Friday, August 29, 2014

Battle Report: pGrexy Tries eXerxis (50pts vs Calandra)

So I posted about epic Xerxis here, and a couple days ago, I finally got to try him out.

I wanted to play the list I posted earlier, but I didn't because I didn't have a Rhinodon card on me, and neither did any other Skorne player at the shop. :P

So instead I played this list, which is a point over due to me forgetting I was taking max Paingivers when counting up the points:

Xerxis, Fury of Halaak (*5pts) - Proxied by a headless Mammoth
*Bronzeback Titan (10pts)
*Titan Cannoneer (9pts)
*Titan Gladiator (8pts)
*Archidon (Bonded) (7pts)
*Basilisk Krea (4pts)
Venator Reivers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (9pts) - Some of whom are proxied by Bloodrunners :P
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2pts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (3pts)
Extoller Soulward (2pts)
Mortitheurge Willbreaker (2pts)

I hadn't planned on playing the Cannoneer, but it seems like a decent beast for eXerxis, and I like it pretty well in general.  The Mortitheurge and Extoller seem like good support for it.  I don't have much more planned than that.  Hopefully the list will work pretty well, and maybe I'll even get to try out my game plan of throwing and knocking down lots of enemies on the way.  If I play this list again, I'll probably swap some 2-point support piece for a sweet Gobber Tinker to fix up Xerxis' Rhino.

Caleb wanted to get back into Trollbloods, and felt like giving the Mountain King another chance.

Calandra Truthsayer, Oracle of the Glimmerwood (*5pts)
*Mountain King (20pts)
*Earthborn Dire Troll (10pts)
*Trollkin Rune Bearer (2pts)
Pyg Bushwhackers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Pyg Burrowers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Kriel Stone Bearer and Stone Scribes (Leader and 3 Grunts) (3pts)
Trollkin Fell Caller (3pts)
Janissa Stonetide (3pts)

If any Warlock can fix the Mountain King's Mat problem, Calandra can, and the Earthborn and Janissa are standard support to take its Arm up to 23.  Both Pyg units are pretty good with Calandra, and I know from experience that Digmies can be a real pain.

Scenario and Deployment

We rolled up Into the Breach.  There's a big round zone on one side of the table, and flag a short distance away.  The zone can be controlled for a point, or dominated for two, while the flag can only be dominated for a point.

Caleb won the roll off, and decided to go second.  He picked the table side with a decent-sized forest in the middle, probably for speed buffs from the Earthborn and its Animus.  Also because his bag was already on that side of the table.  My bag was already on the other side, so it was all fine by me.

I pre-deployed Xerxis in the middel, and Caleb pre-deployed the Mountain King in front of the zone.  I plunked my Titan herd in front of the zone to oppose the Mountain King, and put the Venators and Archidon on the Flag side of the table to harass support, and screen for Xerxis in case I went for the Flag.  The Paingivers and Krea went in support positions behind the Titan line and Xerxis, and the Willbreaker and Extoller took the far side of the table behind the Cannoneer.

Caleb deployed Calandra and his support in the center, with the Earthborn up next to the center forest to support the Mountain King.  The Bushwhackers Advanced Deployed behind a house near the Zone side of the table, while the Burrowers deployed in front of Calandra and the KSB to support the table as needed.

With that, we were ready to play.

Turn 1, Skorne

Most stuff ran.  Xerxis activated early on, put Ignite on the Bronzeback for Mountain King demolishing purposes, then cast Mobility so stuff could run further.  The Cannoneer ended up out of his CTRL, but thank goodness for the Mortitheurge.  It only ran 8 inches, although the picture shows it as having run 12.  We corrected it before Caleb's first turn though.

Speed 6 is fast.  A lot faster than I'm used to running with Titans.  The fact that I could have thrown Rush into the mix is boggling.  Maybe in one of my next trials I'll run a Gladiator and a Shaman, and get well into the zone top of turn 1.

Turn 1, Trollbloods

Caleb advanced more cautiously.  He kept his heavies and Bushwhackers well out of my threat ranges, and burrowed the Digmies so I wouldn't be able to attack them on my turn.  Calandra cast Star-Crossed, and threw the rest of her Fury onto the Kriel Stone.  She'd be safe from my shooting behind screening models and a wall though.

Caleb is set up to keep most of his models safe, and I doubt I'll be able to get to them this turn.  My goal will have to be setting myself up to control the zone with my heavy's threat ranges, forcing him to enter it if he wants to contest.

Turn 2, Skorne

Xerxis upkept Ignite.  The Bronzeback and Gladiator ran forward into the zone.  The Krea walked up, and popped a Paralytic Aura for shooting defense.

The Cannoneer advanced, and shot at the Bushwhackers, killing a couple with a good scatter.  The Willbreaker advanced, and used Ancillary Attack, which let the Cannoneer kill another one.

