Monday, February 24, 2014

Ides of March 2014 - How 42pt makes life difficult

I have a relatively huge 42pt tournament coming up in a couple of weeks. I say relatively huge because this is probably the biggest Warmachine tournament in the NZ calendar, and it happens to be local. Yay!

This tournament is run by Soulless Dave, who enjoys the following things:

1 - Running sweet tournaments, which he can't play in otherwise he'd probably win those too.
2 - Giving me beer mugs.
3 - Shamelessly relishing how OP Cryx is.

Quite the gentleman.

Anyway, I have been told that Gator list building is faceroll and requires no decision making at all, and that playing Gators for so long has erased my ability to write "good" or "sound" lists for other factions. In light of these comments, I thought I would write a post about my list writing process for this 42pt nightmare.

First, I must admit that writing lists are the part of the hobby/game I enjoy the least. This could do with the fact that Gators have way less options than everyone else, or it could be related to how writing lists for my previous factions (Khador, PoM, Skorne) used to remind me that I would have a much better chance of winning games if I just bought X unit or Y solo for this specific list, or it could be related to how I would rather the game be as well balanced as people claim and lists had very little impact on the outcome of a game rather than a sizable one. But then I accept that a lot of people really enjoy the meta-game, and I too see the appeal in it, I just don't really experience the enjoyment of it too often.

Secondly, 42pts is a kick in the nuts, especially when you play Minions. Unlike most of the fleshed out big boy factions, it is very, very difficult to build 2 lists that answer enough matchups sufficiently. 3 lists might be alright, but two is very tight. In Minions, this is primarily a result of our casters being so dominant and being the primary "solutions" to problems we face. Factions like Legion, PoM or Cryx don't really have trouble making 2 lists that can more or less deal with more or less everything, simply through having a wide range of beasts, units, support and niche-filling mercs. That's not a luxury Minions have.
The higher the points, the more balanced the game is. That's been my experience in the past year anyway. I really think the meta would benefit on the whole from a push up to 60/65 pts, but that's another post altogether.

The Proto-Lists

These are the lists I started with, and I would have to choose 2 of these:

List 1: Rask
5 Gatormans
5 Gatormans  
5 Gatormans
Min. Trogs
4pts for "support"

3 Posse version. I take a Spitter in this list because the entirety of the damage potential of the list comes from cycling Fury on Gatormans and shooting off defensive upkeeps. High skill plays right there, woo! Anyway, having a Spitter is nice to clear jams and soften up targets at range. I guess he can also do stuff in melee with Paralysis and Fury and Boundless Charge and all that. Maybe.

The min. Trog unit and Gobbers more or less make Rask invincible, which either will result in my opponent wasting attacks on Rask, or ignoring Rask and his fish friends entirely so they are free to wreck havoc as they please. Either way, points usually well spent.

So the two questions with this list are '2 Posse, or 3 Posse?' and 'What to do with those 4pts?'

List 2: Barnabas
5 Gatormans
5 Gatormans  
5 Gatormans

I would really, really like to throw in some solos like Croak Hunters, a Thrullg or Totem Hunter in there to give the list some flexibility, but 42pts! I think the beast composition is pretty fixed - without any Croaks, you really need a Spitter for some ranged presence, and Bull Snappers are too good to pass up between their sweet man-eating abilities and Spiny Growth on Barnabas.

The Wrastler could be changed for a Horror, however. More on that later.

List 3: Maelok
Bull Snapper
Bull Snapper
5 Gatormans
5 Gatormans  
5 Gatormans
Witch Doctor
Witch Doctor
Max Posse, the two Croctors I own, and 2 Bull Snappers to use up those beast points. This is pretty much the Maelok list I used at Battlecry this month (minus Pendrake), and does what you want Maelok lists to do - get a big unpredictable feat turn, then tank up and grind your way to victory.

The only real question is what to do about those last 9pts?


Some things are a given:
  1. I have to play Rask to break ARM, and doubly so post-Colossals. Also he's like one of the best warlocks in the entire game, so there's that going for him too.
  2. I have to bring at least 2 units of Gatormans per list, because 2 Posse is better than every other alternative in almost every situation. 3 Posse, in my opinion, is not a certainty however. 
  3. The tournament is mid-March and has a fully-painted requirement, so I am unlikely to have Shamblers ready by then.

Because the field is so big, every faction is likely to be represented in some capacity. Except Pigs, since the only guy I know who plays Pigs told me he'd be playing Gators because his Gators are fully-painted (but really, he's just sick of Pigs).

