Warlord Wednesdays: Hear Me Out: Inferno Guns

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This week, we’re hearing Bair out as he tries to get the most mileage out of one of the coolest weapons for Warhounds: the Inferno Gun.

Bair: The inferno gun. Warhound flamers. A very cool, and very fun weapon for Warhounds to be armed with, however outperformed by all of its rivals in one way or another. To fire it you use a flame template which only has about an 8” reach and the nearest enemy that is caught underneath is scorched by 3 S7 hits, with anything else under the template suffering 1 S7 hit as well. No roll to hit, just straight to your Location roll and then armour roll. Sounds like a good way to strip a few shields or do some immediate damage, until you notice its range.

Condit: Ok, so here’s the thing: inferno guns aren’t great. 3 strength 7 hits with an upside on other targets seems OK, but it winds up underperforming vs plasma or bolters when you’re within template range, and those other guns can hit from further out, too. Plus, at strength 7 they struggle to deal even Devastating hits without some sort of bonus backing them up, and their inability to call shots means you’re stuck rolling the location die and hoping for the best. This isn’t to say that they can’t do work in the right situation, but most of the time you’d be better served taking something different – even turbo-lasers can at least plink away from across the board.

We’ve covered Warhound weapons overall and you can see the math for yourself on why Plasma Blastguns are usually a better weapon option, but that’s not this article. I’ve made a list and a plan on how to use these strange little weapons the most effectively and I think it can run with the big boys, maybe even win. So, without further ado: Soggy, Condit –  Hear Me Out. 

Legio Magna Warhound. Credit – @paintingarmoury (twitter/IG)

The List

Ignis Light Maniple (1495 pts) Legio Infernus

  • Warhound Scout Titan – 235 pts
      • Princeps Seniores: Dominant strategist
      • Plasma Blastgun (30)
      • Inferno Gun (20)
      • Dark Blessing (5)
  • Warhound Scout Titan -215 pts
      • Vulcan Mega Bolter (10)
      • Inferno Gun (20)
      • Dark Blessing (5)
  • Warhound Scout Titan -215 pts
      • Vulcan Mega Bolter (10)
      • Inferno Gun (20)
      • Dark Blessing (5)
  • Warhound Scout Titan -215 pts
      • Vulcan Mega Bolter (10)
      • Inferno Gun (20)
      • Dark Blessing (5)
  • Cerastus Knight Banner -350 pts
      • 4x Knight Acheron
  • Cerastus Knight Banner -265 pts
    • 3x Knight Acheron

I’ve built the list around Legio Infernus for obvious reasons, but also for a few reasons which may not be so immediately obvious as well which I’ll get into below, but I’ll let Soggy and Condit tear apart the list first.

Condit: Infernus is the right choice here. Dark Blessing gives a lot of flexibility in ways you might not expect, and the extra hit from the Ignus combines with the extra range from Infermus to make a serious threat that mitigates the usual weaknesses of inferno guns. If there’s a way to get mileage out of inferno guns, this is probably it.

 

Legio Infernus Warhounds. Credit – @arch_reductor_antigonos (IG)

The Tactics 

Legio Infernus is the go-to in making Inferno Guns work for more than just one reason. The obvious is that Infernus extends the range of Inferno guns by 2” which might not seem like a lot, but the template can be rotated ala 7th edition 40k Torrent rule (or 6th edition fantasy dwarf flame cannons…anyone? ….Bueller?) so that the wider end of the template is further than the narrow end. The big win here though is really just the 2” though, extending the effective range from 8” to 10” on a platform that moves either 8” or 12” depending on how risky you want to be. 

The second facet of the Infernus choice is the Clinging Phosphex upgrade. A hefty upgrade at 20 points per Titan but does mean that anything past the initial target under the template takes 2 hits, not just 1. Unfortunately the Ignis doesn’t improve this number since only the initial Dice value is added, but it’s still very useful against Knight Banners and enemy Warhound Squadrons especially forcing many more shield saves. 