The Paingivers advanced, and managed Fury, then Xerxis ducked behind my objective, and cast Diminish (the Cannoneer's Animus) to give enemies within 2" a -2 Str penalty.  The Archidon flew up to screen Xerxis from any Pyg Burrower charges (those little guys are scary).

On the Flag side of the table, the Rievers advanced, used the Extend Fire mini-Feat, and sniped out the Fell Caller.  Less accurate Burrowers is a good thing.  The Rievers then retreated a bit with Reform.

Now I was well set up to control the zone, with my Titans' 11.5" threat range extending just beyond its back edge.  If Caleb wanted to contest, he'd have to open himself up to attack.  Scenario-wise, Xerxis can get around, so the flag is still an option, but I'm mainly focused on attrition right now.  My ranged game was doing well, and I had a good board position, so I was pretty sure Caleb would have to come to me.

Turn 2, Trollbloods

Calandra leached in her Fury, and the Pyg Burrowers popped up in charge range of my line of Titans.

The Rune Bearer advanced, and used Harmonious Exaltation to reduce the cost of one of Calandra's spells by one.  Calandra herself advanced, cast Star Crossed (enemy models roll an additional die on attack rolls, and drop the highest), and popped her Feat to reroll all 1's and 2's models in her army rolled in her CTRL.  The Kriel Stone advanced, and used its Aura to buff armor.

The Pyg Burrowers charged in at the wall of Beast in front of them.  Two charged the Bronzeback, three charged the Gladiator, two charged Xerxis, and three charged the Archidon.  Some damage was done to everyone, but the most the Pygs were able to do was take out the Bronzeback's Mind.

Caleb debated his next moves a while, then decided to play aggressively.  He ran the bushwhackers to a screening position in front of the Titans and Burrowers.  Then the Earthborn advanced, and used Transmute on the Mountain King to give it various buffs based on the terrain it was near - including the forest it was in for +2 Spd.  The Mountain King ran to just behind the Bushwhackers, pretty well screened from a Titan charge.

Janissa walked up, and popped a Wall out in front of Calandra and the Earthborn, and in plenty of range to give the Earthborn and Mountain King +2 Arm.

A gutsy move by Caleb, but if I couldn't get a Titan or two onto the Mountain King, it would cause me a *lot* of trouble, and possibly kick me out of the zone, especially backed up by the Earthborn like it was.

Turn 3, Skorne

Xerxis leached his Fury, and upkept Ignite.  I was pretty sure I could get the Bronzeback onto the Mountain King, so that was the plan for this turn.

Xerxis went first, Feated (all models are in his CTRL, and friendly models roll an additional die on attack and damage roll, and discard one of my choice), then healed the Bronzeback's Spirit.  He cast Lightning Strike on himself for free, and, after some incredibly embarrassing rolls, he managed to kill the two Burrowers engaging him, and cruise around my objective to get some distance from the Earthborn and Mountain King.

The Venator Rievers went, and killed off a couple of screening Pyg Bushwhackers.  The Paingivers Enraged the Bronzeback and the Gladiator.

The Willbreaker went next, and used Ancillary Attack on the Cannoneer, who killed a couple of Digmies with the blast, mostly freeing up the Bronzeback.  The Cannoneer then advanced, and killed a couple Bushwhackers in melee, then the Gladiator.  The Gladiator Trampled over some Burrowers to ensure none could take Free Strikes against the Bronzeback, and bought some attacks against the Mountain King.  Bad idea.  The King popped out some Whelps in the Bronzeback's charge lane.

Bummer.  The Bronzeback went next, put Train Wreck on itself, and sqandered 2 attacks (one potential bought attack to cast Train Wreck, and one of its Initials) to get into melee with the Mountain King.  The Bronzeback came up short by 6 hit points, but did light the Gargantuan on fire.  Unfortunately, it was surrounded by Whelps it could use to heal itself back up.

The Archidon killed one of the Burrowers it was in combat with, and they fled.

Luckily for me, I don't think the Mountain King can take all three of my heavies next turn.  Unluckily, my Bronzeback, and maybe Gladiator, are toast.

Turn 3, Trollbloods.

The Fire on the Mountain King didn't go out, and it took 2 more damage.

The Mountain King activated, and hoovered up all the Whelps it had spawned, healing back up to a respectable 20 or so boxes.  It started swinging on the Bronzeback, but thanks to Mat 5, it took all of its Fury plus several rerolls from Calandra to finish the mighty Titan.

The Rune Bearer tried to Befuddle the Gladiator, but missed.  The Earthborn put Transmute on the Mountain King again, and advanced toward the Gladiator, but was just out of range.  Calandra retreated a bit, cast Bullet Dodger on herself, and camped 1 or 2.

The Kriel Stone walked up and did its thing.  The Burrowers didn't rally, and the Bushwhackers dinged up the Cannoneer a little with their remaining guns.  Janissa finished up by plunking a wall in front of Calandra within 2" of the Mountain King and Earthborn.

