Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Master Tormentor Morghoul Tier 4 List

So, after playing with several of the Skorne models, and giving serious thought to others, I think I can take a shot at some of their theme forces.  I figure it'll be easiest to start with the 'battle box' warlock, Morghoul.  I've already gone over the basics of him, and his capabilities here.  In this post, I'll take a look at his theme force.

Let's start by taking a look at the benefits of such a list.
  • FA U for Paingiver Beast Handlers, and Pathfinder for all models during the first turn of the game.  The extra FA is handy, especially since the list is going to be running a lot of beasts.  Pathfinder is even better though, since you'll be able to move up very quickly, regardless of terrain.  Might be critical for certain scenarios.
  • Cataphract Arcuarii get Advance Deployment.  Since you'll have to take two units to get to Tier 4, this is a nice benefit as it gets them much closer to the enemy, where they need to be.
  • Cheaper heavy warbeasts.  That's always good.
  • Increased deployment zone.  Yeah, it's only 2", but it gets your melee-oriented beasts up the field a little faster, and every inch closer is going to be helpful.
Overall, pretty good benefits.  Cheaper beasts and ways to get them up there a bit faster certainly seem like a good match.  You're going to be very aggressive, and you're going to likely be melee oriented.

Well, what can Morghoul take?

Warlock: Obviously, you have the choice of Master Tormentor Morghoul, and that's all.  Given the purpose of this list, he's going to be a great choice regardless.  Abuse is going to get some power out of your beasts, while Morghoul himself can be used to clear out single-wound infantry quickly.

Warbeasts: Non-character Cyclops and Titans are available.  That leaves the Cyclops Savage, Shaman, and Brute, and the Titan Gladiator, Sentry, Cannoneer, and the Bronzeback Titan.  You'll need two heavies to finish out the tiers, and I'd recommend the Titan Gladiator and Bronzeback. 

The Cannoneer doesn't really help you all that much, since you're going to be depending on melee punch more than your range attacks.  The Cyclops Brute can help keep the warlock alive.  The Cyclops Savage and Shaman provide good animi, so are a good choice if you have a few points available.  The Titan Sentry is probably not offensively oriented enough to be a good fit.  The Gladiator provides a great animus and can hit hard.  The Bronzeback is a great beast, and his Counter-Charge works really well with Morghoul's Admonition.  Back the Bronzeback 3" away, then charge him back in.

Units:  The theme list can take Paingiver units, as well as Cataphract Arcuarii.  You're required to take 2 units of Arcuarii, and although they are a good unit for certain things, I don't feel they are useful enough that you're going to find much use to take more than the two minimum units.  They'll provide a way to handle multi-wound infantry, and are going to be very helpful for killing key medium-base models.

Paingiver Beast Handlers are going to be hugely important for this army because of the heavy beast theme.  Once the beasts get into contact with the opposing lines, they'll be running with a LOT of fury on them, and they'll be taking some damage.  Having Beast Handlers around to keep things under control is going to be vital.  In the theme force, they are FA U as well, in case you find yourself really needing more than 2 full units.

Paingiver Bloodrunners are another unit that can be taken.  They don't really gain anything from the list, and the pieces you can include in the theme force don't help them any either (aside from the Master Tormentor).  They can definitely be useful for going after ranged infantry in your opponent's army, or for going after other flanking units (like Daughters), especially if you take a Master Tormentor to increase their MAT. 

Solos: Paingiver solos are available.  Without Minion units, the Paingiver Task Master really doesn't have a role, so for now that just leaves the Paingiver Master Tormentor.  Thresher, Reach, and Anatomical Precision give her a pretty effective ability to clear out single-wound infantry, and if you take Bloodrunners, she makes them pretty incredible at doing so as well.  We may find a place for her.

How about some lists (all Tier 4):

25pts:
Master Tormentor Morghoul
- Bronzeback Titan
- Titan Gladiator
Cataphract Arcuarii (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Cataphract Arcuarii (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts)

That's a lot more Beast Handlers than you'll need for only two beasts, but they'll be helpful for clogging up charge lanes or blocking your opponent in other ways.  They also can kill single wound infantry, but that can't really be counted on.  The key is the two Titans, who will bust through the center of the opposing army and mess up anything in their path.  The Arcuarii can take out certain targets (like stupid Trollkin Champions).

At 35, I keep the core, and add some utility and protection:

35pts:
Master Tormentor Morghoul
- Cyclops Brute
- Cyclops Shaman
- Bronzeback Titan
- Titan Gladiator
Cataphract Arcuarii (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Cataphract Arcuarii (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts)

The Brute is there to protect Morghoul.  It can eat a combined ranged attack a turn (until it dies), which is a huge help in keeping my warlock alive.  The Cyclops Shaman can drop negative spells/animi with his animus, which is great against some armies, while the Primal Magic ability can give me another casting of Rush while saving Fury on my primary combat beasts.

