I'm currently playing Seraphon in our local slow grow league, and I need to assemble some flying beasties for my Engine of the Gods to summon. But which is best? These units have a few different things going on so they're a little hard to evaluate, so I figured I'd just write it down...
(Note: I'm working under the assumption that Ripperdactyls won't be able to generate more than one extra attack from their beaks once the GHB FAQ hits, if you're reading this in July 2018!)
In Age of Sigmar v1, there was an argument as to which of the two ranged weapons was better as the 10" javelins gave you a bit more reach to know a few wounds off a hero, and be able to do so whilst engaged. With "Look Out, Sir!" and new shooting rules in AoS v2 I dont think that throwing a few puny javelins at a hero is as worthwhile a tactic as using your ranged attacks to simply supplement your melee attacks here. But anyway, the numbers:
- Javelins average 0.66 damage per Terradon
- Bolas average 0.875 damage per Terradon
I'm 100% sold on Bolas as the superior option here, so I'll focus on that.
I think a Master of the Skies is the superior option for unit leader as most of the unit's damage output still comes from melee, and in any case +1 to hit shooting is nowhere near as good as a whole extra set of melee attacks with full rerolls.
So, swooping down (like you ever wouldn't...)
- Each Terradon averages 2.25 damage
- Master of the Skies adds an additional 2 damage (big increase!)
Therefore, we're doing the following assuming Bolas and Master of the Skies:
- 3 Terradons averages 11.38 damage
- 9 Terradons averages 30.13 damage
As an intangible (in this calculation) benefit, the Bolas damage happens before melee, so is a little bit better than melee attacks. And obviously you can use them at range if you'd like, but it's a pretty poor way to use a 120 point unit - the damage output just isn't there.
The Terradons also have Deadly Cargo, which averages out to 1 mortal wound per Terradon dropping the bomb. This is definitely best used in a Shadowstrike Starhost where you can set up, move, and do 9 mortals to something with your maxed out unit. Otherwise it's a decent ability but not hugely impactful due to being oneshot and once per Terradon.
Rippers have less options than Terradons but slightly more complex maths. Their damage profile looks like this:
- Each model averages 4.09 damage with no Blot Toad
- Each model average 6.41 damage with a Blot Toad
- The Alpha adds 0.56 damage
So that gives us totals of:
- 3 Ripperdactyls average 12.83 or 19.79 damage
- 9 Ripperdactyls average 37.37 or 58.25 damage
Ripperdactyls also get Star-Bucklers, which is very relavant on a combat unit given how many models have Rend -1 nowadays.
It's worth noting is that in AoS v2, if you summon a unit of Rippers with your Engine of the Gods on turn 1 you can place a Blot Toad for that unit since you dont place the toads until "during" your first hero phase.
The internet has a severe overabundance of Pterodactyl pics...
Which is Better?
Without a toad, Rippers deal 10% more damage than Terradons in melee and come with shields. Terradons deal a few points of their damage earlier (as shooting), have the capability to not melee if they need to (although their shooting is weak), and have a mortal wound attack.
Rippers deal 74% (!) more damage than Terradons if they have a toad.
If you have access to Toads by whatever method you choose to get them, I'd say that Rippers win out here every time. Their damage potential is just so much higher than their shield is a nice addition. Since you can build toads into your army list, I think Rippers are the clear choice during list building, even though they're 15%~ more expensive.
If you're summoning units of 3 of either of these during the game though, the choice is at least a choice. Terradons are more specialist, and you might summon them if you want to finish off a big tough character using mortal wound bombs, if the Ripperdactyls' shields won't be of use versus whatever you're fighting, or if you don't have access to Toads (there's minimal melee difference in this case and the Terradons other advantages start to take over a little more). Even so, I expect you'll be summoning Rippers far more often for their superior combat numbers.
Personally I'll be building and carrying multiple summonable Rippers with me to events as I think they're the default choice, and a single unit of Terradons. I expect turn one Ripper summoning to get a toad on the board is going to be a common tactic, and taking a single unit Rippers in my list build to make sure I get great value out of my summoned Rippers will probably be a thing.
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