Monday, December 16, 2013

Battle Report: Kaelyssa vs eDoomshaper 50pt

I managed to get a game in this last Friday (yea, ok it was like a week and a half ago, but I take a long time writing these) vs my busy and elusive compatriot, pGrexy.

pGrexy's Army: Kaelyssa 50pt
Kaelyssa, Night's Whisper (*7pts)
* Banshee (10pts)
* Phoenix (10pts)
* Sylys Wyshnalyrr, the Seeker (2pts)
Dawnguard Invictors (Leader and 5 Grunts) (6pts)
* Dawnguard Invictor Officer & Standard (2pts)
Dawnguard Sentinels (Leader and 9 Grunts) (9pts)
* Dawnguard Sentinel Officer & Standard (2pts)
Mage Hunter Strikeforce (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Mage Hunter Commander (2pts)
Arcanist (1pts)
Arcanist (1pts)
Mage Hunter Assassin (2pts)
Mage Hunter Assassin (2pts)

The potential for assassination in this list is downright silly. Between the Assassins, Strikeforce, Phoenix, and Kaelyssa, I'm going to have my hands full protecting Doomy from a grisly death. My potential advantage -- 3 high-ARM, high-HP, rampaging monsters of Dire Trolls -- is slightly negated by the sheer number of infantry and those Sentinels, who he can keep back and use to really demolish my Dire Trollsonce they commit to the front line of infantry. Kaelyssa is the real wild card here, as her spells and feat can be a tremendous advantage to keeping me on my back foot -- Arcane Reckoning or Banishing Ward on anything my spellcasters (Runeshapers, Lanyssa, Janissa, and Doomy) try and go for, Phantom Hunter on the Mage Hunger Strikeforce (that's just gross), and the feat to blunt my potential charges on any turn it would be advantageous for Doomy to feat. Toss in 2 heavies with good melee damage AND range weapons (not to mention that damn Arc Node, but Kaelyssa's offensive spells are FAR more dangerous to Warmachine armies), and this list is terrifyingly well constructed.

Caleb's Army: eDoomshaper 50pt
Hoarluk Doomshaper, Rage of Dhunia (*6pts)
* Troll Axer (6pts)
* Earthborn Dire Troll (10pts)
* Mulg the Ancient (12pts)
* Rok (11pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 3 Stone Scribes (3pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Trollkin Runeshapers (Leader and 2 Crew) (4pts)
Janissa Stonetide (3pts)
Lanyssa Ryssyll, Nyss Sorceress (2pts)
Troll Whelps (2pts)

I love this list. I have rarely played it, but I love it. The three most dangerous melee Heavies in Trollbloods, enough spellcasting and magic weapons to make me laugh in the face of incorporeal and certain Menoth builds, and enough speed boosts to seriously annoy even Circle and Cryx players. Hell, even Mulg can charge 14" on feat turn without a lot of effort (4" move, charge, feat, Rush, Hunters Mark), and the Earthborn can potentially go 3" farther than that!

My biggest issue is going to be protecting Doomy - he's a fragile little bugger, and there's a unit of phantom-seeker-able MH Strikeforce on the table, not to mention two assassins!

Deployment and Scenario
We rolled the Incursion scenario, so 3 flags went up in the middle of the board - one of which would disappear on turn 2, which made deployment interesting. We bandied about various tactics for dealing with this scenario, and ended up ignoring a good chunk of it and deploying effectively across from each other between the right 2 objectives.

pGrexy won the roll and elected to go first. He deployed roughly in a line (from my right to left) as follows: Phoenix and an Arcanist (aka Mr Coffee), Invictors w/ UA, Sentinels w/ UA, Kaelyssa and Sylys behind them, and finally the Banshee and the 2nd Mr. Coffee. In response, I deployed (from right to left) the Runeshapers, Rok, Doomy and the Runebearer*, the KSB and Janissa behind them, Mulg, the Axer behind him, Lanyssa, and the Earthborn on the far end. The whelps started off the table, as per usual when fielding a melee oriented battlegroup. Finally, the Strikeforce deployed roughly in front of the main army, while the two assassins went way out on my left flank, angling to take that flag if necessary (assuming it didn't disappear) and get a flank in on Doomy.

Terrain was important, but largely ignored - there was a forest on my side next to the Earthborn, and another forest just to the right and behind the center objective (from my POV), plus a hill on my right just outside the deployment zone. Beyond that, the other terrain didn't figure much into the game (and to be honest I kinda forgot what else was there...).

Turn 1: Retribution
The Strikeforce moved up first and fanned out, leaving plenty of room for the mass of infantry to follow. The Assassins ran up my right flank, aiming to claim the objective next turn and wait for an opening. The rest of the infantry and jacks effectively just ran forward, clustering up next to a forest just his side of the center objective, with the Phoenix moving a bit farther to put him just behind the Strikeforce. Kaelyssa put Banishing Ward and Arcane Reckoning on the Phoenix and Strikeforce, respectively, effectively curtailing any ideas I had for easily dropping Runeshaper-AOEs on them next turn.

Turn 1: Trollbloods
Not much to do but advance - the Axer put Rush on Mulg and charged forward, the Runebearer advanced and put Harmonious Exaltation on Doomy, who then dumped 5 fury onto the KSB and charged the Phoenix (for the extra 3" advance - he was WELL short). Janissa followed him forward and plopped a lovely wall directly in front of him (more to prevent charges than anything else, thanks to Phantom Seeker) while Mulg ran straight forward down the middle, Rok ran up the right side angling for the Phoenix, and Earthborn moved up to the left, taking up a position conveniently 2" in front of a forest (yay movement buffs!) for next turn. The KSB put up it's buff (adding no-continuous-effects from the Elder - none of them were really going to matter much this game), moved up and angled to the right - I figured Rok, Mulg, and the right flank would need the armor boost a bit more. The Runeshapers moved up the right, and threw 3 AOE's at long range at the Strikeforce - or rather, in the direction of the Strikeforce and Phoenix thanks to the upkeep spells on both that either didn't allow me to target them, or put the AOE on the Runeshaper when they inevitably missed. Thanks to some clever LOS shenanigans, I plopped the 3 AOEs directly in front of the unit - and they then mostly scattered away, killing... 1. Meh, I tried.

The rightmost objective then proceeded to disappear, bothering neither of us much since we were already ignoring it.

Turn 2: Retribustion
After some decision making, pGrexy upkept Arcane Reckoning but dropped Banishing Ward, and dumped some fury on the Phoenix. The Strikeforce moved up and to the left, fanning out in front of the Earthborn. The Strikeforece, mini-feated Invictors, and 2 Mage Hunter Assassins proceeded to move up and/or shoot everything they had into the relatively unprotected Earthborn, killing it. The Banshee moved forward in a forest to alongside Kaelyssa, who then shot a spell or two at the cluster of Doomy and the Krielstone scribes, without much effect. The Sentinels moved up alongside the Invictors, creating a rather effective 2nd line that was going to be tough to breach. (There was some divided shooting here that I don't remember, but the Earthborn was the only casualty). Kaelyssa ended the turn by Feating - effectively putting me on the back foot for the next turn.

Turn 2: Trollbloods
With the Earthborn down and a rather imposing wall of un-chargeable infantry in front of me, the only choice here was to feat and take as many of them down as possible with tramples. Luckily, the infantry were clustered fairly close together, meaning I'd have to Goad a lot less and could focus on buying more attacks or just trampling. It was at this point that pGrexy pointed something out that I had been doing wrong - when Goad is used on Rok, he can move without breaking his Berserk chain. I had previously been going on the assumption that each time he moved, he would have to buy another attack to start up the chain again - apparently I was wrong, and it just kept going until he missed or ran out of targets/fury to Goad.

pDoomy advanced up, putting Kaelyssa just within his control range, feated, and put Wild Aggression and Primal on Rok. Rok then proceeded to walk forward 8" and goad his way through 14 enemy models (7 Strikeforce, 5 Invictors, and finally 2 unlucky Sentinels), advancing a total of nearly 8-10 inches to sweep the area in front of Kaelyssa nearly clean of models before ending up in front of the Phoenix.

Huh.

The Axer put Rush on Mulg, and walked up and killed an Assassin, putting himself between the remaining assassin and Doomy in the process. The Runebearer used his once-per-game ability to put Wild Aggression on Mulg, who then trampled 12" to an Invictor in front of Kaelyssa (killing an unlucky Strikeforce on the way), killed it easily, Goad'ed up to Kaelyssa, and smashed her to pieces with 2 hits.


Victory to the Trollbloods!


Thoughts
We both played a pretty strong game, and I was impressed with how both of our armies have a lot of internal cohesion. Dealing with 3 very deadly heavy Warbeasts is hard to do in the first place, but pGrexy's army had a pretty good shot of it, especially after taking out the Earthborn so soon. If it hadn't been for the insane amount of shenanigans Rok got up to, I would have been jammed up something fierce on the next turn. I would not have liked facing this army with a normal, balanced list - between the Invictors with Sentinel backup, advance-deploying Strikeforce, and AOE's, I would have had trouble getting into the fray intact.

