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.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

So There's a Colossal/Gargantuan Across The Table From You...

I'm sure there are plenty of people doing the OMGWTFBBQLOL!!!1!!21! dance at the thought of having to face a 120mm-based monstrosity.

Some people are probably crying "BROKEN!"

Some people are saying "BRING IT ON! I KEEL EET!"

And some are saying "Whatevs, I'll work around it"

Teh Borken?!
Personally, I'm not convinced they're broken.  Not at this point.  Frankly, they're expensive (both in $$ and points) so that limits availability. 

They are durable, that's for sure.  Figure on ~ARM19 and about 54 boxes as a yardstick.  Figure on SPD5 and reach.  Other than the 50+ boxes, this is kind of like a nasty heavy with a pretty reasonable 10" threat range.  This threat range (which is only extended by SPD/movement buffs applied during activation) isn't new.  Thus far, the Kraken has the top threat range at 12" (SPD5, 4" melee range during activation).

Honestly, the one really novel thing that Colossals/Gargantuans bring is a concentration of power.  These things hit monstrously hard and can absorb a beating.  Personal opinion - Warmachine's focus mechanic gets a little more mileage out of these than Hordes fury, as 3 focus on something that hits at PS20 (or, y'know, hits a half-dozen infantry at PS15 and closethlines a jack or two in the bargain) can go a ways.  On the flip side, while Colossals are doubtlessly trailed by mechanics, Gargantuans can still heal readily.

Honestly, they're just big, expensive jacks with some neat tricks and an immunity to a number of normal stopping effects (knockdown, stationary, disruption...)

Ah, the page 5 approach...there's a certain elegant simplicity to this.  People will doubtless point to the ARM19 base and 50+ boxes you'll see on a gargantuan. 

On the flip side, these things are doing good to hit DEF10, and they're pretty much NEVER gonna get a DEF buff outside of a spell.  What you really ought to worry about on a colossal is an ARM buff, as these things are going to takea number of hits to kill, and the more hits you tank the more you benefit from an ARM buff, y'know?

That aside, you kill regular heavies with massed weaponmasters and/or hard-hitting heavies.  Given the DEF value on these things, hitting isn't hard unless your dice decide to yahtzee on one's.  The most you might have to worry about is finding a way to knock off any ARM buffs on the things.  The biggest difference is that you'll have to worry about making sure the thing actually gets DEAD; there WILL be repair nearby and a single focus can fuel a sweep attack and potentially ruin a fair number of those pissed-off weaponmasters.  Similarly, PS20ish fists will ruin jacks they can hit, but most of these things are MAT6 base.

So, honestly, can your list deal with some heavies?  If so, this thing costs about as much as 2-2.5 heavies, and takes about as much abuse.  Bring a way to drop ARM buffs, then commit as many heavy hitters to it as you can to make sure it dies, because if it survives it WILL make you pay for your temerity (or bad dice).  It's big, it's not going to hide.  It's almost daring you to kill it.

Soft style - avoid the thing
This is also a bit of page 5, because avoiding the enemy heavy hitter is potentially another way of saying "I think I'll kill the juicy center of the army", or, y'know, you can maybe try scenario.  Maybe, because colossals/gargantuans DO have staying power (as, y'know, previously mentioned).

The biggest asset of a colossal/gargantuan is it's a huge concentration of power.  There's a lotta ARM, a lotta boxes/circles, and some high-powered attacks on one package.  They can dish out and take a huge amount of abuse.  HOWEVER, it's also just one model.  It will probably get deployed centrally, and at the end of the day there's only so much room one can cover.  If you have multiple threats (IE: not colossals) then you can potentially threaten the caster even if it's hiding behind the big guy.

Alternatively, anyone with Phantom Hunter might just be able to shoot THROUGH the colossal.

As another note, anyone that can cut the SPD on a colossal or otherwise inhibit its movement (IE: Locker animus, Gorgon, a bunch of medium bases it can't trample through / good placement to avoid giving it a trample landing zone) is in a potentially good spot - you don't HAVE to kill the Colossal to win.

