Sunday, 7 December 2014

Got Game? Part 2

I think I got a little carried away with the last post, reminiscing about using Terminus, so to summarise I wanted demonstrate an instance where I felt I had begun to figure out how to play Warmachine at a higher competitive level. The Terminus list gave me valuable lessons in list-building, deployment, and a plan for the first two turns. It may be redundant to say so, but I want to reiterate that securing these elements set you up to have a stronger approach to the game and have knock on effects in later turns that are greater than the sum of their parts. Missing out just one component can have you struggling off the back foot, as exemplified in my previous posts about Zaal and Xerxis 2.

Beyond this, there was a certain ambiguous charm about Terminus, that he seemed to just work for me generally, and I couldn't really say why. Deconstructing my process uncovers some of this, but I reckon there's something to be said for finding that 'caster or 'lock that seems to just gel with you.

Translating the Terminus lesson to Skorne has been tricky for me. Part of that, as explained in the last post, has been the result of how forgiving Terminus is and that the loss of the other elements of your army is irrelevant, or even something you bank on, when using the good ol' limp-wristed beatstick. Skorne tend to like having their titans and troops on the table, as a general rule.

So that's where I found myself when I discovered the Skorne warlock that allowed me to slightly fudge those lessons mentioned in my opening paragraph above; Mordikaar.

I had previously found it weird how Terminus and Mordikaar were both the warnouns that I seemed to 'gel' with the most. On paper they couldn't be any more different. It's only now that I've clicked on how they play a similar game overall. The combination of Hollow and Revive allows me to fling troops into my opponent with almost wanton abandon, to have them pop back up in back arcs and other inconvenient places. Like Terminus, I expect my stuff to die1. Also like Terminus, I present a situation where trying to get the drop on Mordikaar is generally too hard to try and orchestrate.

After a few games, this is the list I'm jamming2:

Void Seer Mordikaar 
- Despoiler 
- Tiberion 
Void Spirit 
Max Cataphract Cetrati with Tyrant Vorkesh 
Max Nihilators 
Max Praetorian Keltarii
Min Paingiver Beast Handlers 

The list is by no means final. I still have to see if the Keltarii are really wanted here. Otherwise I've run with double Nihilators, and loved what berserking into people's back lines is like. The Keltarii do seem viable with parry and reform to further muck with people's days, and I find I don't cast Previous iterations of this list have included the Incindiarii, really emphasizing the troop clearing capabilities of this list. I've seen other lists on line that vouch for them, and I won't deny the power that reviving flaming AOEs in odd positions or having a decent CRA can bring. But that seemed largely irrelevant to how I play the list; run up the small-based units to start jamming the opponent out of zones etc, and to get the Hollow-train started. The beasts and Cetratii bunker up around Mordikaar, and serve as mid-to-late game pieces. As the opponent gets ground down by troops that keep coming back, they then have to face weapon-master infantry that can also come back and are immune to spells, and two intimidating heavy warbeasts.

Having Tibbers in the list is also something I'm on the fence about; its nice having the beat-stick, but I don't know if it's really worth the points investment. I'll play around a bit more, but I might go back to the Gladiator that I had in the list, and instead free up the points for a Tyrant Commander and Standard to increase the threat ranges for a whole bunch of things. The Despoiler really surprised me in the damage-dealing department, I initially moaned about him being pillow-fisted . I had to eat shit pretty quick on that one, the first attack I ever made with the guy saw me slap 20 boxes of damage on a Ravagore. Since then he's reliably gone toe-to-toe with other un-buffed heavies. He won't be one-rounding colossals, but don't underestimate old jazz-hands. Especially when a void spirit gets spawned in Mordi's control area, hooo boy. Me and my opponents keep getting surprised as rule interaction after rule interaction has to be read out, and guys die, explode, disappear, fail command checks, etc etc etc. there's no way he's leaving the list.

The list practically plays itself, and has enough of a buffer to allow me some mistakes, where the various elements support one another very well at this stage. Deploying is a little tricky at times, and preparing for the first turn of movement inevitably requires some order-of-activation awareness. However, once that is sussed the list has an early game plan that I find easy to implement. Beyond that, there's a lot of movement to explore within the list; To date I have not cast one Essence Blast with Mordikaar, and I read the stoies of people who've managed to pull janky kills with that spell. Further to that, I rarely cast Ghost Walk; It has also seemed worth more to bring back a Nihilator, than anything else. Still, its good to have in the bag. 

So far, I have these two lists as examples of what 'works' for me in play in games of Warmachine. The way I have deduced it, is that these lists give me a platform to setup my games to work in my favour, and also allow me to feel like I'm actually in control of the course of events that unfold. From here I want to be able to extrapolate this, and adapt how I approach my games with different warnouns. I need to be able to shift my thinking and plans for the initial turns to allow me to actually deploy and use the lists I make to better effect. This is the challenge I present myself, and have begun to consider with my Xerxis 2 lists; a very different machine that can't operate in the way that Terminus and Mordikaar does. 

1 To a lesser degree, Zaal wants this too. And he was also another Warlock I initially had good games with and was also curious as to why that was, due to his differences compared with Terminus. Obviously, letting your troops die is the common factor here, something I am great at. The only problem with this is that Zaal reaches a critical threshold with his stuff dying, and that's where I found I would get out-attritioned in games. Zaal's feat would no longer be very relevant and there were no Last-Stand targets left, if all your shit is dead.

2 Ok, since writing this, I've decided a Gladiator and Tyrant Commander are in. Onwards and upwards

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