Sorscha 1

Regular readers will know that I did a caster ranking a while ago. Even more regular readers (or at least those who go through the archive) will know that even further back in the mists of time, I did a deep dive on Strakhov 1, looking at why I think he’s good, what kind of list he wants, etc. Doing the caster ranking got me hungry to look at some other casters in depth as well, and I thought I’d start with one of the old guard, who has me excited at the moment. So we’re talking about Sorscha 1 today!

Intro:

Focus 6, Speed 6, Mat 6, Rat 6, Def 16, Arm 15, Cmd 9

Immunity to Cold

1 ranged weapon, Range 12, Pow 12, ROF 1

1 Melee Weapon, Rng 2, P+S 13 with Shatter and Crit Freeze

Abilities:

Spells: Boundless Charge; Razor Wind; Fog of War; Freezing Grip; Tempest; Wind Rush

Feat: Models in Sorschas control area and line of sight without Immunity Cold become Stationary

Sorscha 1 is a caster that many Khador players will be pretty familiar with. She was the mk 2 battle box caster, and the Wind Rush, Charge, Feat, beat enemy caster to death with a hammer was the first maneuverer I ever learned in this game (still works too). She arguably got better in the transition to mk 3, but I only recently got back into playing her.

She’s also a bit of an odd duck in comparison with the other Khador casters, being more about assassination and control plays than hard attrition. She hasn’t been seen a huge amount in mk 3, with the reasons why, to me, being more of a meta concern than anything else. She straight up got better in mk 3, with her signature spell freezing grip dropping a point in cost, her picking up Shatter on her weapon (additional dice on damage vs Stationary targets) and her benefiting greatly from power up as a mechanic.

Feat:

Sorscha 1’s feat is pretty simple. It inflicts the Stationary effect on any model in her control area, that is also in her line of sight and not immune to cold. This simple feat has some pretty amazing ramifications. Immunity to stationary is pretty rare and being able to auto hit is a big deal, especially in Khador where our accuracy on ranged weapons is generally poor. It is a feat that is strongest into infantry, often being a time walk into those kinds of lists, whilst being at least reasonable into battlegroup heavy lists, as it gives you a turn of hitting very accurately and forces your opponent to spend resources to shake. Whilst the feat has no effect on huge based models, it can still have value as an assassination tool, as those lists with huge bases tend to be on the lower end of model count, leaving more corridors open for the assassination run.

Spells:

Sorschas spell list is a bit ridiculous for a focus 6 caster. Boundless charge is always welcome, if a bit standard in Khador. Fog of War is useful in some match ups depending on your list, and razor wind is a functional shitty nuke as they go. The real meat lies in the last 3 spells. Wind Rush is a bonkers spell, +2 def and a full advance makes Sorscha a pain in the ass to kill, and gives her ridiculous mobility. Combined with Boundless charge and feat, Sorscha can assassinate from 19 inchs away, keeping the squishier casters fearful of stepping into her range without a plan (threat is just another form of control after all). Tempest is simply a better version of scourge, having a bigger AOE and always doing a pow 12, whilst knocking down any models hit. This gives Sorscha the ability to project her feat into the back lines, enabling assassination runs from guns in her list. Finally, she has Freezing Grip, a signature spell that inflicts Stationary on target model/unit. This is ridiculously strong, and against a combined arms or infantry spam army, allows you to pick a unit that you want to keep out of the game through the expedient of freezing it every turn.

Survivability:

Sorscha has the kind of hard statline that looks ridiculous when you sit down and look at it. She gained a point of armour in the transition to mk 3, going up to 15, and between Fog of War and Wind Rush, she can be stood in the middle of nowhere at def 18, 20 to shooting and camping 3 focus. This, when combined with her general mobility, means that she can often contribute from the mid line and be fairly safe, depending on your opponents list make up. Her down fall comes from knockdown effects or auto hitting abilities. Anything that can bypass her defense is something that she can struggle with, spells like scourge or being targeted by throws. In mk 2 I would lose her to head butts from light warjacks or the like. Knowing your opponents capabilities are vital when playing Sorscha.

Win Conditions:

Sorscha is one of the few casters in Khador that has a really good assassination threat, and she can do it herself or enable her army to do it. The addition of Shatter to her melee weapon makes this even more potent if she still has her feat available. 19 inchs threat on a good assassination threat puts her into the realm of the Caine 2s of this game, and the advantage of that is simply that opponents play a worse game when they are not free to place their important pieces wherever they want.

Attrition wise, she can be very strong as well, with her control elements allowing her to make sudden dramatic upsets to the board state, especially into infantry heavy armies. Being able to deny your opponent a unit every turn is a ridiculous attrition swing and makes her very strong in certain match ups. Unfortunately her weakness here is that she lacks a damage buff. This is not a crippling thing in faction, but does mean that she will sometimes struggle into box or armour skews, and can limit her list choices as she generally wants something that hits hard right out of the box.

Scenario can very heavily depend on her list. She is certainly mobile enough to move around to multiple scenario elements, but currently I feel like she favours more elite units, and thus may struggle if the scenario becomes a grind, as she may not have the pieces needed to throw away to contest.

The list that I am currently excited about is as follows (and will be somewhat familiar to readers of the blog):

Khador Army – 74 / 75 points
[Theme] Wolves of Winter (Pre-release)

!!! You are using a pre-release theme.

(Sorscha 1) Kommander Sorscha [+29]
– Conquest [37]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
Koldun Lord [0(4)]
Koldun Lord [0(4)]
Doom Reaver Swordsmen [13]
Doom Reaver Swordsmen [13]
Greylord Outriders (max) [20]
Greylord Outriders (max) [20]

I have been testing this pretty extensively as a cryx drop, with the general theory being to control the board with Stationary effects, murder ponies to spray down infantry and doom reavers to take down heavies and berserk through pockets of infantry. In testing though, I have found that this list has some other advantages.

For one, the list is ridiculously fast. With the AD on doomies and an apparition move, the infantry of the list can be past the centre line on the top of turn 1, threatening charges into the other side of the zone. Doom reavers also benefit greatly from any buff that you can give them, so apparition is a huge benefit for them, with a 13 inch threat being amazing on a POW 12 weapon master. Fog of War is also great for Doomies, making them def 15, which puts them into the range of small arms fire struggling to hit them. I have not been a fan of Doom Reavers in the past, they’re expensive; suffer against high defense or abilities like tough or self sacrifice and cannot be directly buffed. A lot of our best infantry casters would generally prefer a unit of pikemen or winter guard. Despite this, the options that they bring to Wolves of Winter, for Sorscha 1 in particular, makes them usable.

The outriders are quick and whilst magic ability 6 can struggle to hit sometimes, the stationary effects from Sorscha or their ability to take back arc pretty trivially assist them in hitting things much more easily. The 2 units flanking also has the effect of bottle necking the encroaching opponent into the centre of the board, making them better targets for the Doom Reavers and the Conquests guns.

Amusingly, the second theme benefit of upkeeps starting out allows Sorscha to move up the board very aggressively, (can potentially be at 24 inchs between wind rush and failing a boundless charge). This combined with her stat line means that she can set up brutal feat turns, and potentially bait poor assassination runs that leave her enemies exposed, or eat up time. Def 20 to shooting, and able to be arm 20 against 4 shots puts her in the realm of most opponents not bothering to try (that’s a hard ask even for the likes of a Sloan gunline).

The Conquest acts as an anchor to the game, with it often being able to run the table at the end of a game. If you can trade your opponent down to 1 heavy with Doom Reavers, you can usually put the Conquest forward without fear, and the guns are a nice solution to the lack of long range fire power in the list. The Creeping Barrages can also swing the attrition in a melee on melee infantry game, whilst also being great at clearing infantry (the secondary guns, amusingly, are the same pow whether they hit directly or drift). I initially went with a battlegroup of 2 juggernauts and a marauder, but changed due to Sorscha not wanting to allocate focus generally and because of the question it asks. I could potentially upgrade it to a Victor, but feel like the options provided by the Conquest are strictly superior for this list (as in this list, the choice comes down to which guns I want, with this list having little use for stealth removal, is fast enough that crater would be less useful as a control element, and the Conquest being able to actually hit things by boosting or drifting).

The Solos were also a little tricky for me, as initially I had double forge seer. After some playtesting though, I found that the extra focus on the conquest was somewhat superfluous, and decided that the extra bubble provided by a second koldun lord was better.  The MA 8 ice cage is useful for helping the rest of the list to hit outside feat turn and the no shooting bubble is randomly useful after the lines engage.

Overall, this list has proved to be strong into dude spam and into the higher defence, lower armour end of the battle-group spectrum. The dude spam aspect is somewhat obvious, between Sorscha controlling large groups of infantry with feat and freezing grip, berserk weapon masters and the spray donkeys. It will likely do poorly into high armour or box spam as it can crack armour, but runs out of steam quickly. Faction wise, it seems to play well into Cryx, Ret, Circle and legion, and terribly into the Mirror, Trolls or Skorne.

This list is hardly the only list that Sorscha can run well (I was interested in a double gun carriage build before Wolves was revealed), with her kit meaning that she can take just about anything (e.g. she is likely our most merc friendly caster as none of her abilities specify friendly faction). This flexibility makes building lists for her frustrating though, as, while any list I built for her felt fine, it always felt to me as though I was better off specialising elsewhere (Irusk 2 runs cheap dudes better, Butcher 3 is a better attrition caster, Zerkova 1 is arguably a better denial caster), but for all that, Sorscha definitely brings some good specialities to the table.

I rated her in the caster rankings at 6th out of 19, and I stand by that number. She has some good answers to some of our more difficult match ups (cryx in particular) and has the benefit of constantly threatening assassination, which makes her one of our better casters and one to watch in the future.

 

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Derby Worlds Steamroller Report

I had a last minute change at work, and so managed to swing being able to attend the annual Derby Worlds War-gaming show. A 2 day tournament had been organised, but due to not enough interest, it got dropped down to a single day which 16 attended. It being 2 list, I had to decide on which of my 3 lists that I’ve locked in for Blood and Oil to take, and settled on the following:

Khador Army – 74 / 75 points
[Theme] Wolves of Winter

(Sorscha 1) Kommander Sorscha [+29]
– Conquest [37]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
Koldun Lord [0(4)]
Koldun Lord [0(4)]
Doom Reaver Swordsmen [13]
Doom Reaver Swordsmen [13]
Greylord Outriders (max) [20]
Greylord Outriders (max) [20]

Khador Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Legion of Steel

(Strakhov 2) Assault Kommander Strakhov [+22]
– Devastator [14]
– Torch [18]
Iron Fang Kovnik [0(4)]
Uhlan Kovnik Markov [7]
Great Bears of the Gallowswood [9]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [0(4)]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [0(4)]
Iron Fang Pikemen (max) [15]
– Iron Fang Pikemen Officer & Standard [4]

Strakhov 2 has been a standard of mine for a while now, and I’ve been building Sorscha as a Cryx drop. My 3rd potential was Old Witch 2, but with her being painted I decided to bring these 2 and see how I did.

Round 1:

Starting the tournament off on a familiar footing, I get paired against Warlord of Walsall player Chris Tapper, who is running Minions with Rask in Blindwater theme and Arkadius in WWFF. I’m pretty confident of Sorscha into Gators, but am not keen on trying to kill that many beasts into Arkadius, so down Strakhov goes. Chris decides on Rask and off we go. List below:

Minion Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] The Blindwater Congregation

(Rask 1) Rask [+27]
– Blackhide Wrastler [16]
– Blackhide Wrastler [16]
– Bull Snapper [0(5)]
Bog Trog Mist Speaker [0(4)]
Croak Hunter [0(4)]
Feralgeist [2]
Gatorman Posse (max) [17]
Gatorman Posse (max) [17]
Gatorman Posse (max) [17]
Sacral Vault [17]

Scenario was Standoff. I win the roll and go first. Terrain had a big ass forest in the centre of the board, rubble on my side of the right zone, and an obstacle on my side of the left zone. I deploy with a unit centrally and on each flank. He deploys the same with his Posse, the sacral vault centre right and his battlegroup centre left. Totem Hunter preys Markov

Turn 1: Fight!

