Thursday, November 1, 2012

Legion and the Two-Player Battle Box - Growth Potential?

Now, if you can find someone to split the cost of the battle-box, you can get some sweet stuff in the battle-box for $50ish.

Let's pretend you did that, and you, being a wise individual who has recently seen the light that is Everblight, is interested in using this as the nucleus of an army.

You're probably wondering a few things:
1) What do I do with what I just got?
2) I want someone other than Lylyth1.  Who?
3) I LIKES IT! How do I get to 35?

What Do I With What I Now Own?
To recap, you are now the proud owner of the following -
Lylyth1 [6WB]
-Carnivean [11]
-4x Shredders [4*2 = 8]
5 Blighted Ogrun Warspears [8]
Total: 21 points

In lieu of a full-on tactica for each piece, I'm going to offer highlights.  There are plenty of in-depth tactical articles out there, to be honest, and this is a higher-level view.

What's Lylyth Do?
She's fairly simple - she's got an ARM debuff (Parasite) that's nasty, a workable anti-infantry spell that punishes the enemy for clustering around a hard target (Eruption of Spines) and a hilarious, if situational, way to shut down warbeasts with Bad Blood.  And her feat is a free additional dice, so anyone that can boost to hit can roll 4d6 to hit.  High DEF, what?

Her FURY5 doesn't come into play with spellcasting because if she can shoot it (and she has Eyeless Sight, so she pretty much always can draw a bead) she can hit it with a spell.  Oh, and that also lets her beasties charge for free, which is nice on FURY5, trust me.  Oh, and you can use her Bushwhack ability to shoot, then move, so you can mark a target for the beasties THEN get outta threat range.

Mobile (SPD7, pathfinder, bushwhack)
High DEF (16, can use Tenacity to get to 17 base, and access concealment w/o speed, LOS penalty)
Accurate spells (hit it with a RAT7 base on top of Eyeless Sight)

Squishy (ARM14 base, 15 boxes.  Doesn't take hits well at all)
Low FURY (potential liability with melee beasts, hard to run them up to full.  Somewhat offset by fury-related rules on the bow)
NO defenses in melee other than eating a free strike

What's my Carnivean Do?
Short answer?  Punch the crap out of things and buff its ARM.  On the charge (especially when benefiting from Witch Mark) you're looking at a spray (not too accurate, but free) a boosted PS18 bite, a pair of PS16 punches, then four more PS18 bites.  It's not the most accurate beast with MAT6/RAT4, but against most heavies if it can get the charge you're gonna be ok.

While Lylyth can help out with Parasite, remember that off the bat this is your only innate heavy-hitter.  You want to not lose this guy.  He's probably got a target over his head, too, as your only heavy for now.

ARM buffing (bonus to attrition against enemy beasts/jacks; they eat d3 every time they punch you)
Swift (SPD6 pathfinder, aw yeah)
Assault on the spray allows for fun targeting vectors/long threat ranges

Low threat range on charge (9.5" to punch someone
Comical DEF
ARM is so-so without Spiny Growth (which is 2 fury)
Somewhat expensive at 11 points, but you get what you pay for.

I've got a more in-depth article on this guy available, as well.

The Shredders?
In short, they're cheap, guided missiles with a sweet animus.   They're 2pts a head for a reason, but you've got four of them.  Tenacity is very useful for the buff itself (+1DEF/+1ARM is almost always nice) and as a beneficial way of using excess fury off Lylyth, OR making sure you've got enough in the field.  They're probably either moving into position (running or going Rabid for +2SPD and Pathfinder), or going Rabid (which is good for boosts on attack/damage) and either charging or walking up and biting.

Sweet Animus
Easy transfer target
Good at nomming infantry/softening up lower-ARM targets

Easy to run up a lot of fury with four of 'em
Melee beasts on a warlock w/ small control area

On the bright side, these guys will teach you a bit about fury management, as in "What do I do when I have more fury than I can leech?"  The answer is either 'write them off' or 'put them where they'll frenzy on an enemy.'

The Warspears?
In all honesty, the Blighted Ogrun get compared to the Gatorman Posse.  A lot.  Often, it's not favorable.  I'm going to focus on how to get the most out of them, because you basically got them for free over a normal battle box.

What these guys do well is take up space.  They can threaten a fairly solid distance (on the assault, they're jogging up 8" and whipping a spear another 8" for a 16" threat range) and make people think hard about getting in range.  Also, with Set Defense, they can make charges a bit more tricky since they're DEF14 instead of DEF12 against that charge, and the other guy probably wanted that extra dice since these guys are ARM16 with 8 health.

If you want them to kill a heavy, they'll probably want Parasite on it.  On the bright side, on feat turn with the charge these guys can crank out a LOT of attacks.  With Set Defense, they're not a bad front line, and Reach on their melee weapons means it's hard to skirt them.

Reasonably durable
Nice volume of attacks on the charge
Reasonably obnoxious to charge

Need charge to get plenty of attacks
Not Gatorman Posse

So, how does this all work together?
Lylyth will probably want to lead with the Warmongers; a couple out in front to make it hard to get to the ones in back.  They're good for absorbing a charge, leaving your beasts to counter-charge.  Basically, you want to keep that Carnivean alive, because if it implodes you're going to have a bad time trying for some assassinations.  It's not impossible, but it's going to be a bit hard without his volume of attacks.

