Saturday, August 31, 2013

Warmachine, Building the force.

I like building armies. The list revision and collection process is half the fun of playing. I love tweaking rosters until I end up with a list that makes best use of points and style As noted previously, I’ve begun collecting Khador again. I’ve started this project by deciding what I want/need for a maximum list before buying my first model. Starting with the warcaster, I knew that I’d be playing in casual games against a wide range of skills, styles, and armies. I wanted a warcaster who could compare favorably to those opponents, but who wouldn’t prove an auto-win option against any of them. Warmachine provides a lot of flavor for its casters by giving each of them a theme list. I decided that I’d stick to the chosen caster’s list—so whichever character was chosen would need to have a roster I would enjoy playing and that my opponents would enjoy playing against. I reviewed the available casters and came up with the following: • Vlad in all his incarnations is amazing. Unfortunately his theme list is pikeman-centric, making him far too one dimensional and model heavy for me. Sad, because up until now he’s been my favorite caster. • Karchev is a great caster in this format, especially since he is primarily a jack and man-o-war commander. I’m not much on Gray lords, but he has potential. • The butcher has always appealed to me. Version one has a nice mix of infantry and jack abilities blended with a jack and man-o-war theme list. I really want to play version two, but the infantry count would be high and I don’t think my opponents would enjoy facing 18 tuff doomreavers. I haven’t seen any specifics on version three, but supposedly he comes with two pet warbeasts. At the time of this writing, he’s not available to purchase, so he’s out. • Both versions of Sorscha are great. Unfortunately, she loves her winter guard far too much. Version one has an assassination feet if ever there was one. I’m trying to avoid casters that come down to do x and win. I’ll keep her battle box and Beast 09, but she’s out of the running. • I really want to like the old witch except her theme list requires kossites. I hate throwaway units. Also, she is definitely denial themed, again, not fun for my opponents. She’s a good match for my style of play, so maybe I’ll hold her in reserve. • Both the Irusks are about infantry and lots of it. He has a great list of spells and abilities, but I can’t handle the army required to take advantage of his tier lists. • Zerkova is just interesting enough that I might want to play her. From a composition standpoint, her themed force is flexible without being overpowered. The issue is that she suffers from battlefield identity crisis—a disorder that afflicts many warcasters. She is clearly a support caster lacking the requisite means to survive the front ranks, and yet that’s exactly where she needs to be to make best use of her spells. I’d take her as a companion to butcher II or Karchev since their theme lists are somewhat complimentary, but otherwise not as a primary caster. • Strakhov is a great caster, really frigging amazing. His spells, Ohmygod! Can we say dream list? Fast, check. Some denial? Check. Board control? Check. Feet that totally bones an opponent? Double check. His tier list has assault-co—man---dos? Wa--Wa. Why did such a great caster get stuck with one of the worst units in the Khador inventory? His tier list not only features one of the most annoying units possible, but also is infantry heavy. Regrettably, he gets the axe. • Harkevich is the man. Coming from Khador that’s saying something. A spell that removes knock down and stationary from his entire battle group? A spell that lets his entire battle group take a free shot? How about a spell that lets a model/unit reroll all missed to-hit rolls? What about a warcaster who gives the entire battle group a boost to movement and pathfinder? His feet adds 3 arm to his entire battle group plus bonuses to movement and charges. His tier list is pretty sweet too, especially if you put in some of the big AOE hitters. Yes, I think he’s amazing. He gives Khador mobility, firepower, and a variety of tactical options that it just didn’t have before. I’m left with a few partial matches and two definite options. I spent some time looking between the two casters. Butcher has a PP recommended league list. Harkevich has great synergy with all the jacks I love. Ultimately it came down to the fact that I don’t want to start out by taking any named jacks, solos, or units. I want a themed list that lets me play without overpowered or game swinging abilities, just me and strategy working for the win. Harkevich’s tier list requires Black Ivan which is a reasonable character jack but still breaks with my preference. So, Butcher won that round. I’ll come back to the iron wolf if I ever want a second caster; But the Butcher has it for now. Next comes picking a list for the big guy. Fortunately, his theme list and my preferences make this fairly easy. From battle college: Tier Requirement Benefit T 1 Khador non-character warjacks, Kossite Woodsmen, Widowmakers, Man-O-War Units, Winter Guard Infantry, Manhunters, War Dog, Widowmaker Marksman, Yuri the Axe, Man-O-War Solos Manhunter Solos get +1 FA for each unit included Point cost of Man-O-War Shocktroopers is reduced by 1. T 2 Two or more Man-O-War Units Man-O-War units gain +2 SPD during the first turn of the game. T 3 Four or more solos Solos may be redeployed after both player have deployed, but before the first player's first turn. T 4 Three