Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Project: Gorten Grundback

I have a problem.  Whenever I start a new faction I tell myself that I'll "only" play a particular warcaster/warlock... then maybe just a couple... then I end up owning most of the faction.  This happened with Cygnar, this happened with Circle, and now it's happening with Mercenaries.  Please, can someone take my Legion off of my hands so I don't get tempted to do it again?  I originally just got my Mercenaries to play with the pirates, in particular: Broadsides Bart.  It's a fun list but I just never really got it to a point where I was really happy with it, you know?  Then I expanded a bit and decided to try Fiona the Black.  She's an underdog and faces a lot of criticism, so I decided to try her out to prove people wrong.  After a lot of tweaking and playtesting, I've found a good list for her that I like.  Now, after some list building with a fan of the blog, I broke down and decided to try out Gorten Grundback.  Before you get all excited about Rhulic dwarves, I'm sadly not going to be playing with the Searforge Commission (yet), but rather sticking with the Highborn Covenant.  It makes sense, after all, since I play Fiona with the same contract and I already own lots of Cygnar models, so I might as well, right?  Well here's the list that I've put together:

Highborn Covenant 35 points
Gorten Grundback (+7)
- Basher (7)
Alexia and Risen (5)
Forge Guard (full, 8)
Gun Mages (6)
- Officer (2)
  - Mule (8)
Rhupert (2)
Ragman (2)
Gorman (2)

Not a lot of moving parts in this list but I like it.  I'll need to play around with it to decide what I want to tweak, but so far I really like it.  This list brings a bunch of bodies onto the field and some cleverly disguised hard-hitting.  My favorite part, though, is the shooting potential of the list.  While the meta is changing, shooting is still very effective if you have the right tools.  While Gorten doesn't inherently offer much synergy to shooting armies, I think this list will take advantage of what Gorten does have to offer rather well.

The first thing to note is the number of bodies hitting the field.  Forge Guard are some great high-ARM troops which pack a serious punch but can die easily to weapon masters or charging infantry.  Having a nice and squishy screen of risen in front of them, however, will mean that my opponent will have a hard time getting to the forge guard, allowing me to deliver their counter-punch most effectively.  Even if my opponent does kill some forge guard, they'll just add to Alexia's number of risen, so it's a great cycle of annoyance.  Rhupert, of course, is there to give out Pathfinder as needed, but also to make the risen Tough, which can take a normally annoying unit to hilarious levels of being annoying.  Even if my opponent wants to remove Alexia directly, the Tough rolls on the risen can be used on her "transfers" so she'll be even more difficult to remove.

Behind the forge guard and taking advantage of their Ranked Attacks, the Gun Mages and their Mule will be about to reach out and shoot the crap out of enemy models as they get close.  Sure, the risen can still get in the way, but if I'm really worried about it, I'll gladly trade a risen to a free strike if it means killing enemy infantry.  The Mule will be able to do some serious damage while he's marshalled by the Gun Mages and it helps take the focus load off of Gorten who has only 5 at the best of times to use.  The Mule can do all kinds of fun shenanigans and, again, I'm not afraid to shoot my own risen in the back (they'll be DEF 12 even if engaged! hahaha!) if it means clearing out a charge lane.

Toss in Ragman and Gorman for some improved damage, and we have ourselves a party!  Gorman will be sitting fairly safe behind all of the risen and can naturally Black Oil those pesky Colossals/Gargantuans or Rust Bomb a warjack if I'm worried about it.  Ragman, of course, will turn those risen into a slightly greater threat (especially if I'm shooting them while they're engaged) and he turns the forge guard into serious damage potential.  If I can tag a warjack with a Rust Bomb and get Ragman in range with his Death Field, even a Khador heavy at ARM 20 will crumble to merely 4 charging forge guard! 

So what does Gorten bring to this party, anyway?  I think I can sum it up with two things: his feat and Solid Ground.  Gorten has an amazing feat that is well known for it's tournament winning potential.  While he has a small control area, the rest of this list and his naturally high armor mean that he'll be quite comfortable sitting pretty close to the front lines anyway.  His feat not only pushes models back up to 8", but it also offers a very useful SPD, DEF, and RAT debuff (although the RAT debuff is rarely important).  This means that even if my opponent decides to just run in and engage my models, I can simply pop feat and push them all back while my ranged attacks shoot them down.  The DEF debuff means they'll be much easier to hit and even if they try to come at me again, the SPD debuff will make it difficult for them to even run to get close again.  In essence, Gorten does support a ranged force by allowing them the opportunity to get basically 2 extra shooting 'phases'.

