Friday, December 28, 2012

Retribution? Retribution.

So now I am officially starting out with Retribution.  One of my Christmas gifts was the Retribution of Scyrah Holiday Bundle.  Today I went to Tower to play some games,* and ended up buying a few more models to get to 35pts.  My current 35pt list with the Retribution is:

Lord Arcanist Ossyan (+6)
*Phoenix (10)
*Banshee (10)

10 Dawnguard Invictors (10)
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2)
6 Mage Hunter Strike Force (5)
*Mage Hunter Commander (2)

Arcanist (1)
Arcanist (1)

The second Arcanist is a shameless proxy.  :)

The list looks pretty fun, I have to say.  Both the Invictors and Mage Hunters are primarily ranged troops who can mix it up in melee if they need to, so I'm at least passable at both.  With two Reach 'jacks I'm even optimistic about using the Invictors' Flank to good effect.  Both of the 'jacks themselves are amazing.  My one regret is that Ossyan only has Arcantrik Bolt as a spell he wants to channel regularly.

This list crushes most heavies, and has some tools against high-Def infantry.  It's a lot more limited against Stealth, but Ossyan has a lot of great spells to enhance my warjacks and infantry.

I look forward to trying it out when everything is a little more assembled.

*I got two 35pt games in with Skorne, so expect reports!  Theorymachining with Retribution has actually reinforced my appreciation for Skorne and their style of play.  I'll probably be bringing both forces in the coming months.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Battle Report: pHexeris vs eGrissel (50pts)

I got 2 games in this past Friday.  This is one of them*.

I played:

Lord Tyrant Hexeris (+6)
*Bronzeback Titan (10)**
*Titan Cannoneer (9)
*Titan Gladiator (8)
*Archidon (7)
*Basilisk Krea (4)
*Aptimus Marketh (3)

10 Praetorian Swordsmen(6)
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2)
6 Paingiver Beast Handlers (3)

Extoller Soulward (2)
Agonizer (2)

I consider this a pretty well rounded list for pHexeris at 50pts.  It has a solid group of heavy hitters in the Titans, a lot of flexibility with the Archidon, and a competent infantry screen in the Praetorian Swordsmen.  It's beast heavy, but he'll have little trouble managing the Fury with beast handlers around, and he needs enough heavy hitters to take care of high armor.

I don't see this list as having any glaring weaknesses.  It's reasonably tough, has high armor, and the tools to deal with infantry or beast heavy lists.  The only damage buff is Enrage, so stacking armor buffs might give me some trouble.  My tools against high-Def infantry are also limited, but the biggest offenders tend to be single units buffed by Iron Flesh or the like, and I do have up to 3 AoE attacks if I need them.

This is a Tier 1 Kingdom of Shadow theme list, so Hexeris can start the game with all his upkeep spells in play.  Soul Slave would start out on the Archidon, Death March would start out on the Swordsmen, and Psychic Vampire would start out on Hexeris.

My opponent, Jason, played:

Grissel Bloodsong, Marshall of the Kriels (+6)
*Mountain King (20)
*Earthborn Dire Troll (10)
*Troll Impaler (5)

3 Trollkin Rune Shapers (4)
6 Kriel Stone Bearers (4)
*Stone Scribe Elder (1)

Janissa Stonetide (3)

Trollkin War Wagon (9)

I haven't faced either the Mountain King or eGrissel before.  Just looking at the list, there's a lot of high armor, further boosted by the Kriel Stone.  There's a reasonable balance between melee and ranged attacks.  Grissel, the War Wagon and the Mountain King all have good ranged attacks they can use on the way into melee.  There's also a lot of knockdown ability.  The War Wagon, Rune Shapers and Grissel herself all have the ability to knock models down at a variety of ranges.  A lot of the attacks are AoE's so light infantry won't be a problem, and the Mountain King and Earthborn are both excellent armor crackers.

While I have little experience with this list, it does seem vulnerable to opponents with multiple fast heavy hitters capable of cracking its armor.  It lacks an infantry screen, and anything that can get a hard first strike in on the Mountain King and War Wagon might be trouble.


Jason won the roll off, and chose to go second. He picked a table edge which gave him easy access to a low wall in the middle of the field, as well as a forest near his Deployment Zone.  The Mountain King predeployed near the forest, while the War Wagon predeployed a few inches away near the other side of the low wall.

I had a hill and another forest on my side of the table.  There were also a building and another low hill at around the center of the table.  I deployed my Swordsmen in a tight clump behind the closer low hill, the Titans in a tight clump next to them, with the Paingivers in the second rank with the Agonizer and Extoller.  Hexeris went in between the Titans and the Swordsmen, and Marketh went behind the Swordsmen.  Finally, the Archidon went on my left flank.

Jason deployed Grissel and the Impaler between the Mountain King and the War Wagon.  The Rune Shapers deployed behind the Mountain King, as did Janissa.  The Earthborn deployed just to the Mountain King's right (from my perspective).  The Kriel Stone Bearers went in the back.

Turn 1: Skorne

Most of my army ran forward.  Hexeris dumped 5 Fury onto the Agonizer.  My beasts made for a patch of Concealment-granting grass near a hill in the center-left of the field.  The Swordsmen started moving to screen the beasts, and spread out a lot to avoid being splattered by the War Wagon's and Grissel's guns.  The Krea used Paralytic Aura and charged up right behind the Titans.  The Archidon ran up to just ahead of the Titans.  It would have to fly around the Mountain King, but its job was to let Hexeris take out the Rune Shapers and Kriel Stone Bearers with spells.

I was set up pretty well.  My heavies were close enough to support each other, and they were all near the Krea.  Now I would see what my opponent's army could do.

Turn 1: Trollbloods

The Earthborn used its animus, Transmute, on the Mountain King, granting it a variety of good buffs depending on what kind of terrain it was near, and advanced to near a low wall on Jason's half of the table.  The Impaler used its animus, Far Strike, on the War Wagon, granting it +4 Range on its cannon, and likewise advanced.  The War Wagon advanced to just behind the wall, and fired at a central Praetorian Swordsman.  The shot scattered, but still killed a Swordsman.  The Mountain King, benefiting from +2 Speed thanks to Transmute and being near a forest, ran to just behind the low wall.  Although it wouldn't get Cover, the Mountain King would receive +2 Arm from Transmute thanks to being near the wall.  Grissel advanced, cast Far Strike on herself, put 4 Fury on the Kriel Stone, and shot at the Swordsmen.  The shot was out of range, but did throw down a 4" covering fire AoE which would kill any Swordsmen who advanced into it.  The Kriel Stone Bearers used their Protective Aura, and ran forward.  Finally, the Rune Shapers ran behind the Mountain King to hide from my spells.