You just have to kill the caster.

That being said, if it's a scenario about holding raw territory, a colossal is even nastier than a heavy for holding territory as it can take up a lot of real estate, AND you don't have the option of slamming/throwing it out of the way.

Yes, they're new.  Yes, you may have to adjust your playstyle.  No, they're not broken - their main defense is being able to absorb a lot of abuse while being able to dish it out again, and strategically they can take and hold real estate just about better than anything else in the game.

If you know how to kill heavies, you know how to kill colossals.

If you know how to work around heavies, you have an idea about how to work around colossals.

It's not rocket science.  Back when I started this game (and when I inculcate new people) I tell them that novelty kills in this game.  The first time you see something new and don't fully appreciate what it can do, there's every chance it will smoke you.  That's part of the learning curve.  Take a deep breath, look back at what happened, and move from there.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Terminus Returneth - Cryx Retakes the Table

In honor of all the Cryx painting I've done in the past month, I elected to drag the bad boys out for a run on the table.  To be honest, one of the casters that drew me to Cryx was good ol' Lich Lord Terminus, and I'd just finished up my crabjack repaints (1 Harrower, 1 Leviathan, 1 magnetized plastic chassis) and said 'what the 'ell'.

So, I hit up my buddy, and packed the following:
Lich Lord Terminus
10 Bane Thralls
-Officer/Standard Bearer
6 Bile Thralls
Withershadow Combine
Bloat Thrall
Darragh Wrathe
Necrotech/Scrap Thrall
Saxon Orrick

My buddy brings:
Jarl Skuld
-Mountain King
10 Fennblades
5 Champions
-Skaldi Bonehammer
Champion Hero

Scenario - Mosh Pit., Trollbloods get turn one.

A Quick Overview
He slaps the King and Mulg in the middle; Fennblades go on one flank, the Champs go on the other.  Oh, joy, they're all gonna be real fast and pathfindery and STUFF, and the two beasts he has are, well, beastly.  That's ok, I'm Cryx, I've had plenty of sleep, and I'm pretty sure all the alcohol is out of my system by now. (Not that onlookers knew, but what the hell.)

I line up in the middle, Leviathans flanking Terminus, with some Banes in front, Tartarus opposite the Champs, Biles and Withershadow behind, and the Bloat opposite the Fennblades.

He starts out with Weald Secrets on the Fennblades (who promptly run screaming through terrain) and Quicken on the Champs (...because +2SPD isn't gonna make me a sad lil' zombie-panda), and jogs up the middle with the battlegroup.

My initial movement is pretty simple; Terminus hands out a focus to the Leviathans, pops Malediction, and charges up.  The Blob moves on up, Leviathans getting into firing position while Saxon somehow points the undead through a forest.  Biles take up defensive positions, and the Bloat takes up a firing position away from my lines.

On turn two, his champs sweep forward.  Mountain King moves up and tries to spray Tartarus, he's short by about an inch and I'm sweating a lot less.  Fennblades charge/run; I lose a couple Banes, and one Fennblade engages the Bloat Thrall.  Mulg tactical-supremacy's after a run, and Jarl moves up.

On my turn two, I figure it's time to start killing stuff.  Terminus loads the Leviathans up, and the Skarlock Maledicts him.  Terminus then advances, and proceeds to stab a couple Fennblades to death.  I'm gonna need souls, because Mulg is pretty close, and if I don't make an aggressive move he'll own the Mosh Pit and I'll lose. 

The Leviathans burn six focus between them and account for...ONE...kill.  Tartarus manages not to kill a champ on his advance, but reduces all the ones he touches to one box.  Banes charge up and wreck some infantry and champs.  By the time the killing stops, Terminus is sitting on 7 souls.  Darragh Wrathe looks up, sees Mulg a bit close, and decides this is a good time for some 'Beyond Death'.

Terminus is sitting at ARM25, effectively ARM27 against melee.

