N18 Stark Iron Uplink - Van Saar

Jan 12, 2021
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Heyo, ChapterAquila92 here!

Over the past two years I've been tinkering with list-building my Van Saar gang to come up with a way that's both competitive and fun.

My first gang list during the pre-House of Artifice days was something of a walking disaster. Plasma pistol and power knife on my leader, rad gun on my only champion, no designated specialist to speak of out of 2 gangers, and 2 laspistol-wielding juves made up a 6-man ensemble who were routinely outnumbered and outgunned over the course of my first Dominion campaign, even after the acquisition of more capable fighters including a lascannon-toting champion.

The second attempt went by a little smoother before COVID. The Prime finally got some better firepower in a plasma gun, more champions were involved (an Augmek stuck around since the previous campaign as a medicae, another was an Archeotek with servo claw and plasma pistol), the specialist was toting a grav gun, and apart from the Neotek the rest of the gang were lasgun-wielding Teks. It worked well... up until the Archeotek was captured and the specialist died while trying to rescue him. The Neotek was fun to use, but not one I'd say is worth the cost at the start of a campaign.

My most recent campaign (ongoing as of 8 September, 2021) was somewhat different from usual even for Law & Misrule, with each gang starting with 1500 credits, 4 starting territories apart from their settlement, and not allowed to field more than 1750 credits worth of fighters at any time. The campaign was being planned months in advance and only started in earnest this month.

This is what I came up with: the Stark Iron Uplink. The name and eventual paint scheme came out of watching watching Marvel movies during a recent deployment, and each of the characters was intentially given Sly Marbo naming conventions based on Iron Man characters.

Stark Iron Uplink
Robb "Hotshot" Tarks - Prime (300) - Mentor
Plasma Gun, Laspistol, Mesh Armour, Ocular Alpha

Terak "Zephyr" Doresh - Augmek (300) - Hip Shooting
Meltagun, Laspistol, Mesh Armour, Motive Alpha

Gwyn "Rescue" Palts - Augmek (200) - Medicae
Lasgun, Mesh Armour, Medicae Kit, Motive Alpha

Joffre "Monger" Tanes - Augmek (185) - Connected
Lasgun, Hystrar Pattern Energy Shield, Mesh Armour

Darloh Happs - Tek Specialist (85)
Lasgun, Flak Armour

Raith Zaar - Tek (85)
Lasgun, Flak Armour

Chead Sedroh - Tek (85)
Lasgun, Flak Armour

Tenbayn Nivios - Tek (85)
Lasgun, Flak Armour

Husan Siynne - Tek (85)
Lasgun, Flak Armour

Elise Harveert - Tek (85)
Lasgun, Flak Armour

So far it's been a little middling. Due to a substantial number of injuries taken during the campaign I've been having to play whack-a-mole to stay on top of everything, not least of all with Delaque shenanigans disrupting a lot of what I want to do with this gang. As a silver lining, I was fortunate enough to get a few free Sub-Teks and a free Tek thus far, which has helped make up for two deaths (Husan and one of the newer juves), and I'm on track to getting more toys for my gang to play with beyond massed lasguns. Terak has also been a nasty piece of work thus far, to the point where our resident Delaque player has been going out of his way to make sure Terak doesn't end up on the table during our games.

Here's where the Stark Iron Uplink is standing right now:


To that end, I've been looking at ways of improving on this even for the standard 1000 credit campaign starts, and this is my most recent iteration.


Ditching the cyberteknika and replacing the non-specialist teks with subteks was the most obvious change I could think of, the former because of how expensive it is at gang creation and the latter because of controllable advancement.

Feel free to point out anything that I might want to consider doing differently with this.
 
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MrAndersson

Gang Hero
Sep 18, 2018
638
440
68
Halmstad, Sweden
If you want to stay reasonably competitive, the game pushes you into making certain choices. It's either lascannons or plasma guns, nothing else really cuts it.

There is a third (possibly) viable strategy, and that is to seriously underspend on your initial gang, play the first game really safe, and then hope you roll well enough in the TP to buy a bunch of grenade launchers.


To comment on your list specifically, you really lack firepower. You have a single plasma gun and a bunch of pea shooters. A smart enemy will focus that plasma gun until it's gone, and then you have no teeth. The melta-gun is dangerous if you can get it close, but don't count on it.