The second (arguably most important) piece of support Gorten offers is his spell Solid Ground.  Don't get me wrong, Rock Wall is pretty awesome too, but for such a low-FOC 'caster, Solid Ground will provide more benefits for upkeeping it (I'd even be willing to pay the double focus to upkeep it if someone makes me do that).  The spell offers two important benefits for this list: no blast damage and friendly models can't be knocked down.  Those are huge benefits!  Sure, small control area again, but keeping everyone standing is great for Tough, thanks to Rhupert as well as keeping Gorten alive longer since DEF 13 is hardly unimpressive as it is.  I think the immunity to blast damage is probably the most important, however.  With the exception of the forge guard, the rest of the warrior models in this list are fairly low in ARM values and are very susceptible to blast damage.  Gun Mages are only ARM 11 so even some of the weakest blast weapons are able to clear them out with ease.  Suddenly with Solid Ground, not only does the opponent have to get through a wall of forge guard, but they can't even hope that blast damage will remove some of those gun mages.

Just thinking about all of this makes me giddy and eager to try this list out!  I've also noted that there are no FA:C models in this list that I'd want to use with my Fiona list.  Could this mean that I have some tournament potential here???  We shall see!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Steamroller Prep: Escalation Tournament

So there's an Escalation Tournament on December 9th at The Battle Standard in Manchester, CT that sounds really interesting.  Unfortunately, I'm on duty that weekend so I will be unable to attend *shakes fist* but in case I can get someone to switch duty weekends with me, I still would like to prepare for it.  What will be interesting about the tournament is that there will be 4 rounds and the points values for each round increase, so you'll play at 15 points the first round, then 25, then 35, and lastly you'll play at 50 points.  Where it gets most challenging, however, is that you must keep building on your previous list.  In other words, the models in the 15 point list must be present in your 25 point list and so on.  The other major challenge is that your 15 point list is warjack/warbeast only (although you can be 3 points down).  That's where things get tricky because it means infantry warcasters will have a tougher time first round, and so the event as a whole will likely favor warjack/warbeast-heavy lists.  So what would I be bringing?  Well I first had to start with looking at viable 15 point lists, since those elements will carry forth into the later rounds.  Here's what I considered:

Friday, November 16, 2012

List Building Advice: Fiona

I recently received another request for some list building advice on the facebook page, this time regarding Fiona the Black.  I love Fiona and if she didn't require such specific synergies and characters, I would bring her to more tournaments.  I always have fun with her when I play her but she's missing something to make her more of a tournament-viable warcaster.  That said, I was eager to provide some advice on building a list with her since I've spent many hours playing her and building lists for her.  While I'm satisfied with the list that I play with her, it's nice to design a list for someone else.  In addition, this particular person wanted me to work within the models in their collection, which I'm always happy to do.  Here was the message:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

35 point Fall Steamroller Results

Sunday I played my first tournament in well over 2 months and it felt great!  While I was definitely pretty rusty, I found myself in my element and on my game, for the most part.  There was a little issue in the last game because me and my opponent were pretty tired and forgot that scoring for Incursion meant scoring each turn instead of round, but we were able to retroactively determine that I did, in fact, win the scenario.  He was a great sport and we had some good laughs afterwards about how tired we were.  So let me share the lists that I finally decided upon and then I'll briefly break down my games.

Monday, November 05, 2012

List Building Advice: Gorten 50 points

Continuing from Friday's post, a fan had messaged me through the Steam-Powered Gamer facebook page asking for some advice with building lists in preparation for Templecon.  My disclaimer is that I admit I'm not some mastermind player but I do enjoy the theory and building lists with particular goals and restrictions in mind.  If anyone wishes for advice on building a list, I'm glad to offer some feedback and I will rarely suggest an alternative warcaster (unless that's a flexible criteria).  I understand that not everyone has lots of money to drop on a brand new list (I'm no exception) and so we enjoy working with the collections we already have.  Fortunately, this particular individual has been investigating lists via Vassal and hasn't purchased anything yet, so there's a lot of flexibility in the list design.  I have to admit, I'm probably the most proud of this particular list, even if he ultimately decided to go the full Khador route (although not with the Harkevich list presented on Friday).

