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Vanguard can never be good.

Discussion in 'Combined Army' started by jake richmond, Oct 10, 2020.

  1. jake richmond

    jake richmond Well-Known Member

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    With the arrival of N4 we see another significant change to Vanguard. So far, the consensus seems to be that even with this change (and the previous point reduction in N3) Vanguard still aren't worth fielding, except as link fillers and Paramedics.

    Can Vanguard ever find a place in MAF and Combined Army? I wondered this in both N2 and N3, and now more than ever I think the answer is (mostly) no. At least in their present state. I think Vanguard suffer from a few problems:

    - At 14 points they just aren't cheap enough to be attractive as order generators in the same way Fusiliers, Moderators or other line infantry are.

    - Their added benefits over Line Infantry from other factions (bonus CC, PH, BTS, Veteran and Heavy Pistols) don't actually add up to anything very useful for the additional cost. A 14 point Vanguard is certainly better than a 10 point Aguacile, but you're not going to really do more with it.

    - In N4's Tactical Window we're likely always better off investing in more expensive troops than "cheap" cheerleaders.

    - In Combined Army the Vanguard competes with the Nox and Unidron (who also both share these problems). In both CA and MAF the Vanguard competes with the excellent Daturazi (and too a lesser extent, the Krakot), who brings so much more to the table for the same cost.


    Of course, the Vanguard does have strengths. In MAF they are our cheapest Combi Rifle, and our cheapest Paramedic. They can fill space in a link with a Suryat, Kornak, Anyat or a Raktorak (or all 4). They can take a K1 Sniper Rifle and a Grenade Launcher, two weapons otherwise unavailable in our sectorial.

    But thats pretty much it.

    Something I've noticed in my own games is that Line Infantry is playing less and less of a role than ever before. At least in some armies. In N1 Line Infantry was important for generating orders, setting up ARO, discovering and bringing useful or cheap skills and weapons to the field. As the game has grown most of those capabilities have found their way to other units. In N2 and early in N3 I saw a lot of Line Infantry Fireteams, but by mid N3 these had mostly disappeared, and in late N3 Line Infantry were mostly showing up as filler in mixed Fireteams or as one off specialists. This trend seems to be continuing in N4, at least for most armies. Certainly for MAF.

    What to do with Vanguard has been a constant question for MAF and Combined Army players for over 10 years. Now more than ever it seems like Vanguard really just don't have a place. With the N3 point reduction (lowering them from 16 points to a manageable 14) and the N4 addition of CC, BTS and Heavy Pistols I don't think Vanguard can ever get any cheaper. At the same time, I don't think anything else can be crammed into their profile if they're to remain at 14 points.

    But...

    I think it may be time to end the idea that Vanguard need to be cheap Line Infantry. They've never been cheap, and that goal has only held them back from being useful.

    (Before I go on, let me say that I'm not expecting any change to vanguard any time soon. perhaps not even for the rest of this addition. I just thought this would be a fun topic to discuss).

    Looking at MAF right now, there's a distinct lack of Morat profiles in the 15-19 point range. In that range we only have our "warbands": Oznats, 2 Krakot profiles and the more expensive Daturazi (This price range used to include the cheapest Kurgat).

    What if Vanguard returned to their original 16 point price? Or even 17?

    - At 16-17 points base a Vanguard would still be a good cheap option for a link filler (compared to the 22 point Raktorak).

    - At 16-17 points a Vanguard wouldn't be very attractive as a cheap cheerleader, but we're already not using them in that role anyway. And if we want a 14 point cheerleader, Daturazi are so much better.

    - At 16-17 points base a solo Vanguard is still a viable solo Specialist. 2-3 points more for a Paramedic or Hacker isn't a huge deal (if they're also bringing 2-3 points worth of extra benefits).


    So here's the question I'm interested in discussing with you:

    If Vanguard increased by +2 or +3 points, what could they be given that would make them attractive? What role could they fill in MAF, both as solo units and a Fireteam? What role could they fill in CA?

    What would you give Vanguard for the cost of 2-3 points? More ARM? Better BS? BS (+1 Damage)? BS (Shock)? Move 6-2? Grenades? Dogged? Light Flamethrowers? Haris? Some combination of that? Something else?

    Would any of those additions help the Vanguard to stand out and be worthwhile as both solo pieces and a Fireteam?

    Or are Vanguard fine how they are?

