Friday, January 27, 2012

State of the Lists, 35pts and 50pts

Well, having had my first serious circle game (not counting proxying models; I find it's best to proxy models before buying anything to see if I really want to play the faction), it's time to toss around the lists for the first caster I'm using.  Experience from playing Khador and a bit of deeper thinking on warmachine/hordes in general has shown me that it's best to focus on a single Warcaster/Warlock when first learning how to play a faction.  With Khador I started out with Strakhov; with Circle Orboros, I'm starting with Baldur the Stonecleaver (pBaldur).

From experience yesterday, I know that the list I have is pretty solid, but could use a few tweaks.  Here's the breakdown:

1. Warbeasts -- Megalith performed admirably, throwing around some nice AOE's and boxing the Cannoneer nearly single handed, so he's definitely a keeper.  The Woldwyrd did alright, but I can see half a dozen places where he would have been even more effective (i.e. played right, he could have taken out 1-2 Cetrati a turn thanks to Purgation, and against other warlocks the animus would have been quite annoying), so he's staying as well.  The Woldwarden... while a 2nd Geomancy is nice to have, his lower fury (compared to Megalith) and general pillow-fistedness without pBaldur's Stone Skin means that he's not as effective as he could be.

After taking stock of my options, I'm going to try switching him out for a Woldguardian - harder hitting, far tougher, doesn't need to bother using fury for Geomancy-ing, and it has a nice auto-knockdown feature. The Woldguardian is a bit slower, but as a Khador player that's nothing new, and circle has enough movement shenanigans to more than make up for it.

2. Fury Managment -- this was a big problem throughout the game, and thankfully with a list consisting of entirely Wolds I was able to effectively load the fury onto the least useful one that turn (Woldwarden one turn, Woldwyrd the later 2), but this still left me with the problem of having nothing to transfer to when it came down to it, almost killing Baldur in the process. The Woldguardian will do quite a bit to mitigate the transfer problem, but I still need a bit more fury management.  The obvious answer to this is adding in a Druid Wilder, however since dropping anything from the 35pt list would leave holes in other areas, the Wilder is going to have to wait till  the 50pt level, and I'm going to need to get better at using stones and foresight to deal with excess fury.

Here's the revised 35pt list:

Baldur 35pt List (Tier 2)
Baldur the Stonecleaver
* Woldwyrd
* Megalith 
* Woldguardian
Druids of Orboros (Leader and 5 Grunts)
* Druid of Orboros Overseer
Sentry Stone (Leader and 3 Manikins) 
Shifting Stones 
Blackclad Wayfarer

So, now that I've got the 35pt list down, I can work up to a 50pt list.  Here's where I need to make a decision -- to Tier, or not to Tier?  pBaldur has a pretty impressive tier list; to begin with, it's actually worth taking up to tier 4 as everything he can take will mesh well together, and lastly the tier benefits are actually quite nice (1 - Sentry Stones/Manikins gain 20" deployment, 2 - one warbeast gains Adv. Dep. per Sentry Stone/Shifting stone unit, 3 - Woldstalker units gain advance move, and 4 - heavy construct warbeasts cost 1pt less). However, the models he can take become quite limiting at 50pts, and I'll end up with more duplicate models than I'd normally like (i.e. I would probably never take 2 units of woldstalkers outside of this specific list, and I'm not altogether happy with having to pick up 2 Blackclads yet).  So, for these reason I'm going to change it up a bit and stick with tier 2.  Here's the list:

Baldur 50pts (Tier 2)
Baldur the Stonecleaver
* Woldwatcher
* Woldwyrd
* Megalith
* Woldguardian
Druid Wilder 
Druids of Orboros (Leader and 5 Grunts)
* Druid of Orboros Overseer
Sentry Stone (Leader and 3 Manikins)
Shifting Stones
* Stone keeper
Shifting Stones
Stoneward and 5 Woldstalkers
Blackclad Wayfarer

Switching the Woldwatcher for a unit of woldstalkers would actually give me an extra 2 pts and an advance move on the woldstalkers, but as mentioned I really do not want to buy 2 units of woldstalkers (yet).  The woldwatcher offers a nice alternative that lets me keep the tier 2 benefits -- plus, he's got Shield Guard to keep Baldur safe, and the scrappy little fella can make a real nuisance of himself by throwing up forests with his melee and ranged attacks for Baldur to jump around in.

2 units of shifting stones improve movement shenanigan options considerably, and in conjunction with the Wilder should make fury management faaar easier. The stone keeper is all but required to keep at least one unit alive, as he grants stealth and improves the command radius, allowing that unit to spread out more.

Overall, I like both lists.  I'm going to be giving the 50pt list a shot this weekend, so lets see how it turns out.

Coming Up (in the next few days or so):
 - Musings on pKrueger or Mohsar as an alternate caster for 2-list tournaments
 - Display Board How-To

Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Post the 1st! and a pBaldur 35pt list and Report

I've been playing Warmachine for about a year and a half now, specifically Khador, and while I'm quite happy with the axe-to-face big scary soviet robot faction, I decided to broaden out a bit and build a Hordes army. Going outside the preferred-tactics box a bit, I picked a faction that is equal parts fast, tricky, and tree-hugging: the Circle Orboros.

