Sunday, April 15, 2012

Moonlighting with Minions: Legion of Everblight

It occurs that I'd started a 'moonlighting with minions' segment a couple months ago, and kinda petered out after Skorne and Trolls.  So, why not finish it?

If the shiny logo and title didn't give it away, we'll hit up Legion this time around.  Note that Legion tends to be a very beast-friendly and beast-loving army, so at first glance you may not be thinking in terms of minions.

Solos of Note: Shepherd and Forsaken
These are two of the reasons that Legion loves it some beast-heavy action.  These are wonderful and inexpensive fury management options, both in terms of points and money.

Shepherds bring healing and can add/remove any amount of Fury, plus things in their CMD range can get forced.  The downside is that they have to be within 3" of the beasts to use their special actions.

Forsaken are Abominations and thus you have to worry a bit about fearless troops.  Additionally, they can only hold up to 5 fury before they're done helping you manage fury.  On the other hand, these girls can then use that fury to pop Blight Shroud, which does three things well: 1) kill low-ARM [often high-DEF] infantry, 2) punish beasts running hot, 3) punish camping casters.

Unit of Note: Spawning Vessel
I put this up as a note if you're going to play Farrow.  This thing collects corpses and turns three corpse tokens into a lesser warbeast.  At 3 points for a full unit (the min unit at 2pts loses out on collection range and speed; not worth it in my book) this isn't a bad idea behind Brigands; Brigands will probably be hunting infantry anyway and there'll be a lotta tokens.

The Warlocks
Absylonia, Terror of Everblight
Abby is primarily a beast caster, between two beast buffs, free upkeeps on her battlegroup, and and her feat that involves healing her beasts up to full.  She's an abomination, so bear that in mind for troops.  Her feat involves playing for attrition, so I'd consider maybe Bog Trogs (For a flank surprise/herding your enemy into your beasts) or Gators (to fit in with the attrition theme, and Carnivore makes them stupid-accurate against living targets, which helps since beasts are pretty much MAT6).

She doesn't DO a lot for minions, but she doesn't lose out on a lot, either.

Bethayne 'n' Belphagor
This is honestly a pretty solid choice for minion play.  She has three unit buffs, all of which work on minions.  Ashen Veil is free concealment AND -2 to melee attack rolls against the living.  Methinks Gators or even Slaughterhousers could like this for closing in.  Blood Thorn hands out continuous corrosion to your weapons, so low-POW infantry (IE: non-charging Brigands and their mighty POW10 guns) can ding up anything they can hit.  And of course Carnivore is great for melee against living models.

The feat is only for magic attacks made in-faction, but that's Bethayne, and possibly, um.  Black Frost Shard?  BFS wouldn't be bad for minions, and does at least work with the feat.

B'n'B is overall very compatible with minions.

Lylyth, Herald of Everblight
Parasite works with anyone, Bad Blood is HILARIOUS against hordes, and Eruption of Spines is theoretically good infantry clearing.  On the flip side, Lylyth's feat is faction-specific, and most of the rest of her abilities center around getting her beasts to hit.  That being said, even WITH fury-management tools, Lylyth wouldn't mind infantry to do some work for her.

Losing out on the feat isn't necessarily game-breaking, but your minion choices should be self-sufficient.

Lylyth, Shadow of Everblight
As your minions can't Stealth, they're sitting ducks in this army.  eLylyth is more about range and attrition, and anything you bring needs to either be out of range or be able to avoid getting hit.  Honestly, bringing minions here is anti-synergistic.  The best-case scenario involves digging in with Farrow Brigands, but I'd rather run a Legion-pure list and bring either stealth infantry or none at all.

eLylyth isn't a great choice on the basis of list-building issues, as your non-stealth minions are gonna get hung out to dry.  MAYBE a unit of Brigands.  Maybe.

Rhyas, Sigil of Everblight.
Skip.  Her infantry speed buff and feat are faction-specific.  You lose out on a couple of big deals here, and I don't think it's worth it.

Saeryn, Omen of Everblight
Ah, the toolbox.  Her only warning about non-faction stuff comes in Blight Bringer, but that's really going on a harrier or shredder to kill infantry, or to defend a beast from charges (as non-Reach guys ARE gonna die to this).  She also comes with a DEF debuff, and Banishing Ward works on infantry as well.

The only warning note is that her feat renders only her battlegroup immune to melee; this is a great time for the enemy to focus on your minions and beat 'em up.  Otherwise, there's nothing stopping you from running minions with Saeryn.

Thagrosh, Prophet of Everblight
This guy is honestly pretty minion-friendly; at least he can run a Posse well.  Death Shroud is a passive STR debuff with RNG:CMD, and with that and unyielding Gators end up with an effective ARM20 in melee.  Fog of War also works for everyone in his control area (everyone, so shooting without Eyeless Sight has to worry about it...).

Draconic Blessing would be nice on an infantry unit, but harder-hitting beasts is seldom a bad thing.  Otherwise, his feat is attrition-oriented, and this guy hiding behidn a posse is pretty nasty.  He even has the fury to hand out some Tenacity. Yay!

Thagrosh1 is a prime choice for minions.

Thagrosh the Messiah
Oddly enough, this one's not quite as minion-friendly.  You lose out on Death Shroud, and a Posse no longer blocks LOS to this guy's large base.  The moneymaker, Manifest Destiny, is battlegroup-specific and the ARM buff is faction-specific.  The feat is also battlegroup-specific.  Honestly, I'd skip this guy with minions.

Vayl, Disciple of Everblight
She's all about a hard-hitting up-front battlegroup.  Chiller is a lovely debuff, either on a beast OR on a faction unit to hand it out widely.  Pretty much everything else is beast-related on her card.

Frankly, I'd rather pay for a cheap screen, but MAYBE in a large game you could justify a Posse as a screen.

Vayrl, Consul of Everblight
This one's a lot more minion-friendly than her predecessor.  You have two movement-shenanigan spells that are faction-specific in Refuge and Admonition, but you also have a DEF debuff and free Stealth, AND purification which is a HUGE HELP.

Your feat lets you purify and re-establish upkeeps, which is nice.  Honestly, if you want to make a go of running her with minions you can, but I would consider Spell Martyrs (and the Posse, because it'll survive an Oraculi to the back of the head and being used as an arc node).

Dark Guidance and Unconquerable are faction-specific.  You won't cast Dark Guidance that often given the cost (especially if you're upkeeping Ignite, which you should be, and at least that's minion-friendly) even if you have a Succubus to help with that.  However, Dark Guidance is kind of your knockout punch spell.

