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The War Room: Battlewagon

By 5*General - 12th December 2010 - 02:43 AM

Your neighborhood 5*General was unfortunately a little busy when official news of the Ork Battlewagon first dropped (despite knowing roughly when that would happen). I may be late to the party, but I don't intend on arriving empty-handed, so I'm going to introduce you all to something new I've been cooking-up- The War Room.

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Featuring 5*General


From The War Room you can expect to get the facts you expect from a GameReplays feature, but you'll also get a proper helping of speculation, theory-crafting, opinion, and/or suggestion depending on the topic. In this case, I'll be leveraging my Ork experience to make some conjectures about the newly-announced Ork Battlewagon.

FIELD REPORT

Thursday, December 9th, Relic community manager Thunder posted the Ork Battlewagon Multiplayer Unit Profile on the Dawn of War 2 Community Blog. The following image was also supplied:

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The posting indicates the Ork Battlewagon is a fearsome, expensive Tier 3 vehicle. It is capable of carrying infantry and- contrary to common reasoning- in doing so actually increases the Battlewagon's speed. Furthermore, when two infantry squads are garrisoned in the vehicle, additional anti-infantry weaponry comes online. The basic weaponry consists of a mix of anti-infantry and anti-vehicle weaponry of unspecified varieties. From the provided image, it seems that a couple of heavy bolter turrets provide the basic anti-infantry firepower (this assumes that the side bolters only activate with aid of a garrisoned squad), while a short-barreled cannon provides the anti-vehicle oomph.

Other visual features of interest include the relatively beefy armor for an Ork vehicle and front-mounted spiked roller. The armor is obviously meant to afford the vehicle protection against whatever is thrown at it, but that extra weight would seem to pose a problem for Ork engines. Despite this, the posting notes that the Battlewagon can sustain temporary speed bursts by spinning-up the Deff Rolla. In that state the Battlewagon can knock-back and even crush infantry. Another capability of the vehicle as reported by the posting is an explosive, long-range artillery shot that is effective against all targets.

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THREAT ANALYSIS

An immediate point of comparison for the Battlewagon is the Wartrukk. Both have similar appearances, both transport infantry, and both are ranged vehicles. However, there is one feature they don't seem to share- a reinforcement aura. The above field report describes the Battlewagon's infantry housing as a "garrison", which does not imply a reinforcement aura. Compare this to the Swarmlord profile, and the absence seems quite intentional. Thus, it seems the Wartrukk will maintain its value for in-field reinforce. Along with that, the Wartrukk should remain faster and may even carry an extra squad. These qualities point towards the Battlewagon not working as a "better, more expensive Wartrukk" any time soon.

Another, subtler point of comparison stems from the Deff Dread. Among current Ork vehicles, the Deff Dread has the most health (even when comparing an upgraded Deff Dread to an upgraded Looted Tank- 775 health versus 750 health) and poses a melee threat, leveraging its "Rampage" ability to get it up close and personal. The Battlewagon should have even more health than the Deff Dread, and will have the "Deff Rolla Rampage" ability to linebreak. The Battlewagon will not be able to sustain this linebreak without disgorging infantry (like Nobs or Sluggas) compared to a Deff Dread which can continue to chase and melee long after "Rampage" has worn off. As with the previous comparison, the Battlewagon won't consume the Deff Dread's role, but it will softly cut into a piece of it. Combining the two, the Battlewagon seems quite capable of a linebreak and troop drop, but as previously mentioned it will not be able to reinforce the infantry it drops like a Wartrukk can, but then it can provide superior damage output and disruption to provide another form of support.

The final point of comparison is the Looted Tank. This is the murkiest, as the Battlewagon's exact speed, turning rate, main gun firepower, etc... are all unknown. Should those all turn out to be favorable, the Battlewagon might well provide all the functionality of a Looted Tank. But, from the previous two comparisons, Relic no doubt will want a place for every Ork vehicle, so expect to see the Looted Tank hold at least a speed or firepower advantage on top of its cheaper cost.

