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.


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!

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!