Building off of the last article, where I mentioned what I thought was wrong with Cryx – Though not how to fix it, today I want to take a look at some oft-desired changes to the game, and why I think that we will never see them happen. Follow me and take a look!
Just around a month or so from now, perhaps two, we will be seeing a major errata to Warmachine. This, by all accounts, will be the largest errata ever issued to Warmachine and Hordes. There is some chatter that up to 50% of Skorne is being looked at, as well as the bottom and top 5% of each faction. There is a hope from a significant portion of the community, that this errata is the one that brings the best balance to the game, and everything else from here on out is just knocking out outliers. I feel that this is the likely end result as well, which means that there is significant work on Cryx in the errata.
What do I hope they will address? Lets take a look.
We have just over two weeks until the rules for the 3rd edition of Warmachine officially drop at Lock and Load, and I’m excited that I am going to be there to try and get some games in on Sunday with the new rules, but I am also excited to play the last few tournaments with MK II before I roll into the new game full bore.
I’ve talked a bit about what I am going to play when I get there, and I have had some significant experience playing with the casters I am going to work with, until recently when the 3rd edition announcement made me giddy to get some games in with casters I’ll never see again. Fortunately, I’ll get some serious playtime at Lock and load both with the new rules and with the old, so I don’t really worry that I’ve not used my chosen pairing recently.
The new edition of both Warmachine and Hordes have been announced for about a month, as of this writing, and since that time there have a been a number of changes, both large and small, that have been made to the game. These range in scope from massive to minute to everywhere in between.
We’ve been handed glimpses, via their Privateer Insider platform, of some of the changes they are making to Factions, Model types and even basic game concepts.
From these previews I feel we are starting to get a glimpse at what the game is going to evolve into as well as starting to piece together the clues behind some of the more interesting design philosophies that are being expressed.
Never would I have expected Cryx to get the first fill faction spoiler/design concept article first, let alone that the article would be so massive! I enjoy design talk for games way, way more than I ought to so these next few weeks with each of the 12 factions is going to be extremely enjoyable! join me on the other side for my breakdown of what was written and what I think about it.
As a follow up to the Tier List concept I’d talked about a little bit back, and as a further discussion to the battles I mentioned a little after that, I’ve managed to get a few games with the Coven, and am starting to think a lot about how to get them to work both well and consistently. Though they aren’t considered competitively powerful in MKII, they, along with the Bloat Thrall and the Machine Wraith, were bif factors into why I ended up picking Cryx back in 2006. Sadly, all three took a large hit in MK II.
The Witch Coven still grabs me, though. They represent everything I want in a spell slinging faction: plenty of Focus giving them a huge control area, an impressive spell list, and a magnificent feat. They are, however, unbelievably fragile, with complicated activation considerations and huge blocks of rules that make them fairly intimidating to parse out.
But using challenging casters is nothing new to me. I’ve always gravitated toward sub par models and units – the challenge of getting them to work is something I really enjoy. There are times, like with Revenant Crew, when it is not really worth the effort, but most times I find a comfortable niche that the model excels at and end up pleasantly surprised.
Without further ado, Lets get started, shall we?
The Witch Coven of Gharlghast, Cryx Warcaster!
I’ll want to just delve completely into their rules, as Context is going to be key to figuring out what is going on.If you’re already familiar with the Covens rules, head on down to the concepts here.
The Coven consists of four separate models: Hellenana, Morgaen, and Selene, the three witch sisters, and the Egregore, their giant necromechanical relic orb. Each model has its own statline, though the witches are the identical to each other.
As you can see, none of it is incredibly impressive. DEF 16 is good, but ARM 12 is abysmal. Their CMD and MAT are both on the lower side of bad, and to cap all off, each of them has only 8 wounds. Though It does make for a 24 HP caster under certian specific circumstances, its not particularly pleasing to see on the card. Oh, and don’t forget that they do have weapons, though they are a measly P+S 7.But its the rest of the card that matters. Like the fact that they don’t have have a focus stat. Instead, they have the following rule:
Coven – The Witch Coven of Garlghast shares a single focus pool, and Witches do not receive focus individually. The Covens base FOCUS is three times the number of Witches in play. When the Coven replenishes its focus, the Egregore receives those focus points. The Covens control area is measured from the Egregore. Any Witch in the Coven’s control area can spend focus points on the Egregore. The Egregore cannot be affected by focus-reducing or focus-removing effects. Each focus point on the Egregore gives each Witch in the Coven’s control area a cumulative +1 ARM. Effects that ignore focus points overboosting the target’s Power Field also ignore this bonus. The Coven can use their feat only once.
The Coven rule gives them a focus of 9 for most of the game, and if something untoward happens, it could possibly get down to 6 or even as low as 3, though its unlikely. The rule also makes the Coven immune to Eiryss’s disruption bolts portions of Reznik and Severius’s feats, Kaelyssa and Rasks Energy Siphon attacks, and a host of other abilities. In addition, it means that each model is a separate activation. with the advent of Warcaster Units, this can throw some people off. Each Witch, and the Egregore, activate separately, giving a great range of crazy interactions to the entire Coven. Having the Egregore, an independant model as well, as the central point of the feat means that Nightfall is much more likely to reach where you need it while keeping the individual Witches fairly safe.
