Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Min/Maxing Game Investment

aka. strategies for not getting hooked on pewter/plasticrack

I regularly see posts about faction hopping, pewtercrack addiction, people complaining about how they can't stick one faction long enough, the game is too complicated, they have to eat ramen noodles every day, got kicked out of their house for not paying their rent, have loansharks hounding them for missed payments and so on. Well, maybe not that regularly, but I have seen some.

I think faction whorism is all a matter of perspective and asking yourself what you really want out of this game: do you want a sense of completion from collecting everything? Do you want to spent time painting and modelling lots of small projects? Do you want to play one of the best and tightest strategic miniature games on the market? Do you want to have an opportunity to drink and whine about how broken Molik Karn is? Do you want to throw money away somewhere to take your mind off the fact that the housing market and costs of living in your city are massively over-inflated and you cannot afford anything anyway? These are all important questions if you want to enjoy pewtercrack while still maintaining a healthy financial status.

My faction history in this game 

I started playing about halfway between the release of Superiority and Mk1 Remix. My first faction was Cygnar - I chose them because they seemed to have the most versatility and I liked the look of their Prime heavies the most out of the Big Four.

After playing a bit of Stryker, Caine and Darius, I became romantically attached to Kreoss2's art in Apotheosis. I sold all my Cygnar and bought a crapload of Menoth. I decided to play Kreoss2 with heaps of weaponmasters, and HR/Testament with soul abuse mechanics. But I still really sucked at the game since I liked taking warjacks, which were downright bad in Mk1. I then bought into Skorne, which I loved because they took ridiculous amounts of time to paint (I quite like painting - it's a relaxing way to spend time), had big elephants with cannons, and Death March was an insane spell.

Then Mk 2 Field Test came out. I didn't get to participate much in the Field Test as I was busy moving continents, but the period between the release of the FT and the release of the final WM document was easily the most fun I have had playing the game, even though Kreoss2 became even more boring to play (dunno how that could be done, but they did it).
Then the Hordes Playtest came out. Unlike the WM FT, this was an actual playtest, and it was clear that not all that much work had gone into updating the models and they were looking for design advice more than they were looking for feedback. This period was the least fun I had playing Warmahordes. I got burned out on my factions and sold my Protectorate and Skorne to pay for various life expenses, and bought some used Khador based around a heavily-playtested 35pt eButcher list I had been toying around with for months, and played for almost a year:

The Most Interesting Warcaster in Immoren

  Doom Reavers
  Min Demo Corps
  Koldun Lord
  Yuri the Axe 

This list was incredibly fun and flexible to play at 35pts, but didn't scale very well when brought up to 50pts. I found that  didn't really enjoy the 'competitive Khador' playstyle of the time, namely using faceroll high-def infantry to jam. So I stopped playing for a few months. I sold my Khador at a good price, and did other things. I kept in touch with people I played the game with, and the desire to hang out and play games once or twice a week brought me back into it. But this time around I consciously made decisions that would restrict my time, mental and financial investment in the game.

The point I am making is that I have spent what I would consider to be a good chunk of my disposable income and time on this game over the last 6 years, and I have learned a few lessons along the way. I've never really been willing to spend enough money to be really competitive, and I tend to choke at tournaments anyway which would make such an investment unwise. Despite this, I have been back in the game for nearly a year, and sticking solely with the one crappiest, most incomplete faction in the game, and doing alright.


1 - Calculate $ per game

This is bound to shock and/or depress a lot of people - total up all $ spent on the game including models, paint tools, modelling tools, cases, card sleeves, etc. and divide that number by total games played. Scary stuff. Almost enough to make one consider cheaper alternatives, like Class A drugs.

An example in my case:
Minion models      =  $400 (Minion models only)
Case + foam          = $15 (plastic toolbox + foam from a mattress factory)
Paint + modelling  = $100 (accumulated over decades of wargaming, but as an approximation)
Gaming tools         = $50 (card sleeves, measuring tape, templates, tokens, etc.)
                               = $550

Games per month          = 9 (average 2 games a week + tournaments)
Months of Minionhood = 10
                                       = 90 games

550 / 90 = $6.1 per game.

Now imagine if I hadn't been playing almost the exact same list for almost a year. I would suspect the number would be closer to $35-40 per game for the average Warmachine player. I know that would be my number in Mk1.

How hobbies often appear in restrospect
I find that this thought exercise implores me to focus on why I play this game, which is that it is tactically interesting challenge and I get to hang out with friends and have fun while swearing and raging about broken things. And I can do all those things while playing almost the same list with different casters for months on end.

2 - Only buy new models once all your other models are painted and based

Painting, basing and modelling take up a lot of time. For me, the amount of time I invest in preparing and painting models is almost as important as the time I spend playing the game in terms of my investment. I find it's a good creative way relax in the evenings while watching TV, listening to music or podcasts.