Caleb needed to swing things his way this turn, but didn't quite do enough.  On the other hand, if I couldn't finish off the Mountain King, he'd get another chance next turn.

Turn 4, Skorne

No spells to upkeep.  The Paingivers Enraged the Gladiator, the Cannoneer and the Archidon.  The Cannoneer charged the Mountain King, and did some damage.  The Gladiator finished it off.  Xerxis cast Mobility, and put Ignite on the Archidon, then did a Ride By Attack on one of the Burrowers Engaging the Archidon.  He killed it, zipped around to the Zone side of the table again.

The Extoller shot the Earthborn for a little damage, then the Venators unloaded into it with two big CRA's.  The Archidon charged it, chewed away about half its health, and crit-pitched it into Calandra.

Caleb didn't see much of a way out of this pit.  I had three functional heavies to his knocked down one, and two half-dead squads of Pygmy Trolls.  My Venators were in a great position to threaten Calandra or just pick off his support while Xerxis and the heavies did the bulk of the work.  So Caleb decided to concede.

Victory to the Skorne!

Thoughts on Epic "Rough Rhino" Xerxis

Xerxis 2 was a lot of fun for the first time out.  I really need to practice with huge based models, especially Spd 9 huge based models with Cavalry rules and Sprint.  Xerxis was chomping at the bit to do a little more killing, but was more or less stuck behind the objective and the heavies for most of the game.  Still, he brought plenty of support to make up for it: Ignite was solid, Mobility was great, and his Feat was just what I needed to at least partially offset Star Crossed.  After a couple of games, I'll probably have him better figured out.

The list was very cool, but being a point over was not.  The Cannoneer was a last minute sub-in, but I really liked the support that the gun, backed up by Ancillary Attack, brought.  Diminish is also a pretty good Animus for eXerxis, since he's pretty easy to get into melee with, and not quite hardy enough to take a charging heavy without some kind of boost to Arm.  The Rievers were good.  I really need to put them in more lists, since they add some great fire support.  Eleven points is a lot for them, but they may have found their place in this list.

The Mortitheurge was also a very good investment.  I totally let Beasts roam out of Xerxis' CTRL, and given how fast he is, it's a good option to have available.  Between the Willbreaker, Paingivers, and a Bronzeback's Leadership ability, running some Beasts outside Xerxis' control is doable, and it lets him get around a bit more.

I'll be trying him out with various things in the coming months.  I'll definitely try that Throw spam I talked about earlier, and at least one person has had good results out of Despoiler with him, so I'll try that soon too.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Phoenix Force Hyperion GO!!!

I got in a game recently against Russell, who used to be one of my more frequent opponents, and his Skorne. I hadn't tried Retribution against the hordes of elephants in a while, so I was interested to see how they'd fare now that I had some actual experience with my faction. Originally I was going to try out Vyros2 (as I really, really need to get some practice in with him!) but Russell wanted to see how my latest version of Force Wall fared, so out came Kaelyssa once again.

Since I've been a bit disappointed with the Manticore heavy build I decided to try something a bit different this time…

Phoenix Force Hyperion GO!!!! Tier 4
  • Hyperion
  • Phoenix
  • Phoenix (proxied by a Banshee)
  • Aspis
House Shyeel Artificer
House Shyeel Battle Mages
House Shyeel Battle Mages
Arcanist x 6

The thought process was for the force to be faster and better able to clear infantry than the Manticore heavy build. The Phoenixes can Combust to murder troops, have Reach to get into combat quicker and have decent guns should an assassination present itself. Plus they allow me to throw out some rough terrain should my opponent not have the tools to deal with it.

Against this Russell dropped what he considered to be his prime Retribution list:
  • Gladiator
  • Bronzeback
  • Cyclops Brute
Cataphract Cetrati
Cataphract Incendiarii
Tyrant Commander and Standard Bearer
Some number of Paingivers

I won the roll and chose to go first while Russell chose the side with a nice wall on it. We rolled up and off we went. Vyros2 and the Manticore chassis were our objectives. I pre deployed the Hyperion across from

Round 1:
I ran forwards with the speed of a pointy eared jackrabbit. Russell (after being reminded about Force Wall's tier 3 ability and a lot of cursing) waddled forwards.

Round 2:
I couldn't smash the objectives this turn, so instead most of my force spread out to claim the left zone. Kaelyssa arced a pair of Rifts off of my lead Phoenix while the Hyperion ran into the right zone, and with some Force Bolts I managed to kill most of the Nihilators. I'm pretty sure I popped my feat this turn, but I can honestly not remember.

The Skorne were nonplussed about my rough terrain but were annoyed that they couldn't charge me. The Incendiarii set to work setting my mages on fire while the Nihilators ran to engage. The Cetrati advanced in shield wall while the Bronzeback and Gladiator postioned themselves to counter charge my Hyperion.