    Or are they a lost cause?

    Here's some random ideas (I have no idea about appropriate point costs):

    17 points: +1 ARM, Dogged. This would allow Vanguard to become very tough and durable. An opponent would have to put extra effort into killing a Vanguard. Let the vanguard be as tough and stubborn as he looks.

    16 points: Grenades and Light Flamethrowers. Give the Vanguard a good weapon option for any engagement. Morats are traditionally over armed anyway.

    16 points: Move 6-2, Haris. Let Vanguard be mobile infantry, living up to their name. let them take small independent fireteams loaded with specialists or special weapons for ARO, sniper or strike duty.

    16 points: BS (+1 Damage). Let Vanguard hit hard with their classic weapons. Morats are known for their brutal and indiscriminate firepower. Let the Vanguard have an Ammo Holiday!
     
  2. the huanglong

    the huanglong Well-Known Member

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    It's tough. Rodoks are ARM 2 and they have twice as much metal on them, so it would be weird if Vanguard had the same ARM. No reason why they Vanguard should be dogged before any other Morat, or more mobile. LFTs not sculpted and I'd rather not mess with WYSIWYG.

    Grenades are a good idea but Dats do it better. Haris is a great idea but would compete with Yaogat. Plus one BS would work considering they are frontline soldiers in a war. Forward deployment to make them an actual vanguard might be nice but it would cut them off from the only things keeping them afloat, cross-linkability.
     
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  3. jake richmond

    jake richmond Well-Known Member

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    All good points, and not wrong. Let me offer some counters to them for the sake of discussion.

    - I feel like ARM representation is all screwed up anyway. The Vanguard look more heavily armored than M most HI from other armies. Meanwhile, the Oznat and Daturazi don't wear armor at all but share an armor value with the Vanguard. And of course Kurgats look more heavily armored, but aren't. But I understand what you're saying.

    - Putting aside that the weapon is not sculpted on the model, would LFT be a good addition for the unit? Or any other weapon? I had considered Combi+ LSG, but with Heavy Pistols that doesn't seem nessacary.

    - I feel like Vanguard increased mobility COULD be justified as their role in the army. They're not faster than other Morats. Rather, their role is to act as a Vanguard and move forward. It would cut into their cross linkability, but it might also make them more viable on their own.

    - I agree that Daturazi do grenades better, but its not like we can't have more than one unit with grenades.

    - I guess Haris would compete with Yaogats a little. on the other hand, it may encourage you to take a full Foreteam of Yaogats, and use vanguard in the Haris role instead. Although I feel like vanguards would be competing with Kurgats at that point.
     
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  4. the huanglong

    the huanglong Well-Known Member

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    Maybe give cross-linkability with kurgats? It would kill vanguard heavy weapons profiles graveyard dead but Suryat has gone half way to that already.
     
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  5. Doppelgganger

    Doppelgganger Well-Known Member

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    Vanguard do that they must to do, provide a cheap link to ta-suryat
     
  6. the huanglong

    the huanglong Well-Known Member

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    :I:
     
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  7. jake richmond

    jake richmond Well-Known Member

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    You're right, but I feel like thats just... underwhelming. It means Vanguard just don't have Value on their own, except for giving the Suryat a bonus (I feel like this about the Raktorak as well, to an extent). I'd really like the Vanguard to be worthwhile on their own. I feel like Vanguard should bring something worthwhile and desirable to the army besides just being (not so) cheap filler.
     
  8. toadchild

    toadchild Premeasure

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    I’m not a fan of dogged here, and honestly I don’t especially like it on Unidrons, either.

    Are you thinking the same sort of tier as Nexus Operatives? They cost ~20 points, but have unique gear (nanoscreen) and slightly improved stats (BS 12).
     
  9. jake richmond

    jake richmond Well-Known Member

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    I had forgotten that Unidrons have Dogged. It wouldn't make sense for Vanguard to have it too, I guess.

    I think the 16 point Nexus Operative may be a good model. It has BS 12 and two distinct perks (+3 Dodge and Specialist Operative). A 16 to 17 point Vanguard that kept the BS12 and brought two different perks (or one more substantial perk) would be viable, I think.

    Interestingly, now that Kurgats are BS 12 I think theres a real argument that vanguard could be too, and BS 11 should be left to 'warbands".

