I have previously discussed the basics of Jam Theory, and then proceeded to talk about my  Infantry options just a few days ago. In keeping with that, I’m going to examine the remaining portions of a Warmachine list, breaking down why I take both the Solos and the Warjacks that I do. Its not a typical list, and its not going to appeal to everyone, I know.

First things first, as I mentioned in the original article, I don’t go the ‘Jack heavy route that others have gone.That rode is paved and well worn and its just something I don’t have the desire or capacity to buy, build, and paint. While lights are better in pairs, especially our combat versions, I’ve already got two magnetized Slayer chassis and I don’t use either. The list I run focuses purely on jamming the opponent and doesn’t run a single heavy, and I’ve never missed it. There was a brief time, after the first outing, when I realized that I had too much jam in the list and didn’t bring enough options, any really, to solve armor, that I considered a heavy of two. In the end it was ust more economical to add 12 Bane Thralls and Tartarus. I’ve even recently dropped Tartarus as well, not needing either his speed or his bonus to hit.

On the other edge of that sword, though, I’ve really been hedging my bets on the arcnodes. A friend of mine keeps telling me I take to many, and that 2 is going to be more than enough. What I’ve been running is a cheap trio of a ‘Nodes, featuring a pair of Nightwretches and a Deathripper. Again, I’ve been told that three is to many, but I feel that in this specific build you can never be to careful. Having the right spell in the right spot during the right witch activation in order to hand out Ghost Walk, Occultation, and Curse of Shadows wherever called for is a strong enough reason to have enough nodes to accomplish the task.

Nightwretch

The Nightwretch, specifically, is my go to in this list. Focusing on Jam and scenario, there will be many, many times that you’re going to need to remove but a single model from the Zone to win, or your going to need a charge lane cleared or a spot for an arc node freed. The humble nightwretch does all of that and more in a single package. With a Rat 5 it can hit jacks reliably, boosting to damage with its pow 14 cannon. Conversely, that same Pow 14 will decimate nearly any infantry model it hits, needing only to boost.  The sirens, vital to the list, tag along beside him making sure he can run or kill his target, whatever is needed.

Second here is the Deathripper. With the same 4 pc as the Nightwretch, they bring a completely different threat to the board. Amped up with Infernal Machine, this little jack can do tons of work. P+S 15 v. Curse of Shadowed targets, MAT 8 and Speed 9 with a 12.5″ charge just gives it insane threat range. I cannot say enough good things about this little demon in this specific list. The debate over whether ranged or melee is better is endless, but I am firmly on the side of ranged. My arc nodes are never in combat, being that they can’t channel then, or they are dead and can’t channel anyway. Though they are slightly more survivable with her feat denying LOS and giving an essentially +2 def buff, its very rare that any node I get into combat lives.

The other two Arc nodes make honorable mention here as well, generally accomplishing the same task at a slightly higher price point.both have upside and I’ve considered the Ripjaw for its AP attack and its vice lock, one of which can apply significant damage, the other pinning a model in place for scenario pressure. I’ve also considered the Defiler for its spray attack that ignores many defenses, at a slightly higher range, but lower power. Upgrading them, however, will result in the loss of either a Scarlock or a Warwitch siren, neither of which I am ready to give up quite yet.

Infernal Machine, many will say, is a direct call for a heavy ‘Jack with them, and I can’t really disagree. Our ‘Jacks with speed 8, Mat 9+ and terror are literal nightmares, but with all the focus that I toss around casting spells and delivering units I can’t spare the resources that would be needed to take care even a single heavy ‘Jack. Instead, I give Infernal Machine to my Deathripper and set him loose. Speed 9 on an arcnode is bonkers-good, and mat 8 with sustained attack is extremely legit. The 40mm base size has gives him a bit of added mobility that I’d have not expected, allowing him to get in to places I would not have been able to fit a heavy. The arc nodes are also fast enough to keep up with the jam, and can either run flanks, or lope down the middle behind the army.

Though three arcnodes may be a touch to many for some, I find that the utility of having one of them a combat ‘Jack and other two having powerful ranged weapons makes it so that the points are not wasted if I am not arcing spells through them. With Sirens giving power booster out and the Scarlock delivering ghostly where needed all three can be extremely potent threats and powerful scenario pieces.

For the sake of argument, though, lets take a look at some of the better  ‘jacks for the Coven to take, keeping the Jam in mind. I don’t expect everyone anyone to be net decking my list, but anyone who happens across this may want to tweak things a bit.

-Harrower: Oh man, the good things about this jack are endless. Reach and Thresher on its P+S 16 melee weapon, a P+S 14 Ghost Shot AOE 3 gun, Soul Collector, Pathfinder, Steady, it just goes on. There are, however, a pair of bad things: Speed 5, and PC 10. In a Jam list, the Speed 5 is an extreme handicap, especially for the 10 points. However, with an investment of Infernal Machine, it becomes a speed 7, mat 7 reach thresher monster. If you’re not taking the Machine Minds list, I think its a very strong option. It also can make a hell of a self fueling powerhouse after the initial three focus investment, possibly killing every model it can get in its 2″ reach

Deathjack

-Deathjack: Really? Really, I’m going here. Yes, Deathjack is good with almost everyone, but its also exceedingly amazing with the Coven. With the ability to charge in, Curse of Shadows, and then take its attacks, or to give itself Ghost Walk, Infernal Machine or Occultation, its a nearly self sufficient death machine. While Deathjack begs for Occultation, there are just better targets in the list I have than good ol’ DJ. The threat of a MAT 10 speed 8 Deathjack is enough to make many soil their shorts right out, thought he terror is redundant. Finally, an extra boosted Stygian Abyss could be stellar. Personally,  I’d just rather use the 12 points on the backup Bane Thralls, who are both more durable by quantity and can hit more often while granting a debuff.

-Slayer: Its a simple, brutal instrument of death that can really push the boundaries of awesome when Infernal Machine is applied. MAT 9, Speed 8 and Terror are simply above and beyond what most heavies can reasonably accomplish. With the Coven able to feed him up to three focus easily, its a no brainier for its 6 point investment.

The light of note here is a Stalker. Sometimes its the simple things that win games, and an Arcane Assassin POW 12 Jack with Mat 7 and speed 7 can cause ample amount of terror without Infernal Machine. With Infernal Machine it goes up to SPD and MAT 9, causing terror and all the while being def 16 w/ stealth. Its one thing I feel might take the spot of the Deathripper, but I’m not yet convinced.

Next time, I’ll talk a bit about my Solo choices and a bit about how I’ve learned to play the game. I’m so very happy that I picked the coven back up again.

Oh, and Next week I’ll be at lock and load! I’ll probably be tweeting my journey through Spelldraft, my Iron Arena adventures, and any spoilers I get along the way. Follow me @Seethingginger for the dumb tweets! Don’t worry though, I’ll do a Lock and Load wrap up the Thursday after I get back.

Just a few days ago, Wizards released the primer and dates for the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons, and it turns out they are doing a few things different this time around.

The schedule is below.

Dungeons & Dragons Starter set: July 15th
Players Handbook: August 19th
Adventure: Hoard of the Dragon Queen (Forgotten Realms): August 19th
Monster Manual: September 30th
Adventure: Rise of Tiamat: October 21st
Dungeon Master’s Guide: November 18th

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I’ve had a couple chanced to try out the Jam Theory with Coven, and I’m fairly happy with here its lead me.  I’m getting comfortable enough with them that I could take them to a tournament, paired of course, with someone who covers the gaps that they have in their play style. They bring something unique to the table and have some very good matchups that they can force, but I don’t play them like a number of other people I’ve seen, either in lists or articles, play them.

To start, I build completely different lists. I’ve seen a number of people focus on their focus stat (9) and Infernal Machine. They combine them together to make a fairly efficient jack- delivery system. This has leveled up with the addition of the Kraken to the arsenal, as that large of a points investment seems to need some serious backup to make sure it works.

I just don’t see it. I understand the draw, as Infernal Machine is a fantastic spell for an offensive jack, but just because they have a focus of 9 and a good jack spell doesn’t mean I want to run jacks with them. instead, because they are vulnerable to just a few hits, I want to run an army as fast and far ahead of them as I can. That does mean that I am running a metric ton of infantry.