The skill choices are also a bit iffy. Mentor is really, really bad and Medicae is questionable too.
 

Psyan

Juve
Sep 2, 2016
16
4
3
Olympus Mons, Mars
Starting at 1500 points, you're definitely hampering yourself by not having more high quality firepower.
I would start by switching at least some of the Teks to SubTeks. Use the saved credits to exchange all of the Flak armor for Mesh armor and maybe add a couple of hotshot packs onto your lasguns. I know they're not optimal and a regular shotgun is generally better, but possibly consider putting a Suppression Laser on one of your Teks, too, for variety. S4, 2W and Knockback could occasionally be helpful, too, especially early on.
I like the hip-shooting Melta gunner, he's deadly up close and is a great deterrent. Definitely worth keeping.
Opinions may diverge here, but on the firepower front, you'll want to add at least one other Plasma gun (or if you can buy from the TP, a Grenade Launcher), or consider finding the points for getting a heavy weapon (Lascannon, Plasma Cannon or Multimelta) and suspensor. If you're looking for a cheap Champ and have TP access, maybe consider a Long Las for a bit of extra range and punch. Having a designated sniper is also very "rule of cool", IMO. I don't know why those aren't on the House list. A Rad Gun or Grav Gun Specialist is cool, too, though also not optimal or a priority.
 
Jan 12, 2021
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To comment on your list specifically, you really lack firepower. You have a single plasma gun and a bunch of pea shooters. A smart enemy will focus that plasma gun until it's gone, and then you have no teeth. The melta-gun is dangerous if you can get it close, but don't count on it.
Fair assessment on the firepower front. I've had far more success with the melta than with plasma thus far, mind you, to such a degree that my local gaming group prefers dealing with plasma instead.
The skill choices are also a bit iffy. Mentor is really, really bad and Medicae is questionable too.
Any recommendations to replace them with?
Starting at 1500 points, you're definitely hampering yourself by not having more high quality firepower.
Agreed in hindsight. I was primarily focused on trying to get as many competent bodies on the table as possible and forgot that Subteks are decent shots for what they are.
Opinions may diverge here, but on the firepower front, you'll want to add at least one other Plasma gun (or if you can buy from the TP, a Grenade Launcher), or consider finding the points for getting a heavy weapon (Lascannon, Plasma Cannon or Multimelta) and suspensor. If you're looking for a cheap Champ and have TP access, maybe consider a Long Las for a bit of extra range and punch. Having a designated sniper is also very "rule of cool", IMO. I don't know why those aren't on the House list. A Rad Gun or Grav Gun Specialist is cool, too, though also not optimal or a priority.
Yeah, the exclusion of the long las from the house list is an oddity.

I'd still sooner get a long rifle and pair it with a hotshot lasgun with telescopic sight though, as a fluffy modular las rifle. Provided I get enough credits for another augmek (that is, provided I don't roll like ass or have to deal with mass injuries), I'm planning on doing just that at my earliest opportunity, as I already have the long rifle in my gang's stash.

As for a last two options, the rad gun is a bit too reliant on Rad-Phage to be effective outside of crowd control, and arguably eclipsed by flamers in the same niche anyway. Grav is definitely good though.
 

MrAndersson

Gang Hero
Sep 18, 2018
638
440
68
Halmstad, Sweden
For skills, it's the same ones that always get recommended - Trick shot, Fast shot and Munitioneer. It's kinda boring, but the way the game is designed it doesn't really promote variety.

Why would you want a long rifle and a hotshot lasgun on the same dude? They are basically the same weapon, but with different ranges and range modifications.

A final comment about the grav gun. It isn't what I would call good. It might have a very niche use late in a campaign, though, when gangs have started to armour up and fighters with high toughness are a thing, since it ignores both these things. It is also possible that there might be a few enemies running around with spinal injuries, since players typically don't bother getting bionics for those. But other than that, the grav gun is horribly overpriced.
 
Jan 12, 2021
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Why would you want a long rifle and a hotshot lasgun on the same dude? They are basically the same weapon, but with different ranges and range modifications.
Call it a bit of a vanity project idea that's more fluff-based than competitive. Is it pointless on a guy with 2+ BS? Absolutely. Would it also be within the realm of possibility for House Van Saar to design and build a functional modular las weapon regardless? Also yes.

