Last year was the inaugural Feat of Service here in the Northern Virginia area, an impressive charity Event that raised over $3,400.00 for the Wounded Warrior Project, helping to Honor and Empower our wounded vets. This year, on May 30th, the Nova Nomads will be hosting the second Feat of Service charity event, hoping to top last years awesome donations.

Sadly, I’ve been unable to go both years – the first was during Lock and Load, and this year is the week before I leave for Lock and Load, and just not the right time to be abandoning the little one again.

That does not, however, stop me from having a great desire to participate, and to assist those who will!

The main goal of the day is to raise money, and this is done in a very simple way.

Each gaming group forms into Teams. Each team is competing to raise the most money and send the other teams packing, bring the Feat of Service Team Trophy home. The Team Champion Trophy goes to the team who, by getting donations and/or selling raffle tickets, raises the most money.

The MD Team, The Old Bay Bombers,is still way behind: at the time of me writing this we’ve only managed to gather $30 for the cause, and that’s no where near the impressive amount I’d love to see raised.

For every $10.00 that is donated to the Bombers, your name will be entered into a raffle to win a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4. If you’re a gamer, though, you can turn that tablet into a released Colossal or Gargantuan of your choice!

Last year MD got taken to the cleaners pretty hard. Even though were simple minutes from NOVA, we didn’t make a good showing, and we didn’t raise much compared to the NOVA Nomads and others in the area. This has put us a little to shame.

This year, though the hour draws near, I’d like to help change that.

In addition, if your going to be in the area, there will be two tournaments, a silent auction and door prizes at the actual location of Feat of Service: Huzzah Hobbies.

Each of the silent auction items is registered to a team, and the money raised by the auction will be counted towards the team totals as well!

If you Play in a tournament as a Bomber, your entry fee counts towards funds raised, and will provide you with entry into the tournament, a custom Feat token from Muse on Minis:

and entry into the raffle and the chance to come away with some really cool prizes!

The 50 point Masters event will determine the Gameplay Champion! Up to 32 players will be competing not only for the Trophy, but for a three day pass to Captain Con as well! Its the perfect time to get an ADR Masters in before the seasons shift!

There is also the signature Custom Caster event, where through an online Spelldraft system, you get to create a Customer caster and a 35 point list and go to town. It spelldraft and who’s the boss and all sorts of fun rolled into one!

“Custom Casters will be judged on painting, modelling, overall creativity in design and rules integration as well as the 500 character written description.”

And the Hobby Champion will get a 4 day pass to NOVA Open as well as the Golden Nomad and a Huge Based Model of their choice!

There are also a slew of Door Prizes, as mentioned, and the Silent Auction. Take a look at all the Awesome Prizes and Fantastic Sponsors of the Feat of service.

If you’re in the area, stop by the FoS on Saturday and donate to a good cause. If you’re farther out, considering donatin’ $10.00 or so, and getting in the raffle. We’ll even ship the prize right to your door of we need to!

Go Bombers!

 

Makeada

 

Glory of a Dominar, Part 2

When I started writing last week, I was pretty sure that I was going to write down everything I had experienced and everything I knew about Dominar Rasheth. What I had not taken into account was the layered abilities of the list and how they create the depth of synergy that makes the whole list hum. As I was typing away I came to the realization that I wasn’t even going to fully describe the list and what it contains before I published, creating a very real chance that I was going to have to do a second post building on the first in order to fully expound on what Rasheth is capable of, how his list is run, and what to expect from running it. Even beyond that, however, there is the personal experiences I have had with him, casting him into the Fun Stratosphere.

Capabilities

With the complete rundown of the abilities present on every model last week, the broad picture was painted into how each piece performs, and sometimes its relationships to the others. However, the broad picture does not always present the picture in enough light to demonstrate to others how the list runs, and what to expect. This is especially true when it comes the Chain Gang list.

There are three, very broad, capabilities of any list, and they have been talked to death in many, many situations on both podcasts and the forums: Assassination, Attrition, and Control. Each of these is the foundation of a lists capabilities. Key to understanding and unlocking the capabilities of a given list, and extremely important when dealing with lists that others have written, is understanding which direction a list is going. Additionally, I am going to make two broader observations about the list definitions.

While Attrition, Assassination and Control are each appropriate titles for their respective rolls, I find that two levels of detail can be dug withing each. First, there is whether the list is oriented offensively or defensively, which helps determine the pacing you desire as your game unfolds. Second is whether the job is being done by elite troops of by disposable masses. This gives us the following Matrix.

  • Assassination
    • Offensive
      • Elite – Legion
      • Mass – Cryx
    • Defensive
      • Elite – Minions
      • Mass – Khador
  • Attrition
    • Offensive
      • Elite – Skorne
      • Mass – Mercs
    • Defensive
      • Elite – Tolls
      • Mass – Convergence
  • Control
    • Offensive
      • Elite – Circle
      • Mass – Retribution
    • Defensive
      • Elite – Cygnar
      • Mass – Protectorate

Obviously, this is my first pass, and it may change, but you’ll get the point. Generalizations abound, with plenty of exceptions. Looking to see where the list fits here, and then seeing if it is an outlier for your factions norms is very important. For this list, I would consider it an offensive, Elite Attrition army. You only have a half dozen models pulling weight, and everything else is supporting them. The models that you will be leaning on the heaviest will be unable to take a dedicated assault, and are vulnerable to defensive control tactics, as well as mass assassination.