I’ve tried all three Jam units in the army: Blackbanes, Soulhunters, and Satyxis Raiders. I could probably drop Blood Witches in there as well, but I just don’t think I have the guts. 13/13 is really hard to defend, and one turn of incorporeal could be worth it.

-Satyxis Raiders – Champs, as expected. I’ve been unable to fit the Captain in, though, and I really think the army could benefit from having her in. What makes the difference, honestly, is that Occultation on turn 1. It allows you to swing up the field as fast as possible without having to worry about many of their natural counters. Picking off the Sea Witch becomes much harder, as well. You’ve still got to watch out for Gun Mages, but that is about it. With advance deploy, I tend to set them across from either a tempting ‘Jack to put a few points of feedback on a ‘Caster, or slot them to draw out some shooting. Nyss Hunters, Longgunners, ect. Anything that just does standard bullets. Typical targets. Turn 1 is definitely Occultation, possibly cast by the Scarlock. Turn two tends to be Ghost walk. Many times, I’ve been tied up in combat, and being able to re-position is fantastic, or I want to get as deep as I can into a shooting unit as is possible. They also natively work amazingly well with the feat. Going up to Def 16 v. Melee, and Def 18 v. anyone shooting them while in the feat is just spectacular. Veil of Mists is also completely bonkers, able to up their Defense to 18 v. Shooting and block LOS behind the cloud. Pairing them with Bile thralls will almost inevitably guarantee you a flank

-Blackbanes – I’ve run them a few times, and their speed 7 and Incorporeal tends to catch people off guard. I tend to run them as a minimum unit, with the goal of jamming on turn 2, and then going in and either forcing the enemy to turn around and deal with me, or going after support solos. Auto-fire is an amazing ability to threaten free strikes with, and even casters don’t really want to incur MAT 8 hits. Their ability to compound with the Def 16/Stealth Satyxis means that many enemy options (Gun Mages) that can deal with both can only deal with one. Many times they have to choose which unit they’ll let through, and neither of them is really worth it. One of the best combinations, though, is that you can drop Curse of Shadows on many of the units with Magic Weapons and wander through them freestrike free, only to drop effective POW 12 hits on them. As a Jam unit It does its job really, really well.

Soulhunters – Soulhunters are legitimately our fastest, jammiest, craziest jam unit. sadly, though, they pay for it in points costs. Though they are only a single point less expensive than Satyxis +UA, its a 6 man difference. The wounds they have are barely tolerable, as a single POW 20 attack takes them off the board, and even a simple POW 10 can do it, with a POW 12 able to punch though them fairly often. I ran one list, against Iron Mother, where I brought all three jam units. There wasn’t a lot of shooting in that army, sadly, but having Force Barrier, Stealth (on the Soulhunters), and Incorporeal Jam units was a really satisfying experience. I understand the MAT 6 of the Soulhunters, mechanically, but I am just not a fan. If there isn’t a defense debuff on the field, they are getting really, really chancy. You also have to bring Darragh Wrathe with them, in order to completely up the crazy factor. Though he is almost always worth it, I’ve just not found it worth the opportunity cost.

I’ve also considered Bane Riders and, as I’ve said, Satyxis Bloodwitches. They aren’t as fast as the Soulhunters and they don’t have the Advance Deploy of the Satyixs Raiders, so they’d have to be a replacement for the Blackbanes. Both units have their strengths, with the utility and minifeat that the Blood Witches brings, and the durability and power that the Riders bring. The Blood Witches are 3 points cheaper, and may net you an extra arcnode or solo while the Riders are a touch more expensive, meaning you’ll have to find a point to shave off here or there. Both benefit hugely from Stealth, but that means taking it off the Soulhunters or the Raiders. Curse of Shadows is the Bane Riders best friend, allowing them to plow into the back lines of an army. Their incredible durability here is a plus, making them a serious back line threat. Both of the units have a fairly static MAT 8, allowing them to take out higher defense targets consistently, which is something that the Blackbanes don’t have. I’ve got to get in some time with both to see about the efficiency

Beyond the jam, though,  one of your main consideration is pinning the opponent in the jam. The thing about jamming infantry is that they aren’t generally sturdy or powerful. They tend to tie enemies in place and keep them busy. This tends to force the opponent to try and figure out ways around or through them. You have to give them serious qualms about doing so. You want then to be concerned not only about being jammed, but about once they break through. The models that are going to break through easiest are either high defense models that can ignore free strikes and/or models, or high durability models that can run over or through them. You need solutions to both. I’ve personally taken to two of the oldest infantry in the book: Bane Thralls and Bile Thralls. I don’t think I’ve ever needed more than a minimum unit of Biles, and I can’t conceive of taking less than the max Banes. They solve both problems that the jam units can’t handle, and do a fine job of it. Note worthy here is the saturation of Targets that can really only be dealt with by Gun Mages. I know I keep harping on them, but if you can figure out how to stymie the Arcane Tempest, you’ve got most of the rest of the shooting units on lock down as well. Biles, Banes, Satyxis and Blackbanes each are solvable with the Gunmages. Combined, however, they give the opposing player a significant problem to solve.

Tartarus deserves his own consideration here because I know he’s a very powerful piece. In a single list format I would definitely take him in the list (however, I probably wouldn’t take this list!). In a multi-list format, however, it becomes a lot harder to get him in due to character restrictions. Honestly, though, I don’t think he is needed in this list. The Bane Thralls are doing a very specific job, and that is keeping the heavies and Colossals honest, and keeping them from simply going for the coven. Tartarus fixes some very specific problems with the Bane Thralls – accuracy, and speed, and neither need fixing in this list. Speed is completely countered by the fact that the jam units are up in their front lines, boxing the opponent in, allowing you to position the banes where and how they need to be. In addition, anything that makes it over/through your lines is going to be pushing itself closer to the Bane Thralls. Tartarus’ Accuracy buffs won’t be needed on the targets that the Bile Thralls are not going to clear out first, making it largely unnecessary. I really think that if you’re building a list like this, keeping Tartarus for your Second list should be a real consideration.

I want to try and shorten my articles a little, make them more reader friendly, so I’ll be coming back with more thoughts next week!

Bonus MTG Announcement post!

On Saturday, Wizards top Nerd Mark Rosewater (@maro254) unveiled the barest of information about the fall set for MTG and the block that will follow – Likely Warlords of Tarkir and Dragons of Tarkir. Unlike RTR (Large set, Large set, Small Set) or the Current Theros Block (Large, Small, Small), it will repeat the Innistrad block set mode (Large, Small, Large). In Innistrad this meant that drafting was shaken up when the third set drops, and I think that could be very exciting.

Khans of Tarkir is an all new setting based on the homeworld of Sarkhan Vol, one of the Planeswalkers from the Shards of Alara Block. Though nothing specific was spoiled,  though this pretty badass art by Jason Chan is the cover for all of the adverts as of right now.

Khans Poster

We do know, from the background of Sarkhan, that all the dragons are dead on this plane and were hunted to extinction. Its why Sarkhan has a love for dragons and worships them as semi-gods (from what I’ve managed to glean of his character), leading to all the dragon based abilities on his cards.

Its name gives the set an automatic Arabian/Mongol flavor and I think that’s really, really cool. There have been many original worlds that Wizards and MTG have conceptualized, but I’ve always enjoyed ones that tap into history and myth.  Arabian Knights, Legends, Theros, and even Innistrad, even though I am not a horror fan, had some really great homages to history and literature that made me smile. Khans has, potentially, a vast and untapped tapestry of lore and flavor. I don’t know where they are going, personally, but Mark mentioned in the video interview that they are bringing back something that the fans have been clamoring for, and also that they are doing something never done before that the fans have been clamoring for. 

I’ve been sifting through the rumors, but I can’t really make heads or tails of what mechanics or even broader genre of MTG function this could be: I’m not as in touch with this as I am many other nerd aspects of life, and I apologize. However, the popular Fetchland reprint is getting the most buzz, being something that bars the way into the newly-pushed Modern format. Enemy Color “wedges,” like the Shards world,  is also getting a lot of hype, and I can’t blame them. Just look at the colors of the art above, does that not evoke a Black-Red-White Wedge? Each banner going down the side is all three colors.