Eww.  With the defense/armor buffs from the wall as well as the Protective Aura, this was going to be a tough nut to crack.  While my opponent definitely had a melee focused army, he could also stand and shoot me apart from his position behind the wall.  All his shooting was high enough Power to at least do damage.  My shooting and spells would do almost nothing against his high Arm.  I'd have to approach planning for melee.  My plan was to screen my beasts this turn with my Swordsmen, and lay the groundwork for an attack on turn 3.

Turn 2: Skorne

In my Maintenance Phase, the Swordsmen took their 3" moves around to screen my Warbeasts.  Hexeris leached Fury, dropped Psychic Vampire, and he and Marketh (who'd picked up a Soul token), upkept Death March and Soul Slave.  The Swordsmen ran to around 6" in front of the Mountain King and spread out.  The Archidon advanced into the wheat field, and prepared to flank.  The Gladiator Rushed the Channoneer, and advanced.  The Bronzeback advanced.  The Cannoneer advanced to a point position ahead of my other beasts, and used Diminish to debuff the Strength of nearby warbeasts. The Krea used Paralytic Aura, and advanced to screen the 3 Titans.  The Agonizer used Gnawing Pain, and ran to debuff any warbeasts (looking at you, Mountain King) who managed to charge my Titans if the Swordsmen were cleared out.  Hexeris cast Paralytic Aura, filled the Agonizer up to five Fury, and discarded down to 2 points of Fury himself.  The Paingivers advanced, as did the Extoller Soulward and Marketh.

I was fairly ready to take a charge or charge in myself on the next turn.  My Swordsmen were screening my beasts thoroughly.  They could be killed off, but I was hoping the Mountain King would have to spend its activation helping out.  If it or the Earthborn did manage to get into my beasts, they'd be looking at a total of -4 to their damage rolls thanks to the Agonizer's Gnawing Pain and the Cannoneer's Diminish.

Turn 2: Trollbloods

Grissel leached fury.  The War Wagon started off by charging a Swordsman and killing it.  Then it shot into another cluster of Swordsmen, killing several between its 5" AoE cannon and 8" Spray scattergun.  The Impaler put Far Strike on Grissel, who shot and hit the Cannoneer, knocking down it, the Gladiator and the Krea.  Then she fired again, killing another Swordsman, and used her Feat to give everything in her CTRL Unyielding and Hyper Aggressive.  Then the Rune Shapers advanced around the the Mountain King, and killed 3 more Swordsmen with their spells.  Janissa also advanced, and took out the last one between the Mountain King and my Titan cluster.  The remaining two Swordsmen failed their Cmd check, and would flee next turn.  The Kriel Stone Bearers advanced, and used their Protective Aura, granting +2 Arm and +1 Str to the Trollblood army.

The Earthborn advanced to the wall, and used Transmute on the Mountain King again.  Due to being near a forest, the Mountain King would gain +2 Speed.  It charged my Gladiator.  Despite being at -4 damage, it killed the Gladiator easily, sent a boosted spray at Hexeris (who transferred), and hit the Archidon with its final attack.

Yikes!  It was do or die this turn.  I'd need to kill the Mountain King with my heavies if I were to have a chance of winning.  I had the power to do it - the Cannoneer, Bronzeback and Archidon were all in range.  It wouldn't be a sure thing though.  The Mountain King was sitting on Arm 23, and had a lot of hit boxes.  Then I'd still have to contend with the EBDT and War Wagon, but I'd still have a lot of models intact.

Turn 3: Skorne

Hexeris leached fury, and the Cannoneer shook off Knocked Down.  The 2 remaining Swordsmen activated first, and ran out of the way, the officer dying to a Free Strike from the Mountain King.  The Krea forfeited her activation to stand, used Paralytic Aura, and advanced to within 2" of the Mountain King to debuff its Def to 7.  The Paingivers advanced, and Enraged the Cannoneer and the Bronzeback.  The Cannoneer charged into the Mountain King, and did some damage.  The Mountain King responded by shedding Whelps right into the Bronzeback's charge lane.  I'd planned on that, however.  The Extoller took a boosted shot at the Mountain King with its Annihilating Gaze, and did some more damage.  The Agonizer used Gnawing Pain again, and moved out of Hexeris' way.

Then, Hexeris cast Lightning Strike on himself, and charged the Whelps, killing the three in the Bronzeback's way, and Sprinting back behind the Beast Handlers.  He took a Free Strike from the Mountain King because I accidentally put him too close, but he transferred the damage safely to the Krea.  The Bronzeback charged in, and wailed on the Mountain King for all it was worth.  I had some pretty bad luck on the damage rolls, and the Mountain King was still alive with 10 or so hit boxes.  The Archidon couldn't quite make it into melee, due to screening Whelps.

This was bad.  My only chance was if Jason had terrible luck in his turn, and left my Bronzeback alive.  Given that it was in combat with a Gargantuan though, that didn't seem likely.

Turn 3: Trollbloods

It didn't happen.  Grissel and the War Wagon knocked down the Cannoneer and Bronzeback, and the Mountain King and Earthborn finished them and the Archidon off.  Janissa created a wall right in front of Grissel.

Given that it was just Hexeris, a Krea and a handful of support models against the entire Trollblood army, I decided to concede.

Victory to the Trollbloods!


I made a bunch of small mistakes this game. There was a turn where I forgot to Condition with my Beast Handlers, and I accidentally put pHexeris within the Mountain King's melee range on Turn 3 when he had to clear out the Whelps.  I also left my Warbeasts too close together on turn 2.  I've lost 2 Titans in 1 turn to Trollblood heavies before, and Jason was able to Knock most of my clump down and pound on more than one of them with the Mountain King.  He also engaged the Archidon, which would have been nice to have active on my 3rd turn.  I feel I handled the threat of the Mountain King pretty well.  I jammed it with Swordsmen to slow it down, and damped its damage output with my Cannoneer and Agonizer so it could only kill one heavy on its turn.  I planned my attack on the Mountain King pretty well also.  I just had mediocre luck in the execution, and that wasn't enough.  I also and screened my warbeasts reasonably well with the Swordsmen, who were able to spread out nicely.

I like this list a lot, and I'm thinking that adding the Bronzeback and Krea at 50pts was the right move.  The Krea adds a lot of defense against ranged attacks (I was very glad of the +2 Arm this game), and grants a Mat buff to Hexeris' beasts, something he can't do himself.  The Bronzeback is also a key armor cracker for this list, and actually turned out not to be enough against the Armor buffed Mountain King.  Marketh didn't have much to do this game, but there wasn't a lot for Hexeris to do with his Fury for most of the game.

