before you deploy the more important elements of your army to counter this
  • Movement is a hugely important part of the game, and a MSU army has the upper hand here as well

But then there are some obvious disadvantages...
  • Your units will never win a 1v1 fight
  • MSU is much harder to play well
  • If you mess up your movement and/or your deployment, you'll almost definitely lose
  • The Dreaded 13th Spell will have a field day on any unit with a character in it

I'm sure there's more, but I can't think of any.

The basic rules of MSU
  • Keep your units cheap (less than 200 is best, 200 is pushing it), you don't want your enemy to be able to target a specific unit to get huge Victory Points
  • Don't spend points on unnessecary upgrades - unit champions often fall under this point in MSU
  • You want to keep your characters cheap as well, often no more than a unit unless you can really justify their cost
  • You want around 15 unit drops minimum
  • Synergy is key

And one more that I thought deserved a bit more explanation:

Redundancy is key
By this I don't mean spamming the same unit over and over, though this does effectively do the same thing, but just that you need lots of units able to do the same job. If one dies, you've still got plenty more units capable of doing the same thing.

So, I'll give you a quick example of my MSU Wood Elf army list and how it would (in theory) work:
Lords - 594pts.
Highborn - Altar Kindred, Additional Hand Weapon, Light Armour, Enchanted Shield, Bow of Loren, Stone of the Crystal Mere, Arcane Bodkins - 284pts.
Spellweaver - Level 4 Wizard, Lore of Beasts, Moonstone of the Hidden Ways, the Deepwood Sphere - 310pts.

Heroes - 150pts.
Spellsinger - Level 2 Wizard, Calaingor's Stave - 150pts.

Core - 1180pts.
16 Glade Guard - Musician, Standard Bearer, Banner of Eternal Flame - 220pts.
10 Glade Guard - Musician, Standard Bearer - 138pts.
10 Glade Guard - Musician, Standard Bearer - 138pts.
10 Glade Guard - Musician, Standard Bearer - 138pts.
5 Glade Riders - Musician - 129pts.
5 Glade Riders - Musician - 129pts.
8 Dryads - 96pts.
8 Dryads - 96pts.
8 Dryads - 96pts.

Special - 133pts.
7 Wardancers - Musician - 133pts.

Rare - 340pts.
5 Waywatchers - 120pts.
5 Waywatchers - 120pts.
Great Eagle - 50pts.
Great Eagle - 50pts.

TOTAL - 2397pts.

As you can probably tell, I've broken a few of the guidelines myself, but for good reason.

The first thing is the Highborn. He's the second most expensive thing up there, and he's a single model. However, being a Wood Elves army, I'm normally going to struggle against knights and other heavily armoured units, and the Waywatchers simply aren't enough to handle such units on there own. The Highborn can tear apart most heavily armoured units with 5 shots ignoring armour a turn, and with movement 9 he'll never be caught. He also has considerable defense against ranged attacks and can handle himself in combat to a reasonable standard.

The second is the Spellweaver. She's the only thing more expensive than the Lord, but she has some insane synergy and her magic items give me an even greater control over the board. She starts with the Wardancers and will stick back near the free wood that I get as a Wood Elves player, before using the Moonstone to teleport to whatever forest on the board I think I need to get to, hopefully behind or on the flank of the enemy. The board control comes not just from this teleport, but also from the Deepwood Sphere. Causing S5 hits on any model in the same forest as her, combined with being able to teleport to any forest on the table, should create a very large area that the enemy will flat-out avoid, and if they don't avoid it, well, they're going to have a lot of dead models very soon.

She has the Lore of Beasts because it synergises better with MSU Wood Elves than the Lore of Life. Amber Spear gives the army some much needed anti-knight/chariot/war machine firepower, Wyssans Wild Form is the best signature spell in the game and can turn Dryads from a powerful combat unit into an absolute death machine and the Curse of Anraheir, guess what, gives me even more control over the movement phase! As well as helping every unit in combat with that particular target.

The last rule I've broken is taking the 16 Glade Guard, but that Flaming Banner would be wasted on a smaller unit and it would be very difficult trying to kill Hellpits and Hydras.

As for the rest of the army:
The Spellsinger
The Spellsinger is there to move forests around, synergising nicely with my Spellweaver and her unit, giving me greater control over the board. Being able to move forests repeatedly in the same turn is also even more helpful. He's a Level 2 because there are some nice spells in the Lore of Athel Loren that I'd be hard-pressed not taking if I rolled them up, especially stuff like the Call of the Hunt and Blessing or Ariel, so the Level 2 is so I can have these nice spells and still get the synergy I need.