Factions I don't really have to worry about in general:
  • Skorne - any Rask list does great to decent here. There are of course builds that will hurt like Xerxis Cetrati brick or Zaal attrition, but in general it is not something I can really list tech against heavily.
  • Retribution - Similar to Skorne. I think Rahn and eVyros Griffon spam can be a real worry, but not something I really have to tech for. As long as it's Rask, and perhaps Barnabas, we're alright. Gators shred infantry, and Fury kills heavies.
  • Protectorate - similar to Skorne but more annoying. The Errant/Piper/Book combo is also cryx-level, jigglypuff-in-a-vaccuum-cleaner type of retarded, but since I have no anti-tough, I cannot do a single thing about it or the Gorman hiding behind them chaining Black Oils onto my stuff. They also usually have lots of magic weapons to skrew Maelok's feat.
  • Circle - Most Circle stuff is squishy and dies to Gators. Gator casters are also real tough to assassinate so they lose that gameplan.
  • Legion - a fair matchup for Gatormans, so it mostly comes down to how I play. Usually Legion has trouble dealing with so much ARM and anti-shooting. Note the comment on Vayl below however.
  • Cygnar - Cygnar does Cygnar things. I have pretty good anti-shooting tech (which Siege ignores), but otherwise there's not much to specifically worry about. Rask is pretty good most of the time here.
  • Trolls - For the most part, Trolls are like Gators except with crappier troops but way better lists, if you catch my drift. They can bring some problematic lists like Runes of War and eDoomshaper heavy spam. But I think it more or less comes down to two things: good play, and the troll player rolling 5s when he needs them.
  • Mercs - Infantry dies, bad jacks are bad. The Merc Colossal skew can be a problem though, but overall the faction isn't really problematic.

Factions I have to worry about in general:
  • Cryx - my arch nemesis. Infantry that destroys mine for half the cost + all undead and all that. Stupid. Does it with pretty much any caster.
  • Khador - these guys are tough in a multi-list environment because they will always hit really hard in any list, but the possibility of IF Kayazy is quite a list-chicken problem for Gators (to Barnabas or not?). I don't think I have problems with specific casters as much as their general options and the many, many mercs they are sure to bring. It's like Cygnar, except it actually hurts.

Casters/builds I have to worry about specifically:
  • eMorvahna - Maelok does so much better than Barnabas here on account of his feat and assassination potential. Barnabas does ok, but he does better than Maelok vs most other Circle stuff.
  • Harbinger - Awe is public enemy number 1. MAT 5 is terrible. Of course I can make the Gators undead, but then I have to use 3pts down on a Croctor or two in the Rask list, and at 42pts that's a big support investment for only one caster. The alternative is to drop Maelok and hope like hell the second list isn't some jack spam list (which is a tall order).
    The feat is nasty as well but usually I can get in the zone after that and stay there till the end. She also brings the Errant tarpit up to mega-powered Ben Stiller fully retarded.
  • Vayl - Incite, her feat, Dark Sentinel and Rampager can be really problematic for my lists. She is also a pretty popular caster around here. I do not like her, Sam I am. And there's not too much I can do about it. Barnabas is probably the best bet due to Pits + Iron Flesh + feat.
  • Terminus - if I don't have a Thrullg, I probably lose. Sweet. People like Terminus as well so he's very likely to be pretty well represented in the field. Because hard skewing is fun for everyone.... said the guy playing 3 Posses.
  • Bart/Galleon - this is a tough cookie. Theoretically, if I can shoot off Spiny Growth and cycle Fury, I can probably 1-round the Galleon. However every single other thing in the Galleon list is made to stop that happening and I get grinded out as Galleon gets repaired up every turn. So I probably drop Maelok or Barnabas, ignore Galleon and go for everything else, and hope it's a 2 zone scenario?
    I guess Rhulic casters with the Pooper Scooper also fits in here, but again, there is a near total lack of quality experience against quality lists on my part.
  • Haley/Denny/hard control casters - The great thing about this is I can worry all I want, but can't really do jack about it. So I suck it up, hope the feat turn goes ok for my opponent while he timewalks over my play time, and we move on if I have anything left.

Decision 1 – Barnabas or Maelok?

The Barnabas list is a pretty good all around list. It does "ok vs Cryx" due to many Posse, his feat + Spitter. It does pretty well against Circle and Legion, even without Pendrake. I am also quite a bit better at playing him than I am at playing Maelok, which counts for something.

Maelok is much better vs Cryx, ok vs Circle (great against eMorvahna), ok vs Legion (mostly because I am not so good at playing him) and also has some game vs jammy infantry Zaal Skorne and most Trolls (even with the anti-incorp aura - if the Troll player is using it, then he's not using +1 STR and you live longer to grind).

Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Both feel a little gimped by 42pts rather than 50pts, Barnabas probably a little less. There is no real alternative (Calaban is a bad dream and Pigs are Pigs) outside these two for a second list. So I guess it just comes down to how I feel on decision day.

Decision 2 – Rask with 2 Posse, or 3 Posse?

The 2 Posse alternative involves dropping one Posse for WE+ Snapjaw (since he is probably the best combat heavy we have and does bad ass things with ALL THE BUFFS), and the Spitter for a Swamp Horror, since the Horror brings Elasticity for the two big Crocs and does some really good damage with Rask.

For the way I play, 3 Posse is better against Trolls while 2 Posse is better vs PoM and Skorne. This is from 50pt experience, where I will usually have Horror+Wrastler+Snapjaw in the Rask list and can blow stuff up with only a tiny charge lane by spreading the triple-heavy threat and then stacking buffs on the chosen heavy when the opportunity presents itself.

