Against the odds

January 29, 2010

In his eyes I see the glory of our house reborn. He will carve a path by blade’s edge to our proper destiny.
— Consul Caelcyr Nyarr

Retribution cover by Andrea Uderzo

Do not displease the Dawnlord.

Dawnlord Vyros Nyarr was displeased with his scouts. A small Cryxian force lay in his path, thus slowing his advance. The news in and of itself wasn’t troubling; the fact his scouts had failed to accurately report the amount of filth accompanying that Warwitch Deneghra drew his ire. But Vyros had no time to discipline the Mage Hunter Strike Force. He had to act while initiative was his. The Strike Force was sent back to Ravyn, shamed without knowing why.

The Dawnlord ordered the Houseguard Halberdiers to take the front rank; they were closely followed by Dawnguard Invictors — a mainstay in any force Vyros led. With the red-tailed hawk Jyren on his arm, Vyros took his place behind the Invictors. He prodded Hylos, his Phoenix, to stand ready on his right. A Mage Hunter Assassin named Pryn covered the right flank.

Quickly, Vyros expanded his perspective through his hawk’s eyes. He saw the Warwitch at the rear of her battlegroup. Mechanithralls spread out in front of Deneghra, three bonejacks interspersed through their ranks. Bloated sacks on legs — bile thralls — waddled just outside of a wooded glen. A Seether Helljack was lined up opposite his heavy myrmidon. A shimmer on the left and right flanks alerted him to the presence of incorporeal beings. Pistol Wraiths, he thought.

Vyros smiled grimly. “These foul beings will not forestall our advance. Talons of Dawn, stand ready!”


It’s been several months since I’ve played with Dawnlord Vyros. I played him once after trying out Kaelyssa, then went back to Kaelyssa. Once I got my fill of Little Miss Phantom Hunter, it was off to learn Ravyn with a brief flirtation with Rahn.

I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on Ravyn despite being on a wicked losing streak, thanks to regular sparring partner, Dangerfish. There’s definitely something to be said about learning from your mistakes. In this case, I think it was a matter of me playing the same caster for well over a month and he got wise to my tricks.

Thursday night marked my return to Vyros, leader of the Dawnguard and the dude who went toe-to-toe with Goreshade when he went all Eldritch on his elven brethren.

Much like Kaelyssa, Vyros has some tricks that make his battle group shoot just about anything in range. Of course, I took one ’jack in tonight’s game since we were playing 25 points. At least I ran 25 points.

Here’s what I ran:

Army Name: Vryos
Retribution of Scyrah
31/31 points, 25 models
Dawnlord Vyros 6 points
* Phoenix 10 points
10 Dawnguard Invictors 10 points
* Invictor Officer & Standard 2 points
10 Houseguard Halberdiers 7 points
Mage Hunter Assassin 2 points

Dangerfish is not a cheater. iBodger proved to be his foil Thursday night; he named his list “Denny 25”. Only thing is, the 35-point army was selected when he made his list. No biggie; just helps my respect for Vyros and the Dawnguard grow that much more.

Mike ended up running:

40/40 points, 24 models
Warwitch Deneghra 5 points
* Deathripper 4 points
* Defiler 5 points
* Nightwretch 4 points
* Seether 9 points
* Skarlock Thrall 2 points
6 Bile Thralls 5 points
10 Mechanithralls 5 points
2x Pistol Wraith 3 points each

Oh, and did I mention the Cryx was fully painted and gorgeous and that this was his first time running the army? Yeah.

Back when I first started playing Warmachine nearly 5 years ago, I played a lot of games against Cryx. Not so much in recent years — as much of an aversion toward some of the folks who ran the undead as the cheeky shenanigans they could pull off. But having faced Denny enough in the past, I knew the arc nodes had to die, and die fast.

After advancing the entire army, the Invictors popped Extended Fire to give them RNG 14. Two groups unleashed combined range attacks — a 6-man CRA (POW 18) knocked out all but movement and the arc node on one of the bonejacks. A 5-man CRA put a decent amount of damage on another bonejack.

Then there was all kinds of Cryx in my face. A Ghost Walked Seether charged Hylos, but very little damage got past the force field. Mechanithralls punched holes in the Halberdiers’ shield wall and the Bile Thralls trundled through the forest. Pistol Wraiths advanced and harassed things.

