Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Battle Report: pMorghoul vs Mohsar 25pts

Co-blogger Caleb and I got a game in over the weekend for our slow grow league.  Here's how it went down.  Further discussion in the comments.  Enjoy!


I was running my usual pMorghoul list for 25pts.

Master Tormentor Morghoul (+7)
*Titan Cannoneer (9)
*Titan Gladiator (8)
*Cyclops Savage (5)
*Basilisk Krea (4)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)
Agonizer (2)
Extoller Soulward (2)

This list has some good durability with the Cannoneer's Diminish and the Agonizer's Gnawing Pain, and it has very high damage output against warbeasts between Enrage and Abuse.  It's also pretty maneuverable with Abuse and Rush, and has some ranged options with the Titan Cannoneer's gun.  After a couple games with this list, I'm really liking it.


I decided to give my Mohsar list a crack after picking up the Warpwolf Stalker the other week.

Mohsar the Desertwalker (+5pts)
* Gnarlhorn Satyr (8pts)
* Warpwolf Stalker (10pts)
* Woldwarden (9pts) (proxied by Megalith, as my Woldwarden isn't based yet...)
Druid Wilder (2pts)
Gallows Grove (1pts)

Compared to my pBaldur lists, this list is possibly overcompensating a bit to deal with enemy heavies/that damn cyclops savage. The wilder is a nice addition to give out either Lightning Strike or Bounding as it's needed, and the Gallows Grove means Mohsar can keep himself farther back and still threaten a pretty big area. Mohsar's spell list is practically tailor made for Geomancy, so I couldn't help but put a Woldwarden in there (Between Crevasse and Curse of Shadows, I see a lot of geomancy going on this game). The downside to this list is that it has very little ranged that can effect his beasts, and I'm relying on the Stalker to kill both heavies -- the Gnarlhorn can knock them around and head butt them a bunch, but when it comes to sheer killing power (especially against all the shenanigans he can and probably will put up around that Cannoneer), he's quite pillow fisted.

Deployment:  pGrexy won the roll off, and decided to go second. 

Caleb: The board looks pretty even - I've got a nice forest to hide in and some walls to block my approach, but he's got that hill for the Cannoneer. I figure he'll also be angling to my left to take advantage of those walls and plop his Cannoneer on the hill. I decided on a pretty straightforward setup - Satyr on the right to slam anybody coming around those walls, Stalker in the middle (Prowl = awesome) with the Wilder between to start slinging some animi, and the Woldwarden on my right to do some counter-battery geomancy against Candice the Cannoneer.
pGrexy:  Caleb had deployed his forces in a pretty tight formation around Mohsar, so I mirrored him.  Morghoul has to run a fairly tight formation due to his low CTRL, and I'm fairly confident of my list's ability to win in a slugging match.  The Stalker can hit hard, particularly with Curse of Shadows boosting its damage, but the Wold Warden and Gnarlhorn will bounce off me if I'm protected by Diminish and/or Gnawing Pain.  My rough plan was to lure the Circle Beasts in with my cannon, and focus on taking them out, then finish Mohsar off when he has no support.

Turn 1:

Caleb: Right off the bat I figured out I'd erred - the Satyr was on the wrong side. I'd wanted the big goat going after the Cannoneer, but instead I'm going to have to keep him on the left and possibly intercept that savage. The Gallows Grove began it's slow, 5" plod up the field, hoping to be ignored long enough to get behind that far wall. Everything else advanced up to the edge of the woods, hoping that with a little extra DEF (or Stealth) from concealment the Cannoneer will miss. Mohsar put Mirage on the Gnarlhorn, cast Sunhammer on himself, and ambled forward as well. Not much to do now but wait....

pGrexy:  I advanced pretty conservatively.  Thinking I might be able to get a shot off at the Stalker in the woods, I used the Gladiator to Rush the Cannoneer, then Trample forward.  Morghoul Maltreated the Gladiator, Abused the Cannoneer, then transferred the remaining 3 Fury to the Agonizer, then advanced.  The Cannoneer advanced 8," and shot at the Stalker.  It was barely out of range, which was ok, since I'd forgotten about Prowl.  The Savage and Krea ran, as did the Soulward and Agonizer.  The Paingivers advanced, Conditioned the Savage and Krea, and Medicated the Cannoneer and Gladiator, healing them back up.

I would be in a pretty good position to advance next turn.  I was hoping to do some real damage with the Cannoneer, then bait Caleb's beasts in piecemeal.  I didn't have to worry about the low walls much because of Rush, but Caleb had no similar source of Pathfinder in his army, so the Gnarlhorn wouldn't be able to charge across them.  I was a lot more comfortable not having to soak a possible Grand Slam in addition to a Stalker charge.

