Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Spin with Ravyn

I've opted to take a break from Legion for a bit; 8 months of league play with Legion (and not much else) means the Raptor's ready for a change of pace.

So, I went back to elves (...kind of a theme; I was an Eldar player in the 40k days) and decided I wanted anger and tricks, but less pathfinder and sprays. I stumbled across Masterhshake's Raven list, and have put a few games in with it. I like it. His 35 point list is



10-man Mage Hunter Strike Force with UA

2x Stormfall Archer squads

Ayana & Holt

2x Mage Hunter Assassins

epic Eiryss

At 50, I saw the Mastershake suggest an Arcanist, Battle Engine, and Destor Thane

The Games

Round 1: Legion

The scenario was three points across the middle; take and hold them to score, first to seven. At 35, my opponent brought pLylyth, Typhon, Scythean, Carnivean, Shepherd, a Shredder or two and a pair of Strider Deathstalkers. We both ignored the scenario in favor of bloodshed because, hey, killing is fun, right? Right.

I attempted the snipe/feat/go assassination, though Lylyth had camped 3 fury and managed to weather it with a handful of health boxes left. He retaliated by popping feat while pulling Lylyth back; I lost most of my infantry in the ensuing carnage. He made the mistake of pulling Lylyth too far back, though, and instead of trashing Discordia, the Carnivean just beat it up. So, Ravyn loads two focus onto Discordia, drops Vortex of Destruction, and takes the carnivean from about 9 damage in to dead in a go. Discordia gets a 1" locomotion, then meanders over and sprays Lylyth to death.

Round 2: Cygnar

One of my long-time comrades/opponents drops eStryker, Ol' Rowdy, a STormclad, and some stormnoun infantry (backed up by Gun Mages) onto the table (35pts again) and opts to go first in the scenario that involves two 10' radius circles on either side. I set up behind a forest and try to use Veil of Mists to move through it with some success. My MHSF has a phenominal first round of shooting and drops fully half of the stormguard and stormblades; he passes the resulting morale checks. Ignoring Deflection to go against DEF12/ARM15 with RAT6/POW10 is bloody nasty, and very much the difference between a lotta dead guys and a lotta live ones. He adjusts his line to reach me, runs everything, and pops feat just to make contact with me, also worrying about the flanking assassins and Eiryss locking down the stormclad via being with 5" and Disruptor bolt. (she then bit it to a guy that wanted a 9 to hit her; ARM12 means damage boxes are a formality to anything other than unboosted blast damage).

My feat ends up decimating his army; he ends up with his jacks, his caster, and a couple gun mages. My problem? I left Ravyn 16" away from Stryker. This guy has run primarily eStryker, so he's gotten good at estimating Stryker's tremendous personal theat range. 6" of Velocity, 6" of movement, 3" of charge and 2" of reach later, Ravyn has suffered single-stroke long division. His dice finally came back to him; he popped +12STR and 2 damage off Stryker's GIVE ME POWAAAH! overcharging ability.

Game 3: Legion, 50pts

My Legion comrade from before switched it up a bit as we upped it to 50. I added the Shake's suggestions. My opponent brought epic Thagrosh, Typhon, Scythean, Carnivean, 2x Shredders 5x Warmongers, Warmonger Chieftain, 2x Shepherds, 2x Deathstalkers

The Scenario was Break the Line, and he had a LOT of stuff that's good for holding some prime real estate. I opened deployment with the Battle Engine in the middle. He set up centrally with eThags in the middle, Warmongers to my right, Scythean just outside of there, and Typhon/Carnie on the other flank. Shepherds to each side, and a shredder on each side. I opened by favoring the side away from Typhon and the Carnivean, because they're nasty.

My dice...well, they tended to be either very hot or very cold. Case in point on my first turn; Snipe goes on the MHSF, and they all volley at a Shredder...two hit, but they kill it almost twice over. The Stormfalls and Eiryess throw a heap of fire downrange and manage to KO both Deathstalkers, while the AFG meanders up the board; I can't bring myself to call an 8" run anything other than a power-walk in this army. The Destor immediately busts arse into the middle objective area, camping on the side way the hell away from the Scythean. MHAs jog up both flanks.

