Sniper Skorne

So a fellow forumite on the Privateer Press forums (by the handle of StivBelgrade) proposed an interesting concept for Skorne, a bunch of Cyclops Shamans and another warbeast with the Far Strike animus. Cyclops Shamans can copy any animus of other warbeast near to them and have a 10”, POW12 gun that has Ghost Shot (a ranged weapon with Ghost Shot ignores LOS, cover and concealment).

I like this concept. The idea of Skorne putting a serious ranged assassination threat on the table without a single heavy warbeast amuses me and so, at ridiculous o’clock in the morning, while sleep is eluding me, I began to build on this concept.

Here’s my first attempt:
Skorne – Skorne Sniper mkI
Dominar Rasheth – WB: +28
–    Cyclops Shaman – PC: 8 (Battlegroup Points Used: 8)
–    Cyclops Shaman – PC: 8 (Battlegroup Points Used: 8)
–    Cyclops Shaman – PC: 8 (Battlegroup Points Used: 8)
–    Cyclops Shaman – PC: 8 (Battlegroup Points Used: 4)
–    Cyclops Raider – PC: 9

Ancestral Guardian – PC: 5
Paingiver Bloodrunner Master Tormentor – PC: 4
Swamp Gobber Chef – PC: 1
Gobber Tinker – PC: 2

Praetorian Karax – Leader & 9 Grunts: 11
Paingiver Bloodrunners – Leader & 5 Grunts: 9
Paingiver Beast Handlers – Leader & 3 Grunts: 5

One of the big issues that people on the forums picked up on is: this style of gunline list doesn’t handle masses of infantry well. What they missed was, it doesn’t handle armor either…whoops…

Before I discuss the second version of the list, I want to discuss the various pieces of this list that I like and how the work together.

First, Rasheth. He has the fury potential to run 4 Shamans hot every turn (animus + fully boost) and not risk frenzies (3 fury * 4 shamans = 12 fury, -4 beast handlers, perfect 8). He also has an armor debuff, a terrifying feat turn (effectively boosting the Shamans to POW17, RAT8 for that turn) and has decent anti-infantry tech (acid clouds!). Compared to the other Skorne warlocks, none even came close to contesting this choice.

Second, Ancestral Guardian. Rasheth can arc through a warrior model. This will typically kill it (1d3 damage). Not only is the AG able to collect that soul, if I need to arc through it, it won’t die (and as a construct, I can chase it around with the Gobber Tinker to keep it healthy).

Those are the two big pieces that make the core of this list actually go. Now I’m going to say something that is going to drive the hivemind nuts, Battle Engine. On the Warmachine side of things, if a player mentions a battle engine, they typically get shout at about how that’s wasting power up and that heavy jacks are better and in most cases, the hivemind isn’t wrong about such things, but this is Hordes. Beast are more expensive and don’t have any magical nonsense like Power Up making the battle engine more expensive via opportunity costs. Now there are two available to Skorne, the angry turtle (in-faction) and the Meat Grinder (Minions). Each brings different strengths to the board and I think for this list, one is clearly superior.

Siege Animantarax (Angry Turtle)

My initial impression was that this model sucked, hard, really hard. SPD4 is bad enough on a beast, but it’s just crippling when the base is too big to hide. At a second glance, it seems that this model could move a whole 7” in a turn if the opponent would shoot it just a little…still rather awful (my opponents don’t have a “just a little” setting on their shooting, just “several overkill-y tons”). On the third glance, I finally saw that it could trample and had Reposition[3″]! Praise the Sun! The angry turtle can scuttle 10” a turn without any help (and that’s actually good enough). Overall, I think that the output this model has is still too limited to mulch huge swaths of infantry (5” bases are super awkward to trample with) but it’s something that I’m planning on returning to.

Meat Grinder

I’m actually just in love with this model! Its quick (SPD6), deadly to pretty much all infantry, and is near impossible to jam up. Primarily this is a model that chews through infantry by knocking them down and rolling 16+5d6 against everything that’s in melee range on the charge (which when coupled with Bulldoze and a huge base, can be a lot of models). The fact that it can also toss out 2-6 RNG12, POW12 shots is just straight gravy!

