Time travelling with Major Prime Victoria Haley

I have recently decided to move back to Cygnar for a while after playing Legion exclusively for the last 5 months. The main reason for that is the newest Warcaster for Cygnar, published in the new Reckoning expansion, Major Prime Victoria Haley or Haley3. As a matter of fact, not only is she the third version of Victoria Haley, but she is actually a unit consisting of 3 Haleys. So, how does this work on the table?

Well, Major Victoria Haley has now mastered time travel to the point that she has been named Prime, an arcane rank only awarded by unanimous decision by all other high-ranking Cygnaran mages. As a result, she can now summon echoes of herself to fight alongside her on the battlefield. She is therefore joined by her past version, also known as Young Haley, Haley Past, DILF or similar, and her future version, Granny Haley or Haley Future. The echoes do not count as Warcaster, but are part of her unit, have their own focus pool and can channel spells through her warjacks. In addition, the echoes are Incorporeal, meaning they can’t be harmed by non-magical weapons as long as they have not used their melee or ranged attacks in last round. This gives them another layer of protection. Should an echo die, Haley can summon it again for 2 Focus Points, but the echo cannot activate on that turn, making losing one really annoying. Furthermore, each Haley has her own spell list, though Prime Haley can copy any spell another version has cast on the same term, which means that she cannot use the spells of a freshly summoned Haley.

Regarding their physical stats, they each have the same stat line the previous version had, good SPD, high DEF, but low ARM with OK attack stats. Haley Prime has the usual amount of hit boxes and the echoes have the typical 5 boxes for a solo. Prime has 8 FOC, however, she has to spend two Focus Points for each echo she wants to upkeep at the beginning of the turn, meaning that she usually only has 4 to spend or 5 with the Squire. Her echoes have 4 FOC each, which makes Past Haley’s attack spells a bit difficult to use, as she uses her FOC stat to aim. Finally, her feat is called Arcane Singularity and it gives each Haley in the unit +2 FOC and 2 Focus Points for the turn. This makes Haley Past more accurate and lets them each cast more than one spell per round.

Speaking of spells, what can they cast? Haley Past is all about the offensive, with Chain Blast throwing out 2 templates and Force Hammer, which is great as it slams the target, which damages the target before knocking it down, potentially also dealing damage and knocking down the model behind it. This makes her a good assassination starter, as she can use a low DEF model standing in front of a warcaster to slam it into the warcaster and then knock the warcaster down to make them easier to hit. She also has a unique ability, Raw Talent, which gives her an additional damage dice on her spells and her Telekinetic strike melee attack, with Reach. In fact, she has an alternative mode where she can engage a target and then whale on them with 7 Weaponmaster attacks thanks to Raw Talent.

Haley Future, on the other hand, has no offensive spell, instead relying on her POW13 ROF3 ranged attack. However, she has two amazing support spells that no other Cygnar caster has and that some people already claim Cygnar has no business having. Revive, which lets you return a friendly faction model to play with one unmarked damage box, and Ghost Walk, which gives a unit Ghostly. Ghost Walk is great as it makes you immune to free strikes, letting your ranged units disengage from melee and then shoot the offender in the head. It also makes Cygnar less dependent on Rhupert Carvolo and Archduke Alain Runewood as it effectively gives you Pathfinder. The real kicker though is Revive, as it can let you return models that died previously and more importantly letting you place them further ahead, provided that deploy in formation and in the caster’s control area. This lets you create really long assassination runs because Haley Prime on her feat turn has a 20-inch control are, 22 with Squire, and she can add models to a unit after Future Haley has cast the spell first. That way, you can chain models really far ahead, letting you deploy them in the opponent’s back arc or just much further ahead than they expected. As such, it is an amazing spell and has also boosted the sales of Storm Lances and Tempest Blazers, as those fast cavalry models can make the most of this spell.

Finally, Haley Prime has 4 spells, in addition to being able to replicate her echoes’ spells. She has the brand-new Repudiate, dispelling all enemy upkeeps on a target and dealing damage to the caster of those upkeeps, which is great as Cygnar had no in-faction upkeep removal before this. Her one ‘stinker’ spell is Dominate, which is only rarely useful, but with the amount of spells she has available, it is hardly an issue. Her real winner spells are Tactical Supremacy and Temporal Flux. Tactical Supremacy is another one of those spells Cygnar should never have. In itself, it looks quite harmless, only letting you move a unit 3 inches after activating your whole army. It becomes amazing with Cygnar’s black sheep unit, the much-maligned Trencher Infantry. Trenchers can drop cloud effects to shield the rest of the army, but they themselves have to be in the area of the cloud when dropping it. Units inside of clouds only gain the concealment DEF bonus, whereas units behind clouds cannot be targeted at all by models that don’t ignore clouds (which only Legion does on more than a few units). This meant that Trenchers would put up a cloud wall to shield the rest of the army, then die as the enemy army could only target them. With Tactical Supremacy, those days are over as they can drop their clouds, then step behind them at the end of the turn and become invisible too. The real game winner is Temporal Flux, which adds +2 DEF to her unit and every friendly model in 5” of one of them, whilst also reducing enemy DEF in that area by 2. This is such a kick in the teeth for some armies, as Gun Mages all of a sudden have a DEF of 17, Haley herself goes to 18 and even more with Rhupert Carvolo or against charging opponent, meaning that even elite units need 10s or more to hit. By the same token, the -2 DEF penalty skews dice math in your favour, as units that you would normally hit on an 8 are hit on a 6 now, which drastically changes your odds of hitting (you roll 8s 5 times out of 12 and 6s 8 times out of 12 or so).

In conclusion, you can see that she has an enormously flexible and extensive spell list, with no less than 8 spells and being able to use an unprecedented 12 Focus Points per turn, able to go to 18 (19 with Squire) on feat turn. In terms of roles, she is not really committed like the previous Haleys are. Haley 1 and 2 are both control casters with spells and feats that slow down the opponent long enough to win on scenario or eliminate enough key models to make victory impossible for the opponent. Haley3 still has a control element, especially with the Trencher Cloud Wall being able to prevent charges and shots to anything behind it. Unlike the previous incarnations of Haley, she also has a strong attrition element by being able to Revive key models when necessary. This lets her play more aggressively as she can send Storm Lances and Tempest Blazers off to their death to trade for solos or small units, then Revive them and have them available for the mid- or endgame. Finally, she has an amazing assassination potential because of Force Hammer, Revive and Ghost Walk. So Young Haley can cast a fully boosted Force Hammer at FOC6 on feat turn, hopefully slam the enemy caster into a wall for 5d6+12 damage or ‘just’ slam someone into them to knock them down, then Old Haley can Revive a Tempest Blazer or Storm Lance before giving that unit Ghost Walk to make them immune to Free Strikes if necessary, otherwise dropping a second Revive. Then Prime Haley can drop Temporal Flux (or probably has done so already before moving) to give the enemy Warcaster -2 DEF if they are still standing, following it up with another Revive or Force Hammer. With potentially 3 models Revived, the unit can be extended quite far forward, as the Revived model has to be placed within 3” of an existing model and in command, letting you chain them by placing each one within 3” of the previously placed model to extend up to 9” from the leader model (as they have to be in command), but adding another two inches by virtue of being on a two-inch base as only the rear part of the base has to be in command. As the Revived models can then activate with the rest of the unit, they can charge a full 11 inches further ahead than the unit could otherwise. Getting two Stormlances on a Knocked Down Warcaster is usually enough to end the game even if they have not taken any damage beforehand. This means that she is a triple threat caster who can easily switch her victory condition on the field and thus adapt to multiple situations. She might suffer a bit from being too flexible, as her spell list is not really focused on one aspect or playstyle, but the fact that she has 8 spells makes her able to have the necessary tools to assume each role without being out of her depth.

Having talked about Haley3 so far, I now want to talk about the units that go well with her. First of all, she is a Cygnaran Warcaster, so it is a given that she wants a Squire and a Journeyman Warcaster, especially as she is the Warcaster who benefits the most from him as he can cast Arcane Shield on all three of them instead of just one model as is the case with all other Cygnaran Warcasters. The Squire only lets Prime Haley take a Focus Point off her or get the re-roll, but it is still an extremely useful model for her.

