Part 16 – Princeptor

Center-stage is a series of articles spotlighting a particular model or unit in Godslayer; next we will look at the Mortan Princeptor.

Sometimes, absolute discipline, correct behavior and following the imperial creed are not the formula for getting the job done; there are times when only brash recklessness, dirty tactics and outrageous brutality win the day. For such occasions, the Princeptor was created. Unlike other soldiers and officers of the Legions, the Princeptor is not a volunteer and did not spend months in parade-ground formation drills; instead the Princeptors are bought by the Legions from the underworld of the gladiator trade – the seedy and savage pit-fighting clubs.

Trainers regularly scout the arena circuit noting talented fighters who demonstrate insane depravity and a callous disregard for their own life. Many come from the underclass and grew up as criminals. Some are captured enemies sold into the arena. Others were good men overtaken by misfortune. In every case they are men who have lost everything, and are sustained only by the bread of vengeance and the wine of remorse. 

The lucky candidates wake up inside a secret military camp specialized in taming these wild and audacious individuals just sufficiently to make them manageable. Training includes use of the popular weapon combination of Spathe (a long type of gladius) and Swordfist (a brutal stabbing cestus which can punch through metal armor). Once the conscripts are broken sufficiently to obey orders, they are tempered and toughened by survival training in deserts, mountains and forests. Thereafter they are assigned to trouble-spots on the borders where their unique talents and appetite for unrestrained brutality can be channeled to benefit the empire.

Princeptors have learned through bitter experience they can depend on no man but themselves, and they are by nature loners with no taste for camaraderie. Despite their surly, cold nature, they are respected by Legionnaires for their effectiveness and are nicknamed canes rabidus – mad-dogs.

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You can take two of these guys in a normal warband, which is something to seriously consider. ThePrinceptor is a sight-value-1, regular infantry character of the Legions sub-faction.

Let’s start with a look at their profile:
MOV 3 – Normal movement for humans
MEL 7 – Indicates a veteran professional soldier with much experience.
MIS 4 – Inexperienced in missile fire
MAG 3 – Poor defensive level; rather typical for the materialistic Mortans.
DEF 13 – A bit low for some melee characters
ARM 7 – Average level for the game.
LEAD 9 – Great for a character
ACT 5 – Standard for characters.

Melee Attacks
The Princeptor has 11 life points, and ARM 7 so he has a slightly better life-expectancy than a Carnifexor. From stats this guy looks pretty unremarkable, but the abilities and tactics tell a different story, as we shall see.

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Abilities and Tactics
Turning the card over, we see they have one sub-faction ability and two tactics.

Disciplined – this is the sub-faction tactic of the Legions, and means he gets +1 for LEAD-based tests and never needs to test for receiving orders.

Hardened Will – Such battle-hardened and wild warriors are inured to the horrors of Calydorn. So thePrinceptor is immune to Horror Fear and Bravery tests. That makes him suitable for throwing at scary creatures.

Parry – Dual weapons and expert swordsmanship allows the Princeptor to parry blows easily. If he is hit by a melee attack, the Princeptor can make an attack and if the roll is higher than the roll that hit him, then the attack is parried.

Campaign Veteran – The Princeptor inspires those around to fight with more ruthless and dirty style. This is a unit tactic which allows the target models to roll an extra dice for their attack and use that for scoring a critical. Notice that the double does not need to equal a hit. The wording of this tactic says that if either of the dice of an attack that hits are the same as the extra die roll, then the hit counts as a crit. So if you need a 7 to hit and you roll a 6 &1. Then you roll your extra Campaign Veteran die and it’s also a 1, then the attack counts as a crit. Normally a double 1 would be a miss in most cases (and a fumble).

Riposte – Blocking and turning aside incoming strikes, the Princeptor is able to step inside the enemy’s guard and make a lightning-fast strike. Each time an enemy model attacks the Princeptor and fails to hit (including parried hits) the Princeptor spends 1 less ACT to attack that guy for his next attack.

Deathblow – This unique move enable the Princeptor to land an extra blow in a vulnerable area.
He has one attack costing 2 ACT that gives a POW3 damage roll plus an additional damage roll at POW1. Pretty nice for 2 ACT. 

Ambidextrous Fighter – Princeptors are expert fighting with two weapons.
Even better, he has a 3 ACT attack which allows him to make 2 regular attacks at POW3. Then he can make a final attack with his last 2 ACT, plus a free POW1 attack from Deathblow. Four attacks for 5 ACT is pretty cool when you consider his basic MEL of 7. 

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Combining the Princeptor with other Models
• Praetorian Carnifexors – These guys have a base MEL7 so often fighting with 8 or 9 when buffed with fighting style or charge bonus and Ancestral Pride tactic of the Centurion or the Imperial Blessing spell. The Praetorian Carnifexors have POW3 and POW6 attacks with their Halberds, and due to their Executioner ability, they get +2 damage on critical hit damage rolls. This means that when they use the POW6 attack, they roll 2D6 +8 (or +9 while charging or using powerful fighting style) damage plus 3 points direct damage! 
The cool combo factor here is that the Princeptor has the Campaign Veteran tactic which allows the Carnifexors to roll that extra die for checking for crits. They will usually be scoring crits on double 3 and double 4 and double 5 and double 6. Add to that the extra die which introduces another set of possible crit combinations from double 1 to double 6. It’s a hell of a combo.