Now the battle engine serves two purposes in this next list, a “DISTRACTION CARNIFEX” and as a solution to infantry swarms.

The second part of this second iteration is the 6 points I want to fill with questions. A few options jump out at me:

  1. Totem Hunter – Fast, prey, great solo hunter.
  2. Hutchuk – Ambushing grenadier. Also not a slouch in melee at P+S 14.
  3. Double Bog Trog Trawlers – Ambush! 13” drag threat into the rear arc at RAT7. Funny things happen when unit leaders get drug out of coherency (especially backwards).
  4. Void Spirit + Feralghast – Incorporeal models are a pain to deal with.
  5. Master Tormentor + Gobber Tinker – More repair for the Battle Engine, another Channel target for Rasheth.

(It’s at this point that I realized that without troops to arc through, Rasheth starts to hate life and the AG really under performs, so I cut the AG. This freed up 5 more points, so I took a unit of Bloodrunners and a second Gobber Tinker.)

Skorne – Skorne Sniper mkII
Dominar Rasheth – WB: +28
–    Cyclops Shaman – PC: 8 (Battlegroup Points Used: 8)
–    Cyclops Shaman – PC: 8 (Battlegroup Points Used: 8)
–    Cyclops Shaman – PC: 8 (Battlegroup Points Used: 8)
–    Cyclops Shaman – PC: 8 (Battlegroup Points Used: 4)
–    Cyclops Raider – PC: 9

Meat Thresher – PC: 19

Gobber Tinker – PC: 2
Gobber Tinker – PC: 2

Paingiver Beast Handlers – Leader & 3 Grunts: 5
Paingiver Bloodrunners – Leader & 5 Grunts: 9

This list is something that I’m really excited to put on the table. To get to 75 points, I would add in Zaadesh, move two Shamans to him and swap the Raider for a Cannoneer. A unit of Karax and a Feralghast rounds off the 75 even.

Since the point of this list is assassination, I feel that the pressure from the Shamans should be sufficient scenario pressure to keep things even. Attrition is going to be where this list suffers and a lot of that will be down to how effective the Meat Grinder will be at clearly other infantry swarms.

Cull the Infantry (Battle Report, Vindictus vs Madrak2)

Okay, so I made a statement on the forums in a debate that I decided to uphold (it amounted to running an infantry swarm list into Madrak2). Here’s the battle report. The table had 12 pieces of terrain (most of it was small, see the picture). Scenario was Take and Hold. Troll player (my lovely wife) won the roll and chose to go first.

Vindictus
-Repenter
-Repenter
-Castigator
Errents (were actually Errents)
Idrians Skirmishers + UA (Temple Flameguard + Errent UA)
Flame Bringers (random collection of big bases as mine are still in a multitude of pieces).
Allegiant of the Order of the Fist (the lonely chior member).
Kell Bailoch
Rhupert Carvolo
Deliverer Sunburst Crew
Deliverer Sunburst Crew

Madrak2 (the yellow base)
-Bouncer (the painted gunbunny)
-Axer (the unfinished gunbunny)
-Dire Troll Mauler (the retribution heavy)
Krielstone + UA (the man o wars)
Trollkin Champions (Ogrun Warspears)
Warders (Convergence models)
Fell Caller Hero
Stone Scribe Chronicler
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew
Trollkin Champion
Northkin Fire Eaters

The water is obvious. The slatted thing is a trench. There’s a log and a wall which are both linear obstacles. The house is an obstruction, there’s a pair of forests (a strip and a roundish one with a green foam stump on it), a green foam block obstruction, a crate of TNT (Holden special terrain) and a pair of mine entrances (also Holden related). The bridge counts as a hill with only two ways up.

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Madrak deployed across from my flag, tucked a little behind the lake (to be within reach of the Krielstone). The Fire Eaters skewed hard to the left side.