    I'd prefer to see universal upgrades to Vanguard instead of just to specific profiles. Specific profile upgrades have their place, but they also often mean that only that profile becomes worthwhile. For example, giving just the HMG Vanguard Nanoscreen wouldn't really help Vanguard as a whole or give them a distinct role.
     
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  10. wuji

    wuji Well-Known Member

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    I feel like the BTS value was the wrong way to go and they should have gotten more ARM while Kurgats should have gotten the same ARM plus dogged and Total Immunity.

    That being said, I feel like it's too late. The best they can be are Grunts to put into Supression Fire. Also, your assessment of most Line Infantry disappearing I feel is accurate.
     
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  11. jake richmond

    jake richmond Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I do think they should have gotten ARM 2 instead of BTS 3. But it seems like they wanted most non-warband Morats to have at least 3 BTS (The Rasyat is kind of the odd Morat out).
     
  12. toadchild

    toadchild Premeasure

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    As far as faction-wide identity and buffs go, I like the modest BTS buffs and heavy pistols. Both of them will come in handy sometimes, but aren’t really game-changers, either. Vanguards still feel like they lack anything exciting next to Unidrons (dogged, plasma), Nox (Zapper), or Daturazi (toolbox regular warband).

    They can go on suppressive fire, which is decent, but DTWs (especially a Zapper) can be stronger defensive countermeasures against an opponent’s aggressive attack pieces and don’t require as much setup.
     
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  13. wuji

    wuji Well-Known Member

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    Therein lies the crux right, in order to be a good ARO piece you need to either be able to soak up orders or put wounds on people fairly reliably.
     
    #13 wuji, Oct 10, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2020
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  14. WiT?

    WiT? Well-Known Member

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    Another Morats are Bad thread ™ ?

    Even with the changes I'm down for it. And I'd say the only really glaringly bad Morat is the Vanguard, so I'm down for that too. Nice as Heavy Pistol and BTS is, Zapper is better, Dogged is better, just no comparison really.

    Making Vanguard more expensive and more powerful is one thing, but I want to look at stuff they could get with the general idea of staying the same price. That said, my first suggestion will dump on that idea totally;

    -1 Cost
    Let Vanguard be the crappiest line infantry *and* the cheapest. I was inspired with this idea when I saw the original, cheap and no-abilties Taryot profile, which sadly felt extremely appropriate for Morats.

    Desirable LT Options
    Taking anything cool you give to Vanguard and making a LT option for it. Their LT-ability is a unique selling point amongst line troops for Combined Army, but the crappy vanilla 1 SWC LT as-is is not enough. By itself, a 0.5 SWC LT could be a feature for these guys too.

    Increase ARM, 4-2 MOV
    Grunts give a good template for Medium line infantry. None of the other line infantry are MI, so make them more armored and slower. Been advocating this change for a long time, still think its a great point of differentiation.

    Forward Deployment 4"
    Vanguards are the front line, at least behind the skirmish screen. Let them deploy further up the table to help represent this. Line troopers aren't my first pick for advanced deployment options, but I do like being able to hide them in additional places if they are not making up a fireteam. No idea if people would take this link in MAF - forward deploying links are cool, but its still crappy line troopers leaving behind their wildcards in the deployment zone

    Sixth Sense
    Could see the 'poor bloody infantry' acquiring a sense for danger. Honestly could believe this faction wide for Morats, but maybe the cannon fodder get it best. Now they are good against certain types of deployment zone threats in a way that Nox are not, though with the changes to sixth sense maybe I'm overrating that ability now.

    Minelayer + Mines Profile
    Probably for a pricier profile, but the minelaying regular is very popular in shock army and it really comes across as a practical and effective choice that practical and effective troops would make. +1 if there is a LT option with minelayer, which makes disguising your LT Vanguard feel way less useless.

    D Charges / Grenades
    D Charges feel very utilitarian, and every now and then they will be spectacular. Probably not good enough on their own but a nice addition to a different change. Grenades I dislike on their own as they are similar to Datz, who they are competing with and who use the grenades better, but again a good extra with another change.

    Make Religious Good
    Fuck knows, but make it good rather than bad and interesting rather than boring. An improvement to religious would automatically make Vanguards better.

    Chain Colt
    Step on the Nox's toes a little, but a weak N damage weapon and an EM weapon are very different beasts depending on the type of aggressor they are defending against.

    +1 DAM
    As an additional perk on top of something else is appealing. As a stand-alone concept, not good enough to incentivize these units.