Concept art by Chris Walton

There was a delicious charge lane for Vyros to hammer the Seether. It was too good to pass up; didn’t want The Dawnlord angry. MAT 8 means he isn’t missing much — though I forgot about the +2 to hit from flank. I didn’t forget about the extra die and rolled POW14 + 4d6 on the charge. The was without movement and I think an arm after the first swing. I paid for another attack and rolled triple 6s to box the Helljack.

Still, at this point, I had no idea I was playing behind points wise. I just knew I didn’t need a Seether tromping through my lines.

Long story short, I lost the game. I didn’t shut down the arc nodes and I didn’t engage the Bile Thralls to keep them from purging. A 35-point incarnation of this list geared toward fighting Cryx would have added a full unit of Dawnguard Sentinels, Soulless and the Phoenix would’ve been swapped for a Manticore. As it stands, I think the list would have been solid against Cygnar.

Vyros is easily the Retribution’s best ’jack caster. Bird’s Eye affords everything in his battlegroup 360° front arcs; on top of that, when determining LOS, models ignore cloud effects, forest terrain and intervening models. Neat.

His feat, Perfect Execution, rewards the player who brings ’jacks to play: “While in Vyros’ control area this turn, when a friendly Faction model destroys an enemy model with an attack, allocate 1 focus point to a warjack in Vyros’ battlegroup in his control area.” Keyword here kids is allocate. You can’t exceed a ’jack’s focus stat from the feat. It’s still nifty if you want Vyros to hang onto his focus for some reason.

The Dawnlord has a short spell list, but it’s go decent support for ’jacks and troops.

  • Inviolable Resolve — Straight out of eKreoss’ playbook, this spell is awesome on shield wall units like the Houseguard Halberdiers. ARM 20 plus Fearless is nice, especially facing Cryx.
  • Mobility — Loved this spell with Amon, I need to cast it early and upkeep it. The +2 SPD it gives SPD 5 Vyros increases his thread range from 10″ on the charge to 12″ and gives models in his battlegroup Pathfinder. That means Hylos would’ve had an effective threat range of 14″ on the charge. Not bad for a heavy.
  • Hallowed Avenger — Yes, another PoM spell. I put it on the Phoenix for a turn but didn’t charge after a Halberdier was destroyed within 5″; he was engaged and I couldn’t remember if I’d have to incur a freestrike or not. Besides, he was where I needed him to be.
  • Eliminator — This is a brutal spell that bears some testing. “Immediately after this attack is resolved, this model can advance up to 2″ for each enemy destroyed by the attack.” It’s POW 13, AOE 3… I think it could have been useful at thinning out some of the Mechanithralls. Proper use can get Vyros set up for an assassination run in Turn 3, methinks…

Overall, my impressions of Vyros are favorable. I’m really getting excited about Dawnguard again — they’re just solid. They’re the elite of the Retribution and they play like it. I’ve been on a kick with the Halberdiers since I picked them up and now I want to put Sentinels back on the table. I’m also entertaining thoughts of a second Phoenix.

Hey, I’ve got a birthday coming up. 😉


Da do Rahn Rahn…

December 19, 2009

It’s been too long since my last blog was published. I had one written up about the glory of Cygnar in Mk II, but — seriously — WordPress ate it, and I was too pissed off to recreate from scratch. Short story there is that the new ’jacks, unit and caster have me very excited about my first faction.

But Thursday, I got a good reminder of why I like the Angry Elves.

The Hordes Mk II Field Test has me in a Mk II state of mind. My final Mark I event wrapped up last weekend (Foodmachine, 838 cans and $150 to the Idaho Food Bank) so I don’t feel bad about looking ahead to Mk II. I’ve got some issues to resolve on my own regarding Trolls (namely 5-wound cav), but I’m going to wait until everything is finalized to determine how much play the Bright Pinks will get in 2010. For the most part, I’m happy with the changes but there are still some models where I don’t have a clear idea of what the battlefield role should be.


I played two 15-point games on Thursday. While testing Trolls, I’ve determined this is a good point level to get a good look at unit/caster interactions. They play fast, they’re fun and it’s very easy to maintain focus. I don’t mind larger games, I just had some new toys I wanted to try out.

