There WILL be Dark Souls II spoilers. You have been warned. 

 

I feel it.

The game is close to finished. The time has come and that last, final grind is on.

Dark Souls II has been a very different game for me than Dark Souls originally was. In the first game I felt a sort of completion every time I pushed through a boss, slaying them and taking their souls to advance my level, my power, and my skills. Now, though, Dark Souls II feels much more like the constant grind of a millstone, slowly reducing everything you give to it, and the only way to keep going is to give more and more. While I remember many of the Dark Souls bosses fondly, with the battles playing a strong aspect in those memories, I seem less likely to remember a given Dark Souls II boss.

I also have less patience with dark souls II bosses, and I’ve not really a good reason why. Simply getting killed a few times is enough to make me frustrated with the boss design, where I was willing to bash my head against Smaug and Orienstien for days.

I’ve manage to break all of that now, and I am giddy to get in there and end the game. It could be that the last couple of bosses were fun, though not terribly complicated. I don’t even feel I Stumbled across anything particularly useful when I fought them, I just think the combination of knowing the genre and having a long, re achy weapon makes it a bit simpler on me.

The Iron King, but Older

The Iron King, but Older

 

Old Iron King was a fight I had a blast on. It was an easy fight, but it took me a few goes to actually get what I needed to do. Well, honestly, more than a few. I don’t know how to fight this guy fairly, to be honest. When you come into his arena, your edging into a lake of lava, next to a building, on its left side. There is a similar ledge on the right side of the building. During the fight, he has a number of moves, but for the most part, I limited him to three. As soon as I entered the arena, I would trigger his animation, and then run to the right side of the building, prompting his first attack, a sweeping breath of fire. The corner of the building kept me safe, and I could watch what he was doing. If he went to breath again, I stay put. However, if he Raises his arm to cast a fire-beam, which can go through the building and kill you, I would run out along the edge of the building as best I could. There was a hole with lava in it that will instant kill you, so i just skirted the edges, and if you do it well, you end up behind his fist as he drops it down to shoot the firebeam. Wack him a few good times, and as soon as he raises his hand, get the hell outa dodge and around the corner. Repeat until dead. Not particularly genius, but very good.

There isn’t much to say about the Prowling Magus and his Congregation. Its a mob style boss fight with about a dozen dudes. I ran about, spearing the two priests and the Magus to death before the mob overwhelmed me. This fight was both adorable and easy.

The Covetous Demon was a really sad little boss. He is a giant slug-hut-thing and wasn’t challenging at all. He was slow and flopped about a lot with long windups, telegraphing his every move. I died just once, when I forgot that he was going to roll over me, and man does that do a ton of damage. The next time I just stood at his shoulder and stabbed him with my spear until he gave me his glorious souls!

The Royal Rat Authority was the bane of my existence for a very long time. I tried different weapons, different strategies, and different equipment styles until I just grabbed every piece of Poison resist and ate some moss to make sure it took three instead of two attacks to get me to Toxic. Once that happened, I was able to make short work of his little friend and stay under him once they were all dead, stabbing him in his junk and leg until he, miraculously, dies.

I believe... Kill it with fire.

I believe… Kill it with fire.

Dear Dukes Freja was a fight that has me the first few times. I don’t know what happened, honestly, but two or three times, I went to fight her and got right stomped by a blue death beam or a vomit of acid and spiders. Once I realized what she did and how her fight was supposed to go, it only took me a few more attempts. With her, I stood to the right of one of her two heads while she attacked. She telegraphed her moves fairly well, so even when I bumped into her legs while strafing away from her face, I wouldn’t be attacked. I’d wait out any attacks she’d make, and then move just enough in front of her face that I could stab it with my spear. It wasn’t easy, as the spiders around her were also trying to kill me, so I had to avoid being too close to her while also not getting too far away. Once I established my tempo, even the Soul Beam and Acid Vomit were pretty easy to dodge, and I made solid work of her.

The Royal Rat Vanguard is another one of those easy, cheap bosses that the game is littered with. Simply an overgrown, mohawked rat that had toxic on his weapon, He wasn’t very difficult at all to beat. It took me a second try because I can be super dumb and get trapped by rats in a corner and gnawed until death. it was not my best moment.

I call him Tons O' Fun!

I call him Tons O’ Fun!

The Rotten was the last of my Great Souls I grabbed. He is a festering, enormous pule of corpses animated by who knows what. This pile takes the form of a humanoid and wields a huge cleaver. This cleaver does massive damage, but I was able to withstand much of it thanks to my endurance and tower shield. The room is filled with fire that damages you, but sadly does nothing to ol’ Rotten if you track him over it. The boss here has only some 3 or 4 attack animations, which I was able to quickly learn. His triple overhand attack would take out all my stamina, and his wide sweep would stun me, but his grab attack wasn’t instantly lethal, thankfully, though it does look like its dislocating every vertebrae in your back. With the reach of the spear I was able to absorb many of his attacks on my shield and retaliate back with a lunge that did significant damage.

My friend told me to dig up the Belfry Luna and try it again, and this time, after I’d been here a half dozen times, I found the ladder to the roof. There, in a re conception of a fight from DSI, I fought the Belfry Gargoyles. This was a fight that had me stumped for a while in Dark Souls I, and it felt good not to die a single time while fighting them. I had to burn through a huge, what seemed to be ever spawning chain of them, but with careful positioning, a reach melee weapon and a good shield, I was able to take them down.

The Twin Dragonriders was my most recent fight, and this one caused me a little bit of a hiccup. you enter a room where there are two knights. One is standing on a ledge using his enormous bow to fire arrows the size of lances at you, and the other is on the ground and rushes you with his halberd. Those arrows do a ton of damage, and I never really found a way to time it so that I didn’t get blasted with them every time I went to attack the one on the ground. I did, however, after a few fruitless tries, find a pillar I could hide behind. Here, the bow couldn’t hit me, and the knight on the ground got stuck trying to run through the pillar. Instead, I stabbed him a good dozen times until his friend decided enough was enough and joined the fight. Once he was off of the ledge, I was just patient, watched my stamina bar, and speared them when I could. After a long grind, they both went down.

Now, I move deeper into the castle to try and wrestle whatever it is that I want from whatever land this is.

I have been warned!

 

Last Thursday I was finally able to throw down in a game of warmachine against my buddy over at Sticks and Dice. He’s a friend I’ve been playing for amost 10 years now, and we very much know each others methods, styles and armies, so these games are always challenging, hard fought and a blast to play.

We’ve recently taken to playing even our casual games with Deathclock, so this is no different. However, I have a strange mental block against friendly deathclock. Even though I know that my opponent can clock themselves, I never use it advantageously. Instead, I assume that my opponent has infinite time and will keep playing beyond the ting of the clock. I’m not sure if its good or bad, but its always there. Whenever I see my opponent start to run down on time, I think to my self “If he clocks, we’re just gonna play this out anyway. There is no reason to end a perfectly fine game now!”

Well, enough rambling! Onto the game!

I’ve only gotten a single game in with my Goreshade 1 list, and I’m still trying to shake out all the kinks. I’ve not changed the list from before.

 

This isn't his first rodeo

This isn’t his first rodeo

Goreshade I+6
*Deathwalker-
*Nightmare10
*Slayer 6
*Slayer6
Bane Knights (10)10
Bane Riders (5)11
Bane Lord Tartarus4
Darragh Wrath4
Warwitch Siren2
Warwitch Siren2
Necrotech + Scrap Thrall1
56

My friend brought along a fairly standard Anit-Cryx list, run by Forward Kommander Sorscha

I don't like this one all to much....

