Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thinking of Thinking of Starting up Ret

For a while now, I've been considering starting up a new Warmachine/Hordes faction.  I've wanted something pretty different from Skorne with a lot of interesting tricks, and decided on the Retribution of Scyrah.

In terms of models, I really like the Retribution 'jacks.  I especially think they would look cool painted charcoal and red (very Sith, basically) with blank face-like masks sculpted on over their chests and/or heads.  It would ideally be kind of like the Husks from Mass Effect, although I really got the idea from the Therians from AT: 43.  I've never played AT: 43 myself, but the Therians vs. UNA starter box was on the shelves at my then-LGS (Hobbytown USA in Gahanna, OH if you want to know), and I always thought the blank human faces on the big Therian robots looked cool.

I have no idea how I'm going to do the face sculpting - I haven't sculpted much in the past - but I think it'll look pretty sweet once I've figured it out.

In terms of mechanics, Retribution are Warmachine, relatively infantry heavy, and with a strong central ranged game which I sometimes miss from Skorne.  I do love to run "shooty" Skorne armies, but they're often melee attrition armies that also have some guns they might as well use on the way in.  Retribution has a core ranged game, and can rely on shooting as a primary strategy, with some melee to back them up.  They also have some excellent board control, which I don't get a lot of in Skorne.

In terms of Warjacks, I'm thinking a Phoenix and a Banshee.  Both look really cool, have great rules (if the RoS forum is anything to go by, they're sort of the Gladiator and Bronzeback of the Retribution, only more so), and seem to fit with just about every Retribution Warcaster.  The light warjacks seem pretty good, but not spectacular.  I may just have to get used to using light 'jacks more aggressively.  I really like using light beasts, especially those with good animi, for support, but 'jacks don't have animi, and the lights have to compete on other merits.  I like the looks of the Chimera and Griffon pretty well.  I think the Aspis' wrecking ball hands and head fin look dumb, but I'll probably get one eventually because Shield Guard and Beat Back are good abilities for an army to have.

For Warcasters, I like Ossyan and Kaelyssa, at least to start with.  Both Ossyan and the Kaelyssa resculpt are super cool looking, and they both have solid feats and a really good selection of spells (Kaelyssa especially).

I have no idea about units.  Visually, none of them really calls to me, although many of them seem very fun to play.

I'll probably start proxying Retribution in a couple of months (once my Skorne collection is more sorted out in terms of assembly and painting).  If I like them, I'll at least get a Banshee to assemble and sculpt on so I can see how my idea would work.

UPDATE:  Well played, Privateer Press. Well Played.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Journeyman Circle: Week 1

My lgs is hosting a Journeyman League, and I've decided to take this opportunity to start up a small Circle force. Why Circle? Well, here are the alternatives:

  • I don’t like the battle box. It’s a fine way to start the faction, but I’m a little past that.
  • I’d rather not submit the rest of the group to weeks of pDenny, especially since another person is playing Cryx.
  • I don’t want to repaint my Slayer.
  • Two other people are playing Legion. There's only five or six people participating in this; I don't want everyone's fight to be against Legion.
  • The reason I want to play Ret is the same reason I don’t want to play them now: the new Kaelyssa model which hasn't been released yet.

So, Circle. Also, I was able to buy half the Hordes two player starter set at a price too low to resist. In what will probably be a controversial decision, I’ll be doubling up on Arguses rather than going Argus/Winter Argus. I’m not wild about either breed, but the extra point I get will be really useful in, oh, every week but the first. Since I won’t be in town to play this first week, the decision is pretty easy.

Not much to say now, but future weeks should be a bit more interesting.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Calandra vs pGrim: a Troll-on-Troll grudgematch

I played a rather brutal 15pt game against my friend Ben this weekend (the very same Merc player whose Kayazy were firmly trounced in pGrexy's post earlier), and he wanted to give Trollbloods a shot. He's quite experienced with his Mercs (my intense and seething hatred of Gorman di Wulfe and Aiyana & Holt is solely due to his quite masterful use of them), but this is his first foray into the Fury realm, so we kept it down to 15pts and I put together 2 simple lists.

Ben's List:
Grim Angus (*6pts)
* Slag Troll (6pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Earthborn Dire Troll (10pts)

My List:
Calandra Truthsayer, Oracle of the Glimmerwood (*5pts)
* Pyre Troll (5pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Dire Troll Bomber (10pts)

Pretty straightforward lists, and I slapped them together quick. They seem fairly basic and balanced, with the Calandra list a little more ranged and the Grim list a bit more melee, but they've got a decent mix of both. I would also say that the Grim list is simply stronger, as the Slag is a stronger second-string hitter than the Pyre, the Impaler's animus really helps Grim, and the Earthborn/Grim's gun ability make it a lot faster than the Calandra list. It can't, however, deal as well with attrition, which is something that Calandra simply excels at.

The board was pretty open, but with a few large forests scattered on mine and Ben's left respectively. There was a large hill on my right, and a hedge (we treated it as a wall) and pool of water across from it on his side -- less than 3 inches apart. I immediately noticed that this gave the Earthborn a practically tailor made spot to sit with +2 DEF and ARM and wait to pounce while Grim forced me to close by shooting from behind the cushy wall. Ben won the roll, decided to second, and chose the side with the wall/water... crap.

My only hope was to use the hill on my side to tempt him out from cover; +2 DEF and 3 12" range (with Far Strike) beasts wasn't great vs Grim, but it gave me a shot. I deployed the Pyre, Bomber, Calandra, and Impaler in a line in front of the hill.

I'm not sure if my deployment spooked him or he just wasn't all that aware of the tactical opportunities (I'd pointed them out to him, but he decided to deploy to my left near a forest. I could see the possibilities from the forest-speed-boost, and immediately began suspecting shenanigans....

Turn 1: Calandra
Without much else to do, I ran the Bomber and Pyre up on my left onto the hill (pyre behind the bomber slightly); had Calandra put Bullet Dodger on herself, cast Star Crossed, and charge the (far distant) enemy Impaler to get her onto the hill next to the bomber, and ran the Impaler forward on her right.

Turn 1: Grim
The Earthborn put his animus onto Grim (since we reasoned that Grim had to start his turn next to terrain while effected by Elemental Communion for the benefit to work) and then trampled almost straight forward. Grim activated and made straight for the wall (having apparently realized it's tasty benefits) and dumped fury to accommodate. The Slag ran up next to the wall (about 17" from my bomber), and the Impaler ran over to a few inches on my right of Grim.

Turn 2: Calandra
Kind of a strange re-positioning, but I can work with that. The Impaler cast his animus onto the Bomber and moved up an inch or so for a better shot when the enemy beasts got closer. Just for the heck of it, the Bomber took aim at the Slag (still well over 16" away) and let loose -- the shot missed (it was 4" short, after all) but then scattered just enough to tap the slag! Lucky throw, thinks I... and then boosted damage comes up three 6's. 9 damage to the Slag from 16" away. That was all kinds of awesome!

The second shot goes wide and does nothing. Too much to hope for, I suppose, but after that first one.... With not much else to do, Calandra shuffled sideways a little, cast Star Crossed, and waited. The pyre, seeing where the threat really was, booked it around Calandra to stand in front of her and next to the Bomber, giving her a nice little wall.

Turn 2: Grim
The Earthborn decided now was the time to get in the fight; he barreled across the field to stand a little in front of Grim (and next to that lovely +2 DEF pond...) and well within charge range of me for next turn. Grim's Impaler moved up, put his animus on himself, and took a shot at Calandra's Impaler, declaring there can be only one. He missed. Grim put the Impaler's animus on himself and the Slag (uh oh) and shot the Pyre troll handily for 6 points of damage. The Slag moved up and tried the same tactic, but handily missed.

Turn 3: Calandra
Somehow, my plan to draw him in appeared to be working. The Pyre troll put his animus onto the Bomber, and moved a bit out of the way (forward and off the hill, so as to block access to Calandra) and, for the heck of it, took a shot at the Earthborn - it hit and put the bugger on continuous fire, but no other damage. Calandra then moved forward, popped her feat, cast Star Crossed, and hit the Earthborn with Befuddle, moving him up 3" and turning him around. The Bomber promptly charged it and beat it within an inch of it's life (4 hit boxes remaining, all in the body). For some reason I thought this was good enough, and had the Impaler take a shot at Grim's Impaler - I hit, and did a few points of damage. Things were looking up, but I was slightly over-extended on fury for next turn.

Turn 3: Grim
Oh right, Trolls. Grim spent 2 fury to heal up the Earthborn (one in spirit, one in mind), took a shot at the pyre troll (furthering his goal to slowly nip away hit boxes), and counter-feated. The Slag put his animus on the Earthborn and took a shot at the poor Pyre, wounding him again. The Impaler then moved up to beside the Earthborn (opposite the Bomber) and took a shot at Calandra's Impaler (it missed). The Earthborn then turned around (facing both the Impaler and Bomber), grabbed the POW from the Impaler's spear (that was a neat trick, going to have to remember that...), and beat the Bomber to death with it. Handily. In 4 hits.

