Surprise Terrain!

So I’ve been chewing on some ideas for modular terrain for quite some time now and I’ve finally started prototyping some of the concepts for actual table play (these are the things that keep me up at night). I’m not quite ready to share the designs or the tech behind them (they’re still prototypes, I’ve got a growing list of annoyances and things that need fixing), but this terrain makes it super easy to create an elevated battlefield to fight on. Small based models (barring the super tall ones with back banners) can pass under the bridges with little issue. I’m super excited to get a game or three done and see what I can add/fiddle with to make it even better.

Here’s some fairly awful pictures with a mock game set up (I’m really super excited about this!).

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Harby Build Log, Part 2 – The Initial Build

Boom! Wrecking my own plans! I had planned to take pictures of each step and…that didn’t happen. I’ve been quite busy and today I needed to blow off some steam and so I sat down and got my Harby assembled and ready to paint. This model has…5 pins in it, one for the waist-torso joint, one for each wing, one for the shield arm and one for the base-loincloth connection. I’m happy with the overall look (still dynamic and floaty looking but missing the the extra base bloat), some of the minute details need a bit of putty or greenstuff work to fill the gaps (her torso didn’t want to settle in a flush position) and the wings didn’t mate flushly with her hoodie. I might base coat the areas and see how noticeable the gaps still are. Anyways, pictures are worth all the words in this post.

Link to part 1.

One more (low quality) picture, size comparison next to heavy jacks and some other stuff.

20170217_031133-1

Hook City!

So there’s a new competitive Cryx podcast, Chasing the Dragonfather (link here), that’s focused around what in Cryx works, cool interactions and how Cryx isn’t such a burning dumpster fire. One of the things that they covered was Gaspy2 combo-ing with Reapers to project threat and rack up an attrition advantage (clouds + drag). I liked it enough to fiddle my own list together based around that interaction.

Hook City
Lich Lord Asphyxious – WJ: +28
–    Reaper – PC: 13 (Battlegroup Points Used: 13)
–    Reaper – PC: 13 (Battlegroup Points Used: 13)
–    Cankerworm – PC: 9 (Battlegroup Points Used: 2)
–    Nightwretch – PC: 7
Gorman Di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist – PC: 4
Warwitch Siren – PC: 4
Scrap Thrall – 3 Scrap Thrall: 2
Soul Trapper – PC: 1
Bane Warriors – Leader & 5 Grunts: 10
35 / 35 Army

Gaspy2 brings two main things to the table, a rolling cloud wall and Parasite. I’m not tremendously concerned about any other text on his card (it’d be cool if Excarnate could return Scrap Thralls but it doesn’t).

The Banes and Gorman stack with Parasite for a potential 7 ARM swing (which is big). Banes are also Weapon Masters that can clean up/off anything that the Reapers fail to finish off.

The Nightwretch is the token Arc Node (with a POW14 thud gun), Cankerworm is just a good model to have around (really hard to kill, occasionally you’ll get to mount a colossal gun on its tail, good times to be had!).

The Warwitch is around to ease the focus burden on Gaspy2 and the Soul Trapper is around just because I couldn’t buy another 3 Scrap Thralls.

The Scrap Thralls are kicking around as utility pieces. They can make a big hit against a hard target that the Reapers have drug in, can contest/control flanking objectives and threaten infantry (run 10” and jam, creates a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” moment). This does give rise to an interesting question, why pay 2 points for Scrap Thralls instead of 2 points for a Necrotech who can make a bunch of Scrap Thralls? The Necrotech relies on having jacks die to produce Scrap Thralls. I’m fairly certain that my jacks aren’t going to be dying and I’m not sure how often enemy jacks are going to be dying. I’d like to run this list a few times but until the theme force drops that has the benefit “Necrotechs start the game with a scrap token” or I have a better idea how often I actually get to drag in and kill enemy jacks, I’m going to start with the Scrap Thralls instead of the Necrotech (I suspect that the Necrotech will end up being the proper choice in the end).

Lastly, the Reapers. These guys are the main point of the list. They walk 6 inches, shoot and drag in a heavy, and kill it. Gaspy2 then drops a line of clouds in front of the Reapers, protecting them from any retailation.

