Every year about this time, I start gearing up for one of the larger events I run, the NOVA Open, a 4 day gaming convention in Crystal City, VA, just north of DC.

I’ve been Pressganging for almost three complete years now, and NOVA holds a special place in my heart, because its my Pressgang anniversary. Each year I’ve stepped up my involvement with running the events, and this year, I’ve been given the privilege of running the whole show. If I seem to come off as selling this years event, don’t worry, I am shamelessly.

the NOVA Open, as its name implies, is open to all sorts of gaming. There are 40k, Warhammer Fantasy, Bloodbowl, Flames of War, X-Wing, Infinity and Malifaux events going on all weekend as well as workshops and seminars to boot. Justin from Secret Weapon Miniatures has attended multiple years, as has Dan Cotrupe from Tectonic Craft Studios.Justin from Malifaux 2e will be on hand this year as well!

One of the things that makes the NOVA Open unique is the load of what they call Lemonade Raffles – Prizes for loosing games. For every game you loose, you get your name put into the drawing for the Lemonade Raffle, and if your name is picked you get a prize. Sometimes, its a fantastic price worth over a hundred dollars (I think, I seem to remember someone winning a colossal last year). This makes Warmachine, Malifaux and Infinity players extremely happy, as we play, and loose, many games over the course of the day.

Speaking of those games, there will be tons of tournaments to attend in every shape and style you can think of. While the official schedule is here, I’ll break down the Warmachine events.

Thursday:

4:00pm – Midnight : Tierany Tournament
– A 32 slot, 50 point,  Theme list tournament, requiring your army to be qualified for at least Tier 1 of the Warcaster or Warlocks Theme force. One list is required, with a second list optional, using the Top Table variant.This event uses the Deathclock timer, and will qualify the top 2 players for the masters on Sunday.

Friday

8:00am – 3:00pm:  NOVA Team Tournament
– a  35 point, 3 person team tournament. Each team will have designated themselves, however they desire, into Captain, First Lt., and Second Lt.. Each round, each Team will play the other team member of the same rank. Once during the tournament, the Captain can use the team feat and swap two players on his teams rank for the rest of the tournament. This Tournament uses the Top Table and Deathclock variants, and will qualify the entirety of the top 2 teams for Masters.

5:00pm – Midnight: Hardcore Tournament
-a 50 (corrected from the earlier 35) point, out of the book Hardcore tournament. That mweans 1 list, fully painted, Timed turns, Deathmatch Scenario tournament! Bring you’re A game and shoot for the Commendations: Vanquisher – Best Overall Record,  Master Craftsman – Best Painted Army (as judged by the NOVA Open Judges), Executioner – Most Army Points Destroyed, and Mage Hunter – Most Efficient Caster Kill. The top 2 players, determined by record and SOS will Qualify for masters.

Saturday

8:00am – 6:00pm – Steamroller 2014
– a 50 Point Steamroller with just a few variants. Deathclock Timing, Divide and Conquer (1) and Finals Table. The top 3 Players, as determined by record and SOS, will qualify for masters.

10:00am – 8:00pm – NOVA Open METAL FIST

An unofficial Iron Gauntlet event, following all the iron gauntlet rules.

7:00pm-Midnight – Who’s The Boss!
– Everyone favorite broken format! build a 41 point list and spin the wheel every round to see who the leader of your army is! Deathclock and Finals Table Variant! Other special rules are

The caster becomes a Friendly Faction model and gains all the benefits of being a caster of that game system. Focus and Fury manipulation of the caster will change as part of the army’s parent game system.
– Warjack and Warbeast text on the casters card will change as part of the army’s parent game system with the exception of offensive spells or offensive abilities. Offensive spells or abilities wording remains unchanged on the card.

–  Abilities and Spell effects on the caster cards that add Focus will remove Fury in a Hordes army.
–  Abilities and Spell effects on the caster cards that remove Fury will add Focus in a Warmachine army.
– Elite Cadre and similar abilities of the Warcaster/warlock are lost unless the defined models exist in the army they are playing for.
-Abilities/spells that heal/repair will change as part of the army’s parent game system.
– Animosity and Abilities that specify caster battlegroup types are removed from their card.

Sunday
10:00am onwards – Scrambles!
Fast moving 4 or 8 man tournaments, meant to be quick and have players perhaps play people that you’ve not played yet at NOVA. Submit your list and when we get the requisite number of people, we’ll start the tournament! Deathclock will be required to keep the tournaments moving, and we will be giving out prizes for each scrambles event!

10:00am – 6:00pm – Nova Masters
The culmination of the NOVA open, pitting the qualifiying winners from tournaments all weekend long against each other for the title of NOVA Master. Be prepared to play by the Masters Rule set: 3 lists, Divide and Conquer 1 and Deathclock timing.
The Qualifiers are as follows.

  • Tierany: 2
  • SR2014: 3
  • Team Tournament: Top Two Teams (6 players)
  • Hardcore: 2
  • Metal Fist: 3

There will be alternates, as described in the primer, so even if you don’t qualify, make sure to note that you could get in if someone doesn’t show!

We also will have a Kingmaker Tournament on Sunday for the High Command players, and will be having Iron Arena and all sorts of goodies to win via playing open games!

Caveat: We are still hammering out the final details, so there might be some minor changes here and there, once the final Primer comes out, that supersedes anything I’ve written here (which shouldn’t change much, honestly, if at all)

So, if you have the weekend of August 28th-30th free, consider taking a trip down to DC and playing awesome games of whatever system you play. Stop down by the Warmachine area, and we’ll give a demo to you if you’ve never played, or challenge a PG or anyone else. I’ll have my Cephalyx and hope to have them fully painted, looking for games between running events.  It’ll be an amazing time!

Feedback is encouraged, either through Twitter or Comments! Let me know what you think of the schedule!

 

 

Xerxis has always, always, been my favorite Skorne Caster. His spells are good, his feat is awesome, and the amount of punishment he can dish out is unbelievable to my Cryxian eyes. He was pretty good in MK I, but his MK II Incarnation really connected with me, and I was able to settle in on a really nasty list after a few failed incarnations.

Tyrant Xerxis+5
-Gladiator8
-Krea4
-Cyclops Shaman5
-Aptimus Marketh3
Cataphract Cetratii (6) 11
Nihilators (10)8
Tyrant Commander and Standard3
Venator Reivers (10)9
-Venetor Officer and Standard2
Paingiver Beast Handlers (3)2

This list’s whole purpose is to give you nothing but bad choices. The Venators and Tyrant Commander deploy on the weak flank and run turn one, getting into position. The Cetratii and the Nihlitors take front and center, getting up the field as best they can, with Defenders Ward on the Cetratii. Turn two is when it really heats up, as I hot swap the Defenders ward on to the Nihilitors, leaving one behind the wall of Cetratii, and move the Venators 8″ up the flank and start peppering the soft spots of the army. The Nihliitors run in to stall the army, with the Beasts, Cetratii, and Xerxis taking up spots to both smash into the center of the army and start picking up scenario. The battle then shifts to the opponent, who has to make a dire choice: clean off and eliminate the Nihlitors, and try to fight the durable, killing center while getting shot at from the side and behind, or turn to attack the Venators and have the Pain Train slam into the center of the board. Neither of these is good, and its a fun game for me every time.

