Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pedigree Butchery - choosing the right caster for the right matchup

I have received/read a couple of queries regarding how to make lists to deal with certain factions. Given that we have a small pool of models and limited options, it seems like the choice is pretty straight forward a lot of the time, but then again I have seen people claim Barnabas is amazing against Menoth.

I usually prefer Rask with 2 Posse and the other casters with 3 Posse. I recommend bringing two to three units of Posse in every list at 50pts, and most lists at 35pts. Gatorman Posse are without a doubt the best bang for your buck in Blindwater.


Best casters - Rask (anti-ARM), Jaga-Jaga (anti-buffs)
Other picks: Wrastler, Totem Hunter

Khador has two strengths: high armor with their jacks and heavy infantry, and high defense with Iron Flesh. Therefore you're always playing a game of list-chicken if your opponent has two lists that each fit a separate box.

Rask is great against high armor because of Fury and the ability to almost always get the charge. Inhospitable Ground is also usually quite good against Khador armor since it is so slow. On the other hand, Rask has no real way to deal with Iron Flesh infantry spam. This is where Jaga-Jaga comes in, since she effectively makes such buffs null.

The Wrastler is a good beast with either caster because he brings a POW 17 and is excellent at throwing jacks into pits or out of commission. Totem Hunter is great at hunting out Khador's many crutch solos, and the stealth + high speed combo is really strong against Khador.


Best casters - Rask (2nd: Barnabas)
Other picks: Swamp Horror, WE + Snapjaw

Prior to the advent of the Stormwall (which you now see in 99% of Cygnar lists), Barnabas was a solid matchup against Cygnar - hard to assassinate, great situational shooting protection and Swamp Pits to throw heavies into. However, now that the Stormwall is everywhere, you need to kill it if only to win on scenario. And to do that, you need to charge it with Fury and a way to remove Arcane Shield. As well as a way to deliver your entire army to it in one piece. Rask can do all of this for you.

The Swamp Horror is a winner due to natural shooting protection and being a great multiplier for Fury. He can do a good deal of damage to that Stormwall. Same deal with Snapjaw.


Best casters - Maelok, Jaga-Jaga
Other picks - Croctor, Thrullg, Sacral Vault

My thoughts on Cryx are well documented, and things haven't changed all that much. The one thing in the Cryx matchup that shouldn't bother you is ARM, so Fury is not a must. Shooting is also not really an issue. You will also have a lot of trouble at attritioning them in the melee game, since they hit insanely hard, often have tough, tend to recycle themselves.

Maelok with 2 Witch Doctors keeps most of your stuff undead so you can deny them Tartarus Death Knells and such. Tough can also help out a bit to get 2-3 Gators on the enemy caster under the feat, preferably while affected by Malediction (all in!). Maelok's feat also allows you to 'cheat' the melee staggering trade of Warmachine by charging their backline at the same time as their front line.

Jaga-Jaga is also really good because of her ability to deny buffs, deny incorporeal, has a lot of answers, and her feat is really strong against infantry swarms.
A Thrullg is also especially helpful in this matchup to deal with Crippling Grasp-like FU upkeeps - shame it can't be taken in tier.
Finally, the Sacral Vault is a custom designed middle finger to Cryx, with its anti-Stealth, anti-Incorporeal boostable gun and its almost total immunity to single wound melee infantry. Also it steals souls and RFPs.

Protectorate of Menoth

Best caster - Rask
Other picks - Ironback Spitter, Bog Trog Ambushers, Croctor

Easy choice - Rask shoots off upkeeps, disrupts jacks, has Inhospitable Ground to slow jacks that can't get pathfinder, has Fury to crack armor and gives you the charge without getting shot up. No really high DEF to worry about, no anti-living, only weapon masters which are a problem for all Gator lists.
Barnabas is a bad choice as he brings no damage buff, dispels (outside Thrullgs) and the Broken Book of Menoth is ever present, thereby negating Barnabas' feat and his most effective tool against warjacks. Maelok also has a bad time due to the prevalence of magic weapons and lack of hitting power.

