Saturday, 27 December 2014

Got Game? Pt.4 - dance partners

Sweet jangoes, but do I love the formats for Warmachine/Hordes events. The simple matter of having at least two lists that you can use over the course of your games simply blew my mind when I first made the transition from 40K - it was such a simply allowance, that enabled players so much freedom in list creation, as well as adding an additional layer to the game in the form of list-chicken with your opponents. Varying points levels, formats, and all the varied types of events that you can play (Who's the Boss, Foodmachine, Beermachine, Spell Draft, and I'm sure the list goes on), the game is constantly encouraging players to switch things up. And not just necessarily with how they build their lists, but also how they play.

Or at least, that's what it feels like here in New Zealand. I rarely see the players here necessarily relying on net-lists exclusively. There's the odd person (myself included) who may copy the typical eGaspy or Kromac or eGrissel Meat Mountain list as seen internationally, but that tends to be the exception, not the norm.

ugh trolls so meaty, so miserable

That aside, a big part of this game for me extends beyond the development of a single list and game plan, but to how I will pair my lists to elicit favourable matchups at events. Obviously, this is more important for competitive events. WM/H is still played as a more casual, bung everything together affair with friends on a lazy afternoon. But for myself, playing competitively is a very important part of this game. Even the casual games I play I have a default attitude that this is practice for a more competitive setting. 

So, list pairings. To date, the WM/H events I've attended in New Zealand have been two-list affairs. The points levels may vary, but two lists makes things easy for most contenders to travel with, and prepare for most match ups. I had some difficulty deciding my list-pairings. Initially, this was due to lack of models, but I don't have that excuse now - I've just been playing and buying models without fully considering how particular pieces will sit in concordance to two-list events. There were vague ideas that I could build one army that could deal with a high armour skew. Or for masses of infantry. What if someone skews for stealth? Or incorporeal? Gunline? Control casters? Or build something to deal with Cryx. But I was playing Cryx, so what should I do then? Guh.

To give an example of how I used to approach list pairings, I'll use my Terminus and pDeneghra pairing. The Terminus list I explained at length in a previous post here, and was designed to be my main list. I wanted to use that list, with the plan as explained by Lamaron, but I didn't know what to pair Terminus with. I decided on Deneghra for no other reason than people complaining about how nuts she was. I did not know what would be a bad match up for Terminus, or in what situation I'd prefer to use pDenny over Big T. And part of the problem I had going into this was thinking I had to develop both lists to be of equivalent strength. There was no real plan beyond that as to how the lists would even compliment each other; just build them to stand on their own and have at it. At this point I had tried to figure this stuff out predominantly by myself, looking at the odd forum post, but not really consulting the local players here.

Since then I've realised designing a list pairing also requires a type of focus. Where building a single list means assembling units to compliment and synergise with one another to achieve particular in-game goals, design of a list pairing has to step back and consider a series of games and potential match-ups. If you have only one list you try to account for that as best as possible. this was the attitude I had coming from 40K. Listening to an interview with Will Pagani describe his list design where he built an 'off' list to directly address the weaknesses of his main list. And it is this concept of having a 'main' list that I had been missing; make one list that you will generally use against the majority of games, where the 'off' list would be designed to counter those bad match ups.

With my main Terminus list in mind, how would I do things differently now? Speed seems to be a problem. Terminus has a decent threat range, facilitated by the presence of Darragh and Madelyn. Canny opponents have targeted them early in the game due to how they add to Big T's game. The other units in the list also have quite predictable threat ranges. From my perspective, Terminus will have some trouble dealing with control-casters, the likes of the Haleys, eDenny, and Harbinger to an extent. Also MMM Troll styled lists will give Terminus issues with the difficulty getting souls off multi-wound models and the lack of decent landing zones to place Big T. Its not that he doesn't have game in these matchups, but I feel this is where considering building a second list specifically to cater to these issues takes advantage of two-list formats.

