The kicker is all elemental lights (Winter, Storm, Pyre and Slag), and you can bring Warders, the KSB, Runeshapers, and whelps. Tier IV is to bring a Mountain King, but we don't talk about that. Most players hang out at Tier III, which grants cheaper warbeasts, AD warbeasts and for every unit of Runeshapers, you get a fury in the stone, all of which ammounts to a 4pt Pyre troll that starts 13-16'' up the board with +2 ARM. The downsides to this is a lot of fury ends up on the board, you can't bring most Troll support (Fell Caller, Chronicler), and I don't know how well this list would handle 2 stormwalls.
I don't have 2 stormwalls. I have Madrak2, my answer for any high-armor skews, which 10+ light trolls at ARM18-19 definitely is.
My opponent's list was:
Max KSB w/UA
Incidentally, this is an awesomely well painted force, and I was excited to get pics of it.
My list is my standard Madrak2 one. It's seen very little change over the last several months. I'd really like to be able to drop the Bomber and Impaler combo for two lights, but everytime I do that, someone brings Kayazy or Nyss, and My Fenns just swing hopelessly for four turns.
Max Fenns w/UA
Min KSB w/UA
Stone Scribe Chronicler
We rolled off, I won, and chose second so I could pick sides of the actually fairly symmetrical map. Deployment was pretty straightforward since his stuff was pretty symmetrical, and mine ends up stacked anyways. I put Warders behind the woods because I could get them path finder and run them through. I do spread out the Burrowers though because this particular opponent is 2 for 2 for drifting AOEs into them on the top of Turn 1 and killing at least half.
It makes me sad.
His stuff moves up, the stone pops aura, yeah. My stuff runs, SSC gets Concealment on the Fenns, and the Bomber tries to drift into the other KSB. No luck. Burrowers burrow. KSB pops aura, and says no continuous effects.
The trolls move up. The Winter troll sprays the warders and tries to get the first two, but only hits the first. That crits though, and freezes him in place, essentially blocking my warders for a turn. The Storms and Pyres move up and force toughs on the four leading Fenns, boosting the shots on the guys behind the wall, needing 11s to hit, both of which hit. One may have used a reroll from Calandra, but I don't think so. One eleap hits Grim and forces a Grim Salvation, which takes a KSB dude. The Slags run around, and Calandra tucks in behind the wall on her side casts Soothing song (removing a point of fury from all beasts) and Starcrossed (Extra dice on my attacks, remove the highest) and the KSB spread out, popping aura.
Burrowers emerge. Fenns move up 3'' with Vengeance, including the Kithkar who moves 5. Fell Caller puts WarCry (+2 to hit in melee) Runebearer moves over, minifeats and puts Blood Fury on the Burrowers. Burrowers charge into three trolls, and under starcrossed, fail to kill a single light warbeast. I think I miiiiggggght have gotten half on one, but yeah. The Kithkar charges in, engaging three lights. He misses both times, needing just 5s to hit. So the Fenns charge, needing sixes to hit. Under Starcrossed, maybe four hit. As the light warbeasts are hit, they pop whelps, adding annoyance into the issue, which essentially ups my opponent's light warbeasts to DEF13. Trying to get sevens under starcrossed with the dice I had yesterday was pretty rough. I saw double ones out of three dice way more than I'd like to admit.
It's way to early to feat, but I'm going to lose most of these models in the next turn, and everything's really engaged except the Warders which are still locked behind Mr. Freeze. So the Impaler moves up, puts Farstrike on the Bomber and he puts two shots into the KSB, hitting both times, and it toughs both times. I shuffle warders, and one makes a run trying to engage stuff, but doesn't. Madrak moves up, feats. Bomber tosses another one, and I actually kill the KSB Bearer, and it self sacs to another dude. But at least the Aura is down.
Everything swings again, except the Burrowers who don't get to use their gun in the feat (Learned that one yesterday. Point-Blank is during activation only), and I kill one storm troll, leave the purple Pyre on 1 box, and the Kithkar misses everything except the DEF13 whelp. I needed fives. Fives, people, and I missed 5 times. Starcrossed and less-than-average dice are rage inducing. I kill one out of each Runeshaper unit, and they both pass CMD from Terror on the Fenns.
KSB moves up, pops aura. Janissa drops a wall. SSC runs and realizes he's pretty much useless in this matchup.
Slag on the left moves up, puts two solid shots into my Bomber, but destroys no aspects. The Storm kills the useless Kithkar. The left Runeshapers free up the Pyres, and the Pyres put another shot into the Bomber, and the other drifts onto Janissa for no damage, Madrak tanks decent at ARM19 and 1 grunt dies. .
At the end of the turn, I have three Burrowers (One is a Khador arc node in the back), 2 Fenns, and all of my Warders. Calandra has forced maybe 2 rerolls, but for the most part, her feat has done the rest. A couple of whelps run up to block warder charge lanes and that's it.
