Sunday, March 30, 2014

Gatorman Bokor & Bog Trog Shamblers

Here's another great reason to play Gators - your releases are 15 months apart. So. Freaking. Awesome. Anyway, I've had this written up for a while so figured I should post it after I finally got my hands on this mini-swarm and painted them up. I'll update later if needed.

The Shamblers are the latest (and fourth) unit available to the Blindwater Pact. It consists of a Gatorman Bokor wielding some sweet voodoo magics, and (beginning with) 10 really crappy zombie Trogs under his command. This unit would probably be 3pt in Cryx, it is twice that much for us Gatormans. Minion tax and all that.


The Shamblers themselves are MAT 5, P+S 8 - not that impressive. They do have CMA however if you buff them up with Fury then they can get a nice damage output, effectively hitting at MAT 7, P+S 13.... the same as a Gatorman.... without reach or rerolls.

The Bokor with his Death Magic rule is the star here however. Death Magic allows the Bokor to RFP a Shambler in his CMD range to boost an attack roll, boost a damage roll or buy an extra attack. Therefore if you somehow get 20 Shamblers on the board, this guy can get 7 fully boosted POW 12s by just walking into combat with the target. If the target is a warcaster with average ARM, that target is dead. If the target is a light warjack or warbeast, that target is dead. If the target is a warlock, that target is most likely dead. Basically, necromantic sacrifice magic means big damage output potential - but it is situational and largely nonthreatening to ARM 19+ models in true Gatorman fashion (excluding Fury, of course).


On the surface, this unit looks as squishy as Bile Thralls - 10/13 dies to almost anything. The Bokor has a standard Posse defensive statline so is a little tougher.

However, the key to this unit's survivability, and its ability to tarpit, is the Bokor's Raise Dead and Death Magic rules. The former grants the Bokor a corpse token for each living model that dies within 8", and each corpse token becomes a fresh (or not so fresh, as the case may be) Shambler during your next control phase. The latter rule allows the Bokor to shunt off damage he suffers to Shamblers in his CMD range, at the rate of 1 damage point per Shambler.

What is really stupid about this rule, is that if you make the unit tough, it essentially gives you a tough save against every damage point the Bokor suffers, since the damage shunted occurs before the disabled -> boxed -> destroyed step. Bring those Witch Doctors along - even if the unit gets nothing from Undead, it gets a LOT from Tough (as I have always said, making 10-man units tough is stupid).

In summary, the Bokor is respectably hard to get rid off, whereas the Shamblers themselves die in droves. It's good you can make more to replace them though, which allows them to tarpit well against lists that lack ranged removal (ie. Cryx, Gators, most Skorne)


Besides their ability to recycle dead enemy and friendly models (primarily friendly - I have learned that there is quite a practical difference between the Bokor's CMD 8 and Alexia's CMD 9) and act as a tarpit somewhat comparable to Gatorman Posse against the right target (ie. small-based weapon masters), the Gatorman Bokor also has Hand of Glory, a RNG 3 stationary-causing magic attack. Given that Death Magic also allows the Bokor to boost attack rolls, this can be a pretty sweet ability. However, one must keep in mind that it is still a magic attack and it can be shut down by anti-spell mechanics like Banishing Ward or Bestial. Furthermore, it suffers the penalty for spellslinging into melee and walls and all that jazz if you don't get in combat with your target (which if you do, you may also want to consider just killing it by Death Magicking all your Shamblers). Basically, the ability is sweet but much less sweet than it initially appears.
But it can be a nice boost for warbeasts to not have to roll to hit other DEF 12+ warbeasts or warjacks. It is also pretty sweet if you make a warjack stationary and beat up on it a bit, then follow up with a Thrullg disruption so it cannot shake.


First of all, make no mistake - this is a straight up worse, non-character version of Alexia and the Risen for 1 more point. Now that we've cleared that up.....

EDIT 2015: If I were to summarize primary Shambler strategy in one line, it would be: Gatorman Bokor and Bog Trog Shamblers.
The Bokor is basically a super solo that can boost a lot thanks to his disposable Shamblers. You keep him back for late game, gathering corpses as you go and occassionally throwing out a few Shamblers. When you have a nice glut of corpses and some savoury charge targets, you charge in with the unit, make all the Shambler attacks and then sacrifice the majority of the Trogs killing a fresh heavy or something. Shamblers as a frontline unit is probably only worth it against a wave of fast weapon-master infantry that can alpha your Gators, or to jam up things on a flank somewhere. Otherwise they'll just get in the way.