Defensive Control has very few targets to work with, and will therefor be able to control each to a stronger degree. This will create strain on the army as each individual piece cannot be counted on to pull its weight, and the majority of the list needs to be doing work every turn in order for it to succeed.

Mass assassination will have a veritable mountain of holes that it can swing a model through to try and go for the assassination. Dominar Rasheth isn’t one that can take a sustained beating, and many times will die outright to even a halfhearted attempt to take him out.

Looking at its weaknesses allow you to plan your alternate lists fairly easily – in this case, I’d take specific care to build a list that can take out most Cygnar and Cryx.

That out of the way, I have found that the lists Offensive Elite Attrition style is extremely potent. The sheer amount of damage that can be doled out in a given round is nothing short of astounding. MAT 9 (v. Living) Bronzebacks with Enrage, Blood Mark, and the Feat can put out an astounding 64 damage onto any given target. At P+S 21, they will be flattening anything that has arm 21 and 8 Hit boxes with almost every attack. If you can catch warders unprepared, ie: not under Grissel 2’s feat, you can blow up almost an entire unit. Even under her feat, its only dice -2, and 10’s happen.  Sentries are sitting only one damage less on their reach weapon, and can easily take down 3. This makes the list extremely efficient at blowing apart Fist, Meat Mountain, Gators, and others that mimic that same style. It also makes Colossals shake in their boots, knowing that while they might get the alpha off onto one, or even two titans, that there will be 3-5 more waiting in the wings to blow it apart. Furthermore, any army that relies on such elite models will simply see them outclassed in many cases.

You would think that, given the low model count and limited attacks per turn that a high defense army may be able to whittle through the big boys, and while its probably right, many people forget that Rasheth has breath of corruption. This allows him to project his might weight into the enemy  when they bunch tightly together, but it also allows him to protect his point models from non-reach 1 wound infantry, giving him an element of control over engagements and target priority.

In addition to the list, each model has its own capabilities, and they are generally not the same type of categories that the army has, though they may overlap some.

Bronzeback – This is the workhorse of the list, in my experience. The higher MAT and P+S allows it to tackle a broader range of enemies. With Carnivore pushing its MAT right over the curve, and his P+S augmented by the paingivers Enrage ability, he can go after targets with defense as high as 20. Armor becomes a non-factor when it comes to a Bronzeback with Enrage, and with the help of Blood Mark he can, in every sense of the word, literally kill anything in the game in a single activation. Beatback allows him to make sure that he can work around obstacle models like Tiberion and Colossals while additionally providing a way to ensure that a horde of infantry models steers clear. While he may not be able to smash 8 infantry, due to inevitable misses, his last beat back can be used to place him in a position to have Caustic Mist dropped on him, which is a fairly useful ability for delousing him.

Gladiators – Thankfully, Gladiators are Heavy Warbeasts and can do much of the heavy lifting that the Bronzebacks do when they inevitably die. their P+S and MAT are both one lower, and they loose the chain attack, but they make up for that by directly increasing the threat range on each model. Most often, however, I’ve taken to using these models as Power-Attackers. Slamming for free, even without Enrage, is an amazing ability to have on a model that can self-buff to speed 6. 9.5″ out, followed by at least 3″ of follow up can be extremely aggravating for your opponents. Provided you have the focus to boost the hit, using it to clear out lanes for the Bronzeback to charge through, or even into becomes a very real threat.

*Special Note – Power attacks* – It is worth it to note here that both of the above models have two open fists and a large base, enabling them to perform a variety of special Power attacks. 2h throws, Slams, and Tramples are all extremely useful tools for getting out of jams, removing high defense and clearing zones. There have been many times that I am greateful for the prevalence of both the open fists and the usefulness of power attacks. Often, your opponent will be completely blindsided.

Sentry – This model is extremely effective at being a vanguard for the army. Armor 21 and 30 boxes is going to require some serious dedication in order to pull him off the board (5 or more attacks doing 28 damage each) . His low defense won’t do him any favors, however, and you will need to make sure that he is in a position so that the enemy needs to charge him to get distance: Set Defense pulling his DEF to 13 can be critical, and makes delivering those 28 damage attacks that much harder.  His animus, Locker, can either be a lifesaver or do nothing at all, depending on the opponents setup. Making good use of this ability to lock down and scare opponents jacks and beasts from the field can be the difference between loosing and winning a given match

Cannoneer – This is the piece I am most in love with in the list, and have considered trying to jostle about some points for a second one: Its not meant to be. The Cannoneer exerts pressure with a longer reach than every other model on your side of the board except for the Dominar Himself. This makes him, ostensibly, a back line piece, lobbing out cannon shells when and where he feels most effective. Honestly, however, I cannot see a worse place for him. In almost every game, I have dropped shots into the caster and either boosted blast damage (average 19) or connected and done significant damage (av. 26) to the leader. This leads to a generally defensive, reactionary mindset that plays directly into your hands. You want the game to be controlled by what your titans are doing, not dictating what they can do.

Support – Both Bonegrinders and Paingivers provide different forms of support, but for simplicity sake, I lumped them all together. The Capacity of support in this specific list is twofold – Provide the beasts and Casters with the right tools at the right time to do the right job, from Enrage to Craft Talisman, but also to provide for swift, brutal arcnodes in a pinch. Being able to threaten every angle on the board is something that can end up messing with many an opponents head when they start thinking of your possible Sunder Spirit or Breath of Corruption placement. Being able to swiftly and easily slip between the two will be extremely valuable.