I don’t like this one all to much….

Forward Kommander Sorscha+6
*Conquest19
*Sylys Wyshnalyrr2
Iron Fang Uhlans (3)7
Kayazy Eliminators 3
Lady Aiyana & Master Holt4
Tactical Arcanist Corps4
Winter Guard Infantry (10)6
*Officer & Standard2
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich2
Eiryss3
Gorman di Wulfe2
Battle Mechaniks (4)3
56

The table was fairly sparse, as they are want to be for warmachine, and we rolled up Fire Support, which even further exacerbated the issue in the center of the table. He won the roll, and chose to go fist, and I chose my side of the board.

As much as I feel confident in my skills with the warmachine game and my ability to make fairly strong decisions in game so as not to get my face melted off, The pre-game portion sometimes gets me very, very hard. During casual play its not terribly important to choose which list you’ll be using, so list chicken and matchup analysis is not a skill that I’ve developed extremely well. In addition, board edge and first turn has always been an automatic with me. I am very much in the camp that espouses building your army so that you can always take advantage of going first, and I’ve always played in a manner that tries to ask questions, including my favorite: Can you break through to my half of the board. Often the answer is no.

He deploys Conquest first, and then the rest of his army, as I have no PD or AD to worry about. His uhlans and Eleminators take my left flank among the trees, folowed by conquest and the Mechanics, with Sorscha and her cadre of Dwarves, Elves, and Alchemists took the center. Off to my right he placed the Winterguard Infantry and Joe.

I’d been thinking about how to counter what I new was coming with my army, my small, dense army, and I had a plan. I was going to try to counter his deployment. Conquest was going to get his shots, no matter what, and he was going to play a huge part in the game, no changing that. I wanted to try and get a jack or two over there and finish off with the Bane Knights or Thralls. Nightmare, both Slayers, Darragh Wrath, and Goreshade went in the center, with Warwitches behind. The Knights, who with vengeance and a little bit of positioning could out threat the Uhlans went to my left, and the Bane Riders, with their Possible MAT 10 attacks went out to the right across from the WGI. I knew it was going to be a difficult threat game with the Infantry, but I needed to play it.

Fuzzy Turn 1 Deployment. Forest, Rough Terrain, and walls.

Turn 1 is spent running into position by both armies. I try to put as many Bane Riders as I can into cover and concealment to raise their defense to tolerable levels, and layer my Bane Knights so that if the Uhlans do bring it in, I’ll be able to use Tartarus and the remaining Knights to level out the playing field.

Turn 1 Positioning.

Turn two sees the expected advance of the Winterguard, and their subsequent shots into the bane riders manage to remove two of them, even with the +2 defense. Normally, I’d have Darragh Wrath over there to help them out with -2 Str to living, but guns just don’t care. The Uhlans repositioned back into the woods, seeing the threat of the Bane Knights, but the Eliminators were emboldened by the MAT 6 of the Bane Knights, and strode in to contest the flag. On my turn, Gorehade started off by moving forward to get a bead on one of the Winterguard who had Iron Flesh on them, tossed out a boosted hex blast, and stripped the spell off, toasting one of the troopers in the process. Next, I fouled up my own movements by being to greedy and charging a scrap thrall where he wasn’t needed. The Bane Riders followed up and, between the three that remained, cut down nearly half the squad. I had really envisioned them doing more, but I cannot complain, it was more than I should have hoped. The Bane Knights, Inspired by the Bane Riders performance and spurred on by Tartarus, took a few stabs at the Eliminators. Though 3 of our whiffed, the fourth one connected and removed the threat of the double-combostrike-feat turn that was inevitable. Seeing that Epic Eiryss was within running distance of my clump of jacks, I tried to spread out a bit so that she wouldn’t completely ruin my day, but that 11″ bubble is hard to avoid. One Slayer made off to the right, one to the left, and Nightmare kinda trundled up the center , trying to make sure conquest couldn’t charge him and end him. Finally, the Heroic Necrotech took business into his own hands and interposed bodily between conquest and Nightmare, not to mention the bottomed out Goreshade.

Turn 2: The Bane Riders do their Job.

It was Sorscha’s turn next, and man it was gonna be bad. She moved up early, popped her feat, and thankfully missed on her Freezing Grip, making it so that my Bane Knights weren’t completely hosed. Between her Quad Iron, though, Holt, and the Arcanist corpse mans single fireblast, they were able to clear out the charge land for the Uhlans on my slayer. The Winterguard, though, weren’t out of it, and they took it out on my poor slayer and one of my Bane Riders. Both the Uhalns and the Winterguard managed to mangle the slayers in a single hit. The Winterguard CMA, with Joe backing them up, Rust Bomb and Harm, managed to roll, at Dice +1, the hard 12 to blow him of the planet. The Uhlans didn’t technically do the same damage, but doing 26 of 28 damage in a single blow is close enough for me. The impact attack that had helped it along was just icing. Finally, though he was out of the feat, the remaining Kayazy Eliminator managed to dust Tartarus with a single hit.

The Carnage of her feat. Note the distinct lack of Slayers

Now, a little bit worse for wear, I tried to take the offensive to the Khadorans. This turn, though, I got a little greedy as my clock wound down and did some peeing down my leg. I spend a strong portion of my turn trying to get rid of the Uhlans that had taken down my jack, they were in the way of my feat popping and dropping off a half-dozen bane thrall babies into conquest, but I also needed to get rid of the remaining Eliminator and Eiryss. I move the breathstealer up to get the -2 defense on both of em, I then move up and try to spray Eiryss off the table with a Warwitch, who promptly wiplashes her self to death. My scrap thrall, eager to bring death to the Khadorans also managed to get himself killed in a glorious position, blowing up the leader of my Riders and preventing the other rider from taking a charge attack on the objective. Instead, he rolls over to Joe to be scary. The Necrotech, hero of this portion of the game, Rolls up on top of the slayer wreck, turns it into four scrap thralls, and drops them behind the Winterguard and Eiryss. The Banes finally go, and stab to death everything they can to clear a lane for Goreshade, but I’d given up on my inital plan, and was going to have him pop feat and charge Conquest down the center. I charge the now DEF 15 Eliminator with Goreshade and, boosting to hit, put her in the ground. I pop my feat and place my Unit of Banes. Problem with that is that I forgot about the wreck marker completely. Charging Banes without Tartarus only go so far, and I managed to only get 2 on conquest, who was significantly unimpressed. Nighmare then moves over to Eiryss, who has two scrap thralls behind her, and stabs one of them. He then expodes, killing his friend and bringing Eiryss down to a single hp. The second scrap thrall, just to spite me, doesn’t do me a damn bit of good and forces me to attack the stupid elf directly. With the -2 Def from the Deathwalker, I’m able to put her into the ground for good. Shoulda just made the attacks and saved the Scrappies.

Popping shadowmancer and using Darragh Wraths ability to back up a bout an inch, I was confident, but not convinced. This game was all about positioning, and I needed to see what he did next.

The end of Round four, where things start to break.

Not a Good turn for me, it turned out. Joe Stabs my final bane rider, and calls it a day. Sorscha Freezes my Bane Knights, and conquest lays into my Thralls, along with Holt and the TAcC blowing more of them up. Gorman took advantage of the situation and Black Oiled Nightmare. I did not feel confident going into my turn.

