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

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!

On Temple Flameguard, a Protectorate Novice’s Perspective

Protectorate of Menoth is my newest faction, and it is currently my third (I have owned and sold off both Circle  & Legion).  In my limited time in service to the God of Man, I have grown intensely fond of the Temple Flameguard.  They were one of the first units I wanted to pick up, having seen them used to great effect against me in previous games.  And already, it is hard for me not to include them in every list I make.  They have earned their keep in every game I have run them, and I wanted to share what I think makes them such a great option.

Let’s start by taking a look at the raw stats:  TFG have a good SPD which, along with their reach weapons, gives them a great threat range of 11 inches.  They have average MAT (offset by their Combined Melee Attack), pointless RAT, and slightly lackluster STR.  Their CMD is decent, but nothing to write home about.  Overall POW on their melee weapons barely breaks double digits, although it too is somewhat offset by CMA.  From a stats perspective, what I really appreciate the most about TFG is their DEF (one higher than that of Protectorate light jacks).  Along with many of their abilities and combos (more on that later), these guys can be extremely difficult to hit.  Their ARM equals their DEF, and can reach insane levels with still more tricks.

As far as abilities go, there is the aforementioned Combined Melee Attack, which can help them produce a decent damage output when necessary.  Flameguard also pack two very good defensive abilities:  Set Defense and Shield Wall.  Both of these defensive buffing abilities really make them survive.  When in Shield wall, enemies will want to be charging them to get enough damage to take them out, but thanks to Set Defense that gets much harder.  And while 1 pt of DEF may not seem like much, DEF 15 against the charge really shines.

It is worth noting now that I never field Temple Flameguard without their Unit Attachment.  For 2 extra points, you really make out in my opinion.  the UA brings yet another reach model with a higher MAT to bring to those CMA attacks, along with three extra strong abilities.  Ranked Attacks makes the unit a superb front line, escorting Daughters of the Flame, Deliverers, or any other offensive weapon down field.  Iron Zeal acts as another layer of shield wall.  The synergy between it, Set Defense, and Shield Wall give you a turn where it attempting to kill a Flameguard model seems like a suicide run.  And to add insult to injury, Menoth’s Howl means that whatever the unit doesn’t kill will be left aflame.  That is more value than most UAs bring; all for 2 additional points.  A full-on 12 man unit brings quite a toolbox for an 8 point investment.

In a faction of synergies, the Temple Flameguard are right at home.  For my money, it doesn’t get better than hooking them up with a Warcaster with Defender’s Ward; those being pSeverius, pKreoss, and Vindictus.  The defensive number stacking gets pretty ridiculous, but in the best case, TFG can reach 17/23 with this spell (against the charge, in Shield Wall, with Defender’s Ward and Iron Zeal).  That is a turn of defensive godliness.  But even if they ran, the base DEF that Defender’s Ward (or Holy Ward) give them can be pretty hard to hit. Backed by a Reclaimer, TFG are the gift that keep on giving for the savvy Menite.

In addition to what they can borrow from their peers, I value these guys for what they contribute.  For me, that primarily comes in two forms:  as one of the game’s best tarpit units, and as an escort for a more fragile and valuable offensive payload.

I alluded to their tarpitting abilities above, but Temple Flameguard have everything an elite tarpit needs:

  • a decent command range to spread out
  • reach to be more threatening with free strikes and engaging
  • suitable speed to keep up with their army
  • excellent defensive abilities/survivability

I know Manatee has plans to go into tarpitting as a strategy in its own post, but suffice to say that TFG are a pain for an opponent to eat through.  Between all of the above, I have seen many an opponent pour resources into trying to get them off the board.  Again, all from a very affordable unit.

And finally, this unit excels are delivering a potent offensive payload.  Between their great survivability and  Ranked attacks, there are many options here, but I would like to list my favorites:

  • Screening a full units of Deliverers with pKreoss; waiting for that critical feat turn
  • Escorting either Daughters of the Flame or Knights Exemplar towards their respective favorite victims; single wound infantry and heavy warnouns
  • Keeping Holy Zealots alive long enough to save their own mini-feat for late game (when a well timed Greater Destiny can be crippling)
  • Blocking access to Protectorate’s wide array of dangerous warjacks until said ‘jacks can get the alpha strike

The list goes on, but you can see just how versatile this unit is.