The third part is the very cheap 5 points spent on Dark Blessing on each Titan. This is an incredibly cheap upgrade that makes template weapons FAR more effective by helping to mitigate their innate flaw in not being able to make targeted attacks. With the ability to re roll one dice per turn on an engine with this upgrade I’m able to re roll a shield save early game before I’m in range, re roll a hit roll mid-game when I need my short ranged shield stripping mega bolters to hit as hard as possible, and then when it comes time to do the damage reroll the \Location result when I inevitably roll “Weapon” for the 4th time in a row when all I need is 1 more point of damage ANYWHERE ELSE to get the kill. It does also mean that command checks for orders are made with a -1 penalty, however this maniple and this list doesn’t actually need many orders at all. Full Stride turn one. Maybe. 

Let’s talk about the maniple. It’s new, it’s shiny, and it makes flame template weapons much better than they are in any other maniple. Adding 1 to the Dice characteristic is nice when you consider the inferno gun goes from 3 hits to 4 hits, but gets even better when you consider a banner of 3 Knights goes from 6 hits to 9 hits, and then basically gaining Ordnance by re-rolling\ 1’s on armour rolls. Mid- to late-game when you’re making shots against weakened targets and need literally any other than a 1 to secure the kill, you’re going to roll a 1. You just are. No further explanation needed here, re-rolls are rare in this game and getting to do so with auto hitting weapons is pretty great. 

Stratagems

Some of you that have read this far might be thinking “yeah alright, but what stratagems could you possibly take? War Lust right? Just 5 Concealment Barrages to keep your stuff alive?” and to that I say: yeah kinda. You’re kinda right. 

First off, taking 2 Concealment Barrages drastically improves the livelihood of Knights and Warhounds, they can’t be dropped in the same turn but blocking off some line of sight for 2 turns will help a lot. 

The second stratagem chosen is Experimental Weapon and is the reason the Princeps Seniores has a plasma blastgun on his second arm. This stratagem gives a random weapon that the titan is armed with the Maximal Fire trait, so long as that weapon doesn’t already have it, so by taking the plasma arm it’s guaranteed on the Inferno Gun. It also doesn’t roll to hit, so no chance of taking reactor heat either! That’s now an Inferno Gun at 10” range, firing around corners, at S9 with the option to re-roll the Location dice as long as the Titan hasn’t used the re-roll elsewhere. The plasma blastgun is a nice can opener too, dealing up to 4 S10 hits on the target  before the flamer goes in re-rolling 1’s on armour. 

The last stratagem I chose was a no-brainer when staring down a field of Vulpa Reavers. Vox Blackout, to deny the key charge turn. A Vulpa Reaver on a charge order will easily one-shot a Warhound, so taking this ability away for the one turn it matters is game-changing. 

Condit: I agreed to play Bair and see how his list shook out. Here’s what I brought to the table:

Condit’s Vulpa Ruptura:

Ruptura Maniple – 1495 pts

  • Reaver Titan – 335pts 
    • Turbo-Laser Destroyer
    • Chainfist
    • Gatling Blaster
    • Disruption Emitters
  • Reaver Titan – 335 pts 
    • Vulcan Megabolter
    • Chainfist
    • Laser Blaster
    • Disruption Emitters
  • Warbringer-Nemesis Titan – 395pts 
    • Laser Blaster
    • Mori Quake Cannon
    • Volcano Cannon
    • Princeps: Dominant Strategist
  • Warbringer-Nemesis Titan – 430pts 
    • Gatling Blaster
    • Belicosa Volcano Cannon
    • Melta Cannon

Condit: This is the Vulpa list I’ve been playing around with lately. The Reavers move aggressively to close the distance and get mileage out of their chainfists, while the Warbringers lay down covering fire with their powerful long-ranged guns. If I’m lucky enough to score a kill with the Warbringers, each of the Reavers gets another move, which can potentially be a second charge if I’ve issued that order. I’m not counting on that, but it creates the potential for some serious swings in the right circumstances. It’s a bit of a risk in a game with two close-quarters maniples, but the combination of long-range firepower and terrifying melee threat has the potential to do some serious work.

