N18 Play"testing" Crimson Oracle's Kroot gang

Aulenback

Hive Guilder
Yak Comp 3rd Place
Mar 29, 2016
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Halifax, NS, Canada
Ahoy, all.

Background: A friend from work convinced me now that 2023 seems to have possibly brought us a "settled in" edition of the core rules*, to give N23 a go. With no pit slave rebellions available that are not ogryn, I had thought to make use of my much-adored cannibal dinosaur chickens from SPACE as Ash Waste Nomads, but was eventually convinced by said friend from work to give Crimson Oracle's "Kroot Farstalkers" a test drive.


So far: So far, games have been against Delaque, which have similar strengths: Cunning primary, for example. In games to date, when our numbers are low (four to six fighters), the Kroot get run off quickly and easily, in no small part due to their poorer mental/social characteristics than the Delaque. In numbers, hoewever (eight fighters, say), they are a distinct threat. Partly this may be my "ratskins" playstyle, where coordination and splitting out opponents' fighters is key. Worth noting, though, at no point have they seriously outnumbered their opponents until folks start going out of action. Also worth noting, the 2023 Ghast Harvest scenario makes for a pile of cash for the winner, if they haven't lost a bunch of fighters to OOA. Madness. But that isn't about the Kroot.

Things I have noticed:
1. The feeding tokens come up relatively rarely (coup de gras), and then have yet to successfully make the roll to harvest them (3+). As such, the Mealtime rule is basically just a constant penalty, and really could simplify things by just writing it as such, and instead just having the "Adaptations" be something purchased on fighter hire (as currently for Leader and Champions). The Feeding Token rule ("Ravenous" and "mealtime") adds a fair bit of complication seemingly unnecessarily. Instead, at least until I have more experience with the gang, I would recommend keeping the Leader and Champions able to purchase a selected Adaptation on hire, as is currently, allowing other fighters to purchase an random roll on the Adaptations table on hire, and keeping "Ravenous" as a penalty for the gang's members, which is the role it currently has most of the time.

2. The Krootox Rider being a mounted unit has forced us to house rule the mount being allowed in non-Ash-Wastes games., as the gang does not have an unmounted prospect, and as the combined profile (some stats are the krootox, some are the rider), even if we ignored the "may not appear without the Mount" rule, the profile wouldn't be sensible for the rider only. At present, at least until I have more experience with the gang, I would suggest using the Krootox's profile for the prospect (M4 instead of M6) rather than having the "Mount" be part of the Krootox (yes, despite most Mounts affecting the fighter's movement), such that the "Mount" purchased as equipment is actually the rider (which allows the equipping of ranged and melee weapons, including the built-in suspensors). This would allow the possibility of the Krootox coming in "dismounted" (by leaving ranged weapons behind, and fighting only with fists and grenades).
As written, the only reason that Mounted rules seem to be used for the Krootox Rider is to prevent them from climbing, and to ensure a punishing dismount on being shot (with an initiative of 5+, they won't often be avoiding being pinned). As a Mount, thus restricted to Ash Wastes scenarios, the Krootox (with a move of 4") is not fast enough to participate in Rolling Road scenarios (unlike the Wasters' Dirtbike or the Ash Nomads' bugs), and is formally forbidden (without House Rules) from participating in Sector Mechanicus and Zone Mortalis scenarios.
Splitting the Krootox (and its profile) and the Rider (and its weilding guns) into two discrete elements would allow for fielding it "dismounted" in most scenarios, since the number of scenarios it can be fielded RAW is ... slim.

3. The flexibility of each fighter characteristics-wise, but also the flexibility of the Kroot Rifle as their most common weapon, makes for a nicely objective-focused Switch Hit gang that is fun to play. Yes, for thirty credits, most starting gangers CAN have a ranged weapon and a melee weapon to get them started, but it taking only one weapon slot does give them a later advantage for development, as they still have two weapon spaces open to specialize a bit. Their strength of 4 makes grenades quite viable (which is thematically appropriate, given the prevalence of grenades on Kroot minis across the range). Knockback as default has taken down a scattering of opposing fighters through falls. Play style, the DO remind me somewhat of the old Ratskins, though with less "horde," mind you the Crew rules from N17-N23 make Horde gangs less of a thing.
Their poor mental stats overall do mean that once the gang Bottles, they WILL quickly vanish. But really, my habits from N95 are that when a gang needs to start making Bottle checks, it is probably time to cut losses anyway.
Plus, of course, I love modeling my cannibal dinosaur chickens from SPAAAACE.

There. First thoughts. Will attempt to keep the thread updated as I learn more from playing them more.

 
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I can see why he didn't want to write them as a Brute. For one thing, he wanted to write the Knarloc as the Brute. For another, he wanted a wider range of equipment options than a Brute gets. Bare with no equipment (other than itself), it is half the cost of the Stig Shambler, but also has 1 wound instead of 4, and worse initiative. With advances and equipment to match the Stig Shambler, would have a rating/cost of 450 credits (given its starting cost).*

And would still be burdened by the Mounted trait (though with the bettered initiative, it bit by bit becomes less of a burden).

