2022-04-25 Unit-Reviews / Rules / Scourge / PHR /
The First Public Behemoth Game
It's Saturday. The week before, TTCombat has been promoting their newly released Behemoths for Dropzone Commander, with the full rules finally published yesterday. Coincidentally, we already had a time scheduled for today, and we're always game to try something new.
Ceteris Paribus We're going to play as typical a game of Dropzone as we can. 2k Targets of Opportunity on a basic urban board. 1500 PHR + the 500 that every Behemoth costs vs a 1k Shaltari and 1k Resistance army.
HQ 2x Hera Command Walker (160pts) Frontline 2x Immortal Corps (60pts) 2x Immortal Corps (60pts) 1x Medusa (100pts) Armor 1 2x Ares Walkers (80pts) 2x Phobos Walkers (120pts) Armor 2 2x Phobos Walkers (120pts) Vanguard 2x Siren Corps (100pts) 2x Siren Corps (100pts) War Engine 1x Tethys (500pts) Auxiliary 1x Athena Air Fighter (110pts) 1x Athena Air Fighter (110pts) 1x Njord Assault Dropship (100pts) 2x Neptune Dropship (70pts) 2x Juno APC A1 (40pts) 3x Triton Troopship (75pts)
Pyrotechnics Inc. Alexander +CV2 (135) 2x Sappers (70) 2x Sappers (70) Fake Infantry 2x Marine Force Recon in Swifthawk (110) Actual Infantry 3x Freeriders (120) 3x Freeriders (120) Main Battle Trucks 6x Rocket Technical (60) 3x Gun Wagons (75) Mk 209 Breaching Drill (90) Divine Wind Special Attack Unit 2x Remote Bomb Buses in a Kraken LCAC (70) 2x Remote Bomb Buses in a Kraken LCAC (70)
HVT 1 X Frostdrake Command Ship 160pts + CV1 Commander 0pts 3 X Tate Light Shieldtank 60pts DEFAULT FRONTLINEGROUP DOT TEE EXE TEE 2 X Brave Warsuits 70pts 6 X Ronin Battlesuit 90pts 2 X Thunderbird Light Gunship 80pts + Short Barrel Gauss Cannon 0pts ZHUKOV HAD A POINT 9 X Tomahawk Gravtank 315pts OOPS ALL RONIN 6 X Ronin Battlesuit 90pts Auxiliary Group 1 X Gaia Heavy Gate 70pts 2 X Spirit Light Gate 60pts
Opening moves as usual, infantry getting into position to Search for objectives, some early potshots at mostly buildings to soften them up. The PHR lose a base each of Sirens and Immortals to respectively enormous volleys of Shaltari gauss rounds and Sapper demo charges.
Turn 2, I disgorge a trio of gun wagons behind the PHR advance, splattering two Tritons all over a building, but their cargo emerges from the wreckage unscathed. (I rolled well on the attack, but Ty rolled well on crash landing). The Rocket Technicals advance are out of effective position, advancing towards the middle of the board in wedge formation.
T Minus 5.. 4.. 3..
PHR command rightly assessing the lethality of every unit on the board attempt to crush a squad of Ronin and Tates that bunched up amidst a graveyard of cars.
The Immortals SIGNAL fleet, and we break out the rulebook to very carefully step through the whole process so we get nothing wrong.
We hit the first rules contradiction in the fifth sentence.
This is incorrect, because right before this it reads "Behemoths may enter play as normal, or may choose to enter play via Drop-harness. Declare this when deploying the Behemoth’s Battlegroup." If there are no infantry squads left on the board, the Behemoth's Battlegroup can just declare it's not using a drop harness and enter play as a normal Reserve BG.
Now the scary part, the tac-nuke we've been hyping ourselves up about.
One squad of Ronin and one squad of Tates take a slightly naff roll of 3 E12 hits each, which the Tates Shield-Save all of, and the Ronin fail one save taking a whopping 1 DP of damage thanks to Resilient (At least in the PDFS linked from the TT store, the army builder and its linked PDFs don't have them as Resilient, but the store PDFs have a newer publication date). "Body Cover may be used as normal", but the damage is E12 and the highest Armor of any infantry, which are the only units that can get Body Cover bonuses, is 9, so unless we're going to be seeing Armor 12 infantry in the future, Body Cover's +1 Arm bonus is completely pointless; you're still taking critical damage on a 2+.