He advances; Typhon burns 9 boxes (!!?!?) off of the AFG with one shot. Thagrosh advances, grabs a hill in the middle. I end up losing 50% of both Stormfall units, but the MHSF focus-fires most of the Warmongers down in return along with a burst from the AFG. (I thought about Blasted Earth, then realized Aim + Rapid Fire means dead guys don't charge either; even with ARM18 from Dragon's Blood I can power through that...). Of course, the dice bite back when his terror-causing Warmongers hit the MHSF and they roll an 11 for their 'Don't Crap Yourself' roll. Good JOB, guys.

At this point, I CAN hold down the middle, but I figure it's time to go for the gusto. KILL IT WITH FIRE time. Thagrosh has high ground in the middle; he's got most of his beasts up, and still has a feat in reserve. I can try to reposition, get the AFG sprayed by multiple boostable POW14s, and lose my Stormfalls (and probably more MHSF in the bargain) or go for the assassination. Discordia gets a couple of focus. I used my feat to try to decimate his army (figured that snipe + feat + go on MHSF wouldn't cut it against ARM17 and 20 boxes; let's experiment). He takes fire from the AFG (connects with 2 out of 3 rapid-fire shots), and loses about 8 boxes. Of couse, eThags gets a free lesser beast once per game after eating 5 damage; the Shredder naturally goes where Discordia wanted to charge. I have to divert fire to killing it, including Ravyn's shot. Even the Thane gets in on the action, charging a Warmonger to death and then cracking Thagrosh with a POW12 and sad damage roll. Discordia takes advantage of Veil of Mists to Pathfinder through the rough terrain, and comences to try to punch the crap out of Thagrosh. It ALMOST succeeds, but Thags has about 3-4 boxes left after transfers.

Well, his turn sees him make two mistakes: 1) didn't camp enough fury, and 2) forgot about the scenario. The Scythean eats the Destor, but his Carnivean beats Discordia into a bloody pulp and he uses Typhon to kill off the AFG after the Shredder near it puts another 8 damage on it with spectacular rolls. However, Eiryss is alive and in the middle strip, so we get another turn.

And now? Now it's time for the long shot. I have about 7-8 MHSF left, Ravyn, and Eiryss. Thagrosh has 1-2 fury and Dragon's Blood on himself. Combined with the height, he's DEF15 ARM17+2, and it's not looking good for me. Well, hell, I'm dead next turn, he doesn't have a ton of fury...gotta try it. Eiryss fails to knock Dragon's blood off. One Stormfall actually makes the hit with Brutal Shot, and my dice finally get hot on the damage rolls. Friggin' transfers. Ravyn opens up, and her shot gets transferred. Ok, no fury, 6-7 boxes...the MHSF is left. The first four? WHIFF. Well, they moved. Snipe went on them, so some of them had the aiming bonus. One hits, rolls an 11 for damage. THREE BOXES LEFT, THAGS! Then the next one hits and box-cars the damage roll. Blammo. I win, barely, and frankly should've lost that.


These are the first games I've played with Ravyn. Honestly, I like Mastershake's setup. It's obviously well-thought-out and well-tested. It's a nice break from the Dawnguard-heavy lineups I've used with Vyros, and while I like Kaelyssa, Snipe on MHSF turns them into nasty troop/support hunters.


What can I say? Discordia's spray works well with her feat, and with only one jack to fuel, I've discovered she's got a nasty spell list. Veil of Mists is a fine way to refuse a flank if you've got a narrow forest or something else you can get through and then run your other troops through. The pathfinder only SOUNDS situational 'til you drop a 4" AoE of it in your control area. Locomotion is something I initially wrote off as silly, but now I see that sometimes those extra inches can make all the difference. Plus, it's out-of-phase movement for your jack, which can be useful in and of itself. Finally, Vortex of Destruction is what Ravyn pops when she's got to get her hands dirty, and she's perfectly capable of doing just that.


Again, what to say? It's got a spray that's hard to beat ANYWHERE (SP10, POW14, Magical, no damage type, tied to a boostable RAT6? Seriously, find me better.) and a feat to match. In melee, you've got a solid PS16 (with access to Concentrated Power) and MAT7. It may be Rahn's jack, but Ravyn can get plenty of mileage out of it between feat, Veil of Mists, and Locomotion.


I forgot how versatile they were. To sell them as purely snipe-feat-go fodder is to do them (and you) a disservice. That, and casters with lots of ARM/health don't fear snipe/feat/go nearly as much as ARM14/15 casters. In a pinch they can melee (double-teaming for MAT8 POW12s is respectable and sufficient to get through a lot of troopers, as long as they aren't shield wall) and of course they make support models like shepherds very, very sad. With Snipe up, they're good for softening up incoming troops early on, then can switch targets as they bear.


