Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I ❤ Calaban

Not really. But after over 18 or so months of almost exclusive Gatorman play, I have finally played a game with the Calaban tier list. And it was alright.

Shock. Horror. Surprise.

The two good things about it are:
  1. AD Wrong Eye and Snapjaw - very decent for scenario play and flanking. Quite self sufficient too when you can throw in a 6pt Spitter or a 2pt Snapper to tag along with them.
  2. 10" Bone Shakers and Parasites and 12" Hex Blasts - Craft Talisman makes a really big difference on the feat turn in terms of the threat range and cycle opportunities you have with them offensive spells.
So I can eat dirt a bit and finally say something mildly positive about Calaban on this blog. Although I am not altogether surprised that the two above things are good. I also believe I've stated a few times how awesome I think SPD 6 is on a Gator caster, and having a 14" control area is mindblowing. Plus really decent late game melee presence on a spellslinger/debuff is really cool.

But the status quo remains, where Rask + Barnabas/Maelok is the best tournament Minion pairing, and Calaban remains frustrating as hell in many many matchups that the other three skip their way through. But at least I said something nice about this abomination of a model design :)

Friday, January 24, 2014

History Trip on the Magical Gator Bus: Hordes MkII Play Test

Let us turn back to a time long ago, a time before the Blindwater Pact rose from the primordial swamps of eastern Immoren, a time where Morghoul2 was considered one of the best warlocks in the game, a time when Kaya2 was the bee's knees..... a time called the MkII Playtest.

I'm sure I've complained a few times about the Hordes MkII playtest on this blog and how it was probably the least enjoyable time in Warmahordes for me (outside perhaps the release of Colossals - I quit playing for many months at both those times). I've probably also mentioned that the most fun period of Warmachine for me were the 2-3 months of the Warmachine fieldtest.

Play Test vs Field Test

Notice how I use the words 'Play Test' when referring to Hordes, and 'Field Test' when referring to Warmachine, even though they were both named 'Field Tests'. Basically, Warmachine MkII was more or less a complete process that had been put through the ringer, abilities and spells on models simplified, nerfs and buffs applied, costs reconsidered, and so on before being released to the public. A single .pdf version of the cards and core rules came out, there was a one week rage period, and then feedback was opened for another 3 weeks. After this period was over, official feedback channels were closed, and 2 months passed by before Privateer Press released the 'final' rules .pdf. Easy. Everything was already done, and what was needed was mostly completed but needed some mass play to polish the rules and eliminate some of  model balance issues (like WG Rocketeers having boosted damage rolls - if you think the Deathstar is scary now...). In essence, Warmachine MkII was more or less finished and just need some field experience to clean it up. It felt like an open beta.

Hordes, on the other hand, was more or less an alpha built from the ground up by the community. The first release of core rules .pdf were understandably almost identical to the Warmachine one (which had already gone through the ringer), together with a few pages on fury and leeching and transfers and stuff which were pretty much the same as Mk1. The models also were more or less the same as their Mk1 counterparts, with some minor changes of the most OP things.While there were some changes and simplification, you could tell that these rules had not been put through the same process as their Warmachine counterparts. There were also (I think) 4-5 model updates for the 6 week duration of the Playtest, with each update focusing more heavily on a particular faction over another - like you had a "Circle" update week 3, a "Skorne" update week 3, a "Troll" update week 4 and so on.

The official feedback channels were open from the second week onwards while all the changes were being put out, so they had no real idea which version of the rules you were commenting on, given that this week's releases could be very different to last week's releases, and one had to assume you were commenting on the version released right before your feedback.

In essence, Hordes MkII models and fury rules were largely untouched from MkI and constructed almost entirely from community feedback (a lot of it from the forums). I feel that not enough preparation time was put into the playtest cycle, and this did not make up for the extended time of the Play Test given that participants in the Play Test were expecting a Field Test and treated it as such. A different approach and preparation would have lead to a more successful, more organized and less stressful process for all parties involved, I feel.

You can have a look at the initial release of Hordes MKII cards here to get at look at what things were like at the dawn of the playtest.

Nostalgia trip

While we're here, we might as well take a little nostalgia detour into the past to see how far Hordes has come since its early days.

Trolls were considered one of the strongest factions in the game shortly after the Play Test finished (MAT 11 troops ZOMG!). Which is surprising considering the general belief that they currently are one of the worst factions in the game. I personally don't have too much trouble against Trolls, and I hate playing with them (god knows I tried), but find them to be really strong if you really think about and understand your builds rather than cookie cut (except Runes of War, that list is dumb). The biggest hold-up IMO is that the models are crazy expensive and not many things really look broken on paper in isolation so it's tough to get all hyped about them.

