The List Building Cycle: A new spring

It’s time to take lamb chops off the menu

This article is part of the series found here:

As the title may suggest (to those in the know), this article is actually a step outside of the originally planned progression.

I felt like the previous article got a tiny bit too wordy and that made it difficult to clearly see the list build example I tried to provide.

So I figured a brief segue was in order to:
A) give me a break from trying to assemble and edit a 6000 word article
B) give the reader a chance to see the process described in a (hopefully) clearer example(s)

In the interest of shorter articles I’m going to do a single detailed example in this article (I’ve also cut footnotes). If people like it and there are no objections, I’ll try to do another one or two.

It’s important to note that the intent of the method is NOT to necessarily create a super-competitive list. The aim is to create a list where ALL of the parts are working towards some specific goal. That way any games you play with that list will have a reasonably pre-determined game plan and the results of those games will give you meaningful feedback on what you tried to do.

First, the three rules:
Rule Number 1: Have an aim with the list
Rule Number 2: Make lists you want to play
Rule Number 3: Dont accept, without testing, the advice of other players

So, the process has ten steps, but only the first seven are the relevant to this article since I have not playtested the list. If anyone does playtest this list, please let me know how it works out!

Step 1: Identify what the list is for
Step 2: Identify the core of your list
Step 3: Identify the type of game you want the list to play
Step 4: Identify what other tricks/units/models could function strongly within the list
Step 5: Identify what support is required to make your tricks function
Step 6: Identify the lists weaknesses
Step 7: Identify what ‘ideal’ support abilities could be used

The first example: Grenadiers

So this example came about while I was reading the Cygnar book and looking for stupid/interesting tricks and interactions.
I’d never seen a grenadier on the table (still havent) and on first glance their rules didnt seem terrible, as long as you could fuel the effective ROF 3 by having enough trencher models, so I’d stored them away in my head.
I’d seen gun mages plenty of times, but upon reading their jack marshall “rune-shots” ability and their three gun shots, it occurred to me that the thunderbolt rule does not specify “directly hit” for it’s effects. Which doesnt matter for the gun mage shots (unless you explosivo them I guess), but since a lot of ‘jacks have AOE attacks, it seemed like it might be interesting.

I played through a bunch of options and kept coming back to Grenadiers.
So I set about building a list.

Step 1: Identify what the list is for
My aims with this list are:
-to see if I can make a list that used grenadiers with gun mages to be a ‘good’ list, not just a funsies list.
-Building to 50 points since that is the common level played in my meta.
-To play ‘one-off’ games and to therefore have no character restrictions.

I was hoping (and still am…eventually) to proxy it using some friends’ models and see if I could make it work.

Step 2: Identify the core of your list
I start with two grenadiers, marshalled to a full unit of gun mages with UA.
In the back of my head I know that I need at least enough ‘trencher’ models to trigger the Grenadiers’ ability to fire three times per turn.
At this stage I have no particularly strong desire caster-wise.

Step 3: Identify the type of game you want the list to play
So the core component of the list is a strong ‘push away’ mechanic, which seems to lend itself strongly to a list that is:
-Anti-melee / melee denial
-Ranged dominant

The grenadiers have ‘dig-in’, so I suppose I could look towards being anti-shooting also, but at this stage (with only 18 points spent) I’m going to lock that in.

Step 4: Identify what other tricks/units/models could function strongly within the list
So, here we go with the meat.
First stop is trenchers.

In order to make the existing trick work properly I need at least two trencher models in base-to-base with both grenadiers. The wording doesnt preclude the same two models reloading both grenadiers, so minimum requirement is two trenchers.
The trencher options are:
Chain gun, cannon, commandos, infantry, master gunner, maxwell finn, Murdoch

I initially started with the infantry and went down that path a fair way, before it ground to a halt at a list I wasnt happy with.
I came back and did it with commandos and that too ground to a halt with a list that was…ok.

Then I read the master gunner rules and wondered how I’d managed to not notice him on my first pass through the book. He’s a perfect fit for the double grenadier, having FA2, artillerist to make them exceptionally accurate both on direct shots and the scatter, plus he can even let them shoot into my own troops should I see the need.