The Ironback Spitter can do a decent amount of damage with Fury against DEF 10 warjacks if needed, and brings that almighty gun that you can use to take out a few support models. Bog Trog Ambushers are excellent at putting pressure on a flank or to their caster, as their backline is usually squishy. The Croctor is mostly there because of Awe on the Harbinger and the inbuild Ashen Veil on the Reckoner.

Retribution of Scyrah

Best caster - Rask, 

There are a few things that make Gators very strong against Ret: anti-shooting, hard to assassinate casters, Gatorman Posse.  Both Barnabas and Rask are excellent in this department. The one issue with Barnabas is that he can have a lot of trouble displacing a Hyperion or Griffon swarms, whereas Rask can kill them quite efficiently. Furthermore, Rask's feat is a lot more efficient as a delivery mechanism than Swamp Pits because it also shuts down magic attacks - and really, against an all living army, you only need one turn of protection because your Posse starting ripping elves apart with ease.

Rask can also shoot off pesky upkeeps like Polarity Shield or Inviolable Resolve - winner.

Mercs of Money

Best caster - Rask

Surprise! Rask can kill the Galleon, the others can't, and therefore he is the best. I guess you could take Calaban. Theoretically - his feat might be decent vs the usual high model count Mercs, and Parasite + Occultation can sort of keep you safe from Galleon at ARM 17, especially if you can someone get the damn arc node to work. But really, don't take Calaban.
Apart from that, if the Galleon/Earthbreaker isn't present or unkillable (ie. Bart + Spiny), then Barnabas can pretty much handle everything mercs can throw at you while also hiding in a Swamp Pit to make sure he doesn't die.

Writing this has made me realize that nobody plays non-Circle Hordes around here.


Best caster - Rask
Other pics - Sacral Vault, Shamblers

Inhospitable Ground, Paralysis Bolt, Disruptor Bolt + Fury beats tanky trolls and big charging beasts. Unfortunately there is no anti-tough tech anywhere in Gators. A fully juiced up, well supported Wrastler is also one of the few things in the game that can take out Mulg on a favourable trade balance.Not much else to say - Trolls are full of medium-based tanky troops that aren't as good as Gatorman Posse with Fury. I'm not sure if ambushing Bog Trogs to kill the Krielstone would be a good investment, since those blue baboons will probably just tough everything and you will cry.

The Vault and Shamblers will usually be pretty decent as you can get a lot of work out of the souls/corpses over the course of your 2+ hour grindfest. Enjoy!


Best caster - Rask
Other picks - Bog Trog Ambushers

While Inhospitable Ground is not as good in this matchup, Paralysis Bolt is a winner, along with Admonition and Fury. Skorne are a melee-heavy army they relies on their beasts - either shut them down or blow them up. If the Skorne list is especially beast heavy, you can slow them down drastically by killing the support pieces. This might be one situation (along with Protectorate) where ambushing with Rask' sacrificial Trogs is a good tactic.

I once played against an eMorg list with Ferox, Archidons, Savages and a whole manner of squishy things and incorrectly chose Barnabas since I thought armor wouldn't be a problem. Of course, none of that crap can be knocked down, so I cried some crocodile tears and tried to tank eMorg for glory and got diced to death.

The main thing you should be worrying about is that their Gatormans are straight-up better than your Gatormans. Just because, you know. Skorne. The main difference is your casters are awesome and deliver Gators, theirs not so much.


Best caster - Barnabas, Maelok
Other picks - Totem Hunter, Bog Trog Ambushers,

While armor will be a problem in a minority of Circle lists, most times with Circle you should be worried about high DEF warbeasts and getting assassinated. I've had Barnabas tank primal + STR warp Stalkers without too much trouble thanks to Spiny Growth and Unyielding plus a transfer or two. Throw Iron Flesh on top of that and you're basically invulnerable as long as you stay on your feet. If you can attrition them out, you will usually end up in a good place.
The Totem Hunter is a must to kill those one of those annoying Sentry Stones early - just prey and walk away. Bog Trogs are great for killing almost anything in Circle due to pathfinder, CMA and MAT 8 on the charge.