Jason played a strong game, and clearly knew how to work his list.  He did well to protect his more vulnerable Rune Shapers, Kriel Stone Bearers, and Janissa from my Archidon's LoS.  His position would have been a lot weaker if I'd managed to start slinging spells at his support models on turn 2.  He methodically cleared out my Swordsmen, and knocked his targets down before moving in for the kill.  He did risk the Mountain King on his second turn.  If it had died, things might have gone badly for him.  I certainly would still have been in the game, and I would have had a good chance of grinding out a win against the Earthborn and War Wagon.

I also want to give special attention to Jason's list, which was really well designed.  I've read a lot of complaints about the Mountain King and eGrissel, and he made them work together beautifully.  The Mountain King's low Mat of 5 was never an issue, because of the amount of ranged Knockdown in the list.  Its relatively low base Armor and hit boxes were also never an issue.  It stayed at Armor 23 the whole game due to a combination of the KSB's Protective Aura, staying near a wall with Transmute on it, and having Unyielding during Grissel's feat turn.  If Janissa hadn't needed to use a spell to kill one of my Swordsmen in the Mountain King's way, she'd have been able to cast Rock Wall behind the Mountain King on the Feat turn and bring it to Arm 25, which I wouldn't have been able to handle at all.

All in all, a great game against a really cool list (and a nice opponent too).  Thanks.

*In the other game, I managed to get a bottom of Turn 1 spell assassination off with Hexeris.  My opponent had left their caster exposed, and had no idea it was coming.  It was kind of a sad game, and I won't be writing the report.

**Sadly, Baxter is not finished yet, but everyone wanted to play 50pt games, so I caved in and ran his legs as a full Bronzeback.  Willpower : /

Friday, December 14, 2012

pMakeda vs. Grimm Angus (35pts)

This battle was pretty funny, but it's about three weeks old at this point.  Caleb might be able to fill in any details I missed.

I played:

Archdomina Makeda (+5)
*Titan Cannoneer (9)
*Titan Gladiator (8)
*Aptimus Marketh (3)

10 Praetorian Swordsmen (6)
*Officer and Standard (2)
Tyrant Commander and Standard (3)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (1)

Hakaar the Destroyer (4)
Extoller Soulward (2)

I decided to give Hakaar the Destroyer a try with pMakeda, both because I really like the fluff behind Ancestral Guardians and because the interaction of Savagery and Righteous Vengeance is a huge threat.  I'd originally written the list with a Bronzeback and Agonizer instead of the Cannoneer, Extoller and Swamp Gobbers, but until my Bronzeback is done, I'll have to wait on seeing how that works out.

The list is pretty well rounded otherwise.  High Def can give it a little trouble, but it has a lot of weapons against most targets, and can easily adapt to a lot of situations thanks to pMakeda's spell list.

My opponent was Caleb, and he played:

Grimm Angus (+6)
*Earthborn Dire Troll (10)
*Dire Troll Mauler (9)
*Troll Impaler (5)
*Rune Bearer (2)

10 Fennblades (8)
*Officer and Drummer (2)
6 Pyg Bushwhackers (5)

Caleb's list has a good balance of melee and ranged beasts and infantry.  Grimm will make everything more dangerous with his ability to deny movement and debuff my Def.  This list also looks well balanced.  It's a solid attrition list with no glaring weaknesses.


Terrain was a hill on either side of the table, and a wide central area flanked by two forests.

I won the roll off, and went first.  I deployed my Swordsmen in the front.  My Gladiator and Cannoneer deployed behind them on my right side (opposite Caleb's forest), and Hakaar and the Tyrant Commander deployed behind them on my right side (opposite Caleb's hill).  The Paingivers deployed just behind the warbeasts, the Gobbers deployed on the front line to the right of the Swordsmen, and Makeda and the Extoller deployed behind the Swordsmen in the center.

Caleb deployed in a very similar formation.  His Fennblades went on the front rank opposite my Swordsmen.  His heavies deployed behind them opposite my heavies, and his support staff (Grimm, the Rune Bearer and the Impaler) deployed roughly opposite Makeda.  The Bushwhackers Advance Deployed in Caleb's forest.

Turn 1: Skorne

The Swordsmen ran forward their full 12," as did the gobbers.  Both units ended up partly on the hill on my side of the table.  The Tyrant Commander used Press Forward on Makeda.  Makeda cast Savagery on Hakaar, advanced, and discarded a point of Fury.  Hakaar himself walked up to about the middle of the Swordsmen.  The Gladiator Rushed herself and trampled forward, and the Cannoneer ran up beside it.  Then the Paingivers ran up behind and beside the Titans.  Finally, Marketh advanced, and put Defender's Ward on a trailing Swordsman.

I had made one really dumb mistake.  I'd forgotten to put a point of Fury next to my Cannoneer when she ran, so I ran with the Paingivers rather than make them advance and manage Fury on the Titans.  As a result, one of the Titans would need to make a Frenzy check next turn.

Turn 1: Trollbloods

The Fennblades, Mauler and Earthborn ran.  The Pygs advanced and took a couple of pot-shots at Swordsmen, but missed.  The Impaler put Far Strike on Grimm, and advanced.  Grimm advanced, and shot at a Gobber, but was just out of range.  The Rune Bearer advanced, but didn't do much else.

No real action from the Trollbloods on Turn 1.  Next turn, I'd try to kill some Fennblades, and brace myself for the retaliation.

Turn 2: Skorne

My Cannoneer predictably Frenzied (sigh), and killed a Paingiver, but no one else.  Makeda dropped Defender's Ward, but upkept Savagery.  Hakaar went first, advancing to about 5" short of the Fennblades.  Makeda went next, advanced, and cast Savagery on the Swordsmen.  Then she used her Feat, Walking Death, to bring back infantry who died next turn.  The Tyrant Commander used Press Forward on the Swordsmen and ran up, with the Standard Bearer trailing behind a bit.  The Swordsmen walked up to the Fennblades, used their mini-Feat, Perfect Strike, and killed four.  The Gladiator Rushed itself and advanced.  The Paingivers moved up to support the Gladiator.  The Swamp Gobbers advanced to throw smoke in front of the Pyg Bushwhackers.  Finally, Marketh advanced, and used Spell Slave to put Defender's Ward back on my Swordsmen.

I was pretty well placed for Caleb's counterattack here.  My Swordsmen were well spread out, buffed, and would return under Makeda's feat so long as the whole unit wasn't wiped out.  The Cannoneer was out of position now, but she'd be able to make it back to the fray next turn, hopefully still screened by most of the Swordsmen.