Legio Vulpa Axiom Maniple. Credit: Garrett Severson

The Game

We’ve been loving using the Open Engine War deck of cards for our games, using the draw 3 strike 1 each method we discussed in our review of the card deck. Bair had the Hold the Line Secondary while Condit took Martial Pride. Here’s the mission we wound up with:

Objectives | Credit: Games Workshop

Secondary Objectives | Credit: Games Workshop

Deployment:
Legio Infernus deployed the banner of 3 Knights first on the far right of deployment, taking cover behind a building next to a pair of Warhounds including the Princeps Seniores, close enough to make use of the Ignis’ maniple trait to auto pass Full Stride or First Fire orders if a Warhound from the maniple was issued that order, important for Full Stride turn one. In similar fashion, on the left side of the deployment zone, the banner of 4 Knights not able to take cover safely, and the Warhounds within range for the maniple trait once again, needing Full Stride to go off first turn for all units. 

Legio Vulpa deployed the Warbringers towards the middle of the deployment map looking to get as clear of lines of sight as possible while Reavers took to the edges, with melee weapons revving and ready to slice into the Infernus Warhounds. 

First turn of the game, Legio Vulpa started the game by placing Scatterable Mines down in the midst of the Infernus force, shortening the initial moves they would be making. Legio Infernus upgraded the inferno gun on the Princeps Seniores to fire at Maximal Fire with Experimental Weapon. Condit then played Quake Shells, another recurring stratagem, but scattered wildly off target and hit nothing. Bair placed a Concealment Barrage to block sight of one of the Vulpa Warbringers staring down an empty corridor between ruins so that one of the pair of Warhounds can advance out and around the Scatterable Mines. Condit played Experimental Locomotors on one of the Reavers, ensuring that both of the Reavers would be using their full 9” movement without needing to push the reactor.  All of the Infernus Engines and the banners of Knights took Full Stride orders while the Vulpa Reavers followed suit and went on Full Stride Orders each.  The scatterable mines did end up stunting the pair of Warhounds on the right side of deployment to moving only 10” total instead of what would have been 20” with a push on one move since they were on full stride; they ended up moving a full 8 inches each and the damage from the mines meant that the Warhounds took a Direct Hit on the Princeps Seniores and a Devastating on the other. This did mean the Experimental Weapon inferno gun was not going to get close soon. Cerastus Knights do ignore Difficult and Dangerous terrain so were able to move freely.  Coming to the Combat Phase not much happened due to the Infernus engines all being on Full Stride orders, and a Concealment Barrage mostly obscuring one Warbringer’s shots, needing 5’s to hit with a -2 modifier and missing each shot, blasts scattering too far off target. The other Warbringer had turned to face the banner of 3 Cerastus and killed 2 Knights with Quake Cannon and Volcano Cannon shots, shaking the last remaining Knight which was barely out of range to hit the Reaver bearing down on it. The other Knight Banner moved for a second time on Full Stride orders keeping to the cover of buildings on the left flank to pincer a Reaver along with the other 2 Warhounds on the left flank the next turn. In the end phase, the last surviving Knight of the banner of 3 was affected by the Toxic World, taking a Devastating hit. 

