Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New Year's Resolution - Review

I made a couple of resolutions back in January in regards to Warmachine:
  1. Don't play another faction
  2. Play at least three games a month (not counting tournaments)
  3. Play in at least three tournaments
  4. Keep writing on this blog every once in a while
  5. Let people know I stole the title of this blog from a CARCASS song

So how did I do? Pretty well, I think.

1. Despite a few weeks early on where I was quite upset at only getting two releases this cycle and intent on playing Skorne, I have in fact been playing Barnabas, Maelok and Rask for the vast majority of my games. I had a couple of lull moments in the year where I borrowed other people's models to keep my interest up on weekly game nights, playing some Khador, Pigmans, Protectorate, CoC, Skorne, and yes, even some Calaban (enough to keep the hate meter full). I still do not own any Skorne models.

2. Easy - I put Thursday evenings aside for Warmachine and try to get a game every time. I also played on Tuesdays for a while since X-Factor was on TV and I made a conscious decision to get the hell out of the house.

3. Achieved:
  • Ides of March - 25/37
  • Beermachine 2013A - 12/12 - I was playing Skorne and rage drank the rest of the event after rolling snakes 3 attacks in a row with a Bronzeback (1 in 46,656 odds). That is what we call "snakes from the divine".
  • Wolfcry - 4/16
  • Who's the Boss - 1/16
  • eChoptober - 3/16
  • Rallypoint - 9/24
  • There was another Beermachine in there but I drank too much delicious cinnamon liquor and decided to scoop my last two games so no idea what else happened. Pretty sure I didn't come last.
I don't travel much for events so I am really happy to see the number of local tournaments go up (especially 1 dayers!). I am also fortunate to belong to a community with a lot of really cool guys that I never get to see outside Warmachine tournaments but always have a great time playing against no matter the outcome and hanging out with between rounds.
Again a special shoutout to the NZ WM community people who gave up their time and opportunity to play so I could play in tournaments this year: Dave Stent, Chris Russell, Luke Brimblecombe, Damian Caulfield and Daniel Conlon.

4. I'm still here? Very surprising, to be honest. Who else could have written this many posts in a year with almost no releases? Probably anyone with a Cryx blog.

5. This is true. CARCASS reformed and put out a new album this year. It's not Necroticism or Heartwork, but it's pretty good.

How did your gaming resolutions go? I hope nobody made a resolution to play Calaban all year.

Playing the same list for a year straight

Overall, I've had a good time playing Gators. I like the feeling of being so familiar with my models and their abilities that I know exactly what they are capable of and what they aren't so can spend my games reacting to my opponent and setting up for my next turns rather than getting frustrated because I forgot some ability. For instance, I've become eerily familiar with the distances of 10.5"and 12" and have an intuitive sense for how much punishment my stuff can dish out and how much punishment it can take (statistically speaking).The only things I somethings forget at this stage are Snacking on the Wrastler and Girded on the Spitter (both of which hardly come into play). (1)

I know most of my good matchups, and most of my bad ones, and wish they weren't so skewy. I know Rask beats Ret really easily in any scenario game, and I can outgrind most generic Troll lists without issue. On the flipside, I know that I can demonstrably play better than Cryx opponents and still have it end up in a really, really close game that can go either way, or I can get slightly outplayed by a Cryx player and just get completely steamrolled with little chance for retaliation. If I see a Colossal across the table, the odds of killing it or winning in a single-zone scenario without Rask are minuscule. I can't do anything against multiple incorporeal models, and get hosed in the piece-trade game vs weapon master swarms. From this, I also realize that my placing in a tournament can have almost as much do to with my draw as my play.

I like that after I lose a game, I can usually analyze the game and know how I would play that match-up better next time with the range of tools I have rather than feeling like I should buy a unit of Kayazy or Boomhowlers or Gorman or whatever OP merc models and then have a much easier time of winning (2). I also accept that because I play Minions, there's just some games where I am way undergeared and have the odds stacked against me irrelevant of my play.

But that's ok, and it comes with the territory.

Gators are fun. I am really familiar with them and love playing them for their strengths and weaknesses rather than in spite of them. It makes every win more rewarding and softens the blow of every loss. They don't cost me much money at all, which as a married man is super awesome. It is probably the first time in 15+ years of playing miniature tactical wargames that I can say that this particular army has really been worth the time and money investment relative to actual play time - I've always gotten the most out of the hobby through painting in the past.

I look forward to playing them again for another year of not getting releases and doing my best against mostly unfavorable match-ups in a competitive setting.


I'm putting this up a little early since I don't foresee too much happening around Warmachine in my life for a month or two. Shamblers aren't being  officially released for at least another 4 months, the next tournament I have lined up is mid-February (35pts using almost the exactly same lists I would have played February last year), and the next Hordes releases are probably quite a ways away. And summer is the best time to hang out, drink beer, travel, go camping, and so on.

Here is a pic of the Shamblers in case anyone missed it (sold for 75 USD at the con, if that's any indication):

That's a lot of metal.

Those won't be available to the general public for quite a few months anyway it seems, but at least they exist!

All I have to look forward to in the near future are the sweet, sweet tears of the Ret forum when they get more well-balanced models rather than the OP shit they crave desperately (I do really like the Houseguard Thane for them - still makes no difference against Rask but certainly gives them another situational tool in the proverbial box).

(1)It's a lot like how I felt when I played eButcher (still probably my favourite caster in the game) until it came to light that no matter how well you play it, running multiple Khador jacks has way too high an opportunity cost. If they improve the warjack/focus benefit for Khador, it's the one thing might make me start another faction. Fortunately, I am probably safe from that happening for a really long time as it would require some pretty fundamental changes.

(2) What I now like to call 'the Diablo 3 effect', to which I am especially sensitive.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gatormans video review

Counter Slam, a Warmahordes vidcast, just did a review of the Gatormans "faction".

The video is unlisted at present, but you can find it HERE.

The hosts run through most of the primary models used in Blindwater lists along with their rules, combined with some close-ups of the painted models. Calaban, Boneswarms and Croak Hunters are entirely absent.

Minor correction - Ornery doesn't allow you to make the retaliatory attack in response to a free strike as the enemy attack has to be made during the opponent's turn. Yes, Ornery is really not very useful.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Mk2.5 Balancing drama

There have been a lot of threads recently (last couple of months) about the desire for Mk 3 or Mk 2.5 or some kind of balancing errata so that the meta game can get shaken up a bit and we can maybe play without the absolute certainty that your Cryx opponent will be packing a list with Tartarus and a shitload of Banes, and your Cygnar opponent won't have a Haley list with Stormwall or whatever for a couple of months before the new superpowers settle on their thrones high above and the cycle beings anew. All we know is that Minions will remain the worst faction in the game.

So I decided to think out loud (in written form) and put together a little article about what changes I would put forward for Blindwater under such an update patch. Hopefully this at worst will give people a perspective of how I play Gators and what the meta around here is like. Here are the fruits of my mental labour.

A little theory to kick things off....

There are a few ways to balance things in games.

  • Numbers change - you can make something relatively better or worse in some specific regard by increasing or decreasing a particular stat.
This is the most common type of change in a game 'patch'. Numbers (or stats) represent relative things in an absolute way so that we can compare to other similar things in the system. The more stats you have, the more there is to tweak (and also more complicated and detailed gameplay).
For example, there is a sizable degree of difference between MAT 5 (Titan Sentry), MAT 6 (Assault Kommando), MAT 7 (Doom Reaver) and MAT 9 (Vilmon). In relative/descriptive terms, we can say the Sentry is 'competent' in melee combat, the AK is 'trained', the Doom Reaver is 'highly skilled' and Vilmon is 'one of the best in the entire world'. We can encapsulate these differences by assigning those numbers to their MAT, and this will play out in the game via the exciting realm of dice and probability. Thus changing a number makes something better or worse in that regard.

Points Cost is probably the single most important stat because it determines the relative total value of any given model to another potential option. Points are one of the most important resources in Warmachine, and changing the PC of a model (especially in the lower 1-5pt bracket) can make a huge difference to the power of a model.

  • Mechanics change - changing one mechanic on a model can change its effectiveness.
Take for example the change to Side Step so that the 2" move no longer triggered upon hitting a friendly model. This reduced the effectiveness of the eMakeda Molik Karn Bullet list slightly so that it became easier for the opponent to not get killed bottom of two.
Another example of this would be the multiple changes to Lich2's feat, from changing the returned models from 'Incorporeal' to 'Ghostly', or changing valid feat targets from 'warrior models' to 'grunts'. The feat does essentially the same thing as it did before - bringing back a bunch of ethereal banes to kill half your army - but certain mechanics of the ability were changed to reduce its power.