There are two other abilities that combine make the Coven a rules headache for newer players, but also completely unique in the scheme of Warcasters: Arcane Nexus and Perfect Conjunction.
Arcane Nexus – When a Witch casts a spell, the Egregore is the spell’s point of origin. The Witch must have LOS to her target, but the Egregore does not. All LOS modifiers are based on the LOS of the Witch. Witches can channel spells normally. The Coven can have up to one attached model; This model is attached to the Coven, not to an individual Witch. The Coven can have only one of each of their upkeep spells in play at a time.
Perfect Conjunction – A Perfect Conjunction is established anytime the Egregore is completely within the Triangular area between all three Witches and each Witch has LOS to each other witch. During a Perfect Conjunction, reduce the COST of spells cast by a Witch by 1.
So, what does all of that mean in non-rules speak? It means that when a Witch casts a spell, it actually originates from the Egregore, not from the Witches themselves. Though the Witch must be able to see the target, everything else eminates from the Egregore. This allows, in desperate times, the Witches to circumvent cover, stealth or other similar Line of Effect based rules to win the game
In addition to the Witches, the Egregore has its own set of rules. Stealth, Pathfinder and Construct, as well as Circular Vision, Steady and Companion make up the fairly common rules that allow it to wander around the board pretty much unhindered, as you would expect from a strange floating magical Orb. It has two additional rules that affect the Coven and how they play: Black Mantle and Sympathetic Link.
Black Mantle – While in B2B with this model, friendly Faction models gain Stealth.
Sympathetic Link – When this model would suffer damage, you must assign that damage to one or more Witches instead, divided as you choose. A Witch cannot be assigned more damage points that she has unmarked damage boxes. This model does not suffer the damage assigned to a Witch.
Black mantle is used to moderately protect the coven while in perfect conjunctions. while its not required to be in B2B, the Witches have nothing but their 16 DEF to protect them at that point, so stealth is better then nothing, and is very good many times. When its bad, though, its exceptionally bad.
Sympathetic Link is a major part of playing the Egregore. With the defensive stats of a Cryx heavy, its only really protected against POW 10’s, with anything higher than POW 12 causing serious discomfort. Thankfully, stealth is a good defense the majority of the time, with the same caveats as above for Black Mantle. The ability to rearrange damage as I see fit, however, means that I have around 21 damage before anything really negative takes effect. Taking damage through the Egregore is actually preferable to taking damage through the Witches do to the redistribution, but is still not something that you should be looking to happen. While its key to keep each Witch alive, keeping the Egregore safe is just as important. its much easier to hit the giant, glowing orb.
We’ve finally come to the spell list and feat, and man, these are good.
Spell List: (hover for complete wording)
Curse of Shadows – armor debuff and delivery system
Stygian Abyss – direct damage
Veil of Mists – control, terrain mitigation and delivery system
Infernal Machine – Warjack buff
Ghost Walk – positioning aid and delivery system
Occultation – delivery system
Its a very, very good spell list for getting the generally vulnerable and low defense models in the Cryx army into the enemy intact, and the same theme is taken into their feat, Nightfall:
While in the Coven’s control area, enemy models suffer -2 MAT and RAT and their LOS is reduced to 5″. Nightfall lasts for one round.
I’ll admit, it doesn’t look like much, but with the massive 18″ control area centered on the mobile and generally sturdy Egregore, it is brutal. Delivering an army with the feat is a fairly simple task thatcan put your opponent on the back foot and really give you a tempo advantage. Most of the time, you want to drop it turn 2, but sometimes its a turn 1 feat, if you and your opponent are both very fast, or you went second and want to see a model or two get to the enemy.
The Egregore is generally sturdy, and fairly safe during the feat, but know any melee tricks that the enemy has. while under the feat, they are going to be looking to take advantage of the Egregore’s relative vulnerability. Make sure you know your opponents walking threat range, as a lack of Line of Sight does not prevent the warpwolf Stalker from walking up 6″ and using reach to pummel you from 8″ out. The same can be said of guns: make sure any guns that can walk out of the feat also don’t have some insane 19″ or better range. strangely, many times its better to get closer to the Sniped or Marshalled defenders so that they can’t walk out and shoot the Egregore. One good set of spiked dice, and your heading for a bad day.
Good, we’ve gotten though the basics of the coven, their rules and a little bit of the thoughts behind them, but in order to make them work, we kinda have to know how they tick. While rules are good, the story is more in the details.
The Coven is an extremely versatile caster that allows you to deliver your army to the enemy with unprecedented flexibility. They have the capacity to either mitigate or completely ignore almost everything on the board. Terrain is taken care of with Ghost walk and Veil of Mists, guns with Nightfall and Occultation, free strikes with Curse of Shadows and Ghost Walk, and alpha strike capacity with Infernal Machine, Nightfall, and Stygian Abyss. They force your opponent to react to you, creating the decisions that are so common when playing against Cryx, where your opponent can’t get a leg up.
