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)
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)
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.|
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!
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!