Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Family Feud: pThagrosh vs eSkarre

Show me "Playing like you've got a pair."
A couple battle reports ago, EV left a cryptic comment: "Next time I'll be bringing out the big guns again, so be warned."  Considering his preferences for casters and lists, I assumed this meant I'd be seeing eGaspy and his infantry swarm the next time we gamed (today[Tuesday]).  There was an outside chance of pDenny as well, or pGaspy, but I felt confident that I'd be facing eGaspy.  I didn't tailor my list to that match-up because I don't do that sort of meta-gaming (and if I do it's after a long stretch of crushing defeats).  Turns out my gaming integrity paid off today as I faced not Gaspy or Denny, but eSkarre.  Even more bizarre, eSkarre with two (2) heavy jacks and no (zero[0]) arc nodes.  After double checking that I was in the right place and facing the right opponent, we got down to business.  My list was the same as last time while EV's (obviously) changed.  He went with:

35+6 points, 31 models

Skarre, Queen of the Broken Coast  +6 points
* Deathjack  12 points
* Seether  9 points

10 Bane Thralls  8 points
6 Bile Thralls  5 points
10 Mechanithralls  5 points
* 2 Brute Thralls  2 points

Still a solid core of infantry, but the usual magic support of Withershadow/Skarlock/arc nodes is notably absent.  I've seen what Bane Thralls can do with Black Spot, albeit from a distance while I was playing a game at the FLGS, so I was none too excited about facing them down.  eSkarre looks like quite the toolbox in general, and the Deathjack is no slouch (despite performances to the contrary), so I figure I'm in for a tough battle.  We roll up Mosh Pit for a scenario, further foreshadowing what is bound to be a real slobber-knocker.  Terrain is set up in the usual manner, then I take the unusual approach by deciding to go first when I win the roll that gives me that option.  This has the unfortunate side effect of negating my beloved refused flank deployment scheme, to say nothing of the scenario that demands models in the center of the table, so I dump my models in the middle.  The Swordsmen go on the side without the woods since they don't have Pathfinder and I have no way of giving it to them.  I plan to Slipstream Thagrosh to the front of the ruins in turn one.  Beyond that I have no real plan besides trying to win.  EV counters with his usual setup, though the Seether replaces the usual magical support in the middle.


Turn 1

We all know how these go.  I put up Draconic Blessing on the Swordsmen, Fog of War, a smattering of Spiny Growths, and finish up by pulling some Fury with the Forsaken.  EV has the Deathjack cast Death Ward on itself, which I didn't realize it could do, and otherwise advances.

Turn one.
Turn 2

The real action starts with a whimper.  The unpainted Carnivean is well out of charge range, so I move it forward a bit and spray the Banes, barely clipping one.  I boost because why not, I've got the room for the Fury, and kill the one.  Then, Spiny Growth.  I also try to stay far enough back in the woods to nullify any charges from the Banes or the Seether.

Eyeless Sight + Sprays = Far Too Much Fun

On the left, I have decided to fling the painted Carnivean forward to do some murder.  As with all good things, this starts with a Slipstream.  That Slipstream is followed by a Strafe, which dings the Deathjack while also killing a MechThrall and a Brute Thrall.

Love that Seraph.

The subsequent Carnivean charge is less glorious than anticipated.  I do some damage to DJ, but nothing like what I had expected.  Even the Assault-fueled spray does little.  As a final cherry, I have forgotten to put up Spiny Growth and Thagrosh is well out of range to do so himself.  The Swordsmen move to the center to allow Thagrosh room to maneuver, the Forsaken on the right eats some more Fury, and that's about it.

Legion turn two.

EV begins his turn with the good (for him) stuff.  DJ eats the Carnivean without too much effort, which is a bit unsettling.  Granted DJ is a lock to show up on "top 3 jacks in the game" lists, often at the top, but the relative ease with which it dispatches my Carnivean (which admittedly does not have Spiny Growth up), which is not some paper tiger that folds under the first stiff breeze, makes me wonder how the rest of the game will go.  At least DJ doesn't get to heal since my Carnivean has no soul.

Unfortunate, but not unexpected.

The rest of his turn is uneventful.  Stuff moves forward, the Seether gets Admonition, and otherwise the second turn could have been a first turn.

Cryx turn two.