  • Redesign - some models do not work on the table as intended, or have a role or purpose already fulfilled by a competitive option.
For example, nobody plays Drudges in a competitive setting because Mechanithralls do a very similar thing (potentially hard hitting tarpit) at a much lower cost, greater efficiency and without the weakness of being tied to its Officer to function. Therefore Drudges would need more than just a mechanics change (they don't have many to begin with) or a simple stats change (McThralls are still better at 3/5 PC) but something a bit more involved.
I'd also put Calaban as a candidate for redesign, as anyone who has read pretty much any article on here knows how I feel about playing him, as well as his validity in a competitive setting post-Rask.

Finally, a disclaimer - balance is in the eye of the beholder, much like power. Everything takes place within a complicated interconnected system where changing one small thing can have trigger a chain of events further down the line. Some people have a good sense for this type of thing, while the average player in a game does not. This is why balance decisions are best when they occur as the result of careful statistical analysis and systemic thinking combined with consensus-based discussions of subjective perspectives and values.

In my opinion, Privateer Press has a mixed record on game balancing in Mk2. I like how they have approached Lich2 nerfs with gradual tweaking rather than huge sweeping nerfs (as game companies like Blizzard are wont to do) and have done a pretty good job of quickly fixing core mechanic issues that have popped up like the Shield Guard, headlocks from behind, Cover LoS, Sloan's feat, Backswing, etc. but have been almost entirely non-committal on rebalancing the game in terms of power levels or fixing units that are just plain unattractive (with occasional exceptions like Asphyxious, the Blood Hag or more recently Taryn).

I think there is a lot to gain if a large balance errata were released. It would stimulate the metagame for the better part of 6 months to a year (far more than a handful of new releases), thus getting current players more excited about the game and buying new stuff. There is always the issue that your netdecked list won't be playable anymore exactly as is, or that your beloved OP models won't be as broken anymore, but as long as they don't nerf anything into the ground or make really dramatic changes to models that people currently use regularly, then everyone wins.

On the Gatormans!


Our warlocks are pretty strong on the whole. Rask is probably a little on the powerful side, and Calaban is a little on the never-gets-played-because-he-is-annoying-to-use-and-pretty-much-inferior-to-Rask-in-every-way side.

Bloody Barnabas

+ 1 POW on Bone Cleaver
This just adds a little more warjack/warbeast killing power to Barnabas himself. Too often I charge an average heavy like an Ironclad, Harrower, Banshee, Scythean etc. and fall short of killing it by a few boxes despite charging and spending all my fury. It's a bit of a downer for a Gatorman tank, and I think this change will make a noticeable difference in smoothing out his crippling difficulty with ARM 20+.
I think Blood-Quenched would be an amazing rule on eBarnabas :)

Maelok, the Dreadbound

No change. 
I would perhaps make Malediction 'target model in this model's battlegroup' rather than 'RNG: Self', but that would probably make him a bit too strong since it's like giving Gators +2 MAT and POW vs any given large target, thereby almost removing the need to take heavy warbeasts and giving a lot more power to the Maelok + 3 Snappers list (it'd be like Dark Shroud on crack).

I love this artwork.


-1 WB point.  
He is obviously better than the other Gator warlocks. 1 less WB points usually means you don't get those Swamp Gobbers to give him concealment or a Feralgeist to annoyingly contest zones. I considered also removing his Energy Siphon attack since it's just icing on the cake that can potentially win games for no real reason, but it's not really a huge deal. As long as Gators remain super weak in ranged combat, Rask will refrain from being broken as balls and just remain really strong.

Calaban, the Grave Walker

Heavy redesign. 
Rask has taken this guy's previous niche of ARM cracking and just does it way more efficiently and safely. I would like a redesign to emphasize his manipulative voodoo asshole persona, focusing on denial, spell assassination and debuffs. Think of spells like Bad Blood, Breath Stealer and Shadowmancer, or douchy abilities like Harrow (pMorv) and Talion (pVayl). I like the idea of Shadowmancer a lot more than Parasite + Occultation since it gives you an incentive to NOT take 3 full Posse at 50pts, as they will get shot up. Gameplay wise, he could also be designed to do well vs hard-hitting infantry swarms so that Gators can have a 50/50 against it.

Either way he goes, his arc node mechanic (if kept) needs to be less clunky, like straight-up making Spell Martyr equivalent models that can activate that turn (which will only be really strong on his feat turn), or anything I've written on at length previously.


Blindwater warbeasts are very average. They don't have great stats, are a little pricey, but do come with some neato abilities make all the difference in using them.

Blackhide Wrastler

Change Snacking so that the RFP effect is not conditional upon the heal effect.
I just think it's really annoying and janky to try and get a point of damage on your beast so that you can RFP if you want to. Just have it RFP all the time as the thing gets eaten or ripped up good. This would be a 'buff' to Dire Trolls too... and Shredders (although Shredders should probably lose Snacking altogether).
+1 POW on the claws would be nice but not necessary. The Wrastler isn't great in the scheme of things but does his job well enough if you know how to use him.

Ironback Spitter

New animus.
The Spitter sucks pretty bad in melee, is slow and not particularly hard to kill for something covered almost entirely in a hard shell. Fine, because it has a sweet AoE gun and RAT 5 with 4 fury. That alone is almost worth the admission. However, in well over 100 games with Blindwater, I have never cast the Ornery animus. It is, for all intents and purposes, a total waste of card space for the Spitter.
I assume Ornery is supposed to symbolize the tendency of snapper turtles to ferociously bite down on things in self-defense (since they are too big to fully retreat into their shell), but in gameplay it fails.

I think Locker (from the Titan Sentry) would be an adequate replacement.  Counterblast is the next most logical option since it is Ornery but better, however that animus is also pretty crap.
Or allow it to Stoneform as an animus. That would be sweet and probably not too strong on any caster all things considered (since it doesn't stack with Spiny Growth). Maelok could be ARM 23 for a turn at worse.

Swamp Horror

No change.
They are neat because they have lots of attack and don't die to shooting (but die to everything else). I wish this had been the Gargantuan though, basically the same thing with bigger numbers and an automatic crit.

Bull Snapper

No change. 
They are squishy support beasts that can missile out and kill a thing sometimes. Basically the same deal as a Shredder or Gorax, just more Gatory.


This thing sucks. I have seen it be decent in Midas' tier list when it starts with 3 bone tokens because it is then quite tanky at DEF 13 ARM 18 (just like a dirged Gator! For twice the cost!), so you park it on a flag somewhere and it kills 1-2 models a turn, healing itself and such. Or it does some decent damage to an enemy heavy at POW 15 and then lives long enough to be annoying. Decent - not great. Basically it needs a sense of purpose which it does not currently have.


We have three units, one of which won't be released until 2017. Gatormans are one of the best units in the Hordes (almost said 'the game'... then remembered Warmachine units) and are the backbone of Blindwater and will probably remain so for as long as the Pact exists.

Gatorman Posse

No change.
Prior to the release of the Warspear and Skinwalker UAs, I'd have said that they needed something to make them less attractive to other factions, but now I don't see Legion or Circle players use Gatormans all that much... or at all. They are still super good but still die rather handily if you know how to do it and have the tools (weapon masters, smart use of heavies, control, etc.).

Bog Trog Ambushers

No change. 
They are kind of costly for their poor base stats really but are a finesse unit with quite a few special rules.

Gatorman Bokor and Swamp Shamblers

Change their status to 'released'. 
Amazing game-changing buff. I still think they will relatively be much better outside Blindwater than within it, unlike the two above units.

Swamp Gobbers

No change. 
1pt for a cloud seems ok, especially considering they do nothing else and die to incidental blast damage.


We have two distinct Gatorman solos, the Croaks and Croctor, and then have a couple of more general Minion solos to go with the legendary Wrong Eye.

Gatorman Witch Doctor

No change.
I am a little bummed that these guys cost 3pts in general but only 2pts in Maelok's tier list, where they are precisely at their most powerful for Gators, which signifies a Minion tax. However I can suck it up since they are pretty good anyways.

Totem Hunter

No change. 
No surprise.

Croak Hunter

Gain + 1 DEF, lose Vitriol
Ah Croaks.... I have never even seen them played outside Blindwater since they are so mediocre. I have barely seen them played within Blindwater since they are so mediocre. They have done ok for me purely because they allow me to clear single-models here and there without activating a whole unit of Gators or a beast.
My first thought was that Jump will allow them to do this even better. Plus it is incredily froggy. The only issue is that they basically become crappy Totem Hunters for 1pt less, and we don't really want that... or do we.....?
Secondary thought was to make them blow up when they die like Bloat Thralls, because that'd be hilarious. But then they would just run/jam and kill heaps of infantry for nothing and then I realized this would be way too faceroll / Cryxian.
Tertiary thought was to just buff their DEF by 1 so they are less prone to death after they fail to hit something with their spears, and just went with that.
I just took Vitriol off the card because it does nothing and it's just some fluffy ability for fluffers.

Viktor Pendrake

Bow becomes Magical.
This is the most minor change ever and is only a real deal for Blindwater since we are starved for magic attacks. Makes sense though, no? That bow has to be lucky for a reason (and that reason is MAGIC).

