Friday, 24 December 2010

Army Lists: Cryx

Generally seen as the strongest faction in the game, Cryx has both powerful Warcasters and brutal infantry capable of ripping apart Jacks in a round with ease. Their Warjacks and solos are also excellent and they can really play any type of game and compete. On occassion they can struggle with Menoth and Orboros as they deny magic and they can also struggle with Legion (fantastic ranged options and Eyeless Sight) but a good Cryx player can still deal with most things in a two list event.
The most important thing when playing Cryx is to remember that mostly it's not about buffing your models but debuffing your opponents. There are buffing spells/abilities (Spectral Steel, Curse, Dark Guidance etc) and they are top quality but knocking down your opponent's ARM and ability to attack and defend is still a huge part of Cryx. In many cases this is simply denial such as Stealth and Incorporeal that causes the opponent problems and it can extend so much further than that. In most cases this would be enough to win but the further advantage of Cryx is that they can assassinate with so many models and from so many vectors.

Combined Arms List (thanks to Dule Kosanovic for this)

Warwitch Deneghra +5
- Nightwretch 4
- Nightwretch 4
- Ripjaw 5
- Reaper 7
Skarlock Thrall 2
Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters (Cylena and 9 Grunts) 10
Mechanithralls (Leader and 9 Grunts) 5
- 3 Brute Thrall 3
- Necrosurgeon & 3 Stitch Thralls 2
The Withershadow Combine 5
Bloat Thrall 2
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist 2
Warwitch Siren 2
Warwitch Siren 2

One of the huge advantages of playing Cryx is that even a combined arms list is a tremendously strong tournament list. Every model supports every other model. Denny offers so much board control and the threat of her feat makes any player and any list quake. On top of everything else she also has a great knockdown spell that doesn't need to hit the primary target - simply the model near that target. Because of this one warcaster every non-Cryx tournament list now features eEiryss or a Thrullg simply to take away the parasite/crippling grasp spells. Without them Denny simply can take out any unit/model on the board and almost guarentee victory. The arc nodes are there to open up asassination potential and deliver Denny's nasty spells from afar so she remains safe. The Ripjaw whilst expensive for a Cryxian arc node has shown to be suprisingly effective. An armour-piercing charge on a debuffed target can really hurt medium and large based targets.
The Reaper is there as the heavy hitter (not that one is needed when parasite/feat brings a heavies armour down so much) and with the Drag capability it can draw a heavy to it and set up the charge for the Withshadow Combine so they can use Dark Industries to create a Seether (for example) from the destroyed heavy. The reroll ability and anti-upkeep spells make the Withershadow Combine a very powerful utility unit on top on the Dark Industries.
Under her feat or Crippling Grasp or with Parasite Mechanithralls are killing Medium and Heavy Infantry on the charge and 3 of them can threaten Heavy Jacks. That's how good Denny is - she makes three 1/2 point models able to kill a 12 point warjack in a single round! The Brute thralls are there to support the Mechanithralls in case of a very hard target and also to block charge lanes from trampling models. The second unit (Nyss Hunters) are also great as they require no baby sitting and simply feed off the debuffs that Denny throws out. Good ranged threat, pathfinder and weaponmaster make them great for all situations. The Bloat Thrall is also another model with a lot of threat. The 5" AoE is great for crowd control and also an opposing warcaster under Parasite and Denny's feat is at -5 ARM. A Bloat Thrall shot can really finish them off (especially if they're knocked down from Scourge).
The final important addition to this list are the Warwitch Sirens. They get round a lot of the problems caused by Menoth (by saying "no, my reaper can shoot you") and give those extra focus to the Bonejacks so they can run and without removing any focus from Denny. The list is very very solid, grind the opponent down and watch for the opportunity to go for the kill. Synergy at its finest.

Tournament List (Tier 3 List)

Goreshade the Cursed +5
- Ripjaw 5
- Ripjaw 5
- Stalker 4
- Reaper 7
Bane Thralls (Leader and 9 Grunts) 8
- Bane Thrall Officer & Standard
Bane Thralls (Leader and 9 Grunts) 8
- Bane Thrall Officer & Standard 3
The Withershadow Combine 5
Bane Lord Tartarus 4
Pistol Wraith 3
3 Scrap Thrall 1
3 Scrap Thrall 1
3 Scrap Thrall 1

