Every year during con season, and especially before Gencon, there is a  storm of information around  each company, and what they are going to release. With Gencon right around the corner, we are starting to become overloaded with cool things coming out.

I’ll start with a game that I don’t follow at all, but I have heard has a huge following, some game called X-wing. They are releasing an Epic Scale, if you will, game called Armada, and it looks potentially really cool. I like the concept of spaceship naval and dogfighting, and I would really like a game that enables me to play out that type of fleet action. The starter box is pretty cool, I’m not going to lie, with three capital ships, one of which is a Star Destroyer, and a quartet of fighter squadrons, but if the game really doesn’t get past that size, I’ll loose interest exceedingly fast. I want something big, massive, and fun. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one!

Next, Malifaux has released its list of box sets, Nightmare model, and Miss-model that it will be releasing this year.

Lookit alla that!

Lookit alla that!

Wyrd has been converting its entire product line over to plastic since the introduction of M2E, and this is yet another step along the way, with new, plastic, sculpts and crew boxes for Lucius, Zorida, Kirai, Von Schill, the Dreamer, and Ophelia. Also, for each Gencon, they produce a nightmare model that is a huge, alternate sculpt of one of their current models. This year they’ve decided to go with the Whiskey Golem, and I can’t really blame them! It is huge, awesome, and completely insane. Finally, as a treat for all the people picking up these models as pre-releases, every year they have a Miss-model – something you get free at a certian threshold of dollars spent. This year, they have a fantastic looking Alt. Teddy, Miss Ery.

BadTeddyRender If I played anyone who could use Teddy, I’d be all over that. Instead, there is nothing that really grabs me this year, so I’ll just wait for neat things to come out for my limited palette of models.

Infinity, too, is releasing a convention model, though I don’t know whether or not its their first time. Its gaining a lot of talk about its appropriateness, which I don’t care one way or the other about, but the model is at least passable. I don’t think the model looks particularly like the model. I also don’t play a faction that can field her, so her view on my radar is small.

Infinity Cosplay Model

Infinity Cosplay Model

 

In addition to this model, they will also have a Penthesilea Bootleg for prerelease. The bootleg line of models are supposed to be a botique style model that is made in the sculptors spare time, with an eye towards fun and beauty. The new Kum bike on her is pretty awesome, but again its not a model I can use, so it sits in the realm of neat, but not to interested

PenthesileaBootleg

Bootleg model for Gencon

Not to be left out, Relic Knights, in conjunction with Secret Weapon Miniatures, is releasing a line of colored Esper crystals. While I think they are cool, and people will definitely find a use for them, I just can’t.

Espers!

Espers!

Honestly, I think they are really, really cool, I just won’t ever use ’em

Finally, we come to the game I’ve been concentrating on for the greater part of a year now, Warmachine and Hordes. They have a trend of having big releases at Gencon, and this year the rumor mill is churning that the new Hordes book, Exigence, will be available for the purchasing, and there are tons of whispers about what it will contain. As the event comes closer and closer, we get more and more information about the next work, and even have a few tidbits from the mouth of PP itself, and with PP abandoning its long-used concurrent release concept for a more asymmetric style anything is possible.  We’ve already been privy to a pile of rules: Lesser Warlocks Zaadesh, Una, and Horgle; the Moonhound Argus and Rotterhorn Griffon, Dozer and Smigg, Borka, Vengeance of the Rimeshaws, and Fyanna the Lash. We’ve seen a combination of model, art, and concept sketch on Bradigus Thorle, A Character Satyr, Xerxis on a Rhino, a Strange Skorne Bug, Beetle Warbeast Pack, Epic Absylonia, Zuriel, Wasp Warbeast Pack, Jagga Jagga, Maximus, Meat Grinder, Sacral Vault, Swamp Gobber River Pirates,  Helga the Conquerer,  Brightblades, Neraph, and unpainted models of Troll Bandits.

Thats a TON of models with no rules or even hints, and I think that’s really, really cool. There were a ton of models that we knew everything about before the book even came out for Vengeance, and a lot of people were upset, almost as many as were exceedingly happy! Leading up to Gencon, as I said, we have some spoilers as well that have appeared. Some are substantiated, and others, well, believe for yourself

  • New Skorne Unit, Praetorian Keltarii, hinted at buy the Exigence Cover, and revealed in a Picture

    New Skorne Unit!