I think you lose out with minions; Gatormen already have unyielding and can use the 'I Eat Living Things' prayer for re-rolls against living models.  While Kallus can make gators less pillowfisted (15 vs 13) he'd still probably rather have bodies for that whole feat thing.  Farrow completely miss out unless you're using them as feat fodder. 

I honestly don't see much point in going with minions with Kallus, as you lose out on Dark Guidance and Unconquerable.  Gatormen are a possibility, I suppose, but only because they sort of duplicate what Kallus can already offer. 

I'd grab a unit of Swamp Gobbers to give Kallus better than DEF14 and call it.

Legion has a few solid choices with minions, but you're still probably committing to a couple of heavies and solos.  I'd suggest a battlebox and a plastic heavy kit; magnetize both the heavies and order a couple wings and Harrier card and you're in good shape to add warlocks.

Bethayne/Belphagor are solidly compatible and do good things for minions, and pThags can use Gators in a nasty, nasty way.  pLylyth, Absylonia, Saeryn, and eVayl can make use of them, but have some issues (well, eVayl is probably the least problematic of these).  The others...not so much.

*credit to John Spencer for noticing Kallus' feat isn't faction-specific

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Playing Against Gatormen, Part 2: Solos and Warlocks

This is a continuation of the whole 'how do I deal with Gatormen?' line of thinking I'd started a post ago.

That one got slashed midway due to a mixture of time of night, and the fact it was getting huge and I'd rather not crit-braindead someone with a wall of text.

I'm going to start out with the few solos available to the Gators, and then move along to the warlocks, which won't take long.

What Does It Do?
Fill That Last Point If They Don't Already Have Swamp Gobbers, Make Beasts Annoying
No attack, no real ability to hold territory...why do you bring this guy?  He basically keeps beasts alive a little longer.  'Spiritbind' is a huge wall of text that boils down to 'kill that beast again' and lets you use it without being able to force the thing.

It's kind of a novelty.  Unless, of course, you can make use of the spiritbind thingy to keep something in a scenario zone.  Then again, they need to do a whopping 3 more damage to the beast, so unless they burned their last attack killing the beast, it's not THAT impressive.

What Can't It Do?
Generally, it can't take up space.  Or attack.  Spiritbind is the ONE trick.

I don't see these very often.  Some armies have issues mustering up magical attacks outside of their lock/caster, but this guy alone isn't worth several fury/focus to kill, most of the time.  It can be highly annoying in a corner case, especially if 'borrows' an enemy's beast instead of reviving one of your own.  Then they'll make a point of trying to kill their own beast again, which diverts assets. AND THE FERALGEIST GETS TO DO IT AGAIN.

What Does It Do?
Upkeep Removal (Sometimes), Disruption, Annoy Spellcasting Models, Beat Up Infantry
The Thrullg is a utility solo for gators.  One smack from it drops upkeeps, animi, and causes Disruption.  While you can struggle knocking off DEF buffs, you can get up to three swings from a Thrullg, assuming you can get into non-Reach melee range.  Additionally, those three swings on a MAT7 let it regularly tag infantry, and disrupting warjacks is not hard at all with that MAT.

As an added bonus, Arcane Consumption can screw with enemy infantry that like to cast spells.  However, it's RNG:CMD and you have CMD7, so you might just force an order-of-activiation issue on them.  At least they can't offensively spell this guy to death, right?

What Doesn't It Do?
Drop High-DEF buffs, Mesh Well With The Army (sometimes), Take Buffs
MAT7 is reasonable, but since it doesn't ignore DEF buffs to begin with, it won't always be able to drop those buffs.  It's something to keep in mind, but with Gators I'm more concerned about this thing dropping my ARM buffs, if any. 

As for 'meshing', it's an 'it depends' scenario.  This thing isn't amphibious and doesn't have Pathfinder, so it's got to take the long way around and can't benefit from things like Swamp Pit.  DEF13/ARM16 and 8 wounds isn't BAD for defensive stats, but it might not keep him alive; this guy is DEFINITELTY a second-line model and wants a Posse to hide behind.

Finally, while Spell Ward keeps offensive spells off, it also keeps buffs off and 'lock-cast animi off.

When I see this guy, I go through a list:

1) Do I have melee warjacks?
If yes, I'll see about killing him before he can disrupt my jacks.  I need armor-cracking power, melee heavies have it, this guy annoys melee heavies.

2) Do I have ARM buffs?
If yes, I should probably kill this guy, because gators hate high ARM and he can help mitigate that.

3) Do I have spellcasting infantry?
If yes, I want to make sure I stay out of this thing's command range.

The downside of the 'avoid' strategy with respect to the Thrullg is that it has Advance Deployment, and thus gets to react to my initial deployment and try to ensure favorable matchups.

The Totem Hunter
I have an exhaustive breakdown on this guy available here.

What Does the Totem Hunter Do?
Move Fast, Kill Support Solos, Thin Units
The biggest thing the Totem Hunter brings to Blindwater is speed on the flanks.  He has a solid SPD, solid MAT, reasonable attacks, an annoying ability to jump, and thanks to Sprint and Stealth + high ARM/8 wounds, he's hard to gun down at range.

Frankly, he's one of Blindwater's best ways to go after support models in the back.  Late game, he can transition Prey over to beasts/the warlock/caster and bring some hideously accurate attacks to bear. 

What Doesn't He Do?
Take Down Durable Targets/Multi-Wound Infantry
The Totem Hunter is pretty reliant on Sprint to survive; if he can't kill something he can't get away.  Bad dice are a major bane for him, but moreso is the lack of anything to kill to trigger sprint.  Without Sprint, you're looking at a one-way trip, or he's relegated to making an end-run and gunning for the caster.  Not bad, but if he needs a charge to kill something, you're actually losing threat range and placement because you're forgoing Leap.

This guy's presence annoys me, as his natural speed + leap + sprint can make him a slippery thing to pin down.  Unless you've got stealth-ignoring shooting, he's probably going to get into your lines and try to disrupt your plan.  I ENJOYED running this guy in virtually every game for several months back in a league.

Croak Hunters
What Do They Do?
Hit Living Targets Hard, Provide a Flanker, Bring a Little Bit of Ranged To The Army
Who doesn't like advance deploy stealth models with pathfinder and hunter?  Your opponent, that's who.  This guy's reasonably swift with SPD6, and while RNG8 is on the short side you still have a threat range of 14" on a RAT6 shot that's 10+3d6 versus living targets. 

In melee, you can get up to MAT8/PS12 with Gang Fighter.  They can dump a nasty, accurate charge onto a living target with Reach and Gang Fighter and Poison from a good 11" away, too.  Warbeasts that are alive have to respect these little boggarts.

