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Tutorial Saurus Warriors: Profile Breakdown & Tactics

Discussion in 'Seraphon Tactics' started by GingerGiant, Dec 2, 2017.

  1. GingerGiant
    Skink

    GingerGiant New Member

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    Saurus Warriors are one of my favorite units in the entire game. They not only look cool, but they play very differently from most of the 'line infantry' used in other factions. If you command them shrewdly, they will bury your opponents in dice. However, Saurus Warriors will struggle if their general does not understand their strengths and shortcomings.

    I love rolling dice, so let me show you how to get the most out of this excellent unit.

    Saurus Warrior Profile Breakdown
    Please review the Saurus Warrior Warscroll if you are not familiar with it.
    Saurus Warriors are Order Battleline, and cost 100 points for each 10 models you field, or 360 points for a 40-model unit (a 10% discount).

    Saurus Warriors resemble the Line Infantry fielded by other factions, having 5" Movement, 1 Wound per model, a 5+ Save, a Shield Ability (usually reroll 1's to Save) and a 2" 1/4+/4+/-/1 weapon. Classic examples of Line Infantry include Freeguild Guard, Highborn Spearmen, and Eternal Guard. Saurus Warriors, like most Line Infantry, receive bonuses when fielded in high model-count units. However, Saurus Warriors are not as good at the traditional role of Line Infantry, compared to other examples: holding ground and protecting other units. Their defense and cost combined make them less durable for their points than other Line Infantry.

    Defense
    Saurus Warriors cost 6.67 points for each of their effective wounds (Wounds Attribute / Probability of Failing Save), whereas most Line Infantry pay 5 points or less per effective wound. An Example Unit costing 80 points for 10 models with a 5+ Save with rerollable 1's costs 6.44 points per effective wound against Rend -1, which is still better than Saurus Warriors (which, again, cost 6.67 ppEw against both Rend '-' and Rend -1). Even with Mystic Shield, the Example Unit exceeds the Saurus Warriors' durability when Rend -1 is applied (4.89 ppEw vs. 5 ppEw), though only slightly.

    Skinks and Saurus are actually quite interesting to compare. Unbuffed, both cost 6.67 points per effect wound. The Saurus Warriors benefit more from Mystic Shield than Skinks, bringing them to 5 ppEw vs. the Skinks' 5.33 ppEw. However, the Skinks have the edge when run in a 40-model unit, because of their incredible 16.67% discount. (6 points per model => 5 points per model). Skinks are used in a traditional Line Infantry role because they have an easy time reaching the ground they need to hold, and their Wary Fighters ability allows them to avoid all counter-attacks completely (a feat Saurus Warriors only achieve by decimating all engaged units before they can strike back, if possible).

    Offense
    While Saurus Warriors are not ideal for defense, they excel on offense. Without external or internal buffs, a 10-model Saurus Warriors unit deals 33% more damage with spears than standard Line Infantry (1/4+/4+/-/1), while costing only 25% more points (80 pts * 1.25 = 100 pts), because in addition to their spears, they have Fearsome Jaws and Stardrake Shields. However, if you equip the Warriors with Celestite Clubs (1/4+/3+/-/1), they don't deal 33% more damage: they deal 66% more damage than standard Line Infantry (including the Fearsome Jaws and Stardrake Shield attack, as before). When we combine points and damage into a single term, Points per Wound Dealt, the units look like this:

    100 point budget and partial unit/models allowed, ignoring additional attacks for unit leader, attacked unit has null '-' Save...
    • Freeguild Guard with Halberds, Spears, or Swords: 32 points per wound dealt, or 3.13 wounds dealt
    • Highborn Spearmen with Spears, rerolling 1's to Hit (Spear Phalanx): 27.4 points per wound dealt, or 3.65 wounds dealt
    • Saurus Warriors with Celestite Spears: 24 points per wound dealt, or 4.17 wounds dealt
    • Saurus Warriors with Celestite Clubs: 20 points per wound dealt, or 5.00 wounds dealt
    • The mathematical models allow for partial units and partial models within a unit. The math models just ignore the max size on the unit and apply the Horde discount (which is usually 1 point-per-model discount). The wound output (after saves, if the target model has one) is calculated for a single model with the model-count bonuses (if applicable), then the points-per-model are divided by the wounds-dealt-per-model to yield points-per-wound-dealt, and then the point budget is divided by points-per-wound-dealt to yield the total number of wounds dealt with the budget.
    Saurus Warriors deserve a solid B for their offense grade at 100 points. They're not amazing by any means, but they get even better when you maximize their model count. Here's what those numbers look like with a 400 point budget including Horde discount, model-count bonuses applied, and otherwise the same conditions...
    • Freeguild Guard with Halberds, Spears, or Swords: 16.8 points per wound dealt, or 23.81 wounds dealt
    • Highborn Spearmen with Spears, rerolling 1's to Hit (Spear Phalanx): 13.7 points per wound dealt, or 29.17 wounds dealt
    • Saurus Warriors with Celestite Spears: 9.8 points per wound dealt, or 40.75 wounds dealt
    • Saurus Warriors with Celestite Clubs: 7.9 points per wound dealt, or 50.62 wounds dealt
    A Saurus Warrior Horde is really flippin' good. That B+ just became an A+, and Celestite Clubs have a 25% damage increase over Celestite Spears (40 wounds dealt * 1.25 =50 wounds dealt). For comparison, here are some other units who have higher efficiency under the same conditions as before:
    • Plague Monk Horde with Foetid Blades, Contagion Banner, and Frenzied Assault: 5.1 points per wound dealt, or 79.1 wounds dealt.
    • Giant Rats Horde: 6 points per wound dealt, or 66.67 wounds dealt.
    • Tzaangors with Paired Savage Blades, Greatblades, and Mutants: 7.9 points per wound dealt, or 50.37 wounds dealt (with Horde discount and the attack they gain for having at least 27 models, they pay 6.4 points per wound dealt)
    In brief, don't run Saurus Warriors in Battalions unless you have a reason to run two, but preferably three, Saurus Warrior Hordes. A single Saurus Warrior Horde out-damages a minimum-size Sunclaw Starhost, and costs almost half as many points. However, if you maximize what's in a Sunclaw Starhost, you're looking at 5.58 points-per-wound-dealt on average. It will also cost you 1330 points, and many logistical headaches, which I'll talk about shortly. I'm not going to analyze the Bloodclaw Starhost right now, but maybe in the future. These numbers are for Saurus Warriors with Celestite Clubs.

    Other Warscroll Details
    Saurus Warriors have a couple other considerations that are much quicker to explain:
    • With Bravery 10, Saurus Warriors are quite courageous. 5 is the minimum number of models that can die to force a Battleshock roll. If you are running a Saurus Warrior Horde, the pay attention if your first loss for the unit is 9 models. Rolling a 6+ on the Subsequent Battleshock test will drop the unit to 29 models, and lose the Ordered Cohort bonus attack. Similarly, losing 10 models in the first loss means you risk losing the Ordered Cohort attack on a 5+ Battleshock.
    • The loss of the Ordered Cohort attack increases the Points per Wound Dealt from 7.9 to 13.0 in a Saurus Warrior Horde.
    • Against Rend -1 or less, it takes 1.5 wounds on average (before saves) to cause a single Saurus Warrior to die. You can use this to quickly calculate which units are the most hazardous to your Saurus Warriors.
    • Wardummers are the Seraphon musician, and their special rule is fantastic. It makes Saurus Warriors surprisingly quick and reliable on the Run compared to other units, but it also does nothing to improve their charge rolls. Don't rely on running, though: running means not charging.
    Saurus Warrior Tactics
    Saurus Warriors' greatest asset is their firepower, but it comes with a few drawbacks:
    • Saurus Warriors require high-model count units to reach their potential.
    • Saurus Warriors have no inherent bonuses to charge rolls.
    • Saurus Warriors need to be within 1" of their enemy in order to use their Fearsome Jaws and Stardrake Shield attacks.
    The sorts of formations required to maximize the number of attacking Saurus (within 1" of an enemy model) are also vulnerable to charges by small, elite units: such units have no problem getting all their members into melee range, and can minimize the number of Saurus Warriors in position to make return attacks. Despite their logistical challenges, Saurus Warriors are completely self-sufficient once they get stuck in, and the Seraphon an excellent trick for getting them there:

    Lords of Time and Space
    The best way to move around Saurus Warriors is the Lords of Time and Space Allegiance Ability. The only things you have to measure are unit coherency and 9" from the bad guys. Sometimes you roll a 1, but hopefully your Saurus Warriors are somewhere safe. When you are ready to strike (dice abiding), line the Saurus Warriors up along the 9" perimeter from the unit(s) you want to destroy. Unfortunately, a 9" charge has a 27% chance of success. If you're lucky, the Temporal Displacement result will turn the 9" charge into a 4" charge, which has a 91% chance of success. Otherwise, I think you have two options that will shape how you build your list.