That said, in four matches to date, mine has only been hit in melee, and yet to be shot successfully, so has not yet been affected by the Mounted rule aside from our House Ruling that it is allowed to be used in Sector Mechanicus (and Zone Mortalis) scenarios.

*Note that I do recognize that costing isn't exact at all: a juve Delaque with enough advances to become a ganger Delaque would cost twice as much as the ganger (105 credits versus 50 credits). They aren't credit-by-credit priced by stats.
 
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Campaign notes: the gang is reminsicent of the old Retskins, and the new Delaque, in being a mid-range switch-hit gang -- mid-range shooting, and versatile melee -- so works very well in larger crews where they can support each other in pursuit of objectives, and suffer in smaller crews against more specialized fighters. That is good, and seemingly as intended. No complaints there. When focused on the scenario objectives they do well enough. When distracted into a shootout or a slugging match, they get knocked down.

Unrelated to the gang: Winning Ghast Harvest without a bunch of gangers down nets a HUGE profit into the stash! Good Lord!
 
It’s a good thought. And suggests that the krootox rider may be expensive for what it offers (S5 and T4). Over costed is always better for homebrew than undercosted, mind. And again, the krootox rider can buy equipment from the trading post, and I don’t think that brutes can.
 
Our next scenario has been rolled, and the Delaques made a roll on the House Favours table (snapping up a grappling gun). Looks like we're having a Stand Off next match. Everyone on deck bloodbath, no extraneous objectives, banking on web guns and his ghul to counter. He will get an extra tactics card or two, since Custom (10) means we will both have full crews.

But it should then be a test of a straight up firefight. Mathhammer says I should likely lose, barring a drastic swing of luck, with even numbers and no objectives, but Delaque are pretty parallel to Kroot in their skills and abilities and all, just with slightly better stats for cost in a few things (mental stats, the ghul's stats), so of all the gangs to actually test against in a straight up Stand Off, this might be the best for seeing the math of the gang.
 
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Update: With the "Stand Off" Scenario involving all eight of my gang in the starting crew and all nine of the Delaque, but thanks to high income from good early territories boosted by an early Forged Guilder Seal, my gang rating was quite a bit higher. A tactics card to steal priority in a crucial round set the Delaque on the back foot, and bluntly put dice rolls meant that while he and I rolled hitting and wounding around the average, it seems I could roll nothing but OOA on his fighters [Damage 2 weapons are definitely a thing, my word those Accelerator Bows pack a punch at 18"!], and he could roll nothing but Flesh Wound on mine*. And then a bad roll on his bottle check, and the Kroot actually took the match, despite his pile of extra Tactics Cards.

Much to my surprise.

[Yes, both Nacht Ghul and the threat of Web Guns really help to control the table; I noted and so did he that I focused everything towards those two threats, ignoring everything else until later; *he did twice get Serious Injuries on my crew, but operating in rough pairs and trios made getting into range for an Assist easy both times, and that helped.]

Our next match rolled is Escape The Pit! which should prove interesting. Both of us have some infiltration, and some From The Shadows, which may complicate things slightly.

Also, I have suggested our group switching from "extra tactics cards for the underdog" to an "extra experience for the underdog" found elsewhere, which feels better to my N95 sensibilities, and which could actually force catch-up, which extra tactics cards cannot so much. It runs +1xp for a crew rating difference of 100-249, +2 for a crew rating difference of 250-499, etc. Not sure if we'll agree to use it.

The Kroot gang leader in his armour and horrifying melee weapons was taken down with a web gun (of course) and coup-de-grased (there twere a coup de gras on each side, this game!), and badly injured. This was the first time however that his purchased starting Adaptation of Regenerative Physiology came into play, because he had enough experience for an advance, therefore lost the Lasting Injury straight away.

Picking up a fourth "ganger" Kroot Warrior, this one with the scattergun to try out templates and balance off the web gun/pistol in the Delaque. Also now testing out the "Kroot Armourer" Hanger On, and Armourbane Rounds (D2 AM-2) on a couple of the gangers, which with the Hanger On go from being limited to being scarce. That effectively makes the Rifle a 50 credit weapon for S4, D2, AM-2 at up to 24", which seems comparable to some of the other 50 credit basic weapons. It gets a melee profile instead of things like rapid fire. We'll see how that plays out. D2 after only five scenarios seems likely to be powerful (but then so are web guns etc).

Also noting: despite putting two "Feeding" tokens on the table thanks to coups de gras, zero "fed" marks collected. Personally, the not being able then to buy new "mutations" as it were doesn't bother me. I still headcannon kroot adaptations as being a generational thing, rather than an individual-over-the-weekend thing. I would rather seem them only as able to be bought on hire, rather than acquired during campaign. But making that change would cut down on a LOT of then-unneeded text in the special rules, leaving "Ravenous" as just a penalty (unable to retreat from combat or consolidate), and getting rid of "Mealtime" and "Feed" as special rules entirely.
 