    Panzerfaust / D.E.P's glorious return
    Panzers are pretty utilitarian and feel very Morat-y to me, would make sense for their basic troops to have them. I'd prefer D.E.P and would feel that would be a fantastic change, but they seem to have removed that weapon.

    AP Combi, AP Heavy Pistol, AP something

    Honestly, still a bad unit, but in this new TAG meta any source of AP is to be considered. If my line troops could genuinely threaten a TAG under some circumstance or another I could see them being fielded over other line troops who don't.

    Boarding Shotgun Profiles
    Have access to 14 point Boarding Shotguns. Similar to other ideas, ideally the LT option would have this too. People like cheerleaders that can defend their DZ, and boarding shotguns let Vanguard do this in a pretty simple way.

    - - -

    If I were to advocate for a particular change, it would be to give them a Boarding Shotgun option and then a LT version for 0.5 SWC. Not as sexy as some other possible changes, but thats a really simple change that plays up their defining point of difference over the other Line Troops. But I do feel a bit wary about eroding the "LT Tax" theme for vanilla so maybe its not the right call.
     
    #14 WiT?, Oct 10, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2020
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  15. toadchild

    toadchild Premeasure

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    Replace Vanguard Combis with K1 combis. Partial precedent already exists with their sniper, Anyat, and Unidrons (where it is overshadowed by plasma carbines). They would go up a couple points and would still be basic line troopers, stats-wise, but could punch way above their weight class in a pinch.
     
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  16. WiT?

    WiT? Well-Known Member

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    That would be a cool option. Would people take them for 16 points? I don't think so. But if we could get them to 14 points again then thats certainly a valid point of differentiation over the other options.

    I would love a 4-2, ARM 3 Vanguard with K1 Combi and access to a minelayer. Shit that would get me actively playing them even at 16 points
     
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  17. wuji

    wuji Well-Known Member

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    The only N4 MAF profiles I'm truly unhappy about is Kurgats. Everything else is fine. Thematically MAF isn't quite what I'd like but they are miles ahead of where they were and some of what they got is brutal AF. MAF players rejoice and just go stomp some shit even if you only bring 2 or less Vanguard in more than half your lists.

    I'm also not trying to negate anyone's realistic complaints but any costs we see now are more appropriate. I think if Vanguard are held back for late game, they will shine.
     
    #17 wuji, Oct 10, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2020
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  18. archon

    archon Well-Known Member

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    I think of the main problems of line infanterie from all factions are the crazy fireteam options. I also like it to have a HI with HMG as a pointmen in a LI link, but that will make the most of the SWC minis of line troopers dusteaters on the shelf. That beeing said, I offer a point of view from the enemy perspective. Here I see PH 12 and I consider it useful. Beeing in a typical line trooper situation, that the enemys long range weapon has lof to one of your weak spots (Vanguard) and outrange you, a 12 is a good value to roll on vs four shots on a 13 or something like that. The other goodies, like the heavy pistol is very situational. BTS 3 is useful for a cheap* hacker, so with two unique weapon layouts and a cheap paramedic there is also a good hacker profile, that makes Oblivion useless.

    Overall I feel the Vanguards have to much bloat for line troopers 14 pts is far from cheap. But I don´t think that a price rise for a some more goodies will make a good solution. At least your are not "gifted" with a Dodge +1 to keep them on old cost, like the Zhanshis & Celestial Guards do (and they are PH 10).

    *) for Morats
     
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  19. Smooth Criminal

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    The pricier line troops get the more you want visual mods on them.
    Dakini are an example of strong line troop at 13pt, I doubt vanguard will get mimetism any time soon.
    Impetuous on them would be sort of interesting but Daturazi already occupy that niche.

    I like the idea of giving them a template weapon. Chain colts maybe? Or just a shotgun profile.

    Personally, I'd rather see vanguard in the usarf grunts niche, arm3 slower dudes. Those cost 10pt by the way.
     
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  20. MrAnarchy

    MrAnarchy Member

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    Alright time to drop my two cents. I think the vanguard should receive two new profiles one a BSG and a second profile with the new N4 skill Strategic Deployment (P.113), which allows one model to enable the entire fire-team the ability to deploy 4” up the table. Or 8” “if a scenario grants forwarded deployment to any member of the fire-team then all members can deploy 8”.
     
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