While there are certainly some things TFG should watch out for (ongoing effects are particularly nasty; avoiding both their respectable DEF and their Shield Wall order), their price, versatility, and defensive staying power are something no Protectorate player should overlook.  If you have passed on TFG before for their lack of offensive output, I suggest you leave that role to the experts (Knights Exemplar, any Protectorate Jack) and deliver that payload with the always-effective Temple Flameguard!

As always, thanks for reading!

Note Taking – Update

So, I have been working on taking notes during my games.  As one commenter noted on my last article, I have found it hard to take notes during the game.  But I have found it very beneficial to note after the game what won/lost the game, and what I could have done better/should keep doing.  Keeping the army information has also been useful, and I think I am going to start keeping better track of my wins/losses so I know how well I am really doing in my local meta.

Sorry about the lack of posts/brevity of posts.  It was Labor Day this weekend in the States, so we were all off having fun, and leaving the ring of fire surrounding our town.  Regular updates should commence tomorrow.  Hope everyone in the States had a safe and fun Labor Day weekend, and everyone else had a good weekend as well!

Tips and Tricks for the New Warmachine & Hordes Player: Strategy 2

This weeks discussion will focus on movement of troops and how to analyze your game.  I found a weakness and I forced myself to play against it.

Aggressive play

I have mentioned before that I am a pretty conservative player.  I don’t always play like “I have a pair.”  This week I resolved to throw all caution to the wind and get into my opponents face as fast as I could.  The idea was if I know how the game feels when playing it safe, and I then learn how the game feels when I play aggressively I can find my happy middle.  Experienced players know their play style.  My play style is still malleable.

Having decided to just focus on that one goal above all else this week made the games so much fun.  It did not matter if I won or lost, as a matter of fact I may have giggled when the mage hunter strike forge took out my jacks.

Game 1  – DEATH VIA SUSTAINED CANNON ATTACK!

35pt Cryx v. Talion Charter
Bane Knights ran up to greet his infantry.  They did a great job of debuffing but I could have staggered them more.  Most of them died before they could do anything.  If I just held a rank of them back I could have counter charged and it would have been beautiful, sweet carnage.

Nightmare put prey up on the first thing he could reach and charged up the middle.  He chewed through the unit, but not without taking enough damage that he didn’t serve his full potential.  Next game I vowed to use nightmare to chew through some jacks.

Slayer and deathripper went to the right and took a cannon to the face knocking them down.  I need to give two focus to them then so they can stand up and keep running.  This was the one case where I could have been even more aggressive.

Game 2  – DEATH VIA ARC NODE CASTRATION!

35pt Cryx v. Retribution
I knew going in what the Mage Hunter Strike Force was going to do.  Regardless, the goal of the week was to push the movement of my models to their extremes.  Turn one, each jack got a focus to run and Nightmare used ghost walk to push through an obstruction.  My Retribution opponent went second and bam, jack after jack fell to his Strike Force.  It was spectacular and awesome to see how deadly they were to my jacks.  I am glad I did it though because it prepared me for game 3.

Nightmare, still pushing strong, went and ate through his three jacks in the next two turns.  I can’t wait to try out Death Jack!  The last two rounds all I had left were Deneghra, my Bane Thrall Officer and Nightmare without arms.  But don’t count me out yet, Denny went on the offensive and venom spammed two full units down to two models.  Eventually the game did go to him, but man was it a fun way to lose.

Game 3 – DEATH VIA MY OWN HAND!

35pt Cryx v. Skorne
This one was probably over before it began.  I was up against Baron McFats (Rasheth), two agonizers, 2 Gladiators, a full unit of Gatorman posse, Bronzeback Titan, a task master and a unit of Beast Handlers.  It was a tier 4 theme list.  So my Ret game prepared me for this because I once again could not use arc nodes.  Not because he destroyed them, but because Castigate + the agonizers just locked me down.

So, the jacks just went into the melee with the bane thralls, nightmare and everything else.  The goal was to kill the agonizers, but the gatorman posse and the gladiators did an excellent job screening and I could not kill them fast enough.  I knew at turn two that the game was over, so I pulled a hail mary.  I needed to move Dene or she was dead, but a full advance wasn’t going to cut it and a run would mean I could not feat leading to my destruction next turn.  So I did what any self respecting Cryx player would do and I charged into the back arc of my own deathripper (taking him from full to scrapped in one hit) and then feated.