Jarl decides that it's time for MULG TO DA FACE!, but first, tries to clear some banes (HA! I ARE CAPABLE OF MAKIN' MA TOUCH CHECKS! Sort of...) and then tries to bounce some magic bullets into Wrathe.  His inability to hit with pistols is a bit of a downer, and then Mulg goes in.  Mulg maxes out his fury and puts Terminus down to 5 health.  The Mountain King is one inch away from making melee with Terminus.  I'm down to about 3-4 banes by now, and Tartarus got a case of the Death from champions.  Hardly a shock.

I've several champions still alive, a couple fennblades alive, and...oh yeah, a Mulg and a Mountain King in Terminus' face.  On the bright side, Terminus is sitting on 13 focus.  I do a quick measure, and find that Skuld is within 11" of Terminus.  HOWEVER, getting there involves a free strike from Mulg and the Mountain King.  And a random fennblade.  I activate the Banes, and they manage to crush Mulg's mind.  Saxon guides a Bile Thrall through the woods and he purges, killing a couple more champions that were on 1 health each.

I look at Mulg, I look at the Mountain king, and then a little voice in my head whispers to me:


I say 'hell with it' and throw Terminus at Skuld.  1d6+2 isn't enough for Mulg to hit Terminus.  The Mountain king connects, but fails to break Terminus' camp...and Skuld burned his fury trying to get rid of Wrathe. (in fairness, had Wrathe died I would have lost).

Terminus proceeds to rip Skuld in half with a single blow.

End Result
Cryx Win via Assassination

Casualties -
~7 Bane Thralls (who cares)
2 Bile Thralls (who cares)
Bloat Thrall (we can build another out of all the dead trolls)
Numerous woodland creatures from a Bile Thrall Purge
7 Fennblades
Skaldi Bonehammer
3 Champions
Jarl Skuld

Closing Thoughts
I think ignoring gigantic monstrosities like battle engines, colossals, and gargantuans is a reasonable tactic.  Gargantuans can be healed readily, and most people will dump another couple points to put a mechanic behind a colossal.  As such, you're going to have to commit a chunk of forces to kill one, so either go big or don't commit.  Half-arsing it is stupid.

Terminus is fun.  I like the list (could probably tighten it up a bit) and like Leviathans, even when the dice COMICALLY FAIL on them.  A lot.  Like, several times over.  God, I needed friggin' 5s.

The list involves a lot more traffic control than my Legion.  Then again, what DOESN'T run more models than beast-heavy Legion?

Tough is annoying as hell on feat turn.  I could've easily gotten another 3-4 souls, and been in much less danger.

MVP goes to Darragh Wrathe, because Beyond Death saved my friggin' bacon in this game. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cryx Rebirth

As the post title gives away, I'm taking a break from my Legion to go back to my roots: Cryx.

At current, I've got the following back up and in tabletop condition:

Ready To Rock
10 Bane Thralls, UA, Tartarus
10 Satyxis Raiders, UA, Captain
10 Blackbane's Ghost Raiders
2ea of the light Arc Nodes (1 Defiler, though)
both Skarres
2 Bloat Thralls
2 Pistol Wraiths

Coming Up
Bile Thralls (min)
2 Helldivers
3 Scavengers

Things To Look Forward To
1) Rocking Terminus dual-Leviathan style like Gangbusters
2) Rocking eSkarre, period.
3) Getting some pGaspy + Wraith Engine on
4) Kraken + whatever

And Some Words
This is actually a heap of re-work for me in some degree, as I've decided to revert to a green glow (never COULD get the red to look like I wanted it...) and upgrade to the plastic nodes (...because, let's be honest, the old metal ones looked kinda dinky).

On the flip side, once I get a functional camera, I'll have to throw pictures up.

I'm also just waiting to get my Terminus conversion up and painted.  Bigger wings, reposed, and on an elevated base?  Aw, yeah.  I've got the Crabjacks up and coming to go with him.  I always have liked them, especially the Leviathan.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cryx's Kraken - Initial Thoughts

So, I laid hands on the Colossals book and the Kraken up at Lock 'n' Load, and I gotta say I'm looking forward to painting and fielding the thing.  After I finish up the Extreme Carnivean and Throne and futz around with them for a bit, I'm gonna dive back into the Cryx.