    New Skorne Unit!

  • Bradigus Thorle has Synergy and Wold-only Battlegroup
  • an enormous pastebin of crazy rules
  • Helga the Conqueror has Dash and Defenders Ward

Even Privateer, though, can’t resist releasing limited edition miniatures for Gencon, and just a few days ago revealed that they will have their pinup model this year as well. The Blighted Bather, a blighted Nyss bathing in a Spawning vessel. I do have to say the Shredder duckie is awesomely cute!

Blood Bath!

Blood Bath!

We’ll see what else comes out at Gencon, and whats proved unfounded. I look forward to it, and all the insanity it brings!

This weekend I was lucky enough not only to get two games in against people I’d never played before, but also to run my first tournament in nearly a year.

I’m running the events at the NOVA open this year, and that includes a first ever Iron Gauntlet (non-qualifying) event. In order to both drum up interest and to get some practice for the tournament, I set up a tournament in a similar style at my local store, Titan Games and Hobbies. I was only able to get about 3 weeks notice on the event, but I still felt that it was worth running.

That morning, 8 gentlemen slowly trickled into the store at 10am to do battle. We had a varying assortment of Factions, with only one being duplicated.

Retribution of Scyrah
Cygnar
Khador
Convergance
Trollbloods
Mercenaries
Protectorate x2

with only 8 players, we decided to go with 2 50 point rounds and a 75 pointer for the finale. This allowed the feelling of a small Iron Gauntlet without having enough players. It was a simple affair, but the guys had a ton of fun.

Round 1
Borka Family Reunion v. High Reclaimer
Constance Blaize v. Feora 2
Stryker 2 v. Father Lucant
Vlad v. Vyros

Trollbloods, Protectorate, Cyngar and Khador advanced

Round 2
McBain v. Kreoss 3
Aurora v. Kaeylssa
Jarl v. Severius
Seige v Irusk 2

Mercenaries, Convergence, Protectorate and Cygnar each registered wins, with a final round pairing of Cygnar v. Protectorate in the works.

The 75 point round was a huge success, and I could really see this type of format continuing. It allows a much greater breadth of models and tactics than is normally available, but it also has a strange warping effect on the casters. As I’ve heard on a number of podcasts, the casters that are good at 50 don’t always transfer over to 75 well.

In the end, the Protectorate player ended up taking down Stryker 2 with a giant, flame-belching Feora 2 list. It was a treat to run the show for these guys, as it always is, and I look forward to seeing many of the same guys down at NOVA at the end of the month.

While all of that was going on, though, I was able to get a quick 35 point game in against my Co-TO. I was using Cephalx, of course, and he brought along trolls. 35 is always hard for me, as I feel that 50 is the most balanced and feels much more rounded. You have answers, and your opponent has answers, and you have, for the most part, to outplay your opponent in order to win. There are some heavy skews, I will admit. For the most part, however, it feels more like a game and less like Rock-Paper-Scissors.

He brought

Grim Angus+6
*Dire Troll Mauler9
*Troll Axer6
*Troll Impaler5
Sluggers (3)5
Champions (3)6
Bushwackers (6)5
Raluk Moorclaw2
*Buccanneer3
41 points

And I made the following.

Exulon Thexus+5
*Wrecker7
*Wrecker7
*Warden6
Mind Benders (10)6
Mind Slavers (10)6
Pistol Wraith3
Machine Wraith1
Agitator2
Agitator2
40 points

At 35, I feel really vulnerable. I have to drop out most of my support and it feels really bad. Pistol Wraith, Agitator, TAC, a Machine Wraith and the Overlords mean that I have to rely on my Monstrosities to pull the majority of the workload. While they are good at that, it means I am very much on dimensional and extrememly subject to bad matchups.

Thankfully, I was able to send my wrecker into his mauler on the top of turn 2 and make a giant pile of quivering meat of him. That really enabled me to be able to take the game into my hands and force trades in my favor. It took forever, but I ended up chewing through the extremely dense army until I was able to force a victory. I don’t remember exactly what happened at the end there, but I remember reducing the Troll army down to the Impaler, Grim, and a single Champion. Thexus was able to take away the win, but only just barely.