Rask will probably make a resurgence against Circle with Bradigus/Baldur2 theme lists, but he suffers greatly against anti-magic effects (Druids/Kromac) and getting picked apart.
Maelok can also be really good against Circle as Revive missiles also him to reach out and touch Circle in unwanted places while also fielding a lot of tanky undead models.


Best caster - Barnabas, Rask

The name of the game is terrain creation to screw infantry, and shooting-denial to screw the beasts. Rask can still give a good game, but I believe Barnabas is the slightly better matchup due to Legion's generally lower ARM, and their squishier high DEF casters/troops. Barnabas' style of shooting denial via Swamp Pits is also more effective than Rask's one big turn of denial since Legion beasts will often engage in hit and run tactics with their shooting. Certain casters like Saeryn and Vayl will give you serious headaches if played well, but that is more a limitation of Blindwater than anything else.


Best caster - Rask, Jaga-Jaga

The only real bad matchup for any caster is Carver due to Batten Down the Hatches, given the Blindwater problem with ARM - which means Rask is the best matchup overall (although Spellpiercer ignores it too!). Maelok would  suffer a bit due to prevalent Slaughterhouser RFP, and Midas can probably outtank him given his huge potential damage output and the aforementioned RFP effects. My only other bit of advice is to control Slaughterhousers with rough terrain if they don't have Saxon Orrik, because tough is annoying and they will blow your Gators up pretty easily if they get to charge.



Basically, my advice in a multi-list format would be to take Rask and Barnabas/Maelok/Jaga-Jaga (season to taste), with Rask tailored slightly more for heavy armour, and your second list tailored more for infantry-heavy / ARM-light lists and general tankability.

Looking at the whole "Minions" picture, I don't think the inclusion of Pigs as one of the lists would really shake things up since a meaty Rask list should be able to handle most heavy armor in the game. The only place where Pigs would do much better is situations where RFP is very much sought after (eLich, eMorvahna) or you face insane amounts of ARM. Otherwise I think Gators are just better off 95% of the time. Currently Pigs only have 2 good lists - Lord Carver and friends, and Arkadius tier.

If it is a three-list format, you might consider taking one of the two Pig lists. If you want to stick to all Gators (preferable), then you will likely want to tailor your Jaga/Maelok list slightly more towards Cryx and leave your third list to deal with everything else Rask has issues with (depending on your meta).

Updated - November 2014 (post Exigence)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Promise of CoC - aka "your 2/3pt unit is overpowered"

This article is a collection of random thoughts I have had about the game mixed in with some meta-design and theorymachine. It contains a lot of speculation and tries to shoehorn things in boxes in which they do not clearly fit. Read at your own peril.

The Coming of CoC

The new approach to design for the Convergence of Cyriss is very interesting for the future of the game. What is so unique about this new mini-faction, you might ask?

  • Unique warcaster/warjack interaction - CoC warjacks do not have a MAT/RAT stat. They instead inherit the MAT/RAT stat of their warcaster.
  •  Field Marshall on every warcaster - every warcaster has the Field Marshall [X] ability, where X is a rule of some sort that all their warjacks gain. Examples include Shield Guard, Arc Node, and Countercharge.The only warcaster in the game that shares this ability is Kommander Harkevich, who has FM [Pathfinder].
  •  Interface node - CoC jacks do not have a cortex, which means that they are not affected by things that affect cortexes. They also have a nifty rule where once per round, when a jack spends a focus, that focus can be allocated to another jack within 6" of it.
Never before has a warcaster had this much impact on how a specific list plays. You could bring the exact same list with the MAT 7/RAT2, FM [Countercharge] Axis and the MAT5/RAT5, FM [Arc Node] Mother Directrix, and it would play totally differently on the table with the same models. Every non-warcaster model is built either for bifunctionality (all infantry have 2 weapon modes), or a very specific support/buff/debuff function (solos).