The marquee match of the night proved to be my game vs. Kater. He’s got 4 Bashers he’s been dying to check out. I had a Tiered list I had built to face Cantlon, but he couldn’t stick around so I used it against Searforge.

They call him *Mr.* Mittens.

Tier 1 Rahn is surprisingly fun: Rahn, 3 Magisters, Battle Mages and a Phoenix (bear in mind his Tier allows for an extra Magister for every unit of Mages on the field). Kater brought Durgen with a Basher, Thor with a Basher and 6 Hammerfall High Shields.

As it turned out, my list was the perfect foil for AOE dwarves. Aside from the Phoenix, none of the models on my side of the board suffered blast damage. They were also +2 DEF against ranged attacks.

Kater won the roll and went first. Advance move got the Highshields further up field. Pronto got Thor’s Basher out front early and it ran, eager to engage Mittens and the Kittens. Durgen used Red Line to get his Basher closer to the fight.

Mittens... more fun in a three-pack.

My Turn 1 involved Mittens 1 using Force Bolt to move the Basher 3″ backward. Rahn arced Force Hammer on the second Basher and sent it into Durgen, knocking both of them down. Knowing how eager Kater was to Slam and Follow Up, Rahn put Polarity Shield on the Phoenix. It saved that ’jack.

Turn 2, Kater shook off the KD and sent his ’jacks back at my army. Thor’s Basher went after Mittens 1 and the Kittens, but didn’t bother with the grenade attack since they’re immune to blast damage. Durgen fired a Case Cracker round at the Phoenix and did 9 point of damage to it — all absorbed by the force field. A Battle Mage died to Dwarven gunfire.

My part of Turn 2… I didn’t pop Rahn’s feat until after Mittens 1 and the Kittens had activated. Mittens 1 charged the Basher and smacked it with a POW 15 Combo Smite. I think it moved 3″. The Kittens charged in and beat on the poor Basher with POW 11s. I forgot about Beat Back, which was just as well.

If you've got Mittens, then these are the Kittens.

On Rahn’s side of the board, he was staring down Durgen and his Basher. The Phoenix had been loaded with 3 focus, but I had some things to do first. Rahn popped his feat and arced Telekinesis onto Durgen and turned his back to the Phoenix. The Phoenix charged and whacked Durgen hard on the first swing. Then he punched him. Two focus bought a second, boosted attack with the Thermal Blade that finished off the crazy Dwarven ’caster.

I really wasn’t that interested in playing Rahn; I’ve got the Mages because they’re part of me having a complete Retribution force. The Magisters are amazingly fun and Rahn actually gives me a decent amount of versatility and some interesting board control options. I should have made better use of his feat, but it wasn’t really all that necessary.

I’m pretty certain I’ll play more games with him; I did end up with a second unit of Battle Mages and a third Magister for when I want to run a Tiered list.

Game 1 on Thursday was Rayvn, Hydra, full Houseguard Halberdiers and Stormfall Archers vs. Goreshade, Death Jack and a Seether. I had the model advantage, but Cantlon advanced his ’jacks and cast Shadowmancer to keep my Archers from setting anything on fire. In return, I advanced my line of Shield Walled Halberdiers, Stormfall tucked in neatly behind them. Ravyn and the Hydra stayed on the left flank and advanced. Ravyn cast Vortex of Destruction and loaded the Hydra with 3 focus.

The second turn was more of the same. Turn 3, Cantlon popped Goreshade’s feat and lo and behold, here come 6 Bane Thralls charging into the teeth of the Halberdiers. This is where these guys earned their money. Normally a solid DEF 13, they’re DEF 15 vs. the charge thanks to Set Defense. Shield Wall gives them ARM 18 — not that it mattered, because the Banes whiffed on every single charge attack.

Angry Elves with pointy sticks and shields. Suck it, Bane Thralls.

With 2-man CMAs, hitting and killing the Banes wasn’t an issue. Seven points for 10 of these guys is completely worth it, and unless I’m running a Tiered list that doesn’t permit them, I can see the Halberdiers on the field quite a bit. They’re as good of a delivery system as Temple Flameguard and Ranked Attack makes them the perfect meat shield for all of the ranged goodness the Retribution has to offer.