Because it takes up so much time to do a good job with painting, use that as a way to slow down your pewtercrack addiction.

3 - Playtest stuff 3+ times before buying

A lot of times you end up buying models that suck balls and either sit on the shelf looking shiny or frustrate you whenever you do put them on the table. An easy way to avoid this is to proxy or borrow some models to playtest potential additions to your army - sometimes things that look really sweet on paper should stay on paper (I'm looking at you, Assault Kommandos!). Sometimes you just won't like playing a certain style that a unit or warcaster entails.


Therefore - proxy, and save the heartache.

4 - Plan ahead - and set (reasonable) limits as to what you want to actually play

When I started playing Khador, I was all about eButcher. I wasn't really interested in playing anything else. Then I started to up my game a bit, expanding slowly into other casters (Vlads, Butcher1, Irusks..) and buying new models to fit with those casters. Then I came to realize that Khador has pretty huge gaps that need to be filled with mercs (Eyriss, Midwinter, Bokur...) and mercs that are too good to not play (Gorman, Alexia, Nyss...), then this caster fills in that caster's gaps, etc... And the slippery slope doesn't end until you've got almost every merc and Khador model in your arsenal.

One of the reasons I picked Minions for my faction was that it was the smallest and most limited "faction" available at the time*. It is so limited that you can in fact only really play half of it at any given time, and I think it is a safe bet to say most people who play Minions play Pigs or Gators but not both. The downside is you have very few new releases (Shamblers - coming at you in Oct/Nov/Dec 2013!), but the upside is you don't have to buy too much to be the best you can be within those limits. Unless you decide you want to play Skorne a.k.a. 'Minions 2.0' of course.

You don't have to pick only one faction and stick with that - maybe your boundaries are to put together two complete compete 50pt Circle Orboros lists, each with a 15pt specialists sideboard, play that for a year, then move on to another two 50pts lists + sideboard in Mercs next year. Then another faction the year after. One year is a long time - about the release schedule from one WM expansion to the next.

5 - Study your enemies

New stuff comes out all the time. Instead of thinking 'wow, it'd be awesome to play that!' think 'wow, it'd be awesome to kill that!'. This game has so much design and tactical depth which results in an almost infinite number of possible tabletop interactions and tactics - even when you're basically playing the same list every week. Get the books, read them, write lists to figure out how things work and so on. But keep it platonic.

6 - Budget!

This ties in well with the previous points - if you put aside a small amount of money each month (say enough to buy a solo or two + a full unit), then you can slow grow your army while playing and painting it up and really learning how things work. A lot of new players want to rush in and jump to 50pt games straight away, which I think is a mistake. You really need to take your time if you want to get the best results. The initial investment to 25 will probably take up a couple of months out of your budget, but is necessary and gives you time to really learn the basics before delving deeper into the muck.

7 - Focus on other things - take breaks, other hobbies, save up for a holiday or a guitar.

Hell, you can even play DotA 8 hours a day if you want to! If you can compare your time and money investment in Warmachine with other stuff you could be doing and buying, it gives you a good perspective of opportunity cost, and hopefully makes your decisions in the greater Warmahordes hobby appear more valuable.


Probably the #1 Warmahordes player in the US has been playing only one faction for years. It is probably the best faction in the game without eLich, but it has its own weaknesses and matchup problems.
WWJVMD? Play a single faction and learn it back to front, then crush his enemies, see them driven before him, and blight all their women to use as warlocks.

Good luck!

 * This was pre-CoC, and Retribution was not an option because elves are the scum of the universe and their jacks are total ass to paint.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wolfcry 2013

I attended a small 1-day, 4-round, 16 player 50pt Steamroller last Sunday, and placed a respectable 6/16. I consider this an improvement over my last tournament placing, which was 24/32 or something equally terrible.

The one non-standard thing about the event was the choice of lists. You were allowed to bring as many lists as you wanted (up to 4), but had to play each list at least once. I chose to bring two lists, which didn't work out that well for me:

List 1:
2 Full Posse
Full Trogs

Witch Doctor
Swamp Gobbers
Totem Hunter

List 2:

2 Full Posse
Min Trogs
Wrong Eye

Witch Doctor
Swamp Gobbers

The Barnabas list was intended to face Legion, Cryx, Circle and certain Khador lists. The Rask one was best to deal with everything else. As you will see from the battle summaries below, this didn't really work out too well for me in terms of match-ups.

