Thursday, November 22, 2012

Why Gators suck (against Cryx)

There are currently two significant problems for Blindwater Congregation armies:
  1. ARM 19+
  2. Weapon Master infantry
There are also a few annoying, but less significant factors:

     3. Undead
     4. Being the youngest faction in Warmahordes
     5. Being minions (in the 'mercenary' sense)
     6. Craptacular shooting and magic attacks

Let us examine why these things are a problem for our scaly carnivorous friends, and what we can do about them:

1. Arm 19+


High armor just makes a gatorman cry. Sure, we can throw out respectably accurate P+S 13s like they've gone out of style, but the amount of high P+S attacks, armor debuffs and damage buffs available to us have been quite limited:
  • Our hardest hitters are the Wrastler (P+S 17) for 9 pts, or Snapjaw (P+S 17) with Wrong Eye for 9pts. Respectable, but still a bit dice-dependent.
  • Other heavy beasts are the Spitter at P+S 15 and Horror at 16 (with a sweet crit!).
  • Damage buffs - none.
  • Arm debuffs - Parasite on Calaban (awesome spell, wrong caster), and Malediction on Maelok.

I have had games where people just rammed a jack in my face and after analysing the situation, my best response was to flip the table. I've also had games where an enemy caster just camped 4+ focus and was more or less invulnerable to any of my attacks, dragging the game out for 4-5 rounds after I'd killed everything else (except the ARM 19" jacks)

This is why Rask is being hailed as the Blindwater messiah - he brings a significant damage buff in Fury, and a pretty reliable way to remove enemy upkeeps and focus with his gun.

Current strategies for dealing with ARM:

  • Barnabas - Swamp Pits. You'll probably have a Wrastler to bring those high-POW attacks, so why not just use it to 2-handed throw a jack into a swamp pit? It's both hilarious, effective and infuriating to your opponent. You can also use the Pits to slow jacks down. Deathjack loves this. It's like Rift, but good. It's not as reliable a tactic against Hordes since a large chunk of heavy beasts have access to Rush or Pathfinder or Wings.
  • Maelok - Ignore the ARM by running around it while incorporeal, or tank it with a couple of super-tough Gators that will come back next turn, or man up and run into it with Malediction up (less risky than it sounds) and unleash whatever you can muster. P+S 15s on the charge are pretty good.
  • Calaban - You have Parasite! And Hex Blast! But you're playing Calaban, so you have other problems.
  • Roll well on damage rolls. By far the most effective strategy and the one that requires the least player skill. This is made easier by increasing your odds of doing damage by KDing your targets so you don't fluff on attack rolls.
  • Throw heavy targets away and jam them with troops or disrupt it with Thrullgs. Also quite funny.
  • Thrullgs can also remove ARM buffs. They will probably die trying, but it's worth a shot, right?

You'll notice a lot of these strategies do not work on Colossals. This is because Colossals were in fact designed as a response to the Gatorman threat in Western Immoren . Your best response to Colossals as a Gator player is to crap yourself and get back in the water.

2. Weapon Master infantry

I was playing against a Ret player the other day who was packing a unit of Sentinels + UA. I was very careful not to touch any of the Sentinels so Vengeance would not trigger. On my last activation of the turn, I stupidly shot something with my Spitter, missed, deviated onto a Sentinel and rolled an 11 on blast damage. During the next maintenance phase, I pretty much lost my entire army.

Although Gatormans are very resilient with ARM buffs all over the place, they just get completely hosed by weapon master infantry. This is because Gatormans will usually get to charge on account of Blood Thirst (charging as far as you run is cool) + good shooting protection, and excel are grinding due to having 2 attacks each at a good P+S and Unyielding. In this context, ARM 18 with damage boxes is pretty stellar.

On the other hand, Weapon Master infantry don't really care too much about not being able to charge, and their damage potential is very high, so they don't care about your ARM or boxes. In my experience, Posse members will just explode when faced against weapon masters, unless they are really buffed up.

There isn't all that much you can do against weapon masters in general other than playing smart and choosing your match-ups carefully. Buffs such as Iron Flesh or Death Pact can play a part in swinging a matchup in your favour. It depends on the individual unit you are facing - sometimes it's best to control them with Swamp Pits, to tank them with mega-buffed Posse or beasts, to jam them with Bog Troggs, or to try and pick them off (really) slowly at ranged so the chunk that gets to you is manageable.