I put out Quicken and Inviolable and everything runs forward, staying out of easy advance and shoot from the Vault. Done!

Chris puts a couple of Gators in each of the side zones, trying to angle them so that the Pikemen can’t get to the back ranks. Fury goes on the left hand unit, and a Veil of Mists is put down next to the forest to block LOS to the centre unit. No feat, which surprises me.

Turn 2:

With no feat out from Rask, I really have to take the opportunity to kill as much as I can. It swings attrition pretty far if I can alpha and then feat rather than having to feat to whether his alpha. Both spells get up kept, and the left hand unit charge, killing 2 and a half gators (Chris’s positioning was not quite effective enough), before mini feating backwards. Quicken gets cycled and feat goes up, before the right hand unit do the same on their flank. The centre unit advance up far enough to let the centre unit of Gators get a charge on 2-3 of them if Chris feels so committed and the Jacks reposition to contest either side.

Chris spends some time in the tank, and ends up with fury being cycled as the Gators on the flanks do work into my Pikemen, healing up his wounded gators. Feat goes up and the Vault does some work on the right flank, where my Feat isn’t reaching. The Wrastlers position to threaten my jacks and the Totem Hunter runs in the forest. The centre gators run to contest my zone, with the first one dying to 2 counter charging Great Bears. He scores and goes to 1.

Turn 3:

I’m somewhat stymied under feat, but can still get some stuff done (pikemen don’t mind just advancing in shield wall). I kill another Gator in the left hand zone, and 2 others in the right hand zone, the centre line continues to hold, not doing much other than killing the contesting Gator. The Great bears get quicken and advance forward, killing another Gatorman and forcing a tough check on another, whilst also contesting his zone. The Devastator moves forward in preparation to take down the Vault. I score 1

Chris spends the turn clearing out the Great Bears, killing some pikemen and putting one of his Wrastlers into the Devastator, killing it. He also puts the feralgeist into the zone. The Sacral Vault kills Markov, which allows the Totem Hunter to murder 2 of the Great bears. He scores his zone for 1. Putting the score at 2-1.

Turn 4:

My turn starts off a bit tricky, as I want to clear out my zone using Strakhov, and kill a bunch of stuff, but I have some order of activation problems. I end up having the centre pikemen charge a Wrastler, the 2 remaining Gator men from that unit and the Totem hunter, before Mini feating forward to contest. All targets die, which leaves Strakhov and Co free to put a couple shots into the Vault, and Lock the Target the Feral Geist to death. The pikemen on either side finish off the Gators on their sides, bar 1 on the left, and Torch walks forward to be bait for the other Wrastler. In doing all this, I clear the left zone and score 2, leaving the score at 3-2 to Khador.

Chris spends his turn flailing about a bit, killing some pikemen, coming up short on Torch and generally failing to clear his zone. With nothing to contest my Zone, I score 1 in his turn and go to 4.

Turn 5:

To win, I have to kill his objective, his other Wrastler and a posse member, which between Torch and the 2 units of Pikemen left, is pretty trivial. I win on scenario 7-2.

Victory for the Motherland!

Afterthoughts:

Gators are annoying! Failing to kill the ones I did before the feat turn was a pain, as they just healed up killing my models. The Vault was a massive problem all game, as Soulstorm meant it could stand in charge range of all my pikemen and be safe. Something to bear in mind during the list choice portion of a game.

Round 2:

Round 2 sees me paried against another Warlord, Martyn Furnival, who was running Skorne with Makeda 2 Cats and Xerxis 2 Titan Herd. I really wanted to play Sorscha 1 into Cats, but felt like I’d struggle against Xerxis, so down Strakhov went. He did indeed drop Xerxis 2. Lists below:

Skorne Army – 74 / 75 points
[Theme] Imperial Warhost

(Xerxis 2) Xerxis, Fury of Halaak [+28]
– Agonizer [0(6)]
– Agonizer [0(6)]
– Basilisk Krea [0(7)]
– Bronzeback Titan [18]
– Razor Worm [7]
– Tiberion [22]
– Titan Gladiator [15]
– Titan Sentry [15]
Gremlin Swarm [3]
Paingiver Beast Handlers (min) [5]
Siege Animantarax [17]

Scenario was Breakdown (dumbbell). I lose the roll and go second, scenario had a medium forest in the centre of the table, an obstacle on the bottom edge of my left zone, and not much else that was relevant. He deploys his animantrax on my left flank, with xerxis and battlegroup centre right and Gremlin Swarm on the right flank. I deploy in standard formation (unit centre and one each flank), with Torch across from the swarm so I can try and kill it from range if I have to. Centre unit of pikes advance forward to threaten the other side of the centre zone.

Turn 1:

Martyn puts out rapport and casts spiny growth on xerxis, and everything runs forward to stay just out of threat of the centre unit of pikemen. The Swarm runs into the right hand zone and hides in some rubble to be a pain in the ass on scenario.

I put out last stand on the right hand unit and quicken on the left, reasoning that anything that actually hits the pikemen is probably going to kill it regardless of armour. The left flank shield walls forward, the centre stays pretty much where it is (Tiberion and the sentry threaten the same distance as quickened pikemen with rush). The right flank runs and spreads out, with Strakhov and Torch moving up.

Turn 2.

Martyn moves his animantrix forward and takes some shots at the Devastator, doing no damage. He shuffles his lines, leaving the gladiator in charge range of a few of the last stand unit and keeping Tibbers and the Worm behind the forest.

I decide that it’s time to commit, so the last stand unit gets a charge order and I throw 4 pikes into the gladiator, crippling it down to a few boxes. Feat goes up, as the lines should clash. Torch moves up to threaten and I run the Devastator across to receive Inviolable. The left flank runs and mini feats to threaten the left zone and bait out tibbers and the animantrix. The centre clumps up with counter charges.

Turn 3:

Martyn spends a lot of time thinking, but finally decides on a plan. The animantrix and tibbers go left to deal with the pikemen, after the animantrix gets whipped a bit for rage tokens (leaving about 5 alive). The Gladiator gets healed and kills a couple of pikes, the sentry and Bronze back reposition a bit to threaten.

My turn and it’s clean up time, with last stand getting cycled. The first last stand unit kill an agonizer and drop the gladiator to a few boxes, which Torch finishes. Strakhov and co shoot the bronze back a bit and repo deep into the right zone. The centre unit get last stand and charge the bronze back. The devastator continues to be annoying and gets shoved up the board with the great bears charging the Krea and the Bronze back, killing  the krea and leaving the titan on about 5 boxes. Markov positions to counter charge anything that gets in on the devastator. The flanking unit of pikes charge the battle engine but fluff the damage rolls.

Turn 4:

Martyn cleans up the left zone with tibbers and the BE, moving the beast handlers in to score. He kills a few pikemen and the great bears between Xerxis and the Sentry, before sending in the bronzeback to kill the Devastator, before the counter charge cripples it’s spirit. He scores 1

I finish off the Bronze back, have Strak kill the Swarm that has been contesting this whole time, and start doing some work on the sentry, getting a back arc charge off with Markov, leaving it on a few boxes between that and some charging last standing pikemen. I contest with a flag bearer and go to 1 all.

Turn 5:

Martyn is running very low on clock, and just runs everything after using Xerxis to kill markov and the beasthandlers to kill my contesting model. He doesn’t contest my zone and we both score, going to 2 all.

I run the devastator up to threaten xerxis, as he has nothing left to threaten it and Tibbers is on the other side of the forest. I run a pikeman into contest, and score again, going to 3-2

Turn 6:

Martyn continues running pieces, but clocks half way through an activation.

Victory for the Motherland!

After thoughts:

Strak was definitely the right drop here, with me getting a lot of mileage against effective armour 21 and 23 beasts by throwing dice at them until they died. The armour 25 Devastator was also a massive prick for Martyn to deal with. Love that jack.

Round 3:

I have a problem in this round, as I have played Strak twice and my remaining opponents are Trolls, Cygnar and Grymkin. I hope for Cygnar so I can drop Sorscha, but get Trolls, being piloted by James White. He has Grissel 2 in band of Heroes, a Ragnor list full of beef and has also managed to only play Grissel so far. I cannot risk playing Sorscha into ragnor (Earths Blessing takes the assassination off the table) so I lock myself for the finals and drop Strakhov again. James is surprised by this, as he has decided the same thing about Ragnor into Strak, so we end up playing Grissel into Strakhov. List below:

Trollbloods Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Band of Heroes

(Grissel 2) Grissel Bloodsong, Marshal of the Kriels [+27]
– Dire Troll Bomber [19]
– Dire Troll Mauler [15]
– Troll Bouncer [9]
Eilish Garrity, the Occultist [5]
Fell Caller Hero [0(5)]
Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (min) [6]
– Stone Scribe Elder [3]
Trollkin Fennblades (max) [15]
– Fennblade Officer and Drummer [0(5)]
Trollkin Fennblades (max) [15]
– Fennblade Officer and Drummer [5]
Trollkin Warders (min) [10]

Scenario is The Pit 2. He wins the roll and goes first, as he knows how fast the Pikes are. Scenario had a house on my half of the centre zone (which was amazing for Strak) and a forest on my side of the left zone. He sets up with fennblades on either flank and his battle group in the centre. I go standard formation, with the Devastator on the right flank.

Turn 1:

He runs up as far as possible and puts out discord on the bouncer. Nuff said.

I am faced with a problem. Do I feat or not. I decide on caution and advance up slowly, moving Torch over to the left to kill any jamming models or to walk through the forest and start shooting. The centre unit get Inviolable and the Devastator gets quicken, as it’s not likely to die to charging Fennblades. It runs up as far as it can (into the right hand zone) and everything else spreads out, with my offering up a couple of pikemen with counter charges to protect them.

Turn 2:

James is kind of unsure of what to do at this point, and charges 2 fennblades on the right into the Devastator, keeping the rest back. The left fennblades move up and take up real estate on the right. Grissel puts down some hazards on the left side of the centre zone, whilst the rest of the army reposition.

On my turn, I allocate out a focus each to the jacks and up keep inviolable, letting quicken drop as the Devastator can get where he wants to go by charging. I clear off the jamming fenn blades with pikemen and the Devastator charges the back row of Fennblades and does Rain of Death, killing just over half the unit, including the officer. Torch walks through the forest and completely fails to kill anything, which is okay as he doesn’t proc vengeance. The rest of the pikemen shield wall forward and feat goes up. I make a special point of keeping the officers far back to deny a good discord tarket

Turn 3:

James flings his forces into trying to score 3 points this turn, killing the devastator with the mauler on the way. His charges on the left flank (there is a single pikemen from the Inviolable unit who is contesting the left zone), get neutered by counter charging great bears, which he then spends the rest of his fenn blades killing. The bomber lobs some shots which do very little do to poor dice, and Grissel kills a couple of pikemen.

My turn and clean up starts, with me killing all the fennblades bar 2 from one unit and the drummer from another along with the Mauler and putting some damage on the Bomber. I also destroy his objective and score 3 points.

Turn 4:

My opponent is in a rough spot, but manages to pull back somewhat, killing quite a number of pikemen, as well as Markov and the Kovnik, the Warders doing some great work on the right flank, and Ellish dispelling Inviolable. He contests the left zone with Scribes.

I can win this turn, though it requires a lot to go right. I start by putting quicken on Straks unit, which then walk forward and take a shot at the drummer contesting the right zone. He misses, but Strak and the other Kommando kill 2 warders between them and repo to safety. Everything else cleans up models, finishing off the stone and putting more damage on the bouncer and the Bomber.

Turn 5:

James only has about 30 seconds on his clock, and walks grissel round to try and shoot Strak, he misses his first shot, hits the second but rolls not very much damage. He then clocks.

Victory for the Motherland

Afterthoughts:

Getting a pretty Devastating (hehe) rain of death off was probably what won me the game. I traded the jack for it, but in this match up, that’s likely worth it.

