Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Building Menoth from Scratch

This is a series of posts I made in the PPress Menoth forums about how to build a Menoth army from scratch.  Just putting them here in case people miss the forum.  (WARNING:  Incoming wall of text!!)

The Battlebox
One of the most common questions on this board is “I have the battlebox, what should I buy next?” I hope to answer that (and take you up to 35 points and beyond) in this post. I am going to be working under a few assumptions, however.

1) Cheaper is better, but flexible is better than cheaper - a unit you will use in one list that costs $10 is not as good as a unit you can use in 8 lists that costs $15. I'm going to try to maximize cost v. usability
2) Competitive is important - playing is fun, winning is more fun so we will be working with an eye towards being ‘competitive’ (well, an eye towards not losing all the time)

General Note2 - I won’t be going into tactics, the articles in the Canon of True Law do a great job breaking that down and I will be cross-linking once I get this done.

That being our starting idea, first a few comments on what you get with the battlebox. The box is great as it meets all of our criteria - it is cheap for the amount of models you get and provides a sturdy foundation to build off of.

The Box:

High Exemplar Kreoss (or pKreoss/Kreoss1 as opposed to the ‘epic’ version of the same caster, Grand Exemplar Kreoss [who is eKreoss/Kreoss2]) is a very strong caster, arguably in the top 4 casters from a competition standpoint, and is also fairly straightforward to play and do well with.
Crusader is a solid melee warjack. He lacks reach and is slow, but can hit hard and has an open fist for when you want to weapon lock/arm lock or throw something. He also only costs 6 points and is thus included as a cheap heavy hitter in some lists.
Revenger is our light arc node. Besides the revenger you only have two other options for an arc node (the character jack Blessing of Vengeance and the heavy Guardian) so the Revenger sees action when you don’t own the BoV yet or are playing a caster besides Severius.
Repenter is a cheap light warjack that has a spray. Sprays are great in that they ignore a lot of the defense against range bonuses that people can get, they can hit numerous targets, and they can hit things you don’t have LoS on as long as you get the angle right. Not going to be used in a lot of lists, but is a great 4 point filler.
Note about the Box - if you got the plastic version, it will be worth it to magnetize the Crusader. This will allow you, further down the line, to have two heavy warjack bodies in case you want to run a Vanquisher and Templar at the same time.

The Most Important Point: Don't feel like you have to jump up to 15, 25, or 35 points right away (although you will probably want to). Pace yourself so you can make educated decisions about what models you want to buy. This is simply a guide and you are welcome (and encouraged) to go outside of it, the guide is just giving a backbone army. If you want to get a different model/unit, do it! But if you haven't played the games, you won't know which models you want. The more you play (even simple battle box games) the more experience you get, the more you see what may fit your play style. With that knowledge you can go to the store and buy with confidence.

The Next Step

The next step for Menoth is universally agreed upon and is pointed out on the forums at least once a week: 
Buy a choir. Minimum unit to start (so one blister with the priest and one blister of two acolytes). They make your nice jacks from your starter that much more awesome. The choir provides jacks with +2 to Attack and Damage rolls or immunity to spells or immunity to non-magic ranged. For two points, it doesn’t get any sweeter than that and as a bonus, they are fairly inexpensive. You will field this with 90% of the lists you make. When making a list, if you don’t have a choir you should have a really good reason why you don’t.

My next recommendation (less universally agreed upon) is the Vassal of Menoth. Again, he is cheap both $$ and points wise. He has two great abilities that (like the choir) make our sweet jacks even sweeter. Some would say super sweet. You will field the Vassal in the majority of your lists.

If you follow my advice, you have also hit the first points milestone, you have 15 points worth of models. A recap:

pKreoss -5
-Crusader +6
-Repenter +4
-Revenger +6
Min. Choir of Menoth +2
Vassal +2

And there are your 15 points. Beyond simply hitting the 15 points, this will get you playing like a true Menite. You will be making the decisions that you will have to make in almost every battle from here on out: Which hymn is best in this situation? Should I enliven or ancillary attack?