Lylyth basically picks something she wants dead, slaps it with Parasite, and then hits it with her army until it dies.  Save the feat for a potential assassination run (with boosts on the attack, suddenly MAT6 is hyper-accurate with a nice 4d6 to hit...which should hit DEF20 about half the time.  Which should be enough if it's the carnivean).

2) Lylyth is cool and all, but I want another warlock and then I want to expand
I'm going to discuss alternative warlocks first before I discuss expanding.  We have a decent 21pt army that's faction-pure, so we'll keep that in mind.  Running down the list...

Absylonia - Probably best to leave her out; she's more beast-centric and is unlikely to appreciate dropping 8 points on Ogrun, and I'd advise against a minimum-sized unit here.

Bethayne/Bayal - This is not necessarily a bad choice.  Your current army setup doesn't really get much out of her feat, but the Ogrun could enjoy any of her three upkeeps, and if you're a Warmachine player you'll enjoy having an arc node (Bayal's her pet beastie and a channeler to boot).

Lylyth2 - Skip.  She wants a ranged-heavy beast setup.  You don't have that here.

Rhyas - She's an option if you want to add more infantry, as she's nice to run infantry and wants Rapport on one beastie for a MAT8/RAT6 heavy.  She's workable; Legion has some solid infantry, but you're also likely to drop some of the shredders here.  Not the most efficient use of your new goodies.

Saeryn - She makes people groan, and for good reason.  The biggest argument against getting her is that her feat only protects her battlegroup, so those Ogrun are SO gonna die on feat turn.  She also doesn't do a hell of a lot to support them, to be honest.  Still, if you want to pick up another heavy and some fury support, she's an option.

Thagrosh1 - Honestly, I like this guy for an alt caster on the warpack.  He's got a STR buff that the Carnivean or Warspears would like; it pushes the Carni up into stupid-nasty PS20-bite territory, and the Warspears go up to PS15 on both of their attacks.  Fog of War helps everyone (hell, even the Carnivean can get up to DEF14 vs ranged) and makes the Warspears obnoxious as they're DEF14 (15 with tenacity) against a charge or against shooting.  Also, he's got the fury (and Attuned Spirit) to hand out the animi and keep his upkeeps going.

Thagrosh2 - Not a bad choice either, here.  Manifest Destiny buffs his not-inconsiderable battlegroup, and he's sitting on an ARM buff as well, which makes either his Warspears or Carnivean that much more obnoxious.  Plus, he hits like a truck personally, and his feat is fun for either extending the threat range of his battlegroup, OR pulling them back to get another charge.

 I can think of only a couple drawbacks - Large base + low DEF, and his beast points are piddly at 3, but he can spawn a lesser after he takes a hefty hit, so it's kinda like 5 points...

Vayl1 - She's more beast-centric than your initial buy is.

Vayl2 - Still more beast-centric than you are now, and frankly her tier is stupid-nasty.  I have a hard time playing her outside of it, to be honest. There's nothing like a long-range armor-piercing charge that promptly retreats out of retaliation range.

Kallus - Workable, though in fairness he's a little more melee/infantry-centric than your setup.  You could probably make him work, though Warmongers aren't an ideal choice.

Still 2) That's a lot of options.  Narrow it down?
I would suggest Thagrosh1.  If you're feeling adventurous, Thagrosh2.  You have a solid infantry core and could play Thagrosh1's attrition game, especially factoring in Spiny Growth, Tenacity, and his -2STR aura.  Thagrosh2 likes the shredders and can buff the ARM of your Ogrun to a healthy 18.

I feel like they're your best fits.

3) Ok, I get it.  What am I buying next?
Fury Management
Lylyth desperately wants you to think about buying a Shepherd.  Shepherds let you force outside of your control area, and also are good for pulling all the fury off a beast, or healing it outside of activation.  Forsaken aren't bad either, though they can only hold 5 fury total (or a good couple turns of help) but CAN turn around and use that to punish anyone running high on fury or camping on focus.

I'd get at least one Shepherd first, maybe two.  They're just solid.  Consider one Forsaken as well, but they're more expensive and anyone that's been hit hard with Blight Shroud knows to target these things.

A Plastic Heavy Kit and Magnets
Do yourself a favor and buy a standard Legion heavy kit and magnets.  You can magnetize the arms, and that way you have two bodies and you've a set of arms for a Ravagore, Scythean, and a pair of Carniveans.  This is the most flexible way to go, honestly, and you probably want a second heavy.

Swamp Gobbers
They're a point, they make clouds.  Clouds provide concealment or block LOS.  Buffing your DEF or blocking LOS to your warlock altogether are handy.  These guys are just a solid, cheap utility piece.

Spell Martyrs
These guys are a 'maybe.'  They're 1pt solos that are single-use arc nodes.  Honestly, Thagrosh2 is the guy I'm thinking of first when I mention these, as a timely, accurate Scourge can be a game-winner because knocked-down casters are hard to miss.  However, Thagrosh1 and Lylyth are both capable of appreciating an early-game Bad Blood on an opposing heavy.

Why not a Warchief?
Now, some folks tend to reach for support solos that go with a unit or units, IE Banes and Bane Lord Tartarus.  I'm not so sold on a Warchief with Warspears.  He'll do precisely two things for them - let them heal after they kill something in melee via Blood Drinker, and IF he's in their LOS he'll buff their to-hit rolls.  The issue is getting him in their LOS.  Also, you're potentially tight on points and he's 3, fitting him and another heavy in there is going to be pushing it.