So two of them go into the list straight away. That done, the need for two trencher models is satisfied and it’s time to look for other tricks to add.

Referring back to my list style I’ve got a game-plan in my head:
My list gets to a position and holds that position, rebuffing (via pushback) enemy attempts to assault the position while withering their force with ranged firepower.

So what I really need are things that help that plan. First off the grenadiers are only exceptional at pushing things back from about 10-14″ away, with the re-rolled scatter giving you the extra range.
There are plenty of things in the game that can charge from that far or at the very least run to engage, so I need something to stop them simply engaging the grenadiers and shutting the whole thing down.
Since the gun mages are useful as part of the shooting and pushing side, I dont really want them getting involved in melee, particularly since their jack marshal ability is critical to the list….
So I need some sort of tar-pit/melee stopper model/unit.

Conveniently Grenadiers also have the “arcing fire” rule, so whatever I put in front of them can be as big as I like.
That’s handy because I was also a touch worried about someone directly shooting the master gunners, which would be sad times.

So, looking for tarpit type solid units that were preferably medium or large based and could hold the line.
Guess who turns up?

Since I’m not restricted character-wise, these guys seem perfect for the job. They have guns (albeit with low RAT and RNG) so they can stand and shoot if needed, they have tough, they have medium bases. Sold.

Since this list is strongly about melee denial, I’m also interested in covering fire. It’d be nice to be able to block the majority of infantry with covering fire, then push back whatever can make it through the covering fire far enough that it cant charge me.
Interestingly also the covering fire can be placed behind the models that have engaged me, so that when I push them back they enter the covering fire. That should let me kill the engaging run troops (like satyxis) while still blocking the path of the slower troops behind them.

Also interesting: Things that are immune to blast damage still get pushed back.
Trencher chain gun crews, Cyclone warjacks, Black 13th and Stormwall are the options I found for covering fire type effects.

The chain gun crew seems like a decent idea in this context, giving more trencher models which means the mastergunners can play further back and providing a covering fire template.
The black 13th seem ok, what with providing a covering fire of sorts and a way around stealth…but I’m not sure the list needs a real ‘way around stealth’ given the number of accurate templates it can put out.
The cyclone feels strictly worse than the stormwall. If I’m going to put in a cyclone, I think I’d rather drop some other stuff and get the stormwall. For the moment it’ll rest.

So, we’re at:
Full gun mages and UA 8
2 x Grenadier 10
2 x Master Gunner 4
Chain Gun crew 2
Boomhowler and co 9

Black 13th

Still no warcaster.
So now I run through all of the warcasters looking for their perks/support for this list. Keeping in mind that the core trick requires the grenadiers to NOT be in the battlegroup of the caster.


-Feat is ok, makes the blasts from the Grenadiers clear out infantry very effectively.
-Foxhole is a touch redundant with arcing fire and dig in. Mage sight is handy but not essential in this list (Gun mages already see through stealth, accurate templates). Explosivo is interesting in that it makes the gun mages into AOE pushbacks also, which is funny…but I cant see me having the focus to use it that much. More likely to throw it on a jack.

Caine 1:

-Feat makes the grenadiers a touch redundant
-Snipe is great, one grenadier can pushback from a stupidly long distance, Blur makes boomhowlers even MORE annoying.

Caine 2:

-Feat can take hard targets, which this list is weak on thus far
-Heightened reflexes and blur both work well on boomhowlers


-Almost everything he wants to do is battlegroup only


-Feat gives the grenadiers even MORE shots
-Temporal barrier is a very solid melee denial spell, arcane shield is always welcome


-Feat is an incredible denial and control feat. Combined with the ability to push back any models that are engaged such that they cant make attacks under her feat…
-Deceleration is an incredible anti-shooting spell, which would make boomhowlers exceptionally hard to shoot through. Dead-eye on gun mages is pretty sweet and Temporal acceleration is likewise an exceptionally good spell, though probably wasted on what the list currently has. Has a great warjack bond.


-Guided fire would be ideal, but it’s battlegroup only.
-Being light cavalry is interesting, but grenadiers dont necessarily make the best use of it since they need the trencher models in b2b in order to function


-Feat helps a little against hard targets
-Deflection helps boomhowlers a little but it requires faction.


