Meta crunch 01 – Prepping for AAW 2012

Most people know me for my sculpting articles and sketch art, but I also happen to be a math nerd with a propensity for over thinking things (I study Physics and Architecture, go figure…) and an unconventional take on Khador, so every now and again I will write some strategy and list building articles, like this one…

Anyway, this past weekend I have been to Agram Arena Winter 2012, a multi system war gaming two-days event in Zagreb, Croatia (this was the first year they had a Warmachine event in it), with a couple of my locals (this was the first foreign tournament that we attended since the start of Mk 2), so I spent the last 2 weeks ‘dojo-ing’ and tweaking the lists I wanted to take. Here’s my thinking process, step by step:

1.      What was the official format of the event?

This was planned as a 16 players SR 2012 four rounds tourney, with predetermined scenarios for each round and up to two fully painted 35 points lists (but you could use one list all day, if you wanted to) under character restrictions and with ‘casual time limits’ in effect. The most relevant information was that everybody knew in advance the four scenarios we would be playing; they were as follows:

  1. Round: #15 Restoration
  2. Round: #6 Destruction
  3. Round: #16 Command and Control
  4. Round: #11 Bunkers

The first thing that caught my eye, was the absence of Kill box in any of the scenarios and the fact that the first two scenarios both rely on destroying the enemy objective, while the last two are somewhat difficult to score/easy to contest – that makes the little Irusk in my head scream: RANGE IS KING!!! 

2.      What was the competition?

My biggest problem here was that I had no idea what the Croatian Warmachine meta is like (the last time we played some of those guys was back in Mk 1…) and there should have been another few players from Serbia, which made things more unpredictable.

Anyway I scouted the Croatian WM/H forums to see roughly what their field is like. From what I could gather they have prevalently Warmachine players. From the pre-registration list it seemed there would be 2 Khador players beside me, 2 Cryx players and about one possible representative for each of the other factions except Trolls and Minions. Out of that bunch I was most concerned with possible Cryx, Retribution and Menoth match-ups, so I kept those factions in mind during list building…

3.    What were my objectives?

I am a fairly competitive player (my friends would say I am the ‘beardy-est’ power player in any game system we play, because I have a very analytical mind set and generally strive to optimize my list builds), but I have very limited experience in competitive play outside our small group (big fish in a small pond) and I have the tendency of getting carried away in the heat of the moment, leaving my caster exposed to assassinations, so I fully expected to be ‘sucker punch’ assassinated in at least one of the four games, so I didn’t put my hopes too high in the overall rankings. Let say I was aiming to end up in the top half.

On the other hand I am pretty confident in my hobby skills, so I was shooting for best painted army and decided to bring all my huge based models, just for the awe they inspire; that also meant I had to fit them in my 35 pts lists and actually transport them to the tourney…

4.    The lists

My favourite casters in Khador are pVlad and eButcher (out of tier), however locally we play almost exclusively 50 points games and eButcher at 35 points or lower doesn’t work quite as well (as a matter of fact I hate 35 points), so the Dark prince became my main list’s warcaster (incidentally he is also my favourite caster to run Conquest and battle engines with…).

As you will notice this is a conversion of eVlad’s model (more sensible shoulder pads and a slightly different cloak). I’ve always disliked all versions of pVlad’s model, so I’ve been using eVlad’s model instead, ever since Mk1. I was planning to get the original pVlad model and converting it for the event, but work commitments prevented me to get it done in time and I didn’t want to rush it, so I contacted the TO and asked if it was acceptable to use this model instead and he agreed.

A.      pVlad’s Armored gunline

Vlad, the Dark prince (-5)

–          Conquest (19)

Gun carriage (9)

Battle mechanics – min unit (2)

Lady Ayanna & master Holt (4)

–          Koldun captain Vlachev (2)

Widowmakers (4)


Great bears of the Gallowswood (5)

Kell Bailoch (2)

This is basically a downsized version of my regular 50 pts Vlad1 list (which has a second Gun carriage and Nyss with Valachev, instead of the Widowmakers), that I have been playing and tweaking for the last 6 months.