Turn 2: Trollbloods

Caleb had a plan to take out the Swordsmen, but it would require some luck.  The Fennblades got off to a good start by killing two Swordsmen with their Vengeance attacks.  Then Grimm activated, advanced as far as he could, used his Feat, Spread the Net, to give enemies in his CTRL (most of my Swordsmen plus my Gladiator and Hakaar) -3 to Speed and Def for a round, then cast Marked for Death on my Swordsmen, giving them a further -2 Def while letting allies ignore LoS to them, and put Return Fire on himself.  Then he shot and killed a Swordsman.  All attacks, in fact, were directed at the Swordsmen.  The Fennblades, the Impaler, and the Pygs all chipped in.  And they successfully managed to wipe out the unit despite needing at least one hard 8 on the ones who were out of Grimm's feat.  The Mauler and Earthborn just advanced.

Booo. But only the Swordsmen were dead.  I was ok trading a Feat for a Feat.  I could probably use Savagery and Press Forward to mitigate the Speed penalty, and still be in a decent position overall.  Although now my Cannoneer being too far back was really going to hurt.

Turn 3: Skorne

Hakaar made a 1" Righteous Vengeance advance, and killed a Fennblade.  The Tyrant Commander advanced, killed a Fennblade, and used Press Forward on Hakaar, who advanced and killed 3 more Fennblades.  Marketh advanced and cast Savagery on the Titan Gladiator.  Then Makeda advanced and cast Rush on the Gladiator followed by Carnage.  Then the Gladiator walked up to the Mauler and killed it.  The Extoller shot the Earthborn for some serious damage, and the Cannoneer ran forward.  The Paingivers ran up to hopefully keep the Earthborn away from the Gladiator, but it might have a way through if one or two of them were killed.  The Swamp Gobbers advanced into melee with some Fennblades, to keep them from getting to the Paingivers.

I was holding on pretty well now.  Caleb would have to deal with my Gladiator on his next turn, and a lot of his infantry were tied up.  If he couldn't clear a path through the Paingivers for his Earthborn, he wouldn't be able to kill it, and I'd have the advantage again.

Turn 3: Trollbloods

Grimm backed up to the hill, and shot at the Gladiator.  The Impaler also shot the Gladiator.  The Pygs shot down the Extoller and Marketh.  The Fennblades, despite taking two Free Strikes from angry Gobbers, managed to kill off two Paingivers, and the Earthborn managed to finish the Gladiator.

The Gladiator was gone, but now I had a golden opportunity to kill Grimm.

Turn 4: Skorne

In my Maintenance Phase, Hakaar advanced into a charge lane on Grimm.  The Cannoneer advanced and shot the Earthborn.  Then Makeda advanced, cast Defender's Ward on herself, and cast Carnage, catching all the Trolls, Grimm included.  The Paingivers advanced, and hit the Earthborn twice.  I added 2 Fury to it, but then realized that it was a Fury 5 beast, and I just didn't have enough Paingivers for my plan.

Whatever.  I charged Grimm anyway.  He was camping 3, but Hakaar can put out a lot of attacks.  I hit with all of them, burned through all of Grimm's transfers, and would have forced a Tough check if I'd rolled anything but double 1's on the last damage roll.  However, double 1's is exactly what I rolled, so that was that.  The Earthborn was still alive and at 1 hit box, as was Grimm.

Turn 4: Trollbloods

The Impaler killed off Hakaar, and Grimm managed to knock Makeda down with his net thingy.  She was killed by a few CRA's and the Earthborn.

Victory to the Trollbloods!


Well, I made a very serious mistake early on, and I paid for it all game.  If the Cannoneer had been further forward, I would have been much more confident about taking out the Earthborn, and I wouldn't have had to expose Makeda like that at the end.  It might also have managed to screen some Swordsmen from melee attacks, and would definitely have been able to contribute more on my third turn.  Luck played a reasonably big role in letting Caleb kill all my Swordsmen, and the game would have been very different if I'd been able to return them to play.  Overall, though, the game was a lot of fun, and Hakaar almost swung it for me despite everything that had gone wrong.

I like this list a lot, although I think I'd prefer having the Bronzeback and Agonizer overall.  I'll have to give this beast lineup a fair shake without making any terrible mistakes.  I do like the Cannoneer with pMakeda because Carnage puts its Mat up to point where it's a serious threat to other heavies, even if Enrage is its only damage buff.  Hakaar was great.  PMakeda really helps him get a lot out of his abilities, and he has a very solid damage output for one model.  He definitely helped clear out the remaining Fennblades even after my Swordsmen had been killed.

Caleb played a solid game overall.  His two big mistakes were leaving the Mauler within Gladys' walking range, and forgetting about Righteous Vengeance when positioning Grimm.  He did get lucky polishing off all my Swordsmen on Makeda's feat turn, but he also used his own abilities well, getting their Defense as low as possible, and focusing attacks on them to wipe them out.

After the game, Caleb decided that he'd rather have a Stone Scribe Chronicler than the Rune Bearer, and I agree with him.  Granting the Fennblades the various benefits the Chronicler can provide would have helped out a lot, whereas the Rune Shaper mostly stayed out of the way, and occasionally let Grimm get off a free Return Fire.  Otherwise, the list is very well balanced.  The combination of Impaler, Mauler and Earthborn is a great one for Grimm, and the Pygs give the list some very nice versatility with their ranged attacks.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Battle Report: pDeneghra vs eMorghoul

The journeyman league got pushed back to January, so I’ll be Cryxing things up for another month. Only had time for a 25 point game this week, so here’s what I brought:

* Desecrator
* Nightwretch x2
* Skarlock
Bane Thralls (full)
* UA

I know that if you scroll down a bit, you’d see me recommend to always take Tartarus with the Banes, but points were tight.

My opponent brought the following:

* Rhinodon
* Archidon
* Basilisk Krea
Venators (full)
* UA
Beast Handlers (min)

He put the Rhinodon in the middle with Morghoul and the Beast Handlers, the Archidon to his right and the Venators to his left. I put Deneghra in the center with the Desecrator and the Banes close to her right and left, respectively, with the Skarlock behind the Banes and a ‘Wretch on each flank.

Round 1:
He ran everything forward, pushing the Venators far up the board with their reform.

I ran... most of my stuff forward. The right Nightwretch ran a bit to the center to catch a charge from the Rhinodon while still being close to the Venators. Deneghra then arced two Venoms into the unit, killing six of them.

Round 2:
He charged the Nightwretch with his Rhinodon, crunching the jack handily. The surviving Venators CRAed into the Desecrator but failed to disable any systems. Everything else did some maneuvering as the rest of my army was out of reach.

I realised I had slightly jammed myself in. I wanted to start my turn by feating and catching Morghoul in it, but my Banes were in the way. So instead I started with them. One ran to engage the Archidon, the four that could fit charged the Rhinodon, and the others ran about to keep everyone in command. Of the four attacking the Rhinodon, the first missed, the second and third did negligible damage, and the last proved his worth by mauling the hell out of it. Grumbling, I moved Deneghra up. I chose not to feat since I was pretty sure I could finish off the Rhinodon with Venoms, Morghoul didn’t have a charge lane on Deneghra, and I wanted to be able to counter his feat. So instead I sent two Venoms into the Rhinodon, killing a Bane Thrall in the process and leaving the corroded beast with one health left. Well... hopefully the acid would get him. The Desecrator walked up and killed four Venators with its gun, which was pretty neat.