Wrong Eye + Snapjaw

No change. 
These guys are great and don't really bust anything in the game outside putting Spiny Growth on Galleon. You could make them 2-3pts more and that wouldn't change though - a hard skew is a hard skew and I am 99% sure this is just something that wasn't picked up in playtesting. Would need a subtype change perhaps, or a change with how lesser warlocks work.

Total changes:

  • Barnabas - Increase POW of melee weapon 'Bone Cleaver' from '5' to '6'. (or just give him Dark Shroud, that's probably better :P )
  • Rask - Reduce WB points from '+6' to '+5'.
  • Calaban - redesign.
  • Wrastler - replace the text of Snacking with: 'When this model boxes a living model with a melee attack, the boxed model is removed from play and this model can heal d3 damage points'.
  • Spitter - replace 'Ornery' animus with something I will cast at least once in 100 games. Or not.
  • Boneswarm - redesign.
  • Pendrake - add weapon quality: 'magical weapon' to ranged weapon 'Lucky Bow'.
  • Croak Hunter - Increase DEF stat from '13' to '14'. Remove rule 'Vitriol'.

All in all, very small balance changes since I feel Blindwater is in a good place other than the lack of options leading to really bad matchups vs things like weapon master swarms (need some guns/scathers/A2A-type infantry clear) and incorporeal spam (magical weapons).
I would have like to have more nerfs to give the impression that I can have a balanced mindset about things, but to be honest I only view Rask and Gatormans on the really high part of the curve.... this is still Minions we're talking about!

The redesign are for two models I never use because other models within the same faction do similar things in much more effective and well-designed ways. For a thought exercise, Boneswarms at 3pts are still much less appealing than Snappers, and Calaban at +7WB points is still as irritating as groin chaffing and worse than Rask at everything except throwing out POW 12 nukes (mostly because Rask has no offensive spells). This indicates to me that the models just don't really work so need some deeper changes. Some may disagree of course.

In the greater scheme of the game, I think that several models could use small-tweaks in cost or ability use in order to level out power inequalities or obstacles to player engagement. Little changes like:
  • Making eMorvahna's rerolls in her CMD rather than CTRL to force her to play a bit more forward, or at least consider order of activations a bit more.
  • Smoothing out uber-crippling feats that literally stop you playing the game, like pDenny (ie. remove the -2 FOC and 'no running') or eHaley's.
  • Making Assault Kommandos cheaper so they might have a place as meat shields with Strakhov and Vlads.
  • Reducing the amount of tough rolls in an average game, or changing the mechanic if they want to keep it at that scale so it doesn't feel like I'm playing 40k.
  • Changing Excarnate to basically be Revive attached to a POW 13 nuke - place the model within 3" of its unit rather than the caster and in this model's CTRL (nerf Lich, buff Scaverous = everyone wins).
Others, like Drudges, need some serious redesign. I think they have the data and expertise to do such a 'patch' justice (much more than I ever could anyway), and besides it'd probably only impact 5-10% of the models currently out.

Alas, we will wait and see what happens. I know it's way cheaper for me to play Minions when I know Pigs are really bad and don't bring anything better to the table so there's no reason to buy a Pig list other than lolz :) I will keep playing the same lists for another year or three if need be.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rallypoint - The Reckoning

2 day tournaments are soul-draining affairs, which I guess is why Cryx does so well.

Here are some quick reports from my games. I have no pictures or anything from the event, and only had a punnet of strawberries for lunch on day one. I will therefore have to keep you entertained using witty anecdotes and my own brand of bitter rage. Opponents' list have been gathered from repressed depths of my memory, while my lists were the same as Choptober except WE + Snapjaw instead of a 3rd Posse with Rask.


We left Auckland at 6:30am and got to the venue in Hamilton about 8am. Road tripping is the best part of the tournament since you can talk about how awesome you'll do on the way down and rage about how bad you did on the way back up. It is especially good when you have a Retribution player on board and they constantly talk about switching factions on the return trips.

Game 1 vs Legion (Nikola) - Scenario: Close Quarters

Faction: Legion of Everblight
Vayl, Disciple of Everblight (*6pts)
* Shredder (2pts)
* Ravagore (10pts)
* Scythean (9pts)
* Seraph (8pts)
* Typhon (12pts)
Blighted Nyss Striders (Leader and 5 Grunts) (6pts)
* Blighted Nyss Striders Officer & Musician (3pts)
Blighted Nyss Shepherd (1pts)
Blighted Nyss Shepherd (1pts)
Strider Deathstalker (2pts)
The Forsaken (2pts)

Nikola is one of the guys who drove down with us in the car. He is a new player and a Croatian immigrant, which makes him alright in my book. I chose to play Barnabas vs Legion, and he dropped pVayl since that's the list he was comfortable with (pVayl is one of the strongest Legion matchups against Gators with Typhon due to Incite + Rampager). He went 3-1 with his Vayl list, and 0-3 with his Lylyth2 list over the tournament.

This was the only game of the tourmanent where I felt I played legitimately badly and was outplayed by my opponent and lost. This could be because I spent most of the time explaining everything on the table in multiple ways and as a result blew up my brain and ignored vital factors like scenario, threat ranges, and board control, but either way I got crushed pretty bad after my poor plans combined with  some crotch dice and lost Barnabas to a Typhon melee assassination. Typical of my tournament starts were I get nutstomped round one.

0 CPs

Game 2 vs Retribution (Chris Ford) - Scenario: Incoming

Faction: Retribution of Scyrah
Points: 48/50
Kaelyssa, Night's Whisper (*7pts)
* Banshee (10pts)
* Phoenix (10pts)
* Sylys Wyshnalyrr, the Seeker (2pts)
Dawnguard Sentinels (Leader and 9 Grunts) (9pts)
* Dawnguard Sentinel Officer & Standard (2pts)
Houseguard Halberdiers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (7pts)
* Houseguard Halberdiers Officer & Standard (2pts)
Mage Hunter Infiltrators (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Arcanist (1pts)
Mage Hunter Assassin (2pts)
Mage Hunter Assassin (2pts)

I am missing some filler points it seems. Maybe there was Scyir in there somewhere.

I have never played against Chris before and it was a pleasant experience. He was a good player and put up a strong game with a sweet-looking Ret army. I chose to drop Barnabas again so I could save Rask for later since he didn't have a Hyperion in either list. This made the matchup much more even than if I had dropped Rask but still in my favour. He chose to drop Kaelyssa rather than Ravyn (good call).

Barnabas spent the whole time hiding in a Swamp Pit inside my zone, and I sent a single unit of Posse to contest his zone, which they did fine vs Infiltrators for the whole game. I responded to his feat by running about ~7 Gatormans into the Halberdier wall, which then became a huge line of jam as Halberdiers and Sentinels tried to kill as many Gators as possible (they got most them). The one odd thing is he didn't use the Halberdiers mini-feat that turn, since he felt he would get to use it again more effectively later. I asked if he had played against Gators before, and he said no.

Here is a picture of a Gatorman in combat with Ret infantry.
Notice the mass casualties on the right.

I then killed almost all the Sentinels and Halberdiers with a Spitter, Totem Hunter, Croaks and a couple of the remaining Gatormans. I also charged the Phoenix with my Wrastler, death rolled boosted and rolled a 1,2,2 like a boss. GG Wrastler. Anyway, I got to 4CPs that turn and he didn't have much left, so he ran Kaelyssa into my zone to steal 3 CPs (Incoming is a pretty stupid scenario) since I forgot to leave a non-warcaster model in the zone. This minor mistake would later cost me a game the next day.

Another thing I remember in this game is Chris passing like 7 terror checks over the course of the game. It was a sight to behold as the elves stood firm to the end. Who needs fearless?


Game 3 vs Skorne (Gavin) - Scenario: Incursion

Faction: Rasheth - Chain Gang
Points: 44/50
Tiers: 4
Dominar Rasheth (*5pts)
* Bronzeback Titan (9pts)
* Titan Gladiator (7pts)
* Titan Gladiator (7pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Nihilators (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (3pts)
Agonizer (2pts)
Agonizer (2pts)
Paingiver Task Master (2pts)

Obviously missing some stuff. I dropped Rask. This gap is memory is understandable given the events that followed:

Round 1, Turn 1: I run up.
Round 1, Turn 2: He runs up. He casts a Breath of Corruption through a Nihilator, killing a Gatorman.
Left flag disappears.
Round 2, Turn 1: I run Snapjaw into B2B with the right hand side flag, and run a unit of Gators close to the middle flag. Rask feats and puts up Inhospitable Ground.
Round 2, Turn 2: He backs everything up and contests nothing. I get 2 CPs.
Round 3, Turn 1: I move Rask in B2B with the middle flag, bringing me to 5 CPs.