The reasoning for taking out the Earthborn was sound - 3 heavies is a bit too much danger to leave unchecked, especially with Goad, and he can easily take down 1 each turn, first from shooting and then in melee once I engage and those Sentinels can get to work. Since it was outside the Krielstone Aura this turn due to my mistake, the Earthborn was the logical choice to take out first - it would have had yet another innate speed boost, and was poised to trample 15" on the feat turn, nearly straight across or through the first line of infantry (maybe 8-10 infantry, if I'd done it right -- likely killing all of them too, with Wild Aggression up). I don't think either of us thought that Rok could do what he did, and it only worked so ludicrously well because pGrexy clustered his models together quite a bit, allowing Rok to kill 3-4 models with each Goad move. Trampling and the +3 speed from eDoomy's feat also effectively negated the main bonus from Kaelyssa's feat.

I really like this list, and as a first real foray into eDoomshaper, it went very, very well!



*note to self: 'Doomy and the Runebearers' is an awesome name for a band. Need to look into that more.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New Project, New Posts: Mercs!

So, I'm the first to admit that I've pretty much not done squat on this blog for a while, and I feel bad about that. So, from here on out, I'm planning on doing at least 1 post a week - be it battle report, tactics update, or army list post. To help this along, I'm also starting Mercs! (entirely coincidental)

There are 3 main reasons I'm getting into Mercenaries:
1.  Horgenhold Forge Guard - I've wanted to use these guys since I started playing Warmachine!
2. General Ossrum, the Earthbreaker, and Gun Bunnies - technically that's three in one, but shaddup you...
3. Variety - Khador, Circle, even Trollbloods are all pretty static in playstyle. Between Contracts, Rhulic/Human/Iosan/Nyss/Pirate models, and Gun Mages/Kayazy, just about everything plays a little bit different. Plus, I can make use of Harlan Versh again - I love that guy!

The first stop on my Merc Trek is Searforge - more specifically, General Ossrum, who has just about everything I want in a warcaster, and a great tier list to boot!

State of War - Ossrum's Tier
The tier list is pretty simple - only Rhulic models, 2 or more ranged units, 2 or more solos, and 3+ warjacks in the battlegroup. For those, you get (in order): 1 unit gains Advanced Deploy, 1 Trench Template (and 1 more for each additional 2 units), Start the game with Ossrum's upkeeps already cast, and Warjacks in the battlegroup gain +2 speed during round 1.

Ossrum 15pt - Searforge Commission
General Ossrum (*5pts)
* Ghordson Basher (7pts)
* Wroughthammer Rockram (8pts)
Herne & Jonne (3pts)
Thor Steinhammer (2pts)

For some reason, the 15pt list is the one I have the most issues with. This is also the list that is most in flux, as it's in the running to be the first list I build to.

Ossrum 35pts - State of War Tier 3
General Ossrum (*5pts)
* Grundback Gunner (3pts)
* Ghordson Basher (7pts)
Hammerfall High Shield Gun Corps (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Hammerfall High Shield Gun Corps Officer & Standard (3pts)
Herne & Jonne (3pts)
Horgenhold Forge Guard (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Ogrun Bokur (3pts)
Thor Steinhammer (2pts)
* Grundback Blaster (3pts)

Gotta love them gun bunnies, and in this list I've got the whole Hen-and-Chicks. The Basher, Gunner, and Forge Guard are there to deal with problem high-ARM models, while the High Shields under Snipe (and CRA if necessary), Herne and Jonne, and the Blaster dish out damage to infantry. Herne and Jonne or the Blaster can deal with Kayazy or other High-DEF models, while the Bokur can client to Ossrum and help keep him and Thor alive. I'm on the fence about bumping the Blaster up to the battle group - on the one hand, it works better with focus and would give me the tier 4 bonus; on the other, it's more of a load on Ossrum's already stretched-thin focus. Time will tell here.

I worry how it'll deal with Heavy Jack/Beast spam, but at 35pts that might not be as much of a problem with the Forge Guard and CRA-ing High Shields. Heck, even the Bokur can do some serious damage to a jack if it gets near his client, however that's inviting trouble if I'm letting a jack get that close to Ossrum. If it turns out I do need more heavy crackers, it's a simple matter do give Thor the Basher and swap the Gunner and Blaster for a Driller. I'd love a Rockram, but to do so I'd also have to drop the Basher and Gunner and add 2pts of something else - which, given my choices and tier restrictions, invariably has to be Lord Rockbottom. Honestly, not a bad call with 3 units running around, but I want to see how the Basher and bunnies perform first.

Boosting up to 50pts is actually pretty easy:

Ossrum 50pts - State of War Tier 3
General Ossrum (*5pts)
* Grundback Blaster (3pts)
* Ghordson Earthbreaker (19pts)
Hammerfall High Shield Gun Corps (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Hammerfall High Shield Gun Corps Officer & Standard (3pts)
Herne & Jonne (3pts)
Horgenhold Forge Guard (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Tactical Arcanist Corps (4pts)
Lord Rockbottom (2pts)
Ogrun Bokur (3pts)
Thor Steinhammer (2pts)

So, we lose 2 bunnies (the Basher and the Gunner) but gain an Earthbreaker (!!!), TACs, and Rockbottom (with now 4 units on the table, it becomes a bit more useful that they not run, and that extra spray is kiiiiinda nice at 50). The Tactical Arcanist Corps is an interesting unit, and I'm very tempted to have one stick around Ossrum and put up a cloud effect every turn, which would really skyrocket his survivability. Their addition also bumps the number of units in the army to 4, meaning it generates another trench template per the Tier 2 benefit. The inclusion of the Earthbreaker means the list won't make the tier 4 benefits - there are literally no available points for even a 2nd gun bunny unless I want to drop the High Shields to a min unit.

Therein lies the main problem with this list - short of new Rhulic models coming out in Vengeance, this is pretty much the only iteration of this list I can field. Every model available in Ossrum's tier (that I'm interested in anyway) is being used. This does leave Gudrun, Brun and Lug, the Ogrun Assault Corps, and the Horgenhold Artillery Corps, but from what I can tell all of these aren't really up to the level of the units already in the list.


At this point, these lists are pure speculation -- I'm not certain that the benefits of State of War/Searforge outweigh the (somewhat crippling) model restrictions, but I'm going to do some proxying and see what works and what doesn't. Regardless, I want (and intend to regularly use) 90% of the models in the 50pt list, be it in Searforge or Highborn Covenant. Speaking of which...

Highborn Covenant

I REALLY like the Highborn Covenant contract, probably as much as the Ossrum Tier. The reason is simple - OPTIONS. Gun Mages, Rhupert, Versh, Aiyana and Holt, Gastonne Crosse, Lanyssa Ryssyl, Eiryss2, Gorman (my abject hatred of facing this dirty little bastard is not strong enough to prevent me using him in kind. Juicy, Black-Oil-Grenade Hypocrisy), etc, etc.  Here's a rough idea of the 50pt Highborn list, again with Ossrum:

Ossrum 50pts - Highborn Covenant
General Ossrum (*5pts)
* Ghordson Earthbreaker (19pts)
Arcane Tempest Gun Mages (Leader and 5 Grunts) (6pts)
* Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Officer (2pts)
* * Mule (8pts)
Horgenhold Forge Guard (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Tactical Arcanist Corps (4pts)
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist (2pts)
Harlan Versh (2pts)
Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord (2pts)
Thor Steinhammer (2pts)

This list has some notable differences from the tier list, notably the inclusion of Gun Mages with a Mule, as well as Gorman, Versh, and Rhupert Carvolo - all of which are a lot more useful with other casters than a lot of Ossrum's Tier. The Gun Mages are just plain better than High Shields, and adding in a Mule (a great target for Fire for Effect, since it can also get snipe or crit-brutal from the gun mages) really bumps up the ranged threat, forcing my opponent to do something about them and possibly opening up nice opportunities for the Forge Guard and Earthbreaker.

The most appealing thing about choosing Highborn over State of War is the options it opens up - I can drop the Mule for a Vanguard and Eiryss2, swap around the TACs for Aiyanna and Holt, or even little things like swapping Versch for Macnaile. The tier list is veeeery stagnant - what's there is there to fill a requirement, with very few exceptions, and that doesn't make for very fluid list building if I wanted to shift gears later on.


Needless to say, this is going to be a loooong term project, and I'm still playing Trollbloods in the meantime. I've also started playing Flames of War with the Tower Games league, so expect some posts on that in the near future!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Battle Report: Lord Arcanist Ossyan vs. Calandra Truthsayer, Oracle of the Glimmerwood, 50pts

Well!

After about a month of not being able to schedule WarmaHordes game in person, I finally managed to get one in this past Monday against Caleb J. and his Trollbloods.

In my long hiatus from the table of honor, I've gone a little stir-crazy with list building, especially for Retribution.

I'd brought along two lists, but I'd basically decided to try out a Lord Arcanist Ossyan list I'd cooked up a while ago.  There are a lot of models in it I don't own yet, but the heck with it.  I've proxied before, and I'll proxy again.