Turn 4: Calandra
Craaaaaaaaaap. That went pear shaped right quick. I dropped Bullet Dodger (it was going to get hairy, and she needed the extra fury), activated the Impaler, moved it up it's movement-reduced 2 inches, and (thanks to reach) killed the Earthborn and nicked up the opposing Impaler slightly. The Pyre (barely alive) took a shot at the slag and did some damage for the heck of it, and then repositioned as much as he could to keep the slag off my warlock. Calandra cast star crossed (duh) and sat on 4 fury, expecting trouble.

Turn 4: Grim
The Slag charged and made short work of the Pyre troll, and the Impalers continued their pointless game of furious slapping at each other to no success. Grim put the Impaler's animus on himself, sighted in, and pegged Calandra for 8 points of damage -- the Impaler was full on Fury, and the Pyre had been her only transfer-eligible beastie. Uh-oh....

Turn 5: Calandra
Not wanting to be outdone, Calandra charged the Slag troll, using the bonus-dice-vs-wounded-models aspect of her knife to shank the little jerk to death. She put up Star Crossed again, but with only one beast left it was going to be tricky to keep her from dying. The Impaler smacked it's opposite number again, without killing it.

Turn 5: Grim
This turn went pretty fast: Grim failed to knock Calandra down with his fancy shot, and the enemy Impaler moved up and brought her down to 1 hit point.

Turn 6: Calandra
Calandra finished off the enemy Impaler (finally), and her Impaler moved up to hit Grim a few times, managing to force a tough roll on him and lock him in place (I hoped) to prevent him from getting to Calandra.

Turn 6: Grim
Grim was seriously hurting here: low on fury, low on health, and cornered by an angry beast. He managed to make the most of it, nimbly avoiding a free strick to move backwards and take a shot at Calandra -- he missed!

Turn 7: Calandra
The slugfest continued! The Impaler charged Grim, missing him once or twice and scoring a small hit on him, but failing to wound him. Calandra sensed an opportunity, and charged in herself, dealing a pretty fatal blow to Grim -- who aced his Tough roll!

Turn 7: Grim
Grim calmly stood up, brushed himself off, and beat the crap out of Calandra with his Tough-Roll-Denial melee gun stock. Victory to Grim!!


Holy crap this game turned into one epic attrition game in the end. Trolls vs Trolls means we were both going to be hard to kill, but this was just ridiculous. At the end of the game, the Impaler had 1 hit box in each aspect, and Calandra and Grim each had only a single apiece (AND Grim made a tough roll!). I made a mistake early on by not finishing off the Earthborn, but I saved myself by tying up his beasts with mine for 2 turns there. All in all, we both played a good game, and it was a nice intro to Trollbloods for my crafty opponent.

Side Note: I'm writing the last few turns of this report a over a week after the actual game - my memory is a bit fuzzy, but this is the best I can remember of what happened. Ben, you may want to correct me if I messed up a turn or two there...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Battle Report: Coven vs eMorghoul, Rhyas

Hey, I got some games in. How cool is that? But, unlike my cohorts, I don’t really like writing out long battle reports. So, consider these the vignettes to their novels.

Here’s what I brought:

* Nightmare
* Harrower
* Nightwretch x2
Satyxis Raiders (full)
* Sea Witch
Warwitch Siren

This is my favored Coven list so far. It’s main win condition is an Infernal Machined heavy charging the enemy’s caster. The Nightmare is the primary kill piece, with reach and Prey. The Harrower cleans up infantry with Infernal Machine and also assassinate in a pinch. Nightwretches are my favorite node, even with a caster with IM. That aoe is just so handy. Satyxis are obviously great and the Coven’s feat makes them even harder to hit, and the Siren just makes everything better. She beats out a Skarlock because the Coven can already cycle upkeeps extremely well and most of the list already has pathfinder, making Ghost Walk less important.

This list’s strengths are its jacks and its threat ranges. Even the Harrower can charge something 12” away through rough terrain, or through enemy models if necessary. It’s weaknesses are lots of infantry, high def infantry, attrition, and the Coven themselves. The Coven are awkward to move, fragile, and pretty much incapable of killing anything besides a solo. Luckily they have a humungous control range, so normally they just squat in the back and pray nothing comes close.

My first opponent brought the following Skorne shooty list:

* Titan Gladiator
* Archidon
* Basilisk Krea
Venators (full) w/ UA
Slingers (full)
Tyrant Commander
Beast Handlers, full I think

The mission was, um, the one with the three flags on the center line and then one disappears. It’s been close to a month since I’ve last played and even longer since I’ve played the Coven, but hopefully I won’t make any huge mistakes (spoiler: I make some huge mistakes).

First turn we both moved up. On the second turn I saw that his army was at the very edge of my threat range, so I rushed to charge him. I was able to take out his Gladiator and a fair about of his army, and I feated to lessen his retaliation. In return he feated and sort of just walked around my army to claim a point. I tried to respond by killing a very exposed eMorghoul, but my forces were too spread out to really concentrate enough force on him (and I screwed up with focus allocation) so he survived. And then my opponent pointed out that in my attempt to kill eMorghoul, I had neglected to contest either of the flags, so at the end of my turn he got another point, and then at the end of his turn he would get a third point and win the game. So, victory to the Skorne!

Right, that was... kind of a mess. My fight of the night was against this:

* Carnivean
* Scythean
* Shredders x2
* Succubus
Warspears (full)

No scenario, just caster kill.

Again, first turn we move up. Second turn I advance and feat to stop him from attacking me, he responds by moving his Warspears forward to screen his army. On my third turn I cast Curse of Shadows on the Warspears and charge my Satyxis into their first line, their second line, and the Scythean they were “screening”, killing most of the ogrun and wounding the beast. I also place my Nightmare what I think is 10 inches from the Carnivean but what will actually turn out to be like eight, which was especially stupid because with the Coven’s huge control I could have basically measured it. 

Side note: having an 18" control range is just bonkers. I highly recommend it.

Anyway, he feats on his turn, which lets the Carnivean tear the arms off the Nightmare and helps the Scythean and Rhyas kill many of the Satyxis. Rhyas also relocates closer to the Carnivean, as my forces on that side are collapsing while the other is still strong. On my turn, the Harrower kills the Scythean and the remaining Warspears, filling up on souls (not from the Scythean, obviously). The Nightmare despite having no arms, is still MAT 10 P+S 18 against the Carnivean, but it fails to do any damage. On his turn Rhyas kills a Nightwretch and his Carnivean finishes off the Nightmare. Then I allocate three focus to the Harrower, arc Infernal Machine onto it, and charge it laterally across the table into Rhyas’s back arc. Even ninjas don’t like MAT 8 warjacks with effective 6 focus stabbing them repeatedly in the back.

I guess my conclusion is that I like the Coven and I also like it when I’m competent.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Links Fixed

4+ Tough went through a change of name recently, and all the links had been going to the old URL at Tormented Equilibrium.  Needless to say, the pages no longer exist. 

I went through today, and fixed all the links, so everything we referenced in the past can now be found from where we referenced it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Swordsmen vs. Nihilators, part 3, Command and Occupation

This is the third installment in my comparison of Praetorian Swordsmen and Nihilators.  The first two are part 1, Math and Tough, and part 2, A Game of Inches.  Part 1 (which was updated recently) looks at Tough as an advantage for an attrition unit.  Part 2 looks at the benefits of Reach (for the Nihilators) and Side Step (for the Swordsmen).

Where A Game of Inches looked at the engagement potential of a single Praetorian Swordsman or Nihilator, this installment will look at the engagement potential of the units.  The biggest factor determining a units potential to occupy or engage a large swathe of the table is its leader's Command score.  Models can only receive orders, take actions, and make attacks when they are in their leaders' Cmd range.  Praetorian Swordsmen have an elite Cmd of 9, and the Officer in the UA has a Cmd of 10.  Nihilators are fairly uninterested in stuff like discipline, and have a Cmd of 7.

In terms of occupying table space, the swordsmen have a 10" radius in which to place models, while the Nihilators have only a 7" radius.  This is a very significant difference.*  When I'm trying to engage specific targets or block specific lines of sight, I need to be able to place my models in fairly specific positions.  I almost never worry about being outside of Cmd 10 when I play Swordsmen, but I do often worry about being outside of Cmd 7 when I play Nihilators.

When the Nihilator leader can be relatively centered, Nihilators partially make up for their lack of Cmd with Reach.**  In my last installment, I mainly talked about the threat range and occupation area of a single Nihilator.  In terms of the whole unit, the Reach advantage lets Nihilators engage a roughly 10" radius at maximum (accounting very roughly for both the base width of the individual Nihilators and their weapons' 2" Reach).  With Cmd 10, Swordsmen occupy a rough maximum radius of 11.5 inches.  That 1.5 extra inches is still a significant advantage over the Nihilators (just as the Nihilators 1.5 extra inches of threat range is a significant advantage over the Swordsmen), but it's nowhere near as large a gap as 3" would be.  With Reach, Nihilators go a long way toward making up the difference between their Cmd and that of the Swordsmen.