Gargantuans brought us the release of the Cataphract Incindiarii, and a new list is gaining in relevancy for Xerixis to work with. Welcome, to the Fist of Halaak.

Tyrant Xerxis+5
-Tiberion11
Cataphract Cetrati (6) 11
-Tyrant Vorkesh3
Cataphract Arcuarii (4)5
Cataphract Arcuarii (4)5
Cataphract Arcuarii (4)5
Cataphract Incindiarii(4)5
Cataphract Incindiarii(4)5
Tyrant Commander and Standard3
Tyrant Commander and Standard3

This army, in all its iterations, focuses on flooding the field with medium based, durable models, and this thrills me to no end. I’ve wanted for a very long time to be able to do this. Its going to be an incredibly entertaining list to run.

 

What this list brings to the table is a solid wall of force. Xerxis brings his feat and Fury to the Party, allowing a unit of Arcuarii to get to P+S 15 with 5 dice on the charge.  With 12 floating around on the board, you only need 5 to kill a colossal. He also brings Inhospitable Ground, for those moments that a Bane Thrall charge would ruin your day, and you need to make sure they burn another round.

Strangely, this list limited to only three units also has almost all its bases covered. It has 12, 8 wound, POW 12 weaponmasters; 7 arm 20, 8 wound shieldwallers; Tiberion; and it has 10 AOE 3 auto-fire templates.The Tyrant Commanders and Xerxis bring three sources of both Pathfinder and Press Forward, with a bonus of two reveille’s when called on. Its decently durable, with needing to damage roll of 23 to take out even the lowliest Cataphract.

The largest worry I have in this list is that I only have one beast, but that beat is Tiberion, who I have heard is really good. He should be able to wreck whatever I want him to, honestly, but I have to keep him safe, as its almost never good to trade him when its my only beast. Enough people have discussed that there is enough good stuff in this list to justify only one beast that I’m willing to do it.

The minimum units are there to maximize the points gained by the theme list. With each Cataphract unit being -1 pc, I pick up 6 points over a traditional list here, which I used to get the two Tyrant Commanders.

The largest contention point here is going to be Vorkesh. He’s a solid three point solo, but he comes with a pretty huge penalty of Spell Ward to his unit, the Cetratii, who are just begging to be Def 14/ARM 22. I’ve also read that most of the times that people have died with Xerxis is when they didn’t have Defenders Ward on him, pulling his stat line from a humble 13/18 to a more respectable 15/20. Removing the temptation to even try that from my list feels right, and just might win me the game. Pow 13 Weaponmaster under the feat with precision strike can really cause some havoc.

Xerxis

I really like that it asks a ton of questions of your opponents armies. Can they Crack high armor, ’cause Tiberion can be a 25 on the feat turn, and most dudes are sitting at 17. Can they take a beating, ’cause my whole army is MAT 7 and most of its weaponmasters. Can you deal with fire, because I am going to toss up to 10 Fire causing AOE’s out there, and it could get ugly. Finally, did you bring Pathfinder, because I have Inhospitable Ground.

After two or more months of playing the Cephalyx, I am going to be looking for a change of pace, and once NOVA comes around and I turn the page to a new army, I think this is going to be just up my alley. I’ve been told its not as simple to run as it seems, so I look forward to figuring it out. I’m about as stoked about this list as I can be, without having played it.

I do need to pick up a second Tyrant Commander, a second box of Incindiarii, and two more boxes of Arcuarii, but the beauty of the whole army will be worth it.

Now, what to pair it with in a tournament? Maybe Trevor Christiansons Rasheth + 6 Titans list!

The Cephalyx made another outing last week, this time against Butcher 3. His list was one I was not familiar with, but neither was his ‘Caster.

I’ve been having a rough time getting the Croe’s Cutthroats to work, but I wanted to give them another shot or two before I passed judgement on them and called them Terrible. This game was no better than the others for them, but I don’t think it was a really good matchup for them overall.

The Cephalyx list I’ve been running hasn’t changed, though I have some options on the board that I’ll be subbing in soon. For a refresher, the list is

Exulon Thexus+5
-Subduer7
-Warden6
-Wrecker7
Mind Slaver and Drudges (10)6
Mind Bender and Drudges (10)6
Cephalyx Agitator2
Cephalyx Agitator2
Cephalyx Agitator2
Croes Cutthroats (10)10
-Cephalyx Dominator1
Bloat Thrall2
Cephalyx Overlords4
55
.

I really like the Concept of the list, so I’ll be leaving the core alone for some time.

 

His Butcher Unleashed list was

Butcher Unleashed+4
-Beast 0911
-Drago8
-War Dog1
Great Bears of Gallowswood5
Man-O-War Shocktroopers (5)9
Man-O-War Shocktroopers (5)9
Widowmakers4
Iron Fang Kovnik2
Manhunter2
Yuri the Axe3
55

The table was almost devoid of terrain. It has a single large building on my right side, and two smaller buildings about 20″ on on both sides left flank. Though got to choose, I stayed on the side with the large building because our armies were already out. It was a bad decision. The scenario was Incursion.

Deployment
He deployed both Shock Troopers to my left-center, with Drago nearly perfect center and the IFP Kovnick behind them both. Butcher 3, the Wardog and Beast 09 held the right.

I deployed the Wrecker to face both shock troops, with the Overlords to worry about that flag. The Warden was deployed to the far right to go after that flag, if needed. Centrally located was the Slavers to the left center and the benders to the right center. Dead center was Thexus and the Subduer. Agitators supported all three beasts.

Advanced Deployment
He deployed his Widowmakers and a Manhunter off to counter the Overlords, and Yuri on the far opposite flank, near my warder.

I deployed the Croes right center to get some shots in on the Shock Troopers under my feat.

The Game: 
Turn 1 on both sides consisted of mostly running and getting into position, though I did move a pair of Mind Bent Drudges off to support the Warden, expecting him to be charged by Yuri, and wanted to make sure he got cleared off. The overlords moved up and tried, all three, to spray the Manhunter who’d made it zipping across the board, but they left him alive. – The Flag on the left vanishes.

Using this for an arc node is stupid.

Using this for an arc node is stupid.

Turn 2 was the meat of the game, as it should be. He moved everything up into position to threaten my eventual central surge. I’d positioned my drudges near the Warden poorly, and Yuri got all three. The Manhunter charges into an Overlord and whiffs both attacks. Butcher 3 repositions more toward the center of the board and makes me super-nervous. I move Thexus up to grab almost all his Shocktroopers and feat, pulling the shieldwall apart. I TK Drago backwards into charge range of three supped up Mind Slaver Drudges. I manage to clog myself up really, really bad. Mind Benders stuck in the back. Subduer way to back to do any good, wrecker needed to run to get TK off, Agitator charges Yurri and on dice -3 manages to do 2 damage, leaving the Subduer engaged. Instead of Taking a free strike and getting the point that turn, I paste Yurri with the Warden. Croes gets some sweet shoots off, but between doing dice -7 on three dice to the Shock Troopers and needing 8’s to hit def 13 great bears, I just don’t get enough work done. I think I killed three Shocktroopers and a Great Bear. All the Agitators are jammed up and can’t get in deep enough to help the Adrenaline Overloaded Drudges kill Drago, and I leave him alive.

