Cthonian enemy analysis
Deep underground the masses of Chtonians wait for your Space Infantry troops. Biding their time in the dark they chitter and growl hoping to crush and digest your squad of fearful troops. Or at least that is how the art for the Chtonians looks. Less ‘tentacley’ than the name implies the Chtonians are an alien race that specialises in the fine art of Grappling to slow down combat and other methods to slow down your advance through the Mission.
Every Chtonian unit has the Tentacles special Rule which allows the unit to Grapple (7.5.6) a member of your squad if it is activated with an RN of 5+. Note that it doesn’t say a Melee RN but any RN. So even if the range is Fire your troops are still at risk to getting grappled. As well, Grappled units are considered to be in Melee during the next Combat Round. Flamer units are going to be a good addition to your Mission Squad against Cthonians.
The Type I Chthonian unit, the Young, has three wounds and a F:4 M:4 stat line. It has the Tentacles special rule. The Type II unit, the Adult, has four Wounds and one point of Armour. It is F:4 M:3 and it also gets an additional AP for any Melee attacks.
The truly nasty member of the Cthonians is the Old One. It has two armour, five wounds and is F:3 M:3. In addition to Tentacles it also has the Crush special rules that allows it to do a D6 Wounds in Melee for a successful attack and not the Success Level. It will Grapple 50% of the time regardless of the range and it absolutely requires that you have a unit with AP attacks.
The main impact of Grapple is to stop your units from attacking and slow down your ability to generate wounds. The Cthonians are slightly better at Melee range which is where all of your Grappled units will be regardless of the actual range. Grenades are not an AP weapon but they might be useful to have on hand since you will most likely have fewer troops to activate in combat due to Grapple and you will need to keep generating wounds.
What makes the Cthonians even more irritating is their habit of bringing down the Node walls around you. If you roll a 2 on the Melee or Set range columns or a 3-4 on the Fire column then the Cthonians have dropped the roof on your squad. The Cave-in changes the Node to a Cave-in Node (you put the new card over the old one) and adds wounds to your team as well as the Cthonians. Those wounds ignore armour.
The rulebook section 12.5.4 also notes that once you finish combat you need to clear out the rubble (an Advance 5 task) at which point you remove the Cave-in Node card and use the initial Node card. The Cave-in is really only there to slow you down and at best it will cause you to burn a turn clearing out rubble but this isn’t a game where you typically have a lot of turns to waste.
The Cthonians Range Table has a C special result at RN 2 which will generate a Cave In. You are, most of the time, half as likely to have a Cave In event as you are to be at Fire Range. The result changes at Fire range to generate the C result of an RN of 3-4 which reflects the Cthonians trying to drop the roof on your head if you are firing at them. Most often the Range in a combat against the Cthonians will be at Melee range. This is made slightly irrelevant due to the amount of Grapple that the Cthonians can use. This is a good enemy with which to use Skills that allow you to modify the Range result.
Unlike the Mercenaries, the Class A Cthonian events are almost always going to have a mix of Class I and II units. The Class A event will average 2.25 Young and 0.875 Adults. The Class B event will average 3.125 Young and 1.375 Adults. Finally, the Class C event will average 3.125 Young, 1 Adult and 1.375 Old Ones. There is no result on the Class C table that only has Cthonian Young on it and all of them have at least one Old One. If you can avoid a Class C event when playing a mission that has the Cthonians it is certainly worth the effort.