Saturday, October 19, 2013

Rough Riders...who uses them?

Okay if you haven't been following my blog then you aren't aware that I am not a fan of rough riders.  This has nothing to do with their rules or how they play.  It is a fluff thing for me, they stopped riding horsies to battle after the poles tried to fight tanks with knights and it didn't work out so well for them.  So it's just stupid IMO that the imperium of man couldn't provide, idk bikes for their soldiers, I mean even a man powered one would be better, doesn't need food or crap everywhere.  But I digress.  The point of this article is a question.  Who among you out there use these guys?  How do you use them?  I have theory hammered these guys and they aren't horrible IMO, but the models are horrible and I just can't bring myself past the fluff part to actually field them.  We'll see though, my feudal world is calling and I may be able to bring them.

So first off they have the basic guardsmen profile, nothing special and only one attack base.  They are cavalry, being so they move 12", are not slowed by difficult terrain but treat it as dangerous, and have fleet and hammer of wrath.  Not bad.  Then there is the hunting lance, S+2 AP3 First charge, basically can only be used one their first charge and are at I step 5.  So not bad, but here is the issue, they cannot take a laspistol and CCW, only one or the other.  This hurts because that one extra attack makes a huge difference especially since they only get to use their lances once.  They also come standard with krak grenades.  They can replace their lance for a special weapon, normal prices, but I'm not sure if this is really worth it.  Maybe two melta guns if you really want a cheap, fast suicide tank killer early on.

What these guys are is decently cheap, double the price of a regular guardsmen, but with double the mobility.  They have a decent close combat weapon albeit only one use, which gives a nice initiative boost.  They can move, but you have to take a risk when it comes to cover and difficult terrain.  If you don't have LoS blockers, then I would say it is worth it unless you are playing tau, then F it and put em as far forward as possible and have at least use them as bait.

The problem they have is that they are still guardsmen, that can move fast, but other than that have no protection.  To use them, you have to hop them behind LoS cover until you can get a charge range.  If your opponent goes first and you get lucky, you can get a first turn charge off.  Using them against targets that take advantage of their lances is key, anything below I 5 and has a 3+ or higher should be what you are looking for.  With Hammer of wrath and the I5 attacks, you can kill a lot of the squad before they can respond.  Main opponent to watch out for with this is eldar, as many of their units will still swing first and that is all the advantage they need.

The short of it is, these guys are a suicide squad, they have no staying power since they don't have an option to rearm their lances, or have enough attacks or saves to keep them in the fight after they are gone.  Also don't let them get charged, as the lances only come into play when they are charging.  Now their special character, Kamir, is not bad and here is why, he bring fearless, furious charge, and rage.  Rage makes up your lack of attacks on your charge, where you need it most, they aren't breaking, and furious charge ups their strength on the charge, again where you need it most.  So he really buffs his squad in the area where it needs it and can guarantee that you aren't running at least.  Other than that he is nothing special, gets a few extra attacks, but nothing truly special.

So here is how I see them being used.  One: they can be held back for when the enemy comes close and you can ride them forward for that charge.  They would make a great tac squad killer, having their attacks before them and being S5 or S6 if you brought Kamir against tactical marines is actually pretty good, plus your hammer of wrath attacks.  This holds true of chaos marines and pretty much anything other than eldar with high initiative, if you can't avoid it then charge guardians if possible or something else in that area.

They also can be decent cheap tank hunters.  Keep them at minimum and put two meltas in them, they all have krak grenades as well so you can still deal with tanks in CC.  Keep them hidden and skirt the flanks, hopping behind terrain till you can get around and close and hit tanks from the rear.  This way they are mobile and can at least kill one target before going down.  And since they are MSU and cheap, when they die it will be no great loss.

Going second is probably the best for them, keep them hidden and let the enemy get closer, then move them forward into charge range and go for it.  Other wise, use them judiciously, keep them hidden as they are weak, till you need them.  They can be good counter attackers and plug any holes you have from your opponent's assaulters.  They also are a great speed bump, use them to hold up your opponent for a turn, keeping them from where they need to be.