Turn 3 is the tipping point, with Beast 09 getting into the central fray, and the majority of the Shocktroopers still alive making it into my lines. The Widowmakers continue to harry my troops, picking off models exactly where they are needed. I can’t seem to make any tough rolls, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Croes gets whittled down, an overlord drops, and Drago manages to get cleared out and charge the Wrecker, mortally wounding it, but not killing it. I manage to make a strong reprisal, but its not good enough. I kill all of the Widowmakers and start driving into the Shocktroopers. The Wrecker kills Drago and then 3 more Shocktroopers, missing an attack at Mat 7. Whatever. I send three Adrenal Flooded Drudges into Beast, but I barely scratch the paint, even with the Agitator. I manage to take out the IFP Kovnik, and drop some shots into the Great Bears, but it seems not to matter, as they can’t die. I get my Agitator over to the right flag, with the warden back a bit to counter-charge whatever decided to get points.

Turn 4 is when the game ended, more or less. Butcher 3 charges the Agitator on the flag, casts impending doom on the too-close Warden, and ends them both after popping his feat, dominating the flag. The Great Bears charge the Wrecker and leave it in a pile of quivering chunks. Beast 09 sits in position and continues to give 0 shits about whatever is near him. A nearly complete unit of Shocktroopers sits near the center flag, refusing to die. I run the Bloat Thrall over to futilely contest and try and maybe kill some Argus with its death blast. The Subduer finally gets into position, and charges a damaged Beast 09 with two focus. Under the effects of the Agitator, with three attacks, one a charge, I feel fairly confident I can wreck it. Snake eyes on the charge and on the second bought attack put that plan to its miserable end, and with it any hope of winning. Butcher sits put, killing everything I can throw at him for 2 more turns and eventually wins on scenario.

Thoughts

I made that game a much harder fight than it needed to be. I don’t really have an answer to Butcher 3 that outhreats him, but man it would have been a better game if I didn’t have my head stuck so far into my anal crevice.

Error: I’m used to Cryx. When I point at a unit, any unit, it conveniently removes itself from the board. That is not how Cephalyx are going to work. I need to use the right tools to get the right jobs done. The right tool to take out Shocktroopers is definitely not POW 12 sprays. This error is especially grievous as it wasn’t even a unit I needed to worry about, as there was no flag nearby.

These guys don't kill Shocktroopers

These guys don’t kill Shocktroopers

Error: I bunched all three of my units into a 10″ area. This created over-burdened order of activation problems that I shouldn’t have needed to worry about. My Mind Bender Drudges were stuck behind the Mind Slavers, unable to participate except to give out Adrenal Flood. Let me tell you, its not worth it. I also clogged up two of my three Monstrosities, allowing his ‘jacks and Shocktroppers to choose the engagement.

Error: I ran the wrecker to get an unnecessary TK off. If I had held put and not gotten greedy, I could have been a lot more threatening late game. Drago would not have made it so that the wrecker took trivial amounts of work to kill.

Error: Popping feat turn 2. I had hopped to whittle down the Shocktroopers, but even Poison crossbow bolts don’t really worry ARM 17 8 wound troopers. I could have waited another turn to get more charges, sprays, and other damage in without much of a sacrifice.

Error: the warden was in Impending Doom range, and that was completely avoidable. I could have kept him way, way back.

I don’t want to take away from the game, though. My opponent played clean and without mistakes, and He capitalized on mine. It was a fantastic learning experience with my Cephalyx. Next time, I’ll try not to get all my stuff murdered and remember positioning.

Final thoughts.
The Cephalyx are a blast to play, but I need a ton more practice with them before I become a master. Heavy Arcnodes are not something you force, but something that you take advantage of, and getting greedy with it can make you pretty sad if you use your big beat stick. Croes, also, feel pretty bad. Soon here I am going to go with the double Pistol Wraith/TAC load out and see what I can do with that. I do have a strange desire to run Aiyanna and Holt instead, because Harm in that army will be off the chain. I have to worry about the Dominator being snipped out, but I have a Warden for that.

Till tomorrow!

As I mentioned back a while ago, I picked up, have borrowed a copy of Dark Souls II from a friend, and I’ve finally gotten to play more than an hour at a time.

I have to be honest: My first few hours were extremely aggravating. Having the amazing capacity to follow the hardest route to any location has its downfalls, and games like Dark Souls can really compound them and make my life very, very hard.

Beware! There are Spoilers beyond this point!

Continue reading

I played, as I mentioned, a few games at lock and load with the new Cephalyx. These games were my basic 50 point list, and then I paired them down a bit for the two smaller games I got in.

I just wanted to share a couple observations that I had while playing them.

-My fears about them having their leaders sniped out from under them are relatively true. While its not going to happen from direct shots, Arc Nodes and AOE’s are going to require some very specific positioning in order to keep some of them alive long enough to matter.

-The Agitators are awesome on a stick. While they are able to instigate, and turn the below average troopers into elites, they also have a Magic Attack 7, LOS ignoring Pow 12 spray attack as well. With Sacrificial Pawn: Monstrosity they are unlikely to go down to shooting – everyone I played didn’t even bother. I will almost always have the Max FA, because they are solid even when they are not Instigating, and the redundancy makes me feel I can use one or two a bit more aggressively.

-Monstrosities are incredibly durable. Arm 17 doesn’t mean much in the world of Warmachine, but the 36 point damage grid really does, to the point that Pow 19 needs 4 hits to kill. Which equates to a Bronzeback, or a fully loaded Juggernaut that does not miss a single attack. That is not an easy task for every army, and  A single flubbed roll could either add an extra attack, and thus extra resources, or fail to kill it at all. In contrast, a Slayer dies to 3 attacks with 5 damage to spare. That is a ton of wiggle room mitigated by 8 more HP. Pow 18  pops it up to 5 attacks to kill, and this is where most damage I think about lies. 5 attacks is nothing to scoff at, especially when you’re looking into the face of mind benders and Mind Slaver Drudges along with at least two other Monstrosities sitting, waiting to maul you to death. Pow 18 gives you a little wiggle room to flub some damage, with 4 boxes to spare, but not a whole lot. Charge damage skews the number a bit, adding 3 more damage on average to a jack’s charging total, sometimes It’ll drop an attack off, and sometimes it wont. but even then, the extra attack needed to kill the Monstrosities can skew the math enough in your direction that they will over-correct and over commit, and I think that is a good thing.

I also tended to keep my monstrosities back behind my front line of drudges. They can’t eat a ton of ‘Jack or ‘Beast charges and live, but they sure can counterpunch with the best of em and I’d rather have them alive and kicking then eating charges to the face.

Thexus v. Goreshade III

Thexus v. Goreshade III

A quick thought on each unit/model

For being extremely maligned as a Cryx unit, the Mind Slaver and Drudge unit did very, very well. It could be that the Agiatators and the Mind Benders solve almost every problem they have, and that Thexus leaves them with only one – Speed. With the full compliment of buffs up and running, each Drudge is a MAT 7, P+S 15, Arm 17 against shooting, tough, eyeless sight, fearless model. Everything there is good!
They are, however, Painfully slow. This means that you’re never going to jam the opponent, and that you’re most likely going to be digging your way to a scenario win, as opposed to forcing it.  Thankfully, drudges are tough to kill, both literally and ability wise, and can really keep a scenario zone clogged. Combine with Thexus’ feat, TK and Pistol Wraiths, and you’ve got yourselves a good setup for grinding out attrition.

