Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crushing Theorymachine: Kallus

For the first time in over 3 months, I played a game of Hordes/Warmachine! Talk about a long dry spell. It was great to actually throwdown again and especially to field a bunch of models that I'd painted but never played with. Since I'm going to end up writing this post over the course of the day during breaks at work, it's going to be a hodgepodge of random thoughts. So, let's get started!

The Lists:
Me: Kallus, Nephilim Protector, Nephilim Bolt Thrower, Nephilim Soldier, Shredder, 5 Raptors, Anyssa, Forsaken, Blackfrost Shard, 1 Spell Martyr.
Lance: Jarl Skuld, Mauler, Earthborn, Impaler, Runebearer, Horthol, 3 Longriders, 4 Krielstones.

My list didn't really have a solid plan to it. Kallus, the 3 Nephilim, Spell Martyr and the Blackfrost Shard were all models I'd painted but hadn't played on the table since painting them so I wanted to give them all a try. The Raptors and Anyssa were in there simply because I wanted more practice with them. The rest was just logical additions to round out the list. There was a bit of poor planning in terms of leveraging Kallus' stronger features, but I'll talk more about that later.

The Battlefield:
I'm a huge fan of using the random battlefield generator for making maps so that's what I did. (If only there was an iPhone app for random battlefields!) The end result was a clump of rough terrain, water and walls near the middle, and a big forest on the side. I won the initiative and after careful consideration figured that it would be good to go first and position myself near the forest for cover. This also meant that the Earthborn would have to move away from the juicy terrain near the middle in order to engage me, and I certainly didn't want to meet him near that mess.

The Throwdown:
The battle was unfortuantely a bit one-sided. I made effective use of the forest and worked down the longriders while delaying the heavy beasts. This was pretty key, and eventually Anyssa was in the troll backfield causing some additional chaos. This was hugely useful because she was easily in LOS of the Raptors to grant them the bonus and together they took down the remaining Longriders, Krielstones and the Impaler. The Soldier was highly effective as well, with the combination of flight, eyeless sight, and Kallus' Ignite, it made him a fun cruise missile to launch out of the forest and into the Mauler. Unfortunately he wasn't able to take out the Mauler entirely and got snacked. Next round though, the Forsaken managed to blight bomb the Mauler into extinction (one of the first times I've pulled off this maneuver on a beast actually). At this point the troll force was down to Jarl, the Mauler, and a couple Krielstones, whereas my Legion force was only really down

The Endgame:
Eventually the Earthborn came crashing in on my flank into the Protector but failed to kill him. However despite the Protector, Kallus, a rapid Shredder an Incubi and a bonus 2 dice blight bomb from the Forsaken, the Earthborn still lived! However without reach he was pinned back away from Kallus by the Shredder and Protector and was left with few options. Kallus had 2 fury on him for transfers, had tenacity up and was engaged (putting him at def 15, arm 19) and was undamaged. Jarl tried to scoot around and drop a couple shots on Kallus and then the Earthborn trampled over the Shredder to get to Kallus but in the end it wasn't enough. After that it was just mop-up.

Thoughts on Kallus:
I should first point out that I don't generally read the forums at all. Lance told me that the general consensus about Kallus seems to be somewhat negative which I was surprised to hear. I tend to ignore all that groupthink anyway and find what works for me so this battle was a fun test to see if Kallus was really more of an infantry-oriented warlock like I thought he would be. What did I come away with?

1) First, Kallus is pretty amusing to play since he's so darn tough. Between unyielding and tenacity he gets pretty chunky to deal with. This gave me a lot more confidence to just roll him in. I probably would have been far braver with him in this game except that the darn Earthborn was able to steal the POW of his sword and that made things substantially more dangerous.
2) Having Kallus hanging back to provide specific support and then roll in as a hammer afterwards worked pretty well. There was a natural tendancy to push him right up front, but he and the Soldier have the same damage output. Holding Kallus back to throw Ignite and Massacre on the Soldier made more effective use of the damage output overall.
3) Most of his "key" features didn't come up in this game for a variety of reasons. Dark Guidance really eats a lot of his fury for a turn, and with so much ranged support in the Raptors I just didn't have a need for it. However if things had gotten to melee, having the option of throwing up DG could have made a huge difference.
4) The feat is amusing. It means that clearing charge lanes just gets twice as hard on that round. It's sort of like having a backup tarpit. Certainly though, it's a defensive and/or delaying tool and not a smash-your-face tool and I often have trouble leveraging the more defensive feats. This one in particular I found tricky becauase I was never really sure when to expect that the troll line would crash into mine. Against ranged lists it would be even harder to decide on the timing since there's a danger of just getting plinked to death. This leads me to my final thought...
5) When I first read Kallus I immediately though "Oh awesome! I'll want Swordsmen!" However I don't own Swordsmen so I fielded what I had. In hindsight, I think an all-melee list with Kallus could be a real danger. Unyielding only helps if the target is engaged, and a ranged list could just take an all-melee Kallus list apart. Having some ranged options (or something to tie up ranged attackers) is pretty key.

Overall, I dig Kallus and I'm looking forward to fielding him a bunch more. I'm particularly keen to try out Warmongers with him. However all the theorymachine in the world doesn't amount to anything in comparison to actually playing a game.

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