And here's the list at 50:

50pts:
Master Tormentor Morghoul
- Cyclops Brute
- Cyclops Savage
- Cyclops Shaman
- Bronzeback Titan
- Titan Gladiator
- Titan Gladiator
Cataphract Arcuarii (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Cataphract Arcuarii (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Bloodrunner Master Tormentor

The Savage's animus is really helpful for maximizing your fury efficiency on those beasts.  You'll NEED them to kill things, you can't afford them missing or wasting fury, and you'll want them doing as much damage as possible.  Another Gladiator gives you more killing ability on the front line.  The Bloodrunner Master Tormentor is great for clearing out infantry, which there isn't a whole lot of in this list.  The last point is spent maxing out one of those Beast Handler units.  You're up to 6 beasts now; you'll need the Beast Handlers.

I think this list could be very effective.  That's a lot of beasts, and a decent amount of ability to support them.  Certain armies will certainly give them problems, but I really think this army could be very tough for many armies to handle.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

3-player Free-For-All, 25 points, 10/16/10

Having a free Saturday, Ben, Rob, and I all decided to spend some time playing Warmachine/Hordes.  With three of us, we figured that playing a bunch of one on one games would be pretty enjoyable.  However, we didn't want anyone to be excluded to start, so decided to go with a three-player game just to get the day going.

Three players is a bit of a challenge, as anyone knows, so we had to figure out a good way to go about this on short notice. We decided to go with a 'Capture the Flag' style game, with a token in the middle of the board, and the players trying to capture the token, and return it to their board edge.

Picking up the token was an action (but didn't stop you from using another action or an attack), and once you had the token you couldn't run, use any of your special movement rules, and you lost Incorporeal.

Also, we assumed the casters would die at some point, so caster death didn't end the game for you. Your jacks did become autonomous though.

The armies:
I chose my trusty Cryx, and decided to use Goreshade, hoping that a potentially chaotic game would give me a chance to see 'what he could do'.

My list:
Goreshade the Bastard
- Slayer
- Skarlock Thrall
Bane Knights (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Mechanithralls (Leader and 9 Grunts)
The Withershadow Combine
Bane Lord Tartarus
Pistol Wraith

Nothing terribly new here.

Ben ran Trollbloods, since he doesn't have much in the way of choice.

His list:
Chief Madrak Ironhide
- Troll Axer
- Dire Troll Bomber
Krielstone Bearer and 3 Stone Scribes
Trollkin Champions (Leader and 4 Grunts)
Stone Scribe Chronicler

This is Ben's normal list as well. Basically a brick of beat-downs heading straight down the opposing throat.

Rob chose to run Khador, since he has almost no experience with his Legion.

Rob's list:
Karchev the Terrible
- Beast-09
- Decimator
- Spriggan

Lots of scary jacks there. I haven't seen the Decimator used, nor did I really remember what it did (Rob stole my book >:( ) but I would find out soon enough.

The table and deployment:


The entire table was part of the game, not just the green part. We didn't have enough felt to cover it, because we're lame. The well in the center of the table has the token we needed to bring out.

After rolling, we started deploying.

Khador:


Despite owning many of these models, Rob hasn't gotten around to assembling them. Tsk tsk.

Cryx:


Trollbloods:


With that, we got it started!

Turn 1:
Not much happened at this point, since we were all quite a distance away from one another. Rob advanced as fast as he could directly towards the center. I did the same, but cast Shadowmancer. Ben did the same, after doing all his bricking abilities.



Turn 2:
Karchev tows his jacks forward. They then run towards Ben (Rob was trying to trick me into ignoring him. Not a chance).

I move towards the center and cast Mage Blight, after popping my feat to give me some bodies to face off against Rob.

Ben moves up, and his Bomber begins shelling my infantry, dropping 4 Mechanithralls and 3 Bane Knights.


Looking a little sparse on my side!

Turn 3:
Rob, a little unnerved by the mage blight, advances directly away from both me and the action (I marked this in my notes as a ?!, like in chess). I certainly wasn't going to complain about the reprieve.

I try to take advantage of the lull by attacking Ben. My Bane Knights charge into his Axer, dealing some damage. Everything else advances towards the center, and again I Mage Blight.

Ben's Axer uses Thresher against the three Bane Knights next to him... and misses all three times. His Bomber tramples through the Mechanithralls, into combat with Tartarus... and fails to hit. The Champions kill two of the Bane Knights, but overall, definitely not the turn he (and I, really) expected. Not much you can do about that, man!



Turn 4:
Rob's Spriggan flares some Bane Thralls, and the Devastator manages to drop one of them. Karchev tows Beast-09 into position... he then charges into my Bane Thralls, killing 4 of them.

Beset on both sides (how did I end up in the middle?) I began to unleash some paint. My Pistol Wraith Death Chills his Spriggan. My Bane Thralls + Goreshade (who Mage Blighted again) + the Withershadow Combine drop Beast-09, creating a Seether, who runs towards the Trolls to put some pressure on them.

Tartarus, my Slayer, and my few remaining Mechanithralls kill the Bomber, and the Deathwalker runs into contact with the token. If I can buy her a turn to pick it up, and some time to start moving, I could take this game!

Ben moves Madrak back, so he's out of Mage Blight range. The Champions do some heavy damage to the Seether.