The Mind Bender unit is a blast to play, and supremely versatile. I enjoy the order of operations puzzle that is their activation every turn, and that you can both make attacks with, and spray/detonate from a drudge in a single turn. They are exceptionally great at freeing up charge lanes or moving Drudges into them, while still doing damage to the enemy. Agitators make these guys a fearsome MAT 7 and P+S 14, and that is nothing to scoff at. You will find yourself hard pressed to charge with the unit, as the Mind Bender can’t make his special actions or attacks if you do. That means that these guys are largely a secondary unit, and taking two of them could slow you down. If you’re looking at a third infantry unit, go Mind Slaver.

Cephalyx Overlords may be my favorite unit for the whole army, and I just used them as spray-bots. Magic Attack 7 and POW 12 is nothing to turn a blind eye to, and it is very easy to get 2+ in every spray. the TK, you can make sure You’ve got a good target, and with the feat you can bunch tough models up for multiple sprays. I even used anatomical precision when I couldn’t risk the hard 8 to loose the game. I can’t say enough good things about this unit, and I’m seriously considering a second unit. It depends on the rest of Thexus’ Theme force.

The Dominator is extremely hit or miss, and for me, he’s been missing. Both games I played him in Croe and his cutthroats were pretty lackluster. Agitators don’t work on them, Mind benders can’t explode them, and the Dominator doesn’t have a spray. I’m looking for a different unit, but I am also trying to get more games in with them first. Maybe I’ll get a juicy target for backstabbing poisons here soon and feel real good about myself.

The Agitator is the glue that holds the army together and the machine that makes it hum. I thought that getting the +2/+2 aura would be hard, but its really, exceedingly easy. With the armies slow speed and the durability of your front line troops, having three Agitators running around the back lines of your army applying the +2/+2 wherever you want is trivial. Four in Thexus’ theme force is going to be bonkers. On top of all of that, they also have influence in a pinch, and Psychic Assault. I was using Psychic Assault repeatedly over the course of the game to remove pesky models or clear off Monstrosities so that they could get out and do some damage (with another Agitator instigating!). Not only the best solo/model, but also the most fun to play, and amazingly realized and sculpted to boot.

Now we get to the Meat and Potatoes of the army – The Monstrosities.

The Warden is by far my favorite sculpt, but sadly not my favorite in usefulness. Its good, don’t get me wrong. None of the Monstrosities are bad, but its not really the protection piece it screams out to be. I played it very much like a Titan Gladiators little brother, and it worked well that way. Grand Slam and Follow up can be a really good tactic for getting models out of zones and knocking other models down for either the Warden to finish off, or for other models to do for it. That extra armor, too, makes it much more durable, adding a complete attack on to kill it, most days.

Cephalyx 2

The Wrecker is the obvious front runner for best Monstrosity, as its the work horse of them. P+S 19, Reach, Beat Back and Chain Attack- Bloodbath is enough rules for one day, let alone the massive amount of punishment it takes to get put down. Provided it can get there, it will be the bane of ‘Jacks, ‘Beasts, Cav and heavy infantry. Its as good in action as it is on paper. Its also not as hard to keep in the 5″ Agitator bubble as it would seem, as he can reach out to 9″ past the Agitator and still be getting the bonus’

The Subduer is my call for most underrated, and I can see why. Its not the same type of beat stick or utility that either other Monstrosity is, but I really like it. Hanging back and waiting for the opportune time to reach out and net someone, or just someone close enough to the target, while absorbing bullets meant for Thexus and the Agitators is just a really good role to have. Towards the end of the game, when all that is left is the remnants of the opponents army, its going to be nice to have a Subduer in your pocket.

Exulon Thexus is probably one of the most fun casters that I’ve ever played. he’s got all of the tools to make the army hum, a damage spell he can toss two off out, and a feat that’s just a blast. I did find, however, that getting his spells channeled was a lot harder than I’d initially expected.Every time I wanted an arcnode there, I also wanted that heavy to be doing something afterward. I think running my Monstrosities forward/center might help this a bit, but I will have to give it a whirl. Even if he is just sitting back, biding his time for the feat and fueling Monstrosities, I think he is doing his job. Monstrosities get a ton of work done, and he will keep them going all.Night. Long.

Lastly, I want to talk about the Cryx solos. they don’t quite count as Cephalyx, but they are allowed in the contract so it makes sense to talk about them. First, the Bloat Thrall, which I did use. Its a mobile artillery piece that seems to fail more often than it succeeds and has some terrible threat range Issues, however I still want to keep at it. Its a solid 2 pt piece that helps with infantry clearing that makes the Monstrosities jobs that much easier.

Second, the Pistol Wraith. I’ve used more than my fair share in Cryx, and he’s a stellar, if finicky piece. Deceleration helps that immensely, putting him up to def 16 and arm 14 against any magical guns. He gets two shots for 3 points, but they are powerful and accurate shots,  so its positively worth it. What really puts the icing on the cake though is Death Chill. Combined with TK and the feat, it is extremely possible to pull a model completely out of contention and then make sure It either acts or gets back into the think of things.

Finally, the Machine Wraith. For a single point, you can do much worse than a nearly invincible zone contender, and combined with Rampager, it can give Thexus play against both Warmachine and Hordes. Its a solid pickup if you’ve got the single point floating around.

I’ll be getting a game in with them tomorrow, and I’ll be sure to write it up. I’ll very likely be using the army through August, so stay tuned for even more.

During Lock and Load Whitemoon Dreams had a number of computers set up for people to demo up the versus mode of Warmachine: Tactics. The tables were packed until about 8 pm every night, but I was lucky enough to play the game twice, but I also got to spend a ton of time talking to Jay Koottarappallil, the CEO of the Whitemoon Dreams. He was a fantastic guy, taking feedback and suggestions all weekend, jotting them down and paying attention to what people said. It was really and amazing sight to see the top end of the company interacting with the exact target demographic like that. I work for a 20,000 employee global corporation, and I’ve never heard of the CEO talking to the professionals who use our products.

I enjoyed both experiences with the game,, but I know I am a least common denominator type of player. I like things to act reasonably well, I like the game to flow logically, and I don’t ask it to be 100% perfect. Tactics hit all those spots dead on. The effects have some small concerns, but Jay was already aware of them and is working on getting them cleaned up by launch.

Warmachine Tactic

The Demo is Cygnar v. Khador, and its a pretty fair fight. Khador is Lead by Sorcha with a Juggernaut and a Destroyer along with some 6 or so Winter Guard Infantry. Cygnar is lead by Stryker with a Lancer, Charger and Ironclad, along with an amount of Trenchers equal to the Winterguard. Deployment was minimal, but thats slated to be tweaked as well. Each turn starts with a Control Phase, fairly similar to Warmachine. You can allocate up to 3 focus to each ‘Jack, Upkeep Spells, and Shake Effects on Jacks and Casters. Your activation phase is just like you would expect if your familiar with the table top, with each model completing its action before moving onto the next. There is a small difference, though, in definition of a model. Each Winter Guard or Trencher is activated individually, and it not connected to any of the others. More importantly, spells (like Stryker’s Arcane Shield) do not flow over to all the models. I actually really like this. Especially in a video game like Tactics, putting the focus onto Warjacks will be paramount, and this one change will really make a difference. The return on investment that you normally get from unit buffs just won’t exist. Along with the change to solos, your Winter Guard and Trencher Infantry are extremely durable, potentially too much so. If I remember correctly, the Trenchers had 17 HP and the Winter Guard 16. This made the infantry survive attacks I’d not thought possible, including both attacks from assaulting Trencher Infantry, A Destroyer and a Juggernauts axe, and being shot in the face by a hand Cannon. Warjacks, too, are more Durable, with pounds of HP and, listen to this, no systems. I don’t know that I’m a fan of them not having systems, but it works well int he context of the games that I played. Effects like Disruption, Amputation, and the Shock Shield won’t be in the game in the way we remember from the tabletop. Disruption, for instance, simply prevents you from being able to allocate a single focus per instance to an affected Warjack, and can stack! Critical Amputation does a temporary (from what I remember) armor debuff, and the Shock Shield simply has the Disruption effect. I’m slightly concerned about the balance of the Cryx Bonejacks, because their DEF 15 is something that crippling the movement really helps alleviate. reducing a jacks movement to scrap, and therefore making it easier to hit, isn’t possible. This could have dire consequences.