Glade Guard
The reason for the Banners is because I build my lists for all situations, and I don't want to be auto-losing Blood and Glory.

Glade Riders
They're here for a bit more redundancy, and because they also bring some great value to the list. They're not the most competitive choice, but they have plenty of uses and I'm not about to pass that up.

They help make the Eagles redundant in just about every role. They can hunt war machines, get in the way, be sacrificed for the purpose of the rest of my army and flank/rear charge if I feel I need it, as well as being able to move 18" and still fire their Long Bows without any penalty.

Dryads
They can be used as very, very painful speed-humps for the Glade Guard or, preferabely, they can be used to multi-assault an enemy and destroy the unit in a matter of a turn or two.

Wardancers
They're used as slightly more flexible Dryads, able to deal a lot of damage, take it back or hit an otherwise faster enemy even faster depending on the dance chosen, and they should almost always get a rear or flank charge thanks to the Moonstone.

Waywatchers
They're used for killing knights and other heavily armoured models, or lone characters with their Killing Blow shots.

Great Eagles
I don't think I really need to explain this choice.

The deployment phase
So, with this army, you could begin by placing a unit of Glade Guard (maybe two, if you really want to), a Great Eagle, some Glade Riders and maybe even a unit of Dryads in one corner, forcing your opponent to deploy 4-5 units already in response to this very small chunk of your army, and then place everything else all the way on the other side of the board. The opponent can then either continue deploying where they were, making it harder for them to get to combat with you, or they can split their forces, allowing the bulk of your force to focus down a relatively small amount of theres.

That's just one example of taking advantage of the deployment phase to make victory a bit easier on yourself.

That's about all I can think of for now, but I'll leave you with some links of people who've actually tried MSU with considerable success. These threads are aimed at specific armies, but the principles still apply to everyone. They can explain everything better than I can.

In order of usefulness (in my opinion):
More Wood Elves MSU tactics
High Elves and general MSU principles (principles about a third of the way down the page)
More High Elves
Empire MSU
Tips and tricks for Great Eagle use

The last 4 links were posted by the OP in the first one.
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Offline Majinmonkey

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Re: MSU in Fantasy
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2012, 04:09:18 PM »
I've been toying around with the idea of msu ogres for a couple years now, my biggest problem had been panic checks.

Another advantage to big blocks is its easier to keep them from fleeing through inspiring presence and hold your ground.

Many of the advantages that msu provides during play involve spreading your army apart to flank and deny charges ect, and this pulls many of the units out of the safe zone. Now elves aren't too bad off with a ld of 8 across the board, but even then, panic tests can and will happen often in msu, kinda could screw ogres with 7 or less mostly...

That being said, I usually incorporate msu into my lists, although I don't  devote too many points to it, I almost always use 2 units of 3 lead belchers, and 3 units of 1 sabre tusk.

I think I'll build up a devoted msu army list and post it up sometime soon.

Mechanium

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Re: MSU in Fantasy
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2012, 05:40:32 PM »
MSU how it looks in 40k, and 7ed is really something I don't think works in 8th ed FB. The main reason is because I feel WHFB promotes mixed armies a lot more. If they have good coverage, shooting, or the lore of Fire, MSU just gets removed from the board.

At the start of 8th ed, when people were still high on the power of the Hoard formation and magic MSU probably could have done a lot better, but as the edition has grown, people have started using a lot more small chaff units, and light amounts of shooting (or the rise of Lore of Fire/Ruby Ring) will really cripple MSU, while at the same time any combat block becomes a huge chunk of VP denial.

If where you play is still dominated by 3 Hoards and a level 4, then go the fuck ahead and teach them how to play some real Warhammer.

As for the list I totally agree that beasts is a thousand times better for Welves then Life. Wood Elves want to be a really fast and nimble pile of glass hammers, which life really does nothing to help, and doesn't make any of the fragile wood elf units actually last.

I also personally really, really hate the "Machine Gun" Highborn. He doesn't actually put out that much damage at str 3, and is way to many points for that. He really does about as much damage as a Hail of Doom Salvo, without the added versatility of HoD. BSB with Bane, and the HoD will be a lot more important.

Aside from Hero build, I think this is about as good as you can make a wood elf list in 8th ed, it'll stomb pubbies, and I wish it luck and want to see what you can do with it.