Turn 2:

Caleb: The correct phrase at this point is "crap on a cracker" -- his beasts (including that glorified elephant-with-a-boomstick) are firmly entrenched on a hill, and I've got a good 14" of open ground and some walls between us. Thankfully, I have a solution - the liberal application of Pillar of Salt, and I do mean liberal. Mohsar paid the upkeep on both Mirage and Sunhammer, then ambled up and dropped 3 pillars right in front of the Cannoneer and Gladiator, blocking their advance/LOS, and essentially forcing my crafty opponent to deal with at least 2 of them before he could do anything meaningful (at least I hope). On my left, the tree continued it's sneaky advance, while the Gnarlhorn ambled around a bit to find a better position if the Gladiator or Savage decided to make a run on the Stalker next turn.

The stalker positioned himself for a good charge on the Cannoneer next turn, and the Woldwarden advanced up behind him for some curse-of-shadowsing when the time came. For some reason beyond my comprehension, I failed to put the Woldwarden's animus up, leaving the Stalker quite exposed... maybe it wouldn't be noticed?

pGrexy:  Caleb was seriously harshing my mellow with those Pillars of Salt.  Turn 2 is often when I do a lot of crucial positioning before charging in, and he'd blocked both my heavies with his pillars.  I activated Gladys, who Rushed herself, advanced, and destroyed the two pillars blocking Candes from advancing.  The Extoller advanced, and used Guidance on the Cannoneer, who aimed, and shot the Stalker for moderate damage, then used Diminish.  Morghoul cast Rush and Abuse on the Cyclops Savage, advanced, and Feated, camping 1 Fury.  The Paingivers advanced, Enraged the Savage, and conditioned the other beasts.  The Cyclops charged the Gnarlhorn, and killed it with 3 attacks!  This was much more than I'd hoped for.  I also ran the Agonizer out of Mohsar's CTRL because I forgot that Mohsar's Feat would prevent Morghoul from leaching, not just prevent his beasts from being leached from.

I was feeling pretty cocky at the end of Turn 2.  I'd killed one of Caleb's heavies, and prevented retaliation with Morghoul's Feat.  But I'd made a terrible mistake.  I had done nothing about the Gallows Grove, and by not Maltreating to camp a second Fury, I'd effectively left Morghoul hanging (see what I did there?).

Turn 3:

Caleb: 3 Attacks?! All it took was 3 Attacks?! You wretched little goat! (ok, in fairness, those rolls were pretty gross). My general fury at the Gnarlhorn (heh, puns...) was tempered by the fact that I had, indeed, noticed that my stealthy little redwood wannabe was one short hop away from Crevasse range of Morghoul. Mohsar leeched, dropped Sunhammer (I was going to need the fury) and I teleported the Gallows Grove forward, lining up along the wall and giving me a good angle on Morghoul. I activated the Woldwarden first, moving him juuuust a little forward and geomancied a Crevasse onto the Krea but failed to do much damage. Mohsar activated, popped his feat (why not, really?), maltreated the Warden, ambled forward just a smidge, and unleashed a boosted Crevasse on that little Skorne git -- it hit! The damage was lackluster, but I still managed to drag him down to half health, so a good start. The second boosted Crevasse also struck home (lucky rolls, actually...) but managed to flub the damage pretty severely, leaving Morghoul alive and kicking. Uh-oh.

Thanks to Morghoul's feat, there wasn't much for my Beasts to do - knowing it's going to result in a gladiator charging it, I moved the Stalker over to the Cyclops and ripped an aspect off of it with the sword. The Wilder proved it's worth by loading the Warpwolf up with fury for me to leech next round, and walked forward to hopefully distract the (probably frenzy-ing) Savage - an exciting, if somewhat lackluster, turn.

pGrexy:  Well, I'd barely survived that, and I needed a plan to kill Mohsar now.  He was empty on Fury, and Morghoul could not survive another turn taking multiple Crevasses.  I couldn't leach, so my Savage frenzied, but failed to hit the Druid Wilder.  Well, he'd earned a bit of a break.  The Krea, crucially, did not frenzy.  I advanced the Paingivers, and did some Conditioning and some Medicating.  The Krea advanced, and shot Mohsar with a Spiritual Paralysis, hitting him, and reducing him to Def 7.  The Extoller put Guidance on the Cannoneer, who blasted Mohsar with a mighty cannon ball for... 6 damage.  Well, I knew I'd probably need two hits.  My Gladiator Rushed herself, and advanced on the Warpwolf Stalker, planning to Double Handed Throw it into Mohsar... and missed with its attack.  Hmm....  Now for damage control.  The Gallows Grove had to die, so Morghoul Maltreated Candes, and charged it, burning his single point of Fury to finish it off.  He then Sprinted as far away from Mohsar as he could.  The Agonizer used Gnawing Pain, and ran forward to protect my Gladiator.

At this point, I was hoping that Mohsar couldn't get a decent Crevasse angle on Morghoul.  If he could, I'd probably die.  If he couldn't, I had a pretty good chance of killing Mohsar or his Warbeasts on my next turn.  Caleb wouldn't get another shot at Morghoul like this one - I'd be camping 2+ Fury every turn from now on.