  •  pMadrak's Stone Fall spell - that 3" AoE with Crit KD. I think it may have been Crit Concussion in Mk1 (crit: cannot cast spells). There was a lot of talk about this spell and how it is basically a Hail Mary, all-in, last-ditch spell and as such is wasting space on his card. I won a ridiculous number of games in Mk1 with such spells though so sad to see it go.
  • Borka's spell list changed radically over the playtest. You can see his crit Stationary spray spell on the card which recently resurfaced as Frost Hammer on Lylyth3 (for 2 FURY rather than 3).
  • Calandra: Befuddle - holy shit was that a retardedly broken spell. I remember playing a test game against Calandra/Impaler/Burrowers with a Xerxis 2xCetrati/Krea brick list and my 2 units of Cetrati getting befuddled away, then Xerxis getting shot a million times while KD. Not cool.
  • Mulg's rules yo-yoed during the Playtest like mad. I think at one point he was SPD 5 and more expensive.
  • Thumpers and Kriel Warriors were all beloved by all during the Playtest. What happened? Money, probably. Can't say I'm sad because I hate Thumpers and Caber Tossers.
  • Long Riders - only had 5 wounds and were generally not that great. Now? Amazing.
  • Scattergunners going to SPD 6 was a very needed buff IMO. This was my only valuable piece of feedback on Trolls.
  • Burrowers - I remember when the current Burrowers were released for testing. The Troll players threw an immediate hissy fit about how bad they are and can't chain burrow. Jason Soles, in what was probably one of his last PP forum posts ever, told Troll players to "quit your whining - play them as they are and THEN whine." Of course, they did and now take them in most of their lists.

The shift from Mk1 to MkII wasn't as drastic for Circle as it was for Trolls or Skorne. Basically the stuff they had in every list got nerfed (Wolf Riders, Druids, Blackclad, Sentry Stones) so they just had to play different stuff but played a similar game otherwise - high mobility, high board control.
Circle didn't have Stalkers in Mk1. Stalkers were without a doubt the biggest meta changer for Circle in the transition. The typical Circle list was usually filled with Tharn Wolves/Bloodtrackers, Druids and stone beasts (especially Wardens and Wyrds). pKrueger, pBaldur and Kaya2 were the kings of the pack.
Now they are probably one of the strongest factions all-around if played well, which can be seen in the (pre-Morvahna2) variety in casters. Many different combinations were available in caster pairings, although SR 2013 really hurt Kaya2, and Gargossals really hurt Krueger2 so they've become a little less varied because of those changes.

  • Kromac changed a lot during the Playtest. People pushed really hard for a feat change as well, since he literally didn't have a feat against Warmachine. No, changing the feat so it could take focus off warjacks as you see on the cards didn't quite cut it.
  • Morvahna1's Eruption of Life used to be one of coolest spells in the game. It was a cost 4 offensive upkeep that created a 4" AoE upkeepable forest. Any models killed by the forest (either when the spell was cast or walking into it afterwards) created a delicious fruit token. Delicious fruit tokens could be used to upkeep the forest, or heal friendly models who walked into the forest.
  • You can see how the Mk1 Woldwarden has a less broken version of Megalith's animus. The animi between these two yo-yoed quite a bit during the Playtest. After a few weeks they just decided to give Megalith a permanent 12" uber-forest. I hate that guy.
  • I don't remember what was so broken about Bloodtrackers in Mk1. It was probably to do with the 12" AD (rather than the 6" AD we see today). They are still good today.
  • The Ravager Shaman UA saw quite a few changes as well. Now he is basically a lightning stick WA. Too bad you never see him, ever.
  • Wolf Riders - the reason these were insane broken in Mk1 was that they had no unit coherency. It was the most ridiculous thing and you can see they picked that up right off the bat. Good work PP.
  • Sentry Stones are another thing that were super retarded in Mk1. I think they used to be invisible when they had no fury (Invisibility was something like "cannot be targeted by ranged or spells, cannot be charged, +4 DEF against melee attacks, doesn't block LOS"), had a way bigger CMD range, and the Mannikins could do retarded damage with their sprays. And they were super cheap. Now they are kinda balanced but don't really fit into the game as much.
  • Shifting Stones - notice how they didn't have fury management in the early Playtest? Lots of argumentation amongst players convinced the designers to throw Circle a bone. I think I have seen the ability used once in 4 years, because 90% of Circle's fury management comes from trading Primaled Stalkers for your heavy.
  • Blackclad Wayfarers - these used to be able to teleport ANYWHERE on the table in Mk1. Basically one or two just teleported behind your army Turn 1, then you'd have to dedicate some stuff to dealing with them, then you'd get pinned down and never leave your deployment. Classy. They fixed that quick and early.