Running out of guys...


Engaging Ben.

Turn 5:
Karchev sprays a Bane Thrall, and manages to hit Goreshade, knocking him down. The Decimator then unloads into him, killing him once (bye Deathwalker!). Fairly scary turn for me.

Goreshade heals, and my Slayer kills a Trollkin Champion. My Bane Thrall and the Withershadow Combine charge into the Decimator, dealing a ton of damage to it.

The Champions bring down the Seether, and almost succeed in killing the Slayer. I'm definitely definitely running out of guys.


Of course, I'm fighting off two armies at the same time, no wonder I'm losing guys so fast!

Turn 6:
Karchev tows the Decimator out of it's engagement... into Bane Lord Tartarus, who it kills, and the Decimator finally picks up the token. The Spriggan flares then shoots at the Withershadow Combine, but fails to kill any.

The Withershadow Combine, trying to find a good target, charge into Karchev, dealing fairly minimal damage. The Bane Thrall kills the Decimator. I have a Mechanithrall grab the token, while Goreshade Mage Blights, hoping to buy a turn.

One of Ben's champions kills the last Bane Thrall. He also kills a Mechanithrall and the Slayer. Madrak shoots and kills the Skarlock, while the Axer gets into combat with Goreshade and deals three damage to him.



Turn 7:
Karchev sprays again, killing the Mechanithrall and knocking down the Axer.

The Withershadow Combine's spells kill a Champion, and the Pistol Wraith Death Chills Karchev.

Madrak misses Goreshade with his thrown axe. However, the Champions, with their axes in their hands, do not miss him. No recovering for him this time.


I am down to the Withershadow Combine and a Pistol Wraith at this point.

Turn 8:
Karchev kills the Axer, and the Spriggan takes a great opportunity shot at the Pistol Wraith.. but deals only 4 damage!

The Pistol Wraith responds by freezing the Spriggan. The Withershadow Combine kill 2 members of the Krielstone bearer unit, trying to collect some souls.

Ben, realizing I'm not quite threatening at the moment, moves in, and the Champions begin taking chunks out of Karchev.

Turn 9:
Karchev kills a champion, and the Spriggan tries to move around to get away from the Pistol Wraith.

The Pistol Wraith doesn't let him, and again freezes him. The Withershadow Combine use their magic on Karchev, and this time do pretty good damage to him.

This is followed by the Champions charging into him, nearly killing him.

All this time, the token is sitting on the ground, by the way.

Turn 10:
Karchev uses Ground Zero, killing a Champion and pushing the other one away from him.

The Withershadow Combine kill that Champion.

Ben rushes in, Madrak throwing his axe, and having a Krielstone Bearer pick up the token.

Turns 11-End
Karchev does finally die, and with my remaining guys I wipe out everything of Ben's except for Madrak... who kills my Pistol Wraith. The Spriggan kills all but one of my Withershadow Combine.

We finally all get locked into an unfortunate combat. Spriggan against one of the Withershadow Combine against a heavily damaged Madrak. Despite Madrak and the WC member swinging at the Spriggan, it eventually slays us both.

With the only model left on the board... Rob wins!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cryx vs Khador, 50pts, 9/4/10

Wow.  Took me over a month and a half to post this.  Usually if I'm that far behind I probably wouldn't bother... but I took pictures, and I feel cheated if I don't actually use them.

So here we go. Thankfully it's a quick one.

Rob and I played Warmachine the Saturday listed, deciding to go for a 50 point game to add some variety to our armies. I chose to use Goreshade, since he was 'next' in line for warcasters for me to try under MkII. Rob was determined to throw something new at me, so chose epic Butcher.

We set up and started our first game, which I won't post much information about here. About 2 turns in, I pointed out that Rob had chosen an army that probably wasn't going to be very effective- a LOT of shooting units in an army really not intended for them. After a few minutes of deliberation, we decided to start over, with a different army under Rob's command.

My list:
Goreshade the Bastard
- Deathjack
- Leviathan
- Slayer
Bane Knights (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Bile Thralls (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Mechanithralls (Leader and 9 Grunts)
Bane Lord Tartarus
Bloat Thrall
Pistol Wraith
Pistol Wraith

I wasn't really sure if those would be an effective list, but I figured that the Cryx choices are strong enough to work with any caster.

I don't have Rob's army list handy, and since Rob proxies some, I can't really piece together what he was using from the pictures. I do know it was epic Butcher, some Doom Reavers, and a few combat oriented models.


Deployment

The game started with Rob going first, and basically just moving everything towards my lines.



I follow by doing about the same, although spreading out some.



On Turn 2, Eiryss and a unit of Widowmakers drop 6 Mechanithralls, and the Khador army continues to advance, to prepare for some charges.

I begin to take chunks out of his army at this point. My Bloat Thrall kills Eiryss, my unit of Bile Thralls kill 3 Doom Reavers and their Escort, and my Leviathan deals a few points of damage to Beast-09. I run my Slayer up into melee range of his Widowmakers to prevent them from shooting at me. I manage to catch 2 or 3 in melee range.