Turn 4:

Caleb: The brave little tree was now mere kindling, but I still had a good shot - the problem was getting far enough forward to do something. Best bets at this point was to either do something about that Gladiator or move the Savage somehow. Deciding on the former, Mohsar leeched all the fury he could, cut himself for 1, and got ready. The Woldwarden made the first move, geomancyied Curse of Shadows onto the Gladiator and charged, doing some marginal damage but failing to knock out a single aspect. The Warpwolf Stalker followed, warping for strength and throwing every attack he could into the giant elephant -- but again, failing to kill it! For lack of a better plan, the Wilder clubbed the Savage, actually doing a point of damage or two but failing to do much else.

Mohsar was in a bit of a pickle now - he had no way around the two beasts in front of him (even with Curse of Shadows on the Gladiator, he couldn't quiiiiite get completely around/through it). But he had little other choice, so he maltreated the Woldwarden, moved right up to the Gladiator, and cast Crevasse on the Agonizer -- it did significant damage, but failed to kill it! No spray onto Morghoul! A second try also failed to even hit it. There was zero chance of Mohsar living through a thorough beat down by the Gladiator, so at that point we called the game.

Victory to the Skorne!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Slooow Upates

Sorry for the lack of updates in the last week or so, dear readers.  I'm a tutor, and right now, it's Finals season.  I'll start posting regularly again after around June 10th.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Titan Cannoneer: Methods

The Titan Cannoneer doesn't usually get a lot of love from Skorne players in general, but it's gradually become one of my favorite beasts.  In many of my lists, the Cannoneer is the lynchpin of my advance, giving my army the edge it needs to outmanuever my opponents in the early and middle stages of a game.  Here's how I've been using it.

I play the Cannoneer as a front line warbeast supported by at least one other heavy, usually a Gladiator.  At the front, the Cannoneer threatens a large area with its gun (16" to 18" radius depending on whether it has Rush cast on it). Its main jobs in this position are to kill off support models, bait the enemy into charging it, and attack high value models like 'beasts/'jacks and casters.

The cannon is instrumental in all these jobs.  The Cannon is one of the best weapons available to Skorne against support units and solos.  It can cover most of my front line, meaning that whenever a solo or support piece is in position to give me grief, I'm usually in position to shoot it.  In fact, I started using the Cannoneer so I'd have something to do against the support pieces a Cryx-playing friend of mine kept using to ruin my day.  Because this is perhaps the Cannoneer's most important role, an Extoller Soulward is a necessary support piece for Guidance.  Many enemy support models will have Stealth or Incorporeal, or will use Forests and Cloud effects to protect themselves.  Eyeless Sight and Magic Weapons let's the Cannoneer ignore all these restrictions, and the Soulward is the only model I routinely take whose main job is supporting the Canoneer.

The cannon also projects attrition against bigger targets like Warjacks, Warbeasts, and mainline infantry.  This doesn't end up killing many targets, but does help the Cannoneer bait charges.  A single cannon ball doesn't really threaten either mainline infantry or enemy heavies, but can do moderate damage consistently, forcing the enemy to find some way of dealing with the the Cannoneer, usually charging it.

The Cannoneer, however, is quite good at taking charges.  Its animus, Diminish, though generally pretty weak, makes the Cannoneer slightly tougher than a Gladiator against melee attacks.  Stacked with other defensive abilities like a Def or Arm buff, or the Agonizer's Gnawing Pain ability, the Cannoneer can (and does) shrug off multiple charging heavies.  In fact, stacking defensive tech on a Cannoneer can force opponents to retreat and try to set up a better charge.  Far from being a bad thing, this just gives me more of an opportunity to shoot more, and set up my own charges.

Once the Cannoneer draws a charge, I can use both it and whatever other support it has to kill off its attacker.  Enrage from a Paingiver puts it at Pow: 18/17 with its weapons, which will kill a lot of low def heavies pretty reliably.  Boosting to hit makes it decent against nimbler heavies, as well as lights and high-def solos.  The Cannoneer's backup is usually another heavy, often a Gladiator.  Even if the attackers survive the Cannoneer, there's a much lower chance they'll survive the Gladiator too.  The Cannoneer is also a little more expendable than the Gladiator in melee, so it's a more acceptable trade-off to kill one of my opponent's heavies.

This isn't to say I won't charge in with the Cannoneer.  It's just as effective, if not more so, leading the charge itself.  Backed up by Rush and/or other movement buffs, the Cannoneer is fast enough to get the first strike in on a lot of things in its weight class, and can do significant damage while debuffing enemies with Diminish for the followup turn.  Good positioning with supporting warbeasts lets me charge them into whatever targets Diminish is affecting, which is nice when I can pull it off.