Thankfully, my boys were able to pull it out for me. The Bane Thralls got a few more points of damage onto conquest and jammed him up a little bit, and an insane, charging Warwitch Siren managed to off the final Uhlan. The Deathwalker enabled Darragh Wrath to Hellfire Holt off the board, and a timely explosion of a scrap thrall send Gorman to hell along with one of his Winterguard buddies. Goreshade, being Terrified and out of meaningful things to do, Camped full and ran to the other side of the board. My hope was that I would be able to take the objective and get a few points, maybe forcing Sorscha into an engagement.

That was never meant to be.

The turn before everything broke loose.

as you can see, the clock was winding down towards the someones demise as I shipped it over to his turn. Neither of us had a lot of models, but we didn’t have a ton of time either. Sorscha allocates four, stands her ground, and pops boundless charge. The TAC and Winterguard each remove a Bane, and Joe shoots the Deathwalker in the face with a boosted shot, killing her. That leaves a big, empty hole for Conquest to Punch Goreshade in the face. Thankfully, for me, he was about an inch out of melee range, and Goreshade, staring down the face of a colossal, lives to fight on. My Friend ships the clock over to me with 44 seconds remaining on his clock.

At this point, the game kinda breaks down. With 2:27 left on my clock, I can easily Camp Goreshade, run away, and let him clock himself. I don’t because I don’t think like that, and instead I move Goreshade around to get a good line on Aiyana, who is blocking nightmares charge lane, boost to hit on a bleed and take her out. I send Nightmare in to get Sorscha. With a speed 8 and Reach, I was well within range of getting my claws on her, so I literally pick him up and put him next to Sorscha. My friend states that he gets a free strike from conquest, which I was convinced he did not have when I started my activation. However, I cannot place Nightmare back where he was, so its on me to prove. I say go for it, and he mangles me, rolling 10 on the three dice, popping out 32 damage, blanking his movement. This is when I remember Ghostly, and my friend is kind enough to let me pop the focus to do it. Down to 1 focus left, after the charge. I manage to hit my charge attack combo strike MAT 8 on these jacks is awesome. However, I fail to kill, dropping a 7 on the dice and leaving her with three HP. I buy my last attack, in vain, and I fail to hit. The clock runs out, and the game ends.

My opponent insists that I won, having more time on the clock and the ability, knowledge and capacity to simply camp and flee, winning on clock. He also sated that even failing to kill Sorscha, he’s in a bad position.

I refuse, insisting that my opponent won. I went through with the turn, I clocked out, and I didn’t kill him. Even if he gets another turn, Conquest is sitting right in front of Goreshade, needing 9’s to hit at dice +6. Goreshade, I don’t think lives through that.

It was an amazingly close game, and the first I think I’ve ever had were both players are trying to foist the win on the other person. I enjoy every game I get in against this guy, and he’s made me a very strong player, especially against Khador.

I love this list, man. I really do, but I want to take it to 11, and its just not there yet. The Slayers are slated for replacement at the first opportunity. As my opponent said, the game has just outgrown them. Specifically, I am looking at replacing them with Inflictors. Not only do they have +2 armor, they also have reach, a Warwitch Siren Strapped to their back, and a Crit Poison weapon, which is important as this list would be my hordes drop. Armor 22/23, with DEF 13 is going to be a hard nut to crack, and I look forward to the day I can place them in the list!

My final option would be to try and sneak the Nyss in instead of the Bane Knights, and get 4 points of other for Tartarus. My initial thought would be another Necrotech and a Pistol Wraith, and I may give that a go once I get my Nyss.

 

Kalboras, Accursed of Glory

Other Titles: The Lost Son, Battlemaster, The Firebrand

Alignment: CG

Weapon: Warhammer (Blackfang)

Major Domains: Glory, Triumph, Victory

Minor Domains:  Champions, Conquest, Arrogance

Totem Animal: Ram

Holy Symbol: A full face view of a Ram, with heavy, broad horns curling to the side. In the center of the forehead there is a 10 pointed orange star. The Ram tends to be black, red or purple, with variations depending on locale. While it is oftentimes a simple three dimensional representation, if painted it tends to be on a dark slate-gray background

Favored Appearances: Kalboras, like all of the Accursed, tends to walk the world very rarely in aspect form. However, when he does, he generally takes the visage very similar to his Father, Takannas. He is large, burly, and covered in hair. His full, red beard and long red hair flame in the sun, as if he is on fire himself. He is muscle bound, almost to the point of fable, wearing his breastplate as armor, with nothing else to protect himself. His clothing tends to be black, red and grey, and moderately tight in order to be ready for combat at any time. When he feels the need to be represented by a woman, his choice is that of a gruff dwarven woman. She, too, has red hair, strong muscles, and wears only a breastplate. She is modest in both dress and form, with her hair generally wrapped around the top of her head in a braid.

Warform: The Warform of Kalboras is that of a great, fiery ram. Its body is purest fire, while its horns, hooves and teeth are razor sharp obsidian.  The Ram can breath fire, and uses its great bulk and power to bully around others on the battlefield.

Personality: Kalboras is introspective and contemplating most of the time, but when roused to battle or brought to a cause, he is dedicated and completely absorbed by it. Son of Takannas by an unknown entity he is the eldest child of the Fire family.  Arrogant to a fault, he was one of the first of the lesser gods turned by Ferosh against his fathers family, and was the first to fall in line when the Black Pact was suggested. He was completely committed and believes event to this day in the cause of the rebels and the Tyranny of the Paltonarchs

Teachings: Kalboras Teaches a simple philosophy of warfare, conflict and self confidence. He is the Patron of many warriors who have fallen on hard times, and has a very strong cult following. The main tenants of his cult teach that you must rely only on yourself, and sometimes on subordinates who have proven their worth, lest you fail in an action. Nothing is greater than completing a task, preferably during a conflict, and doing it singlehandedly for all to see. Nothing is worse than failure. Unlike many deities who look at failure as a chance to learn, Kalboras teaches that failure is, at its heart, not trying hard enough to achieve that goal. Quitting is committing the greatest sin against the cause of Kalboras, and is punishable from within the faithful by death.

Abode: Kalboras lives in a megalithic structure from before even the Demon Queen came to the Iron Marches. Called the Champions hold, it is the farthest point on which the Accursed can call the Iron Marches their territory. Made of huge blocks of nickel, with what seems to be no mortar or cement of any type, the hold stretches almost 100′ in to the sky to be the watchtower of the Accursed forces, and the bastion that the retreating forces come to receive Succor and rest.

Cultists: Different from many of the Accursed, Kalboras has few priests and clerics, and many less cultists overall. Though he reaches out to many minds that will let him explain his position, few believe or take him up on his offer. Those few that do roam the land looking for disenfranchised, down on their luck warriors to convert to the Horned Companions. They teach that their god will bring unmitigated glory, victory unending and triumph over all those who have committed wrongs against them.

Knightly Orders: The main order of knights dedicated to Kalboras is the Horned Companions, though there is also a suitable number of warriors in the Order of Victory as well. The Horned Companions are a group of covert and discreet champions who wander the land looking for causes to champion, rebels to aid, and establishments to destroy. Many of them have headed out from Killbar in recent years, looking to destabilize the government of Tyndaria and hopefully destroy it in that weakened state. The Order of Victory is the known militant arm of Kalboras’ religion, and is known to reside on an island in the middle of the sea, and is used to send soilders and champions to lost causes, hoping to aid them in turning the tide to victory, but knowing that all to often that is not the possible case.

