Charnel Flames: 2

Peter from last week challenged me to a rematch with some revised lists, so last night Venethrax had to face eStryker. I really don’t like eStryker, and being a tank caster is a nightmare against him, so I prepared myself for a game spent hiding from a Velocity + Overload related perma-death.

This was the terrain. Now I put those forest up and I expect opponents to complain if they feel the terrain is unfair, so I must admit to being surprised when Peter asked for something in the middle ‘something for Stryker to hide behind‘. I found a house and placed it smack in the middle, and I do believe Peter had cause to regret his request!

Lich Lord Venethrax
– Cankerworm
Bane Thralls (Leader and 9 Grunts)
– Bane Thrall Officer & Standard
Satyxis Raiders (Leader and 5 Grunts)
– Satyxis Raider Sea Witch
Soulhunters (Leader and 4 Grunts)
The Withershadow Combine
Bane Lord Tartarus
Darragh Wrathe
Machine Wraith
Machine Wraith
Madelyn Corbeau
Satyxis Raider Captain
Saxon Orrik
Skarlock Thrall

The eStryker list facing me was a little weird again, as we’re still testing lists for the six list character restricted team tournament, and there simply aren’t enough mercenaries to go around. For once it wasn’t our Mercenary player who had the blame, but me having stolen Madelyn Corbeau.

Lord Commander Stryker
– Ol’ Rowdy
– Stormclad
Storm Lances (Leader and 2 Grunts)
Stormblade Infantry (Leader and 5 Grunts)
– Stormblade Infantry Officer & Standard
– 3 Stormblade Infantry Storm Gunner
Sword Knights (Leader and 9 Grunts)
– Sword Knight Officer & Standard
Archduke Alain Runewood
Journeyman Warcaster
Stormsmith Stormcaller
Stormsmith Stormcaller
Stormsmith Stormcaller

That’s a lot of juicy souls. It’s also three models Venethrax isn’t supposed to get in range of, but only Stryker has an actual threat range I need to worry about. He won the roll to go first, which allowed me to test my brand new theory about going first/second.


In most scenarios when facing non-super-scenario casters (like eDeneghra), it gives you an advantage if you’re the one to decide who goes first. If I’m facing a list with mostly ranged elements I will usually go first, because few ranged list can inflict any real damage on the first round anyway and:

  • If you run up your list, and he runs up his list, any fast elements you have can probably run to engage or at least occupy important territory.
  • A ranged list cannot both shoot the crap out of you and advance to retake lost territory, making it hard on them to compete for scenario points on turn two.
  • His melee elements will have to come forward to claim that territory, making it easy for you to deal with them before his ranged attrition turns the tide.

If I’m dealing with a list composed of mostly melee elements I tend to go second. This is because I can use the scenario to steal the initiative unless he’s stupid fast, though how this will play out in SR 2013 remains to be seen.

  • He runs up his list, you run up your list but remain outside his charge range while threatening him on scenario.
  • If he doesn’t advance you can probably push him out of the zones and score some easy points.
  • If he does advance you can crush him with an alpha strike.

Both of these require that you bring a balanced force with both ranged and melee elements, or stupid fast elements like Satyxis Raiders that can ‘sort of’ substitute for ranged elements. If your opponent brings a balanced force this equation becomes void, but there’s almost always a noticeable tendency in the lists because of the way armies and casters support each other.

Game on!

I was facing what I would call a melee list (his Sword Knights were home on the painting table, so the Precursors stood in for them as proxies). Sure he has a lot of shooting but he is a Cygnar player and the shooting was less than usual. I was expecting him to go second but he wanted to go first, which allowed me the start I desired.

Since he deployed first I got to react. On his right flank he had Storm Lances but being behind the forest I figured I could deal with them a round later. I’ve had great success with Machine Wraiths against them because most Cygnar players aren’t afraid of taking free strikes from them on Cavalry models, but they should be.

Old Rowdy was next up, and he gets the full attention of the Bane Thralls. These were also deployed across from Stryker and were going to see if they could muscle through there while my Satyxis and Soul Hunters kept his infantry busy. Venethrax and his support squad took the middle because that house would be the perfect place to nest.

Finally the Soul Hunters and Darragh decided that the forest up on my right flank would be the perfect ambush spot, and they brought Darragh over there to make it happen. Cankerworm wasn’t going to do much this game either, but it’s become sort of a tradition for him to die to a Stormclad and keeping it busy for a round.

Cygnar Turn 1: We learned something last week… what was it again?