Overall, I treat the Cannoneer as a melee/attrition heavy which happens to have a gun.  Skorne doesn't usualy have the firepower to support a mostly ranged strategy, so the Cannoneer is always moving toward melee.  The cannon is there to put pressure on enemy lists by removing support, and grinding down heavier targets.  While the gun pressures my opponent to engage me, the toughness I achieve by combining Diminish with other defensive abilities makes engaging the Cannoneer a bad proposition for a lot of models.  Whatever the Cannoneer can't finish itself is likely to be destroyed by the other models supporting the Cannoneer.

Using the Cannoneer this way supports my playstyle well.  I like the ability to advance cautiously, and play an attrition game, attacking and grinding down my opponent's army.  The Cannoneer let's me position my models without worrying too much about harassment from enemy solos, and snipe out support pieces which let my opponent match my maneuverability.  This lets me set up the engagement as much on my own terms as I can.

Most of the support I use has been mentioned, but I'll include more detail, as well as a couple of my army lists, in the comments.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Battle Report - pBaldur vs pIrusk (25pts)

I managed to get a game in against my good friend (and fellow escalation league member) Jamie this last Friday.

My list: pBaldur 25pts
Baldur the Stonecleaver (*6pts)
* Megalith (11pts)
* Woldguardian (9pts)
Sentry Stone (Leader and 3 Manikins) (3pts)
Stoneward and 5 Woldstalkers (5pts)
Blackclad Wayfarer (2pts)
Gallows Grove (1pts)

Jamie's List: pIrusk 25pt
Kommandant Irusk (*6pts)
* Beast-09 (11pts)
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Kayazy Assassin Underboss (2pts)
Winter Guard Infantry (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
* Winter Guard Infantry Officer & Standard (2pts)
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich (2pts)

...well, crap.

As a longtime Khador player, I can tell you that this list is composed of what is generally agreed to be the most powerful Khador infantry (WGI + UA + Joe, and Kayazy + Underboss), backed by the best infantry/single jack caster (Iron Flesh, Superiority, Battle Lust, Inhospitable Ground, and a feat that gives 4+ tough and bonuses to hit) and running Khador's most kill-y jack, Beast-09. Between the ridiculous def/tough bonuses that the Winter Guard will get, and the potential of DEF 19 stealth'd Kayazy in my face by turn 2, I am in one hell of a pickle.

We played a normal caster-kill game, both of us of the opinion this game would be so geared towards assassination from the start that any sort of objectives would just be flat out ignored, and Jamie won the roll, choosing to go second. The board at least provides me with a little hope -- two buildings dominate the middle with walls in between and forest next to them on my side. If there's a better choke point out there, I've not seen it. pBaldur's spell Earth Spikes, both from him and channeled through Megalith, will let me whittle down the hard-to-hit infantry (i.e. all of them) without fear of friendly fire casualties thanks to solid ground. I deployed the beasts to run up the middle behind the Sentry Stone, Baldur and the woldstalkers in the forest and walls to my right behind the building, and the gallows grove and blackclad on the left sneaking up behind the other building. Jamie plopped down both sets of troops side-by-side in the middle/left, moving to angle into the gap between buildings while Irusk and Beast took the straight stretch on my right.

Turn 1 - Circle
I ran forward with everything that could run, using Baldur's tried and true rapid-growth-cycling forest walk trick to pop into the forest up front and throw the forest in front of the walls. Solid ground went up (more to prevent friendly fire later than anything else; he had 1 blast, and it wasn't that great) while the Sentry Stone began it's slow march up the middle, intending to put itself smack between the buildings next turn. 

Turn 1 - Khador
Jamie charged up the middle with the Kayazy, angling in front of Irusk and Beast thanks to their tremendous (by comparison) speed of 6. The Winter Guard managed to get up almost to the first set of walls on my left, and were in a good position to start spraying/CRA-ing my blackclad and grove next turn. pIrusk threw up Iron Flesh on the Kayazy (unexpected? nope.) and superiority on Beast, and proceeded to amble leisurely forward.

Turn 2 - Circle
Baldur didn't upkeep solid ground (no idea why, really) and hoarded his fury for some blasts/forest re-positioning. The Sentry Stone had one of his little twiggy minions sacrifice itself into a little twiggy forest, blocking the Kayazy from charging my woldstalkers on the right as they moved into position behind a wall. The grove moved up behind a wall on the left, and Baldur put down another forest before letting loose with a channeled Earth Spikes, taking out a kayazy and a winter guard thanks to a lucky scatter! Megalith cast his animus for a nice area of rough terrain and geomancied another Earth Spikes, but it scattered off, and both he and the woldguardian moved up into screening positions in the middle.