However at 42pts, you have a bit more space on the table and the 3 Posse skew can be really problematic for your opponent (a.k.a. skewy as balls). On the flipside, taking 3 Posse is also a hell of a lot less interesting for me tactically since it basically removes Boundless Charge from Rask's spell list and power attacks from mine. I do love me some power attacks... damn you Colossals. Damn your stupidity.

Thus it comes down to what I can expect to play against, and whether I will hate myself for only taking 2 Posse when I get dropped against Trolls 3 rounds in a row.

For Barnabas and Maelok, I play 3 full Posses by default. If Gator beasts hit harder/more accurately than a full unit of Gators, this probably wouldn't be the case, since both can do pretty good things for Gator beasts - not as much as Rask of course, but a lot nevertheless. But as things stand, I have found that playing three Posse with these two is much preferable to taking two (I played two Posse with them for almost a year before getting a third).

Decision 3 – Rask solos

In any case, I have 4pts left over in the Rask list (5pts if you discount the Gobbers). These are going to be used for solos.... a sort of "support" allocation, one might say.
I've given myself 3 options here:

  1. Two Croak Hunters - these guys are mediocre as hell, but when they are one of your only ranged attacks, you learn to value their input. They can hold zones about as well as the other two options, they can unblock Gators, they are two independent activations and are really sweet at countercharging.
  2. Totem Hunter + Feralgeist - the Totem Hunter is a lot like a Croak Hunter on steroids but without a gun. His stats and mobility are almost better than a Croak in every way, but he relies entirely on proccing Sprint to unblock Gators. This has led to bad things in my life. But he can also sometimes break games open if used patiently, and does work at all stages of the game. Finally, he is also a character so putting him in this list means he isn't in my other lists, and I do love him vs Circle to snipe out Shifting Stones.
    Feralgeists are 1pt zone holders/contesters 99% of the time, and sometimes take over beasts to annoy people (primarily me).
  3. Croctor + Feralgeist - This would almost be purely for the Harbinger matchup alone, because the stuff I drop Rask against doesn't usually care about Undead and Tough on Gators is mostly a non-issue.


Decision 4 - Barnabas asks "Wrastler or Horror"?

Another tricky question revolving entirely around one beast selection:
  • On one side, the Wrastler is SPD 5, reasonably tanky (especially with Spiny Growth), and is P+S 17. He can do respectable, although not great damage. He also keeps the 'Rise Missile' threat alive, which is the one thing people seem to know about Gators. Being able to independently knock heavy targets down following a charge is also pretty neat. His weaknesses are lack of reach and an extra point cost relative to the Horror.
  • On the other, the Swamp Horror has really good protection vs shooting, can do work against infantry, has built-in reach, can give reach to other things (mainly Barnabas or some random Gatorman), benefits a LOT from Warpath since it is slow, and also costs 1 less point than a Wrastler, allowing me to level the Feralgeist up to a Croak Hunter for that extra ranged attack. Its weaknesses are being squishy as balls in melee, and being 1 less POW and 2 less STR than a Wrastler.

Decision 5 - Maelok's last 9 pts.

Unfortunately Posse are (only) FA:3 in Blindwater. Sad face. That means I have to take other things.

  • WE + Snapjaw - Usually in a Maelok list, you want to have Wrong Eye around to put up another 2 Spiny Growths a turn. And you also get a sweet heavy to go with it. However, at 42pts, that's not really a luxury we have. But you still get a pretty good heavy and solo with solid animi.
  • Support solo staff: TH + Thrullg + Pendrake + Feralgeist - This gives a little more flexibility to the list. Thrullgs are good against Cryx, the Totem Hunter can also be super scary with incorporeal charges followed by a Sprint away and 15 Gators in your grill, Pendrake makes Gators much better vs beasts (so they can Dirge or Pathfinder on the charge if needed), and the Feralgeist gives you specific zone control potential. But, you don't have a heavy hitter outside Malediction (which you really don't want to be using as a core ARM crack strategy).

So there you have it - how faceroll easy it is to chose Gator lists, why I don't have to worry about list chicken because all my lists are the same and why I am so bad at making lists for other factions.

What did lists did I go for in the end? Stay tuned for exciting revelations in March (after lists have been submitted to TO)!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Battlecry 2014 - 35 pts + Moar Cryx hate

aka. How to Write Stupid Lists at 35pts

Step 1 - Choose casters

I went with Rask and Maelok. Calaban can only "really" be played with his tier (note that unlike Runes of War, this does not make him really baller, just makes him less bad) and the tier is not great at 35pts. He himself is not really that sweet at 35pts, or ever.

Rask is good because he does Rask things. Combine this with 35pt foolishness and you have a pretty strong skew. I usually play Barnabas as my second list and wanted a change, therefore going for Maelok (the only other alternative).

Step 2 - Choose to skew or not skew.

I decided to skew one, and then skew both:

3x Gatorman Posse
Min Troggs

This list is pretty stupid. I called it "GOING FULL RETARD", which it was. 3 Posse at 35pts is the kind of skew that makes games uninteresting, but hey, why not do it if they're not going to fix it. 