So get out there and play some games - you will start getting a feel of the basics of the game (Line of Sight, control area, etc.) and 15 point games are still a lot of fun.

Your first unit OR How you learned to love the best tarpit in the game

The next step will be to buy your first offensively-oriented unit.

Menoth has no shortage of cool units - Knights Exemplar are weaponmasters who get stronger as their comrades die, Daughter’s of the Flame are dagger-wielding women of death, the Exemplar Bastions have giant axes and share a health pool, the Exemplar Cinerators set people on fire when they kill a nearby model, and the Holy Zealots are fanatics with fire bombs. Yeah, thats right - religious psycopaths with fire. Wait...that’s every follower of Menoth...okay, on to your purchase.

With all those sweet units - you aren’t going to buy any of them yet. What you want are the Knight Exemplar Errants (KEE) and their unit attachment. They are, arguably, the best tarpit in the game and will really benefit from pKreoss’ defender’s ward. Offensively they have blessed magical crossbows (they ignore spell buffs to arm/def and are able to hit the pesky incorporeal models) and weaponmaster swords. Pretty standard armor and defense, but they have an awesome ability called self sacrifice which lets you kill off another model within 3” instead of the one targetted. Why would you do this? Blocking charge lanes, preventing the culling of souls, and to be generally annoying. The KEE are hated/envied and for good reason. Their Def/Arm/Mat/Rat are all standard to lowish, but with the benefit of Def. Ward they are hard to dislodge and they can cause a fair amount of damage on a charge.

The UA gives them pathfinder and quick work - two abilities that make them even better in a faction that doesn’t have all that much pathfinder going on.

They are Menoth’s best unit choice, in my opinion, and you will quickly learn to love them. They are fairly expensive money wise, but you will field them so often that they will be more than worth it in the long run.

I would probably buy a minimum unit with UA before buying the maximum unit (if you are budgeting), but pump them up to a maximum unit as fast as possible since, because of self-sacrifice, they become better running at full numbers.

So where does that put us points-wise?

pKreoss -5
-Crusader +6
-Repenter +4
-Revenger +6
Min. Choir of Menoth +2
Vassal +2
Max Errants + UA +10

25 points total. You have graduated to the next point bracket, and have a pretty solid list.

Bring in the Big Boys - Branching out with more warjack choices
Now you have the basics of it all - some support, a solid unit, and a solid caster. What to buy now? Let’s beef up our jack selection. After the choir buffs them, we have some incredible jacks. Not quite as durable as Khador’s, but with Choir buffs you can pretty reliably deliver them to the enemy and rarely have to worry about hitting anything but Legion/a caster (thank you choir for your delicious +2 Mat).

There are two jacks that are mentioned over and over on the forums and for good reason. For 8 points it is hard to beat either the Reckoneror the Vanquisher.

The Reckoner has a fairly nasty reach weapon, a solid single-shot non-AoE gun that debuffs the enemy, and is fast for Menoth Jacks. TheVanquisher has an AoE 4 gun that sets anything it hits (directly or blast) on fire and a chain weapon. I would say that 90% of the lists you see will contain either one or both of these jacks. And for good reason.

The Reckoner shares a chassis with the Castigator and, as such, is not part of the heavy warjack plastic kit. You have to buy it separately, but its a good purchase and the Castigator chassis is faster than the Crusader chassis.

The Vanquisher is part of the heavy warjack box. If you did as I advised and magnetized your Crusader from the battlebox, you now have two heavy warjack bodies to share 2x Crusader arms, a set of Vanquisher arms, or a set of Templar arms. The Templar is a heavy hitter with reach on his flail, a shield, and beatback and is a solid choice for melee warjack.

