As a firm believer that the origin story is always the best movie in a series I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about myself and why I’m writing these articles. If all you want to hear about today is Warmachine & Hordes talk jump to the line “Warmachine talk starts here” but for the rest of you I’m sorry and you have been warned.
I have always treated Warmachine & Hordes as a competitive game and as such have always attempted to play models that felt competitively strong or had large impacts on the meta. I track every game I’ve ever played and have incredibly detailed stats of my success rate vs various factions in both casual and tournament play. As of the writing of this article my all-time win rate is 55.2% over 451 games and my 2014 tournament win rate was 60.9% with 56 of my 64 tournament games in 2014 being played with Legion. That is an improvement from a tournament win rate of 53.7% in 2013. If you are curious about my stats or specific matchups let me know I’m happy to share more I just don’t want to bore you all.
Recently I have shared some of my disappointment with actions of certain members in the community (cheating, etc.) as well as my disappointment with the behavior of the community at large in response to some of those incidents (personal attacks, Facebook harassment, etc.). While there are those who do a very good job of staying positive through all things (John Demaris, Ben Lang, and Travis Marg all come readily to mind) I myself am not as good at that and I recently questioned whether this hobby was something I still wanted to do. Because of this I had actually not played any Warmachine & Hordes since Warmachine Weekend 2014 until this week, although my role on a podcast (albeit one that is only Warmachine & Hordes adjacent) had kept me somewhat tied to the hobby. In the end I decided that letting a few (or even many) people who are jerks ruin my love for a hobby made up primarily of awesome people who I enjoy hanging out with was silly and so I am returning to the hobby.
As anyone who listened to my 8+ hour Legion marathon knows, I have very strong opinions about pretty much every model in the faction and I think many of them are unplayable trash (You also know that after 8 hours of rum and coke I’m super hammered but that is a different story). As part of my attempt to be more positive in 2015 I’m going to try to be a bit more open-minded about the various models available to Legion and Retribution. In addition to trying to see where some models I’ve previously written off can shine competitively I’m also going to be trying to be a bit more positive in general about this game and focus on enjoying myself at conventions in addition to being a competitive player.
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My first attempt to be positive is to put my Retribution on the table after a long run with my Legion and since nothing says trying to be positive about a model like playing Garryth I am using a list provided by one of our listeners that he took to some tournaments and did quite well with. Full disclosure, I’ve never put Garryth on the table before this week so I may not be an expert with this ‘caster quite yet.
The list I played was provided by RoninFather on the Muse forums and consisted of the following:
- Destor Thane *2
- Fane Knight Skeryth Issyen
- Ghost Sniper *2
- House Shyeel Magister *2
- Mage Hunter Assassin (MHA) *2
- Narn Mage Hunter of Ios
- Nayl (a game within a game)
- Madelyn Corbeau, Ordic Courtesan
- Epic Eiryss, Angel of Retribution
- Houseguard Halberdiers with UA and a soulless escort
- Lady Aiyana and Master Holt
There are several pieces here I had previously written off including Garryth himself, the Gorgon (I had to proxy it because apparently I don’t even keep one in my bag), and the Ghost Snipers. I had some bad experiences with Skeryth Issyen early in my Retribution career and haven’t played him in quite a while either. Lastly I’m not sure I ever agree with playing Halberdiers without a Houseguard Thane but we will see.
In general the list is full to bursting with fairly powerful solos but felt to me like it might be missing the meat and potatoes sort of units that do work and let your solos shine. Since it was designed by someone else I wanted to play it a bit exactly as specified and then maybe change it up based on my experience.
According to RoninFather the list is designed to flank hard with a Destor Thane and an MHA on either flank with Skeryth supporting one flank and Narn supporting the other. This forces the opponent to either spread out their line of engagement quite a bit or allow my flanking forces to actually get behind them which is a dangerous proposition.
The intent is not to assassinate with Garryth (although it certainly can) but instead to use Garryth to limit where the opponent can put their own caster and allow my army to win either via attrition or assassination. Apologies for the lack of in progress game pictures, depending on feedback I will work on that for my next article. Instead all images in this article are courtesy of Google.
I played vs. the following pBaldur list.
- pBaldur, the Stonecleaver
- Rotterhorn Griffon
- Druids +UA
- Shifting Stones *2 + UA
The scenario was Balance of Power which is very difficult to win on scenario and there were forests wide on either side of the zone somewhat limiting how I could bring my flanking forces to bear. I decided to try for a scenario win anyway to get a feel for how well the list could clear and control a zone and since Baldur’s feat would make him almost certain to get the alpha strike an attrition plan seemed like a poor idea. I intentionally wrote off assassination since I was trying to see other ways the list could win.
Circle brings a lot to the table that Retribution dislikes such as Stealth, rough terrain, and immunity to magic but based on my list I thought I might actually be in a decent position this game. I followed the plan with the two flanking forces but miscalculated how close to the board edge the side with Narn was due to trying to stay relevant despite the forest and he shifted a Warpwolf Stalker with Sprint into all three, killed them all and then Sprinted back to the rest of his army. Sad times. He also moved his Rotterhorn Griffon into my halberdiers but thanks to Shield Wall they didn’t care about Shrill Shriek at all and thanks to mirage I was all set to charge it and kill it the next turn.