Cantlon struck back on the next turn, walking up with the Seether and killing a few Halberdiers. The Death Jack came and murdered most of the Stormfall. On my turn, the Hydra took a shot at Goreshade and missed. I knew I needed to kill the DJ, so Ravyn reared back and charged. With Vortex up, she had 4D6 of damage on the charge. Blade is POW 13, but I still did some serious damage to the Death Jack. A few more swings and it was toast.

With no focus left, and ARM 16, it didn’t take long for Goreshade to kill her. Not a horrible loss, but it reminded me of why I like Ravyn the most on paper. She’s fun.

The end result is that I’m back to playing Angry Elves until at least May. There are some very tempting things coming out for Cygnar and Protectorate, but I a lot of pointy-eared death that needs delivered.

BCB: Boise update

October 13, 2009

BCB logocBreast Cancer Brawl: Boise is rapidly approaching. The added wrinkle to all of this is that the LGS is also hosting an ‘Ard Boyz semi-final due to some issues with communication. But we’re gonna make it work — BCB gets the gaming area at the store, the WHFB guys get one of the vacant store fronts. We’ve got room for 20 tables, which means a maximum of 40 (forty!!) Warmachine/Hordes players!

The good news is, I’ll have help running tourney ops (thanks, Scott!). I’m dragging the Powerbook with me and I’ll be running the tourney software we used at Gencon (thanks, Shav!). That will make my life a lot easier. The other good news is we’ve received two donations already and my players sound like they’re ready to open their wallets for the cause. Shirts are at the printer’s, and Project: Rabid Wombat is under way. Just a few more  details to finish with that. I’ve got to find a few more things to include in the player packets, but some of that is stuff I can do at the last minute.

Prize support has been ordered — we’re getting in the gorgeous Steamroller trophies for the top three finishers. And we’ve also got autographed prints from Matt Wilson for our most generous donors. Khador for the Cure will be ready, and I’ll post pics over at Project: Paint Pink. Cygnus of Awareness will be there too, there’s a pink-themed Circle army and an Ashlynn-led Merc force done up in pink. All will be available for auction locally first; the stuff that doesn’t go to locals will be put on eBay. Stay tuned for details.

No word on if we’ll have visitors from Seattle. I’m hoping we do, but if we don’t, it won’t be the end of the world. It just means I’ll have to mail off thank-you gifts (I’m talking to you, Chris Walton). 😉

On the painting side of things, I’ve been juggling several deadlines and I’ve managed to meet two of them. The first was painting the Retribution “boxed set” which was shown in an earlier post. The other was painting up a model for the PG mini exchange. Here are pics:

Paladin of the Wall

Paladin of the Wall

I've gotten pretty good at painting cloaks.

I've gotten pretty good at painting cloaks.

I blame Graham 100 percent for my new inclination to paint armor as … armor. His insistence that I paint his Sword Knight and Stormguard in full plate isn’t a bad thing, and I think it works well on the paladin. In fact, it works well enough with the Menoth White Base/Highlight that I’m seriously considering repainting my Protectorate. After all, three armies done up with gray as a base is a bit much. So we’ll see.

For the record, it was *very* difficult to put this guy in the mail. I really wanted to keep him. That doesn’t happen too often with commissions for me. But this was the fist paladin I’ve actually completed — I own four. Vilmon and his boys will look like this one. Then I’ll decide what to do with the rest of the army. 😛

And now better pics of the Angry Elves™.

Pink-haired, pointy-eared, anime assassin!

Pink-haired, pointy-eared, anime assassin!

Kiki the Chimera

Kiki the Chimera

Merv Griffon

Merv Griffon

Monty Manticore

Monty Manticore

The whole gang

The whole gang

Retribution boxed set

October 2, 2009

It took me a little, but I got the Retribution boxed set done.

To clarify, it’s not an actual boxed set, it’s just the models that fit in that level of play. This is a group shot I took real quick. I still need to seal the models and take something with what passes for studio lighting for me. 😛

I like my color scheme, I'm not 100% crazy about my execution of it. I rushed and it shows.

I like my color scheme, I'm not 100% crazy about my execution of it. I rushed and it shows.

I’d like to add freehand to the Myrmidons eventually. My hands just aren’t steady enough and I have too many models I need to get painted in the next few weeks — namely the Khador. But there’s also the Ultramarines commission, and I still need to make time for Cryx commission stuff.