Actually collecting the army turned out to be pretty easy: someone at my local games store happened to be selling a (99%) unpainted circle army in bits, and I managed to get a lot of the models for a great price.  From there, it's mostly been grabbing a few solos, warlocks, and light beasts to expand it into the more usable realms.

Compared to many armies out there, I'm building the list specifically out of models that I like, not just models I think will win; I'm not a huge fan of Tharn, ergo they haven't made it into my collection or list yet.  This is the main reason for the (quite noticeable) absence of Warpwolves in my army lists: I dislike the metal models.  This will change very quickly once the plastic Warpwolves come out and I shift the focus slightly onto more warlocks (Mohsar and the Kruegers, for instance).  For now, I've got what I've got, and I like it!

So, here's a breakdown of the 35pt game I played the other day against my good friend -- let's call him Tyrant Grexeris.

My list:
35pt Circle
Baldur the Stonecleaver
* Woldwyrd 
* Megalith 
* Woldwarden 
Druids of Orboros (Leader and 5 Grunts)
* Druid of Orboros Overseer
Sentry Stone (Leader and 3 Manikins)
Shifting Stones
Blackclad Wayfarer

Tyrant Grexeris's list:
35pt Skorne
Tyrant Xerxis
* Basilisk Krea 
* Titan Cannoneer 
Cataphract Cetrati (Leader and 5 Grunts) 
Nihilators (Leader and 5 Grunts) 
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Venators Reivers (Leader and 5 Grunts) 
Extoler Soulward 

Pre-game Thoughts:
 - I've got some experience playing against skorne, so I know from the start that those Cetrati are going to be a real problem under Xerxis' boosts.
 - I outnumber him in heavies - thats... unusual. I was definitely expecting more beasts, but I can work with this, I think.
 - I'm going to have to do something pretty early on against those Nihilators, as I'm pretty sure he's going to run them straight into my druids as quickly as possible.

Depoloyment - we got a building smack in the middle of the board, and a smattering of hills, walls, and forests around.  In short, relatively sparce, but with a few nice open areas fronted by woods.

I won the dice roll and elected to go second; he picked the side and deployed 8" out (using 2011 steamroller rules), clumping most of this stuff next to a hill in front of a nice open area to the right (my right, anyway) of the building, specifically putting the Cetrati in clumps of 3 next to each other with Xerxis in the middle, and the cannoneer and Krea close to a big hill (he was fooling nobody there) with the paingivers behind them. The Nihilators ended up to the (my) left of the Cetrati with the Agnoizer and Reivers behind them, in a good position to keep the building in front of them as they advanced. Interesting....

I put the Druids in a line straight across from the Cetrati, with a nice woods on my half in between them, dropped Baldur to the right of them and the woldwyrd and blackclad just right of him.  Thanks to Baldur's tier benefits, I had both Heavies advance deploy ahead of the druids, put the stones down in a line with them, and the Sentry stone Advance Deployed 20" out (practically right up against the building).

Turn 1:
Grexeris advanced conservatively, keeping the cetrati in shield wall and boosting their movement with Xerxis' battle plan ability and moving through him to do it (Martial Discipline is nice). The nihilators ran straight forward behind the building (confirming my suspicions of their druid-murdering intent), and the heavies lumbered foward in line with the cetrati.  Defenders Ward (cetrati) and Paralytic aura (krea) went up, and otherwise nothing really happened.

I advanced straight forward, putting the druids at the far edge of the forest. The blackclad warped to near the stones, the Woldwyrd ran to the edge of another forest straight ahead, Megalith followed him in and Geomancied stoneskin on himself, and the warden moved to the left of it and put up his animus (4" forest template). Baldur moved up, put up Solid Ground, and tossed rapid growth (forest) next to the Warden, effectively blocking a lot of his line of sight (or so I thought...).

Turn 2:
Xerxis upkept Defenders ward. The Extoler Soulward gave the Cannoneer Eyeless Sight (uh-oh); the big beastie then lumbered foward and took aim at a druid. I was suddenly very, very thankful I'd put up Solid Ground - the shot missed and got an otherwise lucky scatter, but thanks to Solid Ground failed to do anything. The Nihilators surprised me and ran to my right of the building (they had been angling to the left), straight into the sentry stones and the leading edge of the druids, but remained a few inches back (out of reach range thanks to the forests) and a bit clumped. The Cetrati moved up slowly as before, with Xerxis following, and the Krea moved up next to the cannoneer. The Agonizer threw caution to the wind and ran up into the open, throwing Gnawing Pain up as it did so (the cheeky git).

