Friday, March 02, 2012

Does the Road Hog help?

The recent release of the Minion Road Hog warbeast has been some exciting news.  For the past few months Privateer Press has been churning out their regularly scheduled flow of models and apparently has figured out their product flow problems of the past.  While the release of the Road Hog has certainly been exciting, it raises an interesting question.  As only the second heavy warbeast for the farrow minion warlocks, will it actually help the faction which is traditionally known for being underpowered (or 'needs fixing' like your own votes show)?  Let's take a look at what the Road Hog offers the farrow and how each warlock might take advantage of its abilities.

As you might expect, the theme of the Road Hog is speed.  We're supposed to assume that this guy is the epitome of speed for these monstrous creations made by none other than Dr. Arkadius.  However, let's look at his statline and abilities and see what we can make out.  Well it's SPD is 5 - which seems only 'meh' for a heavy warbeast until you remember that the War Hog is only SPD 4, so the Road Hog is a little faster - especially since Lord Carver has access to Mobility.  Similarly the animus gives us the impression that this guy should be really quick (especially for a giant pig) by granting sprint to a model - identical to the Warpwolf Stalker's animus.  This is a really interesting animus and I would honestly expect something more like Rush, given the speed motif.  Sprint does give some interesting tactical flexibility, however, although it will definitely be far more useful with Carver because of Mobility (sensing a theme yet?).
Lord Carver makes everything better

Unfortunately, I think that this animus will not be that useful for a faction outside of a Carver list since the faction is notorious for it's slow warbeasts.  With their low SPD both the Road Hog or the War Hog won't benefit much from a Sprint which might be more effective in another faction otherwise.  Rush would've been far more useful here, as the biggest problem with War Hogs is their SPD - being the slowest warbeasts in the game (Titans have the same SPD but have access to Rush and other faction movement buffs).  Instead, the Road Hog gets Full Boar which is worse than Rush - sure it only costs one fury, but the beast takes damage and it can only be used on itself.  I guess it's okay combined with his animus, as it makes him SPD 7, but I think being able to speed up War Hogs would have been preferable.
Powerful, but slow

We've now established that the Road Hog is a fast little piggie, but what can he do offensively?  Unfortunately, not much.  He does have a claw with open fist and he still has his tusks, but at P+S 14, he's really pillow-fisted.  Granted, if you need a hard-hitter, the War Hog definitely fulfills that role well, but this guy feels like he should be 8 points like a War Hog, not 9.  Granted, he does have Assault with a 10" spray with continuous fire and RAT 5, but coming from a faction that has a 10" magic spray at POW 14, I can tell you that they're overrated.  While it's important to remember that setting warcasters/warlocks on fire can be huge, the continuous fire effect on a spray is far less impressive on a spray because you still need to hit, and the warcasters/warlocks that typically don't like fire are usually a high enough DEF that even with a boost, this guy only has a 50% chance of landing a hit.

So who can make the most use of the Road Hog?  Once again, I think that Lord Carver will be the one to drive the Road Hog to feats of glory.  While the Road Hog doesn't hit hard, that doesn't matter too much on his feat turn.  Carver can use the Road Hog to reach far into the enemy lines during his feat turn and use him to potentially light the warcaster/warlock on fire after the War Hogs have cleared the path.  Between Mobility, Lightning Strike, and Full Boar, the Road Hog can be propelled 12" forward to pop a boosted spray against a warcaster/warlock, finish off a damaged warjack/warbeast, and then drop 9" back towards the main line of your forces so that he can try it again next turn.  He doesn't hit very hard but he doesn't need to if he can hit-and-run.

Unfortunately, he will be far less impressive with Dr. Arkadius or even Sturm and Drang.  While Drang can give a much needed +2 to melee attack rolls and free charges with Killing Ground, the Lightning Strike will be less impressive and you might not even need it thanks to Killing Ground already giving Pathfinder.  Even if Sturm is in command, the Road Hog might only really benefit from Telekinesis, but that seems like a waste of such an awesome spell - especially with War Hogs being so killy but so slow.  The Road Hog is even worse with Dr. Arkadius.  While Forced Evolution seems like a natural pairing for the Road Hog and Psycho Surgery can mitigate the damage from Full Boar, that's a lot of resources going into one expensive warbeast.  Unless Dr. Arkadius can reach out with a Crippling Grasp against an opposing warcaster/warlock to help the spray, I don't see the Road Hog doing much with Arkadius besides getting an alpha strike with the feat - and a lame one at that.
Still needs help...

On top of all of that, I'm actually a little disappointed in the model itself and the artwork even suggested that the Road Hog would have a similar pose to the War Hog, leaving hope for a plastic farrow warbeast kit in the nearer future.  Alas, the metal model is different enough from the War Hog that farrow players are yet disappointed again, I'm afraid.  As great at Privateer Press is at balancing all of their factions, I'm afraid that the farrow are a huge disappointment, in my opinion.  To be more specific, it's disappointing that they made Lord Carver so much better than their other warlocks that they will have to make some very specific changes and additions to the faction in order to make Dr. Arkadius viable, and even Sturm and Drang - although cool - struggle to be as competitive as the Bringer of Most Massive Destruction.
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