What Don't They Do?
Crack High DEF at range, Deal With High ARM on Non-Living Targets, Last Long In a Fistfight
RAT6 doesn't hit high DEF at range.  Aside from that, if you take Poison away from this guy he's not that damaging.  Finally, DEF13/ARM14 and five boxes make blasts unlikely to kill him, but he's not really going to last long in a fight unless he's tying up low-POW infantry that would rather be shooting him.

These guys bring a much-needed ranged element to the Blindwater Congregation.  If I see these guys, I have to worry about devastating charges against living targets, and something on the flanks harassing me with pointy throwin' sticks unless I have the DEF to shrug it off.  Unless I can ignore stealth in shooting, I'm probably going to take a lump or two from these guys.

Gatorman Witch Doctor
What Can This Guy Do?
Annoy The Undead, Hand Out Tough, Bypass High DEF For a Price, And It's A Beast Master
Annoy the undead comes from dominate undead.  No one likes a Bane getting an attitude and beating something, or moving out of the way.  This gets funnier when you realize it can hit undead warbeasts, but there aren't a lot of those.

Handing out tough via zombify also counts as annoying the undead, as I'm pretty sure that being Undead is more of an advantage as it denies 'living model' caveats (IE: most gator special rules...) and souls.  Also, 'tough' is obnoxious, and this basically MAKES Maelok's feat.

Bypassing high DEF comes at a price: sacrificial strike!  Free POW15-16, depending on whether you threw a Bog Trog or mostly-dead Gator at a target.  IT's a good way to polish off the wounded.

Beast Master is probably more incidental than useful, as it lets you force anything in its CMD8 that's outside of your warlock's control range.  This is a neat extra, but probably won't come into play that often.

What Can't This Model Do?
Fight In Melee
MAT6, a PS11, and PS12?  This guy belongs behind a posse.  If he's out in the open, he's going to draw fire because his support abilities are annoying.

...because Gatormen really needed 'tough', no?  I worry about this guy all game: Tough is an annoying extra, but a late-game Sacrificial Strike can be a game-winner by putting the last few points on a warcaster that relies on its DEF.  For that reason, this guy's a priority.

Bloody Barnabas
What Does He Do?
Screw Your Shooting Game, Screw Your Non-Pathfinder Game, Knock You Down, Make a Posse Stupid-Hard To Hit, and Bring Movement Shenanigans For Beasts, And Absorb Abuse
So these first two things are due to Swamp Pits.  He's got the FURY to realistically drop a pair in a turn, as he's got 1-2 upkeeps out.  These deny non-magical shooting, and are rough terrain against melee forces.  The only thing in my favor is that they make order-of-activation and formation a bit less forgiving for gator players, but practice gets around this.

The 'knock you down' comes from his feat, unless you're amphibous.  This has applications for assassination (moreso if you brought guns like a Spitter and some Croaks, yay pop 'n' drop!), screwing up the enemy's next turn, or just knocking a chunk out of the opposing army.

The 'make a posse stupid hard to hit' comes with Iron Flesh.  It's another order-of-activation thing (And has to be dropped on turns to charge, but he can get a free casting of it with Bone Cleaver), but with this and Dirge a Posse can hit DEF16, which is...obnoxious...on top of their innate durability.

'Movement Shenanigans For Beasts' comes from Warpath.  Kill something in his control zone, one-time 3" move for a beast in your control area.  This lets your melee beasts get another 3" of threat range and/or grab a better angle, or lets your Snapper move into range while keeping his aiming bonus.  That SPD5 snapper/wrastler is not as slow as he first appeared...also, with Counter Charge, Barney himself has some movement tricks, but once per turn and only without Iron Flesh up.

Finally, Barnabus himself can be fairly obnoxious to kill.  Shooting him down?  Swamp Pit, nice try. His DEF13 is so-so, but he can Iron Flesh himself (and for free if you beat something down with Bone Cleaver).   ARM17 is pretty solid for a 'lock, and it goes up to 19 if he's engaged due to Unyielding, AND can hit 21 with Spiny Growth.  Add that on top of 16 boxes, and this guy can get pretty obnoxious to punch out in melee.  That being said, he's not immortal, and is probably camping ~2 fury tops.

What Can't Barney Do?
Crack Armor, Support A Lot Of Beasts, Hide Everyone In Large Games
You have no damage buffs with Barnabus.  You top out at PS17 on the 1-2 Wrastlers you have.  With FURY6 and no fury support at this point in time, you're not going to carry a lot of beasts.  (Thankfully, Wrongeye/Snapjaw don't draw from the pool AND can cover themselves via Submerge). 

In larger games, you may struggle to fit all your army into two Swamp Pits.  This probably means those Iron Fleshed gators are up front and the only thing for the enemy to focus on; hopefully Dirge of Mists or concealment (because you used the Pathfinder prayer to move through terrain) will keep you alive.  It's a scaling issue; not everyone scales as well.

This guy can do attrition pretty well, mostly by denying my ability to hit him and his army.  If I have high-ARM models I'll be a bit happy, because high ARM is what Barnabus struggles with.  I'm going to have to deal with a stupidly nasty Posse, and assassinating Barney in melee all but requires a heavy beast/jack.  If I can survive a feat turn and/or have plenty of armor, I'm pretty comfortable.

I'm also swearing up a storm if I didn't bring pathfinder and I thought I had guns to take care of the problem.

Calaban The Grave Walker
What Can This Guy Do?
Crack Armor, Crack High DEF, Drop Upkeeps, Dish Out A Surprising Amount of Pain In Melee, Arc Spells (very occasionally), Confuse You With His Feat
The first thing you probably homed in on is the magical phrase 'crack armor' when there's not a 'can't' in front of it.  Parasite goes a ways towards helping you deal with high ARM; gatormen at an effective PS16 and a Wrastler that hits harder than a Carnivean tip the scales back in your favor.  If the enemy isn't high-ARM, then, well, you got a bit more help in not relying on dice.

Cracking high DEF comes from Carnivore, which is good for +2MAT against the living.  Since most of the undead top out at ARM12 outside of casters, this is nice.  MAT9 gatormen, MAT8 vs beasts Wrastler...yeah, it's a nice thing, especially as MAT9 + rerolls = I think I hit versus most enemy infantry.

Hex Blast, provided you can hit with it (and FURY7 makes that a reasonable assumption) gives you a way to drop upkeeps, even high DEF ones.