Overall, I think that this is a fun list that has some good potential. Currently it won’t fair tremendously well into infantry blobs, nothing in the list has enough output to clean up 30 or 40 bodies quickly (more scrap thralls?). Pushing the list to 50 points, I’d look into beefing up its ability to handle infantry.

Homebrew Sentinel Characters

I got it in my head at some point today that there are some interesting potential rule interactions that exist inside the rules of Warmachine (currently, I can’t think of any widely available options for these interactions but a couple of these can be forced within the game). I started to craft together a jack or two that had some of these interactions and it dawned on me, I could just make these character sentinels! It’s cleaner, I don’t need to muck around deciding what 1 point of defense is and it’s easier for other people to understand if the rule interactions are mounted on something familiar. So onto the rule interactions themselves!

All of these started with the same thought, Shield Guard is a cool rule. What sort of nonsense could models with Shield Guard get into if they had a second rule to synergize with it?

The first one is obvious (and easy to do in Skorne), Carapace. Shield Guard forces the model to suck the hit. If the model has to take the hit, it either should be immune to the hit (which PP tried to head off at the pass) or comically tanky against the hit (so you can shield guard multiple hits). Carapace is a great rule to have with Shield Guard.

This led to another rule that has interesting interactions with arbitrary ranged attacks, Quick Draw. While not worded exactly like it needs to be, it does look like something could be really cool for a model with low armor. Ultimately, I think it would be better served as an individual rule separate from Shield Guard (call it “Interception”, Once per round, when a friendly model within X inches of this model would be hit by an enemy ranged attack, this model may make a ranged attack roll. If the result is higher than the enemy hit roll, that attack is considered to be a miss.). So this is cool alternative to Shield Guard that rewards high RAT instead of high ARM but not fantastically applicable to this project.

As I was chewing on the previous two concepts, another cool idea for a character Sentinel occurred to me. Cygnar has an expensive solo (both in points and dollars) called a “Trench Buster”. Not the most Skornegistic model ever to exist, but a fairly shiny example nonetheless, the Trench Buster blows himself up if he uses Assault (#AoE Guns with Assault). My idea was to apply the “Trench Buster” concept onto a Sentinel. Create a light jack that is focused around making that initial charge into the enemy and perhaps surviving the turn.

Now I had originally planned to create three character Sentinels, one for each thing I mentioned previously…but Interception is just cleaner without a additional rules interaction muddling the water. So without any further rambling on my part, I humbly present Rampage and Vigor (a PDF will be at the bottom of the post for any interested parties). Having said that, it turns out that WordPress hates my formatting so I’ll have to describe them (they have identical hard stats to regular sentinels).

First Rampage. He is bonded to Sturgis! I wanted to have a bond and rather than leave it blank, I picked the most aggressive Cygnar caster without a character jack. Rampage costs 10 points, has Assault, Relentless Charge and Unyielding. Its bond grants Uncontrollable Rage (that special rule Cryx Seethers have that forces them to run or charge for free all the time). The interesting part of Rampage is its weapon loadout. Taking a page from Khador, its shield has a 6”, POW10 spray with the Anatomical precision special rule. This allows Rampage to clear out shield-walled troops while still leaving his spray on the low end of the POW spectrum. Its other weapon is a “Piston Spike” (again, stealing from Khador’s design aesthetic). It is a P+S 13 melee weapon with Critical: Brutal Damage. I wanted to spice this up, make it armor piercing or sustain attack coupled with critical shred…but that’s starting to clutter the card with special rules (and Rampage’s card is already fairly full). That’s about all she wrote for Rampage, onto Vigor!

If Rampage is all about busting trenches and putting the fear of Jacks into shield wall troops, Vigor is all taking Shield Guard shots to the chin and continuing to function. I’m not tremendously happy with the current collection of rules on his card, it achieves my purpose (Carapace on a Shield Guard model) but doesn’t feel that “flavorful”. Anyways, you lot need a summary not rambles so Vigor features Carapace, Shield Guard and Steady. Its weapons are a shield named “Barrier” (P+S:12 and Repel) and the “Boom Tube” a 12”, AoE3, POW12 gun with High Explosive(12). I’m left feeling rather underwhelmed with how Vigor turned out, it works but it isn’t a elegant solution. I’ll probably revisit Vigor at a later date (probably scrapping Carapace in favor of something a little more clever and dynamic). Hopefully I’ll be able to con some poor sole into giving them a spin.