or more warjacks without ranged weapons Warjacks without ranged weapons gain Advance Deploy Right off the bat we can cut winterguard and Yuri. I hate cumbersome squishy infantry and The Axe is a named character. Also, the widowmaker marksman is interesting but has that funky elite cadre rule. I like her, but again, I’m looking for simple, basic units. I’m also not fond of the war dog, though that’s more because I don’t like spending points defensively. That cuts a fair amount of selections. Moving on to tier II, I need 2 units of MOWs of any variety. I love bombardiers. Who wouldn’t want a unit of buzz saw wielding, cannon shooting, mecha warriors? More than one unit would pose challenges resolving the blasts, but one full unit for 11 points should be fine. That leaves me to choose between shock troopers and the demolition core. I want to like the demolition core, I really do. The thing is Khador has better melee infantry point-for-point. Their armor is nice, but won’t protect them on the long slog. Shock troopers get a discount in Butcher’s tier list anyway. A full unit will provide an iron wall for the bombardiers to advance behind. That’s 19 points. There are several ways to play butcher’s feet. The two big ones are to use it early to clear out a large segment of the opposing forces or to wait until end game and set up the mother of all assassination turns. Option one appeals to me on several levels. Attrition armies play to scenario more than caster kill, which makes the game more competitive and less douchy. There’s nothing wrong with caster kill as a win condition—for some casters it’s the only tactic they can execute; but I would rather stay clear of it is a primary strategy. Option one also plays to butcher’s strength, allowing him to use a mix of ranged heavy hitters to thin out the enemy before dropping the bloody axe of vengeance upon the survivors of his feet. To make that strategy work I’m going to need three more elements—a precise ranged unit to snipe out key enemy assets, a set of jacks that can set up the end game, and some “best defense” units to do double duty as problem solvers and threat projection. The first part of that equation is easy. Widowmakers are elite snipers. They will get out ahead of the MOW block and thin the enemy ranks. They can dish out significant pain even without butcher’s feet—so that’s 4 points down. With three units taken I can select five manhunters. They will do an excellent job of pinch hitting and deterring the enemy—so 10 more points spent there. Looking at the jacks is a bit more difficult. So far I’ve spent 33 points of a total 56 points including butcher’s warjack freebees. Butcher’s tier 4 requirement somewhat limits my options. I’d love to have a spriggan but the grenades count against the ranged weapon limitation for his jacks—and I’m not getting more than three jacks in this list. His league starting roster includes a Kodiak and a decimator. Though I’ll get the decimator for beginning league play, he has a ranged weapon so won’t count for this list. I’ll get 2 of the Kodiaks leaving me 7 points to play with. That means picking between the marauder and the juggernaut. Jug kicks but, but I don’t need something to wreck face, I need something to set up the end game so the marauder gets the slot. Looking at this list I have: • The butcher +6 • Full unit of bombardiers -11 • Full unit of Shock troopers -8 • Widowmakers -4 • 5 manhunters -10 • 2 Kodiaks -16 • 1 marauder -7 =56 points. The problem with this list is that five manhunters aren’t really friendly. Actually that’s a really dickish thing to do to an unsuspecting opponent. I have four widowmakers so I’ll cut one manhunter for symmetry’s sake. Four is still intimidating, but not as excessive. So what to do with those 2 points. The man-o-war kovnick would be nice, but he costs 3 points. I could cut one of the Kodiaks down to a second marauder freeing up enough to buy him, but do I really want to do that? Yes, yes I do. That’s actually a better distribution of board control and gives me a strong solo in the back line to counter enemy solos; plus, the kovnick can provide a decent command stat for the man-o-wars—god knows the butcher won’t be much help in that department. So the new list looks like: • The butcher +6 • Full unit of bombardiers -11 • Full unit of Shock troopers -8 • 1 Man-o-war Kovnick -3 • Widowmakers -4 • 4 manhunters -8 • 1 Kodiak -8 • 2 marauders -14 =56 points. This list has a couple great features. It’s small—meaning my turns should go relatively quickly after I play a few games. There is an excellent mix of shoot/assault, tuff/fast, and devastation/finesse. In most games the bombardiers set up behind the shield walled shock troopers—using their arcing fire to hit targets of opportunity. They can get stuck in if they need to, but their primary job is to thin the enemy down, especially on butcher’s feet turn. The shock troopers defend butcher and the bombardiers while dismantling anything that gets in their nine inch threat range. The Kovnick runs heard on the MOW block—ensuring no flankage happens. He’s slow, but is a one man wrecking crew if anyone gets in his charge distance. The widowmakers do what they do best—deploying ahead of the MOW block sniping key enemy models and selectively pinging jacks where needed. Their job is to find a nice piece of concealment and sit there distracting the enemy. The manhunters hit targets of opportunity in the early game—finishing off wounded jacks and clearing out roadblocks. These two units act in much the same way. They are a forward projection