The next game I played was after the tournament ended. A nice young kid is getting into protectorate and the game, and wanted to play a quick game. I obliged, because hey, teaching new people is fun! He ended up having 26 points of models he was able to toss together, So I just matched the total.

His models: 

Feora II+6
*Vanqisher8
*Crusader6
*Repenter4
*Revenger6
Choir of Menoth (6)3
26 points

and mine: 

Exulon Thexus+5
*Wrecker7
*Wrecker7
*Warden6
Mind Slavers (10)6
26 points

I wasn’t extremely confident in my list, but I was very confident that I was gonna club this baby seal. I was intent on teaching him a few things about the game along the way, as well, but I was pretty confident I’d carry home his head.

We started with a simple explanation of the game mechanics, with him taking his first turn to look over his spells, discover Escort, and send his warjacks on their merry way. As we were doing all this we slowly gathered a few players who were also watching and gave helpful hints to him along the way. I knew I was doomed at that point, as playing against committee is just a doomed endeavor.

We took the first two turns to get into position so that we could get a good bead on each other and get to clobberin’ time. He learned about the awesomeness of Telekinesis, the usefulness of judging distances, and the great role that the leader possess in a unit. He got first blood, sending a Battled Repenter into my Slaver drudges, targeting a guy beyond the 8″ reach, and burned a whole set of em. I was able, however, to get the second blow in. I charged with my Drudges into the Crusader and the Repenter, doing a bit of damage, and then Feated. Thexus pulled the Crusader into range of the Subduer,  the Vanquisher and the Revenger were likewise pulled into range of the Wrecker.

Sadly, though, the Subduer, after a netgun and three pow 18 attacks, came up short on the Crusader, leaving it with an Ignited mace and its Cortex as its only remaining boxes (2). The Wrecker, my next best option, managed to roll a pair of snake Eyes while agitated to leave the Vanquisher at pretty decent health. With the Warden in reserve, and the rest of my models ready to be totaled in retaliation, I knew it was going to be an uphill climb. The Crusader easily handled the Subduer, and the Vanquisher dispatched the Wrecker, with a little help from the Revenger.

But I was still in the game! His vanquisher was in line with his caster, and I had a warden. I used Telekinesis on the Warden and the reveneger to get them into place, and set up the slam.  Slamming for free with the Warder is an awesome benefit, and I used it to my advantage. With a fully loaded head of steam, I needed anything but 1 on the distance, due to Grand Slam, and I’d be able to unload on a knocked down Feora.

The dice are rolled, and again they come up snake eyes. All I can do is laugh at this point, as the Vanquisher beats my Warden to death, and then Epic Feora move + fire steps up to catch Thexus in a flamethrower range, setting him on fire and doing 6 damage to him. I then cook for another 5 the next round, leaving me with 4 HP away from death. I Have a last ditch effort, tossing 2 Hex Blasts into her face, boosting the damage, but I leave her at 4 HP and she takes me out the next turn.

It was a good game, and I am sure that a dude playing his second game got a ton of fun out of it. If only I’d have been able to teach the new guy about slams, Follow up, knockdown, and auto hitting attacks.

Ah well!

 

I started looking at, and listening to, Muse on Minis a short while ago, and they talked about a concept of wargaming that got me very intrigued. Its a broad,tabletop application of a standard modern military doctrine that small units are more effective due to their mobility, and their ability to both support other units and react to threats easily. It is mainly a Warhammer 40k tactic called MSU (Multiple Small Units), due to everything in that game being units. It is being adopted by the Warmachine community, and has some specific application within our favorite game.

Our friends over there start discussing it around 1:46.

The breakdown is something like this:

The going philosophy in warmachine, turning into infantrymachine, is that you want more bodies, and therefor more attacks, per point in order to maximize your potential number of attacks in a given turn. MSU is kind of the opposite philosophy, in that you want to get a high number of quality attacks and models who can take and deny scenario easily, while being just hard enough to remove.

Whats cool about this, at the very basic level, is that its completely different from what I’ve been doing for my entire Cryx life. Its taking all the ideas I have and turning it on their head. My friends I have played with for a long time had hinted at these thoughts, allowing them to cover more ground and provide more answers, but I’d always fought against it.