Skorne is one messed up faction, and in my opinion changed the most in the Mk1 to Mk2 transition out of all the factions in WM/H.
In Mk1, they initially had no pathfinder at all and relied heavily on troop-heavy armies grinding across the battlefield protected by Kreas, and backed up by multiple Ancestral Guardians (who were OP as hell and could easily wreck heavies with a few souls) and Cannoneers. Then just before MkII, Skorne got eMorghoul, Molik Karn and pathfinder everywhere. Then then Play Test happened and there was no clear design direction for about a month, until the designers decided to remove the +2" of movement speed from Enrage and give the Gladiator Rush.
Now Skorne is a fast beast-heavy army, and since the end of the Play Test have gome from being considered total garbage, to amongst the top 3 in the game, and now back to being garbage in the last 4 years. They were probably the faction that changed the most during the Play Test, and since they were my faction of choice at the time, I assume this is why I kinda got frustrated with the whole deal (not so much with the changes as the way it was done) and decided to sell my Skorne and quit playing for a few months.

  • Morghoul1 - in Mk1, he had a cool spell that allowed him to move whenever he suffered damage (even if transferred). It was amazingly sweet. That spell became Admonition. That made me sad. But overall he is much cooler than he was in Mk1, although he still auto-loses to pKreoss.
  • Morghoul2 - the single biggest nerf in the history of Warmachine/Hordes IMO. Mostly because he was so ridiculously overpowered in Mk1 (his feat was almost literally a 20" Gorman Black Oil bomb), but also because they had no idea what to do with him. He didn't change at all until at least halfway through, where they messed around with his abilities like mad (he had a spell that granted Arcane Assassin at some point). They changed his feat last minute to the boring uninspired crapfest it is now, gave him a really sweet spell list and then patted themselves on the back. Well, he is a pretty good 1-on-1 assassin. Unfortunately the game is unlikely to get to that stage in the current meta.
  • Neither Makeda changed much. The biggest change was mostly to eMakeda's feat, which as you can see from the Playtest cards, was almost exactly the same as pMakeda's. They changed it about the same time as eMorghoul's. She won.
  • Hexeris was the most badass Skorne caster in Mk1, primarily because his feat shredded the infantry heavy meta, but also because Death March was retarded strong (it was exactly how it reads on those cards, except with better infantry). You would have a Death Marched unit backed by 2 Ancestral Guardians and then kill everything. He changed quite a bit, but I'd say he was one of the successes of the Play Test process. He is still really good in Mk1, just balanced.
  • Xerxis also changed a lot. Check out that Armor of Karak! That was an awesome spell.
  • Zaal and Mordikaar were the flagbearers of Skornergy in Mk1. You can still see it in the cards. They managed to reduce a lot of it though.
  • The Krea was insanely powerful in Mk1, primarily because she could SHOOT HER ANIMUS, which was pretty OP.
  • Cyclops Savage - see how that animus cost 2? If there's one thing I pushed hard for during the test in my feedback, it's that this animus should cost 1. I like it a lot. It now costs 1. Nobody gives a shit, or even takes Savages.
  • Rhinodons were probably the best Skorne heavies in Mk1, because they had a crit ARM Pierce on their horn attack and hit damn hard otherwise. Their damage output was SERIOUSLY reduced in Mk2.
  • Skorne used lots of Cannoneers in Mk1. I am serious. Mostly because the Extoller used to grant Ghost Sight instead of Eyeless Sight, but also because long range AoE guns on beasts are really good (as the Ironback Spitter demonstrates). Unfortunately these days it's too many points for what it contributes to the Skorne beast game (and the animus is crap).
  • Molik Karn - Fate Ward. Apparently this was insanely broken. It certainly seems that way although I remember him not being able to hit very hard as a tradeoff. I guess it's a matter of perspective. Anyway, I kinda like how he turned out EXCEPT for Side Step. Putting that on last minute was not brilliant and in my opinion is what makes him OP. Should have been Circular Vision.
  • Arcuarii - this unit has a ridiculous amount of attention focused on it in the Play Test. Skorne players really wanted their Arcuarii to be good. Now they are decent and nobody uses them. Go figure.
  • Beast Handlers used to have +2" to warbeast charge under Enrage, as you can see. Dropping this changed the faction a lot and made Gladiators auto-includes in any list with more than 1 heavy. It also killed the triple Savage Missile trick I used to like a lot. Them's the breaks.
  • I don't remember Karax being good in Mk1 either. I think they were relatively better, but still bad.
  • The Ancestral Guardian was one of the most nerfed things in Skorne, because it was so overpowered. I think it had 5 soul tokens max, was P+S 13/14, had weapon master, could use a token to get +4" movement..... but had to spend a soul token to charge. Basically it was stupid. Now it's balanced. Yay.
  • The Master Tormentor was one of the most broken things during the PT because of its Vanish ability you see on the cards - two of them could shred units with little to no consequences. You can see it got nerfed pretty hard since then.
  • Rhadeim was also really popular after the Play Test finished. People don't really play him so much anymore, which is strange because he didn't change at all and he is still really good.