of force designed to weaken the enemy as butcher’s armored fist comes in to finish them off. Finally the jacks set up the endgame. The marauder, properly placed, is an outstandingly efficient jack. With fury on it, it delivers a massive one shot directed slam to whatever needs clearing/killing. Most targets short of a colossal will be heavily damaged, knocked down, and moved from their previous placement—great targets for the rest of the army. The Kodiak can also knock targets down with his combo strike but is best left to shatter enemy heavies with boosted fist attacks backed by a final two fisted throw. His vent steam ability can block LOS or clear blocks of squishy bodies. The army is small and vulnerable to massed weaponmaster infantry, but then what isn’t. It needs to drive the tempo of the conflict since it is a poor reactive force. The widowmakers and manhunters are essentially expendable. Their job is to distract and harass. As long as they accomplish that goal for three turns or so they’ll have earned their points back. My two biggest concerns are a hard-hitting armored fist like cavalry and denial casters. The first can dismantle my jacks and man-o-wars while avoiding my skirmishers. The second can keep me from engaging. I have enough ranged selections that I can make a fight of it, but those threats will prove difficult. So that’s it. I’ve ordered the jacks and caster assembled and painted from blue table painting. I worked with them in the past with mixed results. I’d like to use someone local, but this is going to be a big project. Frankly, I’d rather have someone like Deathquaker, provided she’s willing, handle the infantry. But I really want the jacks and caster yesterday. So this is my final shot at working with BTP. I’ve been very clear in my instructions. Excerpted: “Assembly Instructions I am 100% blind. This means that my hand comes down on top or from the side with some force as I’m moving and locating models on the board. It is very important that models are assembled as strongly and in as compact a manner as possible…i.e., weapons held into the body, no funky one point of contact mountings, no delicate flourishes on the base, pinning…etc. If it’s a question of a dynamic pose or conversion VS making the model bombproof, go with bombproof. I cannot stress this enough, the models need to be firmly and strongly assembled, especially at joints, the point where the model is mounted on the base, and any point of extension. This is the biggest factor in my satisfaction with this project. Conversion Budget: $25 Conversion Guidelines Nothing fancy, these guys stomp on things and break them. Battle debris, slain foes on the bases, whatever won’t compromise the model’s durability and adds a little flavor.” And “Painting Instructions General I am looking for a dark metallic paint scheme indicative of ruthless oncoming destruction. When people look at this battle group I want them to see the offensive front line coming at them with uniform metallic colors and the dull sheen of cold tooled steel fresh off the assembly line. I am less interested in battle damage and powder stains than I am in the overall perception of the clean glossy dark crimson and oiled metal look of a finely made but brutal construct. Generally, Cygnar and the retribution get painted up as the new car/polished technology factions. I’m looking to buck that trend with this battle group, proving that even a SUV can be visually appealing in an understated lethal way if given a clean paint job and a nice finish. Think transformers the movie if that helps. These guys aren’t high-Tec; they are pure contained force in a simple brutal package. Specific As the general color, I would like a black base with a dark crimson metallic marbling on top, to create a red almost holographic perception of depth over the black—such as you might find in a very dark red-black auto paint—or as close as the restrictions of the paint level and materials will allow. I do not want anything even minutely approaching pink, very dark-red is the name of the game. The jack weapons, especially the ram pistons, open fists, and buzz saw should be the color of dark oiled steel. Butcher should have some gold highlights to mark him as a warcaster; otherwise I’ll leave it to your imagination as long as it keeps with the dark and deadly theme. I’d rather him be under ornamented than covered in scroll work and such. He’s a no frills kind of guy. I’d like the entire army covered in a thick coat of the clear gloss finish, both to protect the finish and to add to the sheen of the metal. These are going to get banged around some; I want the paint to be able to bounce back a bit.” If they can follow directions, I’ll have some more business for them. If not, that’ll be the end of our association. The only reason I’m going through this process with BTP is that they’ve supposedly got a few of their “master painters and assemblers” working on the side for a “special opps” program. Supposedly these are a few elite peeps ready for quick turnaround with a high level of quality. We’ll see. It apparently takes six days for them to order two jacks. I think rather this is them running their yearly Valhalla gaming extravaganza. Whatever…I really only care about the finished product. If there’s a little BS thrown in, well some people are like that. As long as it comes back money well spent I can live with the flim-flam. Honestly, I need a good assembler and painter who isn’t a close friend. Hopefully these guys will get this right.

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