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How to run metamorphs


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#1
Rogue

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I put together some metamorphs yesterday (strictly rule of cool, model-wise), but it brought me back to something I've thought about before - rending claws vs metamorph talons. 

 

In terms of acolytes against metamorphs, the points now heavily favour acolytes. But what if you've decided to put down some metamorphs anyway? How should you arm them if you're looking to get the most out of them? 

 

Options and Attacks

Metamorphs come with three options - rending claw and talon, pair of talons, metamorph claw. The metamorph claw offers strength, the talon hits on 2s, and the rending claw can trigger AP-4. So which comes out on top? In considering this, I've also taken into account the number of attacks associated with each: the metamorph claw hits hardest, but because you sacrifice the talon to gain it, it only has 3 attacks; the rending claw also has 3 attacks, but gets a bonus attack from the talon; and a pair of talons gets you up to 5 attacks.

 

Rending Claw or Metamorph Talon?

So, first things first. Because the basic metamorph comes with both rending claw and talon, we need to know which is more useful in any given situation. And it turns out to be pretty simple. Against a model with a 6+ save (or no save at all), the talon out-performs the rending claw (because the +1 to hit is more useful than rending); against a 5+ save or better, the rending claw is always better. For a basic metamorph, then, they should use the rending claw as much as possible, unless fighting against 6+ saves, in which case using the talon for all four attacks is a better play.

 

In a head-to-head comparison, we're pitting the four attacks of the basic metamorph against the five of the paired talons metamorph. We'll optimise those attacks, so the basic morph will use his talon for 6+ saves, but the claw the rest of the time. 

 

And the outcome here is, again, surprisingly straight forward. Five attacks with talons is the better option against anything with a 4+ save or worse. Three attacks with a rending claw, plus the bonus talon attack, produces better results against a 3+ save or better. The toughness of the target has no effect on the decision - all that matters is the save. If we expect to face power armour, keep the rending claw; against anything lighter than that, the extra attack of the paired talons tips the scales.

 

[For completeness, given that a talons morph is 15 points and a basic is 13, I also worked out the point efficiency. Turns out that talon morphs are more efficient per point against 6+ saves, basic morphs are more efficient against 3+ or better, and they're exactly even for 5+ and 4+. In short, if we choose the more effective choice, we'll also be picking the more point efficient one too. Simples.]

 

What about the Metamorph Claw?

Well, it's a thing. The metamorph claw, even at only three attacks, is the most effective option against T5 and T8 targets (T5 is the comparative sweet spot where the rending claw and talon wound on 5s, but the metamorph claw is still on 3s; and T8 sees the other options drop to wounding on 6s with the metamorph claw still on 5s). And on a 14 point model, it's also the most cost effective choice against those specific targets. So if you're facing off against an army of T5 and T8 models, load up on claws, I guess.

 

Summary

So it all turns out to be pretty simple. Against 4+ saves or worse, go talons; otherwise, stick with the rending claw; unless you're just going to be punching T5/8, in which case break out the metamorph claws.

 

 

Twisted Helix

I generally run my Cult as Twisted Helix, which means I gain +1 strength, making the metamorphs a base S5, and the metamorph claws S7. This has no effect on the balance between the different options - talons are still better for 4+ or worse, rending claws for 3+ or better. The metamorph claw now shines against T6 (rather than T5), but loses out overall as S5 models don't drop to 6s to wound until T10, and you don't see a lot of that around.


  • Akrim likes this

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This year: two primus, sixteen neophytes, twenty-six acolytes, four aberrants, four genestealers, two familiars, achilles ridgerunner, brood brother commander, two commissars, tech-priest, twenty-four brood brothers painted

Last year: patriarch, magus, primus, iconward, abominant, five acolytes, ten brood brothers, clamavus, five aberrants, eight genestealers and three leman russ tanks painted; 188 marines, one assassin, a dreadnought, two land speeders and a stormtalon based


#2
Rogue

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I had a quick look at metamorph leaders this morning. Interestingly, they have the option to take a bonesword without giving up any of their other options - potentially, this allows them to be a bit of a swiss army knife, with a sword, claw and talon, ready to take on any possible opponent.

 

Except it turns out that, statistically, the bonesword is just flat better than the rending claw (apart from hitting a 6+ save, when they're the same). Turns out that a consistent AP-2 is more useful than the 1 in 6 chance of rending. However, the bonesword is still less effective than the talon against 6+ save or worse.

 

So?

So a leader armed with a bonesword and talon should still use the talon for all attacks against 6+ saves, and the bonesword (plus the free talon attack) against everything else). The rending claw is there, but shouldn't be used.