I need to remember that I can wait to the last minute if it’s a writing project. Not so much with painting…

Quick photo update

September 30, 2009

I have been slacking, but not *that* much.

In the past 2 weeks, I’ve completed the Death Jack and solidified my Retribution color scheme. Here’s the proof:

Chauncey the Death Jack

Chauncey the Death Jack. Commission, September 2009.

I posed him looking down since he's supposed to be huge.

I posed him looking down since he's supposed to be huge. And he's on a metal base.

I'm fairly happy with the way the blending turned out.

I'm fairly happy with the way the blending turned out. I'm amazed that I can wet blend — and explain how to do it. Still have a lot of room for improvement.

He's got such narrow hips.

He's got such narrow hips.

Angry Elves... now with pink!

Yeah, guess who’s making a mad dash to finish Angry Elves tomorrow? I’ve got 4 demos with them set for Thursday and I need to email a pic of them all painted up to the Quartermaster so I can get more Retribution goodies. I’ll make sure to post pics of the demos, since that’s something I have yet to do. Such a slacker, like I said.

Oh, in other news, here’s my logo for BCB:

Simple but effective.

I am debating previewing the T-shirt designs prior to the event. On the one hand, I know they’ll be awesome and I want folks to get the shirts. On the other hand, I know they’ll be awesome and I want to save it. 😉 Maybe after I’ve submitted the design to the shirt place…

Then again, I’m not above bribery. I’ll donate the proceeds to charity. 🙂


September 10, 2009

Well there has been plenty of Retribution posted, and I jumped in when I was at PAX. Garryth got me excited and then I flipped through the book, but I also faced Retribution at PAX and discovered that they are indeed the new hotness, a new style, and they are BALANCED, I know, but I do feel that they are just fine in the game play.

I thought of a scheme during my days at the con and have managed to get all of my models assembled and half of them primered,  I went with a quick speedy style, so the white is not super smooth but i do like the look.  I also have completed the Griffon, and he is waiting for some flock and sealant, but I need to finish more, which Vyros is almost done.

You say you want some Retribution…

August 24, 2009

retI’ve had a full week with the New Shiny away from Gencon and the hype surrounding the release of the Retribution of Scyrah.

I’ve made no secret of my Retribution leanings in this blog and I’m happy to have been a fairly early supporter of the newest Warmachine faction.

What I didn’t expect was how much I’d love playing the faction and what it would do to my approach to Warmachine.

Theorymachine in a vacuum sucks. Let’s just get that out of the way. When there’s no dice, no opponent, no scenario, you can manipulate just about any combo to fit your needs. I hear there’s been a lot of talk on the forums about the Retribution being “teh borked” and “overpowered.” I’ve also heard a lot of talk about the plastic kits would suck and how awful the Retribution models are.

Well opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one, and in this space, I really don’t care what the forums say. If I did, I’d be posting there and not on my blog.

Here are a few things to bear in mind about my approach to Warmachine.

  1. I’m not a tournament player. I’ll play in a tournament to support the community and maybe win best of faction, but I have no illusions about being the top dog.
  2. I play for fun. If I happen to win a game, that’s an added bonus. I like the game, I like the social aspect of it. I play to push some pewter around a table and interact with another human being.
  3. I’m not an assassination-style player. It’s more fun for me to play 4-5 rounds and kill a bunch of your stuff rather than killing you in Turn 2.

Having said that, here’s my take on the Retribution after playing three games with the Angry Elves.

The Dodge Viper begs you to drive it fast. Good luck going slow in one of these. I tried. ;)

The Dodge Viper begs you to drive it fast. Good luck going slow in one of these. I tried. The only thing that slowed me down was being forced to keep it in 2nd. 😉

I wanna go fast!

I’ve been fortunate to get behind the wheel of a Dodge Viper similar to the one in the photo. The car begs you to go fast. Like 70 mph in second gear fast. Some cars are built for speed, others to get you from point A to point B. Warmachine armies are similar — some are designed to win by attrition, others to deliver a precise, surgical strike and take out annoying enemy models.

The Retribution is a lot like driving the Viper, only instead of speeding, the army wants to you kill the enemy warcaster. Badly. Like Turn 2 badly. It’s not that they’re an “easy button” or “point and click” faction, it’s more of them having the right tools for the job.