-Feat doesnt work well with the two out of battlegroup jacks
-Polarity shield would work wonders on boomhowlers as melee denial…though pHaley would do it better.
Nemo 3:
-Doesnt offer out-of-battlegroup warjacks anything. Nothing in list currently synergises with him really


-Feat and spell list are set up for melee and infantry based force.


-Feat will boost all grenadier attack rolls, but it’d be considerably nicer if they were in her battlegroup
-Spells support battlegroup also (fire group)

Stryker 1:

-Feat supports the list ok, though it needs boomhowlers to be faction.
-Deadeye, snipe and arcane shield would all be welcome in the list currently!

Stryker 2:

-Feat is focussed on melee and requires faction.
-Deflection needs faction, positive charge is melee focussed.

So from the above I see three real options:
pHaley, eHaley and pStryker (Needs b/howl to be faction)

Making the boomhowlers faction isnt a huge problem, Murdoch would give them assault, go-to-ground (which goes with the rest of the list well, though it stops them blocking line of sight) and he himself is a trencher. So even if we went with the haley’s he might still make the list.
I can get hold of arcane shield through junior if I need it and deceleration is better than deflection….so I’d say that ideally eHaley suits this list best.

So now that I have a caster, does that offer me any more tricks?
She has:
-Feat which doesnt need or want any specific friendly models
-deadeye which the gun mages get value from
-arcane bolt, domination and time bomb, which I guess an arc node might be handy for, though I dont think the list needs her to cast them.
-Temporal acceleration which the grenadiers are an ‘ok’ target for but certainly not ‘good’
-A warjack bond that makes melee threat jacks very happy
-5 jack points I need to spend

Nothing jumps out as perfect at the second, though Stormwall is looking pretty darn likely I’d say. It’s either Stormwall, Thorn or a stormclad most likely.

Step 5: Identify what support is required to make your tricks function
So, I’ve got a front line of boomhowlers under deceleration who’s purpose is to obstruct and hold. They’ll be 14/18, 4+ tough against shooting which looks ok.
They’ll drop back to 12/16 against melee, I wouldnt mind having some way to help them there.

The grenadiers have the support they require in two master gunners and the chain gun.
The gun mages dont really scream for support.

eHaley herself would like a squire I’m sure, so it’s on the maybe list.

Step 6: Identify the lists weaknesses
Alright, so here’s my simple questions:

1. Can this list deal with massed, high defence (16+) infantry?
Well, I’d say so. If they dont die to the blast damage, they’ll be pushed back.
Worst case the gun mages with deadeye can clean up a bunch of high def infantry.

2. Can this list deal with massed, high arm (18-20+) infantry?
Hmmm, this is more of a problem. The grenadiers can put out 6 RAT 10 shots at POW 12, with a boost each, possibly 4 shots from one grenadier under TA.
The gun mages can brutal with deadeye.
Aside from that though, we’re really just looking to keep pushing them back and whittle them down. If they can arrange with enough stuff that cant be pushed…that could be a problem

3. Can this list compete against a control feat? (Is it mobile?)
Hmmm, Well it’s got one of the strongest (if not the strongest) control feats in the game and that’s a pretty good start. It’s not necessarily slow, since the jacks are AD and everything is reasonably fast…but it doesnt really want to be moving around a lot. The pushback and the covering fire dont work so well if you’re all over the place.
That said, 2013 scenarios dont (generally) seem to let you lose too easily if you can get a good strong central position.

4. Can this list compete against a gunline?
I’d say so. Thus far there is little in the list that cares about an opposing gunline. The grenadiers can dig in under deceleration for DEF 20/ ARM 17, a large portion of the force is completely blast immune when it wants to be and the front line infantry are pretty hardy.

5. Can this list deal with a colossal? How about two?
Ahhh, no. Not with what it’s got so far. Maxing out at POW 12 is not going to get it done. In fact currently it’s only real game against heavies in general is to push them back repeatedly.