What Might My Army Look Like at 35 With This?
Lylyth1 [-6]
-Carnivean [11]
-Ravagore [10]
-4x Shredders [4*2=8]
5 Warspears [8]
Swamp Gobbers [1]
Shepherd [1]
Forsaken [2]

You keep your heavy hitter and little gribblies.  Warspears go in front, potentially benefitting from the Gobber cloud.  Ravagore lobs shots from a distance and suggests that the enemy come to you, and the Shepherd can happily sit back and manage its fury.

Thagrosh1 [-5]
-Carnivean [11]
-Scythean [9]
-4x Shredders [4*2 = 8]
5 Blighted Ogrun Warspears [8]
Swamp Gobbers  [1]
Shepherd [1]
Forsaken [2]

I'm opting for a Scythean for its threat range - with Thagrosh1's feat letting you resurrect a heavy, you can happily start a piece trade with the Scythean (making it harder to kill via Spiny Growth and/or your -2STR CMD-range aura).  Keeping Thagrosh behind the Ogrun screens him, and also lets them benefit from his -2STR aura.  Carnivean and Shredders provide ARM/DEF buffs, and Fog of War stays up until you close in.  If you brought gobbers, you can keep Thagrosh concealed without worrying about Fog of War; just drop that if the Warspears are going to make an assault attack.

Forsaken manages fury, and if anyone runs a warbeast hot to crack ARM, then it burns its fury and pops Blight Shroud and laughs at the messed-up enemy beast.

Thagrosh2 [-3]
-Ravagore [10]
-Scythean [9]

-4x Shredders [4*2=8]
5 Blighted Ogrun Warspears [8]
Swamp Gobbers [1]
Spell Martyr  [1]

Shepherd [1]

I've dropped the Carnivean for a Ravagore because I like the gun and wanted the support.  The Scythean is a cheap beater, and in a pinch you can buff his ARM with Dragon's Blood and Tenacity if you need him to take a hit.  Otherwise, Warspears get the ARM buff and lead.  Ravagore makes the enemy think about closing, while the Swamp Gobbers and Tenacity make the enemy at least worry about DEF16 against shooting.  Trust me, the biggest issue with Thagrosh2 is he's allergic to gunfire and hard to hide.  Also, Spell Martyr + Scourge = hilarious.

Finally, there's nothing like the perfect long-range feat kill - cast Manifest Destiny for an additional dice to attack/damage rolls while discarding the lowest, get enemy caster into control range, pop feat.  Shredders activate, go Rabid, and run at enemy caster.  Then they move up and make a fully-boosted attack under the feat with Manifest Destiny helping.  Or, just throw the Shredders 24" across the board (Rabid for a SPD8 run for 16", then a walk-n-chomp under yeah.  Poor Irusk dealt with that once.  Survived the first run, had to deal with four about-to-frenzy shredders.  Bad time for the reds, it was.).

You could probably make other casters work with the 2-player box setup, but I think the Thagroshes are probably your best bet for getting the most out of the box with common support.  If you were to go to your friendly local gaming store and assuming you split the box for about $50, you'd be looking at about $40 for the support solos/units, and ~$45ish for the second heavy kit and magnets.  Not bad, altogether, for a 35pt army with solid support.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Impressions - The Helldiver

The other week, I had occasion to run a pair of the cheapest (read: least expensive...) warjacks in the game: Cryx's very own Helldiver.

Man, are these guys fun.  They're so fun I figured I ought to blog about them ('s also cleaner than taking a cue from a dog and relieving oneself in a fit of excitement without regard for current location).  I'll also explain just why there's a bloody dorsal fin there.

Like other models, this isn't something explicitly called out on the card (I mean, Steelhead Halberdiers have this ability as well).  However, it's a whopping 3 points for a Helldiver.  As such, I'd recommend fielding them in pairs, but I'll get into a bit more on that later.

These things have three systems: the head, the movement, and the cortex.  The damage grid looks an awful lot like a bone chicken's, but you have to pretty much half-kill  the thing to disable a system.  With DEF14, anyone that gets a shot at it is probably thinking about boosting, but ARM15 is so-so at best.  Most of the durability comes from the DEF, the system layout, and then of course how you deliver the boggarts.

HERE is the major perk for these guys - they only have one explicit ability, a special action called 'Burrow.'  On the first turn, you'll contemplate running if you have the focus and the other guy doesn't have anything that could shoot/damage these guys.  Otherwise, they walk up 5 inches and burrow.  When they burrow, you drop a marker in base contact with their front arc.  The marker's about the size of a penny.

The next turn, you place the Helldiver anywhere within 3" (note this is WITHIN, not 'COMPLETELY WITHIN') of the burrow marker.  The only way to stop this thing from coming up is crowding the burrow marker and leaving it nowhere to set the base.  This is...not...easy.

And here's the biggest strength - it's damned near impossible to stop these guys.  Yeah, they can't burrow into rock or man-made stuff, but it's advancing close to 10" a turn and you can't shoot it.

Angle of Attack
Note that they pop up ANYWHERE within 3" of the burrow marker.  If you need to grab an angle, this is how you do it.

Damage Output
You get one PS13 chomp on MAT6 with this thing.  That's it.  You're not going to do a lot of harm without outside help.

Basically, you've got a little dude that can go just about anywhere with relative impunity.  He's not too hot on holding territory but they can do it in a pinch.  Note also that once the Helldiver does something other than advance and burrow, the enemy might experience a reaction much akin to watching a Khador clam-jack open: HOLY CRAP IT'S VULNERABLE KILL IT!