Speaking of Stats: The game has been broken down into a star Rating for each stat, in the range of 1-5 stars. Fpr armor this roughly represents 4 points per star.  Other stats have each star vaguely representing 2 points each. When rolling dice, though,  this is translated directly, using a 2d6 system.  This can be disconcerting at first, like seeing that Sorcha under Wind Rush only has a 12 defense, but it all equals out, with winterguard only have a 2 or 3 for Melee attack.

The Warcaster plays exactly like you’d expect them too, with their entire spell list, weapons and feat available. You have your control area visible at all times on the field, and there is realistically nothing you can’t do that you’d expect to be able to do normally. Its a really interesting that they decided to translate so directly, because Warcasters are so vital to the tabletop experience, you’ve got to make them work. It feels, and I think this is the proper move from Whitemoon Dreams: Don’t fix whats not broke.

When I first sat down to play Tactics, Jay was there to walk me through the interface. I seem to remember him saying that it was a down and dirty, very simplified beta interface, which is fine because there are plenty of refinements to make to it, and I have every confidence that they will, based simply on feedback I gave then and there.

The game plays sleek and swift, and I didn’t notice any slowdown – now, its a dedicated box, so I expect that, but it still needs saying. The models looked great, but I’m not a judge of art, They looked true to their models on the tabletop, and that was fantastic. They even acted like it, with Trenchers having Bayonet Charge, the destroyers gun was horribly inaccurate, and the Charger even had Powerful Attack.

Models have indicators for where they can move, where they can run, and you even get LOS + range indicators from the spot you’d want to stop in.

Example – Your considering moving your Winter Guard, but you don’t know whether he should run or walk and attack, because you don’t know if he’d be in range. You move your mouse to the area indicated at the farthest he can move up, and thin yellow two lines appear – one to the Charger and one to a Trencher Infantry. You know that from that position, you’d be able to make an attack on either target. You move the cursor a single box to the left, and the Charger vanishes from LOS behind a ruin – and your yellow line is gone with it.

There are  differences with boosting that come off wrong at first, especially to one so used to playing the game, that just flow eventually into the game. First off, you choose your boosts before you make your attack – both to hit and to damage. Second, all damage is boosted from an attack, and that is VERY cool on the destroyer.

Each game ended exactly as I’d expect a standard Warmachine game to end, and the stories told about them will sound familiar. Game 1, Sorcha Wind Rushed and froze both Warjacks, but a shake and two lucky 10’s later, the Ironclad had pasted Sorcha. Game 2 I used my Quake Hammer to knock down both jacks shielding Sorcha, moved the now disengaged Lancer over and to her and headbutt her to the ground, and took Shots at her with two Trencher Infantry, Strykers Pistol, and an Arcane Bolt, all of which she survived. She then took a free strike after shaking the headbutt and died to the Lancers spear.

The stories are the same, but the game is different, and in the right ways given the medium that the IP is being expressed in. I don’t expect, and don’t really even want, a tabletop clone. What I want, and what they are giving me, is a new way to explore the same game.

I am not looking forward to this man.

I am not looking forward to this man.

Talking to Jay about the vision of how they want to explore the game was really inspiring as well. They have 3 casters for each of the four factions ready to go, along with a pile of characters and a release schedule that will continually add unit choices to the game. Again, he was super-receptive to feedback, jotting down things I said in passing as good ideas and further tweaks.

Closed beta starts here in just a few weeks, with open beta shortly thereafter and an on-time release of the game in August. I honestly won’t be playing a ton of Multiplayer, as I enjoy the tabletop so much, but I will definitely be playing through the campaign mode, and you can bet you’ll hear about it!

 

When I took off from Baltimore on Wednesday, I was more excited for Lock and Load than I’d been last two years. That doesn’t mean a whole lot because I’m not one to get terribly excited in general. The excitement came from a number of related factors:  I was going to see my friends Sarah and Jonathan who I’d not seen in almost a year, I was going to attend the invitational and then Lock and Load itself,  I was going to hang with John DeMaris, a stellar fellow I met three years ago, I was going to  get games in with Aeryn Rudel, Lyle Lowrey, and Doug Hamilton, and, I discovered at the last minute, meet another set of friends I’d not seen in quite some time. I was also rooming with a bunch of Canadians, only one of which I’d ever met.

Not everything turned out as I expected, both for good and Ill, but it was a splendid time all around. What did I do you say?

Flying in Wednesday, I managed to have dinner with my friends from Maryland, now Seattle, and it was awesome just seeing them again. They gave me a room to crash in – The only bed I’d sleep in all weekend, good food and good company. Sadly, it was cut short by my stupid east coast brain. I took the train in super-early to get over to the Seattle Westin on Thursday to check in before the Invitational, and from there, met John for breakfast with the Canadians. Check in for the Invitational was super swift, and we got Lock and Load dice, too! Well, the ones I got were “miss printed” with a dark purple on black, but I love ’em, with the color scheme of the Ravens and my Cryx being the same. They are Q workshop dice, but I think they are much easier to read than the standard ones. I’m pleased.

Zaal's Immortal Host v. Barnabus

Zaal’s Immortal Host v. Barnabus

My first opponent of the day is Aeryn, who I’d played last year, but he’d been given the wrong warlock by Will Schick, so it wasn’t really a fair game. This year, however, he brought a tier 4 Immortal Host list painted by Charles Foster III, and it was a beautiful army. I was Playing my Exchange Gators, and had finally gotten my Swamptopus from Devilsquid and my Wrong Eye from Endgame. I put down my typical Barnabus list, and we set off on a caster kill. I don’t remember much from this game, other than realizing that the Witch Doc Croc can control the Kovass, and never making the roll. I’m sure the game ended with Zaal in the dirt, and I’m fairly sure it was my Maryland Terrapin that did him in, but hell if I could validate any of that. 1-0 on the weekend so far!

Barnabus V. Kreoss 3

Barnabus V. Kreoss 3

The next game was against Kreoss III, who brought along an Indictor, which I’d not seen proxied before. He used the avatar, and that made me very pleased, because who doesn’t want the Avatar to not be the Avatar! I ended up changing the list up (and for the rest of the con, really) by swapping out the Ironback for the Swamptopus. It was a fantastic move that made for some really cool games later on. This one, specifically, I managed to drag Fires of Salvation from engaging two Gators, allowing them to break out and take down some Exemplar Vengers. The Swamptopus, though, Nearly cleaned out fires all by himself, which was pretty epic, getting a 4 point Critical Catastrophic Damage off, making the total 15 points of damage! in the end, Kreoss took three turns of beatings by a Blackhide Wrastler before being put in the ground, but it was finished! 2-0 baby!