Often, however, a unit's leader won't be at the exact center of a unit, letting it spread out to its full potential.  He's much more likely to be doing something useful himself - engaging the enemy, making attacks, or occupying a specific location.  The Swordsmen Officer, due to his high Cmd, has a lot more freedom to position itself usefully than the Nihilator leader.  Of course, the Nihilator leader is no different, stat-wise, from the rest of his unit, so there's no real reason to keep him away from a center position if the Nihilators are in one cluster or line.  Frequently, however, I want my infantry to be in two places at once: attacking one thing, and screening another.  The leader usually ends up either making attacks or occupying space, so it has to be with one group or the other. Swordsmen are better at dividing their attention like this than Nihilators when I need them to.

These situations are fairly common, and are where the 3" difference in Cmd range matters the most offensively.  Often, the Swordsmen Officer will have plenty of range to be useful, and the Swordsmen themselves will engage the enemy, make their attacks, and maybe even have space to do some Side-Stepping into good positions.  Nihilators might engage most of the same models, but won't be able to take full advantage of their signature offensive ability, Berserk.  There's a big difference offensively between a Nihilator attacking one or two models near the edge of its melee range, and getting into a group of 3 or 4 models while threatening more space behind them.

Overall, Praetorian Swordsmen can engage a wider total area as a unit than Nihilators can.  Although Nihilators partially make up for the sheer area covered with Reach, they're less able to divide their attention between two or more objectives.  Swordsmen are more flexible; they can perform both offensive and defensive roles at the same time much more easily thanks to their higher Cmd.

In my next installment, I'll talk about both units and their offensive potential.

*Cmd 10 actually gives just under twice the area to place bases in (around 121*pi square inches as opposed to around 64*pi square inches) once model's bases are factored in.  I'm usually more worried about the front line of models than I am about any kind of depth, though, so I feel like radius from the unit leader is usually the best way to measure the impact of Cmd.  It's also less abstract to think about a linear distance, which, when you're trying to think quickly about a tactical problem, is pretty helpful.

**It's worth mentioning that there are a bunch of ways in the game to avoid free strikes, like Ghostsly (which I'm most familiar with), and Parry.  When dealing with immunity to Free Strikes, the extra engagement range from Reach doesn't count for much, but the extra Cmd range to place interposing bodies that the Swordsmen have can be critical.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Battle Report: pHexeris vs. Drake MacBain (35pts)

I got two games in this past Saturday.  This one was against Mercenaries led by MacBain.

I've been digging pHexeris lately, and my army was already out of the box from a previous game, so I played:

Lord Tyrant Hexeris (+6)
*Titan Cannoneer (9)
*Titan Gladiator (8)
*Archidon (7)
*Aptimus Marketh (3)

10 Praetorian Swordsmen (6)
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)

Agonizer (2)
Extoller Soulward (2)

This is a Tier 1 Kingdom of Shadow list, meaning Hexeris will get to start wit his upkeeps in play.  My original thoughts on the list are in this report from earlier that day.  After the first game, I feel like the list actually has decent potential to deal with heavy armor, and only super heavy lists will give it serious problems.  As long as the Titans stay screened properly, they can deal with most of the game's heavy threats.  The list has a lot of flexibility with the Archidon as Hexeris' Soul Slave node, and Hexeris can focus on offense with Marketh managing his upkeeps.

The list is still vulnerable to mass heavy armor, and can be out-attritioned by lists with a lot of high-Def models, or a lot of Tough.  It's main weapons against high-def infantry are its AoE's: Hexeris' Obliteration and the Cannoneer cannon shot.

My opponent, Ben, played:

Drake MacBain (+6)
*Nomad (6)
*Buccaneer (3) 
*Sylas Wyshnallyr, the Seeker (2)

10 Kayazy Assassins (8)
*Kayazy Assassin Underboss (2)
Lady Aiyanna and Master Holt (4)

Alexia Ciannor, Mistress of the Witchfire (4)
Ogrun Bokur (3 - Client: Alexia)
Eyriss, Angel of the Retribution (3)
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord (2)
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist (2)
Saxon Orrik (2) 

I've played against this list before, and it is a tough one.  The Kayazy with Dirge of Mists from Rhupert and the potential of super-tough under Drake's Feat are incredible at jamming.  Alexia and the Bokur are a solid flanking force, and the list has some very good denial with Gorman and Eyriss.

Like my list, this one is vulnerable to heavy armor.  It's tools for cracking a really beast heavy list are fairly limited.  It also relies on its Kayazy for jamming defense. and anything capable of taking out a lot of high-Def, Stealth models at once will be a problem.


The terrain on the table was the same as the previous game I'd played.  The middle of the board was fairly open, but there were forests and walls around it on both sides for vulnerable models to hide in.

I won the roll-off, and chose to go second.  I wanted to be sure I was in range with bottom-of-turn-1 arced spells.  Because I was playing a Tier list, the Swordsmen would start off with Death March, and the Archidon would start off with Soul Slave.

Ben deployed the Kayazy in front of a forest on my right flank, supported by Rhupert.  Alexia and the Bokur went on my left, supported by Saxon Orrik and Gorman.  The two 'jacks and MacBain went in the middle along with Aiyanna and Holt.  Wyshnallyr deployed next to Drake.

I deployed my Swordsmen opposite the Kayazy, since their Mat with Death March would be good enough to hurt them.  The Archidon went with the Swordsmen to give me some offensive spellcasting against the Kayazy.  The Titans deployed behind a forest opposite the Nomad and MacBain along with the Paingivers and Extoller Soulward.  Marketh went behind the Swordsmen and Archidon.

Eyriss deployed on my far right, next to the Kayazy

Turn 1: Mercenaries

Most things just ran.  Drake cast Failsafe on the Nomad, and Fortune on the Kayazy, and advanced.  Rhupert gave the Kayazy Pathfinder, and ran through the forest.  The Kayazy followed him, breaking out to the other side of the forest.  Alexia and the Bokur ran down my left flank, as did Saxon and Gorman.  The Nomad and Buccaneer ran more conservatively than the infantry.  Aiyanna and Holt ran to just ahead of Drake.

Drake would probably Feat next turn, and the Kayazy would be an immovable jamming object, so they were my first concern.  Ben had forgotten to move Eyriss, which was a minor mistake.  She'd be fast enough to see action if she wanted to, but she wouldn't necessarily get where she really wanted to be.

Turn 1: Skorne

The Archidon ran up near the Kayazy, and the Swordsmen rad to just behind it.  The Gladiator Rushed the Cannoneer, and Trampled forward.  The Cannoneer advanced, and tried to take a pot-shot at Alexia around the forest, but missed, then used Diminish.  The Paingivers advanced, and managed fury.  The Extoller Soulward advanced, and used Guidance on Hexeris.  Marketh advanced to behind the Swordsmen, and used Spell Slave to cast Soulfire at the Praetorian Swordsmen Standard Bearer.  He killed his target, which gave Hexeris an extra point of Fury, bringing him up to 8.

Then, Hexeris advanced, and I said "Hexodia... OBLITERATE!" before casting Obliteration twice on the Kayazy, who were clumped just a little too close together.  I killed seven of them, and took the Underboss down to his last hit box.

I was feeling a lot better about the Kayazy now that they were mostly dead.  My Swordsmen could wheel around to deal with other threats on their next turn, and possibly jam down MacBain and his 'jacks.

Turn 2: Mercenaries

MacBain and Sylas upkept some spells.  Eyriss advanced and shot Death March off of the Praetorian Swordsmen (also killing one).  Rhupert used Dirge of Mists on the Kayazy, giving them +1 Def and Terror.  The remaining Kayazy charged the Archidon, wounding it pretty badly.  One of them also got into melee range with a Swordsman, forcing a terror check.  I rolled boxcars, which I guess I deserved for killing the Standard Bearer, and the Swordsmen would be useless to me next turn.

Alexia advanced, and shot a Swordsman with Magic, but the Extoller was closer, and got the soul.  Aiyanna and Holt also advanced, but were out of range of the Swordsmen.  MacBain advanced and used his Feat, choosing the remaining 4 Kayazy, Alexia, the Bokur, Aiyanna, Holt, and Gorman to be super-tough.  Then he cast Rift at a Swordsman, killing him, and spawning some rough terrain in front of the Gladiator.  Alexia picked up the Soul.  The warjacks, not having received any focus this turn, merely advanced.

Well, that'll teach me to shoot a member of the warrior caste in the back, even if he doesn't have a sword of his own.  Next time, I'll shoot a Paingiver.  The situation wasn't that bad though.  I'd done very well to kill a bunch of Kayazy on turn 1.  Now I had to do what I could to knock models down, and protect myself from Ben's counterattack.