Aforementioned PDF link: (sentinel-character-variants-rampage-and-vigor).

Pop n Drop!

I’m thinking about heading to NoVA Open this year (contingent on a number of factors and probably not going to happen, but I’m staying positive), and if I do I need to start practicing now. I’m starting with the basics, back to my start in Warmachine. I’m starting with one of my favorite casters, Kreoss1.

Pop-n-Drop 2017
High Exemplar Kreoss – WJ: +29
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)
–    Crusader – PC: 10 (Battlegroup Points Used: 7)
Gorman Di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist – PC: 4
Allegiant of the Order of the Fist – PC: 3
Deliverer Sunburst Crew – Gunner & 2 Grunts: 5
Deliverer Sunburst Crew – Gunner & 2 Grunts: 5
Temple Flameguard – Leader & 9 Grunts: 11
Choir of Menoth – Leader & 3 Grunts: 4
35 / 35

Nothing like a classic! For the uninitiated, this list is based around aggressively winning the attrition to leave the opponent without an army to play the game. It has one “big turn” where Kreoss1 POPs his feat and then the rest of the army DROPs all the enemies (hence the name). There are roughly 3 pods at work within this list, the anti-armor pod, the anti-infantry pod and the scenario pod.

Anti-Armor Pod
This pod consists of Redeemers, Gorman, and the Choir. Gorman and the Choir represent a potential 4 ARM swing while each Redeemer can put 3 boosted POW12’s into heavy targets.

Anti-Infantry Pod
The only official presence here are the Sunbursts. While POW15 can threaten hard targets, the continuous fire and large AoE is much scarier to throw at clusters of infantry. I wish these had a bit more game or mechanics, something area-denial or scather template-y but they do work almost every turn without any support.

Scenario Pod
This is the domain of the lonesome Punch Monk and the TFG. The TFG pull double duty, screening the army from fast vanguard assaults and enemy screening units while also acting as a jamming force (14” run to engage range, 15/15 with Defender’s Ward, it’s not bad). The Punch Monk is purely for camping flags and zones. DEF18 unassisted (pushed to 20 with Defender’s Ward after enough of the TFG have died), he’s something that the opponent can’t ignore but is also tremendously difficult to remove from the table. He’ll buy me at least a turn of scenario to give the rest of the list time to kill the opponent.

I’ve already put this list on the table and it was…gross. My opponent was aware of what Kreoss1’s only game plan and she disrespected the threat. I loaded the Redeemers, walked Kreoss into feat range of almost the entirety of her army (I missed the warcaster + 2 models) and destroyed roughly 80% of her army (her warcaster, a heavy and a light were the only models left on her side of the table). While 35 point games are not really representative of 75pt games, the follow up I had (TFG ran to engage everything that was remaining alive) felt sufficient to fight another 20-30 points without any changes.

There are two 50 points versions of this list that I’m planning on taking to my next game night, one serious and one more tongue-in-cheek.

Pop n Drop 2017 v2
High Exemplar Kreoss – WJ: +29
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)
–    Crusader – PC: 10 (Battlegroup Points Used: 7)
Gorman Di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist – PC: 4
Allegiant of the Order of the Fist – PC: 3
Kell Bailoch – PC: 5
Deliverer Sunburst Crew – Gunner & 2 Grunts: 5
Deliverer Sunburst Crew – Gunner & 2 Grunts: 5
Temple Flameguard – Leader & 9 Grunts: 11
Choir of Menoth – Leader & 3 Grunts: 4
Daughters of the Flame – Leader & 5 Grunts: 10
50 / 50 Army

With only 15 more points to play with, I settled on adding a unit of Daughters and Kell Bailoch. The Daughters bring several useful tools to this list. They don’t need buffs to survive while the armies close. They’re fast. They can threaten and kill high armor infantry (which is one of the issues this list has, blast damage resistance or immunity). One of the special aspects about Kreoss1 is that non-faction models still benefit from his feat. Kell is a fantastic sniper model that I’ve had success with in the past. He can soften or neuter entire heavies all by his lonesome and threatens 6 damage at 14”.