As I have talked so often about the Trencher Cloud Wall, it is clear that a unit of Trencher Infantry is almost a given in her list. Cloud Wall is a strong strategy as it lets your units advance without fear of being shot or charged, which increases the survivability of your main units and lets them attack at full strength. Moreover, opponents often have to sacrifice units, especially arc nodes, to run into the clouds to cast spells behind it or have targets inside the cloud wall to charge or shoot at (so a model with multiple attacks, especially with Overtake or Sidestep, can charge their own model that has moved into the clouds, then move on to attack enemy models behind the clouds). Like most people, I will stick to a minimum size unit as it can become difficult to extend the Cloud Wall much further due to the unit leader’s command limit. As the maximum unit is 10, whereas the minimum size is 6, those extra models would not do much to extend the Cloud Wall. One alternative is to get some Grenade Porter weapon attachments, as they are simply one model for a point, so it would be possible to add two models to extend the Cloud Wall to its maximum size without spending on unnecessary models.

Another essential for her is Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord. The first turn, he can give Pathfinder to a unit to let it advance through rough terrain without being slowed down. From the second turn onwards, he will spend most of his time playing Dirge of Mists to the Haleys, as this will make them DEF19 and cause Terror. Admittedly, Terror is rarely useful for a Warcaster as the things attacking them will rarely not be Warcasters, Warjacks or Warbeasts, all of which are Fearless, but DEF19 forces most units and Warjacks/Warbeasts to only hit them on 13s (so only on boosted attacks and even then it is very shaky) or by rolling boxcars, neither of which is really reliable as a tactic. Even the most elite Warcasters like eCaine and Butcher3 will only hit them on 10s, though that is feasible on boosted attack rolls. All in all, Rhupert adds another layer to the sum of their survivability, combining his DEF bonus with that from Temporal Flux, the echoes’ Incorporeal ability, Arcane Shield and the Cloud Wall. This means that Haley3 is able to take a lot more risks than her previous incarnations and move much further forward to help support the main line with Temporal Flux, making them both more accurate and more difficult to hit, which is amazing value.

This means that we have spent 13 points so far, leaving us with 40 as she only has 3 Warjack Points to start with. Speaking of Warjack Points, we should also add a Warjack now. And here opinions vary. One option is Thorn or a simple Lancer to give her an Arc Node. As all Haleys can use the Arc Node, provided it is in their own control area, it is useful to have one. However, neither Thorn nor the Lancer are very good damage dealers themselves and this means you spend points on models without adding to your damage output. As none of the models added so far are really good at dealing damage, we need to carefully consider if we should spend more points on a model that costs a lot for little offensive output. The next option would be a Sentinel. At 4 points, it is significantly cheaper than a Lancer or Thorn. It also does not really need any focus as it will spend most of the game walking next to Haley, spraying fire with its chain gun, but mostly just being there for its Shield Guard rule to take shots going on Haley or a member of her support staff, such as the Squire, Junior or Rhupert. Again, its offensive output is limited to a single chain gun, but it is cheap. Finally, there is the Charger at 4 points. It has a decent melee weapon and, more importantly, its Dual Cannon has the stats of a handcannon with ROF2 and Powerful Attack, so if it is allocated 3 Focus Points, it can pump out two fully boosted handcannon shots, which can kill two solos or really hurt a light Warjack or Warcaster. However, three Focus Points is a lot as Haley is often focus-starved despite having a potential 19 Focus Points available. I have tested Thorn and the Charger, but neither has really convinced me. I will give the Sentinel a go next and I expect that it will work fine and do work without breaking the bank.

Moving on, we should now add some actual damage dealers as we have solely focused on support so far. To the surprise of nobody who has actually bothered reading the article so far, the two first units we could try are Storm Lances and Tempest Blazers. Both units can hit very hard over very long distances. Tempest Blazers can hit targets 19 inches away even without adding Revive shenanigans, going to a whopping 30 inches when Reviving 3 Blazers. On the other hand, their shots are not that powerful, capping at 3d6+10 for their Brutal shots. Storm Lances have a shorter range, as they can charge targets 13 inches away, but compensate for that by having a P+S15 lance and MAT9 on the charge or with Temporal Flux (or 11 when both are combined). Of course, when you factor in Revive, they go to a threat range of 24” or half the table. Beyond the assassination run, both units are also good at the attrition game, as they can kill multiple targets per round each. They also all have access to Electro Leap on either their guns for the Blazers and melee and ranged attacks for the Lances, meaning that they can try to bounce a shot off a low DEF model to hit a high DEF model next to it. I think one unit of each is best, as it gives you access to both an extremely fast hit squad and a slightly slower and harder-hitting one.

So, having added these two units, we now have spent 38 of our 53 points, leaving us with 15. Having added some heavy hitters and support, we can now look to branch out to iron out our weaknesses. I am still looking at what option is best here.

The first option is the utility package:

6 Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Pistoleers plus Gun Mage Officer Adept

Lady Aiyana and Master Holt

Archduke Alain Runewood / Captain Maxwell Finn

The Gun Mages do their usual shtick, shooting people off objectives, sniping out blocking models or dealing with Incorporeal or high DEF threats. Being able to ignore Stealth, they can handle all those problem models quite easily. Lady Aiyana either provides another damage buff to facilitate assassinations or Magical Weapons when facing Menoth or Incorporeal models. Master Holt is ‘only’ two RAT8 handcannons to clear lanes or snipe solos. Finally, we have the choice between two excellent support solos. Runewood’s Battle Plans can be adapted to the situation on the fly, letting a unit charge through rough terrain or providing a MAT buff with Fearless tagged on to enable a Storm Lance charge that can kill even the most agile Warcaster reliably enough. Captain Maxwell Finn is less flexible, but Desperate Pace on Trenchers is great, as they can then advance 8 inches before dropping their clouds, giving you more space to deploy behind the Cloud Wall. There is also a moment in the mid- or end-stages of the game where the Cloud Wall is no longer necessary or feasible and the remaining Trenchers are actually expected to do some fighting. At this stage, having a +2 bonus makes them more reliable to actually hit someone, though Finn does nothing to help their slightly pillow-fisted attacks wound.

The second option is the heavy Warjack road:

Lieutenant Allison Jakes

Dynamo

Ragman / Stormblade Captain

Jakes is a Journeyman Warcaster, so she can field Dynamo and give it 3 Focus per round without taking from Haley’s stack. She also has Sidekick as an upkeep spell, which adds +2 DEF to its already nice DEF 12. Stack Temporal Flux on top and all of a sudden you have a DEF16 heavy Warjack with Set Defense, making it all but immune to charge attacks and with enough ARM to shrug off non-charge attacks. Dynamo can also stay behind the Cloud Wall and advance whilst taking shots with its Firestorm Cannon without having to charge ahead to actually have an impact on the game. As Dynamo can easily kill most heavy Warjacks and cripple a Colossal/Gargantuan, it is a powerful tool to hide behind the Cloud Wall and deploy when necessary. Jakes is also quite survivable at DEF16, but she needs to stay well-hidden to avoid becoming a priority target. Finally, Ragman replaces Aiyana and Holt as a cheaper, though not as efficient, ARM debuff or the Stormblade Captain enables the Storm Lances to charge through each other in case they get entangled, which is bound to happen as they have to clump together behind the Cloud Wall.

A variant of this is:

Lieutenant Allison Jakes

Gallant

Ragman / Stormblade Captain

Stormsmith Stormcaller

Gallant is a point cheaper than Dynamo, trading offensive output for resilience. Gallant has DEF13 on its own, going to 17 with all the bonuses, as well as ARM19 with its Buckler. It also has Shield Guard to protect either Jakes or Haley and even wields a Magical Reach weapon in the cases where this is needed. The Stormsmith adds some solo sniping, but to be honest, it is mostly there to fill up the last point. Yet another option could be to drop the Sentinel and the Stormsmith to give Haley a Minuteman to have yet another high DEF Warjack that is very good at crowd control.

I have given some of these versions a go and will try to work my way through them all to see which one suits my playstyle the most. This gives me something to do over the summer I guess.