Turn 2: Skorne

Marketh upkept Soul Slave.  The Archidon tried to knock down some Kayazy, but failed to hit.  The Swordsmen rallied.  The Extoller put Guidance on the Cannoneer, who aimed and missed Saxon, then used Diminish.  The Paingivers Conditioned the Cannoneer, and Enraged the Gladiator.  The Gladiator Rushed herself and tried to Slam Alexia, but missed.  Hexeris put 4 Fury on the Agonizer, and camped 3, which would almost certainly be enough to survive.  The Agonizer used Spiritual Affliction, and ran as far as it could through the woods, trying to catch the Nomad.  Marketh recast Death March on the Swordsmen.

My dice had not done well this turn.  I'd hoped to do more to... anything, but oh well.  They wouldn't have died anyway, and I was still in a decent position.  It would be hard for Ben to kill Hexeris, but the Kayazy could get to him.  I should have run some Swordsmen around him to block all landing zones, but I didn't think of that until later.

Turn 3: Mercenaries

MacBain and Sylas upkept Fortune and Failsafe.  Alexia moved around to the side of the Gladiator, and cast magic at Hexeris.  She hit, and did some serious damage, which was transferred to the Cannoneer.  The Kayazy used Killstroke.  Three charged Hexeris, and one continued to attack and engage the Archidon.  Hexeris used up the rest of his transfers, and took some damage, but lived.  Rhupert gave the Kayazy Fearless and Tough, and Eyriss shot Death March off the Swordsmen, giving Marketh another soul.  Gorman aimed, and threw Black Oil at the Titan Gladiator, hitting and blinding both it and Eyriss.

Aiyanna tried to cast Kiss of Lylyss on the Gladiator, but missed and hit Alexia instead.  Holt shot the Gladiator, but also didn't do much damage.  The Bokur charged the Gladiator, but didn't do much damage.  Saxon charged and killed the Agonizer.  The Nomad advanced and attacked the Gladiator, but left it at about half health.  MacBain cast Jackhammer a couple of times, but also camped three focus in case I got a Soulfire angle on MacBain.  The Buccaneer advanced and attacked the Archidon, but missed.

Ok, my Swordsmen were back in action, and I'd survived the turn mostly intact.  I had a lot of work to do on my next turn, and I was still being pretty harshly limited by jamming and Blind.

Turn 3: Skorne

Marketh upkept Soul Slave, then advanced cast Death March on the Swordsmen.  The Swordsmen advanced, and wiped out the Kayazy.  The Extoller put Guidance on the Cannoneer, who aimed and blew up Gorman.  The Paingivers Conditioned the Cannoneer, and Medicated the Gladiator and Archidon.  Gladys didn't let a little thing like being Blind slow her down, and killed Alexia and the Bokur with her initial attacks.  The Archidon tried to Critically Pitch the Buccaneer, but merely damaged it heavily.  Hexeris retreated a bit, cast Diminish on himself, and Healed himself for one, camping 4.

That turn had gone pretty well, and the game was starting to look pretty good for me.  I'd probably lose the Gladiator and Archidon next turn, but I still had my Swordsmen, and the remaining Mercs were mostly powerful but fragile characters.  If I was careful, I could win a battle of attrition.

Turn 4: Mercernaries

Sylas upkept Failsafe.  MacBain allocated no focus.  Aiyanna tried to hit the Gladiator with Kiss of Lylyss again, but missed again.  Holt decided to shoot the Gladiator too, but didn't do much damage.  The Nomad and Orrik flailed at the Gladiator a little bit, damaging it some more.  Drake charged the Archidon, finishing it off, then cast Jackhammer on the Nomad until the Gladiator died.  Eyriss shot another Swordsman, removing Death March.

We were both down to our last few models now.  I doubted I could kill MacBain, but I was in a good position to attack his army.

Turn 4: Skorne

Through various means, I killed off Rhupert, Sylas, Holt, and the Buccaneer.  We had to call the game on account of time.

Ben said I had a slight position advantage, which I probably did, but he was far from out of the game himself.  Nonetheless, we called the game in favor of the Skorne.

Victory to the Skorne?


I played pretty well overall.  The opening salvo of Obliterations definitely shaped the game, and was probably the best move I made.  The Kayazy are a key unit for turn 2 jamming and offense in Ben's list, and getting rid of most of them before Drake's feat went up helped by a lot.  Maybe I should have cast Soulfire on a Paingiver, but I'd completely forgotten that Dirge of Mists also grants a unit Terror.  I also should have run my Swordsmen around Hexeris when they were fleeing, or, after Hexeris had been injured, cast Psychic Vampire.  At the time, Aiyanna and Alexia were still alive, and Drake was still planning to Jackhammer a lot.  That would have healed Hexeris up pretty well.  Come to think of it, there was enough magic in Ben's army that Psychic Vampire should have been on from the beginning.  I'll keep that in mind.

I really enjoyed the list, and found it very well balanced.  I wasn't at a loss against the Kayazy or Merc solos.  The Archidon is great as a medium-strength hitter with very high mobility and Soul Slave.  Marketh was amazing.  His ability to turn upkeeps back on or cast Soulfire for Hexeris really opens up my options, and lets Hexeris have plenty of Fury throughout the game.  The Cannoneer was solid this game.  It's possible that I would have been better off sending a Sentry out against Alexia on Turn 2, but Candes still worked well against the solos I tried to snipe off.

Ben also played pretty well.  His Kayazy were clustered on Turn 1, and not seeing Obliteration coming was probably his biggest mistake.  He might have been better served by sending the surviving Kayazy after my Swordsmen instead of Hexeris on Turn 2.  Hexeris and most of my Swordsmen ended up living, and I was starting to make good use of the Swordsmen again by my third turn.  Finally, he underestimated my Blinded Titan again.  Take it from the Basilisk Krea, losing your eyesight only makes you more accurate. 

Ben's list is strong and well rounded.  Every solo has an important job, and they work together well.  There are very few 35pt lists I feel would be terrible matchups for it  A limitation I hadn't noticed before the game was that an army of solos doesn't do attrition very well.  Drake's feat gives a lot of the army invulnerability for a turn, but beyond that, every hit on a solo in the army is a significant hit to either its offense or its support abilities.  That effect was more pronounced this game since the list's biggest source of Attrition had been badly mauled on Turn 1.

Finally, a special thanks to Sanctjud, from the PP Forums.  His stray comment about sacrificing Paingivers to Soulfire caused me to read that spell correctly for the first time since I got the MkII cards.  Most offensive Soul/Fury collecting mechanics only work on enemies now, and I assumed that Soulfire worked the same way.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Battle Report: pHexeris vs. Absylonia (35pts)

I got a couple more games in on Saturday afternoon.  This one was against Absylonia and the newly spoiled Archangel.

I've been getting back into pHexeris recently.  He has a lot of cool tricks and tools for various situations, and he was the second Warlock I really learned to like (after pMakeda).  I went with:

Lord Tyrant Hexeris (+6)
*Titan Cannoneer (9)
*Titan Gladiator (8)
*Archidon (7)
*Aptimus Marketh (3)

10 Praetorian Swordsmen (6)
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)

Agonizer (2)
Extoller Soulward (2)

The list is a Tier 1 Kingdom of Shadow theme force, so Hexy gets to start with his upkeep spells in play.  In general, the list looks pretty well rounded and quite fun.  It has a cheap and effective infantry screen in the Death Marched Swordsmen, a highly mobile arc-node in the Archidon, and good support and denial from the Agonizer and Soulward.  Marketh will help Hexeris make the most of his magical offense.

My main concern is cracking heavy armor, especially super-heavy armor.  The Gladiator and Cannoneer both hit hard, but I normally like the extra power of a Bronzeback with pHexeris to combat beast and jack heavy lists, and to always threaten an assassination few casters can survive.  I'm optimistic that the Archidon's flexibility will make up for the Bronzeback's brute force.

My opponent, Jen, went with:

Absylonia, Terror of Everblight (+5)
*Archangel (20)
*Angelius (9)
*Raek (4)

6 Blighted Nyss Swordsmen (5)

The Forsaken (2)

The newly revealed Legion Colossal under Absylonia.  The list in general has a lot of powerful shooting, and nasty close combat ability powered by Absylonia's upkeep spells.  The list seems flexible enough to deal with infantry or heavies, and it will be hard to predict where it will come down with the flying/shooting of the Angelius and Archangel.

The list's biggest weakness is attrition.  With only a few infantry, the warbeasts won't have much of a screen. The beasts, while powerful offensively, can't take hits very well with their low Armor, and they'll be vulnerable to counterattacks if the Blighted Swordsmen get cleared away.


Terrain was pretty even.  There were forests and low walls surrounding the center of the table, leaving a nice open space for the main battle, while giving vulnerable and important models somewhere to hide.

I won the roll off, and chose to go second, since this list wants to have bottom of turn 1 spell channeling to kill solos and infantry before it gets jammed.  I started with Death March on the Praetorian Swordsmen and Soul Slave on the Archidon.