All in all they aren't too bad, nothing great but they don't suffer from the ogryn's flaw of being too expensive.  They are a suicide squad, plain and simple, they simply have no staying power or way to stay alive in CC or from firepower.  Get them in quick and do a unit trade, yours for his, and hopefully that unit is more important to him than your riders are to you.  If you are lucky and get them in a fight against tau and survive overwatch, they might actually have a chance of surviving till they get shot to death.  They are a decent CC unit that is throw away and can get to the fight fast.  They can also be a sneaky tank hunter if needed, as well as being a cheap one.  Pair with Kamir, they really become good for that first charge and can guarantee a win against most basic units and really anything under I 5 and doesn't have a 2+.  Another way to use them is with creed to scout them, which is good if you have second turn, as they can charge still, or outflank them.  The main disadvantage is not being able to charge out of reserve, which sucks.  I would say getting the scout move is better, allowing you to position them where they need to be and if you are going second, a chance to get the charge off.

Now I don't play these guys as already stated, so this is just my theory hammer.  Please if you use them, tell me your stories.  I want to hear what you have done with them and how they have worked.  Also any tactics I have missed that you have found while using them is also much appreciated.  I may not like them, but that doesn't mean others don't and that they aren't useful.

They are still stupid horsies though.



  1. GW has never presented a good reason to field this unit. Always a prizewinner in the "fugliest models in the army" contest edition after edition has passed with what seem to be hopeless stats to match a hopeless model. It's as close as GW ever come to a mea culpa on ugly designs. We won't stay our models are stupid looking we will give them such shoddy stats nobody will field them and we can pretend they never existed.

    I like the idea of horse calvary. If you are building a napoleonic themed guard army (guilty) mounted hussars fit the feel of the army.

    Unfortunately roughriders must suck because you shouldn't want a good assault unit if you play card; consider the fast attack options this poor unit competes with to even end up on the field.

    I experienced a tank screen tactic that allowed roughriders to advance toward me rather nicely. Once their bulletcatcher swept right and they cantered forward my poor bike squadron took a swarm of hunting lances to the face. It was a one trick pony (ho ho) as I hadn't seen people field calvary with any frequency and forget their potential strike range. It's unlikely that would happen again.

    The unit would be more attractive if they assigned these close assault troops WS 4. As CC specialists for the army I think it is their due. Additionally the priming of lances prior to entering a new engagement would also make more sense. You already mentioned the pitiful load out options so I don't have to tread there.

    Poor performance is here nor there. The only rough riders worthy of fielding are converted ones because the attilans are as stupid looking as stupid does.

    1. I agree, horrible models with rules that don't give you a reason to take them. The rules aren't bad, but they aren't good either, you know what I mean. They are guardsmen when it comes down to it and guardsmen suck. What would make them good is the ability to take different lance heads as wargear upgrades and take a CCW and pistol for the extra attack. As a suicide unit they can still do the job and thats ok, but they can barely do it now. The fact they give up their lances for a SW makes it even worse.

      They are a one trick pony, cause even if it works they die. And most likely they will die before they even get a chance to work. The problem is they have to be out in the open to charge, and have nothing to keep them alive in the open. Bikes at least have jink.

  2. Well, model-wise there are a few usable alternatives.
    There are some "light bikers" (including lances) on puppetswar, or you can easily convert Marine scout bikers, that should fix the apperance problem.
    Rule wise, I don't like them as they still have cardboard armour and the usual profile, as long as you can't block LOS entirely they will die to everything trying to stop them.

    I for my part am currently converting scouts, scout bikers and a land speeder storm (-> jeep) to represent a motorized special forces unit.
    The scout bikers may be almost twice the points, but they seem to have a lot more uses, and T5, jink, and 4+ armour makes them far more survivable.
    A biker IC can add whatever is useful (psyker, techmarine/MotF->powerfist, 2+ armour, chapter master -> HULK, bombardment), the locator beacon allows no-scatter valkyrie drops, and these guys can scout/outflank without creed.

    1. I like that, I have seen some really cool scout conversions and like where you are going. The unit could work really well in support with valks.

      as for the riders, conversions is the only way to go, the models themselves suck so bad.

    2. have you seen these?

    3. not bad, I really don't like the body mold though, I like the bike. Would do some kitbashing to get it where I would like it.

  3. I also use puppetwars models:

    I'm sure in Hive cities, there are much more bikers gangs than stupid horse riders horde on feudal planet.

    About rules, Hunting Lance are not a specialist weapon, so you CAN use your Laspistol during the first charge so with Kamir 4A for the first charge, not that bad?