There are many great Cryx Tournament lists; eDenny and the scenerio list of doom. The Terminus mechanithrall spam, Skarre/eSkarre and of course eAsphyxious. The list above is actually not a classic one but it is certainly very powerful. It again offers denial (29 models have stealth and Goreshade has a spell to give another model/unit Stealth too). The strength lies in the elite cadre of the Bane Thralls. Every time they kill a living model another Bane Thrall appears. Given that Bane Thralls are the best infantry unit in the game this is huge. As the wave of Banes move forward Tarturus curses their targets and they then get +2" movement and +2 on attack rolls. They hit on an equivalent of MAT 8 and POW 13 and do 4d6 Damage on the charge. If the opponent gets the charge on them then the second wave hits and replace their fallen comrades. If the opponent eventually manages to chew through the 24 self replacing Thralls then Goreshade simply feats and brings another 9 back from the Scrap Thralls hanging around at the back. The list is potentially endless. The Reaper/WSC do the same shennigans as in the Denny list and eGoreshade can debuff ARM by 2 and have it so his infantry charges through the opponents front line and hits the models behind. If these are softer (choir, Greylords, Gun Mages) then the creation of Bane Thralls is almost a certainty.
Given some of the powerhouse lists that appear in tournaments such as the winterguard and Exemplar Errant Deathstars and the Doom Reaver spam - this list is great as it loves them. It can be made more powerful in a non-tier form (Bile Thralls with stealth!!!) and if the opponent plays Jack heavy to minimise the threat of the elite cadre bonus they will more than likely be overwhelmed by the numbers facing them and they must also find that a pair of Ripjaws can do a lot of damage to jacks when properly motivated.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

MK2 Musings Pt3 - Balance in Warmahordes

One of the biggest questions in the game since the introduction of Hordes is 'are the two systems balanced?' It comes up on all the forums repeatedly and has such a difference in opinion that it always reaches a stalemate (albeit a very vocal stalemate). Some adhere unwavedly to the belief that the versatility of FURY for warbeasts is so much better than FOCUS whilst others feel with utter conviction that warcasters outperform warlocks and that Warmachine's access to better solos, units and support give's them a significant advantage.

So, whose right? Are the two systems balanced and, if not, can they ever be balanced?

Well to tackle this problem we almost need to step back and ask is Warmachine balanced with Warmachine (and, of course, Hordes with Hordes)? The Blue Player has a Cygnar army and lays waste to all before him with sniped Long Gunners and their tremendous board control possibilities. He then faces the Orange Menoth Player whom, with the Choir singing 'Safe Passage' (no shooting) and Zealots with their UA and 'Greater Destiny', quickly show him that the Long Gunners don't rule the roost. Next the Green Cryx Player brings his Bane Thralls with Stealth and the Long Gunners are again in trouble. The Red Khador Player has a Devastator that laughs at his measly Long Gunners and again show the Blue player that he is no longer the king. So what does he do? He adapts. Chain lightning through an arc node can get rid of choir acolytes and make it so Zealots have to mini-feat early. Gun Mages with their UA again bring problems to the Cryx player and Armour Piercing rounds from Hunters or Seige Brisbane can crack open the Devastator. As he brings these tools out the Menoth player brings out smoke clouds with the High Reclaimer, multiple AoEs with Redeemers and Paladins that are immune to most things. Cryx has speedy arc nodes that can channel AoE templates to kill Gun Mages and Khador brings out Man Hunters and fast moving powerful infantry to minimise the Hunter's effectiveness. It is quickly obvious that there is nothing that is impossible to deal with and that players need to evolve to who and what they're facing. Cross-factions-wise there does seem to be a pretty decent balance and to find imbalances you need to actually go down to the caster level.
Within both games there are different levels of casters. Some, as listed in a previous post, bring a deadly assassination threat whilst others support Warjacks or troops or a type of attack (magic, melee or ranged). However one thing is certain casters are more effective and certain ones less so. In this respect the game is not about balance and actually promotes imbalance and it is the use of tactics that are employed to get round a bad matchup that makes the game fun. If all models had the same functions and stats then it would be about dice rolling and the game would be dull. I know when facing Menoth that there jacks are going to be immune to either magic or shooting and that I will very likely have Holy Zealots thrown at me. I also know that a lot of Menoth is very good at crowd control and can use denial very well. So I look to take something that can get the charge on the Warjacks and something that can flank the main force to attack the support models. I also make sure I have a shooter with magical weapon specifically for Vilmon. What I can't do is become too defensive and create a force that doesn't cause the opponent any problems and, unless otherwise agreed, know which caster I am facing. If I am playing Cryx it is maybe better to play epic Goreshade for example than prime Deneghra as eGoreshade does not rely too heavily on upkeeps and maximises the melee threat through his Bane Thralls. pDenny is generally seen as the superior caster but there are too many bad match-ups versus Menoth to risk using her. Balance is only achieved through experience and list building. Of course this naturally goes on into Hordes vs Warmachine. Here the number of bad match-ups generally increase as a lot of abilities and spells for both games are system specific. eHaley is arguably the best Warcaster in Warmachine but several key abilities don't work vs Hordes and therefore she is not as frightening as some others. Playing the Warlock pDoomshaper against certain warcasters would also be a recipe for a very tough game. It doesn't follow that Trollbloods are weak against warmachine though because the increased number of bad match-ups they can appear so. Play Grim Angus and the match up can be very good.
The final point that needs to be made is that Warmachine and Hordes are games that need sales. The new stuff has to offer something that the old doesn't and to this end the scale of balance is a precarious one. In Mark 1 there were several warcasters that were simply too powerful when coupled with options they factions had. Epic Vlad and the pGoreshade Bane Knight spam are typical examples of these. In Mk2 these do exist though thankfully to a lesser extent. Finding players that you can have a balanced game with is still paramount. Typically if your opponent has a balanced list (no spams or multiples of certain powerful models) then the likelihood is that you will have a good and balanced game no matter whether you play Hordes or Warmachine.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Big Trolls. Lots of 'em.