Given the opportunities that having the 2x Crusader chassis opens up, you would think that I would recommend that you buy the heavy warjack box first, but I just can’t. The Reckoner is that awesome. He would definitely be my first heavy purchase. But if you end up with the Vanquisher instead - you haven’t hurt yourself much and, again, the heavy warjack kit is more flexible than the Reckoner (three jacks for the price of one!). You can’t go wrong with either one, and you will want to pick both up eventually.

Now you own:

pKreoss -5
-Crusader +6
-Repenter +4
-Revenger +6
-Reckoner +8
-Vanquisher/Templar +8
Min. Choir of Menoth +2
Vassal +2
Max Errants + UA +10

41 points total. Which puts you well over the 35 point mark (which, in my meta, is the most commonly played game). You have hit a milestone, you now have to make a decision about what to field. I would drop the Crusader to hit your 35 points, which would still leave the Revenger to channel spells on the feat turn, but the thing to remember is that you now have options so try different things out.

Where to now?
This provides a solid list and you can buy some other casters for variety. Grand Scrutator Severius (pSeverius) is another super-competitive Menoth caster who is a blast to play and will work well with the models listed above. Get the Harbinger if you want the floating little girl of doom, Reznik if you want to put the people you kill on a wrack, Feora Protector of the Flame (eFeora) if you want to set people on fire - things are really open at this point and all of your models work well with the casters above.

If you want to stick with pKreoss (or want to get eFeora), getting a Redeemer would be the next step - he has a RoF 3 gun that decimates pretty much anything on feat turn (or in eFeora’s case sets everything on fire when bonded to her).

If you want to focus on Severius, the Blessing of Vengeance becomes your go-to arc node, replacing the Revenger, and is almost a necessity - well worth the additional one point.

The Avatar of Menoth is always a solid jack choice as he generates his own focus (taking the stress off your caster) and is both survivable and hits like a truck - but he is expensive (monetarily and points wise [11 points]).

The Temple Flameguard are our generic 'guys with shield' tarpit unit or get one of those sweet units mentioned earlier.

The Covenant of Menoth is a support piece (we have a lot of support) that for 2 points can grant fire to your weapons, stop spell casting in a 20” circle, or stop knock downs in a 20” circle. Very handy and it is in most tournament-competitive lists. It is also one of my favorite models (I mean, its a walking book!).

The Wracks grant you an extra focus each turn one is in your control area (until it blows) and are only 1 point, so they help fill out a list when it you are just a point shy.

We also have a bunch of Mercs open to us that are really useful. Both flavors of Eiryss are really annoying and make people wary. Rhupert Carvolo can grant tough or more def to your already annoying KEE. Gorman Di’Wulfe can do a lot - smoke clouds to block LoS, blind on a warjack to take them out of the game (effectively) for a turn or two, or knock a couple of armor off of something (effectively giving you +2 to damage).

At this point you have the backbone - flesh it out to your playstyle

Friday, November 12, 2010

Uh Oh, accidental second faction, Malifaux, and conversion

So over the past couple of weeks I have made some pseudo-accidental acquisitions.  My trading off of extra and/or unused models and units has gone pretty well.  I have nearly completed my Protectorate collection (my collection being models that I want - all that I want that I don't have is Daughters of the Flame and the Fire of Salvation).

So I picked up some Legion of Everblight and two Malifaux starters.

So far my Legion army consists of:
Saeryn, eLylyth
Carnivean, Seraph
3x Shredders
One complete Forsaken (and another missing an arm)
And a Totem Hunter

Total of a little over 25 points and two caster options.  I will be using it as a way to get a better handle on Hordes rules and it provides a second battle box (proxying pLylyth in for eLylyth) if and when I have friends who want to try out the game.  We also have a bunch of people who are starting at my LGS - so I have a force that I would be happy to play smaller games with them.