Rob decides to go aggressive, and sends Beast-09 rushing into combat with Goreshade, dealing 13 damage. The non-tied up Widowmakers kill 2 Mechanithralls. He then drops the Mortar right onto the Slayer, getting a direct hit, and doing 10 damage.

I begin to kill everything on the table on my 3rd turn. The Widowmakers die, and everything over there moves close enough to the Mortar to stop it from shooting. Beast-09 dies. Most of the infantry Rob owns dies as well.



On turn 3, Rob doesn't have a lot left, so chooses to charge the Butcher into the Deathjack, bringing it down to 7 boxes. He couldn't really do much with the DJ threatening his advance, but sadly he couldn't put him away. Rob concedes at this point.

I wasn't very impressed with Goreshade. He's effective, since Mage Blight is so annoying, but there wasn't much Goreshade had to do from turn to turn. I didn't use many of Goreshade's spells, however, so I may have to force myself to play Goreshade without Mage Blighting every turn, and hope for some good tactical choices from him. We'll see!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cryx vs Trollbloods, 25 pts, 10/21/10

Quick battle report from today.

Played Ben again during lunch.  My list was:
Warwitch Deneghra
- Deathripper
- Deathripper
- Nightwretch
- Skarlock Thrall
Bane Thralls (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Mechanithralls (Leader and 9 Grunts)
Pistol Wraith
Pistol Wraith

To me, that's a fairly basic 25pt Cryx list for almost any of my casters.  Deneghra makes almost everything better- especially those Pistol Wraiths.  They are just terrifying on her feat turn.

Ben's list:
Chief Madrak Ironhide
- Troll Axer
- Dire Troll Bomber
Krielstone Bearer and 3 Stone Scribes
Trollkin Champions (Leader and 4 Grunts)
Stone Scribe Chronicler

This is Ben's normal list, partially because he doesn't have a ton to draw from at the moment.

Game terrain was fairly normal for our lunch breaks, mostly a few things around the center (this time with the benefit that some of the terrain caused Ben to forget about two of my models completely).

I started, placing everything close to the line, and sent almost everything directly towards the middle, aside from the two Pistol Wraiths and the Bane Thralls who moved off to the right, hopefully to force Ben to split his forces up. 

Ben doesn't really bite, advancing most of his army towards the center, while setting up his various tools to help his survivability.

I start turn 2 by running a Deathripper forward close to his Champions, and Deneghra begins to screw with it, starting with a Crippling Grasp, followed by 3 Influences, killing a Champion and injuring another.  The Pistol Wraiths follow up, killing a champion and finishing off the damaged one.  The rest of my army advances closer.

Ben decides he has to go on the aggressive now, and pops Madrak's feat.  He then throws his axe at the Pistol Wraiths, killing one, but fails to hit the other one.    The Axer then charges my Deathripper and manages to grab a Bane Thrall in his melee range.  He Threshers, heavily damaging the Deathripper and killing the Bane Thrall.  Overtake triggers, and he kills another Bane Thrall... then again... then again... etc.  He finishes by dropping that Deathripper.  9 points gone in a single activation.  Pretty scary.

He finishes his activation by moving the Bomber up (out of Madrak's control range accidentally) and throws some barrels at the Mechanithralls, killing 3.  I smartly had spread the Mech thralls out last turn expecting this.  Good thing!

My 3rd turn starts with my second Deathripper moving into range of his Bomber, and Deneghra advancing forward, feating, Parasiting the Bomber, and ending with Venom, taking a small chunk of damage from it.  A Nightwretch shot followed by two charging Mechanithralls end the Bomber's life, and since he was too far from Madrak, Madrak doesn't get the fury.  Not good.  The Pistol Wraith ends my turn by Death Chilling the Axer, as well as doing a few points of damage.

Ben takes stock of his situation... SPD 1 Champions on the front of his line, a frozen Axer nearby, and not much way to deal damage beyond that... and concedes. 

My army worked pretty much as expected (good, since I do have plenty of practice with it).  Ben's army just didn't have a good matchup against me, it felt like.  I'm not really sure how to help him there though.  I don't think Trolls have any good way to drop enemy upkeeps (and I really don't know Minions all that well), which would've been a huge help.  I don't think the Bomber really helps much at this point level with Madrak, but beyond that I'm not sure what help I could provide.  I think an Impaler would be a help, because of Critical Smite plus his Animus.  I also think the Mauler serves him better (maybe to replace the Axer).  That would save him two points, which he could use for another utility solo.  Other than that, I have no idea.

Anyone else have any suggestions for Ben?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Review: Brunner The Bounty Hunter (Omnibus)

I finally finished this omnibus, and despite some initial reservations, I have to say I quite liked it.

Let me first mention what's in the book. The omnibus contains three previously published novels- Blood and Steel, Blood Money, and Blood of the Dragon, as well as the short story "What Price Vengeance". All the books/stories in the omnibus cover the exploits and adventures of Brunner, a mysterious bounty hunter known to always get his man, creature, or anything.