During the invitational, there was a raffle of sorts, and I was lucky enough to win all the Standard Sculpt Juniors and Lessers, which is a pretty big deal to me. I Have Cygnar, Mercs, Skorne and Cryx, which is just shy of half of them. But now I have to find out reasons to make a Trollblood, Ret, Khador, Protectorate and Circle lists that have them in it. Like I needed more factions.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to get in any more games during the invitational, but it was a blast playing Aeryn, which I am going to make a tradition, and my Kreoss Opponent was a great guy. I passed out early, knowing that I had Spelldraft the next day.

Well, I Spelldrafted Friday, Which I’ve already wrote about, so I won’t go over it again, but suffice it to say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I also got to see the keynote/Staff Panel, which was pretty OK. I like the information on Level 7 and Warmachine: Tactics, and the Monsternomicon stuff was just off the hook, I just couldn’t help but be disappointed in the lack of Warmachine and Tactics stuff. There were four slides:

starting off with a non-character Beserker Chassis Jack called the Mad Dog, ripped straight from High Command:

Khadoran Mad Dog

Then, a picture of some unknown Protectorate jack, with a mace, flamethrower, and what seems to be an arc node.

Protectorate Jack

Next, Concept art for a Ret Character Warjack. They mentioned if you want to see who’s character jack it is, pay attention to the weapons – looks like Garryth to me.

Garreth JackAnd finally, they showed this still, which could be either Pirates or Cryx.

Pirate Unit

While this slide was up, they mentioned that they were doing characters in Reckoning like they had done before in Apotheosis, supposedly to that type of power level. Its only fair, seeing as Imperatus just released, to keep Ret one step behind! They’d also mentioned that we were going to see some character units, if I remember correctly, and that’s something I’d really love to see. While the Withershadow Combine are freaking amazing, I think Cryx needs another bite at the Black 13th apple!

I was exhausted Friday, but I wanted to get my Cephalyx assembled, so I got up fairly early and started on them after a brief breakfast. I took some shots as I was assembling them:

monstrosity bits

monstrosity bits

Pre-Magnetized Monstrosities

Pre-Magnetized Monstrosities

Dominator

Cephalyx Dominator

Cephalyx Agitators

Cephalyx Agitators

Mind bender

Mind Bender and Drudges Unit


Sadly, the only model I didn’t get a picture of as I was doing all this was the enormous Thexus himself.

But lets get to that now!

Thexus v. Borka 2

Thexus v. Borka 2

The first game of the day was against Borka II, who had been assembled at the same table while I was assembling my Cephalyx. He is not a nice man. We were both, however, playing the caster for the first time, and neither of us really knew what to expect. I managed to win on scenario, but mostly because I could spray everything of his off the board. Overlords, Agitators, Mind Benders and Mind Slavers all have spray attacks that are extremely good. What I couldn’t spray, I could TK, and the feat was just Icing on top. I will say, someones going to figure out something insane with Borka II, and I’m just not gonna like it. 8-1 (yes, I am counting Spelldraft games!)

Thexus v. Goreshade III

Thexus v. Goreshade III

The second game was against Goreshade III, playing a massive, very cool, Tier list. He’d also decided to go for Cephalyx, and wanted to see how they play out on the tabletop. He’d played his Goreshade III list some 60+ times, and man, did it show. While I gave him a run for his money, I just didn’t know my list as well as he did his. The Wrecker, though, did his job and walked through 6 or 7 bane riders in a single activation, momentarily swinging the game. He had, however, picked off both my Dominator and my Mind Bender with magic attacks, and Croe’s never rallied. Playing 11 points down just wasn’t going to help my cause. I could have tied up or even killed the arc node had they been around, but it just wasn’t in the cards. It takes a total of two Siphon bolts onto Thexus and the game ends. 8-2

Me and Doug v. Martin and Max

Me and Doug v. Martin and Max

The third game I played was a team game with Doug Hamilton against Team France. They brought Skorne and Cryx, with Doug and I bringing Cephalyx and Convergence. It was a brutal game, and I rolled my fair share of hard 8’s to bring down most of the Satyxis with the Mind benders. The Drudge unit didn’t last long to the reprisal, and the Warden, when given a chance on Skarre failed to complete the job. Thankfully, He did it on a free strike that saved Thexus’ bacon, allowing us to call the game there up one caster to 0. I even got to use Doug’s Hulk Monstrosities because mine were.. well.. criticized for not being recognizable. I will say, though, that using the feat to clump up all the Venetor Slingers into a nice 5″ aoe bubble and then having the stupid Bloat Thrall miss his shot and sail 6″ right was a real bummer. 9-2!

Thexus 4

Cygnar and Cephlyx v. Cryx and Trolls

The last game of the day was again a team game against a couple of friends who were standing behind me in line reporting games. It was starting to get late, and I was getting loopy, and the scenario table didn’t help. We played Hold the Gates, with 25 points each of Thexus  and Cygnar v. 50 points each of Cryx and Trolls. It was BRUTAL. We held the gates, with Stormwall taking down Deathjack, and a million tough rolls on both Boomhowler and the Mind Bender Drudges holding down the fort long enough to eek out a win. 10-2

Barnabus v. Grissel 2

Barnabus v. Grissel 2

Sunday was not so kind to me. I got up early, and grabbed my first opponent about 7am after just about 4 hours of sleep. He slapped down the Mini Meat Mountain – 35 points of Pure Pain. I was playing gators, so I had no idea were this was going. Turns out, It went about as good as it could. Toward the end of the game, the Swamptopus got over to Grissel II and flailed about at her right good, but even with 8 attacks he couldn’t put the finishing touch on her. One of my Gatormen, eager to finish the fight, took a free strike from a warder, survived, and smacked the knocked down Warlock in the face. I needed High rolls, at ARM 19, but dice -3 isn’t terrible. But, as they always do, my dice pulled the law of averages on my face and rolled snake eyes, sealing the game, as Barnabas was beat to a pulp, just barely, by Mulg. 10-3

Barnabus v. Harbinger

Barnabus v. Harbinger

My next game was not something I was thrilled about once I saw what Frka had dropped on the table. Harbinger. I wasn’t sure what I’d do about it, but it wasn’t going to be OK. I lost my feat due to the book, and was really struggling from then on out. I made a decent play for it, with Barnabus forcing Harbinger to Martyr down to 4 hp, but in the end, I couldn’t clear the flag, and ended up loosing on control points. I probably sacrificed my Two big beasts a touch early, but I didn’t think it could be helped. Submerge being purified off is just rotten. 10-4

Sadly, my last game of the day I didn’t get a picture of, though it would have been epic. A friend I’ve known for a while but never got a game in against was also at Lock and Load, so we threw down. In the vein of all my Sunday Matchups, he tosses out a legit caster – Saeryn, with a pretty brutal list including a Scythian and two Angels. Standard fare, I’ve been told. Barnabus is good, But I don’t think he’s good enough to tangle with the big boys. Thankfully, I’m able to weather the storm, and make it through the feat turn by blocking LOS to Barnabus with big models in a swamp pit. I’m finally able to pop my feat, use Croak Hunter thrown spears to trigger Warpath, and get the Swamptopus on Searyn. Turns out, no girl likes being stuffed into the mouth of Pink Octopus. 11-4!