I also ended up with both the Lilith and Zoraida Malifaux starters.  I am really on the fence about these guys - I have never played a Malifaux game and don't really have the ability to commit a second night to playing a different gaming system (with the new baby time with my wife is at a premium and I am lucky to get a night off to game, much less two nights).  I am probably going to try and trade this off for more Legion (or my last bits of Menoth) models if I can.  Starting a second faction also makes me wish that the sites were still up where you could sell World of Warcraft accounts as I could probably get enough to afford a decent Legion army, oh well.

I picked up a plastic warjack kit built as the Scourge of Heresy and also got the extra plastic bits for each of the other jacks (Templar, Vanquisher, Crusader).  My hope was that I could find a way to undue the superglue bonds and magnetize the whole thing.  Problem is that the only thing I know of that reliably eats away super glue (acetone) also eats away PPress plastic.  Looks like he will become a Scourge/Templar hybrid.

I may try to trim off the Flail and magnetize it as a Flail-Mace, and then add some flames to the mace.  This would give me a Templar/Scourge/FoS hybrid (putting the stacks on for the character jacks).  I'm not sure if this would pass for tournaments when I want to run the FoS, but for casual play I am sure it would be fine.

If I could only figure out how to get rid of the superglue without damaging the plastic...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Point Levels

As a side note, I had a discussion recently about 35 v. 50 point games. One person was saying that they preferred 50 point games because you can 'take whatever you want' while I said I much preferred 35 point games for exactly that reason - you can't take everything you want, you have to make more strategic decisions about what you want. Everything is a tradeoff, if you take the big expensive jack you might lose out on support - if you take all the support you might not get to take all 4 jacks you want, etc. To me building the list is part of the fun, and I just don't see that as 'enjoyable' in 50 points as it is in 35.

Just my thoughts. What does the blog-reading public think?  Leave a comment with your opinion on point levels and reason - I am interested to hear where people stand.

Phases of gaming

The more I play, the more I realize that there are some distinctive phases of learning to play - and I am well behind the curve.

Phase 1 - The Rules
The first phase of WM/H (and most board or wargames) is learning the rules. This takes awhile. There are the basics of turn order, terrain, and movement. Here you learn things like you can't charge past a linear obstacle, run/charge applies to your entire unit, etc. Eventually you have a grasp of the basics and start getting more nuances/specific situations like when your caster/lock can spend to shake knockdowns (during control phase FYI - made that mistake). At this point, you have a fair grasp on the game itself.

Phase 1 is probably Battlebox/15 point games/

Phase 2 - Your Models
The second phase of WM/H, and where I consider myself (although I'm trying to learn enough to shift to the third phase), seems to be when you have a fair grasp of the rules and start to become more familiar with the various models in your army and how they work together. Experimentation with synergies and spell interactions allow you to feel more comfortable, overall, with your army. You also begin to look for assassination vectors/ways to open things up while keeping yourself protected, but often lose thinking "Man, those were some shenanigans."

Phase 2 is moving into 35 point games at the start of this phase, and solidly in 35 at the end.

Phase 3 - Their Models
In this phase, you are comfortable with your army and are now learning more and more about other casters and models. People aren't surprising you with bane thralls appearing all over the place or mage hunters nuking your caster because they ignore line of site and your nice overboost. You are better at seeing assassination vectors and aren't thinking "Man, I wouldn't have done that had I known what shenanigans they were going to pull" quite as often.

35 point games, becoming more competitive as you learn what to expect.

Phase 4 - Intense Strategy
You know your models abilities, you know their models abilities - heck, you know the stats for 90% of the models in the game. The entire time you play, you are watching for strategic options to open up and are positioning for both the offensive and defensive. You are a god among mere mortals, and the rest of your local gaming folks look to you for rules questions and you are the 'man to beat' on gaming nights.

Anyway, there is obviously a lot of overlap between these phases, but I feel like these are kind of the clear 'transition points.'

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Scenarios, I get it now

Played another Vassal game today - was trying out pSev with models I currently own.