If you ask me, I think we should move to 60 or 65 pts as the new tournament standard as it'd make factions like Cryx, Circle and Legion a little weaker, Trolls a little stronger, and everyone else more or less the same. And include 15 pt Specialists on top of that. Boom.

The Maelok list was the same as the Rask one, except switching Feralgeist and Trogs for 2 Witch Doctors, and the Croak for Pendrake. Pendrake did nothing good in any game - he is the king of the sideboard.

Behold, this zoological majesty!

A very short summary of my games

1- Luke H w/ eDoomshaper, Mountain King, Earthborn, Krielstone and Scouts. 

His second list was eGrim with 2 shooty heavies and the Krielstones UA. Despite this (the Incorporeal destroying Stone UA), I had a nagging feeling I should have picked Maelok, but I pushed this out of my head and picked Rask. This was a bad choice as eDoomshaper's feat is "+3 SPD, full stop, bitches!", not "+3 SPD if charging or slamming" as I had first thought, meaning his entire pathfinder list responds to my feat by jamming me with tramples and killing my stuff.
As expected, Luke's response to me popping Rask's feat was jamming me with everything in his list, including the Scouts to block charges to the MK. I wasn't able to get enough damage on the King because of some fortunate tough rolls on his part (ie. 4 in a row on the same damn Scout), so he healed to full and kept swinging.
Luckily Rask is basically immune to assassination with Trogs around, so I ran him over to the right flag over 2 turns, where the Croak Hunter had been parked since turn 2 and won on 5 CPs. A stolen game I should have lost on account of getting outplayed and outlisted, but managed to take advantage of his skew list's small footprint.

2. -  Paul H w/ Hexeris2, Bronzeback, Gladiator, Krea, Nihilators, Incindiarii, Nihilators, Paingivers. Process of Elimination

I was forced to pop my feat turn 1 as I had ambushed my Bog Trogs and only had Rask on 2 transfers - had I not used it, Hexeris would likely have spelled me to death using his feat. This was a planning mistake on my part as it otherwise only blocked 2-3 Nihilator charges from happening (which likely would have been stopped by Inhospitable Ground alone). So, I more or less played without a feat.
Otherwise it was mostly a matter of charging Furied Gatormen into things and trying to keep Rask alive with Admonition and transfers alone, which worked pretty well. I ended up assassinating Hexeris in the end after he decided to YOLO charge some Gators, then got hit by 2 Furied Gators (from different units), a charging Croak and died to a Bog Trog hook in the back.

Rask is pretty good against Skorne.

3. - Dave S w/Skarre1, 30 McThralls (that's 15 pts, btw), 10 Bloodwitches with UA, 2 Necrosurgeons, 2 Helldivers, Min Blackbanes. Destruction.

Dave said he took this list just to play against me. Thanks Dave. You are too kind. His list writing took my 35pt motto "GOING FULL RETARD" to heart, and managed to out-retard my list - proving that only Cryx is capable of giving 110% retardation by simply Cryxing harder.

Basically the game was a huge grind where I popped my feat on my second turn and killed like 22 guys but none of the Necrosurgeons, then he popped his feat and got boosted-to-hit POW 20s everything (cause Cryx). In the end I mistakenly assumed Skarre was SPD 6, when she is in fact SPD 7, so she just walked over to Maelok and easily killed him with her 11 focus (all in the name of balance). Thus began my downfall.

I think overall we both played quite well with some minor mistakes here and there to even things out. The only huge mistake in the game by far, on both our parts, was when I cast a boosted Venom at a Necrosurgeon hiding behind a wall, and Dave called Sac Pawn to a Stitch Thrall. We got into a short debate regarding Sac Pawning sprays and agreed that you could, when in fact we should have been focusing on the fact that Venom is a spell, not a ranged attack! If that Necrosurgeon had died (very good chance - need 7s on 3 dice + Corrosion), the game would have played out very differently I think, with that flank collapsing much faster and Maelok being entirely unthreatened and able to pull back and stay much safer while simultaneously pushing me forward in attrition. Basically a massive boost for me. Alas, you live, you learn, you continue to hate Cryx.


Skarre1 and McThralls are straight up OP, and where probably designed in the midst of a really dark LSD trip, overflowing with hatred of the world. Here is how you fix them:
Skarre - Remove Ritual Sacrifice entirely. Dark Guidance is not a choice when you have 10+ focus at next to zero cost (like losing one of your 45 small-based models matters), and non-choices are the antithesis of games design and competitive play. And who the hell thought it was a good idea to make it a d6 roll? Going from 1 more focus to 100% more focus seems legit, right?
I'd say make her focus 7 to compensate but her feat is also simply stupid (it is literally pStryker's feat + a 100% denial of eStryker's feat - all for 5 life points) so I wouldn't want more stuff affected by it, but it's probably the simplest way to do it. That or +1 ARM.

McThralls - MAT 4 -or- no combo strike. You shouldn't be able to hit an average heavy on expected dice if you cost 0.5 points and hit at P+S 15 completely independent of buffs/debuffs (of which there are PLENTY in Cryx). HALF. A. POINT.