Clerical Attire/colors: Cultists of Kalboras wear little different do make themselves known, other than their secreted away holy symbol, but many of them tend to lean towards cream or white  clothing with red or maroon accents. Even this, though, has been taken by some towns to mean that a hero of the Accursed Kelboras is there to be rooted out and slain.  Both the Order of Victory and the Horned companions wear unadorned Tabards, with the Order of Victory tending to Purple-Red and the Horned Companions wearing a deep earthy red.
Followers: Followers tend to be Arrogant clerics, shamed offenders, dishonored Knights and these bent on personal gain above all else. His cultists tend to be people how would lead their communities, who believe in nothing short of Victory or Death. Warriors, Monks, Bards and Sorcerers are drawn to the reverence of Kalboras as well, hoping for redemption once they die.

Kalboras: The basic concept for Kalboras was an Accursed that could have easily swapped sides at one point, but choose not to. I wanted a stubborn, callous god that give the other godes a run for their money when he gets a good mind to it. 

Exigence has released, and Reckoning is coming. The PP doom cycle, as it is with every release, is in fill swing.

As the books trudge out of the printers, and the game slowly grinds along, each book holds a bit of promise that you, and your faction, will get the newest, best things. The hope that your faction will “Win” each book and be able to master the tabletop in new ways, with new models and interesting strategies clings strongly to nearly every player. While I’m not immune to these feelings and desires, I really hope that every faction gets to get new and interesting ways to play the game, and that each model in a release brings joy to the people playing that faction.

It makes me fairly sad to see when gamers mope about their releases, because I want them to be as thrilled as I am with each book that comes out and each new toy they get. Its not possible, though. I know this. Some people are prone to seeing the downside in everything.

However, many times the models that are hated on and shouted down the most end up defining the playstyles of the game and turn the game on its head. Prompted by an MTG article and two conversations with friends, I think that that problem is a core issue in gaming itself.

The Big Empty

PP has an enormous catalog. Cryx itself has 16 Warcasters, 20 Warjacks, 17 Units, 6 attachments, 14 Solos, A Battle Engine and A Colossal. That’s 75 options in a single faction. Assuming that each Core 4 Faction is about the same, that’s 300 models and units that can be used in those four factions alone. Some of these models are obviously going to miss, but I’m not convinced that any slot is unusable.  Instead, some models are awaiting their time, while other models have had their time come and go, and are awaiting it again.

Unlike MTG, models never rotate out of the game, which has its pros and cons, especially in setting expectations. While it is awesome that I can use Bane Thralls now as the foot infantry they were supposed to be, it does paint a pretty terrible picture that all of my models have to stand up to Banes in order to be even considered. This leads to an ingrained belief that every unit has to be compared to Banes in order to be useful. Instead, every model that comes out has to be evaluated in respect to every other model that has come before it and every model that is in the same book. This creates a situation where there are four categories of releases.

1. Models that look good, and are good.
2. Models that look good, and are not good.
3. Models that look bad, and are good.
4. Models that look bad, and are not good

catergories_mm20141020

as game designers, I am sure that Privateer wants  to have models of every type but #4, because then you create layers in the game that enable people to discover, innovate and have fun with the game.

but people in miniatures games aren’t looking for fun. They are instead looking to change their lists and get an edge. Here is where things get a bit fuzzier than MTG.

Models in a minis game world, where nothing gets phased out, tend to be looked at in one of two lights: Better than, or not good enough. We are starting to hit the middle territory – good in certain lists – but we overall look at the models that are released in a given book as either replacements or not.

This leads to a terrible amount of circular group thinking around either a single caster or a caster pair that is being evaluated at the time of the book, or model rules, release. Warders, for example, were initially derided, as was the Vessel of Judgement. However, time has shown that both of those models are a staple in their factions and great models on their own.

One, the Vessel, is a good model overall, and example of a model that just needed some table time.

The warders, on the other hand, required a completely different mindset and the use of Grissel 2 – a heretofore underused caster – To bring them to the fore.

What I am really trying to get to is that models in warmachine, and minis games in particular, have to be looked at in a very specific manner. One cannot simply judge the model by its rules alone, but it must be taken into account with every caster and model/unit synergy you can think of. If you look at a model and think that its bad in your lists, with your set up, try and break out of that mold. Look at the model in the light of a different caster, in a different set of models and units. Its easy to dismiss a model based on its initial rules and abilities, when combined with what you want to play. Instead, try looking at the models that come out as trying to expand and even change the way you play.

If you’ve been playing the same way for years, maybe its time to re-evaluate the way you play. Not because you play wrong, but because the armies and lists your building may not be representative of the modern meta. Minis games have so many permutations and ways to play the game that you shouldn’t let any preconceived notions on how everything is supposed to work interfere with your ability to come up with new and interesting lists, if its what your into.

 

Warders, anyone?

Last week, Corvus Belli worked together with Beasts of War to provide a sneak peak at the Infinity N3 rules that are on their way. I was able to gather up a few of them , but Friday proved to be the lions share of rules, going over Close Combat, Hacking and Weapons and Ammo, along with a two part battle report using a pile of the new rules. I spent last week talking about Infinity itself, and today, prompted by my experiences over the last few years, I want to ramble for a bit on the subject of edition changes within games.

It feels like, back when I was playing games as a younger man, that they never changed unless I wanted them too. Board games rarely changed, and D&D, at the time, was fairly stable. The first real change that I’d encountered was in MTG. While the sets pushed forward and added new and interesting events and cards, there was’t really a philosophical design change. The story followed the same characters, the same locations and felt almost eternal. With the end of The Weatherlight Saga and the departure from Dominaria, I felt betrayed, I felt lost. I didn’t want any part of this new game that had forced itself into the world that I had created for it. Now, with a changed world, new characters, and an inevitable change in philosophy upcoming, I snapped. I played the game at friends houses fairly regularly for a little bit, but the love had died off. I sold almost all my cards, keeping just a few here and there, and left the game.

during and after high school, I was also playing pen and pencil RPG’s, most notably D&D. My experience in MTG Still colored my opinions, and the change from 2nd to 3rd edition was one we did not embrace readily. It wasn’t until our group was introduced to the new edition by a friend who loved it deeply that we even gave it a shot, right before 3.5 came out. Again, we were convinced that the game we’d come to enjoy and love was being replaced with this foreign object that has the name and face of the game we still played, but the soul of it had changed, and the body had morphed into something wholly unrecognizable.

Shortly after my break with MTG, I was introduced to Warhammer 40K, a game that filled a similar void, that allowed me to nerd out with my friends and flexed my brain meat in methods that didn’t really get exercised with board games. I felt that I was making tactical and strategic decisions about the game on a scale that I’d not been able to with games like D&D. I spent and unknown amount of money and time on Warhammer. I poured many hours of creativity, thought and artistry into the hobby, eventually even getting a job at the local store and suckering in masses of people. Then, My first edition change with the game came, and man it was a doozy. I’d heard of the long ago days of Rogue Trader, and how it was a vastly different game and again the legends of the fabled Second Edition of the game, with complex and strange rules interactions. Now, Living in the age of Third edition, I was experiencing a toned down version of the game, streamlined to a basic, no frills game that allowed me to simply play. I’d built armies using all sorts of obscure and insane lists. Now, with the coming of fourth edition, I experienced something I’d never known before. Obsolescence. The army I had grown to love and enjoy playing the most, with which I had put tons of time and labor into converting and collecting, had been discontinued. This army was so specific I could never even pretend it was something different. I, as a player, had been tossed aside. I played the Fourth edition for a short time before being fired for Poisonous Thinking. Between being fired and having a favorite army discontinued, I’d quit Games Workshop games completely.