I played pSev, Guardian, Reckoner, min Choir, max Knight Exemplar Errant + UA, Knight Exemplar, KE Seneschal x2, Wracks.

He had Magnus, two renegades, a mule, 2x Halberdiers, and Croe's cuttthroats.

Turn one, I ran everyone forward but the KEE (who advanced, shot, and came up short). Sevvy put up Def. Ward on the KEE, Eye on himself, and Vision on the Guardian. He bushwhacked at the KEE with Croe's (who had snipe), saw they were 14/18 and then retreated everything back.

I scratched my head and on Turn 2 just kinda moved things around to see what he was going to do. He retreated again on turn 2. I said to myself "Well this is lame and uninteresting, might as well run forward or he will just do a bunch of moving around." Honestly, I was a little ticked - it was shaping up to be boring.

So everyone ran up on my side. He had hit the back wall so pushed halberdiers out on either side with the jacks and Magnus in the middle. Cutthroats moved to some woods and took some shots at the KEE. Snipe went on the Mule (who is now shooting 18" with arcing fire). Both the renegades fired their one rocket each, mule fired his - wiped out some KEE and KE.

My jacks had been running up the sides - Guardian finally in a position to arc A2A on the cutthroats - killed a few. KEE killed a couple of infantry here and there, and everything else moved up. Mule shot again (sevvy took some damage). He fired, moved infantry around and feated.

I moved up, cleared some infantry and healed Sevvy some. And then made a critical mistake - I trampled out my Guardian (who had been behind a little bit of forest) past a cutthroat. This put me out of range to arc spells - I thought I would be able to go closer, but was farther in the forest than I expected. Should have just ran - then I could have pumped 3 incinerates into a no-focus Magnus. Bad positioning on my part. End my turn. He shot with his mule, moved the renegade up and makes my Reckoner stationary with an arced spell. One flank of halberds runs to swarm the Reckoner and threaten behind Sevvy. Other halberds charge some KE/KEE just being kinda annoying on them and killing a few.

I went, made some charges/attacks with the KE/KEE doing not much. KEE Seneschal charges the renegade, deals some nasty damage and combo-smites him. The plan was to have him fly back and hit Magnus, but he barely touched the Mule and thus fell short of Magnus. Other KEE charged the other renegade - did some nasty damage and combo-smited him away. Guardian is swarmed by a few infantry, and thus can't move to get LoS on Magnus, but kills everyone around him. Reckoner tramples through the halberds behind Sevvy killing most of them (but there are a couple still threatening Sevvy). Sevvy then cycles def. ward on himself dropping eye. His turn, Mule fully boosted lands right on Sevvy dealing exactly 10 (when he had 10 hit boxes left).

Game over. I was too spread out at that point to effectively block LoS to Sevvy.

It ended up being more interesting than I thought it was going to be, but I understand scenarios now (kill box is all I have played and when I played it I thought "We are going to end up fighting in this box anyway, this is kinda silly"). Now I get it. My opponent had a good strategy - he forced his opponent (me) to come and fight him on his terms. Of course, had I not said "This is boring" I could have sat on my side waiting turns out as well.

All in all a fun game and I learned that choir boys make great LoS blockers when arcing fire is an issue, but they also die fast.

MVP of the game - the KE Sennys. Once they got to the target, two Pow 11 +2 (fury) +1 (eye) hitting at Mat 8 +1 (eye) with combo-smite...was awesome to see. I was hoping to test and see exactly how long they would live though if there was any kind of focused fire on them, alas - will have to happen in a later game. They are a seriously potent melee threat though.

Somewhere in there I feated, but I can't exactly remember when - I think it was right before I was trying to set up the "3 Incinerates" move that failed.