Here's the list that he was looking at for Gorten Grundback:
Searforge Commission, 50 points
Gorten: +7
- Driller: 6
- Rockram: 8
- Rockram: 8
- Avalancher: 9
10 forgeguard: 8
6 forgeguard: 5
10 high shields + UA: 11
Thor: 2
My feedback:
As far as the Gorten list goes, I do have to ask if it has to be Searforge? Unfortunately, Searforge is a very limiting contract and I think I could come up with an interesting list if you took a Highborn Covenant list instead. Mercenaries can have VERY different looking lists and the Rhulic 'casters are no exception. Here's the list I've come up with using the Highborn Covenant:
Gorten (+7)
- Basher (7)
Gun Mages (6)
- Officer (2)
- Mule (8)
Hammerfall High Shields (full, 8)
- Officer and Standard (3)
Master Gunner Dougal Macnaile (2)
Thor (2)
- Rockram (8)
Rhupert (2)
Rorsh and Brine (9)
The problem with Gorten is that he has so little focus so you basically just have to rely on getting him far upfield to make the most of his feat - and that means making sure he camps as much focus as possible so you can keep him alive. Rock Wall and Solid Ground help keep him alive and are really fantastic for units like Gun Mages since they're so vulnerable to blast damage. I like the Highborn list the best because it's such an awesome shooting list (I'm biased about shooting, despite what the meta says).  The High Shields can trod upfield while in shield wall shooting stuff while the gun mages sit behind them taking advantage of Ranked Attacks, safe from reprisal!  The Gun Mages will have a marshalled Mule to stick with the ranged theme without putting more of a focus drain on Gorten. Even if your opponent gets close enough to disrupt your shooting abilities, you pop feat, push everything back and slap them with a DEF penalty so you can shoot them even more reliably and the SPD penalty will prevent them from simply charging at you next turn.  You effectively can have multiple rounds of shooting and mitigate one of the biggest weaknesses to shooting in Warmachine/Hordes. 
The Mule can also push stuff around if it scores a Crit but also sports a wonderful POW 15 and an AOE 4 and the Basher will have fun slamming things around and exploding all over their face while the rest of your troops laugh at blast damage (thanks to Solid Ground). Brine is also around for some heavy hitting without an increased focus load on Gorten and he's a slamming machine. Him and Rorsh offer great support on a flank since they're so fast and Rorsch can feel comfortable chucking dynamite or using diversionary tactics near the rest of your troops since, again, Solid Ground will protect them from blast damage.  In essence, you can take full advantage of fantastic blast weaponry to deal with targets both near and far without fear - and that's huge for a shooting list.

Rhupert is around for giving Tough to the high shields - making them even more annoying to deal with (especially with Solid Ground keeping them standing) and as if you need more shooting support, Dougal can pop his mini feat early to give +2 RNG to all ranged attacks and he will consistently throw Artillerist on the Mule to make it hit even more reliably (at least until he wants to shoot stuff with his quad iron or chuck some grenades).  Lastly, we have to include Thor because he's an awesome 'jack marshall and since he can marshall Rhulic 'jacks, we should give him the Rockram to take the most advantage of his and its capabilities.  The Rockram is solid and will be capable of providing solid shooting support with the rest of the army, but can also hit hard in melee if it needs to - again, without requiring any focus from Gorten.  And even if you're worried about a 'jack marshall dying, the High Shields officer is around to pick up the slack if needed.
What you get is a list that literally pushes around your opponent all across the board and is incredibly resilient. It's a solid tournament list, in my opinion, but it would need some practice.  Fortunately, however, there aren't a lot of complex synergies that require specific activation orders, so that should make using the list fairly straight forward to use.  You just have to make sure to upkeep Solid Ground and maybe throw out Rock Wall where/when you need it, but otherwise you should have a fairly easy time using the list.  Rorsh and Brine take some getting used to, but they provide a fast moving element to the list that can protect a flank from getting overrun and keeping your backfield safe.

In fact, if I didn't have to spend so much money buying so much of the list, I'd probably try playing it myself!  Maybe if they release a plastic Rhulic 'jack kit...

Friday, November 02, 2012

List Building Advice: Harkevich 50 points

I understand that I'm not the best player out there for Warmachine/Hordes but I do love building lists and working on theory.  Recently a follower of the blog asked me for some feedback on a couple of lists and I was more than happy to oblige!  Today I'll look at the first of the lists presented and give some feedback.  I'll share the other list next week.

If anyone wants some feedback on lists just feel free to head over to the Steam-Powered Gamer facebook page and send me a message and I'll be glad to take a look at it.  Since most of us have our own limitations on building lists, I do take into consideration issues like the size of a collection or the amount of money you can spend on tweaking a list, so don't be afraid to ask for advice.  Also, I have one hard and fast rule and that is that I will not tell you which warcaster/warlock to play (unless that's the feedback you want).  I think it's rude when someone says "well your first mistake is that you're not playing X warcaster/warlock."  We all have our reasons for choosing particular models to play and I like giving feedback that meets your own criteria.  If you want to make a particular model work, I'm glad to toss around ideas with you to see what we can do!

Without further ado, I'll share the original list that requested feedback and then I'll share my feedback for Harkevich.

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