 

But the better option is to go all in - bonesword and pair of talons (giving up the rending claw we weren't using anyway). Obviously, this is just the previous load-out, but with an extra talon, so it does more damage across the board. it costs 20 points rather than 18, but is a fraction more points efficient.

 

But 5 points is a lot for the bonesword

This is the catch. Although the bonesword is better than the rending claw, and better than the talon against 5+ saves or better, 5 points is a lot to add to a 13 point model, and it puts us into actual decision territory. Giving a leader a bonesword makes them a better killer - 20% more effective against marines than the rending claw and talon option, which is the next best. But you can get the rending claw and talon version for 13 points, so adding the bonesword (and a second talon) is a 50% increase in cost.

 

Which means?

The conclusion here is less clear cut. Boneswords hit harder than rending claws, and out-perform talons against everything but t-shirt saves. They will make your leader better at killing things. But at 5 points a pop, you might be paying more than the extra hitting power is worth. I guess it comes down to preference - are you looking to squeeze maximum efficiency out of everything (in which case, you probably aren't running metamorphs anyway); or are you just looking to ramp up the potential damage to the maximum (in which case go for the sword).  


  • Jorgend Lupus likes this

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This year: two primus, sixteen neophytes, twenty-six acolytes, four aberrants, four genestealers, two familiars, achilles ridgerunner, brood brother commander, two commissars, tech-priest, twenty-four brood brothers painted

Last year: patriarch, magus, primus, iconward, abominant, five acolytes, ten brood brothers, clamavus, five aberrants, eight genestealers and three leman russ tanks painted; 188 marines, one assassin, a dreadnought, two land speeders and a stormtalon based


#3
Jorgend Lupus

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I just built a 8 men squad with Metamorph talons, just for the look and because I had so many of these nasty spiky claws in my bitz box...

 

For now we can just hope they'll get decent statline and cost in 2021, because I don't see anything they can do than a cheaper squad of Acolytes could not dry.png ...


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I SURVIVED 4th ED. !!!

#4
Rogue

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And that's their problem. For 120 points, you can have 8 metamorphs with twin talons, 9 metamorphs with rending claw and single talon, or 15 acolytes with rending claw and cult knife. With the exception of targets that have no save at all, the acolytes will produce the most damage (with the gap widening as the enemy save increases). Plus the acolytes get almost twice as many wounds, more value out of things like icons, psychic powers and stratagems, and objective secured. Plus acolytes get access to the Genetic Lineage stratagem (advance and charge), which metamorphs can't use.

 

The only advantage the metamorphs bring is a smaller footprint (sometimes helpful when coming out of ambush), and the highly situational custom creed charge bonus.

 

At the moment, I think they just cost too much. 3 points more than an acolyte for an extra attack doesn't sound horrible, but then you need to add another 2 points per model for the almost compulsory talon (unless you use a metamorph claw, but that's hardly helping things), so it's really 5 points more for that extra attack - that's a 62.5% points increase for one more base attack and a slightly improved free attack (and even that slight advantage is wiped out if the acolytes are near a primus). if they were tougher, or faster, or gained genestealer-style invulnerable save (to represent the physical changes taking place), then maybe they'd be an easier choice.    

 

If the rending claw and single talon was just 11 points (so eleven metamorphs for 121 points), then their damage output nudges just ahead of the acolytes. And if the paired talons version was 13 (9 for 117), they'd do more damage against light armour (5+ or worse), and less against 4+ or better saves (which feels about right for talons, which are for blending guardsmen, not terminators). In other words, making metamorphs 2 points cheaper puts them into decision territory - metamorphs do more damage, acolytes have more bodies. 

 

The more I play with the maths, the more I think that 'decision territory' is the balancing sweet-spot. Right now, acolytes are the obvious choice - for the same points, they bring more damage, more wounds, more abilities, more everything. Metamorphs aren't worth it. But knocking off just two points (or three, if you feel generous), pushes them ahead in at least one key area, which stops the acolytes being the no-brain choice. Now we have to decide what we want more. And that's interesting.


  • Jorgend Lupus likes this

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This year: two primus, sixteen neophytes, twenty-six acolytes, four aberrants, four genestealers, two familiars, achilles ridgerunner, brood brother commander, two commissars, tech-priest, twenty-four brood brothers painted

Last year: patriarch, magus, primus, iconward, abominant, five acolytes, ten brood brothers, clamavus, five aberrants, eight genestealers and three leman russ tanks painted; 188 marines, one assassin, a dreadnought, two land speeders and a stormtalon based





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