What is so frustrating about them, though, is their vulnerability. For all their ability to gain stealth, their combined 24 HP, their 16 defense and their unparalleled freedom of activations, they are incredibly hard to keep alive, and there are some insanely hard matchups out there. If the enemy is allowed to build momentum, especially after the feat, there is little chance for the coven to really survive the onslaught. Unlike most casters in the Cryx stable, the Coven does very little to increase the potency of the faction, with Curse of Shadows their only reliable debuff, and no offensive buffs at all. Even their feat doesn’t help the Cryx army kill better, its simply extrapolates on the theme of delivery.
They key, as obvious as it is to state, of the Coven is getting your models to the enemy as fast as possible, and that means taking models that really matter once they are delivered. The Coven loves self sufficient models that can get tons of work done once delivered . However, the Covens fragility means you can’t typically wait out the enemy attrition style and that a single miscalculation or a solid play by the opponent can leave you on the back foot, leading to your eventual downfall. It only takes a RAT 9 (7 aiming!) POW 13 attack to remove a Witch from the board. While the models that ignore stealth are rare, its not impossible for those numbers to be able to draw a bead on one or more members, or even the Egregore.
Instead, I’ve come to the conclusion that a Coven army wants to be as deep into the enemy’s half of the board as possible, as fast as possible, and it has four major effects on how you play the army.
First, the opponent comes out of the gate reacting to you which immediately gives you tempo advantage, enabling you to capitalize on both your spell list and your feat. Good feat timing in this situation can drop the hammer on the opponent both mitigating their best possible turn and enabling you to overtake their position and get carve deep into their belly.
Second, it gives the Coven breathing room. The Witches want to be able to sit comfortably at the back of your army and make sure they reach the enemy. With their ability to vanish off the board at the slightest glance of an enemy model, keeping them as far back as possible is key. They still want to threaten scenario, however, and allowing them to get in position to dominate either zone at a moments notice is the first step to that, with keeping the opponent on their side of the table, is the first step to that.
Third, playing off the theme above, it allows them to play a fantastic scenario game. Its much less difficult to control or dominate scenario zones and destroy objectives when the battle lines are drawn nearly completely past the zones. It can also allow for a very sudden end to a game, provided your willing to sacrifice one of your witches. Dominating from a vulnerable position matters much less if loosing your warcaster does not loose you the game, especially if you know you can just repeat the domination next round whether they remove your Witch or not.
Fourth, and finally, it puts their warcaster in a very large bind. They can either try and put themselves into the game, therfore exposing themselves not only to your army, but to the very real Spell Assassination that the Coven represent, Or they can try and hide near their own table edge. While the assassination aspect of the Coven has been toned down a bit since the MKI heyday (Perfect Conjunction providing boosted hit and damage, and Stygian Abyss being P+S 13 with Crit Blind), it can still get the job done with a little help, and a single Shadow Bind crit can really make sure it does the job next turn. Three boosted damage POW 12’s seriously threaten arm 18 or less, averaging 15 damage against ARM 18. Three boosted to hit Pow 12’s have a ~82% chance that the model is pinned in place suffering -3 defense for a round,Both circumstances are scary at best, and can be used against almost every defense and armor value, due to the crit and high starting hit value.
This leads me to value, in a coven list, things that are both fast and defensive, with abilities that make the opponent unable to engage how they would like.
The three that really jump out to me are: Soulhunters, Satyxis Raiders, and Blackbanes Ghost Raiders. Each of these is speed 7 or greater, has ways to mitigate terrain, and innate defensive tech. Though Darragh Wrathe is required for the Soulhunters to get full use out of them, Ghost Walk can somewhat make up for not having him in the list. That eats a large portion of your 50 point standard list. Normally the challenge would be to get to the opponent on your terms, but we’ve covered the spell list.
With Raiders, UA, Captian, Soulhunters, Blackbanes, and Darragh, you’ve ate a massive 34 points. The addition of three arcnodes, two Warwitch Sirens, and a Scarlock eat a further 18 points that gives you a total of three points to play around with, don’t you feel lucky! Aiakos fits right in there, and with his four focus, stealth, 11.5″ walking threat, he fits right in!
As I said up top, I really think that the Coven holds a fantastic spot in Cryx. Yes, they have their problems, including the ever prevalent blast damage, no ability to change the Cryxian to hit probability, and the threat of Killbox on scenarios, but their capacity to step outside of the standard Cryx attrition or armor crack list makes them feel just a little roguish. I’m not convinced I should play them competitively, but I’m sure as hell going to test them out!
I’ve decided to do a new type of Irregular article. Instead of showing off the models that I’ve painted and just be “hey, lookie!” I am going to, in addition to showing of the models, kinda breakdown the model, the game system its in, and what role it brings, or does not bring, to the table. Some of these, like the one I am bringing you now, will be deep and thorough because I’ve played the system for so long. Others, like the WWX and Relic Knights, will be more expectation based!
This one is higher on my priority list, because they just performed like a horrid stinking mess in my last game, and I really want to just work out why they are worse, what they do, and why its no good for almost every list I can think of.
However, I’ll try to be both positive and critical, when the needs warrant it.
so, lets start at the top:
its a pretty sorry setup, right off the bat. Speed is average, though 6 isn’t anything to be ashamed of, and STR 6 is also pretty average for an infantry model. Their MAT is a significantly below average 5, and their RAT is significantly miserable at 4 to not consider using their guns at all. DEF 13 is solid for a Cryx infantry model, but isn’t anything to be proud of. To compare with other infantry: Cryx, 8 (66%) ten man units have a 12 or less, 4 (33%) have 13 or higher. Cygnar:3 (33%) at 12 or less and 6 (66%) have 13 or higher Khador: 4 (66%) at 12 or less and 2 (33%) have 13 or higher, and Protectorate: 4 (66%) at 12 or less, and 2 (33%) have 13 or higher.
