Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pondering: Goreshade the Cursed

Or, 'NEED MORE BANE THRALLS!' I've recently stripped my Bane Thralls (didn't like the bloody back-spikes; they just got twisted) and repainted them. i finally hit a break-through on what to paint my Epic Goreshade up as (I mean, he's kinda the master of Bane Thralls, right?) and have been painting them in tandem. Mmm, red. I do my Cryx with a red glow, and decided to reflect that with my jolly little stealth weaponmasters.

Of course, now that I'm painting up Goreshade the Cursed, I'm going to have to use him. So, I'll break out my favorite rubric of judgment for warcasters.

Initial Questions
1) What's my vulnerability to assassinations?
Well, Goreshade may have a nice DEF15 base, but ARM16 is so-so. 17 boxes isn't bad, but the biggest issue you've got with the guy is the medium base; he's more difficult to hide. If you're worried about ranged assassination, though, you can always use Occultation on the man himself; it's Stealth for a focus a turn.

Ultimately, the biggest thing here is the medium base. You'll want things like Occultation, clouds (IE: Gorman di Wulf) or medium-based infantry to block LOS.

2) What's Goreshade's personal threat value?
MAT 7, PS15 and a sword with reach, stationary, and the ability to inflict Stationary is pretty sick for offensive talent. I suppose you could use this as a setup, but if you do you're going to want to camp focus and/or finish things off in a hurry; you've got no way to extricate yourself from the situation other than killing all the threats around you or ending the game.

Technically you also have a POW13 AoE 3 spell, but that's more of a backup weapon/sidearm than a primary. At least it can drop upkeeps/animi, right?

3) Spells/Utility
Now we're getting to the fun part. He's got a pair of special rules that help him play attrition and discourage spellcasting.

Elite Cadre: Bane Thralls. When a Bane Thrall kills a warrior, you get a new grunt for the Bane Thrall's unit. Huzzah! Join us. Buy a few more blisters of Banes, while you're at it. It's nice against living enemies, but bear in mind it is semi situational.

Arcane Consumption. Use magic near him, and eat a point of damage. Situational, but a nice way to make someone pay for using one-wound guys with magic ability.

Goreshade has a well-rounded spell list. You've got a nice ARM debuff; Curse of Shadows is only -2ARM but it does let you move around/through the target unit by denying them freestrikes and letting you literally walk the hell on through them.

Occultation is a nice ability for your non-stealth stuff; you're probably using Bane Thralls, so you might as well make sure another nice target doesn't eat all the gunfire. Or, use it on Goreshade himself.

Phantom Hunter is for ranged jacks, which probably means the Leviathan.

Sudden Death is an interesting little spell. I've seen free-countercharge stuff for jacks, but this is an upkeep for a warrior model. It lets an unengaged trooper model charge a model that comes within 6" and make a normal attack. Honestly, given that you'll probably have Bane Thralls (and the ability to replace them) I see it as softening up a warjack or heavy-hitter that comes in to do some damage, and if you lose the grunt in the process (by running out of formation) you can get 'him back. (Her? It? Do Banes in general have a gender)

4) Feat
Goreshade's feat is...interesting. You can remove warrior models to return non-character warrior models to play, so long as their unit still stands. Why is this interesting? Think about certain officers or unit attachments that you may want alive. Got any in mind? (Hint: Bane Thrall Officer/UA). Bring some Scrap Thralls or other cheapo expendables, and you can get them back. This might also let you do fun things like bring back Brute Thralls or Necrosurgeons, y'know...

Round 2
5) What Kind of Game does Goreshade Play?
Honestly, Goreshade doesn't have an overt sucker-punch open to him like some guys; his feat doesn't auto-kill the other dude on the spot or deny them some fun. It can bring back some important models for you, though.

Goreshade's more on the attrition side of things. Play the scenario, but don't rule out killing the other guy. Just realize you may need to chop up more of his army first.

You can deny the enemy chances to kill your important stuff, bring some of it back, and get the odd out-of-activation hit in with Sudden Death. You've got a nice ARM debuff that can help get you through harder targets, or kill lighter ones that much faster. At the end of the day, Goreshade feels like a utility kind of guy with a variety of tools (sadly, you won't use them all on any given Sunday, which can make you feel like you're wasting something). Remember that with Dark Shroud AND Curse of Shadows, Bane Thralls hit something at ARM -4. Friggin' Ouch.