I responded by charging and killing several Druids, breaking the Bloodweavers on the flank opposite the stalker and charging the Griffon with 4 mini-feated Halberdiers. Thanks to poor dice I did 4 or 5 total damage to the Griffon leaving my Halberdiers in a very bad position but did manage to score a control point with a Magister.
At this point the game fell apart when Ghetorix killed half my Halberdiers and the Griffon killed the other half as well as Eiryss. I charged into the Stalker with Garryth as a last ditch effort and managed to cripple body and mind and leave it at minimal health with Grievous Wounds and my ‘caster on a 4 camp. My feat almost prevented him from getting other beasts to me but not quite and Megalith managed to reach and kill Garryth.
Game 1 Recap:
I think the list lacks enough heavy hitting power to kill multiple heavies simultaneously and the lack of effect my feat has on Hordes in general is a little unfortunate. If the list had more access to Grievous Wounds the idea of softening up beasts with Assassins, Ghost Snipers etc. would be appealing but since my only source of Grievous Wounds means getting my ‘caster involved that isn’t a very good plan. I also struggled against high defense Druids / ‘beasts under his feat so that is another thing to consider. I’ll need to think about the Circle matchup a bit more but it is possible it is just not Garryth’s cup of tea. That said some more sources of Grievous Wounds or a to-hit buff might really help here.
I played vs. the following Lucant list.
Optifex Directive *2
Attunement Servitors (1 trio)
Transfinite Emergence Projector (TEP, proxied of course)
Enigma Foundry *2
The scenario was once again Balance of Power with the same two forests wide on either side of the zone. Knowing my feat was much more live this game I went all in on the scenario victory plan since attrition victory when he brings back 6 infantry models a turn is a bit of an uphill battle.
This game felt like it was much more in my wheelhouse and in general the list felt better tooled for the matchup. I went first which is a huge advantage with this list (and most lists truth be told) and so I was able to put him in a position where he had to advance into my alpha strike. He chose not to feat before the alpha allowing my Halberdiers to pick up the TEP and six (yes only six sadly) Obstructers. I then used the Ghost Snipers, Magisters, a MHA, and Aiyana and Holt to do enough damage to take out the noodle arm and induction node on his Inverter. The Magisters even managed to pull it forward far enough it was out of range of his mechanics and I ran the Gorgon up to hug the Inverter so it couldn’t walk back to be repaired.
In response he killed some Halberdiers, the Gorgon and most of my flanking forces which I had positioned poorly. Lesson learned, I need to figure out how to get good value out of my flanking forces because I’m currently doing something wrong. He also made a huge mistake in that he did not contest the zone allowing my Fane Knight to score me a control point at the end of his turn. He did at least feat in hopes of making additional damage the next turn difficult for me.
My Ghost Snipers proceeded to put 6 more damage onto the Inverter and the Fane Knight finished it off for a nice start to the turn. I then killed 8 of the 10 Obstructers due to missing a couple key rolls where I only had one attack available on a model meaning most of them were coming back. I moved Garryth up into the zone to dominate it and feated meaning his jacks and positive charge were basically off the table and ended my turn with 3-4 Halberdiers contesting his flag and in a position to win on my turn.
He tried to contest the zone and clear the flag but left one Halberdier alive at which point I killed the one ‘jack in the zone and won the game.
Game 2 Recap:
We both agreed that letting me score on turn 2 won me the game but the list seemed to be doing what it was intended to do either way. I was in a position that if I had not won on scenario I could have charged his caster with Garryth and if he had been able to play more safely with his caster him being out of my charge threat range would have meant conceding the middle of the table to my army. I could have played better in denying him his recursion unit sooner if I had made it a priority but killing the TEP felt more important at the time and the fact that it never got to fire once was a huge deal. Facing armies with large amounts of ‘jacks that rely on melee seems to be a very good fit for this list and it performed quite well. I didn’t feel I needed the Houseguard Thane to get my alpha strike and Garryth really did help me determine where his ‘caster could and could not go. I would not want to go up against a Meat Mountain or Fist of Halaak style army with this list but that is where a second list comes into play in a tournament.
I truly enjoyed my first 2 games with Garryth and plan to play him a bit more. I thought the Ghost Snipers performed well and even got good work out of the Fane Knight so my first experiment in trying new things seems to be a success. I plan to play the list or a variant of it a few more times and would like to bring it to a local tournament to really flex its muscles but we will see how that goes. My gut feeling is that pairing it with eVyros is a good fit since my other list will need to bring a dedicated anti-armor game and Aiyana and Holt are not available for an Ossyan list. Maybe Garryth is the dark horse to stop the rising tide of Bradigus (I think I’m being a little TOO positive here but who knows).
Next up on my slate of things to try to make competitive is a challenge from a local listener (Macxdmg) to make a Destor unit playable. As my father likes to say “I’ll try anything twice, I may have been nervous the first time” so I’m going to bring Destors to the table and see what they can do. I’m leaning towards Ravyn or an eVyros theme force so you can look forward to that next article. I’ll also be giving this Garryth list or a variant some more play time and will let you know how that goes as well.
Please let me know what you think of the format of my article in general or my list this week in particular and if there are models that you feel the competitive meta has not given a fair shake that you want me to give a try (within Retribution or Legion) then let me know either on the forums or in a PM and I’ll see what I can come up with.