Easy. Too bad it's not going to happen since PP are scared shitless of balancing anything post-release :) 


4. - Nikola w/Vayl1, Typhon, Seraph, Scythean, Raek, Shredder, Shepard, 2 Deathstalkers. Some scenario (Incoming?)

Nikola played actually really well and I played really bad. Like, really really bad. I think Rask was a way better matchup here, but I dropped Maelok again for practice since I realized that the prize pool didn't include mugs, and mugs are the only thing I care about in NZ tournaments (I have 4).
Basically I ran stuff up way too far, Typhon and Scythean one-shot like 9 Gators under Incite, then I tried to assassinate Vayl with feat + Revive BS, got cock-blocked by Dark Sentinel and forgot to move my unit leader so the Revived guys couldn't even make attacks. What a muppet. Got steamrolled and outplayed and basically put up the worst match one can imagine. Much like the last time we played. I am guessing his total nice guy approach disarms my asshole WAAC ethos, making me play like a complete ballsack.

Usually I consider myself 50/50 against Legion and it is one of my fairer matchups, but this time I really wasn't in the right mindset. I need to practice more with Maelok, as I play him far too aggressively, which gets him killed. He's tough but he's not Barnabas sitting in Swamp Pit with transfers and Spiny Growth tough.

Dave came 1st, Paul placed 2nd and Nikola placed 3rd, giving me officially the most ball-busting schedule in the tournament.  I'm guessing I placed something like 8th or 9th out of 17. Overall nice tournament, thanks to Darryl Painter for organizing and running it!

Some thoughts

  • I don't like 35pts much as I dislike skews and list-design having that much impact on the outcome of the game, but I really like one-day events so that worked out alright in the end. Came home to a nice dinner of salad + fish. Good stuff. Cryx is OP.
  • I should probably practice with Maelok more, but our local Ret player is about to get his new caster Tinkerbell in the mail, and I think she will totally steamroll Maelok. He will probably still refuse to play Rask :(
    I don't think Maelok is as good as Circle/Legion matchup as Barnabas, but he's the better Cryx matchup. It's the eternal question in a 2-list format.
  • I think my all-star picks in the Rask games was the Croak Hunter. Despite their mediocrity, as I have gotten better as using them they seem like a worthwhile addition to most lists given then ability to clear jams and charge lanes, or countercharge like mad, or just go for scenario points. He pretty much single-handedly won me my first game by just being a solo with Stealth, and did a crapton of damage on Hexeris in the second game.
  • Yeah, I am totally mad about Cryx. Deal with it, because I can't (at least until my Battle Engine loaded with anti-incorporeal, anti-tough and anti-undead tech is released).

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Cryx Matchup

This is my modest contribution to this thread on the PP boards regarding the Minion matchups for Cryx. Arlaharen and the rest of the Gator folk have already written a good deal of useful tips and tactics in dealing with Cryx (with more hopefully coming), and I thought I should add my own since I like to think about stuff and readers might benefit from my perspective.

In general, I think a well-played Cryx list is still one of the worst matchups for Gators due to mass undead, increasing amounts of tough BS, cheap infantry that hit like sledgehammers and lots of movement debuffs and control.

Importance of melee positioning and "staggering"

Cryx is the best melee faction in the game, all things considered. There is a reason people ALWAYS have Cryx in mind when preparing tournament lists, because if they don't, they will probably lose to Cryx and their "infantry-that-kills-anything spam" skew.
Cryx generally sucks balls at the ranged game (with exceptions like pDenny pirate gunline lists that prove both the rule and that pDenny is the ultimate turd polisher), and their spell assassination is nowhere as good as it used to be in Mk1 (despite being decent, it's not really a core game plan amongst most of their casters anymore). To make up for this, in a straight out melee scrap, Cryx will generally have the upper hand. They will hit more often, harder and for cheaper than other factions for less points and keep doing it until you are dead. How fluffy.

This is why they get hosed by Cygnar, Retribution and PoM, who can play a very good ranged game and can blow them up before Cryx makes it across the field to fight on their terms. It's also why Gators, as a largely melee subfaction, don't do great vs Cryx in principle since you have to beat the masters at their own game, so to speak. Therefore, it is very important if you want to come out victorious against Cryx to at least have good positioning when it comes to melee engagement, whether you are getting the alpha strike or receiving it. Good staggered positioning leads to good piece-trades, which is one of the fundamental concepts of Warmachine.

Let me elaborate on this slightly: Have you ever had a single Doom Reaver run up in front of your bunched-up, flanking Gatorman unit, at max CMD range from his unit leader, and not have any solos or ranged attacks nearby to deal with it? As a result, that Gator unit's entire activation is spent dealing with this one Reaver. They can't really run past him to kill his comrades as they will take free strikes, they can't move away as they will take free strikes. You can probably block some free strikes using 2 Gators to block LoS, but even then you are not in a good spot. That unit will probably in turn get charged by 5 other Doom Reavers, and the Khador player has now traded 1 Doom Reaver for 5 Gatormans. Good trade, wouldn't you say?