Round 3:
The Rhinodon dissolved away, as did my confidence when Morghoul Apparitioned to get a charge lane on Deneghra. It wasn’t perfect though, as a couple Bane Thralls were barely in the way. The Archidon flew to kill the interfering thralls, provoking a free strike along the way. I was licking my lips at the opportunity for a Dark Shroud, Weapon Master free strike, but the lousy thrall only did six damage. The Archdon managed to kill the two thralls it needed too, but doing so filled it up on fury. The surviving venators and Krea killed another thrall, and then Morghoul charged Deneghra, leading with the fan and boosting the attack.

And he missed. So before taking his sword attack, he cast Flashing Blade, again attacking with the fan and boosting the attack roll. This time he hit, dealing four damage and blinding Deneghra. Now, only needing a four to hit, he used his second initial with his sword.

And he missed. So, using one of his two remaining fury, he bought another attack.

And he missed.


His last attack hit for a fair amount of damage, and then he feated. The turn ended with Deneghra badly hurt, blinded, and in melee with Morghoul, but still very much alive.

Deneghra gave two focus to the surviving Nightwretch and one to the Desecrator, with the plan being to drop point blank aoes on Morghoul until he stopped moving. She activated first, feated, walked away and used the rest of her focus in a shameful heal.

Even with The Withering, Morghoul was still sitting at DEF 17, so I was surprised and delighted when the Skarlock landed an unboosted Crippling Grasp on him. The Bane Thralls bunched up around him to further debuff his armor for those aoes, and then the officer took Morghoul’s head clean off with his first attack.

I would say that the MVP of this game were the dice. They started strong, had a rough patch in the middle, but then pulled through for an amazing finish. Really though, I should have feated on my second turn, and eMorghoul should have killed Deneghra.

Yay dice.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tyrant Xerxis vs Thagrosh the Messiah (35pts)

I played a couple of games with Xerxis a little over a week ago*, and here's one of them.

I played:

Tyrant Xerxis (+5)
*Titan Cannoneer (9)
*Basilisk Krea (4)

6 Cataphract Cetrati (11)
6 Venator Reivers (5)
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)

Hakaar the Destroyer (4)
Ancestral Guardian (3)

This is a slight variation on my regular Xerxis brick.  I'm trying it out with two Ancestral Guardians (a regular one and Hakaar), instead of two heavies.  The list's basic game plan is pretty straight forward.  It wants to shoot a little to soften up the opponent, then grind the game out in the middle of the field.  It has a high damage output against most targets thanks to Xerxis' abilities, and has a lot of durability against most attacks.

Its main worry is infantry swarms, particularly high-def infantry.  Hakaar, Xerxis, and the Ancestral Guardian might be able to thin enemy infantry out with their high Mat attacks, but due to its low models count, the list will be tied down easily even so.

My opponent, Jen, ran the following:

Thagrosh, the Messiah (+3)
*Typhon (12)
*Shredder (2)
*Shredder (2)
*Shredder (2)
*Shredder (2)
*Shredder (2)
*Shredder (2)
*Shredder (2)
*Shredder (2)
*Shredder (2)
*Shredder (2)

The Forsaken (2)
The Forsaken (2)
Blighted Nyss Shepherd (1)
Blighted Nyss Shepherd (1)

I have never faced a Shredder Swarm before.  Offensively, it seems powerful.  Shredders can do a lot of damage while Rabid, and eThagrosh has Manifest Destiny, which bumps their accuracy and damage considerably.

Overall, Shredders don't have good defensive stats though, and every hit to a shredder will do significant damage to the list.  A solid attrition game should be able wear the swarm down.


The terrain was fairly symmetrical.  There were two forests, one in roughly the center of the field, and one a little bit toward one of the corners.  There was also a wall in front of the center forest.

Jen won the roll off, and went second.  She chose the table side which would give her the best advance through the forests.

I deployed most of my force between the forests.  The Cetrati bricked up with Xerxis just behind them.  The Krea and Cannoneer went slightly to their left, and the Venators and Ancestral Guardians went slightly to their right, with good lines of sight in between the forests.

Jen deployed her shredders in two groups of five, each behind one of the forests.  Each group was watched over by a Shepherd and a The Forsaken.  Thagrosh deployed in the right forest close enough to its inside edge to keep all the Shredders in his CTRL.  Typhon deployed outside the right edge of the right forest, opposite my warbeasts.

Turn 1, Skorne

Jen lacked long ranged shooting, so the Cetrati ran.  Xerxis used Press Forward on himself, then cast Fury on the Ancestral Guardian and Defender's Ward on the Cetrati.  The Cannoneer and Krea both ran, ending up a bit behind the low wall.  The Venators ran to just ahead of the Cetrati.  The AG and Hakaar ran up to just behind them.

I was reasonably well deployed, but the battle wouldn't start in earnest until next turn.

Turn 1, Legion

The Shredders went Rabid one by one, and charged at me through the forests.  They all stayed in the trees to keep their concealment from my shooting though.  Thagrosh cast Dragon Blood on one of the shredders, Unnatural Aggression on Typhon, and advanced.  Typhon advanced.  Finally, the Shepherds and The Forsaken advanced to manage Fury on the Shredders.

Next turn, I'd try to pick off a Shredder or two with my Venators, and brick up.  Most of the right group of Shredders would probably get to me first, while the left group would hit on the next turn.

Turn 2, Skorne

Xerxis upkept his spells.  Then he put Press Forward on the Cetrati, advanced, and cast Paralytic Aura.  The Cetrati entered Shield Wall, and moved up to about four inches in front of the right forest. The Krea advanced to the right side of the Cetrati formation, and also used Paralytic Aura.  The Venator Reivers advanced, used their Extend Fire mini-feat, and damaged two of the shredders pretty heavily before Reforming to a slightly safer position.  The Ancestral Guardians moved up to support them.  The Cannoneer advanced into the Krea's Aura, and took a shot at Typhon, who was out of range.  The template did not scatter onto a Shredder, so that was that.

Not a bad round.  I should have focused fire with my Venators, and tried to take down one Shredder at a time.  The damage would make them a little easier to deal with next turn, however, and I was well positioned in my brick.