The Slam-Bot
Throw it 1-2 focus and slam.  Resurfacing after a burrow gives you a ton of freedom in grabbing just the right angle and making sure you've got the requisite 3" to pull off the actual slam.  If you're slamming a large-based model, you might want a second focus for the boost, since you kinda take the -2 to hit since it's bigger than you.

Note that the slam-bot can of course play into assassinations by providing convenient knockdowns and/or opening LOS.  Or, you can just make the enemy spend time/resources in forcing jacks/beasts to stand back up.

The Solo Hunter
MAT6 PS13 is probably enough to handle a solo.  They get nowhere to hide.

The Assassin
If you're going to use the Helldiver as an assassination threat, I'd consider a pair.  One may not be enough to get the job done, and it's a lot harder to hide from a pair of these if one starts the game on either flank.  The major perk of using these guys as an assassination vector lies in

You will need to overcome the Helldiver's accuracy and damage issues, but we're Cryx! We can debuff armor and DEF, and of course someone can obligingly slam something into our high-DEF target to make it not so high-DEF.

Casters of Note
Basically, anyone can use these guys as slam-bots.  They need no focus until you want to crank out the slam, and they can always solo-hunt.  However, some casters can really make these guys, whatever squee-like behavior a Helldiver does.  I dunno.

Her feat and Dark Guidance is the perfect storm for these guys - the ideal turn is something like this:
1) Helldivers pop up, draw LOS on enemy caster
2) Thanks to Ritual Sacrifice, Helldivers get focus-loaded
3) Skarre pops feat.  Helldivers go up to PS18
4) Skarre casts Dark Guidance.  Helldivers are PS18 with 6+3d6 to hit
5) Hilarity Ensues

Even outside of feat turn, Dark Guidance is a huge help for these guys, especially if the enemy doesn't camp.

Warwitch Deneghra
On paper, Denny1 has the knockdown and debuffs to make these guys work, but in practice she's probably more comfortable using stuff that doesn't require as much focus to work, since Scourge is half her focus (assuming we can get a Siren to power boost the arc node and a skarlock for the potential ghostwalk).

She loves her some slam-bots.  They're cheap, and they LOVE terminal velocity.  Hell, a pair of these guys alone slamming living targets make that spell efficient - you're looking at a two-focus slam/boost done twice for three focus right there.  I'm pretty sure Lamoron has a hilarious bonejack swarm army  using a couple of these guys.

She gets the utmost accuracy out of these guys, honestly. (...ok, against living models, that is)

Feat turn TK + Feast of Worms runs you four focus, leaving ~3 to play with for these guys.  As an added bonus, they don't ask for handouts prior to doing stuff, and are cheap and can contribute to board control with the Scav.

Sample List
10 Satyxis Raiders
-Sea Witch
10 Bane Knights
Bane Lord Tartarus
Satyxis Raider Captain
Skarlock Thrall
3 Scrap Thralls
Ogrun Bokur (Skarre as the client, obviously...)
..,.invariably some other stuff, I think maybe I had the Withershadow Combine in there but I could be wrong.

Basic logic is to use Raiders as a first-wave jam if necessary, move the Banes into position.  Helldivers are here to move up on the side; Skarre can solve their accuracy and/or hitting power issues and probably fuel them as well, given Ritual Sacrifice and a Skarlock.

There are doubtless other uses for these guys, but I feel that the above casters can really make them shine.  Otherwise, this is the kind of jack that doesn't necessarily get a ton of table time, so you might also enjoy the 'OMG, what is THAT thing?' advantage.

Also, there's a delightful little psychological advantage.  You might make the other guy feel like they're on a clock, because there's a fair chance that the Helldivers WILL reach his back line, and the only way to stop them is deny them a lane of attack or a zone to dig up in.  Otherwise, they're kinda gonna get there.  For 3-6 points, you can get some decent utility that doesn't cost focus until you're ready to use it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Reflections on the Kraken, volume 1

I finally painted, based, and assembled THE KRAKEN.  It's a sweet model, and before I get into the meat of the post I'd suggest that the purpose-made foam from Battlefoam is NOT a bad idea, considering that the gun and tentacles are kind of jutting out from the main body.

I've gotten a few games with the Kraken under Skarre2 at 50 points.  At 35, I feel you're making a Colossal the centerpiece, and at 50 you can bring enough support and/or a backup heavy hitter, because there's really no hiding these guys.

Why Skarre2?
If you were just to glance over the spell list and errata for her feat, you might think "Wait, you mean I can't protect it with my feat, or move it with Perdition or Admonition?  Wait, what?"

Ok, that's a fair reaction.  However, you're missing out on the fact that Skarre2 still has two things the Kraken really wants: an ARM buff (Death Ward) and an accuracy buff (Black Spot) that is hilarious with that 4" melee range against a unit.  Additionally, if the enemy is using heavy beasts/jacks as their hitters, they've concentrated their power in a few easy feat targets.  I'm accustomed to using Skarre2's feat as a "NYAH! YOU CANNOT TARGET MEE!" deal, but tagging enemy models is not without merit.