I forgot to take a picture here because I was busy calculating threat ranges. Peter had a lot of SPD 6 models and they all ran full speed, and his Storm Lances ran as far up into the forest as they could with Overcome from Runewood (I think). I had my Satyxis Raiders deployed as far up as I could, and with 31 inches between the lines, six inch Advanced Deployment, and him running full speed I was going to be in charge range on turn one.

Cryx Turn 1: *knock* *knock* ‘who is it?’

Surprise bitches, it’s the horny boob squad entering melee on round one! I love entering melee on my first round and with Venethrax this gave me some very interesting options.

The Skarlock puts Soul Harvest on the Satyxis Raiders. I really need to deploy them so Venethrax can feat and fake charge on the first round if something like this happens, as that would have given me some extra clouds.

As it was I gambled that I could reach two Storm Lances and two Sword Knights, so I popped Power Swell and charged. Venethrax now had four souls on him, so he popped Dragon Slayer on himself and walked up a bit. I’ve learned my lessons about eStryker, and I’m certainly not going to come within range with ARM 23.

The Machine Wraiths moved up to block the last Storm Lancer from charging without taking free strikes, while the Bane Thralls ran up in pile. I did make a mistake here but I’m always losing Tartarus to something silly and this time I overcompensated and ran him to the middle where he did absolutely nothing for my list on the second turn.

The Soul Hunters and Darragh take the forest, staying 3.1 – 3.4″ inside to block LoS. I was either going to get my alpha strike or force him to come get me with his feat, and both situations would be in my favor. I felt pretty secure with my feat up, and while the Satyxis Raiders were toast I figured that was about the only thing I would lose that round if he didn’t feat, and I owned the real estate.

Mistakes on turn 1

Tartarus being a chicken didn’t do me any good. He should have been in the middle somewhere behind the house, and I should have made room for Venethrax during deployment so he could have begun by moving up (which would also have allowed me to check ranges with his Control area). Not to bad, but not great either.

Cygnar Turn 2: Seriously! Come on!

His Storm Lancer ran out on the flank. I was fairly certain he was within 8.5″ of the back left Bane Thrall, but time would tell. The Stormclad Aims, boosts, and manages to land a shot on a Satyxis Raider and leap to another making them into clouds. The he shot one of them on the left flank with Junior I think, but she turned out to be in melee, and no can hitty DEF 20 Satyxis Raiders.

Instead he hit and killed one of his Storm Blade Infantry adding another cloud. Then he did it again with something else, and she ALSO turned out to be in melee though only by the slightest margin, so I got another free kill + cloud. At this point he was turning red and steamy!

The remaining Satyxis died to various Stormcallers and Runewood, but the two Rowdy ran into survived as Peter hadn’t done the math. He cast Lightning Storm on Rowdy to fry them, but Rowdy is DEF 12 + Concealment in the forest + Engaged – Back Strike, which is still DEF 16 and he missed.

It scattered an inch in the wrong direction and the Raiders got another round. I didn’t even lose all my Raiders… this wouldn’t end well for Stryker. The Sword Knights spread out and braced for impact, but the Storm Blades were stuck behind cloud hell, and I was firmly in control.

Cryx Turn 2: mmm, tasty!

I didn’t upkeep Harvest on the two remaining Raiders. I actually considered it because one of them had a chance of killing a Stormcaller, but in the end I decided against it because I was going to get a bit closer to Stryker and I might miss something and get a sword in the face. I had 11 Focus and Dragon Slayer up, so I was ARM 29, but all it takes is one good roll and the way things were going I wasn’t going to chance it.

It turns out the Bane Thrall was exactly within range of the Storm Lancer. It was so close that we had to get out the melee gage and it took several minutes of shuffling around to see it from different angles. The remaining Bane Thralls were out of range since Tartarus slept down back, though two of them made it to Rowdy anyway. One of them missed and the other did two damage (hooraaaay).

The Skarlock puts harvest on the Soul Hunters. Darragh Wrathe Death Rides them 0.5″ forward so they can see, and they clean out four Sword Knights. That could have gone a lot better, but somehow I had calculated the number of kills including souls to boost, but they flew down to Venethrax so the Hunters whiffed quite a few attacks. That’s something I have to keep in mind when I try them next time.

One of them got stuck so he used his light cavalry move to shuffle a bit while the others ran away if they could, but free strikes are bad for puny Soul Hunters (they could really use some Ghost Walk). Venethrax was doing the chicken down back and trying to be somewhere useful while staying out of range of Stryker. Cankerworm ran up to the Stormclad to keep it busy for a round. Tartarus moves up towards the house where he should have been on turn one, but is still to far away.