I deploy with the Idrians acrossacross from MadrakMadrak, the Sunburst in position to take the bridge on turn 1, the Flame Bringers skewed to the right edge, and Vindictus tucked behind his jacks.

Idrians declare prey target as the warders. My wife takes a double shot of rum to sip on, I chose a Yuengling Black and Tan myself. Here are our deployments. My wife forgot that the Fell Caller hero could pass pathfinder to the Kreilstone (hence why they’re skewed to the side and not directly behind the water).

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Round 1, everybody runs. Things of note Madrak loads up the Krielstone, Fire Eaters snuggle up to the mine entrance. Vindictus puts Defender’s Ward on the Ponies. Punch Monk lands on the flag.

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Round 2, Trolls: Trolls run up the board, Kreilstone does Kreilstone things (Combat Warding aura for the entire game). Fire Eaters take mine entrance to change sides of the board. Gobbers make a cloud. Madrak loads up the Krielstone to the max amount. Warders run towards the center of the table to start screening the Krielstone. The Champions run forward towards the Idrians.

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Round 2, PoM: I feat and put a few boxes of damage out (one of the Sunbursts pops both gobbers with AoE). The Flame Bringers advance down the flank, trying to stay out of charge range. In hindsight, I could’ve feated turn one and aggressively positioned the Idrians to put a lot of shots onto Madrak (and thus, onto the warders). Being spread out and not under the Krielstone, I probably could’ve killed quite a few of them.

img_20160924_231811

Round 3, Trolls: Trolls run to engage, Madrak scuttles near to warders, hovering between the flags. Fire Eaters spray themselves and miss the Punch Monk who scoots into their back arc. The Warders engage the Errants, the Champions engage the Idrians.

img_20160924_233855

Round 3, PoM: Punch Monk kills a Fire Eater and damages the other (I come up with the wonderful idea of doing up a Punch Monk as a Doctor of Internal Medicine, specifically a Proctologist). Errents deal maybe 9 boxes of damage to the warders. Idrians clear out a couple champions (turns out that this wasn’t a good idea since it cleared the charge lane for Madrak). Flame Bringers clean up another two, leaving one alive. One of my big mistakes was this turn as well. I left a Repenter up near the strip forest to get a spray on the Champions and didn’t realize that this was completing the Madrak pacman chain. Oops.

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Round 4, Trolls: Fell Caller buffs Madrak with +2 MAT, he buffs and feats and charges into the space left by the dead champions (OOPS!). Nom nom noms through the Idrians (he ends up taking ~6 points of damage from pentience, totally meaningless since I was unable to put any other damage onto him. Ends the chain at Vindictus and kills him (I thought I had the spacing slightly better). Even without killing Vindictus, losing the majority of the Idrians would’ve seriously hampered my ability to kill anything.

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Results: Madrak2 wins!

Final Thoughts:

  • The Sunbursts did very little work.
  • The Errents did very little work.
  • The Madrak2 list had no ranged presence.
  • My spacing was crap.
  • Ponies are good.
  • Next time I need to bring better weapon masters (perhaps the Knights) or Daughters.
  • Idrians having Prey on the Warders is still an okay choice since Madrak will probably be passing Idrian shots from him to the Warders. The problem is that the Idrians do not possess enough range to shoot Madrak and not get charged (I’m dubious about having them within “run to engage range of Madrak as well, since he can Grim Salvation off to the Warders if the distancing is correct).
  • Vindictus may not be the right choice (but I think he could be the right choice still).
  • I need to drink my beer faster so it doesn’t get warm.
  • What I kill out of Madrak’s army literally doesn’t matter if I can’t watch my spacing.
  • I want another

My wife also had some thoughts about the Trolls

  • Combat Warding was worth its points several times over (as a large part of my PoM list was setting the trolls on fire).
  • Slotting puppet master into the list (via the Knot), would be better then the Stone Scribe and Swamp Gobbers.
  • Haha, tough is fun!

tl;dr Watch your spacing against Madrak and he won’t be able to wreck your army.