Now, I listed the omnibus' inclusions as books, but two of the books are actually compilations of short stories that often have nothing to do with one another. This is one thing that is both a good and bad thing about the book.  The short stories (12, I think) let you see Brunner in a variety of situations, and interacting with a variety of people from either his past as a bounty hunter, or the hinted-at past prior to him becoming one.  However, you don't often see much connection between people in the short stories, aside from a few cases, and what seemed a fairly important character mentioned in the first story is never mentioned again, which I found a little peculiar.  Having a career as a bounty hunter in a world like the Warhammer one would probably be a life where the feel of moving from one adventure to the next would be fairly accurate, so although it's probably not to everyone's taste, it definitely moves well enough to not hinder a reader's enjoyment.

Brunner as a character is more interesting than I originally expected.  When you're starting to read through the first story in the omnibus ("What Price Vengeance") you can obviously tell he's very cold, skilled ('unbeatable' is the trait I believe the author was going for), and ruthless.  The character seems actually very shallow: he wants money; he takes jobs to get it.  However as you read along, you can feel there's definitely more to him, and that there's certainly more to his past than you'd expect.  You also learn that he does have a goal (vengeance), and find out why.  I won't say the character is very highly developed, even by the end, but there's certainly several steps made in that direction.

The setting is a little different for Warhammer.  Much of the action takes place in the city-states of Tilea, and almost the entirety of Blood of the Dragon takes place in some of the darker parts of Bretonnia.  Although I thought that the setting would add to the book's appeal, I honestly felt several times that the book wasn't even set in the 'Warhammer universe', despite the obvious appearances of Skaven, Dragons, Orcs and Dark Elves.  That's probably an unfair assessment of mine, because as a fantasy setting much of Warhammer's uniqueness is its history and not the races that make up the world... and you shouldn't expect to read its history in every book.  The setting is well enough developed to provide a good backdrop for Brunner's adventures, but that's about all- and that's really all it needs to be, given the scope of the adventures.

One thing I loved about the book, but missed much of until about halfway through, is little hints that the author puts into the story, both through characters, dialogue, and Brunner's own thoughts, that tell you more of who Brunner is, and why he's doing it.  I will say, after reading the ending of the Omnibus, I immediately read the first story again, because I didn't realize the connection between a few occurences and characters until very near the end.  I'm not sure that everyone will miss them like I did, but I think that's a testament to Werner's skill that there are still pieces to pick up from the story even after you've read it.

I would recommend this book to people who like Black Library books, although I probably wouldn't direct people who are interested in either the Warhammer or 40K settings to start with this book.  C.L. Werner has some great contributions to the Black Library collection, and although I don't think this is one of his best, it certainly is quite enjoyable, and I hope he continues to write for the character at some point in the future.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cryx vs Khador, 35pts, 9/22/10 (no pictures)

Rob and I played a game almost a month ago, and I figure I'd put a brief write-up on the interwebs.

First off, I didn't take any pictures. Rob did, and if he ever puts them online, I'll make sure to link to them.

We decided to run 35 points. I chose to run the Witch Coven (who I hadn't used in MkII), Rob chose regular Irusk.

My list:
The Witch Coven of Garlghast
- Deathripper
- Deathripper
- Defiler
- Reaper
Bane Thralls (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Bile Thralls (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Bane Lord Tartarus
Pistol Wraith
Pistol Wraith

I wasn't really sure how the Witch Coven worked under MkII, so I went for as generic a list as I could. Of course, now having some experience, I realize I really need more threats. The Reaper doesn't really fit, and the Pistol Wraiths aren't helpful enough. Regardless, not important for this game.

Rob's list:
Kommandant Irusk
- Devastator
- War dog
Doom Reavers (Leader and 5 Grunts)
- Greylord Escort
Doom Reavers (Leader and 5 Grunts)
Great Bears of Gallowswood
Man-o-war Shocktroopers (Leader and 4 Grunts)
Man-o-war Kovnik

Rob's been getting smarter! First off, he is running Irusk, which means he needs a decent amount of infantry to take the most advantage of him. Well, there's plenty of infantry there. Knowing he was running against Cryx, he took two units of Doom Reavers- a fantastic choice that I definitely struggled with. The Great Bears are fantastic, of course. The Man-o-war choices are interesting as well, since they are very durable, and aren't as easy for my Cryx guys to quickly kill.

The Devastator as a jack choice was a little strange to me, but he seemed to intend it to go after arc nodes, or infantry. That's a good role for it.

Rob wanted extra forests on the board, so our terrain set-up was about five forests scattered around the board, with a single building on my right towards Rob's deployment zone.

I can't recall who deployed first, but the end deployment for me was by Bane Thralls + Tartarus on my left, Bile Thralls + Pistol Wraiths on my right, and my jacks in the middle. Rob has Doom Reavers on his left and right, and Irusk + the Man-o-War choices up the middle.

We both advanced cautiously towards the middle, and I used Ghost Walk on an arc node to get some early spells off at his advancing troops (the MoW). The Doom Reavers on my right shredded the Pistol Wraiths and a Defiler that got too close (knocking off its arc node), and in return were purged upon by the Bile Thralls, killing almost the entire unit.

