Archive for August, 2010

August 6, 2010

Oh, Granny! What Big Claws You Have!

by Nate Birkholz

The second of my two primary choices for Khador warcaster is Zevanna Agha, The Old Witch of Khador. The Old Witch has a lot of tricks in her curious little bag, wielding a mix of denial, support, utility, and assassination/assault. The Old Witch automatically fields ScrapJack, the only light Warjack in the Khadoran forces and the only arcnode, at the cost of  Ol’ Witchy being tied for the lowest number of ‘Jack (or Beast) points in the game. She isn’t a particular ironmonger since her spell list has little in the way of direct support for her Battlegroup, and she has a lot of other uses for her focus than boosting attack and damage rolls.

You'll pardon me if I don't shake your hand...

Zevanna Agha’s story is compelling. She is described as one of the most powerful and mysterious entities in the setting. In fact, she’s such a badass she regularly beats face in other factions’ fluff. I have a fair bit of Russian/Slavic heritage, and have been fascinated with Baba Yaga ever since my mother first told me about her when I was a child: how very Slavic to have a seminal Fairy Tale figure who is so twisted, antagonistic, and emblematic all at once.

The mixed bag of Zevanna Agha’s abilities means there are a lot of ways to approach her lists. In general, however, she seems to benefit from a varied mix of heavy-hitting infantry, utility players, and ranged capability:

Army: Granny and the Bad Men
Type: Skirmish (1 caster, 35pts)
Points: 35
Zevanna Agha, the Old Witch of Khador (+3pts)
* Scrapjack (0pts)
* Decimator or Destroyer (9pts)
Great Bears of Gallowswood (5pts)
Greylord Ternion (Leader and 2 Grunts) (4pts)
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Kayazy Assassin Underboss (2pts)
Widowmakers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (4pts)
Widowmaker Marksman (2pts)
Manhunter (2pts)
Manhunter (2pts)

The Old Witch and ScrapJack can use Avatar of Slaughter to chainsaw through infantry, so she seems to demand troops able to crack hard targets, and the Great Bears are Khador’s signature crack dealers.  The Kayazy can spread roving death around the battlefield–especially with Weald Secrets giving them Pathfinder to reach their targets–and the Underboss makes the gang extra tricky; too bad about the really ugly Kayazy models, but I can get past that, I guess… The Greylord Ternion provide magic shotgun sprays, blizzard clouds for cover, and truly impressive beards. The Manhunters are self-sufficient masters of hunting solos, can gang up against stronger foes like ‘Jacks or Beasts, and are the cutest couple ever to have killed, eaten, skinned, and worn a wild animal. The Widowmakers and their Marksman add ranged support to shoot the faces that are about to be smashed by the melee forces.

Because Zevanna’s one battlegroup support ability “Augury” allows her ‘Jacks to ignore forests and cloud effects when determining Line of Sight, most often you see Warjacks with ranged attacks recommended for her lists. Despite the boards’ hatred for the Decimator, people who actually use the Deci’ seem to like it (rampant, pointless , theory-driven hatred? on the boards?), so I consider it a good option for this list as well as the Destroyer. While the big, bad Behemoth is almost universally recommended for the Old Witch’s battlegroup, I really dislike the Behemoth model, and it is absurdly expensive (in real-world terms), so I just can’t bring myself to add it to the list; maybe someday they will release a new sculpt in plastic or–even better–resin. I wish the model looked as phenomenal as the illustration in the Forces of… book.

I doubt most people will willingly give you the opportunity to use the Witch or ScrapJack to engage infantry, but that means you can position your units to control the flow of enemies on the board, and that’s a valuable trait, especially since Field of Talons and Murder of Crows allow Granny to give opponents further difficult choices for model placement. Some say she isn’t an assassination caster, and others say that she and Scrappy can take down Warcasters quite handily. I imagine that if she does manage to gorge herself on soul tokens, she can really make some obscene ‘Caster kills. In order to make that happen, I figure I could give the enemy some tougher choices:

Army: Granny and the Madmen
Type: Duel (1 caster, 35pts)
Points: 35
Zevanna Agha, the Old Witch of Khador (+3pts)
* Scrapjack (0pts)
* Decimator or Destroyer (9pts)
Great Bears of Gallowswood (5pts)
Doom Reavers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (6pts)
* Greylord Escort (2pts)
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Kayazy Assassin Underboss (2pts)
Widowmakers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (4pts)
Widowmaker Marksman (2pts)

The Doom Reavers, Great Bears, and Kayazy are a great way to divide an enemy’s attention between a rock, a hard place, and a bunch of crazy guys with nasty, sentient magic swords that want to eat your soul and remove you from the gene pool. The Greylord Escort really shores up one or two of the Doomies’ weaknesses (like trying to kill each other, for example); plus, the ‘Reavers don’t cost The Old Witch any Focus since they are immune to spells. Note that I could also trade a Spriggan or the Kayazy or a Kodiak for the Doom Reavers if I need to deal with bigger threats or harder targets, instead.

The utility of the Greylord Ternion and the roving threat of the Manhunters have been sacrificed in this list to add the ‘Reavers, and the lack of solos/small units (aside from the Widowmakers) means opponents can force me to overcommit point values to deal with their own solos.