Lord Arcanist Ossyan Vyre (+6)
*Banshee (10)
10 Dawnguard Sentinels (9) - (proxied by Houseguard Halberdiers)
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2)
*Daemon (9) - (proxied by a Manticore)
10 Mage Hunter Strike Force (8)
*Strike Force Commander (2)
4 Stormfall Archers (5) - (proxied by Dawnguard Invictors)
4 Stormfall Archers (5) - (proxied by Dawnguard Invictors)
Lady Aiyanna and Master Holt (4)
Arcanist (1)
Arcanist (1)

The list fits together pretty well in theory.  The Sentinels are the main jamming and melee damage unit.  They hit hard, they're accurate, and I can deploy them in waves so they get some work out of Vengeance.  The Daemon backs them up, and kills off the infantry that can threaten them.  With the Sentinels marshalling it, it becomes quick and flexible thanks to Pronto, and doesn't drain any Focus from Ossyan.

The rest of the list is a pretty basic gunline for the Retribution.  The Mage Hunter Strike Force is a flexible unit which can do a lot of jobs, especially on Ossyan's Feat turn.  The Stormfall Archers are my main source of ranged damage against both heavies and infantry because of their AoE's and Brutal Shot.  The Banshee is there to fix my accuracy issues with its knockdown gun, and also has a late-game melee presence.  Aiyanna and Holt are mainly around to grant a unit Magic Weapons for the Menoth matchup,but Holt's guns and Aiyanna's damage buff are also great support.

So overall, it's a pretty balanced list.  It has the tools to deal with high Arm and high Def.  It will mainly play attrition.  It's ok with low Arm Stealth infantry, but Stealth heavies will give it some trouble.  A superior shooting game will also give this list problems.  Quicken is a pretty good defensive spell, but I'm counting on a lot of fairly squishy infantry models to do a lot of heavy lifting, and an army that's good at removing them before they can take their toll at range is going to give me a lot of trouble.

So that was Theorymachine Corner.  Let's see how well it works on the table.

When I arrived at Tower Games, Caleb was engaged in a debate with himself about what beasts to put in his Jarl Skuld list.  To Bomber, or not to Bomber?  Caleb came to the conclusion that much of the Bomber's role in the list was already filled by Magic Bullet, and that Jarl really wanted the punch of another solid melee heavy instead.

His mind made up, Caleb announced that he was going to play Calandra:

Calandra Truthsayer, Oracle of the Glimmerwood (+5)
*Mulg the Ancient (12)
*Troll Axer (6)
*Trollkin Runebearer (2)
10 Trollkin Fennblades (8)
*Officer and Drummer (2)
5 Trollkin Warders (8)
10 Pyg Burrowers (6)
Kriel Stone Bearer and 3 Stone Scribes (3)
*Stone Scribe Elder (1)
Trollkin Fell Caller Hero (3)
Trollkin Fennblade Kithkar (2)
Stone Scribe Chronicler (2)

A Calandra list with no ranged attacks (the Pyg Burrowers' Rng 4 popguns do not count).  Interesting.  It has got a lot of infantry though, and has a fast and reliable jam with the Fennblades.  The Warders are more of a second wave, and I know from experience that they're tough to kill.  Finally there are the Burrowers.  Those little guys have a lot of potential, especially with a Warlock who can make them hit harder and more accurately like Calandra can with her Feat.  They also get into combat very reliably with Burrow.  No, they can't use it two turns in a row, but they can get 16"-19" past the Trollblood AD zone on turn 2 if they Burrow on turn 1, and that's plenty of distance to get them into their targets.

Mulg looks to be the list's finisher.  The Fennblades will jam the enemy, the Burrowers will start killing troops and trading their lives, and the Warders will hold things off, and do some good damage while they're at it, but Mulg is where the damage comes from.  He can smush pretty much anything in one round, even a Colossal if Calandra's Feat is helping him out.  Warcasters, especially ones as squishy as a certain elf I was planning to play, are easy pickings for Mulg if he can get to them.


Deployment and Scenario:

The scenario we played was Process of Elimination, mostly because we like it.  It has two 12" by 6" rectangular zones 8" apart in the middle of the table, with a monolith in the middle of each zone.  The monoliths are enemy models to both players, and thus contest the zones.  A player scores 1 point for destroying a monolith, one point for controlling a zone, and two points for dominating a zone.  Only one monolith can be damaged each turn.

I won the roll-off, and chose to go first because I wanted to set up my firebase before I really needed to start shooting.

My deployment.  Molik and the Archidon graciously let themselves be used as objectives.

I set my Sentinels and Daemon to storm the wall on my right on turn 1, and my Stormfall Archers to set up around the hill and behind the left zone to start their bombardment.  All my support (otherwise known as the non-proxied models) deployed in the middle.  My Strike Force deployed to oppose Caleb's Fennblades, who had rudely set up to jam my Sentinels.

Caleb's Deployment (after we've set up our AD models)

Caleb set up his Fennblades to tie down my Sentinels, and deployed his heavy armor in his center-right where it could weather my ranged game without too much interference from Weapon Masters.  After I'd placed my Strike Force to counter the Fennblades, Caleb cunningly placed his burrowers to jam up (and kill, of course! Those popguns are scary) my Stormfall Archers.

One last shot of the table before we begin.

Retribution of Scyrah, Turn 1

Ossyan kept all his Focus, and let the Arcanists handle turn 1 Myrmidon management like they're supposed to.  He also activated first.  He cast Quicken on the Sentinels (+2 Spd, and +2 Def against Ranged and Magic attacks), advanced, then cast Admonition on himself (when an enemy model advances and ends its move within 6" of Ossyan, he can move 3" and ignores free strikes while he does).  He also put Shatter Storm on the Mage Hunter Strike Force (whenever they directly hit and box a model, center a 3" AoE of Pow 8 Magic damage on the boxed model, then remove it from play).  I normally like to have Ossy fail a charge against an enemy on turn 1 to get a little closer, but I had the feeling these trolls would be coming to me.

The Mage Hunter Strike Force was out of position, and needed to help out against the Pyg Burrowers, so they ran into the central forest, there to hide in safety for a while.

The Quickened Dawnguard Sentinel Officer used Drive: Pronto to give the Daemon a full advance (5") then the Sentinels dashed 14" upfield to just behind the wall.  The Daemon used its 'jack Marshall boostie to run 10" further up, joining the Sentinels in their blitz on my right zone.


The rest of my forces ran up in a far more boring fashion, positioning themselves just outside my left zone so they could rain destruction on the Trollbloods in my next turn.



Trollbloods, Turn 1

Caleb was running a mostly melee army, so his forces mostly ran right at me.  The Fennblades spread out in a Trollkin version of Vengeance Formation.  The Pyg Burrowers sank slowly into the earth, and moved their Burrow marker 5" upfield.

Do not pay attention to the periscope on the small base.  There is nothing there.  Certainly there is not a writhing mass of stunted monstrosities from deep beneath the surface world, possibly beneath the bowels of Hell itself.  There couldn't possibly be anything like that....

The Warders, Warbeasts, and Calandra also ran up.  Calandra dumped 5 Fury on the Kriel Stone.  The stone itself spent one of those to activate its Warding Aura (+2 Arm for friendly Trollkin models within 4+ the Fury on it inches), and also ran.  The Fell Caller and Fennblade Kithkar ran up more cautiously than the leading Fennblades.

Finally, the Stone Scribe Chronicler advanced, and put Hero's Tragedy on the Fennblades, meaning that any warriors who killed them with melee attacks would be knocked down at the end of their activations.



Retribution of Scyrah,Turn 2

Ossyan spent 3 Focus to upkeep all his spells, and allocated 2 Focus to the Banshee for shooting.  I vacillate about my activation order for a while.  There are a lot of Trolls on the way, and I need to do something about them this turn.

I started off with the right Arcanist, who advanced and Power Boosted the Daemon to put a point of Focus on it.  The Daemon aimed, and shot its Vortex Cannon into the middle of the Fennblades (in the picture above, it's the one standing right in the middle of that loose clump with his blade held high screaming "Come on!  Do your worst!").  Five other Trollkin were pulled into the Vortex, including the Fennblade Officer (though sadly not the Fell Caller).  The officer and one other Fennblade passed their Tough checks, but the other four disappeared with a faint burping sound.

The Mage Hunter Strike Force advanced a bit further into the woods, and took out a few more Fennblades, including the Knocked Down Officer.  They also did a couple of points of damage to the Fennblade Kithkar.  The Sentinel Officer used Pronto to let the Daemon move out of the way a bit.  Then the unit advanced, spreading out into a proper Elven Vengeance Formation, and killed the last of the leading Fennblades, leaving just the Drummer and two other Fennblades (one of whom was knocked down).  The Fennblades had to take a Command check, but they held firm.  The Sentinel who struck the killing blow was knocked down itself thanks to Hero's Tragedy.



