Is there a 4th list archetype?

Featured in the last No Quarter was a write up about the 3 main archetypes of list building or play-style: Attrition, Assassination, and everyone’s favorite, Control. After going over the tenants of these types PP asked the reader if they thought there was a fourth type. Well that got me to thinking, is there a fourth way that I’ve seen people approach the game or even how I may have built lists in the past and I think tonight really solidified that the answer is yes. I’ll explain and let you be the judge. Continue reading

Solos: Are they worth it?

I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks delving into Mercenaries in Mark III and one benefit of that is their access to a huge bevy of wonderful solos. With the removal of pacts/contracts it has really opened up the options. Two that have really stood out to me is being able to play Kell Bailoch and Orin Midwinter after mostly sticking to highborn covenant in Mark II. I’ve found list building to be extremely exciting because combinations of solos are so varied and can lead to so many neat synergies.

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Needing Variety

I am well known in the local gaming circles as being someone who likes variety in their gaming.  I love the thrill of the new model, faction, tactic, etc.

Yes, there are some styles I will generally gravitate to, some aesthetics I will prefer.  But overall, I just love to game.  And I want to try out everything I can while gaming.  Mostly as an exercise for myself, to clarify in my own mind why I need variety in my gaming, I figured I would talk about some of the benefits and drawbacks behind playing a lot of different factions.

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Dice Tools

One of the things that often come up in discussing models is the average capabilities to do damage.  In these conversations, people often discuss average rolls (3.5 per dice obviously).  So MAT 5 models hit a DEF 12 with an average roll, etc.  While this is a useful, and quick, measurement, it is often misleading.  The problem is further compounded by effects that don’t just add or remove dice, but target certain dice.  Signs & Portents, Roulette, and Star Crossed all carry this kind of effect, and it can be difficult to calculate the effect the will have on the game.

In an attempt to provide something that can shed some more light on this, I have put together a python script that simulates these attack situations and is capable of adjusting for these types of effects.  The repository with the script can be found here.  It is pretty simple to use if you have python installed.  You just provide a number of simulations to run, a base MAT or RAT, a target DEF, and a number of dice to roll.  The program will execute as many simulations as you want, and calculate your success percentage.  If you want to involve something like Signs & Portents,  you can use the –low and –high flags to tell the app how many low and/or high dice to discard.

For example:

python dice_rolls.py 25000 5 13 2
You would suceed 42.2% percent of the time.

python dice_rolls.py 25000 5 13 3 –low 1
You would suceed 68.2% percent of the time.

In this example, you can see that a MAT 5 model will hit a DEF 13 model 42.2% of the time.  If that same model is under the effects of Signs & Portents, it will suceed 68.2% of a time.  A big jump!

While there is currently just the one file, I am going to keep adding to this.  Having a simulation that can run numbers on the ability to destroy a model with certain stats is my next goal.

Please try it out and let me know what you think!

Jacking Up Cryx Part 1: Objective & Options

So I have failed many times to own a Hordes army.  While I love the idea of an army comprised mainly of beasts, something about the Hordes offerings just never stuck with me.  I have owned (and subsequently sold) Circle Orboros, Legion, and Skorne.  My Warmachine armies though, haven’t failed me.  I play Cryx, Protectorate, and Mercs.  Still, I have a hungering for an army of mostly metal monstrosities.  While I can satisfy this at times, I have decided I really want to attempt refocusing my army construction on going jack-heavy, and I have decided I want to attempt this with Cryx.  Yeah, Protectorate may be the obvious choice, but Mortenebra has taught me the joys of a horde of Cryxian jacks.

So, in this first installment, I wanted to list all of the models that somehow can contribute to this goal.  What I am looking for is focus or psuedo-focus.  For example, Warwitch sirens directly contribute focus to warjacks, whereas a skarlock thrall, while useful in putting more of a warcasters focus into warjacks, cannot directly add focus or efficiency to warjacks.  That doesn’t mean a skarlock isn’t a good inclusion, just that it is of a different nature.  So, here is my list:

  • Warwitch Siren (directly contribues focus via power booster)
  • Iron Lich Overseer (contributes focus equivalency via Jack Marshall and Soul Matrix)
  • Aiakos, Scourge of the Meredius (as a Novice Warcasters, brings four focus directly to the table)
  • Scavenger (Finishes approximates boosting)
  • Desecrator (Accumulates focus near bane models)
  • Harrower (Soul Collector makes souls act just focus)
  • Seether (charges/runs for free, and gets one free focus, just for being awesome)
  • Deathjack (Skulls of Hate and souls = lots of focus)
  • Malice (also uses souls like focus, and starts with one for free)
  • Kraken (corpose tokens can be traded in for focus)

And while any warcaster is an obvious source of power for warjacks, some just stand above the rest in Cryx:

  • Mortenebra (THE jack casters.  Terminal Velocity equals boatloads of focus equivalency)
  • Skarre, Queen of the Broken Coast (Seas of Fate, while not directly focus, sure helps with efficiency)
  • Witch Coven of Garlghast (9 focus, Infernal Machine, and the ability to cycle like crazy)

So these are the models that will comprise the core of my jack-heavy lists.  Some of these things have never struck me as good models (Overseers, Desecrators…) but perhaps they will find a place in this kind of initiative.  In the 2nd part of this series, I will focus on figuring out which models are worth inclusion and which are not, and start building some lists.

Let me know if you have any good thoughts on models I should/shouldn’t focus on!

Thanks!

My Thoughts on the New Novice Warcasters

I am a bit late to this party, but summer has been crazy.