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Moving on with Cygnar: Some armylists I have been working on

I have really worked on painting up all my Cygnar models and I am quickly reaching the end of the painting queue, or rather I would if I didn’t add new models all the time. I guess this is a cross all wargamers have to bear.

The last couple of months, I have really focused on Stryker and Haley; and even though I believe that I have made a lot of progress with them and also with the game in general, I am itching to try some new Warcasters, as well as returning to my first Warcaster, Captain Allister Caine. So I have been durdling around on paper and War Room, as well as perusing the forums on Privateer Press. I have come up with 4 lists I want to try. So without further ado, here goes:

List 1: All the Caine’s men

Allister Caine plays a supporting role in the current storyline, as he is not part of the main event of the Cygnaran story arc, the fight between Khador and Cygnar on the one hand and Cryx on the other. In fact, he has been detached to the Cygnaran Reconaissance Service (CRS), Cygnar’s MI6 and yes he has a license to kill, and is currently shadowing the renegade Warcaster Asheth Magnus and his charge, the bastard son of Vinter Raelthorne IV, the deposed king of Cygnar. As such, he is working without support by most of Cygnar’s regular army and is often in company of mercenaries and other disreputable figures. The good thing is that such an army actually fits him very well.

Captain Allister Caine: +5 points

– Squire : 2

– Hunter: 6

Journeyman Warcaster: 3

Rangers: 5

Gorman Di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist: 2

Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord: 2

Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator: 1

Ragman: 2

Lady Aiyana and Master Holt: 4

Alexia Cyannor and the Risen: 5

Greygore Boomhowler and Co. (10 Trollkin): 9

Horgenhold Forge Guard (10 Dwarves): 8

Press Gangers (10 Pirates): 6

The idea of the army is fairly simple, you wish to assassinate people and your entire army is either there to buy time or help with that plan. The Risen, Boomhowlers, Forge Guard and Press Gangers are simply 40 bodies to get in the way of the enemy. The Risen can supply more bodies once the first wave has died. The Rangers and Press Gangers can advance deploy, so will form line 1, followed by the Trollkin. The Forge Guard will bring up the rear and can help out with tough targets in the way. The Trolls and Press Gangers have innate Tough and Rhupert can give it to either the Dwarves or the Risen, so there are a lot of 5+ saves to be grind through for my opponent. The Ragman and Aiyana can give an ARM penalty to facilitate Caine’s job and the Hunter is reasonably cheap and has an Armour Piercing gun to punish high ARM targets. As Armour Piercing halves the base ARM of the target, it combines well with ARM penalties, as they are then applied to the modified ARM, so if it hits an ARM 20 ‘jack affected by the Ragman, the ‘jack would be ARM 8 (half of 20 – 2). Aiyana does not give an ARM penalty but a damage bonus, but that would boil down to the same in most cases. Once the opponent is mired in the sea of Tough bodies, Caine should move into position and shoot someone.

List 2: Sniping for Girls

One of the new Warcasters I would like to try out is Captain Kara Sloan. She is often likened to Captain Allister Caine because they both specialise in ranged assassination runs. However, where Caine is mostly working on his own, using his focus and pistols with unlimited rate of fire to mow down half a dozen men a turn, Kara Sloan works on the single important kill, wielding Spitfire, a sniper rifle with 14” range and POW12 with Weapon Master. She can only fire it once a turn or twice with Reinholdt, who is an auto-include with her for that reason, so she is not the focus hog that Caine is, as she has some to spare after boosting her attack rolls, if necessary, and her damage rolls, which she should always boost. This means that she can actually support multiple Warjacks or cast more spells on your units. With Deadeye, adding a die to the first shot of each model in a unit, and Fire Group, giving each model in her battlegroup a slight range bonus, she can actually support her army’s ranged accuracy, but more importantly, in her feat turn, she gives every friendly faction model in her control range boosted ranged attack rolls and if a model in her battlegroup hits an enemy model, another member of her battlegroup gets a free out-of-sequence shot right away, which does not even have to hit the same model or unit (limit of one free shot per hit, models may only use one free shot per round, no purchase necessary). So unlike the lone wolf Caine, who does it all by himself, she plays nice with others. In addition, the fact that only friendly faction models benefit from her feat means that she is better off running Cygnar units instead of mercenaries. However, she is often seen as a ‘trap’, as her feat and model suggest a ranged focus, but she is probably better off in a combined army where she helps out with killing key models whilst her troops focus on removing the enemy with melee and ranged attacks. She therefore works very well with Storm Knights, as both Storm Lances and Stormblades have access to the Assault order that lets them shot then do melee. On her feat turn or with Deadeye, those attacks would actually be dangerous as they would roll 3d6 to hit, thereby offsetting the low RAT Storm Knights have.

Her list would like something like this:

Captain Kara Sloan: + 6

– Squire: 2

– Hunter: 6

– Stormclad: 10

Journeyman Warcaster: 3

Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator: 1

Ragman: 2

Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Pistoleers: 6

– Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Officer: 2

Stormblade Infantry: 5

– Stormblade Infantry Officer and Standard: 3

Storm Lances: 11

Rangers: 5

The Hunter is there to hit high ARM targets again. The Stormclad has a decent shot, but more importantly, it packs an amazing wallop in close combat and only needs a single Focus Point to function well, which it can gain for free by activating with 5″ of a Stormblade Infantry model. The Gun Mages are there, because it is the law if you run a Cygnar army. Deadeye gives them more critical hits, which works well with their Critical Brutal Damage or Critical Knockdown shots. In fact, on the feat turn, they could rock 4d6 on their shots, which guarantees a pile of critical hits. The Stormblade Captain helps all Storm Knights with Tactician and Relentless Charge.

List 3: Dr. Sebastian Nemo presents: Fun with flags lightning

Commander Adept Nemo has been a model that I have had around ever since I got started, but have never fielded so far. The main reasons for this fact is that he is extremely fragile, with a terrible 14 for DEF, ARM and damage boxes, meaning that he is dead as soon as just about anyone gets their hands on him, and the fact that his playstyle is rather peculiar, being a Warjack-centric caster in an army that is not really known for its Warjacks. However, he brings two rather nice features to the table. He can add up to 5 Focus Points to a single Warjack each round and he generates up to 3 extra Focus each round, one for each spell being cast by another model (friend or foe) in his control range. As he has a respectable 7, the second highest in Cygnar after eHaley, to begin with, this means that he can either run 3 Focus on two Warjacks and still be a respectable spell caster, or go all-in and drop 5 into one and 3 in another to really bring some steam-powered death to the table. He also has a bit of a combo potential going on, being able to drop multiple Chain Lightnings on turns 1 and 2 with Thorn. Chain Lightning does a POW 10 hit on one model, then automatically arcs to d6 models, always hitting the model nearest to the last target. As Thorn can run 12, then have Locomotion cast on it for another 6″ (3 from the spell and 3 from its Reaction Drive), it can easily reach a target within the enemy lines on turn 1 (provided the opponent goes first or has models with Advance Deployment) and then arc deep into the enemy deployment zone to hit support solos. Granted, this trick would mean that Nemo has no other Focus that turn, but it might be worth it. As always, it is nice having the option, but it is not a must. He is also about the only Cygnar caster who benefits from being joined by Sylys Wyshnalyrr instead of the Squire.

Commander Adept Nemo : +6

– Sylys Wyshnalyrr, The Seeker: 2

– Stormclad: 10

– Thorn: 8

Journeyman Warcaster: 3

Captain Arlan Strangewayes: 2

Lieutenant Allison Jakes: 3

– Charger: 4

Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord: 2

Tactical Arcanist Corps: 4

Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Pistoleers: 6

– Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Officer: 2

Stormblade Infantry: 5

– Stormblade Infantry Officer and Standard: 3

– 2 Stormblade Infantry Storm Gunners: 2

This army has the typical Gun Mages to provide fire support, Stormblades to hit people in the face or just be a tarpit with Rhupert Carvolo giving them Tough and Junior casting Arcane Shield on them. The Tactical Arcanist Corps are a new addition (see below. Or not as it turns out.) and are there to support Nemo by either dropping Cloud Effects in front of him or setting guys on fire. As there are three of them and each one of them can cast a spell per turn, they can power up Nemo on their own. But with Junior, Allison Jakes and Arlan Strangewayes all having spells as well, there will never be a shortage of spell-casters to power up Nemo.