Honestly, this is the first time I have run those numbers, so to speak, and it interests me in a couple ways, and makes me think a little higher of def 13 on 10 man units.
ARM 12 is the armor of chumps, and they die to even pow 5 blasts on average dice. The paltry command of 7 makes a few of the rules to come even worse.
Just looking at the stats, everything cries to keep them in the case or the foam, and not on the table, but there are a couple of interesting rules that make your head start tickin’, trying to find a way to use them well.
Traits: Undead – This is nothing new to Cryx, and has a few really nice interactions. Immunity to fear and fleeing is the big one that affects both target selection and unit coherency. The ability to ignore terror checks in any manner means that I can commit them harder to any position that a non-fearless troop could, and still expect them to hold ground and not flee at the worst time.
Gang: This ability is the staple conditional MAT increaser. Originally it represented an incoherent mob of rag tag, dubious abilities that got threatening only when they ganged up on targets. Now, it is added to many units to represent team tactics, savage ferocity, or simple to keep points down. Because it Increases MAT while 2 more models of the same unit are attacking the same target, it can be tricky to use, but its generally an always on ability because you can just run a model to get a gang attack at the +2 MAT and + 2 damage that the skill grants.
Point Blank: This allows them to use their irrelevant pistols in combat as melee weapons, making them slightly more relevant. Because they use MAT and are considered melee for the attacks, it pairs up splendidly with gang.
Deathbound: The signature ability of the Revenat crew is also their greatest hangup. The ability to return to play after being destroyed is magnificent in theory, and can be extremely useful against melee armies.
All of this comes in a 6/9 package. Its an expensive cost in an army that also sports Bane Thralls, Bloodgorgers, Satyxis Raiders and Bile thralls at 5/8, Blackbanes Ghost raiders at 6/9 and Mechanithralls, Satyxis Bloodwitches, and Cephalyx Druges at the bottom tier. The only 10 man unit more expensive is the Bane Knights. They have vengance, higher armor, higher MAT, reach, ghostly, weaponmaster, and speed 5: but reach more than nullifies that advantage. (9.5″ threat on the Pirates, 10″ on the Bane Knights).
Now, I can’t talk about a unit without its Weapon Attachment being mentioned. They are the whole reason I am even talking about this unit in the first place. The Riflemen have the exact same stat line, and the exact same rules set, with two exceptions. The first is CRA – They are allowed to make Combined Ranged Attacks with each other, in order to increase their accuracy and damage. This pulls their measly rat 4 up to 7 if they are all together, and a respectable 8 if they stand still… or just the leader of the CRA. The second difference is their pistols almost double in range to 14″. This allows them to stand in the back and take pot shots at nearby infantry and vulnerable solos. They cost a single point each to a max of three in a unit, taking the unit up all the way to 12. Sadly, the unit wants to be running or charging most turns, either to try and make the best out of Deathbound, or to try and get attacks in before they die. That tends to leave the poor riflemen out in the cold, as they can’t even stand or shoot during those turns.
So, the unit is an expensive unit in the context of Cryx with pretty terrible stats, which is par for the course in the faction. They have the benefit of being undead and having two attacks each in melee, and a small ranged weapon. The human merc pirates are 5/8 with the exact same stat line and abilities, with the exception of Undead and Deathbound. Undead is worth a point, probably, and Deathbound is probably worth something, so I get where the 6/9 cost comes from. It makes no sense in the terms of the factions infantry and their choices they have, but I’ll give them that it seems pretty logical. The Command 7 and the exact wording of Deathbound is what really gives it the nudge into poor territory. You can only be returned to the unit, on the start of the Cryx players next turn, under two conditions. The first is that you were destroyed in formation. Any RFP effects or change in formation strategies will work to stop the reincarnation. The second is that the whichever model was the leader when you were destroyed is still on the board. Every time the leader is destroyed, the models that were going to come back are removed from the game and no longer allowed to return. This gives a big target to the leader model, one that just can’t be ignored. You’d want to keep him safe, but that requires either an Ogrun Bokur to eat the shots, or a cloud model, or some other forms of shenanigans to protect him, which Cryx is in great lack of supply. The recursion, now much harder to get mileage out of that the opponent knows to destroy the quartermaster at the end of every turn (or just constantly shoot the Quartermaster. it removes at least that one model from the game every turn.), is very shaky, and that counts against the unit overall. The second strike is that the unit seems built from the ground up to be an anti mid defense infantry unit. with Gang bringing their MAT up to 7 and having two attacks, they can take out mid-ground, 14 defense units without a problem. The issue with that is that those units rarely see the game. Either the defense is so low, or the armor/wounds so high, that it doesn’t matter, or the defense is so shockingly high that there is nothing the Crew can ever hope to hit. This can be alleviated somewhat by the Veteran Leader ability of Rengrave giving out +2 to attack rolls made when you can see him. Veteran Leader, however, is a very tricky ability to get to work normally, let alone while trying to set up gang attacks.