If it would otherwise save me 30+ credits to spend more efficiently elsewhere though, I'll concede that point. It is only a matter of getting the long rifle as a campaign progresses after all.

final comment about the grav gun. It isn't what I would call good. It might have a very niche use late in a campaign, though, when gangs have started to armour up and fighters with high toughness are a thing, since it ignores both these things. It is also possible that there might be a few enemies running around with spinal injuries, since players typically don't bother getting bionics for those. But other than that, the grav gun is horribly overpriced.
Point taken. More of a case where I'd need to be in a position of having more credits than I know what to do with, I guess.
 

MrAndersson

Gang Hero
Sep 18, 2018
638
440
68
Halmstad, Sweden
Don't get me wrong. Thete is definitely a time for fluffy and thematic choices. It's just that you wrote in the first post that you wanted the gang to be competitive, so I thought that was what you were going for.
 
Jan 12, 2021
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Don't get me wrong. Thete is definitely a time for fluffy and thematic choices. It's just that you wrote in the first post that you wanted the gang to be competitive, so I thought that was what you were going for.
Fair.

To clarify, the people I play with tend to run lists that can do extremely well in competitive play, and habitually lean competitive even in casual games, so it behooves me to try to aspire to doing the same. As more than a few of the same players admit however, they're just as interested, if not more interested, in actually making those lists fun to play and fun to play against, rather than playing to WAAC.
 

Psyan

Juve
Sep 2, 2016
16
4
3
Olympus Mons, Mars
There are two components of competitive play, one is optimal gang composition and the other is cutthroat play style. It sounds to me like the folks you play with mostly just do the first and somewhat eschew the second.
The best advice for optimal VS gang composition is to get as many of those overpowered, underpriced plasma guns as you can possibly field and put hotshot lasguns on everyone else.
 
Jan 12, 2021
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There are two components of competitive play, one is optimal gang composition and the other is cutthroat play style. It sounds to me like the folks you play with mostly just do the first and somewhat eschew the second.
The best advice for optimal VS gang composition is to get as many of those overpowered, underpriced plasma guns as you can possibly field and put hotshot lasguns on everyone else.
Makes sense.

I would also presume that environmental circumstances may also affect this outcome. In the current campaign, I started off with the Archeotech Device, Tech-Bazaar, Prometheum Cache, and Generatorium, have since gotten the Archeotech Auction racket, and am in an alliance with the Promethium Guild. I'm routinely giving what gangers I have available the three incendiary charges, and may consider branching into flame weapons at some point.

Thoughts on making those flamers into better rad weapons using the archeotech device?
 
Jan 12, 2021
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I would also presume this goes hand in hand with not using focusing crystals either, which confer the same Unstable effect to las weapons in exchange for an additional -2 AP.

It still beats me why Yaktribe treats them as ammo when HoA implies they are weapon accessories (probably because of Book of Judgement, I guess).
 
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MrAndersson

Gang Hero
Sep 18, 2018
638
440
68
Halmstad, Sweden
Exactly. Unstable is a 1 in 12 chance of taking your fighter right off the board. Every time you shoot. For the risk to be warranted, the unstable weapon option would have to bring a substantial increase in potential damage output compared to similar options. And they just don't.
 
Jan 12, 2021
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A more reasonable approach for the Focusing Lens would be for it to simply add +1 to ammo rolls and only +1 to AP, instead of +2. Unstable is just too dangerous for what you get in return.
For that matter, you'd think that Van Saar would have more variety in las weapon attachments than what we're given. This may be due to me having played quite a bit of Fallout recently, but there's a missed opportunity for las "ammo" like beta or gamma emitters (Blaze and Rad-Phage respectively at -1 or -2 to ammo rolls), or something similar.
 
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Jan 12, 2021
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One of the house rules our group has put into play is to have Unstable cause a flesh wound, and pin the user, rather than throw them straight out of action.
To each their own. My own group isn't particularly big on making house rules for in-game play (maybe outside of the use of Space Hulk tiles for Zone Mortalis), so this might not fly.

Our current house rule for campaign play however is that Reputation gained from a territory increases the minimum Reputation a gang can have (meaning that in the current Law & Misrule campaign I cannot drop below 5 Rep).
 
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