• Legionnaires – The Campaign Veteran tactic gives them a boost to their normally low POW and makes them a real threat, even to high ARM elites. With a unit of 8 Legionnaires making 2 attacks per turn, you have a lot of to-hit rolls, so you are likely to score a good few critical hits.
• Centurion – Similarly to the Carnifexors, the Princeptor can use the Campaign Veteran on the Centurion, particularly when he is armed with the Meteoric Spathe. On critical hits, this does 3D6 +4 damage plus usual 1-2 direct damage. 

Putting it all Together

As already mentioned, take a couple of units of Praetorian Carnifexors plus a Centurion armed with the Meteoric Spathe, and count up the massive extra damage you score from all the crits during the game!

Offensive Melee Fighter
The Princeptor gets to make 2 Attacks for 2 ACT (Deathblow) or 2 attacks for 3 ACT (Ambidextrous Fighter). Additionally, if he parried an attack, then the cost of an attack against attacker is reduced by 1 ACT. So if you assign him an action token from the warlord and assume that he parries 3 attacks, he can potentially make 8 damage rolls plus a possible Slay-Movement attack. That’s a lot for a 32 point character. 

Charge him at enemy units of cheap troops and beg them to counter-attack him! The more attacks the better! You want to keep him in melee contact with 2-3 models, not more. Giving him +1 MEL from Ancestral Pride or Imperial Blessing not only makes him more likely to hit, but also more likely to parry, so it makes sense to do that.

His weakness is low POW, so consider using Powerful Fighting style most turns, and also remember that he can use his tactic Campaign Veteran on himself to increase his own chances of scoring critical hits!

Also remember that unlike a lot of Legions troops, he is NOT Heavy Infantry, so he can move 4 times per turn.

Because of his tactic Parry, the Princeptor can often deny hits he receives, and he becomes pretty difficult to get rid of because of this. Take a Mortifex / Necromagus and cast on him the spell Transmortis, then the Princeptor can transfer any damage he receives to a friendly model nearby, which could be for example Legio Mortum (who heal their damage at the end of each round) or Legionnaires. Keep the spell sustained every turn. To make the Parry more effective, order the tactic Ancestral Pride for +1 to hit on his parry rolls. This makes the Princeptor basically un-killable and a perfect blocker. Use him to tie up the enemy warlord for the entire game. Or use two Princeptors to block a strategic corridor.

Scenarios Character
Several scenarios require characters to fulfill scenario objectives. Because he can take care of himself and has decent movement the Princeptor is an excellent choice for this role. In Wave-1 models, thePrinceptor is the fastest model in the Legions sub-faction, so ideal for racing to contest objectives, recover items or kill enemy spell-casters.

The Princeptor is just valuable enough and useful enough to convince opponents to charge him, even when he is clearly bait in a counter-charge trap. Furthermore, because of his skills, there is a chance he will either survive, or require a concerted effort to be invested by the opponent in order to destroy him.

The Mortans have two non-melee warlords, and the Princeptor is an ideal choice for a bodyguard, allowing you the freedom of not having to keep him near a unit. For example the Libarum Technocrat can be used in the centre of the table throwing bombs and using his line-of-sight to allow war-machines at the back of the table to hit hidden units. In such a case, he should be kept behind the front line and always with a Princeptor next to him to discourage attackers. 

The Mortifex can also use the Princeptor very effectively as a bodyguard. He even has a tactic called “Bodyguard” which allows him to be swapped with any friendly unengaged model with an equal base size as the Mortifex. Just be sure to keep the Princeptor within line-of-sight and unengaged, and within 2 inches.


Further tips:
• The Princepotor is a great model, but at 32 points he is the same cost as almost 3 regular Legionnaires. In a warband under 300 points, it almost always makes sense to take one. For warbands over 300 points, it usually makes sense to take two of them because they are so versatile and easily overlooked or underestimated by the opponent.
• Facing a horror-causing creature – throw your Princeptor at it. He has Hardened Will so he can deal with such a beast. He won’t necessarily win or survive, but he should tie up that enemy model for a couple of rounds.
• Remember that the Deathblow attack does not require an attack roll, it is an automatic hit, so this is ideal when facing high-DEF enemies.

Designers Notes
Originally the Princeptor had no Riposte ability, and had instead a tactic called “Battlefield Promotion” which allowed him to upgrade a unit model to a leader – which was kind of useless so it got dropped. Riposte was added a year later when we went through the Mortan cards again. Still he seemed a little weak so we added his Deathblow ability and a couple more life-points. After that he played perfectly as a melee character with slight troop-buffing capability.

Initially Princeptor was conceived as a rank in the legions, but his style and weapons just did not fit the Legions style, so the main change for this model was in fact his background. Making him an ex-gladiator seemed to fit well and added some flavor to an otherwise dull “Roman-NCO”.

For any kind of Mortan warband the Princeptor is a useful guy to have on the team, but when taking Legions and particularly Praetorian Carnifexors, he is indispensible. A lot of Mortan troops suffer from low-POW-Syndrome, so boosting damage through extra critical hits is a welcome advantage Mr.Princeptor brings to the battlefield.