Shiftin’ Gears

As you more than likely know, I’ve been playing with Cepahlyx for over two months now, and while it was awesome, I’m now ready to step away. While some people can play the same caster year in and year out, I’m just not one of them. I don’t have it as bad as some of my friends, who can’t even get two games in a row with the same ‘caster, let alone the same list, but do have to change up my basic suite once in a while, especially because I have a huge pile of casters for both main factions and multiple sub factions that I do not feel completely comfortable with and can use improvement on.

With Fist of Halaak and a time in Skorne right around the corner, I’ll want to reset to my roots for a bit after being a merc for a while, and the new sculpt of Goreshade I is to awesome to resist. Combine that with what I’d heard a long time ago about him being a Circle Orboros drop, a faction which gives me no end of suffering, and I’ve got my next caster up and ready. It probably dosen’t hurt that I probably only need to paint up him and the deathwalker for a fully painted army.

Goreshade 1

Goreshade is interesting in that he is so completely uninteresting. He does extremely little for his army, and doesn’t even truly have a debuff on his card. Instead, what he has is a strange set of conflicting spells that pull him any number of ways during his turn.

The Bastard of Battle

First, though, he is no slouch in combat. With a MAT of 7, he can boost to hit high defense, and with a P+S of 14, he can easily break most things short of a Heavy Warjack. With Terror and Reach, he can even get around his troops to take out a wayward trooper that happens to be in his armies way. What takes it up even higher, though, is that he is likely to be extremely safe from most enemies in the case he goes and kills a model, because his spell list virtually ensures it.

His spell list, as I mentioned earlier, is a really strange conglomeration of activation priorities.

Bleed
Hexblast
Mageblight
Shadowmancer
Soul Gate

With this loadout of spells, you’re pushed into always having to make an activation order decision with him. If you want your Jacks to take down a particularly buffed and/or hard target, your going to need to go early with Shadowmancer and Hexblast to make the target vulnerable. If you want to protect yourself and your jacks, you need to go late, casting Soul Gates or Mage Blight

Furthermore, Shadowmancer and mage blight leave precious little focus for your jacks to be running, charging, attacking or doing a little bit of anything. That is going to dictate you take models that can amp up your focus efficiency.

There is one more part, and its a portion of Goreshade I that I’d never really embraced: The Deathwalker. Breath Taker is an amazing ability, albeit on a fragile model. Living Enemy models within 5″ of the deathwalker take a -2 penalty to Str and Def. No hit roll, no expenditure of focus, simply a bubble of weakness. Fantastic. And with Goreshades combat prowess, he can almost assuredly find an unfortunate fellow to stab and turn into a Deathwalker should his fall.

Bleed and Hexblast aside, they are good spells that don’t really define him, What I see coming from him is one of two things, every turn. Mageblight or Shadowmancer. Mageblight, by its simple existence, Prevents the major gameplan of Kreoss1, Sorcha1, Reznik1, Deneghra1, Reznik1 and a host of other ‘Casters that want to catch you in their feat. It also prevents Druids and Mages from trivially moving around your battlegroup, greylords from being useful, and a plethora of other Magic Abilities from happening. Though I’ve never fought against it, Runes of War seems to be something that would suffer a bit.

Shadowmancer, on the other hand, leads one to play a less forward role, and exists to ensure the battlegroup and Goreshade himself stay alive deep into the game. Galleon, Prime Axiom, and most of Ret are all rendered much less ineffective when all their good targets are stealth.

The final ability on his card, as it is on all ‘Casters, is his feat. Boy its a goodun. Goreshade can place a min unit of Bane Thralls within 3″ of him. Boom, done. Thankfully, they can act the turn they come into play, and are just as ready to go as anyone else.