Turn 2, Legion

There was one extra point of Fury on the table, and one of the Shredders frenzied, killing its wounded companion.  Thagrosh upkept his spells.  Thagrosh activated first, and cast Manifest Destiny.  Typhon activated next, advanced, and sent a fully boosted Spray at two of my Def 16 Arm 24 (vs Shooting) Cetrati, doing a little damage to both.  Two Shredders were in charge range of my Brick, so they went Rabid, and also charged.  They did a little more damage to my Cetrati, but didn't kill their targets.  The rest of the Shredders approached through the woods at super Rabid charging speed.  The Shepherds and Forsaken advanced, and managed Fury.

The second wave of Shredders would hit next turn, and I'd do well to limit their impact.  The plan as of now was to screen off my left flank with my Venators while my Cetrati and Warbeasts marched toward Thagrosh.

Turn 3, Skorne

Xerxis upkept both spells again.  The Krea activated first, used Paralytic Aura, and walked around toward the two Shredders who had hit my lines.  She attacked and damaged one of them.  Then Xerxis activated and advanced just past the Cetrati, hoping to clear out both the Shredders to free up the Cetrati to advance.  He needed 3's to hit, and rolled snakeyes on both his initial attacks.  He bought two more attacks, which he used to kill one shredder.  :(  The Venators advanced.  The majority of the unit shot a Shredder, but failed to kill it completely.  The officer tried vainly to finish the last Shredder engaging the Cetrati off in melee.  The Ancestral Guardians advanced to just behind the Venators again.  The Cetrati went into Shield Wall, screened Xerxis as best they could, and killed both the last Shredder engaging them and one other they had been able to reach.  Finally, the Cannoneer shot Typhon for moderate damage.

Xerxis was in a lot of trouble.  He was only camping one point of Fury, he was out of the Krea's Paralytic Aura, and the Cetrati weren't screening him well at all.  Thagrosh and Typhon could throw out four sprays between them.  I'd need to get really lucky to survive.

Turn 3, Legion

Thagrosh kept all his Fury, and activated first.  He advanced and cast Scourge on Xerxis, hitting and doing a little damage.  Then Thags and Typhon breathed icy hot on Xerxis until he died.

Victory to the Legion!


I actually feel I played a pretty solid game right up until I tried to get fancy with Xerxis.  Yeah, the luck was terrible, but I really should have played it safe, kept him back, and ground out the battle.  Xerxis is very good at that kind of game, and we weren't playing with any objectives I was desperate to contest.  I was doing pretty well at keeping the other Shredders off my Cetrati, and they're solid enough to withstand a couple of charges anyway.  Xerxis is pretty nasty offensively, but he does need to be protected.

As for the list, I feel like I only need one Ancestral Guardian.  My AG and Hakaar kept getting in each others' way this game (and in another game against Caleb which I think he's writing up).  I might swap out Hakaar for Marketh + Swamp Gobbers or Extoller + Agonizer, or I might just swap out my regular AG for Marketh or even go back to my (similar) previous Xerxis list.  I especially like the idea of going with Marketh.  With so much of a ranged game, and such a strong defense against enemy ranged attacks, I really want to be casting Inhospitable Ground a lot.  Marketh makes that a lot easier by handling upkeeps, and recasting Fury and/or Defender's Ward.  The Venator UA was fantastic, and has definitely earned its place in the list.  It really lets the Venators start shooting sooner, and from a safer distance, which is a huge boon to a brick like this one.

Jen also played a fairly good game.  Her Shredders were a little bit spread out this game, and I wasn't really worried about them cracking my brick if they had to come at me in little waves of one or two.  That tactic would have been infuriating if we'd been playing any scenario besides Caster Kill though.  My 11pt Cetrati were essentially held up by 4 points of Shredders, and the rest could have spread out to grab scenario objectives.  As it was, if I'd been patient with Xerxis, it would have been hard for Shredders to reach me fast enough to wear me down.  Typhon's deployment was spot on, though.  Typhon is more than a match for the Cannoneer I had opposing it, and I'd probably have had to split my Cetrati brick to deal with it.  Those three sprays were a consistent threat that eventually won Jen the game.

After this game, it does seem like Shredder swarms have a few rough matchups, and that the list I played was actually one of them.  The low attrition potential of shredders really hurts, and good shooting coupled with a strong trading game can reduce the list's effectiveness a lot.  I can see it being more useful in scenario play, where individual positioning of Shredders can secure objectives and tie down or eliminate key troops pretty well.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Battle Report: Grim vs MacBain! (35pts)

I played a very fun game this last weekend against Ben and his Mercs, and asked Ben if he wanted to write up the Battle Report, which he did! 35pt Mercs (Four Star) vs Trollbloods, a'la Ben:

Ben's List:
Drake MacBain (*6pts)
* Buccaneer (3pts)
* Nomad (6pts)
* Sylys Wyshnalyrr, the Seeker (2pts)
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Kayazy Assassin Underboss (2pts)
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt (4pts)
Alexia, Mistress of the Witchfire (4pts)
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution (3pts)
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist (2pts)
Ogrun Bokur (3pts)
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord (2pts)
Saxon Orrik (2pts)

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

Mosh Pit (start of turn 3, if you’re the only one with dudes in the big central circle, win)

Relevant Scenery and Deployment, L to R
Left: Who cares? Nobody went here.

Center: Wheat field (concealment) right in the middle of the mosh pit.  Fennblades/SSC and Kayazy/Rhupert/Saxon/Gorman stared each other down.

Right: Largish forest on the Troll side.  Grim and beasts were just left of the forest, Bushwhackers AD directly behind.  Largish hill on the Merc side.  Drake and jacks just behind the leftmost part of the hill, solos mostly on the far right.

Grim Turn 1
Trolls mostly ran.  Except Grim, cast Cross Country on the Bushwhackers and Return Fire on himself before strolling calmly forward behind a wall of Fennblades and Dire Trolls.  Little did he know that his lack of haste would come back to haunt him.  The Bushwhackers moved up into the forest, the Mauler and Earthborn skirted its edge, and the Fenns stomped up the middle.

Mercs Turn 1
Usual Turn 1 start.  Give 1 to the Nomad, Fail Safe on the Nomad, Fortune on eAlexia  (it’s that or Countermeasures, and I thought I wouldn’t get the Kayazy into a good spot to shut down shooting).

Kayazy ran and spread out.  As we saw in my last game vs. pHexeris, Turn 1 runs can be surprisingly finicky.  In this case, the goal was for the leading 4 Kayazy to provide board presence in the Mosh Pit while preventing the Fenns (who charge SO BLOODY FAR) from charging through and attacking the spread-out rear models, whose goal was to stay out of Grim’s feat and counter-charge.  Rhupert sang Dirge of Mists (+1 DEF & Terror), as he did all game long.

Drake, jacks, and assorted solos mostly charged or ran up onto the hill.