Round 3:
Roughly half of my Battle Mages died due to fire… that stuff hurts! But my game plan was the same: kill the Nihilators that were in my zone, smash the objective and dominate for 3.  I also debated dragging in some Cetrati to murder, but figured that I would need all hands on deck to finish my plan.

The few remaining mages from my left squad activated first and managed to kill one of the Nihilators, but only managed to Tough the second. A juiced up Phoenix smashed the objective, but I had to devote part of my second Mage squad, the second Phoenix and Kaelyssa to finish clearing out the zone. My Hyperion backed up to the edge of the right zone, as I didn't want to get charged by one, let alone two, enraged elephants. I ended my turn and scored 3 points.

Now that all of my shenanigans had expired Russell moved to stop me from ever taking that zone back. More Incediarii fire set most of my remaining Mages ablaze while the Cetrati attacked one of my Phoenixes and dealt a fair bit of damage but failed to kill it. The Gladiator smashed his objective while the Bronzeback repositioned to counter any moves that my Hyperion made.

Round 4:
Most of my Mages died to fire… except 1. This was key, as there was a single Cetrati between my lowly Aspis and his Bronzeback. The plan: clear the right zone and dominate for the win. I allocated 2 focus to the undamaged Phoenix as a back up plan.

First part was to eliminate the lone Cetrati. My Battle Mage put on his big boy pants and dragged him 3" out of the way and also knocked him down. Next my Aspis got three focus and charged into the Bronzeback. Four attacks, a Hyper Aggressive and a counter charge later I still managed to punch the stupid elephant out of the zone. That left the Hyperion to get allocated 3 focus, wander over to the Gladiator and two handed throw it far and away from the zone. Kaelyssa ran over and dominated for the final 2 points, securing me a scenario victory.

Victory for the Retribution!

After the game Russell wanted to rerack with his take on Fist of Halaak, for which I donated a few o fmy medium based models. The list was as follows:
  • Tiberion
  • Gladiator
Tyrant Commander and Standard Bearer
Cataphract Cetrati
Min Cataphract Arcuarii x 2
Min Cataphract Incendiarii x 2

There are tons of proxies in this list as Russell is still painting/assembling his army, so any Griffons and light warbeasts are all some variation of Cataphract :P

Russell won the roll to go first and I took the side with the wall.

Round 1:
Running! Well, at least for me. Stupid Skorne had to walk :P

Round 2:
His forces advanced and he managed to get three Defender's Warded Cetrati into the right zone while a unit of Arcuarii and Tiberion headed for the left zone, but none made it in. Xerxis put up Inhospitable Ground.

Seeing this I was faced with a conundrum- should I  attempt to clear the right zone and leave the left for a later turn power grab like before, or should I take the effectively free points that the left zone was giving me? Or should I try for an assassination, as I knew that Xerxis was on just 1 transfer and since he was perched on the edge of a hill was in LOS of both of my Phoenixes? The assassination plan got ruled out after some internal debate, and I measured my control radius and found that I wouldn't be able to run into the left zone, so I decided to plan on taking the right and allocated 3 to one of my Phoenixes.

The plan was to drag in the three Cetrati and murder them with Kaelyssa's gun, the full attention of one Phoenix and opportunity strikes from the second after it ended the objective. However I had discounted how frustrating Defender's Ward was and  only managed to drag two of the Cetrati. I killed them easily with a Phoenix with focus to spare, but decided that the plan was going pear shaped and chose to not spend the focus. Kaelyssa arced a Rift through one of the Phoenixes and walked over towards the left zone (and popped her feat) while the Hyperion destroyed the objective there at range and scored 2 points.

Round 3:
Two very important things happened this turn for Skorne. First, Tiberion toed into the left zone. Second, a metric ton of Cataphracts entered the right zone, sealing it off from me pretty much for good. They scratched up one of my Phoenixes and set my Mages on fire as well, but from here on out it was going to go down hill for me.

On my turn I started planning out how to take the left zone. The Hyperion attempted to gun down the four Arcuarii but missed with the Starburst gun, leaving one left alive and requiring help from one of my  Phoenixes to clear it out. And since I needed to aim with the Hyperion to clear them out I wasn't able to move it forward to start getting the drop on Tiberion, even though I blocked its charge range with my Aspis. I also carved up a few Cetrati.

Round 4:
Xerxis feated, and even with an epically bad feat turn managed to clear the right zone as I had foolishly left my second Phoenix just outside of it. Tiberion smashed my Aspis to smithereens.

Seeing as I had no way to get close on Tiberion I tried to go for an ill conceived assassination and failed. On the following turn Xerxis cleared the zone and dominated for the final points.

A defeat for the brave heroes of the Retribution.

Force Wall has the tools to handle this match up, but I think it will involve switching up my list a bit. For the next version I'll be dropping an Artificer and a group of Mages for three Magisters which will allow my Phoenixes to better get the drop on enemy troops, as well as provide a more reliable form of drag should I need it.