While I was playing these two games, I was also playing pen and pencil RPG’s, most notably D&D. My experience in MTG Still colored my opinions, and the change from 2nd to 3rd edition was one we did not embrace readily. It wasn’t until our group was introduced to the new edition by a friend who loved it deeply that we even gave it a shot, right before 3.5 came out.

 

While I was working at Games Workshop, I was introduced to this amazing miniatures game with a very different style of play than the one I was selling. A number of us all got into it at once. The game was over-the-top crazy! It has robots and undead and this new theme called Steampunk, with tokens and gadgets and all sorts of effects all over the field of play. The experience was as different from any wargame I’d played before or sense.  I’d fallen in love with a game in its first edition.

I hadn’t quite learned. I thought that FAQ’s and Errata would be enough to stem the tide of a new edition forever. I never thought there would be a day when the game would need to be looked at in such glaringly harsh light that it would need to be upended, rewritten, and brought back into line with what the creators and designers of the game really wanted. Inevitably, though, it happened. This time, though, was different from all the others. This time, there was an open, public beta test that gave us insight into how and why the changes were coming. This was the first I had heard of such things happening, and dove in deeply, submitting feedback and trying to balance a game myself.

This was a turning point in my understanding of how and why games go through changes. What had once been assumed to be an ever stable landscape of games, founded on a bedrock of impenetrable rules and infallible game designers was now show to be what it was. These games I played were created by gamers like myself and my friends, who had a great idea and decided to run with it. They would play-test it and enjoy it and hone it, but inevitably, mistakes would be made, loopholes would be left open, and strategies would be missed. Game design, especially now, is a quick turn around affair, with internal testing and outside playtesters doing their damnedest to try and iron out all the kinks and make a spectacular game.

But, as more and more gamers get a hold of a product, these seemingly small portions of the game that were missed become magnified and extrapolated. It is especially obvious in the United States, where the culture of taking any edge to win is so ingrained that we don’t even find it problematic. In general, Americans enjoy pushing the boundaries to win and enjoy pushing themselves to discover new and unintended loopholes and kinks that they can exploit to their benefit. This comes not just from our culture, it is almost who we are as gamers, brought up on video games and sports, where anything that isn’t explicitly called out is fair game. To take that a step further we were even encouraged to find that way around that lead us to victory. Built into Super Mario Brothers are the warp pipes that let us cheat out whole levels!

Many times, it is this wide exposure and popularity that leads to a streamlining and changing of a rules system. To some, this is the worst of the worst, and evidence that the game designers are pandering to the masses by making the game more palatable, more understandable, and easier to sell. While this sometimes may be true, I would instead counter with the fact that it is under this new weight of players that the game must be rebalanced. A player base is a much greater testing ground than anyone could possibly hope to achieve prior to release, and many times this player base will find and exploit a system in the rules that allows for victory at a much lower cost than one is used to. This is countered by a tactic or seldom used loophole, and the rabbit hole continues. After years of these cycles, the game is often at a point that no one could have ever intended when they launched the game or wrote the rules, and the change of edition is a come back home moment.

The big problem with players is that they have very little of that frame of reference, and even less of a problem with the problems in a game. Between a lack of perspective into game design and Edition Fatigue starting to lay thick, many people rile against the changes in edition not even as a necessary evil, but as a betrayal of trusts.

These changes never get easier, but these companies will never stop making them. In the last 5 years, I’ve seen D&D, Warmachine, Infinity, Malifaux, and Descent each change editions and rulebooks. Each release I have looked at with enjoyment, trepidation, excitement and anticipation. These events are going to happen, and if you think your playing in the final edition of a game, I envy your ability to look at the here and now without looking towards the future. Each of these games changed, sometimes in significant ways, from the edition that preceded them. Some, Like Malifaux, Warmachine, and the Most recent D&D, have changed for the better, adding and subtracting complexity and rules where needed. Descent and Infinity are, currently, mixed bags, with Descent going to far, and maybe infinity not going far enough.

I’ve found its best not to look at the game you love, the one you currently play, with rose colored glasses proclaiming it to be the best ever, but once an edition change is announced, take a critical look at the game your playing and see how it varies from what seems to be the goal of the game in the first book, and how it contrasts with its image from the outside. Take your time and try to get inside the head of the developers. Remember, they don’t want any model, unit, or rule to be a stinker. They want every option to be good, competitive, and worth considering. Every bad model they make is simply another model that they have to pay development, design and production to make that will very likely never, ever sell.

Well, perhaps until a new edition comes out. Then some of those scrap models will have life breathed into it once again, as I very much hope some of the Haqq models are this year.

 

 

 

Retren is a god close to my heart. where there are many gods of suffering, pain and other related maladies are represented as purely evil,  there is also an aspect of pain that can be beneficial.  There is pain in many natural things, as well as what each person puts themselves through. There is pain in testing your limits, there is suffering through adversity and coming out the other side better, and then their is the pain of physical improvement. There is suffering in knowledge, in learning, and in life itself. I want him to be a complex god that is neither god nor evil, but what you make of him.

Retren, God of Pain

Other Titles: The Scourge, Barbed Lord, Proctor of Trials, Breaker of Wills

Alignment: CN

Weapon: Scourge (Peeler)

Major Domains: Suffering, Pain, Endurance, Wisdom

Minor Domains:  Grit, Toughness, Spite, Birth, Trials

Totem Animal: Wasp

Holy Symbol: A blackened and gnarled hand wrapped in brambles  with long, red claws.

Favored Appearances: While Retren rarely walks the earth itself, when he does he takes very little care to disguise himself. His two favorite forms are that of a wild, unkempt male elf, with Hair untamed in all direction. He wears no armor, covering his body with torn and ripped clothing stained in all sorts of blood, enough so that it simply looks brown. His teeth are filed and constantly cut his tongue when he speaks. His eyes are bloodshot and extremely intense. His female form is that of a pain woman heavily pregnant, with long disheveled hair and the most threadbare of wrappings for her feet and body. her blue eyes are extremely lucid, however,  and she speaks from the wisdom of a woman who has suffered much and learned much as well.

Warform: One of the few gods of three elements, Retrens WarForm is also of three elements. A Gigantic wasp of stone and iron, held aloft by wings made of Thunderheads. It eyes, mandibles and stinger are made of ice and frozen lightning.  Retren does not enjoy leading men and battle itself, but he is at home there, and with three elements, he is afield more than most.

Personality: Retren is a striking dual personality. His is at once unforgiving and compassionate, and both a stern teacher and an uncompromising taskmaster. His greatest derision is for lessons learned without suffering, but also for those who have innate knowledge and ability. He is the champion of those who have had to break their backs to learn, achieve and succeed.  He tests those under him, and those who would seek to learn from him, but only as much as he feels that they can take. His leadership on the battlefield is of the same mannor, though it gives some of the other gods pause.