That’s pretty much it for this battle report.

Kraye-zy Train

So I’m back aboard the Kraye train, trying to make this caster work for me. Looking back at my previous attempt, I decided to go all in on the “Trenchers!” in the hopes of creating a list that can operate without caster support. Starting with a 25pt core, it grew into this:

Kraye-zy Trenchers
Kraye
-Grenadier x2
-Ironclad
Min Trenchers
Trencher Cannon
Captain Finn
25pts

The basic idea with this list is to put enough rounds down range that the enemy won’t be able to present a strong presence for scenario or assassination. I have potentially 7 POW 13 shots hurtling towards the enemy with 3d6 damage rolls. All of them also have AoE3 to boot. Finn does what Finn normally does (a Pac-man threat for infantry) and the Ironclad serves to anchor the list. The Trenchers are around to toe into zones, make charges, pop smoke and generally be annoying (they don’t play as smoothly with Grenadiers as I would like due to order of operation issues, smoke and LoS).

The other flavor of Cynergistic Cygnar is the whole “taze the everliving nonsense out everything”. This list is one that might actually be able to leverage Reposition on the Fireflies to get them into strange places and survive (but I’m not sure it beats out a snipe caster).

Kraye-zy Tazers
Kraye
-Firefly x2
-Reliant
Stormsmith Storm Tower x2
Stormblade Infantry
-Gunner
-Gunner
Min Mechanics

I swapped out a Gunner for the mechanics since that better filled the points, buts it’s a personal opinion thing. Basic idea is simple, the Fireflies take their 11” of nonlinear movement and go strange places. Everything else tazes things. I’m leaning pretty heavily on the Gunners and Towers having the output to crack the enemy down with long range POW14/16 shots. Probably the only oddball guy is the Reliant. As the anchor, I need it to charge in and clear zones (something an Ironclad does a bit better) but it sports a gun and can provide some interesting charge defense to lightning immune models (shoot a Firefly, the Firefly backs up, models suck a POW12 if they charge the Firefly).

And no, I’m not sorry about the awful puns.

Terrain Ramble (#insomnia)

As a preface, this is mostly just a rambling attempt at emptying my head of thoughts so I can actually get some sleep.

I spent the first few years of my wargaming career playing Warhammer 40,000 with Lego proxies and Lego terrain. My parents were fairly strict about money (ingraining miserly spending habits that I’m now thankful for now) and I just couldn’t convince them that $600 was a reasonable sum of money to spend on a hobby. It was huge when I got my first box of minis to paint but it never occurred to me at that time that TERRAIN was something that I needed to worry about or even something that could be bought. When it finally dawned on me, I cut some rough buildings out of foam core and glued some old aquarium plants to them (if anyone doubts the power of foam core, Captain Spud has done some incredible things with it here and here).

Since then I’ve dabbled with making terrain (some of which caught the attention of my FLGS owner who commissioned me to finish some of the other pieces he had sitting around the store). Most of those projects were larger, more ambitious and never got beyond the structure itself (in my inexperience I assumed that scale was not something to be worried about). I’m on another terrain kick inspired by some other talented people in the wargaming community and surprise access to 3-D printers. One of the things that I’ve always wanted and envied is a highly modular wargaming environment. A flexible tabletop coupled with flexible terrain. One idea I had a few years ago was a table that had removable square foot tiles. These tiles could have different terrain modeled on them, allowing for easy modification of the battlefield (similar to this system by McEagle) but building a table is a lot of work and expensive time-wise. More recently I tripped across a concept that fused modular tiles with typical terrain pieces (ComboSmite and PennyArcade both had articles on this sort of terrain).

I think in an ideal world, I would want to have a terrain system that integrates the 2×2′ cut-out tiles with an extremely modular set of buildings (ala Captain Spud). I’ve started to sketch out some preliminary designs for buildings that should tile together without much an issue, store flat while not in use and have a series of interchangeable parts which would allow for custom buildings every game. I think this can be achieved via a series of interlocking walls of different sizes that tile properly (I use tile in this case in the sense of pixel art, having a repeating pattern that builds to a larger, cohesive whole). If I’ve done the math correctly, I should have a 2″ segment that represents the smallest building unit I need to account for (as any larger building could just be build from multiples of that smallest unit). I should have some test panels printed soon. The challenge I’m currently facing is that the roof of each building dictates it’s shape.