List 4: Jedi Sturgis before he became Darth Sturgis

The kickstarter campaign for Privateer Press’s first foray into computer games, Warmachine Tactics, included 8 different models for backers. All factions received their named Journeyman that way, but in addition, Cygnar and Cryx got a new Warcaster as well. Intriguingly, both of these Warcasters share the same name, in fact they are the same person, only with a career change from a living Cygnaran Warcaster to an undead Cryxian one (I think we all know that this was a life-changing experience for him, zing!). But before Commander Dalin Sturgis started having a mould problem, he was actually a decent caster and this army list will feature him doing what he does best, kicking behind and taking names. Sturgis is best described as being a variant of eStryker, as he also focuses on melee skill, but also has a wide range of spells that support his army. The most important spells he has are the Golden Boys of Cygnar buff spells, Snipe and Arcane Shield. So he goes well with all the traditional Cygnar units with ranged weapons and provides the second Arcane Shield to really toughen up your frontline units. In that sense, he is close to pStryker, whom I discussed a couple of weeks ago. But unlike pStryker, he also has a great offensive spell in Lightning Storm, which he shares with eStryker, and also rocks Teleport to be placed completely within 8″ at the end of his activation. Combined with his Chain Attack allowing a 3″ placement if he hits with both his initial melee attacks, he can pull great hit-and-run attacks. As he also has Reversal, which knocks down models missing him with power attacks or charge attacks and can buy two attacks per focus spent, he is quite difficult to pin down and hits like a truck. His melee weapon, with the imaginative name Blade, has two ends, one triggering Electro Leaps, the other one Feedback, so he can charge an easy to hit Warjack, hit it, Electro Leap into the nearest model, hit it with the other end and deal a point of damage to the controlling Warcaster. As many people now run Colossals with a named Journeyman (the Colossal does not eat Focus from the main caster in that scenario and the Journeyman can easily hide behind the Colossal to avoid retribution), this could be lethal as Sturgis can easily fry the Journeyman just by whaling on the ‘jack. As most Journeyman or jack marshals only have 5 damage boxes, this will not end well for them. Finally, his feat, the aptly-named Dead on Arrival, lets him pull all enemy models in his control zone towards him for a small distance, then each model within 3″ takes a hit as well. To make this extra mean, he can pull models through his Lightning Storm or other templates that deal damage to each model moving through them, but this might be difficult to set up.

Commander Dalin Sturgis: +6

– Squire: 2

– Stormwall: 19

Journeyman Warcaster: 3

Ragman: 2

Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Pistoleers: 6

– Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Officer: 2

‘Black 13th’ Gun Mage Strike Team: 4

Captain Maxwell Finn: 3

Horgenhold Forge Guard (10): 8

– Captain Jonas Murdoch: 2

Stormsmith Stormcaller: 1

Lady Aiyana and Master Holt: 4

The Stormwall is there to provide Sturgis with a nice big line of sight blocker to hide behind if he needs to teleport out of trouble. It can also drop Covering Fire templates to restrict charge lanes that will then also serve to kill infantry by dragging them through the templates on his feat turn. The Forge Guard and the Trencher characters are there to hit enemies and benefit from the drag effect to get stuck in earlier on. The Black 13 also drop a POW12 template to annoy people or drag them through it, so they are golden. With the Ragman and Lady Aiyana, this army also brings 2 ARM debuffs.

Of course, some of you might also want to see what I managed to paint this weekend and you shall be rewarded for your patience. Or actually not, as I have just realised that most of my pictures are too dark to publish. So you will just have to wait until I can take pictures in daylight again, which should be not before tomorrow. But there is one for the road, Captain Kara Sloan.

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Weekly update: YVAN EHT NIOJ

Hello, dear reader! Welcome to another installment of my weekly update, where I talk about painting, gaming and list building.

 

First of all, let’s start with some news fresh off the press. Apparently, the Blood Angels will get a new Codex next week (or rather the week after, but will be on pre-order next Saturday). I am really looking forward to that, as the Sons of Sanguinius are my second-biggest army and the 40k army I like most. I love the idea of the flawed hero who has to fight his baser urges or end up being shunning by those he wishes to protect. In addition, I love their performance on the board, as they are all about going for the throat and being fast and aggressive on the field. They are fast, bring tons of mid-range firepower from their Assault Cannon tanks, melta-wielding Assault Marines and fast Vindicators. I am not going to make a wishlist or go on about what the codex needs, I just hope the list is not changed too much (Assault Marines as Troops are lovely) and see what we get.

But now to something completely different… stuff that I painted this week and stuff that Christian painted for me. He painted more units for my Convergence army, whereas I followed my plan of doing at least one unit and one character/solo each week. So here goes. Yes, as usual, Christian’s stuff looks much nicer than mine.

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These guys are my press gangers, a Privateer Mercenary unit that will be used with eCaine. They are Tough, so have a 5+ if killed, as well as Advance Deployment, so can deploy further ahead.

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These two guys are the Lass, the Press Ganger officer, and the guy with the bodybag will become the unit leader should she die. The Lass has Seduction, letting her take control of an enemy model in base-to-base. This lets you move that model into an unfavourable position, then have it wallop a friend too. In addition, the entire unit has Gang, giving them a bonus to hit and wound in melee if another model in the unit is also in reach of the target model. So in essence, once they surround you, they will hurt you. And as the name and the guy with the bag suggest, if they take out a model, they recruit it to another unit of Privateers. While I have no unit to benefit from that, their rule still helps as these models are removed when boxed, so they do not produce any corpse or soul tokens, which some armies rely on. So it is a small blessing. But in essence, they are there to provide 10 Tough, Advance Deployment bodies for 6 points.

 

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This little lady is Cygnar’s named Journeyman Warcaster, Lieutenant Allison Jakes. Unlike the regular Journeyman, she is more melee-oriented with Energiser to move her and her ‘jacks and Sidekick to give her ‘jack and herself (if in base-to-base with the ‘jack) a DEF bonus and immunity to being knocked down, placed or moved. I plan to run her with a Charger for a cheap 7 points package that is high DEF (15+) and can churn out 2 boosted to hit and wound POW12 shots each round.

And now to the nice stuff, i.e. the ones Christian painted. He ‘only’ painted two models, but one of them was rather big.

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 Tada! The Prime Axiom! This is the Convergence Colossal and it is the bee’s knees. It rocks a Spike Launcher that can fire up to 6 shots per turn to thin out enemy infantry or kill enemy solos. On its shoulders, it has two harpoon guns that do an automatic point of damage if they hit, but more importantly also drag the target into melee range, then letting the Axiom take a swing with one of his Drill Vice. This is excellent news, as other Colossals are limited to either their melee or shooting attacks each activation. The Axiom however can start with his Accelespiker, then shoot harpoon one, drag somebody in and wallop it, then fire harpoon two (if necessary into the same model), drag and hit again, then spend any remaining focus to buy more attacks with the claws that also automatically hit once the first one has hit. Needless to say, very few things survive being dragged in and hit with such weaponry, but it is possible to work around the drag ability, for example by making sure there is a wall or other model in the way, as models cannot be dragged through others.

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And the final model for my army: the Algorithmic Dispersion Optifex. It is a 1-point solo that can be used as an Arc Node if it is within 6″ of a Vector and in the Control Zone of the Warcaster, thus giving you greater flexibility as to where you are going to cast your spells.

I also had two games of Warmachine this week against Khador, rocking my Stryker list against the Butcher Unleashed as promised and then playing Haley versus Koldun Kommander Aleksandra Zerkova, Khador’s resident arcane researcher/spellcaster Warcaster. To make a long story short, I lost both games.