Here’s the first list I ran with the Retribution:

– Chimera
– Gorgon
– Hydra
Dawnguard Invictors (10)
Dawnguard Sentinels (8)
Dawnguard Sentinels (8)
Eiryss, Angel of Retribution
Lady Aiyanna & Master Holt
Narn, Mage Hunter of Ios

I took this against an Ashlynn list with Steelhead Halberdiers, Stannis and Steelie cav. Ashlynn also had four ‘jacks, which was nice to see. This was the game I also discovered my new favorite infantry unit, the Dawnguard Sentinels.


Paint job from Hardcore at Gencon.

The thing I like about the Sentinels the fact they can take a beating and dish one out. Defensive Line gives them ARM 17, and the fact they’re Weapon Masters with Reach just makes me giggle. Seriously, this is what I wish my Sword Knights were like. And yes, they do make me feel like I’m cheating on Cygnar.

One unit took a hit from the Mule (not a crit, thankfully!). The guy directly hit died, the others just laughed.

The best 37 points you can put in your Retribution army.

The best 37 points you can put in your Retribution army.

In terms of the “I wanna kill stuff” aspect of the army, Narn is perfect for this. In two of the three games, he was in my opponent’s deployment zone, threatening their casters on Turn 2. This isn’t something I typically do. I thought it would be fun to try against Ashlynn, just to see if I could do it. Turn 2, there he is, face to face with that Llaelese hooker. Granted, she killed him, but I threw him there as a distraction. Def 15 isn’t anything to sneeze at. His armor is lacking, but hey, I’ll take it given that he has Acrobatics and Stealth.

In game 2 against Asphyxious, I waited a little longer to send Narn in — mostly because he had a Deathripper and some Bane Knights to hold up. Then he skittered in close to Gaspy. It took five swings — and Gaspy’s feat! — to kill Narn. Best 37 points I’ve ever spent. 🙂 I got Narn in against Caine in my 3rd game, just to force my opponent to use the focus to kill bald headed, pointy-eared bastard. That was focus spent on boosting the hit rather than anything else the drunken Cygaran might have done.

Kaelyssa on her own is worth delivering for the kill. In the game agasint Gaspy, she did the deed on her own — without casting the spell that lets her shoot through buildings! Siphon is pretty amazing and I can’t wait to take her against a Hordes army.

Vyros is one that I’d like to get in melee because he’s such a beatstick. Between the Sentinels and the Invictors, there are some solid options for warcaster delivery.

The current paint scheme. The one I'm really sticking with. Honest.

The current paint scheme. The one I'm really sticking with. Honest.

Pretty balanced

With the troops and solos available in the initial release, it’s pretty easy to build a balanced force. Invictors can shoot the crap outta stuff — POW12 CRA is very, very nice! — and they’re solid in melee (Flank! WTF?). Sentinels have proven their worth, which is why I’m painting them as if they’re wearing plate. ARM 17 is enough to give some ‘jacks pause, and the fact that my two base trooper units have Defensive Line makes me a very happy ferret.

As for the Myrmidons, I’m still trying to get a feel for them. They die pretty easily in Mk I, but I like what I’ve seen so far. They’re still very cool models and one of the reasons why I’m playing Retribution to begin with. I can see delivering the Hydra for assassination in a Kaelyssa list and may have to try it in a future game. The Gorgon is a nice little utility ‘jack and Combo Strike makes me giggle.

Add the character Mage Hunters into the mix and you’ve got several options for assassination runs and a solid delivery system. Which brings us to the next point.

I see dead people

As mentioned earlier, I don’t look for the assassination run early in the game. With the Angry Elves on the board, I start looking for kill lanes and ways to deliver models to the assassination. I don’t usually do this with any of the other factions I play. Maybe it’s because I’ve looked at those armies the wrong way, or I don’t want to play them that way. Regardless of my shortcomings with the other armies, the Retribution has me looking for ways to kill things. So in that sense, they’ve helped me grow as a player in getting me to look at the board in a new way.

The fun thing for me will be finding new and different ways to kill things. I suspect this will grow more challenging when things like the Mage Hunter Strike Team and various UAs come out. Oh, and that Nayl guy. He should be fun. 🙂


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