In terms of support spells, Iron Flesh or Death Pact will not do a lot for the unit since their stats are terrible and they are already undead. Save those for nearly any other model in your list. Fury however, is pretty baller since CMAs now become MAT 7 POW 13s (just like Posse!!!) and the Bokor becomes P+S 15, which means he can really blow shit up with his boosts and additional attacks.

For warcasters, these do pretty well with Rask (who doesn't) as they provide him with an excellent and cost efficient ablative shield of Call of Sacrifice targets, who despite not hitting as hard as Ambushers late game, can still do some respectable work. They benefit from Fury well.

Barnabas can protect them with Swamp Pits, or else they will get shot by any guns. Those weeny POW 10 shots that your Posse mostly laugh off will completely shred these guys. They also provide a cheap tarpit to help you on scenario, and some reasonable damage output from the Bokor in case you really need it.

Likewise, giving them Stealth (with Calaban) will allow them to run across the field to jam and do their part.Whether you give stealth to these guys or you other models depends on the strength of shooting/spells on the other side of the field - if it's all POW 10s, stealth the Shamblers since they get shredded by POW 10s and the rest of your force doesn't care. If it's mostly higher POW, boostable guns, stealth your beasts, Calaban or Posse and let the Shambler eat the shots (or just play Rask and deliver it all intact).

Maelok can buff them a little with his feat but otherwise would probably rather just have more Posse, beasts or solos than these dudes. The few times I've played them with Maelok I haven't really gotten much out of them, and they tend to just trip over themselves. This of course could just be down to my inexperience with small-based infantry. Furthermore, Maelok usually likes having his Posse Undead for a really strong feat turn so you're unlikely to be getting corpse tokens from them.

Having said that, the Shamblers have good synergy with the Witch Doctor. Sure, granting them Undead is almost entirely redundant (afters one model - they are a living and undead unit!), but making 10+man units tough can really be quite ballbusting. Additionally, their ARM is respectable enough to be used as Sacrificial Strike fodder since, unlike Gatormans, their unlives are almost entirely worthless.


On the whole, I believe Shamblers are a nice unit to have but don't provide enough different playstyle options to justify taking them over more Gatorman Posse or warbeasts most of the time. I believe they will prove to be more worthwhile in Skorne where they can get the +2 STR/No KD tough all the time in combination with a lot of sweet Skorne buffs like Last Stand or Fury. They could probably also do some cool stuff in Trolls, playing as the second wave behind a wall of living Trolls and keeping the Bokur hidden behind a wall of rocks, or in Circle for the 'Morvahna Regrows Bloodtrackers -> Bloodtracker dies -> Bokur gets a corpse token -> Bloodtracker comes back next turn -> repeat -> trololol' trick.

Also if, like me, one of the main reasons you play Gatormans is because you dislike 10man small-based infantry units, this unit is like an uppercut to the nuts.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ides of March 2014 - Report


First, I grew to quite dislike 42pts while thinking up the lists, as you can see in my previous points. I made a comment about how it feels like 35pts, but with more rope to hang yourself, rather than 50pts with some stuff dropped off. I asked Dave (TO) about why 42pts last year, and his summarized response was:
  • There are no other 42pt events in NZ (there are a few 35/47/50 and escalation events)
  • 35pts feels small, 50pts feels like you're just jamming stuff into a list (Dave plays Cryx) so 42 is like a mid-ground where you have to think about lists and your choices a bit more.
Well, those goals are certainly achieved. No other tournament is 42pts (in fact, 50pts is the exception rather than the standard around these parts), and I do have to think about my options quite hard, but as a Minion player with so few options I still feel games below 50 really stomp on my balls in terms of missing critical pieces I need to help in certain matchups. Will that matter? We shall see. I would still like the meta to move to 60pts to change things up a little bit.

The second thing is that the TO did a great run off posts breaking down lists submitted for the tournament in pure stats data, like how many points were spent on X category per faction, how many of each faction were present and so on. What I learned from this is that there were slightly less Circle, Legion and Trolls than I expected, and slightly more Cryx and Ret.
While the Ret aspect is pretty good for me (although I am probably going to lose my first serious game against Ret with Gators in.... ever),   the rest of it isn't. While Rask + 3 Posse is still a decent bet, I think I would have been better off with Maelok (w/ WE+ Snapjaw) over Barnabas, like the other Gator player is likely taking. That would be less bad vs Cryx I think. And also give me Undead skew, which is pretty potent in itself. Like I wrote in the previous post, Rask + 3 heavies and 2 Posse and the Maelok Undead grind is probably the best 50pt combination in the current meta.

