Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pondering a new concept.

I've been doing my spotlight articles for a while now, and I really enjoy writing them. The spotlight articles are usually done on units I find to be fantastic, in spite of public opinion, but today it struck me that I could do a reverse type article as well.

I regularly see answers on the forums with "apply more Bane Thralls" or "The Deathjack will make you win", and it makes me think I need to take them down a notch. It's not that these units aren't amazing, but they're clutch models, and they will not help you win if you don't know their weaknesses.

I'd like to create a place where players can come, when they keep failing in spite of bringing only the models they were recommended. I'd like to write "The Deathjack sucks and will make you loose", so players won't despair, when they keep loosing.

I'd like a great many things, but I'll try writing one of these anti-spotlights, and see how it goes. In short, I'd like to take a stand against the gold plated wonder boys of Warmachine, so let's see how that works out for me :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Warwitch Deneghra: I think I have it figured out!

I had a couple of hours in a train today, and I got to thinking about the last couple of games. I came to the conclusion, that I had to many ranged models, and not enough melee punch. This allowed me the option of nuking the enemy caster very early, but not the option of going attrition against a heavy opponent.

This forced my hand, and made me go in for the kill, instead of trying for the scenario. Keeping that in mind, I'll remove the temptation that is Nyss, and put in my beloved Croe's Cutthroats instead. I'll build in the Bane Thralls to allow me that attrition game against heavies, and with Withering, Parasite, and Dark Shroud available, I can munch a couple of heavies with Brine + Bane Thralls quite easily.

Warwitch Deneghra
- Nightwretch
- Nightwretch
Skarlock Thrall
Bane Thralls (Leader and 5 Grunts)
- Officer & Standard
Croe's Cutthroats (Croe and 5 Grunts)
The Withershadow Combine
Bane Lord Tartarus
Master Gunner Dougal MacNaile
Pistol Wraith
Pistol Wraith
Rorsh & Brine
Warwitch Siren
Warwitch Siren

I'm not sure I have enough ranged now, but I think it might work due to The Withering. I should be able to hit an opponent hard with ranged during feat round, then hit him hard with melee the following round (or the same one, if he got to close), and if he runs I can hit him with ranged again, and absorb his hopefully feeble charge.

I still have the option of ranged assassination, as most Warcasters are living models, and Croe's can threaten 18" with poisoned attacks (you have to love that Dougal MacNaile), hitting on 3+ against a knocked down caster with -5 ARM. That's 3+ to inflict 25 damage on average, which will kill most casters easily (the trick is keeping them alive until the opening is made).

Brine can really do some damage in this list as well. I like the concept of a zombie hog rampaging through the lines, taking down opposing heavies on poor rolls, and against enemy warbeasts he can even demolish them outside Rorsh's control area with Pig Farm.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Another harebrained idea.

Last night an idea struck me: Trollbloods & Circle have access to all four lesser Warlocks. I'm sure it will fail horribly, but putting down an army with four lesser Warlocks seems like fun, and I already have two of them and know where to get a third. This will probably be my project after finishing up my pDenny attrition list, which is going really poorly, because the opposing casters keep dying :(

Calandra looks promising, but more study is needed!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spotlight: Blackbane's Ghost Raiders

The Ghost Raiders are an acquired taste. They're soft, weak, and expensive, so it's not a unit you will be seeing in many lists. I've had a lot of curious people asking me about them, so I'll do a spotlight, BUT I'm not sure I can accurately convey my thoughts on the matter.

Most people will shudder, at the thought of bringing a nine point unit, with the intention of getting them killed in new and fascinating ways, every game, but this is what the Ghost Raiders do best. The Ghost Raiders are experts at causing mayhem, and not very good at surviving it, so the key to using them is to maximize the mayhem, while minimizing the consequences. This is very important, and the key to using them successfully is, to know exactly when to get them killed.
  • Incorporeal: They're ghosts, they walk through walls and bodies, float above pits, and cannot be harmed by puny weapons until they allow it.
The Ghost Raiders are fast, and I mean mindbogglingly ridiculously fast. They ignore models, terrain, obstructions, and will move straight through an opposing army if needed. This makes them a lot faster than other models with an equal speed, and few people are prepared, when the Ghost Raiders suddenly move through their army, flooding their support in a horde of angry ghosts. When doing this you should pay attention to units with magical weapons, or just hand them a Ghost Walk spell, to completely ignore everything on the table for a round.
  • Reanimation: Blackbane's Ghost Raiders can recruit new members, by killing living enemy warriors. This is fun, and while it rarely means an unstoppable army of the undead, it's what allows them to create total confusion in your enemies lines. This only works while Blackbane is on the table, so keeping him safe is always a priority.
  • Cutlass: They light things on fire, which we all know is not only hilarious, but also extremely dangerous against a lot of models. Things that will survive a free strike, might not live to brag, when they catch on fire. This ability allows them to threaten free strikes on several casters in the game, since few casters like burning to death.
An opponent might choose to dare a few free strikes, against a MAT 6 enemy, with PS 10, tying him down, but not when each death means another angry ghost, ready to inflict additional free strikes, block lanes, or position themselves for a charge the following round (not to mention catching on fire if he survives the free strike). Incorporeal means, that you can position yourself in the best possible place for free strikes, and being engaged makes them a right nightmare to remove.

This is where it get's tricky to explain, so feel free to ask questions: The objective of the unit is, to absorb as many resources as possible, while suffering as little consequence as possible. This means, that a unit can get themselves annihilated, without inflicting a single casualty, and still be the unit that won you the game. The following is what you should be aiming to do, when fielding Blackbane's Ghost Raiders.
  • Engaging as many support models as possible: Support models rarely have the equipment and capacity to fight of the raiders, which means they will need to be saved. 
This forces your opponent to activate his offensive units first, turn them around, and often attack without the buffs they often rely on. If he doesn't turn to fight, you can massacre his support the following round, and spawn a host of ghosts in his back arc, and that's pretty much "game" right there. In addition to causing havoc in the activation sequence, making him fight without buffs, and messing up his carefully planned lines, you also stop a substantial part of his army from advancing, which is excellent in scenario play.
  • Engaging as many models/units as possible: Magical weapons are a threat, and Aiyana & Holt are regulars in many lists, but that's not a problem, as long as you engage multiple models and units, and do it from the right positions.
If you engage an unit of Winterguard, with your whole unit of ghosts, you will be annihilated. Aiyanna will magic them up, Joe will whip them into shape, and your entire unit will be wiped by sprays and melee. If you split up the unit, and send the ghosts to engage all kinds of vital pieces instead, you will force him into some really annoying decisions. If we send in a few ghosts to engage as many Winterguard as possible, a couple to tie down A&H, one on Joe, and distribute the rest to engage as many different models/units as possible, we create a nightmare sequence.

With the right placement, you ghosts can tie up twice their number of points, make a mess of his advance, take out a couple of models indirectly (friendly fire from sprays or spells), and light a few things on fire. His army is now in disarray, on fire, blocking his own lanes, and either didn't advance at all, or sent up half his army fight most of yours.