Legion got nerfed HARD going into the Playtest, mostly because they were ridiculously overpowered at their core. Flight ignored free strikes in Mk1. Yes, really. Also they had some tricks like "waterfalling" combined attacks with infantry units that allowed very high damage output at range, along with Incubi appearing on the table and activating as soon as their "host" died with fully-boosted attacks and all that. trolololol.
The less-skilled Legion players were whining pretty hard after the Play Test, so a lot of people thought Legion wasn't that sweet anymore. However most players with knowledge of the game recognized that Legion's primary strengths were still there and are what makes them the powerful faction they remain to this day.

  • Lylyth2 was super retarded broken in Mk1 mostly because of the 12" AD. It was pretty easy to wipe out most of your army before you did anything. She didn't change much otherwise, and remained one of the strongest casters in the game until SR 2013 kicked her in the nuts.
  • Thagrosh2 was one of the most contested Legion models during the Play Test. Most discussion revolved around Manifest Destiny (called "Glory of Everblight" in Mk1, a name which I dearly miss) and how it interacted with Typhon and Carniveans... because multiple S+P sprays is kinda stupid. So they nerfed it and killed his ranged superiority.
  • Vayl1's feat in Mk1 triggered on a model-per-model basis. It was basically Pursuit on everything. Yeah, that was dumb. There was a lot of talk about Incite as well, and how reducing it to CMD range rather than CTRL (which happened mid-Test) would mean she would die easily and not be worth much. Well, those people were wrong.
  • Rhyas is a bit like Morghoul2 in the extent to which she got nerfhammered. You can compare the Play Test card to her card today - down all the way. Decap on every attack combined with boosting combined with incorporeal after killing something (in Mk1 she went Invisible, which was nigh invulnerable for her with Riposte). Also the feat could trigger infinitely IIRC. Well, at least she has Reach now.
  • Saeryn also good nerfed pretty hard but remains one of the best casters in the game. Just look at that card! One of the many playtest documents allowed models with magical weapons to attack things under her feat. That lasted a week, because Menoth.
  • Seraph Spam was one of the strongest lists in Mk1, mostly because they could kill anything with their guns. D6 POW 12 shots combined with the best fury management? Yes please.
  • Typhon also changed many, many times in the Field Test. I think the card says it all.
  • I think Blighted Nyss Archers used to have minifeat: Poison on their UA. They were very common. I haven't seen them in years.
  • The Warmonger War Chief used to have Blood Quenched, the ability on Bart/Vlad3 that gives +1 STR and ARM when you kill a thing. That was especially funny combined with Rhyas' old feat. Basically a 1-man army.

  • - Oh wow, I didn't even know Gatormans changed from the Field Test version!
    -> Traded Life Drinker prayer for Pathfinder prayer
    -> Gained Unyielding
    That seems legit. I had a look at their old Mk1 stats and they probably weren't as good as they are now.
As you can gather, Blindwater didn't exist in Mk1. One can only imagine how broken Rask would have been.

Nostalgia. Sweet, sweet nostalgia.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

SR 2014

Here it is! The hype! The excitement! The meta-shift! The solution to all the game's problems! Who needs a balance update when we have Steamroller and some new models once a year?

>>>> SR 2014 DOCUMENTS  <<<<

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, I can inform you that there's probably not all that much change coming. At least nothing like the 2012 to 2013 change with pretty big changes to scenarios and the introduction of dominating. This is more of a cleanup of SR 2013 and generally improves the packets and provides responses to common criticisms. 

Here are some of the bigger changes:
  • All objectives are now ARM 18, 15 boxes. SR 2013 unified the zones into either 12" circles or 6"x12" rectangles, now SR 2014 gives all objectives the same stats.
  • Models out of formation can no longer contest.
  • Objectives that give bonuses no longer have to be dominated to grant the bonuses, but simply uncontested by enemy models. These also have a larger buff area of 4" rather than 2".
  • You can no longer score 3CPs when dominating certain enemy zones/flags/objectives. This was a big problem in 2013 scenarios like Incoming where you could super jam your opponent and lock them out with a bullshit feat like Harbinger or pDenny and then win quick.
  • Objectives with "Inexorable" can no longer be Prey targets.
  • You can measure 4" from any flag or objective during your turn.