6. Can this list deal with long threat range opponents?
Hmmm. To some extent. The covering fire and long range on the blasts if you want it means you should be able to control long threat range infantry (though probably not the higher armour version such as cavalry) and the boomhowlers should block any charge to anything other than themselves.
Still, one POW 10 covering fire and a bunch of POW 12s isnt going to hold back the whole tide.

7. Can this list deal with a camping opposing caster?
Urg. No. High defence caster possibly (RAT 10 grenadiers should be good for that) but high ARM is a real problem.

So, Armour cracking. That’s the biggest single missing thing.
Since I already know that I need a jack of some sort, that leans me more heavily towards Stormclad or stormwall.
A stormclad in this list is going to have a problem. My front line is cluttered with medium base infantry, the majority of games I’m going to be doing my damndest NOT to get into a melee fight until I absolutely have to and the stormclad offers nothing to that style of play.

The stormwall on the other hand offers me two more covering fires, at POW 12 for further melee denial.
It also offers me a perfect bond target, a perfect temporal acceleration target and it can contribute from range without endangering itself.
In it goes.
Now we have something that can deal with camping casters, can certainly deal with one colossal and will have a game against two.

eHaley -5
Stormwall 19
Grenadier x 2 10
Boomhowlers 9
Master gunner x 2 4
Chain gun crew 2

Step 7: Identify what ‘ideal’ support abilities could be used
Well, I’ve only got 3 points to work with.
I know that Haley would like a squire for the extra focus and the extra feat range.
I know also that I’d like a junior, since arcane shield shores up the colossal on colossal matchup and in every other game makes boomhowlers absolutely ridiculous.

So I’d like Junior. Can I afford to leave the squire out?
Haley has 8 focus base, I figure there’s two rough game modes for her in this list:
1. Cast deceleration, spend/camp remaining focus on either Temp accel or the stormwall
2. Full-load stormwall and cast temporal acceleration, then run away and hide while it kills something.

So without squire she can only get two on the stormwall after casting TA. So it’ll have three shots but only 2 boosts. That probably means it rolls the shots without boosting and boosts the ones that hit, that sounds ok.

I’d say junior offers the list a more useful benefit.

So after all that, the final list is:

eHaley -5
Stormwall 19
Grenadier x 2 10
Boomhowlers 9
Master gunner x 2 4
Chain gun crew 2
Junior warcaster 3

Boomhowlers in a solid line in front, with arcane shield.
Grenadiers and chain gun behind them such that chaingun and crew trigger reloads for both grenadiers.
Master gunners behind the jacks at max artillarist distance.
Gun mages to the right of formation and tucked behind boomhowlers edge, with their UA as far back as possible keeping unit in formation.
Stormwall just behind boomhowlers on left of formation.
Haley central-left, humping stormwalls leg from slightly behind center of base. Using stormwall to block entire left side LOS and part of front, boomhowlers blocking front and right.

As I stated before, if anyone is interested in trying this list I’d love to hear how it worked out. If you were looking to mess with it more, I’d say there is some potential to put in murdoch for the boomhowlers since the ability to push infantry that run to engage back from the boomhowlers and then assault them with dead-eye’d boomhowlers is pretty appealing.

What’s next?

So I was originally planning on doing two examples in this article, but again it got longer than I expected. I’ve tried to edit it down and hopefully it doesnt feel bloated or overly wordy.

I have several other examples I’d be happy to write up, if there is interest, so please let me know either in the comments here, or in the thread at:

The examples I can probably do fairly easily are:
-Garryth delivery system

Though I’d also be happy to do one by request if anyone has a cool trick they’ve found that they really feel a list could be built around and they’re struggling.

I dont really want to swamp the site with these kinds of articles (and there is a bit of a slow-down in articles at the moment it seems), so I’m not sure what’s best to do.

For the moment I’ll stop at this one and work on the next ‘major’ article until I have some idea of whether this was of interest/use to anyone.

I feel like I need a tagline to end these…

Author: bobliness

I'm an Australian living in Houston, Texas, I started playing Warmachine/Hordes in March 2012 and I consider myself to be on a continuous learning curve that I'm not sure will ever end. I play for strategy and combinations, I am in no way a qualified hobbyist or painter though I admire those that are. No, I dont know Chunky, but the other five people that live in Australia tell me he's really swell.

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