Grim Turn 2
The Trollbloods’ Turn 2 challenge boiled down to: Trolls too big.  Trolls jam EVERYBODY.  Even Grim Angus, who turned out to be stuck behind a wall of Fennblades.  He very much wanted to go first and bring the Kayazy down to a pleasant DEF 14 with Spread the Net before sending the Fenns in, but was too far back and stuck. 

After some debate around whether it would be culturally appropriate for the Impaler to shoot one of the blocking Fennblades in the back (decided against for fear of Tough), the Bushwhackers started things off with a 4-pyg CRA at eEiryss, killing her outright.  The Fennblade UA shouted the Troll equivalent of “No Quarter!” (maybe “we’re going to eat you?”) and sent his unit rushing forward into the Kayazy.  Who did not care, being dodgy little DEF 17 fellows facing MAT 6 swings, and only lost two.  The SSC tossed up Hero’s Tragedy to punish anyone killing them. 

Grim, deprived of the exciting feat turn he hoped for, moved up and fired a boosted shot into eAlexia, who took 7 to the face.  The Mauler and Earthborn moved up as well, a short distance in front of him, getting ready to charge in.

Mercs Turn 2
This looked like it had the potential to be a great turn for the Mercenaries.  The Nomad looked to be just within charge range of the Earthborn, and if I could take out most of the Fennblades and one of his heavies while avoiding retaliation with Drake’s feat, I would be in pretty good shape for a Turn 3 assassination.  I dropped Fortune and gave one to each jack.  There was a little shooting, where Holt took out a Fennblade, Aiyana Kissed the Earthborn, and Gorman missed everybody with an acid grenade.

The Nomad charged in, getting the Earthborn barely within 2”, then missing with the charge attack.  Kayazy mini-feated and charged into a mess of Fennblades, as well as firing two of their number off at the Earthborn, and Saxon charged into the Fenns to help them out.  A few Fenns died, and the Earthborn took 6 damage.

So I hate the Nomad’s MAT 6.  Time to fix it.  Buccaneer time.  Silly Assault Shenanigans ensued, in which the Buccaneer charged the Earthborn, stopped when it bumped into Aiyana (about 7” out of melee) and then got to throw its net with Assault, ignoring melee penalties and the fact that its charge just failed horribly, knocking down the troll.  eAlexia made a pair of Thrall Warriors (souls from the Fenns) and fired them into the Earthborn, but one got stuck thanks to a positioning error (notice a theme here?) and the other did 3 damage.

Drake activated, intending to finish the Earthborn.  He feated on the Kayazy who had been knocked down by Hero’s Tragedy as well as on other key solos, then Jackhammered the Nomad 4 times, failing to kill the Earthborn by 2 points.  Frustrating!  The Ogrun Bokur, in desperation, tried to slam the Nomad into the Earthborn, but got stuck on Drake. Things were rapidly looking bad, since a Dire Troll at 2 HP [in the Spirit no less -Caleb] is a fully functional Dire Troll, and Grim’s feat was about to cripple all my advantage of high DEF.

Trolls Turn 3
Grim’s turn for awesomeness.  He started with Spread the Net, lowering everyone’s defense, then shot Drake (DEF 15 +2 elevation is pretty sad when it drops to DEF 12, +2 elevation), which was Shield Guard-ed away.  Bushwhackers fired away in two CRAs, doing 8 damage to the focusless caster.  Then the Dires got into action.  The Earthborn had a line on Drake, if you didn’t count the Nomad right in the way or the two feated Kayazy and two Thrall Warriors.

The Mauler walked up to the Nomad, punched it twice, and threw (via Grab & Smash) it into eAlexia and the Buccaneer, doing decent damage all around and tearing off the Bucc’s net arm, then cast Rage on the Earthborn.  The Impaler came up and stabbed one Kayazy and a Thrall with its spear, knocking down the former (True Grit) and destroying the latter. The other two were positioned such that the Earthborn could just trample right over.

So it did, several tons of angry blue-green Troll stomping forward to tear Drake into tiny little pieces (rolling dice +6 on damage against a DEF 12 9HP caster is not a pretty sight).  Thanks to Trample and having to shake the knockdown, it had no initials and three Fury left.  Caleb bought and boosted an attack, needing a 6…and whiffed.  Bought another attack…missed again.  Drake had somehow lived.  After that, there wasn't much left of the turn.  Fennblades killed another four or five Kayazy while their DEF was lowered to 14 (Rhupert’s Dirge of Mists still active).

Mercs Turn 3
Not dead?  Should have been dead twice over…but not dead.  First priority was to kill the Earthborn, which the Bokur and Drake both failed to do.  Drake did, however, toss Countermeasures on the Kayazy at last, to shut down the surprisingly painful Troll shooting, and give one to the Nomad to shake its knockdown.  The jack walked slowly forward and finally took down the Earthborn, giving me a little breathing room.  Most of the rest of the turn was simple redeploying, with Kayazy standing and moving to shut down any shooting that might be in range of Drake, and Gorman walking up to successfully Black Oil the Mauler.

Trolls Turn 4
Things were looking rough for the Trolls, with shooting mostly shut down and their one heavy ineffective for the turn.  Grim cast Marked for Death on the Kayazy and hit them with Fennblade attacks to try to finish off the four in the Mosh Pit, but with little luck.  At the end of this turn, he conceded – it had been a long and close game, but he didn't see a way to prevent the loss of most of his key pieces in the next turn.

Whew!  Long report.  A few thoughts & reflections:

Merc Lessons
-Trolls should have had the game when the Earthborn got into range of Drake; in any dice game, luck is of course a significant factor, but successfully getting those three shots and that heavy in should properly have finished things out
-This goes against a previous insight, where I suggested leaving Countermeasures till the last minute – but seriously, Countermeasures.  On the Kayazy.  If there’s any shooting in the enemy list beyond, say, Saeryn’s throwing knives, put the bloody spell up, and consider it even then.  Grim has more ways around it than most, mainly through Marked for Death, but it still forces the Troll shooting back and away from my squishy caster.
-Positioning.  Get it right.  There were several times where friendly models got stuck behind each other and just couldn’t get where they needed to go. Especially when placing Thrall Warriors, there’s no excuse for failing the subsequent charge due to the spacing of one’s own models.
-I continue to wish I had just a *little* more shooting.  AOEs, especially.  All I've got that can shoot is a motley assortment of solos: Hellfire from eAlexia, hand cannons from Holt, Saxon’s Military Rifle, eEiryss’s crossbow.  Oh, I guess Gorman has acid grenades, too.  It would be nice to have a little more of a ranged threat to back up the Buccaneer’s KD, as well as something to handle infantry swarms.  I’m even – gasp – considering trying the Ogrun Assault Corps.  But I’d love a better idea.  Thoughts?

