Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thoughts on Venethrax

I gotta admit that Venethrax is one of my favorite casters for Cryx in terms of image and general aura of badassery.

Come on, it's a big skeleton waving a sword at you and looking generally angry. What's not to love?

A Brief Look at Venny
Honestly, Venethrax is a selfish guy that LOVES to fight Hordes. How do you know this?

Well, Dragonslayer gives you +2 POW and +2 ARM, but more importantly lets you eat the fury off of a beast and turn it into focus. Therefore, if you can get into a beast and get some reach, MAT 8 PS 16+3d6 base damage into a beast you can probably get its fury, but I'd rather hit a wounded critter. Your other lovely denial spell is Lamentation, where anyone in your 14" area has to pay double for spells/animi. It's a great 'screw you' denial spell in general.

Now, why is he selfish?

Simple. You've got no buffs or debuffs to hand out to any other units on the table. You DO have a nice 3" AOE that hands out corrosion, and youv'e got the typical Hellfire for shooting harder targets. Your one spell you'll cast on a friendly unit is Soul Harvester, which means Venethrax gets the souls they cull instead.

Selfish, ain't it? Well, his feat kind of makes up for that, though at first glance Charnel Flames feels a little bit lackluster when you compare it to out-and-out break-your-opponent's-face feats like eGaspy or eSkarre. For a round, if you kill a warrior model they pop into a 3" cloud that explicitly denies Eyeless Sight. Anyone entering one of these clouds takes a point of fire damage. Basically, if you're running some troops (and honestly, you should consider it) you can make the enemy think carefully how they're going to kill your guys, and in what order. Also, if/when your guys get the charge in, they're buying protection against shooting and charges in turn.

The other note about Soul Harvester: this is a potential assassination setup; Focus 7 means you need to harvest three more souls to get enough focus for two fully-boosted hellfires, which can potentially kill a caster, and if you've wounded them prior...good times.

The Army I've Run
I opted to roll with a Tier 4 list for Venethrax at 50 points. It contains:
10 Mechanithralls
-WA: 2 Brute Thralls
Necrosuregeon & stitch thralls
10 Bloodgorgers
5 Black Ogrun Boarding Party
General Gerlak Slaughterborn
2 Pistol Wraiths

Tier Benefits
1) Seethers cost 8 points
2) I get a 3" cloud to place w/in 20" of my board edge for the first round (before deployment), at one per unit
3) Gerlak & his Bloodgorgers get advance deployment
4) Seethers get an Advance Move

Logic Behind the Army
You want Arc Nodes, because Venethrax is NOT a front-line caster. He can hit and hurt, but unless I'm dealing with hordes I'd rather NOT run the risk of getting up close and popped, because he has to camp focus to not die, being medium-based and having only so-so defense.

Seethers are there because of two reasons: first, the tier likes them, and second, Venethrax likes to sling spells, so the focus-efficient Seethers give me heavy hitters. If I can get them up to the enemy caster, then I can probably stomp on the caster with MAT8, PS 16 hits as well.

The Bloodgorgers & Gerlak handle infantry, especially if they can get Gang up. The Mechanithralls can handle jacks, and if I lead with them, they're wonderful with the feat since they're not THAT hard to pop. Necrosurgeons naturally go where Mechanithralls go. The Black Ogrun are a hefty bodyguard for Venethrax, since they can block tramples and LOS, and can do a reasonable amount of damage as well.

The Pistol Wraiths are some fun denial, and stuff I can TAKE with Venethrax. I'd consider a skarlock briefly, but the only spell a Skarlock's good for is cycling Soul Harvester around, or wandering out and popping an offensive spell before someone decides it should die. Since Venny's tier doesn't give you a heap of anti-jack stuff outside of Seethers and Mechanithralls (the former aren't THAT durable and might be needed for assassination and the latter are not that durable), the Pistol Wraiths provide a way to slow down heavy hitters, and in a pinch can outflank and try to pop shots or assassinate solos.