Jen predeployed the Archangel behind a forest, then deployed the Angelius and Absylonia next to it on the left side, and the The Forsaken and Raek next to it on the right.  The Swordsmen deployed on her left flank, where they could run around the wall to access my support pieces.

I chose to refuse the left side, deploying most of my stuff on the right.  If I didn't have to worry about the Swordsmen until Turn 3, so much the better.  I deployed my Swordsmen and Archidon together on the right side of the table opposite the Raek, and the Titans and Paingivers opposite the Angelius.  Hexeris deployed between the two groups where either Swordsmen or Titans could screen him if needed.  The Agonizer and Extoller went near Hexeris, and Marketh went behind the Swordsmen.

Turn 1: Legion

The Legion Warbeasts advanced cautiously.  The Angelius and Archangel ended up at the edge of the forest (though only the Angelius would get concealment).  Absylonia ended up in cover behind a wall, and cast Forced Evolution on the Angelius bringing it up to Def 16, then cast Carnivore on the Archangel for extra Mat and healing.  The Raek and The Forsaken advanced to support them.  The Swordsmen ran straight down the left side, angle to cut into my flank on the next turn.

The Legion army was well placed to take advantage of its ranged game, but was playing pretty conservatively otherwise.  It definitely had the firepower and speed to force me to engage on its terms if I wasn't careful, though.

Turn 1: Skorne

I ran with almost everything.  The Swordsmen spread out pretty far to avoid being killed by strafing AoE's.  The Archidon rad forward, flying to get around the wall at Absylonia on my next turn.  The Titans ran forward to support it.  Hexeris put 5 Fury onto the Agonizer, and ran a bit forward, the Paingivers, Extoller, and Marketh all ran as well.  The Agonizer used Gnawing Pain, and ran up to try to catch my Warbeasts in its protective bubble to be on the safe side.

I was just hoping to set up some charges for my next turn.  I'd get shot up, maybe even a lot, on Jen's coming turn (it's hard to predict with Strafe), but I thought I'd prevented charges fairly well.  I'd angled my forces so that the Nyss Swordsmen would be out of charge range next turn.

Turn 2: Legion

Absylonia upkept her spells for free.  The Blighted Swordsmen continued to run down my flank, positioning themselves around the low wall where my Cannoneer would be ineffective against them, but where they could still charge me unless I continued to pull back.  The Archangel advanced, and tried to strafe down some swordsmen, but only killed the initial target.  Absylonia did some quick CTRL measurements, and discovered that my Archidon was within charge range of the Angelius.  Luckily for me, the Angeulius missed with its Armor Piercing charge attack, and the Archidon lived.  Absylonia stayed behind her wall, and cast Blight Field, catching my Archidon.  The Raek and The Forsaken moved up to support the Archangel.

The Angelius hadn't killed the Archidon, but it was still Def 16, which meant it was jamming me pretty effectively.  The Blight Field was well placed too: any Titans I charged in would have to end their movement in the Field, and wouldn't be able to hit the Angelius without Forcing to boost attack rolls.  Blight Field prevents Warbeasts from forcing at all.  The first thing I'd have to do is take care of the Angelius, then I could worry about engaging the rest of the Legion.

Turn 2: Skorne

The Swordsmen took their Vengeance moves, advancing toward the Archangel.  Hexeris upkept Death March, and Marketh upkept Soul Slave with a soul token.  The Paingivers activated first, Enraging both the Archidon and the Gladiator.  The Archidon needed Enrage so I could charge out of the Blight Field.  I wanted the Gladiator to have it just in case I failed with everything else.  The Archidon charged the Angelius, leaving the Blight Field.  It missed with its charge attack, but got a Critical Pitch with its bought attack.  I tried to throw the Angelius toward Hexeris, but it scattered right back to where it had started.

The Angelius absolutely had to go, so Hexeris charged it.  He spent a lot of his Fury killing it, but managed to top himself off a little with Vampiric Reaving, and ended the turn camping 4.  The Swordsmen received a Charge order.  Two of them charged the Archangel, 1 charged the Raek, and the rest ran around Hexeris to prevent the Archangel from landing anywhere near him, except one who ran to engage Absylonia.  They also did some damage to the beasts.  The Gladiator Rushed herself, and Trampled into a decent flanking position with LoS to Absylonia.  The Agonizer continued to use Gnawing Pain, and ran up to support my beasts.  The Extoller and Marketh chilled out behind the Swordsmen and got ready to collect some souls.  The Cannoneer moved sideways to get to the center of my army where it could shoot at multiple threats if I wanted.

I was in a pretty good position.  Hexeris was far forward, but was well screened and sitting on a lot of Fury.  I'd also taken care of the Angelius, and shifted to my right just enough that I was sure the Nyss Swordsmen were out of charge range.  The Angelius was a pretty significant loss for the Legion.  Without it harassing me, the only threat I'd really have to worry about was the Archangel.

Turn 3: Legion

Absylonia upkept Carnivore on the Archangel, and activated first.  She gave herself Flight, used Shadow Shift, then moved into the forest behind the Archangel, and cast Playing God on the Raek.  The Forsaken advanced and used its Blight Shroud(?) ability to do a Pow 8 hit to two Swordsmen, but only killed one.  The Raek then used Shadow Shift on itself, advanced through the cloud of Swordsmen, and Bounding Leaped into melee with Hexeris.  Then it tried to Power Attack: Throw him toward the Archangel.  It was full on Fury, however, so it missed.  The Archangel killed the Swordsmen in combat with it.  The Nyss Swordsmen ran toward my lines, threatening my Gladiator and Paingivers next turn.

Things were not looking good for the Legion.  If the Raek had thrown Hexeris, he would certainly have died.  Now the Raek would probably die, and Jen's army wasn't threatening to do much damage to me in retaliation.

Turn 3: Skorne

The Praetorian Swordsmen took their Vengeance moves, and did some damage to the Raek.  Hexeris upkept both his spells.  The Swordsmen activated first, and charged.  Four charged the Raek, 3 charged the Archangel, and one charged The Forsaken.  They killed the Forsaken and the Raek, and did some more damage to the Archangel.  Hexeris Vampirically Reaved the Raek's Fury, putting himself back up at 7.  Then Hexeris moved back a bit, used his Feat, Dark Dominion, which lets him temporarily take control of living and undea models boxed in his CTRL. Then he cast Soulfire at the Archangel, and camped 4 Fury again, playing it safe.  Marketh advanced, and used Spell Slave to cast Soulfire at the Archangel.

The Extoller used Guidance on the Cannoneer, who shot the Nyss Swordsmen through the forest.  The cannon blast killed two, and the rest killed each other due to Hexeris' Feat.  The Paingivers conditioned the Archidon and Cannoneer, and the Archidon charged the Archangel, which was now about two thirds of the way dead.  The Gladiator advanced to set up a charge on the Archangel.

The Archangel was the Legion's last offensive piece.  Absylonia would use her feat next turn to bring it back to full health, but its defensive stats are actually pretty bad.  Before the game I'd had some irrational fears about it being as hard to hit as an Angelius and as hard to damage as a Devastator, but I now felt a lot more confident that I could deal with it.  There wasn't much the Legion could do to me now.  Hexeris was too far back for the Archangel to charge, and had too much Fury for it to kill him with shooting.

Turn 4: Legion

Absylonia upkept Carnivore, then used her Feat, Panacaea, to return the Archangel to full health.  She camped the rest of her Fury.  The Archangel killed the Archidon and one of the Swordsmen in contact with it.

Turn 4: Skorne

The Swordsmen took their Vengeance moves, and Hexeris upkept Death March.  Hexeris Rushed the Gladiator and cast Soulfire at the Archangel.  Marketh also cast Soulfire at the Archangel.  The Paingivers Enraged the Gladiator, and the Gladiator charged the Archangel, killing it.

Since it was now Absylonia against most of my army, Jen conceded the game.

Victory to the Skorne!


I played a solid game throughout.  I made one mistake early on, where I almost got my Archidon killed by leaving it in range of the Angelius, but otherwise, I was conservative with my troops and Warlock, and used my attrition game to grind down the Legion army.  I was particularly good with the Praetorian Swordsmen this game; I struck a good balance of dealing damage and occupying space, and they performed very well.

I really, really like the list I went with, and it will probably replace my usual pHexeris list.  I might end up replacing the Cannoneer with a Titan Sentry, which is tougher and has good denial with Locker, but I do get good use out of the gun every game.  The Archidon was great, and while I didn't do much channeling through it, I definitely got some decent use out of its fighting ability, and forced Jen to think about engaging it and avoiding its LoS.  PHexeris does have a decent spell assassination, and the Archidon has the mobility to let him set it up.   I also really like Marketh with pHexeris.  Spell Slave and Soul Tap are just the abilities Hexeris needs to manage his support spells so he can use his Fury to focus on killing enemies with his offensive spells (or in this game, melee attacks).