I can see their use, I really can. I just don’t think that between their point cost and the role they play that they are generally worth taking to many games, and I’d never take them to a tournament, they’d be smashed off the table with the amount of combined arms that is hanging around in every army these days.
So, enough with the bad! Lets take a look at what support casters can give them to try and maximize their meager abilities. I like to look at units in conjunction with casters. As good as a unit may be, if there is no caster to support it, it won’t matter. So, below is my rating scale for a model/unit, respective to the caster I am talking about.
0 – I’d never bring this unit with this warcaster, and the unit has heavy negative synergy
1 – I’d bring this only in a gimicky list centered on this model/units and its ingame ineractions.
2 – I’s consider bringing this model/unit with this warcaster, with the proper support units and as a points filler
3- When taking this caster I debate bringing this model/unit every time
4- When taking this caster, I find it hard to leave home without this model/unit
5- This model/unit is an Auto-include for this caster.
Asphyxious I – Scything touch and Parasite make a great combo for any melee unit, and hitting at effective P+S 16/17 is no joke. (2)
Asphyxious II – Parasite still exists, and the added clouds make sure that the Revenant Crew can get to combat. However, there exists enormous anti-synergy with his feat, as they remove themselves from play when the Quartermaster is killed. (0)
Asphyxious III – The Return of Scything Touch is welcomed, but the loss of Parasite is not. Carnage Makes them hit at MAT 9, and Ashen Veil bumps their defense up to a very respectable 15. (3)
Deneghra I – What does Deneghra I not make better? Crippling Grasp and her feat makes them MAT 11 and P+S 15/16. It’ll threaten a pile of Cygnar and Ret Jacks, and makes them that much better at removing infantry.Ghost Walk mitigates their lack of pathfinder, enabling them to reach different places than they normally would. (1)
Deneghra II – Bringing along Ghost Walk like Deneghra 1, She also brings Curse of Shadows to allow movement through models and immunity to free strikes, as well as Marked for Death making their pistols an amazing rat 8 if in site of Rengrave. With very little melee assistance, though, this seems to make for a poor match. (2)
Skarre I – Skarre I is another fantastic caster able to prop up even the weakest unit. Her feat and Dark guidance makes every unit hit like gangbusters, and the pirates at MAT 7+3d6 and Pow 16/17 again, you could do a lot worse. (2)
Skarre II – I originally thought Skarre II would support the Revenants, but after a number of games, I was unable to keep the Quartermaster alive through anything, including under her feat. With no way to up damage output, and black spot being much harder to take advantage of than it seems, I was really disappointed (0)
Goreshade I – Goreshade provides less than nothing to the Revenants. No way to debuff arm, and no way to increase accuracy or surviveability, I’d leave them at home every time. (0)
Gorhshade II – Curse of Shadows is good, and sudden death has decent synergy with their ability to come back from the dead. Occultation could allow them to get to combat safely, but that’s generally on Goreshade for safeties sake. Also, they aren’t banes. So many Strikes! (0)
Goreshade III – Scything Touch makes another appearance here, which is good, as does Occulatation, but there is serious problems with Mockery of Life, as they are once again removed from Play. The feat has some neat interactions ad they’d just come back next round. (3)
Terminus – These used to be the best thing for Terminus next to sliced bread, but the Cabin Boy/Sac Pawn interaction has been culled from the game. While they’d be really nice sac-pawn targets with returning tough, Bane Knights Vengance and better overall application trumps them unless you bring a specific build for them. (1)
The Witch Coven – Both Occulation and their feat are very good for preventing the Quartermaster from dying on the way in. Curse of Shadows is a good armor debuff, and both Veil of Mists and Ghost Walk make terrain and other models not even matter. (2)
Mortenebra – Mortenebra joins the list of casters who bring nothing to the table for the poor Revenants, with some units thats OK. With the Revenants, its not so much (0)
Venethrax – Chalk him up there with Mortenebra, Goreshade and Asphyxious II. He’s just got nothing for them. (0)
Scaverous – While some casters bring nothing, at least scaverous has a def debuff. The Feast of Worms and Icy Grip can make a poor mans Crippling Grasp, but most of the time its just not worth it (1)
Best Caster: Asphyxious III – He’s got a suite of abilities that make them easy to deliver, hard hitting and accurate, and he’s the only one of the bunch that has all three.
Worst Caster: Goreshade I – He has his own set of problems, but the Revenants don’t even try to help here.
Results: I really wish they were better, as they are some of my conceptually favorite models. However, their focus on the leader of the unit in MK II, when there are so many ways to snipe out the leader of a unit, I just don’t find them incredibly compelling, and their mediocre stats are just a sour cherry on top. An easy to remove and counter unit at an elite unit price just drives in the final nail in the coffin. Maybe they can get a Unit Attachment that allows something really, really fun, and on that Day, I’ll review them again.
Last Thursday I had a friend come over and we decided to throw down some Warmachine, which was awesome. I’ve not been able to do that often, as I’ve probably said a hundred times now, and I was really hankering for a new match up with a better list than the Deneghra 1 list I had on Saturday. He’d just got an Earthbreaker and really wanted to send it for another spin. We pulled out our lists and got ready to roll.
