Monday, July 11, 2011

First Look: Thornfall Alliance

I started my Warmachine/Hordes career playing Trollbloods. Then, I picked up Cryx for a bit, but my interest in them was overshadowed by my ever growing Trollbloods army. I have the majority of the available Trollbloods models, and enjoy the faction, and their play style.

At Privateer Press' Lock and Load, I had the desire to try out a new faction. The Warmachine factions don't seem to interest me as much as that of the Hordes factions. All the Hordes factions are represented within my gaming community, except Skorne. I've always had a soft spot for the red pointy men, but I have heard a bit about their issues as a faction: their "skornergy" (odd redundancy between faction models), and the lack of choice for good variety. There was talk back when Minions started to fill out, that some other members of my gaming community would pick up Farrow, and Gators. But at the time, no one had put a sizable investment into either army. This is when I decided to grab up almost a complete army at the Lock and Load store. It was a sizable investment, but afterwards I walked out with both Farrow casters, 2 war hogs, Rorsh & Brine, Brigands, Bone Grinders, the Slaughterhousers, and the new character solo Targ.

I finished my first day of Lock and Load with my Trolls in the Hardcore tournament, but afterwards I was excited to really put my Farrow down on the table Saturday night, and all of Sunday.

I started off with a 15pt list Saturday Night:

Lord Carver
2 x War Hog
1 x Gun Boar.

I have to say, this is an excellent 15pt list for Lord Carver. I really enjoyed the power that the War Hogs bring, as well as the ranged accessory with the Gun Boar.

With Lord Carver's two power spells Mobility, and Batten Down the Hatches, the War Hogs get up to an effective SPD 6, DEF 10, ARM 21. A bit of a hit to DEF nets the War Hogs an almost Khadorian Jack like effectiveness on the field, with little recourse. I enjoy Lord Carver for his strength and presence on the battle field, and his usefulness as a power hitter for the Farrow, but he can be a bit predictable, and one dimensional. His strategy can be a bit more straightforward than Dr. Arkadius, but overall he can provide many different avenues of attack and damage.

With excellent placement buffs, and strong defensive buffs from Lord Carver, the War Hogs versatility goes through the roof. They can be placed very loosely on the field, yet still almost always be effective. I often place them in such a way where War Hogs further back support those that are farther up the field, providing excellent counter charge support. Having such a counter charge arrangement really makes your opponent think twice about attacking the forward placed War Hogs. They not only have to contend with a War Hog in striking distance, but that of another in counter charge range. This offers the opponent no "free" kills, and may they be forced into a position to trade models.

As well, War Hogs pack an incredible punch. 3 initial attack, one which has critical knockdown, and the opportunity to buy 4 more with Fury. Aggression Dial, allows a beast to be forced to provide a slight +2 STR bonus. These are bonuses without any external assistance. War Hog's are an excellent package all wrapped up and ready to deliver to one's opponent.

I enjoy the versatility of attacks that a War Hog possesses, and with the critical knockdown option, it can be an excellent way to deliver 3 critical knockdown attacks, 2 of which can be boosted, in an attempt to knockdown a caster. War cleavers attacks provide the hitting power, which is always welcome.

Overall, the War Hog provides an excellent foundation for the Farrow warbeast roster. That is why I have 4 of them.

The good Dr. Arkadius, the other currently available Farrow warlock, provides even more synergy with the War Hogs. They are his creation of course.

Dr. A is quite squishy, and this forces a change of pace onto a Farrow player then that of Lord Carver. Dr. A is a spell slinger, and solely a support warlock. He possesses almost no melee potential, beyond his needle, which can get him out of a bind if attacked by a living model.

Dr. A has an excellent Fury Management/Manipulation ability called Maltreatment, which allows Dr. A, during his activation, to pull one fury off a beast and add it to his pool for d3 damage to the selected warbeast.