Some specific scenario stuff:
- Destruction: now only 1 objective on each side, and objectives have an optional "Call to Sacrifice [Friendly]" type rule. So an objective swarmed in Shamblers or McThralls is unlikely to get destroyed.... ever. Go go Shamblers!
- Balance of Power: new scenario where dominating a friendly flag makes an opponent LOSE 1 CP before other CPs are scored that turned. I have no idea where that'll go but it could be interesting.
- Rally Point: the Effigy objective can no longer be moved. THANK KOSSK ALMIGHTY IN HIS WISDOM. I hated that scenario so bad for reasons unknown. Also the Valor buff from the objective gives Inspiration to friendly solos within 4", basically giving you a massive (partially mobile) bubble of fearless. Minor nerf to Gators, I guess, since sometimes people fail command checks.
- Incursion: The flags are further apart, but the middle flag never disappears. Also dominating the centre flag only gives 1 CP, while the outer flag still gives 2CP.
- Into the Breach: one of my favourite 2013 scenarios, now has 2 Effigy objectives thrown in for lolz. Probably to give that extra CP since that scenario could be a bit slow at times.

The Hardcore scenario has been changed to have a central circular zone rather than a rectangular one, and dominating it puts 7 damage on your opponent rather than the 5 you get from killboxing.

There is also a new format called Commander's Crucible that is basically a pseudo one-list format except you have to change Battlegroups every round (while the rest of the list stays the same). At least half your points have to be in BG stuff as well. It doesn't sound terribly exciting in a competitive setting but could be neat especially for newer scenes.

Early thoughts

In the end, I would be surprised if this format changes much in the current metagame by changing tournament list-building mindset - something that did happen last year with eLylyth, for example. 2012 goddess, 2013 benchwarmer. I don't think we'll be seeing much of that, but we will get some better games I think :)
I wish they had made Specialists for 20% of your points (10pts at 50, 7 at 35) baseline for Steamroller and Masters events, that would have changed list composition quite a lot. However it does artificially increase the size of your list so you have to buy more stuff (oh noes).

Basically scenarios are less 'live' on the whole than they were before, and zones are less likely to be far apart so tight brick lists have less of a disadvantage.

As a Gator player, just keep on doing what you're doing, basically - Rask + either Barnabas or Maelok and a swampload of Gatormans.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fury Management in Minions

So the holiday period is over and I am back, about as neutral about the game of Warmachine as one can be. I think I managed to get in one game over the holidays, Barnabas vs an Arkadius list that resulted in a reasonably close game in which I manage to come out the victor thanks to favourable dice and no thanks to a Slaughterhouser making 5 tough saves in a row to deny me control points and making things hard for me (I never did manage to kill him and he lived to the end).

 This game, specifically effective use of Arkadius' feat, brought to mind a frequent "request" I hear on behalf of Minion players to fill a serious design gap in the Pacts: fury management. I don't really agree that this is a design gap. I argue that this would make little difference to our competitive power, because our warbeasts are pretty crappy so being able to manage fury better wouldn't really change things all that much - Gators would take the same amount


Fury management is a term used to refer to models, abilities or spells that can directly or indirectly add or remove fury from friendly warbeasts.
Examples of this include Paingiver Beast Handlers' Condition ability, Kaya1's Soothing Song spell, or the Comfort Food ability on Troll Whelps.

All Hordes armies have fury management built into their warlock's fury leeching ability and fury stat. Warlocks with a low fury stat of 5 can "manage" fury on warbeasts less effectively than warlocks with a higher fury stat of 7 or 8. Looking at that stat alone, one can conclude that warlocks with a higher fury stat can run more warbeasts safely (where safely means less chance of frenzy) because they can leech off more fury than those with a lower stat, thereby leaving less fury on your warbeasts.

Nasum fits everywhere.


What fury management does is allow you to run more warbeasts safely, where "safely" is used to mean "lower chance of frenzy".
That's about it. If you have good fury management, you can run more beasts, and beasts can run hotter than they would otherwise, either by generating more attacks, running more models first turn, casting support animi, etc. It provides a higher artificial fury cap for your list.

It's a bit like a reverse of 'focus multiplication', a term used for spells in Warmachine like Terminal Velocity, Guided Fire or Full Throttle where the effect is relatively greater the more models make use of them. For example, spending 3 focus to cast Full Throttle in Khador is efficient if you intend to charge with a jack and make at least 3 attacks with either jacks or warcaster. However, if you have 3 Juggernauts in your list with one focus each for additional attacks, then you are getting 3 charges and 9 to-hit boosts (effectively 9 focus), making that 3 focus expenditure very efficient.