    Tactic A: Close the Gap with abilities that allow additional movement from the Warriors or increase the result of the charge roll. Here are the options available to you:

    • A Saurus Oldblood (sans Carnosaur) as your General will give you up to 3" of movement on nearly the entire unit, provided at least one model is within the 10" range of its Paragon of Order command ability. A 6" charge has a 72% chance of success.
      • If it was possible to choose the Reckless command trait from Allegiance: Order and still use Lords of Time and Space, it would be my #1 option.
    • A Skink Starseer can cast Curse of Fates, which will guarantee your Saurus Warriors move with Lords of Time and Space, and you can fish for rerolls with Cosmic Herald. You can also use Curse of Fates to get a +1" on the Charge roll.
    • A Slann Starmaster can fish for The Hunter's Steed constellation to grant +1 to run and charge rolls. If the Starmaster is your General, it can also cast Curse of Fates with the Vast Intellect command trait. You may find it useful to have your Saurus fly using its command trait.
    • A Skink Priest's Celestial Rites grants rerolls to run, charge, and hit for the unit targeted. You can get a second use of Celestial Rites if the Skink Priest is your general.
    • A Saurus Scar-Veteran on Cold One as your General allows you to reroll 1's to charge and hit.
    Let me know if I missed something that improves the odds.

    The hero with the best likelihood of delivering the Saurus Warriors by itself is the Saurus Oldblood General, but I am being completely honest when I say the odds are not good. The likelihood that you get succeed on the charge, between Lords of Time and Space (with a chance for additional movement on a 6+), and then charging from 6" is 59%. One in three games those Saurus are going to sit around and pick their noses, or get slaughtered. Or both. But, at least you have points leftover to do something interesting with your army.

    The next cheapest option (with an increase in success chance) is at 200 points: a Saurus Oldblood as your General, accompanied by a Skink Priest. With their powers combined, you have an 82.25% chance of getting those Saurus Warriors where you want them. These odds are certainly more comfortable, and you have the option to teleport something else if your Celestial Rites roll fails, like a Bastiladon. Roll for Rites before attempting the Lords of Time and Space roll.

    If you feel particularly exciting, you can use a Saurus Oldblood as your General, supported by a Skink Starseer. If we use the Cosmic Herald ability randomly, and consider having the rerolls stolen a failure, and account for the benefits of Curse of Fate, we wind up with about a 90% chance of success.
    Why 90%? There's a 5 in 6 chance that our rerolls are stolen (if the likelihood of a match is random), which caps both how effective rerolls are for us and our opponent. If we get the rerolls, our likelihood of succeeding is very good. Let's estimate it at 100%, though I've calculated a few components of it and found that overall the odds are high. If our opponent gets the rerolls, the best place to bork things up is the charge roll, which has a 52% chance of failing in the presence of a malicious reroll. But, the reality is that even if our rerolls are stolen, we still have a chance of successfully charging. It may be desirable to do so just to burn those rerolls. Also, this is an estimate. I don't want to burn braincells trying to figure this out.

    Of these three, I think I prefer the Oldblood + Priest combo for value. If Celestial Rites succeeds, I have a nearly 95% chance of getting the Warriors in, and it leaves enough points to squeeze in a Shadowstrike Starhost, which provides skinks to screen the Warriors and the additional threat of Ripperdactyls, or possibly Terradons with the Blot Toad nerf. In all, there is a 71% chance that the Saurus Warriors successfully charge into melee, or an 85% chance assuming the Lords of Time and Space roll is successful.

    Tactic B: Screen for positioning. This is much more open, but you can use Chameleon Skinks or Ripperdactyl/Terradon Riders (with Shadowstrike Starhost) to act as a defensive screen in the event you're not comfortable with any result less than Temporal Displacement on the Lords of Time and Space roll. Doing this does mean your Saurus Warriors are much more likely to be in range of shooting, counter-charges, and magic, though, so I think it will come down to your opponent's list. Based on some of the battle reports here, I think that you will not have time (or durability) to think your Saurus Warriors can sit pretty for a turn without a reroll handy to secure a Double Turn. Screening for a better position will, at the end of the day, work much better if you have the second turn. If your opponent gets a double-turn, your Warriors now need to survive two rounds of shooting, magic, and whatever else he comes up with while his melee units maneuver into position. You also don't want Camo Skinks or Dactyldons exposed to melee combat for too long, or they may catch a base case of dead.