Game 1 - Skorne - eHexeris

This game was against Paul, a new player to our meta, who - like me - was ripped away from his native Canada at an early age to grow up in the southern colonies, and thus suffers from thinly-veiled rage at all times. But he is Canadian enough to repulse at being called a Newfie (which he isn't). The TO had matched us up together since he was under the impression we had never played before, when we in fact had played a match a few days before - with almost the exact same lists:

Lord Arbiter Hexeris (*6pts)
* Basilisk Krea (4pts)
* Cyclops Raider (5pts)
* Mammoth (20pts)
* Titan Gladiator (8pts)
* Aptimus Marketh (3pts)
Nihilators (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Agonizer (2pts)
Mortitheurge Willbreaker (2pts)
Mortitheurge Willbreaker (2pts)

I dropped Rask, as I like to do against Skorne. I decided to ambush my 6 Trogs as I felt relatively safe from assassination at DEF 17 ARM 17 and camping a fury or two, since I know can I remove Mammoth from the table without too much trouble. The scenario was Supply and Demand (Mosh Pit), which made no difference to anything.

Long story short, I used my feat + Inhospitable Ground to alpha strike, killed Mammoth with Fury + Boundless Charge Swamp Horror and a single Gatorman after shooting off Counterblast, then put pressure on his support with the ambushing Trogs. The middle of the table is otherwise a huge grind based around a really annoying hill - the one remaining threat at this stage was a half-dead Gladiator within charge range of Rask. I charged this Gladiator with a full-health Wrastler, Death Rolled boosted to hit, and rolled a 5. A follow up POW 17 attack also missed. I ran the Swamp Gobbers in the way in the hope that it would prevent him trampling or charging his way up. Hexeris went for a last ditch assassination attempt by killing the Wrastler using most of his fury + his feat, giving the Gladiator a chance, but he missed the Swamp Gobber hoping for a follow-up slam (which wouldn't have worked, we discovered, as the Gobber dies 100% to the slam itself, so no follow up).

He said he was going to try to assassinate Rask under Dark Waters using his feat + several Soul Fires through his Raider arc node but screwed up his order of activations so wasn't able to do it. I am kind of glad, since Rask's feat also stops arcing (the caster is the one making the attack and he is further than 5" from the spell target) and that would have left a bad taste in my mouth.

1-0 so far. Happy I didn't choke first round as I usually do.

Game 2 - Bart/Galleon 

All these things are horrible inventions and have caused untold human suffering.
This game was against Chris Baker, one of the NZ Warmachine scene veterans, self-proclaimed dick, and generally a quite knowledgeable and experience player. I like to think of Bart/Galleon as a faction in itself, since it is so goddamn stupid and I hate to think that Mercs are capable of such retardation. This list was Bart, Galleon, a Vanguard, and a crapload of character stuff that makes Galleon manlier (WE+Snapper, Ayanna + Holt, Dougal, Ragman, Thor, Gorman, eEyriss... etc). Scenario was Ammunition Run, and neither of us remember to explode anything (I killed two for 2 CPs, yay).

I chose to drop Rask again as I felt with 3 heavies, Fury, and the ability to shoot off Hot Shot and Spiny Growth I might have a snowball's chance in hell at killing the Galleon. This didn't work out at all, mostly due to good terrain use on his part and good timing with the feat.

We both made some pretty significant tactical errors (he left Eyriss within 5" of Galleon one turn, I left one extra fury on Snapjaw for no reason and he frenzied on some Posse, etc.), but ultimately my strategy for the game was not anywhere near as good as his (sit in the zone with Galleon between two terrain pieces and hide everything behind it), and I lost every single model over about 8-ish rounds in return for killing maybe 5 pts of stuff. One of these next to Galleon the whole game definitely hampered me to no end:
Am I correct in saying these things are EXTREMELY
annoying in Warmachine games? Tiny linear obstacles?
Rough terrain? Miniature Satans? Who knows.

 1-1 so far. My regular win-lose-win-lose tournament streak is going well.

Game 3 - Trolls - eDoomshaper

This was a very odd game. The table had some illegal terrain placement (per SR2013, you cannot place any terrain piece within 3" of another terrain piece), notably a large house on my left, which had a linear obstacle perpendicular to it, which in turn also had a linear obstacle perpendicular to it. Basically it was a large house with a large T sticking out of it made from linear obstacles. My Troll opponent Luke H. got a raging Troll hard-on when he saw this, and spent the first few turns of the game with his heavies and caster hiding in a 3 sided wall bunker (thank Janyssa!).

List was:

Hoarluk Doomshaper, Rage of Dhunia (*6pts)
* Pyre Troll (5pts)
* Troll Axer (6pts)
* Earthborn Dire Troll (10pts)
* Mulg the Ancient (12pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Kriel Warriors (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
* 3 Kriel Warrior Caber Thrower (3pts)
* Kriel Warrior Standard Bearer & Piper (2pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Janissa Stonetide (3pts)
Troll Whelps (2pts)

The scenario was Into the Breach (the one with the zone on the left and flag on the right), which actually made a huge difference since the aforementioned wall bunker was dead center of the zone. Therefore he decided to throw literally his entire army into the zone. Realizing that I had no chance in hell of getting any points on that side, I ran Rask to the flag (I went second) and told him he had 5 turns to get near this flag as I jammed up his bunker with Gators and heavies, and whatever I could muster.