Fury management is like focus multiplication in the sense that it allows you to get more out of your points investment in warnouns by making better use of the resource, in the Hordes case that means being able to do more things with more beasts (go to your fury cap) without the downside (frenzy risk).


The short answer is beasts in Blindwater are only taken to generate fury, provide animi, and provide high P+S numbers. If Gatorman Posse could do those things, then you probably wouldn't see beasts at all, because Gatormans are freaking sweet. So unless the meta changes to a ridiculous number of 20+ ARM targets in each list, you will only want a moderate number of Gator warbeasts in any given list.

The long answer is that our beasts aren't really that good. We don't have beasts that we actually want to take many of, except perhaps the Bull Snapper - which, while quite capable for a 3pt beast, doesn't really deliver the volume or quality of attacks required to kill things and doesn't have a lot of health. Coincidentally, this is also the only Minion warbeast with any fury management via the Torpor rule that removes a fury from it and ends its activation immediately after destroying a living model, a.k.a. "free boost". Bull Snapper - one of the best designed models in the game.

Spitters are the only heavy of which you might want three in a specific type of list, but even then you're probably only boosting hit rolls and a few direct damage hits. Since the AoE causes Corrosion, you don't usually end up boosting the blast damage rolls when fury is a concern. Fury management would basically allow you to boost all the blast damage rolls in exchange for a couple of points. Worth it? I wouldn't say so in the majority of situations.

Wrastlers can have a good and unpredictable threat with their animus but don't hit hard enough to be a super serious threat in themselves, and also lack reach or movement shtick (you can give them reach with Elasticity, but then you lose a lot of flexibility in making a Rise Missile happen). Dual Wrastler lists can do some cool stuff, but again I think this is something that gets taken due to lack of options, not because it's really THAT sweet.

Swamp Horrors could also be taken in multiples as they hit hard-ish and have lots of reach initials so can deal with multiple targets and heavy targets. Unfortunately they are squishy as shit in melee and die to charging mechaniks.

Boneswarms are just crap at everything.

In terms of specific battlegroup-wide buffs, we have Warpath. And Admonition and Flesh Eater at a stretch, I guess. Everything else probably gets more out of it when used in conjunction with Gatorman Posse. That isn't much of an incentive to bring warbeasts, let me tell you.

Let's have a look at other factions for comparison's sake:

Legion and Skorne have the best fury management in the game in Paingivers, Sheperds and Forsaken. This allows them to run lots of beasts, specifically heavies. This is fine by them because they have access to amazing heavies that they want to take a lot of by choice, rather than by necessity.

On the Legion side of things, you have Archangels, Ravagores, Scytheans, and Typhon. These beasts are quite versatile in that they can not only do sizable melee damage, but are also versatile enough to handle infantry well with abilities like Overtake, Bloodbath, Slaughterhouse (takedown), Scather/AoEs and sprays. Sweet animi, sweet stats, sweet abilities, sweet weapons.
Skorne has the likes of Gladiators, Bronzebacks, Tiberion and Molik Karn, along with excellent lights like Brutes, Drakes and Kreas. Similar to Legion, these beasts have great secondary use and sweet animi (or are just really tanky as shit). The Holy Skorne Trinity of Molik, Gladiator and Bronzeback can deal with almost anything, from troop masses to high ARM to rough terrain to Crippling Grasp (ok, maybe not that last one).

Not only are the beasts really sweet, but a good number of their casters support the beast heavy playstyle through feats, abilities and spells, making beasts even more attractive. Have a look at Vayls, Makedas, Saeryn, Lylyth2, Hexeris2, Morghoul1, Rasheth, Naaresh, Xerxis, etc..
Lylyth2 is a great example - Fury 5, no real fury management to speak of and all about increasing attacks. With a few Shepards and Forsaken however, those 3 Ravagore/2 Angel lists are destroying everything on feat turn and then acting totally cool the next rather than flipping out and killing each other. Morghoul1 is in the same boat - with 5 fury and a tendency to die, without Paingivers he would really really suck.

Circle and Trolls don't have as much in terms of general fury management. Shifting Stones can remove fury from friendly warbeasts within 1" during your control phase (an ability that was not present in Mk1 but was thrown in last minute in the field test to appease Circle players who felt heavily crippled by the lack of fury management - lolz). This fury management is not that great for Circle because of its highly limited range, and as we all know Circle likes mobility, especially on their Warpwolf Stalkers which you see in every list. Besides, these Stalkers are usually going to be Primaled so will frenzy next turn anyway, resulting in effective fury management. They do however have a few warlocks that do very well running warbeast heavy (Kromac, Kaya, Baldur2 tier) due to great support buffs, built-in fury control, construct warbeasts that don't frenzy and models like the Druid Wilder that get animi out.