I've won several games doing this, since the sheer amount of rules and details, will overwhelm almost anyone. They will make mistakes, they will forget to activate in the right order, and they will use up a lot of time doing so (in tournaments where it matters). This is what they do, and they do it well. If you expect them to charge in, build an army of ghosts, and stampede across the battlefield, you'll be disappointed.

Even against an army where everyone features magical weapons, they can be a pest if you have access to Ghost Walk. It doesn't matter that they all die, if they gave you a round to get in position, hog the prime pieces of defensive terrain, and get a control point to force your opponent on the offense. What they bring is confusion, hard choices, and once in a blue moon, an rampaging army of ghosts.

Favorite moment:
  • Lighting eCaine on fire, with the last remaining raider. It forced eCaine back, taking a part of his army with him, when he suddenly reached "one lucky hit" territory in health. He had to divert resources to shielding him, and I won on scenario. Had the game gone another round, eCaine would have burned to death (we rolled the dice to see).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A simple answer...

I couldn't resist answering a question over at the PP forum. A couple of guys gave him some solid advice on Helljacks (the Deathjack in particular), but none of them even mentioned the Scavenger, and THAT will not stand.
I've a game against Khador on Thursday and want to try Mortenebra as I've just painted her. Any tips on lists?
So I made him an illustration., explaining the lack of Scavengers in his list.It pains me that so many players have yet to recognize the power of the Death-Beaker. A few of the really daring answers included Stalkers, but neither Scavengers or Helldivers were mentioned, which is a damn shame.

Nuff said!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rorsh & Brine + Gun Boar

I found some more Guns!

At the club this Monday, a friend of mine was painting some Thornfall models, and talking about Rorsh & Brine. It took me a couple of days to connect the dots, but I've been looking for a heavy with pDenny for a while, and while I keep failing with Wrong Eye & Snapjaw, these guys have guns! The following is ALL theory, as I've never actually had them on the table.

Rorsh can bring in a Gun Boar as well, which not only gives me another gun, but also another set of options. The way I see it, Rorsh is about three points, making Brine around six points. That means my Rorsh + Gun Boar combo is worth eight points, making it a very good deal on shooting, with Pig Iron, Dynamite, and the light cannon.

I can't really ignore the fact, that I've got Brine, a six point death-piggie, walking around with no Fury (since Rorsh is managing the Gun Boar), but at six points I can throw him away without loosing to much. With pDenny I can keep him back, shield Rorsh, and suicide an opposing heavy when needed.

With my access to debuffs (Crippling, Parasite, Withering, Rust, Dark Shroud, and Shadow Bind), Brine can reliably take down an opposing heavy. It will probably cost him his life, and if it doesn't he will probably frenzy, but having the ability to send in the death-piggie free of charge is quite valuable.

The real fun is found with the other two guys. Rorsh is a mercenary/minion, so Dougal MacNaile can give him extra powder rations, and make him more accurate with his Dynamite, if that ever becomes relevant. That means that Rorsh can threaten quite a bit of the table with his Pig Iron, and a knocked down caster with a Parasite on, will not like those two shots, with boosted damage, coming his way.

The Gun Boar also brings an interesting option: It's animus. Being able to react to incoming enemies is just to much fun, and if placed right a unit of infantry going for Brine, will find themselves taking fire before they get to strike. If that unit happened to be affected by Parasite, they will take some serious hurt. Rorsh can also use it, and while unlikely to be in range of his Dynamite (and using his Pig Iron might be dangerous), it will allow him a chance at taking down that solo assassin that just came for him.

While the Gun Boar won't get extra range from Dougal, it will become quite deadly with pDenny and her debuffs. It also has two open fists, and with Crippling/Withering up, it can throw rather large things around if needed. If nothing else, it's able to deal out a surprising amount of pain in melee, and it's almost as tough as a Cryx heavy to begin with.

So, I'm looking forward to see if this actually works, but sadly I don't own them yet, so it will be by proxy or after a lot of waiting.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Talk talk talk...

Didn't get a game tonight, since I got to talking and suddenly it was late. I did get to lay my worries to rest, and stop fretting about using eSkarre instead of pDenny, but I still waver a lot on the issue of heavies with pDenny. With the Focus cost for Scourge, I'll be relying on the Skarlock to apply debuffs, and that's a poor strategy. Instead I decided to see how many guns I could pack in a workable pDenny list:

Warwitch Deneghra
- Nightwretch
- Nightwretch
Skarlock Thrall
Bane Thralls (Leader and 5 Grunts)
- Officer & Standard
Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters (Cylena and 9 Grunts)
The Withershadow Combine
Bane Lord Tartarus
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist
Master Gunner Dougal MacNaile
Orin Midwinter, Rogue Inquisitor
Pistol Wraith
Pistol Wraith
Saxon Orrik
Warwitch Siren
Warwitch Siren

Should prove to be fun, and with a massive melee presence when the ranged has thinned the ranks. It's still manageable at just over thirty models, even if a lot of them are solo characters.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ramblings: Arguing on the Internet

I allowed myself to be drawn into a discussion again, over at the Privateer Press forums. It's a well known fact that you can't ever win a discussion online. The reason for this is something called the backfire effect, and if everyone knew about it, we would be a lot more knowledgeable, when the world ends in nuclear holocaust. - Once something is added to your collection of beliefs, you protect it from harm. You do it instinctively and unconsciously when confronted with attitude-inconsistent information. 

  • The Misconception: When your beliefs are challenged with facts, you alter your opinions and incorporate the new information into your thinking.
  • The Truth: When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.
You stick to your beliefs, and when someone tries to correct you, or tries to dilute your misconceptions, it backfires and strengthens them instead: What should be evident from the studies on the backfire effect is you can never win an argument online. - David McRaney

When you start to pull out facts and figures, you're actually making it worse. They match your fervor, the same thing happens in your skull, and all hope is lost. I have one tool to manage my Backfire Effect, but it fails just as often as it works, if not more. I know that might sound strange, but in the words of Socrates:
Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is - for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him.
When I allow myself to be drawn into discussions I fail, just as the wise man of which Socrates speaks. I assume I know better than my opponent, and no matter what he says, I'll probably keep that assumption intact. This really bothers me, and I work like crazy to overcome that particular weakness, but it's hard work.

I can actually give you an example of the problematic nature of the backfire effect. At the Danish Masters I had my third game against a T4 eButcher list. I demolished that list, without ever being in danger, and I lost a grand total of one model during the game. This was the last game of day one, and the morning after we met for breakfast before the last two games. There I sat, and listened to a conversation about the ultimate power of a T4 eButcher list, completely identical to the one I fought the night before.