I had a couple other thoughts for how to spend the 15 points. One consideration was upgrade the Crusader under Kreoss to a Redeemer and spend the 14 points on something else but I’m not comfortable running without a heavy in the list yet. Another thought was to run a junior with a light or two (be it Durant1 with another Redeemer or Gastone with Buccaneers). Each of these serve to either upgrade firepower of the list or enable the firepower currently in the list. I settled with the Daughters + Kell because it addresses something the list doesn’t handle well.

The troll version of this list is just stuffing it full of Redeemers.

Pop n Drop v2.b
High Exemplar Kreoss
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 11)
–    Redeemer – PC: 11 (Battlegroup Points Used: 7)
Gorman Di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist – PC: 4
Initiate Tristan Durant – PC: 4
–    Redeemer – PC: 11
–    Redeemer – PC: 11
Deliverer Sunburst Crew – Gunner & 2 Grunts: 5
Deliverer Sunburst Crew – Gunner & 2 Grunts: 5
Choir of Menoth – Leader & 5 Grunts: 6
50 / 50 Army

This list has…issues and I probably won’t be putting it on the table.

Hopefully I’ll have enough free time to actually make it to game night and get a game or two with the new version!

Time to Durant-y (Caster Remake, Durant2)

…That’s just an awful pun…anyways.

The Review

Today I was planning on a caster review. About halfway through i got frustrated and rewrote it into this post about Durant2! This guy here is probably my least favorite caster in the game and it took me a long time to come to that conclusion. It’s not because he’s particularly bad or broken, the reason main I dislike this caster is that Sovereign Tristan Durant is boring (and not wonderfully designed, but I’ll get to that in a moment). Nothing on his card screams out “Use me! Build a list around me! Break your opponent into little pieces with me!” He also doesn’t have the gumption to suck badly enough to get a remake…Chances are that Protectorate is going to have this lackluster caster until mkVI lands. This is a problem that deserves a little bit of attention because it isn’t isolated to Durant2. The first caster release cycles of mkIII casters have been completely…tame. There’s nothing exciting about them (the two cycles being the mkIII battle box casters and the journeyman promotions). I’ll ramble more about why this is such an issue in another post. Anyways, I’m going to sort through why Durant2 is so unoptimal, then redesign him to be better.

The front of the card is a great place to start. Clearly Durant2 has no business being anywhere near anything aggressive. Like a good support caster, he needs to be sheltered away from the enemy until the game is over. Certainly with such an unimpressive front, the back side of the card should be worth something, right?

And the first words are Field Marshal [True Sight]! An amazing ability for ranged jacks…And this is Protectorate where our ranged jacks don’t care (Revelator, Sprays), suck (Judicator) or are overpriced (Vanquisher). This ability would be golden in pretty much any other faction with a strong ranged presence. He also has True Sight personally which is….something (he has no good offensive spells to cast or any ranged weapons). Also critical dispel on his spear, because flat dispel was too good?

Time for the spells! Surely Durant can redeem himself here! First up, a bad nuke! Strictly inferior to Hex Blast in every way, but it’s not like he’d be casting it anyways (and everyone has a bad nuke). On to the next spell! It’s incredible! Another bad nuke! Well that’s roughly a third of his spell slots allocated to spells he’ll never see any use out of. Spell number three, Hand of the Creator, has a bit of promise, it says “heal everything within 14” of Durant d3”. Too bad PoM’s heavy infantry are trash and d3 won’t actually save any heavies from dying. That just leaves Inviolable Resolve (an unimpressive armor buff) and the reason Durant2 isn’t a complete dumpster fire, Manifest Destiny. Manifest Destiny is a spell you can build a list around but it isn’t an exciting spell. It basically just gives every jack 2 bonus focus on each attack and that’s just not really exciting. It also doesn’t let pillow fisted jacks actually kill things, a boosted P+S13 still will only scratch ARM20.