Offline Zero

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Re: MSU in Fantasy
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2012, 07:09:55 PM »
MSU how it looks in 40k, and 7ed is really something I don't think works in 8th ed FB. The main reason is because I feel WHFB promotes mixed armies a lot more. If they have good coverage, shooting, or the lore of Fire, MSU just gets removed from the board.
Against some MSU armies, that might be the case, but armies like Wood Elves and Dark Elves can both bring ridiculous amounts of firepower, and when it comes to a shoot-off, they'll almost always win. Any other decent MSU list should at least have something fast enough to shut down some archers fairly quick, and in the case of Wood Elves, they get both the fire power and the speed.

Honestly though, I think Wood Elves are the perfect MSU army. I don't think it would even be viable to try to play them with large blocks because just about every unit they have are Skirmishers, so your opponents are always going to have Steadfast and you're not.

The other thing about MSU armies is that you go for the easiest points. Suicide charge whatever unit their mage is in, kill him and probably die. Trade 50 points for 250+ and you're doing well for yourself as well as reducing the threat of their magic phase. Do this to all their wizards (usually no more than 2-3) and you've got free rein over the magic phase. Obviously this is easier said than done, but with the right amount of speed and general domination over the movement phase it's certainly achievable and it becomes easier with practice (as with all things).

The majority of your points will often come from things like Wizards, squishy characters, cavalry, war machines, chaff and archers while you sacrifice the cheapest things to keep their larger units busy before hitting them with some Wardancers, an Eagle in the rear and a unit or two of Dryads, and throw Wyssans on something with general certainty.

Obviously you then need to stop your opponent from just killing your mages and squishy characters, because that's where the points are going to be. My characters have the advantages of ridiculous speed and the ability to teleport and hurt them if they're even in the same forest as I am.

MSU is far from the most competitive way to play, but I think that certain armies built right can pull it off and do very well in the hands of a capable general.

Aside from Hero build, I think this is about as good as you can make a wood elf list in 8th ed, it'll stomb pubbies, and I wish it luck and want to see what you can do with it.
I'm still toying with builds and stuff, and I've got to get my Skaven all painted, so it might be a little bit before any Wood Elves come my way, but I will try to let everyone know how it goes.
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Offline Majinmonkey

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Re: MSU in Fantasy
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2012, 10:38:34 AM »
Well, short of legitimate gnoblar spam, here is a dedicated msu ogre list.

Panic is my worst enemy, so to counter that I've taken these steps.
-board edges are bad, avoid them. I wanna try to regroup fleeing units.
-musicians are present in every unit that can purchase them.
-kineater gives me a 6in reroll panic tests aura around my general, essentially giving me a second, mini bsb
-the rest is about placement. I.e. not placing units that move out of support range, like flanking mourn fangs, too close to weak units like saber tusks that can get wiped out easily.

The general plan is really just place the tyrant and bruiser each in a 5 man bunker, which will ensure their survivability by providing reliable LOS! And champions to accept challenges if need be. They want to be set up away from each other so I can spread my auras and keep from running off the board.

The gnoblar trappers probably get placed nearly last, as they will just run up in front of scary combat blocks to force dangerous terrain. They also block charges pretty well.

 The lead belchers work with the trappers to weaken any unit that is simply too powerful to charge into. If they focus fire they can together take out entire units. Keeping them alive will be one of my highest priorities, as their support can even the odds for a later assault.

The saber tusks move quick and try to hunt any unprotected artillery. They should march 16 immediately to ensure they stay our of enemies front arcs and to keep away from the rest of my army, who are easily frightened by the sight of kitties being peppered with arrows. The other option is to pull sacrificial redirecter duty, using the free lone model pivot to turn so that units charging them close the door and expose their flanks.

The mourn fangs are the heaviest hitters, (pun intended) and they need to pick their battles. They wanna hit flanks, at the same time as bulls crash into the front. They wanna take the edges and threaten the interior of the board.

 1998
252-Tyrant w/ kin eater, great weapon, heavy armor

164-Bruiser bsb with great weapon, heavy armor, banner of discipline

370-2X5 Bulls w/full command, look out gnoblar

300-3X3 Bulls w/ musicians

120-2X10 Gnoblar Trappers   w/musicians

417-3x3 leadbelchers w/ musician

63-3X1 Sabretusk

312-2X2 mournfangs w/heavy armor, great weapons, musician

Offline Zero

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Re: MSU in Fantasy
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2012, 01:56:06 PM »
Looks about as good as you can get with Ogre MSU. Some Cannons would be extremely helpful though. Maybe instead of a unit of Ogres and a unit of Leadbelchers? As is, I think you're going to struggle with monsters and the like.

I'd also give the Mournfang Cavalry Ironfists instead of Great Weapons for the 2+ save. It'd save points too.
What matters creative endless toil
When, at a snatch, oblivion ends the coil?