I really enjoyed getting a ton of games in. I couldn’t think of a better way to do it. The food was good, the people were awesome, and the staff was a blast to play against.

But there’s more!

In addition to the games, there was also a Privateer hobby area where the Concept artist, Digital and Traditional Sculptors, Painters and Terrain builders were all hanging out. They had concept art of the Sacral Vault and the actual model for Helga, which I tragically didn’t get pictures for. But they did also have Trollkin bandits

Painting Bandits Trollkin Bandits

and also the model, albeit primed, for Jaga Jaga.

Jaga Jaga

Finally, they also had someone sculpting the Swamp Gobber River pirates, with concept art there as well:

River Pirates

 

I had a blast at Lock and Load, and look forward to making the trip out next year. Maybe this time, I can somehow magic my way into an Iron Gauntlet and get beat by the best int he business!

 

Man, what a format! Spelldraft lived up to my lofty expectations, and I really enjoyed the whole 63 man tournament. I will say that I liked the format better than Who’s the Boss, specifically because I don’t have to be terrified of breaking someone else’s models.

Every opponent I had was a top-notch guy, and I’d play any of them again in a standard tournament, though I’d likely not do as well.

I ended up playing against,  in order:

Rhan with Ashes to ashes
Kromack with Rage, Fury, and Defenders Ward
Epic Skarre with Savagery and Iron Flesh
Epic Haley with Signs and Portents
Epic Morvanna with Arcane Bolt
Epic Skarre with Ashes to Ashes

The format is not balanced against the rest of Warmachine, but it is internally balanced with itself. It has a pre-selected set of 64 cards, organized into  8 pre-sorted card pools that are all crafted to create choice within the packs. In the pack I opened there were both Signs and Portents and Boneshaker. It was a tough choice to make, but I went with Bone Shaker.  I didn’t think that the capacity to remove up to 18 models in a turn was going to come around again, and I could spam it more than Signs and Portents. I also  didn’t know what was in the rest of the packs, and was hoping for another global buff. In the end, I don’t think I did so bad, though I didn’t end up with a single CTRL buff.

Spell draft Cards

I had focused on making the most out of the random spells, but some players went with straight up high focus casters, some had no-frills casters who worked without spells, and other still focused on the feat with spells to enable it. While there was a huge variety, I was legitimately surprised at the lack of Harbingers and Kreoss 3’s, maybe that is just me. My biggest fear, though, was assuaged when they defaulted to Deathclock. I was a very happy camper seeing the chess clocks on the tables instead of timers. I was convinced that if we used timed turns, they would be the death of me.

Every games, as I mentioned, was a blast, so let me run down the highlights, for those of you who weren’t on my twitter.

Game 1: Austin brings a fairly standard Rhan list, with two units of Battle Mages, Sentinels, and a Phoenix. Thankfully, I got lucky Chain lighting rolls and erased his Battle Mages on the top of turn 2 before I could get engaged. Rhan ends up Spirit Fanged to death Turn 3.

Game 2: James Brings a brutal list of Kromack, twin stalkers, Ghetorix, and double shifting stones. Thankfully, last Masters I saw this terrible thing, and ended up nullifying one set of stones early on. I’d also dropped a ton of damage, but not enough to kill, into Kromack on turn 2, forcing him to play cautious. Though I hate to win this way, he ran out of time while making attacks on the Egregore with Ghetorix. He’d have won, no doubt, given infinite time.

Game 3: A very exuberant cryx player, who I forget the poor dudes name, brings an Epic Skarre list, with Satyxis, Bane Knights, Deathjack and Tartarus. He starts out debasing himself and how terrible he is, but I jovially call him out on his tactic, and we get along for the rest of the game. He forgets to feat at the only time he needed it, and I Spirit Fang Skarre off the board, again getting me out of the game on luck.

Not all those Banes make it.

Not all those Banes make it.

Game 4 was against a terrifying Epic Haley list run by Adam with a Stormwall and Blazers. Thanks to Quagmire, the Satyxis were able to tie up the Blazers for the majority of the game, making them less relevant, but still potent. What really swung the game, though, was my 5 Primed Bane Thralls miraculously dropping the Stormwall, freeing me to go for scenario.

Game 5 was an epic debacle against Colin Hill, and his Epic Morvanna list. He ended up killing his own Gallows Grove, Feating for it, and dropping it next to the Coven. Two shots and a re-roll later, he’s killed two of the coven and a focus 3 caster just can’t get it done.If I’d have been better prepared for it, I had crevasse, and could have forced a longer game, though I did get to see the Staff Panel, so it wasn’t all bad.

Game 6 was against Craig, another Epic Skarre player who had full units of Thralls and Knights, along with Tartarus and Deathjack. I took Tartarus off the board with Bone Shakered Bane Knights, and then I was able to get the terrible Bone Shaker train to go off. I took almost the entire Bane Knight unit off at once. . At the end of the day, Spirit Fang shots into Skarre ended the match, after I survived her feat.

Ultimately, I think it was both spell selection and the list that made the Army hum. I was familiar with the Scenario, I had practiced using the caster, and though I had fiddled with the list a bit, I kept the basic parts strong and enabled my arcnodes to get into place to deliver the tons of POW 12’s to the casters face.

Arm 14 – 45 damage.
Arm 15 – 36 damage
Arm 16 – 27 damage
Arm 17 – 18 damage
Arm 18 – 9 Damage ( 17  if boosting damage)

The three arc nodes, though I’d been cautioned against it,  meant I could easily sacrifice one to take out all his troops, one to drop damage into the caster, and have a third ready to finish the game.  Biles kept troops and casters out of zones, with MAT 8/pow 13 Bane Thralls keeping heavies in check.

It was an amazing, insane tournament that lasted for almost 12 hours, and I look forward to the PDF and rules coming out post-gencon. While the Static set of 64 spells could possibly get old, I spoke with both D.C. and Hungerford, who both mentioned that there are plans to change up the lists every year. I think that’ll do wonders to keeping the format fresh, though I can’t see the staples being replaced anytime soon, but thats the same with every format, Masters and Iron Gauntlet Included. There has also been talk of limiting or banning casters, and I can see why. The top four were: Witch Coven, Witch Coven, Epic Skarre, and Morvanna 2. Seems like there might be a bit of an unbalance there, With the Witch Coven represented well, Cryx represented well, and only the eventual winner with Epic Morvanna to break up the monotony. I look forward to it next year!

I’m writing this before even heading out to lock and load, but I am scheduling this to show up on Thursday, at noon, right about the time I’ll be getting breakfast with a friend from Muse on Minis on the other coast, gearing up for a day of PG gaming. I’ll also be looking to get a first bite at a Cephalyx army. I’ve been chomping at the bit to get these guys and put them on the table as often as possible between then and August as I can. I’ll probably even be playing them at NOVA, so if your coming down, find me and see if we can get a game in!