Perhaps his feat will save the day? Nope. It’s one of the most clumsily written feats in the game and it forces the player to load up on jacks or else play the game essentially without a feat. That’s right ladies and gents, if Durant2 doesn’t bring a bucket of jacks he basically has no feat.

So that’s a brief summary of Durant2, the caster I dislike the most in the entire game. Now, it doesn’t help things to just complain about them, so I’m going to pick apart why Durant2 is a poorly designed caster and how he could’ve been designed better (which isn’t the best way to spend my time but since I don’t have any power with PP to affect change).

I’ll start with the big one, Durant2 isn’t a focused nor synergistic design. He has a jumble of spells and rules as if someone threw him together at the last minute and didn’t want to break the game (remember this phrase, I’ll be talking about it in another post).

Take True Sight and Manifest Destiny, one supports ranged, the other demands melee. In Protectorate, we don’t need True Sight, we need a gap closer or a threat extender. What else seems unimpressive about Durant2? I think his stats, his weapon, his feat and his spells…Pretty much the whole caster.

Before we start putting the pieces back together, there are a few important questions to ask: What is Durant’s role in the faction, what makes him special and what makes him unique?

The Rwork

Protectorate already has 3 obvious jack casters, Feora2, Durst and Amon (and a little bit Sevvy2, but it’s not the same demand for jacks that the other three have). From these 3, we have two 2 “speed” casters and 1 brick caster. From his set up, it seems that Durant2 was intended as an attrition caster.

Hand of the Creator is the first thing I want to address. D3 boxes are not going to stop a jack from dying. Unless the opponent is bad and is spreading their damage around, Hand of the Creator actually reads: “Uncripple the systems of every faction friendly jack in this caster’s battlegroup.” So that’s exactly what I’m changing. 2 Cost, Ctrl RNG, DUR Turn, Warjacks in this caster’s battlegroup ignore the effects of crippled systems.

Next, Inviolable Resolve. Probably on his card because it’s sort of like having Fortify from his first incarnation. It gets junked in favor of Polarity Shield. Why? Three reasons, first it fits ones of PoM’s themes, denial. Second, it still gives him a spell that can benefit non-jack things. And third, it helps compensate for the lack of a threat extender.

Now for the bad nukes. Since he lacks any sort of ranged ability, it’s important for him to have a bad nuke, the other one is getting scraped for Fog of War. This is a spell that hasn’t been seen in PoM before. While not the most amazing spell for heavy jacks (especially the Ashen Veil heavies) it helps balance out the difference between the Ashen Veil and non-Ashen Veil heavies. Light jacks love it and most importantly, Fog of War is pretty huge for our troops choices.

For the other bad nuke, swap it for Hex Blast. Hex Blast is mechanically superior since it strips on hit instead of damage (and forces Durant to decide what spells he needs to cast). To curtail the inevitable “Chasten costs 2, not 3” – argument, it has to deal damage, to strip jack/high armor buffs you’ll be boosting (and sighing as you lowball the damage roll and fail to strip buffs).

So I had a couple thoughts for the field marshal and I finally settled on Field Marshal [Relentless Charge]. This respects what the other jack casters do, while simultaneously fixing some of PoM’s jack issues.

Junk  his personal True Sight, replace with Iron Sentinel. While this does let Durant skew his DEF to 18 against ranged shooting, he has to buddy up to a jack to use it and let’s him play up the field but leaves him open to some counter-play.

Finally, remove crit dispel and replace it with Disruption. It’ll still probably never get used but it’s interesting. Crit:Dispel is just wasted ink (especially with Chasten or Hex Blast on his card).

Now his feat. Potentially this feat could be a huge amount of focus (on paper we’re talking about 28+ focus on a single turn). But it’s not an exciting feat (he has no exciting output for his personal focus, but it lets you cast both Hand of the Creator and Manifest Destiny with 7 fully fueled warjacks. I’m junking the whole thing. It encourages jack spam and can be difficult to use. I’ve had a few thoughts about what would be cool/fun/good to use (which I’ll chatter about below).