Then, We would have:




Thinking about it, all of them seem pretty cool to me, with Red-Blue-White being the strangest combination I’d like to see in play. Each of these would also give me some very cool Generals to play around in with EDH, and I am excited I could get a really fantastic general for my Stax deck.

Looks like I’m hooked for another go round of drafting!

 

– Spoilers ahead! I’ll try my best, but I can’t Guarantee anything. –

Dark Souls II could not have come at a worse time. My daughter was going to be 5 months old at release, and a game that does not pause is especially difficult to play with a 5 month old. I did get a chance to play a few hours over the weekend, and got a good feel of how brutal the game is.

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Back, in the dark ages of the past (last year), when I was allowed to have as much free time as I desired, because I didn’t have a child, I drafted for a whole block. Return to Ravnica black was a blast, and I enjoyed learning how to draft, especially because I did it pretty much on my own. I picked up a few drafts during the summer, beat some face with Slivers, and then stopped. I loved the coming set, as Greek Mythology is an awesome concept to base a M:TG set on, but there was no way I was getting time out with a newborn.

Now, 7 months later, I was able to get out and draft again. Two entire sets have passed without me drafting a single pack. I’ve heard from some placed that Full Block drafting is the way to go because its the full concept in card, and it gives me hope that that is where I’ll be starting in again.

The draft was small, with 12 people signing up, in 6 man pods. I’d drafted with three of the others before, including a good friend of mine, but the other two were strangers. I had read a little bit about the sets, what they did, and has a pretty solid basis for drafting from last year.

It helped, but not to much.

I grabbed one of the better uncommons, Hour of Need, which put me solidly in blue. The next card was one I hadn’t seen before: Fleetfeather Cockatrice. Passed from my friend in the third pick was the Green/Blue God, Kruphix. Normally, I wouldn’t dedicate myself to a color this early, but with no experience with the set, I had to use something as a guide, or I would just subject myself to to analysis the whole time. none of that! I dove completely into Blue and Green, grabbing what I thought would be the best in each pack for those colors and ignoring the rest. I made a vital mistake, though, by picking to many high cost creatures. Theros had originally been dubbed as a slow grinding format, so I figured I’d err on the top end. bad news for me.

Horizon Scholar

One of those big top ends…

The first round, though, gave me a pile of (unfounded) confidence. I dropped a big giant bastard in Sealock Monster the first game on turn 4, and proceeded to run through him. Second game I repeated with a Sealock monster, but a bit later. I did, however, give it flying. Turns out, a giant flying Kraken is no joke!

The second round, we will say, was a bit rougher. He’d been in one of my last draft pods I’d played before my daughter, when I’d surprised the hell out of him on turn 8 with 24 points of unblocked damage, and he was a pleasant fellow. This time, I was on the receiving end of a withering onslaught of dangerous white heroic cards. It was simply brutal. I managed to stabilize, but he just kept pounding in and beat me to death. between the second and third game, he remembered who I was.  We reminisced, rekindling our (fake) enmity, and got down to the second game.

Where he proceeded to beat my ass again, with almost the same cards that he’d beat me with the game before. I think, if I get to go and draft again, I am going to try for the W/R heroic. Seems pretty good!

In the third round, I played against my friend. He helped me craft my deck, and new that I was a touch top heavy. I think I took the first game, but it was a fluke. He then proceeded to fly through the air and beat me to death in the next two games with the same card, Stormchaser Chimera. I sadly had not taken one earlier on the thought that it was a Spellheart Chimera. Turns out, one is vastly better than the other.

Realistically, my deck just couldn’t cut it. I wasn’t going to be able to get enough cards onto the board quick enough to make a difference to anyone who’d drafted a decent deck. But it was a load of fun, and I ended up with a few cards I can play in EDH when I get to it again. All in all, it really got me wanting to play MTG again, which is bad. Because I have a ton of Warmachine yet to play, just got my bane riders together, and Lock and Load is right around the corner! I have so many new lists to try and combos to build. As my friend said last night: I like to use my brain to solve puzzles. M:TG and Warmachine are some really fun, similar puzzles, and they hit the same buttons. At least in Draft.

Bring on more drafts!

 

Last Wednesday, I was invited over to a friends garage for a game against a mutual friends Epic Morvahna list. Their group is practicing for a local team tournament at the end of June, and they wanted to see how the Circle players list stacked up against Cryx. Since the Circle player was also their Cryx player, they had to bring in a ringer. Thats where I came in. Always happy to help, and most importantly, needing to drop a commission model off to get paid for it, I cheerfully agreed to pit my current theories against this current scourge of the game. Its been almost a week, so  I may not get all of the exact details right, but the gist of the game is correct. I’m sure my opponent will make sure to amend anything out of place. A special thanks, as well, to JoeyB for all the pictures!

both of our lists were interestingly designed, and I definitely wouldn’t call them the standard cookie cutter tournament variety. I was eager, but still held a little  trepidation, to bring my Coven Jam Theory list against one of the more powerful casters in the game. I had gone through a few evolution’s from prior games,  and I’d learned that you needed to back up your Jam with some Punch. I introduced Bane Thralls into the list to try and break any armor I’d encountered, while I’d pulled out the Soulhunters. As much as I love them, they are just to expensive to throw away in this list, and I thought that the Satyxis and the Blackbanes would be good enough. I’d also discovered that two arc nodes just haven’t cut it.  My opponents were wary of the Covens prowess, and dedicated plenty of energy to make sure the arc node required on each flank to get my army delivered was crushed. The third Arc node in the middle, to wait for the perfect time to deliver the final blow, really made the list satly.  After all the tweaking, the list looked like this:

Jam Theory Advanced
The Witch Coven of Gharlghast+5
-Egregore0
-Scarlock2
-Nightwretch4
-Nightwretch4
-Deathripper4
Bane Lord Tartarus4
War Witch Siren2
War Witch Siren2
Satyxis Raiders (10)8
-Satyxis Sea Witch2
Bane Thralls (10)8
-Officer and Standard3
Blackbanes Ghost Raiders (6)6
Bile Thralls (6)5
-Scarlock Commander1

and his list was:

Circle Opposition
Morvahna the Dawnshadow+5
-Gorax4
-Woldwrath20
Gallows Grove1
Gallows Grove1
Reeve Hunter2
Tharn Whitemane3
Warwolf1
Warwolf1
Warwolf1
Warpborn Skinwalkers (5)8
-Warpborn Alpha3
Reeves of Orboros (10)10

I arrived a little late and suggested we play Outflank – Still practicing as best I can for spelldraft, and the scenario is easy to set up. He was amenable, and we set it up. The terrain was a little sparse (afterward, they mentioned that it looked like two walls got plucked off accidentally, would have made the board less sparse), with a forest on the edge of each scenario zone the left forest close to my opponents deployment, the right forest close to mine, and a fairly large statue between my left zone and deployment.

He won the roll, and here I think made his biggest mistake, before we even put models to the table – He choose to go second. One of the biggest problems I think my list will have is going second. With the Jam List needing to be on the opponents side of the board to give the coven room to breathe and play scenario, it becomes much trickier going second. He also had a gargantuan, which he had to pre-deploy. Again, here going second assisted me greatly, as I was able to set up my Bane Thralls counter to his big mamma jamma.

Deployment
He pre-deployed the Woldwrath fairly center, a touch towards my left zone.

I deployed the coven slightly right-center. I didn’t want to be zorted by the Woldwraths AOE, and needed some room. I deployed Blackbane to the right, a Nightwretch and Warwitch Siren over there to assist. The Bile Thralls and Scarlock Commander surrounded the Coven, and I put the massive Bane Thrall unit centrally with Tartarus closer to the coven, able to react to both zones if necessary. The banes could also be pointed right at the Woldwrath, hoping to bite axes deep into stone and wood. A touch behind the coven was the Deathripper, hoping to sit pretty until the time came to deliver the game. the other Nightwretch and Siren took the far edge of my deployment, next to the Banes and staring into the left zone with the Scarlock. Ghostly might be needed on the Banes if I decided to run to the left.