Teachings: Retren teaches that pain is the basis of all knowledge, and that pain is the only way that one knows that you are learning. Pain without reason is torture, and that is the realm of Telaxus. Seek out painful revelations, grueling tasks and singular moments of enlightenment through pain, and you will be one with the greatest knowledge of the universe. Additionally, no pain exists which cannot be learned from. Teach others, and learn yourself. Life is nothing but a series of painful events, leading, eventually, to death.

Abode:Retren lives in the Palace of Thorns, an enormous building of silver and bronze brambles that sits on the front line of the Paltonarch controlled area of the Iron Marches. Though he is home less often than he would wish,  he knows that if the Accursed ever attack, they will be in for some very serious and painful lessons.

Clergy:  The Clergy of Retren are a dark and brooding people, having suffered their lives for the enlightenment and information that they have attained. They tend to be headmasters of large schools, where they inflict tedious, monotonous study rituals and long, grueling physical tests for even the most basic of educations. These church-schools are in direct conflict many times with the schools of Farlorn, a god who’s belief in the power of study and education by itself is directly antithetical to the teachings and blessings of Retren.

Knightly Orders: The Greatest knightly order of Retren are the Lonesome Teachers. Greatly skilled warriors and weaponmasters, they travel the land seeking the best and most powerful fighters, challenging them to duels to learn, or be killed. Many of these duels are to the death, though if the challenged balk at that ending, the stakes can be lowered, though never to less than first blood. 

Clerical Attire/colors: Clerics and Lonesome Teachers both where a singularly vibrant yellow color known only to the priests of Retren. While the Clerics use this color as their main palette, accenting it with black, green, blue and brown, the Lonesome Teachers trim their olive green Tabards in it, symbolizing both their attachment to, and their separation from, the Church of Retren.

Followers: The followers of Retren tend to be warriors, Teachers, humans and anyone willing to sacrifice a little of their personal comfort to learn. While they may not be popular, the priests of Retren, no matter their temperament, have always been proven to be good teachers. 

Corvus Belli and Carlos continue to reveal new tidbits and whole rules around the new Edition of Infinity. Extremely late on Monday they revealed how retreat works, with an addition Tuesday as to how the new templates will work. Each of these portions of the rules has some very, very strange interactions in the last edition. Each of these rules needed serious work, and they got them. Continuing to build on the excitement of how Loss of Lieutenant works and the clarification and simplification of a number of issues, the new template rules and the new retreat rules are fantastic.

Retreat was always a funny beast in 2e. I never really suffered from it, but it was always on your mind. You’d have to keep track of how much of your army you lost, and what portion was left to loose before your army went into retreat and started acting weird. The new rules are extremely interesting to me, as morale and fleeing are very large parts of many miniatures games, but no player likes to see their models turn tail and run or collapse with feat. Instead, everyone wants their troops to behave in predictable, standard ways. Some game companies temper morale by eliminating it completely, which I am not a fan of, and some will simply try to have it exert a minimal effect.

The new strategy that Corvus Belli is enacting with N3, is one of mitigated failure. They’ve moved the retreat threshold backward to 75%, meaning that you have to have less than 25% of your points on the board in order to be in retreat. In a 300 point game, that’s 75 points or less on the table. Combined with what Carlos mentioned were longer games, this is likely to come up later in the game than it used to. In addition to being later in the game, they way retreat works varies based on certain skills they have.

Normal_impetuous_courage

 

The chart above gives a good concept of what is happening at two points in time: Loss of Lt. and the Retreat Status.

Normal units are units without any special skill mitigating these two very bad positions.

  • Loss of Lieutenant – Normal Troops become Irregular, and may generate only a single (Yellow) Impetuous order, which only they can use.
  • Retreat! – Normal Troops become Irregular, but they also become non-combative. This means that they may only move, dodge and be scared.

This is a large change from 2e, where any number of times I would have had to deal with troops retreating in place. The old rule was that these troops had to make a compulsory move towards their owning board edge. This is no longer the case. Many losses in the game can be mitigated by getting models that are retreating off the board edge, due to the fact that you don’t get points for what you’ve eliminated of the opponents, but what you’ve managed to save of your own squad.

Impetuous units are those troops who suffer from the Impetuous skill. They are generally uncontrollable, and tend to have other benefits that allow them to ignore or mitigate this rule, but it is here for completeness sake, a method I can get behind.

  • Loss of Lieutenant: Impetuous troops become Irregular, but also retain Impetuous (red orders).
  • Retreat: The Impetuous Order Phase (the “red” phase) no longer occurs during retreat, denying them a move, and during retreat they are both Impetuous and suffer from non-combative.

Courage: Troops with the Courage Ability suffer the discord of retreat and loss of a chain of command admirably. Instead of becoming non-combative, these troops become Irregular in both situations. This allows them to continue to act, albeit at a loss of effectiveness, while the rest of their unit gets their shit together. This ability, granted by all levels of martial arts, also allows a unit to perform a fighting retreat, attempting to get off the board and and save points.

Remote_Religious_Veteran

As the list goes down, the type of troop gets better and better.

Here we have Remote Presence, the Courage of the robot world. This operates with the same minimal downfalls and immense upside that comes with impetuous troops.

Regular Religious Troops.
As a Haqqislam player, I really look forward to using this profile. While in Loss of Lieutenant they suffer the same penalties as other factions, they refuse to retreat due to their overwhelming religious teachings. This allows them to generate a Green (standard) order, allowing them to both spend orders from the pool, and contribute orders to the pool as normal. This is truly amazing, allowing your troops to keep the fight going while the rest of the army retreats in good order. Oh, and one more thing: Religious Troops are not allowed to leave the table edge in a retreat situation. They will stick it out and sacrifice themselves to cover for the retreating troops.

Veteran Level 1
Veteran troopers are amazingly skilled and disciplined warriors. They have the ability to work together through the toughest of times and come out on tip. Neither Loss of Lieutenant or Retreat will cause them to break, and they will continue to function at full capacity no matter what the fight entails.

Finally, we have the baddest aliens in the known space.

Morats Morat

Not only do these guys retain their orders, they are also religious, meaning that they will never retreat off the board, they will always stay and fight, and they will keep fighting until they perish a glorious death. Its very interesting to me and I look forward to fighting them once again!

The other rules change, as part of an almost half-hour video, is the changes to template weapons. There are some very interesting changes here. Because I’ve not had a ton of experince with templates, I’ll just list the parts that seem important to me.

  1. All templates act the same. The only difference are terminal templates now exist. The simple difference between a standard blast and a terminal blast is that the template either exists, or is generated on hit.
  2. Templates ignore partial cover.
  3. If you can see the model who originated the Template, you may dodge the damage. This is a normal PH roll. The worst PH still had a 50/50 shot!
  4. If the model does not see the originator of the template, that model may still dodge, but at a -3.
  5. Templates cannot affect models that are completely blocked from LOS by terrain in between the template focus, ie, the point on the template with the hole, and the target.
  6. All models attacked may choose to ARO as normal, and all will a normal roll. Each troops results will have no effect on the next. You cannot eliminate a terminal Template (Missile Launcher, Shotgun) by being the target and succeeding in your ARO.
  7. A troop may place the tip of the template anywhere within their silhouette, but not next to it. This is true in all three directions. You can shoot it from your head, your toes or your chest, but not next to you, over you, or under you.
  8. Smoke Grenades are template weapons, and can be ARO’d as normal. He specifically calls out a model being targeted by smoke grenades nullifying their placement with a good ARO, but I’m not sure about targeting the ground.