The Man Himself – Most often, Rasheth is going to be playing second fiddle to the glorious and amazing beasts he has brought along in his list. However, aside from being the caster, he is the most vital piece of the puzzle. Enabling both a MAT and an ARM swing is typical, and sometimes he can edge in a P+S enabler if he is able to catch a few living models in his CTRL makes him turn as many Titans as are able to activate into heavy duty workers. But he can very often seal the deal on his own, either through a double boosted Sunder Spirit for the early initial transfer/damage or through a Breath of Corruption that deals massive damage to an enemy casters enabling a later kill. Many casters don’t like to be on the receiving end of POW 23 and 24 damage rolls and some will outright keel over.

Next time, I’ll go into what I do with him on the board. Expect anything and everything with what this list is capable of!

 

On the Horizon

Every year, I head out to Lock and Load, where I hope to hang out with some of the staff and Warmachine personalities from around the globe. I’ve been every year except the first, and I intend on going as many years as is possible.

Seeing as I have a long term plan to go again and again, I have a goal of splitting my years evenly between Iron Arena and Tournaments. The first year was an Iron Arena year, where I brought my White and Orange Cygnar with me to try and meet some new people. The year after I tried a masters tournament and got kinda stomped. That meant I only had Lich 2, Terminus and Skarre 1 with me, so it wasn’t the best year to make friends. I did get a ton of games in, though, with the staff, which was awesome, and I got to play in the very first demo game of Level 7 [Escape]! Last year was a little insane, with my eardrum rupturing on the way out to Seattle kinda putting a damper on any and everything I did. I did get to see some of my favorite Seattalites, however, and That more than made up for it. I played in a single tournament, the inaugural Spelldraft, which was 6 rounds and took for freakin’ ever to finish. So, even though this year is supposed to be a tournament year, I lost last year to ear infections, blown eardrums and spelldraft. This year, I am going to be deep in Iron Arena the whole time. Well, Maybe not. I have to do one thing.

Flights out and Getting there. 

often, people tell me that its too expensive to fly out, and I get that, but I take as much as possible off the shelf in that regard as possible. I signed up for a Southwest credit card, and I use that for everything, and I mean everything. Each dollar I spend gets me a point, and its about 20,000 points to fly out. With the 6000 anniversary points, I don’t really have to spend a ton of money on the card – just my standard bills, gas, food. It all goes on the card, filling up my points total. At the end of the cycle, when it comes time to buy my Airfare (February, I’ll have racked up a huge total of points. There may be some deficits, but I’ll pay the 100 or so bucks to make up the difference: Paying 100 bucks for round trip tickets ain’t nothin’

I also make sure to get direct flights. They aren’t notably more expensive, but they are a hell of a lot swifter. Taking a 5 hour tris and ratcheting it up to 10 or more is just absurd. Layovers, strange flight patters and other flight weirdness makes me reticent to actually try any of it, though it might be fun to meet a friend at a local airport, sometime.

Because I’m a volunteer for the company, I get to add an extra day to the convention, with the PP invitational on Thursday. This means I want to arrive pretty early Wednesday and actually get settled in. This has, historically, been the hardest day to get a room on. My roomies, a bunch of awesome Canadians from BC, who I now plan on meeting up with every year that is possible, don’t get in until Thursday morning. But, They didn’t mind my random coming and goings, and gave me a place to sleep while also being exceedingly nice. What more can be asked of a host!

Its easy enough to bunk with them for the four days, and then try and find a room on Sunday Night. It seems that many of the participants leave Sunday night. I, however, cannot find a good flight out on Sunday after the awards ceremony and dinner but before my eyes bleed from being awake 20 hours a day. I take the day and sleep late, get on a plane, and roll out to be home by the end of the day. I’ve historically gone to work on Tuesday, but we’ll see how that works out in future years.

The Gameplan

Getting in on Wednesday gives me a little breathing room, and I’ll be up bright and early on Thursday. Do to me being a PG, Thursday I’ll play some games with some awesome PGs, Staff, and other volunteers at the PP Invitational. and then probably roll over to the Mox Boarding House for even more fun and games, including the first ever Mox Invitational, at least as a spectator.

Friday I’ve got planned a tournament, but for once I’ll not be playing in it. I am going to be adjudicating the morning Master Tournament which should be a ton of fun. Honestly, I’m nervous as shit. I know that there will be people who play this game competitively and seriously there, and I’m worried that, in my nervousness, I’ll make the wrong call. I know its dumb and will go away once I am there, but its one of those things that just sits in my gut. fortunately I’ll have someone I know with me adjudicating as well and that should cut down on the nerves. Afterward, I’ll be going to grab a dinner and then Heading back into the hall for the Team Tournament. Sadly, were on the waitlist, but the plan is to either play in it, or play a few games and call it a night. I’ll get about 4-5 hours of sleep, grab a shower and then hit the arena with Zeal.

To that end, I’ll be bringing with me, as I’ve mentioned, the Tier 2 Rasheth Chain Gang. This list has so many permutations and concepts that I really think playing it over and over again will be a ton of fun all weekend. With a fully painted T2 list, I should be making some awesome points to try and snag some sweet swag, whatever happens to be there.

Saturday night is a bit in flux. if I wasn’t able to play in the Team tournament, I want to play in Token Aggression. If I played in it, I want to make sure I get out and get some good food and sample a local place or two, then get a game or two in before crashing out.

Sunday has the same plan as Saturday, grinding out points and getting some cool goodies before the hall closes and calling it quits for the weekend.

If you plan on being at Lock and Load, let me know, and we’ll get some sort of game in! I’d love to meet some fellow gamers, get some games in, and maybe have a few beers while we are at it!