Jen made two major mistakes this game.  The first was deploying her Nyss Swordsmen on the flank rather than in front of her beasts.  Admittedly, 6 Swordsmen aren't much of a screen, but they might have denied my some of the moves I ended up making if they'd been protecting the heavier models.  The second was forgetting to boost with the Angelius' charge attack.  If it had hit, my Archidon would probably be dead, and it would have been a bit harder to take the Angelius out without the Archidon's attacks.  Jen used the Angelius well otherwise - dealing with a Def 16 heavy on top of Blight Field's denial is pretty hard, and it forced me to put Hexeris further forward than I'd like him to be.  She also managed to get the Raek into Hexeris.  It was a long shot, but I've seen longer ones end games before.

I'm not sure I like the Archangel at 35pts.  At Def 11 Arm 18, it's very fragile for something so big and expensive. It had no screen this game, and Jen had to keep it back, where it couldn't make the most of its offensive potential, to keep it alive.  After the game, Jen decided Absylonia would probably be better off with a Carnivean and a Ravagore, to have more warbeasts and better attrition.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Swordsmen vs. Nihilators, part 2, A Game of Inches

This post continues with a discussion I'm having mostly with myself about whether Praetorian Swordsmen with their UA or Nihilators are a better infantry unit for Skorne.  The first part of this series, entitled Math and Tough, can be found here.

I've heard people say that Warmachine is a game of inches.  What they usually mean is that every inch matters.  Even the slightest increase in threat range can make a great deal of difference when it comes to planning your turn.  Comparing Nihilators to Praetorian Swordsmen, I'll specifically consider 1.5 inches, (the difference in engagement range between a model with Reach and a model without Reach), and 2 inches (the extra movement granted by Side Step).  This time around, Nihilators have Reach, while Praetorian Swordsmen have Side Step.

The Reach advantage is pretty straightforward.  A model with Reach has a melee range of 2" rather than 0.5."  In terms of strategy, this has several effects.  First, it boosts a unit's threat range by 1.5 inches, which is a pretty big deal.  First strikes can deal a lot of damage to an enemy army in Warmachine, and an extra 1.5" makes it that much easier to set up an effective charge.  More importantly, Reach lets any one model in a unit threaten a wider area, which in turn allows the unit to engage more enemy models.  This is especially important for Swordsmen and Nihilators.  Their primary battlefield role is often to protect warbeasts from enemy charges, and the ability to engage multiple models and threaten charge angles past models is very important.  Mathematically, a Swordsman engages around 1.25 square inches around its base (very rough figure - I did not feel like working in mm then converting back).  A Nihilator engages around 10 square inches, about 8 times as much.  Even accepting that the radius of engagement is a more important measure than the area (it probably is, to be honest), the difference is big, a 4-fold advantage for an individual Nihilator.  A unit of Nihilators can potentially engage targets a lot more thoroughly than a unit of Swordsmen, and removing a few Nihilators is less likely to free key models from melee (leaving them unable to shoot or channel spells, subject to Free Strikes, etc.).

Side Step is a little more complicated.  It lets a model move an extra 2" when it hits with an initial attack or special attack (though not a power attack). Its more offensive than Reach.  Reach is always active, and always threatens a wide area around the model.  Side Step doesn't let a Swordsman engage any extra models on the enemy's turn.  It does let Swordsmen engage a player's second rank, however.  If they hit with their first attack, Swordsmen can move to engage troops they wouldn't otherwise be able to reach.  Since Swordsmen have two attacks each, they can potentially penetrate an enemy unit to engage soldiers 4.5" behind the front line.  The total potential engagement threat range is 13.5" from where they started, compared to the Nihilators' 11".  If you're looking to engage a well placed infantry unit, that is potentially significantly better than the 2" reach without additional movement that Nihilators have.

Being able to side-step into the second and subsequent lines is fairly useful offensively.  It's easier to get more attacks in against an opponent who spaces infantry well.  When you know you'll be on the receiving end of an infantry charge, the best thing to do is often to spread out your unit.  Put 2 or 3 troopers in the front rank, and the rest several inches behind them.  If the opponent is using reach infantry (which is pretty common), those 2-3 models will be able to block off the rest of the unit from your infantry.  If you were hoping to deal damage to the unit, the extra half-inch engagement range might be enough to contact a second model.  Even if it isn't, it will let swordsmen set up a mirror formation, with 2-3 swordsmen 2 inches further ahead of the others.  Without reach, they won't be as effective in protecting their fellows as Nihilators, but they'll also probably be less clumped up after charging a unit, and will therefore be less vulnerable to enemy charges, tramples, and blasts.

There are two limiting factors to Side Step.  The first is that it requires the Swordsmen to hit their target.  At Mat 6, that means the Swordsmen will be making Side Step moves about half the time against most infantry, and about two thirds of the time against a lot of warbeasts and jacks.  Any Mat bonus they receive helps them out a lot here.  They're right at the cusp of being able to threaten mid-to-high def infantry reliably, and a +2 bonus (which we Skorne have several of) will get them there.  The second is that Side Step is a Granted ability.  If the Swordsmen officer is killed off, they lose it.  Many opponents will try to snipe out the officer using ranged and magic attacks in order to get rid of the Swordsmen's signature offensive ability.

So these are my thoughts on Swordsmen, Nihilators, threat ranges, and engagement potential.  The winner is a little harder to pick out this time.  Nihilators can tie down more enemies individually, and have a longer base threat range with Reach.  Swordsmen can pierce deeper into an enemy infantry formation to engage secondary targets, and have a higher potential engagement range if their initial attacks hit.

Overall, Reach makes Nihilators better at jamming units and beasts/jacks and claiming objectives, while Side Step gives Swordsmen the edge in engaging a spread-out formation, and resisting a counterattack.  Which is better is going to depend on what qualities you're looking for in an army list.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Shooty pMorghoul vs. GrimmAngus

Caleb and I got another game in this past Friday.  This time, he went with Grimm, and I decided to give my pMorghoul 2 Cannoneer list another try.  We'll both be writing this battle report, narrating our own turns.  Hopefully the perspective will stay pretty clear.

pGrexy's List:

Master Tormentor Morghoul (+7)
*Titan Cannoneer (9)
*Titan Cannoneer (9)
*Titan Gladiator (8)
*Cyclops Shaman (5)
*Cyclops Brute (5)
*Cyclops Raider (5)
*Basilisk Krea (4)

6 Venator Rievers (5)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (1)

Extoller Soulward (2)

I went ahead and left out the Bronzeback I took in a previous game, and added in the Rievers and Raider.  Without the Bronzeback's melee power, this list will mainly try to take advantage of Morghoul's attrition game.  With his Feat and Admonition, I should be able to survive a charge, and deal with the chargers on my turn.  If I get the chance, I'll charge in first, although I'd probably rather be shooting most of the time.  This list will have some very long range for Skorne. The Cannoneers come in at 16" with Far Strike, and they threaten 22" with Abuse.

Caleb's List:

Grim Angus (*6pts)
* Troll Axer (6pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Dire Troll Mauler (9pts)
* Mulg the Ancient (12pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Pyg Bushwackers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Trollkin Fennblades (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Trollkin Fennblade Officer & Drummer (2pts)
Stone Scribe Chronicler (2pts)
Troll Whelps (2pts)

The only models I need to proxy in this list are Mulg and the Whelps; I'm keeping the whelps off the board, since they tend to get in the way, and I'll have them when and where I need them (hopefully). I'm getting better with the Fennblades each time I take them, and the office and a Chronicler are just givens considering the boosts they give and Grim's lack of def/arm buffs. I'm looking forward to trying out a full unit of Bushwackers; previously I've only used min units, and while they've performed reasonably well, having a full unit will hopefully make me pay attention to them a bit more and use them more tactically. For some reason, the thought of nuking a light beast with a range 14, RAT 14, POW 20 shot (or 2 RAT 7 POW 15 shots) fills me with a strange expectation of joy.

I'm also running with 2 melee-oriented Heavies, and I'm looking forward to using the Mauler as a second string heavy - throwing his animus on the Impaler or Axer (or hell, Mulg) for a turn or two and then jumping into the fray himself to clean up what's left. Between him, the Axer, Mulg, and Grim's feat, I'm pretty sure I've got a good shot at taking out or crippling at least 2 of pGrexy's heavies before he gets any licks in if I play it right.

pGrexy's Deployment:
We finally get to use 40k ruins!  And avoid them all game.
I won the roll off, and went first.  I deployed in a pretty tight block to the left of some ruins.  I kept my Cannoneers pretty close together, and put the Gladiator on my left.  It was going to be a counterattack piece rather than a support piece this game.  The Venators went out front as a shooting infantry screen.  The light beasts all went right behind the Cannoneers, ready to spread some Paralytic Auras and hand out Far Strike.  The Swamp Gobbers went front and center next to the Venators.  I wanted to take full advantage of their Cloud Cover this game.  The Paingivers and Extoller went in the back.