Round 4:

Whelp I’m locked into Sorscha for the last round. Luckily, my opponent is also locked. Into Heretic (le sigh). He is in ADR and messes around with his list a bit. List below

Grymkin Army – 74 / 75 points
[Theme] Dark Menagerie

(Heretic 1) The Heretic [+28]
– Cage Rager [14]
– Cage Rager [14]
– Crabbit [0(n/a)]
– Crabbit [0(n/a)]
– Crabbit [0(n/a)]
– Frightmare [9]
– Gorehound [6]
– Gorehound [6]
– Skin & Moans [15]
– Skin & Moans [15]
Gremlin Swarm [0(3)]
Gremlin Swarm [0(3)]
Gremlin Swarm [3]
Gremlin Swarm [3]
Lady Karianna Rose [4]
Death Knell [13]

Scenario is spread the net. I win the roll and go first. Terrain has a big forest in the centre of the board and not much else that is interesting, other than a wall on the left hand side. I deploy conquest centre left, cav on each flank and Sorscha dead centre. My opponent deploys everything in a big brick in the centre. Doom reavers are deployed centrally.

Turn 2:

I don’t feel like I have the punch to get through this much armour unless I get really lucky, so I have to preserve my doom reavers. Everything run s forward, with the Doomies staying out of advance and fire from the Frightmare, and the Cav staying out of run and rebuke range (that spell is awful for them). Everything else runs forward.

My opponent moves forward, putting out a wall of fire to close off one of his flanks. he gives me a couple of charge targets, but makes them fairly isolated to try and bait the doom reavers. The 2 gorehounds flank off to the sides. The frightmare manages to drift onto a Doomie with an ancillary attack, which kills the Doomie

Turn 2:

I have a unit of Outriders and a Koldun Lord on either flank. The left Lord misses his ice cage on a gorehound, but the Outriders manage 3 charges onto it and kill it anyway. On the opposite flank, a Wall of Fire blocks this, but the Koldun Lord there hits, and the Sprays from that side manage to kill it. All the units Repo back to the sides of the board. The Conquest manages a crit Dev on the lead Cage Rager, catching a skin and moans and the Frightmare, and flings them back into the Death Knell, doing a decent amount to the Rager, and knocking all 3 down. 3 Doomies then charge a Skin and Moans, missing 2 attacks. Sorscha walks forward, shoots the knocked down Frightmare, which is shield guarded to a Crabbit, and then Wind rushes away, which is spectacularly dumb, as now I have given Heretic access to Wind Rush.

Thankfully, after some measuring, it is determined that I am just out of being assassinated by a Wind Rushing Heretic, who instead charges the ponies on the right flank, killing 2 of them. He then positions most of his forces into his zone, and pushes forward to threaten my flag. The Doomies I sent in die and are turned into Corpses for the Death Knell, and corpses are delivered to 1 of the Skin and Moans. The Frightmare guns down a Doomie as well. My opponent scores and so do I as he has put nothing in the centre zone.

Turn 3:

I see an opportunity to score 4 points, and place Koldun Lords on either flags. They will likely die next turn, but the scenario score is too good to pass up. The conquest manages to aim and gun down the Frightmare, hard rolling 7s to hit. The doomies hover around and don’t commit, as their is now nothing to kill them from range. The cav on the left contest his zone, and try to spray down some gremlins (they fail). The right flank clear off that sides crabbits and gremlins. I score 4 and go to 5-1

My opponent recognises the trouble he’s in, and spends the turn killing all my solos, the Koldun lords with a Skin and Moans each, and the Forge seer with a boosted hex blast. He also kills the cav member in his zone and contests the centre zone with a Rager. He scores my flag with a gremlin swarm, bringing the score to 6-3 as I score my rectangular zone with Sorscha.

Turn 4:

I have an opportunity here as he has placed badly. I can send in the Conquest and hopefully kill 2 beasts that are around my flag, kill the Swarm on the flag, and take down the Wounded Rager with Doomies. The plan goes well until the Conquest goes in (he does trigger reckoning on the doomies who killed the wounded Rager), where I roll quite low and manage to cripple both beasts, but not finish either. The Cav on the right flank run around the skin and moans sat by the flag, as he is far out of control and likely to frenzy. The left hand cav contest both his zone and my flag. I end up scoring 1, bringing the score to 7-3

My opponent starts with Heretic, he heals his beasts and puts out fury on the Skin and Moans by the Conquest. 3 Gremlin swarms do about 12 damage to the Conquest and the Skin and Moans kills it. The Death Knell charges into the group of Doom Reavers, needing 5s, and misses almost all of it’s attacks. The Cage Rager on the left finishes off the last cav member from the left unit, and the Skin and Moans on the right that is out of control doesn’t frenzy and walks back towards my rectangular zone. My opponent Scores 2, bringing the score to 7-4.

Turn 5:

Attrition has swung unfortunately, and I am running out of ways to keep ahead on scenario. My options have become try and play for turn 7 or assassinate now. I do some measure ments, and decide that whilst I can’t get Sorscha into melee (and there is a crabbit ready to shield guard the Hand Cannon shot, I can get 3 doom reavers onto him, using apparition to get out of the melee range of the Death Knell. I can also get maybe 3 sprays from the right hand unit of Cav. The Heretic is camping 1, so I decide to go for it. Sorscha walks then wind rushes forward, catching the Heretic in 12 inchs. The doom reavers apparate and charge, getting 3 in as predicted. The first one does a whopping 14 damage (dice off of 3) which is transferred, the 2nd rolls low and does a few, and the last spikes and finishes the Heretic off.

Victory For the Motherland!

Afterthoughts:

This was a hard game, I didn’t really have the punch to get through that much armour. That being said, dice were nuts this game, the Gorehounds going down early was key as well as the Frightmare. The conquest not even killing 1 heavy was disappointing, but then, I would have been lucky to get both, and the remaining 1 kills the Conquest, so meh. Once again, Sorschas personal assassination threat is ridiculous, the Heretic was 23 inches away and I still got him under feat, and Doom Reavers that don’t need to hit do tons of damage.

For those of you keeping track at home, I won all 4 rounds and was declared overall winner, a great result of a great day. Shout out to all my opponents who gave great games, and to James Brown for running the whole damn thing.

Next week we’ll be talking about Sorscha a bit, so something to look forward too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thematic Reasoning

We just had the theme drop, so I thought I’d dash off my hot takes on them here and see how it lines up with reality in a few months. Off we go!

Khador:

We start with the motherland first, with Wolves and Armoured Korp finally dropping and the other 3 themes being changed a bit to fit in mercs (this also means every one of our themes can now field a unit of kayazy assassins or eliminators, which is pretty ridiculous). Jaws has also had it’s benefit changed to deny ambush. Lets go through each one:

  • Winter Guard Kommand: The main change here is simply the inclusion of non character merc solos and all merc units that will work for Khador. This limits solo selection to an Ogrun Bokur or a Gobber Tinker, the former of which isn’t super interesting as this is the theme with Sac Pawn, and the latter being pretty good as a repair piece, point filler and cheap survivable solo. The unit inclusion is more interesting due to 2 reasons. The first, and more minor one, being the potential inclusion of Kayazy, which gives a non jack option for melee output in a theme of dudes with guns. Lists I can see running kayazy include Butcher 3 lists, specially those tooled to deal with Cryx, and gun lines that want a contesting unit of eliminators and don’t want the second option. That option being Aiyana and Holt, which at a stroke fixes several match ups, with Vlad Rockets being the most interesting. Trading a Juggernaut for A&H with Valachev adds a magical component where needed as well as a damage buff for a list that was already blowing heavies off the table. Expect to see a resurgence of Vlad rockets. As a side note, the inclusion of Assault Kommandos is cute, but will probably never be seen outside of maybe ADR. They have a place, but not counting towards free points or being able to be sac pawned to relegates them to the now pile.
  • Jaws of The Wolf: This got controversial. The change of AD denial to ambush denial has had a lot of people complaining that Khador has been overlooked for decent theme benefits. I find that I disagree, as having played a lot of Jaws recently, AD denial wasn’t usually super relevant (my opponents still usually out paced my list of slow jacks). It also must be said that losing AD is a major disadvantage for some units, and can often result in a massive negative play experience. So the change makes sense to me, and doesn’t degrade the general playability or competitiveness of Jaws. It still compares pretty well with the likes of Heavy Metal and Creators Might, and while it may not have the more exciting benefits of themes like Forges of War or Oracles, this is more than made up for by the access to a varied force of infantry and the new access to mercs (especially because that access is unfettered and Khador has the 2nd biggest roster of mercs in the game). Access to specialist tools is strong for Khador and helps us to answer problems in the meta. Sylas for OW2, ragman for Harkevich, Orin for Butcher, etc. Jaws is still and can now be built in a few more ways and with a few more tools.
  • Legion Of Steel: Probably the least changed theme, Legion is allows the addition of a Merc Solo and a non character unit. I can see some cute stuff being done with kayazy, but mainly the changes that will be seen here are just solos being taken to fix problems. Ragman for Zerkova, Orin for Irusk 2 and Strakhov 2, etc. Interestingly, this is probably the best theme for the new solo Ellish, as puppet master is great on high value models or big combined attacks, both of which are present here, in addition to unbinding being more easy to apply from behind a wall of pikes.
  • Wolves of Winter: I’ve been squeeing about this one for a few weeks now. It brings a lot to Khador that we don’t have elsewhere. It puts a couple of casters back on the map (Sorscha 1, Zerkova 2) as well as some units unused since Mk 2, and interestingly is currently the only theme where Valachev can be taken as free or as contributing to free models, helping to blunt the cost of a merc unit. This is a great place for said merc units as well, Nyss hunters, tactical Arcanist Corp and A&H coming to mind as helping to add some flexibility. Big shout out to Zerkova 2, who can run her old mk 2 list extremely well here, bagging double outriders, double koldun lord and double ternion alongside Aiyana and Holt and doom reavers to crack armour. Looking forward to seeing if Wolves does well at tournaments, as it seems a natural cryx predator.
  • Armoured Korp: This one might take some time. A bunch of models are missing here, between the Tanker solos, new CAs and the Battle Engine. Could be some interesting lists to be built with Vlad 2 and the likes once they do for a fast heavily armoured force, but only time will tell. As for what we have right now, well, Irusk 1 finally has a list he does better than his epic incarnation, in a triple shocktrooper build backed by Orin midwinter and a Conquest, whilst Kozlov probably runs a combo of Shockies, Drakhuns and Jacks reasonably well and won’t make me want to kill myself every time I put it on the table. Fury, Tac supremacy, A feat that gives speed and Unyielding? It’s like this guy was made for Shocktroopers. If they replace razor wind with Iron flesh, I may actually start playing him.