I’m really looking forward to Seattle and Lock and Load this year. Here is hoping that I don’t have to wear the Hoodie I’ll pack.

Like I have had to every other year.

In June!

 

See you at There!

Makeada

 

Proprietary Titans

After I played in Philly games con, I was ready for a change in casters. I was preparing to go to Lock and Load , and it seemed that getting some practice in with the caster I was going to take with me was a good idea. So, Starting at the ECR, I have been toting around Rasheths Chain Gang List.

And man, Let me tell you, I have never had more fun playing Warmachine.

The list:

Rasheth
Bronzeback Titan
Bronzeback Titan
Titan Gladiator
Titan Gladiator
Titan Sentry
Titan Cannoneer
Pain Giver Beast Handlers (max)
Farrow Bone Grinders (min)
Pain Giver Taskmaster

Now, this list isn’t in any way optimized to crush my enemies before me, however, it is only a single model off. If I wasn’t reaching for the Tier 2 or Greater army bonus, I would Immediately swap the Pain Giver Taskmaster for an Agonizer.

However, this list, even in its current form, is completely amazing. Its had a fair modicum of success: I am 3-1 piloting it recently, and every game has been different and taught me new things about how to play this list.  What I find most thrilling about it is that it has solutions for almost everything that you can have problems with. There are a few glaringly bad matchups (Butcher 3 being one obvious one), but overall I feel extremely confident playing this against almost everyone.

The Draw

One of the things, if not the very thing, that drew me to Skorne were the titans. Back in Primal MKI  there were only two, and the Gladiator was the undisputed rubbish of the two. The Cannoneer, with his AOE 3, his P+S 16 and his Diminish animus where absolutely fantastic. The Gladiators Subdue animus was very hard to get to work, and didn’t bring anything to the table that the Cannoneer could not.

Then, Evolution came out, and you could hear my scream in joy to the heavens. The Alpha warbeasts were introduced, and the Bronzeback was simply glorious. While his animus was strange (it forced him to slam and granted follow up), he buffed nearby titans and was a powerhouse himself. His model, too, was great, and stands up to this day. Running a titan herd, just with Gladiators, Bronzebacks and Cannoneers was a sight to behold.

Then, when MKII came around, It introduced a new Titan, gave life the the Gladiator via Rush, and made the Bronzeback an unstoppable killing machine. The Cannoneer here got the short end of the stick, but was still a good beast to have around. Running A titan heard was even easier as they introduced the new Warlock, Dominar Rasheth, and this theme list, Chain Gang. In it, you were incentivised to take titans because their cost was reduced. While I was unable to give up the advantages of having Void Spirit arc nodes or Cyclops Shaman guns for a discount on 2 or three Titans, I eventually heard to a list with 6 titans in it that sounded glorious. Trevor Christenson helped me out, and I had a list.

All aboard the Pain Train

I have been consistently amazed by what I can do turn by turn with this list – Its simply astonishing what can be accomplished with the tools that even simply the titans bring.

  • Bronzebacks give you an extra level of fury management even beyond the Paingivers. With his Leadership [Titans] his command of 6, Friendly Titans will not frenzy, and it is an extremely potent ability. Being able to commit to an action while also leaving fury on it boasts very potent planning potential
  • The Bronzebacks Animus, Train Wreck, is one of the best ways to clear infantry in the faction. Being able to use it on itself makes it capable in and of its own, but being able to have it affect gladiators, Sentries and Cannoneers means that infantry have to be extremely wary of how they are placed or they will end up paste.
  • Bronzebacks Have counter-charge, which can be very useful in getting them up the field. Don’t be afraid to take a hit or two from charging models to get into a good spot for either a trample or a train wreck. Using the ability as a threat against heavy targets that want to come into your other titans, especially ones that may have been wounded already. Taking out a system or an aspect can be critical, and with P+S 17 and three dice, its not outside possiblity.
  • Chain Attack: Grab and Smash enables some fantastic “re-arrangements” of the enemy lines, given proper placing. Being able to toss juicy targets to your back lines to finish off is an excellent use, but so is tossing a hearty target into a support piece.
  • Gladiators bring the most valued animus to Skorne, Rush. The Gladiator is one of those iconic pieces that I love seeing on the board in every skorne army because it feels more like a skorne army, in my mind. Even if it is just to bring Rush. +2 speed and pathfinder is no joke and makes the seemingly slow titans much more agile that would seem at first glance.
  • Grand Slam + Follow up is an amazing combo. Gladiators will always slam for free, and they have +2″ on the distance that the target gets tossed, making it a 3-8″ movement. Follow up allowing you to move up to that distance and then buy attacks afterward is glorious. Sometimes, you just need one model out of the way, and another killed. Enter the Gladiator.
  • The Gladiator is extremely valuable as an animus generator, and most often will be in the back of your heard. This, however, is just fine. Most support beasts can’t drop  6 P+S 18 attacks in a given turn, and a second wave of Gladiators can be back breaking.
  • The Cannoneer brings a massive gun, which can do significant damage to most targets. P+S 15+3d6 easily rocks to 26 damage. Combined with the Bronzebacks Coutner-charge, and can easily threaten the first model to commit with becoming completely ineffectual. Additionally, 26 damage is no laughing matter to casters, especially ones that cannot transfer. 6 damage on some casters is all you need to get the upper hand.
  • Diminish is a great animus, and until now I was convinced it was living only. Like, just now. I realized my mistake looking at the card in warroom. -2 STR to all models is very, very good, especially since almost every model will be within its 2″ radius when making melee attacks.
  • The Sentry is an amazing Beast in that it has reach, Arm 21 and Locker. Locker is the primary reason you bring it, that and being an enormous road block. However, with Beat Back it becomes an unstoppable juggernaut from hell. Reach, Beatback and P+S 16 commits most troops to the dirt, and if that won’t, P+S 18 probably will under enrage, and finally if it gets really rough, Rasheth can pop his feat for P+S 22 v. Living. Like Cetratii, Gators, and Warders

I Apologize for Nothing. 

