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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.


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Painted this year: jackal alphus, kellermorph, hypermorph, three jackals, five acolytes, ten neophytes; gravis captain

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#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).  


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Painted this year: jackal alphus, kellermorph, hypermorph, three jackals, five acolytes, ten neophytes; gravis captain

I have a very small Cult/math-hammer blog here: https://redbrotherho...ixsite.com/cult


#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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#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.


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Painted this year: jackal alphus, kellermorph, hypermorph, three jackals, five acolytes, ten neophytes; gravis captain

I have a very small Cult/math-hammer blog here: https://redbrotherho...ixsite.com/cult


#5
Emicus

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Obsec is worth 5 ppm by itself it feels like. So metamorphs are just sadness

#6
crownedzoidberg

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in 8th, they simply costed the same as acolytes and gave you the choice of filling your eliteslots for detachments fairly easy (even easier than it is for gsc now). The Vigilus Detachment to reroll charges in metamorph-range (was it so?  i can't recall) was a neat little buff.



#7
Rogue

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It's not a stratagem, it's a custom creed called Devout Worshippers, which allows re-rolls on charges made within 3" of a metamorph unit. It's nice, but you have to give up a regular creed to get it, which makes it a lot less attractive.

 

Metamorphs were certainly a more interesting choice when they were cheaper. But I'd be happy to keep them where they are now if they were to gain the appropriate level of damage output. I want them to feel like an elite choice, like the already combat-oriented acolytes, but dialed up to 11 as they start turning into some of the nastier hive creations.

 

By way of an example: a basic intercessor marine has three attacks in the first round of combat (two plus the marine bonus). Against a metamorph, he hits on 3s, wounds on 3s, and we save on 5s - 3 x 2/3 x 2/3 x 2/3, or 24/27, or 8/9. An intercessor will, on average, kill a metamorph 8 times out of nine (89%).

 

The metamorph has three attacks base, plus a talon (the better configuration for hitting marines). The claw is too fiddly for me to write out here, but it comes out at 2/9 per attack versus a marine, or 6/9 in total. Plus the talon at 1/6, and we get to 5/6. A metamorph will wound (not kill) an intercessor 5 times out of 6 (83%). I'd need 12 metamorphs to (on average) kill 5 intercessors - 156 points of morphs to kill 100 points of marines. 

 

Bear in mind, the Cult is pretty much a combat army, and metamorphs are one of our elite combat units. Yet against the absolute entry level trooper in a marine army, they come off worse. Granted, the metamorphs are 13 points to the intercessors' 20, but as we've said already up thread, that extra 7 points gets you objective secured, plus all sorts of other toys like effective shooting, multiple wounds, better armour, better toughness... 

 

In short, I just want metamorphs to be better. To feel like scary combat monsters. To have the same effect on my opponent as I feel when inceptors turn up in my back field, or, for a non-marine example, when AdMech infiltrators turn up, firing five shots each before charging in and taser-goading everything else to death. Imagine 6 attack morphs. Or give them one of those rules where every attack becomes d3, or doubles (a rule we already have with hypermorphs). Meh. Wishlisting achieves nothing. I'm mildly hopeful that the way things like the dark eldar are getting combat buffs might roll over tot he Cult, but it's way too soon to get excited on that front.  

 

Until then, I can paint metamorphs, but I'm unlikely to field them if I want to try and win.


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Painted this year: jackal alphus, kellermorph, hypermorph, three jackals, five acolytes, ten neophytes; gravis captain

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#8
Rogue

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Until then, I can paint metamorphs, but I'm unlikely to field them if I want to try and win.

 

So, I've been re-evaluating metamorphs recently, and have used them in a couple of games to test things out. I came across a bit on Art of War where they were enthusiastic about metamorphs with whips, because they provide a way to mitigate our inherent fragility - sure, you can still kill them pretty easily, but they will get to hit you back regardless, which rather changes the balance of power.

 

First, cost. Under the latest update, a bare metamorph is 11 points. Now, they way things are working at the moment, I think that's the cost for a metamorph including the default talon. Yes, talons are listed as a +2 upgrade, but that could be because we can take a second one. if 'm right there, then 11 points for the basic metamorph alread makes them look more attractive than they used to.

 

Anyway. Whatever your thoughts on that, the whip is definitely free. So five metamorphs with rending claws and whips is just 55 points. And they are ideal as a screening unit, or as a second charging unit that you expect to get counter-charged.

 

My wife plays AdMech, and has a unit of Infiltrators that can start 9" from my lines. If she gets first turn, they can charge in and do a lot of damage with taser-goads before I can do anything about it. But if I deploy a screen of metamorphs (ideally out of sight to avoid being shot to pieces), I'm less worried about a charge, because if they do, I can still kill most of them in return without committing any other units. Or, as happened yesterday, i can face off against something like ruststalkers, with less concerns about getting the charge in myself - in the end, they charged me, wiped out five metamorphs, then lost four of of five in return (with the fifth failing morale and fleeing).

 

Alternatively, I've also used them as a second unit for first-turn charges (most recently using them to tackle some serberys raiders). I fought first elsewhere with acolytes, which allowed the raiders to fight and kill three metamorphs. But because I could still fight back with all five, I wiped out the raiders and had two metamorphs left holding the nearby objective. 

 

[As a side note to that, we could now potentially charge with three units without worrying too much about counter-charge, as long as we hit a hypnotised unit and use metamorphs - we fight first with one brood, the second brood will fight before the hypnotised target, and whilst the metamorphs might get countered, it's less effective because they still fight anyway.]

 

in summary, then - 55 points for a unit that gives handy screening, potential mass charges, and gives the other player headaches. I'm suddenly a lot more open to having them in my lists.  


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Painted this year: jackal alphus, kellermorph, hypermorph, three jackals, five acolytes, ten neophytes; gravis captain

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#9
brother_b

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Some good insight and I've also wondered on and off about metamporhs. The thing is, they must be in combat to be worthwhile. To survive, they must be out of LOS. I'm not sure I'd be able to keep that 5 metamorph squad around with all the shooting I face.

 

Maybe inside a rockgrinder or transport? I know I'd probably not waste any stratagems on them to get that charge off. Maybe with a big unit coming up and charging something?

 

Not sure, but it's at least something to think about instead of just writing them off completely.



#10
Rogue

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It's a cliche response, but do you have enough cover when you play? I've found that even an incursion battlefield needs several large obscuring pieces to even things up with shooting armies.

When you couple that with the option to put three blips into deep strike, and/or move another three around, it feels like we can hide most stuff if we have to.

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Painted this year: jackal alphus, kellermorph, hypermorph, three jackals, five acolytes, ten neophytes; gravis captain

I have a very small Cult/math-hammer blog here: https://redbrotherho...ixsite.com/cult





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