    But, first, compare to Vendetta, they are bad. Well, any Fast Attack choices compare to Vendetta are bad.
    We are actually having a campaign with some friends and were restrict to 1 FA and no Flyer for the first games. I choose to not take any FA, until Flyers were available.
    IG FA are really not that good, except Vendetta.

    Once, I did a Close Combat Imperial Guard with Ogryn, Rough Riders, and all HQ that would allow some CC bonus.
    My opponents were quite surprise (it was a 1vs2), I lost but only because of the Relic scenario, but if it has been a "Purge", I would have won.
    So behind a "Run! Run! Run!" blob, they have their utility.

    1. Thanks for that, did not catch it, at least you can get the extra attacks and with Kamir they can be a decently nasty S6 AP3 attack on the charge. As long as you target units I5 and below and AP3 up you can do a lot of damage. And if they die after that its ok, cause they suck after that.

      Now I disagree that FA isn't that good. Vendetta is only 3 shots, even twin linked, the best you can do is 3 kills. For points its great and is a real good air hunter plus troop carrier. But Sentinels are good, kept cheap, the light ones can out flank and if you give them camo nets they can be pretty tough to remove in good cover. Armored are good gun units as long as you don't spend too much and make great tarpiters against units that don't have dedicated anti armor like power fists and melta bombs. I've had three of them hold up an assault unit for three turns, just because of that they can be worth it. Hell hounds are great, have same armor as vendettas, but the inferno is a tau/eldar destroyer, pretty much anything but MEQ, and the Devil dog murders stuff with its melta cannon. So there are pretty good choices. Vendettas aren't the be all, the other units fullfil different roles and do just as well within those roles.

      CC guard is fun, throw in straken for his buffs and you can have a lot of screaming angry guardsmen.

  4. I used to run 30 in my army (at one point i had far far too much guard) But since then i cleared rediculious amount of guardsmen and started a fresh new painted army that will be kept small. Some big things i found with them is you couldnt fully hide them, they struggled to hit targets and people liked to shoot them because they know what that unit MIGHT do. I had to use at least 30 just to get half of them into combat at any distance. Sometimes they would get a good streak though.

    I like the idea of rough riders but not the way they are being used, they should be a mobile guardsmen unit that can dismount and mount again or used as a recon set up or something. Like they used to use cavalry in the second world war.

    But they made a fun unit and if you dont use GW ones they can look pretty cool.

    1. They are a glass hammer, they hit hard but can't take any fire whatsoever. The point about not being able to hide them is important, I've never had any so I've never experienced it with them, but not being able to tuck them away so they can make the charge makes it hard to use them.

      I completely agree! If they could dismount and fight on foot that would make them far more of a useful unit IMO. Plus then it makes a little more sense, vs them trying to spear someone in the 41st millennium.

      I have seen great conversions, and that would be the only way I would ever take them.

  5. I've found, in my mech army, that they make an excellent counter attack force. Hide them behind tanks for a cover save and then slam into anything that thought your armor couldn't defend itself. Since you likely outnumber the enemy by quite a bit you can afford to sacrifice a single Chimera to setup a great counter charge against that Grey Hunter squad that just came in via Drop Pod.

    1. I think that is one of the few ways to make them work. Tanks are about the only thing that you can use to really give them good cover and make a higher threat priority so the rough riders don't get shot first thing. Well my opinion everything the guard has is expendable if victory is achieved :).

  6. Unfortunately they just can't stand up to other cavalry units like Thunderwolf Cavalry. But then again, what's more dangerous: A guardsman riding a horse or a space marine riding a giant wolf?

    1. That is a pretty good point. I know which one I would be more scared of, and its not the guy with card board armor and a flashlight

  7. I use these guys all the time... Sort of. Now with unbound you can really take advantage of death riders. Not only do these guys come with carapace armor the also have a 6+ FNP save, 2 wounds, ccw and pistol, access to axes, augments mounts which means the just ignore difficult terrain all together and like all DKoK have WS4 and frag and krak nades
    Did I mention they also come as a platoon? 0-1 command riders squad and 1-6 riders. Literally the only viable was to play em.
    Check out the PDF DKoK rules on forgeworld, definitely worth a try.

    1. Yeah, the DKoK death riders are pretty darn good, and the only good rough rider unit. I want to play them but don't have any riders to use unfortunately. Hopefully FW updates the list in the near future.

  8. Personally I like rough riders. Lances ruduce armer to 12 and give plus 2 strength when charging. But the main reason I like them is that they create a great meat wall for your orgrans.