Turn 2 - Khador
Those two forests in the middle prevented the Kayazy from charging, but didn't prevent them from running around the forests and right into the face of my woldstalkers, manikins, and beasts. Shooting from the Winter Guard quickly killed off the Blackclad and Gallows Grove, while Irusk moved up towards another wall opposite the wall with the now-engaged Woldstalkers, Beast close behind him. Irusk cast a halfhearted airburst that failed to damage anything, popped his feat, giving all the Kayazy a 4+ tough, immunity to knockdown, and fearless, then cast Iron Flesh on them -- in short, they weren't going anywhere anytime soon....

Turn 3 - Circle
Baldur chose not to upkeep the forest (it had served it's purpose), and started off by popping his feat, casting Solid Ground, and throwing another Earth Spikes at a manikin grunt, hoping to take out a gaggle of Kayazy surrounding it -- all but 1 of which made their 4+ tough rolls. Curses! Megalith moved up and geomancied the same trick point blank, deviating less than an inch and killing 2 more. The woldstalkers zephyr'd just out of melee with the Kayazy, and thanks to the wall between them (boosting the little mafia gits to a DEF21!), took aim at a lone straggler not near the wall and swish cheesed him after 4 tries. The woldguardian threw up his animus and ambled up in front of Megalith, effectively ending the Winter Guard's hopes for a decent combined ranged attack next turn while positioning for a good charge at Beast once the dust settled.

Turn 3 - Khador
Faced with severely crippled movement and a general lack of anything hit-able to shoot at, the Khadorans spent the turn re-grouping -- the winter guard ran forward, consolidating into better positions once shooting lanes opened up again, while Irusk moved farther forward and up next to the safe, sturdy wall for protection, put Iron Flesh on himself, and pegged a woldstalker with a directly-hitting airburst (which ignores cover). Beast threw caution to the wind, running forward as far as possible to get good positioning for next turn's mosh pit. The Kayazy Underboss bellowed at his boys, giving them the ability to move through enemy models, and they proceeded to rush forward and surround Baldur and the woldstalkers as much as possible.

Turn 4 - Circle
Baldur once again chose not to upkeep solid ground, but for a good reason -- Irusk was now within 12 inches of him. Seeing his chance, he cast Rapid Growth, placing a forest right up next to Irusk, and forest-walked (away from an entire gaggle of sad faced Kayazy) to it for some good old fashioned caster-killing. 4 spent fury, 3 attacks, some spare boosting, and rather poor dice rolls later, Irusk is sitting at 12 hit points and Baldur realizes that he's in trouble. The situation worsens when I discover that Megalith is just outside of 12"; he ambles forward, unable to do anything to assist.  The woldstalkers attempt to make up for this - thanks to zephyr and some lucky shots, they manage to take out the Winter Guard around Beast, allowing the Woldguardian to trample over (taking out another 2 Kayazy thanks to lucky rolls, hehehe) and wallop him something fierce, knocking out 3 columns (but not knocking him down, courtesy of Superiority). The sentry stone makes a menace of itself, pulling a focus off of Irusk and using it to put 2 manikin grunts into play, blocking Beast's lane to Baldur and managing to tie down some Winter Guard in melee at the same time.

Turn 4 - Khador
Irusk hordes his focus and upkeeps Iron Flesh, failing to hit Baldur in melee but unable to do much else. Beast 09 flails at the Woldguardian, doing some damage, while the Kayazy knock out a few woldstalkers and try in vain to re-position themselves. Kovnik Joe decides now is his time to shine, and he charges Baldur, knocking off 8 hit points and laughing into his immense beard. The Winter Guard not tied down charge Baldur as well, hitting him 4 times -- but leaving him with 1 hit point! There was hope!

Turn 5 - Circle
Baldur pulls 3 fury from the Woldguardian, and cuts himself for another (thanks to Megalith's auto-healing of 1 hp), leaving him close to death with 1 hit point. In turn, he brings Irusk down to 3 hit points but can't seem to finish the job. Megalith moves up, finding the smallest of lines between the Winter Guard to Irusk, and lets loose with a long range boosted Earth Spikes - it hits, but the blast also hits Baldur! The damage roll is just low enough not to do any damage to Baldur, while the damage roll against Irusk is just enough! Irusk is dead! Victory Circle!

So, there was definitely a point there where I almost gave up hope and called it, but I'm happy I didn't! Baldur can be annoyingly difficult to kill, and thanks to forest walk I wasn't forced to slog through 20 infantry to get to Irusk. In fairness, this was my opponent's first game against pBaldur, and I'm pretty sure that trick won't work again, but it was a fun game nonetheless.

I'm particularly happy with the Woldguardian's performance against Beast-09. I'm going to have to remember to keep the Blackclad behind the line at the beginning from now on; his spells would have been IMMENSELY useful in the late game.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The 25pt Jump, and learning from experience.

My continued efforts to find a good 25pt Baldur list have hit a bit of a stone wall (pun intended). As my game against pGrexy this weekend shows, I need more options to deal with heavy warbeasts/jacks, and a speed boost or two wouldn't be a bad idea.