So, I’ve started to think about how to take that idea and run with it. I wasn’t open to it a few years ago, but now I think I’ve got some grit to get in there.

One of the very basics about MSA – I prefer Multiple Significant Activations, due to how units are specifically designated in Warmachine – is that you need a caster that can work within the confines of the concept. Most casters that are buff oriented are not really going to be able to capitalize on whats happening in their list, as they loose a ton of efficiency of focus buffing only single models or small units. . In the ‘cast they talk a lot about how well Kommander Sorcha is suited for this roll, however. She has a control area wide defense buff in Fog of War, that allows the units to edge up to 18 or higher defense. She has a feat that can can set the opponent back a whole turn, while also being a perfect defense debuff. Finally, she many times needs specific models removed to have her feat work to its greatest potential. All of these factors combine into one of the most effective lists that she can run.

113704_md-sorscha-artwork-color-scheme

Another basic tenant is that you want value models littering the army, ones that can earn back their points relatively easily, yet are still durable and a paint to kill. Hopefully, each model will either get two attacks a turn, or be able to assure that their single attack kills. Orin Midwinter will hit 2 models a turn, Kel Bailoch will almost always add a pair of notches to his rifle, Hawk can take down two models a turn. Sprays, as well, are extremely valuable and thresher is just excellent.

Whats more, Solos tend to have both higher defense and a better wound score than you’d normally associate with 2 or 3 points, enabling them to survive some of the common problems associated with infantry. Boosted blast damage will still take them down, but its unlikely that they will have enough boosts in a single turn to remove more than a pair. You’re able to spread out, as well, making sure that many of your models are free from even large blasts taking down more than one at a time.

Each model, as well, needs to be able to contribute to the greater whole on its own. Building large, solo spam, convergence-esque armies is not the route, here. Getting locked into order of activation issues should be a thing of the past. It should be a quick thing to figure out which models need to die, and which of yours can do the best at killing it.  The only real issue I think your going to have is when and what the caster does each turn, but that will really limit your time in the tank.

This leads to what I see as the main benefit of the list, in that you will be able to apply the exact amount of energy required to do exactly what you need. In the conventional logic, you end up paying points for multiple models that don’t get attacks during most combat phases. If you add it up over the course of a game, you’re probably wasting 5-6 points a round on models that run when you charge, or that simply move because the unit has to charge. This won’t be the case with an MSA army. If you don’t commit completely to solo spam, you’ll have a large amount of solos clearing the road for your multiple min units or your single backbone max unit to do the work it needs to do. How many times has your opponent left a single model in the way of a perfect Tartarus Thresher? This solved that exact problem by having a simple abundance of single model activations that you can use to make sure what you need to die dies where you need it to die.

2j26f6a

So, that’s the basic tenants of the MSA philosophy. Now, I want to try and hammer this out into a good look at what models and units I can use from a Cryx Perspective.

I personally think that the Coven and Goreshade II have some pretty compelling lists that they can put together. Coven can delivery nearly the whole army thanks to their feat, has great spot removal/control in Stygian Abyss, and can manipulate all sorts of movement with Ghost Walk, Veil of Mists, and Curse of Shadows. I think its a very solid area where they could shine, given testing and iteration.

for your perusal and prompt Dismissal: Three MSA Cryx Lists.

The Witch Coven of Garlghast+5
-Deathripper4
-Nightwretch4
-Nightwretch4
-Scarlock Thrall2
Bane Thralls (6)5
Bile Thralls (6)5
Satyxis Raiders (6)5
-Sea Witch2
Aiakos, Scourge of the Meredius3
Captian Rengrave2
General Gerlak Slaughterborn3
Master Gunner Dougal MacNaile2
Orin Midwinter2
Pistol Wraith3
Pistol Wraith3
Satyxis Raider Captian2
Warwitch Siren2
55

The coven list, as proposed above.