I'm going to devote at least two posts to the Kraken; first off I'm going to evaluate it on its own here and see what it can do, and scratch the surface of what it can do with some casters.  After some practice and/or more thinking, I'll start discussing it in the context of an actual list.

Kraken Basics
First off, it's a colossal. (Yarrgh! I be Captain Obvious!)  This has a few implications.  First off, you deploy this thing first off; it MUST be pre-deployed.  Second, the enemy can't control or disrupt it, or move it.  The only time it's going anywhere is during its activation.  Also, pathfinder.  Which is fun.

Third, it's bloody big and durable and hard to hide.  Like battle engines, it's never gonna hide behind anything or get ANY defensive buffs, and being in melee is no refuge from combined ranged attacks. It's also got 54 boxes on ARM19, so it can absorb some abuse.

Kraken on the Offense
This thing brings a pair of guns - the Hellblaster and the Flayer. Both guns can fire through the entire front arc. They're tied to an average RAT5, and the Flayer is spec'ed out as an anti-infantry gun whereas the Hellblaster is a sizeable high-powered blast weapon.  The Flayer's good for d3+1 POW12s out to 12 inches, and Rapid Fire means it can spray those from one end to the other of its range.  The Hellblaster is a POW14, RNG16 AOE4 gun that can go up to POW17 with a full load of corpse tokens (and due to the wording of Doom Driver, the blast damage can get up to an effective POW10).

Also of note is the new rule 'Killshot', which allows you to make a single ranged attack ignoring ROF if you take out something in melee.  Note that colossals can make their ranged attacks while in melee.

This thing starts with a pair of PS18 'Harvesters', which are Chain Weapons with Chain Strike on 'em, so you can reach out and punch enemies out to 4" away.  With SPD5, you have a base charge range of 12", and you end up 4" away from the target without engaging it at the end of your activation (at least, in theory and in a vacuum).

This model has Collector and Meat-Fueled, which are some of its 'flavor' rules.  If it KO's a living model in melee, corpse token.  +1STR for corpse tokens, to a max of 3.  ALSO, you can remove corpse tokens to give it focus at a cost of one per focus.  It lets you trade off hitting power for self-sufficiency.

Also, note colossals have a few extra power attacks, like the no-move slam and perhaps more amusingly, the 'sweep', which tags everything in 2" of one melee weapon.  Hilarity can ensue, as a good sweep will KO infantry, help with meat-fueled, AND activate killshot.

What Would the Kraken Like?
I can think offhand of two things the Kraken would like:
1) help hitting
2) help not dying

As we're Cryx, we have access to DEF debuffs.  The 'not dying' is very often up to the player to provide by not doing dumb stuff, and also by bringing Necrotechs for repair.  There's nothing quite as obnoxious as the enemy dog-piling the thing and failing to kill it, only for a pair of necrotechs to bring it back up turn after turn.

What Casters Can Offer What Benefits?
ARM debuff, damage buff...not bad, but a to-hit buff would be nice.

Much the same as Gaspy1, but with more desire for infantry.  'eh'.

Hey, we have a to-hit buff and a damage buff.  This guy could make it work.

Debuff queen to the rescue.  Also, a good feat turn with Scourge and parasite?  Yeah, the Kraken can basically auto-hit with 2-4 POW12s and a POW14+, while the enemy's at -5 ARM.  That will probably do the trick.

You have a DEF and/or ARM debuff, and a feat for more DEF debuff/positioning fun.  Sadly, Pursuit doesn't work on the Colossal.

You have a DEF debuff against the living via the Deathwalker, and you can grant it Dark Shroud via Shadowmancer.  Sadly, Soul Gate is unlikely to be much use hwere, and you probably won't cast Mage Blight either.