My experience with WarmaHordes is that you tend not to double up. I think Stormfalls are candidates for an exception. They're just bloody versatile. Need to hunt bigger game? Boosted POW12s can get some work done. Hunt light infantry at long range, and/or stealth? Snipe shots do that. Shield wall? How's fire treating you jerks, eh? You'll probably want those 8 AoEs to make SURE you get enough blast damage on target, but then you can switch to big game hunting. I almost think of them as a 10pt unit that can activate 50%, then 50% of its models.

Mage Hunter Assassins

I think these guys are part fear-factor as much as anything. People blanch when they see you're a weaponmaster with decapitation and a 4" melee range, but then when your dice crap out and they've got stuff nearby that can boost, they tend not to be as worried. I do like that I can slice things, and then not be engaged after my activation.

Ayana & Holt

Who doesn't love +2 to damage rolls, seriously? Ayana just tends to be a priority target, but they're an affordable workhorse for 35pts. Stealth wasn't as important, given the matchups either lacked shooting or didn't actually care that much about it.


Solid. Seriously, what is there to say? Being able to knock buffs off the enemy is huge for everything that's not a Mage Hunter in your army. Hell, some animi/upkeeps are just plain obnoxious, like, oh, EXCESSIVE HEALING for example.

Destor Thane

Man, I love ride-by attacks on this guy. Even with a RNG10 gun, you can kite a bit, and hunt infantry. The POW12s just ping off harder targets, but that's why you brought A&H, right? I think that a single Destor as a fast flanking element has some serious potential with some builds.

The Arcantrik Force Generator

Honestly, I think i'd start looking at these in 50pt games. It does give you a hell of a gun platform, between the slams and the rapid-fire POW14s. The Rough Terrain shot is somewhat situational (IE: not against legion), but if you can't kill something that lacks pathfinder, the next best thing is to slow it down. As it has a ranged attack, Ravyn digs it on feat turn, but I think most casters will have other places to put their support. I suppose Rahn might TK it so that TK+Aim = same range as moving, but at RAT9, but most of the other buffs you might have for it would probably go to other models. Still, it can be hideously accurate, and it has some solid firepower. I think it's a welcome addition to the army of the Retribution at higher point levels.

Closing Thoughts

Ravyn is great fun to play, and my hat's off to Mastershake for putting together a solid list for her. It's also a hell of an adjustment to go from playing an army with a few beasts and maybe one small infantry unit to playing one big thing and 20+ footsloggers. The term 'traffic jam' is not inappropriate.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ode to the Totem Hunter

I apologize to the readers, as it's been a bit since I've managed to update this bloody thing. I blame that in part on the scattered apocalypse that hit northern AL the other week.

That aside, I offer up an analysis of one of my favorite minions: the Totem Hunter.


If you think of the Totem Hunter like a Predator that left his guns at home (to make it more sporting, you know...) you have a good start on what the Totem Hunter does.

If you need a fast harasser in your Hordes army and you have 3pts to spare, then the Totem Hunter is for you.


As you'd expect for a 3pt solo, he's fairly burly. DEF 14 is solidly above-average and may want a boost. ARM15 over 8 boxes mean he'll generally laugh off blast damage, and can probably survive a couple of boosted blast damage rolls. He's also got got Stealth, which makes the whole 'resistant to blast damage' thing important. Also, SPD7 with Pathfinder is about as fast as it gets.

As far as killin' goes, you have MAT8, a PS14 reach spear for stabbin' and a PS11 non-reach shield for punchin'.

Special Rules

These are where the Totem Hunter gets his teeth. You're looking at four happy little special rules:

Hunter - Ignore forests, concealement, and cover for LOS purposes. Totem Hunter Sees You.

Jump - If you make a full advance with your normal move, you can then place the Hunter completely within 5" of the current place; but you can't Jump if you can't charge.

Prey - after deployment but before the first turn, pick a unit/model. You get +2 to attack and damage rolls against it, and +2 movement if you start within 10". Pick new prey as you slag it.

Sprint - Chopped a head off this turn? Make a full advance when you're done.