So that’s our lists, what does the rest of the Meta look like:

  • Cygnar got a mixed bag, with Heavy metal getting nerfed slightly, but opening up options with the ability to take Aiyana and Holt, no solos though. The additional infantry put into the theme is cute, but will never be seen (with the exception of the siege crawler and Hammer Dorfs, maybe). Gravediggers continues to be bonkers and will be scary once all the models come out, specially with Haley 3, Caine 2 and Siege 2. Sons of the Tempest looks great now, with Caine 1 and 2, Kraye and Siege 1 looking strong, especially once Faulk comes out of CID and into the real world. Storm Division likely hasn’t changed other than maybe including the likes of Ragman.
  • Menoth makes out like a bandit due to Idrians being hilarious and now in every theme. Creators Might benefits from Idrians and specialist solo tools (Sevvy 2 all the way baby). The Guardians of The Temple looks good, with Tough, no knockdown on a shield wall unit being great, especially for infantry casters able to buff their damage out put and access to the likes of Ragman and Idrians for a solid ranged unit outside of Cleansers. Exemplar Interdiction continues to be good, and now has access to Saxon to fix their pathfinder issues. Also Idrians (I see a high reclaimer arising). Finally Faithfull masses could run some interesting combined arms lists for the likes of Sevvy 1 or Kreoss 1. Did I mention Idrians. So many Idrians.
  • Cryx receives no nerf to their themes, and honestly, that feels fine to me. Problems are less the themes and more the casters, so if a nerfs to happen, that’s were I think it will fall. They do however, have 6 themes (6!). Mercs being added to Ghost fleet and Dark Host don’t feel especially interesting as those lists tend to be tight, and answer most questions as it is. Dark Industries is very interesting however, and I expect that it will end up becoming a common pair with either Ghost Fleet or Dark Host, as they both have similar weaknesses, and Carapace Cryx jacks, combined with Ragman or the like, feels like what they’ve been needing to actually run jacks. The option of Cephalyx models gives a convincing screen unit, as well as infantry that deals well with other infantry (sprays you guys!). Am expecting Venethrax, Gaspy 3 or Mortenebra 1. Time will tell. The Slaughter Fleet Raiders (I may be getting these next 2 in the wrong order) is the Satyxis theme. Oh joy, they’re back, and they can take mercs, uh. Satyxis are strong, and only haven’t been seen lately due to not being in theme. Expect Skarre 2 to make a reappearance, the bitch. Scourge of the Broken Coast also looks interesting, with Gang Fighter on jacks being cool. How strong the theme ends up being depends on a number of factors, mainly what the unrevealed models are like. Infernal Machines continues to be irrelevant due to Mechanathralls being crappy, and is pushed further into mediocrity by the appearance of Black Industries.
  • Retribution suffers in the update somewhat due to having no real merc options, the human hating bastards. The exceptions being Lynessa Ryval, who gives a speed buff to an already fast faction (lul whut?), and Nyss Hunters, who are interesting in some of the infantry heavy lists. Forges of War benefits from this the most, with Vyros 2 rubbing his hands in glee at the possibility of longer, free charges. The rest of the themes aren’t super different, and the Legions of Dawn looking pretty interesting for Sentinel spam combined with a marshalled Hydra or 2. But what do I know about elves?
  • Mercs make out like bandits as well. The Laelese theme is super interesting, with lots of options despite it being restricted to like 4 casters (one of whom isn’t out yet). Perfect cloud walls, or mercenary choir seem good and looks like it will lead to some good infantry spam options or a gunline with Caine 3 with Galleons. The Talion charter is cool, but kinda meh when compared to the other themes. Hammer Strike gets tough dwarfs, because forge guard were hard enough to deal with before (stupid recursion battle engine). Irregulars is the real money maker though, being a theme of basically everything. The marshalled jack bonus is cute, but not a lot of merc casters support marshalled jacks super well (they generally want focus, a free charge or both). Shae is awesome here, however, and should not be underestimated with marshalled freebooters (super fast and hard hitting). Kingmakers continues to be great as does Operating Theatre.
  • COC gets its first mercenary, which it can also take in theme. Wooooo?. Joking aside, Ellish actually does feel kinda big for COC as it gives them an out into Cryx style debuffs (F you crippling grasp) and puppet master is good on TEPs or Axioms. The Clockwork Legions has some interesting builds for it, Free Enigma foundries might get the COC recursion train started again and Vengeance and advance move on Reciprocators seems strong with Lucant or Axis. Time will tell if the COC players feel its any good.
  •  Onto Hordes, with Trollbloods first. Changes to Band of Heroes are long overdue and the change to serenity on the Dhunian knot for Power of Dhunia feels like a side grade as they don’t seem taken that often and fury management is pretty alright in trolls. Storm of the North is cool, but won’t be used till the Northkin models drop. Minion choices are interesting, but ultimately seem lack lustre due to the complex synergies that most troll lists rely on and indeed, that seems a theme (haha) with a lot of Hordes, Minions units just don’t tend to make the cut anymore. Exceptions include Lynssa Ryval again, because longer free charges are never bad, Swamp Gobbers and Feral geists. Overall, Trollbloods is probably more interested in the Northkin CID stuff going live than the theme drop.
  • Circle receive their long awaited living beast theme, and it’s a good one. Cheaper animi? Yes please. Una 2 particularly likes this (Free elusive on griffons, uhhh), along with Kromac 2 and the Kayas, with all the Warpwolves doing well out of it. Secret Masters seems pretty meh, seeming like it wants to be run with a Shamblers? Druids are pretty crappy at the moment though as their specialties are done better elsewhere in faction. Minion choices are particularly meh here as circle has a lot of toolboxy solos in faction that do what the Minion usuals do.
  • Legion receives a nerf to Oracles (minor though it is) as well as a random Ogrun theme that seems alright, but missing some key pieces that are yet to be released (Though it can get free hellmouths, lol). Main thing of interest is the addition of Hellmouths to Raven of War, which is just the addition that theme needed to start seeing table time. Minions choices are a little more interesting here as the cheaper options of Gobber Chefs and Bellows crews seem the kind of list addition legion might want.
  • Skorne makes out like bandits, securing all the theme lists their horrid little hearts desired. Masters of War is exactly the theme Makeda has been holding out for, and gives them an answer to ghost fleet in the form of Take down. The Exalted is basically the list that Zaal 2 players were already running, just with bonuses, and such will likely become a more used list in Skorne rotations (not that it wasn’t before). Disciples of Agony is pretty bonkers, giving Skorne access to all the animi they could ever want, and will likely see the Morghouls see a lot more play (abused, raged, enraged Titans anybody?). Minions are cool here due to the Disciples theme and due to giving Skorne access to some tools that are useful (Orin, Saxon, etc)
  • Grymkin remain largely unchanged, with the main difference being access to Ellish, who is less interesting here than in COC.
  • Minions receives fewer themes than Mercs, due mainly to having fewer sub factions. Thornfall alliance receives a buff as it now allows a wider variety of free models. It will likely not be played though due to the new theme, Will Work For Food. This one fills a slot as the beast theme for minions and it shows. Free points tied to Warbeasts, overtake and extra speed turn 1 all contribute to an strong beast list that gets across the table. Allowing lesser warlocks means we might see the return of Rask’s petting zoo, and Carver and Arkadius will also likely be seen here. Strong things to come out soon, especially with the on-going Blindwater CID.

So overall a nice balancing of the factions. I feel like Khador has come off well overall, with a lot of the buffs to various factions diversifying them rather than straight up making them more powerful. The mercenaries options seem like they benefit Khador more than most, as we are probably one of the factions that struggle most with problem match ups (for example, A&H fix a magic weapons problem for Khador that isn’t nearly as bad in other factions). I’d say Khador just got bumped up a notch, and with the various nerfs to Cygnar, namely the Haley 2 and Heavy Metal nerfs, I’d probably put us at a solid number 2 in the faction rankings, sitting below Cryx primarily due to how difficult that match up can be for our pairings. Good things all round.

 

All Killer, No filler!

With Nationals over and Blood and Oil on the horizon, I’ve been trying to get more games in to practice my new list triad. One thing I am noticing as I advance through my Warmachine career is that I am slowly stripping out any defensive or support models for my caster. In mk2 my lists would start with a War dog and a Greylord Ternion to provide defensive buffs for my caster, as I found that in a  lot of games I would be up on attrition and have left my opponent in a position of assassinate or lose. Even in early Mk 3, before themes, I would often have the likes of Orin Midwinter, or a Rager for shield guard. Curiously, though themes often allow the taking of defensive models, I am finding more and more that I am not even making the space to bring things like the War dog, or Ragers.

Other factions have bucket loads of support models. Arlan is ubiquitous in Cygnar lists, along with the Journeyman. Choir in menoth, the Kriel Stone in trolls, arc nodes in Cryx, Arcanists in Retribution, the list goes on and on. Meanwhile, in Khador, our options for support and defensive models has always felt much more lack lustre in comparison. The War dog is great, but certainly no squire; every faction has mechanics and ours feel poor compared to arcanists or necrotechs. Most of our support pieces have a higher combat ability and a lower support ability than our competitiors. For example, the Forge Seer, brings one focus a piece, and compared to the abilities of an Arcanist or Arlan Strangeways, who share a similar role in their respective factions, there is a definite gap in abilities.

This lack of support or defe is both a strength and a weakness. A strength because it means a lot of our models are built to be functional without support, meaning that any support we do give them turns them up to 11. A weakness, because it tends to mean our heights are not as high as the competition.

Our jacks are hard to kill and hit hard right out of the box, a lot of our infantry is very usable on its own and it lowers the burden on our casters and support models compared to other factions. We may not be able to make our jacks immune to ranged like Menoth, but our jacks are tanky enough on their own to withstand a hail of gunfire. Additionally, whilst we lack some of the defensive pieces that other factions have, our casters tend to have solid statlines, with a good amount of boxes, in addition to also often having defensive tech on their card. Anyone who has tried to kill Sorscha 1 with guns, without first knocking her down, understands this.

The weakness comes from the very same concept, we often don’t get to the highs that other factions do. Our casters are often strapped for focus if they want to contribute significantly and whilst a high baseline is great while the fight is relatively even, in “unfair” matchups where the opponent has tech that we cannot answer, we don’t tend to just have an out in our lists. By comparison, other factions do. Almost every Cygnar list has access to an out for incorporeal because they can take Arlan, or to a defensive buff in the journeyman, Troll players pay a tax for the Krielstone, but gain a very flexible piece that can provide an answer to stealth, incorporeal, mass continuous effects or as a generalist damage buff, etc.

My belief is that this lack of support or defensive models is one of the things that makes Khador one of the best factions in the game. If you talk to players from other factions, there is generally a problem with support bloat (especially Trolls), with many lists struggling to get all the pieces they want into a list. The advent of themes has salved this somewhat, but it’s still true that a good portion of a lot of lists is tied up in models that either support other models or defend them.

Not so in Khador.

In Khador, all of our models are combat ready. If you look back over our “support” models, all of them are generally pretty decent in combat. The Forge Seer may lack the support flexibility of Arlan Strangeways or Arcanists, but makes up for it with a pretty decent nuke spell, Battle Wizard and a reasonable MAT. The humble war dog may not provide the support options of Sylas or the Squire, but it certainly hits a lot harder. All of this, combined with our models generally having a good baseline of ability, means that our lists tend to be all killer and no filler.

This is not to say that support models aren’t valuable in Khador. The right piece in the right list can make all the difference. In faction we don’t tend to have a lot of these, but with the changes to theme lists in the very near future, the appearance of Sylas, or Ragman, or others from the mercenaries pool is likely. However, I think that it is vitally important to only consider these pieces where absolutely necessary, weighing carefully the costs of including them. For example, I plan to run a jack spam with OW2 in Jaws, ideally getting 100 points of Jacks, and 4 free solos into the bargain. With 27 jack points, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for other models, and thus any units or solos that I add in over the free ones have to be worth dropping a jack and a free solo.

By the time this article drops, we will likely have had the dump of themes, as well as the potential changes to existing themes. This likely means that we will be tempted to add in merc solos and units to existing lists. I’m not convinced this is going to inherently fix our current match up issues. As I mentioned at the start of the article, I’ve been stripping more and more supporting models out of my lists as I’ve gone along, and I’ve found that this has led to better, tighter lists. Whilst the changes will bring some much needed options to our list design, I very much believe we are going to have to design new lists to take proper advantage of these new options, not just bolt models on to old lists. Otherwise, we risk the support bloat that drags other factions down.

 

The Zombie Problem

As you probably know if you follow this blog (or not, who knows what you people read), I got back from Nationals a couple of weeks ago. Hell, you can go read my write up now if you want. I’ll save the personal development stuff I went through for another time, because today, I want to talk about Cryx and Khador’s relationship with Cryx. (I am so going to get raked across the coals by actual Cryx players on this one).

Khador, at the time of writing at least, feels like a faction that has pretty good game into almost every faction in the game. The exceptions to that currently are Cygnar and Cryx, and with the Haley 2 nerf coming up fast, I think even the Cygnar game is going to quickly become a fairer fight (I pretty much always see Haley 2 in the Cygnar match up currently, and the changes to her feat make her much weaker into large model count lists, which Khador can excel at). This just leaves Cryx as the Boogey man that keeps the good Khadoran children up at night.

To understand why is to look at the inherent character and basic strategies of both factions:

  • Khador is a traditional Powerhouse faction, with modules that can function well on their own (e.g. winter guard and Joe, the pikemen boat, etc), a deep bench of somewhat straight forward casters that usually directly buff the things their army is doing and Jacks that are pretty great out of the box, with no particular need for support models to tune them up.
  • Cryx is pretty much the opposite of this, being a tricksy Subversive faction. Most of their units and jacks are cheap, have crappy stats (revenant crew are rat 4!) and rely on inherent abilities to survive and achieve what they are trying to acheive (recursion, stealth, blast immunity, dark shroud). Cryx also relies heavily on leveraging the power of their warcasters to crank up the power of their armies, with arc nodes being cheap, and de-buff spells common.