Caleb's Deployment:

Just prior to Caleb's 1st turn.
That's a pretty big block of beasts; coupled with the absolutely horrendous amount of support animii (far strike, safeguard, diminish, paralytic aura, and spirit blade... son of a --), pGrexy's attrition game is downright insane. I plop the Fennblades on my right to sweep in along the side; the Chronicler, Runebearer, and Grim go in the nice safe (heh) spot in the middle, and the beasts go just to the left of them to angle in behind the Fenns. Since pGrexy has no advance deploy, I plop the pathfinding pygs smack behind a forest on my left to start taking pot shots at those lights and venators

pGrexy Turn 1:

A slow opening, but I need to stay in formation.
Most of the stuff in the list jogged at about 3/4 of its run speed rather than blitz upfield like I often do with pMorgs.  I had the Gobbers advance and use Cloud Cover.  The Venators did go full speed, running into the cloud and wheat field for Concealment.  The Titans all moved up about 6-8" getting into position to be protected by some Paralytic Auras.  The Cannoneer on the right got into the Gobber cloud for extra protection.  Morghoul put Admonition on the left Cannoneer, andmoved up.  The Krea and Shaman put up Paralytic Aura, and the Brute stayed around the middle, waiting to soak shots as  needed.  The Paingivers advanced, and wiped off most of the Fury, and the Extoller ran to be able to catch some Venator souls if any died.

I was in a pretty good position for now.  The Swamp Gobbers and Venators were right where I wanted them, and the beasts were in a decent position to do some shooting next turn.  

Caleb Turn 1:

My, what a convenient wall, forest, and field I have there...
The Fennblades ran forward, providing a useful screen but keeping more to the right for some possible flanking action later. The Pygs moved into the woods and managed to get 3-4 shots off (CRA'ing after the first one, as I quickly re-learned that RAT 4 can't hit crap), killing a Venator and missing a bunch (not unexpected). Like good little support solos, the Runebearer used Harmonius exaltation and the Chronicler tossed Tale of Mists (concealment/ feign death) on the Fennblades. Grim threw Rush on the heavies, Far Strike on himself, and moved up to peg another Venator -- my crafty opponent had placed everything else juuuuust out of range, even with far strike. He then plopped Return Fire on himself, proving once again that that Runebearer is pretty darn useful when I actually remember to use him.... The beasts all meandered up as far as possible (rush being completely useless this turn, as Fennblades blocked them from going far), and waited.

pGrexy Turn 2:

Now that is one big clump of smoke. Maybe I'll just hide here.
Time to get to shooting.  The surviving Venators moved up a little, but completely failed to do anything to the Fennblades.  The Swamp Gobbers advanced, and placed some most excellent Cloud Cover.  The Extoller used Guidance on the right Cannoneer so it could see through the Cloud.  The Cannoneers tried to deal some damage.  The one on my right threw an AoE at the Bushwhackers, but it missed and scattered wide.  The one on my left got Far Strike from Morghoul, and tried for a shot at the Stone Scribe Chronicler (which would have caught the Rune Bearer and the Fennblade officer in the blast), but also missed and scattered into nothing.

At this point, I admit to having some uncharitable thoughts about the whole shooting experiment.  A shooty list's second turn, and I'd done nothing to my opponent's army.  I was pretty well set up to take his charge, though.  Mulg might be able to get to one of my Cannoneers, but I might be able to Admonition away.  I'd misplaced the Brute somewhat, and the Cannoneer didn't have a lot of space to maneuver.  Otherwise, I was pretty safe behind the most excellent Cloud Cover.

Caleb Turn 2:

Picture taken after cloud marker removed. Darn Gobbers...
Having survived what I had originally anticipated would be a withering hail of fire completely unscathed (Not even a scratch? Come on Fennblade #7, you look kinda shaken up... No? Well, no Vengeance for you then), Grim was feeling kinda gutsy. I had a plan - I could get Mulg into the right side Cannoneer pretty easily with Rush, and the Mauler had a good (if tenuous) bead on the left Cannoneer that I could get him to with Rush and Bait the Line (Grim's gun's feature). Step 1 - knock out the Venator screen: the Bushwackers moved up 6" (I am never actually going to use bushwack, apparently), sniped off all but 1 of the little buggers with CRA, and even put a few points of hurt onto the Cyclops Raider.

The next big problem were all these annoying Fennblades in the way, so step 2 - pop No Quarter and charge them at everything in sight. Let me tell you, charging a dozen Fennblades 11" up the field -- literally over hill, field, wall, and dale -- is actually pretty damn fun. The Cannoneer tried to bounce out of the way with Admonition, but I made sure to place my first Fennblade in the most inconvenient place for it and ole Candice didn't get far. At this point the Fennblades apparently decided they'd made themselves useful enough this turn and proceeded to roll absolute horse-hooey on half their attacks and most of the damage, barely killing the last Venator and only roughing the Krea and Cannoneer up a little.

The Axer threw his animus on Mulg and moved up a little, preparing for a good charge next turn (see later: the big mistake). Mulg then rolled across the field like a ravenous spittle-dripping mountain-clad wrecking ball, his beady red-eyed glare fixed solely on the poor hapless Titan up ahead. He then proceeded to contract what I shall politely refer to as "Fennblade Syndrome" and roll more 1's and 2's on his attack and damage rolls for 6 freaking attacks than one might see during a 7-day Craps binge at a seedy Vegas casino. You... little... %&$#er....

Well, no use burning my dice about it or anything, I says to no one in particular (dice, if you're reading this... shape up). The Runebearer and Chronicler hop forward and do their thing (Harmonious Exaltation and Hero's Tragedy), and Grim sets his steely jaw and looks for a good spot to take a shot at that left-side Cannoneer. Turns out that (thanks to those wretched swamp gobbers and their smoke) the only good spot is where the freaking Axer is now standing. Ah crap. Well, Grim moves up anyway, pops his feat, takes a boosted shot at Miss Luckiest-dang-Titan-ever (he missed, but didn't kill a Fennblade... oh joy), puts Return Fire on himself and the Impaler, and promptly sits down and sulks on 4 fury in preparation for next turn's rendition of Flight of the Valkyries a la cannon fire. The Impaler moved up, used it's animus, and hit the right Cannoneer in a desperate attempt to remain relevant - some damage was done, but not enough to cripple an aspect. Expecting Morghoul's feat, the Mauler promptly runs backwards to keep himself open to transfers.

pGrexy Turn 3:

The Skorne ranged game ratchets up a couple of notches.
My beasts could get some shots in on Grimm, but he was looking pretty safe behind that 4 Fury.  If I hit him with Torment (sneakiest spell on Morghoul's card), I could probably finish him.  I was in a decent place to play an attrition game, though, so I decided to hedge my bets.  I'd try to hit Grimm with Torment.  If I got him, I'd shoot him for all I was worth.  If I didn't, I'd just focus on Caleb's army, and rely on Morghoul's Feat for defense.

First, the Krea used Paralytic Aura to drop the Def of some of the Fennblades jamming me, then she and the Cyclops Brute cleared a few of them out.  The Brute put Safeguard on Morghoul, just to be safe.  Morghoul advanced, checked range to Grimm for Torment (it's the same as his CTRL), and used his Feat before I got excited and forgot.  If this didn't work out, I'd need its protection.  Then Morghoul cast Torment.  He hit, and I proceeded to lob everything at Grimm.  My free beasts had pretty average luck hitting his good Def of 16 (the Raider and Shaman hit, but the Cannoneer missed), but bad luck on the damage rolls, and I had to take a free strike from my engaged Cannoneer, who miraculously survived with all her aspects intact.  She mananged to hit Grimm directly, and finished the job.

Victory to the Skorne!

pGrexy's Thoughts:

I played a pretty solid tactical game, but I still felt like I was reacting to Caleb a lot.  I definitely need to get used to Range 16 Cannoneers.  I could have hung back a little more on my second turn and, had more options.  I misplaced my Cyclops Brute a bit on Turn 2, and only luck saved my Cannoneer.  I'm still not used to thinking about Admonition with such a packed formation.  I'm actually thinking that the Brute might be a better front line defensive beast than a bodyguard against a lot of opponents with this list.  He's very durable with the Shield and Set Defence, especially against most infantry.  Reach could also threaten a wider area to prevent my opponent from getting to my ranged pieces.  Next game, I think I'll lead with him, and see how that works.  Morghoul didn't use Abuse a whole lot either this game or last game, and can usually just cast Safeguard on himself.

I corrected my mistakes of last game.  I played closer together, and timed Morghoul's Feat better.  I definitely made sure to keep all my beasts in a Paralytic Aura.  I also used the Swamp Gobbers very well.  They were a crucial element of my defense on Turn 2, and I really like them in this list.  Activation order with their cloud doesn't matter too much with the Extoller handing out Eyeless Sight.