Gorshade the Cursed+5
-Leviathan9
Bane Thralls (10)8
-Officer and Standard3
Satyxis Blood Witches (6)4
Blood Hag2
Tartarus4
Iron Lich Overseer 3
Iron Lich Overseer3
Pistol Wraith3
Pistol Wraith3
Satyxis Raider Captain2
Satyxis Raider Captain2
Warwitch Siren2
Warwitch Siren2
Necrotech and Scrap Thrall1
Necrotech and Scrap Thrall1
Scrap Thrall (3)1
Scrap Thrall (3)1
Scrap Thrall (3)1
55

The goal of the Goreshade list is to have a huge unit of Bane Thralls that are the hammer of the army. They have his Elite Cadre bonus, the feat and Tartarus’ Thresher in order to keep generating more of themselves. The Iron Liches have psudo-beserk, The Pistol Wraiths and Captains both get two attacks, and the Warwitch Sirens have sprays. The necrotechs can keep the Leviathan in working order while it uses phantom hunter to threaten assassination and attrition. The blood witches are there to prevent tough on the enemy of the thralls for Goreshades feat. and, as an added bonus, with 11 scrap thralls to target for the feat, everything in the army can be resurrected except Scrap Thralls and Tartarus. If it comes down to Goreshade and a Leviathan, with both my scrap thralls and a feat, I can still make do, returning 10 solos to the board.

Warwitch Deneghra+5
-Nightwretch4
-Nightwretch4
-Scarlock Thrall2
Cephalyx Overlords4
Nyss Hunters (6)7
Aiakos, Scourge of the Meredius3
-Leviathan9
Captain Rengrave2
Gorman Di Wulfe2
Dougal MacNaile2
Orin Midwinter2
Pistol Wraith3
Pistol Wraith3
Satyxis Raider Captian2
Satyxis Raider Captian2
Saxon Orrik2
Warwitch Siren2
55

This is just a simple iteration of the Denny + guns army. Its got enough mobile firepower to take down almost any target, and it can pop its feat to burn down even more. I think this one is my overall favorite.

Tell me what you think, Follow me on Twitter

 

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday:

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

Friday

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

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

Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Xerxis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zaal's Immortal Host v. Barnabus

Zaal’s Immortal Host v. Barnabus

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

Barnabus V. Kreoss 3

Barnabus V. Kreoss 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

Khadoran Mad Dog

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

Protectorate Jack

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

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

Pirate Unit

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

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

monstrosity bits

monstrosity bits

Pre-Magnetized Monstrosities

Pre-Magnetized Monstrosities

Dominator

Cephalyx Dominator

Cephalyx Agitators

Cephalyx Agitators

Mind bender

Mind Bender and Drudges Unit


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

But lets get to that now!

Thexus v. Borka 2

Thexus v. Borka 2

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

Thexus v. Goreshade III

Thexus v. Goreshade III

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

Me and Doug v. Martin and Max

Me and Doug v. Martin and Max

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

Thexus 4

Cygnar and Cephlyx v. Cryx and Trolls

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

Barnabus v. Grissel 2

Barnabus v. Grissel 2

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

Barnabus v. Harbinger

Barnabus v. Harbinger

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

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

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

But there’s more!

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

Painting Bandits Trollkin Bandits

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

Jaga Jaga

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

River Pirates

 

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

 

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

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

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

and his list was:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With that, we shook hands and got to business.

Turn 1

Turn 1

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

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

Turn 2

Turn 2

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

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

Turn 3

Turn 3

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

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

Thoughts.

the Dawnshadow is a nasty ‘caster!

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

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

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

Since the release of the Thralls of the Blackship Exhumation and the Umber Guard lists in Mark I theme lists have been an option in Warmachine. Personally, I don’t even think I tried one in MK I, and I in no way regret it. Those two were strange, bizarre abominations, and I’d finally gotten competent enough in Cryx to feel comfortable testing the waters right around when MK II hit the ground, so I was still struggling to get my Cryx feat under me.

MK II, coincidentally, brought some viable theme lists. Instead of being faction based, though, they were tailored to each caster, and for the whole of the MK II release cycle, people wondered what they were going to get in their theme lists, and how their favorite ‘Caster or ‘Lock was going to be represented.

Unfortunately, this lead to heaps of anticipation that could not ever be matched. With MK II just coming out and Privateer in its cautious release phase, many of the theme lists were doomed to underwhelm. Each book was greeted with less and less overall enthusiasm for the Theme lists printed within, though prior to each book the furor would build all over again.