Fist of Halaak has... a lot of boxes. I definitely think that going for the assassination on turn 2 would have been the correct course of action, especially since I still could have snatched two control points to keep him on the defensive. Even if I failed to kill Xerxis it would have wounded him and opened up the opportunity to get him on subsequent turns, especially since with Phantom Hunter it's very, very difficult for him to hide.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and until next time shank a round ear for me!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

NFL League Playoffs

With a record of 9-0 (my final opponent didn't have time to play me before the deadline last Friday, so our scores for that game aren't counted), I'm in the Tower NFL League playoffs.

There are three games (though I'm pretty sure I have a bye for the first round).  The format is basically the same as the regular season, with one exception: we can only use a Warlock/Warcaster once.

I won the Fury conference with a record of 9-0 (my last opponent and I weren't able to schedule our game in time for the deadline this past Friday).  Also in the Fury conference are Jamie and his Cryx, and Sean with his Blindwater.  My week 3 opponent, Tom, went 8-2, and won the Focus conference with Khador.  Benesh with Convergence, and another Tom with Mercenaries are also in the playoffs in Focus.

The first round pits the runners-up in each conference against each other: Jamie plays Sean, and Mercs Tom plays Benesh.  The winner of each match will play the conference winner: Me and Khador Tom (who posted here as Zatak).  Then the winners of those games will play in the finals.

Without wanting to telegraph my lists too much, I'm still sticking to the 4 Warlocks I've focused on over the summer: Mordikaar, pMakeda, Makeda 3, and Zaal (but especially Makeda 3).  I'll be able to bring 2 to each match, and I'll still be able to tailor my lists a bit to confound my current opponent.

The first playoff games are happening tonight, and I'll show up just in case Sean or Jamie wants to play a double header.

If not, I'll probably give eXerxis another spin, and/or try out Zaadesh.

EDIT: It turns out I can't play tonight :(  But that's ok.  I'll play on Friday, and let you all know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mercs: Short, Stubborn, and Surprisingly Well Painted

So, I've been seriously thinking about getting into Mercs (and more specifically Searforge) for a while now, for the following reasons:

1. I love Forge Guard - great models, great fluff, fun stuff on the battlefield, just fantastic all around.
2. General 'Awesome' Ossrum - this short little dude is just everything a caster should be, to me.
3. EARTHBREAKER SMASH! - nuff said.
4. Have I mentioned Forge Guard?
5. They are a bit different tactically from my current factions (Trollbloods and especially Circle), and it would be good to get back into a Warmachine faction from playing Hordes for so long.

So, contemplating this and actually buying (and assembling, priming, painting, and basing) said models are two different things entirely. In the meantime, my friend Tim says to me one day "Caleb, wanna buy some Searforge?" to which I says "maybe, how much ya got?"

Pretty much all of it.

So, I now have Searforge. A lot of Searforge. A lot of beautifully painted and based Searforge (with instructions on how to replicate the paint job for the ~1/3 of the models that are not painted). With the exception of Durgan, Gortan, the Tactical Arcanist Corp, and the Earthbreaker (which I promptly bought, but have yet to assemble), I managed to procure a complete Searforge army and helped a friend out to boot.

List Building

At the moment, I'm limited to Ossrum and Searforge - actually a lot of models, but coming from Circle and Trollbloods, that is actually a very limited selection any way you slice it. I have 2 games under my belt so far, one late-night game I barely remember winning, and another against my eternal foe, pGrezy (see battle report). I've been building Ossrum lists, which poses a surprising conundrum - Ossrum's tier, or straight Searforge?

Benefits: deployment zone extended 4", +1 to FA of non-character models/units

 - an extra 4" deployment zone is just amazing, and help mitigate the universally low SPD
 - additional FA is ok, good for skew lists (3 units of Forge Guard), and it lets you take 2 High Shield UAs (which is actually a really nice strategy if you want to go gun line with an Earthbreaker).
 - with no tier restrictions to reach, it makes for MUCH more variable lists than tier.

Ossrum's Tier 'State of War':
Tier 1: take basically Searforge models = 1 unit gains Advance Deploy
Tier 2: take 2 units with ranged weapons = place 1 trench template (for each 2 ranged units, basically)
Tier 3: take at least 2 solos = start with Ossrum's Upkeeps already up
Tier 4: take 3 jacks in Ossrum's Battlegroup = they get +2 SPD for the first round

 - All the benefits basically equal out to a very, very fast start: speed boost for jacks, AD for a unit, trench templates for running units/exposed Ossrum to hide in, and upkeeps already up so Ossrum can throw fury into a full Energizer and fail-charge forward for 10" (15"+ for 'jacks!) on the first turn. Not bad.
 - Getting to tier 3 alone means running either a straight gunline or a combined arms list, which can get kinda tricky unless you space them out (causing problems for his feat) or pack them near Ossrum to benefit from Martial Discipline (making it a tempting target for templates).
 - 3 jacks, even if two are gun bunnies, are really going to put a strain on Ossrum's available focus. Switching just one of them over to Thor would be a big help, but the tier is battlegroup-specific.

