Saturday, November 20, 2010

Everblight New Stuff: Chain Attack Bloodbath For Great Justice

The local gaming group, HAAWGS, is getting a map-based league underway. It's a nice change-up and access to a broader variety of opponents. The change-up comes in the form of force composition: you start with a base of 30 points, and the various map tiles you control might add something. My current setup involves one free faction solo and two minion/merc solos (no more than 3 points each*).

As such, a buddy and I decided to mix it up and test out new league-friendly armies, which were of course using our territories to build the forces.

The Test
My army was thus:
-Nephilim Soldier
10 Blighted Swordsmen
Forsaken (free faction solo)
Gudrun the Wanderer (free merc/minion solo)
Totem Hunter (free merc/minion solo)

My buddy brought:
War Dog
5 Man'o'war Shock Troopers
6 Assault Kommandos, 2 Flamethrowers attached
Minimum Battle Mechaniks
Alten Ashley
Gorman di Wulf

Scenario: Two objectives; one on either side of the middle line

Blight field is SO COOL...when the enemy isn't immune to corrosion. I moved the Harrier up to drop a blight field...then realized his Kommandos laugh off corrosion damage, so a POW12 corrosion is nothing to them. Oops.

Totem Hunter
The Totem Hunter's Prey ability is SWEET...when used well. He racked up Alten Ashley, a few Kommandos, and Gorman di Wulf before he kind of was on fire and then bit by the War Dog. Still, SPD 7, Pathfinder, Hunter, and Sprint (let alone Leap) make for some fun times when you're basically MAT10 with a PS13 and PS16.

Gudrun the Wanderer
Gudrun gets a cookie for being stupidly annoying to kill. Of course, he promptly lost it, as he had some of the worst dice of the game. MAT7 vs Gorman's DEF 14, we miss the normal swing. Ok, I get it, a 7 is average and we can miss that. Well, Gorman is like "...I have a stiletto, or grenades." Gorman takes a step back. Can I get a 5 to kill the Gorman? Nope. Gudrun gets black-oiled, hit twice by the war dog, and then hit again by Strakhov to make sure he goes down TWICE. He's 3 points that drew a lot of fire advancing on the objective, and with Advance Deploy I can react to the other guy.

Neph Warrior
The Nephilim Warrior gets a slap for getting a whopping two infantry kills before the dice refused to roll higher than a six to hit assault kommandos. Oops. On the bright side, he set up the MVP. That aside, Massacre is a nice animus for when I want to put a beast into assault and keep the fury off it, and the beast itself is a reasonable work-horse. With Saeryn's feat up, flight + immunity to free strikes = mobile weapon.

The Scythean
Well, the Nephilim Warrior kinda drew the charge from the Man'o'war squad, and while he had Tenacity (going up to DEF 14, ARM17, not too bad...) it turns out those bloody assault commandos have some -2DEF grenade they can chuck. This leaves the Men'o'war and the Juggernaut in close quarters.

Saeryn feats (so her battlegroup cannot be targeted by melee attacks) and drops Breath Stealer on the Men'o'war, setting them down to DEF9. The Scythean then advances into the middle of this, putting the Juggernaut and full squad of man'o'war into melee range. Swings twice, pegs the Juggernaut with both attacks...then proceeds to tag every last man'o'war and beat them all within an inch of their life without spending any fury. After forcing him full for attacks, it turns out that the Scythean managed to crank out a total of 12 PS17 hits in a turn. (2 initial, 6 from Chain Attack Stupid Good, 4 purchased). One man'o'war is left standing with a few hit boxes, and the Juggernaut is mostly dead.

The Angelius then charges, armor-pierces the juggy down to 3 boxes (Cortex, Axe, and had the feat NOT been up, things still could've gotten nasty) and kills the last man'o'war. This redeems the angelius for missing Ashley with a boosted fiery hand-cannon shot.