I consider this my ranged attrition list, since Signs & Portents gives me a consistent accuracy and damage buff across the board for the entire game, the list is somewhat impervious to small arms fire and blast damage, that could deal with more conventional Khador infantry swarms, can generally take out one enemy heavy at range and at least another one using the feat to deliver Conquest in melee (at that point usually the opponent doesn’t have the means to wreck back my colossal) and is immune to a good portion of push/pull tricks that could move my key models out of zones or into threat range for an alpha strike.

Now I am guessing some readers will be perplexed at the choice of spending 6 points out of 35 to include Ayanna & Holt with Valachev in such a low model count army; let me explain the method behind the madness.  A&H are essential to cover up some of my ranged focused list issues like Hymn of Passage (aka No-shooting song from the Menoth quire), Wind wall (in case some of the other players fielding one of the Vlads or Borka against me) and Incorporeal models (pesky Feral-Geist, Pistol and Machine wraiths running into zones) or alternatively stick Harm on a heavy I want to focus fire at range and here is where Valachev comes in… His Zephyr spell gives Ayanna a 19’’ threat range with Harm and, since she becomes Khador faction model, gets Signs & Portents on it. Not to forget Holt, whom can potentially forfeit movement to aim up to Rat 10, move up 3’’ due to Valachev and pop two pow 14 shots under S&P on the Harmed target. Alternatively I often use Zephyr to move back after A&H did their shtick and if the enemy gets in my grill I can always go for a magical Spr 8 Pow 12 when needed or even disengage with Zephyr.


With that covered I had to decide what to bring as my second list; this would be more focused on strait assassination, to go after the Fastest caster kill award and since I’m not bringing eButcher, my best choice was pSorscha with all the big guns I could fit…

My Sorscha is the original model from the Mk1 metal battle box, so she’s nothing special, but with her always comes Wyshnaylirr and since I really disliked the stock model (in particular the ‘side saddle’) I did convert it a bit to cover up the parts that annoyed me the most.

B.      pSorscha’s Strike force

Kommander Sorscha (-5)

–          Behemoth (13)

–          Sylyss Wishnalyrr, the Seeker (2)

Gun carriage (9)

Gun carriage (9)

Widowmakers (4)

Eyryss, Angel of Retribution (3)


Greylord Ternion (4)

Gorman de Wulfe (2)

Reinholdt, gobber speculator (1)

I like Sorscha and despite the generally low opinion the forums seem to have of her, everybody in my meta learned to respect her shtick. I don’t care that she is a one trick pony and that my list is telegraphing my entire game plan right from deployment; if you don’t have an answer to her one trick (in the form of Stealth caster/battle group, Cold immunity, Steady, Book of Menoth, Lightning reflexes, huge based models to hide behind, ecc…) you are likely dead by turn 3 (if you don’t know her trick make that turn 2, but since there are that many Khador players in the field I am not counting on that).

I fully realize this is an extremely skewed list, but at 35 points you can’t really cover all your bases, so I planned to keep her in reserve, until I would encounter two lists that weren’t well suited to defend against her and try a ‘hail Mary’ turn 2 assassination. Alternatively it works well even as a ‘bluff’ list, as it will generally force the opponent to pick the list that can mitigate her assassination threat.

Anyway, that covers up all the prep work for my first foreign tournament in Mk2. At the moment I am writing up the battle reports and coverage of the actual event, but since I am pretty long winded I will end this article here and post the reports this weekend or early next week. As usual if you have any questions or observations about my lists leave a comment below… Anyway, cheers:)


Author: Baffo

My nickname means 'mustache' in Italian and dates back to my middle school days. As the name suggests, I am a fiercely hairy fellow and depending on the haircut I can be mistaken for Chubaka, Manson or Rasputin:) I am a mix breed of nationalities from Slovenia (not to be confused with Slovakia), a very small European country between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia; our national meta is very small but has some fairly competitive players so we don't get bored. My main skills in tabletop war-gaming are sculpting, scratch-building and converting, so that is what my articles will cover... Anyway, cheers:D

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