Ossyan advanced to hide in the woods behind the Mage Hunters, and cast Quicken on the Banshee.  I'd need to do some pretty fancy maneuvering if I wanted to save my firebase from the Burrowers next turn, and the Banshee needed to be Speed 7 to do it.

The Banshee activated next, walked around the Archidon objective, and slammed one of the Warders into the one behind it.  If I could disrupt the Warders with knockdown, they'd arrive a turn after the Burrowers, and be a lot easier to manage.  The one the Banshee slammed was killed.

Aiyanna and Holt moved up.  Aiyanna cast Kiss of Lylyss on the Warders, which would give me a +2 bonus to damage rolls against them, and Holt shot the Fennblade Kithkar twice, bringing it down to its last two health.

Stormfall archers advanced cautiously behind what had suddenly become my screening element: the Banshee and Aiyanna and Holt.  They managed to knock down another Warder (thanks to a passed Tough check) and kill off the Fennblade Kithkar.

View of the battlefield at the end of the turn.
And with that, my turn was done.


Trollbloods,Turn 2

The first thing Caleb did was move his Burrowing marker, and cause the wretched Pygmy Trolls to issue forth from its lightless depths.  They emerged to charge my surface dwellers when their activation came around.

The Fennblades stood up, and the one who could charged my Sentinels, killing its target easily.  The rest got out of the way of more important things.  Mulg advanced, putting most of my army within his threat range (gulp).  The Kriel Stone moved up, and used its Warding Aura, selecting immunity to Continuous Effects for its bonus feature.

The Runebearer use Harmonious Exaltation on Calandra to reduce the cost of one of her spells by 1.  Calandra advanced, and used her Feat, allowing her whole army to reroll 1's and 2's on attack and damage dice for the rest of the turn.  Then Calandra cast Star Crossed (when an enemy model makes an attack roll in her CTRL, it rolls 3 dice, and drops the highest one) for 2 Fury, put another one on the Kriel Stone, and ended her turn camping 3.  Caleb was taking no chances with her against my guns.

The Fell Caller advanced and used Battle Cry on the Burrowers, giving them +2 to their melee attacks (including the ones from their popguns thanks to Point Blank).  He then used a sonic blast to spray two of my Sentinels, but missed both the attacks even with Calandra's rerolls.

The Troll Axer used Rush on itself, and charged at one of the Sentinels in the second wave of my Vengeance Formation, but was out of range and failed the charge.



The Burrowers advanced (they were unable to charge thanks to the Banshee's Wailing), and attacked my firebase with their shovels and popguns.  They dinged up the Banshee a little bit (their rolling was mediocre), and killed Aiyanna plus a total of 3 Stormfall Archers (2 from the center-left unit, and 1 from the far left unit).  Both Holt and the center unit of Stormfalls passed their Command checks.



Caleb moved the Warders up to try to get some counterattacking in on his next turn.  The Stone Scribe Chronicler put Tale of Mists on them, giving them Concealment and Feign Death (I would not be able to target them with Ranged or Magic attacks while they were knocked down).


And that was it for Caleb


Retribution of Scyrah, Turn 3

First, the Sentinels were thirsty.  For Vengeance.  They advanced, took out one Fennblade, knocked down another, and took off a chunk of the Axer's health with their attacks.

Ossyan upkept all three of his spells again, and allocated 2 Focus to the Banshee.

At this point, I sat back and stared at the table for a while, trying to unravel the activation order I wanted.  I stared at my Sentinels.  I stared at Ossyan.  I stared long and hard at the Pyg Burrowers, as though I could make them stop jamming me by sheer staring power.

Eventually, I settled on a plan.  It wasn't the plan I wanted (which was kill Mulg to death with grenade arrows), but it would solve all my immediate problems, and set me up pretty well for next turn.

Ossyan stayed where he was, and popped his Feat, which would give me an extra die on ranged attack damage rolls against enemy models in his CTRL.  It also subtracts a die from enemy ranged attack damage rolls in his CTRL, but I wouldn't have to worry much about that.

The Sentinels went, used Pronto to let the Daemon full advance closer to the Warders, and finished off the Axer and the Fell Caller with melee attacks.  The right Arcanist Power Boosted the Daemon, which aimed, and used its Vortex Cannon to suck in the whole squad of Warders.  It boosted damage on one of them, and killed it, but three others passed their Tough checks, and one was brought to 1 hit box, but remained standing.  Still, it was another turn I wouldn't have to deal with them.


Holt advanced, and knocked down a single Burrower.  The left Stormfalls activated, and shot the Burrowers in combat with the Banshee and Holt at point blank range.  Their AoE's didn't scatter, and 7 of the fell creatures died.  The rest chose to flee to whatever unspeakable realm had spawned them.



The Artificer, encouraged by the archers' success, tried to repair the Banshee, but failed the skill check.  The Banshee walked back toward the center of table, and took a boosted shot at Mulg, but missed.  Freakin' Start Crossed.  Oh well.  The remaining 2 Stormfall Archers took Brutal shots at Mulg, and did some damage.  The entire unit of Mage Hunter Strike Force also shot at Mulg, and did about 5 damage total.  Mulg was still firing on all cylinders, but finishing him off would be easier now that he'd taken some damage.


A strong turn for me overall, and one it would be hard for Caleb to come back from.  His only fully functional combat piece was Mulg.  The Burrowers and Fennblades were out of the picture.  The Warders were on their last legs, and delayed for another turn.  Some of the support was left, but Caleb wasn't about to eat through an army with Kriel Stone Scribes and a Runebearer.


Trollbloods, Turn 3

Caleb charged the Sentinels with the Kriel Stone Scribes (killing just one), and smashed the Daemon into little pieces with Mulg, but that was all he could do.  He didn't see that he had much chance of winning, and since it was getting late, he conceded rather than drag things out.


Victory to the Retribution!


Thoughts

It was great to be able to play again!  I've really missed coming down to the store in person to get some gaming in.  This game didn't turn out to be very close, but it was very enjoyable anyway.

I played pretty well.  My target selection was good, and in general, I made my list work out the way it was supposed to.  Admittedly, this was a pretty ideal matchup for it.  Trollkin defense is low, and even with Star Crossed in play, I wasn't looking for anything higher than a 5 or 6 to hit (sometimes a 7 on 3 dice).  There was just enough heavy armor that Ossyan's Feat had some work to do, but not so much that I was swamped by it.  The Pyg Burrowers were the only real sticking point for my list, but I was able to mitigate them pretty well with good use of the Banshee and some Stormfall grenade arrows.

I'm very happy with the list I built.  The Sentinels with the Marshalled Daemon were great.  The whole gang got 14"-15" into the table, dominated the right side of the table.  Quicken is a great spell for upping the Sents' survivability, although I didn't see it in action here.  It also let them compete with the Fennblades for threat range, which was a nice change from my usual brace for impact response to them.  The double units of Stormfalls worked pretty well too.  They did some damage to the Warders, and cleared out the Burrowers.

I noticed that the shooty approach made me want to play attrition the whole way.  I had the opportunity to destroy the right objective with my Sentinels and Daemon and try for a scenario victory, but there was too much work to be done thinning out the Trollkin in front of me.  I may try to focus more on scenario in the future, but it felt like my resources were best spent killing the models that could hurt me next turn.  Still, I don't see scenario as a weakness for the list.  It will force opponents into my strongest shooting elements if I play it right.  The list is certainly good at clearing things out with shooting.  Now I'll have to see if it does as well against an enemy with better tools to deal with it.

Caleb played a pretty solid game, despite having to fight an uphill battle.  I can't think of anything I would have done differently in his place except maybe deploy the Burrowers opposite my Sentinels, and the Fennblades opposite my Stormfalls.  The Fennblades were shot to pieces, but three made it into combat.  That was no problem for the Sents, who knocked them down with Vengeance attacks, and went on the do their thing.  Being engaged would have been a headache for the Stormfalls though.

The Pygs would have made it into the Sentinels unscathed thanks to their wretched tunnels, and 10 of them would have taken a while for me to clear out.  In the meantime, the Axer would have had something better to do than throw itself into a unit of weapon masters just to keep them off Mulg.

After the game, Caleb decided a Bomber and Impaler would be better than the Warders.  It would certainly give him the ranged game to support the rest of his troops, and the Bomber's AoE's can do a lot of work against gunlines like my list.  The Warders were just a little too slow as a second wave unit for Calandra.  The Burrowers and Fennblades are very fast, and a second wave should ideally hit the turn directly after the first, which the Warders couldn't do.  Of course, they were knocked down for most of the game, so it's possible they would be better against other opponents.

That's it for this battle report.  Hopefully I'll play another in-person game in a week or so.  In the meantime, I've also got a BRCT game coming up, and against Retribution no less.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

BRCT Game 2: Dominar Rasheth vs. Morvahna the Dawnshadow

I played another Vassal game for the Battle Report Community Tournament this past Friday morning.  This time, my opponent was Seraph, who was playing Circle Orboros.  Once again, my list options were Rasheth's Chain Gang theme force at Tier 2, and Mordikaar with a bunch of infantry and the Despoiler.  Seraph had brought two infantry heavy lists: eMorvahna and Grayle.

