Friday, November 2, 2018

Hunter or Charger?

It's a question I've seen discussed many times. While people are normally trying to analyze ranged damage, there's a lot more to be looked at here. Let's take a quick look at the pros and cons, and compare Cygnar's two favorite ranged light warjacks.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Analyzing WTC Cygnar Lists

The September 15th World Team Championship is fast approaching, and the lists were recently announced. I thought it would be useful to look through the 64 cygnar lists that appear at Conflict Chamber's WTC list site and determine the most popular and interesting ones.

It's no surprise that Haley3 is the most popular caster, with 18 lists, 16 of which are gravediggers. The other two are storm division, and to be honest, I'm not sure I understand how either of the two works.

Siege1 appears with ten lists, six of them Sons of the Tempest. I guess those POW10s have a lot less trouble breaking armor when it's halved. He's also got three lists in heavy metal and one in storm division.

Haley2 is making a comeback in third place with nine lists: Six in heavy metal, two in Sons of the Tempest, and one Storm Division.

Siege2 appears in six of the WTC lists, five of them in gravediggers and the remaining one in storm division.

The once-great Nemo3 is down to only five lists, three storm division and two heavy metal. Sloan has four heavy metal lists, Stryker2 has three storm division lists, and Stryker1 has two heavy metal lists.

Haley1 shows up twice, once in heavy metal and once in sons of the tempest. And then we've got one appearance each for Caine3 storm division, Nemo1 heavy metal, Kraye heavy metal, Maddox storm division, and... what? Nemo2 sons of the tempest?? Now that's an odd one, Hungary. Damned if I can even remember what Nemo2 does.

Let's see, it's got a couple centurions, a firefly, and a lancer. Those centurions will be anchors - one with arcane shield and the other with fail safe. Wait - the list has no junior? Weird! Uhh, okay... gun mages running a cyclone, which is always a good combo. Arlan and Falk are there to work together to give either a centurion or the cyclone that damage buff, Black 13th is good, and Anastasia for the critical roll to go first. Polarity shield can make unchargable gun mages or black 13th, who can then close in with gunfighter and Falk for pistoleer-boosted POW12s. Field mechanics should keep the centurions in working order, and be able to score a circle zone. It's an unusual list. I hope it works.

Others that immediately catch my attention? Denmark's Siege1 Sons of the Tempest / Siege2 Gravediggers lists. Both Denmark teams are using identical Siege1/Siege2 lists. They must really like those lists.

Also, every Cygnar list on every USA team is in gravediggers.

But one of the things that I've noticed most is that a lot of teams just aren't taking Cygnar at all.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Battle Report: Mercenaries (Gorton Hammerstrike) vs Cygnar (Caine1 Storm Division)

I got in a quick game with a friend last night. The summer has been busy, so this was actually our first Steamroller 2018 game.

Both of us knew we were bringing somewhat wonky lists this game. I hadn't played Caine1 in over two years, and my friend's Gorten list was odd as well.

His list was called "Gortenball", and the premise was to have a thick wall of jacks surrounding Gorten, who would then be able to get him close enough to feat and send a jack or two in for the assassination. The odd thing is that the list gets zero free solos.

My Caine1 list was predicated on the idea that with Caine there to deal with infantry, the entire remainder of the list can focus on armor-cracking. I also had stormcallers in there for some reason, probably mostly because I hadn't used them in Mk3 yet.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Cygnar Storm Division Deep Dive, Part 4/4: Storm Division Solos

When I typically think of storm division solos, I'm generally thinking of the Stormblade Captain, Katherine Laddermore, and the new grenadier solo Gwen Keller. But there are other solos available in the theme as well. The stormcallers are technically solos, but I did cover them in part three. And of course, Cygnar's two auto-include solos, the squire and the journeyman warcaster, are also available in Storm Division, but I won't be talking much about them either. The other two I'd love to cover are Lieutenant Allison Jakes and Arlan Strangewayes, but there's so much to talk about with each of them that they each deserve their own article rather than one lumped into a Storm Division analysis.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Cygnar Storm Division Deep Dive, Part 3/4: Storm Towers and Other Stormsmiths

The stormsmiths are the seldom-seen stepbrethren of the storm knights. Aside from those stormsmiths lucky enough to sit atop the storm strider, they're not often seen. Today, I'll be taking a close look at three different stormsmiths, and where they fit into the Storm Division army.