He deployed the Skinwalkers to my right, across from Blackbane and the scenario Zone. The Whitemane also took to this side of the board with Morvahna and a Warwolf. To the other side he put the Reeves, behind the forest. . they’d have no problems shooting into my army from that position. He gave them two Warwolves to assist, and the Hunter solo. The Gorax took its proper position behind the Woldwrath, next to Morvanna.

I advance deployed my Satyxis across from this Reeves: Between Stealth and Def 16 v. Shooting, I was pretty much guaranteed to get the drop on his Reeves. I really needed to get a point or two from that zone before the Woldwrath got there.

He deployed his Gallows Groves my right side to combat both the tough of the Banes and, unbeknownst to me, drop Death Knell into Incorporeal models.

With that, we shook hands and got to business.

Turn 1

Turn 1

Tactics – Jam was in full effect! I allocated one point to the Deathripper behind the Coven, and started the turn running almost everything. Blackbanes ran into the rightmost zone, covered by the Bile Thralls.The Banes glided to the center, with Tartarus leading the way – I knew that there was very little that could even reach Tartarus, much less kill him, in this list, and with his RFP preventing feat shenanigans and creating more banes to boot, I was willing to risk any surprise retaliation.  The Scarlock moved up and put Occultation on the Satyxis, who ran into the left most zone and beyond, making a bee line for the Reeves. the Nightwretch and Siren pairs both power-boosted and ran behind my lines in order to be ready to deliver spells to whatever portion of the board needed assistance or a crushing blow. The Coven themselves advanced a bit, but not to much, up the board. They dropped a Veil of Mists on a trio of Satyxis to protect them from the Woldwraths gun a bit, and cast Infernal Machine on the Deathripper.

His turn was a little subdued and he made, I think, the second mistake of the game. We talked about it afterward and agreed that he should have played his Reeves more aggressive in order to contest the left zone. Instead, he drew up a firing line behind the forest with them. a Warwolf ran up into position in the forest to try and bite a Raider but failed. Woldwrath ran to threaten both zones, getting into position right outside the left zone. The Skinwalkers ran up and  into the right-center of the board, gearing for a clash with Tartarus and the Bane Thralls. The Whitemane followed slightly behind. The Reeve hunter moved up between the Woldwrath and the Reeves to provide support. The first Gallows Grove, much to my chagrin, teleported itself within 8″ of my lead Ghost Raider. The other simply slipped up a small amount. Morvahna then moved up, catching the Gallows Grove in her control area, and channeled a Death Knell into the Blackbanes. She managed to catch Blackbane himself due to terrible positioning, along with two standard grunts. She promptly detonated all three. I’d placed them very poorly and was not going to suffer because one of my jam units was more of a jam trio. The Gorax was the last to move, sauntering behind the Woldwrath. The Morvanna had left herself with a single fury after cutting to destroy a Ghost Raider and healing it back. She’d also taken three damage for rerolls, though I don’t remember what from. It didn’t matter, she would heal all three my next turn.

Turn 2

Turn 2

Looking at the board, I knew I had a shot at Morvahna. It wasn’t good, though, and hinged on whether or not the Warwitch Siren was 8″ from a Nightwretch, through the woods. I didn’t gamble, and even though it meant only two boosted Stygian Abyss‘ into her, I figured I’d take the chance and just allocate to the node.  Much less risky than failing because I can’t judge distance. I moved the Nightwretch over next to the Gallows grove and tossed Curse of Shadows on the Skinwalkers to even the score once engaged. Tartarus charged into the leftmost Skinwalkers, trying to get two, but only reached one. He did, however, catch a Warwolf. With a single thresher, he brought a pair of Bane Thralls, and denied two feat targets. He’d also cleared the lane for the Arc node to wander up and get within range of Morvahna. She’d only advanced up a touch, but on turn 2, the Coven can get an arcnode to threaten Abyss up to (7+14+14+10) 49 Inches into the board. I drove the remaining three Blackbanes into the Skinwalkers to threaten Free Strikes. Pow 10 Mat 6 isn’t terribly impressive, but Auto-fire free strikes aren’t anything to be trifled with. I moved the Biles into the right hand zone to make sure I’d hold it forever as  even Skinwalkers aren’t fans of bile thralls, especially suffering from Curse of Shadows. I sent the Satyxis running and charging into both the Warwolves and the Reeves. I managed to pick a few off, but I also tried very hard to mix up the area in front of the Woldwrath so it couldn’t trample – If he got into the zone I was going to be hard pressed to remove him. At this point, I had cleared all the order of activation issues and the path to Morvahna. I moved the Arc node into range, staying out of melee range of the Whitemane, the Woldwrath and everything else around. I easily had range and dropped a boosted to hit stygian abyss into her, getting a critical hit int he process. Morvahna, unless she found some strange magics, was pinned in place. even purification can’t get rid of that! to top it off, I boosted damage, having already hit and pinned her in place, dealing 7. She transfered to the Gorax, and I bottomed out my focus, and did another 7 damage to her unboosted. Satisfied, I ran the bane thralls up to further prevent tramples and charge into one of the Skinwalkers and a Gallows Grove. I succeeded in taking them both out, but they could come back with the feat. Pinned in place, with only two feat targets, I wasn’t terribly frightened yet. For my last few activations I moved the one coven member out of the way and let the Egregore run into nearly the center of the board. I popped my feat, after some careful measuring from the Egregore to the Woldwrath, felt pretty confident. I controlled both zones, but he had to go before I could score points.

He had his eye on Tartarys, and charged in with the Skinwalkers, who were either out of the feat or within 5″ of Tartarus, heedless of the fire-causing back strikes. I killed one, but managed to leave the other perfectly alive. My free strikes made me corporeal, so the alpha and back line Skinwalker were able to finish off the Ghost Raiders unit, even at DEF 15 under the feat. Tartarus fared better, taking a few damage but surviving due to his newly minted DEF 15. He teleported his final Gallows Grove over to deny tough to the Banes nearby and get into range for channeling a Death Knell near Tartarus. Woldwrath, unable to clearly determine if his trample path was clear, declared and failed. He bought attacks against the poor Satyxis he was engaged with, though the feat prevented even a single Raiders death. The Reeves ran and charged into the Satyxis, trying to take as many of them down as they could before begin whipped to death, and proceeded to do fairly well, killing a pair. The remaining wolf and the Reeve Hunter followed suit, though they, too, failed to connect.  The Whitemane moved up and smacked at the arc node that had shot Morvahna, but I’ve heard that DEF 17 is pretty hard to hit unboosted. Morvahna took her turn, lobbing her promised Death Knell at her own models and catching Tartarus in the blast, but failed to kill him even with re-rolls. She’d done a good job of cutting her self to try and get ahead, and left herself with 9. She couldn’t afford to pop her feat, and didn’t have many targets had she wanted to.
At the end of the turn, he was unable to get anyone into the right hand zone, and I scored a Control Point.

Turn 3

Turn 3

I’m not gong to lie, I was feeling pretty confident at this point. I had an unconteseted 3 points, and felt like I was going to clear the right side of the board. Woldwrath bothered me, but I felt that if I could bring enough Bane Thralls to bear on it, it’d only be a problem for a turn or two.
The raiders quickly cleared out the two models that were contesting their zone, the Warwolf and the Reeve Hunter, and moved to allow as many Banes into Woldwrath as was possible. Tartarus cleaved a skinwalker down, making another bane, and I sent the Banes Crashing into the construct, but really failed to do as much damage as I’d wanted. I’m, used to banes swinging the ARM of a target by four, but due to spell ward they had to work it on their own and just couldn’t cut it. The Siren on the right side gave out a focus to the closest arc node, who proceeded to run around the edge of the combat, drawing bead on Morvahna again. I ran one of the Coven, staying in Perfect Conjunction formation, to toe into the uncontested right zone. I followed up by pulling  the Egregore back into formation to get Perfect Conjunction once again. with 8 focus, I lobbed a trio of Stygian Abysses at her, with a critical again on the second shot. She had but a single transfer again, and this time I dropped her to 3. The Bile Thralls held put, and I passed the turn, getting three more points.

With a shake of his head and an extended hand, the game ended on scenario there. With Morvahna pinned in place and with so little health that she couldn’t pop her feat for a scenario play, it was all over except for the drinking.

