-By: Elliott (PG_E2lio2tR)
A few weeks ago I posted an article about a Gunnbjorn list I had designed. If you have not read it, go take a look HERE . At the end of it, I said I would play five games with it and come back to report what I thought of the list and what changes I think I should make to it. Well It has been 5 weeks for me and the five games have been played. It is a really solid list in many ways but could use a bit of tweaking.
The list runs almost exactly as I had planned. My beast package can put out a lot of damage from range and I can usually get a good turn or two of shooting before models go in for melee. It can actually produce more attacks than I previously thought thanks to Kill Shot. There have been many turns that I would charge a Bomber into combat kill the target and then get to make a range attack on something farther up the field. This surprised my opponents because I would usually go for either their counter punch unit or their caster themselves when they didn’t expect it and have only a little bit of Fury or Focus camped. The list can also be very melee focused when needed as well. Four heavy beasts charging into combat and all with Rage on them can lay waste to many things. This does use up all of Gunnbjorn’s stack of Fury that turn so protecting him gets to be a little tricky at times.
The Dhunian Knot and the Whelps worked wonders in making my battle group click. I was able to push the beasts further than normal because I know I would be able to drop any extra Fury thanks to the Whelps. There has also been a time or two where I would pop a Whelp to help heal a beast. They just get to be a handy multi use model to leave near the beasts. The Knot allowed me to at least try and make every hit count. If I missed one of the attacks I could reroll it. That seemed to work better for me since when I would try & reroll damage rolls, I would normally get a lower result. I had not needed to try the rerollable Threshold checks during the five games. Between leaching and the Whelps I had not had a beast with Fury left that would require it. The Knot is there for Puppet Strings and Healing mostly but having them around for that function is not a bad thing to add. These two selections are in for sure.
The Warriors make a great tar pit/jamming unit. If they die, I am not to worried about it but once the get stuck in, they are there for a while. I have not had them fully removed from the board, but I have had them slowed down by forests or being stuck in melee earlier than I hoped. They are great at sticking around, not so much at clearing things out. This unit is locked into the list for sure. The point cost mixed with how they handle their main reason to be there makes them a great add to the list. Just have to remember that they may need a bit of help at times. It had been suggested to bring them down to a minimum unit to save points, but to me that feels like it would diminish their effect on the table. Six models can tie something up for a turn or two but ten can do a better job at it I think and be harder to clear out of a zone or off of a flag.
Now it is time to talk about my three problem children of this list. The Fell Caller, Alton Ashly, and the Gobber Chef. Let us deal with the easy one first, the Chef. He is really just in the list because I had a point left and he was the only one that fit. If I remove him I have nothing really left to add but if I were to remove other models this would allow me more points to play with. That is a simple choice. If I have a point left after I retool the list, this model will stay in, otherwise the lose of it will not change much of the function of the list as a whole.
The next up on the chopping block is the Fell Caller. Now before I start chopping down on this model, let me just state for the record that I like this model and what it can bring to an army. In the right build it can bring a flexibility and buff to the right unit. The issue is that I do not have those units in this list. The one unit I have in the army that it can effect are the Warriors. Most of the time he would place Pathfinder on them and then go off on his own. My original plan was to use him to get the warriors where they need to go then go off and take out models on his own as a melee model that can self buff. The issue with this is that he just did not have the punch to do the job. Yes , two P+S 10 weapon master attacks should do some damage, but when he got into combat, he just did not crack armor the way I hoped. He never had an issue hitting a model so the +2 MAT call would not have helped in those cases. He would go in and just pick away at models and not make much of an impact past getting the Warriors where I want them. There are other options that I feel would improve the list as a whole then just targeting one unit like the Fell Caller was doing. Switching him out feels like it could help the list as a whole.
Alton Ashly. This model just never seemed to find his place besides for one battle. Even in that one battle, he shot one beast then just was not much affect the rest of the game. The ability to hand out Grievous Wounds is nice, but usually whatever I shot with him was dead that turn or was not able to heal any way. It also does not help that my small gaming group is very Warmachine heavy so the Monster Hunter ability does not get much use. This one model seems out of place. In a list with heavy range attacks, it always just ends up being one more shot that gets lost in the mix and never feels like it fits fully in the build.
So with these three models able to be removed from the list, eleven points are freed up to help fill holes in the list and improve the function of it over all. In order to figure out what should be added, we need to know what the weak points are and what parts could use a little bit of buffing. It is also to be said that one of these models may end up back in the list for one reason or another.