Often a good player will put a couple of models a few inches in front of the rest of his unit just to add as an ablative wall to absorb charges, trading those few models for what you charge in there. You can't really get to the back models either, because as a largely melee faction, you might not have the ranged attacks to deal with the 3 guys in front to clear a charge, or reach the guys in the back at all. Whatever is put up front will be traded for whatever you wish to kill it with. This is what I mean by the "staggering" of melee positions. It's like the "waves" of an army, where you have the anvil (tough or expendable units) go in front, followed by the hammer to clean up (hard-hitters who are usually squishier). Except it's all one unit, and all placement skill.

Well, good Cryx players will be really good at the staggering game since that is one of their core tactics. Oh, and Cryx have Ghostly, Curse of Shadows and Ghost Walk, so can cheat the stagger game better than most, making them even better than you in a melee scrap. They can also do stuff like turn your living dudes into their dead dudes and go through your dudes to get at the backfield stuff. Ain't life grand? Fortunately Gators have some such cheating of their own.

It's difficult to write a descriptive tactica about staggering and piece-trading. They are skills and perceptive abilities you will develop as you play the game and a pattern you will see repeated over many games.  The best way to actively develop this is whenever you move a model, try to think one or two turns ahead - if I move this Gator forward, what will threaten him, and what do I have to threaten things who threaten/kill him? And so on, and so on. It's like a dance... OF DEATH.

Importance of attrition + Dealing with Cryx feat turns (armor)

Cryx is also really good at attrition. They can bring their guys back to "life" with things like Necrosurgeons, Death Toll, Goreshade2's Elite Cadre for Banes, etc. They are mostly fearless (except Satyxis!) and have quite a bit of tough. Their crappy 1/2 point models can destroy your 2 pt models on expected dice values with the standard Cryx buffs/debuffs. If you let the fight go on long enough, they will eventually outlast you simply by virtue of having more attacks than you, turn after turn.

They also tend to have OP feats that destroy your will to live along with your army. This can range from really powerful debuffs and denial (ie. Deneghras, Coven, Skarre2) to big burst damage/activity potential (ie. Skarre1, Lich1+2, Scaverous, Mortenebra). Either way, you're going to have a pretty shitty turn. A lot of the time this is no different than the average Warmahordes game and you just grind through and move on. But when it comes to a feat like Denny2's or Lich2's that are really strong against the melee oriented, elite infantry style of Gatormans, then you better have a plan for it or you're going to lose the game right then.

The average 50pt Cryx list. Notice the small number of warjacks
and many small-based models. Source.

Which warlock should I use?

Why Rask isn't great

Rask is a baller. If his testicles weren't internal, he could use them as a seat. He is a little OP, but still has his non-favourable matchups. The typical Cryx list is one of these.
  • He has little attrition potential. He can protect himself pretty damn well, and has Admonition for a warbeast, but outside his feat he doesn't do all that much to make his guys harder to kill or stand their ground. Gators are naturally good at attrition, but Cryx are better and Rask doesn't give us the attrition edge we need to hang in the fight.
  • Fury is usually not needed to kill Cryx ARM. POW 13 charges are enough to handle even Mortenebra ARM lists - only Deathjack and Krakens might prove to be an issue (and not a crippling one).
  • Inhospitable Ground is not as ballbusting against the pathfinder/ghostly stuff you see in Cryx lists as it is against a lot of other hard-hitting melee units.
  • Shooting upkeeps off your own stuff is kinda cool though.

Why Calaban looks good, but is bad

Calaban is practically a Cryx caster, except way shittier.
  • He can potentially shred infantry with his feat BUT that relies on him using Bone Shakers on Cryx models. As you may know, Cryx models generally have crappy stats and aren't so sweet at killing each other without any of their mental buffs. You would probably get more out of the feat putting Spiny Growths on everything.
  • His spells don't really do anything. Carnivore works only against living so does blah (and living DEF in Cryx is not really high enough to worry about for a Gatorman). Parasite does blah since ARM is not a problem. Occultation does blah since they don't have guns, although it could theoretically protect you from an offensive debuff (if only Cryx didn't have cheap SPD 7 arc nodes). The meat node ability on his gun is not only crap, it doesn't even trigger on Undead stuff (thus is very blah).
  • His attrition potential is possibly even worse than Rask's, outside his ability to put Spiny Growth on all the things as a result of his feat.
  • Generally sucks horse dick.

Why Barnabas is decent

Barnabas is a respectable Cryx matchup. He can attrition reasonably well with Iron Flesh and his feat, Warpath allows you to get beasts into good positions, and he himself is a tough croc able to put some work in. Swamp Pits can also make ye olde Deathjack crap itself.
  • His feat helps in slowing down infantry as well as knocking down those Satyxis and DEF 13 warjacks. It's also nice to make all Gator melee attacks pretty much auto-kill since you can't reroll to hit vs Undead and 5s are not as certain as they appear.
  • Iron Flesh Posse can be problematic for many Cryx lists to deal with, at 16/18. Just pray the Withershadow and their lol-tastic dispel bot isn't around.
  • Swamp Pits as noted helps take care of Deathjacks, and sometimes block up a certain part of the board to force Cryx players to spend the Skarlock's activation casting Ghost Walk (woe unto the Cryx player).
  • However, he lacks the recursion powers or the ability to gain the upper hand in the melee staggering piece-trade game that Maelok does (unless you take a lots of Spitters and Croak Hunters, which is not advisable for almost any other matchup for Barnabas since it lacks any kind of punch).