You get an ARM debuff, and in a pinch Curse of Shadows can help you disengage.  Perhaps more amusing is Phantom Hunter; now you can't HIDE from the big damn guns.  There's potential here, one supposes.

She can provide boosted attack rolls vs the living AND +2ARM.  Bring in focus-efficient lights to take advantage of the free slams/charges, and add a unit or two...there's potential here, I think.  And Morty's Repair[10] is solid as well, and in a pinch you can burn through her focus via Interface.

Dark Guidance and the feat are neat, but I think pSkarre still gets more mileage out of melee troopers.  Not saying she couldn't run the Kraken, but I don't think it's optimal, and you're kinda hoping for good Ritual Sacrifice roles to make the most out of it.

At first glance, there are a handful of things that just don't work with the Colossal - Admonition and Perdition are out-of-activation movement that it can't use, and it cannot be directly protected by the feat.  On the OTHER hand, Black Spot can let you rack up a HIDEOUS number of attacks and help them hit, while Seas of Fate helps you make the most out of the focus invested in the Kraken.  Finally, Death Ward gets it up to ARM21 and can help preserve important systems.

He can hide behind it and give it Berserk.  Downside is it's expensive, but can make good use of focus Terminus gives it, and let's face it - you have this thing called 'Sacrifical Pawn' AND a CD-sized base to hide behind.  Do you need to camp focus if you'll never get shot?  Plus, berserk on a 4" melee range is hilarious.

Lich Lord Venethrax
Um.  Yeah.  Moving along...all Venethrax likes is hiding behind it, I guess.

Witch Coven
Going up to MAT8 SPD7 is nothing short of hilarious.  Veil of mists can help with traffic control, curse of shadows can debuff ARM, and Nightfall can even protect this thing.  The Coven can also generally feed it AND cycle Infernal Machine with their 9 focus.  There's potential here.

ARM buff?  Check.  ARM debuff?  Check.  DEF debuff?  Check.  You have just about everything you'd want to support the Kraken, it's just a matter of using it at the right time and fueling the colossal.

On paper, I like the Kraken.  I've played against a couple of colossals and don't find them broken; they're not THAT tough and melee heavies can still sort them out.  Keep repair support near them, and keep away units of weaponmaster infantry.

I plan on trying the Kraken with eSkarre first up, and going from there.  I'm pretty sure the Dennys will be fine, and so will Scaverous.  The Goreshades seem marginal, and Venethrax and Gaspy are just kinda 'eh' for me.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lock 'n' Load 2012 Roundup

First off, there's nothing like travel to make you appreciate sleeping in your own, comfy bed.

That aside, I had a blast at Lock 'n' Load 2012.

First Off...
I want to put out a huge thanks to all the folks that busted their butts to make this happen, from PP staff to the small army of volunteers, to the folks in production who were busting their humps over the weekend to box up Mountain Kings.

I arrived Thursday, as my buddies were doing the same.  Sadly for them, I left Thursday morning, they left Wednesday; I got there an hour after them.  Whoops.  Apparently Dallas Fort Worth got absolutely SLAMMED by weather.

As an aside, fresh seafood is AWESOME.

This was store day / From Concept To Tabletop Panel day, and State of the Faction address.  Store spoils included a Kraken, Ashlynn resculpt, extreme Carnivean, and some smaller odds and ends like a metal base for the extreme Carni.  Oh, and Farilor.

The Concept-to-tabletop panel was pretty interesting.  I did not know the Iosan names were actually pulled from Welsh; I kinda thought they jammed the alphabet into a blender, removed vowels and added apostrophes.  The entertainment ended with brainstorms on league models.  Some of these included:

1) Borka's Wingmen
Originally the Kriel Stone Mosher, this turned into the Caber Tosser solo with 8 wounds, 12/14 defensive stats, MAT6, Smite and Stumbling Drunk with the FA:3.  This was one of the most entertaining designs we did.

2) Suneater the something-or-other
Bane Lord Tartarus got chopped into a 3pt Bane Knight UA.  Trade stealth for Sac Pawn, add a to-hit buff, and Death Toll for knights.  There were some other things, but it was otherwise interesting to watch the process.