The Round
I fought one of my buddy's Khador armies. It was something like:
-Beast 09
Full Winter Guard, 3 Rockets, Standard
Kovnik Joe
Kommandos & a Flamethrower
Widowmaker Marksman

Scenario: Killing Field

I made him go first, purely so I could react to the deployment of a slower army. He deployed a little more focused on the side, and basically moved into position on turn one. He experimented with slapping Superiority onto Beast 09, then having the Devastator chuck it downrange. The dice promptly said 'no throw'. This was a bit of a theme on the dice for both of us, though he got the worst of it.

Round one's positioning for the most part. He puts the ManHunter on objective duty on the unused flank, which ends up drawing my Pistol Wraiths off to pop the guy, and then hold onto that objective (only after conceding a point of it to the Manhunter. Damn stealth for making me get within 5" to take the shots). He makes a move to put a Widowmaker Marksman on the other side objective, though a Deathripper wanders over to the objective and arcs a boosted Blood Rain into the Widowmaker's face, which promptly melts off.

Round two is the fine art of making Tough rolls with Bloodgorgers and losing almost half of them, but still making solid tough rolls. Man, I hate Winterguard shotgun + rocket love...

Round tthree is the fine art of throwing my surviving Bloodgorgers (Which make some tough rolls) into his Winterguard (which don't) and Soul Harvest provides Venny with some souls. His Spriggan and Beast 09 move up to the middle to start claiming the middle objective. My Seethers and Mechanithralls move to counter.

I put Seethers into Beast 09, and roll laughably bad on damage. I do manage to get a weapon lock on his Axe of Threshering Your Frelling Skull Off.

He pops feat, and goes into the fray. His dice betray his jacks; one Seether is left with a half-dozen boxes that include the cortexx, leg, and arm, and I have one Bloodgorger left that's on fire, and a somewhat beat-up Gerlak.

I pop my feat, and with 11 Focus on Venethrax I load up the Seethers, drop Soul Harvester, and prepare to go to town. I end up with a nice layer of clouds in front of me, and the Seethers drop Beast 09 and beat up on the Spriggan. Mechanithralls and a Brute put Spriggan into the ground with some spectacular damage rolls on combo-strikes. DEF 10 doesn't stop PS15 combo-strikes, and that PS19 coming out of the Brute Thrall is icing on the cake when it comes up box-cars for 8 boxes off the jack. Too bad I didn't have the charge, thanks to those bloody walls...

The last turn is him making a grab for objectives, but DEF 15 Deathripper manages to NOT get shanked by shooting, charging Commandos. His remaining Winterguard down some Mechanithralls and take a chunk out of my Seether (which Kovnik Joe promptly headshots in its last box, which WAS the cortex), but only have one Winterguard on there.

the last turn sees me with five points, one objective locked down, and a Seether looking at the winterguard on the last objective. The Seether promptly squishes the last winterguard after walking onto the objective.

Game ends; Khador 3 to Cryx 7

Neither of us can roll 5's to hit our AOE spells
Neither of us can roll damage against jacks
Kovnik Joe gets the killing shot on a Seether and gives an inspirational speech
One Pistol Wraith pops two shots and fails to kill a Manhunter, so the OTHER one has to do it
Devastator spends most of the game thinking that Death Chill is some crap

-Full Bloodgorgers are tough to take down with infantry-grade weapons
-Winterguard Blobs are tough, and massed sprays are sick
-Superiority makes Khador jacks average in terms of defense and speed, which is disgusting
-Beast 09 is a priority target all the time. Big shock.
-You probably won't kill multiple Khadoran jacks unless you get lucky and are willing to sacrifice chunks of your army
-Deploying second is wonderful when you have speed on the other guy
-Assassinating a second-line caster like Irusk means going through his army, OR trying to play Scenario. The latter may get you a faster win.
-Lamentation doesn't do much at all to a support caster when you're not playing from the front (...funny story, I think a Khador jack will hit DEF 15 with a boost and it doesn't need to hit that often...)
-Soul Harvester is good for a few spare focus, but don't expect to get more than a handful with it
-Black Ogrun end up serving more or less as JUST a bodyguard, mostly because the Bloodgorgers and Mechanithralls are rushing to engage. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
-Seethers really, REALLY want to get the first hit in, and Smash & Grab is fun when it goes off.
-Weapon locks may have a use, but if the other guy is stronger than you...may not be so impressive.

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