Here's the list I used:
Kaelyssa, Night's Whisper (+7)
*Sylys Wyshnalyrr, the Seeker (2)
10 Dawnguard Invictors (10)
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2)
10 Houseguard Halberdiers (7)
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2)
Mage Hunter Assassin (2)
Mage Hunter Assassin (2)
It's a little more 'jack heavy than I'm used to running with Kaelyssa, and it doesn't have the Mage Hunter Strike Force, which is normally a signature unit. I do think this list will be pretty durable, as all its infantry and Warjacks are fairly tough. The Mage Hunter Assassins will try to ambush Knocked Down targets that I shoot with the Banshee. The Halberdiers will jam in the first wave, and the Invictors and Warjacks will advance behind them, laying down fire and waiting to charge.
Without the Mage Hunter Strike Force, I'm out my ranged troubleshooter, and I won't be able to cause mischief quite as far forward as usual. I may also be Focus strapped on critical turns. Kaelyssa really wants all the 'jacks in her battlegroup, and also wants to be slinging spells and taking shots, and 3 Myrmidons might be a little to much for her to handle without help. We'll see.
My frequent opponent and co-blogger, Caleb J, played his latest pDoomshaper list:
Hoarluk Doomshaper, Shaman of the Gnarls (+7)
*Mulg the Ancient (12)
*Troll Axer (6)
*Pyre Troll (5)
*Rune Bearer (2)
5 Trollkin Warders (8)
3 Trollkin Long Riders (7)
3 Rune Shapers (4)
Kriel Stone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4)
*Stone Scribe Elder (1)
Horthol, Long Rider Champion (5)
Fell Caller Hero (3)
This looks like a standard Troll brick. It would be extra heavy on the Denial with Mulg's Animus and Doomshaper's Feat and general anti-magic abilities. The Long Riders are nasty in any list, and Doomshaper has Fortune to help them hit more accurately. The Warders make an imposing brick, and as always, Mulg hits like a truck.
The list's main vulnerability is its low model count. Every casualty I inflict on it will seriously affect its ability to deal damage. On the other hand, most of those models are hard to kill, so I'll have to work to eliminate them.
Deployment and Scenario
We played Process of Elimination. There are 2 zones spaced 8" apart in the center of the table. Each zone contains a monolith, which counts as an enemy model to both players. Destroying a monolith grants 1 point, and controlling a zone grants 1 point while dominating it grants 2. Only one monolith can be damaged in a given turn.
Caleb won the roll-off, and chose to go second.
I deployed in a close formation where my infantry could spread out into both zones, and at least one 'jack could help control both as well. The Halberdiers deployed in front of the Invictors in the middle. When the time came for Advance Deploy, I deployed the Mage Hunter Assassins on my left opposite Mulg and Horthol.
|My deployment. The chicken will be holding down the left flank, while the Dr. Pepper may redeploy toward the center if needed.|
|Caleb's Deployment. Horthol is behind a building on his far right, past the Runeshapers.|
Turn 1: Retribution
I ran everything except Kaelyssa and the Arcanists. The Arcanists used Power Booster, while Kaelyssa put Phantom Hunter on the Banshee and Arcane Reckoning on the Halberdiers. The Mage Hunter Assassins moved up cautiously, not wanting to be blasted by Rock Hammers.
Standard first turn unpacking, and pretty successful too.
|I spread out and advance cautiously.|
Turn 1: Trollbloods
Caleb ran up with most of his army, careful to stay out of my threat ranges for the most part. Doomshaper put all his Fury on the Kriel Stone. The Runeshapers fired a few Rock Hammers at the Mage Hunter Assassins, but they fell short and scattered wide. The Kriel Stone used its Aura, and chose to make the affected Trolls immune to continuous effects like Fire.
Caleb was playing it safe rather than rushing in heedlessly. I couldn't do much to his army, but a few ranged attacks might soften him up.
|Caleb sets up mostly out of my charge ranges. Horthol is still safe from the Mage Hunter Assassins behind that house.|
Turn 2: Retribution
Kaelyssa and Sylys upkept both Phantom Hunter and Arcane Reckoning. Kaelyssa gave 2 Focus to the Banshee. The Halberdiers advanced and spread out. The Banshee advanced, and shot Mulg, doing a little damage and knocking him down. An Arcanist advanced, and Power Boosted the Phoenix, which advanced, and shot Mulg for a little more damage. The Invictors advanced, used their Mini-Feat, Extend Fire, to get range to Mulg, and blasted him for a bunch more damage with a huge Combined Ranged Attack. The Manticore lay down a Covering Fire template in front of the Warders. Finally, the Mage Hunter Assassins charged Mulg, but did nothing to him. Then Kaelyssa walked up, Feated, and camped the rest of her Focus.