I cannot get good pictures of any of my newly painted models land I can’t figure out whats causing me to have this mindshattering issue. Its stalling a couple pages I have in the works. I want to do Unit Spotlights on models as I paint them, instead of just extolling the virtues of my own painting.
Instead, today I’m just gonna continue my thoughts on the game on Saturday. Its had time to percolate through my head, and I am trying to get a grasp on a couple things I may have done, either good or bad.
As I mentioned in the original afterthoughts, I am convinced that I deployed poorly. If I’d have been able to take advantage of the screening woods on the right flank to try and hide/protect the Quartermaster better, I may have been able to get more work out of both him and the pirates. Having the two units of Mechanithralls on either side of the board made it so that the Necrosurgeons could not reinforce whichever side needed it, and were limited only to their side of the board. Additionally, they couldn’t compound forces and try to sweep a zone with the exponential force that 20 Mechanithralls would bring. Speaking of the Necrosurgeons, I think I really was to giddy to get them adding models that can then charge. Instead, I should have been trying to plop them down and make it just harder to eliminate.
I also has some serious issues with order of activation issues, that started with deployment. I’d deployed my Scarlock behind the Mechanithrall unit I needed to Ghost walk, and had to activate in a strange sequence in order to get the spell where I needed it. At least twice more I was forced to activate units I didn’t want to in order to get units I needed to to work correctly. Ghost Walk, from either arcnodes or the Scarlock, can complicate things a bit, especially when I need it on every model in the army.
To compound the order of activation issues, I had some substantial play errors that could have resulted in some spectacular, and in some cases did, failures. the biggest one was not holding my arc nodes a touch back.I don’t think it would have saved my leftmost arcnode from that drastic scatter – He was in the right place, but it would have made it so that I could have gone towards the center (away from the field gun) in order to get the Demolisher that Nightmare failed to move into correctly.
There is also my personal issue with Bulldoze: I just don’t know anything about how it works. I know how to read the rule, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve just never been able to get my head around how people do the things they do with it. Many times I have just let people do what they want with that rule specifically because I’m not comprehending how they do what they do with it. Its extremely frustrating because, for the most part, I am very good with the rules, the interactions, and I firmly believe that knowing your opponents rules really can push some of the harder matches into manageable territory. Any army with Bulldoze has an automatic leg up on me because I just can’t understand what to do to minimize it.
I also think that the terrain heavily favored the Harkevich list, but I don’t know if either of us really thought about it at the start. With Field Marshal [Pathfinder] the majority of his army was able to pretend the terrain didn’t exist, but I had to go through a lot of finagling in order to work with the terrain on the board. having speed 6 clamjacks that can wander through terrain with impunity is a pretty large boost.
Beyond the 17 points of worthless in my list, I think I made some additional list construction issues. I has always subscribed to the thought that the quartermaster needs an Ogrun Bokur in order to work correctly and that somehow slipped my mind. I also forgot to bring my all time favorite solo, Saxon Orrik, and with the amount of pathfinderless troops in my army, I really needed an additional method to ignore terrain Ghost Walk may be available at all time from Deneghra, but at 3 focus, it better be worth it.
Ok. The elephant in the room time: Pirates.
I can see what they are designed to do, but I don’t think there is any place for them in the faction. as midlevel defense clearers, they have a decent job, but biles do the infantry clearing both better – auto hitting pow 12’s? yes please! – and cheaper at 5 points for a min unit. The unit also suffers from the Mark I holdover of the unit leader containing a lot of power. Its just so hard to protect specific models from getting busted, and the MK II edition acknowledged that in changing how the unit leader functioned. Still, though, there were a pair of holdovers that really rely on the unit leader staying alive through the game, and they are Cryx’s least enjoyed units – Revenant Crew and Cephalyx. I really hope that there is some day fixed.
A friend and I played a game on Saturday, and I had a blast, both figuratively and literally. We’d both been talking about our factions and casters back and forth for a couple weeks. He’d been trying out a couple Harkevich lists, and I’d just gotten done painting up Deneghra. He has been fiddling both in and out of tier trying to see what he liked the best, and trying to make the Iron Wolf hum: Its no mean feat.
I’d been painting a lot of models lately, and really wanted to use those models in a game. Sadly, this included the Revenant Crew of the Atramentous Riflemen. After we chatted for a while about game theory and new games to come, we pulled out our lists to start the rumble.
I brought this list I’d cooked up a few days earlier
Necrosurgeon and Stitch Thralls
Necrosurgeon and Stitch Thralls
Revenant Crew of the Atramentous (10)
- Riflemen (3)
Revenant Cannon Crew
Gorman di Wolfe
And he dropped this Theme list monster
The Iron Wolf!
Kommander Harkevich, the Iron Wolf
Winter Guard Field Gun
Winter Guard Field Gun
Winter Guard Infantry
Winter Guard officer and Standard
Kovink Jozef Grigorovitch
I’d been toying with putting all the mechanithralls I could on the board for a while, and with Deneghra upping hitting power, I really felt they could shine bright. The Revenant crew was there simply to provide the riflemen I’d painted, but I also like trying out things that are a little more underused.