Dominar Rasheth is a strange and bizarre Skorne caster, and one that takes a little getting used to. His 8 Fury is the largest in the faction, but he has no melee, no ranged, and lumbers around at speed 4. He is unique among the faction in a number of ways, and I feel that the drawbacks he has are not nearly as terrible as they look from the outside.

  • His control area of 16 is massive. This allows an application of force easily across both zones, and only leaves about 7″ to either side of the board outside. While the faction has access to Willbreakers to extend the control area of low Fury warlocks, it is not the best option. Its good when you want to toss a beast out there to die, but it is not so great when you want to apply pressure. Additionally, the willbreakers are 13/13 with 5 boxes making them fairly easy to kill. When your relying on that single model to exist to apply force, the enemy will make all concerted efforts to kill them. a 16″ control that you can’t take out of the game is very, very key.
  • Black Arts looks underwhelming, to start off with. Your models take damage, you can only do it once a turn, and you are limited to warriors. Playing with it is a very different prospect. Not only are you not limited to faction models, incorporeal models don’t take damage, the damage dealt is not enough to kill most solos, forcing your opponent to dedicate resources to doing it, and you even get tough if you use Nihlators or Minions under the Taskmaster. The most advantageous part of the whole ability is the capacity for flexability. Simply with two units of Paingers or Paingivers/Bonegrinders you have so many possible arc nodes that your opponent can rarely have safe haven. Its an army of spell martyrs! (Now I want to try recurring them with Shamblers somehow)
  • His ability to be resistant to shooting is not to be underestimated. Though his armor is low, it might as well be 17 v. Shooting, (16 v. melee with diminish, 18 with the feat). Carnivore and his feat allow him to recoup any damage he sustained while going in, as well, allowing him more often than not to just eat the shots from guns and not care.
  • His feat, while conditional, is actually really, really good. Though it only affects living, it has a very limited selection of models that it isn’t good against. Warjacks, for one, and undead models, along with Constructs. Many, Many times, though, there is at least one high-value target that is alive that can be gutted with proper use of the feat. Knowing from the very outset whether or not your going to use your feat offensively or defensively is extremely helpful, as it allows you to advance, screen and set everything up properly. Often against Warmachine armies I will use the feat defensively, blunting the attacks of their living infantry against my Titans. The Sentry and the Cannoneer are arm 23 and 22 that turn, with the Bronzebacks bringing up the rear with a measly 21. Even against Hordes, there isn’t much that the Train can’t bring down and it is often used defensivly.
  • Finally, his spell list is pretty damned amazing, mostly for its utility.
    • Sunder Spirit can be a great game turner by taking out some of the best animus out there, when needed. Peeling Rush, Slipstream or even Wraithbaine change the tides. It also doubles as a direct fire weapon for the Dominar, with range 10 (12 with Farrow) and pow 12 being enough to eliminate many threats and deal significant damage to an enemy caster.
    • Breath of Corruption is a solid spell to clear out infantry when they bunch up, and nothing bunches up more than when they are trying to kill heavies. Additionally, it can make some casters very worried, as he can simply run an arc node within 4″ and just drop a Pow 12 shot of acid on their face. As a final note, it can also be used to protect your Titans from one wound, non-reach models. Due to the size of the template, anything that wants to get within 1/2″ in order to attack it will enter the cloud, then dying if it only has one wound. pretty fun!
    • Blood Mark, like many MKII spells, seems underwhelming. This one, however, makes me chortle, even though I’ve not cast it in some time. Simply putting Blood Mark on a big target and having P+S 20 Gladiators is good. Being able to transfer once to the target is just icing on the never gonna happen cake.
    • Carnivore is an awesome spell that helps the Sentry out a significant bit by putting it over the edge to MAT 7 against living. Thankfully, most unliving models are extremely low defense, and easily hit with his stock standard MAT 5. This also combos with Train Wreck quite well, giving Rasheth a huge pile of HP back if he needs them and having MAT 7 reach attacks with beat back. Eat a whole unit, it will. It also turns the Bronzeback up completely past 11. MAT 9 hits DEF 20 with boosted hits until he triggers Grab and Smash and headbutts or throws them to the ground. Little survives the minimum pow 17’s that follow.
    • Castigate is one of those spells that allow you to have game against some casters and that just isn’t useful in most situations. Being able to shut down Thorn, Goreshade 3’s Arcnode and any insane thing Sevy wants to do is extremely useful, when applicable.

Don’t forget the Little Guys

Even though there are only two units, they both bring a suite of abilities that help make the titans, and Rasheth, Shine.

Paingivers allow the amazing stock standard suite of abilities (Condition, Enrage, Medicate) A friend of mine brought something up today that I’d never thought of. Paingivers have Inflict Pain on their whips, and you can easily Enrage a beast with one, and then whip any remaining fury off with other models. I love that, after playing with these models for 8 years, that I am still oblivious to certain tactics that are just… so obvious.