Against the Butcher, I tried to keep out of his range and lay waste to the rest of his army, which I managed to do to some extent, but this meant that he could use the Butcher to dominate the control zone and thus threaten to win the scenario rather quickly. So I was forced to take more risk and try to slay him, but could not remove the last two interfering models, so I had to try to deal more damage to him whilst also whittling down his forces some more. Sadly, this left me exactly within his range and he moved up, cut a swathe through my models with Flashing Blade, letting him attack every model in reach for one measly Focus, then he pulled up Stryker with Impeding Doom and activated his feat for 6 extra Focus, which bought him 6 more attacks at POW16 with 3d6. Yup, Stryker did not make it. I did learn a lot from that game, such as being less defensive, even against a model like the Butcher, as I could have easily taken him out the turn before if I had been more aggressive the first three turns of the game. Also, it gave me a good example on how to run Alexia Ciannor and the Risen, as Geoffrey gave a master class on how to use her to tie up most of my army with annoying Risen. Even though I managed to take her out in turn 2, by then she had done the damage and I had to wade through skeletons instead of being able to use my Forge Guard to smash the enemy Warjack to the ground or try to put pressure on the Butcher, as even he has to worry about POW11 weapon masters.

The second game was cut a bit short as I had to pack up to go to work, so I took an unnecessary risk to kill the enemy early on when I saw what time it was. If I had had more time, I could have tried to play it safe. However, I managed to pull off a few nice tricks that game with my Storm Lances. They ended up being engaged by Kayazy Assassins with an Underboss, who boosts their DEF in melee to 16, making them very difficult to hit for MAT 7 knights. However, they just shrugged and started hitting each other with their lances, as they could not really hurt each other, but each lance hit generates an automatic Electro Leap into the nearest model, so by enthusiastically hitting each other, the Knights managed to kill all the Assassins by the end of the combat, whilst taking only one casualty in return. If I had had more time, that unit could then have tried to turn his flank, riding behind his two jacks to start wailing on Zerkova.

But oh well, lessons were learned and I am eager for another go next week.

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Weekly update: For coin and country

Welcome everyone to another fabulous episode of ‘What I did this week and what we should all learn from it´. Or something like that.

As a matter of fact, this week was a rather quiet week, as I was slightly under the weather and as such had some trouble getting motivated to do a lot of painting or gaming. I did manage to do a bit of gaming-related reading this week, reading the rulebook for Hordes, the sister game of Warmachine (which is why they are often collectively referred to as WarmaHordes). It was rather interesting as I have played most of my games so far against Trollbloods, who are a Hordes faction and thus behave slightly differently compared to Warmachine armies. The rules are not colossally different, in fact warbeasts differ only slightly from warjacks in so far as they generate their own fury and do not rely on the caster’s, but with the caveat that should they generate more fury than their caster can handle, they might go berserk and end up pummelling one guy right in front of them instead of a target further away or otherwise misbehave. Warlocks are also slightly different from warcasters, as they, as mentioned above, leech fury instead of automatically gaining focus, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. They also lose the bonus to ARM for unspent focus and instead can redirect damage they take to their beasts, but only if they still have a fury point and the beast can still get a fury point (they have a cap of how much fury they can have). This is a double-edged sword, as it makes them more resistant to high POW assassinations where a flat ARM bonus might help less, but on the other hand it can mean that you will be easy to kill if your beasts are all on full fury or if you have no fury left. In addition, as damage is first done to you, so POW of the strike+dice- warlock’s ARM, then redirected to the warbeast, the warbeast will often take more damage that way as if it were hit directly (where it would use its own, normally higher ARM value instead of the warlock’s weaker one). As a Warmachine player, I had the tendency to think all Hordes armies were more powerful because of how much fury they can generate, but now I feel less intimidated by them, having read the rules in all details.

I also picked up a copy of the Forces of Cryx and Forces of Menoth books, so I am currently working my way through those books to learn more about those two armies. I already have all their cards on War Room, but the paper versions have much more background information and I like reading that too. In fact, I think that this dual system is a great way to satisfy all your customers. The people who are purely interested in gaming and rules only need the cheap cards or War Room, whereas people who also wish to find out more about their army’s background can buy the more expensive books. Furthermore, they even give you the choice between hardcover and soft cover books. Nudge, nudge, GW.

Finally, I went to the SaarCon convention in Saarbrücken (or rather a forest in the vicinity of Saarbruücken as it turned out, where do you people put your universities?) to see the WarmaHordes tournament there and introduce my wife to the wonderous world of gaming. She was a bit worried about the cosplayers running around with gigantic swords, but we explained it to her and now she knows not to talk to them directly, as they are shy creatures that will bolt if spoken to by a woman. The tournament was quite a success for the Trier scene, as Geoffrey made first place with his Khador army (including the Butcher Unleashed, the deadliest caster in the game. Basically, get within 20” of him and you’re dead) and Christian made second place. Maybe our training games helped him. He had one match against eHaley where it definitely paid off. I had also wanted to go there, but I had thought that they had 32 open places and that there was no rush to pre-register. Unfortunately, they only had 18 seats (16, but some people took some time to wire their money, so they ended up with 18 paying players) so I could not register. Of course, 4 people did not turn up, so there were only 14 players in the end. Next time, victory shall be mine. Probably not, but I am going to work on it.

Nevertheless, I did at least some painting, proceeding with my painting schedule of one unit and a character per week. Actually, I managed two characters this week, but I took no pictures as it turns out. I managed to paint Eiryss, Mage Hunter of Ios, the first version of Eiryss, Angel of the Retribution. She is, as the name suggests, a mage hunter, so she specialises in sneaking up on enemy casters, then shooting them to strip them of their remaining focus and stop them from regaining their focus next turn, so she is great when it comes to setting up an assassination. The jury is still out whether Eiryss1 or 2 are better, the second version having better weapons on the whole, but not having the rule that stops warcasters from regaining focus next round. So it depends on how you wish to approach your assassination runs. I also painted Captain Maxwell Finn, Cygnar’s answer to Rambo. He is a Trencher, so he has all the usual Trencher rules like Dig In, Smoke Bombs and Advance Deployment, but more importantly he gives a bonus to hit to all Trenchers who can see him (including Captain Jonas Murdoch, the ranking officer who can join Mercenary units to make them Cygnaran) and also has a special action that gives +2 movement to a Trencher unit (such as the Mercenary unit joined by Captain Jonas Murdoch). He totes a chain gun and is quite handy with a knife, but he is mostly there to let Mercs move faster. And which Mercenaries might benefit the most from a movement bonus? The ones with the shortest legs of course. Which brings us to the unit I painted this week, my Horgenhold Forge Guard. I wanted a break from painting all that blue, so I painted them mostly dark grey, on account of them being Dwarves, then shading it with a generous helping of Drakenhof Nightshade to create a blueish grey effect.

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Don’t they have the most adorable little backpacks?

  That´s it for this week. Or rather last week, as all of this happened last week. This week, I am working on a unit of Press Gangers, privateer mercenaries that will join my Caine list and provide him with even more cheap and tough bodies to hide behind. I also intend to paint Lieutenant Allison Jakes, Cygnar’s named Journeyman Warcaster, and maybe take her for a spin on Thursday, when I am going to face Geoffrey’s tournament winning list and try not to get my behind handed to me too much. Wish me luck.

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Weekly update: Nommern and Warmachine

This week, I am going to talk about my games over the last two weeks, as well as the painting I got done this week.

 

First of all, we had the fifth semi-annual version of Make War Not Love and it was great as usual. I had to supervise an exam in the morning, so I could only make it there on Saturday afternoon, but I never the less managed to get three games in on Saturday and another two on Sunday. There were less people there than the previous times, mostly because only one person wanted to play Warhammer and thus decided to go somewhere else in the end. It seems that the number of Warhammer players is still steadily dropping around here. There is another gaming group in Luxembourg where the game seems to be going through a renaissance right now, but none of the people in Nommern felt motivated to dust off their fantasy armies. Maybe End Times or a 9th Edition can breathe new life into the game, but right now I am personally at a loss about whether I will continue to play Warhammer. I have just discovered two sealed boxes of Dark Elves that have been gathering dust since last October’s release of the codex, as well as a pile of unpainted Vampire Counts models, which is saying something as these are the armies I still actually play or would if I could muster the enthusiasm. There were also no Tau armies, despite Tau having been the most popular army the last four times.