The Tethys meanwhile suffers 7 DP on landing! (Randomized: 4 to the Legs, 2 to the Weapons, 1 to the Hull)
- 2x Landed on Tough Scenery (4 dice)
- 2x Landed within 3" of an Enemy Squad (4 dice)
- 8x Landed on a Unit (8 dice)
- 2x Landed within Range and LoS of an AA weapon (2 dice)
18 dice with a 1/3 chance to deal unsaveable damage. 7 was only slightly above statistical average. We also had our first conundrum; should Shaltari gates count for this chart? We figured RAW yes, but with little conviction.
4 Damage to the Legs Zone causes it to pass a Damage Threshold, inflicting a Crippling effect. In the Tethys' case, this means it reduces it's Move by 2" to 8". The Crippling rules also state
Which we're not entirely sure counts for Drop Harness damage, and assume the PHR in this case get to assign the extra point of damage because they technically caused it by opting to drop instead of walk on, but again we're not overly sure that's correct.
The Ronin and Tates are scooted out from underneath the proxy tin to make room for the Tethys. Since it dropped, it doesn't get to activate and just sits there til next turn.
The Bomb Buses rev engines and the Kraken drive them close enough to kick the Tethys in the shins... and we recall there's special rules for Behemoths and Area attacks and go to check.
Oh for fuck's sake, it's immune to buses (and Emeritus Drones)!
And it's not even a TT rules mistake, as they confirmed this is how they want the bus to operate, per the FAQ.
Slyphic: Confession time. This is my fault. When I first started playing DZC, I had a bunch of questions about how various units worked. I emailed TTC asking for clarification on the bomb bus:
Slyphic: They rewrote it to target itself without thinking through the consequences. I then helped draft the FAQ proposal asking for clarification on the bus, giving them a chance to correct this seemingly obvious mistake, which, as you can read above, they unfortunately answered, doubling down on this idiocy.
We also briefly recalled the Remote Bomb Bus is M&F 0", and did a quick round-the-table confirmation that that's still too stupid to acknowledge, so pretend they activated before the Tethys did next turn if you must.
But Wait There's More! The Bomb Bus is Accuracy 0, which is a whole new problem because the rules contradict themselves between pages 14 and 15. (This dumb typo has been there for 13 months now)
I recall hearing somewhere they posted to Facebook or something equally as unhelpful that 0 means you roll, so we do, and one bus misfires and another rolls a one for damage, meaning two crit for a total of 12 damage to the Legs Zone which takes out that entire zone and causes 4 spill-over damage to the Weapons Zone, which causes another Cripple taking out the Nova Missile (because we were taking mercy on the poor thing at this point) and a single point of damage to the Hull Zone because that's the only option left.
The rest of the game goes on around the Behemoth, Post Humans stooping to fight their ancestors in the husks of buildings for macguffins.
Turn 3, the Tethys activates first among PHR units, heals the Weapons Zone with White Nanomachines for one action restoring the Nova Missiles, but also because it's legs are broken so it has nothing to do with a second action anyways. (We also realized we had it facing the wrong direction so spun it 180)
R7X-66 Incinerator: There's a group of 3 Freeriders begging for a burning, so the Tethys lets them have it. In retrospect, we did something weird here, but we're scratching our heads trying to remember what. Either all 3 attacks targeted one stand, or we forgot Strafe entirely? Or maybe Accuracy rolls were just really dismal. Results were a single dead base of Freeriders, where we fully expected them to be squad-wiped.
R7X-2 Sunglaive: Targeting systems flag the Ronin as an existential threat and the operator approves. 2 shots at 2+ E11 Dev-2(Vehicle) slam into one Ronin because they're a one-model unit, one misses because 17% chance, and the other fails to kill the unit despite critical damage because it's yet again Resilient so it can only take 1 damage on a crit for some god forsaken reason but also it's an Infantry unit so Dev-Vehicle doesn't do shit to it!