I would have liked to take out Mulg, but now he was badly hurt. Caleb couldn't charge me this turn, and I'd be able to capitalize next turn and finish Mulg. With him gone, I'd probably have enough of an advantage in durable models that I could slug it out with Caleb. The Long Riders and Warders can hit very hard, but I was pretty confident in my ability to take them out or go around to get Doomshaper.
|Close, but Mulg is still alive.|
Turn 2: Trollbloods
Caleb decided to launch Mulg at Kaelyssa. Doomshaper advanced, healed Mulg's Mind and Spirit (twice), then cast Rush and Fortune on him. The Fell Caller used Reveille to stand Mulg up. Caleb's other troops focused on taking out most of the screening Halberdiers and one of the Mage Hunters, then Mulg Trampled up to the Invictors screening Kaelyssa. He tried to buy attacks and Goad his way toward her, but didn't quite have the range to attack her. He settled for smashing a few Invictors. The rest of the army advanced. The Long Riders charged and took out one of the Monoliths, but couldn't claim the zone.
Mulg couldn't quite make it to Kaelyssa, and now I had an opportunity to either finish Mulg or go for the assassination.
|Hey there Elves! OM NOM NOM!|
Turn 3: Retribution
I decided to go for the assassination first, and then see if I'd need to finish Mulg. It would prevent me from playing attrition against the Warders and Long Riders, but I felt the odds were very good. Kaelyssa allocated no Focus and dropped Arcane Reckoning, but Sylys upkept Phantom Hunter. An Arcanist Power Boosted the Banshee, which slammed the Kriel Stone Bearer into Doomshaper. Then the Mage Hunter Assassin charged in, and took him down to 2 health. The Phoenix advanced (taking a Free Strike from Mulg which filled up its force field), and shot Doomshaper, but he passed his Tough check. Then Kaelyssa channeled Arcantrik Bolt at Doomshaper and finished him off.
|Arcantrik Bolt! Doomshaper drops at last.|
Victory to the Retribution!
I played another solid game with Kaelyssa, who is starting to become my favorite Ret Warcaster. Her timing and playstyle are very intuitive for me, and it's really fun to see everything come together on the table. My only big mistake was putting Kaelyssa just a little too far forward on turn 2. I did not expect Mulg to be able to get that far into my lines. I should have held her a few inches back. She would still have covered the whole army with her Feat. Meanwhile, Kaelyssa's assassination vectors are not easy to avoid. She has a lot of flexibility between Phantom Hunter, Energy Siphon and access to the Phoenix and Banshee.
As for the list, the 'jack heavy version was a lot of fun, and the pair of Mage Hunter Assassins was great to play with. They're very luck dependent models, but even if they don't go off, they're good psychological deterrents. Caleb was definitely keeping Horthol back because the pair would slaughter him. I'm not convinced the Manticore and 2 Assassins was better than the Strike Force and one Assassin would be. Kaelyssa didn't do much Manticore fueling this game, although it was never really in the situation where it would want 2-3 Focus rather than dropping its Covering Fire template. Definitely something to experiment with further. I still want Sentinels for Kaelyssa, and I'm definitely starting to see what they could bring for her. Maybe next time, I'll proxy them.
Caleb made just one or two mistakes this game, but overall did pretty well. His math was off on the Mulg assassination run, and Mulg didn't quite have enough Fury to make attacks against Kaelyssa after Goading. If he'd thought about it a little more, he could have sent Mulg after the Phoenix and Manticore, possibly killing both, which would have left me without 2 of the heavy hitters I'd need to deal with the Warders and Long Riders. He also left Doomshaper exposed to my ranged game on turn 2, probably as a result of going full bore for the assassination. If he'd played more conservatively, he'd have camped a few points of Focus, and my assassination attempt would have been a lot dicier. Caleb played well until his assassination run though. He knew my threat ranges, and stayed out of them, and he used both the Long Riders and Warders well. Both units were threats I would have had some trouble with if the game had gone on.
As for Caleb's list, it seems good. It does invest a lot of points into a low number of high-value models, but those models are good. Warders are fantastic for the cost, and Long Riders are also really mean. Mulg is good as pDoomshaper's heavy hitter. If there's one thing this list could probably use, it's a fast jamming presence. The Long Riders are spectacular models, but they're not good at jamming because they're relatively easy to kill and high in value. I don't know what I'd drop from this list to make room for a jamming unit, but it would give the other models some breathing space to set up charges and position to screen each other and Doomshaper.