TO's reaction:

I didn't roll a single die. My opponent was obviously super bummed that he let something like that happen, but that's why they say there's no better place to learn the game than tournaments. The better course of action would have been to run most stuff into my Gators, feat and use dual Agonizer auras to reduce incoming damage significantly. After that it would probably be a dice rolling contest of Furied Gatormans vs Enraged beat-back heavies, since I don't have the guns to remove the Agonizers from the back, making my beasts near useless.

So I won in the douchiest way possible (pro skillz) and got a much desired 1.5 hour break to go walking around the venue and play some Watchmachine.

10 CPs

Game 4 vs PoM (Chris Baker) - Scenario: Supply and Demand

Faction: Protectorate of Menoth
Points: 49/50
High Exemplar Kreoss (*5pts)
* Reckoner (8pts)
Avatar of Menoth (11pts)
Choir of Menoth (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Exemplar Errants (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Exemplar Errant Officer & Standard Bearer (2pts)
Holy Zealots (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
* Holy Zealot Monolith Bearer (2pts)
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist (2pts)
Knight Exemplar Seneschal (3pts)
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord (2pts)
The Covenant of Menoth (2pts)
The Wrack (3 wracks) (1pts)
Vassal Mechanik (1pts)
Vassal of Menoth (2pts)
Vassal of Menoth (2pts)

I seem to play Chris once every tournament. He plays a different army every tournament, but always complains about how bad he is, irrelevant of faction, while taking nutbusting lists and getting a winning record. This time he played PoM, and I dropped Rask. There were also two HUGE obstruction pieces to either side of the zone. These factors resulted in a really stupid game played on the middle 16" of the board with very little room for tactics or clever use of game mechanics.

Here is a summary of the game, turn by turn:

My turns - Cast Inhospitable Ground, disrupt Reckoner. Stab Errants.
His turns - No KD on book, Tough on Defender's Warded Errants, blind my Wrastler with Gorman hiding behind three Errants (which I will obviously never kill due to their Self-Sac, thus never getting an attack on Gorman). Stab Gators.

This went on for about 5 rounds or so (he used his feat somewhere in the middle to kill about 6 Gators with Zealot bombs and Errants), until I managed to get a Furied Boundless Charge Swamp Horror onto the Avatar and within reach of Kreoss, who totalled the Avatar and pulled Kreoss in to get charged by Snapjaw. I brought Kreoss down to 3 boxes, and probably would have killed him had I boosted my last damage roll instead of futilely fishing for a crit with my initial tail attack (forgot that no KD was up on the book, somehow).

Things then got serious as stuff started really dying, and I was looking to either lose on attrition or win on deathclock until Kreoss charged forward to kill some Gators, camped 8 like a boss, then got shot in the face with Rask's Disruptor Bolt, getting rid of that focus and rolling some death. Yep, Rask actually killed someone himself.

Oh, I also gave him a CP by destroying my own objective. Apparently that changed from SR2012 to SR2013. Anyway, I got 2 zealot kills out of it. Totally worth it.

10 CPs

So as is common with me, I lose my first game of the day horribly and win the next 3. Typical JS chipmunking. We drive back to Auckland and hear about how bad Retribution is.



All three of my Day Two games were quite close despite the matchups not being in my favour at any point.

Game 5 vs Cryx (Evil Dave) - Scenario: Into the Breach

Faction: Cryx
Points: 50/50
Warwitch Deneghra (*5pts)
* Deathripper (4pts)
* Deathjack (12pts)
* Skarlock Thrall (2pts)
Bane Knights (Leader and 9 Grunts) (10pts)
Bloodgorgers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Satyxis Raiders (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Satyxis Raider Sea Witch (2pts)
General Gerlak Slaughterborn (3pts)
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist (2pts)
Satyxis Raider Captain (2pts)
Warwitch Siren (2pts)

Yay Cryx. Dave is possibly the nicest person one could ever play against and his army looks really stellar so it's tough to hold his choice of faction against him. Tough, but not impossible. There is always a place in my heart for Cryx hate.

He dropped pDenny, I dropped Barnabas. I decided to push for the zone, he pushed for the flag. I feel that he delayed his feat too long (used it Turn 3), which allowed me to feat first and kill basically his entire army, except for some Satyxis, all Bloodgorgers (who both have No Sleeping on the Job because they are Cryx) and Deathjack who was miles away and terrified of the Swamp Pits. That satisfaction you get when you kill a full unit of Bane Knights in one turn.... oh yeah. There were 2 Satyxis in the zone I wasn't able to clear, so I didn't get any CPs at this time.
He then feated and killed some stuff and we went back and forth on points as stuff died. Eventually I lost out in the end as I didn't leave a model in my zone again (see game 2), therefore allowing him to score a point there by toeing in and win 5 to 4. If I had left a model in there, I would have had to kill a now-fully healed Deathjack with Barnabas and maybe a Wrastler... not the greatest proposition. Probably the best game of the tournament, where I made 2-3 tiny positioning mistakes that lost me CPs and the game. If only Barnabas didn't hit like a wet noodle....

14 CPs

Game 6 vs Circle (Luke Brimblecombe) Scenario: Fire Support

Faction: Circle Orboros
Points: 50/50
Morvahna the Dawnshadow (*5pts)
* Gorax (4pts)
* Warpwolf Stalker (10pts)
* Warpwolf Stalker (10pts)
Shifting Stones (2pts)
* Stone keeper (1pts)
Shifting Stones (2pts)
Tharn Bloodtrackers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Nuala the Huntress (2pts)
Warpborn Skinwalkers (Leader and 4 Grunts) (8pts)
* Warpborn Alpha (3pts)
Gallows Grove (1pts)
Gallows Grove (1pts)

Gatorman Witch Doctor (3pts)

Luke was the only undefeated player at this point so in my opinion should have won, but alas this is a 2 day NZ format that rewinds grinding your face against the wall until you bleed. He got matched up against me despite my pretty average record due to some unusual pairing system and was pretty confident in the matchup given that eMorvahna is an OP grinding monster.

Anyway, he ran tough undead Bloodtrackers in my face and slowly killed Gators with hit/damage rerolls, traded one Stalker for my Wrastler. I then proceeded to move Barnabas up to the halfway mark, feat, and kill all but one Skinwalker (who was in melee with Barnabas, so I should really have killed him), most of the Bloodtrackers, and the Gallows Groves. He responded by feating and bringing back EVERY SINGLE MODEL I HAD KILLED then running back behind an obstacle right on the edge of the kill box. Demoralizing to an extreme, but at least I can comfort myself with the fact that unlike eHaley and Deneghra's feats, I could have done something about it (wipe out units to the man). Alas, the Croaks failed me. There's a reason I'm not generally thrilled with Croak Hunters.

Seeing how screwed I was with most of my Gatormans dead and only a dead Stalker in his casualties pile, I decided to try and execute a plan the likes of which I have not executed since the release of Rask and Gargossals, both of which have dumbed down the game for me to a large extent and made me the mediocre player I am today. The moment where I was concocting this convoluted and low-probability assassination run was probably the most exciting minute of Warmachine for the last 10 months of my life, which I guess is an indication of the state of the game these days. Either that, or I'm getting old:

Morvahna has approx. 5 boxes left after the feat and a crapload of fury. She has two transfer targets - a half dead Gorax and a Stalker about 13" away from her since she had moved so far back. I managed to kill the Gorax with the last 2 members of my blue Posse (who were now surrounded by Skinwalkers), triggering Warpath so my Spitter can walk up and throw the Stalker outside her control area. A Croak Hunter and Snapper then killed a model each to try and give Barnabas a wider charge lane (which proved futile in the end as Morvahna still gained the cover bonus from the obstacle so their activations were redundant), which Barnabas used to charge into a Gallow Grove to get a free Blood Boon Flesh Eater on Morvahna, needing 13s and rolled 6,5,2 to hit and killed her with boosted damage.

Barnabas - clutch as fuck.

I stole this game so bad, I expected police to be waiting outside to question me.
So I ruined Luke's tournament that he probably should have won by taking him out of the finals and turning him off eMorvahna. Good job, JS. Kingslaying like a boss.

14 CPs

Game 7 vs Trolls (Luke Harvey) - Scenario: Rallypoint

Faction: Hoarluk - Runes of War
Points: 50/50
Tiers: 4
Hoarluk Doomshaper (*7pts)
* Troll Axer (6pts)
* Dire Troll Mauler (9pts)
* Earthborn Dire Troll (10pts)
* Mulg the Ancient (12pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Trollkin Runeshapers (Leader and 2 Crew) (3pts)
Trollkin Runeshapers (Leader and 2 Crew) (3pts)
Trollkin Runeshapers (Leader and 2 Crew) (3pts)

Trollkin Runeshapers (Leader and 2 Crew) (3pts)
Janissa Stonetide (3pts)

Dat list.....