Honestly? Both are about evenly matched. Ossrum's Tier 3 is amazing, and the advance deploy/spd buffs do a lot to make up for losing the 4" extended deployment zone, but it's really the main thing the tier has going for it and comes at a cost of a greatly restricted variety of lists over straight Searforge. What I'll probably do is make the list I want to make in one of them, and see if it would work better converting it over to the other. I'm digging the Tier list for the moment, mainly because it is such a faster start than anything I can make in Searforge.

The Lists

35pt Ossrum: State of War Tier 4
General Ossrum (*5pts)
* Grundback Blaster (3pts)
* Grundback Blaster (3pts)
* Wroughthammer Rockram (8pts)
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)
Lord Rockbottom (2pts)
Thor Steinhammer (2pts)

Sort of a bare-bones approach, it has everything I want in it and very little else. Rockbottom is in a lot of these lists partly to keep units/thor from failing command checks, partly as a secondary target for Fire For Effect (he's got a pretty decent spray), and mostly because there is exactly one other 2pt choice in the entire freaking sub-faction to fill up points with, and that model is already in every list anyway (Thor).

35pt Ossrum: Searforge
General Ossrum (*5pts)
* Grundback Blaster (3pts)
* Wroughthammer Rockram (8pts)
Herne & Jonne (3pts)
Horgenhold Forge Guard (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Tactical Arcanist Corps (4pts)
Lord Rockbottom (2pts)
Ogrun Bokur (3pts)
Thor Steinhammer (2pts)
* Ghordson Basher (7pts)

As much as I like High Shields with Ossrum (snipe!), it's tricky to fit them and Forge Guard in at 35pts and keep a good diversity of options - I had a hell of a time just dealing with incorporeal models in my first game, simply because I had only 1 magic weapon (Ossrum). Dropping them for a Bokur, TACs, and upgrading a gun bunny to bash bunny on Thor really opens up some options, namely magic weapons, shield guard, and a good single target slammer to keep jacks/beasts off my line and relieve the focus-crunch on Ossrum.

50pt Ossrum: State of War Tier 4
General Ossrum (*5pts)
* Grundback Blaster (3pts)
* Ghordson Driller (6pts)
* 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)
Ogrun Bokur (3pts)
Thor Steinhammer (2pts)

At 50pts, there really is absolutely no reason not to bring an Earthbreaker (discounting not being a jackass... kidding, kidding!), which severely limits options. Dropping the Rockram for the Earthbreaker and upgrading the bunny to a driller takes up a lot of it - I want the driller around to threaten enemy jacks/beasts once the Earthbreaker goes, as one of the few sure-fire ways to deal with an Earthbreaker list is to kill the damn thing as quickly as possible with everything you've got and hope you come out favorably in the inevitable counterattacking scrum. The Bokur is in there for charge blocking, as a 2nd string hitter, and (mainly) shield guard to counter the other sure-fire way to deal with the Earthbreaker: that dirty rat bastard. The problem is, to fit that in, I'm dropping TACs to keep to the tier requirement.

50pt Ossrum: Searforge
General Ossrum (*5pts)
* 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)
Lord Rockbottom (2pts)
Tactical Arcanist Corps (4pts)
Ogrun Bokur (3pts)
Thor Steinhammer (2pts)
* Grundback Blaster (3pts)

Same thoughts, bit more variety. The blaster is a good choice for Thor, in my opinion, as he can pronto it around and it can boost a spray attack or two when needed, making it a solid 2nd line jack, especially with Thor devoting his buff to the Earthbreaker (because holy hell that's good). I'm debating dropping Herne and Jonne, Rockbottom, and the TACs (or just the High Shields and UA) for a full unit of Ogrun Assault Corps for some speed and a relatively independent combined-arms force to run interference for the big guy - medium bases are always good, after all. We'll see how this one works first.

So, there we have it! I'll be putting up some battle reports for these as soon as I can get some games in (they're just so photogenic, you see...), as well as (hopefully) a Trollblood tactica or two and some more lists now that the Circle-specific football league is over and the insanely busy summer is winding down. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Throwin' the Gauntlet: Last Round and Overall Thoughts

As promised, the thrilling conclusion to the Gauntlet Rounds tournament!