But enough nay-saying for the moment because I did manage to play some 40k and it was an eye-opening experience. I played one game with my Nurgle army and it was a good game where we both ended up with a Sorcerer with Invisibility and even had the two units face off against each other. Luckily for me, I had managed to kill the opposing Aspiring Champion in the first round of combat, so in round two my Nurgle Lord could punch the opposing Sorcerer with his fist and thus achieve psychical superiority. From that moment onwards, I could dominate the psychic phase and a unit of invisible Nurgle Bikers is impossible for most armies to deal with. After the game, I spent some time with Patrick, my opponent, to give him advice on how to improve the general performance of his army.

The other four games were with my Dark Eldar and they rocked. I ran the list without Incubi that I talked about in the last article, so two units of Grotesques from the Grotesquerie formation, 6 Venoms and 5 Raiders as well as 3 Ravagers. I actually had very low expectations as I felt that Dark Eldar could not keep up with some of the armies I faced, but they did very well and won all 4 games. It was good for me that there seemed to be an agreement to run only Maelstrom missions, so there were no kill points to worry about. The way the games went, I would spend the first couple of turns manoeuvring in the middle of the battlefield to avoid too much return fire, then swoop in to grab multiple objectives per turn. More importantly, every time I drew the cards asking me to hold multiple objectives or have 3 units in the enemy deployment zone for d3 points or even all of the objectives for d3+3 points, I managed to score those easily with a bit of calculating and moving flat out. Those points enabled me to outscore most armies, even if half my army ended up dying in their paper planes. One game was actually a negative play experience for me and my opponent, as he was running an Unbound Necron army that brought a ton of Destroyers, Wraiths including the T5 Forgeworld version, as well as a Tomb Stalker monstrous walker. He had four shooting units (Destroyers and Heavy Destroyers) and the rest of his army was melee-based. Unfortunately for him, I got first turn and was able to drop his shooty units first turn, then would have been able to wreck his T4 and T5 units more or less at will with my mass of blasters and lances, so we called it quits there and then. It was a shame as his army looked very cool, but the match-up was extremely lopsided and the fact that I could have reversed in turn 2 and 3 to prevent him from charging before turn 4 and able to fire at him without receiving return fire would have made it unfun for either of us. The other games were against a Thunderwolf-heavy Space Wolves army, a Tyranid force with a Malanthrope and 3 Flying Monstrous Creatures and a Ravenwing/Deathwing army.

This got me thinking: Was I completely wrong with my assessment of the Dark Eldar? Did the mission favour me over other armies? Was it blind luck? Or was it due to the fact that I didn’t face Tau or Eldar?

I also played four games of Warmachine over the last two weeks, helping Chris prepare for Saarcon, an event in Saarbrücken next weekend. I will not be able to play as I missed the registration deadline. I had actually believed it would be a 32-people event, but there were only 18 places (I guess they got 18 people who paid for 16 places, so they added a table). Oh well, it might have been a bit early for me. I hope to gain more playing experience this year, then start playing in some events next year.

We went 2-2 in games over all, with one win and one loss each for eStryker and eHaley. The games I lost were both due to my caster being assassinated, whereas I won my games on scenario. The game I lost with Stryker, Chris managed to fail a credible assassination attempt with Grissel on Stryker, hitting him with two of Grissel’s three different shooting attacks to knock him down and drop him to three wounds, but being out of range for the last shooting attack, which was a 8″ spray whereas the other two were 10″ shots. I then used a focus to get back up, charged Grissel with a re-roll from Reinholdt and all seemed to be dandy. At least until Stryker failed four average attack rolls and then didn’t manage to do much with the one hit he scored. I could have tried to move the Lancer, risking two free strikes, then cast Positive Charge on it to get a +2 bonus on the rolls to hit and wound to even the odds in my favour. Oh well, the odds were there, but sometimes the dice don’t want to cooperate. In the game I lost with Haley, I made two mistakes early on: in turn 2, I took a Focus Point from the Squire that I ended up not needing as my Stormwall killed all its opponents with the first few attacks. I also parked the Squire next to Haley that turn instead of behind her, so she was unable to run into a control zone to dominate it for two points, so I only got one for controlling it. As Haley could not have been targeted that turn, I would have received an extra point. These two mistakes meant that I could not have an extra Focus Point from the Squire in turn 5 and needed to empty one control zone to dominate it for the win.  He had three models in that zone and I had a full unit of Gun Mage Pistoleers in there. Unfortunately, the three models had engaged most of my Gun Mages, so they would be unable to fire. The plan was therefore to use Haley’s Telekinesis spell to move all three models out of melee range and closer to the edges of the control zone. Haley has 8 Focus and Telekinesis costs 2, so I could do 2 TKs with boosted attack rolls (Haley needed an 8 to hit them as they were in melee and thus gained +4 DEF) and one without boost. Luckily, the Squire would allow me to re-roll one failed attack roll. Of course, I easily passed the two boosted attack rolls, then failed the unboosted one twice. If I had not used that Focus Point on turn 2, I would have had a third boosted attack roll and thus easily pulled the last Warder out of combat. Then the Gun Mages would have been able to shoot them out of the control zone with their Thunderbolt shots and Haley could have dominated for the win. The way it worked, my Gun Mages shot the two unengaged models out of the zone, then failed miserably to kill the model in melee. Of course, if Haley had dominated in turn 2, I would have won the game in turn 4 already. So not making either of the two mistakes would have won me the game. Lessons to learn.

During the games, I used my new unit of Stormlances (see below for pictures). And they rocked. On the charge, they have a MAT of 9 (or higher with Positive Charge or Alain Runewood’s battle plans) and hit like a truck with their lances being POW 15 on the charge (or 17 under Positive Charge). They also have a POW 10 attack from their horse and can fire their lances on the charge with their Assault order for POW 12. In addition, the lance attack and shot both have the Electro-Leap rule, so they generate a POW 10 hit on the nearest model if they hit the initial model. Against Meat Mountain, they were strong, but had their work cut out for them as this army routinely has ARM 20 and better. I can’t wait to see how they do against opponents that have more average ARM values, where each one of them can easily kill 2-4 models per turn, moreso under Stryker’s feat where they can get more attacks and thereby more electro leaps. But even against a poor match-up like Meat Mountain, they admirably held their flank with ARM 20 with Arcane Shield and 5 wounds each. They also have an impressive threat range, being able to charge targets that are 13 inches away or even shooting someone who was 19″ away at the start of their activation. Finally, people don’t expect Cygnar to punch them in melee, so it is always nice to have a surprise unit. I look forward to more games with them.

 

On the painting front, I managed to paint a Cygnaran Warcaster I inherited from my brother this spring and the Stormlance unit. In fact, I have made a painting list and hope to be able to keep up the pace, painting a character and a unit each week for the next couple of weeks until my Cygnar army is fully painted. Right now, I still have the Horgenhold Forge Guard (10 dwarves), the Sword Knights (12 guys including command) and the Pressgangers (10 pirates) to paint, as well as Eiryss1 (elvish solo) and Lt. Allister Caine (warcaster) to do. This should keep me busy until December and then I would like to get started on my three Drop Pods for my Blood Angels, as they should be getting a new codex soon and I really love Drop Podding some Death Company and Veterans right now.

imageimageCommander Coleman Stryker: The man before he became the legend.