I was paired up to play against Chris Baker again for whatever reason, but managed to haggle with the TO to play someone I hadn't played that tournament since rankings were not at stake in either match-up. Fortunately for me, this person was Luke Harvey, a Troll player of legend with a very manly beard. He has yet to beat me in a tournament game, including a loss in a Who's the Boss event where I had Wrong Eye as my warlock, but this time he came prepared with this ridiculous pDoomshaper Runes of War tier.

Here is a summary of the design meeting for this tier list:

Privateer Employee A: "Hey, Troll players think Doomshaper sucks."
Privateer Employee B: "Purification, Goad, Rampager, Fortune, that feat... what were we thinking designing this piece of crap? He does absolutely nothing against half the game!"
A: "Totally. I think we should take a highly underrated unit with a crapload of rules and damage boxes and make a list that includes like... an unlimited number of them, but also reduce their cost by 25%."
B: "Mmmm... that seems kinda OP. We should make it difficult to achieve by adding some rough tier requirements like 'must include Janyssa, two Dire Trolls and two units of Runeshapers'."
A: "What? That is way too harsh! You better give them sweet bonuses like extra 2" deployment and some walls just in case they get shot. That Doomshaper is surely going to die even at DEF 17 ARM 17 with transfers and troll animi."
B: "And Mulg too I guess. For lolz."
A: "Mega lolz."

FU A and B. You guys are assholes.

Anyway, this list is pretty good. You can either lead with the Runeshapers or the beasts depending on who you want to take the hit. He led with the walls, because having 3 walls is fair. Usually I have zero problems with Trolls, but a swarm of cheap steady pathfinder guys with POW 14 crit KD AoEs and damage boxes is really problematic. To put Runeshapers in context, they basically get to cast a 3 cost magical AoE (more or less Baldur's Earth Spikes), along with good survivability, Tremor and Force Lock for 1 pt. That is really, really strong, and makes Gorgons look like absolute horse shit. It's almost enough to make me respect Trolls. Almost.

I traded Mulg for my Wrastler bottom of 2 (Rask shooting off animi + Fury + Boundless Charge +  feat => dead Mulg and safe army), then jumped up to 3 CPs next turn through dominating his zone and mine (with the Effigy objective). I didn't any get more points after that as he just grinded into my Gators with POW 14 AoEs and made more toughs than I did, basically out-listing me. In the end I had lost every single model but Rask, and went for a list ditch assassination on Doomshaper which need like a 14 on 3 dice for damage, but failed.

Looking back I think I may have made one mistake, which was to use Wrong Eye to clear the enemy zone giving me 2CPs on turn 3, where I probably should have just kept him back and left those CPs on the table, since trading heavies is pretty much where the game is won/lost in this matchup. Especially since Doomshaper's feat was up and that put 12 or so damage on Wrong Eye in the end. If I can take out his heavies while keeping mine, then he will just deathclock himself since Luke is the NZ deathclock master. Next time.....

Luke also gave me his best sports vote (out of guilt, because I am actually a terrible person to play against since I question everything). I gave mine to Chris Baker on the futile hope that he will one day win best sports instead of best painted. I gave my best painted vote to Nikola, since I like the colour black. Everywhere. Some may call it primer, I call it grim minimalist art.
17 CPs

Tournament Total: 4 wins, 3 losses, 17 CPs
with 2 very close losses and 2 very close wins. Also managed to beat the top 2 ranked players in the country :P
I placed in the upper half of tournament so I am happy with my play and placing despite the numbers, except for the first game of course.

The tournament final was Cryx on Cryx (both players named Dave), and was won by a Cryx player (coincidentally also named Dave, who is my blog's biggest fan) for the second year in a row. The shock, the horror, the surprise. OP faction whining aside, they are both top blokes who usually rank well and play really strong lists so congrats to them (for choosing the right faction, Cryx, which is OP, especially when your name is Dave).

Thanks to Dan Conlon for organizing and being super chill the whole time despite our whining about pairings and terrain and such. What a guy.

Thoughts + mini-rant zone

  • Still not a fan of Divide and Conquer but I can live with it over a long tournament. It's potentially a dealbreaker for factions with less depth like Mercs/Minions and barely relevant for Cryx, Legion and PoM. It worked out alright for me this time with the right matchups happening at the right time. The only time I would rather have dropped something else was in game 2, where I would rather play Rask vs Ret than Barnabas (and it turns out, I could have).
  • I have a bit more respect for the Maelok + 3 Posse list. Not so much because I think Maelok is necessarily stronger than Barnabas overall, but because Undead is a really strong buff. I was reminded over the weekend how many abilities trigger off living only. It's a bit ridiculous at times. Bring more Witch Doctors.
  • Rask with 3 Posse is stronger against Trolls I feel, but Rask with WE + Snapjaw is stronger against PoM, Skorne, Cygnar, Khador...
  • F*ck Cryx, that faction is so stupid. Nobody even defends this anymore, and instead of fixing the many broken things, PP just go passive aggressive and stop releasing Cryx models for a year and a half. That'll teach them!
  • Broken 2pt merc solos need some serious balance work. Gorman, Piper and Witch Doc Croc were my bane this time around, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. OP Merc stuff is a large contributing factor to lists getting stale as options just get sidelined and make balancing the game a lot more difficult. Remember how bad Cygnar was pre-Stormwall when they actually used Cygnar models?
  • Whoever came up with spam tier lists (the ones that combine FA:U on already good units with point discounts) is either a dumbass who has made a grievous error, or a clever businessman who understands pewtercrack addiction at a fundamental level.
  • eMorvahna - demoralizing to play against. It's not so much the feat or all the healing - while it is an insanely powerful timewalk feat like eHaley's or Deneghra's, it's that she does all that while rerolling everything and being miles away. Fits the OP formula of 'why does X Cryx model have Y ability'.
  • I really dislike Rally Point as a scenario. I am guessing it was included here purely for the name. Movable or cutesy objective-based scenarios become a distraction rather than an addition to the game most of the time. The purpose of a scenario is to force engagement. That is it. I like most of the Masters scenarios (with the exception of Destruction because that one is just a huge clusterfuck).

Friday, November 1, 2013

"You know what Gators don't like? Getting thrown around!"

I thought this was a pretty neat demonstration of the risks of mega-skew, and also showcases some neat plays. This is a Round 4 WTC game between Team Sweden (Maelok) and Team USA (Doomshaper1):

Some highlights/thoughts:

  • Killing your own Gatormans bottom of 1 so you can get a Revive missile - good way to get high priority targets like Shifting Stones, or to jam up melee heavy armies like Trolls. Keep in mind 7 life on a Gatormans and 3 fury is a steep cost.
  • Trolls have a huge anti-incorporeal aura, so not that great for Maelok at first glance.
  • Notice how the Troll player (Jason Flanzer, the best player in the world) decides to lead with his heavy beasts up front. This is a smart move because anyone who is familiar with Gators is that they suck at cracking ARM 20+.
  • Thus the Maelok player (Rickard Nillson, with the sexy Swedish accent) cannot really do much as he cannot effectively kill the beasts and he cannot use his feat to get at the softer underbelly of Runeshapers and Krielstone. What results is a long game where Gators get slowly ground down and knocked down by Troll throws and Runeshaper spells (made more exciting by an entirely unnecessary assassination run).
  • Gators don't usually mind being knocked down, because Rise for 1 is a great animus. However, you have to take Wrastlers for that, and this Maelok list has only one heavy (Snapjaw) since it is skewed so hard for Posse Spiny Growth spam. 
 In conclusion, take Rask vs Trolls when you can :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rallypoint 2013 - Preamble

Due to the absolute total lack of exciting Gatorman news, outside two Minion players getting crushed pretty badly at the WTC in Europe (which I assume is a function of the team format whereby the most logical strategy is to throw your crappiest faction at their Cryx/Legion list so that you can win your other 4 matchups, rather than a reflection of the actual players), I am again writing about a tournament that I am attending. Riveting to excess.

Rallypoint is a two-day tournament. Two-day tournaments are pretty common around these parts for two reasons:

1) Two days means more games

And more game supposedly means more reason to travel for out-of-towners since wargamers love to have sleepovers at their friends' houses. I don't particularly buy into this, but it seems to be the mindset amongst frequent tournament travelers.

To me, more days means more expenses and not that much a gain in gaming enjoyment. Especially if I do badly in the first few rounds, I am stuck hanging around with no hope for a prize or epeen or much desire to play after having already played a bunch of games but stick around anyway usually because I don't want to deprive other people who might want to play the opportunity or because I made travel arrangements or whatever. If I do happen to do well, I'd still rather be doing well in 4 rounds than in 7. Plus I like tournaments where first undefeated player wins. Less hassle.

For me, Warmachine is to the mind like sex is to the body - an enjoyable, healthy pursuit that results from challenging a worthy opponent in a safe environment with a good knowledge of dice risk statistics and no Cryxian spiky bits. It is a great thing to indulge in on a regular basis, practice at and get better, try new things, etc. But there is only a certain amount I can take within a given period, and at this stage of my life I prefer to focus on quality over quantity. 4 bouts per weekend is sufficient.

