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I hope you all are enjoying my column and want to thank everyone that has taken time to write me. Underdogs is my labor of love and I feel great knowing you people out there like it. Before I start I want to write an errata for my article on the chaos mage. I wrote in error about using the ranged attack while on his berserk slot. Berserk special ability prevents using any ranged attacks. Yellow Imp sneaked it in when I was on the can. Now on to the new business. This issue I am going to take a look at a figure I hope all of you know about. Released in Rebellion this guy was my first broken army figure. Hopefully all of you have at least a couple of this guy. I am talking about the Black Powder Boomer, who from here on out will be call the BPB because I am way to fucking lazy to write out something that long over and over again.
To start with these guys are dirt-cheap. From 18 to 22 points, a combination formation of these guys can fit into a 200-point army with ease. However the value you get depends on the color you chose. A yellow BPB is a good buy, but the extra point you pay for the blue BPB nets you an extra attack as well as an extra defense. This increases his attack from 7 to 8 and defense from 14 to 15. In essence it transforms the BPB from a slightly below average attacker with a weak defense into an average figure with a huge damage value. I personally go with the red whenever I get the chance. The 9 attack is very decent and allows the BPB to own figures with a 16 or lower defense. My general rule of thumb is that if the target number needed to hit an opponent is 7 or less, the attack is a good idea. 8 or higher and you are risking wasted actions.
This damage value is the reason the BPB even gets the time of day. Even looking at the red version of the BPB, most of the stats are not that impressive. A 6 movement means that the BPB is in danger of being outflanked, or worse yet, not making it to a battle if it is in constant shifting. The 9 attack value, although enough to hit many figures, is not enough to crack the first click of high defense figures (which often has extra defense abilities). Finally the 15 defense means that most figures will be hitting the BPB on a 7 or better, not a good thing (although the battle armor will help greatly at keeping light fire off of them). So what exactly is the benefit of the BPB? The key lays in the insane damage value of three coupled to a 10 inch ranged attack.
Now the BPB has a purpose. The three damage can cripple light and medium troops. Against heavy troops, the three damage will often be enough to click the attacker down low enough that your support troops can deal with them. Since the BPB is so cheap, fielding units of three or more is very possible. A unit of three of these doing a formation attack has an excellent chance of hitting all but the most heavily armed troops. You now have a formation that is deadly to lightly armed troops and dangerous to heavily armed ones. In addition, since the BPB does 3 damage and has a 10 inch range until they become demoralized, when one gets hit, simply launch the attack from an undamaged member of the formation.
Now for the BPB in the game itself. Get your BPBs out quick, preferably into a piece of hindering terrain near the center of the board. The hindering terrain combined with their battle armor should render them immune to all but the heaviest artillery. Their 10 inch range in the center of the board will create a kill zone around them that your opponent will be forced to work around. Remember that BPBs do best when hitting weakened troops. Hit them once to open up the figure for repeated assault. After the first few clicks, most figures defenses drop down several points. Now the BPB formation really shines. Each action can do three damage to a figure 10 inches away and such fire will quickly kill any figure in the game. Should your opponent close with the BPB, the three damage done in close combat should be enough to deliver the killing blow if the target has been soften by previous attacks.
Things to beware with the BPB are figures that act as heavy support such as Troll Artillerists and Amotep Gunners. These figures can use their greater range to out shot the BPB. However in this case the point savings save the day. A similar sized unit of BPBs saves enough points that other elements in your army should be able to pressure such support units and keep your BPBs safe. The Storm Golem can also support these guys to a degree of such that nothing will come at you and instead just maneuver around looking for a hole in the defense. His 14-inch range will soften up attackers while the BPBs go in for the kill.
Trust me, these giant phallic gun troops kick some hardcore ass, field a formation or two and see if your opponent doesn’t avoid these guys like the plague.
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