When it looks like this on your left, go right.
Eventually, one turn away from defeat, he managed to pull off an epic ninja goad chain with Mulg to get him within 3.5" of the flag to deny me my 4th point. I responded by picking Mulg up with the Swamp Horror, throwing him away, hitting him with Voodoo Doll from Wrong Eye and blocking his spirit, then jamming him with stuff. At this stage he had mere minutes on his deathclock and rushed to recover, forgetting I had locked Mulg down for good, and he deathclocked himself.

Wrong Eye was definitely the all-star in this game, as he not only Voodoo Doll-ed Mulg, but the Earthborn's spirit a turn earlier.

2-1 and a lot of CPs. Legit.

Game 4 - Skorne - Zaal

All this point, I was locked into Barnabas and facing Skorne for 3rd place overall. Not a good prospect at all. Jason from Hamilton, who is one of my favourite opponents despite his amazing ability to somehow find new and original ways to douche me every game, chose to drop Zaal, which again is not a good prospect given Zaal's ability to deal massive damage with almost anything and the large number of Steady super-powered AGs around the place:
Supreme Aptimus Zaal & Kovaas (*5pts)
* Basilisk Krea (4pts)
* Cyclops Raider (5pts)
* Mammoth (20pts)
Nihilators (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Venators Slingers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (4pts)
Ancestral Guardian (3pts)
Ancestral Guardian (3pts)
Extoler Soulward (2pts)
Hakaar the Destroyer (4pts)

Not feeling very confident at all. Scenario was Fire Support (two flags with objectives that each contest the flags). He deployed the Mammoth, Slingers and an AG to my left which means I was never going to get that flag since I can't kill an Inviolable Resolve Mammoth with that much stuff around it to block charges. And since it is a Skorne heavy and a caster with Hex Blast, I can't jam it up with DEF 16 Posse like I would a crappier Colossal.

Basically I came to the conclusion after two rounds that I was not going to be able to win on scenario and I would have a bad time on attrition. I began my third turn looking at Zaal with 1 fury, and decided my odds of making an assassination were better than the odds of my winning this on scenario or attrition. I charged Barnabas forward into a Nihilator, popped my feat (which caught everything in his army), used my Blood Cleaver on the charge attack to get a free Flesh Eater at a KD-ed Zaal, then cast two more Flesh Eaters. This left Zaal at 2 boxes and still had his transfer - unlucky with the dice = assassination failed. I then shot him with the Spitter, forcing another 7 pts of damage to be transferred and corroding him. Realizing that with 2 boxes he was safe from dying to corrosion next turn, I basically jammed my entire army into him in the hopes that Barnabas would live, but alas a Last Stand-ed Hakar under Zaal's feat can kill Barnabas in 3 hits.

2-2, second most CPs, and a placing of 6th overall.

Things I would have done differently overall

A little bit of reflection always helps one improve. Other than removing the tactical mistakes I made in all my games (which can be addressed as 'play better'), here is what I would change:

  • Drop Barnabas against Bart/Galleon - I was pretty sure this game was going to be a loss, so I should have got Barnabas out of the way to give me open selection later on in the tournament. I would still have been able to get my two control points and drop Rask in the final round, which means I kill the Mammoth and then hide behind Inhospitable Ground.
  • Ignore Galleon entirely - given favourable terrain placement and tigher play, I think it is possible for Rask with 3 heavies to destroy Galleon. However, this was not the case here. The better strategy would have been to flank heavily with both Gatorman Posses (hopefully protected from Galleon guns with the feat before the charge), while just throwing heavies at Galleon to hold him in place. The stuff at the back is super squishy and prone to death, the hard part is just getting there, which is difficult with no guns.
  • Roll 1 better on the Zaal assassination - I still think the assassination run was the right move. To pull it off, I needed to do at least 15 pts of damage to Zaal on 3 Flesh Eaters. 3 POW 13s at dice -1, at expected value is 18 pts of damage. I did 13. Assuming one more point of damage, the Spitter shot was a good chance at a kill, as corrosion had a 2 in 3 chance of finishing him off next turn.
  • Take a Croak Hunter or two - So many games I find myself wishing I had one gun to shoot an annoying model, or finish off a Gargantuan with 1-2 boxes, or kill Zaal after rolling poop on damage. Croak Hunters sadly are the only thing Blindwater has for ranged attacks outside Spitters, Sac Strikes and Calaban's gun. Maybe I will try to play with them some more and they won't disappoint me so much.
  • Remember Bog Trog ambushes! - I don't think this made too much of a difference, but forgetting to ambush 10 Bog Trogs on turn 2 of the last game maybe changed things a bit (most likely would have taken assassination completely off the table as Zaal would have held on to a few more fury). In the first game I held them until turn 3 on purpose, since I felt the 6 of them would die to A2A or Mammoth AoEs without much in return.
I think my game against Trolls was very well played and capitalized on my opponent's strategic error of overcommiting to the zone so no big changes on that side of things. As to my first game against Skorne, the only point I was really at risk of losing was when I failed to roll a 6 on 3 dice for that Wrastler on Gladiator charge. So, roll better.