When Privateer Press announced the new Novice Warcasters as part of their recent Kickstarter, I was pretty excited.  I always love new models, and new mechanics are always particularly exciting.  I have long envied Cygnar’s Journeyman Warcaster, so the notion of getting similar effects in the factions I play (Protectorate, Cryx, and Mercenaries) had me salivating right off the bat.  In addition, these models made perfect sense, as yet another step in PiP’s recent trend away from infantry swarms and towards advancing the investment in warjacks/warbeasts.   Heavy armor is what got me into this game, so I am always ready for anything that helps make that paradigm more viable.  So, do I think the Novice Warcasters will succeed in this department?  Let’s take a look:

General Observations:

Most of the stats for the novices are pretty decent.  Given the ability to boost, their MAT and RAT sure doesn’t surprise me.  I do think one of the major problems with the novices is going to be their survivability.  I would hope that warcasters-in-training wouldn’t pop like a balloon to a lucky deviation, but with an average ARM of 14 and only 5 health boxes, it is fully feasible for a healthy novice to wind up dead when a Judicator deviates onto its head.  I think that will have a huge impact on if, and how, these models are run.  I doubt anyone is going to want to attach melee jacks to their novice and run them into the fray with that level of mortality.  I was really happy to see FOC 4 on these models; 1 more than the standard Cygnar Journeyman.  That makes them much more likely to tap into multiple roles: upkeeping spells while feeding a battlegroup, running multiple jacks, etc.  I do think the point cost is awesome.  2 pts would have been too cheap, anymore than 3 probably too expensive.  PiP hit the sweet spot there.  I think the range of spells, offensive options, and versatility make me want to run these models, but how did each faction fare?  Here is my ranking of the six:

  1. Gastone Cross
  2. Aiakos
  3. Andrei Malakov
  4. Allison Jakes
  5. Tristan Durant
  6. Elara

Gastone Cross

Cross has a lot going for him.  Moving Shadows and Fire Group are fabulous spells, and will make Cross want ranged jacks.  That will keep him safer than having to go into melee.  Getting Vanguards for 4 points is pretty crazy, especially when they can assault with RNG 10 shots.  Think about the tactical options you get with Cross and a pair of vanguards, all for 11 points.  Cross gets especially scary with a Galleon, if you are willing to take that chance.  Also, the fact that he can be taken in Cygnar and the Protectorate gives him another bump.  Finally, he has a gun with ROF 2, which gives him yet another dimension.  i just see great combinations for this model.  As a Merc player myself, I am looking forward to Cross, although I think I will need a 2nd Vanguard before he really shines.

Aiakos

Aiakos brings a great deal to the table:  stealth, jump, and a drag harpoon all make him a dangerous solo in his own right.  In fact, at first glance I found Aiakos to be good more for what he himself can do rather than what he does for warjacks.  However, Escort is a superb spell, and also gets Aiakos’ ARM stat relatively high.  All together, Aiakos can be a real pain himself.  Deathbringers will also be really nice against Hordes armies, especially trolls.  It is interesting to think about which ‘jacks to bring with Aiakos.  I can see a pair of Scavengers to really make use of Escort, but I can also see a pait of Seethers.  Since Seethers get effectively 2 free focus, you can have Aiakos upkeep Escort, put a focus on both Seethers, and camp 1.  Then he is commanding two MAT 8, SPD 8 warjacks that are effectively able to spend a full 3 focus.  That, especially for casters like Deneghra, could be mindblowing.  As a Cryx player myself, I am very excited about Aiakos.

Andrei Malakov

When Malakov appeared in a No Quarter scenario and brought Redline to the table, my Khador playing friend about wet himself.  Being able to mitigate that SPD 4 on whichever warjack he wanted was a dream for a Khador player.  I never thought the faction would see the spell proper, but it has happened.  That alone makes Malakov good; he alone mitigates the single biggest weakness in Khador.  His defensive stats are garbage, but he can also Sucker! all day long, which should help.  Otherwise, Malakov is pretty meh.  However, Redline-on-a-stick is just that good for Khador.

Allison Jakes

Jakes isn’t bad at all, but she isn’t as good as the above.  In addition, she will always have the vanilla Cygnar Journeyman to be compared to, and Arcane Shield is good stuff.  However, Sidekick is a tremendous spell, and will present some great challenges when you have 2 very high DEF parry models running around (Jakes and a Hunter, for example).  Otherwise though, I don’t really see what Jakes brings.  I suppose, as another source of focus for some ranged jacks, she is good, but that is why she is in fourth place…

Tristan Durant

Alright, the Novice Warcaster in the jack faction; unfortunately he is kind of underwhelming.  Giving a warjack +2 ARM is certainly good, but that will require Durant stay near the front lines.  He does bring True Sight, but with just a RNG 8 spell to make use of it, I doubt it is going to matter much.  So effectively Durant is going to power up a melee jack’s ARM and try to stay alive.  There are good combinations; an ARM 23 Templar smashing through the enemy lines is pretty hard to take down.  Unlike Cross, Aiakos, etc – he lacks versatility.  I think that is going to be his defining characteristic, and why I put him so low on the list.  As a Protectorate player, I am still excited to have more jacks running around.  And I may need a Templar to make use of that ARM…

Elara

Elara seems like she could have been good, but instead I think she missed the mark.  She appears to want to be in melee, yet just doesn’t seem survivable enough.  Thus, She defines the core Novice Warcaster conundrum.  Battle Charged, Side Step, Extraction – all of things point Elara towards melee, and yet I think the investment in warjacks is going to be too high for her.  If she was more of a personal threat like Aiakos (acrobatics, perhaps) I could see the lists where she would make the cut.  As it is though, I am underwhelmed.

There ya go: some quick thoughts about these forthcoming models.  What do you think?  Are you picking any up?  Are you excited?  Disappointed?  Let me know in the comments!