Make Backstabbers great (again?)!

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    • Make Backstabbers great (again?)!

      Backstabbers have gotten a 1 point discount in the recent much discussed 2.05 update! But nobody seems to care :( . Comments like "Nobody wanted that", "not that important category" or

      Gomio wrote:

      I can only imagine that most of them forgot that things like Backstabbers even existed.
      seem to be the consensus of the (vocal group of) ID players.

      It's time somebody stands up for the little buggers!

      Where they come from
      During all my time playing 9th Age backstabbers have never been a central part of ID armys. Most of the time they were deemed to expensive for what the offer. Essentially 2 low quality poison attacks with no protection and low discipline. In previous rulesets they could at least ambush, and with that contribute a unique tool to the army. But not fitting with the (also much discussed) ASAW it could not stay. Our ACS fought valiantly for at least some special rule (+2/+4 charge range for charges into the flank/back), but it did not help the already unpopular unit to lose its last ace in the sleeve. So here we are with a unit of (in my opinion) great potential but no actuall use.

      Concept
      When I think of backstabbers I imagine assassins. Not so much the far eastern ninjas but more the near/midle east Hashashin. That fits well into the near/middle east style of the Infernal dwarfs (although beeing sligly of on a timescale). Sneaking up on your enemy and put knife in their back is not the ID way to handle things (shoot them!) but it is a suitable for sneaky creatures like hobgoblins. I'm not totaly sold on having a whole unit of assassins who I'd imagine beeing a looner but that would be to similar to DE and VS stuff. And it does not fit well for (hob)goblins who feel strong in numbers. So having a (not too big) "gang" of assasins seems to be reasonable and thematicly fitting aproach. No armor to rely on stealth is also fitting for a silent killer.


      What could be improved for a FAB rework
      Backstabbers suffer of "other things in the army can to the same things better". What are possible rolles in the army that are not already taken by others? We got lots of stuff to handle weak targets (essentialy everything related with fire). But we do lack some tools to handle high quality/armored targets.
      1. Instead of focusing on the poison aspect of an assasin we could emphasise a killing blow aspect (a knive on a weak spot not protected by armor).
      2. No protection and low numbers results in low surviveability. Which is a problem for a rather elite/expensive (for Hobgoblin standards) unit. There is nothing in the rules to represent the stealth aspect anymore (->ambush :killed: ) something like hard target or low quality aegis could be decent and not break the ASAW (if they should stay for good)
      3. Some kind of throwing knifes could be fun.
      4. It is rather questionable if a unit with this background and suitable special rules is adequately placed in the core category.


      What I personaly could imagine Backstabbers to be in a FAB rework.
      Special, 5-15 guys, dual weapons, optional throwing weapons, killing blow, aegis 5+, light troops

      That was it from my part for now. I'd love to hear your opinions. Maybe we can develop some ideas together to help the ADT and ensure a place for this flavorful unit in our FAB. And finally see some Backstabbers on the gaming or even turnament tables!
    • That's pretty cool approach. I'd imagine it'd be fun to try to manoeuvre a small light troops unit while throwing knifes. Light troops would also give them a big help to do their opportunist stuff. Aegis save might be too much, I'd settle for Hard Target.

      I'd rather have them to be Poison than Killing Blow, I have more problems with high Res targets than heavily armored ones. Spears are supposed to be the armour killers.
      Also their Opportunists rule has some synergy with Poison.

      En masse Backstabbers have some staying power, so that if you get them on to a juicy target they can apply their poisons much more. This is something that will be lost if they were made "elite".

      I envision the backstabbers not as assassins, but agile fighters who just climb on and swarm over big hulking targets while stabbing them repeatedly, almost like how ants overpower their big prey.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Jarec ().

    • Good thread! :thumbsup:

      Some general design tips:

      - Shouldnt become as elite as the dwarves.
      - Based on current ASAW cant get any special deployment.
      - Shouldnt have such low number of models that will risk becoming chaff.
      - Weakness on small arms fire makes hard to open new S3 shooting options, like throwing weapons.
      - Should be focused on attacking the weak points of the enemy. It could be represented with poison or lethal strike, but also with flanking rules, warmachine hunters role, etc.


      Some issues:

      - If they cant become elite/have low numbers, they become a medium/big sized unit. Its hard to flank with such an unit, even more if special deployment is forbidden.
      - Most common "assasin styles" will hardly fit into the grinding theme of the army.
      - I see high chances that 5-15 hobgoblins with light troops will bleed more CR that what they can produce, even when flanking.


      Some ideas:

      - Instead of looking for damage, they could have a disruptive support role, similar to OnG goblins with nets. Sending a small support unit into a flank that will distract the enemy and make the things easier for the dwarves grinding.