Oh, the guy that won the tournament is the Ret player I play almost every week and who rips his hair out on account of Gators. Turns out luck of the draw matchups is a pretty big deal :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A new pair of boots! - tips on how to defeat Blindwater

I have come across several people that think Gators are actually good. This blows my mind, but apparently this is a real perspective from real people.  There might be some truth to it, since I have seen Gator players who know what they are doing place well while I wallow in the muck of the bottom 25%.

So I have taken it upon myself to sink myself even further into the muck by giving people advice on how to crush my "faction".

Note that I have not played more than a handful of games outside Blindwater for well over a year. Therefore, take any advice I give with a grain of salt. Or several handfuls of salt that you can throw into your opponent's eyes if you are losing while using my lackluster advice.

Here are some general guidelines when facing Gators:
  1.  Gators are a melee-centric army. This means they hate getting controlled and snared. They hate being denied the ability to move or make melee attacks. If you can stop charges, you're doing alright irrelevant of anything else.
  2. Gators are excellent at delivering themselves in the face of shooting. Don't rely on your guns.
  3. Posse are MAT7, 2x POW 13 attacks, charge at +2" against living, can choose to reroll misses vs living/pathfinder/+1 DEF and Terror, and are ARM 16 with Unyielding and 8 boxes. They will shred through any small-based infantry without problem, and are very hard to remove once engaged without charges. Space your squishy guys out.
  4. Gator warlocks are difficult to assassinate due to great defensive stats, or other survival mechanics. If you go for an assassination run, make sure the odds are heavily stacked in your favour and bypass their survival mechanics.
  5. Gators have pillowfists and have trouble cracking ARM >19 IF you don't include Fury. The highest natural P+S in faction is the Wrastler's P+S17 bite (not amazing). But we can pump out a lot of attacks.


Casters: Haley1+2, eCaine, Stryker2, Siege
Other picks: Centurion, Stormwall, Journeyman

Cygnar's reliance on ranged attacks to deal crushing damage (ie. Siege, Sloan, Hunters, Defenders, etc.) reduces their potency to crack Gatorman armor. Furthermore, disruption doesn't affect Hordes at all so they lose one of their strongest control elements. Fortunately, they have possibly the best control casters in the game in the form of Haley1+2. And we all know how Gators love being controlled.

Centurions are especially nice against Gators because of innately high ARM and the option to Polarity Field makes them very survivable against Gators, and an excellent way to hold a zone while the rest of your force lolerskates around and does its thing (just keep in mind a smart Gator player will probably handle this by throwing the Centurion away every turn). Journeyman is just good because +3 ARM changes heavies from 'difficult to kill' to 'might as well be a Devastator'.

  • Hayley1 - Temporal Barrier and you are very safe. Feat on counterattack - if you have enough stuff left to deal sufficient damage, you probably win. If you don't, then you probably lose on scenario.
  • Hayley2 - everything she usually does works great against Gators. Time Bomb, TK and super melee Stormwalls are especially ballbusting. I'd hold on to the feat for a while because a clever Rask player will just counterfeat your feat if you expect to shoot Gators to death - it's better if you wait until after initial engagement because then there is really nothing the Gator player can do while you wipe the floor with him.
  • Caine2 - While Caine is unlikely to be able to assassinate, what he can do is blow up your entire army during his feat turn at any stage of the game if it isn't protected, and then stay perfectly safe due to Gate Crasher. The one risk is losing on scenario while all this pussyfooting is going on, which makes choices like no-KD Boomhowlers and the aforementioned Centurion really sweet.
  • Stryker2 blows things up in general. Just keep your infantry back so they don't all die to a Gator alpha-strike and you should be able to crack through any reptilian armor presented via Positive Charge and naturally high POW weaponry. Just don't do anything risky with Stryker - he is not that tough. 
  • Siege - just recently have I played against Siege with Gators and realized that Ground Pounder does not target anything. This means he can blow Gators up from 14" away for two rounds before you get to him, bypassing ALL OUR ANTI-RANGED TECH except for Swamp Horrors. What a load of crap.


