Witch Coven v. Morvahna the Dawnshadow

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!