Round 2 saw Infernus taking first player,  playing Vox Blackout to deny a Reaver chainfist charge, as well as stopping Scatterable Mines and Quake Shells for the turn but meant that a second Concealment Barrage couldn’t be played this turn giving the Warbringers free reign to fire. Moving straight to the movement phase, starting with the 2 Warhounds on the left flank moving into shield range of the Reaver with chainfist, stopping it from moving further away from the Cerastus Banner which would need their full movement to get within range of its rear. The Reaver responded with a side-step as far as it was able, in an attempt to move away from the Knights. The Acherons moved to its rear, giving a difficult decision to Condit on what to fire first, punch a Warhound or fire a Warbringer at the Acherons in the Reaver’s rear. That Reaver was likely to die regardless. Condit’s second Reaver moved forwards to gain a better sight on the right-flank Warhounds, while keeping cover. Those Warhounds then moved away from each other around a building to be able to use Coordinated Strikes, the non-Princeps Seniores pushing for Power to Locomotors moving into the centre of the table and able to get into the side arc of the enemy Reaver.  without any obscuring terrain against the second Reaver, but leaving themselves more vulnerable without the ability to share shields. The last Knight of the other banner moved within flame template range of the right-wing Reaver as well. The Warbringers kept their distance, the Melta wielding one, closer to the banner of 4 Acherons, turning to face the Knights in the hopes of wiping them before they could do any meaningful damage. Moving to the combat phase, the left-flank Reaver struck first and killed a Warhound with ease with its Chainfist and Smash Attacks, causing a Magazine Detonation which did little damage to the other Warhound, but killed one of the Knight Acherons on the other side of the Reaver; the Knights passed their Shaken Test and struck the rear of the Reaver with the  surviving 3, bringing to bear 9 flame attacks with a +2 modifier for hitting rear armour, killing it outright with a Silenced result. These Knights then died to a melta cannon hit from the Warbringer, being within 12” to make use of the Fusion rule. On the right flank, the lone Knight Acheron fired its flamer against the Reaver’s shields causing 4 hits (from the Lightning Storm) dropping 2 shields. The Warbringer behind attempted to cause some damage to one of the Warhounds staring down the living Reaver, but was only able to drop its shields. Then the 2 Warhounds  were able to use Coordinated Strikes to remove the surviving Reaver, the Princeps Seniores firing first, scoring 5 auto hits with its inferno gun thanks to Lightning Storm giving it Voidbreaker (1) and very luckily dropping the enemy titan’s shields, and the plasma blastgun opening up with effectively S11 shots, one shot missing but re-rolling for a hit with Dark Blessing causing serious damage to the engine’s body while still taking the heat, moving its reactor into Orange. The other Warhound made targeted shots with its Vulcan Mega Bolter, destroying the Reaver as it fell straight into a building, completely avoiding the 2 Warhounds that saw it to its end. The last activation was for the second Warbringer which was only able to barely deplete the shields on the Warhound standing in the centre of the table. Toxic World had no effect this turn and the Lightning failed to hit the shield-less Warhound. 

Condit: God, this turn was a mess. I’ve been going back and forth in my head on whether there was a better way to play this, and I think I probably should have fired the Warbringer first. Had I managed to take out a couple of the Knights in my Reaver’s rear arc, maybe it could have survived, which would have allowed it to probably remove both Warhounds instead of just the one. That might have been enough to turn the game, as I could have then snapped back on the other half of his forces and had a serious advantage. The other Reaver probably should have tried harder to hide for another turn, and I definitely should have worked harder to put both Warbringers on the same group of Knights and Titans – splitting my fire really came back to bite me here.

In round 3, there were only Vulpa Warbringers left living on the table, nowhere near the centre of the table with Infernus Warhounds on either flank to deal with and only one killed so far out of the four that started. Vulpa stole back First Player this turn, placing the Scatterable Mines in the centre of the table, and scattering right slightly, landing almost centrally over the Warhound that killed the Reaver in the last turn, which would go on an Emergency Repair order reigniting 2 shields. A second Concealment Barrage was placed this turn to protect the Warhounds near the middle of the table so they could stay near the objective more safely. Quake Shells scattered a full 10” off of any target, landing in empty space. The single Knight Acheron went on Full Stride orders to try and distract the Warbringers away from the Warhounds, being an issue if it could get close enough, down the right flank. The right Warbringer took a Split Fire order and pushed the reactor to move backwards, giving a wider arc of fire on the table, capturing the Knight Acheron as well as a mostly obscured Warhound thanks to the Concealment Barrage. No other orders issued this turn as the other engines needed to be able to move, turn, and fire to be effective. Vulpa went first, moving the left Warbringer to face the lone Acheron to delete the distraction before it would become a threat. The left flank Warhound moved accordingly to get closer to that Warbringer, unfortunately with my own concealment barrage in the way, so unable to do anything this turn. The Toxic World had no effect this turn. 