Now, if you look at Calaban's melee stats, then at Barney's, you might wonder what I'm talking about.  MAT5, two PS11 attacks versus Barney's paired PS14s and a 12?  Well, both of Calaban's melee attacks are a bit special.  The bite has Sustained Attack, so if you NEED to gun down a high DEF target, you can do it IF you can hit it once.  Carcass is your Reach Stick and token magic melee weapon, but with Life Trader and boosting you can be throwing 11+4d6 in one swing.  Expensive?  Sure, but it's a hell of a hit if you can land it.

The arc node thing is pretty situational; a RAT6 RNG10 POW10 shot can turn a living model into an arc node.  Thing is, you'd be arcing Parasite or Hex Blast, possibly Bone Shaker.  You're reliant on being in a position to tag an enemy model that you want to arc through without leaving yourself high and dry in the process.

The feat is...interesting.  First, Calaban's going to be the first or second thing to activate, to maximize it.  It relies in killing enemy models, and generating fury and casting at any time.  I've found the nastiest use for this is cycling Parasite and firing off the odd extra Hex Blast or Bone Shaker, depending on how much fury I have and need.

What Can't This Guy Do?
Deal With Upkeep Hate, Take Much Abuse
While you can crack high DEF and ARM, you need upkeeps to do it.  If someone can deny you those or drop them, you'll be burning a fair amount of Fury to put your spells back up.

Occultation ties into my 'take much abuse' part of the story.  If you have only one posse, this is probably NOT where it goes, as that posse is Calaban's screen.  DEF14/ARM16 isn't that hard to gun down when it's on top of 15 boxes, and your only defensive measure is Occultation.  The downside?  Calaban has to personally cast Parasite, and it's got RNG8.  That's his biggest drawback.  You pretty much HAVE to kill whatever you hit with Parasite, or gum up the works and re-screen calaban.

This is another reason you often see Calaban in a tier; as it allows Bone Grinders (who can extend a spell's RNG by 2 inches, which gives you RNG10 parasite and RNG12 Hex Blast) and who doesn't like Wrong Eye/Snapjaw with advance deploy?

Finally, the feat can often leave Calaban with an odd amount of fury.  He's got no way of dropping single points of fury with it up after his activation; he can dump 2, 3, and 4 (or more, with boosted damage rolls on the blast) at a time depending on which spell and how much boosting he does.

Calaban's the problem-solver to Barnabus' brute force/denial.  He's much more toolboxy, and frankly, I have to respect him for that when I see him across the table.  If the enemy doesn't screen him adequately, I'm going to try to put damage on him with a gun, as DEF14/ARM16 and 15 boxes on a medium base is not exactly the high end of defensive stats, and getting up to ARM20 requires both Parasite and Spiny Growth, which is a good 3 fury.

Maelok The Dreadbound
What Can This Guy Do?
Make a Posse Stupidly Durable, Act Like a Walking Debuff, Absorb a Fair Amount of Abuse, Do Reasonable Damage in Melee, Walk His Army Through Your Lines
Death Pact is good for +2ARM, Undead, and making a Posse one of the most obnoxiously durable units in the game.  Base ARM16 goes up to base 18, 20 in melee, and on the feat turn, 22.  Oh, and you can have access to Spiny Growth, too.  Lovely.  Oh, and you can Revive the dead gators, and possibly grab stupidly obnoxious threat angles? Lovely.

The 'walking debuff' comes from Malediction, previously found on Terminus.  This puts his own melee stats up to a reasonable MAT8 with 3x PS14s, but you need to get within 2" of a target to hand out that -2DEF/-2ARM.  On the bright side, a Wrastler can probably trash the target at this point.  On the downside, you just put your warlock in base-to-base with something that can probably threaten it.  This is a risky spell to fully utilize, but it IS part of the arsenal.

DEF14, ARM17, 17 boxes?  You have access to Spiny Growth and another +2ARM from Death Pact if need be.  Downside is that Death Pact and Malediction aren't compatible (which is sad because you would want that extra +2ARM).  You're at the edge of needing boosts to hit him, and he needs heavy hitters to put damage on him.

With Malediction up, you're at MAT8 with a trio of non-reach PS14s.  This is cool if you can kill a loaded enemy Heavy with the bite because of Spirit Eater, as you get to Reave from it and deny the enemy the chance to Reave.  This is mostly corner-case, as you have GOT to ice that heavy with the bite to make it worthwhile.

His feat is...hilariously obnoxious for killing the enemy caster.  Unless you've got a lot of magical weapons, the gators are walking/charging through your lines and surrounding your caster.  If you DO have magical weapons, you're still dealing with ARM20+ gators against free strikes.  Note that the Witch Doctors MAKE this feat, as the only other way of making your own dudes undead is via Grave Pact.

What Can't This Guy Do?
Crack Armor (without Great Risk), Manage Fury, Do His Feat To Full Effectiveness Without A Solo Or Two, Effectively Handle Incorporeal Threats
We're back to that 'cracking armor' thing.  Malediction is a hell of a debuff, but it's also a high risk/high reward debuff.  The reward comes from the fact you're probably in the 'just buy attacks' phase instead of needing to boost them.  The downside is, like I said, Maelok has to put himself within 2" of the target to use it.  With SPD5, this maxes you out at 10" if you want to do anything else, or 12" if you're willing to just run and hope to god you're alright with that as your only action.

He's also got the FURY6 + no fury support solos issue of all Gatormen.  It is what it is.  With 1-2 upkeeps, you get an animus or two a turn and that's it.  Not bad, but not great.

His feat deserves special mention because you really, REALLY need Witch Doctors to maximize the effectiveness.  Otherwise, you get the Grave Pact unit, himself, and maybe a Boneswarm that benefits from the ARM bonus.  On the flip side, you're hoping to jog through the enemy lines and either assassinate or deal a crippling blow, so there you go.  Just be advised any living model on feat turn are kinda asking for the hits.

This guy has two types of magical attacks: melee, and SP8.  Venom isn't BAD, but again requires getting up close and personal to use it.

I worry about this guy laughing off my initial attempts to thin down his army, then ramming it through my lines thanks to his feat, and eating my caster.  I have to counter it by leaving him no landing zone for his models, which isn't necessarily as easy as it sounds.

Honestly, I'm a bit worried this hit the 'OMG TOO MUCH TEXT!' level, and if so would someone kindly tell me.

That aside, this is meant more as a 'oh, crap, what am I facing again?' type of guide, and it's not an in-depth tactica on each and every last model in here (...other than the link to the Totem Hunter salute.  That IS a tactica).  Hopefully after slogging through these two articles, you have some idea of what you're up against when you see these models across from you.

Blindwater isn't the most diverse army, but they have some solid models that will absorb abuse, and can do a hell of a number when it comes to weathering your attacks and then either beating you down, or pulling out some crazy shenanigans.