I was stupid enough to comment, and told the tournament organizer (since he was the one doing the talking) that he would more or less automatically lose a game, against an opponent with Bile Thralls in his list. This was stupid, because he took second place with just that list last year, so the comment instantly backfired. The next ten minutes he explained exactly what he would do against such a list, and it was the exact same strategy (to the last tiny detail) I came up against the night before. I tried to suggest the ways his strategies would fail (as they did the night before), but nothing got through. I didn't mention that I had done all the things I suggested as counters, and won a crushing victory doing it, because I knew it would simply get him to attack instead of defend.

This sounds like a clear cut case of the Backfire Effect, and it is, but the problematic thing is, that I suffered it as well. I dismissed everything he said, because I proved him wrong just the night before, and that assumption is as flawed as his. No two games are alike, no two models ever end up in the exact same place, and no two tables are exactly the same. His strategy might work on a different table, keeping a model further back, or pushing one further forward, and while I'm pretty darn sure it wouldn't work, I wound up disregarding everything he said, and suffered the exact same Backfire Effect as he did.

This was in real life, and I knew he took second with that list last year, but I still wound up disregarding it. I can guarantee you, that even if I had mentioned annihilating his tactics (by proxy) the night before, it would have changed nothing, and that's why arguing online is a waste of time. We can't even avoid backfire in real life, so we don't stand a chance when we're online.

I would love to say, that this realization allows me to float through the internet, shooting rays of enlightenment, but I'm all out of time, since some schmucks over at the Privateer Press forums are wrong, and I have to go tell them why.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

25.000 page views...

The site just hit 25.000 page views. I know several blogs out there get that in a week or less, but for me it's a mind blowing number. I'd just like to thank you all for dropping by, and I hope you found what you were looking for.


Random musings...

If models are knocked down, they're defense five against ranged attacks, and just defense nine when engaged. We can hit defense nine with almost anything, so running in a Dark Shroud model could be considered, to increase the damage done with shooting. We've also got Warwitch Sirens, and with Shadow Bind the knocked down model is defense six, even when engaged, allowing anything in Cryx to hit it on 3+ anyway.

While not exactly the discovery of the year, I've never seen anyone actually do it, so I thought I might mention it as a viable tactic. In addition, both the Warwitch and most models with Dark Shroud have stealth, so even if you miss you won't risk gunning down your own models.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Game Theory: Pushers

The table is forty eight inches across, and the deployment zones take up eighteen of those (we'll handle radial scenarios some other time), leaving us thirty inches between the forces. A model with speed six, can run twelve inches in the first turn, leaving just eighteen inches between the armies. If that same unit has offensive potential, they present your opponent with a choice. If he advances more than eight and half inches, he comes within charge range, and if he doesn't he'll be left out of position. A pusher is a model/unit, that forces an opponent to advance less than he would like to. This gives you a major boost in board control, and allows you to take initiative.

In order to be a good pusher, the unit will need several abilities, but two stand above the rest: Advance Deploy/Move. If you go second, your pushers will be useless, unless they have one of those abilities, because your opponent will probably already be pushing you. If you advance deploy, the distance between your armies will be just twenty four inches, and you have the opportunity to really push, but this requires some accurate guessing. I'm not talking about guessing the right range, but guessing how far back you can push an opponent, before he goes all in.
  • You've got first turn.
  • You deploy Satyxis Raiders with AD
  • He has no AD units
  • You run them up ten inches
You're now parked fourteen inches from his deployment zone, with a unit that can reach fourteen inches with desperate pace. If you think he's just going to sit there, you're dead wrong, because you've just forced his choice. The trick with pushers is, to look at the terrain and determine, where you can make him park his army.

As a general rule, I try to reduce his general speed by an inch. It doesn't sound like much, but it really changes the way a game flows, to have him a couple of inches further from the objectives. In some cases you can push him a lot further, especially in scenarios such as killbox, but if you're not sure then stick to an inch. This means that if he has an army of predominantly speed six units, you should threaten around ten inches from his deployment zone (adjust for terrain). Most people won't put themselves in range of a charge, simply to gain two inches on the board, but you gain no matter what he does.

A pusher unit with AD and high threat, can even push before your turn even begins. Satyxis Raiders going second, can charge a target that moved more than ten inches out of his zone. This means that speed six models will need to reduce by an inch (like we wanted) and AD units will be limited to a four inch move, completely negating his AD advantage.

I hope you get the concept, because this is getting a bit text heavy. Ranged units are poor pushers, because they almost automatically end up threatening to far, and forcing your opponent forward. So what do we look for in a great pusher unit.
  • Advance Deployment
  • High offensive capacity
  • High threat range
  • Resistance to ranged attacks
  • Some way of circumventing terrain
The obvious choice in Cryx are the Satyxis Raiders. They have AD, they have power swell (giving them a round of weapon master), they have one of the longest threat ranges in the game, defense sixteen against ranged attacks, immunity to blast damage, and pathfinder. In short, they're the kings of pushing, but other units do fine. Any unit can push if you win the first round, but only a true pushing unit can do it before your turn even begins.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A fabulous request...

Thinking outside the box is hard work, because in all honesty you'll find, that most things are already in there. There are a lot of people on the Internet, and unfathomable numbers of people in the world, so getting a truly original idea is almost impossible. Thinking outside the box then becomes a question of "acting" outside the box, because simply having the ideas wont do it, as illustrated by this marvelous motivational poster.

I received a request for list ideas, in perhaps the most restrictive tournament I've ever encountered. It's a twenty five point tournament, based upon the highlander model, but allows Warjacks, one unit (may include UA), and one Solo. The real restriction is, that no FA: C models/units may be included, and attached solos like Deryliss or Deathwalker count toward the one solo limit. In addition to that, the tournament organizers have imposed a further list of banned casters/models/units, making it nigh impossible to construct a functioning list.

That tournament format is just poor. I don't mind being forced into crazy lists, but this concept is just stacking ideas that work on top of each other, until the house comes down. Tournaments without FA: C could be really different and entertaining, Highlander tournaments are proven to be fun, but stacking them creates so restrictive an environment, that creating a list becomes a chore.

With that as my motivation, I began thinking up ways to annihilate this format. eSkarre is banned, and so is eDenny, but pDenny is allowed, and with such a restrictive format, we could do worse that choosing a caster that can turn a Swamp Gobber into an engine of destruction. The request called for some Mortenebra advice, so I'll get to that later, but first I'd like to mention pSkarre.

Bane Knights/Thralls are less than optimal, since we cannot bring Tartarus to support them. Bile Thralls could be fun, but since the tournament is sure to feature a lot of jacks and beasts, they will probably be less than optimal. Bloodgorgers are out since they need Slaughterborn to work, and Mechanithralls are out since they need a Necrosurgeon to function, and the list goes on. The format only really leaves us with two fully functioning units, which are Satyxis Raiders and Satyxis Blood Witches.