The final game had me paired up against another member of Crippled System, Nathan, with his damn dirty Convergence robots. He was running Iron Mother, Father Lucant and Syntherion, but from previous experience (and the fact that he had two Prime Axioms available to use) I was pretty sure that he was going to use Lucant. Seeing that, I decided to use the following Ossyan list:

Lord Arcanist Ossyan, of House Vyre, First of His Name, Atomizer of Robots
  • Hyperion
Arcantrik Force Generator
Arcanist x 2
Mage Hunter Assassin x 2
Aiyanna and Holt
Stormfalls x 2
Mage Hunter Strike Force + UA
Sentinels + UA
Halberdiers + UA and Thane

He brought Lucant with this:
Father Lucant
  • Prime Axiom x 2
  • Corollary
  • Galvanizer
  • Diffuser
Enigma Foundry x 2
Angels x 2
Reductors + UA
Algorithmic Dispersion Optifex
… and probably some other stuff.

As opposed to my previous two "games" this one actually had some good back and forth going on. I still made a couple of mistakes, but for the most I felt that I held my own. Again, instead of doing a blow by blow I just want to cover the highlights.

Round 1: I spend a lot of time and effort trying to kill Def 20 Angels with Stormfall fire, only to throw away my Mage Hunter Assassin to kill a single Angel instead of saving it to take out one of his Enigma Foundries. I also move my Hyperion an inch too far forward leading to…

Round 2: of his Prime Axioms charging it under Positive Charge, but still only getting my big robot to just under half health. Lucant feated at this point, making any attempt to harm his forces fairly impossible. I had the opportunity to try for a critical consume on his bunched up Reductors (could have killed 7 or so) but I chose instead to have the Hyperion take out half of the Prime Axiom. Meanwhile my MHSF and the remaining assassin flanked hard to threaten Lucant and my Sentinels foolishly charged his Reductors, killing a few but opening themselves up to be…

Round 3: ...slaughtered by POW 13 rerollable sprays. Ouch. The Prime Axiom finished off my Hyperion, my Stormfalls got engaged because I had moved them up too far previously and a bunch of my Halberdiers got smushed by Reuctors and the other Prime Axiom. However I now got to counter feat, and by using all of my models' activations (including a nice damage roll from my Houseguard Thane's pistol) I was able to bring down both of the Prime Axioms.

Round 4: Reductors murder most of my remaining infantry and he murders my objective while Lucant moves to dominate the zone. I counter by shoving my remaining Halberdiers in the zone along with the AFG, but I leave my infantry too close to the AFG allowing…

Round 5: … Lucant to get distance on the AFG and wipes it. Fortunately I had one infantry still in the zone, so I decide to go for an assassination. Unfortunately Lucant shield guards Ossyan's shot onto the Galvanizer and I'm only able to get him down to half health, allowing him to dominate for the win.

Next time I'll make sure to prioritize his Enigma Foundries for destruction, as with them on the board I couldn't even try to eliminate his infantry. I'll also try to keep my forces reeeeaaaally far back as I wait for his feat turn to expire, as if I get too close I can't do enough damage to smash his models.

General thoughts on the format:
Overall I think that the Gauntlet rounds are an interesting idea and definitely better than the previous year's format, but I still really, really don't like 75 point games. Playing Warmachine at 75 feels like playing Warhammer except with finickier rules and positioning, which is definitely not what I'm looking for in a game. It also really pushes you to have a game plan right from deployment, as getting all of your forces in the correct place from the start and having a good idea for how they will unpack is crucial when there are so many models on the board. Since I'm historically bad at this phase of the game except with armies that I'm very familiar with, you can see how this will color my opinion.

That being said, I can certainly see how the above points are intended to divide the lucky scrubs from the top tier tournament players, so the format seems to be working as intended. It's also nice that the 75 point games are only for the last two rounds, as having an entire day of 75 would probably break my soul.

If I were to play this again I would definitely focus more on the assassination. Retribution has never had a great relationship with attrition and 75 points seems to compound this issue. We have more tools to get a good alpha on, but due to the sheer quantity of models it's harder for that alpha to mean something. Since we can't hold the zone all that well and I don't have the skills for long games at this point level that leaves going for the enemy caster as quickly as possible, which is fortunately something that we're pretty darn good at.

Seeing as that's the case I think the three casters I chose are pretty good for the format. Switching out Ravyn for Kaelyssa would also work pretty well, as Phantom Seekered Hyperion can certainly kill casters if he gets half a chance to do so.

So, a bit rambly, but hopefully you enjoyed. Let me know what you think of the new format and how your force will handle it, and of course until next time shank a round ear for me!


Friday, August 15, 2014

NFL League Game 8: Wild Cards! (Retribution vs. Mercenaries?)

Hello again!  After another long hiatus during which stuff happened, but none of that stuff was league games, I'm back with game 8 in the season.  It was set to be a match of Skorne vs. Circle Orboros against my co-blogger and eternal foe Caleb.  We decided to spice things up a little bit, however, and played our Wild Cards for the season.   

This is an option I didn't talk about at the beginning of the summer.  Essentially, for one game, we can switch Factions, and play something different.  Since Caleb and I play each other so often, we both decided to switch things up for a game.