If everything goes well (knock on wood), my last challenge will be making stairs/things that are compatible without being overly restrictive or useless (such as a bridge that couldn’t fit large based models). That’s all for the moment. Cheers!

Skorne Beast Bullets

Time for more list crafting, this time around, Skorne Beast Bullets! Something about launching a beast 12-14” down the table straight into my opponent with no concern for its survival seems like fun to me, dunno why. This concept is based around Morghoul1 (The Fan Dancer Guy) and his spell Abuse. Stacked with Enrage and Rush, any given beast can get +4” of movement, +4 STR and Pathfinder right before I sling it downfield into whatever needs to die. The core of the list is self building:

Morghoul1 (Abuse)
-Titan Gladiator (Rush)
Pain Giver Beasthandlers (Enrage)

From here there are a few more decisions to make/roles to fill. I need beasts to shoot at my opponent. I want a chaff/jamming unit. I want some ranged presence. I want a method of mitigating Morghoul’s comically small control range, 10” is short when I’m planning on tossing beasts 6” + 7” + base SPD away and then needing them to be forced. Lastly, I want a couple of hard questions to ask my opponent, ideally ones that need to be answered in some fashion.

The Bullets

I have a few constraints which limit my choice of beasts. First, they need to be inherently quick. Second, the need to be cheap. Third, melee focused. I tossing these beasts into melee to piece trade, I’m not expecting them to survive and I don’t want to pay for any extra nonsense (abilities, guns, etc). So narrowing the list of beasts to everything that is 12 or less points (#Juggernaut_Standard), I’ve got the follow list to consider:

Agonizer → An amusing concept, making these poor sods more miserable by shooting them at the enemy, they’re cheap but ineffectual for bullet duty.

Archidon → At the top of the points range, these guys have flight, threaten 15” with P+S18 on the charge and can gain sprint for potentially some survivability, definitely in the final cut already.

Basilisk Drake → Provides a terrifying spray which could be an interesting option to have to throw 10” around. No assault does limit it though.

Basilisk Krea → Just a UA for the Drake, move along.

Cyclops Brute → Cheap, reach, some potential for survivability with ARM18 and Intuition (not that he’ll have any fury space left after being shot). I’d call it a “tough” bullet.

Cyclops Raider → No need for ranged.

Cyclops Savage → Potentially a huge amount of output with a P+S17 attack and Future Sight for fury efficiency. I’m not convinced the extra strength is worth what the Brute brings to the table.

Cyclops Shaman → Utility piece, maybe if I need 2x Rush in a turn.

Razor Worm → Another finalist. This guy solves the “cheap” and “control range” problems simultaneously while also offering something that might be “survivable”.

Reptile Hound → SUPER CHEAP (3.5 a pop? Dirt struggles to compete). Charges 14” with P+S12.

Rhinodon → Huge amount of output potential on this guy with 3 attacks base (P+S17 x2, P+S18). Another finalist.

Scarab Pack → Cheaper on a per model basis than the Reptile Hounds while providing the same P+S12 attack. Lots of cheap ammo, sling the leader at an enemy, have the rest hang back. The first one in gets to force 3 more times, which is not insignificant.

So, this quick summary gives me six candidates for bullets which I’ve sorted into two “calibers” based on effective bullet STR.

High: Archidon, Cyclops Brute, Razor Worm, Rhinodon
Low: Reptile Hound, Scarab Pack

Each caliber would have different targets, the low calibers would be shot (perhaps without rush) essential as sniper shots, tagging supports, UAs, solos, etc. The DPS calculations for those are mostly meaningless (a DEF12 ARM18 dies to a boosted POW12) but for the higher caliber, I really need it to piece trade with things akin to a Khador Juggernaut. Big, tough, hard hitting. A Juggernaut sits at ARM20, DEF10 with 34 boxes. First consideration is the MAT of the bullet, everyone but the Brute is at MAT6 (4+ on 2d6, or ~91%, the brute is ~82%). Next is the output of each bullet (time for a table I think, assuming average dice).