On the solo front, we have plenty of choices, but unfortunately most of them are terrible. If we remove the terrible choices, we're down to a Pistol Wraith, Satyxis Raider Captain, Skarlock, or Warwitch Siren. I can't help but notice, that one of those support our choice of unit/caster, but they're all solid choices and would do well in this format.
Pirate Queen Skarre
- Ripjaw
- Reaper
- Reaper
Skarlock Thrall
Satyxis Raiders (Leader and 9 Grunts)
- Satyxis Raider Sea Witch
You'll be feeding on valuable Satyxis Raiders with ritual sacrifice, but remember that the Skarlock can sacrifice himself, if you find yourself needing every available offensive unit, and still need the Focus the following turn. There's an Arc Node with the ability to finish of wounded heavies, and Warmachine players will cry, because they've got very little to protect their Warjacks from becoming Feedback/Backlash victims in this format.

Since the format allows for two lists, you can get away with having a list targeted mainly at Warmachine players, and a second list to handle Hordes or take all comers. Choosing that list is hard, but the available casters are pDenny, Mortenebra, and Coven. Since Mortenebra likes herself some Hordes casters, and the request mentioned her specifically, we'll take her next.

I'm a sucker for light jacks with Mortenebra, and it so happens that my usual lists are pretty close to being within the format rules, so let's take a look at it. Since it's a small game, and the ordered Harrower hasn't turned up, I'm going to begin by stating, that keeping Mortenebra safe will be a huge challenge.

Helldivers are epic in this format, since they can slam a Warbeast with near automatic success under Terminal Velocity and Recalibration. They're also dirt cheap, and can assassinate squishy casters by themselves, with Terminal, Recalibration, and three Focus. If you have two of them, have the first one head-butt the caster if possible, since it's free under TV, and makes a kill much easier to achieve.

Scavengers are expensive in this format, but you sort of need one, and preferably two. The Scavengers will be your main source of caster kills, and you can forget about winning this on scenario. Scavengers can achieve 19.5" threat range with Overrun and Terminal Velocity, while ignoring free strikes, intervening models, and terrain with Flight & Spectral Steel. With seven Focus you can assign a Scavenger three, cast Terminal Velocity, and upkeep Spectral Steel, meaning you'll have to cast it the round before. Deryliss can handle Overrun, and you're good to go.

The main problem is keeping your army, and your caster, alive until you can beak theirs, and that's going to be a problem. Without Sirens your Focus economy will be stretched to it's limits, and without Harrowers you have nowhere to hide. Depending on terrain this might not be a problem, but I suspect it will be. This is my suggestion, but I feel it's a rather weak list.
Master Necrotech Mortenebra
- Helldiver
- Scavenger
- Scavenger
- Stalker
- Reaper
- Reaper
It has a couple heavies to hide behind, though they're not steady, and can be taken out of the picture, in regards to shooting, with a simple Knockdown. It has tight Focus economy, and no Thresher available to Overrun, but it does present something of a challenge to an opponent. Presenting six jacks in 25 points, is a hard nut to crack for any army, and it has scary board control with slams and drags all over the place.
Master Necrotech Mortenebra
- Scavenger
- Reaper
- Reaper
Bane Thralls (Leader and 9 Grunts)
- Bane Thrall Officer & Standard
Pulling in a heavy, and annihilating it with Bane Thralls, will alleviate the problems with speed. You still have a Scavenger available for that slingshot assassination, and this would be my recommend list, but since you've got no Bane Thralls it's out of the question. A full Bane Thrall unit with Recalibration is something beyond scary though, so maybe you should invest ;)

I think a Coven list could be fun though, and could really bring the house down on some unsuspecting players. With a ton of available Focus they can both spell assassinate, or juice up a simple Slayer to the point of annihilating almost anything. The ability to activate separately also allows for some nasty tricks, and being able to camp a long way behind the lines helps as well. 
The Witch Coven of Garlghast
- Helldiver
- Ripjaw
- Ripjaw
- Stalker
- Stalker
- Reaper
Skarlock Thrall
Again a unit of Bane Thralls would have been awesome. This list is almost entirely stealth based, with Occultation on the Reaper, and keeping the Arc Nodes in cover until needed. The Stalkers can receive Focus 36" from the Orb, so they can actually flank. This list is all about moving up while looking for a spell assassination, and if such an opportunity doesn't present itself, the Reaper can threaten 13" away with Infernal Machine (or 16" threat with drag), and rolling MAT9 with sustained attack, while ignoring terrain and free strikes (Ghost Walk) and being able to charge straight through a unit affected by Curse of Shadow, as long as there's LoS to it, and room to arrive. Defensively they also do well, with a combination of stealth and feat. Stealth makes them almost impossible to hit at range, and Cryx defense is hard to hit, when under the effect of Nightfall.

I had some crazy ideas about Ships in the night pSkarre, but with your limited models this is the best I could do. Let me know what you decide, and what you come up against :D


A comment from Poet_warrior

Another comment I've decided to answer with an update. We're discussing using the Iron Lich Overseer to run dual Leviathans, and the implications of using two Warwitch Sirens, and one ILO, with two Leviathans as one big package.

The sirens are there for whatever they are most useful. If it's more useful to use them on nodes, they can break away from the levi brick and do so. Same with shadowbind.

The overseer is def14 arm16 and with stealth basically every single round (his soul collection is mostly garbage) blasts are his biggest concern. Arm 16 is pretty decent for blasts.

Also, should the unthinkable happen and the overseer dies, the levi's are autonomous and the sirens can STILL pump focus into them. You basically lose stealth and a shot per levi, and when you go for the kill you can still break the sirens off to do whatever.

Just food for thought, I've had a blast playing this list!
While I agree with you in principle, there are a few things you need to consider here. The first of these is movement and deployment. You can't have the ILO running, in round one, against many armies out there, or he'll be the target of enemy long range fire, and it will end poorly. This means you risk being left out of position with your Leviathans (or forgo Stealth in round one), and that's never a good thing.

Secondly you've got two nine point models, that rely on two squishy and a one hardy solo. Sure they've got Stealth, but there are plenty of things out there that ignore it. Cygnar and some Legion lists, will surgically remove your support structure, and leave your two Leviathans with a single shot per round. There are also AoE attacks out there, that will light your ILO on fire and watch him burn to death, or even just kill him with a lucky boosted AoE.

Then we've got the whole issue with resource management. While this is an issue with battlegroups as well, the simple fact is, that if you need your Warwitches for anything else, it will cost you a shot from a Leviathan. If your ILO died, your Warwitches are stuck, or your 9 point heavies will deliver one RAT 5 shot per round. Finally there's the issue of max load, because unless the ILO gains a soul, you can't ever get the Leviathan to the three Focus it needs, in order to make two shots with boosted damage.

I think the idea has some merit, and stealth solves a lot of problems for the Leviathans, but I also think you're making your army vulnerable to kamikaze attacks. Taking out that one ILO will gimp your two heavies, and force two solos to camp, making him worth a lot of resources. That means an opponent can waste 5-6-7 points on taking him out, and still be ahead in the resource game, which is crippling.