This is not to say that either faction can’t play in the others swimming pool, I’ve seen decent subversive lists in Khador (usually with the likes of Sorscha 1 or Zerkova 1/2) and decent Powerhouse lists in Cryx (the likes of Terminus or Gaspy 3). Its just that the core identity of either faction is what it is.

All of this is a long winded way of saying that Khador excels at fighting a “fair game”, where Cryx excels at fighting an “unfair game”, putting the 2 factions at opposite ends of the spectrum.

The reason that Khador can struggle with Cryx, then, is that the typical Khador list lacks the tech that one needs to deal with inherent abilities and questions that Cryx poses. For example, most of the other factions tend to have a source of magical weapons just present in their lists (Arlan in Cygnar, Wraith bane in Circle and Legion, the Stone removing incorporeal, etc), which allows them something of an out against Incorporeal. In a lot of the better Khador lists, the only magic weapon present is usually the Warcaster (e.g. Vlad rockets, Harkevich, etc). Same thing with RFP, which is a useful tool into Dark Host, and somewhat crucial into Ghost Fleet, with only 2 of our casters having access to it, and none of our native models having access to it. Couple this with Cryxs ability to crack armour (debuffs, dark shroud, Banes, etc), and even our Jack skews tend to suffer into Cryx.

So what do we do about those damn zombies? I wanted to pose a couple of Cryx answers I’ve been looking at and go into a bit of detail of their strengths and weaknesses in the match up.

First of all, a couple of disclaimers:

  1. I don’t get a lot of chance to actually play into Cryx out side of tournaments, so a lot of this is theory.
  2. What I’m generally looking for in list building, as a general rule, is not an advantaged match up, but rather an even match up. Even more so with Cryx than others, I feel like trying to skew too hard to deal with a particular lists tactics means leaving your list vulnerable to other problems (i.e. a list teched hard to deal with Ghost Fleet, often doesn’t deal well with Dark Host, etc). This has an additional advantage in that you don’t end up so teched that one couldn’t play these lists into other factions.
  3. Some of the lists I’m looking at aren’t released in their final form yet, so some assumptions are made.
  4. Building specifically for Cryx can mean leaving yourself short in other areas, I fully believe that it is a necessary thing in the current meta, with many of our lists being almost an auto loss into skews such as Ghost Fleet, and is soothed by some of our better lists (Vlad Rockets, Butcher 3 WGK, Strak 2/Zerk 1 legion) being pretty ok into large portions of the meta.

.  Anyway, enough rambling, on to the lists.

Khador Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Wolves of Winter (Pre-release)

(Sorscha 1) Kommander Sorscha [+29]
– Destroyer [14]
– Destroyer [14]
– Marauder [10]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
Koldun Lord [0(4)]
Koldun Lord [0(4)]
Doom Reaver Swordsmen [13]
Doom Reaver Swordsmen [13]
Greylord Outriders (max) [20]
Greylord Outriders (max) [20]

This is a list I’ve been toying with since the theme was announced by PP. It trades on Sorscha freezing shit, using Battle wizard and the mobility of the Outriders to threaten swathes of infantry (with the apparition move and appropriate charge targets, this can threaten 22 inchs with sprays) and the Doom Reavers to threaten Wraith Engines and Bane Riders, with the apparition causing them to threaten 13 inchs, the same as Death Rided riders. It feels somewhat stronger into Dark Host than Ghost Fleet, but has some good off the wall assassination potential (Denny 1, the most popular Ghost fleet caster is 16, 14, which dies to pow 12 sprays if frozen).  into the squishier casters and has the potential to kill a lot of infantry. Backing it all up is a couple of Destroyers, to aoe some infantry to death.

The main issues I see with this list, is Ghost Fleet. To actually mill through Ghost Fleet, this list is going to rely on getting a good alpha, hopefully before Denny feats, and then using Sorschas Freezing Grip spell to control problem areas of the board, meaning that Sorscha will end up exposed on key turns. Keeping Crippling grasp off of the ponies and keeping them alive in the early turns is also likely to be vital. No mean feat when the Hellslinger, Rengrave and the Riflemen exist. Into Dark Host, this list feels advantaged, being able to play a control game that keeps the Outriders out of danger. Overall, in need of some testing.

Khador Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Jaws of the Wolf

(Sorscha 2) Forward Kommander Sorscha [+27]
– Juggernaut [12]
– Juggernaut [12]
– Juggernaut [12]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
– Behemoth [25]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
Widowmaker Marksman [4]
Kayazy Assassins (max) [15]
– Kayazy Assassin Underboss [4]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]
Kayazy Eliminators [5]
Widowmaker Scouts [8]

This was the list I took to Nationals and Irish Gauntlet. It’s theoretically good into Ghost Fleet (I’ve never actually had it in that match up, I keep getting Dark Host), as it brings long range accurate shooting combined with RFP and some good infantry clearing capabilities from behemoth and Shatter Storm widowmakers. The assasins are there mostly because of stealth and because, combined with the 3 Juggernauts, they present a scenario presence that requires an effort to get rid of. Into Dark Host, the high native defense of Kayazy combined with aforementioned widowmakers and the Eliminators harassing Riders, can make life difficult for a force with few ranged attacks.

The main issue here, is simply that the list is fairly low model count, and relies on a few pieces to scalpel out important models. Into Ghost fleet, Venom and Ghost shooting rifles becomes an issue. You’re likely to get a round of shooting out of the Widow makers, but will also lose them if not careful. Kayazy are somewhat resistant to the shooting in the list, but are only a crippling grasp away from being easy pickings for Blackbanes. Behemoth is also the only magical ranged weapon in the list (a pretty good one though), and into Ghost Fleet, can potentially be overwhelmed by targets or miss crucial dice rolls (picking the right marshal order at the right time is crucial). Dark Host presents different problems, with the list excelling attrition wise into a list that can’t shoot back, but perhaps struggling to hold scenario. Coven especially feels difficult for this list, as the combination of feat and fast Stalkers threatening pieces makes it harder to hold scenario presence. Overall, I’ve had some success with this list, and think that if it’s in your pairing you usually see Dark Host, as it has the bag of tricks needed to actually answer fleets tricks.

Khador Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Wolves of Winter (Pre-release)

(Zerkova 2) Obavnik Kommander Zerkova [+24]
– Conquest [37]
Greylord Forge Seer [0(4)]
Koldun Lord [0(4)]
Koldun Lord [0(4)]
Doom Reaver Swordsmen [13]
– Greylord Escort [3]
Greylord Outriders (min) [12]
Greylord Outriders (max) [20]
Greylord Ternion [7]
Greylord Ternion [7]

This list is predicated on one concept, board clearing. It’s a somewhat similar list to the Sorscha 1 list I posed above with a couple of major differences. This list is looking primarily to leverage the feat and occult whispers to kill cast swathes of infantry in bursts, with a banishing ward conquest being difficult to remove at the end. It also brings a pretty hefty assassination threat into the anything short of Terminus. Between the speed of the Outriders, the vast weight of sprays, and the strategic use of Telgesh Mark allowing Zerkova to pick off the last couple of members of a unit, this list might actually have the weight of attacks to kill enough pirates in Ghost Fleet. This is coupled with Zerkova herself being somewhat resistant to the assassination due to Spell ward and the self sacrifice of her guards, meaning that you can worry a bit less about just dying in the early game. Into Host, things become a bit more difficult with the higher armour banes, as the list lacks a damage fixer. That said, it feels like this list can consistently threaten assassination on most Cryx casters, so long as the feat is intact.

The downside though, is in the reliance on 1 great turn of attrition and on the general fragility of the models involved. Outriders are not difficult to kill, with even a boosted Venom killing them on average dice. I can foresee this list becoming a positioning nightmare, though the outriders threaten ridiculously far, the rub will come on where exactly to place them so that they threaten the maximum amount (in a perfect world you want to be able to either walk or charge, spray, repo to a different position and then feat, that’s just not likely to come off every game). The list also lacks contesting pieces, as most of the fast bits are important to preserve. Finally, the list lacks a damage fixer, Outriders are not likely to kill a Wraith Engine, and with the announcement of the new Dark Industries theme, I predict a 3rd list in a tournament will end up being something of a jack spam, specifically to deal with lists like this, that bring a limited amount of armour cracking.

At the end of all this, I’ve spent a lot of time rambling about lists, that I don’t feel have a perfect game into any of the popular Cryx drops at the moment. What I do think though, is that lists like these (and there are other lists to be built, these are simply the lists I’m considering at the moment) are where we need to be heading in terms of dealing with Cryx. None of them are a silver bullet, but there is a game to be played there. In a meta where Cryx is stomping around at the top, and can be heavily advantaged into some list builds, I’ll take just getting as close to a 50 50 chance as I can.

At the moment, I see a lot of questions in Khador groups on how to deal with Cryx, how to dodge, how to get enough attacks, etc. The answer, to me at least, is the same as it was in Mk 2. Suck it up! Cryx was usually our hardest match up overall in Mk 2, and still is after a brief period where it wasn’t seen much. And things are easier now than they were then. Ghost Fleets recursion is annoying, but not nearly as bad as the universal McThrall recursion that most lists had in Mk 2. Dark Host is hard to deal with, but not as hard as Vengeance Weapon Master Bane Knights that hit hard and well with Skarre 1 (I still have the nightmares). They are still our hardest match up, and we can still build lists to beat them.

Do not be overcome by Cryx, but overcome Cryx with axes!

 

 

 

 

Uk Nationals Tournament Report

This weekend I traveled up to Stockport with a bunch of people from Power Fist to compete in the UK Nationals event being held by Element Games. It was, as always, an amazing event, with a lot of familiar faces, and some new ones as well. I have been practicing for this event for a while now and brought the same 3 lists for it as I did for Irish Masters. A few of my opponents were WTC players for England, So I’ll put their lists up (as the list lock has already happened and they are public, but I won’t go too deep into the tactics of the game in case I reveal any hidden tech they want to keep secret.

Strakhov 2 in legion of steel
Torch
Devastator
3* Iron Fang Pikemen w/ CA
Kovnik Markov
The Great Bears of Gallowswoods
Iron fang kovnik
Butcher 3 in winterguard kommand
Ruin
Juggernaut
2* kodiak
Devastator
Winterguard infantry w CA and 3 Rockets
Mortar crew
Kovnik joe
Widow maker marksman
Sorscha 2 in jaws of the wolf
3 * juggernaut
2 * forge seer
Behemoth (marshalled)
Kayazy assasins w underboss
2 * eliminators
Widow makers
Widow maker marksman
Round 1:
After getting up to Stockport on Friday night and spending a fun evening at the venue playing board games and catching up with people, the first round started Saturday morning. I have mentioned before that I don’t see a lot of Cryx in my local meta, and had thrown together my Sorscha list to (theoretically at least) play into Ghost Fleet and Dark Host. So naturally my first round opponent was a Cryx player running no ghost fleet, and, whilst he had Dark Host, didn’t drop it. Instead, my opponent (Joe Sutton), dropped this double take:
[Theme] Infernal Machines

(Terminus 1) Lich Lord Terminus [+26]
– Barathrum [15]
– Seether [13]
Iron Lich Overseer [0(5)]
– Seether [13]
Mechanithralls (min) [6]
Mechanithralls (min) [6]
Mechanithralls (min) [6]
Mechanithralls (max) [9]
– Skarlock Commander [3]
Mechanithralls (max) [9]
– Skarlock Commander [3]
Mechanithralls (max) [9]
Mechanithralls (max) [9]
Necrosurgeon & Stitch Thralls [0(4)]
Necrosurgeon & Stitch Thralls [0(4)]

 

 

We have not trained for this.

So am somewhat indecisive about what to drop (his other lists are Dark Host and something else) and decide that of all my lists, Sorscha probably clears infantry best. The scenario is Outlast (Double circle and flags) which seems okay. I figure at the start of the game that scenario probably isn’t going to come into it. I win the roll and go second, reasoning that the Widowmakers will have shit to shoot first turn, and with me denying AD, his Skarlock commander thralls will have taken less space, and he should be more clumped up. I pick the table side with more walls and cover (specifically to deny it to him). The table also has a building on either side of my side of the zones, and a big forest in the centre of the table.