There is a certain army list that I just can't get out of my head. Since MK1, Doomshaper was one of my favorite casters.When epic Doomshaper showed up, I was really looking forward to playing Doomy with lot of Dire Trolls and some support.

I didn't playing Doomy much since MK2 came out, so two weeks ago, I decided to play him on the tournament. The tournament itself was very different from what we usually play - it wasn't so much about being competitive, as it was about promoting the game. The emphasis was on using fully painted miniatures and cool terrain pieces. The tournament also took place in an art gallery called "Progress". The gallery is located in the very centre of the town and has walls made of glass - so passers-by can see what's going on inside. The Warmachine/Hordes event was side event - the main thing was the Flames of War tournament.

Flames of War tournament
So, I decided to play a 'casual' list - epic Doomshaper and a lot of big Trolls. So, here is my list:

- eDoomy
- Dire Troll Mauler
- Earthborn Dire Troll
- Mulg the Ancient
- Gatormen Posse (3)
- Krielstone bearers (4)
- Stone scribe elder

There was no plan behind this list. Just run up to your opponent and try to kill as much as possible. It turned out that this plan worked most of the time. Additionally, this list contained some very cool models and everything except Mulg was painted (but I am planing to paint him really soon). A lot of people came to the gallery to see what the hell are we doing and many kids were running around my table, looking at the Trolls and saying things like: "Oooh, look at his teeth!!!", "Wow, it's a cool monster!" or "Do you have more of these?" It was great - I was really having a good time.

The battle for the Cygnar... device.
The games were friendly, but since I had to promote the whole thing and be the judge in the same time, I dropped out of the competition after round one. It was me against Dejan, again. Dejan's list was as usual - Reznik with Avatar, some jack whose name I cannot remember, Bastions, Knight Exemplars and a lot of support stuff. But, my Trolls ate them. No really - I used the snacking rule whenever I could.

Uros (Eveblight) and Dejan (Menoth) fighting for the altar.

The game was short and brutal. My gatormen killed one Bastion and Mulg and EBDT ate the rest ("GET IN ME BELLY, URRGH!!!"). Avatar (backed up by Vassal) tried to get close to Mulg, but I have already seen what Avatar and Vassal are capable of doing. So, my Mauler just threw the Avatar on some Knights, and then Mulg ended his life quickly. Knights destroyed my EBDT because they got some insane damage rolls and Reznik charged the Mulg and killed it (he was rolling one additional damage die because Mulg had an upkeep spell on him). But, he got too close to Mauler, who just charged and ate him.

Later, I had an opportunity to play a friendly game with Vuk. Vuk hasn't been playing for some time, so this was more a demo than the real game. I was playing only to do some crazy stuff and I succeeded - I ate 6 members of Winterguard unit in one turn, healing Mulg completely :D Nothing can describe the joy of snacking. No, I'm dead serious - I'm going to use this rule in every single game with Trolls, I just love it.

Anyway, the whole event was great. I will post some pictures as soon as I find them. A lot of people saw the game and I think we have some new players. I also managed to do some painting - I should get camera during the weekend, so I can take a few pictures of what I've done. That's it - for now.