3. Undead

A lot of the abilities which take Gatormans and Blindwater models from mediocre to pretty damn good rely on the target being alive. Here is a non-exhaustive list:

  • Blood Thirst (Snapper, Snapjaw, Gatormans)
  • Man Eater (Snapper, Snapjaw)
  • Blood Boon (Barnabas)
  • Carnivore (Calaban)
  • Flesh Eater (Barnabas)
  • Grave Door (Calaban)
  • Torpid (Snapper)
  • Snacking (Wrastler, Snapjaw's bond)
  • Cold Blood (Gatormans)
  • Poison (Croak Hunter)
  • Life Drinker (Wrong Eye)
  • Cull Soul (Maelok)
  • Swarm (Boneswarm)
Bloodthirst and Cold Blood on the Posse are especially huge. Losing 2" of threat range against undead really, really hurts.

Also, somewhat related: an almost complete lack of magical weapons outside our casters. Fortunately the Witch Doctor helps a bit here with his Sacral Blade and Sacrificial Strike ability. There's also Dahlia and her 'you can't melee or shoot me, L2 cast spells' thing that just straight up laughs at your army and your Fury 6 casters.

4. Youngest Faction

This is pretty straight-forward. Pigmans and Gatormans are the youngest faction, so they have less stuff and less options than everyone else. Therefore more design gaps, less redundancy, and space wasted by garbage like Bone Swarms.

5. Minions for hire

The majority of the Minion models are also designed to be taken by other Hordes factions. As such, they have to be designed in such a way that they won't break the game. For example, it would be pretty broken if Wrong Eye took a Snapper into a mercenary army and put Spiny Growth on a very tough warjack that is capable of putting out 2d3 boosted AoEs a turn and be affected by Batten Down the Hatches or some other such buff.

As such, a lot of the Minion models should lean towards being pretty underpowered so that something like this never, ever happens.

6. Craptacular shooting/magic attacks


Blindwater has no shooting units. It's part of the deal - no good shooting, but good shooting denial. We have two casters with RNG 10 magical guns (Rask + Caliban). Each Gator caster also has a short range magic nuke (or two in Calaban's case). The Witch Doctor also has Sacrifical Strike. We have one beast with a potent Corrosion AoE (Spitter), so it cannot kill Gorman. Oh, and Pendrake. I guess he counts.

That's it for the whole faction. It's a good part of the reason why we have real trouble with weapon master infantry, or incorporeal models, or Dahlia and Skaryth, and will never be able to kill the Covenant of Menoth, and Gorman will pretty much always get a Black Oil off unless you dedicate a Totem Hunter to kill him (100% worthwhile trade).

Why Cryx sucks


So what is it that makes Gators especially crap against Cryx of all factions?
  • Tons of cheap weapon masters - Banes, Banes, Banes... Banes that also charge pretty far thanks to Tartarus. And Satyxis that go 55" inches turn one and can't be shot or KD and then proceed to one-shot a Gatorman with weapon master mini-feats. Sweeter than coconut milk.
  • Swarms of cheap undead that hit as hard as South Auckland public bus.
  • Terminus! Holy f*cking monkey on a string, does this guy just straight up screw Gators. Ridulous ARM, tough and undead. Oh, he also flies and does a crapton of damage in melee. Neat. Rask won't even be able to shoot his focus off due to Sac Pawn? Awesome. Bring in the Thrullgs! 
  • Movement control spells and feats are really hard to deal with in melee armies. And Cryx has buckets of it. Anything that slows you, restricts your charges, running or target selection hurts because of each model's limited personal threat area (as opposed to models with guns, which have a sizable threat area even when unable to move).
  • Incorporeal models and units. You know what's funny? Blackbane's Ghost Raiders jamming your caster, and Pistol Wraiths rickrolling your beasts. Then doing it again, and again.
  • Almost no reliance on the ranged game. So they don't care so much about your denial options, and just do what you do better.

FU Cryx.

I hear Skorne is a bad match-up due to similar things but switching out 'tons of stuff' with 'tons of ARM' but I don't play against Skorne too often. But I will post some rage about it if that turns out to be the case.


  1. Thoughts on Cryx with Rask as an option?

    1. Purely theorymachine, but I would say ever so slightly better simply because Rask is so good, but not enough for it to be a real game still. He has more options, but nothing that specifically gives a good matchup against the ever-present Cryx infantry spam.

      I have only played one game against Cryx with Rask, against an eGoreshade Bane swarm (significantly better than a Boneswarm) that recycled itself enough to kill all my guys over many turns.

      I think Maelok tier is probably the best matchup against Cryx. 2pt Witch Doctors allows you to comfortably take a few and gives you mass undead to counter their douchiness, and as long as you're not playing against eLich or Terminus, you should be able to kill their caster with a couple of Gators. The Rask tier list might have some merit too on similar grounds.

      Rask is amazing in the Skorne and Protectorate matchup though, it's like night and day.