    I plan on writing a bit more, but time is fleeting. Let me know what you think about what I've written so far, and if you have any better ideas for getting Saurus Warriors stuck in. Furthermore, if it is tactically advantageous to footslog your Warriors, do so.
     
  2. Seraphage
    Salamander

    Seraphage Well-Known Member

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    This is a truly interesting tutorial. Some great advice here with some really interesting combos that will be really useful to players that haven't got that much experience so far. Great job !
     
  3. Paul Beenis
    Cold One

    Paul Beenis Active Member

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    Yeah good stuff! Keep up the good work!
     
  4. Canas
    Salamander

    Canas Well-Known Member

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    Out of curiousity since noone seems to ever mention this. How "easy" is it to actually get your entire horde in range to attack. I mean, great and all that you have a x% chance of making the charge. But there's a big difference between making the charge with 10 units in range, or 40. I'm curious how common it is for a horde unit to actually use all its attacks in melee. In between terrain, other units, and just the unit itself I'd imagine that getting more than half in is already unlikely (provided your opponent isn't an idiot)
     
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  5. Seraphage
    Salamander

    Seraphage Well-Known Member

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    Being a saurus user for quite sometime, I average at 15 - 20 warriors -> max 40 attaacks when 30+ so yeah. That's how I always count their damage
     
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  6. GingerGiant
    Skink

    GingerGiant New Member

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    The goal is to get as many as possible into the fight, though it may not always be possible depending on what your opponent does.
    If the Warriors are footslogging, I’d say it can be pretty difficult to get the Horde engaged, but Lords of Time and Space lets you line the entire unit along the 9” perimeter in a 2-model deep line, so when you succeed on the charge, all your models are able to move to a point within 1” of an enemy. If you’re using 25mm bases (I personally think 25mm should be the standard for 1-wound models), then at the end of the charge, a Saurus can make all its attacks if it is either in base-to-base contact with an enemy, or in base-to-base with a model in its unit that is also in base-to-base with an enemy. 25mm bases are a little less than 1” in diameter. However, Warriors should generally target other units with at least 20 models (assuming 25mm bases), because that provides enough surface area to get all the saurus in the fight.
     
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  7. Aginor
    Skar-Veteran

    Aginor Well-Known Member

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    Not bad. I think you have mentioned evrrything important in your tutorial.

    But Saurus Warriors are on 32mm bases aren't they? IMO that greatly reduces their effectiveness.
     
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  8. GingerGiant
    Skink

    GingerGiant New Member

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    I think they used to be on 25mm. Anything bigger I think should represent a more elite unit than a 1-wound 5+ save.
     
  9. Seraphage
    Salamander

    Seraphage Well-Known Member

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  10. Aginor
    Skar-Veteran

    Aginor Well-Known Member

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    Yeah that's the size that is included in the box.
     
  11. Canas
    Salamander

    Canas Well-Known Member

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    Meh, that's still fairly inefficient having only half get in range. Are there any horde units with higher effectiveness (apart from skinks who can attack from range)
     
  12. Aginor
    Skar-Veteran

    Aginor Well-Known Member

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    Dryads maybe. Good move and 2" range. Haven't done the math though so I might be wrong.
     
  13. Canas
    Salamander

    Canas Well-Known Member

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    Those aren't a prope horde unit though, they only need to be 12+ to have their benefit and it's only a defensive benefit at that.
     
  14. GingerGiant
    Skink

    GingerGiant New Member

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    I could have sworn I heard the term Horde refer to the point discount for certain maximum model-count discounts in an official capacity, which is how I use the term in the guide. I really do think with the right tactics you can get the whole unit in range, though if you double the ppWD for a Horde (because you can only get half in range of full attacks), it’s certainly not bad by any means.
     
  15. Canas
    Salamander

    Canas Well-Known Member

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    Could be, but mostly just curious about offensive hordes like the saurus warriors. Especially considering that these aren't particularly sturdy, so if you fail to get the entire unit in combat you're liable to just have half of em die before they even get to do anything, especially considering how quickly a horde of warriors goes from "major threat" to minor nuisance. The dryads are more a tarpit kind of horde solely there as fodder, so you care much less about their offensive output.
     
