Horrific Visage vs Vicious
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Thread: Horrific Visage vs Vicious

  1. #1

    Default Horrific Visage vs Vicious

    If anyone has been reading my posts about Blackguards, you probably know my opinion on the Horrific Visage ability.

    I've ran alot of statistic checks between a unit having Vicious and another having Horrific Visage.

    I've concluded that Vicious is -always- going to produce better odds of panic test failures than Horrific Visage EVEN if you assume that, in theory, Horrific Visage will consistently double the number of panic tests.

    Against a unit with 6 morale, arguably the most common value, a unit with Vicious has 58.38% chance of getting 1 failure. A unit with Horrific Visage, provided they inflict a wound ont their attack, have about 47% chances of getting at least 1 failure.

    Now there is the wishful factor of getting 2 failures in both tests, but that's only 7% of the time. In compensation, the Vicious unit can generate more casualties per failure as it can reduce the dice roll to 0.

    This net advantage for Vicious is kept throughout the distribution of morale values. The better the morale value, the worse it gets for Horrific Visage.

    So in order to get the most of this ability, you must target units with average or worse morale (7+ to 8+). Considering the price paid for it, it becomes an issue (in my opinion of course) because there are many other units capable of tackling low morale ones, especially vicious units.

    Another argument that could be made for Horrific Visage is that it could trigger more of the effects triggered “every time an engaged enemy unit fails a panic tests” that Boltons have. As we’ve seen, a unit with Vicious is more likely to get it triggered at all, especially against good morale units.

    So the only argument going for Bolton Blackguards is that they have 3+ defense and 6+ morale, and they pay more for a subpar ability than say, Baratheon Wardens. Warhammer and Target Opening will be more reliable throughout a game than Horrific Visage, especially when facing elites, due to the built in resilience of the combo: every one has the same chances of rolling a 1 on a defense roll. Also, the fact they can switch Weakened tokens to Vulnerable can start a sort of loop where another weakened token is created by the use of the vulnerable token. Keep in mind that while for most units, we can't compare out of faction, this doesn't apply for Neutrals, who can actually be part of any faction except Free Folks.

    Pro Vicious:

    • More chance to cause failure
    • More casualties for the same roll
    • Higher maximum casualties for failure
    • Less dependant on panic tokens (1 test will use 1 panic token)
    • Don't feed the faith militant with extra tests for easy tokens

    Pro Horrific Visage:

    • A marginal to insignificant chance for more failures

    The combination of a pathetic offense with a subpar ability for the Blackguard makes them shallow against elites because they cannot affect their foes odds of passing tests on their own. Adding attachment bloats their cost to high end levels (7-9pts), although they do provide more protection for the investment than Cutthroats. That is not to say that it is more effective, because the attachment value is directly related to how often the abilities triggers. That means you'll get more return on your attachment with Vicious than Horrific Visage, except on the wild blue moon where they fail both tests (morale 6+ will fail 2 tests 7% of the time, we can't plan on this to occur). Granted if you loose the attachment before it gets a chance to trigger, then you've lost more...but it still doesn't explain why Horrific Visage is such a let down.

    I’d like to test a variant for Horrific Visage when playing the Neutral faction: simply switch it to Vicious. The reason I don’t want to mess with other factions is that I assume the price tag is taking into account a certain Cercei/Tywin combo the Neutrals do not have. The Neutrals do not have ways to reduce the morale of the enemy units for Horrifc Visage to be worth it. The Reason Lannister Supremacy is feared is first due to its inbuilt -2, but then also due to the potential -4 with Cercei...and lastly (For guardsmen) with the certainty of it triggering with the Guard Captain.

    But there’s another case of this ability, and the idea of the variant also counts for Bone Followers, who are (imho) also suffering from the Horrific Visage inflated cost just as badly, perhaps even more so than Blackguards (can't compare them outside the faction though, but vs Thenns, ouch). Even though they have a better attack profile (improving the chances of doubling the panic tests, and more casualties through regular wounds).

    Giving them Vicious might help both those units...plus it removes an extra rule and streamlines the system so...win-win if it proves to be balanced.

    For the sake of this discussion, keep in mind that i am a Bolton player, and i bought 4 Blackguards, we also have 3 Bone Follower units. The game is overall very good compared to many other systems, but units with Horrific Visage struck me as...a bit falling behind the curve. They are still relatively new so more data is needed anyway. Units like the Cutthroats, Greataxes and Berserkers seem to be a bit above the curve for their costs in comparison.
    Last edited by Oakwolf; 11-06-2019 at 06:12 PM.

  2. #2


    I think if you include the Bolton Flayer in the unit (restore up to 2 wounds per failed panic), the utility of Horrific Visage is upped a bit.
    "I did warn you not to trust me." -Littlefinger

  3. #3


    I agree, the design seems to attempt to be a force multiplier for the triggers from failed panic checks, but in reality, it's a pretty bad tradeoff for a very marginal chance of getting more "triggers" occurring. It's also no coincidence that a 1pt attachment with prey on fear happens to be included in the boxed sets of both units with this ability.

    Prey on fear is more effective on a 3+ defense unit than a 5+ defense one, simply due to each wound's resilience, but again, you have better odds of getting the trigger to "proc" in a Vicious unit than you would in a unit with Horrific Visage. The only case where Horrific Visage is perhaps worth considering is against 8+ morale. There is a case where Horrific Visage triggers an extra test that wouldn't occur with Vicious: if your unit already activated and is charged.

    With any attachment, the Blackguards become 7-9pts. Same for Followers of Bone. That's elite territory (especially for Free Folk)

    I'd rather have the Blackguards and Bone Followers be immune to Corpse piles and count as one for the purposes of enemy panic tests within short range. At least it'd be an active ability.
    Last edited by Oakwolf; 11-07-2019 at 02:54 PM.

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by Oakwolf View Post
    I'd rather have the Blackguards and Bone Followers be immune to Corpse piles and count as one for the purposes of enemy panic tests within short range. At least it'd be an active ability.
    Signed. Twice. so much this.

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