Friday, February 15, 2013

On Colossals and Gargantuans

My experience against Colossals and Gargantuans has been somewhat limited. I think as a model design decision, they have proven to be quite interesting and surprisingly well balanced (with a couple of exceptions), but also have provided a hard meta-skew effect towards big anti-armor, thereby giving Cryx Bane spam more love and the middle finger to Gators. If Rask had not come out, Blindwater would truly have been in the hole in 2013 where they would have an extremely hard matchup against any Gargossal + repair lists, and I probably would have picked up Skorne (since Gatormans are Skorne's best infantry, and Skorne has some of the best beasts and support around).

The main thing with Gargossals is that they more or less force you to bring Rask to deal with them - Calaban sucks (1), Maelok's anti-ranged tech isn't reliable enough to play him far back and his anti-ARM tech (Malediction) is just too risky against a huge wall of damage boxes, and Barnabas doesn't offer enough punch. Having said that, each caster DOES have some game against Gargossals, which usually relies on ignoring it in some way or another. Playing smart, in other words.

What do Gargossals have in common?

  • ARM 19+ - remember that sweet spot of Gator douching? There it is.
  • Crapton of damage boxes - usually needs two jacked up heavies to one-round it. Or a Bronzeback.
  • Very high POW melee attacks
  • Focused high POW ranged attacks - usually a huge gun of some sort.
  • Spray/Large AoEs/High Volume of attacks - usually to kill infantry. Think 2d3.
  • Cannot be thrown, placed, moved, KDed, stuff into a turkey, etc. - basically, the old "throw jack into shallow water" trick doesn't work.
  • Pathfinder - can't be slowed by Swamp Pits, Inhospitable Ground, and so on.
  • Easy to target with ranged attacks
  • Can't be disrupted - Rask is sad.
  • Can be Black Oiled - Warmachine is happy.


Stormwall - This thing is monstrous. The reason it is so insanely good for Cygnar players is that it is literally a few Defenders, Cyclones and Stormclads voltron-ed together into this mass of steel, with some very potent electric infantry shred added in. Seems legit and balanced, right?
One good thing for Blindwater is that the covering fire templates are only POW 12, so are very unlikely to kill a Gatorman (our primary infantry), and are unlikely to be positioned as to hamper ambushing Bog Trogs.

Take in the despair.

Conquest - This jack is serious business, mostly because it has naturally high ARM and lots of boxes. Which means you need to throw a serious amount of damage into it, and with Gators low DEF values, if you don't kill it in one round, it will demolish anything in melee (see pro tips below).
Its ranged capability, in my opinion, is not of serious threat to Gators. The Secondary Battery is basically a funny joke, and we have enough anti-ranged tech to stop getting assassinated by the Main Guns at range, and it is unlikely to kill more than a single Gator a turn - just spread your Posse a bit and put Spiny Growths on your beasts. It could get nasty if it shoots into melee clumps, but at RAT 4 and needing to directly hit for the crit effect, not a huge deal.

Judicator - Similar to the Conquest, this thing is pretty tough, hits very hard and quite accurately in melee and has a negligible ranged capability.  Unlike the Conquest however, it has access to crazy jack support and ARM buffs, so having a fishman with a ranged dispel is pretty good.

Hyperion -Again, high POW melee is serious business, and it is reasonably tough. The gun also can seriously damage warbeasts or unprotected casters, so make sure those Spiny Growths/ Swamp Pits are up. Its 2d3 attacks at POW 12 aren't really a concern. If you can hit it hard enough in one round to take out its 'S' system, then it can just kill you with its fists rather than shoot you through the universe, which is probably a plus. One Fury-ed beast should be able to do that.
The crit effect on Starburst is mostly irrelevant, since our only small based models are Bog Trogs, Croaks and Gobbers who would die to the blast anyway.

Galleon - Bart with Galleon is serious business, and is probably not really beatable with Rask, which means the rest of your options are also screwed. Your best bet is to hope to soak Hot Shot AoEs, and get around the Galleon(s) to the squishier backfield, which isn't so hard to do with Maelok.
Galleon without Bart is still reasonably nasty, as several Merc casters can give him really good buffs, however it is not an invincible armor wall.

Kraken - I don't really expect to see this as long as Satyxis and Banes exist and Cryx players don't really have a good reason to try out new playstyles. Although it does seem pretty good, and is definitely not vegan. Same deal overall - tough cookie that is hits pretty hard and has negligible ranged capability in regards to dealing with Gators.


Mountain King - I've yet to play him, but I have seen it played a few times. Whelp Shedding could be an issue if used cleverly to block charges from a second heavy coming in (since our heavies only have reach on their weaker attacks), but if you play smart with attack allocations it shouldn't be a big deal. Not as terrible as he is made out to be (few things are), but still pretty bad. MAT 5 vs MAT 6 makes a big difference when faced with an Iron Flesh Gator pit, for example (10s to hit vs 11s). I remember a lot of my feedback during the Hordes Mk2 Playtest was on the significance of MAT 5 vs MAT 6 on melee warbeasts.

Take in the tragedy.
Woldwrath - I have not really been super impressed with this thing so far. Granted, the time I played against it, it never used its ranged attack (which seems pretty decent and could kill a Gator or two) and the list was not built around the animus (which seems to be its raison d'etre). Even if it were, Circle magic attacks usually aren't that damaging (just annoying). But it is still a big, hard hitting monster, with a decent gun and naturally high ARM.
Spell Ward kind of works both ways - it can't have its ARM buffed, but you can't put debuffs on it either (sorry, Parasite users). In the end, just skews some matchups a bit.