Templates deserve their own entire post, but that’s all the time I’ve got right now! Hopefully tomorrow they have move videos and sneak peaks!

Its been relatively quiet on the Infinity front since their Gencon announcements, and its been trying to keep up the hype I had going for it when it was first announced. I was initially psyched to get some games in with my current line of models and rules, but that thought was quickly quashed by the portions of my brain that just want new stuff to come out.

Its not even just the new shiny syndrome, which I tend to suffer less from. Instead, its the promise of a better balanced and more intriguing gameplay. There are a number of things that I just don’t feel like playing against on the off chance that they could change. Instead, I’ll revel in the good news nuggets that they drop here and there and be very excited about the game.

Thankfully, I’ve been rewarded! You can now pre-order N3 Directly from Corvus Belli or through your local store. It is very pricey, honestly, approaching $77.00, but the mail rules are divided into two parts, so your paying for two books: The price of each is about $38.50 at that point, which I am more likely to pay. I’m not sure that I really like the concept of a split book, but it definitely has its selling points. Carlos mentions that he was approaching 400 pages in the standard rulebook, and that they had to cut it in half for it to be portable and useful. While I am not particularly in tune with the Fluff, and don’t necessarily want to pay for the fluff, I am willing to shell out the cash to have a nice, streamlined rules tome to take with me, and a neat, shelf-watching fluff book I can maybe sell off to someone.

Though, honestly, some people aren’t even going to want that, and will be able to update their entire collection on Jan 1 when the downloadable rules come out. The fact that there are even downloadable rules is a boon to their company and a nod to their fans. They want to make this game as easy and simple to get into as possible and having rules on line is exactly the way to do that. It also makes sense with their insanely high learning curve. Give the new people rules to be able to peruse and get excited about, and they will purchase models.

That announcement of the pre-order, along with its requisite exclusive miniature, has started off a week of announcements about the game, the news, and what is going to happen in December. One of the details they keep going over a decision that gives me pause every time I think about it. They keep mentioning that they are only replacing the first, core book. The other two rule books, Human Sphere and Campaign:Paradiso, are going to remain legal rule books, able to be used with the new edition. Except where they aren’t. Supposedly, all the profiles got tweaks, skills were revamped and rules were clarified. Even if none of that was true, the weapons got new range bands, and are invalid for the books. Its all very confusing to me, and makes my poor brain hurt.

In addition to the announcement of a pair of books, they have also announced a new mechanic for Infinity: Command Tokens. Command tokens are a spendable resource that each army starts the game with. Each army will generally have four, though some models or abilities may add or detract from that. These tokens, which you may only spend during your active turn, are used for a number of powerful in game effects and never replenish.

Command Tokens

You are not limited in how many you can use in a given turn, and sometimes  its very useful to have a number of them hanging around in order to save your bacon. Whats really fun about the tokens is that they have a variety of uses, and depending on the events over the course of the game, you will inevitably have a reason to use them. They also add an interesting element of control over some of the more notoriously random elements in the game, namely Doctor and Repair.

I am intrigued by the fact that this command token is how you recreate a fire team. This has stunning implications on Tohaa, as they can have multiple fire teams in a single army, and may have the need to reform more than one in a round. Where before this wasn’t possible (at least as far as I remember), you now can. This comes with risk, however, because you can only do that on two of your turns before you run out of Command Tokens.

It also allows a resource that Link Teams don’t really have a ton of access too. A vanilla army is extremely likely to use the tokens to leverage advantage, where an army with a link team will either conserve them against inevitable Link Team Deaths, or burn them and have the opponent take advantage. Its an incredibly interesting system, and I can’t wait to try it out, get frustrated, and swear to learn the game.

The more utilitarian uses for the tokens are ones that straight up offer re-rolls: Doctors and Repair via remote presence. Though each roll can be re rolled only once, it does represent an added chance of victory. This is something I really want to see in action, and see if it will affect my usage of Doctors in Haqq.

The final group is part of Order Manipulation, which I think is a grand Idea. Spending the tokens in this way gives you more control over your models/orders. These effects include: Turning an Irregular (only spendable on the generating troop) order into a standard order, removing a single model from the state of retreat, recover a possessed TAG, and move a model between combat groups. I really like all of these abilities as they make the game more manageable in previously untenable situations. Retreat, Loss of LT, Possessed TAGS and picked apart combat groups can be exceptionally frustrating to deal with, and I can see the immediate use in being able to spend an outside resource to mitigate them to a point.

Overall, I’m still really looking forward to seeing the new rules, stats and abilities. Its a good time to have played infinity!!!

 

Note: I’ve made a few changes to the layout to be more streamlined to read. I am getting a better feel as I go on with these. I’ll have to update the originals soon.

Decarin, God of Illusion

Other Titles: The Shadowed One, The Face of Spite, Dark King

Alignment: Chaotic Evil

Weapon: Morning Star (Nightbringer)

Major Domains: Darkness, Illusion

Minor Domains:  Shadows, Power through Magic, Dread, Resolve

Totem Animal:  Bat

Holy Symbol: Three equal sized black pearls on a strand of silver. Referred to as “The Dark Kings Eyes” by those outside of the clergy, these three pearls symbolize the priests or followers dedication to the three mantras of Decarin: Darkness, Shadows, and Power

Favored Appearances: Decarin is a wicked person who loves inflicting torment on others, and his forms belie that as well. His favored male form is that of a young man, perhaps early twenties, who dresses in black and brown leather armor. His arms are unnaturally long to the eye, but when measured reach no further than they should. He is decked out with spell pouches and bags of oozing components. his face is smiling and happy, though, jovial to the unsuspecting, with twinkling black eyes and dark, short cropped black hair. He can swing in wild moods, though, where his eyes darken and his mood grows foul, granting him a sneering scowl.

His female form is much more pleasing, that of a voluptuous woman with long, dark hair, a smiling face, and dark, smooth skin. She, too, wears black and brown leathers, and smiles seductively at those who pass her by. She’s perfectly proportioned and beautiful in nearly every way.

Warform: Decarins warform is that of a great earthen bat, impossibly flying through the air on granite wings, with blackened eyes, fangs and claws. His screech is, unlike most bats, able to be heard by other living beings, though many who hear it are ultimately destroyed.

Personality: Among the gods, there are few more reviled than Decarin, and his wife and Consort Ariannas. He is dark, he is scheming, and he is completely obsessed with taking down the Accursed. He deceives without thought, he cloaks himself, his deeds and his allies in darkness, but he is also a great leader of war. Thankfully, all of his genius and time is spend to that end, and not against his fellow paltonarchs, as that would inevitably end in bloody power struggles, underhanded schemes, and a great conflict. His hatred of the Accursed stems from the loss of not only his twin sons, Galeeba and Frelmis The respective gods of Terror and Rage, but also his only daughter, Kashua, Goddess of Dying.  To this end he has been known to take the fight to the Accursed the hardest, wasting soldiers, resources and seasons to capture on hill, a small fort or even just a strip of ground. There, he will hold until his reinforcements or relief comes. While he can, and has, taken the enemy on in a pitched battle, he prefers to win through either overwhelming force or, no surprise, clever, powerful and deceitful tactics.

Teachings: The teachings of Decarin are extremely simple: The world is your to take from it what you can. You must be strong, you must not fear, and you must not be seen. Above all, others will seek to take power away from you, or, if you are seen gaining power, you will be struck down. Instead, take the power first, hold it tightly, but let others take the fall for you. There are simply to many pawns in this world for the kings and queens to worry about.