Blighted Swordsmen
I'm not 100% sold on them. They have a reasonable defense of 14, but ARM13 means that really the only thing they've got going for them is that DEF14. They did draw the Spriggan's attacks and a volley of hideously accurate Kommando carbine fire, and I suppose that when you get down to it, you really don't want MAT7 PS11 weaponmasters cavorting about. The survivors did manage to knock a chunk out of the Spriggan and draw it off.

Assault Kommandos
Ok, I know they're not my guys, but I gotta laugh when someone pulls off a neat little trick like this: My opponent knows he can't draw LOS on something on the other side of the forest. What's he do? Put a Kommando in front of the flamethrower so that when the flamethrower fires, the important stuff is under the spray template. As they are see where this goes. Even when you might lose some guys, it's worth mentioning that other folks can always use their own models to set up spray attacks on you.

The other funny trick is forcing the choice of "Do you free-strike me and blow me up on the spot and catch fire, OR do you let me get away and spray fire again?" The Neph Warrior kinda whacked him in the face with a PS14 sword, and then caught fire (and then DIED HORRIBLY to Juggernaut + Man'o'war attacks, so yeah...).

I'm beginning to see why folks like the Scythean and Saeryn. I'll admit that I got lucky with the Scythean's setup; numerous low-DEF targets along with something that can be hit by/survive two MAT6 PS17s is about as good as it gets. When a 9pt beast pretty much takes 16 points out of the game by himself, things aren't looking good for the other guy. When the 9pt beast does that WITHOUT TAKING DAMAGE, then the other guy's screwed. I got lucky that time around; it's not a mistake he'll make again.

Also, every time I say 'Saeryn' I can't help but hear the game over music from Mass Effect 1. I have the urge to model a Geth arm onto her somehow...

*Why the 3pt limit on merc/faction solos? Someone pointed out that really nasty ones like cavalry solos/Bane Lord Tartarus cost 4-5, and then there are the minion warlocks that are 9, so you probably want to limit that cost...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Epic Lylyth: First Impressions

I have to admit, after a few games with pLylyth, I looked at epic Lylyth and wondered just what in the world she had to offer. I mean, come on, I just have to shoot someone to put a spell on them; I've got Parasite for hard-target cracking, I've got Eruption of Spines for clustered light targets, and I've got a feat for making sure I hit you and you die.

As it turns out, both of the Lylyths are kind of like Everblight's break-action shotguns: clean, elegant, easy to operate, and capable of doing some damage when pointed in the right direction.

The Look at eLylyth, the Shadow of Everblight
SPD 7 and Pathfinder makes her pretty bloody swift. STR 4 means you're getting thrown by anyone that can touch you, but is otherwise irrelevant as she has no melee weapons. Similarly, her MAT is irrlevant. Her RAT went up to 8, making her about as accurate as it gets. DEF 16 and ARM 14 make her tough to hit, but easy to damage, and CMD 8 is so-so. Chances are that anything that NEEDS to make a command check (read: striders) probably has a better command value.

You should of course by now be used to her FURY of 5. Not great, but this is the Legion! We've got ways around it.

She kept Eyeless Sight (...I'd be hard-pressed to find a fluff reason for losing it). She picked up Evasive, so she can't be tagged by free strikes and she also gets a free 2" advance if the enemy shoots at her and misses. Range Amplifier is something of a replacement for Witch Mark, and it gives you the good ol' +5" RNG if you don't channel the spell. Snap Fire and Swift Hunter combine with her RNG 12 POW12 ROF 2 bow to let her cut through infantry with light/medium armor.

She's got three spells, all different from her prime incarnation.

Pin Cushion: RNG 10, cost 2, offensive upkeep. Friendly faction models get an extra dice to ranged attack/damage rolls, and drop the lowest. It's Manifest Destiny, but for guns! Between this and her feat, you should seriously be looking into a shooty army.

