Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bloody Barnabas - ascension through bloodshed

Bloody Barnabas is freaking sweet. This is the Gatorman behind the Gatormans. He was the main catalyst in getting me to play Gators after coming back to the game following many months of abstinence - I just loved how menacing he looked with the cowl over his eyes, wielding a huge, bloody, notched cleaver. Kind of reminds me of somebody that I used to know....




Good Gatorman stats - he has 1 more STR, DEF and ARM than a Posse member, which are respectable caster stats. Not Terminus or eLich great, but not bad either, especially for an old man.

Like Maelok, he also has three base attacks - P+S 12 with his tail, P+S 14 with his bite and P+S 14 reach with his cleaver.


  • Flesh Eater - 3 cost magic nuke. RNG 10, POW 13, and can heal up warbeasts in your battlegroup. Can save a few fury that way if you plan ahead.
  • Swamp Pit - Barnabas's signature spell, because nobody else is awesome enough to have it (yet). Others have Rift instead, which costs more and sucks more.
  • Iron Flesh - Classic spell, not broken good  in Gators due to low DEF values but still very potent.
  • Warpath - Allows beasts to move 3" outside activation if anything in your army kills anything else. Gold, or solid gold?


  • Unyielding - This is a big part of what makes Barnabas such a tank. ARM 19 when engaging + Spiny Growth + Iron Flesh = tough cookie.
  • Counter Charge - very useful ability, especially when combined with Unyielding. Keep in mind you can't charge with Iron Flesh on you, and you don't want to charge forward to get killed easier or charge out of a Swamp Pit which is protecting you.
  • Blood Boon - very useful ability that allows you to throw out a free Flesh Eater, Spiny Growth, Swamp Pit or Iron Flesh. So many options!
  • Tough - why not?
  • Crit Consume on his bite - because again, why not? He's eaten a lot of people. More of a fluff ability than anything else, as there are very few cases where a POW 14 won't easily kill a non-caster small-based model (ie. warlock solos, Covenant, or ARM 17+ models).


Black Tide - Non-amphibious enemies in his CTRL are KD. Basically a straight-up worse version of pKreoss' feat. Of course, Warmachine has evolved greatly from its early days of pop n' drop, so there are a lot of answers and preventive measures to this feat (Steady, Lash, huge FU auras of no-KD ala Covenant), and Blindwater doesn't have jack-all ranged options. Therefore although the feats are objectively almost identical, they are subjectively somewhat different.

Obligatory pic of my model.



This is where Barnabas hurts the most. He has zero damage buffs for either himself or his army. His personal output is respectable for a caster, and in one-to-one he should be able to kill most casters in the game and some lighter armored targets, but it's still more dice-dependent than one would like. Of course, he brings one of the best DEF debuffs in the game in the form of reliable KD (and a lot of less reliable KD in the form of beast power attacks), so the sheer volume of attacks at a decent P+S is to be respected.


He is a tank. His base DEF of 13 is not especially flash, but Iron Flesh can certainly help. ARM 17 base is already quite good, and he is likely to have Spiny Growth on him most of the game. Throw in Unyielding and Tough, and you've got a hard nut to crack. Remember also that he is a warlock so he can transfer! Certainly not the hardest warlock to assassinate, but he is up there.

And of course, he can be immune to all direct shooting thanks to Swamp Pits (which I must add, do not work against magic attacks). That can screw a lot of lists pretty hard (ie. Ret).


Barnabas has utility in spades!
  • Swamp Pits are useful on multiple levels:
    - First, most obviously, they can be used to just protect your models from all direct shooting. Just park your stuff in there and it simply cannot be targeted. Note that your opponent can target something behind them with a spray, and still make attacks against them that way.
    - Second, each Pit is a 5" rough terrain (for non-amphibious models) AoE for 2 fury! You can just place them around the table to slow your opponents or put them in front of heavies to stop them in their tracks. Just watch out for pathfinder-granting models like Saxon Orrik or spells like Easy Rider.
    - Third, the AoE is shallow water. This means you can place the AoE and then KD a warjack in it to effectively take it out of the game for at least one turn. It's one effective way to deal with heavy armour.
    The only thing to keep an eye on is that the template cannot be placed in such a way that it touches any bases. Since they are not upkeeps, it means you will have to cast them each turn before moving into them.
  • Warpath is a fantastic spell that allows your relatively slow beasts to get unpredictable attack angles, threat range or retreat back to a safer location.
  • Iron Flesh works great on a Gatorman Posse when combined with Dirge of Mists. DEF 16, ARM 18 Gators are hard to dislodge once in combat. I sometimes deal with high ARM targets by just putting a full Posse with Dirge + Iron Flesh around them, so they can't do much without dice. Works even better if you disrupt them first.
  • His feat can be great at dealing with high DEF models such as warcasters or Kayazy Assassins, as you'd expect. 
  • Last but not least, always remember Blood Boon and access to all your animi! Blood Boon allows him to basically cast any of his spells or animi for free. That can mean 4 Swamp Pits, moving Iron Flesh around, Elasticity or an extra Spiny Growth on the table. You can also get pretty good assassinations by charging a living model, popping your feat to catch the enemy caster, and then get three Flesh Eaters or two boosted Flesh Eaters thanks to Blood Boon.


Barnabas plays a less grindy game than Maelok, but still relies heavily on the physical superiority of Gators to win out on attrition in the end. He has a very solid spell list and feat, which allows him to control the board quite effectively. He is also tanky enough to be played effectively mid-field. In some earlier games I recklessly threw him forward to do something cool, expecting him to die, and he managed to squeeze out another few turns of game time simply by refusing to die (and some lucky dice).

He synergizes very well with most of the models from the Minions forces book and those in Domination (1). He just makes everything amphibious work better - beasts benefit hugely from Warpath, Posse from Iron Flesh, everyone from Swamp Pits... I'd recommend two full Posses at 35pts and above, along with a Bull Snapper and Blackhide Wrastler. An Ironhide Spitter is quite strong with Barnabas on account of his feat and having 2 open fists allows it to effectively throw warjacks into Swamp Pits.

Early game you'll want to keep Barnabas back-mid, sometimes within a Swamp Pit, and let your spells, feat and army do the work.  Don't be afraid to move up to maximize your feat usage, assuming you protect Barnabas effectively with Spiny Growth and Swamp Pits. Late game, you should feel reasonably safe getting Barnabas involved and killing things to clean things up or set up an assassination.You don't get to live to old age as a Gatorman by letting other people do all the killing!

His primary weakness, like most of the faction, is the lack of really powerful combos, character warbeasts and damage buffs leaving his forces vulnerable to ARM 19+ models. Just like Circle however, this will be solved when we get an auto-include heavy beast like the Stalker. Only a matter of time...


Epic Awesomeness Potential:

eKreoss|--[eMorg]---------------------[eThagrosh]--[eButcher]-------X| eBarnabas

Barnabas is a very strong and very fun warlock who plays well with almost any balanced army composition, is one of the hardest to kill, has an awesome model, and exudes menace. Make sure you bring some heavy hitters though!

His epic incarnation will make Leonidas look like a cookie-selling boyscout.

(1) Even Boneswarms, although you'll probably prefer something else at 50pts and below. It can be nice to park next to Barnabas to make him DEF 18, ARM 21 vs living melee attacks. Plus transfers. Neato.

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