The quickest (and most obvious) way to deal with this is to take a Warpwolf Stalker - speed, high P+S, great buff options (controlled warping), and a fantastic animus all wrapped up in one relatively self sufficient package. However, I want to stay a bit more true to pBaldur's Wold theme, and luckily there's a beast for that -- the Woldguardian.

Here's the first option: it took a little tinkering to fill all the points.

25pt pBaldur List
Baldur the Stonecleaver (*6pts)
* Megalith (11pts)
* Woldguardian (9pts)
Stoneward and 5 Woldstalkers (5pts)
Sentry Stone (Leader and 3 Manikins) (3pts)
Blackclad Wayfarer (2pts)
Gallows Grove (1pts)

I've dropped the light wolds completely in this list -- they might make an appearance later, probably closer to 50pts. Between Megalith and the Woldguardian (with a speed boost from the Blackclad) I've got most of my anti-ARM bases covered, leaving the Woldstalkers and Blackclad/Manikins (sprays) to deal with infantry and light beasts. I had thought about including Shifting Stones + Stonekeeper instead of the Sentry Stone, however the utility it gives me (pulling enemy focus/fury, popping forests up for Baldur, and the lovely sprays from the Manikins) is just much better suited to this list, and with the Blackclad's speed boosts an 8" teleport is actually a downgrade.  The Gallows Grove is there mainly to fill in a point, but it's ability to let Baldur stay more protected and still cast Earth Spikes/Stone Skin is definitely a plus.

This list does break from pBaldur's tier list (it's worth filling that extra point with a gallows grove rather than leave it and let the sentry stone advance deploy up to 20"), but still sticks to the same rough theme, which is nice.

The second problem I'm having is against lists with a large amount of enemy beasts - pBaldur's 25pt list just isn't well suited to take care of this.  My recent purchase of a Warpwolf Stalker and my general enthusiasm over the Gnarlhorn Satyr mean Mohsar is an obvious choice to handle that much fury.  Here's the list:

25pt Mohsar List
Mohsar the Desertwalker (*5pts)
* Gnarlhorn Satyr (8pts)
* Warpwolf Stalker (10pts)
* Woldwarden (9pts)
Druid Wilder (2pts)
Gallows Grove (1pts)

Gnarlhorn and Woldwarden to slam/chain-attack enemy heavies where I want them, Warpwolf to kill them or berserk into infantry, Woldwarden to Geomancy spells as needed, the Wilder to put Bounding or Lightning Strike (the 2 greatest animi Circle has, in my opinion) on whomever needs it, and a Gallows Grove to keep Mohsar well away from the fighting.  All in all, I REALLY like this list.

We'll see how the Mohsar list fares this weekend -- in the meantime, I'll have a riviting pBaldur vs Khador battle report up fairly soon!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Skorne Fluff Post (actually a shameless re-post)

One of the things that got me into Skorne was their fluff, which I think is great.  Although we really only get to see the Skorne military in action in the Hordes expansion books, their culture has a lot of potential for depth.  So this is the first in a series of fluff posts I'll be making to document my observations about the Skorne as a society.

As the title says, it's actually a re-post of something I wrote on the Privateer Press Skorne Community a while back.

The thread author wanted to know whether the Nihilators are part of the warrior caste or the paingiver caste.  Here's what I said:

There's potentially a lot of overlap between the warrior caste and the paingiver caste, since they're driven by similar philosophies. The two examples we're familiar with are the Bloodrunners and the Nihilators. Nihilators combine the stoic side of the Hoksune code with the paingiver ideal of enlightenment through pain.

Hoksune already incorporates a great deal about growth through hardship and privation. To embody the ideals of the code a warrior must suffer. She must pit her will against her own limitations, and break them down in order to emerge triumphant. The ability to endure pain, as a personal limitation (and not coincidentally very useful in battle), is therefore an indicator of a warrior's spiritual advancement, and thus evidence of his worthiness of the ultimate reward of exaltation.

Paingiver philosophy regards agony as the crucible in which truth is distilled. A character in Hordes: Metamorphosis (Saxon?), mentioned that no Skorne would take offense at being tortured to determine her loyalty. I think even he was missing the point a bit. The Paingivers don't simply torture their victims to determine whether they are loyal. Their philosophy demands a higher standard. When they torture a victim, they seek to reveal the truth of his character - to unlock new depths of loyalty, or by the same token, to uncover a capacity for disloyalty.

This Hoksune stoicism and paingiver asceticism were what Xaavaax melded together when he founded the Nihilator's discipline, a tradition based on unlocking the true potential of a warrior's soul through the most extreme assault on her personal limits: self-inflicted torture. Master Ascetic Naaresh is (according to his fluff) very close to the embodiment of this ideal, and has only a few barriers left to break.