Stormsmith Stormcallers

The stormcallers are the gun mages and long gunners of the storm division: accurate, but low-power. Stormcallers solve three different problems that storm division can have issues with, and that's why they're most often taken.

Firstly, stormcallers are Storm Division's sole answer to stealth. Their walk-and-shoot threat is a respectable 16 inches. Unfortunately, they're an extremely low-POW answer to stealth, and so they're not useful against Shadowpack beast bricks.

Secondly, the stormcallers' lightning attacks are also magical, which means they're able to take out gremlin swarms, Blackbanes, and other incorporeal models. Magical weapons aren't a huge shortage in Cygnar, but storm division has fewer than Cygnar's other themes.

Lastly, the stormcallers' attacks are surprisingly accurate, as they ignore cover, concealment, and elevation. That trencher who was dug in on a hill is no longer DEF19 , now he's DEF13, and your stormcaller only needs a 7 to take him out.

The reason I most often took stormsmith stormcallers in Mk2 was because of their storm strike's disruption ability. It used to be that any hit on a warjack from a stormcaller would disrupt the jack. It was very strong. But in Mk3, this has been downgraded to critical disruption. A normal attack from a stormcaller has only a 16.6% chance to get that disruption, and a POW10 is pretty unlikely to do any significant damage to that warjack. If you were able to boost that attack, the chances would go up to 44%, but it's nearly never worth applying any kind of boosting effect, as stormcallers are solos rather than a unit, and a spell like deadeye would only affect a single stormcaller.

All this being said, the stormcallers are extremely squishy, and their 13 defense will do little to save them from blast damage or accurate shooting if they move out in the open to get triangulation attacks.

Similar in some ways to long gunners, stormcallers are all about getting a large volume of reasonably accurate low-power attacks. On their own, each stormcaller can make a single range 10, POW 10 storm strike, threatening 16". Pew pew! But when two line up, a stormcaller can attack any two models in a line drawn between two stormsmiths, meaning the attack on one of them can threaten nearly 26", assuming that another stormcaller can reach that 26" mark. The best of all is when three models can form a triangle and allow for the stormcaller triangulation attack, which allows each stormsmith to make up to three attacks against models within the triangle.

There are a number of triangulation tactics you may want to try to maximize your stormcaller shootiness, the most obvious of which is running a single model and sacrificing his attack(s) to give the other stormcallers a triangle which they can then use to triangulate, resulting in more overall attacks. Since the stormcallers are not a unit, you can even have one run while others aim.

There are also a number of other models who can participate as members of a stormcaller triangle, even if they can't make the actual triangulation attack themselves. They are the storm strider, the stormpod, and the stormblade infantry standard. The fact that stormcallers are solos rather than a unit allows you to deploy them at the extreme left and right flanks and run forward until it's time. When you're ready, you can score triangulation attacks even if your stormcallers began your turn 38 inches apart! One simply runs 12" inward, leaving it 26" away, then the other walks 6 inches to the 20" mark and uses the triangulation special attack. Granted, I don't recommend actually leaving them a full 38 inches apart as they move up, but that measurement should serve to illustrate how far apart they can be and still remain a threat.