Interestingly enough, none of Zevanna’s spells or abilities has the “Faction” keyword, so she plays nicely with Mercenary units: The Old Witch did quite well at the UK Masters Tournament running a very Mercenary-heavy list. This opens up the opportunity to incorporate wildcards like Alexia Ciannor and the Risen:

Army: Granny pays for it
Type: Duel (1 caster, 35pts)
Points: 35
Zevanna Agha, the Old Witch of Khador (+3pts)
* Destroyer (9pts)
Alexia Ciannor & the Risen (Alexia and 9 Risen Grunts) (5pts)
Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters (Cylena and 9 Grunts) (10pts)
Greylord Ternion (Leader and 2 Grunts) (4pts)
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Kayazy Assassin Underboss (2pts)

I’d also consider rearranging this list to swap in a couple of units of Steelhead Halberdiers to tie up enemies and keep Alexia supplied with raw materials.

Unlike the Butcher of Khardov, I am having trouble really narrowing in on a truly signature approach to The Old Witch, though I definitely think I could reasonably start with the first list for simple accessibility before moving on to the second list or the third or exploring other options. Zevanna Agha has a variety of synergies that add up to unique opportunities, but she also seems to have a few vulnerabilities and weak spots. She presents an exciting challenge, but also potential frustration. Sounds like the foundation of a rewarding relationship…

Many thanks to OldOneEye for the avatar.

Here is the 15-point list I would start with (well, maybe I’d start with a Manhunter instead of the Underboss):

Army: Granny and the Bad Men
Type: Duel (1 caster, 15pts)
Points: 15
Zevanna Agha, the Old Witch of Khador (*3pts)
* Destroyer (9pts)
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
* Kayazy Assassin Underboss (2pts)
Widowmaker Marksman (2pts)

August 3, 2010

Rock Concert

by Nate Birkholz

Okay, I couldn’t resist messing around with a Circle list, after all. I bought the Primal MkII rulebook last week and really enjoyed reading the Circle story and perusing the model pages. While the Warpwolves are growing on me (especially the Pureblood Warpwolf), I still prefer the constructs as an entry point.

Army: Rock Huggers
Type: Skirmish (1 caster, 35pts)
Points: 35
Baldur the Stonecleaver (*6pts)
* Woldwatcher (5pts)
* Woldwyrd (5pts)
* Wold Guardian (9pts)
* Woldwarden (9pts)
Druids of Orboros (Leader and 5 Grunts) (7pts)
* Druid of Orboros Overseer (2pts)
Shifting Stones (2pts)
Blackclad Wayfarer (2pts)

Now I don’t know what might happen to this list when the Shifting Stones UA is released, but for now this looks to be pretty fun, despite my reservations about wasting the Druids’ Medicate ability on a list with no “living” warbeasts. I might actually choose to run two Wold Guardians instead, but the Woldwarden really brings  alot of utility to the table. The Woldwatcher may be redundant with two Wold Guardians, especially, because of his defensive orientation, but he’d probably be sacrificed for the Stone Keeper in a rework of the list. Heck, if the Stone Keeper is 1 point (doubtful), that would make room for the Lord of the Feast in the list; else I would have to do some reordering to make things fit.

EDIT: News out of GenCon is that the Stone Keeper is, indeed, 1 point, and so this is an alternate version of the list:

Army: Rock Huggers
Type: Skirmish (1 caster, 35pts)
Points: 35
Baldur the Stonecleaver (*6pts)
* Woldwyrd (5pts)
* Wold Guardian (9pts)
* Woldwarden (9pts)
Druids of Orboros (Leader and 5 Grunts) (7pts)
* Druid of Orboros Overseer (2pts)
Shifting Stones (2pts)
* Stone Keeper (1pt)
Blackclad Wayfarer (2pts)
Lord of the Feast (4pts)

August 2, 2010

Old Witch Progress, If You Call This Progress

by Nate Birkholz

I’ve been as busy as a colorful simile lately at work, and have had little time for blogging or painting. In the interest of correcting both oversights, tonight I made time to do another pass on The Old Witch’s cloak.

I started with another coat of dark blue, as the first coat did not result in uniform coverage. Fortunately, I had taken extra care with the initial pass around the boiler and didn’t need to coax a brush into those areas again. Next I mixed white 2:1 with the blue and drybrushed across the wrinkes of the fabric. Unfortunately, the results came out a bit…feathery, and didn’t have quite the effect I was going for.  I am sure I did at least three things wrong, but I am not entirely certain what those things are. Perhaps I should have just picked out the peaks individually with a dry-ish number zero brush instead:

I think I’m struggling with a number of factors — the amount of paint to have on the brush, the proper size of the brush for the task, and the angle of the brush. The cloak here has a lot of gentle topography in some areas, a lot of wrinkles in other areas, and both helped contribute to the troubles I had.

Onward and upwards, however.

Next I mixed Badab Black and Asurmen Blue Citadel washes about 50/50, loaded up a brush, and washed the heck out of the cloak to flatten out the highlight and deepen the shadows:

This did smooth out some of the transitions, and made the feathering less obvious. Next I will do another highlight: this time I think I’ll definitely get the brush even more dry, and I will try using a larger brush at a nearly perpendicular angle on the lower parts of the cloak to make it glide over the high points more.

I also painted the topmost exhaust pipes with a thinned copper. I will wash these with brown, then add streaks of black wash coming down from the top. I will follow these with verdigris at the base of the pipes, and finish with a black drybrushing at the tops of the exhausts.