Our matchup was more or less predetermined going in.  On my end, I knew Mordikaar wouldn't be able to deal with eMorvahna, but that Rasheth had a good chance.  As for Seraph's lists, Morvahna had the attrition and hitting power to grind out a game against Rasheth's Titans with a good chance of success, while Grayle would have a much harder time.

When the time came to choose specialists, Seraph swapped in the Gatorman Witch Doctor, because just handing out Undead does so much against Rasheth.  So going in, I knew I'd be up against eMorvahna with a Witch Doc, and I knew I'd pick Rasheth, since only Rasheth could deal with eMorv.  I chose not to sub in any specialists, because I really like the way my list fits together.  I'll have to be up against a pretty extreme skew list before I drop anything from it.

Here are the lists:

Dominar Rasheth (+5) - Chain Gang Tier 2
*Bronzeback Titan (9)
*Titan Cannoneer (8)
*Titan Gladiator (7)
5 Gatormen Posse (9)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (1)
Agonizer (2)
Paingiver Task Master (2)

Morvahna the Dawnshadow (+5)
*Warpwolf Stalker (10)
*Gorax (4)
5 Warpborn Skinwalkers (8)
*Warpborn Alpha (3)
6 Tharn Blood Pack (10)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (1)
Gatorman Witch Doctor (3)
Gallows Grove (1)

We ended up playing Incursion - 3 flags in the middle of the battlefield, and a randomly determined one disappears at the end of round 1.

And here's the report.  I've decided to write this one up as a narrative from Jhorvash's perspective again.  Enjoy!

Jhorvash crouched behind her gatormen.  The Dominar had led his column further east, into human lands.  A second force, led by Tyrant Daakrun and Void Seer Mordikaar was to have supported Telarr's advance, but Jhorvash suspected Lord Rasheth had pushed his troops beyond their reach.

The reason had become clear a few hours ago, when the army had reached a substantial clearing in the woodlands.  The massive, forbidding trees had been felled, leaving a wide swathe of open land with forest looming all around.  In the center was a human construction - two lines of iron with enormous carts resting atop them.  Jhorvash was unclear as to its purpose, but she was not surprised the Dominar had come to investigate.  He was obsessed with human machines.  And why not?  Theirs was a culture where the wealthy obeyed no code save the tug of their own purses, and thrived.  

Lord Rasheth must have come to inspect the contraption without interference from Imperial agents.  Whatever plans he had for the device, he didn't want any of his fellow Skorne to find out.

At first, the site had seemed abandoned, but telltale signs of a short, bloody struggle soon became apparent.  The clearing had been lightly guarded, if at all, and the attackers had left no bodies behind them.  

For a while, Jhorvash dared to hope that the attackers had moved on, but soon an eerie howling filled the darkness under the treeline, and tall shapes began to emerge.  Jhorvash turned her attention to her new charges, still not fully responsive to her barbs, and began whipping them into some semblance of a battle line.

Our deployment.  We're both ready to spread out and contest any of the two flags.

The enemy troops fanned out as they advanced.  Their leader, a sorceress riding an agile horned creature of some sort, called up a cloak of fog to shroud her army's advance, chanting in a high, doleful voice.  Her soldiers were savage, feral-looking creatures neither human nor beast.  This must be one of the dirt-mystics Jhorvash had heard of.  

She sneered.  Warriors and mortitheurges were so confident of their own superiority.  Whenever they encountered something new, they spent almost as much effort degrading it as they did trying to kill it.  Now one of these dirt-mystics had neatly engaged Lord Rasheth's vanguard far from his reserves.  Jhorvash hoped the Dominar had a plan of some sort.  Otherwise, they would all share the fate of whatever humans had been here before.


Seraph runs forward.  Morvahna casts Carnivore on the Skinwalkers, and puts up Fog of War.

Jhorvash spurred her charges toward the enemy.  One broke ranks with the rest, and Jhorvash hissed.  It was eager to meet its death, a common flaw in new slaves.  A few more weeks with these gators, and they would be past such small rebellions.

Lord Rasheth's titans lumbered forward.  The cannoneer's mighty gun boomed, and Jhorvash saw the ball sail into the fog, followed by shrill screams from within.  The Dominar directed his mortitheurgy through the errant gatorman, which bellowed in pain as blood gushed from its nose and mouth.  Whether Lord Rasheth's sorcery struck its intended target, Jhorvash could not see.

[I forgot to grab a screenshot for this turn.  I run one Gator in position to try to arc a spell at the Witch Doc, but it's barely out of range.  The Cannoneer shoots at a Tharn, but is out of range.  Fortunately, the shot scatters into the Swamp Gobbers and Morvahna, and the Gobbers die.  The left flag disappears.]

The dirt-mystic's forces continued to charge.  Warped creatures with heavy armor and pole-axes killed the errant gator.  Others, more lightly clad, peppered Rasheth's titan gladiator with massive bows, and the creature bellowed in pain.

A stunted tree, decorated with grisly trophies, suddenly appeared in the mist, and mystical power shot from its branches to the gladiator, driving the titan mad with pain.

Seraph focuses down the Gladiator, and nails it with Sunder Spirit to deny me access to Rush.  The Witch Doc Zombifies the Skinwalkers.

The cannoneer's gun sounded again, and Jhorvash saw a spray of dirt fly out of the fog in front of her.  She lashed the gators into a killing rage, and ordered them to charge into the mist at the axe-wielding brutes, but the gators lacked the quick, mindless obedience so critical in enslaved troops, and accomplished little.

Lord Rasheth raised a hand as the trained infant titans who bore his lectica carried him forward.  His voice became the sound of a million of buzzing flies, and the enemy troops began to cough black fluid.  Another incantation sent one of the bestial arches choking to the ground.  A third restored much of the gladiator's vigor.

The beast smashed into another of the archers, and sent its lifeless body careening into a looming shape in the haze.

Rasheth Feats and Cannoneer Diminishes to blunt Seraph's counterattack.  The Gators nibble at the Skinwalkers and kill the Gallows Grove.  The Gladiator (with Carnivore) tries to slam-follow up into the Warpwolf Stalker, but the Tharn target dies.

The wall of conjured fog broke, and Jhorvash saw the mystic herself gallop forward, bleeding as though from a thousand tiny cuts.  She charged the enslaved bokor, and cut him down with a single blow.  As she struck, a wave of power swept the field, scouring much of Lord Rasheth's mortitheurgy.  

The Dominar's plague, however, was too vile to be magicked away, and the mystic's troops wasted under its power.  The axe-wielding warriors could not manage to bring down a single gator, though one of them pressed into the opening their leader had made, and slew Lord Rasheth's agonizer.  The archers leaped into the gladiator, but failed to down it with bow or blade.

Finally, a huge wolf-like creature charged from where it had been lurking, and finished the gladiator despite the sickness wracking its frame.

Morvahna Purifies, and her army does what it can, but that's not much between Rasheth's Feat and some aweful dice.  The Skinwalker who killed the Agoniser also makes the Beast Handlers flee with Terror.

Jhorvash pushed her gators to new heights or strength and bloodlust, and their slave conditioning began to take hold.  They finished off several more of the creatures they faced, and began to consolidate their position.

Lord Rasheth also seemed to be doing well.  He used his mortitheurgy to drop the savage warrior who had broken through, and instilled his bronzeback with an unnatural hunger for blood and flesh.

The bull titan gored the dirt-mystic's wolf creature to death, then rampaged through her archers, stuffing hunks of dripping meat into its mouth as it went.  Though the creature's rampage had secured the Dominar's left flank, Jhorvash did not envy its handlers.  She knew that they would bear the burden of sorting out the creature's digestion in the coming days.

I start to pull ahead in attrition, killing the Stalker and most of the Circle infantry.  But there's still eMorv's Feat to contend with.


The mystic's army was in shambles, but this only seemed to harden her resolve.  She rode forward again, blood raining from her limbs as she called upon her power.

Jhorvash looked on as the warriors her charges had killed sprang back to life at the mystic's direction.  They arose around Lord Rasheth and his Beast Handlers, howling with fury.

The strange tree Jhorvash had seen before sprung from the ground behind the Dominar, and the mystic sent her magic through its branches again.  Her power slammed into Lord Rasheth again and again, and he quaked and wailed with pain on his lectica.

The Dominar raised his head, and looked directly at Jhorvash.  She steeled herself, knowing what she must do.  She shouldered her weapon, and ran toward the mounted sorceress.  When it came, Jhorvash was ready.  She let the agony wash over her as blood poured from her nose and mouth.  She watched as the Dominar's mortitheurgy closed around the mystic in a cloud of entropy, and heard a final cry of pain and anger from within.

When the cloud dissipated, only the horned creature's rotted cadaver and a few scraps of cloth remained.  Whatever resolved the mystic's troops possessed broke, and they fled into the woods.

Rasheth channels Breath of Corruption through the Task Master, and Morvahna dies at last.

Victory to the Skorne!