Then I sent in all my useless solo characters to try and create even more havoc. The Raider Captain got close to Stryker, and one of the remaining Satyxis even got to swing at him but missed, and a Machine Wraith runs in while the other one eats a Stormcaller (HA!).

Mistakes on turn 2.

Again I had Tartarus doing nothing and ending up where he was going to do nothing on the next turn. I sent in the Soul Hunters with flawed math and payed for it, but next time I’ll engage fewer models and more to the flank. It wasn’t bad this turn either, and no crucial mistakes were made.

Cygnar Turn 3: Erhm… bad, very bad.

Stormclad kills a Soul Hunter and steps on Cankerworm as expected. Junior gives the Storm Blades Arcane Shield. Rowdy kills the remaining Satyxis and a couple of Bane Thralls. The Storm Blades shoot three more Bane Thralls but one of them toughs it out.

The Sword Knights completely fail to do anything to the Soul Hunters because needing 8+ to hit turns out to be to much for them. Stryker moves over and feats, and the extra attack takes out one of the Soul Hunters. Before moving Stryker puts down a Lightning Storm in front of my Bane Thralls.

After feat round I see something interesting. Stryker is in a fairly straight charge lane for my Bane Thralls, protected by a Lightning Storm, but POW 10 damage rolls could fail. More interestingly I think I can get Tartarus up there with madelyn and straight through the house.

Cryx Turn 3: Sneeeaky business!

I upkeep Harvest and Dragon Slayer. Madelyn moves up Tartarus. Admonia moves up and removes Arcane Shield. Tartarus then moves through the building, curses Stryker and Threshers up three new Bane Thralls from Storm Blades. It’s so rare that I get to move through buildings!

Unfortunately the Bane Thrall officer is way down behind the lines, so I can’t get the newly formed Thralls spawned on the other side of the Lightning Storm as hoped (but it’s damn close). The Soul Hunters gather up another four souls and Darragh pops Beyond Death to give them some more staying power against the POW 10 attacks threatening them.

Then I start charging Bane Thralls through the Lightning Storm. The first one makes it through, the second dies and fails tough which is great, because when one of them makes the tough roll the game ends because there will be no charge lane. The third makes it through but I fail at life and my charge lane makes him pull a free strike from the Stormclad.

The fourth dies, the fifth makes it through, and the sixth makes his tough check and it’s over. Two Thralls on Stryker, and 8+ to hit. The first one hits and inflicts 10 damage on him. The second one rolls a seven (darn!) A couple of Bane Thralls run up to Rowdy to keep him from moving about.

Venethrax is still laying eggs down behind the building. I left Stryker on 7 boxes which is one more than I’m comfortable with. If I leave Venethrax in range he can (and will at this point) roll two dice on overload. If he doesn’t die and rolls 10+ on the STR roll I’m still in trouble, and I had no reason to risk it this turn either.

Mistakes in turn 3

I put Admonia at risk. It occurred to me afterwards that eStryker on full camp with Arcane Shield up could have been a problem. Sure I had ways around it, as I could go chasing down Junior, but it was still mostly pointless that I didn’t put her entirely behind the house. Still, I was in no danger of dying and the mistakes were otherwise few and inconsequential.

Cygnar Turn 4: Are we still in this?

Rowdy and Stryker clean up most of the Bane Thralls and Stryker Velocities back four inches. Junior gives him Arcane Shield. In retrospect I probably shouldn’t have gone for the Bane Thralls Vs. Lightning Storm assassination run, but it seemed funny at the time. Because of general brainfartyness Peter doesn’t kill the Machine Wraith, and instead moves his Stormclad up next to it.

A Stormcaller tries to zap Admonia but fails. A Soul Hunter gets a free strike on a Sword Knight and grabs Venethrax another soul. Another Soul Hunter dies to a stellar damage roll from the last remaining Sword Knight, and that’s it.

Cryx Turn 4: Venethrax has 12 Focus!

Madelyn is within 9″ of a Stormcaller and within 9″ of Venethrax. I move him around the corner and into a charge lane to Stryker. The two remaining Bane Thralls go in to soften up Rowdy but roll poorly again. I do some finger counting and decide that Stryker is within range of Admonia, and with a hairsbreadth (and Death Ride available) she is.