P+S vs ARM20 Avg. Charge Dam. Avg. Dam. # of Attacks to Kill
18 8 5 ~7
17 7 4 ~8
16 6 3 ~11

What this table tells me is that I’m not able to one round a Juggernaut (Razor Worm is P+S16, Archidon is P+S18 but is fury capped, Rhinodon does 16 damage with it’s initials but still falls short by about 7 damage), which feels kinda bad. Anything that isn’t a Juggernaut is going to be swiftly turned into scrap (such as the Mad Dog or Berserker).

Based on the other holes the core of the list has, 2 to 3 Razor Worms feels right (and lets not forget about the Gladiator that’s spending most it’s time riling and passing out rush can be shot 12” with 2 POW 20’s and a POW 19). If there are leftover points, I’d like to squeeze in something else to ensure that I’m maxing Morghoul on focus every turn (maybe a Raider to soften up bullet targets).

3 Razor Worms + Gladiator: 35pts – Morghoul WB pts = 5 pts

The Chaff

I want something to just gum up my opponent, to stop them from having free access to the board while I line up bullets onto their important things. The two considerations I have are cheap and self-sufficient. Morghoul does nothing to support his army in this list (or at all), he’s too busy cycling the bolt action on the beast cannon. Without any buffs from Morghoul to be concerned about, minions become much more attractive (the whole “mercs/minions need to be self-sufficient without faction buffs” thing) so I started there and really only found one option.

Gatorman Bokor and Bog Trog Shamblers → Bodies! All the bodies! Bump the cost up to 15 and they all get Tough and from the Wtich Doctor. Self-Replenishing from the things likely to be run into them and with 12” of “Run to Engage” not the worst option.

Swapping back to Skorne, I found a few more to consider.

Praetorian Karax → Cheap! ARM19! SPD6. Not likely to actually get much beyond what Shamblers would do but are slightly crunchier and resistant to POW10’s and POW12’s.

Praetorian Swordsmen → If there was room in the list for a Krea, I would pay two more points and grab the Keltarii instead to have a DEF17 vs shooting screen. As it is, I expect these guys to be less effective than the Shamblers.

Paingiver Bloodrunners → Stealthy Murder Hobos. These guys can pretty much wreck any other single wound infantry unit in the game and have a ton of tools to do it. I mention them because they’re likely to be the solution to clearing out charge lanes for the bullets to shoot down (charge, anatomical precision to stab the things in the way, Reposition 3” to clear the charge lane).

I think the proper answer here is the Witch Doctor + Bokor and a unit of Bloodrunners. Totaling at 24pts, it occupies 1/3rd of the free points in the list -BUT- provides a resilient tarpit with a method outside of shooting for clearing charge lanes.

Accounting for the 5 points dropped on the min unit of Beast Handlers, that’s a 34pt list which I don’t feel too bad about.

Beast Cannon Morghoul
Morghoul (30)
-3 Razor Worm 21
-Titan Gladiator 14
Gatorman Bokor 11
Gatorman Witch Doctor 4
Paingiver Bloodrunners 9
Paingiver Beast Handlers (min) 5
34pt

To expand to 75 points, I’d probably look seriously at adding in a Cyclops Shaman to Morghoul to offer the potential of shooting 2 beasts fully buffed in a turn. Swap a Rhinodon for a Razor Worm for a heavier hitter. Finally I’d look into running a unit of Arcuarii to help clear lanes and some combination of Venators (the solo + double catapults + slingers does wonders at softening targets) to aid in spot removal and the attrition game.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get a game or two in the next few days and see if my theorycrafting holds water, there’s also some more Kraye in the pipeline. Cheers all!