Thoughts

That was a hard-fought game.  Both Seraph and I ran solid attrition lists, and neither of us gave up a single scenario point.  We both played pretty well.  Seraph made a couple of minor mistakes which ended up adding up.  The only major one was on Morvahna's assassination run with the Gallows Grove on the last turn.  The dice came up pretty short, but if Morvahna had returned fewer warriors with her Feat, she would have had more health while casting spells (she was at 3).  Then she would have been able to cut herself for damage rerolls, and Rasheth might have died.  I suppose Seraph was still thinking about the attrition and scenario game when Morv was returning Skinwalkers, but her assassination run was definitely shortchanged.

One thing I definitely should have done differently was trample the Gladiator up to the fallen log linear obstacle on turn 1.  Then it would have had Cover against the Blood Pack attacks, and would have taken far less damage.  Sunder Spirit might also have missed, which would have made my second turn significantly easier.

In my first game, the dice favored me pretty unfairly.  This game, they crapped all over both of us.  (Actually, the best roll all game was probably the scatter range and direction on that early Cannoneer shot.)  It got to be pretty pathetic, but it probably ended up enabling my win at the end.  If the luck hadn't been so terrible, Morvahna wouldn't have needed to use Scales of Fate so much for rerolls (which didn't do a whole lot for her to be honest... dice... yeesh).  And she wouldn't have been at such low health when I cast Breath of Corruption to finish her off.

I'm really starting to get the hang of Vassal, though ranges are still a little hard for me to judge (and I keep forgetting to turn off that "show your CTRL" button after I use it).  I could definitely see myself using it more often, especially when work gets super busy like it has this past month, and I can't make it down to Tower for 3 weeks in a row.

As for the tournament, I'm looking forward to round 3, where I'll hopefully get a matchup where I wouldn't mind fielding Mordikaar.  I've played the Void Seer a couple of times before and he is lots of fun.

Thanks to Seraph, who was an awesome opponent!

Friday, October 18, 2013

BRCT Game 1: Dominar Rasheth vs. Saeryn, Omen of Everblight

This is my first Battle Report Community Tournament report.  I played this past Thursday morning against Lich Lord Kier.  I brought Rasheth's Chain Gang theme force at tier 2 and Mordikaar with the Despoiler.  Kier brought the ninja twins, Saeryn and Rhyas.  Saeryn was running beast-heavy to take advantage of her feat, while Rhyas had an infantry-heavy tier 4 Rearguard force.

Going into the game, I knew 2 things.  First, that Rasheth had the tools to deal with Saeryn, and second, that Mordikaar did not.  So I went with Rasheth:

Dominar Rasheth (+5)
*Bronzeback Titan (9)
*Titan Cannoneer (8)
*Titan Gladiator (7)
5 Gatormen Posse (9)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (1)
Agonizer (2)
Paingiver Task Master (2)

Kier went with Saeryn, since both my lists are overwhelmingly melee-oriented, and her Feat is absolutely paralyzing against melee armies.

Saeryn, Omen of Everblight (+5)
*Scythean (9)
*Scythean (9)
*Angelius (9)
*Shredder (2)
Anyssa Ryvaal, Talon of Everblight (4)
The Forsaken (2)
The Forsaken (2)
3 Spell Martyrs (3)

And now the game.  I ended up only taking screen caps at the end of my own turns.  After Kiers,' I was usually too busy plotting my next moves, and forgot.  I also forgot to take a screen cap of deployment.  Hopefully, I'll remember to take all the pictures in the next games.

As promised, the report is written up as a story.  Hopefully, I manage to keep everything relatively clear.


Task Master Jhorvash watched her charges sprint toward the enemy.  Even without her urging, the savage gatormen would likely be running to sate their inborn bloodlust, but the fear of her lash lent them extra speed.  As they ran, their leader called up a mist to shroud their advance.  It was rare for slave species to be allowed to speak their own tongues, but the simple magics the gatormen bokors could call up added immeasurably to their usefulness in battle.  It was a fine line - too much freedom, and the slaves might rebel - but one Jhorvash walked expertly.  She was certain these gatormen would serve faithfully and well today.

Close by, Jhorvash's liege, Dominar Rasheth, was managing his titans with his customary aptitude.  He sent the cannoneer to the fore.  Its gun might slay a few of the enemy, and when the lines clashed, its death would buy time for the more powerful gladiator and bronzeback titans to destroy whatever had brought it down.  Lord Rasheth was a master of trade, even on the battlefield.

Jhorvash suffered no illusions about her own value to the Dominar.  It would be more expensive to replace the slaves.  

Crimson runes appeared around her gatormen's mouths and claws.  The Dominar's mortitheurgy, enhancing their natural appetite for bloodshed.  In battle, all their lives rested in Lord Rasheth's hands, and he carried them through or threw them away as he saw fit.

Most of the Skorne run.  The Gatormen get Carnivore, Dirge of Mists, and Temper Flesh (they're also Anyssa's Prey).

The enemy was a blighted toksaa leading a force of so-called dragonspawn.  Jhorvash had heard reports of tyrants who had faced such creatures before.  Supposedly, they had become a thorn in the Army's northern flank.

The toksaa servants ran forward.  One who rode a strange furred beast shot one of Jhorvaash's gators before skittering away.  Though the arrow sank deep into the gatorman's neck, it stayed up.  The others had no mounts or weapons, but were studded with jagged stones which glimmered ominously in the afternoon sun.

The dragonspawn moved forward with the speed of born predators, guided by their leader and a pair of even more disfigured toksaa.  Whatever sorcery they used seared Jhorvash's eyes, but she forced herself to look on as runes coalesced about the leader and her spawn.  As the blighted warlock worked, one of the crystal-studded toksaa erupted in a flare of power.  The blast was intended for the nearby gatormen, but vanished into the mist without finding its target.

Nothing was left of the toksaa but a heap of scorched and tattered flesh.  Jhorvash shuddered.  She was familiar enough with that technique.

[Kier's list mostly runs.  Respawn goes on the left Scythean, and Banishing Ward goes on Saeryn.  Saeryn will upkeep these spells for most of the game.  Saeryn also tries to Breath Stealer the Gatormen, but misses.]

Lord Rasheth ordered one of his gobber slaves forward.  He often took perverse pleasure in upstaging his enemies, and he wouldn't miss an opportunity like this.  The wretched creature's flesh sloughed off its diminutive frame as the Dominar's mortitheurgy coursed through it toward one of the lead dragonspawn, a loping monstrosity that looked like a modest armory of bone welded together by pale, rippling sinew.  As the Dominar's magic struck, the creature's scales buckled and began to ooze blood.

Seeing the beast's weakness, Jhorvash lashed her charges.  The pain drove them into a killing frenzy, and they ran snapping and hissing at the spawn.

As the maddened gators approached, a boom sounded from Jhorvash's right, and a cannon shell smashed into the dragonspawn's torso, staggering it.  Then the lead gators struck, giving full reign to their pain and bloodlust and despair.  When they were done, the beast was dead.  Jhorvash allowed herself a small smile.  Skorne warriors were fond of boasting about their exploits and sneering at the lesser castes, but how many could hope to fell such a monster?  Yet Jhorvash's slaves had done so in only a few strokes.  And it was she who had unlocked their full potential as instruments of death.

Rasheth casts Blood Mark at the right Scythean through a Gobber, and the Cannoneer and Gators finish it off!


The toksaa responded with an outpouring of malevolent power.  A small burst from another stone-crusted minion felled a gatorman, while the majority poured into her remaining beasts, lighting them up like torches of searing blight.

A winged beast and a twisted toksaa abomination slaughtered the gators who had felled their companion, while the toksaa rider cantered around a jutting pile of boulders to slaughter the last two slaves.  Jhorvash frowned.  Slaves were always sent first into battle, and they were always the first to die, but replacements took considerable time and skill to train.  Especially gatormen, whose pride had to be broken again and again.

A second bladed monstrosity charged Lord Rasheth's cannoneer.  Though it gouged long red furrows in the titan's flesh, none of its blows struck deep.  The creature had stumbled into the auras of pain around the warbeast and the Dominar's nearby agonizer, and the sympathetic waves of agony from the two titans sapped the dragonspawn's stength.

The other toksaa fanned out, claiming ground.  If they could hold it long enough, their reinforcements would be able to drive Lord Rasheth's army back.

[Kier focuses on wiping out the Gatormen and claiming the control zones.  Saeryn Feats to protect her battlegroup.  The remaining Scythean charges the Cannoneer, but Diminish and Gnawing Pain, as well as some bad luck on Kier's part, ensure the titan lives will all aspects intact.  Still, Kier has cleared the right zone, and the left is uncontested, so two points for the Legion.]

With her charges dead, Jhorvash's duty was to serve her lord as best she was able.  She charged the toksaa rider who had felled two of her slaves.  If Jhorvash could slay the rider, she could secure Lord Rasheth's flank - and exact some measure of retribution for the hours of work she had spent training the dead gators.  