Thoughts.

the Dawnshadow is a nasty ‘caster!

While there were mistakes on both sides, I feel I played my game this time. The dice didn;t completely fail my friend, though that was partially due to me pushing the numbers so high. Satyxis get Def 16, and possibly up to 18 against shooting. Blackbanes become def 15 Incorporeal, and even the lowly Bane Thralls and Tartarus become difficult to hit.

The more I think about it, the more I become convinced that I don’t need Tartarus in this list. Yes, he was invaluable here, but many times the banes are playing mop up. They don’t need the extra speed because of either the feat or the enemy being tangled in engagements. With the Bile thralls and CRA Satyxis, I have enough to deal with most high defense targets, so they won’t be attacking many infantries. Instead, I am going to be using them to remove armor from the board, and they do that just fine without Tartarus.

with that, I’m considering replacing the Blackbanes, Tartarus and the Scarlock Commander  with Bane Riders. With the same speed, 5 wounds,ghostly and ARM 18 they can get to the same places that Blackbanes can, however, they have a much higher MAT due to curse being integral to the unit. MAT 8, 10 on the Charge is very good, with a pile of impact attacks, and even Curse of Shadows to stop them from being tied up.  We’ll see what happens here in the next few days, but I think its going to be good!

The rules for the Cephalyx have been spoiled!

I really like when new things shake up the foundation of the game, but I also like when new, crazy things are released just for the fun of it. Enter the Cephalyx, here to take your mind and enslave it for their purposes.

 

The spoilers that I’ve been perusing, which are the same on Focus and Fury, Muse on Minis and Privateer Press, are very interesting. It very much seems that their playstyle is going to be a combination of Protectorate and Cryx. Everything in the list can be dangerous, and they are combining together to make a superpowerd cannon of death.

Lets get to it!

Exulon

Exulon Thexus

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMD
6454141410

Focus:8
Health: 15
Warjack Points: +5

Pathfinder
Sacrificial Pawn [Monstrosity]
Aggressive Reaction: While one or more enemy models are in this models command range, Models in this model’s battlegroup can run or charge without spending focus

Spell Driver:When this model casts a spell, it can channel the spell through another model in its battlegroup that is in its control area. Once a spell is cast this way, the model it was channeled through suffers d3+1 damage points.

Spell List

  • Deceleration
  • Hex Blast
  • Influence
  • Psycho Surgery
  • Rampager
  • Telekinesis

Feat: Telekinetic Tide: Push each enemy non-Warlock, non-Warcaster model currently in Thexus’ control area 2″ in any direction.

Ok, man! what a pile of rules! This guy has a ton of neat, control based craziness that I just love, especially seeing as I’ve been playing the coven recently, and they have kinda the opposite shtick: The Coven delivers your army, and Thexus wreaks hell on the incoming army. While his defensive stats are pretty poor, deceleration does a lot to protect you from enemy ranged threats, bumping both his armor and his defense up by 2. Sacrificial Pawn [Monstrosity] pushes that threat down even lower, having an ARM 17, 36 HP model right next to you to eat whatever bullets do make it past your Def 16. You do sacrifice a single potential arm point, but with the rest of the army also benefiting from the +2/+2 within the massive 16″ control area, it won’t really matter, even pushing the Monstrosities armor up to 19, making most gunshots simply a flesh wound.

Psycho Surgery further amplifies the ability for the army to simply shrug off guns. It also makes the Monstrosities function thematically similar to warbeasts, and by spending 2 focus, he heals not only himself up to 4 wounds, but also his entire battlegroup. Convenient for the turn that you end up eating a few shots and taking a little damage all around due to Deceleration, Sacrificial Pawn, and a few Spell Driver rolls.

Rampager, Telekinesis, and Influence all demonstrate Thexus’ complete control over the minds of others. TK is considered one of the best spells in the game, and the combinations that this can engender with the models in the Cephalyx army are just crazy. Backstrike bonus’ nearly all the time, especially for the Monstrosities – If your in charge range, your in TK range, and your most likely going to be turned around to get pounded from behind. Rampager is just a continued play on the theme. Pulling a Warbeast not only forward, but out of control area and likely facing their own army for the inevitable frenzy is going to be a glorious day. Influence is generally a dead spell, but the ability to combine it with TK means that you can, very likely, slide the model you want into just the right spot to hack down up to 6 of his friends, Very likely with the backstrike bonus on all of the influences for an effective attack roll of 10! You could even set up a caster to be hit by a back strike of his own models up to 6 times! The possibilities are endless! With a run of 10″ and a spell range of 8″, on a heavy warbeast that can trample, it can be very possible to get the drop on enemy casters.

Have I been talking about how good Telekinesis is? Oh, I have? How about 16″ of TK in every direction! do you want to set up that chain of gorgeous influences? Do you want to have a great target for Rampager, or even that fantastic Hex Blast? Great! because his feat is all of that! Now, it does take a bit more finesse than just using TK, but the two combined can be just amazing. Once you TK the enemy to face his own army, Thexus’s Feat Telekinetic Field will just be an additional 2″. I really think this feat it going to be ball busting. Between moving models out of zones and breaking up any form of LOS blocking or positioning that the opponent was using, its just going to be a nightmare.

Unlike both Convergence and Retribution, this army looks to be sticking on me. Its part of an army I already own and play, and seems to have both a cool play style and ascetic.

While the Warcaster looks good, that is to be expected. Whats really cool is that the rest of the army, as spoiled, looks very cool as well.

The Monstrosities are the star of the show, however. Cheap, moderately durable models with a modest damage output. Exulon starts the game with three options: offensive, defensive and utility.

First, the offensive
The Wrecker

Monstrosity 3

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
510541017-U7
Weapon- 2x POW:8 P+S 17
  • Eyeless Sight
  • Reach
  • Beatback
  • Chain Weapon
  • Chain Attack: Bloodbath

For a mere 7 points, this guys is a complete steal. Two reach P+S 17 attacks with Chain weapon is great for taking down those pesky medium base, high wound troopers. Beat back is going to ensure, as well, that he can eat all or nearly all of them in a turn. Given how good beat back is on the Bronzeback, who does not have reach, I can only extrapolate how well its going to be on the Wrecker. While his MAT 5 will keep him from realizing the greatest of potentials, its still going to be good enough (stay tuned for the Agitator!) . Being able to load this guy up with 3 focus and get 6 attacks at base P+S 17 is just going to be a joy.

Next up we have the Subduer

Monstrosity 1

 

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
510541017-U7
Net Launcher- RNG 6 ROF 1 AOE 3
Weapon - POW 6, P+S 16

 

  • Eyeless Sight

Net Launcher

  • Catch: If this weapon directly hits an enemy model with an equal or smaller base, Immediatly after the attack is resolved the model directly hit can be pushed any distance directly toward this model. After the Model directly hit is moved, this model can make on normal melee attack against it. After resolving this melee attack, this model can make additional melee attacks during its combat action.
  • Quake

This guy is actually one of my favorites, as much as his range on his weapon is terrible. The possibility of rampagering a heavy into range of the Subduer, having him shoot it in the back, knock it down, and drag it over to the heavy to get pummeled to death is really a pleasant thought. The AOE on the gun is neat, because it acts as an AOE knockdown, under certain circumstances, and then will pull the model hit over to the Subduer, as above. Catch is a very neat rule, being a much less focus intensive version of Drag, albeit on a much slower platform. Not having to damage is just a really good upgrade. I like the little guy! and for only 7 points!

The last, defensive minded, Monstrosity
The Warden!

Monstrosity 2

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
510541017-U6
Weapon: 3x POW 4 P+S 14
  • Grand Slam
  • Eyeless Sight
  • Follow up
  • Shield Guard
  • Buckler +1
  • Hard Head
  • 2 open fists

This fellow looks down right the coolest. With the facemask and the clamp-hands, he just has mean written all over his model. He isn’t the greatest rules complexity wise, but I know the rules he has well. I’ve played with Titan Gladiators for years, and the potential of a Grand Slam + Follow Up has kept opponents on their back feet the whole time. At SPD 5, he is slightly slower than the SPD 6 Gladiator, but again that is mitigated by TK and the Feat, when needed. Shield Guard existing for those few times you want to save a particular grunt, solo or leader is going to be invaluable. He’ll be staying behind the front lines just a touch, waiting for his chance to dig in there, knock something down, and have one of his brethren go in there and beat it to a pulp.