Abode: Deep under the earth of the Iron Marches is a great cavern, the immense fortress of Decarin, Resonatus. Here, the marble is black and brown, the colors more muted, and the world more of Decarins style. His fortress lies on a great underground lake of mercury, into which a river flows from the Accursed lands of the Marches. His spires reach completely to the ceiling of the 100′ tall cavern, with great, flickering shadow bridges leading between the 18 seperate towers are all sorts of angles. It is from here that he has, seven times, halted invasion fleets and landings of thousands of the Demon Queen and Accursed armies.

Clergy: Clerics of Decarin are a generally secretive lot, though they are not ones to hide themselves. They do, however, practice Illusion, and this has lead to some believing the cult is much larger than it actually is. They teach the populace how to not fear the darkness, how to embrace the knowledge of transiency, and how to overcome what fears and dreads you may already have. The clergy care for cowards and deserters, ensuring them that they are not the terrible person they think that they are, and that at least one god, perhaps Decarin, will forgive them and take them back.

Knightly Orders: While many orders devoted to gods or goddesses are out to form a name for themselves or their god, some do not. Those few devoted enough to Decarin to learn both the Illusory arts and basic combat can join the Cabal of Those who Seem to be Others.
Or the Seemers. This devoted group is dedicated to the spread of Darkness, Shadows, and Magical Power, reaping a great and terrible toll on civilization. Though many seem them as assassins, the Seemers may not be purchased but instead find those they deem worthy of death, and hunt them down, many times under the face of those that the hunted once loved.

Clerical Attire/colors:

Clerics wear simple, black tunics and shirts, with a single brown-and gray stripe down the left side of their body. Many of them wear leather armor underneath their clothes and seem to be rarely with out their signature Black Iron Morningstars. There is no grooming or structure of any sort to their outward appearance, though, as they should be seeking to enhances themselves, not be associated with a single Church.

The Seemers wear simple brown robes with a silver collar embroidered with three equidistant black eyes. They tend to carry both morning stars and staves, with neither tending to take preference over the other. Though they have a fairly consistent face that they deal with the outside world with, they are masters of illusion, and can wear anything and appear as anyone.

Followers: Decarin attracts followers from every walk of life and every race. He embraces both the dread of the world and the resolve to overcome it, but he also has his much darker side. He condones killing, violence when needed and power through power, but he prefers to do it in the dark, away from prying eyes like his.

I managed to take out the Goreshade list I’d been considering and get a game in on Sunday. Its been over a month since I last played, so I was a little rusty.

I could go into a battle report, but that’ll not be too exciting. It was a fairly strong game of positioning, and it taught me a lot about the Bastard that makes me want to keep trying him out. This is completely contradictory to the feelings I’ve had with him prior to this outing, where I stumbled to find his place and tried hard to make the best use out of him and his spells.

I can tell you, that is a waste of time. I played him after the field test and prior to the MK II Cryx book coming out, and he’s been a long time developing. I think that there is a very high chance that I use him as my Hordes drop in a ton of matchups, which is where I wanted to go with this list decision.

This whole concept is something I am not going to take credit for. Will Pagani, a long time Warmachine player, started using a list with the same intent a while back. I only remember the core, however, being Warjacks, Darragh Wrathe and the Deathwalker. I added the rest because I can’t find his original list to parrot, and made it my own.

Goreshades Upsides
I have complained for a very long time about how pillow lightly my warjacks tickle. Yes, Cryx is the faction of debuffs, but those debuffs require attack rolls and focus, which takes away from my precious ‘Jacks doing what they need to do. It also necessitates the expenditure of points and very likely focus on an arc node to get the spell to the target. That, my friends, is some steps I would like to eliminate. Cycling Scything Touch comes close, but that is still expenditure of focus, models, and positioning. Getting that damage increase is many times, for the targets that jacks are going to go against, just much harder than I’d like it to be.

Goreshade can solve that. When a critical mass of Warjacks is reached (3+) he can turn the three focus he spends on Shadowmancer, a spell granting Dark Shroud and Stealth, into at least 6 (three castings of scything touch, two castings of Crippling Grasp, ect). Add two Warwitch Sirens into the mix and you’ve got yourself a extremely decent slew of attacks to toss at the enemy. Additionally, even though its a buff to the battlegroup, the ability to put Dark Shroud on targets for others to take advantage of is extremely welcome.

Goreshade also comes with a second spell, Mage Blight, which stops spells and feats within 14″ of him. This is a great out when your not getting shot or taking down hard targets, and can really save you from some of the more ball busting short range feats in the game. Things like Butcher 3, Gorten, Sorcha 1/2, Seige, Kreoss 1 and others effected from the start of the game onward. He also removes the threat of some of the more funky magic ability shenanigans that the game has as well, making sure that Druids, Runeshapers and Battlemages are shut down.

The Darragh Effect
Who boy, this wasn’t something I was expecting. I had almost exclusively used Darragh Wrathe for Death Ride prior to this game, getting my models across the board faster seemed to be the way to go. However, after this most recent game, I can really see the potential of his Beyond Death ability. Giving Bane Riders ARM 20 and the Helljacks a 13/19 defensive profile was extremely good, even though I was running against Warmachine. I’ve fought against the ARM 21 Stormlances enough to know how bothersome they can be, so having my own ARM 20 Bane Riders was a real treat. It even makes me consider running them and Wrathe with Skarre II and Scaverous in order to really push that armor over the top.

Revelations of the Bane Kind
Bane Riders are super-sweet, and they have so many different applications that I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am with them. Ride by Attack combined with immunity to free strikes is just excellent at protecting them as they move up the board. It also allows you an amazing range of movement, enabling you to dig extremely deep into the enemy army without really having to commit to any serious engagements.. Twice I used it to kill models and them move forward, either tying up new models with reach and preventing charges, or getting to a better position for the next turns attack. Preventing charges is on of the better ways to keep the banes alive, and stacking that with the Darragh effect above kept all 5 bane riders alive until the end of the game, even though they had to contend with KE and Daughters.

Tartarus and Bane Knights are extremely effective, everyone knows that. Combined with Bane Riders, however, it becomes an army of super-pathfinder, Immune to free strikes hard hitting models that are paving the way for the Warjacks that Goreshade has in tow. The fact that Goreshade popping his feat followed by Tartarus killing a few models can net you an almost free unit of banes is one of the best icings on a cake I can find.

Overall Impressions
The list needs some tweaking, but overall I am very, very pleased. I’m not sure that the Bane Riders wouldn’t be severed better as Satyxis Raiders, but I am taking a chance to get to know my new riders. The Bane Knights, too, could easily be turned into Raiders. However, with the ‘Jacks Spearheading the army, aided in armor by both the Deathwalker and Darrah Wrathe, the slower, harder hitting Banes come into a very useful place. as either a second wave, or as models to free up the Jacks to get to more juicy targets.

The game was a loss, because I got to agressive on my first game out with Goreshade, popping his feat in the wrong spot and dropping Banes off Just to get killed, only to be Force Hammer/Vanquisher assassinated the following turn. Overall, it was a good game that was won by the player who knew more, better, but I look forward to digging deeper into the Goreshade pool and pulling out some really good games. I really am considering how to fit Nyss into this list…

Comments and suggestions on my lists are welcome!