Trolls have Whelps, who I don't usually see on the table very often despite what I consider to be pretty strong rules (2pts for 5 solos, who can either be a MAT/RAT debuff, alternate source of beast healing or fury management - seems good). I attribute this to Troll beasts being a heavily synergistic faction, and as a result their beasts are bad to average for their high costs (outside of Mulg), so they always try to max on troops and the beasts are primarily taken for animi/support and to be a "cog in the fleshy blue machine", besides Bombers and maybe Earthborns.
They also have a couple of fury and frenzy management abilities on some casters, like Calandra and Hoarluks.

The main point is that fury management is only a really useful tool IF you have really good warbeasts of which you want to take more than your warlock can handle by itself. Minions do not have this issue because our warbeasts are good at best and mediocre at other times.


On the flipside of BG buffs, you have Farrow, whose casters are shitting out amazing battlegroup buffs with alarming consistency:
  • Carver: Mobility, Batten Down the Hatches, [Hog Heaven feat is arguably just as useful for melee heavies as it is for troops]
  • Arkadius: Aggravator, Forced Evolution, Primal Shock, Psycho Surgery, Maltreatment, Monster Mayhem feat
  • S&D: Watcher, Killing Ground, Goad, Pack Hunters, [Vision is also best for battlegroup]
  • Midas: Butchery, Pet Cemetary feat
To make up for these super sweet buffs however, they have some terrible beasts. Like, really bad beasts that only manage to do anything sweet because their casters are so baller.

War Hogs, Road Hogs and Gun Boars all share pretty crappy stats (the Gun Boar is quite tanky for a light though) and relatively high points costs, and only become respectable in any degree when they combine their "pain activated" abilities with their warlocks' super sweet BG buffs.

The only beast that is actually pretty sweet for its cost is the 2pt Razor Boar, perspectives of which will forever be cursed by its unexplainedly 100% overcosted Friendly Faction animus*. However a respectable tanky 2pt solo with boosts that you can spam and benefits from your sweet BG buffs is hard to overlook.

Pigs have access to 4 infantry units (all FA:2, 3 in Thornfall):
  • Brigands - good with Carver due to fearless + CRA (a big deal), not good with anyone else.
  • Slaughterhousers - all around excellent melee unit. Their special rules (Take Down, Finisher, Reach, Powerful Charge, Fearless, Tough) make up for their mediocre victim stats in spades. If Minions were one faction rather than two, I would definitely take a unit of these in many lists.
  • Bone Grinders - good support unit and very cheap. Craptacular damage output though, despite having a nice RNG 12 POW 11 nuke.
  • Razorback Crew - one of the better light artillery pieces in the game, but still light artillery.
The average 50pts Pig list will contain 1 unit of Bone Grinders and 1-2 units of Slaughterhousers. The rest will be filled with beasts, usually 2-3 War Hogs, 0-2 Road Hogs, 4-6 Razorboars and 0-2 Gun Boars, along with Saxon Orrik and other solos not as good as Saxon Orrik.
This is partially out of necessity (not too many options available), and partially because of the aforementioned amazing battlegroup buffs. War Hogs tend to be the most common in my experience (I almost always see 2 at 50pts) and it is pretty bad as far as melee heavies go.

With that in mind, would fury management make a big difference to Pigs? I sure as hell don't know. Probably. They are taking list made up primarily of beasts anyway, so I can't see how being able to manage fury better would be a negative. It would make spamming the Razor Boar animus easier for one, which could be neat.

I'm not convinced the lack of fury management in Pigs is a design gap though. I always thought the best approach to fury management in Pigs should be frenzy. Give Pig players every incentive to just go crazy all the time. It would be both fun and unique, require pretty good decision making skills and familiarity with the frenzy rules to maximize efficiency and not get stuck in the regimented "order of activation uber alles" playstyle of Skorne and PoM.


One of the nice things, in my opinion, about Gators is the lack of fury management forces you to get good at the fundamentals of the game. You can't go balls out with fury on any given turn, and then cover your ass by spending points on fury control models. I also feel in building lists that the balance between infantry and warnouns is exactly where I would like it to be for Warmachine and other Hordes factions - I need to take a certain number of warbeasts in order to generate fury for my warlock AND also provide a decent number of transfer for safety. That usually ends up being 2 heavies and a light at all points levels, a proposition that makes Khador soil itself with envy.

If I take less, I make my caster more vulnerable by having lower fury generation (meaning I might have to cut for fury regularly) and by reducing the number of potential transfer targets (not only will there be less on the table, but the ones that are there are more likely to be fill up on fury).
If I take more, I use my points less efficiently than I could otherwise (on infantry or solos) and will probably have more fury than I can handle if I want my beasts to function effectively.