The Bonegrinders offer a suite of abilities that I just adore in the list, and am very happy that I included them. While they were originally only to hit Tier 2, they will be in there forever. Craft talisman, allowing Rasheth to cast spells 2″ further than he normally would is great, but really its the surety of knowing that both my Bronzebacks or Gladiators can go down and I will still have the animus. Combine that with their ability to be arc nodes in the late game and a fairly good magic attack that adds a little pop to the list and for 2 points, I love the diversity they bring over a second unit of paingivers.

Parting Thoughts

In every game, power attacks have been one of, if not the, deciding factors for the game. Having 4 beasts with two open hands really makes a huge difference when you are looking at how to end the game. Sometimes, the dice can be fickle, and you just need to 2h Throw a model out the zone for the last point or two in a game. But there are also plenty of other aplications that don’t seem intuitive at the start. Throwing your own models into other models like wrecking balls. Slamming models with Gladiators to follow up into zones, even if you don’t care if they are dead. The Knockdown in the list is insane, honestly, and that isn’t something that most people are prepared for. Grand slams, Chain Attacks, simple headbutts and two handed throws are all options open to the savvy player who can think laterally. Its an army that rewards a solid knowledge of the rules and a strong, instinct to just go for it!

This one’s been long, and thanks for sticking through it, if you made it this far! Its been a pleasure!

Marija, God of Nature

Other Titles: Harvester, Grainkeeper, Huntmaster

Alignment: NG

Weapon: Club (Communion)

Like the other gods in this last stretch, Marija requires a tiny bit of information. He was once one of the most powerful gods, and one of the first. Spawned directly from nature, Marija was powerful from the outset. However, recently transpired events culminated in his death. He was baited to the earth by some force, none know what, and then, in powerful ritual, corrupted. Gestril was sent by Takkannas to deal with the problem, but Gestril became infected with the same corruption. during the combat. Something happened, and nearby heroes were imbued with the essence of Gestril who aided and guided them into confronting Marija. Through an epic battle, the Corrupted God was defeated, and Gestril, through his essence imbuing the killer, absorbed his domains. Now, with Marija dead, there are two separate groups of followers. Those fanatics who still worship Marija, and are being granted power from something, though no one knows what, and those who have switched over to the worship of Gestril, even though his is lost and fragmented in the ether.

Major Domains: Nature, Grains, Harvest

Minor Domains:  Animals, Husbandry, Domestication

Totem Animal/Warform:  Tiger ( The warform is made of flames and ash, with eyes of purple flames and stripes of black and orange flames)

Holy Symbol: A blackend, stone fist clutching an Oak Tree

Favored Appearances: When Marija lived, he favored simple, peasantish appearances. Most often, he was a strong, tanned farmer with broad, weathered features, including his hazel eyes and his sun-bleached hair. He was never extremely attractive or extremely ugly. He greeted everyone with a wide, open smile that radiated from his entire body. He exuded simple, balanced, and naturalistic life.

His female form was a similar style body, broad, strong, and without flair. She, too, had broad features, weathered and worn by the sun and years of work. Her eyes were green, and her short hair bleached blonde by the sun.

Personality: Marija was the god of agriculture and cared for many races., giving them the methods, means and training to live in a civilized society. He cared, as well, for the balance of nature and its caretakers, and was one of the most active Paltonarchs on Kasan. There were a number of races that saw him as their patron, having given them methods to survive in the darkest of times. Though he showed goodwill to all those who respected his lessons and teachings, his wrath was terrifying when roused. Nothing got him more riled than the defilement of natures spaces or the overworking of the land in any way.

Teachings: Marija was the god on the boundaries of civilization, both wrathful and giving. He taught proper land management,  careful husbandry, and beneficial harvesting techniques.  He believed quite sternly in the balance between the natural world, and the civilized one, creating a confusing web of rituals, observances, and taboos that kept that delicate balance. This same balance was carried over to that of the herds of sheep, elk, and other domesticated animals he watched over. Balance in all things natural can very well be considered among his prime teachings.

following on that is his insistence on humility. Taking what you need, and no more, both from other people and from the land and animals around you.

Abode: When Marija lived, his home was a great Iron forest in the middle of the Iron Marches, called the Rolling Grove, bordering on the conflicted lands in the center. Though he held no specific home, he had many places where he could shelter to sleep and to hold audience with those who sought him out.: Great halls within the trees to fit hundreds and caves and hollows large enough to fit only him.

Clergy: His priests were, and some still maintain, the main functionaries who give blessing to a harvest, a hunt, or a herd. They were also the ones who made petitions when drought, plague, famine and other tragedy befell an area. They would beseech the proper gods in the name of Marija for reprieve and perform the proper sacrifices, when necessary, to grant the good favor again.  Often, the Clerics would be asked to Sanction a logging operation, mine or other expedition into the wilderness to prove that Marija was not against them.

Knightly Order: Long ago, a princess of an unknown land sought out and courted him. He was immediately smitten. She was mortal, however, and his devotion to balance required him to let her die a natural death. However, she bore him two daughters, Messara, the eldest, and Keimoa, the younger who were able to shift between a Tiger and a Humanoid form at will. Blessed by their father, they created the Wild Wardens, a dedicated force to both teaching humans respect of the natural world, and enforcing punishment when they do not.

Clerical Attire: Unsurprisingly, the god of nature prefers dull browns, russet reds and strong greens. Many of his followers wear dyed leathers with embossed leaves and plant heraldry on it, with different plants signifying dedication and position within the clergy.