I’m really starting to feel the faction Contract has a lot more shenanigans, and its going to make it a freaking blast to play, and I’ve only gotten through the Warcaster and Monstrosities!

There is a Unit and two more solos in the Contract that we have the spoilered rules for, and one of them is the lynchpin of the whole setup.
enter, the Agitator

Cephalyx 9

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
66641413932
Weapon- POW:5 P+S 11
  • 5 health
  • Pathfinder
  • Fearless
    Anatomical Precision
  • Magic ability 7
    Influence
    -Instigate(star action) while within 5″ of this model, friendly drudge and monstrosity models gain + 2 on attack and damage rolls. Instigate last for one turn
    -Psychic Assault(star attack) SP 8 pow 12 that ignores LOS
  • Sacrificial Pawn[Monstrosity]

He has, right off the bat a good suite of rules, but I expect that nothing will compare to his Instigate Action. The ability to tune your Drudges and your Monstrosities up will be nothing short of awesome. Your Monstrosities go from ho-hum to very, very good. Wreckers are MAT 7, P+S 19, Subduers RAT 6, Wardens MAT 7 with 3 P+S 16 attacks. with the Agitator in play, it is unlikely that we will be boosting to hit on all but the most elusive targets, and for that we have headbutt, quake, and Telekinesis. Very little is going to be escaping the clutches of our heavies or our infantry.

The second solo is the extremely fun Dominator, a Unit attachment for Merc units to allow them into the army.

dominator

Cephalyx Mindbender
SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
66641413911
  • 5 Health
  • Mercenary Attachment – Can be added to a small or medium based non-cephalyx mercenary Unit.
  • Officer
  • Pathfinder
  • Anatomical Precision
  • Granted: Fearless
  • Granted: Tough
  • Linchpin – When this model is destroyed or removed from play, all other models in this unit lose fearless for one round and immediately flee
  • Ranking Officer
  • Sacrificial Pawn[models in this unit]

His entire purpose in life is to grab a good mercenary unit and toss it into the Cepahlyx army to make them fight for him. Among the great contenders are Nyss Hunters who add a significant ranged element, Boomhowler who adds a serious tarpit – though it wastes tough, Steelheads to form a wall of cheap, difficult to remove models, and Alexia – a fan favorite for all the living models that the army will have. While the punishment for getting him killed is rather severe, keeping him safe with Sacrificial Pawn, a Warden, and proper placement shouldn’t be any thing difficult. Push comes to shove you can always TK him to the proper position.

Lastly, there is a new unit for the army.

Behold, the Cephalyx Mindbender!

Mind Bender

Cephalyx Mindbender
SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
56641413926 models:4
10 models:6
Weapon: 2x POW 2 P+S 8
Drudge Grunt
SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMD
585211154
Weapon: POW 4 P+S 12
  • 5 Health
  • Fearless
  • Officer
  • Pathfinder
  • Magic Ability 6
    -Adrenal Flood(* action) Rng 6 target Drudge Grunt gains +4 MAT and STR and can immediately advance 4″
    -Concussion pulse(*action) center a 4″ AOE  on this model or a grunt the spell is channeled through. Other models in the AOE suffer a pow 12 magical dmg roll
    -Psychic Assault
    Psychic Projection: This model can channel through grunts in this unit that are in formation. When it does, you can choose up to two more of those grunts and cast the spell once through each, even if the channeler is engaged. Grunts in this unit that channel a spell this way are then removed from play
  • Sacrificial Pawn[Drudge Grunt]

Grunts:

  • Eyeless Sight
  • Fearless
  • Tough

Now this is a cool unit! It can spray almost everywhere, detonate piles of clustered up troops, conveniently put there from the feat, and can roid rage a trio of Drudges into P+S 18. MAT 11 monsters.  There is very little not to like from the unit, and with a combination of proper use of Spells and Feat, I don’t think much infantry will live, and Armor based models have a lot to fear as well. Under excellent circumstances, you could pull a caster  backwards into the oncoming hugs of three of these little guys and end the game right then and there.

Finally, the Cephalyx aren’t anyone’s mercs, and every one of them has the Selective rule. They can only be brought in a list that specifies them as participants, and the Contract Puppet Masters is exactly that:
-Can include Mercenary Cephalyx units, and up to one Mercenary unit, provided it has the Dominator Attachment.
FA of Slavers + drudges and Overlords are increased by 1 ea.
In addtion, the Mercenary unit with the Dominator gains AD, And the army can take Bloat Thralls, Pistol Wraiths, and Machine Wraiths that are all considered Mercenary models for the game, instead of Cryxian.

I am very excited and glad I’ll be at lock and load. I will very likely be trying to score an art print of the Cephalyx in order to get it framed like my Kraken!

 

 

 

As a follow up to the Tier List concept I’d talked about a little bit back, and as a further discussion to the battles I mentioned a little after that, I’ve managed to get a  few games with the Coven, and am starting to think a lot about how to get them to work both well and consistently. Though they aren’t considered competitively powerful in MKII, they, along with the Bloat Thrall and the Machine Wraith, were bif factors into why I ended up picking Cryx back in 2006. Sadly, all three took a large hit in MK II.

The Witch Coven still grabs me, though. They represent everything I want in a spell slinging faction: plenty of Focus giving them a huge control area, an impressive spell list, and a magnificent feat. They are, however, unbelievably fragile, with complicated activation considerations and huge blocks of rules that make them fairly intimidating to parse out.

But using challenging casters is nothing new to me. I’ve always gravitated toward sub par models and units – the challenge of getting them to work is something I really enjoy. There are times, like with Revenant Crew, when it is not really worth the effort, but most times I find a comfortable niche that the model excels at and end up pleasantly surprised.

Without further ado, Lets get started, shall we?

The Witch Coven of Gharlghast, Cryx Warcaster!

Witch Coven

I’ll want to just delve completely into their rules, as Context is going to be key to figuring out what is going on.If you’re already familiar with the Covens rules, head on down to the concepts  here.

The Coven consists of four separate models: Hellenana, Morgaen, and Selene, the three witch sisters, and the Egregore, their giant necromechanical relic orb. Each model has its own statline, though the witches are the identical to each other.

Witch
SPDSTRMATRATDEF ARMCMD
645416128
Egregore
SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMD
61111317-

As you can see, none of it is incredibly impressive. DEF 16 is good, but ARM 12 is abysmal. Their CMD and MAT are both on the lower side of bad, and to cap all off, each of them has only 8 wounds. Though It does make for a 24 HP caster under certian specific circumstances, its not particularly pleasing to see on  the card. Oh, and don’t forget that they do have weapons, though they are a measly P+S 7.But its the rest of the card that matters. Like the fact that they don’t have have a focus stat. Instead, they have the following rule:

Coven – The Witch Coven of Garlghast shares a single focus pool, and Witches do not receive focus individually. The Covens base FOCUS is three times the number of Witches in play. When the Coven replenishes its focus, the Egregore receives those focus points. The Covens control area is measured from the Egregore. Any Witch in the Coven’s control area can spend focus points on the Egregore. The Egregore cannot be affected by focus-reducing or focus-removing effects. Each focus point on the Egregore gives each Witch in the Coven’s control area a cumulative +1 ARM. Effects that ignore focus points overboosting the target’s Power Field also ignore this bonus. The Coven can use their feat only once.

The Coven rule gives them a focus of 9 for most of the game, and if something untoward  happens, it could possibly get down to 6 or even as low as 3, though its unlikely. The rule also makes the Coven immune to Eiryss’s disruption bolts portions of Reznik and Severius’s feats, Kaelyssa and Rasks Energy Siphon attacks, and a host of other abilities. In addition, it means that each model is a separate activation. with the advent of Warcaster Units, this can throw some people off. Each Witch, and the Egregore, activate separately, giving a great range of crazy interactions to the entire Coven. Having the Egregore, an independant model as well,  as the central point of the feat means that Nightfall is much more likely to reach where you need it while keeping the individual Witches fairly safe.