Here are some pro-tips (or at least, "tips"):

  • The fundamentals of fury management are planning and estimating.
  • The most important factor in planning is to know what your caster will be doing that turn, specifically how much fury you want to spend and how much you want to hold onto. The difference between there two is ideally how much you want to have on the table at the end of your opponent's next turn.
  • If you expect a beast do die next turn, such as a beast used in a Rask Missile or Rise Missile, then max it out on fury and don't reave it if it'll bring you over cap. Better to cut for 1 or 2 damage to get the missing fury (if needed) than have a warbeast frenzy and do nothing on top of killing your own stuff. If it somehow lives, then you're likely to get a free fully boosted attack out of it when it frenzies.
  • Very rarely will I aim to have more fury on that table than what my caster can handle. However, if I am able to go completely overboard and put your opponent in a really really bad position by maxing out your beasts, then it's probably worth the risk. Better to risk frenzy to kill an enemy heavy than to have it kill you next turn.
  • Fury management also takes place during your turn, since that's when transfers are likely to take place. You can think of a transfer as costing you one point of life, since that's what it cost to make up a lost fury. If you reasonably expect your caster to take a few hits, having an extra fury or two on your beasts can save you cutting yourself next turn. In my experience however, if you do a good job at protecting your caster, most experienced players won't even try to kill it without some top-level assassination tech.
The wonders of nature


Fury management is a non-issue in my opinion. I think the actual design gaps for Gators are:
  • Lack of anti-tough - the increasing prominence of tough (no thanks to the Witch Doctor!) is one of the bigger contemporary design issues in the game in my opinion. There has also been quite a bit of discussion about it on the forums in the last few months, with a lot of arguments thrown both ways.
    My stance on the matter is that Tough as a rule, namely a single 5+ unmodifiable dice roll to survive (almost) any attack, is fine in itself. It adds a lot of character and a bit of depth into the game strategy. The issue I have with it is that it is everywhere, with the Piper, Kovnik Joe, huge FU caster auras like Terminus and Irusk and Tough is no longer a special unique rule with character but is turning things into 40k Roll to Hit -> Roll to Damage -> Roll to Save.

    And the worse part of it is that Gators cannot do ANYTHING about it at all, except getting that crit consume on Barnabas' bite (I will almost always roll to hit on KD tough models to get that crit).
    So either fix the game (lots of work), or give me easily accessible anti-tough tech. Shit, I'd take Slaughterhousers. Thanks.
  • Lack of magical attacks - outside caster melee and ranged weapons, and some magical nukes we have the following things: Thrullg's 3 melee weapons, Pendrake's sword, Croctor's Sacral Blade and Sacrificial Strike. Not to best to deal with those rogue incorporeal zone contest solos, or Cryx ghost infantry BS.
  • Low number of ranged attacks - less of an issue for me than in the past, but I've fortunately managed to avoid hard control casters like Haley, Denny, Old Witch, etc. If I played those more often I would most likely rage about not being able to play a lot of the time. Obviously Gators, like Cryx or Skorne, are supposed to be heavily melee oriented, but even Cryx has some of the offensive spell toolboxes in the game, and Skorne has a decent number of ranged options and/or magical attacks for those bad matchups too so they aren't 100% boned (just 85%).
  • Dealing with armor without Rask - not a huge deal, but having +1 POW on Barnabas' cleaver and Maelok's Bite would be a big help. Having to cup my balls and hold my breath when I charge into a slightly damaged heavy might be exciting if I succeed, but it'd be nice to push the odds a little bit in my favour and maybe leave me with 1 fury at the end of my attacks.
The middle two issues could be fixed by making Specialists more baseline. If I see a shitload of magic users and Blackbanes on the other side, I can sub in a Thrullg. If I come up against some hardcore control BS, I can put in 2 Croak Hunters and some Bog Trogs to have something to do on enemy feat turns. It's probably still not enough to patch up those weaknesses, but at least we have something there.
On the flipside, I can't do anything about tough, and will always have to play Rask against heavy armor unless there is an errata on Barnabas/Maelok/Calaban, or some stuff gets released that specifically does not work for Rask (like a warbeast affinity).

Well, that was ranty. Maybe I'll have another equally ranty post in the near future, probably also about how tough spam is retarded. Or whatever the flavour of the month is. Until then, relish being the underdog!

* Seriously, wtf. It can ONLY work on Pig warbeasts and it's not that strong an ability in itself. I'd understand if it could work on things that weren't warbeasts since Rorsch could cast it on almost anything in the game. The only explanations I can come up with are 'DC hates Pigs' or 'future fury management incoming'.