6) Win Condition
No built-in win condition. As I mentioned previously, look into attrition, especially if the other guy has lots of living models. There's nothing as fun as just screwing over the other guy with 20-30 bane thralls. If you can kill a lot of their warriors with Bane Thralls, you can get a numerical advantage with weaponmasters. The problem is, of course, in OWNING that many Banes.

This part is also subject to change, assuming more practice with him than I currently have.

7) Army Composition
I'll start with three points for the army composition.
I) Elite Cadre
II) Feat
III) Spell List.

The Elite Cadre means I want to look into Bane Thralls. A full unit with UA is a nice 11 points, Bane Lord Tartarus is another 4. That gives me a solid anti-armor starting point.

I'll probably throw in Scrap Thralls; it's 1 point fo Feat Fodder. They stay in the back until needed, then do something fun like turn into Bane Thralls or whatnot.

The spell list tells me two things: first, I want an arc node to sling debuffs through. Figure on four points for a cheap node. Then, look at Phantom Hunter. This ability is just short of Eyeless Sight (doesn't ignore Stealth). It goes great on a ranged jack. Cryx doesn't have a lot of ranged jacks. You can try the Corrupter (and hope it can pull Arc Node Grabbing duty as well, but there are issues with that*), the Reaper (which is shorter-ranged), or the Leviathan. (technically the Harrower has a long-ranged gun and can be reasonably self-sufficient, but it ALSO more or less has Phantom Hunter on the gun).

I favor the Leviathan. Why? You have a solid range (13") and solid POW that only improves against larger targets (POW13 is plenty vs small bases; POW14 is nice on medium and POW15 on large means stuff gets hurt). Phantom Hunter helps negate the RAT5 by ignoring concealment/cover, and with the range you can always look for the aiming bonus as well. As a side bonus, it's immune to knockdown so it could always screen for Goreshade.

So, with Goreshade's 5 jack points, I'm looking at:
Goreshade (-5)
-Nightwretch 4
-Leviathan 9
10 Bane Thralls 8
-Officer/Standard 3
Bane Lord Tarturs 4
3 Scrap Thralls 1
Total: 24 points

Not a bad start for a basic kit. From here, thoughts:

Occultation + UA for Satyxis Raiders does several things.
a) Unless they ignore stealth, you're GOING to get there in melee. You are immune to blast damage, and with Stealth you're immune to direct-fire weaponry for the most part
b) You have Combined Melee Attack, for killing higher-def targets
c) You can always bring back the sea witch
d) If you take the Captain solo, you can use them as a first wave to tie up the other guy, and get your Banes into position.

Occultation + Bile Thralls can help with infantry; who needs to hit high DEF when a POW12 and corrosion probably kill?

Black Ogrun Boarding Party: hey, medium bases for screening, right?

Bloodgorgers: good for hunting down living models, as they have a 10" charge, MAT6, gang, and a pair of hand weapons.

Satyxis Blood Witches + UA: gang and MAT6 help them clear out infantry; if you throw Occultation on them along with the UA's mini-feat, well, it's hard to kill a bunch of incorporeal stealth models at range...

Soul Hunters would love Stealth, and give you an early element of disruption. Probably means you'll take Darragh Wrathe, too.

Withershadow Combine: you're gonna have 1-3 upkeeps out, and they're generally solid anyway. Too bad the feat can't help them.

Skarlock: probably not necessary; while you COULD use the guy as a means of getting a free upkeep, you don't exactly have a buff spell you'd want to cycle out of activation unless you're trying to roll TWO bloody heavies.

Warwitch Siren: useful for a Magic Ability 7 spray to kill troopers, AND fueling your warjacks for a run. Probably not a bad idea.

Ogrun Bokur: for when you're just not screened enough and you worry about an Eiryss shot to the face.

Gorman di Wulf: as above, but also for lowering the DEF of some targets.

Cylena Raefyl and the Nyss Hunters: worth a mention as they CAN do combine ranged attacks, and with Hunter, they're roughly comparable in roles to that Phantom-Seeker'ed Leviathan. You sit behind a forest and dare a non-Everblight guy to come near.

Saxon Orrick: you have Bane Thralls. They are not pathfinders. Pathfinder is their buddy.

So, I would probably consider rocking this in 35:
Goreshade (-5)
-Nightwretch 4
-Leviathan 9
10 Bane Thralls 8
-Officer/Standard 3
10 Nyss Hunters 10
Bane Lord Tartarus 4
Saxon Orrick 2

This gives you a decent ranged firebase, a melee compliment, and a fair amount of mobility; Saxon can hand out Pathfinder and that really leaves you with either Goreshade or Banes that aren't hoofing it through whatever.

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