Riding a Dark Horse: Caliban the Grave Walker

By Chuck Elswick

Chucky

 

I recently played a game against Gencon 2011 winner Jake VanMeter. Jake is a longtime friend and peer, who I look up to when it comes to playing the game.  I was throwing around the idea of Caliban when one of our readers asked for a list,  and I thought this would be the perfect time to write an article about him.  I chose to run Caliban’s Theme list, Bad Religion.  Despite the Minion Pact allowing more models I feel that Caliban’s Strength is in his theme list.  Here is the list:

 

Bad Religion

 

Caliban +6

Blackhide Wrastler (6) 3

Bull Snapper 3

Bull Snapper 3

Ironhide Spitter 8

Wrong Eye and Snapjaw 9

10 Bog Trog Ambushers 8

Croak Hunter 2

Croak Hunter 2

4 Bone Grinders 2

Feralgeist 1

5 Gatormen Posse 9

Total:  50/50

 

Tier 1 Benefit:  Models in the army gain stealth for round 1

Tier 2 Requirement:  Unit of Bone Grinders

Tier 2 Benefit:  Feralgeist gain advance move

Tier 3 Requirement:  Wrong Eye and Snapjaw

Tier 3 Benefit:  Wrong Eye and his battlegroup gain advance deployment

Tier 4 Requirement:  4 Warbeasts in Caliban’s battlegroup

Tier 4 Benefit:  2″ extra on deployment

 

Now to look at Caliban.  With below average MAT and Average RAT one can tell that this warlock will hopefully not be seeing much front line fighting.  He has below average DEF with ARM like a gatorman, and also average health.  Caliban has a ranged attack with rate of fire 2, average range, and the POW of a basic pistol that any sea dog can pick up.  If Caliban disables an enemy model with his gun, that model heals 1 point and he can use it as an arc node.

 

He has 2 melee attacks, both of below average POW but his bite does have sustain attack and his staff has reach and life trader, seems as though he stole some of his tricks from Cryx.  His spell list is very nice, he has Carnivore (model/unit gains a bonus to attack rolls against living models and if you box the model it is removed from play and Caliban heals damage done to him), he also has Occulation (model/unit gains stealth), Parasite (minus to model/units ARM and Caliban gains a small bonus to ARM), Hex Blast (average range and decent POW and small AOE but if it directly hits an enemy model/unit it gets rid of upkeeps), and lastly Bone Shaker (ok range and average POW but if boxes a living or undead model you get to move the model and make a melee attack, then remove it from play).  His feat is whenever a friendly model destroys an enemy model Caliban gains a fury and can cast a spell (if he has enough fury to do it), he can even boost the attack and damage rolls of the spell (which is unusual as you normally can not boost out of activations).

 

Now what I do with the army.  I keep Occultation on the Gatormen, and Carnivore on the Wrastler.  Wrong eye and Snapjaw will move up the field using Submerge (they can not be targeted by range attacks and magic attacks), while the bog trogs ambush and come out on the side where the enemy’s support models are mostly located.  Wrastler, Ironhide and Snap Jaw will normally be in the middle with Spiny Growth on them thanks to the bull snapper. (bonus to ARM and if a warjack/warbeasts hits them with a melee attack and does not kill them with the attack then the attacking model takes damage).  Feralgeist stays near the beasts to jump in them if they die, or if the enemy has a warbeast then I try to get near them.  The feralgeist can also be used to block of charge lanes as the enemy can not end their movement in it.

 

Now for a little bit of the battle.  Caliban was fighting against Epic Vayl (run by Jake) and I felt like I was at a disadvantage.  First of all, it is Jake.  Second I rely on having Spiny Growth on my beasts and she has Purification to get rid of that animus, though I still cast them because it forces him into a proper order of activation to get rid of the animi and still have his own upkeeps going (which played a key role in winning against him, he would mess up his order of operations during the game). The game started off with us playing the scenario Overrun, a scenario where there is a box in the middle of the board and you have to try and control it.  We both started squaring off against each other, he would kill a gatorman and I would kill a raptor etc.  Then the interesting part, he pops his feat but messes up his order of operation.  I had already killed one of his angels with the wrastler after the angel had failed to kill the wrastler.  He sent his angel into the wrastler with Refuge up it was able to armor pierce, Repulse my wrastler away, then Refuge away (a hit and run tactic that Jake came up with and is quite effective).

 

I killed the angel on my turn by having the ironhide throw the wrastler, Caliban then used the wrastler’s animus to stand it up, cast carnivore on it, and it went on to kill the angel. I sent in the bog trogs and killed some of his support models, nothing significant.

 

On Jake’s turn he used his feat and messed up, only killing one gatorman, some bog trogs, and the wrastler. I knew I had a chance.  I moved up Caliban and popped his feat and cast Hex blast on Typhon to get rid of Admonition and cast Carnivore on the gatormen.  The Ironhide shot the forsaken blocking a charge lane to Typhon, giving Caliban 1 fury (I used all of his fury during his activation).  The gatormen went on to get rid of the rest of the raptors, and engage the last angel.

 

This is where players using Caliban have to be careful.  On his feat turn he will not get any fury for models killed by those under the effect of Carnivore because the feat requires the enemy model to be “destroyed” and not boxed then removed from play as is the case with Carnivore.  I then had the remaining bog trogs kill Jake’s last forsaken, hellion, and put a little more damage on the angel, which gave me 2 more fury so I cast Carnivore on Snapjaw leaving me with 1 fury.  My last surviving croak hunter rolled hot to kill the angel. This left me with 2 transfers and all Jake had left was a half dead Typhon and Vayl.  He tried to mount a comeback, killing Snapjaw, but was unable to get to Caliban. I finished off Typhon the following turn with Wrong Eye.  Caliban nearly killed Vayl with spells, and the ironhide finished her off.  By turn 4, maybe 5, the game was over by assassination, with me having 1 control point and him having none.  I lost 5 bog trogs, 3 gatormen, 1 wrastler, and Snapjaw.  Jake lost his whole army.

 

Chuck

 

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