On my left, I left the Bane Thralls and Tartarus too far forward, and the Doom Reavers on that side tore through them with limited casualties. Talk about scary for a Cryx player.

The Man-o-War troops used to advance up the middle slowed down upon entering the forest in the middle, and I used the added time they spent traversing it to pelt them with my offensive magic. That combined with my Reaper's shooting and dragging finally killed the unit.

Towards mid-game, our forces were battered, and things weren't looking well. I had lost both my Pistol Wraiths, all but maybe 1 of my Bile Thralls, and all my Bane units, as well as suffered damage to all of my jacks. Rob had a virtually untouched unit of Reavers and an undamaged Devastator (plus that War Dog).

I used my turn to the best effect possible. The Deathrippers and the Defiler went in and killed a few of the Doom Reavers, while I started taking shots at the Devastator, hoping to damage it enough to kill with magic. In response, the Devastator charged into the Reaper, dealing heavy damage. In the next turn, the Reaper would take enough swings to finally disable the arms on the thing, bringing it to ARM 17. The Doom Reavers took swings at the bonejacks in front of them, but failed to do much damage, and ended up finally being destroyed next turn.

The Devastator then moved forward and Rain of Death'd my Defiler, killing it, and the Coven used magic to kill it right afterwards. Down to only two bonejacks and the Coven vs. an angry Irusk, I was actually terrified. What if he camped his focus and kept marching straight at me? Stygian Abyss would buy me time, but I wasn't going to easily chip away at his damage.

Thankfully, Rob was determined to end me, and used focus to shoot at my bonejacks, generally not causing enough damage to matter, while leaving himself open for spell damage. Two turns of this, and the game was over.

Overall, this is the closest game Rob and I have had, by far. The Witch Coven don't feel quite the same as they did in the previous version of the game, which isn't a bad thing, but I'll definitely need more experience with them to figure out how to use them.

Rob seems to be learning quite well. I was actually quite concerned at some points, especially after the models on my left flank were utterly destroyed, and I had no means to retaliate immediately.

Next game, I'm unsure what I'll be using vs. Rob. It will either be Lich Lord Asphyxious, Wraith Witch Deneghra, or a Skorne army (my current love). We'll see ;).

By the way, I realized that my blog has been up and running for over a year (a year and a week, actually!). I didn't even notice, but that's awesome!

Thanks for reading guys!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ancestral Guardian: Thoughts/Tips

One of the first solos released for the Skorne when Hordes was new, the Ancestral Guardian is a construct that follows Skorne into battle, to preserve the spirits of fallen Skorne warriors, so that they are not sent to the void upon their death.

Stats:
It's very slow, and has a really low DEF. Not many attacks are likely to miss it. However, it does get a great MAT (of 8!) and it's ARM allows it to be pretty durable as well.  With 10 Damage, it should be able to take a hit or two before crumbling.  It is 3 points, however, which actually feels a little high for what it does.  That's just my opinion though.

Attacks:
Back in the day, this used to have Weapon Master.  Sadly, it no longer does.  It is a P+S 13 weapon with Reach and it counts as a Magical Weapon.  Its strong enough to dish out some damage, and with the mentioned traits, it's not going to have a hard time finding targets one the enemy starts contacting the Skorne lines.

Special Rules:
Construct: No fleeing for this guy!  Not that he would get far even if he did. 

Defensive Strike: Since he's slow moving, he's going to be getting charged in most games.  With this, however, the Guardian has a way to counteract it some, by letting him take a free swing at the enemy.  Very handy ability, just remember you can't boost your rolls on this attack.  Certainly can't complain about a free attack though.

Soul Guardian: The Ancestral Guardian can hold up to three souls, which he can get from the deaths of nearby friendly living faction warrior models, then use those souls during his activation to boost attack or damage rolls, or gain an additional attack.  You're going to need to run the Guardian near a unit of some sort, but with Reach he won't be hurting for chances to get into combat anyway.  Even in death your Skorne units can serve you.  This ability lets the Guardian become fairly intimidating in melee.

Spirit Driven: The Guardian can also spend a soul token at the beginning of its movement to gain another 2" of movement.  This allows the guardian to have an 11" threat range- that's not half bad.

Steady: Can't be knocked down.  Not that opponents are going to need much help hitting the Ancestral Guardian, but it does mean you won't be deprived of your Defensive Strike.

Synergies:
Master Tormentor Morghoul: No real synergies.

Archdomina Makeda: Walking Death allows the Guardian to get double the use out of your warrior models.  They'll die, providing souls for the Guardian, then return, hopefully to die again eventually and provide MORE souls for the Guardian!  Carnage allows the Guardian to hit almost anything it wants, especially if it boosts.  Savagery allows the Guardian to have a 13" threat, and Defender's Ward makes the Ancestral Guardian even harder to kill (ARM 20!).  The spells have much better targets, however, so you'll likely get the most use out of Carnage.

Cyclops Savage: Prescience is pretty nice on the Guardian, since you're likely to be running on only a few souls at a time, and you'll want to use them as efficiently as possible to deal damage.

Titan Cannoneer: No real synergies, but Diminish around the Guardian is helpful for keeping it alive.