      - They could have other kind of disruptive roles like messing with the enemy's backline or could get a workaround to the special deployment restriction as the WDG dogs got.
    • Congrats on the topic.

      Feanor83 wrote:


      What I personaly could imagine Backstabbers to be in a FAB rework.
      Special, 5-15 guys, dual weapons, optional throwing weapons, killing blow, aegis 5+, light troops

      Like the idea of Special slot, small/medium units with paired weapons with poison & optional throwing weapons (Poison?). As mentioned by @Jarec Hard Target suits them better.

      Perhaps add a rule when a Backstabber Hobgoblin cheiftain joins the unit, similar to Lugar's Court.
    • Gutterblades seem to be unit with a similar concept. Although beeing to elite for my taste and benefitng from advantageous VS-stats for this role (Adv6, Agi 5).

      Jarec wrote:

      Aegis save might be too much, I'd settle for Hard Target.
      Hard Target and/or Distracting seem to fit better for an assasinetyp unit on the first glace. An Aegis save would have a simmilar effect (reducing casualties) but effects ranged and close combat alike and would be only one special rule. It would be the less fluffy but more elegant way in my (personal) view. But both are of course valid options.


      Gomio wrote:

      - Shouldnt become as elite as the dwarves.
      The least elite dwarf (naked Infernal Warrior) is at 12 pts per model. The cheapest Hobgoblin at 7 pts. The current Backstabber is already at 10 pts. If that is a hard limit it will be difficult. From a fluff perspective it makes sense that dwarf lives matter more then Hobgoblin lives. Although for example a cheap, because of easy to get poison from a fluff perspective (might be even dangerous for the wielder) could have a very destructive impact in the game and therefor needs to be highly priced point wise. Does this make a Hobgoblin more elite than a dwarf?


      Gomio wrote:

      - Shouldnt have such low number of models that will risk becoming chaff.
      Low number would not be the problem if the price per model was rather high...
      A 0-X restriction could help otherwise.

      Gomio wrote:

      - Weakness on small arms fire makes hard to open new S3 shooting options, like throwing weapons.
      I agree shooting should not be their best ocupation. They are "backstabbers" and not snipers after all. Maybe somthing special like smoke bombs/traps.


      Gomio wrote:

      - Should be focused on attacking the weak points of the enemy. It could be represented with poison or lethal strike, but also with flanking rules, warmachine hunters role, etc.
      Maybe Killing blow on flank or rear attacks only. Warmachine hunters with Adv 4, no special deployment and no real shooting? How is that suposed to work?


      Gomio wrote:

      - If they cant become elite/have low numbers, they become a medium/big sized unit. Its hard to flank with such an unit, even more if special deployment is forbidden.
      If the can't become elite resulting in medium sized units, how are they different from regular Hobgoblins?
      Light troops might help but that would stop them from breaking enemy ranks.


      Gomio wrote:

      - Most common "assasin styles" will hardly fit into the grinding theme of the army.
      - I see high chances that 5-15 hobgoblins with light troops will bleed more CR that what they can produce, even when flanking.
      I don't see them as a unit to act on their own much. Maybe except for catching something of guard. I see them more as a support unit when our dwarfs are stuck with some highly armored units and grinding has come to a halt. For example supporting a unit of HW+S Blunderbusses after they received a charge.
      Bleeding CR is indeed a problem. I like the suggestion from @Tsagadai to give them distracting. Another possibility would be, that dwarfs in a multi-unit-combat don't care for Hobgoblin lives and therfor not suffer from lost healthpoint modifiers induced by them.
      Depending on the enemy unit losing a combat but destroying the enemy might be worth it (for example if you are steadfast/stubborn anyway).


      Fieres wrote:

      Perhaps add a rule when a Backstabber Hobgoblin cheiftain joins the unit, similar to Lugar's Court.
      That is a great idea to give them another "optional" special rule without having there base cost explode (and staying under the "more elite then dwarfs" radar :evil: ). :thumbup:

      Thanks to everybody taking part in this little excursion. :thumbsup:
    • Feanor83 wrote:

      Gomio wrote:

      - Shouldnt become as elite as the dwarves.
      The least elite dwarf (naked Infernal Warrior) is at 12 pts per model. The cheapest Hobgoblin at 7 pts. The current Backstabber is already at 10 pts. If that is a hard limit it will be difficult. From a fluff perspective it makes sense that dwarf lives matter more then Hobgoblin lives. Although for example a cheap, because of easy to get poison from a fluff perspective (might be even dangerous for the wielder) could have a very destructive impact in the game and therefor needs to be highly priced point wise. Does this make a Hobgoblin more elite than a dwarf?

      I think that the eliteness of Hobgoblins should be aimed at the Infernal Warriors level at max. I think that the fair price for current Backstabbers is 9ppm (poison =1ppm, paired weapons=1pp, losing armour for gaining an ability that maybe triggers once per game= 0 ppm).