Commander Coleman Stryker is the original version of Coleman Stryker and the caster included in the Cygnar battle box. He is not the melee beatstick that Lord Commander Stryker is, but makes up for that with a plethora of support spells and a great support feat. In fact, his feat, aptly named Invincibility, gives all your models in his control zone a cool +5 bonus to ARM, making your Warjacks as tough or tougher than Khadoran warjacks for a round and giving your Storm Knights (be they Stormblade Infantry or Storm Lances) or Horgenhold mercenaries an equally insane ARM value. I really hate playing against Mean Meat Mountain, so maybe it is time to get even and bring my own ARM24 and higher units to give them a taste of their own medicine. His spell list includes Snipe to add 4″ to a unit’s ranged attacks, thus giving Stormlances a 23″ threat range on their guns or letting Gun Mage Pistoleers use their other special shots at targets that were 20″ away from their starting point. Blur gives a DEF bonus against shooting and magic that raises light Warjacks to DEF16 which is almost impossible to hit for most unboosted shots. Gun Mages go to DEF 18, but who really bothers shooting them as it is nigh impossible to start with. Earthquake lets him knock down everything under a 5″ AOE, which is perfect to assassinate enemy casters or open line of sight to them. Finally, he has Arcane Shield, just like the Journeyman Warcaster does. And this is amazing and one of the main reasons to run him over his epic version. As you should still run a Journeyman because they are mandatory in Cygnar armies, you can drop two Arcane Shields per turn and thus avoid having to choose which unit gets it. Very often, a canny opponent can try to avoid the shielded unit and go after an unshielded unit, thereby rendering it less useful. However, with two instances of the spell, two ‘jacks or units can benefit from it and the opponent loses the option of hammering the weaker-armoured target.

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Stormlances: Cygnar’s heavy cavalry. Of course they are immune to electricity.

 The Stormlances have featured in my games over the last two weeks, so I have sung their praises above already. They simply give Cygnar that melee hammer that its armies often lack, whilst still having a decent ranged output. If necessary, they can actually ride up to high DEF units, then hit each other in the face (their DEF is quite low, so they hit each other on 5s) to arc electro-leaps to hit the more agile models around them automatically. As their ARM should be 20 under Arcane Shield, there is little risk that they kill each other, but they can electrocute the guys around them (very few DEF15+ units have ARM above 12-13, so their POW10 lightnings will be murder). Under eStryker, they also benefit from Rebuke, as it prevents the target from receiving a charge order (unless it is a solo, warbeast or warjack) and thus the charge bonus to damage rolls.

 

 

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Getting pounded by big meat, or: How much ARM do you have???

So, last time we left my exploration of Warmachine, we ended on a down note because my army had been unable to punch through heavy-armoured targets like the Mountain King. Apparently high ARM armies are a big thing these days, so I really wanted to get more practice against such armies. Fortunately, Christian wanted to test his Miserable Meat Mountain list to prepare for the next couple of tournaments and armies don’t get much tougher than Miserable Meat Mountain.

It runs 2 5-strong units of Wardens, each having 8 damage boxes and higher ARM than all my guys. If that wasn’t enough, they also gain more ARM, STR and Pathfinder for a turn as soon as one in the unit is hit by an enemy attack, meaning most of my shooting needs 9s to do even one wound after the first one is harmed. Even if I should manage to put one down, it is Tough like all Trollkin, so will heal back to one wound on a 5+. The next unit is a unit of Champions with Skaldi, their UA, another 6 models with 8 damage boxes and high ARM, more so when they stand next to each other. So that is a cool 128 damage boxes with ARM values of 17 and more. That should be feasible, right? Well, the next unit is the Krielstone with Stone Bearers and Elders, a support unit that can be given Fury by the army’s Warlock and then use that Fury to create a +2 ARM aura for everyone in a decent area. So now they are all ARM 19 or better. Great, so now I need 10s or better to wound. The final piece of the puzzle is the Warlock, Grissel, whose feat gives them another ARM bonus if engaged in melee, in addition to having the Dash spell to compensate for the slow SPD of those heavy unit. The army also runs a couple of support solos and one or two Warbeasts, though they are mainly just extensions of the heavy armour theme.

I wanted to test two lists against MMM, but we only got round to playing two games with one list as I got delayed on my way to the FLGS. Ironically, I choose the one that is probably less equipped against MMM, my current Haley2 list. It consists of:

Major Victoria Haley

– Squire

– Thorn

10 Horgenhold Forge Guard

Alexia and the Risen

Arcane Tempest Gun Mage Pistoleers with Gun Mage Adept

Stormblade Infantry with Unit Attachment and 2 Storm Gunners

Journeyman Warcaster

Ragman

Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord

Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist

Eiryss, Angel of the Retribution

Stormblade Captain

The basic theory was to use Ragman to give an ARM penalty to each enemy model in melee range of a friendly model in 3 inches of him. As the Horgenhold Forgeguard has Reach, this creates an effective bubble of over 6 inches (3 inch bubble, base size of 30mm, so more than an inch, plus 2 inch reach). Add to this the third damage die for having Weapon Master and they can actually dent even Trollkin, or so I hoped. Meanwhile, the Stormblades and Captain would do the same on the other flank, using Assault to fire POW14 shots before getting stuck in with P+S13 on their Glaives. Alexia would gum up the middle and the Gun Mages would try to ping away or use Thunderbolts to push models away or even knock them down. Haley could use Time Bomb and her feat to slow down the already slow Trollkin horde. I would not be able to grind them down, but if I could selectively take out models in one control zone or keep them out of the zone, I could make a strong play for scenario or try to use Telekinesis to get Grissel in the open to shoot her in the back and assassinate them.

So how did it go? Well, to quote Clausewitz: ‘Shit got real.’ [quotation needed]

In game 1, I misdeployed the gun mages on a flank and never to use Deadeye on them. Rollling 3d6 on my shooting attacks would have allowed me to score more critical hits and thus more knockdowns to slow down the Champions opposite them. However, popping Haley’s feat on my first turn let me slow them out of the control zones, which in addition to killing an objective meant I got a 3 point lead on scenario to put pressure on Chris. Unfortunately, I misplayed again and put Haley next to a Risen and Grissel promptly shot his DEF11 ass with an AOE causing knockdown to all models below it and three shots later, Haley was down. Ouch! I could of course have put Arcane Shield on her and Deceleration or even some additional Focus and thus keep her alive. And just not be a muppet who leaves Haley next to a low DEF model where Grissel can knock her down and then shoot her.

In game 2, I managed to keep Haley alive for longer, but I ended up being drawn into a war of attrition where my models just could not break his armour often enough to pull through. I did manage to put more pressure on the Krielstone, but failed to kill it entirely, although this was compounded by my inability to roll an 8 on 2d6 to take out more than one Stonebearer per turn. I tried to kill Grissel twice, but rolled too below average to put real damage on her. Furthermore, my Stormblade Captain had another game where every Troll he killed passed their Tough roll, thus denying him the chance to use his ranged blast as his Quick Work ability only triggers if they actually die, not tough it out. Another high POW shot could have put her down. Sadly, the second assassination run exposed Haley again and she ended up dead again.

Next time, I will try Stryker to see if he has better odds cracking ARM.

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Weekly update and a 40k battle report: Chaos versus Chaos

And there we are again for another update on my gaming adventures. Let’s start with some painting. I was really into the mood to do some painting on Monday and Tuesday and I managed to get stuff done. I was in a bit of a painting rut in August, as I somehow could not muster the enthusiasm to paint complete units and only did solos all month long. I am happy to see that I managed to do the major part of a unit this week, painting 15 miniatures out of one unit.

But let’s start with a solo:

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With a moustache and a helmet like that, he must be pushing the broads away with that, erm, broadsword of his.

Meet Archduke Alain Runewood, a Cygnar solo model. He is depicted in the fluff as one of Cygnar’s most experienced generals, though not a Warcaster, so without fancy spells or feats, just good old-fashioned brawns and brains. He brings a lot in the damage department, wielding a high-strength weapon with Weapon Master, as rolling 3d6 for damage or 4d6 on charges. He also carries a handy hand cannon to put some caps into people’s behinds and is quite well-versed in the use of both sword and gun. Moreover, he is a master strategist, which is represented by his Battle Plans ability that lets him either give a unit in his command range a bonus to charge attacks and makes them fearless, or lets them ignore rough terrain or makes every friendly model in range get up when knocked down, even Warjacks as it does not say ‘warrior models’, only ‘friendly models’. And as he is a representative of Cygnar’s proud military tradition, he gives an Elite Cadre bonus to all Sword Knights in his army, letting them move again after performing their actions to reform their lines.