Why Maelok is best

Maelok is a mighty warlock made of rotting flesh and other evil things. He is so evil, he kills baby crocodiles just because some dude said he couldn't do it. Sure showed him. Maelok is the best matchup we have against Cryx and is as close to a fair one as we get if one builds the list correctly.

  • His list usually comprises of almost all Undead models, thanks to Death Pact and Witch Doctors (which you take for the strong synergy with his feat and his grindy playstyle). This shuts down a lot of Cryx's abilities and makes Cryx players bitch about Undead being OP.
  • He has great recursion potential with Revive. Each Revive is an almost guaranteed 2 dead Cryx models, and an ARM 18 reach model in their face. Bringing 1-2 back a turn adds up FAST as the model count on the table gets lower and lower.
  • He has 3 magical melee attacks! That's kinda cool. I guess. And a spray... at Focus 6. It's not that sweet but it can be cute for taking out incorporeal things that hide behind walls and contest zones.
  • His feat allows you to cheat the staggering stage hard. So hard that it makes Cryx players jealous. It means that for 1 turn, all the Gatormans get all their attacks and you get in their backfield and cause problems. Not only that, but all Undead models get +2 ARM for that round, making them even harder to dislodge. Throw in a few Spiny Growths and Death Pact, and you've got one of the few lists in the game that can absorb a Cryx feat turn without falling on its knees and cursing the gods and heavens for forsaking it.
Bow before his rotting majesty!

Other cool stuff

  • Thrullgs are reasonably sweet because without guns on the other side, they have a good chance of living long enough to do something cool. They have 3xMAT 7 magical melee attacks (only one with Reach despite having 2 long ass arms), cannot be targeted by spells and cause damage to spell casters in their CMD (sweeter vs Circle Druids or Hex Hunters than against Cryx usually, but you never know). He can also hit upkeeps off your dudes, in the rare event that your Gator unit with Curse of Shadows or Crippling Grasp lives longer than a turn. As such, he is best kept back and protected and used as required rather than charging wherever he can.
    Most importantly, he is your ace in the hole vs Terminus because he can strip off Terminus' focus and make him mortal. Well, killable. Again. A smart Terminus player will know this and may be willing to overextend a bit in order to kill the Thrullg, giving you a bit more table positioning. A foolish Terminus player will run in front of him camping focus, proclaim his status as an immortal god and then probably die.
  • Croak Hunters are one of the few ranged attacks you have available. They are great for sniping out lone models blocking charge lanes or contesting zones and such. Remember they also have gang fighter, so even without poison can do good damage on the charge.
  • Ironback Spitters tend to do pretty well vs Cryx in my opinion. Having a good, reliable boostable gun with auto-Corrosion can do some sweet stuff. They suck in melee and will get shredded by charging infantry but that gun will allow it to make its point back in opening doors for the rest of your list.
  • I also quite like the Totem Hunter vs Cryx. He can get hosed by tough, but his very high mobility makes him like a quasi-ranged attack and he can scare a lot of Cryx casters in the mid to late game. He also makes a pretty good trade for Tartarus, or at least force the Cryx player to keep him back.
  • Witch Doctors - they make your stuff Undead. Undead is sweet against Gators, but super sweet against Cryx. They also give you the opportunity to fail tough rolls, which you should absolutely not rely on. Tough on a 5man unit is nowhere near as nutstomping as it is on 3x10man units. They also have Dominate Undead which in a blue moon can do cool stuff like turn models around or have Banes kill Tartarus or whatever, but it is generally not as good as making things Undead since it requires a succession of dice rolls to do anything cool. Sacrificial Strike, on the other hand, can do some serious work late game when you want to put the last few points on an enemy caster, clear a charge lane, or snipe out that annoying Machine Wraith that's been contesting a zone all game.

In conclusion:   Maelok > Barnabas > Rask  > Calaban @ 50pts and above. I think at 35pts Barnabas is probably just as good as Maelok since he doesn't need quite the same 'critical mass' to do his thing well.