I'm also gonna wish I had more undead-hating tech, and that I'm not reliant on souls, because they're in short supply thanks to Grave Pact and the army's natural resilience.

I'm also likely to try to snipe out any Witch Doctors.  Not only are they there to help maximize his feat turn, but a couple of them can throw out Sacrificial Strikes that might finish whatever job the rest of the army started.

Monday, April 9, 2012

On Playing Against Gatormen, Pt1: Units and Beasts

On a request, this article's going to focus on what it's like to play against the Blindwater Congregation.  I'm going to start with common sights (IE: units/solos/beasts) and then wax poetic about the warlocks and what they'll add to the mix.

The Gatorman Posse
There'll be minimum one of these on the field 99.9% of the time when you face off against Blindwater.  As such, it pays to know what they can and can't do.

What Can They Do?
 Mulch Infantry, Take Up Space for a While
The 'mulch infantry' part refers more to killing living single-wound infantry: MAT7 with a prayer for a re-roll on a pair of PS13 attacks is pretty nasty for thinning out infantry.  They rarely need a to-hit buff, and most undead targets are DEF12ish unless it's a caster.

Also, they get a nice speed boost when charging living targets.  Never hurts.  12" threat range, potential pathfinder (if you don't need it, then re-rolls to hit?!)  Yeah, living things don't like these things.

The 'taking up space' thing refers to their durability.  DEF12 is so-so, but they can buff it to 13 with a prayer.  They're ARM16 on top of 8 wounds, though, and they go up to ARM18 when in melee due to 'Unyielding.'  Given that Blindwater can buff ARM and DEF, these guys can stick around for a while.  As-is, you need charging weaponmasters or heavy jacks/beasts to crunch them up.  Also, that medium base is impossible to trample through, so there you go.

Bottom line?  You pretty much have to deal with these guys.

What Do The Posse Not Do?
Crack Armor
They top out at PS13.  This can ding up armor with a boost.  This is great when they charge, but you'll be doing well to get more than a couple guys to throw charge attacks into one target.  And then, well, they're engaged.

On the downside, this makes engagements with enemy heavies an attrition issue.  If they have solid hitting power, you're in trouble.  If not, you're ok; you can still do a few damage each time you swing. 

On the other downside, these are your main infantry, and you're probably looking at a couple of squads of these.  If the enemy gets their armor-cracking from weaponmaster infantry, you might be able to get the charge off on 'em.  If they get the charge on you, 1-2 guys will carve through a gatorman.

Posse Wrapup
If I'm dealing with posse, then I'm going to try to either work around them and assassinate, or hit them with heavy hitters.  I don't want to match them up against living targets that rely on their DEF to survive, and ideally I don't match them up against single-wounders unless I can buff ARM through the roof.

Bog Trog Ambushers
What Do They Do?
Screw With The Other Guy's Movement
Ambush is the reason you take them.  3" + base + SPD5 + reach =  ~13.5 threat from the side of the board, place at your will.  The enemy knows this, and between the charge bonus, MAT6, and Powerful Charge alongside CMA these guys can adapt to whatever target they need to.

What Don't They Do? with stuff after the surprise attack
They're not bad combatants, but once they're in, they're a bunch of dudes with reach sticks and PS11 on MAT6 with CMA.  They're kind of pillow-fisted, but you can always team up to scrag some big target or other, maybe.

You don't see these guys a ton for a couple of reasons:
1) they're not a posse
2) Once they're in, they've got the armor-cracking problems of a posse without the re-rolls to hit or durability
3) It's hard to quantify the joys of ambush, as most people will try to work around it via movement/deployment.

By the time you've filled out your battlegroup and grabbed a posse, you're probably about 25 points.  Most folks will grab another heavy or posse at that point.  Maybe at 50?  Who knows.

If I see these guys across the table, I'm going to think twice about where I put my stuff on the flanks.  I'll also have to remember them in terms of scenario.  Basically, they give the gators something other than a slow-moving chunk of bodies and armor.

Blackhide Wrastler
What Can it Do?
Crack Armor, Power-Attack Shenanigans, RFP/Heal off of Infantry
PS17 is (currently) as good as it gets for gators without buffs/debuffs.  This is where they get it.  There are a couple of PS14 open hands, which are were we get the 'power-attack shenanigans' part of this deal, AND the 'Rise' animus is annoying if I have a lotta knockdown.

In a pinch, if it's stuck troop-clearing it CAN start healing off of the bodies it eats, thanks to snacking.  This is also a nice source of RFP.

What Can't it do?
Hit First, Run Very Hot
SPD5, no reach?  This guy doesn't have what we call a 'threat range' in business.  This means the other guy has to be careful about deploying it, and making sure I can't get the drop on it.  Since it's likely to be their main source of armor-cracking, this guy is a priority if I have armor on the table.

Additionally, at this time Gators don't have any neat little fury-management units/solos.  As such, running this guy hot to finish off a crucial hard target might be dicey for the other guy and force threshold checks.

Also, it's got a whopping five health in 'mind', meaning it's not too hard to get lucky and force the other guy to have to heal this thing.

Wrastler Overall
This thing is the hardest hitter in the gator armor, but it going to be stuck on the counter-charge duty due to its speed.  What it can't beat down, it can two-handed throw with that nice STR12.

If I see it across the table (and it's more like a 'when', given Blindwater's current model selection and this thing's particular niche as armor-cracker) and I have heavy armor, it's a priority.  Otherwise, well, it's a melee heavy, and those tend to be worth worrying about as a matter of principal.

Ironback Spitter
What Can it Do?
Shoot, Power Attack Shenanigans, Shield Stuff From Blast Damage, and Hack Off Single-Wound Infantry
First off, this thing has a pretty solid gun.  POW14, RNG12, and an AoE with continuous corrosion are about as good as it gets; the only way to improve it would be a larger AoE or more RNG.  You can plink hard targets and soften them up, or throw this at infantry. Single-wounders that rely on DEF probably die to the blast damage, and those that rely on ARM don't like the corrosion.

Past that, you have a pair of open fists for the full suite of power-attack damage, and Girded in case you have something that doesn't like blast damage.

What Can't it Do?
Mix it up in melee, Get Anywhere Fast, Survive Much Of A Beating
MAT5, a pair of PS13s, and a PS15 are all kinda sad when it comes to actually killing hard targets in hand-to-hand.  If it's wounded and late in the game?  You might make it happen.  SPD4 means you go nowhere fast, and DEF10/ARM18 are sad DEF stats if the enemy gets into melee with you with anything that WANTS to be in melee with you.