Conclusion:  If you haven’t ever done it, take a few games and push your models as far as they will go.  Cheer on your opponents as they mow you down.  Be aggressive, next week now I know how far I can push to really make my opponents play on MY TERMS!

I have my notebook now so reviewing these games after the fact is so much easier.  Experienced and Novice players alike, try this out.  Play a few games just to push, not to win and record your results.  I was feeling pretty comfortable with this list and thought I knew most of it, but placing myself in these situations forced me to be creative, and to use abilities in new ways.

Tips and Tricks for the New Warmachine & Hordes Player: Strategy 1

Last week went well for games.  So I decided to try something different and play with a new Warcaster.  I had been warned that Skarre2 was a huge jump from Deneghra1.  I had learned my other Warcaster pretty quickly as well as the cards so I figured what did I have to lose.

I set up a practice game this week so I could learn her at my own pace.  I was up against our local Press Ganger who was trying Protectorate of Menoth for the first time.  My opponent was my Cryx coach while another friend of ours was his Protectorate coach.  This was an interesting way to do it, and ended up being like three people playing a successful two person game.

I had studied the cards before hand and sat down with another person going over all of Skarre’s abilities.  When I sat down though to actually play the game I was overwhelmed pretty quickly.  That being said with notes in hand I learned a few things.

Jacks are like Kitties – They don’t like water baths

I have been trying to keep my jacks a little bit away from water.  Each army has different things for threat and how far they will be able to throw your Jack.  For now my focus has been to not make it obvious that they have that option.  I know with experienced players that won’t always work but the last thing I want to find is my Slayer in the pool without his water wings.

Jacks are like Sumo Wrestlers – Don’t be behind them when they fall.

My Skorne buddy taught me this one.  He slammed me with his Titan Gladiator.  This pushed my guy into my Warcaster and ended up causing my assassination.  I am sure in larger games it is harder to avoid this, but in these starting point games it is something I have learned to watch for, and for me to use to my advantage.

The Best Units Use Protection – The AOE Protection Bubble:

This is a technique I was shown this week to protect my Satyxis Raiders from AOE splash damage.  Forgive the artwork but I felt it would be best to draw out how it works as I explain it.

Viveka vs. DbSmash
Cryx vs. Protectorate of Menoth (25 pts)

So I ran my raiders up there as fast as I could, and created the placement bubble.  I call it a bubble because if you look at one of the center raiders you can see the other raiders are circled around her.  Protectorate has a LOT of fire, and they certainly aren’t the only ones with AOEs.  His Vanquisher for example has a four inch AOE.  There is just slightly more than four inches between each of my raiders.  This means that the AOE template will never go over more than one person.  If it deviates it again will only hit one model!

The other benefit comes from Free Strikes.  Lets say smash wanted to run his Repenter through my Raiders to get to something later on.  Since my Raiders have Reach there is no safe place for him to run.  I am also in good position for counter charges if things happen to my front line, and they are still close enough to support each other.

Get up in their face, The Game Rewards it:

This was my first week playing where I really felt this.  In this match I may have hedged around a pond too much; it meant that my Slayer didn’t see any action for an extra two turns.  I am not saying always use your max movement, but don’t do what I did and hedge stuff so much that you can’t do anything.  There is a difference between playing it safe and playing it smart.  Playing aggressively with my Raiders almost won me that match.  Had I chosen to be as aggressive with my Jacks I could have won.

Learn the Proper Play Etiquette and Terminology:

This helps to keep all of your actions organized in your mind as you learn your army.  By calling everything out, your opponent will be happier because they understand what you are doing as well.  This means they can also correct any terminology mistakes up front, because specific wording is important in Warmachine.  Not everything is a unit, and a slam is very different than a charge.  By stating it clearly and consistently, you are helping yourself learn the rules faster.  The following are wording fixes that were recommended to me this last week.  It has helped already.

Example – I am activating Denegra, she is going to target this arcnode here (points) and cast venom through it at THIS target.  (Remove focus for declared cast)

Example – I am activating my Bane Thralls and issuing a charge/run order.