Instead of pDenny, I reckon eDenny would be better suited in this pairing. Really, I'm of the opinion that on the surface level they're both damn good to counter issues of speed and control. But eDenny has a better feat for pinning models in place. Around her I'd want to develop a list that uses the fastest units in Cryx; Soulhunters, Bane Riders, Satyxis Raiders and Witches. For 'jacks I'm thinking Nightmare (he'd actually be the slowest thing in the list, outside of Prey buffs), or Deathjack for giggles, maybe a couple of arc nodes, points allowing. A further bonus to this pairing is the lack of character cross-over between the lists. Darragh Wrathe aside, eDenny doesn't want any of the characters Terminus demands. I could even switch things up, consider the eDenny list as my primary list, and consider how Terminus will serve as an off-list; eDenny doesn't like getting caught out by sneaky spell assassinations or getting shot to shit, things Terminus typically looks at and laughs.


With Valleycon fast approaching I'm going to have to figure out what my second list is going to be. Writing this post is partly me figuring out my process of choosing who will compliment my main list. It should be obvious by now that I'm going with a version of pXerxis and the Fist of  Halaak. The list is solid, has multiple tools to deal with multiple match ups (particularly tier match ups), and should be forgiving enough for those opponents I'm unfamiliar with. What are the FoH's weaknesses then? Well, maybe speed and control again? Getting jammed or locked in place, not having the threat ranges to take out pieces that can yo-yo into my lines. But this is tricky, because Skorne doesn't really have any solutions for this. Or at least any solutions that are necessarily better than what the FoH has; absorb the hits, then hit back harder...

Obviously the solution to my problems is blind optimism, 
while everyone else looks on in horror. Thanks Coach.

I've tried out Zaal, eXerxis and Rasheth tier lists, and to date nothing is sitting well with me. I've chronicled my games with the former two, and recently I played a game into Matt Bissel's eBorka with a Rasheth Chain Gang list, and was left wanting. It's not that the list was necessarily terrible, it just didn't feel exciting to play. Overall, the lists I've tried haven't performed all that well, and there were no situations where I thought I would prefer to use those lists over FoH. This tier restriction is really doing my head in.

For now I'm going to and idea that Mr Bissel pitched to me a while back, but I've been hesitant to follow up on: a pMorghul Big Game Hunters tier list. On paper there's a bunch of stuff there to make a fun beast heavy Skorne list; extended deployment range, free pathfinder, points reduction on titans.. My main reservation was needing two units of Arcuarii to get to the later tier levels. I wasn't ever planning on having two units of those guys for anything else, but running Fist of Halaak means I'll be using two min units now. So that argument kind of goes out the window now.

From here I'll be playing around with the list and giving it a go. Going back to my other posts on list construction posts, I think I'll have something developed that has a very straight forward game plan in mind - speed up the table, form a bunker around Morghul and feat. Stop any sort of reprisal with the feat and have a bunch of melee beasts ready to wreck face. This sort of dictates the type of match-ups I'll drop this list into; Beast and warjack heavy lists. I'll give it a go, I do like playing with pMorgs.

Moving on through the calender year, we're blessed here in NZ to have a bunch more events; February has a one-dayer run by Big Daryl Painter at the weekend nerd-fest Battlecry, with a simple 4 round, 2 list format. This is where I'll have the chance to fall back in to the warm and comfortable embrace of Mordikaar.

always Mordikaar, always <3

My list choice here feels so damn easy; Mordikaar happily goes into being my Cryx drop and facing down a bunch of other lists too. The only real issue would be heavy armour skews, or MMM style lists. Enter pXerxis, who will happily cover those match ups all day, every day.

From there, the Ides of March is next. At this stage I'm sure it will look like I'll run the same pairing. There will obviously be the need to see how it performs and if there are any glaring holes in my plans that need attention. But come April is the Auckland Open, and the first 3-list event I'll have attended. This is where I can see the ranged Skorne gunline lists coming in to play. so far, I've played it with Rasheth, and had good fun. I reckon the ranged game Skorne can bring presents an interesting question to opponents, even with out the Aradus Sentinel being available. I know they will swiftly be incorporated in a bunch of my lists once they come out. I will also have to consider how this type of list sits with the other two. And which warlock will even drive the list best. Currently Rasheth, eHexeris and eXerxis all look to be likely candidates.

Another part of the whole list selection and pairing game that I haven't discussed is the whole Divide and Conquer element that is often present at these events. I've already rambled long enough about this topic, but this element will probably feature in several of these events. In which case, I need to manage my match ups and try to build the lists to stand on their own as best as possible. I think I can do that, but this 3 list thingy happening April will be the real challenge.

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