This thing's a gun, pure and simple.  Most Gator armies benefit from including one, as it gives them some much-needed ranged power, and the ability to start putting damage on the other guy's hard targets/soften up the infantry.

If I see one across the table, I'll make sure to spread out my infantry, and just get ready to see my heavies eat a couple of fully-boosted POW14s before they engage.  Oftentimes, this guy will last to the end-game, as I'll be busy killing the posse and/or that Wrastler that engages.  This means Grandpa The Angry Turtle is probably going to be in good shape to take some transfers.

The Bull Snapper
What Can it Do?
Provide an ANNOYING Animus, Solo-hunt efficiently, mess up High-DEF targets
Spiny Growth is hilariously effective against jacks/beasts, and the +2ARM alone is fun vs infantry.  Early on, this guy's probably going to be handing out Spiny Growth to someone, and letting his 'lock do the same.

If need be, it can charge and boost against a solo or something, as it can hit out to 11.5 inches on the charge, and boost if it has to.

Also, don't overlook the joy of sustained attack in the late-game, higher-DEF casters might not like eating the POW12 charge and a couple of auto-hitting attacks.  It probably won't solo a caster, but it CAN put some damage on one.

What Can't It Do?
Crack Armor, Take A Beating, Take Out A Lot Of Models
Ok, give this guy a break because he's 3 points, and most of that for the animus.  That being said, PS12 is comical against armor.  ARM14 on top of 15 boxes makes him somewhat comparable to a Posse member in terms of the amount of abuse he can absorb.  Finally, he's MAT5 and has a whoppin' 3 fury.  He's not gonna kill a lot.

Overall on the Snapper
Expect this guy in most gator lists solely for his ability to provide Spiny Growth.  That animus accentuates gatorman durability, and the d3 to opposing jacks/beasts that don't one-shot a target helps with the attrition game, AND putting damage on high-ARM heavies.

If I see this guy, I'll try to kill him just because I hate dealing with Spiny Growth.  That being said, he's probably behind the posse, or he's out on the side solo-hunting.

What Can it Do?
Buff DEF, Be Obnoxious To Hit, Provide An Obnoxious Animus
This thing can pop SWARM on itself for +2DEF, and if it's close to enemy living models it can drop their attack rolls by 2.  The base DEF13 means this thing is suddenly going to get missed unless you boost.  On the flip side, the animus is 'self', and anyone that brought a Swamp Gobber Bellow Crew can get Concealment without spending fury and with a wide coverage area via cloud effect.

It also takes some work to get the full use out of the "-2 to living model attack rolls" ability, since it's within 2" of the swarm.  Reach models just kinda point and laugh unless trying to gank this thing personally, and the undead just kind of shrug and keep swinging.

If the enemy manages to KO some infantry, though, this thing can get up to PS15 with ARM18, which isn't bad for a piddly 4pt model.

What Can't It Do?
Crack Armor, Hit High DEF Without Boosting
Outside of an animus, you aren't necessarily looking at a lot of offensive potential.  'Swarm' is a decent defense, but you're dealing with a PS12 non-reach model with MAT6.  You already have infantry clearing in the army, and this thing really wants to deal with low-DEF non-reach infantry.  That kind of infantry can probably mess this thing up, unless it's popping 'Swarm'.

This thing's a defense toolbox.  I haven't really seen it much on the table, as it's much easier to get mileage out of 'Spiny Growth.'  That being said, ignoring this thing too long is a great way to find it dumping a couple of boosted POW15s into something I actually liked.

Swamp Horror
What Can It Do?
Crack Armor (Sort Of), Enhance Threat Range, Power Attack Shenanigans, Laugh At Ranged Attacks (kind Of), Crank Out A Volume Of Attacks, Block LOS Well
PS16 isn't shabby for armor-cracking, though it really kidna wants that critical to go off to complete the insult.  The animus hands out 'reach', which is something the gatormen don't mind: their beasts don't tend to have it.  You have a whopping THREE open fists, so I suppose technically you could weapon-lock something one turn, then two-handed throw something the next turn. 

While DEF10/ARM17 is piddly for defensive stats, Impervious Flesh drops a dice from ranged attacks.  If you don't have a way of avoiding being shot at, this makes shooting at the Swamp Horror less appealing.

While you have a PS16, you also have THREE Friggin' PS12s.  They just need to hit, and those reach attacks pull the other guy into your PS16 crit-devastating beak o' doom.  This can also help get something in range.  I mean, you're SPD4, but with reach your charge threat is 9", which beats the Wrastler by a whole half-inch.

Also, a large base with 'steady' is a solid way to laugh off guys that like knockdown, since it can keep your medium-based 'locks from being overly exposed.

What Can't It Do?
Take Much Of a Beating In Melee, Get Anywhere Fast
DEF10/ARM17 is pretty sad for defensive stats for a heavy, not gonna lie.  You'll hit it and hurt it.  SPD4 isn't helping, and that means this thing really DOES have to KO whatever heavies it rolls up on, or throw them away.

Overall on the Swamp Horror
I see this guy competing for the Wrastler's spot in lower point games, OR if the other guy brings shooty/swift solos, I could see it replacing the Spitter's role.  You lose the gun, but gain a nasty animus that the Wrastler would love (And you can always throw Spiny Growth on after the activation...).

Bottom line, this is something that can potentially thin out infantry or do a number on a heavy, especially if it lucks out with a crit on the beak.  Also, it can foil a pop 'n' drop strategy, thanks to Steady.  I'm certainly not going to try to kill it with shooting, though, and it's still one more relatively durable target to KO.

Overall On Part 1
You should see a theme of 'Doesn't Like Heavy Armor' with the gatormen, followed by 'Annoying To Kill' and 'I Love Power Attacks'.  These guys can take a beating, and love to munch up some living infantry.

In part two, I'll discuss solos, and then hit the warlocks a bit and discuss how they accentuate the strengths or shore up some of the problems (IE: Calaban and that whole 'hates heavy armor' thing).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Thagrosh the Prophet, Part 2: To Tier, or Not To Tier

In the previous post, I discussed my opening thoughts with regards to my newest, bestest attrition buddy, Thagrosh the Prophet of Everblight. 

As with all casters, there's at least one theme list out there you can potentially use.  At this time, the only one I can think of is in the Forces book, and someone's been nice enough to post it out in picture form.  Without further ado, I'll dig into what our list looks like if we theme it.

Tier 1: Whoopity crap.  FA:U on the Blighted Ogrun units (which tend to be FA:2-3 already) and FA:2 for Spawning Vessels.  Most Legion folks own one spawning vessel, tops.  On the bright side, excess corpse tokens don't get 'wasted'.  On the down side, you're bringing expensive bodies, and not too many of 'em.