It forces you to play defense, it makes it harder to go offensive if needed, and it requires the whole 25 point package to stick together and stay back. I'd love some reports from your games, because as always there's the odd chance that reality defies theory ;D

A comment from RessurectioN

I had a comment on my post about ranged attrition, that I think deserves a thorough answer. We're talking about Mechanithralls, survivability, activation sequence, and screening. I'm arguing against Mechanithralls, because the more I learn about the game, the less of an obvious choice they become.
Def of all of our infantry is poor (Satyxis excluded) and arm helps only against blast anyways.

They can be messy to activate properly but I've learned how to do it and get huge threat ranges via Necrosugeon.

As for using them as screens: they are good enough once they run up to 12" (sometimes out of formation) and stay just in front of models and now they have to be dealt with or charge lanes are blocked and activation sequence is changed to remove them. All for 0.5 pts per model.

While the defense of most our infantry is rather poor, you will find that most of them have alternate methods of defense. Bane Thralls have Stealth, Blackbane's have Incorporeal, Blood Witches can create clouds or go Incorporeal, Bane Knights have solid ARM and a deterrent from shooting at them (Vengeance), and the list goes on. Mechanithralls have no method of defense, but can be "upgraded" with an ability to respawn.

Activating the Mechanithrall horde is a nightmare, and even when you get a grip on it, situations will arise, where you will need to throw your sequence out the window, and plan a new one. This is really time consuming, when you have 10-34 (or, heaven help, you 47 models) models spread out on four units. The Mechanithrall missiles are fine, and I've even killed pButcher with them once, but it's not worth the problems they create, and you're not getting them back either (since the Necrosurgeon is way out of collection range).

Mechanithralls are shit poor screens, but they are fine Gobbers. There's a massive difference in their use, and what you're describing is the Gobber maneuver. Mechanithralls are fine Gobbers, but as a screen they fail miserable, with no survivability, no reach, weak free strikes, and small bases. Mechanithralls were my first love, and at one point I owned 40 of them, but they just don't cut it in competitive, timed play.

Game Theory: Gobbers

This is NOT my work.
The Gobber maneuver is easy to show, and hard to fully explain, so I'll just give you a little teaser from the original article, and make you go read the real thing instead.
Red 1 and Red 3 are now either partially or entirely stuck. The rules of the game say that the big scary Red warthingies can’t just ignore the useless Gobbers free of charge; they either need to move another model up to kill the Gobbers (which will often mean blocking access with his OWN models even after he’s cleared yours), Trample over them (paying one valuable focus/fury and losing all of his initial attacks, making it unlikely he’ll hurt 1 on the follow-up attacks), or spend a turn uselessly killing Gobbers with his 7-12pt models.
The full length article can be found here, and should be considered required reading.

Monday, September 12, 2011

pDenny Vs. Hexeris

Couldn't get a 50 point game, so I settled for 35. That meant cutting a Leviathan, reducing the Nyss to minimum, and loosing a Pistol Wraith. I faced a Skorne list with Hexeris (AGAIN), but it was mostly warbeasts.

I quickly realized I had no chance at attrition with so many beasts, but he ran Hexeris dry on Fury in round one, and left an Paingiver to close. Three Focus to the Leviathan, Siren power boost on a node, and Scourge on the Paingiver & Hexeris. Then the Leviathan made two shots with boosted damage on him, and left him on two boxes (sadly he was outside Withering by 2-3 mm or he would have died). Dougal mini-feat + Nyss took care of the last two boxes, and the entire game took less than 30 minutes including setup.

The game itself was so short, that I didn't really learn anything, but I did notice some issues with deployment. The Nyss are very vulnerable to blast damage, and I need to deploy them on a flank instead of dead center. Either way, I'll have to wait until next Monday to get a real test done.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Aaaah, ruuuun!

I think it's called a "wife"... I had heard they were like Kryptonite to geeks, but it seemed nice enough. I encountered it a couple of years ago, and it's been following me around ever since. It turned up at the Masters, paid my bills, and gave me massages, so I think I'll be keeping it.

It doesn't even hurt!

Thanks to my lovely wife, for accepting my strange hobbies, and painting actual lipstick on an Orc (she named it Ole Henriksen, and made it a tiny paper hat).

Friday, September 9, 2011

Danish Masters: Report

A few people have expressed an interest in knowing a bit more about the tournament, so I'll be happy to oblige. The masters were held at Vibenhus public school in Copenhagen, in their gymnasium, and check-in was Saturday morning.

After a short introduction, we had our first game, and I got matched up against a club member. This was nice, since I was feeling rather nervous about the whole thing, so getting started against Søren was a good thing. Most of the others were a bit annoyed, at facing so many of the people they regularly meet, but the world rewarded me for accepting it's gift, and I faced no other club members during the tournament. I was a bit miffed that so many people had canceled, and we were just twenty players out of the thirty two spots. I think the tournament organizer was a bit ashamed of his local environment, but he put on a great tournament anyway, so thumbs up for that.

After the first game we had lunch, and after everyone had been there twice, there were no visible reduction in the piles of food. I think we could have fed Africa for a year with that serving, and it was excellent food as well. I thought it was nice, because usually at geek conventions, the food shortage is noticeable half way through the first serving, which is weird because it's normally something no sane person would eat.

Something like this, but served with rice and curry.
After lunch we had our second game, in which I failed to kill pSeverius in melee with Terminus. I've done the math a couple of times, and it wasn't actually THAT unlikely that he survived, and my opponent DID outplay me, when I allowed him to lure me away from the objectives. Still, I couldn't shut up about it, and it might have given some people the wrong idea. I don't mind loosing, and I'd rather loose a great game than win a poor one, but like most players I have a couple of bad minutes after loosing, and I don't know when to shut up about it. Armies were set up for the best army award, and we spent an hour waddling around and going "ooooh" and "aaaah", then we wrote our choice on a piece of paper, and got on with the final round of the day.

The final round was pie, as I faced of against a eButcher T4 Doomreaver list. It's an all or nothing list, and Bile Thralls make it nothing. He tried his best to spread out, to flank, to limit his losses, but Terminus managed to grab himself nine souls with the help of Bile Thralls and Erebus (to be fair it could have been a lot worse, but his placement was limiting my options). The following round he was pretty clever, and both his Kodiaks vented and blocked LoS to eButcher, but in order to block a charge from Tartarus he accidentally put a Manhunter near eButcher, and HIM I could see. Reach and a large base, allowed me to charge the Manhunter and swing at eButcher, so he died horribly.

Then we had supper (another type of stew, but also excellent), which was a bit late due to several minor delays, but like lunch it was worth the wait and plentiful. Then I left, to go sleep at my brother in laws house, and get massages from the wife who also sponsored the entire trip, as her dower (morning gift) from our wedding. I think the official sleeping arrangements were a bit poor, but that's to be expected.

The second day began with breakfast at nine, and the first/fourth game at ten. I was matched up against one of the Swedish players (Copenhagen and the Swedish town of Malmø, have basically grown together anyway), and since I'm not exactly an expert against Retribution I thought I was done for. He chose a different list than I thought he should have, but that just shows, that knowing the opposition is vital in high level matches. He chose the wrong list, probably expecting me to go with Terminus, and got himself gang-raped by Bane Thralls during the Withering.