And now to the unit I painted: I give you, Alexia, Mistress of the Witchfire, and her Risen! They are a Mercenary unit that starts with Alexia and 9 Risen, but can get bigger along the game. Alexia is your typical run-of-the-mill lady whose mother was a witch and killed by an inquisitor, who also happened to be Alexia’s uncle, using a daemonic blade, Witchfire, that feeds on people’s life essence and magical powers. You know, the things everyone goes through at some point in their lives. Her unit is very cheaply costed and even though the Risen are rather bad, given that they are Zombies, Alexia can sacrifice them to gain extra attacks with her sword or boost her attack or damage rolls, as well as being able to redirect damage to them. But with only 9 Risen, that is not getting her far, is it? Well the trick is that every living model that dies in her command range gives her a token and at the beginning of the turn, she turns every token into a Risen, so she can continually recycle her forces. As such, she is best used in a second wave or at least behind the first line initially to gain tokens and then spew out more Risen. If your first wave has managed to create enough damage, Alexia is there to win you the war of attrition. As such, she will be definitely set in my Stryker and Caine lists, as she lets both casters refill the ranks after using Rolling Thunder and the resulting casualties on both sides for pushing forward in Stryker’s case or just to add more blockers to Caine’s list, with the additional bonus that Caine’s potential 10 shots per round will create a lot of bodies for her to recycle.

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Alexia herself

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There are 20 Risen in the box, but only three designs. Those 6 are my Trencher Risen, based on Cygnaran Trenchers. Below are the Winterguard Risen.image

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All the Risen

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And finally, the Thrall Warrior. Alexia can transform a regular Risen into a Thrall, who is much stronger and more skilled, but she can only have one at the same time.

I mentioned that there are 20 Risen in the unit, so yes, that means I have to paint 7 more, doing the Menite Risen, but 15 is quite a lot of models compared to my previous output.

So now to the battle report. Cue drumrolls. I was playing Ulf again at the local GW, running 1750 points of Chaos Marines and Daemons against his Chaos Marines and Imperial Artillery (unbound) list. I was trying to see how a small summoning package of 2 level 3 Heralds of Tzeentch and 2 units of Horrors would change a game and if Malefic Daemonology was more balanced in larger games if taken in smaller amounts. We rolled up Emperor’s Will, so we had a nice game of ‘My house-your house’.

My list was:

Biker Lord of Nurgle: Fist, Claw, Sigil, Daemonheart

Sorcerer lvl3 on Bike

5 Bikers of Nurgle: 2 Meltaguns

5 Bikers of Nurgle: 2 Meltaguns

5 Plague Marines: 2 Meltaguns, Combi-Melta, Rhino

5 Plague Marines: 2 Meltaguns, Combi-Melta, Rhino

5 Plague Marines: 2 Plasmaguns, Combi-Plasma, Rhino

Obliterator of Nurgle

Herald of Tzeentch: Lvl 3, Portalglyph

Herald of Tzeentch: Lvl 3

13 Horrors of Tzeentch

13 Horrors of Tzeentch

Ulf ran (as I recall, two days later)

Chaos Lord with Combi-Melta and Power Fist and Sigil I guess?

9 Marines: Meltagun, CCW and bolter, Combi-Melta and Fist on the champ, Rhino

15 Marines: Lascannon, CCW and bolter

Maulerfiend

Heldrake

5 Terminators with 3 Combi-Meltas, a Reaper and some Fists (Imperial Knights are running rampant in the local meta, so those guys do see a lot of action)

3 Basilisks

1 Wyvern

1 Hydra

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The beautifully painted Artillery train. 3 Basilisks, a Wyvern and a Hydra. Yup, some people say Basilisks are no longer where it’s at, but 3 S9 AP3 Large Blasts a turn are 3 S9 AP3 Large Blasts a turn.

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His objective was between the yellow star and the Imperial Space Marine statue on that Temple of Skulls.

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Mine was in that building guarded by the Horrors and a Herald. On both sides there are some Nurgle Bikers and in the Rhino are some Plague Marines wielding all the Meltaguns.

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Two more Rhinos full of Plague Marines, Meltaguns in the centre and Plasmaguns to the right. Another unit of Horrors with a Herald with the Portalglyph.

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He has first turn, advancing a Rhino with lots of Meltaguns and a Maulerfiend towards my open right.

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A Wyvern volley kills half the Horrors. Some Bikers are killed by his artillery, but I jinked and had rolled Night Fighting, so they were rocking a 3+ cover save. The Warlord actually rolled Shrouded as his Warlord Trait, so that unit rocked a 2+ cover save.

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In my turn, I turboboost or flat out all my units to get closer to his lines. Those guns must die or my army is going to be bombed into next week.

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The Portalglyph (the alabaster pyramid) scattered back towards me, but shat out a unit of horrors. I also summoned another Herald to cast more spells. The Rhino advanced to close the door on his Rhino and Maulerfiend.

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His Heldrake comes in and torches a Biker, as well as wounding the Sorcerer. Toughness 6 saves my bacon.

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The Maulerfiend jumps over the fortification and then pounces on the Herald, splashing it flat with a Hammer of Wrath impact hit. Ulf thought that the Herald was in the new Horror unit, but as he was summoned after the movement phase, he could not actually join the unit, so the Maulerfiend wasted the rest of his attacks. Nearby, the unit with Chaos Lord manages to one-shot the Rhino, but they cannot charge as they have just disembarked out of their Rhino.

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Terminators drop in front of my line, blowing up the light green Rhino. They then end up failing every single armour save, as in every time they only had to do one save, one promptly died. Ulf’s Terminators have a tendency to die that way actually.

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My Bikers split up to deal with the tanks. The Lord punches the Basilisk on one side, whilst the unit punches the one in front. Where is the Sorcerer, you ask? Well, he was on one wound as you might remember and promptly decided the best way to charge was driving right into a wall, rolling a 1 for Dangerous Terrain followed by a 1 for his armour save.

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My Plague Marines and Bikers pinging the Terminators whilst the second Rhino tank shocked them to arrive next to the objective.

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A quick overview of the fighting.

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Emptying the parking lot.

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My Lord charged into the 13-strong unit on the objective. It would probably have been easier if the Plague Marines disembarking from the Rhino to help him next turn had not thrown a blight grenade to try and blind the Marines. It scattered on top of my Lord and he rolled a 6 for his Initiative test, flailing around blindly for the first two rounds of combat.

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Notice the Obliterator on the right? He had just turned around to shoot two beams of plasma into the exhaust of the Heldrake, immobilizing it and causing it to Crash and Burn. I guess that double 6 was the reward for ramming my Sorcerer into a wall.

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A Summoned Keeper of Secrets charges the Maulerfiend, smashing it for one Hull Point each round until it finally dies 5 rounds later.

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A summoned unit of Plaguebearers rust the Rhino to death, whilst his unit with Lord is bombarded by multiple Pink Fires of Tzeentch. I even dropped my Herald out of his unit to get off an extra spell on them.

At that stage, I stopped taking pictures. In the end, my Bikers cleared the parking lot and when the Plague Marines charged into the Marine unit, combat quickly ended. The Lord even made it out alive as Ulf could not harm T6 with a 2+ armour save with regular Marines. With his Lord effectively stranded on top of the tower, far from the objective and most of his unit dead after beating off the Plaguebearers that had eaten the Rhino, odds were that my Keeper of Secrets could at least tie them up (hey, he/she/it is Slaaneshy after all) until the game was over, netting me both objectives as well as Linebreaker to his First Blood.

I had a second game later that day, using a 2000 points version of the list that traded 6 Horrors for a Maulerfiend and a Forgefiend against Astra Militarum with an allied Knight, Coteaz, 3 Leman Russes, a Manticore and some random dudes with the points left over. As we had played a regular Eternal War mission last time, I insisted on playing the basic Maelstrom mission this time just to avoid another game of running into a gunline. Turns out my opponent tried to do the gunline after all and I kinda managed to overrun objectives with Daemons whilst the fast Nurgle stuff got stuck in and distracted his army. Admittedly, the fact that his Vendetta with 4 Flamers inside only turned up on turn 4 helped, but he was simply too static to gain points fast enough.

I am very happy with the army as is, the Nurgle stuff gets in your face quickly and is insanely tough, especially in close combat where high strength attacks are rarer, whilst the Daemons are only a modest 400 points but can easily create either a second wave of Daemonettes and Bloodletters to mop up survivors or just play the objective game to gather points quickly.

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