Titan Gladiator: No real synergies.

Paingiver Beast Handlers: No synergies.

Praetorian Swordsmen: With the Unit Attachment, I think these guys make a great pair.  Swordsmen are cheap, and are likely to die once the fighting starts getting the thickest.  With Ranked Attack, the Guardian can stand behind the Swordsmen and get some swings in without taking too much damage in return.  Defensive Strike may even net you a free kill over a Swordsmen head to help keep the Swordsmen alive.

Agonizer: No real synergies.

Tier Thoughts:
Given that many Ancestral Guardians were sent to the west to assist with the invasion, it's no surprise to see that epic Makeda has them available in her theme force.  With all the infantry, he's sure to have a full stock of souls to use.

Lord Tyrant Hexeris can take them as well, and if you get up to Tier 4, the Guardian will actually get another 6" onto the table before the game starts.  Helpful for a model that's so slow.

Unsurprisingly, Supreme Aptimus Zaal gets to use Ancestral Guardians in his theme force as well, gaining an increased FA, as well as Advance Deployment, in addition to all the benefits of running a Guardian with this warlock anyway.

Thoughts:
Whether you take an Ancestral Guardian or not is really going to depend on the rest of your army.  If you're running lots of cheaper infantry (such as Praetorian Swordsmen), you'll probably find him to be very helpful.  Obviously, he'll be useful if you're running Zaal.  With other forces, however, you'll probably have better uses for your points.  3 points isn't much, but when you could spend them to upgrade a unit of Cataphracts, or even change some of your beasts for more expensive ones, you'll probably leave the Guardian at home.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Praetorian Swordsmen: Thoughts/Tips

Swordsmen are the basic rank and file members of the Skorne army, and with their rules, plus abilities gained by the other members of your army, they'll be capable of performing a few roles for you, and are cheap enough to be put in most armies.

Stats:
They have fairly basic stats, actually.  Nothing really amazing or terrible.  A CMD of 9 is nice, letting them spread out a bit.  Their MAT is decent as well, and they are SPD 6, which is on the higher end of Skorne models.  Costing only 4/6, however, they are so inexpensive that you'll take them and find uses for them in almost every game.

Attacks:
Each Swordsmen has two swords, at a hefty P+S of 9.  Against light infantry, they are fantastic, against anything else, they struggle.  However, the swords come with Combo Strike, which means they can make a single P+S 12 attack instead, which is a lot better against heavy infantry and light jacks/beasts.  On the charge, you could even damage heavier jacks/beasts.

Special Rules:
Penetrating Strike: Of course, if you're going against that heavy beast or jack, you'll want something that can deal a little more damage to it without needing to charge.  Thankfully, Praetorian Swordsmen get this rule, meaning that if you hit a warjack or warbeast, you can have the target take a single point of damage instead of rolling for it.  Now, you're not going to be bringing down heavies with this alone, but it does help that a unit of Swordsmen could take 10+ points of a Khador jack reliably. 

Of course, on the charge, you'll have to decide what's going to help- a boosted damage roll from Combo Strike, or two attacks dealing a point apiece?  If you're going against ARM 21 or higher, you'll always take the Penetrating Strikes, most likely.  ARM 19 or lower, I find myself always taking the Combo Strike (unless they are in range for the P+S 9 swords to do some damage).  ARM 20 is a bit trickier.  Yeah, you'll likely get those two points of damage easily using Penetrating Strike, and Combo Strikes 'average roll' on the charge will net you a total damage of 22.5 (so 2.5 damage).  The 'Expected Value' for damage is 2.8.  You also only have like a 37% chance to NOT deal those two damage.  So I'd recommend going for it- if you get a lucky roll, you could even make your opponent really nervous about the condition his poor jack is in. (Yes, I know I could have made that paragraph a lot smaller, but I had a person ask me, so there).

Regardless, with Penetrating and Combo Strike, Praetorian Swordsmen have a way to deal small amounts of damage to almost anything.

Attachments:
Currently, Swordsmen only have one attachment available, the Officer & Standard.  Let's see what they do, and whether they are much worth it.

To start, the Standard Bearer has no attacks.  Yes, really.  Despite the fact that the Venator Reiver Standard Bearer can both hold a flag and swing a sword, this guy can't.  I don't get it.  Maybe the flag is just too big?  Regardless, the Standard Bearer doesn't really give you anything other than the regular Standard Bearer rules, so it's still moderately handy.

The officer, however, brings a bunch to the table.  First, he has an extra point of MAT and CMD.  Both are nice, especially the extra CMD.  He has all the regular Praetorian Swordsmen rules, so there's no need to cover them.  He does give three extra abilities, however.

First, his 'mini-feat': Perfect Strike.  Once per game, models in the unit can deal 1 point of damage instead of making a damage roll.  Although it's not useful against warjacks/warbeasts (since you have Penetrating Strike), it's really awesome against ARM-buffed single wound infantry.  For instance, against Kriel Warriors w/ a Krielstone Bearer + Stone Scribe Elder (using Protective Aura) backing them up, they're ARM 18- with Perfect Strike, Swordsmen will mow right through them.