Stormsmith Storm Tower

The Storm Division's only artillery piece, the storm tower has an odd role. On one hand, it looks at first much like the storm strider, which is one of Cygnar's strongest models. And while it only gets one shot to the storm strider's two, it costs less than a quarter of the strider's points. But it's not only the fact that it's one POW less that makes it such a relatively poor piece. It's mostly the fact that it has no way to boost damage, so its POW14 attack isn't going to do much to enemy heavies. And it has no way to boost the hit roll, meaning that the lightning generator may be entirely lost if the RAT6 attack misses enemy infantry.

Caine0's fire for effect spell would do much to make the storm tower viable, but despite the fact that War Room allows you at the time of this writing to include Caine0 in a Storm Division army, it's rumored that this is a bug, and that Caine0 isn't an allowed model.

The storm tower walks 3 and runs 5, so long as the grunt is still alive. This allows it to make it up to the 15 or 18 inch line by the time it wants to shoot on turn two, threatening to the 29" or 32" line, but only if its target is directly across from it. This means you'll generally want the storm tower to look for decent defensive terrain, such as a wall or a hill, and to threaten circle zones into which the enemy will be inclined to bring infantry.

As odd a niche as the storm tower brings, it's only situationally useful. I love the look of the model, but despite having owned it for about a year, I've only put it on the table once.

Stormsmith Grenadiers 

One of the most recent storm division releases, this 7-point 3-man unit has a lot of utility, but with only a six inch range and no ability to reposition, each is likely to get one shot per game with a grenade.

They're pretty resistant to shooting. Force Barrier makes them DEF15 even without terrain bonuses, and they're entirely immune to blast damage, which is usually how all my high-defense infantry dies. So the real trick with the grenadiers is: how do you deliver a grenade or two and not have them immediately charged?

One option is to put them in a spot where a valuable enemy model such as a heavy can in fact charge them, but then have your own heavy ready to retaliate. This leaves your opponent with a decision: sure, that driller can charge and kill the grenadier, but then your own ironclad walks in and takes out the driller, and your opponent has just given you a 10-point model in exchange for the 2.3 point grenadier he killed.

A second option is to screen them. You can have your grenadiers all walk up and throw grenades, and then run some stormblades past them. You would, of course, only do this if the threat to the grenadiers was a melee charge, and ideally you'd have the stormblades with iron zeal and arcane shield this round.

Another excellent option is snipe. If you're running a Stryker1 stormlance brick, a Caine1 stormblade gunline, or a Maddox list, this is a potentially very good option. You can juggle snipe between Caine's stormblades and the grenadiers, or onto Stryker1's colossal. Range 10 grenades are actually relevant.

The grenadiers' kinetic grip grenade is the reason Haley1 got nerfed into near-unplayability. Her temporal barrier spell stacks with a kinetic grip grenade, meaning that anyone hit suffers -4 speed. This means something like a driller has a speed of 0 and can only move if it charges. Anything 4.5" away is perfectly safe, and if Haley hits it with a scramble spell to disrupt it, it's a useless model next turn. The fact that the grenade is an AoE means that clustered enemy models can all be hit by the same effect. In the perfect situation (which of course never happens) it's back-breaking.

The other two grenade types are Voltaic Vortex and Galvanic Blast Field. These two, unlike kinetic grip, both require a direct hit against an enemy model to get anything more than POW7 blast damage. The galvanic blast field leaves a small electric AoE which will do POW10 damage. In the right situation, this may be the thing that saves your unit of grenadiers from an enemy infantry charge next turn. But again - you don't get much choice in positioning it, since it's got to directly hit an enemy model. The final shot type, voltaic vortex, is interesting in that its area of effect depends a lot on the model you hit. Hitting a small-base model gives you an AoE not much larger than the standard 5" pie plate. Hitting a large-based model gives you a nearly 6" AoE. But hitting a huge-based model will allow the voltaic vortex to affect nearly an 8" area. Granted, it will only be pulling all those models right into the enemy colossal, but this is a good tool in your toolbox, and could come in handy at the right moment.

Next time, we'll wrap up this series and look at storm division solos.