Third, there were predictions of a cyclone hitting the city over the weekend. This made travel to and from the venue noticeably less appealing, especially since we have to cross a long-ass harbour bridge to get there. Fortunately we only got the edge of the cyclone so it was basically just normal crappy Auckland weather.

Time for some super quick summaries!

Day 1

Round 1 - Mitch playing Ret (Tinkerbell), Destruction

I think the reason this matchup came up first was that Mitch proclaimed on Thrallblacks the week before that he considered Gators a favourable matchup for his Ret lists. Questionable move.
He had a mostly melee Tinkerbell list - Banshee, Skyreth? (Mk1 Vilmon on a horse), Infiltrators, Halberdiers, Thane... no arc node though.

I dropped Rask. I got to go first, pop my feat second turn,  then killed a bunch of stuff so his feat wasn't too impressive. I should have won on scenario by turns 4 and 5 respectively but had some bad clutch rolls on killing contesting models and the enemy objective, so it just kept going and he kept putting models in the zone piecemeal. Near the end, my Spitter had to throw the Banshee out of the zone, but eventually I got my 5 CPs, and more or less ignored Tinkerbell otherwise. Quite the grinder.

I made a few very sloppy plays during the game like once forgetting to declare which weapon the Totem Hunter was using before rolling the attack or measuring some Bog Trog charges badly, and I apologized for it after the game. Mitch probably still thinks I'm a anal douche though. Fair enough :(

Round 2 - Greg playing Legion (Vayl2), Supply and Demand.

This game was super short. Greg played the Vayl2 tier list. I played Barnabas. He went second and charged Vayl up to the edge of the zone, then put an Admonitioned Angelius right in front of her. He had no fury at this point. So I charged the Angel with 2 Gators, he Admonitioned away on the second charge, leaving me 2 Gator reach attacks on fury-less Vayl. She died.

Round 3 - Reid playing PoM (Kreoss3), Balance of Power

Reid played Kreoss3 with Vengers, Errants, TFG and a Devout. I played Rask. Basically I killed most of the infantry, then Vengers killed some dudes, then I killed the Vengers and managed to win on scenario. Pretty straighforward although S+P Ignited Vengers are terrifying.

A real pleasure of a game though, Reid is a newer player but very open to learning things and also very sharp on his distance estimations.

Round 4 - Adam playing Khador (Butcher3), Process of Elimination.

Adam is one of the more dedicated WM players in NZ, so we had a pretty clean game all up. I played Rask, because otherwise Butcher camps 4 focus the whole game and is immune to my entire army while killing them all. Butcher3 is very bad for Gators, as there's not much I can do about him (no anti-spells, all melee army reliant on jamming). Basically he threw some worthless Black Dragons in my face to jam, and then Butcher came up and did all the work. I had a decent assassination attempt on Butcher had I been able to shoot his 4 focus off, but his Bokur was 1.995" inches behind him. I took a risk with the shot before knowing this for sure since it was basically my only chance at winning, but it was shield guarded after it was determined to be in by a bee's dick and therefore couldn't crack the ARM. I then lost on scenario.

This was videotaped to show how bad I am. Maybe it will be uploaded later on some Thrallblacks youtube site. The room was basically a large empty dance classroom with a huge mirror in the back, creepy noises (a mix between a haunted house and a gas chamber), a table in the middle, and a camera on a podium. I tried not to say anything un-PC but pretty sure I let slip a few things that will offend the random observer.

I can think of a few mistakes I made, the most prominent of which was not casting Inhospitable Ground every turn (no reason not to here really, Silence of Death makes camping fury almost useless). But it is still a very bad matchup for Gators as long as there's a Bokur and War Dog in the list. I am happy though that my second game ever against Butcher3 was a significant improvement upon my last game, as Rask kept Admonition up on himself and lived because of it, but I could still play it better. Too bad I have no Khador players to practice against these days.

End of Day 1

So 3-1 at this stage. The games were all fun and interesting, and the tournament was run super smoothly as Dave's tournaments tend to be, but I'm not really feeling too enthused about Warmachine. Not even my usual rage about stuff, but general non-chalance. Perhaps I'm just getting bored of the game itself, or the general meta. Maybe things will get better Day 2....