3) Melee-based Mage Hunter Assassins
Tweak the UA.  This was the center of some discussion; Phantom Hunter is HUGE for these guys, so they need something pretty s olid to increase their melee skill.  We kicked around Gang and a few other options, and ended up thinking about making them Big Game Hunters with an additional dice in damage to warbeasts, just to make 'em hidious.  Maybe add Gang for the to-hit bonus.  This was still on the drawing board when we broke.

So, I ended up getting into both Blood, Sweat & Tiers AND Speedmachine.  Cliff bars and a canteen were my friends on this day, and some hot subs from around the corner.

Blood, Sweat, Tiers roundup -
I brought eVayl T4 (triple Angelius, spawning vessel, Hex Hunters + Bayal, Shepherds) and Saeryn T4 (double Angelius, double bolt throwers, Neph soldier, protector, and double Shepherds).

Round 1 was Vlad2.  Turns out there were just too many Pikemen to get through, and I clocked out after failing to kill Vlad.  He suffered massive casualties and I kept my battlegroup alive, but just could not bring Vlad down with Angels and since he went first, he locked down his scenario.  Shield Wall on IFP means Hex Hunters are kinda sad.

Round 2 was closer, with eVayl versus Nemo2 and a handful of heavies.  I took an early shot at Nemo with a Refuged Angelius, missed, and then watched him feat, shoot and spell it to death.  I know Nemo2 can DO that, but it's rare to see that.  I managed to get several hex hunters and Bayal into position to hurl a buncha magic at Nemo, but only managed to carve him halfway down.  I screwed up, paied the price.

Round 3, I swapped over to Saeryn against a Swedish fellow playing Kaya2.  We had reinforcements; his was a Satyr of some sort while I cracked out a Harrier and another Nephilim Soldier.  My feat bought me another turn of stabbing him to death...and then I failed to hit with armor-piercing attacks.  Whoops.  He took an assassination run at me, failed.  Saeryn pegs Kaya with a Deathspur and Hellfire, and then...nothing else hits.  Death ensues for Saeryn, but at least I scored a control point.

Round 4 was my one win against a Garryth tier.  I saw five Mage Hunter Assassins and decided that it's a good time to play Saeryn against all that, as a few lucky roles would see my beasts dead.  He lost his battlegroup to Angelius charges (...a Griffin and Aspis, so yeah, not that hard) and the Mage Hunters had issues dragging down the beasts, though he still managed to KO a couple Nephilim and an Angel.  Garryth bought it to a couple Blight Bringers and melee stabs.

Round 5 was against eVayl T4; he brought a pair of Angels, a Seraph, Shredder, Throne, and the requisite soup ladies.  I shrugged and brought Saeryn out, since I'd been having fun with her, and being 3-1 meant this was mostly going to be good experience against stuff I haven't run into before.  He went first and rammed the Throne down my throat; with Slipstream and Chain Strike that thing has a HELL of a threat range.  It almost totalled a Nephilim, and I had to commit my Angels to taking it down.  I managed a control point, but blanked on feating at the right time and took horrifying losses and couldn't push him out in time.

OVERALL: 1-4-0, though a couple were close.

I opted for one list - Thagrosh1, Carnivean, Scythean, Ravagore.

Round 1 - Harkevich, 3x Juggernauts, Decimator.  I managed an assassination thanks to some hot dice; the Ravagore managed a shot at Harkevich...missed, deviated an inch, set him on fire, and blew him half away.  The Carnivean managed an assault-spray and took out more; Harks burnt to death in a couple turns.

Round 2 - vs Kromac, same good Swedish sport as before.  It turned into an epic brawl in the middle, with him getting some hot dice on a Satyr and it soloing a Carnivean.  Losing Spiny Growth hurt.  A lot.  He managed a win with about four seconds left.  Comically, the Carnivean frenzied at the wrong time and ate the Ravagore.  Whoops.