2) The legacy of WHFB

Warhammer Fantasy Battles is a cute hobby game. It's not a competitive game in itself, nor has it ever really been, largely because of the steep lack of balance both within and between armies as well as the lack of rules clarity due to slack errata, loose terminology, and a general apathy towards the whole competitive mindset. However, it has been shaped into a competitive game by the WHFB community with the addition of a complex tournament meta game featuring soft-scores like sportsmanship, painting and comp (army build) scores, a slew of "official/unofficial" errata, and a game/tournament points system to determine the 'winner' of each battle to make up for the lack of clear in-built victory conditions outside tabling your opponent. It is quite admirable what the WHFB community has achieved given what they had to work with on the ground floor.

As a result of all this, WHFB games take freaking ages and therefore the tournaments take freaking ages. And Warmachine, being the much younger game with a smaller (but rapidly growing!) following, has traditionally had to tack on to the bigger WHFB tournaments in NZ. I don't think this is actually the case for Rallypoint, but it has been the case for most large tabletop gaming tournaments on the calendar. Fortunately this seems to be changing. We've already had a handful of 1-day tournaments in Auckland that have had great attendance and worked out very well, so hopefully more will come.

Anyhow, Rallypoint:
  • 2 lists, 50pt Steamroller with all the standard restrictions
  • Deathclock, no specialists, and Kill Box all the time
  • 7 rounds over 2 days (have to leave Auckland at 6:30am each morning QQ)
  • Held in Hamiltron, City of the Future (a city I quite like)
  • Divide and Conquer, meaning you MUST play each list 3 times.
  • Cryxnoob Dave will be attending, meaning I potentially have to deal with another Cryx player using lists that auto-beat me worse than Rask auto-beats Ret (1).
  • No painting requirements - makes zero difference to me, but I always appreciate the opportunity for people who don't really like painting to participate.
  • Pizza party at the TO's place at the end of Day 1 - great initiative, but one which I will have to miss out on due to the aforementioned travel requirements.

This is a Gray Wolf. Wolves are sweet and take like 30
mins to kill their prey. Nothing romantic about it.
Just like Warmachine Gators. Kinda.

Barnabas vs Maelok in Divide & Conquer

I will be taking Rask (SURPRISE!) and probably Barnabas. Maybe Maelok. Many Gator players seem to have mega hard-ons for Maelok and his many fleshy holes but I don't really understand why.

Outside of Cryx, where mass Undead and recursion mechanics are very useful, I don't feel there is a  faction matchup where Maelok is better overall than Barnabas. Sure, there are lists like Bart/Galleon or Xerxis Cetrati Wall or super grindy lists like eMorvahna where Maelok is better at getting past the frontline to maximize your attacks and assassinate but since I will have to play each list at least 3 times, I'm going for broad application. I think the one thing that would bring Maelok up to Barnabas level consistently would be being able to put Malediction on a warbeast rather than just on himself. That gives a DEF/ARM debuff to my army without getting my caster killed next turn. Give that to Terminus as well, I wouldn't mind.

Basically, the number of good match-ups is about the same, maybe even a little bit in Maelok's favour - but in my experience Maelok has more bad matchups than Barnabas
I think Maelok was the operative choice in the past against Skorne, Protectorate and Trolls due to his ability to get some serious damage on support pieces and subsequently jam, but now Rask is just so much better at playing that game that it puts Maelok out of contention, at least in my book.

Assuming I play Barnabas, the lists will pretty much be the same as Choptober, except I will probably take my buddies Wrong Eye + Snapjaw in the Rask list instead of the 3rd Posse for a little more punch and matchup/scenario flexibility. There is always the question of the Totem Hunter, whether I put him with Rask to have some more assassination potential or whether I put him with Barnabas for some more "ranged" threat. First world Gator problems.

As far as expectations, I'll be perfectly happy to be in the top half of the field. Being in the bottom half would probably not make me want to come back for the second day even though I would have to anyway, so my travel buddies would have to listen to me bitch and moan for an hour and a half on the way down. Please let me win for their sakes.


(1) I mean, look at this shit! This is a borderline crime against human decency:

Wraith Witch Deneghra
- Deathripper
- Nightwretch
- Skarlock Thrall
Max Bane Knights
Max Blackbanes
Max Nyss Hunters
Max Blood Witches + UA
Min McThralls
Double Necrosurgeon
Warwitch Siren

How is this legal in Western society? People have been castrated and excommunicated for less.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Choptober 2013 - The Results

Game 1 - Joel w/ Butcher3 - Destruction

Butcher Unleashed (*4pts)
* Beast-09 (11pts)
* War dog (1pts)
Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters (Cylena and 9 Grunts) (10pts)
Iron Fang Pikemen (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Black Dragon Officer & Standard (2pts)
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt (4pts)
Alexia, Mistress of the Witchfire (4pts)
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution (3pts)
Koldun Lord (2pts)
Madelyn Corbeau, Ordic Courtesan (2pts)
Ogrun Bokur (3pts)
Orin Midwinter, Rogue Inquisitor (2pts)

Iron Fang Kovnik (2pts)

As you can see, it is a true WM list as there are a crapload of Mercs and only one jack. I chose to play Rask (his other list was Old Witch with Kayazy but I was pretty sure he was going to play Butcher3).

Not only was the scenario Destruction, but there was a large Gargossal-sized Menofix obstruction right in the middle of the zone. A clusterf*ck of epic proportions. Joel deployed the Nyss on my left flank, the IFP on the right, and clustered everything else in the middle. I think he went first and just ran everything up, which I also did and popped my feat, so I would charge the Nyss next turn. He responded by running the Nyss directly away, mini-feating with the IFP and jamming them on the right side of the zone in Shield Wall, and throwing literally every other model in the list in a huge clump around Butcher directly behind the Menofix, with the exception of Beast 09 and an Argus who were a bit further up and bait.

For my turn, I ran a couple of Dirge Gators into the Nyss, pulled the exposed Argus out of a charge lane to Beast 09 with a Swamp Horror, thought about Vengeance but figured there was no way he would clear Butcher from that mess so I killed the Argus, then killed Beast 09 with 3 Fury-ed Posse and moved Rask behind a wall, leaving him 1/4" inch outside the killbox. No way I could get killed there, right? The Posse to my right also managed to roll amazing and kill 4 of the ARM 22 IFP.

At this point, I have a full Posse with Dirge of Mists jammed up to the left of the Menofix, and a full Posse jammed up on the right side of the Menofix, and 4 large based objectives. I'm thinking there is no way anyone can chew through all that stuff and get to Rask (who is also behind a Swamp Gobber cloud).

Nobody except Butcher3 apparently. Because after Vengeance, a Madelyn move, 2 Flashing Blades, a charge and a short Energizer move, Butcher3 is now in front of Rask with Silence of Death up and 2-shots him (one of which is his initial attack). Didn't even need the feat. I felt like a deer in headlights for an hour afterwards.

Almost enough to make me wish
I was still playing Khador. Almost.

So basically, I got completely steamrolled. It was a non-game/done deal once I triggered that Vengeance and saw what was actually going to happen, and Joel pulled it off perfectly. In retropect, without the Vengeance move, I would have only lost 5 Posse to a single Flashing Blade (5 Posse for 1 focus - seems fair), leaving Butcher in a position to get shot by Rask and killed by a Fury-ed Swamp Horror or Posse, after my Wrastler would have taken care of that Bokur. Nevertheless, I think Butcher3 is a really bad matchup for Gators since ARM 18, 8 Box meatwalls are almost meaningless and Impending Doom can make it all happen easily. Butcher2 can deal that much damage, but only in one area a turn. Will need to practice against it a bit more - other than staying way back or avoiding triggering out-of-activation moves, multiple staggered spaced-out meatwalls are one way to go.

Joel thinks I should have played Barnabas instead, but I think without Rask's gun and Fury, Butcher can just walk/charge forward each turn, Flashing Blade once to kill 5 gators, then camp 4/5 focus and be pretty much unkillable the whole game - on a scenario like Destruction, that pretty much means I will eventually lose on CPs over 7+ rounds or something. I really dislike Destruction as I feel it jams up the table a ton with 4 ARM20 large bases AND it takes way too damn long to score (minimum 3 turns if playing by yourself)

Game 2 - Damian w/ Trolls - Process of Elimination

Points: 46/50
Borka Kegslayer (*5pts)
* Dire Troll Mauler (9pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Trollkin Champions (Leader and 4 Grunts) (10pts)
* Skaldi Bonehammer (3pts)
Trollkin Fennblades (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Trollkin Fennblade Officer & Drummer (2pts)
Trollkin Long Riders (Leader and 4 Grunts) (11pts)
Fell Caller Hero (3pts)

As you can see, this is 4pts under, but I really don't remember what else was on the table. Maybe he just played 4 pts down by accident? I chose to play Rask again (the other list was eDoomshaper with a few heavies) and went second. Damian is a super nice guy so the game was going to be a good time in any event.