The List
10 Satyxis Raiders
-Sea Witch
Withershadow Combine
Necrotech/Scrap Thrall
Raider Captain
Warwitch Siren

I believe that's what it is; it's been a few days and I've reorganized my cards (plus 'real life' intervened and whatnot...).  The logic of the list is thus:

A backup hitter is never a bad thing.  In a pinch, I throw it in front of the Kraken as a reach barrier that threatens free strikes, and while people are focusing on the giant tentacle monster of death, they might not be as worried about the soul-threshering beastie of nastiness.  Plus, Ghost Shot combined with the Kraken's long-ranged gun gives me some shooting options.  I can also Admonition or Perdition this happy little thing, and black spot + thresher is funny, especially if there's a jack nearby so I can wander up, thresher for a bunch of dead guys and souls, then turn around and pummel the jack with soul-fueled smacking action.

I could probably go Deathripper if I wanted, but the node is out there for a timely Black Spot or Perdition.  I feel kind of light with just one node, but this guy starts out with Admonition and can always get the feat for additional protection.  In a pinch, the gun can mesh well with a Black Spot that's already in place, as a RAT7 POW14 is pretty fun to dole out to single-wound infantry.

Raiders + UA + Captain
This module is for jamming up infantry.  I can stop heavy hitters with the feat, but no one really wants to deal with a bunch of high-DEF, knockdown-immune blast-immune reach women.  Additionally, Backlash and Feedback on the whips is a potent combo against anyone that has jacks.  If I can't score the backlash/feedback assassination, I can make the enemy worry about the shooting from the Harrower and Kraken.

Also, the Captain makes Skarre herself immune to knockdown, which means they've got to deal with her DEF16.

Withershadow Combine
They're a solid utility unit, what can I say?  Skarre2 is potentially rocking three upkeeps a turn, and while she CAN cut herself to upkeep them, I can also just get one for free.  If there's a crucial shot, puppet strings, and if the enemy has something like an ARM buff (...because I don't have a good way to buff damage output beyond corpse tokens on the Kraken) I can undo that.  Plus, it's more shooting.

Warwitch Siren
She's solid, what can I say?  If I need to KO infantry, she might not get a second Venom off of black spot, but an effective magic ability of 9 along with ignoring concealment/cover is nothing to scoff at.  She also helps out with focus efficiency (duh) and can contribute to the fun with a timely Shadowbind on a heavy, which makes her one of the few things that can stop a colossal.  I mean, the big jack is going to flatten her for her temerity, but sometimes halting that opposing heavy hitter is worth it.

Necrotech/Scrap Thrall
Why not bring repair with a colossal?  If I take some early-game plinking, I can likely hammer the dents out.  Anything I can do to get more boxes on a stupid-durable ARM21 monstrosity seems like a good idea.  And scrap thralls amuse me.

Skarlock Thrall
Why not get more focus efficiency?  Most of the time this guy is just re-casting Death Ward on the Kraken, though he gives me an option for getting an Admonition back out, or even tossing Perdition out on lower-DEF infantry. 

In Battle
Some highlights of this list and the colossal include -

Death-warded kraken surviving a charge from Stormblades.  Black Spot + tentacles = hilarity and a LOT fewer Stormblades.  Then it beat the hell out of the accompanying Stormclad; rolling 2d6+2 for damage is sweet against a heavy.

Against a Hyperion under Vyros1, a long-distance charge from mini-feating Raiders (only about half got there) and Backlash meant Vyros lost about half his life, and suddenly the odd Killshot! from a Kraken punching out things is a LOT more frightening, especially with Seas of Fate and/or Puppet Strings. 

The Harrower's presence meant that heavy hitters had more than one target to go after, and of course black spot + reach + thresher is always funny.  He cleaned up a unit of Storm knights, then proceeded to unload soul tokens into a nearby Lancer, which was a bad time for the Lancer.  It was also feat turn.

Further Thoughts
I like the ARM buff and Death Ward's ability to let me pick the column.  Sadly, it doesn't let me pick the grid so the enemy still has some flexibility in knocking out systems (...ok, mostly an arm).  However, ARM21 is still much nicer than ARM19 when you're going to absorb that many hits.

Offhand, I'm tempted to gravitate towards casters that can buff my ability to hit with the Kraken's MAT6, and possibly run another heavy hitter.  Asphyxious3 and the Witch Coven come to mind as likely candidates, hampered only by the fact I need to assemble them (...and Vociferon).

I'm not sure I want to try this thing in 35, as the average caster's jack points plus an arc node is going to be around 16-17 points of the army already, which means an infantry unit and a minimum of support. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

In Defense of the Carnivean

When it comes to heavies for the Legion, I think a lot of people look for something flashy - the Scythean is a SPD6 reach heavy hitter, the Ravagore has a long-range continuous-fire gun, the Angelius has crazy armor-piercing and speed and utility...and where's that leave the Carnivean?

The Carnivean is Legion's attrition-based beat-stick with a side of trickery.  Attrition isn't always a popular style with Legion, but those who think the Carnivean a pure beat-stick with so-so threat range are in for a shock.

The Basics
If you're familiar with the Scythean and Ravagore, you're familiar with the base chassis - you get a solid SPD value with pathfinder and eyeless sight, a solid damage spiral with so-so ARM18 and laughable DEF11.  You get a solid FURY4, and Legion-standard MAT6.

The 'Wait, what?' part of the show
You also get a point cost of 11.  This tends to make folks sit back and think; the Scythean is a couple points cheaper and the Ravagore has a long-range direct-fire weapon.  The Carnivean's gun is a cool 10" spray, which happens to be tied to a comically-sad RAT4 (Khador doesn't feel bad for you, but that's about it).