Turn 3

While EV was finishing his turn I was busy hatching a master plan to get revenge on the Deathjack.  It seemed more than a little foolhardy, but I thought it had a good chance to succeed.  Plus it would be entertaining.  It began, as all good things do, with a Slipstream, the Seraph carrying Thagrosh over some walls and into a charge lane.  Because Seraphs are awesome, I also go to shoot after Slipstreaming.  Even better, I got d3+1 shots from said Seraph (which is awesome), and ended up with the max.  A few die rolls later, four Bile Thralls went from undead to redead.

What else to say?  Awesome.

Sweet revenge is a thing to be savored, so I turned my attention to the center of the table.  I wanted to drop a Blight Bomb Shroud amongst the MechThralls to open up some charge lanes so I could send the Swordsmen into the Banes, or perhaps remove that one pesky Bane from in front of the Seether, but I couldn't figure a way to do either.  Instead I charged the Swordsmen into the MechThralls.  They chopped a few Thralls up and prepared to receive the inevitable counter-charge.

They kill stuff good.
Having gained a very little wiggle room for the Forsaken, I set off the Blight Bomb Shroud.  The blast took out three MechThralls and a pair of Banes, notably the one blocking the charge lane to the Seether.  Unfortunately said Seether was just out of range of the Blight Bomb Shroud, so I didn't get the tasty extra die of damage that the unspent Focus it had would have granted me.

Why can't this ability just be called Blight Bomb?
Continuing my campaign of shock and awe, I moved back to the left and the sweet, sweet revenge.  After declaring and making my charge move on the Deathjack with Thagrosh, I realized I wanted to put Draconic Blessing on him to help cut throught DJ's ARM 21.  Unfortunately I had to wait until my charge attack was resolved to do so.  It took almost all my Fury to do it, but in the end DJ was down and out.  To make matters even better, I popped Thagrosh's feat and brought the previously-dead Carnivean back, but I'll cover that in more detail in a bit.

Putting the death in Deathjack.

Back to the right (I do more jump cuts than a kung fu movie).  The Carnivean charged the Seether, Pathfinding like a boss the whole way, only to get roosterblocked by Admonition.  The cowardly Seether shuffled out of range and took my spray with it, turning what would have been a glorious Bane covering spray into a pitiful thing that just barely missed Skarre.  I was inclined to leave the Bane (played in the below shot by the red bear) alive to gum up the charge lane for the Seether, but EV pointed out that he had moved in a straight line with Admonition and was not impeded by the Bane and thus by the laws of logic would be able to charge back in along the same path whether the Bane was there or not.  As such, the Bane died (again) in a quick and chompy manner.  Spiny Growth happened.

Admonition is lame.  Unless/until I get to use it.

About the reappearing Carnivean: there were still two Bile Thralls floating around, and they were spaced in such a manner that I could (perhaps) engage them both with the Carnivean, but it seemed equally likely that by trying to do so I would end up engaging neither one, so I decided to definitely get one and leave the other relatively alone.  The Carni also put up Spiny Growth on itself and Thagrosh, who was camping a Fury in anticipation of the blow that was surely about to fall.  The rear-most Forsaken ate some Fury off the unpainted Carnivean, while being careful to not get too close to the fearful Shepherd, and my turn was done.

Legion turn three.

Cad that he is, EV charged the Seether straight into the unpainted Carnivean.  Since it is nigh-impossible to miss a DEF 11 beast, he got the chain attack off after doing a bit of damage and chucked the Carni into my line of infantry.  The Carni squished a Forsaken and a Swordsman, while also taking some damage, but in the end the throw saved the Carni from further jack-based attacks and was overall, I think, a Good Thing.

Ouch, but could have been worse.

Then the inevitable MechThrall charge.  They munched up a Swordsman and put a large dent in the Carnivean.

McCharge: I'm not lovin' it.
A bit of a head-scratcher followed.  EV moved the Bile Thralls, generating a pair of Free Strikes from the painted Carnivean in the process.  Unsurprisingly, both were slain.  I suppose the Biles wouldn't have stopped either the Carni or Thagrosh from moving through fear of Free Strikes, since they have no melee capability, but despite that EV threw them away for no apparent reason.  I was expecting a pair of Purges across some combination of Thagrosh, Carnivean, and/or Seraph.  Instead I got to eat two nasty, squishy Thralls.  I didn't understand it, but I'll not look a gift horse in the mouth.

Couldn't have happened to nicer models.