Tier 2: We have 2+ Blighted Ogrun units.  At this time, we've spent 10-16 points to get 6-10 bodies.  We could double up on Warmongers OR Warspears, but in all honesty I would expect most people to have one unit of either instead of two units of one.

That being said, I would suggest leading with Warspears, because Set Defense can be fun for taking the charge, and we'll be at effective DEF14, ARM18 if we can make use of Death Shroud.

Warmongers OR Warspears can use the +2STR buff.  Alternatively, Tenacity Spam can make the front line of Warspears a stupid-nasty DEF15 against charges/shooting (provided we have Fog of War up against things that don't ignore concealment).

Con: Warspears want you to drop Fog of War upon their charge turn IF they need to peg targets that are in Thagrosh' control area.

Pro: free 3pt solo.  Yeah, you want at least one War Chief in there for the accuracy buff.  Using him to buff everyone might be tough, but at least you can get healing.  Even better: this healing does NOT remove the enemy from play, so the spawning vessel you might bring can still help.

Tier 3: Bring a spawning vessel.  We're at effective 19 points by now, though we still haven't taken beasts or fury support.  Your lessers get advance deploy...but the point of taking a Spawning Vessel is to save on  Yeah.  About that...

Tier 4: Bring 2+ heavies, get +2" on your DZ.  This is pretty solid, considering you're kinda slow as-is.  Get all your stuff up-field faster.  If you're playing 35pts, you have a solid 16+5pts to play with.

What's Your t4 List Look Like?
Assuming 35 points, I would grab a Carnivean (because, hey, spiny growth) and an Angel (we want another heavy; it can crack armor and fly over our glut of medium bases).  I'd love a Shredder for tenacity, but I'm just not sure we've got the points.

pThags [-5]
-Carnivean [11]
-Angelius [9]
-Shredder [2]
5 Warspears [8]
5 Warmongers [8]
Min Spawning Vessel Crew [2]
Warmonger Chief [0]
Total: 35

That gets us to a full T4 list, and runs us a grand total of 34 points.  At 35, I'd be sorely tempted to drop a couple grunts off the Spawning Vessel crew to get me a Shredder.  Lead off with the Warspears, add Fog of War, and throw out tenacity and/or spiny growth on them.  Make the enemy deal with high DEF (up to 15, assuming they want to charge, or if they don't ignore concealment).  Warmongers in the back as follow-up.

At 50?  Add another heavy, max the spawning vessel.  You have 5 points remaining, assuming a 9pt heavy (Angel or Scythean).  Consider a War Chief and Lesser, or Forsaken and lesser, and find a point somewhere?

The requirements for the tier are KIND of nice with pThags.  He wants to abuse multi-wounders and high ARM, and Blighted Ogrun are where you'll get that in-faction.

-Warspears with Tenacity, Fog Of War/Set Defense, and Death Shroud are a DEF15/ARM17 front line vs shooting, and DEF15/ARM19 front line if you can get Death Shroud to go off.  Not the easiest thing to crack.  If the enemy brings lots of infantry, you'll have fun with Berserk and the stew pot.

+2" on the DZ is a nice way to compensate for slower models.

-Not a lot of bodies; this makes the Stew Pot a little less efficient.
-Tier Benefits of T1 and T3 are a bit 'eh', all things considered.
-You're burning a minimum of 13 points (more like 19) on infantry, and you still need a pair of heavies.  Unless you compromise somewhere, this build is only going to mature at 50.
-You have to own two units of Blighted Ogrun?
-Honestly, Gatormen derive more benefit from Fog of War and Death Shroud; only inferior to Warspears in that they lack Set Defense but can get +1DEF or Pathfinder; are you willing to trade +1DEF only vs charges for Unyielding and more accuracy/attacks in melee?

I wouldn't really try this list under 50 points, since the core requirements are a bit steep with regards to the amount of Blighted Ogrun.  If you want to try out a Legion 'brick', this is probably as good as it gets.  At 35, I'd  lean towards a front line of Gatormen with Fog of War and/or Tenacity as a cheap and nasty front line/anti-infantry core.

The tier isn't necessarily terrible, but I feel you need to play it at 50 points to get the most out of pThag's attrition ways, and you really need Warspears as the front line.

Monday, April 2, 2012

First Impressions: Thagrosh, Prophet of Everblight

I'm back (again) after a bit of a break, this one due to real life, and the fact that I FINALLY have a functioning laptop again. (loaned one out, it came back in less-than-stellar condition, and the other one suffered a hard drive meltdown).

On a whim, I put in a couple games with pThagrosh, and honestly?  I like what I saw.  On paper at first, I was kind of like 'eh, what's this guy actually do?'  I didn't see an amazing knockout punch, but the feat looked hilarious.

Then again, there's a reason for this: I'm more used to thinking about Legion as assassination.  pThagrosh can certainly pull that off, BUT, but: pThags is solid at attrition.

Base Stats
His stats are fairly tank-ish: SPD5 is kinda slow, but he's got some workable defensive stats and damage output. 

Defensively, DEF14 is so-so until you figure out you can gain Concealment at will, and you probably have Tenacity, so you can pull off DEF17 vs shooting.  You have ARM16 base, and with Death Shroud and Spiny Growth, you can be an effective ARM20 vs melee.  Throw that on top of 18 boxes and you have some nasty defensive stats for a warlock.  Just bear in mind you've got to spend some Fury to get there.

The other neat defensive thing: Death Shroud.  If the enemy is in his CMD9 range, they're at -2STR.  Go ahead, melee me.  This can be a huge asset against melee armies, and you'll want to bring ARM and wounds to take advantage of this.

Offensively, you have a decent POW12 spray; it's workable enough for infantry clearning.  Note that it's a fire type spray, so immunities come into play.  In melee, you have a PS12 backhand, and a PS16 reach whompin' stick that turns dead infantry into burning clouds.  This is nice if you get close, and he CAN clear out some infantry.

The first spell you'll notice is Fog of War.  Concealment for your 14" control area is nice, especially if you've got Legion shooting that doesn't CARE about concealment, like anything with Eyeless Sight, Hunter, or sprays.  You'll probably throw this up first turn, and keep it up as long as there's a shooting threat.

Bad Blood is situational; it's useless against Warmachine and HILARIOUS against Hordes.  I'd almost thing about a bloody Spell Martyr just to get it on an opposing heavy early.  It does several things:

1) You leach?  You take damage.  Free early-game damage and a 'screw you' unless they've got fury management, and they'll have to dedicate that management to that heavy.