The rider's nimble mount began to dash out of reach when a terrible pain seized Jhorvash from within, as though her organs had suddenly turned on one another with knives.  She stumbled to a halt, retching blood.  As she looked up, she saw the toksaa rider enveloped in a cloud of caustic gas.  Lord Rasheth's mortitheurgy at work again, directed through her body this time.  Still, Jhorvash could not suppress a grimace of satisfaction as she heard a wail of anguish from within the cloud, followed by the thump of flesh striking hard-packed earth.

Across the field, the Dominar urged his warbeasts to meet the toksaa flanking him on both fronts.  Though they moved at his direction, the titans refused to strike at the dragonspawn.  Whatever blazing power the creatures' blighted mistress had conjured up, the titans would not touch it.  Despite her pain, Jhorvash was glad she wasn't near enough to try her hand at attacking the spawn; she could barely stand to look at them from a distance, but Lord Rasheth would undoubtedly command her to fight.  Beasts who refused orders in battle might be disciplined brutally afterward.  Subordinates were executed.

The Dominar used one of his most terrible rituals to contaminate the enemy's blood with pestilence.  Though the toksaa and their twisted warbeasts weakened visibly, the titans still refused to attack them.  Thwarted, the Dominar directed his gladiator to seize the other gobber, and hurl it at the bladed spawn.  The slave was impaled on its bony spikes, but the creature barely registered the impact.

Jhorvash winced, still weak from Lord Rasheth's sorcery.  She had lived all her life with sacrifice, but she would never grow accustomed to the carelessness with the Dominar discarded his minions' lives.  The gobber was a mere slave, but how far above it did Jhorvash truly rank?  Low enough to be cast away in a fit of pique?  It seemed all too likely.

I contest the zones, and turtle up under Diminish and Rasheth's Feat.  The Agonizer is using Spiritual Affliction so the Angelius has no chance to Repulse the Bronzeback out of the zone.

Jhorvash surveyed the field.  She had to admit that Lord Rasheth had timed the battle well.  The mid-afternoon sun burned down overhead, and the parched ground of the battlefield held scarcely even a scrap of shade to alleviate the heat.  None of the Skorne were bothered.  These western climates always seemed mild compared to the march across the Bloodstone Desert.  But the blighted forces must have been used to colder weather, and were starting to flag.

Their leader urged her dragonspawn onward, but the creatures were sluggish to respond.  The bladed monster managed to finish the titan cannoneer, but was too dazed to turn is scything limbs on the nearby gladiator or paingivers.  The winged spawn flew at the bronzeback titan, but its blows were relatively feeble.

Once again, the toksaa warlock directed her power through one of her minions.  This time, when the jagged stones flared, a cloud of toxic blight surrounded the bladed dragonspawn, searing the titan gladiator's exposed flesh.  Jhorvash was struck by how similar the enemy's techniques were to her own lord's.  No doubt there was a world of difference in the technical natures of their respective magics, but they were nearly identical in there effects on soldiers, friend and foe alike.

The blighted toksaa abominations also advanced.  One drew power from the winged warbeast, while the other spewed it out in a wave of blighted energy at the gladiator.  The massive beast carried on, unhurt by the attack.

It seemed the tides of battle were turning.

[Saeryn's army only kills the Cannoneer.  Blight Bringer goes up on the Scythean.  Protection from Diminish and Rasheth's Feat help a lot, but so do the dice.  Kier needed this turn to be a big one, but the dice just said no.  It took most of the Scythean's juice to kill the Cannoneer, even with Bloodbath, and the number of 0-damage results rolled against the Gladiator and Bronzeback was pretty staggering too.]

The blighted power in the dragonspawn's flesh had burned out, and Lord Rasheth spurred his beasts to attack.  Jhorvash nodded in approval as her fellow beast handlers whipped the two surviving titans into a killing rage.

The gladiator turned its fists upon the bladed monster, and beat it to the ground.  Just when the dragonspawn's twitching had ceased, however, baleful runes blazed to life around it.  It was reborn in an explosion of gore, and lurched away before the titan could react.

Jhorvash adjusted quickly, trying to reach the beast before it could strike.  But Lord Rasheth was quicker still.  He sent the agonizer keening toward the respawned creature.  The stunted titan never noticed as new gashes appeared along its flanks and belly, and a stream of dark power poured out of it.  Such wounds would not register above the pain it felt every second from the barbs impaling its flesh.  The magic slammed into the bladed monster, and brought it low for good.

The Dominar bolstered his bronzeback's natural aggression with more mortitheurgy, and the bull titan smashed into the winged dragonspawn.  After goring the creature to death, the titan turned its attention to the blighted toksaa abomitation nearby, and crushed it with a single blow.

One side of the battlefield was now fully under House Telarr's control, and it wouldn't be long before the other fell.  Jhorvash eyed the toksaa warlock nervously.  Cornered enemies were always the most vicious and unpredictable.

I finish off the Legion heavies.  I score one point for controlling the right zone.





The toksaa's eyes narrowed, and she darted toward the gladiator.  She threw some sort of barbed weapon at the beast, but either the heat or the loss of her army spoiled her aim.  Her last remaining spawn, a slavering toothy creature about the size of a large hound, jogged after her.  The last of the toksaa abominations charged the titan in an effort to keep the beast away from its mistress, but its claws had little effect on the warbeast's armored hide.

[Kier is running out of options, and decides to try crippling my gladiator with Saeryn's Grievous Wounds dagger, but she misses.  The dice are really not liking Ker right now.  I also scored another point for controlling the right zone, bringing me to two.]

Jhorvash saw her chance, and charged at the toksaa warlock.  Her adversary was too nimble, however, and stepped aside.

Once again, Lord Rasheth sent his power through the agonizer, melting the toksaa abomination in a cloud of entropic corruption.  Then, he and his paingivers sent the gladiator stampeding toward the toksaa warlock.

Its fists pummeled her mercilessly, and though she was able to use her power to abdicate her wounds to her nearby spawn, the beast was soon overwhelmed, and the toksaa fell at the gladiator's feet.

Victory to the Skorne!

Thoughts

Well, I think Kier and I both played pretty well, but luck was with me all game.  Kier consistently rolled below average, and really tanked a few key rolls which might have given Saeryn the advantage.  Meanwhile, I consistently rolled average or better, meaning that all my key rolls went through.  The one notable dice spike I had also happened at one of the most decisive moments in the game: the two Gatormen and the Cannoneer taking out one of Kier's Scytheans with three attacks.  I can't think of any major screw-ups on either end, though there are a few activations I could have handled better, and Kier could probably say the same.

The list performed well.  The combination of Diminish and other damage debuffs is very reliable for keeping my beasts alive.  Rasheth's Dark Rituals were amazing this game.  The ability to channel spells through my hapless support models let me exert control wherever I needed it, and let me keep the upper hand throughout the game.

Thanks for a great game Kier!  Hopefully the dice will be a little more balanced in your next game.


Jhorvash looked back to the Dominar for further orders.  The field belonged to House Telarr at last, and every enemy had been slain.

As she turned, Jhorvash caught a flash of movement in the corner of her eye.

She snapped her head back around, and saw that the blighted toksaa warlock was gone.  Jhorvash scanned the horizon.  She thought she saw a shadow flitting through the scrub nearby, but when she looked again, she saw nothing.

Although the Dominar's forces had won, Jhorvash knew he would be displeased that she had let the enemy leader escape from right under her blade.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Battle Report Community Tournament, Prologue

So, some of the regular posters in the PP Battle Report forum have all gotten together to do a tournament over Vassal.  The tournament will last a couple of months with two weeks between rounds.  The lists are 35pts with 10pts of specialists.  There were already 2 Retribution players when I signed up, so I went with Skorne.  Because I don't have a lot of practice with them, and because they've been a lot of fun the few times I have played them, I went with Void Seer Mordikaar and Dominar Rasheth as my pair:

Void Seer Mordikaar (+5pts)
*Despoiler (10pts)
*Archidon (7pts)
10 Praetorian Swordsmen (6pts)
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2pts)
6 Cataphract Cetrati (11pts)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2pts)
Agonizer (2pts)

Specialists: Basilisk Krea (4pts), Tyrant Commander and Standard Bearer (3pts), Mortitheurge Willbreaker (2pts)

Dominar Rasheth (+5pts) - Chain Gang Tier 2
*Bronzeback Titan (9pts)
*Titan Cannoneer (8pts)
*Titan Gladiator (7pts)
5 Gatormen Posse (9pts)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2pts)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (1pt)
Paingiver Task Master (2pts)
Agonizer (2pts)

Specialists:  Basilisk Krea (4pts), 6 Venator Rievers (5pts)

There's supposed to be some kind of narrative to these games, so I'll try to write the reports up from the perspectives of some of the models.  I might post round-by-round activations in the comments, but mostly I'll try to make it clear what's going on from the story and snapshots from the Vassal program.

Here are the links to my games (added as I play them).  Enjoy!
Game 1: Rasheth vs. Saeryn
Game 2: Rasheth vs. eMorvahna

EDIT: It looks like this is actually the Battle Report Community Tournament, not the Battle Report Campaign Tournament, which does make a little more sense.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

First Game with Rasheth (Advice Wanted from Trollkin players)

I tried out Rasheth this past Friday, and I saw what all the fuss is about.