Turn 1:

He deploys and runs everything forward, leaving a necro surgeon behind a wall, and the jacks sort of behind the front line of thralls.

My turn has me put Shatter storm up on the widowmakers, who proceed to kill and RFP around 6-7 Thralls (the heros I needed never missed a shot all game) and behemoth managed to deviate and kill another. Everything else moved up to the zone and stay out of charge range.

Turn 2:

He ambushes the unit he had in reserve onto my left side, right at the back and runs them up to threaten my back line. Everything else continues running forward, with Terminus getting on the flag and the Jacks staying back.

I spend the turn shooting more thralls and manage to get the necro-surgeon on the left side dead through blast damage from Behemoth. Sorscha manages to get 3 of the ambushing thralls dead and stays the hell away from Terminus (that guy is scary), whilst the Eliminators on the left and the Assassins kill some thralls and contest everything. The Eliminators on the right run to form a meat shield between the surviving ambush thralls and my forge seers. The Marksman ends up on the flag, and I score 1 at the end of the turn.

Turn 3:

My opponent spends the turn killing the contesting Kayazy with feat up, getting about 5 souls, moving Barathrum up to contest the zone, hard rolling a 12 to hit to kill one of the blocking Eliminators and just generally flooding the zone, punching a few points off of my jacks in the process. He scores 1 and contests my flag.

Thankfully I’ve left behemoth facing the correct way (looking towards the left table edge, so he can aim and shoot at Barathrum and the ambushing thralls. Sorscha feats first, catching Barathrum and the non marshalled Seether. An eliminator charges Barathrum to get him out of Dig In, doing about 6 damage, then Behemoth shoots him at dice of 2 and does 24 damage… because Sorscha 2’s feat is bonkers (I had boundless charged my juggernaut on that side and loaded it with focus, which went somewhat to waste). Behemoth also guns down the rest of the ambush thralls. The Kayazy get mini feat and 4 charge the Seether, horribly murdering it. The rest of the turn is spent using Shatter storm to kill Thralls. At the end of the turn I score 1 and my opponent has a couple of stitch thralls in the left zone and a couple of Thralls in the right with terminus and the marshalled Seether.

Turn 4

Terminus kills 1 of my jacks and cripples another this turn, whilst the seethe clears some kayazy and the Iron Lich tries to score the flag (hitting the Underboss but failing to kill), the Thralls mull around throwing out attacks.

I put Behemoth into Terminus, who is camping 1, and come 1 box shy of killing him due to missing my last attack roll. I both flags and score 2.

Turn 5

Terminus kills Behemoth and manages to clear the zone. Matching my score.

All I have to do is clear the left hand zone and contest and I win, which I do with a minute left on my clock.

Victory for the Motherland!

After thoughts:

That has a hard game that I had to play fast. Just the sheer number of infantry I had to kill made the game difficult as my target selection had to be spot on. The Widow makers were super stars in this game, killing 4 Thralls a turn with shots and a few more each with shatter storm AOEs. All of them survived to the end as well. A great game!

Round 2:

Round 2 was after lunch, and had me paired against Alan Gibb playing Convergence. His lists were pretty standard, with me pretty sure I was getting Iron mother. Knowing this, and having played the match up before, I felt pretty confident dropping Strakhov. List below:

Convergence Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Destruction Initiative

(Directrix 1) Iron Mother Directrix [+27]
– Assimilator [16]
– Assimilator [16]
– Cipher [16]
– Corollary [6]
– Diffuser [6]
– Prime Axiom [38]
Attunement Servitors [0(4)]
Elimination Servitors [0(3)]
Elimination Servitors [0(3)]
Elimination Servitors [0(3)]
Optifex Directive [4]

Scenario was Breakdown (the dumbbell) and the terrain had a big house on either side of the zone on one side, and a big forest central and another in the right zone. I win the roll and go first. He picks the side with the buildings.

Turn 1:

I advance move up the left hand pikemen, as he’s deployed his assimilators behind a house on that side and the axiom is off centre right. They get quicken and leg it up the table, being on the farside of that zone. The rest of the pikemen run up as far as possible, whilst staying out of threat range.

My opponent debates trying to drift an AOE on the pikemen, but just ends up running instead, camping his focus after filling up the corollary. He moves up to just outside my charge range.

Turn 2

I decide that this is the turn, and drop IR on the centre pikemen. I then charge the 2 elimination servitors I can get to and run the rest of the quickened pikes in to engage the left flank of his lines, with mini feat to get them into shield wall. Quicken then gets cycled to the centre pikemen and IR put on the left hand unit, before Strakhov feats and puts himself behind the forest in range of the front line of pikemen with feat, with a cloud wall on the right side of the forest. The centre unit run and engage as much as possible, whilst leaving a reserve in the centre. The right hand unit does the same as the others, killing an elimination servitor as they go and the solos run up to provide buff coverage to the army.

My opponent contemplates trying to assassinate but decides he’d have to clear too much. He manages to kill about 7 pikemen and Markov, then passes the turn. I score as I have run Torch into the centre zone.

Turn 3

I horribly murder a bunch of stuff this turn, getting last stand on the devastator to kill the axiom, killing the cipher, and some drones. I end up scoring another 1.

My opponent flails about a bit, managing to kill some more pikemen and ding up torch, but it rapidly devolves from there.

Turn 4

I clear all three zones and score 3, putting me at 5 for the win.

Afterthoughts

On paper this match looks terrible for Strakhov, lots of Puncture and AOEs. In practice, Mother can’t get a round of shooting in before I run to engage and then it’s all over bar the crying. The Assimilators threat 18, which is the run to engage range of the pikemen. So regardless of going first or second I can run to just outside her threat range, let her decide what to do, and either score a bunch of points, or gum her army up to the point she can’t move. TEPs make it more difficult, but can be played around with positioning so they only get a couple of Pikemen before they die.

Round 3:

The gods are clearly angry at me, as they give me Cryx again, this time actually with Ghost Fleet and Dark host etc. Rich Godfrey. I drop Sorscha (I mean she is supposed to be a Cryx drop) into Scaverous Dark Host. With all the Banes!

Cryx Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Dark Host

(Scaverous 1) Lord Exhumator Scaverous [+27]
– Deathripper [6]
– Deathripper [6]
– Desecrator [14]
Bane Lord Tartarus [0(6)]
Darragh Wrathe [9]
Machine Wraith [2]
Machine Wraith [2]
Bane Knights (max) [15]
Bane Knights (max) [15]
Bane Warriors (max) [16]
– Bane Warrior Officer & Standard [0(5)]
Bane Warriors (max) [16]
– Bane Warrior Officer & Standard [0(5)]

That’s a lot of Banes! Scenario was The Pit 2 and I won the roll off  and went 1st. I picked the side with more cover again. There was a big cloud in the centre of the board, with a forest centred outside my deployment zone and a wall and rubble on his side.

Turn 1:

He runs forward. This is getting familiar I know.

I shatter storm a bunch of Knights to death, killing about 7 knights and  a couple warriors between the widow makers and Behemoth scatters. Everything else runs forward to outside of charge range.

Turn 2:

He continues his run forward, throwing out a Feast of Worms to try and kill the Widow-makers, but misses and scatters off onto the blast immune kayazy. He considers shooting with the Desecrator, but decides to run it into the centre Zone instead.

My turn and I have a lot of Banes to kill. The widow makers and Behemoth manage to account for most of the remaining Knights on the right flank as well as a Death ripper. The Eliminators on the right flank get magic weapons from the objective and kill the machine wraith there as well as the right hand Warrior UA. On the left flank Eliminators stab 4 banes to death and sit in the corner next to a machine wraith whilst one of my juggernauts sits in the opposite corner. The Assassins remove the rest of the Banes in the zone.

Turn 3:

My opponent floods the central zone with what he has left, having the remaining banes on the right flank charge along with Tartarus. He ends up killing 1 assassin with BLT who becomes a knight. He TKs the juggernaut out of the zone on the left, before putting all the banes on that side into it and the juggernaut standing to its left, doing about half the boxes on each. He fails to clear the zone due to Eliminators being hard to hit.

I continue clearing models and score 2 this turn, with Behemoth taking a shot at Scaverous and missing, scattering onto some of my Kayazy, who die to the blast damage. However, the attrition and Scenario have swung my way, leaving me winning on scenario on the next turn.

After thoughts:

I said it before, Shatter storm can clear a lot of infantry. Combined with Behemoth clearing out multiple pockets of high armour knights every turn, or blowing up arc nodes, this list seems suited for the Cryx match ups.

Round 4:

This round had me paired against Jake Wilstrop, a WTC player this year. As noted at the top of this post, I’ll put his list up as it’s already public, but be fairly broad about the game. He was running Sloan, Haley 2 and another list that I can’t remember (possibly Haley 3), but we’ve played before at other tournaments, with similar lists, and were pretty positive about what we were dropping. So the match up was Haley 2 into Strak 2. His list below:

Cygnar Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Storm Division

(Haley 2) Major Victoria Haley [+25]
– Centurion [17]
– Stormclad [18]
– Thorn [13]
– Squire [0(5)]
Captain Arlan Strangewayes [0(4)]
Journeyman Warcaster [4]
– Firefly [8]
Major Katherine Laddermore [8]
Storm Lances (min) [12]
Storm Lances (max) [20]

Scenario was Standoff. Terrain was strange, no LOS blocker in the centre, big forest in left zone, big house in right hand zone, hill in one rectangular zone, hill on the other side. I won the roll and went first.

The game as a whole was a standard affair to start, with me trying to preserve pikemen and my feaet until Haley feat was out of the way, keeping out of charge ranges of Lances, staying in shield wall to reduce the effect of electro leaps. Crucially I left a line of pikemen trailing back on either flank as Haley was deployed centrally. This left them out of feat, and they were able to clear some jam.

The game devolved into a series of trades, with the Centurion proving key as it held my rectangular zone for a couple of turns. The turning point of the game proved to be Torch getting a rear charge into said Centurion after Arcane shield dropped on it, and then fluffing damage rolls (didn’t even cripple a system). This led to emergency manoeuvres to prevent losing on scenario, with pike men slowly poking some systems off with CMAs and precision strike, but ended with me having to through Markov away to slow the game tempo down. Counter charge was valuable, with me trading a great bear for a charging lance.

In the end, a combination of grind and strategically crap dice on both sides left me in a position where Jake had to assassinate me or clock. Fortunately he was playing Haley 2, who I hear is good at that sort of thing. A TK through an engaged thorn (cortex out and everything) and a charging Stormclad later, and he just manages to kill Strak through 2 focus with his last attack.

After thoughts:

Strakhov 2 Legion of Steel is strong into Cygnar at the moment and its only going to get better with the Haley nerf. I had some pretty poor dice during this game, and still put my opponent into a position of assassinate or clock. If I’d realised at the time how down on clock he was, I could have had Strakhov move away and played for it. Failing to one round the centurion was a turning point though. Less because it kept killing stuff (though that didn’t help) and more because it left me scrambling to maintain my parity on score (He had scored 2 by killing my objective and feating, with the trailed pikemen managing to kill the Stormlance contesting to get me down by 2 rather than 3). It still feels like the best plan is to conserve your force, give up a couple of CPs to feat and then counter punch.  Overall a great game against a great opponent and a great way to cap off the first day of nationals.

Round 5:

First thing Sunday morning and I’m the pair down for the 7 who went 4-0 yesterday. Le sigh. So I end up paired against Paul Watson (another WTC player) playing Menoth with Thyra, Resnik 2 and Amon. I peruse his lists and decide to drop Strak (again) due to the Covenant being a pain in the ass for Butcher to deal with. I’m expecting Reznik, but get Amon instead. List below:

Protectorate Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] The Creator’s Might

(Amon 1) High Allegiant Amon Ad-Raza [+29]
– Crusader [10]
– Crusader [10]
– Crusader [10]
– Crusader [10]
– Dervish [7]
– Dervish [7]
– Devout [9]
– Indictor [15]
– Indictor [15]
The Covenant of Menoth [0(4)]
Vassal Mechanik [1]
Vassal Mechanik [1]
Vassal of Menoth [0(3)]
Vassal of Menoth [0(3)]
Wrack [1]
Choir of Menoth (min) [4]
Choir of Menoth (min) [4]

Scenario was Spread the Net (hate that scenario) and I won the roll and opted to go first. Scenario had a big ass forest in the centre of the board and nothing else that was particularly relevant. My opponent chose the side closer to the big ass forest.