The Venators were an OK screen.  I probably should be using 10-strong units or Bloodrunners if I need protection.  I'll try them out again though, and keep them in Concealment more.  They might see a little more action that way.  I really like the Raider in this list.  That extra range is a huge change in the list's shooting potential.  I did miss the Bronzeback though.  The list is definitely weaker at clearing infantry, and much less of a melee threat without him.  Last game, I relied on his power and his animus, and I was much more aggressive.  This game, I was more defensive, and played a more ranged/attrition game.  I'm considering replacing the Gladiator with the Bronzeback, since I don't feel I need Rush much with this incarnation of the list.  The Bronzeback would give me more anti-infantry options, and would provide a very hard-hitting melee threat.  I really missed the Agonizer's Gnawing Pain this game.  Diminish on its own is just not enough to feel secure.  There isn't much room for an Agonizer though.  Maybe I'll squeeze one in if I drop the Venators.

Caleb's Thoughts:

Ah crap, Torment. I hate that spell! All in all I think I played a very good game this time around, and would have been in a lot better shape if I hadn't moved that Axer forward into the only spot Grim had to see around that cloud. My opinion of Swamp Gobbers is going up significantly because of this game - in 2 out of the 3 turns, they were a significant problem for me. Despite a few minor placing errors, the full unit of Bushwackers is way more powerful than I'd originally thought, and could have really wrecked some of those light beasts if it weren't for those darn Gobbers. Combined with Grim and the Impaler, this list has a respectable ranged threat.

It was a bit different being more aggressive this time around - I tend to play Calandra very defensively, which is not something I think Grim or this list do well. Nothing wrong with that, as it kept pGrexy on his back foot for a good part of the game, and he came back to pull off that ranged assassination run really well. The utterly ridiculous amount of synergy and buff/debuff potential his list has is really quite amazing, and combined with the above-average ranged threat, that's something I'll have to look out for in the future.

Despite some crappy rolling, I think this list is nicely rounded and does a better job of dealing with Beasts than the Calandra list. The only real weakness I'll say it has is that it lacks good defensive options - by the end, there wasn't much I could do to prevent that assassination run other than load fury onto Grim and hope. I like having Mulg in this list, but I might drop him for an Earthborn after all - it's got the speed and abilities to be a better front-line beast, and it meshes really well with the Mauler and Grim's tricks. As to those last 2 points, I might drop the Runebearer and pick up a unit of Runeshapers: nothing says 'screw you, titans' better than earthquakes and POW 14 crit knockdown, plus they'd provide a good screening unit for Grim.

And Finally:

Pax thinks I should be working on my novel instead of writing battle reports.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bronzeback-less Lists

I spent some time today updating my armies to account for the Baxter's absence.  Honestly, I felt kind of bad, like I was telling Baxter he couldn't go play with his friends Candice and Gladys because he had the unpaintedpox and had to stay home.  Anyway, here are the lists I came up with where I usually run a Bronzeback.  They include a couple models I don't own yet, which I'll be keen to try out next time I get a chance to play.  Specifically, they include the Archidon, which I proxied once, and Hakaar the Destroyer, who I've proxied a couple of times.

Archdomina Makeda (+5)
*Titan Sentry (9)
*Titan Gladiator (8)
*Archidon (7)
*Aptimus Marketh (3)

6 Cataphract Cetrati (11)
10 Praetorian Swordsmen (6)
*Officer and Standard (2)
Tyrant Commander and Standard (3)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)

Hakaar the Destroyer (4)

This is an attrition list with some extra sneaky options powered by Savagery and Lightning Strike (the Archidon's Animus).  Cetrati and Swordsmen are prety tough when backed up by Makeda's feat and Defender's Ward, and the Sentry and Archidon can get Defender's Ward if needed to become very annoying to remove.

My game plan is to start with Defender's Ward on the Swordsmen, then put Savagery on the Cetrati for their activation, and switch it onto Hakaar for his.  It'll stay on him, so he can get the 9" Righteous Vengeance move, 9" Full Advance, and maybe even 9" Sprint if he gets Lightning Strike.  Turn 2, I'll jam with everything, get my beasts and Hakaar into good positions, and pop my Feat.  That's the plan anyway.

Lord Tyrant Hexeris (+6)
*Titan Sentry (9)
*Titan Gladiator (8)
*Archidon (7)
*Basilisk Krea (4)
*Aptimus Marketh (3)

10 Praetorian Swordsmen (6)
*Officer and Standard (2)
6 Cataphract Cetrati (11)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)

Agonizer (2)
Extoller Soulward (2)

This is also sort of attrition-y, though Hexeris doesn't have Makeda's skills.  Death March is a great spell on Swordsmen, and good on Cetrati.  I'd normally play a Cannoneer in this list, but I feel like I'd rather have the solidity and board control of a Sentry, and use Hexy himself for picking off solos with the Archidon as his arc node.  I have a lot of answers here, and some cool tactics I can pull (like Hexy charging forward, killing a beast to Reave its fury, then Sprinting back with Lightning Strike), and I'm looking forward to trying it out.

My Xerxis list doesn't use Baxter because that level of damage output is kind of excessive.  I haven't decided what I'll do for eHexy yet, but whatevs.  He runs every model well, so I'm sure I'll think of something.

If you want to know what I really subbed in for my pMorghoul shooty list, you'll have to wait for the battle report.  Unless you already read it on the Skorne Forum.  In which case you already know, I guess...

UPDATE:  I've decided to run eHexeris ranged heavy.  Thanks Michael

Lord Arbiter Hexeris (+6)
*Titan Cannoneer (9)
*Titan Cannoneer (9)
*Titan Gladiator (8)
*Cyclops Shaman (5)
*Cyclops Raider (5)
*Basilisk Krea (4)

10 Venator Reivers (9)
*Officer and Standard (2)
6 Paingiver Beast Handlers (3)

Extoller Soulward (2)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Truly, Novelling = hard. But on a side note, Trolls!

I'm not even going to try and find the last time I posted, and I'm also doing NaNoWriMo (or just 'Nano', the long title is a bit obnoxious...) so it's anyone's guess wether I'll be posting more (not difficult) or less (unlikely, given the trend) than I have in the last few months.  So instead, here are the lists I'll be using tonight against pGrexy!

The first list is the one I used last week - it seems to work well, and while I'm tempted to drop the Pyre and Bomber for a Mauler and Axer, I want a bit more experience with this iteration before considering that.

The second list is my new list, this one with Grim Angus - here's the initial list I came up with:

Grim Angus (*6pts)
* Troll Axer (6pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Dire Troll Mauler (9pts)
* Earthborn Dire Troll (10pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Pyg Bushwackers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Trollkin Fennblades (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Trollkin Fennblade Officer & Drummer (2pts)
Stone Scribe Chronicler (2pts)
Troll Whelps (2pts)

This one comes out 2pts short, so I've got a few options:
 - 2nd unit of Whelps (always useful)
 - Swap Earthborn for Mulg
 - drop Bushwackers to min, add in Krielstone Bearer + Stone Scribes
 - drop the Runebearer and add a unit of Runeshapers

Of these options, 1 and 2 are the most appealing -- a Grim army is going to be fairly mobile and hard-hitting by default and (I predict) is going to spread out a lot, so the Krielstone Bearer isn't the best support for him. The Runeshapers are a fun unit (not to mention some of the most impressively detailed troll models to date - me wants to paints them, precious....), and could be VERY useful in throwing around Knockdown left and right, but it's not really something that Grim needs.

Grim could use some extra fury management (he doesn't have much, and is only Fury 6), but since this army is intended to be more of an aggressive beatstick to complement Calandra's attrition machine above, Mulg offers a LOT more options. Since I already have 2 different movement bonuses in the list (Grim and the Axer) to offset his abysmal 4" movement, I'm not too worried about him lagging behind. 

I'm going to throw caution to the wind this time around and try out Mulg. 

Here are the 50pt lists for tonight:

Grim Angus (*6pts)
* Troll Axer (6pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Dire Troll Mauler (9pts)
* Mulg the Ancient (12pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Pyg Bushwackers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Trollkin Fennblades (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Trollkin Fennblade Officer & Drummer (2pts)
Stone Scribe Chronicler (2pts)
Troll Whelps (2pts)

Job - Be aggressive, get the first strike in.
Strengths -  Good vs beast/jack heavy lists; good shooting
Weaknesses - none that I can think of... yet

Calandra Truthsayer, Oracle of the Glimmerwood (*5pts)
* Pyre Troll (5pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Dire Troll Bomber (10pts)
* Earthborn Dire Troll (10pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Trollkin Fennblades (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Trollkin Fennblade Officer & Drummer (2pts)
Fell Caller Hero (3pts)
Janissa Stonetide (3pts)
Troll Whelps (2pts)

Job - Attrition game, drawing the enemy in before popping her feat and killing everything! 
Strengths - Good vs troops, good ranged threat, great at denial.
Weaknesses - Trouble vs high ARM, difficulty dealing with massed beast/jack lists

We shall see which one gets to go tonight. Hopefully we'll see another battle report coming up!

EDIT: after reviewing Grim's spell list, the one apparent weakness I found with that list is, in fact, debunked. He's got a lot of options against high-DEF. I'm just crazy.