Day 2

Round 5 - Darryl with Cryx (pSkarre), Rallypoint.

pSkarre, Blackbanes, Blood Witches, 2 Ripjaws, Wraith Engine, Bloodgorgers, Gerlak

Played Barnabas. Lots of incorporeal, so not much game. At least I can KD everything that one turn. The Battle Engine was a real pain in the ass under Skarre's feat (what isn't?). That thing is actually really quite good (on the "real people" scale, not the "Cryx player" scale). I also learned here that the Blood Hag has stealth, just because Cryx. I bitch about Cryx a hell of a lot, but learning that the Hag had stealth didn't even make me angry, just sad and despondent.

The only sizable mistake I did was running 3 Gators within 0.5" of Blood Witches that had been knocked down by my feat, so instead of doing nothing, they got up and killed 3 Gatormans. Had those 3 Gators lived, I may have been able take over the left zone and do something useful. But alas, that mistake cost me a shot at a deathclock victory (no chance at scenario victory because Blackbanes, and no chance at assassination victory because I had to sacrifice my beasts to not get killed early + Skarre charges 0.5" further than Barnabas).

Near the end Daryl tried to kill Barnabas with Hellfires using his huge stack of focus. He killed Barnabas on his first boosted Hellfire, I toughed, and he proceeded to roll a pair of snake eyes on his next two Hellfires. It would have been tragic had he not been able to get another 5 or so melee attacks on KD Barnabas right after.

Sidenote: pSkarre is perhaps the most compelling evidence for why warjacks are a bad use of focus in Cryx. She is swimming in focus every turn, and would rather just camp 5-6 than just take warjacks to use that focus. Think about that a minute.

Round 6 - James with Ret (Rahn), Into the Breach.
Rahn with a Phoenix, Halberdiers + Thane, 2 units of Mittens, some MHAs, Eyriss3 and solo Mittens.

Basically the entire game came down to Rask missing a boosted shot at the Halberdiers to remove Polarity Shield (needing 6, rolled a 5). This has a 4.63% of happening, which I estimate to be the usual chance for Ret to beat Rask, all other things equal. Anyway, it happened here, and led to me losing the game. Because of this highly unlikely roll, lots of Halberdiers that should have been dead managed to live, in addition to several battle mages, which cascaded into a huge attrition favour for James, a lost CP, and me getting crapped on. His dice on the other hand were total fire, regularly 1 shoting Gatormans with boosted POW 10s at range. I think he missed 7 or 8 attacks over the entire course of the game with all his models, with maybe the same number of attacks that failed to do at least a few points of damage. I managed to eek out 4CPs before getting every model killed bar Rask and a Swamp Gobber, then Rask died to a free strike while yoloing away at 1 health. Worth it.

There was one really small chance of winning that I could have played better. After getting 4CPs, I tried to kill the objective by hitting it once with a Furied Gator (the last remaining Gator) and shooting it with Rask. However I forgot to cut for extra fury so wasn't able to boost the damage roll from Rask's shot. Given that I rolled a 6 on the 2d6 damage roll though, an extra 6 wouldn't have killed it either.

It makes me seem like an asshole who is trying to take something away from my opponent to say it I lost entirely because of that one dice roll, but thinking about it more, I really believe that's what this came down to. It is something I rarely say, but this game was won and lost primarily on dice. 4.63%.

Round 7 - Chris R with Ret (Ossyan), Fire Support.

Ossyan with Discordia, Halberdiers + Thane, Dahlia + Snake, Invictors, Eyriss2

I was ready to scoop and go home at this point, and fortunately I got paired up with Chris Russell, who drove to the tournament with me and taught me all about Ret. I was going to just concede and give him full CPs so we could just go home.... but then I learned that if the other Minion player won, I wouldn't get a mug. All I cared about going into Day 2 is the possibility of a mug, and I wanted a shot at the mug.

This time, the thorn in my side was Dahlia with her 'yo Cryx I heard you like being good so you can do whatever you want while the living do nothing' spell. She basically just kept walking in my face while Skaryth jumped around killing things and objectives.
After my feat turn, I took a shot at Dahlia with Rask using a fury siphon bolt (she had only 1 fury on her), but rolled an 8 on 3d6, rather than the 9 I needed. Foiled by 1 again (a 25% chance of failure this time though, more reasonable). She lived and proceeded to piss me off the entire game. Had I managed to kill her with that attack, the game would have been a bit of a landslide in my favour I think.

Anyway, stuff happened, then Chris managed to kill like 4 of Rask's Bog Trogs with a good Skaryth spray, then shoot Rask several times and charge him, leaving him 1 box of life and 1 Trog nearby. So close, as usual. Then I killed Ossyan with 3 furied Posse (the first 2 missed all their attacks).