There are two other abilities that combine make the Coven a rules headache for newer players, but also completely unique in the scheme of Warcasters: Arcane Nexus and Perfect Conjunction.

Arcane Nexus – When a Witch casts a spell, the Egregore is the spell’s point of origin. The Witch must have LOS to her target, but the Egregore does not. All LOS modifiers are based on the LOS of the Witch. Witches can channel spells normally. The Coven can have up to one attached model; This model is attached to the Coven, not to an individual Witch. The Coven can have only one of each of their upkeep spells in play at a time.

Perfect Conjunction – A Perfect Conjunction is established anytime the Egregore is completely within the Triangular area between all three Witches and each Witch has LOS to each other witch. During a Perfect Conjunction, reduce the COST of spells cast by a Witch by 1.

So, what does all of that mean in non-rules speak? It means that when a Witch casts a spell, it actually originates from the Egregore, not from the Witches themselves. Though the Witch must be able to see the target, everything else eminates from the Egregore. This allows, in desperate times, the Witches to circumvent cover, stealth or other similar Line of Effect based rules to win the game

In addition to the Witches, the Egregore has its own set of rules. Stealth, Pathfinder and Construct, as well as Circular Vision, Steady and Companion make up the fairly common rules that allow it to wander around the board pretty much unhindered, as you would expect from a strange floating magical Orb. It has two additional rules that affect the Coven and how they play: Black Mantle and Sympathetic Link.

Black Mantle – While in B2B with this model, friendly Faction models gain Stealth.

Sympathetic Link – When this model would suffer damage, you must assign that damage to one or more Witches instead, divided as you choose. A Witch cannot be assigned more damage points that she has unmarked damage boxes. This model does not suffer the damage assigned to a Witch.

Black mantle is used to moderately protect the coven while in perfect conjunctions. while its not required to be in B2B, the Witches have nothing but their 16 DEF to protect them at that point, so stealth is better then nothing, and is very good many times. When its bad, though, its exceptionally bad.

Sympathetic Link is a major part of playing the Egregore. With the defensive stats of a Cryx heavy, its only really protected against POW 10’s, with anything higher than POW 12 causing serious discomfort. Thankfully, stealth is a good defense the majority of the time, with the same caveats as above for Black Mantle. The ability to rearrange damage as I see fit, however, means that I have around 21 damage before anything really negative takes effect. Taking damage through the Egregore is actually preferable to taking damage through the Witches do to the redistribution, but is still not something that you should be looking to happen. While its key to keep each Witch alive, keeping the Egregore safe is just as important. its much easier to hit the giant, glowing orb.

We’ve finally come to the spell list and feat, and man, these are good.

Spell List: (hover for complete wording)

  • Curse of Shadows – armor debuff and delivery system
  • Stygian Abyss – direct damage
  • Veil of Mists – control, terrain mitigation and delivery system
  • Infernal Machine – Warjack buff
  • Ghost Walk – positioning aid and delivery system
  • Occultation – delivery system

Its a very, very good spell list for getting the generally vulnerable and low defense models in the Cryx army into the enemy intact, and the same theme is taken into their feat, Nightfall:

While in the Coven’s control area, enemy models suffer -2 MAT and RAT and their LOS is reduced to 5″. Nightfall lasts for one round.

I’ll admit, it doesn’t look like much, but with the massive 18″ control area centered on the mobile and generally sturdy Egregore, it is brutal. Delivering an army with the feat is a fairly simple task thatcan put your opponent on the back foot and really give you a tempo advantage. Most of the time, you want to drop it turn 2, but sometimes its a turn 1 feat, if you and your opponent are both very fast, or you went second and want to see a model or two get to the enemy.

The Egregore is generally sturdy, and fairly safe during the feat, but know any melee tricks that the enemy has. while under the feat, they are going to be looking to take advantage of the Egregore’s relative vulnerability. Make sure you know your opponents walking threat range, as a lack of Line of Sight does not prevent the warpwolf Stalker from walking up 6″ and using reach to pummel you from 8″ out. The same can be said of guns: make sure any guns that can walk out of the feat also don’t have some insane 19″ or better range. strangely, many times its better to get closer to the Sniped or Marshalled defenders so that they can’t walk out and shoot the Egregore. One good set of spiked dice, and your heading for a bad day.

Good, we’ve gotten though the basics of the coven, their rules and a little bit of the thoughts behind them, but in order to make them work, we kinda have to know how they tick. While rules are good, the story is more in the details.

The Coven is an extremely versatile caster that allows you to deliver your army to the enemy with unprecedented flexibility. They have the capacity to either mitigate or completely ignore almost everything on the board. Terrain is taken care of with Ghost walk and Veil of Mists, guns with Nightfall and Occultation, free strikes with Curse of Shadows and Ghost Walk, and alpha strike capacity with Infernal Machine, Nightfall, and Stygian Abyss. They force your opponent to react to you, creating the decisions that are so common when playing against Cryx, where your opponent can’t get a leg up.

What is so frustrating about them, though, is their vulnerability. For all their ability to gain stealth, their combined 24 HP, their 16 defense and their unparalleled freedom of activations, they are incredibly hard to keep alive, and there are some insanely hard matchups out there.  If the enemy is allowed to build momentum, especially after the feat, there is little chance for the coven to really survive the onslaught. Unlike most casters in the Cryx stable, the Coven does very little to increase the potency of the faction, with Curse of Shadows their only reliable debuff, and no offensive buffs at all. Even their feat doesn’t help the Cryx army kill better, its simply extrapolates on the theme of delivery.

They key, as obvious as it is to state, of the Coven is getting your models to the enemy as fast as possible, and that means taking models that really matter once they are delivered. The Coven loves self sufficient models that can get tons of work done once delivered . However, the Covens fragility means you can’t typically wait out the enemy attrition style and that a single miscalculation or a solid play by the opponent can leave you on the back foot, leading to your eventual downfall. It only takes a RAT 9 (7 aiming!) POW 13 attack to remove a Witch from the board. While the models that ignore stealth are rare, its not impossible for those numbers to be able to draw a bead on one or more members, or even the Egregore.

Instead, I’ve come to the conclusion that a Coven army wants to be as deep into the enemy’s half of the board as possible, as fast as possible, and it has four major effects on how you play the army.

First, the opponent comes out of the gate reacting to you which immediately gives you tempo advantage, enabling you to capitalize on both your spell list and your feat. Good feat timing in this situation can drop the hammer on the opponent both mitigating their best possible turn and enabling you to overtake their position and get carve deep into their belly.

Second, it gives the Coven breathing room. The Witches want to be able to sit comfortably at the back of your army and make sure they reach the enemy. With their ability to vanish off the board at the slightest glance of an enemy model, keeping them as far back as possible is key. They still want to threaten scenario, however, and allowing them to get in position to dominate either zone at a moments notice is the first step to that, with keeping the opponent on their side of the table, is the first step to that.

Third, playing off the theme above, it allows them to play a fantastic scenario game. Its much less difficult to control or dominate scenario zones and destroy objectives when the battle lines are drawn nearly completely past the zones. It can also allow for a very sudden end to a game, provided your willing to sacrifice one of your witches. Dominating from a vulnerable position matters much less if loosing your warcaster does not loose you the game, especially if you know you can just repeat the domination next round whether they remove your Witch or not.

Fourth, and finally, it puts their warcaster in a very large bind. They can either try and put themselves into the game, therfore exposing themselves not only to your army, but to the very real Spell Assassination that the Coven represent, Or they can try and hide near their own table edge.  While the assassination aspect of the Coven has been toned down a bit since the MKI heyday (Perfect Conjunction providing boosted hit and damage, and Stygian Abyss being P+S 13 with Crit Blind), it can still get the job done with a little help, and a single Shadow Bind crit can really make sure it does the job next turn. Three boosted damage POW 12’s seriously threaten arm 18 or less, averaging 15 damage against ARM 18. Three boosted to hit Pow 12’s have a ~82% chance that the model is pinned in place suffering -3 defense for a round,Both circumstances are scary at best, and can be used against almost every defense and armor value, due to the crit and high starting hit value.

This leads me to value, in a coven list, things that are both fast and defensive, with abilities that make the opponent unable to engage how they would like.