Returning to the center, the inevitable Bane charge.  This was much less spectacular than anticipated, due in large part to only a single model getting into melee range and (I imagine) the lack of Black Spot.  The lone Bane took another chunk out of the Carni, leaving it with three boxes and two crippled aspects, but still alive.  The rest of the unit just hung out in the woods, having a picnic or somesuch.

Close, but no cigar.
That was that for EV.  Skarre didn't do much of note other than put Admonition back on the Seether, denying my the glorious rear charge that the painted Carnivean was lined up for.  I had expected a brutal counter-punch here since I had strung my army out a bit in my half of the turn, and while the Carnivean took heavy damage and I lost some infantry, ultimately I didn't lose nearly as much as I had anticipated.  With all my beasts alive (thought just barely in one case) and all the Bile Thralls accounted for, I felt pretty good about my position.

Cryx turn three.

Turn 4

Know what the best way to tell that I'm fully engaged with a game is?  Complete lack of detail shots.  Kicking off my turn was the Shepherd who healed the Carni just enough to restore all its aspects.  Said Carni then shuffled up a bit and sprayed across a handful of Banes and Skarre.  The Banes died, and Skarre may have taken a point or two as well.  Spiny Growth before its activation was over.  The Swordsmen cleaned up the MechThralls.  I tried to bait EV into blowing Admonition by Slipstreaming the other Carnivean up, but he didn't take the bait.  Come to think of it, this probably happened before the spray.  Either way, the Seraph got in about 10 points of damage on Skarre with a nice Strafe.  The painted Carnivean probably sprayed Skarre as well, but again didn't do much notable damage if any at all.  I considered trying to get Thagrosh in amongst the Banes via Mutagenesis, but decided it would have left him far too exposed.  I thought my position was strong enough to wait another turn before trying for the assassination.  To that end, the remaining Forsaken filled up on Fury in anticipation of a Blight Bomb Shroud shot at Skarre, who I figured would be popping her feat in the coming turn.

Legion turn four.
EV maxed out his credit cards trying to kill the painted Carnivean with a Skarre charge, but came up a bit short.  In doing so, he also left Skarre on a single box.  He also popped her feat as anticipated, but that didn't worry me much.  I had been thinking of ways to damage models without targeting them since reading her card before the game started, so I had a couple ideas on how to finish her off.

Not even her Great Rack could seal the deal.
In other news, the Banes killed the Shepherd and a Swordsman.  The Seether also finished off the unpainted Carnivean.

Cryx turn four.

Turn 5

Getting straight to the point, I started with Thagrosh.  I wanted to lob an Obliteration at the Bane between Skarre and the Seether and almost fudged things up real good by not getting close enough to see through the Bane's Stealth, but I caught that in time to move Thagrosh up.  Despite boosting the attack roll. I missed with the spell.  (To be fair, the Bane was in melee and therefore DEF 16, but with Thagrosh being Fury 7 getting a 9 on three dice didn't seem like too much to ask for.)  As a pleasant side-effect of getting close enough to see the Bane, the Obliteration couldn't scatter far enough to miss Skarre.  The Bane died, the Seether and Carnivean didn't.  After a boosted damage roll, Skarre was finished.

Good morning, good afternoon, and good night Skarre.
After a string of less-than-satisfactory games, this one was a nice change of pace.  There was some good back and forth, and neither of us made any bone-headed mistakes that compromised the game.  Initial success aside, the Deathjack was again underwhelming.  Granted I pulled what was probably an unexpected maneuver when I Slipstreamed Thagrosh over to a charge lane, and the lack of a heal from killing the Carnivean didn't help either, but the anecdotal evidence is piling up that DJ isn't as tough a nut to crack as his reputation suggests.  The lack of Black Spot was surprising.  During and immediately after the game I figured that EV had just forgotten about it, but after checking Battle College I see that it's a debuff, not a buff like I had thought.  Given my near-total lack of units it's less surprising since it wouldn't generate extra attacks as well if used on a beast, but a DEF debuff is nice wherever it goes.  Of course if you're having a problem hitting a Carnivean at DEF 11 then you have larger issues, but the total absence of Black Spot is still a bit curious.

I know I've said this before, but I'm really liking how Legion plays.  Perhaps I should revise that to "I'm really enjoying how the Seraph plays."  I'd be happy with a simple Slipstream caddy, so getting the multiple shots with Strafe is a bonus.  It has a decent POW and range, plus the Seraph isn't so Fury hungry that I have to make a hard choice between boosting Strafe shots and doing other things.  The Carniveans make great payloads, but I think I could swap them out for Scytheans (one of them at least, want to have Spiny Growth around) without really losing much.  Of course I could also upgrade one to Typhon, but that will have to wait a little while.