Again I’ll be somewhat broad in deference to the WTC teams.

Going into this game, I was fairly confident. Strakhov 2 Legion is a good drop into a melee jack brick, with basically every model in my army being good for killing jacks. I out threat his heavies by an inch even without quicken, and don’t need last stand to murder his lights which threat a bit further. Thus, in a world where I am good at this game, I force him to come into my lines for scenario reasons, alpha strike him, feat to blunt retaliation and then clear up. So the plan begins with me running up the board at him, ending with my front line just past the centre line through a combo of advance move and quicken. He responds by putting enliven on some stuff and pushing it forward with the covenant.

I have no idea why I do what I do next.

I decide it’s a good idea to get some early damage on, deciding to charge with a few pikemen basically because I can. I manage to kill the covenant and put some damage on 3 of his jacks. This leaves a few more pikemen flapping in the breeze than I would like. So having committed a bunch more pikemen than I wanted to, I then decide the best course of action is to commit even more stuff pointlessly, with the great bears, Markov and the Kovnik all running up for counter charge purposes. To add to this bonfire of my resources, I feat as well. Needless to say, at the end of my turn 2, I look at the board state and experience a moment of existential horror and immediately damn my self of 10 minutes before to the pits of hell.

My opponent, who now has an alpha strike into a force he should not have been able to alpha strike, senses the baby seal that has laid itself at his feet. Predictably he beats that baby seal to death. By the end of the turn, he has taken about 13 pikemen, all my solos and the great bears.

The game goes pretty down hill from there, with me counter striking as hard as I can. It devolves to the point that Strak gets involved in melee (hilariously spiking dice, by the end of the game Straks kill count included: finishing a devout with his gun, doing most of the damage to 2 separate heavies, killing an entire unit of choir and a mechanic and staring down an assassination run from Amon), but it’s only so much pissing in the wind at this point. I try baiting an assassination run from Amon, but Paul sees the trap and opts for the safe play, though I manage to drag the scenario victory out to the end of turn 7.

After Thoughts:

If played correctly, this feels like a pretty advantaged match up for Strakhov. I out threat Amon, I hit really hard and my feat blunts the counter strike. Stupid play that was taken advantage of by a great player.

Round 6:

So on the back of that soul crusher of a game, I get to play Andy Gerrard, also a WTC player. He’s playing Trollbloods and has Grissel 2, Ragnor and Doomie 3. I’m fairly confident he’s gonna drop Doomie 3, and so drop Strak despite meaning I’m locked in my last game. Just have to hope I get something Butcher can play. He does indeed drop Doomie, list below:

Trollbloods Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] The Power of Dhunia

(Doomshaper 3) Hoarluk Doomshaper, Dire Prophet [+26]
– Mountain King [36]
– Slag Troll [10]
– Storm Troll [9]
– Troll Axer [10]
– Troll Bouncer [9]
– Troll Bouncer [9]
– Troll Bouncer [9]
Northkin Shaman [0(4)]
Northkin Shaman [0(4)]
Troll Whelps [0(4)]
Krielstone Bearer & Stone Scribes (min) [6]
– Stone Scribe Elder [3]

Scenario is Recon 2, terrain had a small building in the centre and not much else of note. Will be broad again on details due to above stated reasons. I won the roll and went first.

I’ve played this match up before, though not into so many lights, and it is generally a pretty good drop for Strak, provided you can force Doomie to feat to get up the board. I end up sending a unit of pikes over to the left zone to play with the mountain king, whilst most of the game happened in the right zone. Crucially, I spend way too much time turn 1 and 2 on positioning. This will be important later.

We go back and forth, with him putting stuff in the right hand zone and me killing it, and me feeding pikemen into the left zone to contest. We get into a rhythm where we start consistently scoring, with rounds ending with us level. I get a charge off on his admonition bouncer with the great bears (who get quicken to pull it off) and he takes the movement, procking counter charges (amusingly they probably wouldn’t have killed it without the counter charges.

Attrition sets in, and by round 7 I’ve completely cleared his stuff from the right side of the board, whilst also maintaining a slight edge on scoring. Unfortunately, killing bouncers and whelps takes time, and on my last turn, I have 17 seconds. To win I have to score 2 and contest his flag and objective. This is easy enough, but not in 17 seconds. I do manage to kill his objective, but the second part involves killing some kriel stone members contesting my zone and I clock before I get to it. So ends a very close game against an interesting opponent.

After Thoughts:

I definitely learned my lesson from the last game. Don’t give your opponent stuff for no reason! This seems to have come with the side effect of making me dither unfortunately. My first turn took 8 minutes, which is way too long for a turn spent running forwards. If that turn takes 5, I easily win this game. Goes to show, doesn’t matter how far ahead you are if you clock yourself.

Round 7:

Final round and I’m list locked, into Circle. Woe is me! Piloted by my fellow club mate Christopher Clare, the lists facing me are Una 2, Kreuger 2 and Baldur 2. He is somewhat dismayed to get me last round, as he doesn’t feel any of his lists are great into Butcher, but c’est la vie. We talk it out, and come to the conclusion that Una is probably the best choice, as she likely has the best chance of dealing with 5 jacks and the birds can kill butcher if they get to him. List below:

Circle Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] The Wild Hunt

(Una 2) Una the Skyhunter [+29]
– Gorax Rager [7]
– Scarsfell Griffon [8]
– Scarsfell Griffon [8]
– Scarsfell Griffon [8]
– Scarsfell Griffon [8]
– Scarsfell Griffon [8]
– Scarsfell Griffon [8]
– Scarsfell Griffon [8]
– Scarsfell Griffon [8]
Gallows Grove [2]
Reeves of Orboros (max) [16]
– Reeve of Orboros Chieftain & Standard [0(4)]
Wolves of Orboros (max) [11]
– Wolves of Orboros Chieftain & Standard [4]

Scenario is Recon 2 again (was voted on). Terrain had a bunch of rubble on the left hand side, and a big building in the centre of the board. I win the roll and go first.

Turn 1:

I advance move up the Kodiaks and everything runs forward. Butcher gets silence of death. Nuff said.

Chris moves up to stay outside of easy threat range and moves his reeves to flank. He makes an error and puts the Gallows Grove between 2 birds, without concealment.

Turn 2:

The mortar blows the tree up, and the winter-guard continue their march across the table, staying more than 14 inches away from the board edge to stay out of ambushing wolves charge range. I create fort butcher at the back of the building, with a cloud either side and what I think is no room to drop a bird in.

Chris ambushes the Wolves which run to engage, the birds spread out more, with 1 moving to the other side of the building butcher is hiding behind. The reeves do 2 volleys into the right hand Kodiak doing a bunch of damage, and mini feat. I score 1 due to the the Marksman standing on the flag.

Turn 3:

The plan this turn is to kill the bird behind the building and all the wolves. The second part of this is accomplished easily enough, with the Winter Guard getting +2 to hit and mini-feating. Between all the sprays and some positioning, I kill them all and leave the bird behind the building on 3 health. The left hand Kodiak gets energiser and walks round, doing a power attack throw (trying to be greedy), which promptly misses. Crap baskets. I have nothing else to kill the bird, and so just try to pack stuff as tight as possible. I score again.

Chris spends some time trying to get an assassination going. Though he can’t charge butcher (can’t see him) he figures if he can clear a landing space, the wounded griffon can walk over the building and kill butcher. Unfortunately, the other griffons are slightly too far back and can’t quite get into anything, so he abandons that plan and just kills 3 jacks instead (wait, what?). Griffons hit hard.

Turn 4:

I’m up  by 2, but there are a lot of birds around, so I spend the turn and butchers feat to kill 5 of them (2 of the birds left have primal, the other is far away), leaving butcher just out of walking distance of the nearest. I have a little hiccup when I derp and miss an attack on a dodging griffon, which is then murdered by a 7 man CRA from the Winter Guard (winter guard, how I love you). I pass the turn and score again.

Chris has basically given up at this point and just tries to kill as much as possible. After much flailing around I win the next turn on scenario

After Thoughts:

Griffons are scary! I’d actually forgotten how deadly they are with Una 2, and reports of her demise are much exaggerated. Ouch. Apart from that, it was a fairly standard butcher game, move forward, bunker up, use butcher to horribly murder a bunch of stuff, win on scenario. A fun game to finish out the tournament.

 

For those of you keeping score at home, I went 4 wins and 3 losses and came 28th out of 109, a respectable placing. A lot of the games I played over the weekend were incredibly tough, and a big shout out to all of my opponents as I learned a lot in every game (1 thing especially was, don’t give your opponent an alpha when they out threat you). Uk nationals was a fantastic event, and I shall absolutely be attending next year. See you there!

 

 

 

 

 

My Caster Ranking

Tomorrow, I head up to Stockport for the UK Nationals event held at the North West Gaming Centre. This will be my third year attending, and it has always been an ace event. In addition to that, we have a bunch of new stuff being released this month, between Old Witch 2 on the 27th and all the themey goodness. So the meta is being shook up like a snow globe. In light of this, I thought I’d put up a caster ranking as I see them now, and revisit said after the metaphorical snow settles.

A few notes on the rankings before I start:

  • Khador has a very deep bench of casters, with not a massive difference between top and bottom. Thus, the difference between top and bottom is smaller than, say, Cygnar or Circle. There are no Sturgis 1s or Grayles here.
  • All of these casters are competitively viable. If you really want to take one of the lower ranked casters to a tournament, you can build a list that can do well.
  • I won’t be including Old Witch 2 in this ranking as she is not officially released yet and me not having played her a ton yet. (Spoiler alert: She’s really good and is likely somewhere towards the top.)

Onwards!

19: Butcher 2

Butcher 2 is kind of a mess at the moment, with the biggest issue with him being his focus rules. d6+1 is just not reliable! His spell list is fine, his feat works well and his special rules are pretty incredible when it works. That being said, it’s all hampered by his focus, if he rolls a 6 on the important turn, he’ll likely slaughter the world. If he rolls a 1, he probably dies the next turn. With this issue, if your wanting to go out and horribly murder a bunch of stuff with your warcaster, Butcher 3 is much more reliable. If he ends up getting changed to something like 2d3 + 1 or d3 +4 he would absolutely see table time. A shame, but maybe he’ll get a cid or something.

18: Zerkova 2

Zerkova 2 suffers from being way too specialised. She has basically 1 list that she can run, despite cuteness on the forums of her running a gunline of destroyers. It’s spells, spells and more spells with Zerkova 2. This locks her into 2 problems, 1 being that she has no armour cracking and prefers a list that can’t crack armour, the other that she is very telegraphed with obvious weaknesses. Does your opponent have immunity to cold? Then your screwed. Despite this, the list that she does run is an effective one and can be a great off list. With cryx running rampant at the moment, and Wolves of Winter being basically her list, she could do quite well. She also brings a great assassination to the table and all the sprays she normally brings just complement that. She’s one to watch, but falls down due to a lack of flexibility.

17: Old Witch 1

Old Witch, my how far you have fallen. The changing meta between mk 2 and mk 3 were what did her in, combined with the nerfing of her feat. She is still squishy, and with a increased amount of stuff seeing through stealth, she is easier to kill as well. That being said, the change to the focus mechanic helped her greatly, and her field marshal is bonkers, especially combined with the change to avatar of slaughter. I’ve had some rumblings to play her in a jack brick, using Gallows to pull out enemy heavies. Jaws of the Wolf is great for her, as she likes widowmakers and kayazy due to her spells. Unfortunately, her lack of a feat in the Battlegroup vs Battlegroup match up dings her down. If she were to get back her old feat, she would immeadiatley leap up the rankings, but languishes here for the moment.

