Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Heralds of Ruin Introduces: The Rak'Gol

Or: Spiky Radioactive Space Lizards.

- Words by Jean-Luc Delaroute.

So here you are, wondering what kill team you're going to take rampaging through 8th edition. You're browsing the list of available factions. There are all the usual suspects... But maybe you want to try a more exotic brew this time? As you ponder, something catches your eye:



They were here all along, and you didn't even know it.

"Rak'Gol? What the hell is a Rak'Gol?"

Rak'Gol in Warhammer 40,000


The Rak'Gol are a minor official species in the Warhammer:40K universe. Their largest appearance, save for short references in other material, was as antagonists in Fantasy Flight Gaming's Rogue Trader RPG. 


If you want to antagonize the Imperium, the Rak'Gol have it all: hailing from the Ghoul Stars on the galactic north-east, they are a xenos species of chaos worshippers who occasionally invade the Imperium and harvest technology. 
The Rak'Gol, as obscure and unknowable as they are, have had their background expanded upon much more than some other alien species, and I invite you to go read Rogue Trader material, Lexicanium, and/or the Warhammer 40K wiki if you want to learn more about their history and lore. Oh, and they look like this:


Cute


Why play a Rak'Gol Kill Team?

You want to try out a faction that is outside the boundaries of 40K's usual themes. You like the Orks for their insane tinkering, but you think even they are too intelligent. You went to Chernobyl for your last vacation, and were disappointed to see the wildlife had not turned into monsters. You don't understand why Komodo Dragons are illegal to keep as pets. Your favorite movie is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and you wish Firefly had a second season. If you tick more than one of these boxes, you'll fit right in.

Playing a Rak'Gol Kill Team

Pros:
  • Rak'Gol Ambush.
  • High Strength and Toughness.
  • Large selection of melee weapons.
Cons:
  • Terrible at range.
  • Slow.
  • Low model count (unless you gorge on Youth).

Rak'Gol in HoR: Kill Team are all about encircling the foe with powerful infantry. Boasting an impressive WS3+, S4, T5, and at least two attacks on the majority of their models, combined with the ability to "deep strike" their entire roster minus one unit, they can quickly surround and overwhelm key targets in the opposing team and grind them into a paste. Most of their models are even equipped with Rak'Gol Blades, which help the massacre along by letting you re-roll failed Wound rolls against infantry. 

Still, if you really want to tie up a unit in melee, make sure to commit at least a few models: ambushing means you are charging from 9" away, and Rak'Gol that become stranded in the middle of the battlefield are unlikely to survive for very long. Youth are perfect for this task: while the rest of your units either cost a lot of points or require careful planning, Youth are a mass of bodies ready to prove themselves by swarming your enemy and pinning them in place while you position your pieces - and if your team leader is nearby, they even become semi-competent fighters in their own right.

In addition to the ability to ambush their adversaries, the Rak'Gol have another special rule that is present on the majority of their army: Hunting Frenzy. This lets your models occasionally go on a murderous rampage - specifically, when you roll 6s on your Charge rolls. One 6 means the model will make an additional D3 attacks in the following Fight phase, while a lucky double six means the model will also re-roll all failed Hit rolls for these attacks. A lot of Rak'Gol weapons are also radioactive, and, similarly to the Mechanicus' rad weapons, let you do increased damage on rolls of a 6 to wound.

Your leaders are not chumps, either: while they aren't any better at fighting than their rank-and-file counterparts (which is, admittedly, still very good), they have improved armour saves. If you have the points to spare, your team can even be led by a Broodmaster, who will be more than happy to terrorize your enemy with its three wounds and ability to make friendly models re-roll Hit rolls of 1 in melee.



Core models for the Rak'Gol are Youth, Carvers and Marauders: where Youth and Carvers are here to distract the enemy and to scout objectives, Marauders are a tough frontline unit with characteristics comparable to a Space Marine.

Your special models allow you to bring even more brute strength through Renders and their four attacks (and S5 on the charge), Stalkers, who splice Carver special rules onto a Marauder-like body, and ranged support with Murderers who compensate for their mediocre BS with more firepower than the Rak'Gol's mostly sub-par ranged weapons allow for. Their ability to fire Heavy Weapons on the move at full ballistic skill keeps them in the fight against shootier teams. 


Rak'Gol can even bring their own psyker, the Techno-Shaman, into the fray. Depending which psychic power you give it, it will be able to put a dent in large clumps of infantry, give your models the ability to ignore damage, or even copy your enemies' weapons. The presence of Techno-Shamans also powers up the last Rak'Gol special choice, Technobominations, who are normally mediocre (if very tough) fighters but become much more capable around a Techno-Shaman.



In addition to their namesake Blades, Rak'Gol have access to a large selection of melee weapons, allowing you to easily equip your models to make short work of almost any threat, especially when falling upon them through ambush. On the flipside, they combine a Space Marines-like model count with a guardsman-like BS of 4+, and a mediocre ranged arsenal means that they will usually be outclassed in a firefight, no matter who the foe, so make sure to put the shooting you get to good use. For instance, the Razor Gun is only Strength 3, but its three shots at 24" can re-roll failed Wound rolls against Infantry, helping you take out specific targets. Similarly, the Rad-Beam Cannon might "only" have a Strength of 7, but not not underestimate the potential of a 36" melta weapon!

As a Rak'Gol player you have access to a good amount of unique Philosophies and Tactical actions. Your Philosophies will reward having a battle plan in advance, such as Terror Incognita, which grants +1 TP as long as you give up the ability to use any tactical actions other than those unique to the Rak'Gol. As for these tactical actions, they help to ensure that you ambush the models you want to, thanks to the ability to deploy closer to the enemy, or improve your ranged ability by increasing the number of shots for your most basic weapons.

The Rak'Gol might be strong ambushers, but they are not without their weaknesses. They lack model variety - only Technobominations are not Infantry models, and even they do not move any faster than the rest of the army. In addition, the Rak'Gol are quite vulnerable to being ambushed themselves: if they fail to reach their targets, or if they kill their target and become stranded on the battlefield, you will have a hard time reaching the rest of the fighting while you get shot down with ranged fire. As a Rak'Gol player, you are something of a one-trick pony, but you are very, very good at that one trick. It's also easy to lose yourself in the amount of upgrades Rak'Gol have access to and to end up with not enough models to do the job. Kit your team appropriately, pick your targets well and overwhelm the enemy with brute force before they can strike back.




No models? 

The biggest obstacle to playing Rak'Gol is their lack of models and unique appearance, which means you are going to have to either proxy the models or do extensive conversion work in order to create your kill team. Your best bet for that is to tinker around with Tyranid and Skitarii parts, as well as the more Covenly aspects of the Drukhari.

 Of course, if you just want to try them out for yourself, programs like Tabletop Simulator will be more than happy to help you without having to invest in difficult conversions.

No comments:

Post a Comment