There are some tier lists in each book that still see serious tabletime. Each of these does something so brutal, and fits so powerfully with both the caster and the theme of the army being portrayed that it just sticks. Most of them, to further compound the issue, are spam lists, enabling multitudes of powerful units that are normally restricted or allowing multiple restricted UA’s where you would only get one.
Noteable examples:
Goreshade II: Heresy of Shadows
Butcher II: Mad Dogs of War
Mortenebra: Infernal Machines
Epic Keoss: Crusaders of Sul
Zaal: Immortal Host

Each of these allows you to toss as many of some of the highest value models in the faction at your opponent as you can fit in a list. Who can resist more Bane Thralls, Doomreavers, Heavy Warjacks, Knights Exemplar and Immortals!

The problem with many of the other lists is that they suffer from one of two seriously problematic issues that cause the faction balance to snap. Either the list lacks a crucial model or unit that causes the faction to function correctly, or they suffer from lack of hitting power. Those that aren’t suffering from list composition issues suffer from the additional problem of limited bonuses for adhering to the lists. There are only four bonuses to give out, and they come with increasingly stringent restrictions. Sometimes its worth it, but most of the time, it is not. The reason spam lists work is because instead of limiting your options, it opens certain options up, and this can lead to some very powerful synergies.

Most theme lists, therefore, end up on the wayside. The age of the colossal has amplified that, as many people look for way to cope with these giant masters of the battlefield. Most theme lists don’t allow you the tools that you need to deal with these beasts.

which leads my to my decision to take another look at the theme lists of Cryx through different lens. Ones that I have specifically discarded due to lacking in ways to deal with heavy armor have a large, powerful friend: The Kraken.

Kraken

Sometimes, you have to fight fire with fire.

The Kraken is an interesting Cryx option in lists where the standard heavy hitters might not be available. We tend to rely on Bane Thralls, Deathjack, and layered spells to get the job done, with the odd mercenary here and there to make it go. The problem was that both the Bane Thralls and the Deathjack can, and do, easily get scooped out of theme lists. One is a character, and the other is many times not in theme. The Kraken is, with one exception, available to tier lists. It is a massive points investment, but its a seriously strong piece that I love in the Cryx arsenal. Its also self sufficient in many ways, fueling itself while killing infantry, and saving those tokens to kill heavies when needed. Its guns, though, are the cherry in the cheesecake. Just having that ranged presence in Cryx is phenomenal.

The list that really has me considering the Kraken in theme lists as a problem solver, albeit an expensive one, is the The Witch Coven of Garlghast: Auguries of War.

I originally played this list, with its FA:2 Soulhunters, before Wrath released. At that time, I found it to be a little light on the smash, if you will. With Bane Knights, Soul Hunters, and Blood Witches, it could really get around the army, but if they brought an army that was not possible to get around, it was kind of stalled out. The Kraken is the biggest can opener I have in the faction.

The list I have come up with is probably going to fail horribly, but I feel it brings a Trio of threats to the table that just have to be dealt with.

First, the list:

The Witch Coven of Garlghast

The Witch Coven of Garlghast +5
-Kraken19
-Nightwretch4
-Nightwretch4
-Scarlock Thrall2
Soulhunters (5)9
Soulhunters (5)9
Darragh Wrathe4
Warwitch Siren2
Warwitch Siren2
Total: 50

The first thing I notice about the list is that everything, baring 4 models, is speed 7 or faster, with the application of Infernal Machine on the Kraken. This gives me incredible speed advantage going first, and counter-deploy options and scenario presence on turn 2. This is also a list that will make a mockery of anything that specifically tries to deny its maneuverability. The Kraken has pathfinder, the Coven has Ghostwalk, and the Soulhunters are incorporeal during their activation. The Coven can also toss out Curse of Shadows, Occultation,  Veil of Mists, and Stygian Abyss to make sure I get into position with whatever resources I need to get the win.