Then we set up for the painting evaluation, and spent a little to long looking at the models, because honestly we had nothing to say, and I couldn't tell a good model from a washed up piece of puke bought on eBay anyway.

Then we had supper, which was roast pork with fries and salads, served with bread. I can honestly say, that I've never been to any sort of geek activity with better food. Finally we moved on to our final game, and I had a mirror match on my hands.

I had pDenny, he had eDenny, but our lists were so identical that it was a little bit scary. I took Terminus instead, to make it a little bit interesting, and it worked out well. At that point I had won three games, so even if I lost I could go home with more wins that losses, and I was certain I was going to place between nine and eleven anyway. We had a little trouble with the time, but since we were both convinced we were out of the race anyway, we had a super relaxed and fun game.

That's me in my gaming position, looking like a retard. In the end he ran out of time, and eDenny was in range of Terminus. I think he might have been able to hold me back a couple of rounds, even if he hadn't run out of time, but he had used his feat and I survived it almost intact. Then we waited... a lot... for the results, and there was much rejoicing.

Kris, Bo, and Peter
First place was Bo and very surprisingly so, since he was using his Searforge (he has become something of a hero on the Privateer Press forum). Second place was Kris and his Trollbloods, while third place was snatched by Peter, aka the luckiest player alive, and his Skorne.

Jakob O came fourth with Khador, and myself on fifth with Cryx. Every player in the top five had four wins and a loss, so placing was decided on control points, which I can really recommend because it made the games a lot more intense, and the calculations between games were a lot of fun: "So if I can take just one, and Kris can stop Jakob from getting any, then I'll be tied with Peter and it will come down to strength of schedule" etc. etc. etc.

The final table was Bo against Kris, with a "winner probably takes all result". Kris was undefeated at the time, and Bo had the most control points of us all. Sadly it was over before any other games, so we didn't get to watch. The final table had a circle around it though, so even if we HAD been able to watch, the tournament organizer roamed the circle, and would have made sure the players had peace and quiet to play their game.

Finally we did a lot of applauding about painted armies, but in all honesty I was bone tired and just wanted to go home. It was a great event, and a special thanks should be aimed at the team behind the tournament. Shame and punishment should be inflicted upon the local gaming environment for not showing up, but it remained a fine tournament without them. I hope they show up next year though, and beat the snot out me for that statement, though I'd prefer if they did it in-game.


Warwitch Deneghra, ranged attrition?

I've been messing around with a list focused on ranged attrition and control points, but to be perfectly honest it's going to be really hard to make it work. I've more or less settled on Warwitch Deneghra as my caster, though eSkarre is making a serious bid for the position.

In order to achieve enough heavy firepower to make this work, I'll have to include some ranged Helljacks, and quite likely they'll need to be Leviathans. With The Withering and  Parasite involved, they will decimate enemy heavies, but I'm not sure it's enough.

Warwitch Deneghra
- Nightwretch
- Nightwretch
- Leviathan
- Leviathan
Skarlock Thrall
Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters (Cylena and 9 Grunts)
The Withershadow Combine
Master Gunner Dougal MacNaile
Pistol Wraith
Pistol Wraith
Warwitch Siren
Warwitch Siren

This is what I've been thinking so far. It has an incredible amount of firepower on my feat turn, and it should do fine even if one turn of destruction doesn't break my opponent, as The Withering should keep retaliation to a minimum.

I am however, more than a little screwed if he reaches melee with an infantry unit. Heavies will be banged up when they arrive, if they arrive at all, and Leviathans with debuff help will rip almost anything apart. If he does get in with an infantry unit, I'm in trouble. I'll probably have to spend my Skarlock & Focus on pulling important models out of melee, and this will leave me with few options to take the actual problem down.

Nyss Hunters can't hit a brick wall without help (and The Withering should be long gone when this happens), and depending on my opponents positioning I'll be hard pressed to sweep with my Warwitch Sirens, since I didn't have a screen to help me line up his models.

I think I'll just have to take it out for a spin, and see what happens. Then hopefully I can locate the main issues, and perhaps a couple of solutions as well, and give it a little tune-up. I really find myself missing Gorman & Dark Shroud on paper, but let's see how bad it's going to be in an actual game.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Spotlight archive

In an attempt at making things a little easier to find, I'll reorganize the spotlight articles here. A few of these are from before I began doing in depth articles, and they're marked with (*). There are some useful information in them, but they're messy and short. I'm working on updating them all, but it might take some time.

Warcaster spotlights

Spotlight: Dougal MacNaile

I found an old article I did on Dougal MacNaile. I've touched it up a bit, and added some recent ideas, but if you already read my post on Privateer Press about Dougal, you can safely skip this.