I'm not going to do a full report of this one, because it ended up being a pretty one-sided game.  I also took pictures, so I'll post them instead of a report.  I'd also like to ask Trollkin players what they think of the matchup.  The idea had been for me an Caleb to both try out a new Warlock, and play a couple of games, but it would be a lot more exciting if one of our Warlocks wasn't a terrible matchup for the other.

I went with the 35pt Dominar Rasheth list I cooked up.  Casey was around, and was nice enough to lend me some of his models, so I had no proxies.  Here's the list:

Dominar Rasheth (+5) - Chain Gang Tier 2
*Bronzeback Titan (9)
*Titan Cannoneer (8)
*Titan Gladiator (7)

5 Gatormen Posse (9)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (1)

Agonizer (2)
Paingiver Task Master (2)


Caleb decided to start trying Borka Kegslayer:

Borka Kegslayer (+5)
*Dire Troll Mauler (9)
*Troll Axer (6)
*Pyg Keg Carrier (-)

5 Trollkin Champions (10)
*Skaldi Bonehammer (3)
5 Trollkin Warders (8)
Kriel Stone Bearer and 3 Stone Scribes (3)
*Stone Scribe Elder (1)


Our Deployment.  The Warders are sort of hidden behind the house.

We squared off in Close Quarters, and got ready for a slugfest.  Caleb went first.

The two armies thunder toward each other.


The Champs jam the Gators, and the Warders get into the zone.


The Gators charge into the Champs, but lose one of their number to Skaldi's Counter Charge.


The Trolls charge in, but Plague Wind and Diminish mean they bounce off.



End of the game.  Butts forward guys.


Thoughts:

After the game, Caleb wondered if Rasheth is just a bad matchup for Borka.  The game certainly didn't go well for him.  He did have some poor key rolls (he tried to get the Mauler to throw the Gladiator into Rasheth, which would have made my next turn's activations more complicated).  This is also his first game with Borka, so it may just be inexperience.  I definitely feel that Rasheth has a good suite of tools against Trollbloods in general, and Caleb's list was certainly on the back foot for most of the game.

If there are any other Trollkin players reading this, what would you do against Rasheth?  Is this a matchup Borka can handle?  Caleb's also considering delving into eGrimm and Jarl Skuld as his next warlock.  Would either one do better at handling Rasheth?  If Borka's fine, and Caleb just needs some practice or the list needs some tweaks, that would be good to know too.

My other main observation is that MVP for the match was the Cannoneer, not because of the cannon, but because of Diminish.  I normally give Diminish a hard time for not giving much support to models besides the Cannoneer, but this game it was great.  I managed to shelter both the Bronzeback and the Gladiator near the Cannoneer for the initial charge, and stack Diminish with Rasheth's Feat to really take the punch out of the Trollkin weapons.  My Titans would have been smashed up pretty well if I hadn't had Diminish affecting everything attacking them. 


Friday, October 4, 2013

Swingin' the Chain, Swingin' the Chain

After the last tournament, I've decided to try out a new warlock: Dominar Rasheth.  There are a couple of reasons.

1)  He's supposedly very good.  I keep reading about people taking him to conventions and doing well with him.  He certainly seems to have a lot of tools against a lot of opponents, and asks an important question himself: Can you deal with 3-4 Titans when they're protected by clouds, and your damage rolls are debuffed?

2)  His playstyle looks like it will complement Makeda 3's, and she's currently my favorite Skorne warlock (she's so fantastic, I'll probably write out a massive post on how great she is pretty soon).  A lot of the matchups Makeda 3 doesn't like to see are fine for Rasheth.  Rasheth runs more Titans, and gives better and more consistent defensive support than Makeda 3.  His Feat and ability to take multiple Agonizers make him very good at running a high-Arm list.  He also plays from the backfield, which makes him a pretty good complement in terms of not putting him at risk.  Makeda 3 tends to rely on a few pieces, herself included, to do most of the work, while Rasheth spreads buffs (and debuffs) around for everyone to use.  If I decide I like Rasheth enough, I may end up using the two together.

3)  He is one Skorne warlock who really, actually likes to be played in Tier.  And his Theme List, Chain Gang is good.  It's like he's hosting an infomercial about House Telarr's Titan-Based Products, and every 10 seconds, he pauses to say "But wait, there's more!"  For real, here's the Tier 1 benefit:

Buy now, and you'll receive all your Titans Warbeasts at a 1pt discount, but, call within the next 10 minutes, and we'll increase the FA of Agonizers by one for every Titan you purchase absolutely free!!!
- Forces of Hordes: Skorne, p 26.

Even after Tier 1, the benefits are solid, although they are mostly icing on the cheaper Titans cake.  They're all useful, and "require" you to grab choices you'd already be reaching for with the Theme list.  Gatormen and a Task Master?  Sure, that seems good.  Two or more Agonizers?  Well, you're letting me take more than one.  Three or more Titans?  Heck, I run 3 Titans regularly enough at full price, outside of Tier, with plenty of 'casters.

The Tier list does have a limited model selection.  The only beasts allowed are Titans and Basilisks, and the only solos allowed are Paingiver Task Masters and Agonizers.  The units are a little more open, especially considering what Rasheth wants in a list: Nihilators, Venators, and Minion units are all fine.  Special mention should go to the Gatormen Posse and the Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew, although Farrow Slaughterhousers are also good.

4)  I honestly like Rasheth's fluff a lot.  I'm a sucker for any kind of fluff that hints at Skorne society beyond the Army of the Western Reaches, and really anything that depicts Skorne who aren't proud warriors eager to suffer and die for their ideals.  Don't get me wrong - the warrior theme makes Skorne who they are as a Faction, and I wouldn't be nearly as into the fluff if uncompromising martial pride weren't a major part of the Skorne.  But the fluff has always alluded to the farmers, paper-shufflers, and everyday Joe-kesh Skorne of the Empire, and they're the ones who make the Faction come alive as a civilization for me.

Rasheth has nothing but disdain for the traditional Skorne values of hardship, privation, and glory in the crucible of honorable combat, and he isn't afraid to show it.  He's warrior caste by birth, but he won't even trouble himself to lift a weapon.  He rules one of the most powerful Houses in the Empire, but has made it powerful primarily by developing trade.  Still, Rasheth hasn't tried to escape feudal conflict; he actually enjoys it.  He loves taking the battlefield personally, and breaking his enemies himself, as though to rub in their faces exactly what their warrior's pride is worth.

I could go on, but this post isn't really a fluff post.  Rasheth is interesting, and he makes the Skorne more interesting by association.

5)  Co-Blogger and Trollkin-about-town Caleb is also talking the opportunity to try out a new warlock, and we decided to coordinate a couple of battles using the new ones, so expect some reports!  At some point in the next month or so, I'll probably pick Rasheth up if he works out for me.


Rasheth's Theme lists more or less build themselves up to a point, so here's my take on a 35pt list and a 50pt list for Rasheth.

Chain Gang Tier 2, 35pts

Dominar Rasheth (+5)
*Bronzeback Titan (9)
*Titan Cannoneer (8)
*Titan Gladiator (7)
5 Gatormen Posse (9)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (1)
Agonizer (2)
Paingiver Task Master (2)

I only decided to go for Tier 2 because I wanted both 3 Titans and full Gatormen with a Task Master.  That didn't leave room for 2 Agonizers, but oh well.  The list has a lot of high Arm, and Rasheth's Feat and the Agonizer's abilities will make it extra hard for many (non-Cryx) armies to deal with.  I went with a Cannoneer over a Sentry because I wanted a little shooting to combo with the Arm debuff from Rasheth's Feat and Blood Mark.  Having Diminish in the list is also nice, and can be back-breaking in conjunction with Gnawing Pain and the Feat for a total of -6 to melee damage rolls on living 'beasts.  The Swamp Gobbers are in there to block LoS to Rasheth and hand out Concealment as needed.

Chain Gang Tier 4, 50pts

Dominar Rasheth (+5)
*Bronzeback Titan (9)
*Titan Cannoneer (8)
*Titan Sentry (8)
*Titan Gladiator (7)
5 Gatormen Posse (9)
6 Venator Rievers (5)
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (1)
Agonizer (2)
Agonizer (2)
Paingiver Task Master (2)

At 50pts, I decided to add in a Sentry, which works extremely well with Carnivore and Train Wreck, provides extra protection with Locker, and is kind of absurdly hard to take out if I can stack all the damage debuffs in the list.  It's also a Reach beast, and a staple for Rasheth.  I added in the second Agonizer to get to Tier 4, and because Agonizers are so unbelievably good.  I also added a squad of Venator Rievers to get a little more shooting into the list.  Burst Fire will give them good damage even against heavies combined with Blood Mark and the Arm debuff from the Feat.  They'll combine with the Cannoneer and arced spells to give me a pretty respectable ranged game.

That's the plan for now.  I'm pretty excited to try Rasheth out.

See you all later.