Most of all, I like getting to play with a lot of heavies.  That sort of style just isn't viable in Warmachine, outside of a few jack-friendly casters, which is a real shame since it's the jacks/beasts that give the system its particular flavor.  Infantry is nice and all, but it should be support for the big boys, not the other way around.  The game is called Warmachine after all, not Warinfantry.  An unexpected bonus of being able to run beast-heavy is that I'm running less infantry, which means the Bile Thralls are less of a concern.  Since the Swordsmen (or Archers, depending on the list) are there as support and not as the heavy lifters, I can both run them at the back of my force and not be too worried if I lose them.  The beasts won't care much about a Purge, and it's an annoyance at best on a caster.  Without worrying about a Purge or two caving in the center of my army, Cryx infantry is less intimidating as a whole.  This is a very pleasant discovery indeed.  Will it cause a shift in our "meta?"  Perhaps, though I imagine it will be less of a move towards jacks/beasts than a move away from Bile Thralls.

I'm two for two on posting a battle report on the same day as the game now.  Might be a good idea to check Hell and see if it looks icy.


  1. "Know what the best way to tell that I'm fully engaged with a game is? Complete lack of detail shots."

    Oh gods, me too.

    Nice report, and yes, I concur with your analysis of Hordes as more viable for low-infantry armies. Not touching the 'it's not called Warinfantry' argument 'cause that's been done to death, but it is a shame that 'jack heavy armies aren't more widely enabled than they are.

    1. Warbeasts are generally better than jacks, and putting on the hurt won't drain your resources like it does with a Warmachine player. So you can start using more infantry, and we'll switch to jacks ;)

    2. It's not that warbeasts are better than warjacks, it's that you need warbeasts for Hordes but you don't really need warjacks in Warmachine because the resource management mechanic is different.

    3. I don't know that I'll wade into the Hordes vs Warmachine arena any time soon. Both systems have their merits and their flaws. Taken with a grain of salt to allow for the "new shiny" factor, I think Hordes suits what I want to do better than Warmachine. That said, I'm not abandoning the Motherland, just setting up a nice vacation home.

  2. "A bit of a head-scratcher followed. EV moved the Bile Thralls, generating a pair of Free Strikes from the painted Carnivean in the process. Unsurprisingly, both were slain. I suppose the Biles wouldn't have stopped either the Carni or Thagrosh from moving through fear of Free Strikes, since they have no melee capability, but despite that EV threw them away for no apparent reason. I was expecting a pair of Purges across some combination of Thagrosh, Carnivean, and/or Seraph. Instead I got to eat two nasty, squishy Thralls. I didn't understand it, but I'll not look a gift horse in the mouth."

    Well, for starters, Bile Thralls can't purge while in melee. It's a ganged attack, which is a no-no. I instead wanted to purge on the sword-elves. The thralls weren't going to achieve anything where they were (Thagrosh and the Carnivean are just too tough nuts to crack), so I had to do something with them or lose them any way. It was a long shot, but had one of them gotten by it would have been glorious.

    1. Purge is POW...10? The Carnivean would indeed have been hard to penetrate, but Thagrosh and the Seraph might have taken some damage. One of the Thralls was done for since it was engaged, but the other had options. Different people have different approaches and all that, but I would have taken the route that put the dice in my own hand (Purging across harder targets) than in my opponent's (taking the free strikes), especially considering that the Swordsmen are there basically to make up points.

  3. I'm fairly new to the game, but I think you may have used slipstream incorrectly here. Slipstream allows placement of a friendly faction model. It is placed within 2" of it's current location, then slipstream expires. Thagrosh isn't placed completely within 2" of the Seraph's position, he's placed completely within 2" of his current position. I'm not sure that he would have been able to get a charge lane on the Deathjack.

    1. I was all set to go troll hunting here, considering that I posted about this very subject, but after checking time stamps the comment came in before the post hit.

      Your analysis is spot on. As detailed in the above-mentioned post, I found out the fun way that I've been playing Slipstream wrong at the FLGS on Thursday night. Getting the charge off against the Deathjack shouldn't have happened, to say nothing of all the other glorious slingshot moves I've performed over the past couple games.