Mammoth - Looks pretty insane and easily the most potent of the four Gargs. Fortunately Gators can survive its blast damage quite handily, so all you need to worry about is its huge melee POW and ability to Bulldoze all your stuff away. Bulldoze, huge melee/speed buff potential and good survival is really the ballbreaker on this one for Blindwater - a good bulldoze move combined with an accuracy buff and a sweep means a lot of dead Gatormans.

Archangel - Wrastlers and Snapjaw remove from play, which nerfs the best thing about this guy (pThag's feat). You should have a Wrastler or Snapjaw in at least one of your tournament lists. He has the highest potential DEF of all the Gargossals, but fortunately he is living so Gatormans + heavies should mess him up good, even without Fury. Which is good, since Rask is not the best matchup vs Legion.

Pro Tips:

1 - Rask
Rask's gun has the solution to most things, and Fury is the solution to everything else. AND you've got Boundless Charge for that extra fury worth of attacks, and a feat to protect you from getting shot until you engage. Boom. He will be one of your lists, and is likely to be THE list if you're facing a Gargossal.

2 - Swamp Horror 
Critical Catastrophic Damage. This ability is ok vs Colossals but AMAZING vs Gargantuans since they still only have 6 huge branches. So you can do ~10 points of damage on the crit alone. All you need is a little luck, and on 5 attacks chances are you get one crit in there somewhere. Worth keeping in mind, or boosting hits in desperate circumstances. Fortune favors the bold!

3 - Ignore it
Just move around it. Kill everything else. Feed it some guys so it leaves you alone. Remember that Gargossals cost a crap load of points!

Of course, this is easier said than done since Gargossals usually end up squatting in a scenario zone, and have a very large footprint  on the table.If you can win on scenario or assassination by ignoring a huge chunk of your opponent's army however, that can be an unexpected but efficient way to win.

4 - Spirit World
In the spirit (pun intended) of pro-tip #3, use Maelok's feat and run/charge a big chunk of your army through it to mess with stuff in the backfield.  Risky since you're putting less things between your caster and the huge P+S 20ish tower of power, but if you can make your opponent crap itself at multiple Gatormans swarming his backfield and caster while keeping Maelok somewhat safe, or killing the opposing caster, then it's the right move!

5 - Spiny Growth
I've found after sending a heavy or two into a Gargossal, it sometimes survives with a few damage boxes. A colossal will usually kill a Gator heavy in 3-4 hits, which means another 4d3 damage on it. It's enough to make your opponent reconsider a few of those attacks or his order of activations, usually to your benefit. If you're going to die, bring the bastard down with you.

6 - Iron Flesh Gator Mosh Pit
When life gives you lemons, put 3-4 DEF16 Posse around a Colossal and force it to spend focus to kill you. Might buy a turn or two, and is a reasonably legit tactic with Barnabas.

7- Voodoo Doll
You know what really isn't that sweet? A Gargantuan without its Spirit, or Mind. Wrong Eye is a pretty excellent at making this happen. RNG 8 is a bit short, and may result in his death, but with either Submerge + a screen or two transfers, he is likely to live through possible return fire (no need to boost vs DEF below 10).

(1) Ok, Calaban has Parasite and would do pretty well against low model/high ARM lists, but I still see no reason to play him over Rask. Although I am still wishing for some Calaban love, hopelessly. Some day....


  1. You meant to say you would have picked up [i]again[i/]? :P

    Sure, jump on the bandwagon now that we finally get some decent shooting. To be quite honest that was one of the reasons I chose to retire them, because Zaal and Xerxis were getting fucked game after game because I stuck to my old principle of Skorne being able to play without shooting and refused to play Venators. Now, it seems I'll just have to buy eHex and uberTitan and my beloved desert drow are back in the game.

    Gargossals are fine. I've been playing Judi a lot lately and he seems quite balanced (taking him instead or Redeemer+heavy with eFeora, does more or less the same), I've been playing vs Conquest a lot lately (that thing under pVlad is super legit, spd8+ potential boundless charge ftw)aaand..that's probably all we'll see of huge based non battle engines till I buy Mammoth and possibly Archangel.

    Did I tell you my gatormen trade fell through (guy just stopped responding one day, when the trade was nearly finalized; bloody shame, I was really excited) so I invested 130€ to get 300€+ worth of Legion? As luck would have it, 2 casters I got in that lot were pThag and Aby. *wink wink nudge nudge*

    1. Hmm, can't edit. First sentence should read: ''You meant to say you would have picked up Skorne again?''

  2. Yes, I would have moved back to the Empire of Molik Karn, which plays vastly differently now than it did in Mk1.

    Colossals are fine I think, they skew the meta a bit but not hard enough for it to unbalance the game. Galleon and Stormwall are probably a little bit on the strong side though.
    Gargantuans so far aren't too sweet. They smell of Hordes-style 'last-minute-not-really-thoroughly-tested-changes-cause-we-have-to-meet-a-deadline-like-in-the-Mk2-playtest', with them all being a little overcosted for what they bring, except the Mammoth. The arguments about fury vs focus vs points in regards to Gargossals have been laid out several times.

    Legion is a good buy IMO. Much better than Gatormans anyway.