Followers: Often Druids, some fighters, and many rangers were among the most devout worshipers of Marija. Now, rangers chiefly stick with the faith, relying on little more than their prowess at arms.

One of the great things about D&D is that it a combined storytelling session that involves everyone around the table getting together and making a story out of paper, die rolls and imagination. However, that same awesomeness is also a great weakness. If someone can’t make it that day, sometimes the story isn’t going to move forward at all. Its a strange dichotomy.

In many stories, the characters are important and world shaking. Events can’t go on without any given character. One has the Scrolls of Infinite Knowledge, one has the Demonslaying Sword of Grondarialand, and yet another has Breathe Water (and they are exploring an underwater castle, say). If any of them were missing, the whole game breaks in half without a lot of hand waving and just because-ing. It makes the inevitable missing characters a nightmare to deal with on the spot.

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The Monkey in The Room. 

Except, no one is ignoring this one. Theme lists, are getting a ton of chatter in recent days across all forms of media. Forum Posts, Podcasts, everywhere, and they range in perspective from Ban em all to whatever.

Well, I figured I’d take a few minutes and just write out about about both sides, the center and where I stand, because its a complex topic that covers more than simply the theme lists themselves. There are multiple answer and multiple depth levels to how theme lists can be viewed, even by one person. I’ll try and take a reasonable stab at getting it all out there.

The Death of Themes

There is a vocal portion of players who are calling for theme forces to be banned. Where there are variations on the theme, each one ends with the elimination of themes either from the entire game, from a single format, or from all formats except one. Most call for this to be done by Privateer themselves, but there are others calling for a player-created format as well.

This comes from the perception that themes are either unbalanced or unfun, and its easy to point out lists that exemplify these positions. Body and Soul is the current poster child for unbalanced, with specific scenarios giving her an almost instant win, and Bradigus is on scapegoat for unfun. Both of these are easy observations to make. Triggering pursuit in a B+S list on Turn one can put you on such backfooting that its almost impossible to make a comeback against an equally skilled player, and if you don’t have a way of purging spells from a model, its very possible that you are forced to play with your most valuable piece a turn behind if you know about it, or just get steamrolled if you do not.

Bradigus, on the other hand, denies you most of the game. With forests, teleportation and a near-dozen high arm, high box models, there is little left that you can actually do anything to. And, sometimes, when the dice get in your way of killing the one model that you can actually affect in a given turn, everything cascades downhill from there. Its MKI Trencher Smoke wall, all over again.

Nothing to See Here

On the other side of the line is the group that thinks that nothing is wrong with the theme lists as they are. They are a much less vocal group, but they have their champions. Its hard to argue against the strength and power of some of the theme lists out there. But that is just it, its some of the lists. A small fraction, if you will, that do fairly specific things are the ones hogging all of the spotlight. There are terrible theme lists that don’t see anyone play them except the uninformed or the Snowflakes. Most of the theme lists are either not worth taking, or not worth restricting oneself for the benefit.

Here, we have the people, too, who are monetarily invested in the theme lists, or defend those who are. Its a lot of money to have put into a Mad Dogs of War or a Evolutionary Elementalism list, and PP explicitly stated at the start of MKII that they didn’t want to invalidate any purchases made by their players. These players deserve to have their models hold their value and to continue to play the games with the theme lists they so enjoy.

Good, Clean Fun

I’ve avoided putting my opinions out there because I think each side deserves its own discussion. What amazes me about it all is the breadth of the arguments. They range from extreme to placid, and every scale in between, giving most people a warm fuzzy about where they feel, either through PP condoning it through silence, or through the echo-chamber that can sometimes generate from the higher-end players.

One of the big things that rubs me the wrong way about the current, and fairly new, call for banning the theme lists is that these were, in many cases, people who laughed off theme lists as invalid and poor choices. There were many times, prior to the most recent clamor against them, that there were great laments portraying the theme lists as some lost opportunity to make the game better by their existence. Now that we have theme lists that are completely awesome, legitimate ways to play the game and PP has gotten massively better at writing them, there are cries that are completely counter to what was once the norm. The Pendulum has swung too far.

Honestly, I think that the truth is much closer to the point of view that theme forces are fine mentality. While there are some obviously unfun and unbalanced situations you can get into with theme lists, it seems no less than tossing a high defense army against Harbinger, or trying to go all-out melee against Haley 1. I find this thought especially damning when, prior to the theme force discussion there were situations that would be discussed in which you “just loose.”

That brings me to a probably contentious point: Theme forces engender easy expertise in the list because they give easy and straightforward instructions on what the army should do. Apply Debuffs. Tank with Cetratii. Ram all the Titans down your Throat. The model selection is lighter, the choices in list building less daunting and the overall pace of the game can be slowed down. I don’t think this makes this bad, as this artificial inflation happens at all but the highest levels of play, and even then, it only gets you as far as your skill allows. I think it allows more people, with more armies, a greater variety of casters to choose from. The diversity I want to see is not in the list builds themselves, but in the casters represented. If every list in Skorne would be Mordikaar and Epic Makeda except for the existence of Fist and Chain Gang, then I am all for Fist and Chain Gang existing, continuing to exist, and perpetuating. Lists like Body and Soul and Wold War, however, fall into the questionable category, though I see their point. Model Diversity is something to be sought after, and I remember that no one played Cephalyx or Wold Watchers before those lists came out.

Finally, themes are fun, and that’s what makes them attractive to many players. Titan Herds, Walls of Cataphracts and legions of Doom Reavers are the stuff that players of all types dream up in their heads, and being able to put them on the table and see them in their fully painted glory from time to time is something that should be encouraged. While there are many people who play for competitive release, giving the hobby players something to be able to shine with is a pretty glorious ideal.

