The Flamebearers are a ranged unit found in the Abyssal Forces and they have potential. Being one of the few ranged units in the Abyssal list they serve an important role in a Abyssal army.
Speed of 5 puts this units threat range at 23" which is alright. You will hit more targets than you expect.
Melee 5+ lets you put up a tiny fight if you happen to survive a charge. Standard for a lot of archers.
Ranged 4+ is good. On the move you are hitting on 5s so as long as the enemy are not in cover you can often reliably shoot your targets.
Defense 3+ is nothing to write home about.
Attacks are standard for pure archer units.
Nerve is standard for pure archer units too.
Points are decent. They aren't the cheapest but they are far from the most pricey.
Super straight forward for this one. Really these are mid range shooters and they have the profile for it.
AbilitiesFirebolts for those not in the know are range 18" weapons. They are normal ranged so suffer on the move and so on.
Fury is sort of wasted here. Maybe every so often it may do something but on this unit it's one of those rules that happen to be on there (race trait). Nothing wrong with having it though...
Piercing 1 is good, against most targets this is likely to be wounding on 3s so having the extra damage really helps this unit. This and 4+ to hit combine to make this very decent when it's firing from a halt.
Regeneration 5+ is always nice to have but it's likely that these guys won't stick around that long to make the best of it. Like fury it's one of those "if this unit can survive a gust of wind" abilities. Like Fury there is nothing wrong with having it but it's not really a focus of the unit.
Really what's important here is that you have a range of 18" with piercing 1. Half your abilities aren't overly relevant to the unit but they can still make use of them here and there.
So with this unit it's all about application. Before we continue lets look at the Abyssal shooting. We have Chroneas, Efreet and Flamebearers. We will ignore the Lord of Lies lightening bolt for this. Lets compare it to other shooting in this list.
Chroneas costs exactly as much as 2 troops of flamebearers but has more height (can fire over troops), more defense, more shots, no modifiers on his shooting, has piercing 1, harder to shift and has minor support abilities. Chroneas is also a monster so he can take objectives. The flame bearers however have an extra 6" range on him and assuming you have 2 of them means the enemy have to take at least 2 lots of shooting attacks to get rid of them. This also means that the Flame Bearers can split their fire which healps in those overkill shooting situations.
Seems like Chroneas is a pretty strong contender but remember you can only take one Chroneas. If you have the points a wall of Chroneas and 2 or more flame bearers can create a wall of death at 18" popping out a whopping 36 piercing 1 shots hitting on 4s for a total of 420 points. This is the type of shooting that will need some support though as a flyer can really wreck their day if you make a mistake.
The Efreet is like a lesser Chroneas but has no piercing and no height advantage. It does though have the mobility advantage. With boots of levitation or wings of honeymaze he can zoom around the field. Boots of levitation actually gives him a 26" threat range with his breath attacks but more on that when it's Efreets time.
So the Efreet is much better off at zooming around the field burning anything vulnerable and being a general pain in the butt.
Anyway since this is a review on the Flamebearers I should focus on them, but it is worth comparing to the other strong short/mid range shooters in this list.
In my opinion if you want something truly powerful backing up your lines having the Chroneas along with flame bearers makes for a truly awesome unit. Anything that gets close will have to hope to survive a round of shooting before it can harm them. If you really do not want Chroneas for whatever reason then 4 flame bearers for the same cost put out 32 ranged attacks (4 less) at more range but are subject to congestion and modifiers.
It's easy to dismiss Abyssal shooting simply due to the lack of hordes and shorter range but the actual damage output and mobility of abyssal shooting is very potent.
The down side of this shorter range shooting from the Flamebearers is that they need to be getting closer to the enemy than usual and often alongside or near their own units so Line of Site can be an issue along with dangers from enemy charges. While they can go ahead of the main line and act as shooting chaff I feel their Hellhounds are better for this role.
My suggestion is create an Abyssal Firebase of 2 Flame Bearer regiments (if you really need to) or troops and Chroneas. In objective missions they can cover a whole area and deny the enemy objectives and in kill they can camp and cover a whole section of board on their own. The risk here is if the enemy simply never goes near the Fire Base so positioning is key for this. You could even combine it with the Efreet to have him harass around the board and he can hunt down chaff before they get a chance to be a pain.
Of course watch out for enemy hordes of shooters, since they out range you they can potentially reduce your firepower before you get to start hurting them but even then at best it will take at least 3 or so turns to clear off all your shooting. I think this is where the Efreet can come into play as he can zoom over to any shooting hordes (who are usually squishy) and pump them full of flame while also keeping safe from harm.
VerdictThe Flamebearers work very well as a group of shooters but work even better if you can utilize their 3 strongest shooters in unison. For real results with Abyssal shooting I think it's a go big or go home set up. For 585 points you can get yourself an Efreet with Levitation Boots, Chroneas and 2 flame bearer troops. That's 56 shots hitting on 4's 36 of which have piercing 1. Their range means they need some protection though.
All in all a good unit let down only by range and vulnerability.
I think they become excellent when used with the other shooters from the Abyssal List while still giving you plenty of points to cover the other necessities of the list.
Not many pictures of these guys yet as they are still new, but they certainly look awesome.
So we go back to the Number Generator today and it chooses:
Villein Initiates - Brotherhood