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.

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