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I really like the look of the new Kroot “gangs” and they seem like they’d be a blast to paint, but the cost of those boxes is ridiculous….
 
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Really true. So glad to have picked up mine "back in the day" before price inflation so heavily outpaced wage inflation. Yes, I know that in USA and UK it has been happening since the 1980s. Here in Canada it started in the 1990s. Ah, Reaganomics/Thatchernomics. Who knew that Ayn Rand was dystopian science fiction and not a How To Guide? [Oh? That many people? Really? Huh. -- yes this is on topic, because deriding it was a core element of WH40K: Rogue Trader in 1989 and beyond.]

I noticed the Kroot back in the day because (1) beastmen were my bag, and they had as many beastmen touchstones as they did lizardmen; (2) the Tau player in our local group completely ignored them and ran full Dominion Tank Police.

And they are a blast to convert and paint. Between pirating everyone else's gewgaws, and picking a bird/dinosaur colouration and running with it (I chose starlings, a ubiquitous and chatty scavenger bird here in the area with its brown-and-iridescent with white flecks).
 
Next scenario (though it will be a bit before playing) has been rolled up, and we will be having a go at Escape The Pit!, and notably, with the smaller crew sizes, the Crew Rating will be a lot tighter. His Delaque will likely be less than a hundred credits under.
 
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Last night was Escape the Pit! between seven Delaque gang members and five Kroot. Careful focus on the actual objective (getting loot crates and getting them to the exit) plus careful use of tactics cards (I had three thanks to crew ratings) and From The Shadows allowed it to come out to a draw.

Kroot in this list have relatively easy access to D2 weapons, and one of their bespoke Hangers-On turn those D2 weapons from Limited to Scarce. Not CHEAP access, mind you. A basic ganger with that D2 Kroot Rifle comes to 110 credits, before adding in the cost of the Hanger-On (the D2 ammo upgrade is 20 credits per rifle or pistol). But in the credits-rich environment of N23's Dominion Campaign, those credits seem very well worth it.

This match also saw a lot of use of jumping gaps and of climbing without ladders. His Delaque were far braver than I in regards to jumping, with my gang's usual initiative of 4+, and he was very successful on the whole. Both gangs are similarly mobile (5" to 6" typical for both). Knockback caused several falls, though. His infiltrating focused on combat, my From The Shadows-ing focused on loot crates getting to the exit, and that was what brought it to a draw.
 
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Okay. One gang member now added for the next match (if they end up as part of the Crew - that's scenario dependent) is a bit of a stress test.

Tracker (110 credits), two Kroot pistols (40 credits, chosen because Plentiful), Cave Dweller adaptation (15 credits!), gunslinger skill. This makes a BS2+ shootist at 12" (Cave Dweller prevents shooting beyond 12", but that is most pistols' range, and gives a bonus to BS and to WS!?), who can shoot twice and ignore the penalty for guns blazing (so that it doesn't stack on top of cover). I have a feeling that Cave Dweller is ... undercosted. The penalties (no shooting or visibility beyond 12", no using terminals) don't seem to heavily penalize the benefits (immune to Flash, +1WS, +1BS) for fifteen credits. If this Tracker becomes an absolute monster out of the gate, we'll know there is a difficulty. And we'll eat him to add strength to the kinband.
 
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A note that the juiced up "cave dwelling gunslinger" Tracker was used in our last game, but didn't prove at all decisive. Yet. Mind you, at this point both the surrounding gang and the opposing gang are more experienced, with varied equipment, so they aren't being compared to anything that is just-out-of-the-gate, which may affect how impressive it seems.

Also a note that having a prospect who is Grounded is awkward, even if we fudged to allow them to be fielded in most scenarios. In my eventual next run at this gang, I doubt I would field the Krootox Rider. While seeming intended to be the gang's "Heavy," with access to the larger gun(s), which would make getting experience more likely in early games, promotion for the Krootox Rider seems aimed at Tracker which has "From The Shadows," which seems ... awkward for a Grounded fighter who cannot be deployed to any upper stories, which also seems tactically difficult for a Heavy equvalent. The melee-focused Cold Blooded seems a more thematic promotion, but the pre-promotion Krootox Rider has a difficult time being focused toward melee. It makes a solid Grenades platform, but a very expensive one.
 
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Final update:

The kroot list has some definite strengths and weaknesses, which is good. They are a VERY style- and tactics-flexible list, with S4, weapons with decent range plus versatile, and a similar "finesse" skills range as Delaque. In fact, in many ways, they are very Delaque-comparable.

The only Prospect being a mounted model is awkward, and the fancy ammunitions for the Kroot Rifles are strong. Snapping up the Hanger On who makes the Limited ammunitions Scarce instead is an early obvious combination, similar to Orlock. Their play DOES feel reminiscent of Ratskins, from Back In The Day.

In the end, the early gain of two Income Territories where my opponent went for two Effects Territories, plus an early buy of a Forged Guilder Seal, made more difference to campaign strength than did the actual gang list itself. They were entertaining to play, and generally entertaining to play against.