The Fun Part

So, what do you do with this hideously fast, accurate death-machine? You go hunting units/solos. Against your prey, MAT10 and PS16/13 means you WILL put a dent into your target. That'll handle most solos, and easily KO single-wound troopers. You have the speed to get the first strike in, and then evade.

What To Prey? To answer this, you've got to keep two things in mind. Initially, can you kill the solo in one round? If it's a unit, can you get to them without a ton of trouble? Finally, can something else get to it? If the enemy sees you Prey something, they might just keep it way away from the totem hunter.

On the Approach Ideally, you want to hit the enemy from the side. Why? You want to make sure you can engage the enemy one chunk at a time. You want to make sure it's difficult for them to vector reinforcements in there, and leave yourself an exit.

Get the Drop You have a basic charge move of 10" in a straight line. You can move 7" and place up to 5" for a good 12" move. You can also do fun things with the Jump like get a line on the enemy officer, which is great fun when they have a wonderful 'granted' ability or an as-yet-unused minifeat. There is no such thing as a 'screening unit', there's just 'does he have space to land or not?' If 'yes', you killed something important, and hopefully got away.

The Old One-Two Remember that the Totem Hunter is NOT in fact immune to free strikes. When engaging an enemy infantry unit, you want to be careful in your placing. If you commit, you want to minimize the number of enemy infantry actually engaging the hunter. He prefers none-reach infantry. Why? Land within the 0.5" melee range, and try to deck your first target with the shield. If you miss, try to stab it in the face. If you KO the target with the shield, use your reach-stick to claim a second victim.

Play Keep Away Remember that question about 'can you kill the stuff in a hit or two?' You want to put in a kill each round to trigger sprint. Sprint is how you keep the Totem Hunter alive. He can survive for a little bit against infantry, between the DEF, ARM, and 8 boxes. He's NOT a tar pit, though. You want to kill something, and then sprint out of the enemy's melee threat range. Better yet, get out to the flank or behind him. Force him to either keep taking losses, or divert something to deal with the hunter.


Ignoring Stealth Obviously, this guy kind of LIKES to not get shot at. Some casters and the like can ignore stealth, and DEF14 ARM15 on 8 boxes doesn't eat heavy direct firepower. Oh, and something like the Ravagore is a potential nightmare for the Totem Hunter, as it'll probably one-shot the guy with a 2-fury expenditure.

Multi-wound/Tough Infantry If the totem hunter can't make a kill, it can't get away with sprint. While the Totem Hunter isn't weak, it's not hefty enough to survive dedicated attention.

Lack of Infantry/Soft Targets The Totem Hunter exists to pick off solos and infantry. If there's not a lot of that out there, then the Totem Hunter isn't going to seem as useful. He'll be good for harassing the enemy, though; take out support and then try to threaten the caster.

Incorporeal Stuff That's a poking stick, not a MAGICAL poking stick. Worth remembering, since your strength is the first strike and without magical weapons, you cede first swing to the incorporeal guy.

Buffs with 'Faction' model in them Ok, this isn't so bad, since there's a good chance this guy is operating way out on the flank away from your support. He doesn't NEED the support much anyway, since he's hideously accurate and hits hard enough to kill most of his intended targets.

The Totem Hunter in a Game

Honestly, with the Totem Hunter (and any other model with Prey and no Advance Deploy) I can live with going second, as it lets me place him in response to his intended prey. If the enemy has an infantry unit of decent size that I need to whittle down prior to its arrival, I'll put that out there. If they've got some nasty flanking solo that he's got speed on, I'll shoot for that one. At that point, the Totem Hunter goes into pursue/harass/engage mode: hit the other guy, KO the target or whittle a couple troopers off, then sprint behind the other guy. Why? He's got to go after the hunter, or the hunter takes a bigger toll / hunts support solos.

If you DO run out of infantry/solos to KO and the game's still one, there are two ways to go for Prey: 1) find a wounded beast/jack, try to charge it and feed it a virtually auto-hitting POW16 hit, or 2) target the caster and make them sweat. MAT10 hits most casters, and they may not really want a POW16 and POW13 for breakfast.


If you want to bedevil your opponent and have 3pts for a spare minion solo, the Totem Hunter is your guy. He hits and fades with the best of them, and can get an absurd 21 inches of movement in a turn (9" advance to Prey, 5" jump, 7" sprint = LOL. Seriously.). He's pretty resistant to being gunned down at range, and everyone's going to have some support that this guy can turbo-shank. Give him a shot, if you play Hordes.