The list I’ve put together to put together is a simple tasters choice affair, in order to let me get a feel for all the models in the range

Exulon Thexus+5
-Subduer7
-Warden6
-Wrecker7
Mind Slaver and Drudges (10)6
Mind Bender and Drudges (10)6
Cephalyx Agitator2
Cephalyx Agitator2
Cephalyx Agitator2
Croes Cutthroats (10)10
-Cephalyx Dominator1
Bloat Thrall2
Cephalyx Overlords4
55

mind bender

I’m considering cutting the Croes down to 7 and adding a Pistol Wraith, or even cutting them down to the Tactical Arcansit Corps, and adding two of em. Either way, I feel I’ve done right by the army.

I’m worried that the amount of Officers, the vulnerability of them, and the reliance the army has on them will end up making it completely worthless, but Deceleration makes them just hardy enough I’m not clenching my buttcheeks in terror, just worry. I really wish I had more to go off of, though, but having no play time fills me with trepidation about making any sort of predictions.

I’m also negotiating a trade with a friend of mine, so I’ll be able to repaint my Cephalyx models in a deep red color, one I think goes with my Cryx army, but apart from it.

I know its short as hell, but its a Convention update, and I expect to be tweeting and facebooking updates starting at 11:00 PST, so stay tuned anyway!! I’ll also be doing a wrap up on Tuesday, writing it on my flight on my tablet, so we will see how that goes!

 

Recently, if it has not been clear, I’ve been playing the Witch Coven, trying to get a handle on them as I intend to play them at the Spell Draft event at lock and load. There isn’t much practice on can really do to prepare, other than make sure that you know the caster inside and out, allowing you to make do with a new spell list.

I managed to get 8 games in before the trip out to Seattle, Going 6-2 in that time. Granted, its 50 point games instead of 35, but the core of the list is staying very much the same.

Coven v. Kaelyssa – Loss: Assassination – List v. 1
Coven v. Butcher – Loss: Assassination  – List v. 2
Coven v. Iron Mother – Win: Scenario – List v. 3
Coven v. Reznik 2 – Win: Assassination – List v. 4
Coven v. Sturgis – Win: Scenario – List v. 3.1
Coven v. Morvanna 2 – Win: Scenario – List v. 3.2
Coven v. Kreoss 3 – Win: Scenario – List v. 3.3
Coven v. Rhan – Win: Assassination – List v. 3.3

The list that I’ve settled on looks like this:

The Witch Coven of Gharlghast+5
-Egregore-
-Deathripper4
-Nightwretch4
-Nightwretch4
Bane Thralls (10)8
-Bane Thrall Officer3
Satyxis Raiders (10)8
-Satyxis Sea Witch2
Bile Thralls (6)5
Warwitch Siren2
35

That is the core of list 3. I’ve messed around with some of the support staff, and at 50 I add a second Warwitch Siren, A Scarlock, and a full unit of Bane Riders. I really like this list. It can handle massed infantry, heavy armor and High Defense. Its durable against shooting and has some peculiar scalpel elements. I think its as close to a take on all comers list that I can write.

Now, with my list down, I’ve started to look at all the casters and see what spells they have and what would be nice to see get passed to me. There are some very nice ones out there, and while I still have some questions as to what spells are in the packs, I have some really cool plans. They did, however, say that they’ve removes spells that would “break the game. ” That is a bit of an opinion statement though, as I know plenty of people that feel that Purification breaks the game even now. That said there are some particular spell categories that I will be looking to grab:
Army Support – ex: Carnage,Signs and Portents,Transference, Mockery of Life. Arcane Shield
These are spells that will allow my normally average stat troopers to step up a notch. An 18″ control area really pushes spells like Signs and Portents and Carnage through the roof, while the Focus 9 will really give transference a boost.

Speed Buff – ex: Road to War,Dash,Superiority,Killing Ground, Crusaders Call, Coup de Main, True Path, Tactical Supremacy, Unstoppable Force, Quickening
These spells either give a single unit or my whole army a speed boost. Superiority is a specifically desired spell, as having a def 17, speed 9 Arc node would be magnificent. I really think that the scenario is ripe for Jamming, and I want to exploit that if at all possible. Besides, Satyxis with a +4 movement would be glorious, right?

Defense- ex:Fog of War, Temporal Barrier, Storm Wall, Star Crossed, Solid Ground, Caustic Mist, Rapid Growth, Pillars of Salt, Ashen Cloud, Deflection, Deceleration, Castigate, Lamentation, Bestial
These allow the Coven to capitalize on their main game: Army delivery. I’m fairly sure that this is going to be critical to getting a good Spell list. Fortunately, there are a ton to choose from. My personal favorite would be the 9 1cost Caustic Mists, but I’ll take pretty much everything on this list, and I could even double up. Star crossed + Ashen Cloud? Fog of War + Pillars of Salt?

Chain Lighting

Nuke- ex: Soulfire, Siphon Bolt, Razor Wind, Bone Shaker (probably the best 2 cost Nuke I could grab, netting me up to 18 dead models a turn), Chain Lighting, Sunder Spirit, Convection, Excarnate
This is the bread and butter of my concept. If I can grab just one 2 point nuke, I can eliminate units a a time. I’d need only 8’s to hit DEF 17, and at cost 1, boosting is easy. Most of them are POW 12 allowing great flexibility in the targets that it can kill.

Defense or Speed Debuffs – ex: Crippling Grasp, Quagmire (Imagine, if you will, Satyxis), Inhospitable Ground, Freezing Grasp, Black Spot.
With a pile of Banes and Satyxis, I could use a bit of help against some of the higher defense models. Yes, I have Biles, but I landing an extra shot or two on some of the Iron Fleshed Gunmages, Daughters of the Flame or other problematic models would be pretty useful.

Other- ex: Telekinesis, Ritual Sacrifice
There isn’t a ton to say here, really. I want both of these spells.

While looking through the spells, there were many that I really wouldn’t want, and while that will make the first few picks a lot of fun, it can make some of the later spells that no one else wants very damning. I’ve drafted a lot of M:TG, and the last few picks are whatever everyone rejected from the pool. I know I can end up with a pretty dead slot of I have Unearthly Rage or Positive Charge, but I can make do. There are very few spells I don’t want at all, or couldn’t use, especially at -1 cost. I’d really like to get as close as I can to keeping the Delivery Caster mentality, with some extra “pop” that would make the Coven really hum.

What I am really excited about is that I can use multiple Self-Upkeep spells in a round, due to the multiple activations that the coven has. The thought of starting the turn off with Signs and Portents, pushing the middle of the pack up with Road to War and then ending with Both Deflection and Fog of War really makes me giddy.

evayl

While I have all these grand plans, I expect there to be a ton of Vayle 2, Kreoss 3, Harbinger, Haley 2 and Coven. Each of them has a ton of focus and a back breaking feat. I even expect there to be a few Rogue casters looking to get one in – Casters that run Jacks well and will pick all the jack spells to make themselves super-powered: Absylonia, Darius and Magnus come to mind right away. While each of these casters can cause a massive amount of damage on their own, what I am really worries about is Timed Turns. I’m not particularly good at them, and prefer the deathclock variant overall, so I am worries that I’ll end up busting my turns by waiting to get that last move in.

No matter what happens, I expect Friday to be a ton of fun. Its an exceptionally long tournament with 6 rounds and the draft itself taking us all the way to the Staff Panel. I will have almost no time to play Iron Arena games that day, but I’m OK giving that up to play in the first Sanctioned Spell Draft Event.

I’ll be trying to update via facebook and twitter the coolest things I see at Lock and Load, so find me and follow!

Coven Art By Dan Roman