The following is a by a legionnaire known as Julius the Austere; Guardian of the Battle. This is part of a series he is doing on hidden gems within Warhammer Fantasy. Severus out.
First off, sorry for the hiatus! Welcome to the second installment of the hardly anticipated hidden gem series for Warhammer Fantasy! So the gem of an option we are going to talk about today is the Tomb Banshee, available in an Undead Legion or just regular VC list. Oh, yeah. I said Banshee!
So why do people not take Banshees that often? Well, they are a tad below 100 points so they are not exactly cheap and they generally get compared to the Terrorgheist who has a much more powerful version of the same special attack. I’m okay with this comparison as although they are quite different they serve a similar role of dealing with high armor saves. However, I look at Banshees in a different light and they have become a valuable tool in my lists. Now, unlike my take on the sisters of slaughter, the theoretical principles and role for my Banshees for has transitioned from theory to actual performance in games and I couldn’t be more impressed. I have been including 2 to 3 banshees in all of my recent lists (3 if not taking a terrorgheist).
So, lets start with some of the principle benefits of including banshees:
1) To clear chaff. Vampires Counts do not have a lot at their disposal to deal with enemy units that will chaff up the blocks that you want to get in to combat (this can be mitigated by UL). Cue the banshees. Bye-bye skinks! Bye fast cav who thought they were safe dancing around out of line of sight for charges! 2 or 3 banshee screams will get the job done on with good reliability on these types of units that stray from their generals leadership but are a general nuisance to an army that has to move forward to win.
2) To put an ethereal, terror causing model in units. Being able to deploy in any infantry unit and move in and out of units as needed is a huge plus for Banshees. On the edge of a bus they will take away a file of enemy attacks. As a terror causing model they will force leadership checks when you charge and cause fear causing units that are not ITP to take fear checks. There are more of these kinds of units in the game than you would think and they usually have low leadership! Also, if you are in the unfortunate position of having less than 5 rank and file in a unit with characters it is very helpful to allocate hits from BS based shooting to an ethereal model first. Similarly, if hit by a template, taking a hit on the banshee will save a rank and file model.
3) They keep their points. Unlike the Terrorgheist, which often will fall victim to artillery or poison shooting, Banshees rarely ever give up their points. Like, almost never! Of course, if the enemy does not have magic missiles or magical shooting then your banshees are pretty much free to roam anywhere doing as they please. But even if your opponent has some of these tools, it is exceedingly hard to kill an ethereal character that is protected in a unit. Even if by chance someone does get in to your unit with a magic weapon, you probably have your enemy where you want them – in combat with your killy vampire or stuck on a unit of zombies or skeletons they won’t be able to chew through any time soon while your other screamers circle and make their attack into combat.
4) Vampire lists (and UL) only really have a few options to deal with high armor. The Banshee is certainly the one that suits my playstyle the most. By having 2 or 3 of these screams per turn you will eventually do major damage due to the variability of the dice. Some turns you will do nothing and some turns you will do something amazing. Other turns you will just chip away at your enemy units. But over the course of the game, you will do something that will likely at least earn their points back (high armored units and monsters are not that cheap) while you preserve your own.
Below are my Banshee Results from games in a team tournament this past weekend where I pitted UL (or vamps with a Casket of souls) alongside a friends Eternity King force. For reference, I took 2 banshees in my 1500 point force.
Game 1 – vs. Pure Dark Elf and warriors of chaos lists. Banshee deployed in skeleton block killed a warlock or 2 before the unit got a 17 inch charge on a slaneesh marked chariot, screaming it into oblivion and subsequently panicking a chimera off the table. That had to be at least 300 points! My other banshee was out harassing a Deamon prince of Nurgle that my casket and Terrorgheist ended up dealing with before it could sling purple sun down our flanks and annihilate everything not elf.
Game 2 – vs. pure woodelves and pure darkelves. Banshees did not do too much here. Might have killed a Wildwood Ranger or so.
Game 3 – vs. empire and brets 1+ armor save army. They netted a steam tank! As I engaged the steam tank with spirit hosts (who also had 1 heck of a run over the 3 games) I had 2 rounds of screaming with both banshees. First round both banshees did nothing as I rolled low on my dice. 2nd round I rolled an 11 followed by boxcars. The variability of the dice! Bye-bye steam tank.
Notes and conclusion:
My friend and I had a very strong showing (1st place, 3 large victories) at the 5 team tournament thanks to our balanced attack that combined the shooting of elves with the chaff and bodies that I could bring. The banshees were a big part of our success and I never even lost the points for one of them in all 3 games. The Terrorgheist and spirit hosts were also big performers on the day with the Terrorgheist only dying in 1 of 3 games. Still, I was most impressed with what my banshees did by getting significantly more than their points in 2 of 3 games and keeping their points in all 3. I think their versatility makes them a good choice in a Vampire/UL army and a lot more solid than the bad rap they tend to get. I think they are useable in casual and competitive play. Of course there is the counter argument that I was lucky on the day, but don’t forget that I did nothing to that steam tank initially. If I would have rolled perfectly average every time I would have still killed the stank in the 2 turns it was engaged with spirit hosts, sitting on 8 wounds. So yeah, don’t sleep on banshees! They can be effective.
Now, if you got to the end of this article, go get the nearest person to pat you on the back. You have done well my friend.
The Austere one, over and out!