Change out your dice out through out the game.  I pour my dice cube out on the left and as I roll, I move them over to the right.  Players have already mentioned to me that they like it because they know I won’t be using “the dice that roll well”.  It also helps eliminate any feeling that you won or lost a game on rolls, when it is pretty much always strategy that decides the outcome.   This keeps the focus on the game not the dice.

Cycling your Upkeep Spells:

While you can choose to upkeep spells at the beginning of your turn, nothing says you can’t change where they are mid turn.

This example was proposed for a game where I had two units of Satyxis Raiders.  Lets say a Deathripper had made a full advance and had been used as an arcnode to put Backlash up on the Repenter.  (Backlash means that any time I damage his Repenter now, his Warcaster takes one point of damage.)  The next turn I upkept the spell and use my first unit of Raiders to attack the Repenter, bringing that Jack down to one box.  I want to do as much damage as possible to his warcaster this turn, so then I choose to activate Skarre.  She now chooses to cast backlash on his Vanquisher which is undamaged. Leaving it on the Repenter would not make sense now; at most backlash can make his warcaster take one more point of damage, but if I move to the ‘jack with full health, I can get a point on him for EVERY attack that does damage!  Skarre’s turn is over and I then activate the second unit of Raiders and attack the Vanquisher.  This is a great example of how choosing to upkeep a spell, but then moving it mid turn can give you more damage or even an assassination.  It is a pretty sweet little trick!

Thanks again for reading! I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions.
If you want to read any of the other Tips and Tricks articles just click my name at the top or below and it will take you to my archive.

Cheers – Viveka

Burninating The Countryside : Feora, Priestess of the Flame

Feora, Priestess of the Flame (aka pFeora and Feora1, hereafter referred to as Feora1) is an interesting warcaster for Protectorate of Menoth.  Traditionally shunned as a second rate ‘caster, she is starting to see some additional play more recently.  I have fallen in love with her play style, and thought I would discuss some of it here.

Basic Information

You can find all of Feora1’s basic information (spells, feat description, basic stat descriptions) at her battle college page.  That said, I want to step through them, as they will be referenced later on in the article.

Stats

Feora1 has pretty good stats for a Protectorate ‘caster.  She has some of the best combined defensive stats for any of our ‘casters (Mage Hunter Strike Force need 9’s to hit her when not aiming, and are at dice – 7 for damage).  Her MAT is somewhat mediocre, but that is offset by her spells (specifically, Engine of Destruction, as discussed later), and her RAT is the same as a Cleanser’s.  She does get 2 initial attacks, either ranged SP8 attacks, or two non-reach attacks.  Her focus is average, one higher than the High Reclaimer’s and one lower than any of the versions of Kreoss’.  This can limit the effectiveness of her feat and some of her spells at times.

Special Abilities

She is immune to fire, which is good – she is the priestess of fire, after all.  She also makes it so Flameguard always rally in her control area and never flee.  This second one is really important, and can make or break some situations.  Anyone who has run Daughters of the Flame and watched them break time and again DESPITE being CMD 8 will appreciate this.

Feat

Feora1’s feat is very simple – it is a pulse effect that sets all enemy models in her control area on fire.  This can be extremely powerful against the right army.  If you have a lot of single wound infantry against you, or a lot of low-armor solos, or a low-armor Warlock or Warcaster, this can be a game changer.  On average, you will kill off about 2/3rds of their army (in practice, probably closer to 1/2 or so due to bad damage rolls, lucky continuous effect rolls, and the like).  This means that all those high-def infantry that your opponent is running will all of a sudden be making command tests to start your opponent’s turn.

That said, it can be an erratic feat.  Your opponent could get lucky rolls on their tests to check if the fire goes out, or they could have all armor or beasts, or all multi-wound heavy armor models.  With her smallish control area, you will have to play somewhat aggressively with her to get the most bang for your buck.  This is another place where her heavy defensive stats really start to shine.

Spells

Her spell list is surprisingly varied and large given her small focus.  She has spells that are offensive in nature (Blazing Effigy and Immolation), that buff either herself (Engine of Destruction) or someone else (Ignite), and denial spells, either through board control (Wall of Fire) or spell denial (Hex Hammer).