Casters: Irusk1,  Old Witch/Irusk2, Vlad123, eSorscha
Other picks: Kayazy + UA, Clam jacks, Conquest, Uhlans

You have two choices when playing Khador - either you can try to grind down Gators with ARM, or employ super high DEF Kayazy/WG/Nyss. The problem with the first strategy is that the heavy ARM usually gets controlled by rough terrain, the problem with the second strategy is Barnabas' feat.

Clam jacks (Devastator, Spriggan) are excellent because of their very high ARM, meaning that outside of being thrown around, there is not much Gators can do about them. They can just bulldoze and be really annoying. Conquest is in a similar boat. He is unlikely to ever die, and with Superiority can easily kill a handful of Posse every turn with sweeps or initials. Iron Flesh Kayazy here are worth the points even if they just force the Gator player to blow Barnabas' feat to deal with them - keep this sacrifice in mind however. Uhlans are a bit of a wild card selection, but in my experience playing against them, they have proven a tough matchup because of their hardhitting charges, and ability to then tank Posse reasonably well after the charge (especially with Vlad3). 

  • Irusk1: an all-around infantry buffing monster. If you feat defensively (no KD/4+ tough) while your IF Kayazy run into the Gator force, you can pretty much kill every single thing in the list the next turn thanks to Battle Lust. Yay! Sounds fair.
  • Old Witch/Irusk2: these are both quite solid all-round control casters that play very differently.  I think they bring enough tools each to allow you to play any balanced list capable of dealing with anything Gators can throw at you (both literally and figuratively).
  • Vlad works in almost any incarnation if you build the list well. I have always found games against him to be challenging and not an easy win for either side.
  • eSorscha - not as popular these days, eSorscha can be really legit vs Gators on account of her feat alone.Combined with tons of WG sprays, a handful of weapon masters and the amazing Beast 09, eSorscha can deal with almost any armor list.



Casters: Deneghra12, Lich123, Skarre12, Terminus, Goreshade2...
Other picks: Banes, Satyxis, McThralls

I've already written a bit about why Cryx eats Gators alive. The summary:
  • Banes/Satyxis/Mcthralls - they blow Gators up, are hard to wipe out, and are stupid cheap.
  • Undead - deny Bloodthirst and a lot of 'living only' effects.
Basically you can more or less auto-pilot a list forward, roll dice, and win. Cryx has clear superiority in the melee department, on top of having heaps of denial, debuff and control tools. The main thing to focus on is to keep your caster safe (not too difficult), and make sure you decapitate the Gator force when it is crying on its knees during your feat turn. NO MERCY, NO SOUL, NO PRETENSE OF BALANCE. I may be somewhat bitter, but it is my sincere opinion that Banes are damn stupid.

  • Deneghra1 stops your opponent playing the game, Deneghra2 stops your opponent playing the game IF they are an all-melee force (which Gators pretty much are).
  • Lich1 is really good. Lich2 is the best caster in the game, cannot be charged, and his feat pretty much kills most of your army with nothing you can do about it. Lich3 is like Lich1 but with a feat that screws Hordes.
  • Skarre1 blows everything up and then has pStryker's feat. Skarre2 stops your opponent playing the game.
  • Terminus camps and walks forward, gets your heavies killed, and then casually picks you apart.
  • I put Goreshade2 as a caster pick there because recycling Bane Thralls are totally bananas vs Gatorman Posse, although something like a Rask tier list might have a game against it.
You can't spell Cryx without 'cry'.



Casters: Harbinger, Kreoss123,
Other picks: Covenant of Menoth, Reckoners, Errants + Piper

The Covenant is a must given its anti-KD and anti-magic auras being excellent vs Gators. Gravus can also do the job here, although he costs more and unlike the Covenant can be killed. Tough no KD Errants are really annoying for melee armies... incredibly so. Reckoners, apart from being the best non-character heavies in the game, bring a -2 to hit aura for living model on top of great melee and ranged capability.
  • Harbinger is obvious - great control, feat is damaging enough to kill Posse, Purification, Crusader's Call, Fear of God, and of course, Awe messes with living melee armies real bad.
  • Kreoss123 all have some game - pKreoss has Purification, mass KD and a damage buff, eKreoss brings weapon master swarms that can shred anything in your list (but make sure to bring the Piper and the Errant UA to deal with rough terrain!), Kreoss3 is a tank with good defensive and damage buffs, one turn of Purification and Warpath so his heavies obliterate yours.