Basically this was just a giant grindfest, as games tend to be against Trolls - really long, and not too eventful. I even went under 20 minutes on Deathclock, which is very rare for me. I elected to not use my feat on turn one, meaning I took a couple of Fennblade charges on the chin without too much trouble, which were mostly wiped out by Gatormans (not much luck on tough rolls at this stage) before putting up Inhospitable Ground and my feat, leaving Champs, Borka and Long Riders just outside range to do anything meaningful. After that, stuff just grinded into each other, and it's not easy to beat Gators in the grind game.

I really wanted a scenario win to get CPs, but it was not to be. On my left were the Champs, including Skaldi who made no less than 4 tough rolls during the game, and on the right was Horthol, who did the same.

My reaction when my opponent makes 8 consecutive tough rolls on two models.
I retaliated by killing the Keg Carrier. Death to fun and happiness! Borka, seeing his army slowly disintegrate, decided to take matters into his own hands and kill a clump of Posse with the Vengeance move + Rage + many bought attacks. He then died to a Furied Swamp Horror after getting shot by a Paralysis Bolt. I did finally manage to kill Horthol that turn with 3 Gatorman Posse, giving me a single CP. Skaldi I think survived to the end - I hate that guy.

Game 3 - Nick w/ Trolls - Into the Breach

Hunters Grim (*4pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Dire Troll Bomber (10pts)
* Dire Troll Bomber (10pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Pyg Burrowers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Sons of Bragg (6pts)
Trollkin Scattergunners (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Trollkin Scattergunner Officer & Drummer (2pts)

Another game vs Trolls - sweet. I deployed my entire army in front of the zone, except for my Wrastler and one unit of Posse over by the 'dominate only' flag to my right (I had a forest directly in front of my deployment so had to split hard). He did mostly the same, with a Bomber and Sons of Bragg over by the flag.

I think I went first and just ran stuff up as you do. The Burrowers burrowed right in the middle of the table. On my second turn, I ran 2 units of Posse with Dirge of Mists to encircle the zone and put up Inhospitable Ground and my feat, which means he could not do much and his feat would go to waste. The Burrowers popped up and shuffled up a bit, getting two shots on Rask which missed, and the Scattergunners got a few sprays on Rask by targetting the Burrowers, which also did nothing.

Then I did what Fury-ed Gators do and blow up heavies and grind into Trolls and eventually managed to dominate the zone twice for 4CPs before killing Grim, now with no transfers as all his beasts were dead, with 2 Fury-ed Posse. I lost 13 or so Gatormans over the course of the battle, 4 to the Sons of Bragg, who are actually not bad at all. Mortality was a pretty big deal in denying tough and debuffing the Posse into killable-range.

Game 4 - Daryl w/ eLich - Outflank

PS - Daryl runs a sweet little business named Universal Battlegrounds, producing laser-cut gaming apparatus like terrain, templates and very legible tokens - check it out!

The standard eLich list, without Daragh:

Lich Lord Asphyxious (*6pts)
* Deathripper (4pts)
* Nightwretch (4pts)
Bane Knights (Leader and 9 Grunts) (10pts)
Bane Thralls (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Bane Thrall Officer & Standard (3pts)
Bile Thralls (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
Satyxis Blood Witches (Leader and 5 Grunts) (4pts)
* Satyxis Blood Hag (2pts)
The Withershadow Combine (5pts)
Bane Lord Tartarus (4pts)
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist (2pts)
Machine Wraith (1pts)
Saxon Orrik (2pts)
Warwitch Siren (2pts)

I hate Banes so much. One type of Bane gives you -2 ARM just for hanging around, the other Bane ignores free strikes and has Vengeance. Then there is the ÜberBane, who is hard as hell to kill and makes all his Banes faster and more accurate. It doesn't matter who they are - what matters is their plan, which is to
blow up Gators/heavies/my sanity.
Basically, this list was terrifying, and my only hope was to kill Tartarus and hope that the Banes miss the 7s needed to hit Dirged Posse. If there's anything you can be certain about with Gators against eLich, it's that you will never ever ever ever ever kill him as long as the Lich player knows the ropes, which Daryl certainly did, keeping Hellbound up and teleporting back behind clouds every turn. So many layers of defense on top of that 15/16 stat line and 18 health boxes. He is also +6 WJ - seems fair. With this in mind I opted for Barnabas to give my Posse a chance at living... longer.

This ended up being my lengthiest game of the day, with ~30 secs left on my opponent's clock and about ~17mins on mine. I opted to push for the left zone, since the Witches were deployed there (yay living models) and Gaspy was on the other side. I dedicated Pendrake, a Posse and a Wrastler to contest the right zone. One piece of terrain I should mention since it made a big difference to the game was a very large L-shaped wall ruin in the middle of the left zone, which we ruled as impassable but didn't block LOS.

First turn we both ran up (this is still Warmachine). His second turn he jammed Banes up into the zones (Thralls left, Knights right) and managed to Excarnate one of my Gators, leading to a Bile Thrall purge over a heap of Posse, both my heavies and a Totem Hunter. Keeping track of that many Corrosion effects is a good way to clock out a Gator player, since nothing really dies to Corrosion. The Witches also used their minifeat to run through the aforementioned über-wall and get firmly in my face and laugh at my lack of magic weapons.
I used my turn to feat and knock down most stuff on the table outside Lich and the Bane Knights, which then led to triggering some Warpath moves by killing a couple of Bane Thralls (who would just get up again next turn because Cryx). I managed to kill 5 of the 6 Biles with a Spitter AoE, and clearing the way to kill Tartarus and the last Bile with a Wrastler charge (yay Warpath). As for the Knights, I opted to just run into them since killing 2 or 3 Vengeance weapon masters leads to 5 dead Posse before said weapon-masters even activate. DO NOT DO IT.

On his turn, he managed to kill only a few Gatormans on both sides due to some pretty low dice rolls, and walk the Witches into my guys. Gorman also Black Oiled the Wrastler, who then got charged by the Withershadow and a Bane, leaving him on 4 boxes or so. Totally worthwhile trade for Tartarus.
I responded by killing a few more Thralls with Posse and Totem Hunter, a good chunk of Knights (7?), and all Witches but the UA with 2 Posse, Barnabas and a Croak Hunter (yes, they did something). Barnabas also healed the Wrastler for two, who with his mighty MAT of 2 managed to kill a Bane and a Withershadow member. Hordes FTW. He then died next turn to Saxon Orrick, but not before I had the chance to shoot him in the back with a Spitter and kill another Bane and damage another Withershadow member.

Then it was time for the Lich feat turn, which managed to leave my Spitter on a few boxes, kill all Posse in the right-side zone but one (who also survived a Machine Wraith charge, but then died to Corrossion next turn, living long enough to deny 2CPs), and generally turn what looked to be total domination on my part into a real game.

At this stage, Daryl's clock is getting really low and it is just a dance for CPs. Since I then scored first, I am technically ahead but we basically go back and forth clearing our zones while sticking something in the opponent's zone for a round (on his end, that was the very last Bane Thrall hiding behind the über-wall that made 2 tough rolls vs my Totem Hunter, finally dying to a Croak Hunter's javelin, and a Nightwretch that died to Barnabas's cleaver - on my end that was Pendrake and some remaining Gatormans).

Finally, I managed to contest his zone with my last 2 Gatormans, using Pathfinder to get past the huge area of Hellbound, and kill a contesting Machine Wraith placed 6.95" behind Barnabas. Had I not been in Cleaver range (my only magic weapon outside the now-dead Pendrake's sword), the game would have come down to needing an 8 to hit with a boosted Flesh Eater (or an 8 on 2d6 with a reroll, not sure which is more reliable). Boosted 7s on multiple Cleaver attacks are much more reliable. 5CPs to 4CPs on an extremely close game.


In the end, I chipmunked my way to 3rd place after the crushing defeat I suffered in round 1. And I got a mug, my 4th WM tournament mug:

All my opponents were super sporting, but I gave my best Sports vote to Chris Baker (Best Sports 2013), as is my 2013 Steamroller resolution, despite him not actually playing in the tournament. Cheers Dave for another excellent tournament, and the mug (this time for an actual placing and not for my sweet blog). Also not having to face Circle 3 times in a row was a bonus.
Daily rant: tough is a stupid spam mechanic and PP should feel bad that it has gotten to the point it has. I don't use the buzz term 'lazy design' often (or ever), but if it should be applied anywhere, it should be here. The WM/H games system allows for so much more depth in the realm of defensive tech than "there is an entirely unmodifiable 1/3 chance that this model survives absolutely any attack you can throw at her- unless you brought anti-healing or tough tech that you as a Gators/Ret/Many-Other-Factions player don't actually have in any respectable quantity, you should just play Cryx lolz - with love, Jason Soles". They would never stand for this kind of crap in DotA.