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  16. GingerGiant
    Skink

    GingerGiant New Member

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    The premier offensive horde is Plague Monks to my knowledge, and with them too, you really want them stuck in as best you can on the first charge, but I think that applies to any “killer horde”. Giant rats are a close second. You can also turn a Zombie Horde into an serious offensive threat with a Vampire Lord’s Command Ability and a Necromancer’s Danse Macabre. Tzaangors are also a very destructive Horde, and have the benefit of two wounds. Even the lowly skeleton is nothing to sneeze at. With blades, it rolls in at 7.0 ppWd in a Horde. However, I believe all of these Hordes are on 25mm bases, unlike the latest boxes of Saurus Warriors. I've done a little extra geometry recently, so I'm going to update the guide to include information about how to get as many attacks in as possible through simple geometry,
     
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  17. Canas
    Salamander

    Canas Well-Known Member

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    Aren't tzaangors the same size as saurus warriors?

    Also, neither tzaangors nor plague monks have horde abilities. They might be cheaper as a horde, but they don't gain bonus to their stats like the saurus warriors & the two undead units. And those two have the fairly major advantage that they can recover (some) of their losses for free. Having D6 of em stand back up rather mitigates the risks of failing to get a perfect charge and enveloping your foe. So far the saurus warriors do seem to be by far the weakest horde unit I've seen.
     
  18. GingerGiant
    Skink

    GingerGiant New Member

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    Tzaangors get extra attacks as their model-count increases, and have a Horde discount. They have the same size bases as Saurus Warriors. Tzaangors are quite similar to Saurus Warriors. You pay almost-double the number of points as a Saurus Warrior to get double-or-better attributes. Double Wound, 5+/6++, a "bite" attack, 2 primary attacks base, up 150% more primary attacks with model-count bonuses, and they have a pseudo-Arcane Bolts. Plus, they can run and charge, and at maximum-size they have a smaller footprint (30 models).

    Although Plague Monks don't get bonus attacks or other benefits for high model counts, their Horde discount does significantly reduce the points you pay, which also reduces the points-per-wound-dealt (making them more efficient). They go from 7 points per model, to 6. Their 5.9 points-per-wound drops to 5.1, because instead of paying 280 points for its 47.5 wound damage output, you're paying 240. If you could spend 280 points on Plague Monks, but pay for the models at the reduced rate, they'd deal 55.42 wounds.
     
  19. Canas
    Salamander

    Canas Well-Known Member

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    Right, missed the tzaangor rule.

    As for horde-cost effeciency. I don't value that as much simply because the unit won't lose effectiveness. Obviously cost-effectiveness is important, but at least the monk unit doesn't suddenly lose half its stats when it dies. In contrast a saurus warrior unit going from 40 to 29 losses 25% due to model lose and an additional ~33% of its attack due to the loss of the bonus leaving it at ~50% (and that's optimistic). That's a very steep drop for only 25% losses. A monk unit lossing 25% just losses the 25% nothing more. This makes sub-par charges much more of an issue on the saurus warriors, out of the ones mentioned they lose by far the most power the quickest. Plus, all of the others have effects besides just being a large blob of dice. The saurus warriors literally only have that going for them.
     
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  20. GingerGiant
    Skink

    GingerGiant New Member

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    I have the exact numbers. Saurus Warriors, at full 40-model strength, deal 1.14 wounds with clubs and 0.92 wounds with spears, before saves, per model. When Lucky #30 dies, the per-model damage output drops to 0.69 wounds and 0.58 wounds, respectively. It's closer to a 40% loss, which is still pretty bad all things considered. Saurus Warriors definitely need the alpha strike to minimize the counterattack losses. At 360 points, they deal nearly the same number of wounds as Ripperdactyls with a Blot Toad and Swooping Dive. It's possible to get more from Saurus Warriors, but if you can only get one good combat from them, there isn't much point as the Rippers are easier to use. So, that "more coming soon" I'm working on is about making sure you are optimizing the number of striking models so that when you do run them in a Horde, you get everything you can out of them, and hopefully decimate your target to a degree that they can keep doing good things. There is a surprisingly large amount of geometry involved, and if Saurus Warriors were based any larger than 32mm, I'd call them unplayable.
     

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