My first real game with Sevvy - and I like the old man of Menoth. I wish I had been able to make more use of his spells, but Eye of Menoth with an infantry-heavy army was brutal. Since I was the only one closing distance, though, I took too much damage on the way in and got too spread out.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


First, I received my shipment of minis and can now put together several different 35-50 point armies on the table top. But, this likely won't be happening anytime soon since my wife and I just welcomed our first child to the world (a healthy baby girl!).

On to my gaming topic of the day - what I am terming 'shenanigans.' Having played a bunch of games now, I have a grasp of the basic rules and am beginning to pick up some "board vision" (thinking about threat ranges of models, LoS, and charge lanes), but I think seeing that kind of stuff comes with time. I feel like I am gaining a grasp of the basics, but one thing I keep missing is things that alter the board I am looking at. These are the Shenanigans. Last night's game was an example, but not the only one I have encountered.

Playing a game on Vassal (Vassal is great for those of us who may not be able to make it out to the LGS) last night was an example - Trollbloods v. my Menoth. He was playing eDoomy (first mistake - I thought it was pDoomy which effected my play somewhat due to feat differences) and I am totally unfamiliar with Trolls. Testament and my Zealots/KE/Seneschals move up and zealots do a tiny bit of damage to Mulg and the big Troll, Avatar moves up on the right and a Reckoner on the left. Testament is kinda out in the open at the end of my turn, but is a solid 14" away from anyone else with rough terrain in front of him. Refuge is up on the 2 handed troll heavy, Mulg has Wild Aggression. Doomy activates and feats, Troll heavy eats some whelps walks up, grabs Avatar and throws him about 9" out of the way then Refuge walks another 8" up to the Testament and misses/fails to do anything. Mulg then activates and eats whelps - he doesn't have LoS on the Testament, but that ends up not mattering. He tramples 4+3+3+2+2 inches forward. He then boxed a model, and goaded 2 inches to the left to be in melee with he Testament, with only 1 fury on him. Smacks Testament, game over.

Mulg's 7" threat range was extended by the 3" feat +2" from the animus of the big 2 handed troll heavy +2" from Relentless - effectively doubling his threat range, and then he sidestepped 2 more inches.

I will be the first to admit that had I been familiar with the models I would have known to play differently and things are a little harder on vassal where there are no cards I can look over before the game starts. BUT there seems to be a fair amount of these shenanigans and almost all of them can be game-winning (or in the case of the doom-n-gloom forumites, game-breaking [see the thread on Molik Karn being in your DZ before your turn]) and are thus VERY important to keep in mind.

Thats my lesson for the day for myself - "Beware the shenanigans." I have seen the extreme movement stacking mostly in Hordes (since they can have an animus and an upkeep on them) and with Cryx (because they are Cryx), but its something I really need to start worrying more about.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

First Model

My first WM related shipment arrived from Wargamer's Cave (thanks Ray). Finally picking up the official rulebook (no relying on the old pdf anymore), a MKII Menoth Deck, and the Exemplar Errant UA. I have never put together a model before so I spent a bit of time googling what I need to do. Here is step one. Pewter is in soap bath, the wood is just some scrap that I am planning on 'converting' to a mobile workspace with some wooden barriers around it and thick-ish cloth (probably canvas) to limit sliding around and the like. (Ignore the pile of resumes and cover letters sitting under the book - yay unemployment.)

Washed them, here are my 13 pieces to put together. There isn't much in the way of 'flash lines' I can find (but again, I've never put one together before) but there are gaps in the shoulder. It is a tiny area, so I don't know if the moldable epoxy/green stuff is my best option. I need to look into what I might use in a smaller/harder to get to area.

So far I can see how everything fits together except the spaulders. They may just kind of rest on top though. Only big worry is how it will fit on the standard bearer - there is very little room between his head and the standard.

Speaking of the standard bearer - the banner pole is very pliable. It has me worried about long-term stability. I may need to cut the bottom of the pole off and pin it if/when I get a pin vise (not even sure if that is the best way to do it, but looks like the best option).

So far so good...of course all I did was wash.