The beginning of 'Oh, ok...'
So, that PC of 11...bothersome, yes?  Well, first, consider damage output.  You get a pair of PS16 open fists, so you've got all your power attacks.  You don't have reach, but you DO have a PS18 bite, which is just plain fun.  You have arguably the highest damage output in Legion, unbuffed: a pair of PS16s, followed by five bloody PS18 smacks.  You also get your spray on the charge, so that's a PS14 for free if you get the charge off.

Attrition, what?
Legion gets a rep (deservedly so) for assassination.  Attrition is a viable game strategy, and the Carnivean is an enabler - spiny growth is a stupidly useful animus for attrition.  ARM18 is so-so.  ARM20 is annoying to crack, and DEF11 vs DEF12 isn't really that big a deal so if you have the spare fury and the lower DEF then Spiny Growth is a superior defensive animus.

The other fun part of attrition is thus - when a jack/beast smacks you and doesn't kill you, they eat d3 damage in return.  So, you're cutting their damage output and you are in turn damaging their heavies that want to crush your beasts in hand-to-hand combat.  If you've already softened up the heavies, you might luck out and KO some systems.  This damage also ignores armor value, so a pissed-off Khador heavy can take the same few-d3 that an angry Cryx jack can muster.

There were tricks, y/n?
The biggest trick that Carnivean has is assault on the SP10.  People talk about threat ranges, and if you want to maximize the threat range, you can reach out and touch someone 19 inches away.  THAT is why you're on a bloody RAT4.  The ideal way to pull off the hail-mary is slap Spiny Growth on the Carnivean from an outside source (IE: Warlock or Succubus), then charge and double-boost the POW14 that's coming from nowhere.  If you have a Succubs and Ravagore, you can get the continuous-fire animus and then perhaps the spiny growth up as well, too.

The other big trick on the spray is tagging support models and/or casters.  Most of the time, people assume blocking LOS is enough.  Not so much with the spray.  If you can get the angles right, you can drop fire on support models, and then decide if you want to spend fury boosting those rolls (...which you do if you want to kill the support, as RAT4 is once again comical and Legion's only RAT buff is aiming, outside of feats and a few DEF debuffs).  Note also sprays get around a lot of things, including 'can't target me!' crap like Skarre2's feat.

The Team Player
The Carnivean loves a few models.  It's an attrition-enabler with hideous damage potential, so that's what you're adding to/emphasizing with the thing.  As a rule, anyone that can make our heavies hit more accurately is always a bonus, but this thing is more of an attrition piece.  With that theme in mind, here are models to consider -

Honestly, this guy and the Carnivean are a match made in hell.  With his passive Death Shroud for -2STR, a Spiny-Growth'ed Carnivean is effectively ARM22 in melee, and hits jacks/beasts for 1d3 each time he gets tagged.  He can also use Fog of War to pump the bugger up to DEF13 vs ranged, which is actually missable.  Attuned Spirit[Legion] means a 2-cost animus isn't that terrible, since pThags gets one off for free.  Finally, pThags has an attrition-oriented feat, so if you can avoid remove-from-play you'll enjoy getting a heavy back.  This means you can over-extend on a crazy spray, try to snipe some support, and then spiny-growth something without fear of losing your Carnie.

Her feat is attrition-oriented, and she has quite a selection of beast buffs.  Access to Spiny Growth only helps her out by making her other beasts harder to kill.  Also, you can give the Carnie reach if/when he needs it. 

Respawn and melee immunity are both fun on this model.  She'll let it overextend itself a bit more, and you don't always have to pop the feat just to keep this thing alive.

These are heavies that benefit from the +2ARM, as DEF11 vs DEF12 isn't that huge a difference, so tenacity is probably not as cool a choice.

Anyone who plays/has played Legion knows the Shepherd is nasty.  My point in mentioning her here is reminding you that Beast Master lets you force the Carnivean outside of your control area, which can be a useful tip when you're taking full advantage of that 19" threat range.  You pretty much HAVE to boost that RAT4 spray.

If you're fighting against Hordes, there's a good chance that they'll run heavies hot on fury to kill your ARM20+ Carnivean.  Forsaken are nice for making sure it's a costly kill.

Throne of Everblight
The Throne loves all the durability you can give it.  This is especially fun with either of the Thagroshes, as they can pump it to an effective ARM23 with Spiny Growth.

Sample 25pt Mangled Metal
Thagrosh1 [+5]
-Carnivean [11]
-Ravagore [10]
-Scythean [9]

Thagrosh1's feat is stupid-potent at this level.  Additionally, you can start the piece trade with either a Carnivean's hail-mary spray, or a Scythean's long natural threat range.  You can also gun for a ranged assassination with the spray and Ravagore shot + continuous fire.  Finally, if all else fails you have three ARM22 heavies and an effective fourth, provided there's no RFP out.

Sample 35pt Legion Attrition
Thagrosh1 [+5]
-Carnivean [11]
-Ravagore [10]
-Shredder [2]
5 Gatormen [9]
Forsaken [2]
Annyssa Ryvaal [4]
Deathstalker [2]
Succubus [2]

Much as I like the unholy Carni-chassis trinity, this is another nasty build for attrition.  I've opted for Gatormen over Legion heavy infantry, for a couple of reasons - Dirge of Mists + Fog of War + Tenacity = DEF16 vs ranged Gatormen.  Get into melee and if you can bring Death Shroud into play, your medium infantry are basically ARM20 multi-wounders.