Casters: Rahn, Vyros
Other picks: Banshee, Hyperion, anything with giant mittens

Having played against Ret with Gators more than I have played against anything else, I can say that Ret have a really bad matchup against Gators.
First, do not take the MHSF! I have zero respect for them as a Gator player since they have POW 10 weapons and can't really hurt any of my casters.  Second, don't rely much on your infantry like Sentinels, Invictors or Halberdiers. They do not put out enough damage (unless under Ossyan) to hurt a Posse wall and melt in front of the Gator onslaught. Therefore you might want to play a bit more jack-heavy than usual.

Banshees are great in this matchup since they prevent orders (namely, charges) after engagement, which greatly decreases the Posse' potential output and threat ranges (stops those two Gatormans charging your caster way in the back and killing your caster). Hyperion is also good because he has so much ARM (especially with pVyros) and you can get some pretty good sweep power attacks against Gators, or throw a few points of damage on unprotected heavies with your meganuke cannon. Finally, Mittens' ability to push, pull, slam and generally douche models is quite potent against grindy Gators.

  • Rahn - In my opinion the best matchup vs Gators. He lacks a damage buff outside his feat, but brings enough control to the table that he can systematically take apart your army and protect his forces over a few turns while winning in more places than Charlie Sheen. At least one unit of Mittens to make use of the feat, a few jacks (including a Phoenix) and smart use of Polarity Shield are your friends.
  • Vyros - Both Vyros' are ok vs Gators because of their armor and damage output.
    pVyros can camp a few focus to be tough to kill, while buffing his troops and tanking you with an ARM 21 Hyperion. He can also hit very hard himself with Flank, and make his jacks fly.
    eVyros is good if and only if you play a Synergy-focused list. Griffons can take a few hits from Gators and with Synergy can dish it out hard too. He is boring as hell to play that way but that's the way it is.


Casters: eMagnus, MacBain, BartGalleon
Other picks: Orin Midwinter, Alexia... Gorman and Galleon

Orin is incredibly annoying to deal with when you don't have guns. He can usually get close enough to mess with the Blindwater warlock as they tend to play midline. Alexia is probably one of the best roadblock grinders in the game and will do a great job of making Posse waste their attacks on useless Risen, on top of all her other cool shtick. Gorman is also kind of alright - barely playable.

  • I like Macbain in this matchup for his ability to jam like a pro - throw some 1+ tough Steelheads in the Gators' faces to stop them in place for a turn, followed by flanking Steelhead cav = dead Posse. Then Galleon can clean up your heavies under the effects of Fail Safe (bring a Bokur to Shield Guard Rask's pitiful attempt at dispelling it). By then you probably win on scenario scenario or slowly grind them down.
  • eMagnus is also quite good given his control feat and Calamity.
  • Bart Galleon is as good as ever, but note that this not one of his best matchups ever since 2d3 won't be doing all that much work on ARM 16+ models. However, you can only stop so many ranged attacks and one of the heavies is bound to get dragged in an killed at some point. An ARM 22+ Galleon is pretty much impossible to 1-round for Gators, even cycling Fury. Just focus on keeping Bart safe while at low FOC.


Casters: eMakeda, Rasheth, Xerxis, Zaal
Other picks: Agonizer, Bronzebacks, Sentry, Cetrati

Skorne are basically Gators 2.0, without the specific animi and anti-shooting tech, but better everything else (including better Posse). Bronzebacks are exceptional in this matchup since they can quite easily kill Posse and heavies without needing to spend much Fury, and Beat Back is a great ability to have in a grind situation. Sentries and Cetrati are both high ARM models that can be buffed to the point of unkillable, and Agonizers are just really annoying all the time.

  • eMakeda delivers heavies in your face so they kill all your stuff first. Not a good place to be for a fast melee army.
  • Xerxis and Zaal can both make things hit ridiculously hard to crack that Gator ARM, and attrition in their own ways. Both suffer a little bit with the release of Rask, but still have the tools to make it work.
  • Rasheth with lots of Titans is really hard to chew through. The one risk of course is that Rasheth dies to basically anything that gets into melee with him (ie. a Flying Wrastler or a single Posse member), so you have to really watch your positioning.


Casters: Vayl1+2, Saeryn, Thagrosh2 / Kallus, Thagrosh1
Other picks: Scytheans, Typhon / Swordsmen, Legionnaires + UA, Blackfrost Shard, Incubi, Spawning Vessel

The main thing to keep in mind is that the common anti-infantry snipers like Striders/Deathstalkers are next to useless and are just expensive points sinks against Gators, and a pure ranged attrition game won't do too well in a scenario situation. However, sprays are pretty good at getting around targeting restrictions, either by targeting something behind the target, or targeting your own stuff in front of the target, and Legion have some really killer sprays.
I think Legion attrition with Kallus and pThagrosh have some game against Gators with a mix of ARM buffs and troop recycling, eventually you will grind the Gators down due to numbers, and Incubi hitting pretty hard on charging combo strikes. Alternatively, there is the classic beast heavy style that picks the enemy list apart and runs off. Scytheans, Typhon and Carniveans can deal a great amount of damage if you protect them well against retalation, either via the use of defensive animi, feats or keeping your distance.