My friend has been playing with a pile of different tier and non tier list, and really wanted to try a strange list out that he’d been kicking around, and I’ll be honest: I thought from the start that I’d be paste. the Mechanithrall horde’s worst nightmare is a pile of AOE’s, and man did he bring them. It was no matter, though, I’d faced crazier odds and lost before, and this one would be no different, I assumed.
If you want to skip the battle report, you can go to thoughts here
We rolled up a scenario (Outflank) and he won the initiative roll. Hearing that the scenario had Kill Box (It didn’t), I picked the side with the wall centralized and about 14″ in. To the left and right of center were two forests, with walls centrallish-ly located on each side. There was also a building on my side, and a hill on his, each to our left flanks, respectively. Each Scenario Zone had a goodly portion of forest in it, and I was glad that I’d brought a Ghost Walk ‘caster.
He deployed two Demolishers across from either zone, with Tier-granted wreck markers to stand in. Harkevich is (as far as I know) unique in that the wreck markers he gets are not completely within 20″ of his back table edge, simply within. Its a difference maker. Ivan, Harkevich, the Winterguard and Joe all take the center, with the Field Guns taking post behind the Demolishers.
I deploy a Mechanithrall and Necrotech to each zone, and the Pirates with Rengrave and the Cannon to the center. Nightmare and the Scarlock flank a touch right with the Warwitch Siren, and Gorman takes center-left A Nightwretch to either side manage to solidify the flanks and get me ready to ghost walk into the core.
Here is where it gets amusing, as we both play the first two turns fairly conservative and tight, but end up slacking off at the end and making some rookie mistakes. He runs into position behind the forests with both his forces, and the Winterguard stay way back. I respond along the same lines, with my forces splitting to either side as expected. His second turn is a cautious advance-and-broadsides that nets him a single dead (and body-snatched) Mechanithrall. However, in trying to take Gorman out, he drifts a shot over onto the left flank Nightwretch and blew out its arc node.
Not a good start for our undead anti-heroes. While a single ressurectable Mechanithrall isn’t that big of a deal, the loss of the left side arc node was a big bite. He was the one I was expecting to get into the center to get at Black Ivan and the Winterguard. Turns out, that wasn’t going to happen.
At the start of my turn I had a conundrum. Nightmare was 8″, give or take, from a Demolisher that seemed pretty much on its own. I could drop a couple of charging Revenants and Mechanithralls to start the process, and then drop him with Nightmare, along with getting him closer to his prey, Black Ivan. I activated the Necrosurgeon, moved the stitch thralls where I thought the Mechanithralls would end up, and dropped the one back into formation through reanimation. The Warwitch powered the Nightwretch, and it went over and toed into Deneghra’s Control Area, just in range of the Demolisher, and she popped Parasite onto it to make it a touch more vulnerable, even with it in a wreck marker. Its not looking well for Nightmare, but I have to go for it: Burn a focus for Ghostly, and meander up to start rending, because he is on the other side of the forest. Turns out, I was off in my measurement by a pencil lead. Things are really not looking good for Nightmare now! the Scarlock wanders up and Ghostwalks the Mechanithralls, and I charge the few I can see at it, combo-strike it for a bit of damage. Revenants charge in and fail to damage it, but do get one charge in on Ivan, dropping 5 damage into him. I spend the rest of the turn trying to stymie as much as I can of the offence that is going to pound down on me.
While the next turn didn’t have as much of the offence I expected, it wasn’t pleasant. Harkevich pops his feat, Winterguard advance under Fortune, Bob and Weave, and Joe’s bonus to hit and, as best they can spray off the jam from the ‘jacks. One of the Decimators bulldozes to an poorly placed Necrosurgeon and fists her head straight off, with two more simply advancing to create board position. Ivan wanders forward and launches a shell forward catching a necrosurgeon int he blast and dropping him. The worst part, though, was the Demolisher in front of nightmare moving forward and two-handed throwing Nightmare straight into my poor arc node, knocking it down. The collateral damage, Field Gun slug, and the two gunners shots dropped it forever. With no way of delivering my spells to the enemy, I knew then I was in the vicious jaws of defeat. All I had to do, though, was engineer an insane victory.
The Pet Jack of Deneghra
He’d popped his feat. He had an open Demolisher in one zone, two Demolishers – once closed, one open; and Ivan in the second. The Winterguard were in position to mop up whatever I committed to either zone. The majority of all three units were out, and I had Nightmare on his back. I figured I could at least get one jack into the ground this turn. I had to counter-feat, or else he’d just wreck my army and I’d have nothing left to take advantage of the feat. I fed Nightmare 3 focus, and got ready to pummel the open jack. I needed to nullify either Ivan or the other Demolisher nearby for a turn, so I dropped black oil on the Demolisher with Gorman, and ran the last few Revenants to engage. I charge another segment of Mechanithralls into it, and at dice -2, I take it to the ground without even needing Nightmare. Sighs. there is a bit of maneuvering over in the other zone, including smacking the open Demolisher, leaving it with 9 boxes left, vitally his cortex is still up. Rengrave moves up into the left forest, and pops a ghost shot into the Winteguard leader, sadly failing to kill her. I pass the turn
Harkevich and the smattering of Winterguard left on the board start to clear the left flank zone. There’s almost half a dozen dead Mechanithralls and two stitch thralls in the ground at the end. The critical game-extender, though, was Ivan deciding to shoot Gorman instead of shooting Rengrave: without Ivan, there was no way to kill him, and therefore no way to score the zone on this turn, despite committing Harkevich to dominate. He wanders the second Demolisher, alone, into the zone, making sure I don’t score as well, but making sure that I have to kill it and can’t move forward. I am down to my last scrape of models, and he has a pile of ‘Jacks I have to do something about.