Getting the win, it turns out, can come in a few simple packages. The first is what I will call “The Soulhunter Surprise.” Soulhunters, as mentioned, under Darragh Wrathe are incorporeal during their activation. Cavalry has Tall in the Saddle, allowing them to ignore small based models when declaring a charge. The Coven has Curse of Shadows, allowing models to move through units, but also nullifying anything that has magic weapons from making free strikes. Finally, the tier list benefit is a free soul token on each of the Soul Hunters at the start of the game. Given that Soulhunters have an 11″ charge range, with a 13″ threat from reach and an additional +1″ from Darragh, I can foreseeable get at a target (say, the Warcaster/Warlock) well behind the front lines, and not even worry about the front lines. The soulhunters, due to Cavalry rules and the soul bonus, will be at MAT 8 + 3d6 and doing 13+3d6 damage with the charge, and 11+2d6 if in 1/2″ melee, and another POW 10 from the mount.  If I can get an arc node back to the caster, I can drop Stygian Abyss on the target, Follow it up with Curse of Shadows, and bring that up to MAT 11 +3d6 and pow 15+3d6. I don’t think many casters will survive 3-4 of those. Back it up with a Stygian Abyss hit or two, and a shot or three from the Kraken, and your really looking at some serious assassination potential.

The second option for victory is control points. There are certain armies that will just not be fast enough to challenge this list, and with everything up 14″ or greater past my deployment zone, I can really push the scenario hard. Jamming with def 14, arm 15 large bases with 5 wounds might not always work, but with the Kraken and the spell slingers right behind, I’m betting its going to be seriously in contention. I can dominate with a single Coven Member, and control with Warwitch Sirens if that is the plan. The Kraken at MAT 8 with speed 7 as a second wave can be extremely scary to face off against.

The last opportunity for victory is the the traditional Stygian Abyss method. Get three boosted to hit/damage pow 12’s on the caster and either pin them in place, or kill them out right. Either one works and can allow the Kraken or the Soulhunters to finish the job.

As much as I like my newly painted Aiakos, this list is going to have to get at least a run through this weekend when I get to roll out and play some games!

 

Over the weekend, at Adepticon, Privateer pre-released the hordes equivalent of the journeyman warcasters for Hordes: Una the Falconer, Horgul Ironstrike, and Tyrant Zaadesh. Each of them brings different skills and abilities to their faction, some with more effect than others.

While I think Una and Ironstrike are neat, what I really want to talk about is Zaadesh. Skorne is my Primary Hordes faction, and I see a ton of really cool tactics with this guy.

So, who is he? Tyrant Zaadesh:

Zaadesh full

on the surface, he doesn’t look much like the other two Lesser Warlocks. He gives no discount on warbeasts, but he also has a battlegroup unlimited in selection. Both Una and Horgul have Their warbeast selection limited: Una to Warbeasts with flight (currently only the Rotterhorn Griffon, Scarsfell Griffon, and Razorwing Griffon) and Horgul to Pyre Trolls and Slag Trolls. Zaadesh’s greatest flexibility comes in his Warbeast selection.

Zaadesh is a fairly middle of the road fighter: MAT 6 and P+S 12 are nothing to get extremely giddy about. Magic Weapon is nice, of course, and reach is always welcome, especially with SPD 6.DEF 13 is good, but not great, and ARM 15 is durable enough, especially with 4 fury.

His card is nice and short: two spells and two rules. The first spell, perdition, is a pretty good one. Now, It’ll get a lot of hate from a lot of people. Its an offensive spell on a 4 fury caster, which means you’ve got an especially poor starting point for hitting your target. However, I will not be fooled. I originally though the same exact thing about Wrong Eyes Voodoo Doll, and I was proven horribly, terribly wrong repeatedly. Wrong eye doesn’t even shirk at going after high defense targets either. Boosting is an immensely powerful ability, turning the hit total of 11 into an average hit total of between 15 and 16. Choosing the right target helps of course, but you can reliably hit almost every infantry model in the game with Zaadesh’s Perdition. POW 10 isn’t anything to write home about either, but any infantry under arm 15 is most probably taking a dirt nap, and arm 16 is a good bet too. You can push the envelope by boosting to damage, but this would be extremely dangerous. Leaving him with no fury and only 5 wounds will likely end with a Zaadesh sized bloodstain. his range of targets for perdition, overall, is fairly good. You do have to know what your getting into when you cast it though. Pushing the Def 14 and/or arm 15 envelope is going to be a tricky proposition, and most times not worth it. The payoff, though, can be devastating. Moving a beast into position early is not to be underestimated.