The existence of the interface node alone gives CoC a unique playstyle which cannot be replicated by other factions. It brings a whole new level of resource efficiency to focus which is entirely determined by positioning and activation order (ie. 100% player decisions).

The thing that strikes me the most is how much unique playstyle character this faction has built-in, both as a whole and within each warcaster. Do other factions share this depth of true playstyle uniqueness?

Current Faction Identity

Most factions in the game have a few models that define their identity, their playstyle. Until CoC, this was best represented by those small overpowered support units you see in almost every list of that faction:

  • Protectorate: Choir - the alpha and omega of Faction indentity, the Choir of Menoth is a microcosm of the Protectorate playstyle - defensive synergy, denial, resource efficiency, and hitting really damn hard when you need to. The Choir was even in Mk1 lists that only had one or two jacks at most because they were so cheap (and made good souls). The Choir gives Protectorate warjacks large focus efficiency through the +2/+2 Battle buff, in addition to all their other jack support (Vassals, Mechanics, Reclaimers, etc.)
  • Skorne: Paingiver Beast Handlers - Paingivers are very similar to the Choir in their role and are also a microcosm of their faction - aggressive, fury efficient, offensive synergy. They are what push Skorne beasts to be amongst the best in the game.
  • Circle: Shifting Stones - these things embody the non-standard mobility and hit'n'run capabilities of Circle. They are in almost every Circle list, and are almost as overpowered as Choir and PGs. ARM 18 with 5 wounds AND a UA to give them Stealth? On top of that they heal stuff, control fury, and jam your lanes. F*ck those things.
  • Trolls: Krielstone Bearer and Fellow Alcoholics - a little more costly than the other OP support units, but also more combat-capable. Resilience is the heart of Trollbloods, and giving EVERYTHING +2 ARM for almost nothing every turn is pretty definitive and ballbusting. You can also add some really powerful effects on top of this for 1pt with the UA - STR buff, anti-fire/corrosion, anti-incorporeal. Trolls can stack damage and survivable buffs anywhere and everywhere like nobody else.
  • Legion: Sheperds/Forsaken & Incubi - I've chosen two here and both are somewhat mutually exclusive. One of the hallmarks of Legion is fury management to rival Skorne, but this fury management is a lot more independent. They can run a ton of beasts very independently thanks to their great beast support solos.
    The other side of Legion's identity, which has come to the fore with new MkII releases, are Incubi. You can have an Incubi for every small-based trooper in your list if you wanted, as well as making now making some from your opponent's models - this is the 'blight' and infectious corruption character of Everblight. It's not that powerful in game yet, but it's getting there (the Incubi package is probably a little overcosted for a package deal). The Spawning Vessel could also fit in this theme (especially when you get tokens from Incubi creation), and it is a pretty OP 3 pt unit (it would definitely THE unit if Sheperds/Forsaken weren't so bonkers and allowed the beast-heavy style to be so effective).
Picture of a wall to spice things up a bit.

The factions above this line have pretty strong identity encapsulated within specific support units. Faction identity units/models gets significantly weaker for the factions below this line:

  • Khador: Mechanics? - Khador has the best mechanics in the game, and my belief is that they were intended to be in most if not all Khador lists. Khador was intended to work like an Iron Curtain of jacks/MoWs, backed up by a swarm of crappy expendable infantry (Kossites,WG) and elite shock troopers (Reavers, Manhunters, Assault Kommandos (hahahaha...)). Khador can still probably make the best heavy ARM wall, but as we all know, that is pretty much the complete opposite of recent competitive Khador (tons of high DEF infantry).
  • Cryx: Skarlock? Cheap nodes? - Cryx's character in Mk1 was their supreme magical superiority, via awesome warcasters, cheap nodes and the Skarlock.
    In Mk2, they are defined still by having supremely powerful casters, but also mostly self-sufficient and mostly  overpowered infantry. I think if anything defines them, it's the undead swarm. Cryx jacks are a rarity.
  • Cygnar: Mechanics? Squire? - I think Mechanics were intended to be the counterpoint to the Choir for Cygnar and Khador. That certainly didn't work out as planned. While you might see Khador's mechanics now and then, you never see Cygnar's (because they are crap). The closest they have to that amazing 2pt support is the Squire - 2pts of making your warcaster better at everything focus related. However, having amazingly powerful casters isn't a defining feature in itself (it's pretty much a feature of the game).
  • Retribution - I can't think of a cheap support unit you see in every Ret list. If I had to pick a model, it'd be the Arcanist but that doesn't define the faction at all. Yet at the same time, it is difficult to deny that Ret have a unique identity with their shielded Myrmidons, insane threat ranges and ability to shoot you from anywhere.
  • Minions: ???? - I think Gators have a unique playstyle of shooting denial, resilience and power attacks a-plenty - a playstyle which is overshadowed by the Colossal meta and the raw power of spamming Gatormans. Pigs have nothing really unique at present, except the ability to stimulate unprecedented disappointment.
  • Mercs: ??? - Every merc list is different (if you exclude the Galleon that is now in every Merc list). The whole list is made up of random crap thrown together by circumstance and held together by empty promises.

In my opinion, unique support crutch units a perfectly valid approach to integrating faction character into playstyle. The factions above the 'line' are winners in that category. They have something that nobody else has. They have the CoC Factor. For the factions below the line, this isn't really the case in my opinion.

Another thing you'll notice is that all Hordes factions (except Minions) are above the line and have these "special units". And all the non-PoM Warmachine factions are below the line. The Choir is a big deal. They make warjacks very resource effective, especially when combined with things like the Vassal and Reclaimers.

Character in Faction, CoC, and focus efficiency - some ideas

I think the "OP support unit" design works well as a method of capturing faction identity. Changes to the faction on the upper half of my list would work best on a model-by-model basis, with small exceptions like making Troll Whelps more appealing/competitive for a beast heavy troll playstyle and growing the Incubi/Soulless playstyle for Legion.

A really good way to build character into each faction at a core level would be to add in unique ways that warcasters interact with their warjacks across faction, or interact with troops, or some kind of unique cross-faction interaction. Here are some ideas to get the brain going and rage rising:

  • Khador - I think the interaction between Khador casters and their warjacks is quite good at present, but there's generally not much reason to give focus out rather than camp it or spend it on troop buffs. It's one reason I like eButcher so much - MAT 8, SPD 6 jacks with free power attacks and charges are extremely focus efficient (who knew?). First, I would buff Mechanics and give them support abilities, like granting Powerful Attack, or pathfinder, or free charges. Plus, they can also repair stuff!
    Second, make MoWs base repairable, to make Mechanics even more valuable. And MoW could be made to suck less by giving them a Gatorman Posse-type special prayer system - say, choose between a Shield Wall, CMA or CRA at any time. Medium bases for life!
    This brings back the grindy factor of MoW Iron Curtain, as well as making jack use of focus more efficient. Everyone wins now that Kayazys lose to a million AoEs!
  • Cryx - Nerf the infantry hard, and give Cryx jacks a reason to exist. If you want to take a crapload of troops, they better suck and not be super cheap POW 15s, or average cost POW 13 stealth AMR 15 weapon masters on crack. At present, there's no real reason to take a Cryx jack when the troops are faster, hit harder, more accurately and are significantly more survivable. The casters are gods because the troops are supposed to suck and only be good with caster support (FU Tartarus).
    An example of a good characterful buff to Cryx jacks is to give them all a soul-consumption mechanic, something like the Harrower's Soul Taker. Then they become more independent and efficient after getting that initial focus to charge. Also a mechanic where the casters can spend focus or souls to "heal" their warjacks much like warbeasts would help their squishiness a bit and fit in with the whole "necrotechnology" aspect of Cryx.
  • Cygnar - I think there is more to Cygnar than 'GUNS!'. The playstyle of Cygnar is 'better living through technology', combined with militaristic discipline. I havetold new players that Cygnar is one of the most expensive factions to collect as a whole because each warcaster plays optimally in a very different army (excluding the almighty all-Merc lists). Embrace this. The army design of Cygnar could be like CoC, except with a focus on troop coordination rather than warjacks. Each warcaster could bring a specific order/technical ability to each unit - say all troops under pStryker get Defensive Line, and troops under Caine get Reform or some crap. Kind of like a jackedup version of elite cadre. It'd be tough to balance, but it'd give Cygnar more of a soul I think.
    For warjack focus efficiency, I think there is benefit in giving their warjacks more Stormblade/Stormclad-type of interactions, where the warjacks get buffs or orders depending on their proximity to specific units. As an example, warjacks could gain true sight if within X" of a Gun Mage UA, Stealth within X" of a Trencher Commando UA, Blaster if within X" of a Trencher UA. It would allow you to stack certain effects on warjacks based entirely on positioning, and really make the army feel more cohesive and integrated, disciplined.
  • Mercs - Paymaster model or ability or something equivalent. That's why Damiano is so cool.  Whatever - mercs are mercs. That's their thing.
  • Ret - Character-wise, I think Ret works fine. Like Gators, they just need more straight up buffs and tools. Some more anti-Hordes assassination tech, better warjack support and so on. I thought the force field thing on the warjacks was cool, but they could use a lot more damage boxes - the field should be a substitute for higher ARM rather than damage boxes. You absorb initial hits very well, then crumple under later hits.
  • Minions - Make Pigs all about frenzying warbeasts and berserk models - they should feel almost uncontrollable when played. It might not be the most competitive faction, but at this stage that is unlikely to ever happen. Pigs are so deep in the mud they might as well wallow in it.
    Gators I'd say are on the right track and just need straight up options and buffs rather than character. The tanky, denial, anti-shooting design works fine. I would especially like a character warbeast that really kicks ass and can't be taken in anything but Gator lists :) Just get a Riphorn Satyr with +1 MAT and some more boxes - done.

Thoughts, ideas, criticisms, irrational rage welcome.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bat Reps with Batman

Just thought I would post a little something since I haven't posted in a while. I have an upcoming post regarding my thoughts on faction identity in a post-CoC world in the works, from which I am being continually distracted by work, uni, having to make dinner, trolling my guinea pig, vacuuming, staring blankly at the stars, and basically anything that could take priority over this blog (first world problems)...

An excellent tool for bat reps

Game 1

First game was against my regular Ret opponent, but we decided to faction switch since Rask is more or less a perfect match-up vs Ret, given that Gatorman warlocks are very difficult to kill, Gatormans shred Ret infantry without the slightest bit of care, are extremely resilient to their puny counter attacks, and are only really threatened by three things:
  1. Problem: Getting shot to bits by Stormfall Archers/ Invictors/ Ossyan's feat on the advance.
    Solution: Dark Waters (feat).
  2. Problem: Getting sliced up by Sentinels (Vengeance especially sucks when you have no guns).
    Solution: Inhospitable Ground.
  3. Problem: ARM stack.
    Solution: Fury.
Boom. Barnabas does very well against Ret as well, but lacks solution #3 with the advent of Hyperion (can't throw Colossals into Swamp Pits).

Anyway, I decided to play the following list:

Vyros, Incissar of the Dawnguard (*5pts)
* Hyperion (18pts)
Dawnguard Sentinels (Leader and 9 Grunts) (9pts)
* Dawnguard Sentinel Officer & Standard (2pts)
* Soulless Escort (1pts)
Stormfall Archers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (5pts)
Arcanist (1pts)
Mage Hunter Assassin (2pts)
Mage Hunter Assassin (2pts)

vs a pretty standard Rask 35 list (2 Full Posse, Swamp Horror, Snapper, Min Trogs, filler solos). Scenario was Outflank (the one with the 2 centered zones).