Dr. A's spell list is quite a treat to a heavy War Hog list. Four out of his five spells are geared toward heavy warbeast use. The fifth, Crippling Grasp, is excellent beyond belief. Providing the good doctor with beast heavy spell synergy, and one of the best debuff spells in the game, can be a brutal combination.

The four spells, Aggravator, Forced Evolution, Primal Shock, and Psycho Surgery, all thematically align with his current War Hog heavy warbeast choice. The drawback is that of a bit of chaos and chance, like anything related to the mad scientist.

Aggravator has seen little true use yet from me with my limited use of Dr. A. I sense that this spell can be an excellent way to move War Hogs a further 4 inches up the field on the opponents turn. This can be excellent against gun lines or attrition focused armies.

However, the caveats of the spell does limits its uses. For one, the warbeast must be damaged, and can only fully advance toward the model that attacked it. This is a lot of control in the hands of the opponent, as it allows my opponent to dictate the travel direction. However, being able to make a full advance allows the warbeast to change facing, possibly facing a newly available charge target, as well as advance over linear obstacles on the opponents turn to be able to charge next turn. A lot of versatility, but yet a little chastised by the direction requirement.

Forced Evolution is a excellent dual role upkeep spell. It provides +2 STR and DEF to a warbeast. This is an excellent spell as it provides both an offensive and defensive bonus. Brings the War Hog up a healthy DEF 14, which is quite high for most warbeasts. Anything that can increase a War Hog's STR is a bonus. The only downfall is having to pay for this every turn. With numerous spells that Dr. A wants to cast each turn, even being down to 6 fury can effect the Dr.'s output.

Primal Shock has got to be my favorite direct damage spell in Horde's arsenal. This spell allows pseudo-channeling of a spell with the POW as the base STR of the warbeast it is being cast through. Though you cannot channel through a model being engaged, you can use Primal Shock with a warbeast that is engaged because of how the spells rule is worded. You do however need LOS from the warbeast, as it is the point of origin.

This allows Dr. A with all 8 (+1 from maltreatment) of his fury to put two POW 11 through a War Hog, with both attack and damage rolls boosted. This can be a pretty nasty combination, especially if the caster was previously knocked down by an engaged War Hog. That would then allow 3 Primal Shock attacks as they don't need to be boosted to hit, and with 2 of those attack damage rolls boosted. Quite a nasty assassination attempt that relies on a War Hog's critical knockdown ability. With enough War Hog's in close proximity, that can provide multiple attempts to knockdown the caster. However if a War Hog manages to hit a caster knock them down, the game might well be over.

Primal Shock is a hard spell to run from, and can be an excellent way to clear away weak charge blockers, to then allow your War Hogs to openly charge.

Psycho Surgery is a wonderful healing spell, probably one of the best in the games. For 2 fury, Dr. A can heal all his warbeasts in his battlegroup for d3+1 health. This spell guarantees that your warbeasts will be have no spirals out each round. This is a huge psychological (pun intended?) advantage over your opponent. If they don't completely kill your War Hog, he WILL be full strength to retaliate next turn. Your War Hogs are good until the last blood drop. Excellent spell for its casting cost.

Crippling Grasp comes with little explanation. With regards to Dr. A, the short 8 inch range needs to be augmented by the Bone Grinder's Craft Talisman ability, bringing the range to a somewhat better 10 inches. This keeps Dr. A farther back out of range, but he still will need to expose himself to place it on models/units farther back on the field.

Overall, Dr. A is well explained through simply his spell list. He runs his beasts, and does it well. He is very squishy, and needs a bodyguard War Hog (or 2) to keep him out of LOS, and for huge transfer batteries. In a  game with 4 War Hogs, two can be engaging the enemy, while 2 protect Dr. A (like a good science experiment should).

I hope to go into more depth with the Farrow units as I gain more experience with them. Thanks for joining me on First Look: Thornfall Alliance.


  1. Fantastic First Look, Paul! You need to start editing Battle College;)