If you can pull off the perfect play, you can run the Deathwalker exactly to the 7″ line of Goreshade, hitting  just over 13″ out from him in her bubble of -2 def. Incidentally, Thats almost the exact same distance his new unit of bane thralls threaten: 3″+ Small Base + 8″ charge+ 2″ curse +.5″ Melee. With Breath Taker and Tartarus’ curse you’ve got MAT 10, P+S 15 weapon masters clocking you in the head. There aren’t many single targets that are going to survive even a attacks from that group. And, to cap it all off, it might cost you 4 points out of your list to pull it off.

A Murder of Jacks

With that, I wanted to be able to take Advantage of what Goreshade offers and mitigate his flaws. While his troop layout is still completely undecided, his Warjack stable has undergone a bit of flux.

Deathjack

I started out with Deathjack, Nightmare and Malice. I’m not convinced that this isn’t a great start. Each ‘Jack has an armor of 18+ which converts to 22 or better when dropped correctly (against hordes) after the bonus from the Deathwalker and Darragh Wrathe, who is an integral part of the strategy. Granting them all stealth on the way in is a very solid method of delivery, and to stack it all on top, it turns all their melee weapons up as well. Deathjack will be hitting at 20’s, as will Nightmare against his Prey. Malice bumps up to a gentlemans 18, but after the POW 14 harpoon shot, it is not going to tickle.There are some problems with the loadout, though. Deathjack, though a monster from hell, has very little to do via necromancy. For a single focus he can shoot an unboosted Hexblast, which could easily turn the tide of a game, but that is all he has. Malice looses his ability to possess a warjack, simply because he will almost never face one. Nightmare, the prize in this situation, looses nothing and gains everything.

These conclusions lead me to abandon that loadout for one that was a little more ordinary. If the plan was to tank a heavy, I was going to bring the cheapest tanks I could find. The thought now became Nightmare and a pair of Slayers. Quick, efficient and brutal models that would really benefit from Shadowmancer, and could get along just fine when it came time to Mage Blight. Nightmare with Shadowmancer is hitting at MAT 10 and P+S 20 v. his prey target, and can pop up to MAT 12 with the help of the Deathwalker. It was a simple battlegroup that I felt would be either a good jumping off point, or a solid, cheap base that I could build off of.

My latest, and perhaps not the greatest, setup was based on the desire to reach out and touch someone as early as possible, as often as possible, backed up by Shadowmancer. Malice and a pair of reapers made their appearance, and for a moment I was thrilled. I’d forgotten that their melee weapons were 16’s, not 17’s. Pow 18 is much less thrilling than pow 19’s. Finally, after thinking about the math and Goreshades incapacity to fill up jacks all to much, I decided to ditch the concept.

Slayer

What I am currently settled into is Malice, Nightmare and a Slayer. This gives me drag-n-drop options when I want it, a fast and brutal guided missile onto the caster, and a cheap tanking option when needed.

Choices, Choices

Sadly, I am not happy with any of my troop loadouts. After I’ve spent 19 points on jacks, 4 points on Tartarus and the same on Darragh, and purchased 2 warwitch sirens, I’m already 31 points deep in the army. I Keep deeply considering Cyleana and crew. For a simple 10 points, she will provide some precision removal and has pathfinder, which is a staple need against Circle. At 41 points, that leaves us 9 points to fill with models that can do a damn thing. I’d normally reach for Bloodwitches + Hag or Blackbanes right now, but with the typical wold-shrimp loadout, I can’t rely on the incorp to save me.  Maybe Boomhowler? I’m legitimately stumped.

I’ve looked at mechanithrall hordes, and with judicious use of the Breath Taker ability I think it could work, but I also think I need a touch cheaper loadout of jacks to pull it off.

I think a good starting point for me is going to be a real, real basic list.

Goreshade 1+6
*Nightmare10
*Slayer6
*Reaper7
Bane Lord Tartarus4
Darragh Wrathe4
Warwitch Siren2
Warwitch Siren2
Mechanithralls (10)5
Mechanithralls (10)5
Necrosurgeon2
Necrosurgeon2
Satyxis Raiders (6)5
*Sea Witch 2
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