The Gatormen also screen Thagrosh, which is a hell of a bonus.  Thagrosh can choose between buffing his DEF or buffing his ARM.

The Ravagore is in there as another high-ARM heavy, and because of the gun.  That gun is sweet.  Furthermore, you always have Dragon's Blood to pump STR and make this guy hit almost like a Carnivean.  Kind of.  Well, it helps.

The Forsaken is there for fury management, and because anyone in Hordes is going to run up some Fury clawing through the wall of ARM20+ models. 

The ranged support solos give you a little more oomph and some actual flankers.  I suppose if you didn't want the Ravagore's gun,m you could always drop the Ravagore down to a Scythean and switch the last 2pt solo out for a Totem Hunter.  I've had great luck with our raptor solo, and enjoy her immensely.

The Succubus is a solid model in terms of helping hand out 2-cost animi, and unlike Thagrosh2 you're not going to be crapping yourself with abomination.

If this list went up to 50, I'd add a Shepherd, battle engine, and consider bringing mor flanker-type things, possibly up to/including squeezing in raptors (maybe a min unit and the battle engine?).  Speedy flankers, and use the battle engine + spiny growth to tie up the enemy while everyone else gets into position.

 I'm a big fan of the Carnivean and I don't think it gets enough love, to be honest.  It doesn't have the melee threat range of the scythean or the spectacular defender-like gun of the Ravagore, and it's not a sexy long-range assassination/armor-piercing shot like the Angelius.

It DOES boast a solid defensive animus, a high volume of hard-hitting attacks, and some wonderful options with an assault SP10.  Give this guy a chance, you'll like what he can do.  Also, given the number of hit boxes a Gargantuan is going to have, Spiny Growth is bound to be awesome on the Archangel.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Moonlighting with Minions: Circle Orboros

I know it's been a bit, and I apologize (hey, everyone's got to start long absences with a detailed apology and explanation of why they were out before they get to the juicy content, right? RIGHT?!).  Real life had other things to say, and I kinda moved.  I'm actually using coffee house wi-fi to post this, as my dear cable company doesn't feel like having a paying customer for another two weeks.

Anyway, none of you are here for that.  You're here for the part where I finally finish up my 'moonlighting with minions' series, and that's with Circle Orboros.  Because I somehow lost steam a few months back.  Whoops.

Units of Note - Shifting Stones
These guys do two things for you as a minion-heavy player: they provide some fury management via Serenity, and can teleport beasts.  Healing Field is a neat potential extra as it’s healing that’s not happening during the warlock’s activation, and it can fix constructs if you’re running them and not named Baldur.  The Stone Keeper UA is worth a look for another point, as it gives the stones Stealth, which is nice.

Solo of Note – Druid Wilder
This is your fury-management solo.  She brings you three spiffy tools: Herding, Conditioning, and Spirit Tap.  She’s kind of like a mini warlock; herding lets her force beasts in her CMD 7 range, Conditioning lets her pull the fury off them, and Spirit Tap lets her use their animus.  Note that the latter two require her action.  Fittingly, she’s the faction Warlock Attachment.  It’s probably not a bad idea to have her.

Solo of Note – Gallows Grove
It’s a teleporting arc node.  Some casters could really dig this, and they’re reasonably cheap at 1pt per head.  Consider a couple blisters IF you’re going to play casters that would like them.

Minion unit of note - Cylena and the Nyss Hunters
You know those pathfinding weaponmasters with bows that were obscenely hard to assemble?  They'll work for Circle.  If you're a merc/Warmachine player with them, then you already have an infantry core to use for Minions.  Given their point cost, you'll probably want to hit larger games and make them your only unit, but they're bloody good at what they do.

The Warlocks
Baldur the Stonecleaver
                This is the construct-lover of the faction, as he can heal them.  He’s got all of four spells to go with that FURY6, and only one is faction-specific: Stone Skin is good for +2STR/ARM, at the cost of  -1DEF/SPD.  This isn’t a bad buff, but you’re using it mostly on beasts that you aren’t charging with, or you’re using it on Baldur (ARM18 makes him harder to papercut to death; denying the enemy that strategy isn’t a bad move) in lieu of Solid Ground and immunity to blasts/knockdown.
                His feat grants his army cover, and ISN’T faction-specific.  Cover for a turn, along with immunity to blast damage, allows him to deliver light infantry to the fight.  The only other note is you might want to consider Pathfinder on your infantry, as Rapid Growth lets him place a forest.  Alternatively, you can move your infantry up and then plop a forest on them for instant concealment.  Gatormen love this because they can get up to DEF15 versus ranged between the Dirge of Mists and concealment; the bog-standard pigs can get cover, and Slaughterhousers can enjoy blocked LOS or additional DEF as well as immunity to knockdown.
                All things considered, Baldur1 is pretty minion-friendly.

Baldur the Stonesoul
                This guy’s somewhat minion-friendly, but only in the way his feat is written – his feat gives Roots of the Earth to all friendly models in his control area, whereas the spell requires you to be a Faction model to get the +3ARM and immunity to knockdown/placing.  Written as-is, this guy probably wouldn’t mind Gatormen; wander up and make those Gatormen ARM19 (21 in melee) and use them as a buffer to deliver his otherwise-slow beasties.  For extra BS factor, add in Witch Doctors to make Gators tough and turn the mostly-dead ones into Sacrifical Strike fodder.
                I like the Stonesoul on paper, but he really wants to run a ton of constructs between his ability to buff armor (feat and Roots of the Earth), deny charges (rock wall is great with slower guys) and Elemental Mastery (allows thos constructs to charge/power-attack for free).