Now, I’m going to go try and finish the last bit on my Rasheth T2 list for Lock and Load.

As with Lobos before him and Marija After him, Telaxus has a little bit of background I need to go over. He is a terrible being of evil, through and through, and for that he had a coalition of gods trap him in an ornate jambiya locked him away for, what they thought was all eternity. Instead, of course, he exerted his influence and an unknown person found the knife and brought it to the world. There, it feel into the hands of a group of adventurers who I was DMing, and through their very actions (and inaction) they freed the god of Sacrifice, torture and murder from his god-created prison. though it involved the self-sacrifice of one of the player characters, Uplik, he was resurrected by Telaxus immediately to serve as his high priest, where he has served admirably ever sense.

 

Telaxus, God of Sacrifice

Other Titles: Murderking, The One Who Wants Death, Bloodseeker

Alignment: LE

Weapon: Jambiya

Major Domains: Murder, Sacrifice, Torture

Minor Domains:  Punishment, Prisoners, Slaves

Totem Animal/Warform: Jackal (the warform is composed of magma and soot, with burning teeth and a tail that vanishes in the wind)

Holy Symbol: A thin, skin choker, dyed blood red.

Favored Appearances: Almost universially, the forms of Telaxus are dark, brooding and full of menace. While there are others in the pantheon who wish to be among the people of Kasan, Telaxus is not one of them. Where he walks, strife and pain follow. his curly, dark hair frames a round, dark face bearing multiple angry scars and angry read eyes. He is of average height, if not a shade taller, and his build belies not that of a warrior, but a well fed and strong farmer. He often wears a dark and long robe with a broad hood and a vest of red and black. He carries his jambiya with him at all times.

His female form is that of an elf, many times, with dark skin and harsh features. Her long, dark curly hair frames a face that wears a perpetual frown that bleeds into her eyes and even her posture, creating a hostile demeanor. to any and all around her. She, too, wears a dark robe, hood and vest with a jambiya on her hip at all times.

Personality: Telaxus is a violent loner, prone to lashing out at those around him but easily appeased with gifts and offerings. His favored music is the screams the the tortured and the damned, reaching his ears across the cosmos. Though he chaffs at the thought of the other gods who thought him to reckless and terrible to be free and trapped him within his prison, he does not hold the grudges deeply. Instead, he focuses on combating the Accursed and their minions in the Iron Marches. On Kasan, however, he takes a much deeper and involved interest, personally leading and recruiting his empires across the world. Though he is newly freed he has, with his archpriest Uplik, gained a strong following in some depraved parts of the world.

Teachings: Telaxus portfolio leads his followers down a dark and sinister path, one covered in the blood of others. Murder is the most basic form of worship to Telaxus, and it is the solution to all the wrongs. Do you want something someone has? Kill them. Has someone wronged you or your family? Kill them. Are there tensions between you and a noble because your sleeping with his wife? Kill them.  There is no problem to Telaxus that cannot be solved with a knife between the ribs. Sacrifice, too, is dear to Telaxus, though not just any sacrifice, though it does just fine in a pinch. What pleases most is the sacrifice of intelligent members of the community for a specific goal that seems insurmountable. This piggybacks off of the previous tenant. If there is a problem, kill someone. In addition to killing for gain, he has a very miserable streak when it comes to those who are a problem. Torture, slavery and imprisonment are the favored of many forms of punishment, Telaxus does not shed tears, he sheds blood.

Abode: The Crimson Rampart is one of the foremost bastions of Paltonarch power in the Iron Marches. Both as a newcomer and an unwanted guest, Telaxus lives here,  an army of chosen dead filtering both too and from the battlefields of the center of the Marches. It is here that the enemy are brought to be tortured and eventually killed for the information they contain and the deeds they have committed.

Clergy: Priests of Telaxus are not only rare, they are heavily shunned by most of society. Constantly seeking to solve problems with the blood of others, bullying and threatening murder on those who displease them and training in the art of torture has given them a fearsome and deserved reputation.

Knightly Order: The Daughters of Violence are women dedicated to the lord of murder in the most visceral way, wandering from town to town and city to city offering to solve the problems of the community through the violent and bloody solutions their lord offers. Adept at their gods handiwork, they are sometimes the last desperate hope of a failing town.

Clerical Attire: The Clerics and Priests of Telaxus wear the same vestments as their god, a long black robe with a hood and a black-and-red vest.  Often they have their Choker prominently displayed but there are times when discretion is the better part of their work.

Followers: Murderers, theives, and outcasts, along with warriors of ill repute and priests who often need to sacrifice to the gods. Executioners, inquisitors and even judges sometimes follow the god of knives.

I like to think I have a signature style of DMing. I build gritty, realistic, low magic worlds that challenge the players both in combat and out. I give the characters plenty of time to shine, but the world isn’t focused on their trials and tribulations. They do many small deeds that become great deeds. This style leads me to dial in on aspects of the game that amplify these effects, including the Climate from last week, humanoid enemies, and the players starting abilities. It will also generally focus on the tales that the characters themselves weave, because they cannot rely on magic abilities, magic items or supernatural powers to get them out of problems.

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Good Afternoon, and a tired one it will still be.

Over the past weekend, I had the honor and privilege to adjudicate and assist in running the East Coast Rumble in Clark NJ. It was a complete blast, and I was glad I stayed for every match.

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