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).

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