Socially speaking, Nihilators are an interesting sect. At its core, the Nihilator tradition is a martial one, and Nihilators can and do partake of the glory and privilege of the warrior caste (being considered for exaltation,etc.). They aren't connected to the Skorne aristocracy through any House, however. They exist "at the harsh perimeter of Skorne society," and may thereby represent a way for the truly fanatical and tough among the Skorne to transcend a low-caste birth. The sect was founded by a paingiver after all, and its members are joined by their philosophy and their agony, not House loyalty. It represents a crossroads where dedication may be more important than caste - but only by sacrificing everything to follow the most extreme warrior ideal.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Battle Report: pMorghoul vs. eGoreshade (25pts)

I played the 25pt list I've been blathering about:

Master Tormentor Morghoul (+7)
*Titan Cannoneer (9)       4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)
*Titan Gladiator (8)          Extoller Soulward (2)
*Cyclops Savage (5)          Agonizer (2)
*Basilisk Krea (4)

I consider this list pretty well balanced.  It's a threat at a variety of ranges, and has the tools to deal with a variety of situations.

My opponent, Todd, played the following:

Goreshade the Cursed (+5) - Tier 2
*Stalker (4?)         10 Bane Thralls + UA (11)
                              10 Bane Thralls + UA (8)
                               Bane Lord Tartarus (4)
                              6 Scrap Thralls (2)

Hoooo.  Leeeeee.  Shit.

I may not have mentioned in my ramblings that my army, like most, has its weaknesses.  It's pretty well balanced, but there are definitely builds I'll scramble to come up with an answer to.  A Bane swarm like this, with 24 models rocking Weapon Master, Dark Shroud, and Tough, is one of those.

We decided to play scenario, and ended up rolling the one with the 36" long objective in the table center.  My opponent would be going first.  He deployed in a line across a lot of the board.  I deployed in a brick refusing my right flank.  My plan was to punch a hole through the Banes by any means necessary, and get to Goreshade before all my warbeasts bit it.  I'd try to draw them in with my admonitioned Cannoneer to give myself as many options as I could for tramples and slams.  The scenario would hurt, because I wouldn't be able to game distances to whittle my opponents' Banes down much.

Turn 1 - Cryx
 Todd ran everybody.  Bane grunts out in front.  Officers and Tartarus a couple inches behind them, Goreshade a tad behind that line, and Standard Bearers in the back.  There were a couple other things.  The Stalker was out front, running into the control zone, and the Scrap Thralls were on the back edge of Goreshade's CTRL.  It looked like his plan was to overwhelm me.  His banes were clumped which was good for me, but I'd have to pick off Tartarus to reduce their effectiveness.

Turn 1 - Skorne
I advanced a little more cautiously, leading with my light beasts, but keeping well out of most of Todd's charge ranges.  The Gladiator put Rush on the Cannoneer, and Morghoul added Admonition and Abuse.  The Cannoneer advanced far enough to take a shot at the Stalker, winging it for minor damage.  The paingivers did a lot of Conditioning.  I'd try to do as much damage to the banes as I could next turn, and see where it went from there.

Turn 2 - Cryx
Goreshade allocated 1 Focus to the Stalker.  Banes ran into the Control Zone, still clumped, trying to get to grips with my condensed force.  The Stalker charged my Krea, doing some bad damage, but not killing her.  Swamping me with Banes may not be the most subtle of plans, but it was looking mighty effective just then.

Turn 2 - Skorne
Morghoul leached, and upkept Admonition.  The Soulward gave Guidance to the Cannoneer, who ambled up, and killed Tartarus.  The Krea used Paralytic Aura, and wiggled around the Stalker to make room for my Gladiator.  Morghoul abused the Gladiator, and gave one Fury to the Agonizer, just in case.  Gladys advanced, and Double-handed threw the Stalker into 2 Banes, killing the Stalker and 1 Bane.  The Beast Handlers conditioned the Titans and enraged the Savage, Adam.   Adam charged the Bane line, killing 2 more.  The Agonizer ran to block charge lanes to Gladys.  That hadn't been a lot of damage, but my heavies would also get through next turn pretty unscathed.  I'd be in a good position to kill a lot of banes, too, but probably not enough.

Turn 3 - Cryx
Todd charged one unit of Banes at the Agonizer, Krea and Savage.  The Krea and Agonizer bit it, but the Savage lived.  The second unit of Banes charged Adam and Candes (who ducked out of harm's way with Admonition), and did some running into a giant clump.  Their attac ks finished off Adam.  Goreshade actually advanced toward me, camping 7 focus.  At this point, I could try to kill as many Banes as possible, knowing that A) they had Tough, and B) At least 6 would be returning.  Or I could try to kill Goreshade, knowing that he was Arm 23.