Figuring I should do something about these nihilators, I had the manikins start laying down sprays and ended up killing 3 and knocking 1 down (yay!). Both the Warden and Megalith both shuffled forward and dropped Earth spikes on the Nihilators and Cetrati, killing a pair of nihilators and wounding a cetrati. The Druids advanced a little more and finished off most of the rest, leaving 1 alive, pushing the little Agnoizer around, and wounding a Cetrati, but bottlenecking themselves between the stones and Warden. Baldur used the Warden's animus to drop a forest around himself, forest walk to right behind Megalith, and pop his feat - catching all of my models and most of the enemy's in it as I cackled quietly to myself. The Woldwyrd took a few shots at the Cannoneer (doing nothing) but then got wise to the situation and mauled a cetrati pretty well thanks to purgation (not killing him though). I'm certain a shifting stone died, but I don't remember how...

Turn 3:
With not much to do except sit around and take pot shots, Grexeris' turn went pretty quickly; the Cetrati advanced less than 2 inches, Xerxis stayed put (thanks to poor positioning, he couldn't move in front of the cetrati thanks to the feat), the Cannoneer managed (despite cover!) to kill another shifting stone, and both he and the Krea threw their animi on themselves, rightfully expecting wold-based shenanigans next round. The lone nihilator took out a manikin, and the Extoler Soulward took a lazer-eye shot at a Druid, killing the poor chap.

Thanks to losing the 2nd stone, I was running 2 fury too hot, and decided to dump them both off on the woldywyrd. Sensing that I was going to soon be at the recieving end of a Xerxis feat, I decided to act a bit more aggressive.  The Blackclad shot the Titan Cannoneer, giving Megalith a tasty +2 movement as he barreled across the open field to engage the cretin.  Diminish and a geomancied Stone Skin effectively canceled each other out, and thanks to some mostly (and slightly above) average rolls, the Cannoneer was pummeled to an early grave at a cost of 4 fury (he missed on his first attack). The Druids force-bolted a Cetrati into the open (out of shield wall) and killed it, dropped The Devouring on the Agonizer (killing it).  The WoldWarden charged forward at the cetrati clump, hoping to tie them up for a turn. He punched the front one a bit, dropped his animus-forest, and in a fit of intelligence geomancied Earth Spikes into the Venator Reivers, killing 2 and knocking 2 more down.

Turn 4:
As I feared, Xerxis feated, charged Megalith, and promptly beat him into so much kindling while still leaving a single fury on himself (crap). The Venators recovered from their afternoon siesta and pot-shotted another druid or two. The Cetrati and Paingivers both advanced and wailed on the WoldWarden, knocking off his body and mind but (surprisingly) failing to actually kill him. The Extoler Soulward surprised the living daylight out of both of us by taking a potshot at Baldur and reducing him to just 4 hit points thanks to almost maximum damage; with all of my beasts full of fury, I had nowhere to transfer to.

I had weathered the dreaded Xerxis feat turn in decent shape, but unless I could kill Xerxis this turn, I was probably not going to last long.  Thanks to the paingivers stripping the fury from the Woldwarden (and me foolishly not taking any form Megalith when he bite the big one), Baldur cut himself twice and hoarded his focus (dropping Solid Ground), then charged Xerxis. Average damage rolls dropped him down to just 4 hit points, but he managed to keep that little fury around and wasn't dead himself.  The druids then activated, missed a few times despite good rolls (narrowly missing killing baldur in the process!!!), forced Xerxis to transfer damage onto the Krea with his last fury, and pushed him out of melee with Baldur- but also up onto a hill AND out of ranged of the rest of their spells!!  D'oh! The Woldwyrd advanced onto the hill himself and took a few shots, but only managed to deal 2 points of damage!  With things looking dangerously desperate, I remembered the Woldwarden -- still alive and able to geomancy, but the last model that could do anything to Xerxis.  Thanks to losing his mind he couldn't boost, but he geomancied a final Earth Spikes onto Xerxis anyway, hitting him squarely -- and rolled double sixes to damage! Baldur wins!!!

Post-Game Thoughts:
 - the last round could have gone much better if I'd done things in a slightly different order -- pull the fury off Xerxis with the sentry stone, shoot him with druids/the devouring, take potshots with the Woldwyrd, and THEN charge Baldur in.
 - I'm really digging the Sentry Stone and Manikins, but I need to learn/remember to use them better. Looking back, I can see almost half a dozen opportunities I missed thanks to general ignorance of their rules.
 - deploying heavies in front of the druids pretty much bottlenecked them the entire game; my khador-based deployment strategies need to change with these faster models.
 - I would have been in a much tougher situation if Xerxis had played a bit more aggressively in the early game and advanced farther.
 - I started to realize how easy it is to trip up enemies with forests as this game progressed; I didn't have much opportunity to do so against Xerxis thanks to his ability to give pathfinder, but I got a good sense of how it will go against another warlock/warcaster.

All in all, a good game. I need to work on my tactics more, but that will improve as I get more experience with Circle and the models.

Circle Record so far:
Wins - 1, Loses - 0

EDIT: well, it looks like I was doing Geomancy wrong; I DO need to spend a fury to force them. All things considered, the only part of this game it really effected was Megalith tackling the Cannoneer (he should have made 1 fewer attack) but considering that one of his attacks missed anyway (double 1's!) and the Cannoneer had a single hit box left, I don't believe it would have mattered too much.