Trollblood Lessons (Caleb)
Wow that was an interesting game. I'm learning (slowly but surely) that I really need to pay closer attention to positioning with Trolls, especially when playing with a Warlock whose feat effects the enemy and not friendlies. I'm also being consistently surprised with the Bushwackers' performance: for a unit that I'm basically taking as a ranged threat/deterrent and throwaway unit, it keeps dealing out a lot of damage. I'm definitely going to take a full unit at 50pts with Grim.

This game had a lot of random luck crop up in places (something I do love about Warmachine/Hordes), but we both played a good game. When he did eventually shut down my shooting, he shut it down hard; MacBain!'s spell list is one heck of a doozy, especially with Kayazy. By the end it was getting very clear I was going to lose both heavies in very short order, leaving only Grim, the Impaler, some scattered fennblades, and the Bushwackers to face a half dozen Kayazy (plus Underboss); considering that most of my units were shooting, all Ben had to do what he was doing and run Kayazy anywhere near my units with Countermeasures up and start picking me off one-by-one with MacBain!, Ayanna and Holt, and the jacks. Without Grim's feat (and with SEVERELY reduced Fury), I had no reasonable way to take out the Kayazy quickly enough. I opted to surrender rather than drag the game out for another half hour.

Many thanks to Ben for writing up the above battle report, and a hard fought Victory to Mercs!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Swordsmen vs. Nihilators, part 4, Offense

This is the fourth installment in my series comparing Praetorian Swordsmen + UA to Nihilators as main attrition infantry.  The other installments can be found below:

Part 1, Math and Tough
Part 2, a Game of Inches
Part 3, Command and Occupation

This time, I'll look at the offensive abilities of Praetorian Swordsmen and Nihilators.  Nihilators are a simpler unit to describe offensively.  They have a higher Mat of 7, a higher base P+S of 12, the Reach advantage, and Berserk, which forces them to make another attack whenever they destroy a model in melee during their activations.  Swordsmen have Mat 6, two initial P+S 9 attacks which they can exchange for 1 P+S 12 Combo Strike *Attack, Side Step (a 2" advance which ignores Free Strikes whenever they hit with an initial or special attack), and the Perfect Strike mini-Feat.  Perfect Strike allows Swordsmen, for 1 round per game, to do a single point of damage to warrior models they hit without making a damage roll.

These stats and abilities make both units very good at destroying most enemy infantry.  Nihilators have a higher potential damage output with Reach and Berserk.  Good positioning can let an individual Nihilator attack three or four enemy infantry models.  The enemy can easily mitigate Berserk by spreading models out, or with abilities which make the Nihilators less likely to "destroy" their enemies (berserk only triggers on "destroyed").  The most common ways to stop Berserk are high Defense (an attack that misses won't destroy anything) and Tough (which saves models against 1/3 of lethal attacks).  Any unlucky attack roll or passed Tough check by the enemy will stop the Berserk chain, and potentially prevent a lot of damage to a unit.  There are also a few spells and feats which remove models from play before they become "destroyed," which shut down Berserk completely.  Swordsmen are more reliable - they always have two attacks no matter what abilities the enemy has.  Furthermore, with Perfect Strike, they can continue to threaten very high-Arm infantry units under the effect Shield Wall or a defensive Feat.  Nihilators will have to roll for damage.  They'll almost certainly score kills on their charge attacks, but subsequent attacks can easily bounce off with high enough armor or bad enough luck.  This makes Nihilators better against low-Def units without Tough or Shield Wall, and Swordsmen better against targets with higher Arm or Tough.

Swordsmen are also situationally better at hitting high-Def targets than Nihilators.  Whether this is the case depends on how many models the Nihilators can engage.  Because of Berserk, the more enemy models a Nihilator unit engages, the more potential Berserk attacks it can make.  Swordsmen's two attacks give them an advantage if the enemy is only exposing a small handful of high-Def models (a pretty common scenario), while Berserk and Mat 7 represents a significant advantage if the Nihilators can engage more of the enemy unit.  The precise math is certainly doable, but it isn't necessarily a better way to think of the tactics you'll be using in game*.  Often, it's better to engage as many enemies as you can regardless of your odds of doing damage, because you want to shut down movement and ranged attacks.  Sometimes, it's better to expose only a little of your formation, even if it means engaging only a few of the enemy's model's.  Outside of specific warlock spells and feats, it's very hard for either Swordsmen or Nihilators to do much damage to a very high Defense unit, and damaging that unit will probably be a secondary objective to limiting its options however you can.

Against hard targets like warbeasts and warjacks, Nihilators have an advantage due to Mat 7 and Reach.  The Swordsmen can do a Pow 12 Combo Strike, which is pretty good in terms of versatility.  Beasts and jacks, however, require a lot of attacks, especially Pow 12 attacks, to take down, and Nihilators can make more attacks on a single target with Reach, and those attacks will be more accurate due to their Mat of 7.  How important this is largely depends on how many warbeasts you're running.  Skorne beasts are very good at eliminating enemy beasts and jacks, and infantry attacks are often best spent elsewhere.  However, a unit of Nihilators is better at threatening damage on a heavy target than a unit of Swordsmen, and that can put opponents at a positioning disadvantage.

Finally, there is a disadvantage to Berserk.  The more effective it is at killing enemies, the more likely it is to kill other Nihilators.  This makes fully committing a unit of Nihilators to combat a little risky.  Commit too few, and bad luck might mean you do little damage to your target.  Commit too many, and you'll likely lose models to your own attacks.  Good positioning can certainly mitigate Berserk's weaknesses, but with Nihilators' 7" Command radius and the rules for charging (specifically that chargers must always turn to face their targets directly), that kind of positioning can be tricky to manage.

Overall, Swordsmen and Nihilators are nearly equal offensively.  They are great at taking out standard enemy infantry, and not especially useful at taking out heavy targets or high-Def enemies.  Swordsmen are slightly better in fairly common special situations, like Tough or higher Armor 1-wound opponents, but Nihilators have a higher potential damage output against many enemies who don't have those abilities.

*Nihilators are solidly better than Swordsmen in situations where they can engage at least two enemy models per Nihilator.  There are significant diminishing returns for every enemy engaged by multiple Nihilators, since once it's removed, it will deny both the first attack and any additional Berserk attacks a group of Nihilators could make on it.  Swordsmen are better in situations where fewer enemies are exposed.  They can take the best advantage of their multiple attacks to hit dodgy targets.

It's also worth noting that without a Mat buff, Swordsmens' two attacks break even, probability-wise, with a Nihilator's single attack against Def 17 (6/36).  At Def 18, Nihilators have a bit more accuracy than Swordsmen (3/36 vs 2/36), and at Def 19, Swordsmen go back to having the advantage, since they'll always have a chance to hit (needing 12's) on 2 dice.