16: Kozlov

Kozlov is not a bad caster. His primary sin is being really boring. He is vanilla to a fault and suffers from being a jack of all trades. His spell list is alright, his feat is surprisingly good with pikemen and MOW, but strictly average elsewhere (contrary to popular belief, Khador Jacks don’t actually need more armour, they need speed and plus 2 spd once a game is not enough). All the stuff he does is done better elsewhere. Yawn! Perhaps if chosen ground extended to everyone, not just battlegroup he would have a niche, but otherwise he’s just to vanilla to be interesting.

15: Vlad 3

A caster who is not bad by any stretch of the imagination, just over shadowed by a different incarnation. Vlad 3’s game plan is basically horses and being a super solo on the feat turn. His spell list is great, hand of fate, wind wall, dash, flashing blade? Yes, yes and yes please. Unfortunately his feat is mediocre and Vlad 2 does his game plan better. Vlad 3 can have some interesting moments and is by no means bad, but ultimately suffers in comparison.

14: Butcher 1

I played a bunch of Butcher 1 at the start of Mk 3. He’s a great caster. Good feat, great spell list, good statline, good late game presence and he can do some funky stuff with our guns (I used to run rifle corp with Rockets and Aiyana and holt, shooting mountain kings off the board feels good). Where he lacks unfortunately is that he wants to run combined arms. He lacks a speed buff for jacks, which is crippling for a Khador caster (I would seriously trade any of his spells for boundless charge, even fury), and suffers in the shadow of our other infantry casters.

13: Harkevich

This one gonna get me shouted at. Positives first. Harkevich is a decent jack caster, Mobility fixes a lot of problems for our jacks, Repo 3 is a great field marshal as it allows more mobility (little m this time) and enables the 2nd best cloud wall we have. Feat is pretty good for Khador jacks. The problems come from him doing nothing for offensive output. Hell, even the free charge portion of his feat rarely comes into play as the usual play is to fling jacks into your opponents face and feat. On top of that, whilst Iron sentinel is a great ability, most of the problem matchups Khador faces either don’t care or can move the jack. There are few things more demoralising (and funny), than Haley 2 dominating Behemoth to punch Hark in the back of the head. He also has a somewhat meta issue in that he doesn’t have much in the way to dig himself out of bad match ups. If your opponent can deal with a list of Khador heavies, Harks a bit screwed. Additionally on a personal note, I find him really boring to play.

12: Malakov 2

An interesting caster that is, again, over shadowed somewhat. If you have never played Malakov 2s feat turn, I would recommend it, it is a very amusing thing to watch your opponent trying to lock down your jacks. Couple this with a pretty good spell list (escort is great in Khador, the Veil of mists makes your jacks slipperier on the feat turn, gives a pathfinder solution and combos with Tac Supremacy and Kodiaks to give a respectable cloud wall) and his orders and you have a great caster that requires some work to see all the synergies with. He plays great in Jaws, and only lacks a really good sucker target in that theme to run an optimal list. That being said, he lacks a output enhancer for his jacks, along with constantly being strapped for focus. The main reason he’s higher than Hark (they actually play kind of a similar game, just with different style) is that he is much harder to kill than Harkevich. A good caster overall.

11: Sorscha 2

Sorscha 2 is played very widely at the moment, for 1 reason. Shatter storm. Ranged RFP is incredibly valuable into the meta at the moment, between Cryx and the insurgence of Grymkin. Apart from that, she has access to a ridiculous damage feat (I have literally one shot a heavy jack with a charging juggernaut, and had a marshalled behemoth 2 shot a Stormwall), good defensive tech in Iron Flesh and is very mobile. Unfortunately she loses out somewhat to her prime incarnation by losing Freezing Grasp off her card. She is very valuable at the moment due to meta concerns, but think she might end up shuffling off stage in favour of her prime incarnation when the new themes drop.

10: Irusk 1

Irusk 1 is another good caster overshadowed somewhat by his epic version. Where Irusk 2 wants all the dudes in the world, Irusk 1 wants a smaller, more elite group. For example, he might be the best MOW caster we have at the moment, running Shocktroopers very efficiently. He got strictly better in the conversion to mk 2 with the changes to focus benefiting him as well as his battle plans being added. Armoured Korps in particular looks brilliant with him. His main weaknesses at the moment are simply that he doesn’t answer any of our problem match ups at the moment and has no theme list to call home, as other casters run the current 3 better than he does. Overall a brilliant caster that will likely be seen more in the coming months.

9: Vlad 2

Vlad 2 is a great caster, with an interesting feat, a fantastic spell list, and a very survivable stat line. He buffs the output of his list with Arcane might, assail, and Hand of fate, whilst also bringing some counter tech and shooting defence with well placed wind blasts. His downfall then, is that he doesn’t really fit well into any of our current themes. Winter guard command is better done by different casters, Jaws doesn’t fit him as well and he’s hampered in Legion due to the number of Characters in their, along with there being slightly too many infantry for him. This will likely change in the upcoming months, with both Wolves of Winter and Armoured Korps looking great with him. Keep your eyes out for Vlad 2 in the coming months.

8: Karchev

Karchev is an interesting beast. For most of a game, he doesn’t actually do a lot besides hand out focus, upkeep spells and survive, but is so good at that last part that he eclipses a lot of our other jack casters by that alone. Karchev is ridiculously hard to kill. Between base armour 19, focus and a shit ton of boxes, assassination is usually off the table just by virtue of putting him down on the table. He doesn’t actually do a whole lot for his battle group, but has great defensive tech in Battle Charged, a speed buff and, crucially for some of our problem match ups, access to magic weapons for a turn. Add in being able to knock down from 10 inchs away and you have a good jack caster who has the benefit of being a right asshole to deal with at the end of the game. His main let down on the couple of jack casters higher up then him is simply that he doesn’t quite turn his battlegroup up to 11 (like OW2), or utilise them as efficiently as say Butcher 3.

7: Vlad 1

I’m gonna get shouted at for this one too. Again we start with positives. Vlad 1 is a great caster, who runs one of the strongest lists in the faction. Vlad Rockets is practically synonymous with Khador at the moment, and it’s not hard to see why. Signs and Portents is a bonkers spell that lets you fling dice at things until they die. Wind wall is always great and he has fantastic late game presence due to Blood of Kings. His feat, whilst lack lustre in mk 2 is great in mk 3 due to power up, and gives his gunline some teeth in melee. So what are my issues with him. First is that he is kind of a win more caster, with the match ups that he is strong into being ones that he just stomps. That’s fine, but he lacks the tools to dig himself out of bad situations. If the opponent can whether the rocket fire and deal with 5 jacks that’s pretty much the game. Second is that he’s actually not a very good jack caster, he just does a convincing impression of one for a turn. Between signs and portents and potentially boundless charge, he has very little focus to allocate, and can easily end up dying to random schenanigans. After the feat turn, his jacks just tend to wallow in whatever situation they find themselves in. Despite this, he is a very good caster, who has been practically meta defining. We’ll see where he is post theme drop.

6: Sorscha 1

Sorscha 1 annoys the crap out of me. She is a great caster, got straight up better in mk 3, has some ball busting control effects, a great assassination, and is def 20 to ranged attacks standing out in the middle of no where. Whilst she doesn’t have a damage buff, she does make hitting trivial and can provide free charges, in addition to Khador just hitting really hard anyway. Despite all of this, I cannot make a list for her that I like. The closest I’ve come is a Winterguard Kommand list with double fun carriage (Because boundless charge on a fun carriage is funny). I played a bunch of Sorscha 1 in mk2 (Sorschas 18 all the way!) and miss her terribly. I’m hoping that wolves of winter will revitalise me towards this fantastic caster who is a blast to play and brings some amazing tech to a bunch of our problem match ups (ghost raiders can’t fuck with you if they’re frozen!)

5: Strakhov 1

It kills me to not put Strak into the top 5, I love this caster. Before themes, I played the shit out of Strakhov 1 and pulled some ridiculous stunts with a battlegroup consisting of Ruin, Behemoth and Torch. And that right there is the problem. Strakhov 1 really wants to play out of theme to get all the toys he wants. He is one of our best jack casters, but prefers a small elite battle-group of 3-4 over a spam of 7-8. His spell list is great, with occulation, superiority and overrun being bonkers good, is more survivable than he looks at first glance due to a combo of his immunities, good stats and access to stealth and out of activation movement. I’m not sure what he needs to be higher up here, possibly a meta shift or a new non character reach heavy, or maybe just fixing the spriggan. A fantastically fun and great caster brought lower than he could be by the prevalence of themes.

4: Irusk 2

Irusk 2 was everywhere before themes came in, and it’s not hard to see why. He has some bonkers ability for infantry. Tough, no knockdown is something that whole feats are made of (see irusk 1) and he just has it all the time. No blast damage and tactician allow a ridiculous number of models to effectively occupy a bunched up space, and Battle lust and fire for effect complete the picture by increasing damage outputs of even the lowly winter guard to ridiculous levels. Feat then adds on top and helps to grant you an alpha strike. Irusk 2s game plan is to take a horde of cheap dudes, make them annoying as balls to kill, and make every single one of them a threat to everything your opponents love and cherish. He has some play in our themes, particularly winter guard command as it helps with his squishiness. He brings some particular tools that help solve problem matchups (pathfinder, being able to see through clouds and forests, a whole bunch of infantry, etc). I’d wager the reason he’s not seen much at the moment is the in vogueness of big battlegroups and the desperate need to play something into cryx (as his typical lists fall terribly prey to ghost fleet).

3: Zerkova 1

Zerkova 1s ability set is bonkers, no way around it. Being able to flexibly deal with a number of issue in the same game and having probably one of the most ball busting denial feats in the game (if you don’t believe me go and read her card, it might as well read fuck you to your opponent). She really found her list in legion of steel, as counter charge combined with a cloud wall is mean and she fixes several problems for the list, including pathfinder, a sort of damage fixer in the form of stripping up keeps and having some ranged infantry clearing. On top of that she has sacred ward and watcher, which combined with the feat and the cloud wall, means that she can often play ludicrously far up the table. Her only real weakness is how deep her tool box is, with it taking while to be familiar with all her tricks and not just clock herself.

2: Strakhov 2

There is probably some personal bias here, as readers of this blog will know that I play the shit out of Strakhov 2 Legion of Steel, but screw you guys, these are my rankings :P. I genuinely think that Strakhov 2 is our best infantry caster at the moment. He is slightly more specialised than Irusk 2, preferring high armour infantry. Quicken alone is a transformative spell in Khador, as speed buffs for our infantry are rare, Last Stand is a fantastic spell on a lot of our pieces and allows Strakhov to close out a game or end a trade regardless of the pieces he has left, and the combination of Inviolable resolve and feat can get a lot of our higher armour infantry to ludicrous levels (armour 26 shocktroopers anyone? Hell even assault commandos can get to armour 23!). The thing that makes him stand out from our other infantry casters is simply how survivable he is. 16, 15 is already a good statline, combined with stealth or a potential cloud wall, the possibility of his defensive spells going on himself, his feat and his immunities and you have a caster that can play very far up the board, contributing with his cool gun and getting more coverage out of his feat.

1: Butcher 3

I am a big believer that the strongest Warcaster/Warlocks in this game are strong because they play a fundamentally different game to everyone else. For example, Haley 2 controls your models and takes 2 turns in a row to make her piece trades. Butcher 3 is one of these casters, and sometimes different can be the same thing as strong.

Butchers whole game plan is as brutal as it is simple. He wants to trade down pieces until he can go in and remove everything on the board that can possibly deal with him. His stats and spells reflect this. 14 18 and usually camping focus means that a significant effort is required to kill the Butcher, combined with his large threat range and ludicrous damage out put. Butcher 3 is one of the few models in the game who can 1 round multiple colossals, or several heavy war-jacks (my record is 6 Ret heavies) and uses this threat to run the table.

A skilled butcher player can effectively dictate where his opponent can place their models, and use their battle group to run interference and get up on trades. To this end, Butcher is usually played as a Jack caster, running a big battle group to take advantage of energiser and escort him up the field, asking the question: Can you deal with 5-6 heavy khador jacks and still have enough to deal with butcher?, and can you do that before butcher kills you or wins on scenario. Butcher is a triple threat, threatening attrition, Scenario and assassination constantly, and for these reasons I have put him at the top of a stable of very good casters.