Flash Point – While in Durant’s control range, when a friendly Faction model is hit by an enemy melee attack, immediately after that attack is resolved the attacker suffers 1 point of fire damage and Blind. Flash Point lasts for 1 round. (A model suffering blind cannot make magic or ranged attacks, suffers -4 MAT and DEF, and cannot run charge or make slam or trample power attacks. It must forfeit its Normal Movement or Combat Action during its next activation. Blind can be shaken.)

First, the name, Flash Point. Prayers of War is more appropriate to a choir themed caster that layers hymns on jacks (which is a fun concept, but for later). Next up, the effect. My Durant2 has very little in the way of mitigation for his army so a perfect place to add that in is on the feat. Leveraging the “punishment” theme of PoM, I made a feat that punishes the opponent for behaving improperly towards the holy army of Menoth! Hit me and I burn your eyesight away! How cool is that?

I had a couple of other concepts for “hit me get punishment” type feats. One version basically applied Spiny Growth to everything. Another version caused hits to proc blind in the model’s melee range. Another was based on jacks emitting the old soulstorm aura (auto 1 point of damage to enemies models within 2”). As I got towards the final version, I had one that proc’d after the hit instead of the attack, which prevented the damage if it killed the enemy model. I settled on the current version because it fits the theme better, it’s still very strong, and it allows the opponent some opportunity for counterplay. Weapon masters can still charge and kill jacks, but they die doing so. Jacks get 1 big attack. But all of this requires the sacrifice of the PoM model (or the HP of that model) to work, which is really fluffy.

Here’s a PDF for the compiled “card” (FILE:durant2_revamp) if you care to put it on the table. I’ll be giving him a spin or three with a willing victim and we’ll report back! Now begins the countdown to the cease and desist order from PP’s lawyers!

Get it Painted! (Jan 23, 2017)

A bright bit of news, there’s a few people that glance at my blog and like my posts and you guys have racked up 20 likes! It was happy little alert to get today!  Second piece of bright news, I painted an entire heavy from primer to completion in 6 hours in one session! Endurance was something I’ve been struggling with, longer sessions put a lot of strain on my eyes (my current eyeglass prescription is…off, something to do with the anti-glare coating and it makes long sessions rough). This is another Cryx model, a Slayer. Currently most of what one can find online about Cryx tries to convince one that the faction is a burning dumpster fire! They’re wrong (mostly just lazy people that find complaining easier than thinking and change). Enough of that though, onto the model itself!

This has been one of my favorite models to paint…ever. It has a lot of fun, small details that are easy to pick out. Overall, it’s a fairly good looking model and it accepted my thoughts quite easily. I’ve got a few other color schemes I’d like to try other than the blue and gold (white and gold I think would be very striking) and fortune smiles on me because I’ve got one more Slayer to paint! This also brings me 3 more bases closer to that magic 31! One last thing I wanted to ramble about, the rune. This rune is out of one of the Cryx fluff books, it means “Strength” and it was probably one of the easier runes to freehand. From the pictures you should be able to see that the rune is a wonderful example of my failure to adequately thin my paints, but in this case I don’t mind it (the raised nature of the rune helps define and separate it from the blue base). Doing freehand details and getting the paints sufficiently thin to avoid that build up, but thick enough to be controllable (read: to not run absolutely everywhere) is a massive pain. It’s the primary reason that I don’t do more freehand details. Overall I think this jack turned out rather nicely! (Also Deneghra1 is still a meta-defining powerhouse. Come at me!)

January Running Tally
The “Strength” Slayer: 3
Acosta: 1
Old Crusader!!!: 3
Knight Exemplar Grunts 4+5: 2
Stormguard Captain + Grunt, Captain Finn: 3
Mobius + Bane Warrior Grunt: 3
Knight Exemplar Grunts 2 + 3: 2
Punch Monk: 1
Knight Exemplar Grunt (1/5): 1
Knight Exemplar Captain: 1
Major Beth Maddox: 1
Woldwyrd x2: 4
25/31