Especially with his second spell, Tag Team. A new spell, as far as I am aware, and a really good one at that. Granting Gang: Battlegroup is a pretty impressive ability for an upkeep spell. This is doubly true when a number of Skorne warbeast have reach: Molik Karn, Cyclops Savage, Cyclops Brute, Cyclops Shaman, Tiberion, Titan Sentry, Despoiler, and the Rhinodon. Enabling the gang bonus here is pretty simple. The real bonus, here, is the universal MAT bonus, something that Skorne on its own isn’t very capable of. Only three casters have any way to boost MAT: Carnage, Carnivore, and Death March. Having the ability to bring a Warbeast MAT buff is incredibly powerfull, and the capacity for warbeasts to boost on the fly really takes it up to 11.

The first of his two rules is the basic lesser warlock setup, stating that he is not, for rules purposes, a warlock. He does, however, have the capacity to act as one, with the following rules: Battlgroup Commander, Control Area, Damage Transference, Forcing, Fury Manipulation, Healing and Spellcaster. This makes a difference for a few of our models, but overall, is just clarifications.

The second rule, though, much like his second spell, has me a bit giddy. Protective Battlegroup gives every warbeast in his battlegroup an Improved Shield Guard rule. He can only activate it once a turn, no matter how many beasts are nearby, but a free transfer for Ranged or Magic attacks is pretty good.

Tyrant Zaadesh, Lesser Warlock

Tyrant Zaadesh, Lesser Warlock

All of the Hordes warlocks, however, are in a strange place in the game. Unlike in warmachine, hordes really doesn’t need to promote the use of their heavies and lights: the rules of the game require them. Therefore, Lesser warlocks, unlike Journeymen Warcasters, will not be reducing the load on the leader of the force and making them more effective. What they will be doing is taking the place of a unit or slew of solos. This makes evaluating them moderately tough, and their value must be gauged with that in mind. Sometimes, however, you want a few extra warbeasts on the board for their animus or for a specific task, and your warlock doesn’t have the fury capacity to run all the beasts you like. In steps the new Lesser warlocks. With the ability to control warbeasts, especially specialist ones, and allow your Warlock to focus on bringing more big bruisers, it could be just what the doctor ordered.

There are a number of curious interactions, as well, with some of our support models. Because he’s not a warlock, you cannot attach Marketh, and he cannot use either spellslave or Soul tap for Zaadesh. The Mortitheurge Willbreaker’s Beastmaster works just fine, as it is the Willbreaker himself who is forcing the beast. Ancillary attack works too as its targets friendly faction warbeast, which is exactly what Zaadesh brought along. Zaadesh Cannot move fury to, or leach from, an Agnoizer, as the rule explicitly states Warlock. Craft Talisman, either from a Cyclops Shaman or Farrow Bonegrinders, cannot be applied to Zaadesh or any of the lesser warlocks because they are not warlocks, as the rule specifically calls out.

 

Zaadesh has a number of interesting setups that I want to try out. Some of them are less tenable than others, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t rattling around in my head. I have three, specifically, I am looking to grab.

1: Zaadesh, Titan Sentry, Cyclops Brute – This is just the Pain Nugget. With the ability to shrug off three ranged attacks a turn before transfers, he should have no problem getting into the mix. Those same three shield guards will allow him to drop a perdition an a vulnerable target in order to launch the Brute into a target, setting up the titan for a MAT 7 P+S 20 turn, and then getting the Brutes activation on top. That is not gonna make anyone happy.

2: Zaadesh. Reptile Hound x4 – This is a crazy, just for chuckles event. Tag Team will allow up to 8 MAT 9 P+S 10+3d6 (4d6 when charging) attacks against the same target. That can really shred something, given the right opportunity.

3: Zaadesh, Cyclops Raider, Cyclops Shaman. – This is the support package with Teeth. Taking the burden of these models off of the Warlock and onto Zaadesh will enable them to take more of the beasts they love. And, if the enemy does break through the lines, there will be a surprisingly effective MAT 7 P+S 13 Shaman and Raider sitting behind the lines with Zaadesh.

 

Zaadesh brings some interesting play to the faction. He’s not going to be in every list, and sure isn’t going to be the first pick on the list, but he will be around often enough that it’ll really be useful knowing what he does and his strengths and weaknesses.

Oh, and speaking of knowing what they do: Una and Horgul!

Una full Ironstrike full