Round 3 - Rahn, Griffin, Sphinx, Banshee, Phoenix.  I lost on scenario.  He took a look at what he was up against, and decided that capping out at dice minus 7 wasn't gonna work for him in a straight up fight.  HE threw a Griffin out early as a speed bump, then used Rahns' movement abilities and two-handed throws to chuck me out of the zone.  It was one of the most memorable and comical games, as I had Rahn down to one box when the fire went out, as the Ravagore kinda lit 'im up.

Round 4 - Nemo3, Stormwall, Hammersmith
Scenario win - those Colossals have some damage output.  Spiny Growth did a number on him, and he ate the carnivean.  The Scythean beat down a chunk of him (...after rolling snake-eyes and blowing a chance to chain attack Blood Bath the Stormwall and Hammersmith) and Thags cycled Draconic Blessing onto the Ravagore, which finished the job.  The Hammersmith didn't really have a prayer against what was left, and after it died, that was pretty much it.

Round 5 - Gorten, 3 Gun Bunnies, 2 Bashers, Rockram
I played against one of the writers from Hand Cannon Online (the bloke who did the Darius series).  I derped out and let gun bunnies shoot some health off Thagrosh early on, then engaged him in the zone.  Turns out his feat and his ability to slam anything that gets back into the zone makes Gorten a hell of a scenario caster in Overrun in Mangled metal.  He played a solid game with a good army for the format, and noted I was the first guy he'd had to shove OUT instead of reel in and crush.

Round 6 - eKaya, 2 Ferals, 1 Stalker
I pulled off Scenario on this, by killing Laris, the stalker, and pushing him back.  Spiny Growth and Death Shroud carried the day here.

Heavily fatigued, I managed to get up in time to get one of the last seven Mountain Kings in stock, and stay awake for the State of the Faction address.  Doug Seacat was pretty damned funny during this in an understated manner.  The Cygnar version of "...well, ok, we lost the Thornwood, but it had trees.  We have trees elsewhere.  And it turns out there were a lotta Cryx in there, so Khador can have it."  There was an interesting note about Ossyan finding Nyssor, 'almost like someone told him.'  Wonder if I'm reading too much into that...

I enjoyed it, and would certainly do this again.  I made a few mistakes in the tourney, and had some nasty dice every now and then, but everyone was pretty cordial, courteous, and in general pleasant to be around.  It went well, and I'd certainly do it again next year.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Saeryn: Tier Thoughts

I've been toying around with Everblight tier lists for Lock 'n' Load's Blood, Sweat, and Tiers. (I am, alas, on the waiting list...).

I've had great fun with eVayl's, but on a whim I gave Saeryn's tier a go.  I've found it...interesting.

The Tier
T1: Advance Deploy your Spell Martyrs (if any), following restrictions:
Only flying beasts/Nephilim, no characters
Only units with flight
Shepherds/Sorceress on hellion/Spell Martyers

T2: Bring a Sorceress on a Hellion, gain +1 to starting roll

T3: Bring 2+ heavies with Flight, gain +2" DZ

T4: Bring 3+ Nephilim Warbeasts, gain a free Nephilim

How Deep?
This is the big question.  Honestly, T2 and T3 work together nicely; as the Hellion grants you some fury efficiency with flying heavies (read: Angeliusss...however the hell you spell it for plural) and your heavies are naturally swift.

Once you get to T4, well...then it gets interesting.  You CAN do T4 at 35pts, but it's pretty limited.  At 35, I have:

Saeryn [-5]
-Angelius [9]
-Angelius [9]
-Nephilim Soldier [5]
-Nephilim Protector [5]
-Nephilim Bolt Thrower [6]
-Nephilim Bolt Thrower [0]
Nyss Sorceress on Hellion [4]
Shepherd [1]
Shepherd [1]

This list has a glaring weakness - the shepherds.  If you can't hide them or shield guard them, you're in for a world of hurt.  Comically, 2/3 of your beasts CAN frenzy on your caster, an oddity for a Legion list.