Xerxis 2 at Gencon

All the Exigence Warlocks were spoiled at GenCon, and for once, I'm not seeing any real duds among them.  Of course, being a Skorne player, I'm most interested in eXerxis.  I'm not going to go into all the stats, but photos of the cards can be found at Muse on Minis and other places.

Without actually putting him on the table, I like him.  I like him a lot better than either of the other Battle Engine 'casters so far, at least in terms of defense against shooting.  His defensive lineup is 13/19, which goes to 15/21 with Paralytic Aura, and he'll have a couple of transfers and 19 health.  Not too shabby.  It won't hold up against a serious ranged assassination like some Retribution, Cygnar, and Legion 'casters can throw down, but it's enough to keep him relatively safe against the moderate amount of shooting you see in most lists.

His other abilities are solid as well.  His spells will make his battlegroup very fast, and give one or two models/units per turn a respectable damage boost.  His Feat is a straightforward dice fixer almost identical to Issyria's, and it buffs everyone's attack and damage rolls, melee or ranged.  He has good offensive stats, with Mat 8, two Reach weapons, and a Pow 14 mount with Knockdown who can either make Impact Attacks, or attack once with Combat Rider.  He can also forgo initial attacks to Pitch with his mount if he wants.  Finally, eXerxis has a beast bond: he can cast the bonded beast's Animus once per turn as a spell without spending Fury.

In terms of playstyle, he looks like a mobility and control 'caster.  With Mobility (the spell), he and his battlegroup are fast.  He goes up to Spd 9, which means he can charge 12" (14" threat range with his weapons), and the basic Titan goes up to Spd 6, so his beasts will already be faster and more maneuverable than most Skorne lists can run.  He's also got plenty additional movement shenanigans he can pull thanks to Skorne Animi.  If he bonds an Archidon, he can give himself Sprint for free every turn, cast Mobility, and advance and retreat 9" every turn.

Control comes from the KD and *Attack Pitch on his mount.  I feel that getting a few good attacks in, and disrupting enemy lines with knockdown and throws will be his job every turn (well, that and casting Mobility and upkeeping Ignite).  If his army can help him do this, so much the better.  His Feat helps get a hard alpha strike in, and with some throws and slams from the Warbeast lineup, he should be able to sow enough disruption that the opponent's counterattack isn't strong enough to stop his beasts.  He needs to be able to disengage though, since he's actually pretty squishy in melee thanks to his huge base size and not camping a lot of Fury.

List-wise, I'm currently thinking:

Xerxis, Fury of Halaak (*5pts)
*Bronzeback Titan (10pts)
*Titan Gladiator (8pts)
*Archidon (Bonded) (7pts)
*Rhinodon (7pts)
*Basilisk Krea (4pts)

Venator Rievers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (9pts)
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2pts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (3pts)
Tyrant Commander and Standard Bearer (3pts)

Agonizer (2pts)

I'm not 100% sold on the Rhinodon.  I do think it has more synergy with eXerxis than it has with most others.  Ignite really helps out its lackluster damage output, and his Feat helps its accuracy out a lot.  It also has some infantry clearing with thresher, it's fast, and it can do throws.  On the other hand, Xerxis is only Fury 5, and his beasts might easily outpace the Paingivers so much that he can't manage the Fury.  I'm also very intrigued by Ferox with eXerxis, and it will be great to have an excuse to pick them up if it turns out they're good with him.  If I end up dropping the Rhino for better Fury management, I'll probably add them in.

The Venators don't see a lot of play generally, but I think Xerxis' Feat combined with the fact that the Beasts and Xerxis will outpace a conventional screening force will make them good.  They can help clear charge lanes, and snipe out any troublesome shooters who might actually threaten Xerxis.  They'll also be around to land some long CRA's on any Warcaster's who get knocked down by a throw or collateral damage.

I'll probably proxy this list (well, at least Xerxis and the Rhinodon) sometime in the next few weeks.  The League is wrapping up.  I played the 8th game earlier this week, and will have the report up soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Throwin' the Gauntlet: Planning and First Rounds


My local FLGS recently had a 'Gauntlet Rounds' tournament to have everyone get some experience with the coolest new feature of Iron Gauntlet: Season 2. The set up is as follows:
  • Everyone brings three 50 point lists per standard Iron Guantlet rules. We are encouraged to bring lists that we would actually bring to an Iron Gauntlet tournament, of course, as otherwise we wouldn't be getting much practice.
  • Every single game is played using the Gauntlet Round format. This means that for each match each player will look at the opponent's list and select a 'caster. After you reveal your choice you must construct a 75 point list from your three 50 point lists.
  • The lists must be constructed within 20 minutes. If not, the opponent gets two free control points. If the list still isn't constructed after 30 minutes it's an automatic forfeit.

This of course places an interesting twist to normal list building, which makes this a great topic for our 200th post here at 4+ Tough!