      Gomio wrote:

      - Shouldnt have such low number of models that will risk becoming chaff.
      Low number would not be the problem if the price per model was rather high...A 0-X restriction could help otherwise.

      I dont think that we could get them so elite that they will become so expensive to not be chaff in minimum sized units. Minimum size should be something like 15 models if we are aiming at 10ppm approx.

      Gomio wrote:

      - Weakness on small arms fire makes hard to open new S3 shooting options, like throwing weapons.
      I agree shooting should not be their best ocupation. They are "backstabbers" and not snipers after all. Maybe somthing special like smoke bombs/traps.

      Yeah, we could find something cool in a "saboteur" role that could be bought as optional upgrade.

      Gomio wrote:

      - Should be focused on attacking the weak points of the enemy. It could be represented with poison or lethal strike, but also with flanking rules, warmachine hunters role, etc.
      Maybe Killing blow on flank or rear attacks only. Warmachine hunters with Adv 4, no special deployment and no real shooting? How is that suposed to work?

      Stacking too many flanking bonus (they already have reroll to hit with opportunist) have the risk of making them a one trick pony.

      How may they keep a warmachine hunters role without special deployment? I dont know, now you see the problem that we have with them. But it may be possible if thinking very out of the box.


      Gomio wrote:

      - If they cant become elite/have low numbers, they become a medium/big sized unit. Its hard to flank with such an unit, even more if special deployment is forbidden.
      If the can't become elite resulting in medium sized units, how are they different from regular Hobgoblins?Light troops might help but that would stop them from breaking enemy ranks.

      They will still be more elite than regular hobgoblins.


      Instead of light troops, something like being able to make a reform at the end of their movement can help. It would make them better when flanking by keeping their rank bonus.


      Gomio wrote:

      - Most common "assasin styles" will hardly fit into the grinding theme of the army.
      - I see high chances that 5-15 hobgoblins with light troops will bleed more CR that what they can produce, even when flanking.
      I don't see them as a unit to act on their own much. Maybe except for catching something of guard. I see them more as a support unit when our dwarfs are stuck with some highly armored units and grinding has come to a halt. For example supporting a unit of HW+S Blunderbusses after they received a charge.Bleeding CR is indeed a problem. I like the suggestion from @Tsagadai to give them distracting. Another possibility would be, that dwarfs in a multi-unit-combat don't care for Hobgoblin lives and therfor not suffer from lost healthpoint modifiers induced by them.
      Depending on the enemy unit losing a combat but destroying the enemy might be worth it (for example if you are steadfast/stubborn anyway).

      Indeed, they should work as a support element. Ignoring the casualties that non-Coa models suffer is an interesting idea for CoA models.

      Fieres wrote:

      Perhaps add a rule when a Backstabber Hobgoblin cheiftain joins the unit, similar to Lugar's Court.
      That is a great idea to give them another "optional" special rule without having there base cost explode (and staying under the "more elite then dwarfs" radar :evil: ). :thumbup:

      It worked that way before and people saw the character as tax to make backstabbers work.

    • Gomio wrote:

      It worked that way before and people saw the character as tax to make backstabbers work.
      Only because the ambush rule of the backstabber boss was the mandatory rule to take them. If they have had amush on their own and the boss would have added for example poison attacks or "flank charge bonus range" there would have been a real choice. And players would not have fellt shoehorned into this "bundle".
    • One option could be to try to claw their price down.

      e.g. "Notoriously Treacherous: Cannot declare charges unless a model with CoA is within 12"".

      Or "Utter Cowards: Cannot charge units in their front facing".


      Otherwise, the issue is really how to make S3 Paired Weapons units actually good.

      Although...


      "Supreme Opportunists: Backstabber units re-roll failed to-hit rolls when in combat with exactly 1 enemy model" might work?

      At least then they would hunt lone poorly armoured models well.

      Hmmm.

      Treachery: At the start of the game, choose one enemy unit. For the purpose of special rules, that unit cannot shoot or charge this unit of Backstabbers and always counts as having presented it's rear to this unit of Backstabbers.

      Background Team

    • WhammeWhamme wrote:

      "Supreme Opportunists: Backstabber units re-roll failed to-hit rolls when in combat with exactly 1 enemy model" might work
      I guess my vision of them being like agile ants overpowering big targets would be a bit similar.

      Pile Up: This unit gains Fight In Extra Rank when in combat with a single enemy model.
      It would overlap with their regular Opportunist nicely. And maybe even give them additional FIER's if the combat drags on to honor the grinding strength.


      Or another weird idea. Make them a 40x40mm "swarm" of sorts. And give them some supportive close combat abilities to enhance dwarf grinding. Distracting for the dwarf unit? Lower agility to enemy? Less rank bonuses?