Turn 3 - Skorne
Right, time to kill Goreshade.  The Beast Handlers Enraged both Titans, and tried to whip a couple Banes.  The Soulward also tried for a Bane, but also failed.  Morghoul, though, cleared a charge lane for Gladys, and Abused both titans.  I forgot to sprint back to relative safety, but if this didn't work, I was out of the game anyway.
Gladys charged into Goreshade, whiffing with 2 out of 3 attacks.  #&%*ing elephant.  Still, if Candes got very lucky, I could pull this out.  She trampled across 2 Banes, missing both, and losing her mind to free strikes.  Needless to say, she did not kill Goreshade.

Turn 4 - Cryx
Some elephants died for their temerity, and Morghoul got to feel very refreshed as Voass turned him into a pink Snow Cone.

Overall, I had a very fun game against one of my most feared matchups.  Todd was a great opponent, and a cool guy.  I'll post a couple of my mistakes, and their associated might-have-beens in the comments.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

List Building Part 2: Theme Building

My last post talked about list and strategy building by assigning models to teams that work together to execute a battle plan.  The process I talk about in this post is a bit more nebulous: identifying an army's strategic themes, maximizing their strengths, and minimizing their weaknesses.  Again, I'll use my 25pt list for May as an example.

A strategic theme describes one way a particular army maneuvers in WM/H.*  Models and units in the army contribute to which themes it uses most strongly, and which themes are weak.  Here are the themes I generally consider when building an army.  There may be a few others out there, but I haven't run into them much.

-SpeedThe ability to get to the enemy quickly and do significant damage when you hit.
-Flexibility:  The ability to ignore normal rules constraints, like difficult terrain, to gain extra maneuvering options.
-Attrition:  The ability to absorb attacks, especially when compared to the enemy's.
-Direct Interdiction (Denial):  The ability to add constraints to the enemy, denying them maneuvering options.
-Damage Interdiction (Threat):  The ability to deny maneuvering options by making certain decisions dangerous.  Both melee Threat and ranged Threat contribute to Damage Interdiction, although melee Threat is also tied into Speed.

When I build a list from themes, the first model I look at is my Warlock.  In this case, it's pMorghoul.  His biggest theme is Speed.  Not only is he personally fast, but his workhorse spell, Abuse, contributes to his army's Speed theme by buffing both Spd (get to the enemy faster) and Str (do more damage when you get there).  He also has a very strong Denial feat, and a great Flexibility/Attrition spell in Admonition.  I'm calling Admonition Flexibility because it let's you ignore some of your opponent's Damage Interdiction.  PMorghoul doesn't add much else to his Army's Flexibility, and has a weak Attrition theme overall.  He'll be doing damage to his own beasts in exchange for more Speed and greater Fury Management (Flexibility).  When I'm building my list, I'll be looking to emphasize Morghoul's strong themes (Speed and Denial) while shoring up his weaker ones (Flexibility and Attrition).

A titan gladiator enhances an army's Speed, and adds a significant element of Flexibility with its animus, Rush.  Apart from that, Gladiators contribute to both Speed and Attrition with their multiple melee attacks, Grand Slam/Follow Up ability, and their innate toughness.  Also adding to my Speed is my Cyclops Savage, which has Spd 6 and Reach to play with.  Paingivers also add to my army's Speed with Enrage.

These models are the core of my Speed Theme.  Almost all my models can be Speed models because of Abuse, but these are the ones that really fortify the theme.

The Titan Cannoneer adds a little Attrition, both by being a heavy and with its animus, Diminish.  The ability to attack at range also adds Flexibility and a Threat range longer than my average charge.  The Extoller adds Flexibility by granting Eyeless Sight and Magic Weapons.  The Krea adds Attrition against Ranged attacks, and Denial against living models.  The Agonizer adds a lot to either Attrition or Denial depending on whether I'm facing WM or Hordes.  Finally, the Paingivers add a lot of Flexibility and some Attrition with Condition and Medicate respectively.

These models give me the ability to play more than just a Speed game.  Attrition is now a major theme.  Between Diminish, the Agonizer's Gnawing Pain, the Krea's Paralytic Aura, and my general Beastliness, my army can soak a lot of damage.  Plus, Spiritual Affliction can give me a second solid turn of Denial against Warmachine armies.

So my army has a pretty decent balance of Themes.  It's primarily a Speed army, with a decent amount of Flexibility and Attrition built in, plus one to two turns of solid Denial.  In terms of a plan, my Speed will be my main offense.  My Savage, Gladiator, and Cannoneer can all expect to launch into melee with high movement and damage buffs.  My Denial game exists to help set this up, while my Attrition and ranged Threat games give me the option to let the enemy come to me.

For me, Theme building and Team building are equally important parts of the list building process.  Theme building helps me work out my army's core strengths, while Team building gets me the specifics of my battle plan, and ensures that everyone is doing something productive.

*This is another concept I took from Macharia's Battle Glade.  What I call strategic themes, Macharia called Phases of Maneuver.  Because WM/H uses a more fluid movement system than WFB, I feel that slightly different terminology is called for.