In all seriousness, fury management IS an issue; you have 7 FURY on Saeryn and can generate a whopping 20 fury in a turn, and can cool off one Angel and change with a safety Fury or two on Saeryn.

Early on, this isn't a huge issue, as you're running everyone turn one (after getting out upkeeps and dumping fury).  When shooting, you've got Shepherds to cool off troopers, and maybe you can keep an Angel or two in melee.  Lose a Shepherd, or need to push?  You're going to take threshold checks.  On the bright side, at least Nephilim have a high threshold, and you'll want to learn about frenzy rules and getting things like the Soldier and/or Protector close to enemies.

You also are a bit low on melee power, outside of Armor Piercing strikes.  Armor-heavy enemy lists may make you consider scenario/assassination plans.  Similarly, higher-DEF heavies can give the Angels issues with their Legion-standard MAT6.

As a minor note, I like having a Harrier or other lesser to throw out as a Blight Bringer target, but at least you've got a Soldier for that, right? 

This list has a decent ranged game with Bolt Throwers (one of the best ranged attacks in Legion, between the POW, RNG, thunderbolt, and lack of damage type) and the boostable hand-cannons on the Angels.  You also have a SPD8 spray-bot that can go hunt support in a pinch.  Just note that spells don't really match up with a ride-by attack, alas.

While you ARE rocking a ton of Fury, note that Saeryn's feat favors a hefty battlegroup.  Your army will basically be untouchable in melee for a turn.  Which is nice.

You also have access to some wonderful movement shenanigans, between Repulsion and Thunderbolt, and you can always get slams off with the Protector and Soldiers.  Given the extended deployment zone and widespread flight, you also have an excellent mobility advantage.  You might even find a use for Massacre, as it IS extra movement and can give your melee beasties a free charge after the Sorceress bites it. 

Playing The Army
Early on, you'll throw up Respawn and possibly Banishing Ward.  Saeryn may grab Flight on turn one and charge up, or just meander up.  The Bolt Throwers and Angels grab good shooting lanes, the Soldier looks for slam targets or clumped-up infantry.  The Protector wanders around with Shepherds nearby, and generally waits to eat a transfer from Saeryn.

You actually have a decent selection of animi, as Saeryn enjoys Flight (hey, no innate pathfinder...) and Safeguard (keep that high DEF; not like ARM14 keeps you alive).  Repulsion is solid utility, and even Massacre can be fun for the extra inch of movement, especially if an Angel is going to go on some kind of Overtake stab-fest, or if you just need more fury for attacks/boosts on the beastie.

Some Tests
I've had several games with the list, and managed a few wins.  I managed a win against an eFeora list, as support solos  that rely on stealth/clouds to survive don't last against Bolt Throwers and Angelius shooting.  Add in 1-2 combat heavies, and a Protector to eat transfers and you're fine.

A pSorscha list didn't have enough time to fully activate, and again the shooting managed to KO a few important models (like sharpshooting manhunters, etc) and pull a flight/feat assassination run by dumping two Angels onto Sorscha's doorstep while tying up Beast 09.

A Circle pKaya 3x Warpwolf list thrashed me pretty soundly.  I misjudged threat ranges (half an inch difference is way too close for comfort...) and with their accuracy, yeah.  I managed to take a chunk out of his army, but losing the Angels and not focusing on scenario cost me.

I do like this list.  It's not what I'd normally take with Saeryn, but between this list and the eVayl triple-angelius list I have, I've learned to love the Angelius.  Bolt Throwers are solid, and playing with a free light is a hell of a tier benefit.

If I weren't going to go with a full-up T4 list, I'd probably rock something like:

Saeryn [5]
-Angelius [9]
-Angelius [9]
-Angelius [9]
-Nephilim Bolt Thower [6]
Nyss Sorceress on Hellion [4]
Shepherd [1]
Shepherd [1]
Spell Martyr [1]

You lose three Nephilim for another Angel and a Spell Martyr.  You get some hitting power, but I wonder if losing three friggin' lights is worth that.