Other stuff to watch out for

  • Bane Knights have Vengeance AND ignore rough terrain and free strikes. Vengeance weapon masters will do some serious, serious damage to Posse units. This means that you must absolutely kill as many as possible in one turn as you can. Try to line this slaughter up with your feat turn.
  • Bane Thralls hit ridiculously hard, and pretty accurately when you factor in Tartarus and all that other Cryx stuff. They don't ignore free strikes, nor do they have reach however. You can kind of tie them up with buffed Gators, and often you will have no choice in doing so because they will roll tough 6 times in a row. Try to avoid getting charged as much as you can - knowing your fundamental movement rules and melee ranges pays off here. They are also prone to just running into melee with your Gators, reducing their ARM by 2 so they can die to whatever else Cryx has on the board.
    They also will totally bend you over the table with Goreshade2 if you didn't stock up on Witch Doctors.
  • Tartarus must die. So must Gorman. If you can trade pretty much any single non-warlock model for these (including a Wrastler), it is probably a good trade. This makes me very sad but it is the reality of things.
  • Satyxis are living. YAY. This means you can hit them pretty reliably. Raiders will usually get the charge on you though, so focus on positioning for an effective countercharge AND avoid getting jammed up by them. Cryx can be pretty good at scenario play, I hear.
  • Blood Witches aren't usually something to worry about too much (besides the UA), though they DO have magic weapons... P+S 12 free strikes will probably kill ghost Gatormans.
  • Cryx has some of the best upkeep removal in the Blood Hag and the Withershadow Combine. This can suck for Iron Flesh and Death Pact. It is very satisfying to revive a Gatorman and then charge them with Maelok's feat though (if you hit those straight 7s... 14/16 with Stealth and Undead is totally fair game for support models with long-range nukes).
  • Mechanithralls hit at P+S 15 and each cost 25% of a Gatorman. They are "only" MAT 5 though, so without a buff/debuff they might miss you. But if they hit, you're probably dead. They also have Necrosurgeons. These are a high priority target who just happened to have Sac Pawn so are hard to shoot (you guessed it, Maelok's feat + needing straight 7s to hit support models).
  • Blackbane's Ghost Raiders are pretty terrifying due to our lack of magical weapons. Their DEF of 13 is just high enough to be annoying to FURY/MAT 6 warlocks. Essentially, these more or less go whereever they want and will always get their attacks before you can deal with them. Sucks to be a Minion.
  • Deathjack - Swamp Pits / ignore him / throw him around / cup your nuts and charge him with everything you have left. Or if you're playing Rask, a Posse with Fury should do it.
Basically, heaps of infantry that doesn't have too hard a time at killing your infantry/casters/anything at lower cost.


Terminus is stupid to the point where I feel I should make a special section for him. He is basically the epitome of rock/paper/scissors in Warmahordes. Do you have enough damage to kill my DEF 14/ARM 24+ caster? If not, you are not going to have a fun time. There are basically three aspects to him that make him suck for Gators:

1) Gigantic "FU" Tough aura

We have nothing to deal with Tough outside Crit Consume on Barnabas. So if the Cryx player keeps rolling 5s, you're not killing anything no matter what you do or how many lambs you sacrifice. Much fun. Such games design. Wow.

2) ARM camp + Sac Pawn

As you may know, Gators of the past had problems with ARM greater than 19. This is because the highest P+S in the faction is 17 on the Wrastler. As a result, Gators would have almost insta-lost any 1 zone scenario against lists with Gargossals.

In response to this, Gators got Rask. Rask has Fury and the ability to remove upkeeps and camped focus at ranged. Rask is pretty amazing. But even Rask cannot shoot Terminus' focus off because he has a neat ability called Sac Pawn [pretty much anything in my list, bitches!]. This ability more or less means Terminus can camp at ARM 22+ or so and tell your Posse and heavies to suck his dust pipe, even if you play Rask (which you probably shouldn't, for reasons described below).

Thankfully we have Croctors who make things Undead and more or less deny him a feat. This is sweet because it makes Cryx players complain about Undead.

I assure you that the limp-wrist is just for show. This dude
will bitchslap the scales right off your back. Source.

3) Flight + hits like a truck

Not only does he camp ARM like a boss, but he will bitchslap you to death from a long ways away since he is effectively MAT 9, POW 18/16 with Malediction up. Oh, he also a POW14 SP10. You know, for lolz.

I don't have any tips other than "take Thrullgs, keep scenarios in mind and play much better than your opponent".

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hordes Exigence: Minion Stuff

Gatorman Battle Engine: Sacral Vault
A huge stone monument on wheels with voodoo and souls and candles and stuff:

Pig Battle Engine: Meat Thresher
A sort of steamroller powered by Razorboars in the roller cage, motivated to run by heating of said cage.

Female Gatorman Warlock - "Jaga-jaga"

Supposedly "pairs well with current casters", which is an amazing marketing statement as it makes me think about it too much, and most likely mean absolutely nothing.

Female Farrow Warlock - "Helga the Conqueror"

Spear and a big gun. What I really want to know is, will the Cephalyx have more heavies than Farrow at the time of release? Because that would be hilarious.

+ Potential new character warbeasts and/or Beast Pack (which are like lesser warbeasts units with a shared fury pool, more dudes alive = more fury). The two previewed look like Skorne Cataphract Beetles (which look almost exactly like DotA's Sand King so I'm guessing they have some dust cloud ability) and some Legion Dragonbees.

+ Potential new lesser warlock, who are more like the new journeymen but can only select from a select pool of warbeasts (ie. the Circle one can only take Griffons, the Troll one only elemental Trolls)