I remove the Stormclad from the equation by stealing it. Stryker now has No Arcane Shield and no Focus Camp, but DEF 18 because of Rowdy. Well Venethrax can kill Colossals so he should be able to kill both of them in one round with 12 Focus. He still has four Focus to spare after killing Rowdy and then nuking Stryker for the win, but he missed Rowdy twice!

Mistakes in Turn 4

None really.

The list

The list was fine. I’m going back on my Cankerworm idea and trying a Reaper, because being stuck with 10-12 Focus and having nothing to do with it sucked. I don’t think an Arc Node is the answer, because those infantry models are going in his belly, so Blood Rain is a bad idea. Perhaps I’ll end up with one, but I’ll fight it for as long as I can. This game was not the most interesting I’ve had. The first round was fun, but watching Vinnie lay eggs behind the building the remaining two hours was pretty dull.

The speed and maneuverability was fun, but playing a camper against the primary anti-camper caster was not. This six list character restricted nightmare tournament better be worth it! This is the revised version though it has some very obvious issues.

Lich Lord Venethrax
– Reaper
Bane Thralls (Leader and 9 Grunts)
– Bane Thrall Officer & Standard
Satyxis Raiders (Leader and 5 Grunts)
– Satyxis Raider Sea Witch
Soulhunters (Leader and 4 Grunts)
The Withershadow Combine
Bane Lord Tartarus
Darragh Wrathe
Machine Wraith
Madelyn Corbeau
Satyxis Raider Captain
Saxon Orrik
Skarlock Thrall

I need my backup list to feature Bile Thralls. This list is screwed against a Kayazy/WG setup. I need my backup list to be ranged as well because this list is way to melee heavy. Soul Hunters also really really like Ghost Walk and Venethrax doesn’t have it. I’m beginning to see why he’s such a rare sight… or I already knew why, I just thought I could make it more interesting.

When I began playing Terminus people warned me he would be dull and he really wasn’t. Terminus can shoot, debuff people, has all sorts of nifty tricks with flight, and the assorted defenses made people cry which was entertaining in itself. Venethrax so far has been dull… very dull…

Soul Hunters were amazingly fun though, and I’m considering ditching Venethrax as my tournament caster and putting them in my pDeneghra list instead.

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4 Responses »

  1. ” I need my backup list to be ranged as well because this list is way to melee heavy.”

    Time to go back to pDenny and her ogruns then ? :p
    Seriously I’d love to see more battles involving her from your part !

    If you did pick a pDenny ranged list how would you pick your match-ups ?
    Venethrax against Hordes and denny vs everything else ?

    I played in a 3-man team tournament a few weeks ago and ended playing her 5 times in a row because I only played against Warmachine lists and one Calandra list where pDenny seemed just better than everything Morty could bring, even with WSC and blood hag on my Morty list…

    Anyway I’m glad you’re back to some Cryxian action, I’m a bit sick of reading the old blog over and over again :D

    • Then you’ll be happy to hear I’ll be fielding her tonight if all goes well. I’ve decided that I need to learn about Cavalry before Bane Riders arrive, and she’s going to teach me.

      Lined it up last night.

      Warwitch Deneghra
      – Deathripper
      – Deathripper
      Satyxis Blood Witches (Leader and 5 Grunts)
      – Satyxis Blood Hag
      Soulhunters (Leader and 4 Grunts)
      Steelhead Halberdiers (Leader and 9 Grunts)
      Steelhead Heavy Cavalry (Leader and 4 Grunts)
      Darragh Wrathe
      Pistol Wraith
      Pistol Wraith
      Skarlock Thrall
      Warwitch Siren
      Warwitch Siren

      Will it work: Probably, it’s pDeneghra, everything works. I doubt it will be better than the ranged pDeneghra setup, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it works an actual play.

      I was going to take the WSC instead of Blood Witches, but Character Restrictions is a reality no matter how much I loathe it, so I better get back in shape with Blood Witches.

      A lot of the lists ‘game’ depends on the feat round, which is always something I’m try to avoid, but when it comes to Cavalry that one big impact has to break the opponent anyway so I’ll give it a shot.

  2. I would love to see a whole article (I don’t think you’ve written one?) about whether or not to take the first turn, deployment, etc. I play legion so oftentimes my whole game comes down to getting the alpha strike, so this sort of info was great for me!

    • This might be what you’re looking for: Stealing the initiative. It might not explain everything you have to consider when deciding, but it might give you an idea about the complexity of the choice, and why I haven’t written a specific article on it (because it’s impossible).

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