2) No healing.
Seriously, this is one of the major perks.  Bad Blood an enemy heavy, then cripple it.  One of the things Warmachine players hate about Hordes is our ability to spend 1-2 fury and bring a mostly-dead heavy back up to full operational capability.  Not so much with this.  Note it shuts down Regenerate AND all forms of healing, too.  The fewer heavies the other guy has, the more they'll hate this.

3) No Transfers
Just a nice, last 'up yours' from this spell.

Draconic Blessing is a pretty nice little +2STR for model/unit spell, but note it must be Faction models.  Ah well.

Mutagenesis is an interesting spell.  It's a RNG8 POW12 shot, but if you kill an enemy model, you RFP it.  If Thagrosh was the point of origin, you can place him in the spot where the enemy was, and then you can't move.  Some people will doubltess look to this as an assassination threat, but that's a bit of a trap.  You're looking at burning 3-4 fury to get there, and then you've got 3-4 tops to beat the target down.  It's doable, but be very careful about using it for that.  Bear in mind you can move before you fire the spell, so you CAN potentially use it to Get Outta Dodge.

And, since no one should be without a big magical shot, you get Obliteration.  Yay.  It's kind of a trap; you'll probably have better things to do with your fury, not gonna lie.  Don't forget you have it, though.

Extra Fury Management Tools
You've got two other neat special rules with pThags: Athanc and Attuned Spirit: Legion.

Athanc lets you pick up an additional point of Fury if you're one under.  This is nice if you have to transfer, or in the late game if you're low on fury generation, or if you miscalculate the amount of fury you need.

Attuned Spirit lets you drop an animus for free as a spell.  This is great for things like Spiny Growth, or any of the other 2-fury animi.  Mostly, though, it's nice for Spiny Growth, because Spiny Growth + Death Shroud = Hilarious.

The Feat: Dark Revival
Bring a beast back to play, fully healed, and it forfeits the action.

Or, Let's Trade Heavies, But I Get Mine Back.  See an attrition trend here?  Beware of enemies that have RFP abilities, because you don't want that to come into play here.

Army Composition
Fog of War dictates that if you're going to bring shooting, bring shooting that ignores Concealment, OR drop FoW when it can help the other guy.  In terms of infantry, Striders and Hex Hunters with their respective UAs gain Hunter.  Additionally, I would look into a Shredder for the DEF buff; even a DEF11 heavy can start to get difficult to shoot if you add Concealment and +1DEF from Tenacity to it. 

Death Shroud makes Spiny Growth attractive, and I'd be hard-pressed to NOT include a Carnivean with pThags.  With this, you can get your heavies up to an effective ARM22, and every time an enemy heavy tags 'em they eat d3 damage.  Even Khador heavies struggle with this, and it puts you in a good position to screw the enemy up.

As mentioned above, think long and hard about a Carnivean and Shredder.  DEF/ARM buffs are nice with Fog of War and Death Shroud. 

An Angelius can get up to DEF:Stupid (or 17) with Tenacity and Concealment, and ignores the debuff from shooting.

Typhon likes the DEF/ARM buffs, as DEF15 vs ranged is pretty solid, and ARM19/effective 21 with Spiny Growth + Death Shroud.  You can also get lovely PS19 smacks with Dragon's Blood, and his own animus/affinity with Thagrosh let him play a nasty attrition game, too.

Scytheans can struggle with heavy armor, but Dragon's Blood going up to PS19 (and Spiny Growth) can make this guy a workable way to start off the piece trade; you then get him back via feat.

Proteus is another option; he can start the piece trade and you can use Spiny Growth/Dragon's Blood to help with his durability and hitting power issues.  Honestly, I think Proteus might work well with this guy, but it's worth more testing.

Consider multi-wound infantry with pThags just to abuse the Death Shroud.

I want to like Blighted Ogrun with pThags and it feels fluffy.  Warmongers love being PS16.  Warspears love the DEF buff, and +2STR helps their melee AND ranged attacks; just remember to turn off Fog of War on the assault.

However, I think the Gatorman Posse wins out here.  Death Shroud helps them; they're effective ARM20 when engaged with that.  With Fog of War and potentially Tenacity Spam, they're DEF16 against ranged.  They miss out on +2STR, but come on.  You have heavies for that.

You could make Hex Hunters and/or Striders work, and you could always cheap out with Legionnaires or Grotesques + Spawning Vessel, but I kinda like the Posse for the few more points.

As ever, consider Fury Management Solos.  Forsaken help with fury management and can of course fight off high-DEF infantry and camping casters.  Additionally, if the enemy runs beasts hot to try to crack your armor, 8+3-4d6 can do a number on them.

Shepherds are nice for more healing and of course fury management.

Spell Martyers are by no means auto-include; BUT against Hordes an early Bad Blood can be great fun.  Otherwise, hell, just fire off an early Obliteration or something.

Fog of War makes Deathstalkers and Annyssa kind of iffy, as it harms them.

Battle Engine
Again, the Death Shroud/Spiny Growth mix can put this thing up to ARM23 effective, and with 24 boxes? That's pretty much Heavy Beast durability.  pThags can run this thing well enough, and buff its swings up to PS17; if you can get some corpses then things will get nasty if you can tag enemy heavies.

Just make sure you leave the Spawning Vessel at home if you bring this guy, because they'll be competing for corpse tokens (to an extent, at least).

Sample 35pt Army
We'll start with a Carnivean, Shredder, and Gatorman Posse:

pThags [-5]
-Carnivean [11]
-Shredder [2]
5 Gatorman Posse [9]

This puts us at 17 points.  We have a solid front line, and our defensive animi covered. We want a heavy to start the piece trade, and possibly a bit of fury management.

I've been liking the Angelius as of late, so what the hell.  Plus, you can go high-DEF, moderate ARM, and you get a nice animus.  Add in the +2STR spell, and things get fun. That puts us to 26 points, leaving 9 for anything else we want. 

pThags [-5]
-Carnivean [11]
-Angelius [9]
-Shredder [2]
5 Gatorman Posse [9]

Total: 26

We could go for a third heavy at this point, or we could go for more support.  I'm not willing to drop the Shredder, and I'm not into dropping down for a min posse.  At this point, I would consider fast flankers to harass the enemy.  One way to spend 9 points would be: Anyssa Ryval [4], Totem Hunter [3], Forsaken [2].

I know I warned about Anyssa, but she's reasonably accurate already, has prey, and should be operating on the periphary of the board anyway.  Totem Hunter lets me put a fast flanker on the other side.  These two will combine to try to kill support models.  And the Forsaken?  It eats fury, and threatens a Blight Shroud mid/late game.