Alright. Warder are what are left. The Fenns vengeance, and one tries to hit a Whelp in the back, needing a five, and misses. I drop upkeeps. The Fenns go. One stands up, misses the pyre, and the other kills the whelp. The two Burrowers that have been passing CMD great both miss the Pyre four times between the two of them. The Fell Caller put Warcry on the Warders. Madrak moves up, boosts to hit and puts his axe into what's left of the Pyre. He then puts Blood Fury on the Warders. Janissa drops a wall, and what's left of the KSB push in behind them and pop aura for +1 STR.
Impaler crit slams the Right slag all of 1'' back, and does no damage. The Bomber kills the KSB bearer, and I think leaves it at that. The Warders try to charge, but because they have no pathfinder, I only get one into charge range of the half-dead winter troll, and he actually hits, but fails to kill it. The rest of the Warders just run around. The SSC charges the black Slag, and misses.
So far, my opponent's fury management has been fantastic, between all of the whelps and soothing song, which is exactly how the list is supposed to run. The Pyre walks up, puts Flaming Fists on the Slag, and after the other Pyre and white Storm shoot the bomber (which arcs, kills another KSB grunt, and I think Janissa too finally), Slag charges in and kills him. The other slag puts more shots into Madrak, which may have actually killed Janissa (I know Grim Salvation took her, not actual damage). The Runeshapers work on Warders, and force tough on two of them, and kill another. One Fenn gets hit in there somewhere too and toughs. Starcrossed comes back out, since Calandra is perfectly safe behind her wall. Oh, and the Winter Troll sprays the Impaler and Madrak, and manages to get a crit freeze on Madrak. Of course.
All in. I've got four Warders left, my Impaler, Madrak2, and a smattering of other stuff. The KSB is completely gone. Madrak spends a fury to shake stationary. I figure if I can Blood Fury the Warders, get Warcry onto them, and get Madrak into the fight, I can kill maybe two trolls this turn, and make it difficult to kill Madrak, which if that happens, it's probably my game still. So Moses gets Harmonious Exaltation onto him, the Fell Caller Warcries the Warders. Madrak charges the Slag, hits him and does decent damage. He puts Blood Fury on the the Warders, and buys another attack on the Slag, which I believe misses (Starcrossed. The Table Flipper of the 21st century).
The Blood Furied Warders get two charges, and the other two just move to inconvenient locations. The one that charged the Storm troll... misses? Or something? I don't remember. The other one charged the winter troll and kills him. But that's the only troll that dies this turn.
The Storm troll walks into Madrak, picks him and throws him... into the Runeshaper to the left of the white Storm troll. Not very far. Doesn't do damage. The Runeshapers shoot Madrak for damage and I transfer both, expecting that the POW14s from the guns will be worse than what POW12 trolls will do. The yellow storm tries to walk over and punch a KD madrak in the face, but my Warder that gets a free strike and is still under blood fury while my opponent has not popped his KSB aura yet. On 5 dice, I oneshot the troll. I don't think he had damage before that, if he did, it wasn't much.
That's what should have been happening all game, dangit.
The Slag walks up though, and finishes Madrak, who does not tough.
And I forgot the picture...
Thoughts on the game:
1. I own Calandra. I actually bought her with my 3rd place cash prize I won two weeks ago at a small Steamroller. I've played her on Vassal some, but I really need to put her on the table. This game definitely cements that idea. I can't wait to get her out there with Highwaymen.
2. This was a terrible map. I had a wall and forest on either side, and Calandra had her own little bunker. That's acceptable with Janissa. Janissa wasn't here for Calandra. This map was built before I or my opponent got to it and played on it, but you can't tell. Calandra was pretty happy at DEF friggin 20 all game.
3. I botched a lot in this game. For starters, my Bomber should have been shooting trolls all game, not KSB. Although, it would have helped if he hadn't toughed three times, but still, my Bomber was outside of Starcrossed, and should have been doing boosted POW16s into ARM18 trolls.
4. I should have used Madrak to cast Killing Ground (Relentless Charge for faction models), and let more Warders charge. That at least would have got 2 warders into the Winter troll, and probably kill it, which would have not made for a stationary Madrak next turn, which would have helped a bit.
5. I needed to play Madrak more agressively. Janissa shouldn't be within an inch of him. Not till late game. If I had managed to keep her alive that last turn, she was charging with her AP attack everyone forgets she has. She'd of probably missed it, but ok.
I really don't think this was a horrible matchup for me. It wasn't amazing, and anytime there's Stormtrolls, any support is in jeapordy, but there was so many activation issues I had where I could have gotten +1 STR out there with the stone for the feat turn, and I didn't. That'd of been a dead Pyre. Maybe other stuff. I should have been using Moses as a Grim Salvation target later on in the game, and I never did. The Fell Caller is completely capable of doing work, but I wasn't able to squeeze him through the woods with the Warders in the way most of the game.
Overall, it was a good game, and I had a glimmer of hope there at the end, but it just wasn't meant to be. I definitely should have just done reville with the Fell Caller and let the Warders all stand up, maybe get more charges in, but I was so frustrated with missing when I just needed 5s and 4s that I couldn't see doing anything BUT warcry.
Incidentally, the rumors about GF9 dice being hot are all lies, and I'll be buying dice this week I think.