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The Battlewagon is in a prime position to synergize well with a variety of Ork units, a key characteristic for such an expensive late-game juggernaut. A standout function of the Battlewagon in this regard is its capability to constructively shelter Shoota Boyz squads in the late-game. This functionality has the potential to address scaling issues with the unit. Astute players will recognize that this synergism should lead to the majority of Battlewagons being detectors courtesy of housing Shoota Nobs. Sluggas and Stormboyz can both benefit from the drop-off capability of the Battlewagon. The Battlewagon also sounds effective for linebreaking a path for safe Stormboy jumps to support a Battlewagon-led push. Even Lootas can benefit in a similar manner by following Battlewagon pushes to suppress melee anti-vehicle infantry attempting to take-down the Battlewagon. Along with lugging Nobs around like super Sluggas, those seem to be the key points of infantry synergism the Battlewagon will aspire to, and it's noteworthy how appealing those points are to Tier 1 Ork units.

The Battlewagon's potential synergism with Ork vehicles should not be underestimated either. A Wartrukk and Battlewagon together should be capable of transporting an entire army. In such a configuration, the Wartrukk's speed makes it the ideal candidate to position squads around the peripheral of the battle while the Battlewagon gets in the thick of things. Alternately, the Wartrukk can help extend Ork map control beyond the Battlewagon. This can't be underestimated as the huge investment in the Battlewagon will no doubt centralize much of an Ork's holdings, and in a game where three Victory Points and their resource cousins decide glory, maintaining map control is of ultimate importance; such a centralization of force composition will likely prove the Battlewagon's greatest weakness. The Deff Dread could well get a boost when paired with a Battlewagon because the Battlewagon can damage sponge with the Deff Dread tagging along. The Battlewagon can trigger "Mega Boomshot" to disrupt anything seeking to bring the Deff Dread down, giving the Deff Dread a chance to engage the offender in melee. Combining a Looted Tank with the Battlewagon seems a more conservative (albeit quite expensive) prospect, providing quite a bit of ranged support firepower and two major disruption abilities. I could see Stikkbombas combined with this build for some serious late-game artillery.

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Where will the Battlewagon fit into the Ork metagame and how tough will it be for other factions to deal with it? Honestly it's impossible to say. As will be revealed in an upcoming interview here on GameReplays, Relic Lead Balance Designer, TASK3R, has expressed dissatisfaction with the current state of vehicles, specifically citing them as not being cost effective enough. This suggests the Battlewagon could slot in at a much lower price than we would expect right now- but it would also mean other factions would be able to field cheaper vehicles to combat the Battlewagon, and my feeling is despite the cannon, the Battlewagon will be relatively weak against other vehicles- particularly tanks. My support for the cannon being relatively weak anti-vehicle is both due to the Looted Tank's main gun being the weakest among traditional tanks and the Battlewagon's abilities (passive and active) favoring anti-infantry. If the main anti-vehicle weapon were too strong, the Battlewagon would risk being too global in its effectiveness.

No doubt the fear of many is a Battlewagon and Nobs, but those would be two, expensive Tier 3 investments to combine, and any strategy attempting to get both would need to go light on Tier 2. By Retribution beta, I don't see a light Tier 2 being favorable to Orks- not even Warboss Orks- so there would need to be an immediate pay-off to the teching. A build that went heavy Tier 1, a very light Tier 2 emphasizing a Wartrukk, and rapid Tier 3 with the fastest-possible Battlewagon might hold some promise given the stacking synergy of those Tier 1 and Tier 2 purchases, along with the map control a Wartrukk can establish. Again, a lot will depend on the price and stats of the Battlewagon, but I do believe Relic can integrate it in such a way that it is more than a super unit and so that it is an embedded piece of even the 1v1 metagame.

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