  • Saeryn is an all-round amazing warlock with a feat that crushes Gator balls, Breath Stealer, and the ability to stop healing/transfers with ranged attacks. Deliver those heavies and watch them rip things apart.
  • Both Vayls have huge control areas so should be able to play a bit further back (not to mention making arc nodes THAT ACTUALLY WORK and Spell Martyrs), and have some defense mechanisms to stop that one Gatorman that manages to get in her face. Both bring good board positioning that rewards smart, safe play. Vayl1 also has Incite, which will usually result in Posse dying if they try to jam you too fast in order to get ahead of scenario, and Rampager which is amazing against any Hordes list.
  • Thagrosh2 - heavy warbeasts with signs and portents can cut things up good. This includes ARM 18 multi-wound models and heavy warbeasts.


Casters: Kromac, Morvahna2, Krueger2, Baldur2, Kaya2, Mohsar
Other picks: Stalkers, Ghetorix, Woldguardian, Megalith, Skinwalkers + UA

With Circle, you will have to rely on your beasts and hit and run tactics, using terrain like forests to control Gators. Squishy Tharn units do not deal enough damage to Gators and they will die easily. Like most Circle lists, your choice of troops will depend on your choice of caster. I think Stalkers are good in any Gator matchup if played safe (Lightning Strike), Ghetorix can tank reasonably well, Woldguardians and Megalith I have found especially annoying, and Skinwalkers with the UA are basically evil Gatormans that benefit from Circle buffs.

  • Kromac can play quite a few beasts, brings an ARM buff, has an amazing denial spell that is great vs midline casters (Bestial) and Warpath, allowing him to play support in the early game and beast out and smack things when things quiet down.
  • Morvahna2 is arguably the best attrition caster in the game and brings a solid denial toolkit as well. She will also be quite safe most of the game since Gators suck at shooting.
  • Krueger2 has a monster control feat that will easily allow you to get two alpha strikes against a Gator opponent with your beasts if you play safe, and then he has Telekinisis and Gallows. What a douche.
  • Kaya2 - more hit and run with beasts. Yay.
  • Mohsar's strength is in the Pillars of Salt spell - these are very annoying to deal with in a low model-count melee list. On top of that you have a pretty strong feat against Hordes, Curse of Shadows, and the ability to run lots of beasts. I would hate this guy so much if he didn't have the best fluff in the game (Grade A douchebag).


Casters: Madrak1+2, Grissel1, Calandra
Other picks: Champions, Tuffalos, Burrowers, Axer, Mulg

Trolls play similar to Gators, relying on their physical superiority to grind you down and control the board. Unfortunately for us reptiles, Trolls tend to be better at counter-attacking than we are and those bricks are hard to crack. Champs and Tuffalos are great here as they are super survivable and can hit quite hard. Mulg is great in general, but does especially well vs Gators on account of his animus being a mass denial to animi.
  • Both Madraks can take AND deal out respectable damage, given the right list. Blood Fury on Madrak2 is a gamechanger in an attrition context.
  • Grissel's Fell Calls are pretty amazing. You can: a) deny charges (big deal against Gators), b) get an extra attack out of each champion (big deal against Gators) or c) run away at the end of your activation (big deal against anyone). Then you can do all three on your feat. Oh, we'll also throw in Calamity just because.
  • Calandra is incredibly annoying to deal with for a melee army. Then she has a pretty great feat and a pseudo-TK spell.
Grim2 might have some game because of Mortality, and Scattergunners with Mortality can do some serious damage while hiding behind a screen.

For some reason, I'm also tempted to believe the Mountain King would be pretty legit. I'm not even trolling - Gators rely on a lot of attacks to deal damage since they don't have any heavy hitters, and with a few ARM buffs (very easy to find in Trolls), the MK is unlikely to get 1-rounded. This is even easier to pull off if you bring the Bouncer to Shield Guard (who also brings a decent animus in this matchup). Then he can animus sweep DEF 12 stuff after getting back to full health, and you repeat and win. Then again, I could be completely wrong.


Casters: Carver
Other picks: Slaughterhousers, War Hogs

This isn't a hard choice. Carver is amazing and makes everything amazing. Having high ARM pathfinder beasts in your face the whole game is not encouraging. Especially not when followed up by tough quasi-weapon masters with Take Down.

Midas might be ok because of his huge damage output potential, but he is a little squishy.


So that is my write-up. I seriously lack experience against a lot of matchups and don't really know what I am talking about, so feel free to make your comments and criticize constructively, preferably using correct grammar and punctuation while sober.

Enjoy your new shoes.