Pursuit has a couple inches less range than pin cushion, and the same cost. If an enemy model/unit advances, you get to make an advance with one of your battlegroup. Good for keeping someone out of harm's way, or making sure the enemy doesn't run away. Honestly, I see it used more for getting out of harm's way.

Shadow pack is the middle finger for ranged armies. 3 fury and then one to upkeep it afterwards means everyone in your battlegroup gains Stealth while in Lylyth's control area.

Feat: Decimation
The feat is aptly named. Everyone in your control area gains Snipe, and all your beasts get to make an additional free ranged attack. This means you should pretty much consider beasts with ranged attacks, as this feat is either your assassination or (I feel, more likely) your alpha strike to soften up the enemy.

The Utilization of Lylyth, Shadow of Everblight
I'll offer up the 35pt army I ran with her, and an explanation of why each piece made it in there.

-Nephilim Bolt Thrower
Striders + UA
2 Shepherds

The Battlegroup
The Ravagore has a stupid-long threat range with a 6" move and 14" shot. It gives us the ranged attack we want for the feat/pin cushion, and it can provide backup against lower-DEF targets in melee with a pair of PS16 open fists and MAT5. The MAT5 is the weak point, though, as it kind of starts falling through against anything with a DEF better than 11/12. So, don't match it up against heavy infantry and you'll do fine. The other major selling point for the Ravagore is the Animus; Continuous Fire on ranged attacks is stupidly useful. Don't uderestimate the potential value of the Scather templates left behind after the attack, and if you're shooting infantry aim for the front ranks to screw up the movement of the rear guys.

The Carnivean also boasts a nasty ranged attack with the SP10, though the RAT 4 means you'll be boosting it. The ability to double-tap with this on Feat turn sort of mitigates that crap RAT, though you'll want to have Lylyth use Spiny Growth on the Carnivean if anything survives the spray as it will (almost) invariably be in charge range. The MAT6 on top of the three initial melee attacks also makes the Carnivean suitable for point-defense duty.

The Nephilim Bolt Thrower is in there for the Thunderbolt ability, on top of the part where it's got a gun (which is more or less the prerequisite for being in Lylyth's battlegroup). The ability to reach out and push someone d3 inches is big; peg the enemy's heavy hitters from as far away as you can to buy more time to shoot them. The only thing to watch out for is the fact that you might shove them out of everyone else's shooting range. Past that, the Animus is only so-so, as Lylyth has pathfinder and 90% of the time it's as good as Flight.

The Shredder is there because I like Tenacity. Admittedly, it's not as necessary because the carnivean-chassis are a mighty DEF 11 and likely to use something like Spiny Growth instead. I would probably replace the Shredder with a Stinger in the future, though the cost and pathfinder mean it can be an objective-sitter in a pinch.

Striders are in there because they're nasty ranged troops, and because I need to keep Stealth in there, lest all the guns be directed at the troops because no one can see my friggin' battlegroup. They're fast, hard to hit, and have ranged attacks. They get serious mileage out of Pin Cushion, which may let you get past the need to double up for combined ranged attacks.

Shepherds are in there as fury control, obviously. With a mighty Fury of 5, Lylyth kind of NEEDS the help. The ability to heal is also excellent, as it lets me potentially bring up a crippled spiral or two. Lylyth COULD do this, but again five fury and an upkeep or two means her personal fury is at a premium. The only worry is that Shepherds do NOT have stealth, so they're the odd ones out.

Use of Lylyth
Lylyth's first turn is probably something like 'run everyone up', 'cast Shadow Pack' and 'hand out a Spiny Growth' or something. Get field position, try to at least get near objectives, and look for good lanes of fire. Turn 2 is likely to be feat turn; try to rip up as much of their army as you can. Cross your fingers that you either break their back, or stall their advance. From there, decide if you can win on scenario or by asssassination, but make it quick: you're Legion and you don't win by attrition.