I also feel bad when opponents feel they have to apologize to me for making so many tough rolls that I start openly weeping in front of them.

How I would change the lists:

I think Barnabas with 3 Posses is the way to go at 50pts, without exception. I am not super thrilled with Pendrake and Croaks, but I can say that having access to a couple of ranged attacks made a big deal when it came to controlling zones. Pendrake would have done a lot more in a Hordes matchup, or if there were any heavies on the table at all. If his bow was magical, he would be total money.
The Spitter actually did very well in the last game since there were nice clumps of stuff to shoot, so still unsure whether he is better than a Horror in that list or not. He probably is.

Rask with 3 Posse did great primarily because I played Trolls twice, and Posse with Fury win against Trolls. Otherwise I felt a little cluttered in the deployment. Still undecided whether WE + Snapjaw is better overall than a 3rd Posse in the list - definitely a great sideboard option if that becomes the standard next year (hope it does - the less skew in the game and the more situational models we can use, the better).

All I can say is, I am glad I did not play Garryth 4 games in a row.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Choptober 2013 - The Lists

As mentioned in my previous post, the next tournament I will be attending is a one-day event held on the first Saturday of October named 'Choptober'. The name really makes no sense, and should instead have been called something cool like 'Alpha Strike' or 'BattleLust X'. But alas. If you want to hear about it from the viewpoint of a man struggling to contain his excitement, see here.

Basically it is a 1-day, 50pt, 2 list, 4-round Steamroller event that has been split into two completely unrelated pools - the upper pool (where I have been placed) and the loser pool (where Ian Hart, arguably the best WM/H player in NZ, has been placed). The placings were determined by the NZ Rankings HQ, which are more a measure of tournament attendance than they are actual game aptitude, but it is the best data available (I think I am 30th or something, good enough for the winner's bracket).

The lists:

Having recently acquired Pendrake and a third Posse, I wanted to try these out. I also wanted to try using Croak Hunters for once, because it's not really fair to hate on them as much as I do without giving them a fair shot. So I don't feel either list is really optimal but it's a nice opportunity to try them out.

Bloody Barnabas (*6pts)
* Bull Snapper (3pts)
* Blackhide Wrastler (9pts)
* Ironback Spitter (8pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Croak Hunter (2pts)
Croak Hunter (2pts)
Professor Victor Pendrake (2pts)
Totem Hunter (3pts)

The standard Barnabas 35pt list with an extra Posse, Pendrake and two Croaks. This is almost a legit pop 'n' drop assassination against living enemy warcasters! Almost. I also think if I am matched up against Circle 3 times in a row by scheming TOs, this list will have some game against anything but eBaldur stone-spam.

I used to take a full unit of Trog Ambushers (8pts) with Barnabas, until it dawned on me that for 1 more point, I could have another unit of Gators. This is the mind of the Gator player - take all the Gators.
I think 3 Posse is the best way to run Barnabas and Maelok since they suck at cracking ARM anyway so you might as well just max out your Posse advantage. Following on that train of though, I feel I'd be better off with a Swamp Horror instead of a Spitter (so many reach initials) and a Witch Doctor + Feralgeist instead of the Croaks to give me a fighting chance against (Cryx) infantry swarm.

Maelok was a close contender for this second list, but ultimately I have given up on winning the Cryx matchup in a two-list format and feel Barnabas is a better rounded option to deal with Mercs/Legion/Circle and the like.

Rask (*6pts)
* Bull Snapper (3pts)
* Blackhide Wrastler (9pts)
* Swamp Horror (8pts)
Bog Trog Ambushers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (Leader and 1 Grunt) (1pts)
Gatorman Witch Doctor (3pts)

This is basically my standard Rask list except with an extra Posse replacing WE + Snapjaw. I think it is probably worse in the matchups it is intended since you lose hitting power and a really long-range POW 20 Snapjaw missile, along with some utility from Wrong Eye's spells (esp against Skorne and Trolls). We will see how it goes.
I've considered not taking Bog Trogs with Rask to free up points for another heavy but for 5 pts they basically take assassination off the table (great support) and have done really good work for me late game with fury (MAT 8 POW 14s + reach + CMA = business).

You can find out how badly I do next week! This is probably the most exciting thing to happen to Gators since January 2013, the date of Rask's release. Yep, it's been that long, and still no Shamblers (not that I would really play them any way other than a Rask meatshield).

Until then, here is a video of Croatia's greatest contemporary punk rock band doing their thing:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Min/Maxing List Builds

a.k.a. Triple Posse FTW
a.k.a. School of JVM

I think we can all agree that Gatorman Posse are by far the most powerful thing in Minions outside the casters.
The beasts, with the exception of the 3pt Bull Snapper, are rather mediocre for their points, the solos are designed to be used in other factions as much as this one (easy to see when you see 2pt Witch Doctors in Maelok's theme force - the very Gator caster where Witch Doctors are most powerful). Slaughterhousers are pretty good too, but not near Posse-good.

You can also see this in the recently released World Team Championship lists, where both Minion players are taking Blindwater in both their lists, both players have chosen a Rask/Maelok pairing, and both players are taking 3 full units of Gatorman Posse in each of their lists. Despite the similarity, the lists are not identical and worth checking out for their minor yet important differences.

There are two lessons to be learned from here:

1) Min/Maxing list building involves taking as much of the best stuff as you can:

This approach to list building is very visible when looking at the JVM School of Legion, where you take multiples of the same awesome thing that does one thing awesomely well - double Ravagore, double Angelius, double Scythean, double Deathstalker, double Forsaken, double Shepherds... and fill in with a few excellent support pieces like Spawning Vessels, Shredders or Spell Martyrs. You can even see his lists for the event here.

The man has his own t-shirt. I mean, what the hell.
Min/Max can also be clearly seen in Mr. Rickard Nillson's lists:
  • Rask + 3 Posse + 3 Heavies + Snapper + Feralgeist
  • Maelok + 3 Posse + 3 Witch Doctors + 3 Bull Snappers + WE/Snapjaw + Pendrake
This is a competitive player who knows what his faction does well and tries to maximize that advantage by using his points as effectively as possible (ie. maxing out the best stuff he can take) and will try to avoid the few really bad matchups that might present themselves.

The Rask list deals with any amount of ARM short of multiple Devastators, and will likely get the alpha-strike because of the feat. You have 3 heavies (2 Horrors and a Wrastler) with lots of initial attacks who maximize Fury well, and 3 Posse with Fury will blow up anything. No Bog Trogs means Rask is at some risk of assassination, but he will probably be camping a fury or two at all times since every time a heavy charges, it is probably dead next turn (next level fury management). And it is hard to shoot anything with 15 Gatormans in your face, jamming you out of scenario. Plus he has Admonition if things get hairy.

Stuff blows up.

The Maelok list can outgrind almost anything with tons of natural ARM, tough and Spiny Growths on the table, and deals well with defense otherwise (esp. against Hordes with Pendrake - Gatorman Posse with Beast Lore can pretty much kill anything in Circle/Legion without any trouble). It is prone to getting shot by monster gunlines, but that's why you have the Rask list. Clearly, in this list Maelok is just a buff bot who stays back protected by Spiny Growth, upkeeping Death Pact, and Revive a Gator or two a turn while his Snappers run hot on Fury. Why take a chance?

Barnabas, while being a really strong caster, is not as good as Rask and does not offer the same level of skew as Maelok. I think as an all-around tournament choice, he is probably more reliable than Maelok in dealing with Rask's bad matchups, but in a team event you want to skew like a boss, and Reviving ARM 20/22 Gators allows you to do that much better than Iron Flesh and Swamp Pits.

2) Team events encourage skewing lists more than solo events

Because of the way matchups are determined (on a team level rather than a tournament level), you have more incentive to skew your lists (emphasis strengths AND weaknesses) since your team captain can pair you up against a faction where you are especially strong and doesn't generally have a good silver bullet for your weaknesses.
For example, given the option, you would put the Gator player against Ret since Rask + 3 Posse will absolutely demolish any Ret list (Maelok will do fine against anything but Ossyan), and try not to put him against Cryx weaponmaster swarm where possible, because Banes > Gatormans.

You can kind of see this by looking at Khador's most popular caster for the event, Butcher2. Anyone who know anything about Butcher2 knows that his random focus mechanic is basically the death of him in top-notch competitive events, but his theme force is the biggest BS skew list this side of Skewville and Skewzakistan.

Choptober 2013

My next tournament is in early October, which is rapidly approaching. I am thinking of buying another unit of Gatorman Posse to try out triple Posse builds, partially out of boredom since I have been playing pretty much the exact same lists for 6+ months, and partially because I want to make people cry. Plus the tournament organizer will probably make me face Circle 3 rounds in a row again and Gatormans are pretty good against Circle. Except Megalith. F*ck that guy.