The three that really jump out to me are: Soulhunters, Satyxis Raiders, and Blackbanes Ghost Raiders. Each of these is speed 7 or greater, has ways to mitigate terrain, and innate defensive tech. Though Darragh Wrathe is required for the Soulhunters to get full use out of them, Ghost Walk can somewhat make up for not having him in the list. That eats a large portion of your 50 point standard list. Normally the challenge would be to get to the opponent on your terms, but we’ve covered the spell list.

With Raiders, UA, Captian, Soulhunters, Blackbanes, and Darragh, you’ve ate a massive 34 points. The addition of three arcnodes, two Warwitch Sirens, and a Scarlock eat a further 18 points that gives you a total of three points to play around with, don’t you feel lucky! Aiakos fits right in there, and with his four focus, stealth, 11.5″ walking threat, he fits right in!

As I said up top, I really think that the Coven holds a fantastic spot in Cryx. Yes, they have their problems, including the ever prevalent blast damage, no ability to change the Cryxian to hit probability, and the threat of Killbox on scenarios, but their capacity to step outside of the standard Cryx attrition or armor crack list makes them feel just a little roguish. I’m not convinced I should play them competitively, but I’m sure as hell going to test them out!

 

 

I’ve gotten a number of games in recently, and I really feel the reust shaking itself loose. It only taken 13 games.

Starting up with Deneghra probably helped a ton. She’s one of the better casters in Cryx, with a crippling suite of spells and a killer feat. With Deneghra, the solution has always been her feat and/or Crippling Grasp to enable a big swing play. Jumping over to the Witch Coven twice over the weekend, though, each with a different list, and I really struggled sometime to figure out how to deal with problems.

I’m putting down Deneghra for a little bit, and I think I’ve gotten the Mechanithrall boat kind under my thumb. There are some other combinations I want to try, but they have to wait until I get more Brute Thralls and my Scarlock Commanders. I did get two games in, however, before the hiatus. Both these games and the games with Witch Coven was with the Outflank scenario, as I am trying to get used to it for spelldraft.

The first game was against a the Rhulic caster that I have seen the most of, General Ossrum. The list contained Steelheads, Forgeguard, Alexia and the Earthbreaker, among others. I was able to stonewall him out of both zones. The Mechanithralls swarmed over the right zone supported by the Necrosurgeons and jammed up his Steelheads right outside of the zone. I sent my Bane Knights lurking to the edge of the Left zone, threatening both the slower Forgeguard and Risen with spears through the chest. Though he targeted both the Necrosurgeons and stitch thralls early on, reducing their efficiancy, they managed to stick around long enough to ensure the victory through weight of bodies.

I will say that the Earthbreaker, both times I fought it, was scary as hell. Had I not had a caster with stealth, I would have soiled my shorts. Casters like Asphyxious, Scaverous and Venethrax are just walking gun bait with their medium bases. While I generally despise camping as a casters main strategy, I can’t see any other way to live through the land-torpedoes and the bullets of that army and that colossal.

Reznik, wrath of ages

the final game with Deneghra was against Reznik 2, who I’d not even read his rules since he was spoiled back in February. The list was not your typical Protectorate list, having  Flamebringers, Daughters of the Flame, Judicator, Temple Flame Guard and some support staff.  I modified the list above,  with two full units of Mechanithralls and Necrosurgeons, Nightmare, and a few support solos and arc nodes. I’d  also just got Aiakos built and has started painting him, so I figured I’d toss him in the list as well. I burdend him with three ‘Jacks: two Stalkers and the Cankerworm. The game was back and forth for the first two turns, but really hinged on a pair of failed rolls my opponent made that lead to both my Necrosurgeons alive, creating new Mechanithralls, and tossing them into Judicator, softening it up so that when Nightmare got in there, he could finish him off. With Nightmare  now 5″ from the Wrath of Ages, under Deneghras feat, we called it and packed up for the night.

That was my first time breaking out Aiakos (turns out, pronounced ay-Ah-kos), and I make a rookie mistake with him, loading him up with jacks that are all hungry for focus. The Stalker and the Cankerworm both have two initial attacks with low P+S and good speed, begging for charges and boosts. With only FOC 4, he’s just not able to fuel them efficiently. It also could be the targets I ended up taking on as well, trying to attack Daughters of the Flame and Nicia. While MAT 7 is pretty good for a Warjack,  needing 8’s and 9’s to hit was brutal, even boosted. I’ll need to try and get better match ups if I want to get back to even running all three jacks. I also really messed up my theory of Stalkers with him. I ‘d assumed that he’d be able to scare casters with two of them, but as I discovered above, he can’t properly fuel two Warjacks. There may be some merit in rocketing one off into a caster,getting Grievous wound to trigger and then repeating with the second the following turn, but I’d have to give it more testing. I wasn’t even good at getting the Escort bonus, and that was the whole reason I brought along Cankerworm. I’m pretty sure that this grouping is just going to go into the idea box for later testing, maybe with just the stalkers.

I then broke out the Coven on Saturday. I figured it was time to start practicing with the caster I was going to bring to spelldraft. Even though its impossible to practice drafting and using the spells, I want to get used to setting them up right, getting them into position, and utilizing the scenario. I figured the army didn’t actually matter all too much, so I’d grab Aiakos and build a list based off of the Coven Tier I’d talked about a few days ago. I’d been thinking about what to give Aiakos after the last debacle, and the Harrower really stood out.  He could make great use of both Escort and Deathbringers. Under escort, he’d be SPD 7, MAT 6, P+S 16, with reach, thresher, soul taker, pathfinder and steady. behind the army, giving ranged support, he’d be SPD 7, RNG 10, RAT 5, AOE 3, POW 14, with ghost shot and pathfinder.  Aiakos’ ability to give  up to three focus a turn, and potentially give the Perisher Grievous Wounds, its seemed a match made in heaven. I decided because I wanted to play him, I’d have to go outside of Tier.

iron-mother

The  game I got in with the list was against Iron Mother Directrix. It was the first time I saw Convergence across the board and I was pretty excited about figuring them out. The list contained a slew of servitors, Prime Axiom, Reciprocators, an Assimiltor and some general support and utility model. I packed the Jam: Satyxis, Soulhunters, and Blackbanes, backed up by a pair of arc nodes, some light support staff, and Aiakos with the Harrower. I won the game on scenario, but only because my opponent failed a set of die rolls on the critical push turn. I’d managed to pull ahead on scenario the turn earlier dominating one zone and controling the other. I only needed to clear and dominate one zone, and I was able  to do that by capitalizing on him being unable to kill even a single model on his turn and get enough models into the zone that I couldn’t just kill them and  and dominate with the Coven.

The Harrower and Aiakos were the stars of the show. I was able to dig the Harrower into the center of the Reciprocators and,  loaded with focus and souls, clean them out over two turns. Being able to boost to damage was a godsend, allowing me to gather more souls for attacks.  I was really impressed with what a speed 7 Harrower with 3 focus was able to do, and I really look forward to getting that combo more playtime on the table. The rest of the army will be subject to much scrutiny, and suffice it to say here, I’m not keeping the same list.

The second fight that day was against a completely different Reznik, Wrath of Ages list that I’d played with Deneghra. This time the list has Forgeguard, a Devout and Redeemer on Tristan, Flameguard, the Avatar and a Reckoner.  I pulled out the Kraken Auguries of War tier list mentioned earlier. Much like the game played just over a week earlier, he missed critical attacks on the turn he needed to not fail. Two pairs of daughters at MAT 10 were unable to kill or even hit a set of Soulhunter, and I was able to take down Servath Reznik. He insists that I could have had scenario, had I chosen to take it, but I’m not as confident as he is. His left flank boasted an Avatar, Reckoner, Tristian, and a Redeemer, and I has a Kraken and the Coven. While I could hide the Coven for a short time, eventually Gaze would trap me in and I’d loose at least one member, and that would start the downhill slide. I’m also very convinced that the avatar would have split the Kraken right open.

I’m extraordinarily excited to be playing Warmachine again, and I’ll be getting a game in again tonight. I’ve yet to figure out who I am going to play, but I’m positive its gonna be a cryx caster. I’m even fairly sure its either Sturgis or Coven, too.