Blazing Effigy

This is a signature spell of hers, and I believe it is unique to her spell list (if anyone knows otherwise, please let me know!)  It allows her to damage all enemy models within reach range of a friendly faction Warjack – not necessarily in her battlegroup!  The damage is considerate as well, being the same as the damage from the Harbinger of Menoth’s feat turn.  This can be great for clearing out high-def troopers, as there is no to-hit roll.  It is an expensive spell, so using a Heirophant is a good idea.

Engine of Destruction

This is the same spell that High Executioner Servath Reznik has.  It greatly boosts the ‘caster’s STR and MAT, and adds a moderate buff to their SPD.  This means that she goes from being OKish in melee to being a complete beatstick.  And it isn’t very expensive – a wrack and heirophant make her effectively cast it for free.  It is not an upkeep, but that is OK – it means you can have Ignite or Hex Hammer up on her at the same time.  The former helps to get the assassination done, while the latter helps to stop counter attacks from spells.

Hex Hammer

Hex Hammer is possibly one of the best denial spells in the game.  It does d3 damage to anyone who casts a spell or uses an animus while in her control area.  This means that anyone using a Magic[*] ability (i.e. Lady Aiyana or Greylords), using their animus, or a Warcaster or Warlock just take the damage if they cast a spell.  Single wound models that cast spells as their main schtick – such as Druids of Orboros – pretty much become worthless while within her control area.  And it can plink away at Warbeasts, Warcasters and Warlocks too.  Nothing quite like watching your opponent use an animus, and then taking out an aspect because they used the animus.  Even if it doesn’t do significant harm, this game can be about small amounts of damage adding up.  Adding in a d3 damage here and there can turn the tide, and make your opponent decide if they REALLY need that animus or not.  Legion Lessers can really be hurt by this as well, given their small life pool.

Ignite

Ignite is a pretty standard spell, giving a moderate bonus to melee damage rolls, and giving the melee weapons critical fire.  This is best used on a unit, or in a pinch on a heavy ‘Jack or Feora herself if she is going for the assassination.  On Knights Exemplar, it brings their STR up to rediculous levels as they die, and even before that it brings their STR up to Khador weapon master levels.  On Exemplar Vengers, it makes their impact attacks dangerous, and gives them extra kick if they get stuck-in in melee.  All in all, a phenomenal spell that really increases damage output substantially.

Immolation

This is a standard attack spell that adds ongoing fire on Critical hit.  I have never used this spell when running her, because she has so many better options usually.  If there is an incoporeal model you need taken out, you can use this in a pinch.  Otherwise, I would recommend going for almost anything else.

Wall of Fire

This is a situational spell that doesn’t come up often, but when it does it can win games.  Putting a wall template down that does fire damage to people entering it or ending their activation, and then provides concealment, can close up choke points, stop charges, and really force your opponent to think closely about what they are doing around it.  Many times, it doesn’t come in to play, but when it does it can completely shut down your opponent.

Playing the Priestess

Feora’s prime incarnation has a very forward, aggressive play style.  She can get the job done on her own and often likes to get in the opponent’s face.  Using Engine of Destruction, she has a good chance of killing almost any Warcaster or Warlock if she can get close.

She also has some elements of denial.  With Hex Hammer as spell denial, she can make her opponent question casting spells or animi.  When a Warcaster or Warlock wants to use a spell or an animus, it is very likely that they will get burned by this, or have to be careful when they cast spells.

Priestess Support

Feora likes to finish the job herself.  While she can support her army a little bit, she really wants to finish the job up close and personal with Engine of Destruction.

With this in mind, it is often a good idea to bring Saxon Orrik with her, as not having pathfinder can be a difficult thing to work around.  She also likes jamming units, such as the Temple Flameguard, to help tie up the enemy while she positions for the kill.

She doesn’t need much troop clearing, as her feat and flame throwers will clear out most of the troops of the enemy.  She also doesn’t want a lot of ‘jacks, since she just doesn’t have the support for them.  Running Errants with ignite makes them a credible threat in melee, while allowing them to be a soft screening force. With the UA, they are an effective deterrent for enemy spells, and pathfinder makes them very mobile.

In general, I tend to view her troops as auxillary, and as being there to help deliver her.  She is an assassination Warcaster who happens to have some attrition abilities (and an attrition feat).

Other thoughts?  Comments?  Other ways you use her?  Do people use specific strategies against her?  Let me know in the comments.