Nothing of great interest happened. I lost after losing all the Sentinels, then losing Hyperion over a few turns, then losing on scenario (5-3). We've come to the conclusion that outside the Griffon spam list, eVyros is straight-up bad. Maybe not quite Calaban-bad, but bad. He is also really boring, and I have no idea why he has two really cruddy nukes in Lock the Target and Twister. Synergy however, is really quite nice when you have a super-tanky caster with ride-by attacks and very good 4pt reach lights.

In conclusion, Rask is sweet.

Game 2

Second game was against Pigmans with Midas:

Midas (*5pts)
* Bone Swarm (4pts)
* Gun Boar (5pts)
* Razor Boar (2pts) x4
* Road Hog (9pts)
* Targ (2pts)
Farrow Bone Grinders (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts) x3
Farrow Slaughterhousers (Leader and 5 Grunt) (6pts)
+ pre-destroyed War Hog

This tier list is just bananas. The only thing you lose is Saxon Orrik, and you get legitimately good tanky Boneswarms, advanced move, a free warbeast... good thing it's Pigs or it'd be broken.

I played a stock-standard Barnabas 35 list, having not played Barnabas in what seems like months, with the Thrullg as my filler solo to help deal with grinders and Bad Blood. I ended up winning on scenario (also Outflank).

Some highlights:
  • Wrastler RFPs with Snacking! Yay! I managed to kill a KDed Road Hog using all 7 Wrastler attacks (yay pillow fists!) and RFP it so it doesn't come back with the feat or give fury to Midas! Yay!
    But of course, I now remember that you only RFP with Snacking if you are damaged and are able to heal yourself after with kill. Which, might I say, is a really stupid design probably conceived to douche Trolls. And evidently I cheated.
  • The majority of my Posses were one-shot by charging Razor Boars - because boosted POW 10s reliably kill DEF 13/16, ARM 18, 8 wound models (that's a roll of 15 on 3d6 - little under 10% chance, not counting to-hit rolls).
  • Midas killing the Wrastler by Hex Blasting Spiny Growth off, then slicing it up with a couple of attacks. No problem. Curse is a pretty amazing ability. God help us if a high ARM weapon master stealth solo ever got it.
  • Midas casting Calamity on a full health Spitter, feating to bring back the tierlist War Hog, who then proceeds to 3 shot this full health Spitter with no boosts or additional attacks. Pretty much rolling a total of 28 on 6 dice - that's a little under 6% chance for you probability wizards out there. For the rest of you, that is what we call total BS.
  • Boneswarm tanking a couple of Posse and killing two over the game, barely taking damage. Turns out +3 STR and ARM are pretty good buffs! Thanks PP for giving that to Pigs rather than Gators. Very sweet. Really makes that tier4 Maelok with three Boneswarms at one token each look legit.
  • I did not accept an offer to scoop after Barnabas got a counter-charge off, which would have set up a charge on Midas next turn. Instead he managed to jam up the gap with Slaughterhousers who made tough rolls to deny my charge and douche me.
  • The Thrullg lived! - he managed to kill two Slaughterhouses, a few Bonegrinders with the Arcane Consumption aura, and get me my first scenario point.

The moral of the story is, you can win games in the face of flaming hot dice, and your opponent can scoop no matter how well he is doing. My advice:  


It is the most enriching of victories.

Will hopefully have a more controversial, entertaining and opinionated blog up by the end of next week :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Shambling Shamblers

I took the opportunity of my weekly game evening to proxy some Shamblers and see what they provide to your old Blindwater Posse spam.

The Lists:

Tier: 3
Maelok, the Dreadbound (*6pts)
* Bull Snapper (3pts)
* Blackhide Wrastler (9pts)
Gatorman Bokor and Bog Trog Shamblers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Feralgeist (1pts)
Gatorman Witch Doctor (2pts)
Gatorman Witch Doctor (2pts)

After acquiring a second Witch Doctor a few weeks backs, I find it difficult to play Maelok outside of tier. You basically sacrifice the Totem Hunter (a character) for 2pt Witch Doctors, Incorporeal first turn and advance move on Maelok and a Feralgeist (or a Boneswarm if you have one). Seems like a pretty good deal.