As for anyone griping about FURY 5? Pin Cushion has a 15" range, and if you've got Shadow Pack up you can afford to boost the hit; 5+3d6 = usually hits, and you've got a fury left for a transfer. Keep in mind that the range amplifier also works on any animus she casts, since they're spells for her. You don't HAVE to play her forward, but if you do, you can at least use her to pop off infantry and Swift Hunter back.

If you like guns and like stealth, give eLylyth a try. She's not very subtle, but then again the Legion is not the most subtle of factions. In a sense, it's liberating: when someone hands you a mastercrafted long gun with a fine scope, you know exactly what it's meant to do.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kaelyssa, Build Tweak

I finally finished painting my Dawnguard Sentinels (as well as Skarath), so what better way to celebrate than to field them?

I grabbed Kaelyssa and finally got a game in with a tweaked list.

My previous 35pt Kaelyssa list included:
10 Sentinels w/ Officer, Standard
6-elf Mage Hunter Strike Force w/ UA
2 Arcanists

The tweaked list:
10 Sentinels w/ UA
Stormfall Archers
Dahlia & Skarath

Basic Impressions of Tweaked List
Without the Hydra in there, Phantom Hunter gets demoted to either going on Kaelyssa in a pinch (if you need to clean out a solo or a couple infantry) or languishing, though I suppose you could always slap it on the Phoenix, since the Halo Cannon isn't THAT bad (I just have rarely used it).

The Archers were in there for two reasons:
1) Testing
2) In case the enemy brought light, squishy infantry.

I admit to being leery about paying 5 points for a whopping four guys, but their range and versatility is very nice. Snipe means they have a 21" max threat range, and RAT 5 is about par (RAT 7 after you Aim at 16"). I'd figured I'd be able to get some versatility out of them in case I ever got LOS on a warjack; Brutal Shot means it's a RAT 5 base, boosted POW12 on the direct hit. Not perfect, but serviceable against non-Khador warjacks.

As a comedic aside, in the game one managed to peg eStryker in the face (actually GETTING the 11...) and then got box cars on the damage roll. Apparently sniped grenade arrows HURT.

eEiryss is a nice change-up from the prime version. I can very much live with the reduced ammo types in exchange for screwing up focus allocation and dropping upkeeps/animi. Between that and a well-placed arcantrik bolt from Kaelyssa, I managed to stall out/gut a Stormclad in one good round. Stationary + nearby weaponmasters = pain, true story...

Dahlia and Skarath make an excellent flank-threat. The spray lets them handle infantry, and Skarath isn't a major slouch in melee. Kaelyssa might miss a Hydra for Phantom Hunter shenanigans, but the dynamic duo are fine flankers and can hold well enough on their own against lighter foes. I just wouldn't expect much out of them when it came to dealing with an enemy heavy in good shape, since Skarath's got that mighty ARM16 for protection.

Brief Commentary on Test Game
Played against a comrade I'd sorta converted from 40k. He brought eStryker, a couple variants of Storm Knights, the Black 13th, a Stormclad, Lancer, and the bloody piper. Scenario was break the line. He ended up winning on assassination after I botched activations to get a scenario win.

I forgot about that whole 'velocity' thing followed up by 'take damage to get a Strength bonus' crap. eStryker's pretty much lurking around, waiting for a chance to fire off a brutal assassination run (then again, it is kinda all-or-nothing for 'im, but he can pull it off, so yeah...).

I will say that Narn is wonderful for a flanking threat, though Stryker managed to velocity, then charge him. It at least pulled eStryker away from the fun, but not far enough as it turned out...

All things considered, it was a fun (and close) match. I think this Kaelyssa list merits some tweaking, though I'm not sure I miss the Hydra. I'm not yet 100% on the Stormfall Archers, though they honestly didn't do BAD. It's more a leeriness about that '5 points for 4 guys' thing. I can say they don't merit being dismissed out-of-hand.