Cassius the Oathkeeper
                This guy’s spells have zero interaction with infantry of any sort; he’s got two damage spells (Stranglehold for control joy and Hellmouth for infantry removal), an ARM debuff in Curse of Shadows, and Unseen Path to move that big tree.  The feat is great for scenario, but you may wish to consider pathfinder-capable models if you want to move after popping feat.  Also, bring Gallows Groves, because this is a model that LOVES it some spells and souls.
                He’s honestly kinda ambivalent about his infantry company.  Just don’t bring any removed-from-play stuff and he’s fine.

Kaya the Wildborne
                Occultation can go on anything, but if she’s running beast-heavy then she’s running it on herself if there are guns around.  Honestly, she’s kitted out to run beasts between Soothing Song, Spirit Door, and her feat; at best you might rock a unit of infantry with her.
                It’s worth noting that since the two-player battle box for Hordes is announced, you can get her with a Winter Argus, Argus, and Feral Warpwolf, but you ALSO get a unit of Skinwalkers in there.  I would say this battlegroup is preferable to double-argus, and owning Skinwalkers is…um, owning skinwalkers and nice for those times where you might actually want a faction unit.

Kaya the Moon Hunter (and Bark Node)
                She’s 100% beast focused.  Any points spent on infantry are points she’s not spending on beasts that she makes sick.  Honestly, you can probably skip her; she’s just ambivalent about infantry and wants to get the charge off with beasts.

Kromac the Ravenous
                Skip this guy for our particular exercise.  His armor buff (Inviolable Resolve) and battlegroup movement buff (Warpath) are both faction-specific.  You’re losing out on some seriously useful tech if you go minions for infantry here. 
                Admittedly, you can always drop Resolve on a beast or Kromac, but +2ARM over a unit is a bigger benefit.  You also make triggering Warpath more difficult, and honestly, you may lose out on fun stuff like grabbing new threat vectors and the like.

Krueger the Stormwrath
                You lose out on Deflection, which is a fun buff for faction warrior models with +2ARM vs incoming spells/shots.  However, lightning tendrils still work on minions, and the rest of his spell list/feat is offense-oriented.  Krueger’s got plenty of oomph for killing infantry with his own spells/attacks and Lightning Tendrils on infantry, so bring heavy-hitting beasts and you’ll be looking at something workable.

Krueger the Stormlord
                This guy’s infantry will enjoy Storm Wall’s ability to shut down ranged attacks (within reason; they have to start in his control area and suffer -5RNG).  Beyond that, he doesn’t really offer a lot of support to infantry, but he’s likely to be using Telekinesis and animi instead.
                He’s passable with minion infantry, and certainly doesn’t lose anything with them.

Mohsar the Desertwalker
                The major loss with Mohsar is Mirage; this could be fun on a unit but may be better-served in allowing a beast two more inches of threat range.  You do lose out on Sands of Fate, but that should be more of a ‘get out of jail for a Faction Trooper’ card than a regular thing you use; DEF14/ARM14 has no business being close to the front. 
                He’s largely workable with minions, but doesn’t have anything that outright screams USE ME! USE MEEEE! With minions over, say, faction troopers.

Morvahna the Autumnblade
                Skip.  You lose out on Regrowth, Restoration, and her feat.  This is to say you’re losing out on the ability to regenerate grunts, an ARM buff that can heal Morvanna, and a feat that gives you wide access to Removed From Play and terrain generation.
                Morvahna loses a chunk with minion units.

Grayle the Farstrider
                Grayle’s main loss with bringing Minion infantry is the feat, which is army-wide stealth and potentially army-wide movement buffs (it’s basically Warpath for Faction models versus the battlegroup).  He can dispel clouds and screw over shooting with Wind Blast.  Storm Rager isn’t that huge of a loss, as it impacts one model only; this lends it towards buffing Grayle (+2STR/MAT/ARM is nice on someone with Sprint and two initials) and/or someone like The Lord of the Feast (…because his 360 thresher needed to be MAT10, PS15…).
                Honestly, this guy’s not terrible with minions, but you are losing out on the feat, which is sad because it’s a nice setup.  At the least, bring infantry that can deal with being the only shooting targets on the field (either via durability like the Posse, or the Brigands’ ability to Dig In could save them here).

                Honestly, Circle has a fair amount of ambivalence/non-synergy with mercs.  I would suggest Baldur1 is among the best for working with minions, between Rock Wall, Solid Ground (things like Nyss Hunters LOVE immunity to blast damage) and the feat.  Baldur2 is subject to making sure his feat works on minions.
                Cassius and Krueger2 are mostly ambivalent about minions; they just don’t interact with them and they’d love to maybe have some Gallows Groves around for more angles to do fun things like sling spells.
                Grayle is kind of on the fence; losing out on the feat is a potentially hefty blow, but otherwise his playstyle doesn’t look like it would change much.  Mohsar doesn’t lose a terrible amount, but he DOES lose out on the ability to bounce away from danger in exchange for a friendly faction model.
                The rest of the cast either loses out on active buffs (Kromac being the worst offender) or would rather have more beasts (Kaya1&2).
                I would probably start with Cassius and/or Krueger.  Cassius is ambivalent, and Krueger2 can lean on the minions to screen him/clean out enemy infantry while his beasties do the work.