I'd probably never go Tier 4 because three Boneswarms is the biggest trap of all time, but the first 3 tiers are very easy to achieve.

Rask (*6pts)
* Bull Snapper (3pts)
* Swamp Horror (8pts)
Gatorman Bokor and Bog Trog Shamblers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Gatorman Witch Doctor (3pts)
Totem Hunter (3pts)

Nothing spectacular there. I put a Witch Doctor in because I wanted to try tough spamming with single-wound infantry, which by all accounts is a high-skill, high-risk strategy employed only at the highest levels of play.

As tends to be the usual these days, I played against Retribution, a faction against which you should always use either Barnabas or Rask - unkillable warlock + shooting immunity gives Ret fits.

The Games

First game was Maelok playing Outflank, a legitimate scenario. The list was Rahn with a Phoenix, some Halberdiers, Mittens, MHSF, Stormfall and annoying as hell solos (including Skyreth - Mk1 Vilmon on a horse).

This was a really good game I feel. Maelok is probably the only Gator caster you can play against Ret to have a really good game, as long as its not Ossyan (where you will get your entire army shot off the table turn two). I deployed with the Shamblers in the middle, flanked by Posse and Maelok heading for the left zone. I put Death Pact on the Wrastler, which combined with Spiny Growth is really pretty amazing (ARM 23). The Shamblers mostly got shot off the table early and did nothing.
I ended up with the upper hand on attrition and lost on scenario 4pts to 5pts. I had thrown everything I had into the right zone except Maelok and a single Gatorman, and he simply managed to toe a solo into the left zone and TK the Gatorman out to win. Tricky Rahn.

Second game was Rask playing Into the Breach, a mostly non-scenario. This time he chose to play Ravyn with ful MHSF and Mage Hunter Infiltrators, a Banshee, and other stuff I kill easily. 

As you may have gathered from my earlier posts, Mage Hunters are really really crap against Gators. I had a feeling he had a secret plan and this would be the day that he finally beats Rask, but instead I feated turn 2 and then killed almost everything (yay Fury cycling). Ravyn then proceeded to go all ninja and do some crap I didn't understand that resulted in 4 dead Posse and her halfway across the table. So I shot her with a Paralysis bolt, missed, charged in with a Swamp Horror and rolled fire for the tentacle damage, followed by Fury-ed Posse. The Shamblers did nothing all game but draw fire and make tough rolls.

The Observations 

Tough one-wound infantry indeed has the high skill-cap I foresaw. It has a lot of potential. 2pt Witch Doctors in Maelok's tier are really good... strange that they would be cheaper in the one place where they are most effective. Minion tax? Yep.

Shamblers die to nothing without good ranged protection. In both the games, they got sniped out pretty easy by MHSF, a unit which is usually terrible against Blindwater and for which I have little to no respect. With Stealth or Swamp Pits to get them up (or Rask's feat if you go second), they could reasonably be used as a front line jam unit with tough, and you can potentially keep the Bokur alive quite easily with Spiny Growth, terrain and said anti-range tech. 

With Rask, they add a little bit of a grind potential, but I am not sure they are strictly better than a min unit of Ambushers as Sacrifice fodder. Ambushers usually stay alive most of the game due to the Camouflage + Gobber cloud, and in the last game make pretty awesome Fury targets since they charge at MAT 8 and can CMA.  More playtesting to be had.

The main issue I was having, partially due to the match-up and partially due to my inexperience, was generating more Shamblers. I think over both games, I generated a total of 5 extra Shamblers. Maybe I just have to play more agressively with the Bokur, but from those two games it appears that the 8" CMD makes a huge difference relative to Alexia's CMD9. With CMD9 I would have easily picked up double the number of corpse tokens.

The Future  

 More games with Shamblers! They are by all accounts just a straight-up worse version of Alexia and the Risen for more points, but they seem to have potential. I feel that they will probably end up being more useful for other Hordes factions than they will for Blindwater, and I'd rather we had gotten a unit of trogs with blowguns or some ranged options, but I'll take it.