My turn comes up, and I have to do something about the jack that standing in front of Nightmare, engaged by Mechanithralls. I concoct an insane plan! With Deneghra behind the wall, but within charge range of the Demolisher, I need to get Parasite on him to have a chance of opening up that arm 25 monster. In a wreck marker and combat, I have about a 50% chance of landing a boosted spell. I need a more secure number. The Scarlock wanders over and Ghost walks Deneghra, the Necrosurgeon runs over to try and tie up Ivan, and I charge the Demolisher. I (and I should have done this in reverse) Parasite before making my charge attack. The charge attack hits and does no damage, but the main goal was shadowbind and parasite. The mechanithralls and Nighmare take their turn here, the Mechanithralls doing nothing, and Nightmare, while putting up a good show, just unable to take an arm off and lower the armor of the monstrosity. Rengrave twiddles about a little, and then drops another ghost shot into the Winterguard Officer, finally killing her.
Now, here comes the pain.
With Ivan tied down, the Demolisher Shadowbound, and the Winterguard on the other side of the board, I feel pretty assured that I am gonna get snuck somehow. Its not what you see that kills you, its what you don’t, and I didn’t see anything that game. I surely didn’t see Winterguard coming up and spraying Ivan to clear off the intervening infantry and free him to charge. Ivan did Harkevich proud, but didn’t take Deneghra off the board. With three hit points, she stood tall. Harkevich makes his single attack getting in near Rengrave, and whiffs it. He does, however, trundle the cortex-busted Demolisher over and bulldoze Rengrave out of the zone, scoring the first points of the game.
The Jack with a Beard
I am now in a terrible position. As if I wasn’t before. Deneghra is in the mix with a pair of Khadoran Jacks, and I only had a single model even close to contesting the other zone. I needed to clear my zone, and now. I drop three focus into Nightmare, and keep the other four on Deneghra. She moves back out of Ivan’s reach, and I contemplate. His DEF 12 and dodge is scary here, as I have only MAT 5, and I need him to not get to me. I take the chance, and shoot Crippling Grasp out and hitting him, needing fives. I then, needing 5’s against the now DEF 10 ‘jack. Smack him with my spear and shadowbind him into place. whew. I move Nightmare over a touch to get Ivan, my prey, into my reach. It then takes me all three focus to drop the bastard, right about what averages tell us. It has me worried with the two early 5’s I dropped, but the 5 damage from the early Revenant charge made it happen. My Warwitch Siren Charged the Demolisher that Nightmare had now Prey’d right next to him, dropping his defense and locking him in place. The Mechanithralls then went to down, dropping him to 4 boxes. I had two options left. The Revenant Cannot Crew, and Rengrave. Rengrave stoically turned and fired Misery into combat against the jack, using ghost shot to ignore the cover of the wreck he was standing in, and my own true fashion, totaled the ‘Jack while preventing scoring of the zone. The Revenant Cannon then lined up a RAT 8 shot, ignoring cover and concealment, at Harkevich, and easily hit, doing some 5 damage to the bastard. It wasn’t much, but it was damage!
Sadly, that was the last thing I would actively do, as the remaining Winterguard ran down and sprayed Deneghra to death, sealing the game for me.
This game was a hell of a game. I thought I was out from the start facing a giant armor wall and a ton of AOE’s, but despite my lack of recent games, and some dumb moves on both our parts, I was able to stick in it to the end. I immediately started to think how I could play this game differently next time. I really liked the Mechanithrall boat, but I think I deployed it poorly, and should have had them next to each other in order to maximize the Necrosurgeon recurrence possibilities. I also really liked Rengrave as a solid, shooting solo for two points, and may consider trying to utilize him outside of a Revenant list. I really wasn’t able to get a whole lot of traction with the Revenants, but I really, really hate them. I’ve just been unable to get real mileage out of them any time I’ve taken them, as their terrible stats just don’t play to the job they need to have of reoccurring roadblock. CMD 7 makes it even worse. Honestly, for the 17 points I had invested in Revenants, I could have had Bane Thralls, UA, Tartarus and Saxon Orrik. I could have had Gerlak, Bloodgorgers, Saxon, and a Deathripper. I could have had Bane Knights, Tartarus, Rengrave and a Necrosurgeon. Its just too much points to invest into something that is just can’t cut it in almost every situation.
That Harkevich list is scary as shit. 5 Khadoran heavies backed by their best infantry shooting unit in the faction just makes for a solid counter to most things. While most lists are able to handle colossals, I don’t think that they’d be ready to break two and a half that are on the board in Khadoran Armor and HP. Its a supremely durable list and I respect the hell out of it.
But I also want a second shot at it. I want a second shot at everything!
Thanks for sticking with this very long post! My longest is no longer WWX, but WARMACHINE!