Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Terminus: The Road So Far

The Terminus Challenge has been running a couple of months now, and it was suggested that I summarize the experience (which I think is an excellent idea). Terminus has been with me from the very beginning, and he even has his own theme tune by Dark Tranquility. I currently own three models of him (I got them all in second hand army deals so it's not as crazy as it sounds), and I'm working on two different conversions while keeping one intact as tournament model.
If you have the time it would be nice to see a summary of things that you have learned with him and how your list has evolved along the way. Things you know you don't want to use any more, and why. Then things that you would hate to be with out.
- West996

I began Terminus by reading up on Battlecollege back when I was a complete rookie, and I took everything there at face value. I bought more Mechanithralls than I would ever realistically need (I had four full units at one point), his basic support squad, and I got down to playing.

It was fifty models worth of activation sequence nightmare, and the only reason it wasn't beaten to a pulp was the ridiculous amount of tough models that kept spawning. There were no real tactics beyond "rush forward and hope for the best", and after three very close games I realized that the Internet was wrong (again).


I began searching for people with different ideas on running Terminus, because while I had fifteen years of Warhammer 40.000 experience I was still new to Warmachine. While I was looking I had some games with Lich Lord Asphyxious, and discovered Bane Thralls / Bile Thralls, but eAsphyxious never really felt right for me. Then I found the Philosophy of Terminus article by lastspartacus, and he took Terminus to a new level with his Gunslinger list.

The idea of draining Terminus dry on Focus to power up two huge Vulcan Cannons appealed to me instantly, so I bought two used Leviathans for almost nothing, and and I sat down to crunch numbers. I was getting used to Warmachine by then, and I realized that even with so many points invested in Helljacks I needed undead weenies to get in the way.

The Dark Swarm

I could have brought 30 Mechanithralls for the price of the Bane Thralls + UA + Tartarus package, but I realized how incredibly inadequate Mechanithralls are when used as bullet shields. With their low defense opponents can place blasts exactly as they want, and with low armor Mechanithralls will die if hit by anything in the game. They're unable to hit a barn door with any reliability, and in order to function you need so many of them that activating them all is damn near impossible in timed tournaments.

The answer was of course the always fashionable Bane Thralls, with high enough armor to withstand a lot of blasts, and stealth to more or less guarantee drifting AoE attacks. I added Saxon Orrik to solve the issue with terrain, and the list was ready to go. Without any practice games I took the 35 point version to a nearby town, and took 1st place in their tournament. There was a lot of luck involved in the first two games, but then I had it figured out.
  • Terminus 
  • - Leviathan
  • Bane Thralls (Leader & 9 Grunts)
  • Bile Thralls (Leader & 5 Grunts)
  • Withershadow Combine
  • Darragh Wrathe
  • Bane Lord Tartarus
  • Saxon Orrik
  • Skarlock Thrall
I had a dozen games with the 50 point version, tweaking it here and there, and was on a fourteen game win streak when I was beaten on scenario in a tournament.
  • Lich Lord Terminus
  • - Leviathan
  • - Leviathan
  • Bane Thralls (Leader and 9 Grunts)
  • - Bane Thrall Officer & Standard
  • Bane Thralls (Leader and 5 Grunts)
  • Bile Thralls (Leader and 5 Grunts)
  • The Withershadow Combine
  • Bane Lord Tartarus
  • Darragh Wrathe 
  • Madelyn Corbeau
I could excuse myself with the fact that I had a migraine, lights flashing so hard before my eyes that I couldn't read the cards, and a massive fever but that would be a poor excuse... oh wait... that's a pretty good excuse actually, I'll stick with that.

Moving on

The Dark Swarm Gunslingers got boring though (every game was exactly the same), and retired with a 20-1 score. I wasn't quite ready to give up Terminus though, and by that time I was considering going to the Danish Masters where I knew I would need him. I switched around between casters trying to find my second caster for the masters, and enjoyed myself immensely with Mortenebra.