Master Gunner Dougal MacNaile, is one of the hardest mercenaries to use well, but also one of the most rewarding models in the game, if you can manage it. The first time you pick up Dougal, you'll notice that he has a ridiculous amount of abilities, and unfortunately you need to remember ALL of them to make him work.
Dougal MacNaile: Abilities
I'll allow the Battlecollege to explain his abilities, but he has so many that I need to walk through them anyway. Dougal is slow, but that's not a bad thing, since you really don't want him up in front anyway. He has a sword, and he's not to bad in melee, but if Dougal is involved in a melee you're probably going down anyway. Dougal is of course a ranged solo, and as such he has ranged solo statistics, with a high defense and average armor. He also has a couple of defensive abilities, but I've never seen them save him, so priority one with Dougal MacNaile, is keeping him alive.
  • Hit the deck. This ability is his only real defense, and one day it will save his life. Dougal cannot be hit by AoE attacks, and if he's hit anyway (he can still be targeted and shot at), he's simply knocked down. 
While he's down, all ranged attacks targeting him automatically miss, so he becomes immune to further ranged attacks, but while standing he's not immune to a good old bullet to the face. Dougal also has Tough, but I still haven't seen him make that roll. In theory this is fun, because once he goes down and makes the check, he's safe from further ranged attacks. In actual games, you should be running naked around the table if it ever happens. In a tight situation, you could have Gorman toss an Acid grenade on him, because being down is infinitely better than being dead.
  • Artillerist. This special action has so many applications, that the mere thought makes me dizzy. One friendly faction model in Dougals rather high CMD range, receives +2 to Ranged attack rolls with AoE attacks, and may re-roll deviation dice. 
This ability does not require LoS or targeting, so go ahead and hide behind that building. The most obvious recipients of Artillerist, are Bosun Grogspar and Gorman di Wulfe, but especially Gorman becomes a giggling maniac when he sees Dougal in a list. Instead of RAT 5 grenades, that he needs to be within four inches to reliably land, he becomes a RAT 7 master, that may re-roll the deviation on his black oil grenades. 
  • Double Powder Ration. This is a mini-feat, so he can abuse his plethora of options while doing this as well, and the real abuse begins. Friendly Faction models in his CMD range gain +2 RNG on ranged attacks, which is awesome. 
Beyond turning Gorman into a grenade lobbing machine, when combined with Artillerist, it turns Nyss Hunters into assassination pieces, and can also increase his own threat range with the Quad-Iron in a pinch. Dougal is also a mercenary commander, and allows you to bring more of a unit nobody ever uses.
Dougal MacNaile: Why bring him?
The models/units that find Dougal hilarious. There are many other possible combinations, but these few are worth remembering.
  • Croe's Cutthroats:  The increase in range is an enormous boon for this unit, and can take them from piss poor to average, or from average to incredible for some casters. It often means they suddenly have the ability to aim as well, which makes up for their terrible RAT.
  • Nyss Hunters: Increased range on their bows, allow a unit of Nyss to engage and destroy from fourteen inches away. It keeps them safe from melee retaliation, and often gives them the opportunity to strike from a position behind cover. Increased range also makes them able to assassinate most casters, even those hiding behind an army.
  • Boomhowlers: Guess who get's bumped from poor to average range for a round? If your caster can manage some defensive debuffs, they actually become a scary ranged unit for a round.
  • Bosun Grogspar: Long ranged accurate AoE attack.
  • Gorman di Wulfe: Increased range and accuracy rocks.
That covers what he can do for you, but what can you do for him?'
  • Increasing his chance to hit: If you can get Dougal some increased accuracy, or in range to aim, he becomes an avatar of destruction, ripping small units apart, or killing squishy casters on his own.
  • Increasing his damage output: If you can get some increased output his way, his high amount of attacks will really make it shine. This is hard for most factions, but guess who has this in abundance?
  • Survivability: If you DO have a way of keeping him safe, by all means do it. Loosing him early ruins a lot of opportunities, so it's effort well spent.
I'll just mention one caster here, because Warwitch Deneghra has been hunting Dougal for years, attempting to turn him into a character Pistol Wraith. Well maybe not, but she damn well should have. Dougal attacking a target under The Withering, with Crippling Grasp involved, will shoot up to four times at RAT 11, with POW 14. If it's a pop and drop turn, a knockdown + Parasite, makes him hit on threes and do 2d6+15, four times in a row. That's enough to kill most casters in the game. With Gorman's Rust bomb involved, Dougal will also take down most light Jacks, on average dice with feat and Parasite, and the list goes on.

This will not happen often though, because Dougal usually get's shot by a random rifleman, and fails his tough check, around a minute into turn two. I cannot stress it enough, that Dougal needs babysitting. He needs cover, an Ogrun Bokur nearby, Gorman's clouds, and anything else you happen to include that can hide, buff, or otherwise keep him alive. If you take care of Dougal, he will take care of business, but if you don't, he's a waste of time and points.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Overseer.

I've changed the name of the Blog.

I thought "The Overseer" would be fitting, considering that our new Iron Lich Overseer is the single worst release we had in Wrath. I can't help looking at him, and trying to figure out some way of getting him to work, and that's essentially what this Blog is about:
Taking another look at things, and making them work.

I'll be messing around a bit the coming days, and organizing some of the posts that have gotten lost over the months. Maybe I'll give the site a little tune-up as well, to make it easier to find what you're looking for in the future.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Spotlight: Warwitch Siren


Do we really need a spotlight on the Warwitch Siren?

I think we do, because even if our beloved Warwitch Siren has become one of the most common models in Cryx, I see a lot of people playing them well below their potential. I'm a bit sorry to say, but this actually includes me, so this article has several pieces of advice I've stolen from other players along the way, and I'm working hard on making the most of this incredible solo.

The Warwitch Siren could probably claim the throne as "best two point solo" in the game, and even when using her below her potential, she will cause opponents so many headaches, that she can basically win a game on her own.
  • Stealth: Not only does her defense rank up there with many Warcasters, but she laughs at most ranged attacks in the game, and her armor isn't to shabby either.
  • Power Booster: In a faction of Focus starved casters, having an extra Focus handy is something you simply cannot value high enough.
  • Seduction: Every man in the Iron Kingdoms will abandon their wives, and women will go lesbian.
  • Venom: You thought the first couple of abilities were enough, but we also get this little pearl. A magical spray attack, mounted on a speed seven model with immunity to free strikes.
  • Parry: From running away, to lining up sprays or seducing a model behind the lines, this ability makes her a goddess on the battlefield.
  • Shadow Blade: A magical reach weapon, that applies Shadow Bind on hits. I just can't understand how that weapon made it into the hands of a two point solo, but I'll take it!
So we have a nigh untouchable model, with an answer to almost anything, and a ton of utility to boot, so why on earth is she just two points? I could say that she can't do it all at once, and I could say that her MAT 5 limits her offensive abilities, but truthfully I just don't know. With that out of the way, we get to the interesting part: Using the Warwitch Siren.

Turn one is often spent running. This is because you loose a lot of choice, if you decide to exploit the Power Booster in the first round, since it leaves you behind the army, and horribly out of position. If you decide to use the Power Booster, you will need to accept, that the Warwitch will play little or no part in the game beyond that. Assuming you did run into position, you receive a mind blowing amount of options in turn two.
  • Lock down: A Warwitch Siren can run 14" and has reach. She has Parry as well, so she will run where she wants, and when she wants. This means that she can lock down an entire unit on her own, and her Shadow Blade features one of the best free strikes in the game. Even if a model survives her free strike, she will stop that model in it's tracks, as long as she hits. The model will stop just inside her reach, be at -3 defense, and still be engaged. This use of a Warwitch will usually get her killed, but sometimes her defense pulls through, and if you choose her target carefully, you increase the odds of this result by miles. When choosing a target, remember her pathetic MAT 5, because even with free strike bonus, you will miss models with high defense.
  • Power Booster: It's just an awesome ability, and gives you the option of pulling that extra spell/boost in a round, while still running a jack/node into position. Since it's a spell, you can sometimes lock a few models down while Power Boosting, but make sure you don't advance out of range, because Power Booster is usually more important.
  • Seduction: When the opportunity presents itself, this ability can win games. Seduction means the ability, to move a model, without even touching your dice. This ability is so powerful, that I loathe the times I forget about it, because so many other abilities are more obvious. There's no dice involved, so you can be sure it works, and that's a rare thing in a game of dice. You can do anything with this ability, from having Dartan Vilmon hit the Harbinger in the face, to moving models out of control zones. You can have high defense models present rear arcs to your Bane Thralls, or simply remove that annoying model threatening a free strike on your Warcaster.
  • Offense: A magical spray with magical ability 7, causing corrosion. There's nothing I don't like about this ability, and being placed on a fast platform, that can go where she likes due to Parry, just makes it better. It really shines against low defense, high armor, single wound models, that will simply melt on the following round due to corrosion, even IF they're all but immune to the actual damage from the attack. This is probably her most used ability, but I've begun considering the implications of using it to much, as it always results in her death.
  • Defense: Non-reach models cry when hit by her Shadow Blade, as they're stuck for a round and with the exception of magical ability, they're useless. They can't move, they're engaged, they can't retaliate, and unless saved by another model/unit, they'll be stuck for as long as the Warwitch Siren keeps hitting. As I said before, this ability allows a Warwitch Siren to lock down entire units, but it also makes her an exceptional defensive model. Park this lady in front of an army, and your enemy MUST deal with her, before being able to get anything past her. Usually most heavies will ignore a PS 11 free strike, but if they're hit by this one, they'll stop instantly, and be parked with -3 defense, in front of an entire army.
The sheer amount of options become mind boggling, and the power behind each one is undeniable, so why do I constantly feel that this model could do more? I think it's because most people commit her too early, so they loose her options very quickly.