The Officer has Tactics: Ranked Attack, meaning friendly faction models can ignore them for LOS.  This is occasionally handy, as it allows you to attack through them using either Venators or models with Reach.

Finally, the Officer has Granted: Side Step.  This is the main reason to take the attachment, in my opinion.  After a model hits with an attack, the model can advance 2", ignoring free strikes.  On the turn Perfect Strike is used, you could really easily mow through a full unit, and advance several inches in the process.  It's helpful for getting the Officer to swing his swords while ending his activation far enough away that he won't get killed (since the unit loses Side Step if he dies).  It's such a handy ability on this unit.

The unit attachment costs 2 points, which, compared to the 4/6 points you spend for the unit, is a little high proportionally.  But honestly, if you're taking a full unit of Swordsmen, you'll probably want to take the attachment.  8 points for a 12-man unit (with 11 fighting bodies) that can reliably deal some damage to anything it faces, as well as doesn't block LOS from your own models is going to help you in many games. 

Synergies:
Master Tormentor Morghoul:  No real synergies.

Archdomina Makeda:  Well, Makeda is really an 'infantry warlock' in a sense, so they go together with her really well.  First, if the unit is within 9" of her, they'll never flee.  Her Feat can keep them alive, especially if the unit is mostly full, since the enemy isn't going to have an easy time eating through 12 cheap bodies.  If they have Defender's Ward on them, they become a great tarpit unit on her feat turn.  15 DEF/16 ARM aren't amazing for defensive stats, but they are both high enough to cause difficulties to various threats.  Carnage is great for helping Swordsmen hit, since they'll be able to hit DEF 15 fairly reliably.  Great for when they need to mow through high DEF infantry.  Overall, it's a decent match, since Makeda can enhance the unit pretty well (of course, some of these spells are going to better used on other infantry ;)).

Titan Gladiator: No real synergies

Titan Cannoneer: Park the Cannoneer behind the Swordsmen, use Diminish, and you have a moderately effective wall to advance your army behind.  Of course, there are going to be better choices for this role, but the Swordsmen will at least eat through a few models en route. 

Cyclops Savage:  No real synergies.  Backing up the Swordsmen with the Cyclops might be nice though- my Cyclops always seem so fragile, having some warm bodies around it to keep him out of too much enemy contact would probably help.  The Savage does have reach, so they won't hinder him from fighting either.

Paingiver Beast Handlers:  No real synergies.

Agonizer:  Putting the Agonizer near the Swordsmen actually gives them a really good chance against beasts or jacks, since the Agonizer can hinder the enemy model enough to buy the Swordsmen enough time to chip away at it.

Tier Thoughts:
Praetorian Swordsmen can be taken in both of Makeda's theme forces, and if you take two units in Epic Makeda's, you can get a unit attachment to one of them for free. 

Lord Tyrant Hexeris also requires two units of them, and vies them Advance Deployment, which is really great.

Void Seer Mordikaar and Supreme Aptimus Zaal can take units of Swordsmen as well, but don't provide any benefits to them.

Thoughts:
Like I've said twice, I think you can always find a use for this unit in your army.  They are fairly versatile, and cheap enough to fit into most lists.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Local Competition September Results

Painting:  If you look at Ben's blog, he definitely dominated here.  His early time off really gave him the time to work on painting, and he got quite a bit done!

Construction:  When you have the time to assemble 3 or so boxes of Island of Blood, you get the point easily.  Frans wins here.

Blogging:  I slacked off, and Ben took the point this month.  His blog has come along quite well!

Gaming: Again, Frans gets it.  Not much we can do about it.

So the totals!

Ben: 4 (3 Painting, 1 Blogging)
Frans: 4 (3 Playing, 1 Construction)
Steve (me): 2 (2 Blogging)
BK: 1 (1 Construction)
Rob: 1 (1 Construction)
Nathan: 0

Let's see if I can get back in it next month!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Accomplishments for September

Well, the competition continues, but I'm really not in it much this month, sadly.

Painting: I put about half a layer of red onto a Titan Gladiator, but that's all.

Assembly: Assembled Hexeris, Xerxis, Molik Karn, the Cankerworm, an Agonizer, a unit of Praetorian Swordsmen + the Unit Attachment, and Bane Lord Tartarus.

Gaming: 2 Games of Blood Bowl, 2 games of Warmachine, one at 50 points, one at 35, a game of Arcane Legions, 2 25 point games of Hordes, and a 2500 point game of Warhammer Fantasy. Definitely got a lot of variety this month :).

Blogging: Well, you can just see from the blog what I did last month. I also started up a new side (blog) project: the Triple Skull Blood Bowl League.  I love Blood Bowl, so I have a semi-solo league with one of every race in it, to get some experience and enjoyment out of it, as well as impetus to work on all my Blood Bowl miniatures.  I also try to keep it all 'in character' of sorts.  Check it out if you're at all interested in Blood Bowl, I could really use some feedback :).

Anyway, we'll get our local competition results up soon, I'm not sure I got any points this month, but one never knows.