-By: Scott (PG_Sc077y)


The All New War changed a lot of things in our lists.  We have seen the increase in size of battlegroups, and with that comes the natural thought process of how do I get the most out of the models I put into my list.

fellcallerWarmachine and Hordes offer quite a few different ways to get lots of unique abilities on the table, and ways to make your already awesome Jacks and Beasts way better, not to mention the different methods of supporting your infantry.  But how much is too much?  At what point do you add so much support that your list lacks enough hitting power?  That’s what we’re going to talk about today!

Often times its best, when I’m teaching a new player about support bloat, to just use an example.  So here is a great one.  A player had PM’d me looking for list advice, and I asked if I could look over his list.  This is one of the lists that he gave me:

  • Ragnor Skysplitter
    • Trollkin Runebearer
    • Mulg the Ancient
    • Dire Troll Mauler
    • Troll Bouncer
  • Fell Caller Hero
  • Fell Caller Hero
  • Krielstone Bearer and Stone Scribes
    • Stone Scribe Elder
  • Dhunian Knot
  • Northkin Fire Eaters
  • Northkin Fire Eaters
  • Kriel Warriors
    • Caber Thrower
    • Caber Thrower

His intention is to play this into most opponents, and that falls into the category of “generalist list” – that is to say that it’s a list that might not specialize in any one thing, but will play a relatively well rounded game vs most opponents.

Already, right off the bat, I immediately recognize an area of opportunity that might need shoring up.  This list is suffering from support bloat.  It’s simply got more support pieces in the list than the army can effectively use on any given turn, in fact, this list has 32 points of support!  As a general rule, when building lists, I want to stay around the 20% mark for support, meaning that I don’t want any more than 20 points out of my lists going to support if at all possible.  At 32 points of support in the list, his opponents have too few targets to divide up their attacks, meaning that if they manage to bring down Mulg, the Dire Troll Mauler, or both units of Fire Eaters, this list has no ability to do meaningful damage to their opponent’s army.  He has essentially spent too many points on buffs, but doesn’t have enough great stuff to buff!

And that started a great conversation behind what is essential, and what can be cut.  In this example, an easy cut was at least one Fell Caller Hero.  While great, and they themselves can hit kind of hard, the problem was that the Fire Eaters don’t need a Mat Buff, and will often outrun their support, making the Fell Caller Hero not quite as useful as intended.  So in this list, having one to buff Ragnor, or the Kriel Warriors seems like a great idea, having two just means that you could have spent those points on a combat solo, like a Kithkar or Champion Hero and gotten more combat potential out of them.

In this list, we also have the Dhunian Knot, and the Krielstone Bearer unit and command attachment.  The Krielstone is almost required support in this army, given its dependence on beasts, but the Dhunian Knot, not so much.  While having multiple puppet master spell effects a turn is really powerful, rerolling 3 attack or damage rolls likely won’t (given the high value attacks he has in the list) be better than just spending those 6 points on another model that can do some work.  Put those 6 points paired up with the dropped Fell Caller Hero, and we now have 11 points to add some hitting power to the list.

Troll Moses (the trollkin runebearer) is also another model that doesn’t necessarily have to be in the list, and is an easy drop.  Some people love him with Ragnor, so while I wouldn’t necessarily automatically get rid of him, I would consider running without him. (He has never been a high priority outside of the Doomshapers, Calandra, Borka 2 and Grim 2 for me.)

gdbqtjkControlling the amount of support models or units in a list will help create a more streamlined, and overall, more tactically effective army.  Trollbloods in particular, have always loved their support, but Menoth, Skorne, Cygnar, Mercs, and many other factions also use a staggering amount of support and can quickly bog down a list.  When deciding on what support is necessary, I try to ask myself these questions before adding more support or running support heavy:

  1. Will the list do what it needs to do without this model/unit?
  2. Will removing this support model put my Warcaster or Warlock in danger?
  3. Do I gain more by not having them and replacing them with another model or unit that can contribute to combat?

Obvioulsy there is no set answer to those questions.  Some lists run support heavy, like Jay Larsen’s Ragnor list (running a total of 22 points, with Lanyssa Ryssal, Max Krielstone Scribes and CA, Rune Bearer and a Feralgeist) from the Rocky Mountain Rumble:

 

  • Ragnor
    • Runebearer
    • Dire Troll Mauler
    • Mulg The Ancient
    • Troll Bouncer
    • Troll Bouncer
  • Horgle Ironstrike
    • Pyre Troll
  • Krielstone (max, Leader+5)
    • Stone Scribe Elder (Krielstone UA)
  • Fire Eaters
  • Fire Eaters
  • Fell Caller Hero
  • Lanyssa Ryssyll
  • Feralgeist

…And some do not, like Ryan McDermott’s lists (which ran a grand total of 8 points of support in the form of Sylys and Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich) from the Gencon 2016 Masters:

 

  • Irusk 2
    • Behemoth
    • Rager
    • Sylys Wyshnalyrr
  • Winter Guard Infantry (max)
    • Winter Guard Infantry UA
    • Winter Guard Rocketeer
    • Winter Guard Rocketeer
    • Winter Guard Rocketeer
  • Kayazy Assassins (max)
    • Kayazy Assassin Underboss
  • Kayazy Eliminators
  • Kayazy Eliminators
  • Winter Guard Mortar Crew
  • Jozef Grigorovich
  • Widowmaker Marksman

 

What I cannot do is tell you that your lists are bad because they have lots of support, and I won’t say that I have all the answers, but I will offer that trying to keep the amount of support in the list to a manageable level does allow you the flexibility to be able to lose some models, and still have meaningful attacks to follow up with.

So in our previous example, what did the list end up looking like? Well, here is what we came up with:

 

  • Ragnor
    • Dire Troll Mauler
    • Mulg
    • Troll Bouncer
  • Pyre Troll
  • Fell Caller Hero
  • Feralgeist
  • Krielstone Bearer and Stone Scribes
    • Stone Scribe Elder
  • Northkin Fire Eaters
  • Northkin Fire Eaters
  • Trollkin Fennblades
    • Trollkin Fennblade Officer and Standard

 

skorne_tyrant_and_standard_by_cwalton73With the dropped support, we added a pyre troll, and a Feralgeist (so he could set his fire eaters on fire a little easier and is far less likely to kill them, and swapped out the Kriel Warriors with 2 Cabers (a good unit but not necessarily as offensive as we felt he wanted his unit to be) and replaced them with Fennblades, since we had the points left over to do so.  We also added the Fennblade Command Attachment for the minifeat he gives, as well as one more offensive model.


Is this list perfect? Who is to say, but on its face, this list packs a lot more hitting power than its previous incarnations did, and allows the player the ability to get his Fireeaters working sooner by setting them on fire with his Pyre Troll, and it still gives him a good (if not short ranged) gun for his army.


There it is. Support is difficult in list creation, especially when trying to figure out who needs how support, and what is crucial and what isn’t.  My advice is always to run the minimal amount of support you can in any list, and add support pieces from there.  Its far easier for me to determine when I have too much support than when I don’t have enough.

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