Thursday, June 10, 2010

If a rose smells the same... does a skeleton point the same?

Okay, so, off the beaten path I've gotten this idea in my head to take a few products and compare them in regards to the differing rules systems I might find. I've decided to start with Mantic Games Undead Skeleton Command box which retails for a reasonable $14.99.

Inside the box is ten plastic skeletons, one of which can be assembled as a standard bearer, one bearing a horn (really, how does he sound it?) and one as  a champion of sorts. I'm going to apply this to the following rules sets; Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Fantasy Warriors, Martin Hackett's Magic & Monsters, and Hordes of the Things.

Warhammer: from the Vampire Counts army book they would be ten skeletons with light armor, shields and hand weapons with a command group leading them rolls in at an even 100 points; 80 for the soldier and 20 for the upgrades. This would be a relatively small unit of skeletons and wouldn't last too long considering they are only weapon skill 2  and an armor save of 5+. Some necromantic assistance though and it should be able to hold on were it to take on units of equivalent points value... mostly. Front rank bringing to bear 6 attacks if there was a Corpse Cart close enough to give them the Always Strikes First rule and should you put a vampire with the Crown of Command they might be something to be worried about at 100 points. You could also give them a magic standard up to 25 points, perhaps the Banner of the Dread Legion allowing them to double their unit strength and maybe bringing the fear rules to bear and chase away an enemy. A fairly versatile 100 points and a solid unit I would think. Being a Lizardman player I would compare them to Saurus Warriors where I'd only get 6 or 7 saurus with a command... but I'd also have a 4+ save and 11 attacks.

Fantasy Warriors: they would be found under the Undead Warrior Profile in the Fantasy Warriors Companion rules. Ten skeletons would come in at... ONLY 30 POINTS! Wow, that isn't many at all. Worth of 1 (which is average), average quality, light armor and shields. Not a terribly bad profile by FW standards if one compares it to human Men-at-Arms which have a worth of 1, average quality and medium armor with pikes but would be 50 points for ten. If you were to compare this to the points percentage with WHFB you're gonna need a lot more Mantic miniatures. FW is played in a standard 2,000 points as well and instead of being 5% of your army as with WHFB you're looking at 1.5%.

Magic & Monsters: looking up skeletons in Martin's convenient listing of troops on page 231 the closest entry we find is skeletons in chain mail with shields and axes. No big deal, looking up axes we find we need to ditch one point to make it swords instead. We find that the Mantic box comes in at 70 points. Hackett makes no special rules for musicians or standards unless you are using the morale rules which he encourages you to no use, so for our purposes they are window dressing. They will have a move of 5, defense factor of 7, power of 10, and agility of 30. As far as comparing these to other troops, really all that is important is that their weapons apply the standard modification to the enemies DF and their DF is okay, but could be better. Humans armed exactly the same would have a DF of 10 instead of 7 but cost three more points per model. In Magic & Monsters their alignment would be 'undead' which means they can only be in an undead army... totally undead army. Hackett recommends a 1,600 point force so these 70 points is going to give you around 4% of the total points needed, not a whole lot but since Magic & Monster's heroes tend to be costly it is to be expected.

Hordes of the Things: in the army lists under 'Generic Undead' skeletons would be classified as Hordes which should have from five to eight 25/28mm models, so we can squeeze two elements of Hordes from a single Mantic box set. This is only 2 points of a standard 24 points force and frankly Hordes aren't terribly effective in battle. Their greatest strength in the game is that they can be brought back in by expending PIPs allowing the recommended SIX HORDES to come back over and over. So two hordes would be around 8% of your 24 point army. There isn't a lot to compare it to by the HotT rules but you can compare it to Lurker elements (the only other 1 point element) which has to stay in their 'lurking area' and can't leave it give the Hordes considerably greater mobility and application than their 1 point counterparts.

So, there you have, the best application of your fifteen dollar ten skeletons is probably in WHFB, at least until I get home to reference Magic & Monsters.Using them with HotT would also be aesthetically pleasing but you would be hard pressed to switch their use to other games unless you made special bases, which is feasible considering how Mantic plastics are constructed.

Obviously there are other rules sets out there and if you have one you play regularly PLEASE feel free to let me know and I'll even modify this post to add your entry. I plan on doing this with a few more sets of models at least just because I enjoy the exercise.

One last thing I'd like to do is boil down the dollar to point ratio, goofy I know but bear with me eh? So basing the points off a $14.99 price tag we get...
  • Warhammer is fifteen cents a point (or $2.95 per percentage point)
  • Fantasy Warriors is fifty cents a point ( or $9.99 per percentage point)
  • Magic and Monsters is twenty one cents a point (or $3.75 per percentage point)
  • Hordes of the Things is $7.50 per points (or $1.87 per percentage point)
So, over all you may want to apply Mantic's skeletons to either Warhammer or HotT as one is giving you a really nice dollar to point ratio and the other a nice dollar to army percentage ratio, either are a safe bet. Fantasy Warriors is ALL OUT though, no good deal at all even if it is a good game. You will need scads of skeletons and while Mantic is quite affordable even if you hop on The Warstore and ditch four bucks off the price tag you are still paying a lot to the Fantasy Warriors rules.

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