The Vorl are, potentially, an extremely powerful army (they are one of the major species on Antares, after all!). But whilst its probably too early to definitively state the best tactics to use with Vorl, I decided that relaying some of the experiences and tips we used during playtesting may help.
A Conceptual View: The Synthesis
Before we start any discussion of tactics we need to understand a key facet of Vorl life: the synthesis. Whilst humans regard the world through from a viewpoint of ‘me’ and then ‘my group’ (family, clan, IMTel, or whatever), a Vorl regards the universe through a ‘group’ lens: ‘we’ are foremost. A Vorl sees panhuman individuation as an aberration, an abhorrent way of thinking that puts ‘me’ above ‘my family’.
A Vorl sees that they are stronger in a group – always. To them, acting in concert with another Vorl generates a synthesis that is more powerful than any Vorl acting individually. This way of thought is no doubt spawned from their symbiosis, where an unintelligent creature (the ambulite), a weak creature (the cephalite) and a threatened creature (the torsite) have all had their chances of surviving immeasurably enhanced by the symbiosis.
So it is unsurprising that their weapons and equipment operate in a similar fashion. Almost all the Vorl’s equipment is improved by the synthesis, by multiple Vorl, and we’ve chosen to model most of that using ‘synthesis’ effects, synthesis modes and through the use of the Fire Team special rule: two or more individuals shooting as one.
Vorl make great use of suspensor technology. This affects their weapons (the pulser and s-sling use such technology) and enhances their basic suspensor net.
The most easily understood synthesis effect is that arising from synthesis armour. On the face of it it resembles Reflex armour, giving a +1 Res bonus (when active) to a single Vorl. However, the synthesis armour field interacts with other, nearby synthesis armour fields to increase the protection afforded to the hearth as a whole.
The result is a Res bonus equal to +1 per Vorl in the squad wearing synthesis armour, up to a maximum bonus of +4. This means that most Vorl infantry units (hearths) come onto the table with an effective Res of 8 or 9! Of course, like any other armour field generator, this is wiped out by the presence of a nearby scrambler field (Vorl hate NuHu and scrambler munitions!).
This has an interesting effect during play and on unit selection as, during the course of a game, the Vorl unit gradually loses its protection. Right from the start of a game, Vorl infantry units will find themselves being targeted by heavy-duty weaponry such as plasma lances and micro-x’s with overload, all other ammunition effectively being used more as suppressive fire. An astute opponent wll also use slingnet, if they have it, to try and add pins without causing damage: a Vorl player should expect to see spotter rerolls on the squad heavy weapons and slingnet shots before any other weapons.
These attacks are intended to trigger the Vorl weakness: lack of numbers. As each shot removes a Vorl, so the armour bonus for the survivors reduces until, with a single Vorl, it is no different to any other individual with Reflex. Whilst immensely strong at the start of a game, towards the latter half of a game, the Vorl start to struggle: do as much as you can early on!
This forces a pre-game, list-building decision: should the Vorl player add more Vorl into each hearth or go for more order dice instead? The end of playtesting saw units generally being close to maximum size as, with the other effects, a larger squad not only saw better survivability (more so than other large squads) but improved effectiveness. A hearth of six Vorl kept its (formidable) Res 9 even when losing two casualties… an important fact when you consider normal Vorl squad leaders or veterans do not have the Tough special rule.
Mist Armour is largely the same as synthesis armour but has the added bonus that it acts like a camo-buddy (and is gone when the Vorl with the armour is lost). Whilst Mist Hunter Hearths have only two Vorl, their survivability is drastically improved by upgrading the Mist Warrior to Mist Hunter status and by adding in at least one more Vorl to the hearth to raise their Res to 8 or even 9 with yet another Vorl!
Combat ARrays and Kinetic Dampeners
Each Vorl hearth has one member with a combat array and kinetic dampener built into their armour. The combat array is like a carried spotter buddy, operating as a normal squad’s spotter buddy but disappearing when the model carrying it is falls casualty. A kinetic dampener is like a weak batter shield projected from a batter buddy, forcing -1 Acc to incoming shots through it, and has the same size and shape (use the batter shield templates), and it, too, disappears when the carrying model is gone.
On most hearths, one additional Vorl can be upgraded to have a combat array and kinetic dampener. Whilst only one spotter reroll is possible on a squad (as normal) and only one kinetic barrier can be generated, not matter how many their are in the squad, it may seem counter-intuitive to take that upgrade. But this is where the synthesis concept kicks in, again: with two such Vorl, the squad can continue to function at a higher capability for longer simply due to resilience – the reroll (or patch sighting) is incredibly useful and the -1 Acc really helps the hearth survive that little bit longer later in the game.
The pulser is, possibly, the most effective weapon in the Vorl arsenal. It shoots a stream of nebuliser shells (SV1, Blast, Breaching SV3, Compound SV) either directly (Inaccurate, RF 2) or overhead when used in its storm synthesis mode. It can also shoot special munitions when in storm mode.
The storm mode needs two to four Vorl, the more Vorl there are adding to the mode increasing the shot’s effect (1D4+1 to 1D6+3 hits). It is tempting to use the most potent mode by adding a single, extra warrior to a normal, three-strong Storm Hearth to make its numbers up to four (and giving it Res 9 in the process!).
But there is another way of using the squad which is to split the fire from a four-strong hearth into two Fire Teams of two Vorl. Each team has to fire at the same target (as normal for weapons shooting in the same mode) but one can shoot nebuliser shells whilst the other can shoot nebulisers or some form of special munition, such as Vorl suspensor net. Either shot could miss, of course, but the net effect if both hit is significant – a synthesis effect applied to the enemy!
When this is coupled with the Compound SV rule, it ends up being an effective tactic against not only infantry but against Ghar battlesuits and medium vehicles, too.
Fire Warriors and Mist Hunters are given plasma projectors, a direct fire wepaon that inflicts an SV2 hit on its target. The synthesis mode, Coalesce, allows two to four Vorl to couple together their projectors to inflict a hit equal to SV2 × number shooting – and at long range, too!
Like the pulser, itmay be tempting to run with a four-strong squad and use the occasional SV8 shot as an anti-vehicle strike. However, by adding one or two Vorl to a squad, some flexibility can be added to create up to three SV4 shots, or two SV6 shots, or a mix such as an SV4 shot and an SV8 shot.
We’ve not got to the bottom of the Fire Warrior combinations, just yet, but the potential is substantial. And, as the Vorl are quite capable in hand-to-hand, the combinations make for an effective and flexible weapons-team-like unit.
Whilst lifeseeker probes are perhaps best used as forward observers for OH patch sighting from Storm Hearths rather than as targeter probes, the Vorl will find that their hound probes are of considerable use. This is because a hound probe can take out an enemy spotter buddy and the Vorl want to limit the rerolls on the more powerful, but inaccurate, weapons that can penetrate their armour. We found that judicious use of as many hound probes as possible really helped!
So whlst the decision apepars to be like any other army – numbers or order dice – we found that, in playtesting, the upgraded, larger sized sqauds fared significantly better. We were quite happy with this as it reflected the ‘synthesis’ concept nicely.
It means the Vorl normally have to take extra troops in each squad, buut the taking of such upgrades really helps: it’s not a ‘I have two points spare where-to-put-them’ decision but one which has to be taken during the start of list design. The synthesis improvements stress the other side of the list seelection coin, as in ‘Do I really only want to take three troopers in my Storm Hearth?’ – numbers really count.
Of course, that’s just from playtesting: your own experiences may vary!