End of Day 2 - Conclusion

I came 11th out of 40, with a decent Strength of Schedule (didn't really matter, but Adam placed first playing Butcher3 every round, Darryl 7th with best Cryx and James 15th).
Butcher3 seems a bit stupid at present, at least until people realize Lamentation is good and take those effects in their lists. That is the only effective counter I see to him, outside really solid assassination tech (which isn't trendy at the moment either). I would if I could, but Minions. Just another thing Minions can't deal with, add it to the pile. I do love that he is pretty bad against Garryth though.

But I got a mug for best Minions player. Mugs are everything.

As always, the organization was top notch, and Dave's tournaments are always super smooth, well promoted and with good communication. He is everything to this community I am not - charming, Kiwi, willing to organize and travel to large events, a hit with the ladies, plays broken as balls lists with no remorse whatsoever, and quite pleasant to play against.

As to my feelings about the game, they are almost as low as they have ever been. I spend more time thinking about things in the game that annoy me or could be better, or thinking about how boring matchups are and the meta is stagnant, rather than focusing on the strategy or hobby aspect of it. I guess that is partially to do with Minions being underdeveloped, and partially to do with PP being extremely hesitant about changing anything post-release.
Either way, I'll need some time to recharge my batteries and see how it goes with the new Minion releases to see if I decide to keep playing this year or whether it's still boring and I just spend my time building coffee tables, running long-distances and watching DotA tournaments.

Exactly like this one, except it says
"IDES MMXIV - Minions"

TL;DR - Doesn't matter, have mug.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ides of March: Part 2 - The lists

So following on from last week's post, here is what I came up with in the end:

List 1 – RASK

Points: 42/50
Rask (*6pts)
* Bull Snapper (3pts)
* Ironback Spitter (8pts)
Bog Trog Ambushers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (Leader and 1 Grunt) (1pt)
Totem Hunter (3pts)
Feralgeist (1pt)


Points: 42/50
Bloody Barnabas (*6pts)
* Bull Snapper (3pts)
* Ironback Spitter (8pts)
* Blackhide Wrastler (9pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Gatormen Posse (Leader and 4 Grunts) (9pts)
Feralgeist (1pt)

Nothing too dramatic. I received some feedback from my previous post indicating I was thinking about it too hard and everything what super obvious, so just went with what I know in the end.

List 1

In the Rask list, I decided to go with 3 Posse after a little playtesting. I don't like playing Posse spam as much as playing with heavies but I'd hate myself if I took a crappier list to a tournament without very good reason, more than I hate myself for playing 3 Posse with Rask, and 3 Posse at 42pts seems really good. I do really like the triple heavy + 2 Posse at 50 pts though.

In terms of solos, I went with the Totem Hunter and a Feralgeist. I considered dropping the Geist and the Gobbers for a Croak, but figured a Feralgeist is a 100% dedicated scenario piece that would do a lot of work in that department for this list, and the Gobbers can always run to get a point somewhere if they aren't making Rask invincible, or block charge lanes or whatever. An extra ranged attack is cool but with a Spitter and Totem Hunter I feel reasonably comfortable with lane-clearing.

The Totem Hunter is there because he clears mini-jams like a boss with Prey, Sprint and Leap. His biggest weakness is tough, which as you may know I cannot do anything about. He can also do some serious damage with Fury late-game if he is still around. All around good model.

At 50pts with 3 Posse I would probably have another Ironback Spitter. Dem guns. Although as mentioned previously, I usually prefer a Wrastler/Horror/Snapjaw combo and 2 Posse at 50pts.

List 2

I went with Barnabas over Maelok primarily because I'm more comfortable with him. He is pretty good all-around, I like him vs almost anything that doesn't ARM stack. He's always fun to play and is one of the better designed casters around, not accounting for his faction's pillow-fists. Maelok is cool but at 42 I think he loses a little bit of pazzaz to Barnabas, and that pazzaz loss is only accentuated by my relatively weaker play with him.

I went with a Wrastler over a Swamp Horror, just because I like having access to at least a little bit of reliable punch in the list. Wrastlers can kill most heavies one-on-one if they can hit the Death Roll, which is worth something in a Barnabas list. Plus, Gator Rise Missile is something I haven't done in a long time. I miss it.

At 50pts I might throw in some Croaks, a Thrullg and maybe switch the Feralgeist for Pendrake. All the guns help. Or another Spitter. Or I'd play Maelok.

Stay tuned for Ides of March: Part 3 - How I lost first round and managed to barely rank in the top half!