Round 4 and Vulpa took First Player yet again, Quake Shells once again failing to hit any target but laying down Scatterable Mines slowing the mid-field Warhounds. The Warbringer on the left flank took a charge order, in true Vulpa fashion, but only made 2 attacks which mostly bounced off the Warhound, which in turn pushed its reactor, rolling a double result and re-rolling for another double pushing it into orange, as well as using the once-per-game Traitor ability for an extra 2” of movement and +1 attack with all melee weapons, to move around to the rear of the Warbringer, pushing power to stabilisers going into the second pip of orange heat so it could face the rear for a killing blow. The 2 central Warhounds were able to scarper to cover as well as moving back to shield sharing range, taking a few more hits to their legs from scatterable mines but surviving the turn in peace. The Princeps Seniores of Infernus used its Princeps Seniores trait to steal First Player, firing first with the lone Warhound facing the rear of the left-flank Warbringer, lighting it up with 4 hits at effective S9 rolling the body and dealing 2 direct hits and 2 devastating hits thanks to being able to re-roll 1’s on armour rolls, following up with aimed shots at the body to try and finish the job firing at an effective S8 from the bonus to rear arc and the damage already done by the inferno gun. The Warbringer was also Silenced. Toxic World had no effect and all surviving Titans had shields up. 

In the fifth turn, the Quake Shells finally hit something, bouncing off the shields of 2 Warhounds but pushing them each 3” away from each other, with no collisions to be spoken of, much to Condit’s disappointment. Scatterable Mines had little effect as the Infernus Warhounds were already squarely on the objective in the middle of the table. No orders were issued. The Infernus Warhounds attempted to gain sight and range on the last remaining Warbringer to bring it down, however, was only able to strip its shields as it pushed its reactor over and over again for re-rolls on its saves. Firing back, it was only just able to strip one of the central Warhounds of its shields, with no weapons left to fire to cause any damage. 

In the end, Legio Infernus took victory, having scored the maximum number of victory points totalling to 40, and Legio Vulpa only scoring 3 points from the Warhound kill in turn 2 from Condit’s Secondary Objective. 

Acheron Knights. Credit – Soggy

Post Mortem Thoughts:

Bair: This was only my second time playing Legio Infernus, and really my first time playing with Inferno Guns at all. Going into this I had expected to use Dark Blessing much more often to re roll the Location dice for the inferno guns, but found it far more useful to re-roll the Reactor dice when a Warhound rolled a double reactor or Awakened Machine Spirit result. The -1 to command checks didn’t affect me once, and I think is more than a fair trade off for a 5 point upgrade giving a re-roll every single turn. As far as Stratagem choice goes I think I’d rather have taken Warp Displacement over the Experimental Weapon. That inferno gun only fired once the whole game, and it took down shields instead of actually causing damage. Using Warp Displacement is far more flexible, and a nice way around Scatterable Mines as well. 

The inferno guns in general performed better than I had expected, but expectations were still low and I think had I had plasma blastguns instead there would have been dead Warbringers even earlier. I really think the big winners of this maniple are the Cerastus Knights still, a banner of 3 going from 6 shots to 9 is huge, especially for shield stripping for a unit that moves very fast, and has a BS4+ value. 

It’s definitely a very different kind of game and is a lot of fun to run, charging headlong at the enemy with giant flamers and daring enemy Reavers equipped for melee to come close enough to be hit by the auto-hitting weapon. 

Condit: This list was terrifying. I definitely should have played a bit more conservatively and stuck my Reavers together to try to carve through his smaller Titans, but all in all it was a nasty combination of legion and maniple rules. Not only was it potent in close, it made it across the board and chased down my fire support Titans with an efficiency that honestly made me a little jealous. Is it a meta-breaker? I’m not so sure about that. However, playing against it definitely requires some serious adaptation if you don’t want to get wrecked.

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