I had a fantastic run with the Bonejack non-tier Mortenebra list, but despite winning almost every game they all left me completely drained, and was often just an inch away from disaster, so I switched to Scaverous. That was a bad idea, I was destroyed by any serious list I encountered, and since I was looking for a second list for the Danish Masters he seemed like a poor choice. I absolutely love Scaverous, but I don't have the mental resources to run him competitively, so I switched to Warwitch Deneghra.

I'd only ever had one game with her at that time, which I lost so hard I couldn't walk right for weeks, but everyone kept telling me to go with Wraith Witch Deneghra and I'm a stubborn bastard if nothing else. Warwitch Deneghra turned out to be a downright dirty caster, and I actually haven't lost a game with her beyond that first disaster.

Danish Masters

The whole "need" thing might require some explaining before we move on, because I've got one or two good games in me on any given day. Most tournaments have three or four games per day, which means I need to bring something simple that works for the last two games. I needed to bring Terminus, but I was bored to death with the Dark Swarm Gunslingers.

I had purchased and converted a Malice model, and Erebus was on preorder, and I was hoping those two models would give me the variation I needed to field Terminus again. In retrospect the two models didn't do much, but they got me through the masters, and had nothing to do with my second loss with Terminus, where a pSeverius player forced me to bet on dice instead of skill, and I lost on scenario.

After the masters I lost my sense of direction, and worked on Scaverous again. I tried some more games with Mortenebra, but I couldn't really make that list better or more interesting, and I need some progress in a list to keep me interested.


I agreed to attend the ETC as the last member of a team, and while we're all in agreement that training and winning anything is entirely optional, we're doing it anyway. ETC means a lot of games against a lot of good players if we do well, and that means: Terminus.

Knowing I don't have that many games left if I get bored, I sat down to design a list that wouldn't get boring. I tried two Reapers since Berserk Reapers sounded like a lot of fun, but it wasn't (and a pretty darn poor build as well). Then suddenly I had one of those rare moments where the stars align, and I sat there with Rorsh & Brine going "ooooh, I could do that".

Every game that insane duo does something to make it interesting. The Cankerworm performs much the same basic function, and gives me an interesting set of options to play around with. Orin Midwinter is the latest addition to the entertainment troupe, tasked with making the list fun to play, for long enough to get me through the ETC without being bored.


The second part of that question is about the models/units I use, and how the list evolved into what it is today. I took the time to write that insanely long introduction you've just been through, because you need to understand that the current list isn't the best possible list, but the best possible list I can come up with that isn't boring to play.
Bane Thralls (Leader and 9 Grunts)
- Bane Thrall Officer & Standard
Bane Lord Tartarus
Saxon Orrik
The Dark Swarm cut down to the absolute minimum amount of models. This is just enough to absorb a charge, and destroy the elements of that charge that are dangerous to Terminus. If I include more Bane Thralls it takes points away from the entertainment budget, and less are insufficient to handle my opponents waves while retaining enough members to hit back. The Officer & Standard are there because frozen or knocked down Bane Thralls impede the advance.
Bile Thralls (Leader and 5 Grunts)
These guys manage to be entertaining as well as incredibly effective, and just this Monday one of them managed to spray a Great Bear to death. They're the key to the list and when deployed behind the bane Thralls they create an almost unsolvable puzzle. If my opponent doesn't charge me he get's Bane Thralls to the face. If he does charge me he kills half the Bane Thralls, then his force is purged of the table, and Terminus profits.
The Withershadow Combine
Darragh Wrathe
Madelyn Corbeau