Nova Missile: Slams into the building across from it despite friendly infantry presence, counting on the Siren corps training and augmentation to let them dodge the shrapnel and falling masonry. The building shakes a bit and a hardass MFR falls down a stairwell. The Sappers break radio silence to make an off-color joke.
RX-30 Minigun: Where fuck-huge lasers fail, the humble bullet sprayer gets to work. One dead Ronin, because you can only target one of them, so all that extra damage goes nowhere.
The games goes on. PHR Commanders taking a stroll around their half of the table, nigh unkillable as they are.
Athena's take revenge for past misdeeds on the Frostrdrake. It never managed to swat the Tethys with the Foe Crusher for that succulent Dev-4(Large) hit, but if you zoom in very close you might see the row of confirmed Type-4 walker kills it has stenciled to its cockpit.
The mighty Tethys falls, Legs and Weapons crippled. The Rocket Technicals deal the final blow with a single E12 roll. Drugged up fanatics firing kitchen sink warheads from chopped commuter cars cheer like Micahel Bay is filming. 42 points of damage in total, all against Armor 15 (it repaired 9 DP via nanomachines). We consult the book.
A 2 is rolled, and we pause for a moment to consider how to measure this. There's mention previously about the Spread value for various things, for targeting the Behemoth with an attack, but nothing for general measurements, which would mean you measure from the center point but that can't be correct. The 0 result of one Behemoth imploding and taking another with it would only happen when one was literally on top of another. So we measure from the edge of Spread (which still doesn't make sense unless TTC has been pushing them against each other like a 5 year old with dinosaur toys), it clips a building which takes a paltry two E10 hits which without Devastator-X(Scenery) is highly anticlimactic.
The PHR go on to capture two objectives though with no way to extract them but also no viable opposition in the time remaining, and two of the remaining three have been destroyed. Thus, PHR victory.
After Action Report
We picked the PHR behemoth that seemed the badder-ass of the two, and I found it rather underwhelming. Certainly not as OP/broken as I was worried for, which is a good thing. Immediately, I think Drop Harnesses are a terrible idea as currently implemented and no one should ever use that method due to the risk of damage from the landing. The incredible movement rates plus weapon ranges mean it's almost always a better prospect to walk on and get that extra turn of firing.
We Luckily never had to address the landmine of a second sentence in the 4 pages of Behemoth rules
'Special Rules' Like weapon Special Rules in the back of the book? If so, Area mentions Behemoths, but Destroyer doesn't, so do they ignore that rule? Devastator has Behemoth explicitly in some profiles, but what about Penetrative? I'm pretty sure this is intended to cover things like Shaltari shield boosters, PHR ECM fields, Scourge suppression fields, but who the hell actually knows? "Here's a thing, but don't let it interact with the game too much" is such a lame design approach.
My strongest opinions coming off this game are about the state of the rules themselves and various units. Bomb Buses just don't work correctly at all. And Ronin are off the charts too powerful. They're a glass cannon that's actually durable, flexible, capable to taking on armor in a stand up fight and the best CQ specialists all at the same time at comparable points.
I would say I'm disappointed in TTCombat, but my opinion of them as game designers has soured to the point that this just seems rather typical.
I was galled by their insinuation in the lead up to release of the Behemoths that they actually playtested the things. The same people that write the rules pushing a couple models around for a turn is not playtesting!! It's painfully obvious no one outside of their office clique ever actually tried to use these rules or they would have caught the many immediately obvious ambiguities in them. Most players probably sensed this when they released the Flail, but gave them the benefit of the doubt that it was just a fluke of a blatantly useless unit. The Behemoths are a tent pole release, and it's every bit as bad as the writing in Battle for Earth which took years to correct into something acceptable. It feels like these rules have been on a shelf since 2019. Edit: Which is entirely accurate. I compared them line-by-line to the BFE rules, and they're identical.
The message I get from TTCombat is they don't care about the rules of this game. At all. The neglected typos, the haphazard revisions, all of it adds up to a picture of a design team that's hiding their incompetence with laziness. "It's not that I wasn't good enough, it's just that I didn't really try this time". Good design isn't brilliant insights and instinctual correctness, it's iterative processes, feedback loops, trial error and revision. It's effort. It's work.
And if you can't, let someone else.
meh, ugh, we're going to have to fix this game ourselves