The Warwitch Siren isn't exactly fragile, but any dedicated effort will take her down. She usually won't go down to the odd shot, or stray blast, but if you don't keep her safe, an opponent will nail her. Remember that having stealth, is no excuse to stand in front of the linear obstacle, instead of behind it.

This usually means, that like the Pistol Wraith, a Warwitch Siren get's one round to justify her existence. In my games she usually ends up doing lock downs or defense, and I've had a few games where I've lost nothing but her, and one or two random models to stray blasts. She plays her part incredibly well, but I'm always baffled when she survives, and usually end up doing something inconsequential, or stupid, as a result.

You have an incredible tool at your disposal, so make sure you're using it right, before throwing it away to spray some random grunts. The Warwitch Siren can turn games around on her own, so don't waste her life on inconsequential actions, because choosing the right action can win you the game.

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    Spotlight: Pistol Wraiths


    The Pistol Wraiths initially escaped my attention. I quickly wrote them of as overpriced, and when comparing one to a Warwitch Siren, it IS a tad expensive. I brought one a couple of times, and it always ended poorly, so I stuck them on the shelf and ignored them.

    Pew pew!

    Then six months later I got into an argument with a fellow at the club, and I took another look at them. I tried them out a couple of times in pairs, with the advice I had received, and boy was I wrong in (most of) my initial assumptions.
    • Body Count: means, that we are dealing with an incredibly accurate gunman. If we assume it has the ability to aim, and a nice weak target within 10", it can use the first shot to grab a soul, and the second shot to nail a defense 19 solo on average dice. That's something most armies can't manage, and loosing a key solo, behind cover, can be devastating for an opponent.
    • Death Chill: cannot be shaken, so you can remove an action from almost any heavy in the game, simply by hitting it twice. Remember that the Pistol Wraiths have magical guns, so Menoth jacks will be taken by surprise (point and laugh at the gimped Avatar). Since Death Chill won't stack with itself, you can bring Gorman to render almost anything completely useless for a round. Death Chill can also apply to casters, and even eButcher isn't doing much if he's chilled (point and laugh at the camping immortal melee caster, when he's limping around and doing nothing the following round).
    • Gunfighter: means the ability to hide in melee and inflict free strikes. I know it sounds strange, but occasionally it's worth remembering, and I've hidden inside a unit of Nyss Hunters with great success. Even corporeal this can be an advantage, as many ranged units can combine on them with ease, but will fail the odd attack against defense fourteen in melee.
    • Incorporeal: is the big one, allowing you to set up some amazing shots, and ignore a solid part of your opponents army until you strike. Incorporeal also means that he becomes vulnerable when shooting, so try your best to get into position behind cover. A defense 18 solo takes effort to nail, and with a bit of luck an opponent will either fail, or spend so many resources on it, that he might as well pack up and leave. Be careful around units with combined range attacks, as they will ruin your day.
    If you're unfamiliar with shifting your troops, go watch this video first. It's essential to understand the concept if you run Pistol Wraiths, so watch it from around 5 minutes in.

    The first thing we need to know about Pistol Wraiths, is that they only come in pairs. Bringing one Pistol Wraith removes most of their survival potential, and severely limits their offensive potential as well. Pistol Wraiths are fast, able to cross any obstacle or obstruction, and that makes them excellent shifters as described in Gearjocks video, but they need to be two in order to reliably survive.
    • The main problem with Pistol Wraiths, is getting them to survive the round they fire, so here's what we can do. We can run them in pairs, as four shots will reliably take down three single wound medium infantry. This is important, because if you kill those three models from odd angles, the rest of the unit will usually be outside charge range. 
    • If you're hitting ranged units, you need to be behind cover, and if it's a unit with combined range attack you need to redeploy, or get creative very quickly. In a tight spot, go hide in melee, because even if you die, you still made a unit somewhat stationary for a round.
    • You can load up the Wraiths with a few kills/souls, and then engage any threat to them with another unit. Pistol Wraiths are dangerous, but Pistol Wraiths with two souls, are avatars of death, come to claim your opponent, and sometimes it's worth loosing an entire unit to power them up.
    • Finally you can choose their deaths, and kamikaze something so vitally important to your opponent, that loosing six points worth of ranged assassins is acceptable.
    Deploy both Wraiths near each other, shift to the flank, and begin picking of melee units, solos, slowing down jacks/beasts, or being a general pain in the butt wherever you can, but make sure you don't loose them. Abuse terrain, get that cover or concealment, and make sure you run away, if he shifts resources to handle them.

    It's hard to reliably harass in Warmachine, as most games are simply to short to actually make it happen. Usually a pair of Pistol Wraiths will get one round of shooting, and then either die or participate in a grand assassination attempt with their stolen souls, but in one of my games they had three full rounds of shooting, so prepare for the possibility if you can.

    Casters are very important to Pistol Wraiths, because while they can work well without any support at all, they can be rockstars with just a little bone thrown their way. The king is (as always) defense or armor debuffs, because a little boost goes a very long way with Pistol Wraiths. Warwitch Deneghra and Epic Skarre are the prime candidates, but a LOT of casters can do at least one type of debuff.
    • pDenny: has both Crippling Grasp and Withering, turning the Pistol Wraiths into caster killing avatars, doing two RAT 11, POW 16, and potentially boosted, shots each. She can also do ye old pop and drop stunt. Feat + Scourge + Parasite + Boosted damage, means that almost any caster is going down hard (with two souls, the Pistol Wraiths will hit on 3+, and inflict 27 damage with each shot).
    • eSkarre: has Black Spot, which allows two Pistol Wraiths to annihilate minimum sized units in one round of shooting, and should they survive they'll have a full stash of souls, and destroy anything but heavies the following round.
    • eDenny: (added by ResurrectioN ) Marked for Death will be excellent for them, and you get to kill something on the turn you feat (I always feat on my turn 2, and my melee can't get there so fast to engage or attack). Benefits of her feat are obvious and will enable shooting over 2 turns.
      (Unless you're facing ranged threats, Lamoron)
    Any caster with access to defense or armor debuffs, will find the Pistol Wraiths a worthy investment, as long as you keep in mind that they need to be cuddled, cared for, pulled out of dangerous situations, and applied surgically to the exact right spot. If you can manage that, the team will not only impress you, but cause actual physical terror in opponents.