Skarlock Thrall

I like the WSC, and they often do some interesting things. Most of the time they're just there because they need to be, because my list is very vulnerable to nasty upkeep spells, and Terminus is so much harder to kill with that one extra armor. Madelyn is there to support Terminus and the Bile Thralls, and Darragh Wrathe moves things and rarely does anything except soak a lot of firepower. These are models that are there because they need to be.
I needed something to spend the Warjack points on, and Cankerworm is the prime candidate. He's hard to kill, occasionally interesting, and a pretty model. He's done very little so far, but he usually dies in a spectacular fashion, and soaks a lot of resources in doing so.
Machine Wraith
Machine Wraith
Machine Wraith
Orin Midwinter
Rorsh & Brine
The entertainment. These models are occasionally useful, but more likely to help out by spreading chaos, draining resources, and causing all kinds of confusion on the field. I love them, and every game I play they do something interesting. The thing is, that when I focus on them my opponent follows, and entire battles have been fought around keeping/killing Rorsh, which is completely irrelevant because Terminus is advancing as well.

The bench-warmers

There are plenty of models I've tried and decided against. Warwitch Sirens were great but I kept getting them into Abomination range and failing the check. Leviathans only work if you bring two and run the Gunslinger list. Erebus needs reach to be worth it against good opponents. Malice needs the WSC on the front lines where they get killed, and good opponents block her pull.

Desecrator needs range and suffers from needing two like the Leviathan. Nightmare is expensive as hell and drains Focus without adding protection, and that also holds true for the Reaper. Bane Knights lack stealth and unless you're running two full units they'll be decimated before they arrive. Mechanithralls get stuck in terrain, miss when they get there, and get wiped by a dedicated AoE list.

Gorman is not fearless, and having him shit his pants instead of putting up a cloud is not funny. I never got around to testing Soul Hunters or Revenant Crew, but both units seem like a massive waste of points and effort with little gain. Seethers also fail the threat range test, and running/charging for free means squat if you've got no arms or cortex when you arrive.

What's next?

ETC is next, and I think my list is as good as I can make it without melting my brain. I've challenged the players in my group to take it down, and though the real heavy hitters haven't taken the field yet, I've gone 6-1 against lists specifically tailored to take it on. I don't know what the future will bring, but I'll work on my Circle project to keep sane, and take on the occasional challenger in the Terminus Challenge while waiting for the ETC to come around.



  1. Awesome with the Dark Tranquility song. Actually didn't know that. I'm mostly into the older stuff, like sky dancer and such, but some of the newer stuff is also ok. I actually saw them play this song live some years ago in Århus i think ;)

  2. Sadly I'm just a poser when it comes to melodic death metal :D

    I find a song here and there I like, but I'm more into acoustic metal. Black Label Society made some acceptable songs a while back, but the acoustic versions (particularly Stillborn) still blow me away.

    I usually end up listening to things like Seasick Steve (if you don't know who that is then go listen to "Dirt Cheap"), Johnny Cash, or the many "none-death" metal bands :D

  3. Great write up like always, thank you.

    I think I want to try out the double Leviathan at some point, it actually sounds like fun. Especially because my meta is of the opinion that all Cryx jacks suck except the Death Jack.

    Your list with R&B and canker worm seems like it would take more player skill to be successful with then the Gunfighter lists. I am not sure I am quite there yet but still very interesting.

    I also love the use of the Machine Wraiths. I always though they were cool just know one seemed to talk about or use them.

    Thanks again, I'm always learning something when reading this blog.

  4. The dual Leviathan list is really boring though, but I'm happy to help out when I can :)

  5. Well if you like some of the stuff with Dark Tranquility, I would recommend Slaughter Of The Soul by At The Gates or maybe Brave Murder Day by Katatonia (which is one of the best albums in the world!) ;)

  6. i know you like to keep your games interesting, but for those people who are still struggling for wins vs certain factions or players. What is the strongest terminus builds at 35 pts and 50 pts regardless of fun/boring factor?

  7. The reason I love this game is that there's hardly ever a "strongest list", but a dual Leviathan setup is probably the easiest one to learn and abuse.

  8. can you effectively run the dual leviathan setup at 35 points

    1. I don't think so, but the list did well with just one at 35 points. You don't meet a lot of Warmachine lists with multiple problematic heavies at 35 points either.