The first issue that kept coming up was the known threat range of my beasts. If they stayed nine inches away from my warbeasts, then the enemy models were safe from charges before coming in themselves. What I need to do is extend this threat range some. If anything, this could hold them back for one more turn so I can get another round of shooting in. This leads me to two options. The first is to add an Axer to the battle group. This would give my battle group a +2 to movement and access to Pathfinder. It would also give me an troop clearer in melee through Thresher. The issue with this option is that it is another beast that will generate Fury as well as Rush being an animus, cutting into the ability to put Rage up as well on the same beast. When facing Arm20 Jacks, you will want to have as high of a P+S as possible. Another issue is the point cost of this model. It would use up almost all of the points that were just friend up to take care of this one issue. The second option I have is Lanyssa Ryssyl. In a much cheaper point range, she comes with three Spells, one of which is Hunter’s Mark. This spell allows models to charge the target for free (no Fury required) and gain a +2 speed when they do so. She also comes packing a range spell that can cause some damage if needed. The issue with her is that Hunter’s Mark needs to hit the target and can only be applied one model, while Rush can just be applied to all of your beasts so they can charge multiple models. Of these two options, I will be taking Lanyssa. This will help clear up issues with Fury ( a free charge) and threat range extension. Yes, this will require a few extra rolls but since I will usually only send one or two beasts in a turn into combat. It is not to much of a problem. It will also allow the Mauler to use its Fury for more attacks, which is never a bad thing.
An odd ball issue I have found is that sometimes you have to hold a zone and a flag while trying to destroy an objective. Yes, I do have the Warriors to do this job, but they can only be in so many places at one time. While I still have my beasts and Gunnbjorn to help, I may need them on a different part of the table to Dominate the Zone or remove the target Objective. What I need here is a cheap(ish) model that can hold something for me, will not need much support from the main army, and will be a pain in the butt for the other player to remove. For this job, I will need to look at the Minions once more. From this group of models, I get two options. The Gremlin Swarm and the Feralgeist. Both of these models are Incorporeal so they can get to where I need them to be without much worry about the surrounding terrain. This will also protect them from enemy attacks as long as they are not magical. Once one of these models are where I want them, they will require the other player to focus some major resources to get them out. Where the Gremlin Swarm wins out, I think is in the other abilities it brings. This model also has Stealth, so the enemy must be within five inches to even attack it with a spell or magic gun. There is no shooting this thing off the board from far away. It also comes with Apparition and a Speed of 6, so it can end up fourteen inches away from where it started. This will me to get it where I want it to be quickly and with very little worry about what is in its way.
At this point I am left with five points. I have come to pick three options that all seem to have positives and negatives. The first option is to add the Command Attachment (CA) to the Warriors and a Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew. This would allow me to place a cloud in front of Gunnbjorn and make it harder to shoot him or draw LOS to him. The CA would allow me to stand any knocked down Warriors for free as well as give them reposition so I can get more around the objective/flag or into the zone. The issue here is that it would mean my Warriors are hampered by the terrain with no access to Pathfinder. This problem would be solved with my second option, just leave the Fell Caller in the list. He still has all the same problems but would allow my Warriors to have access to Pathfinder, the MAT buff or be allowed to stand up without forfeiting movement or action. My last option is the leave the Chef and add a Stone Scribe Chronicler (SSC). The Chef is still there just to fill in the last point. The SSC is there to amp up the tar pit of the Warriors. By placing Hero’s Tragedy on them, when ever one is destroyed in melee the model that attacked is knocked down. If the troll passes the tough check, it is still on the board. If it is destroyed, then the other model is knocked down, it can not attack any more the rest of the turn and the rest of the trolls have an easy target the next turn. The issue here is that the only thing it can target is the Warriors. The model will not have much use once that unit is gone.
Now that I have my options, I need to pick one. This is actually some of the hardest five points of this list rebuild. Each option adds a useful bit of tech to the list. This is more of a which will be the most impactful at this time. For now, I will be adding the Swamp Bellows crew and the CA for the Warriors. The reasons for this choice are actually rather simple. For the Warrior CA, it will allow me to charge the unit in, hit what I can & damage what I can. Once that is over, I can move them deeper into the zone or onto the Flag/Objective. Rise will allow me to stand them up for free and not let that slow the unit down. The Swamp Bellows Crew is there to help block LOS to Gunnbjorn since most turns he will be using his whole stack of Fury and any way I can improve his defences since he will have very limited transfers the better.
Here is the updated list:
- Dozer & Smigg
- Lanyssa Ryssyl
- Gremlin Swarm
- Dhunian Knot
- Warriors (Max)
- Standard & Piper (CA)
- Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew
- Objective: Bunker
Now I am not locked into some of these changes, notably the Bellows Crew and the Warriors CA. I am going to run this list for a few more games and see how it feels on the table. I may make a few changes from there. List development is a never ending process. New models get released, better combos are found and theories are proven right or wrong through practice and trial and error.
At this time, I am also going to need to start to think about what to pair this with for Steamrollers. I am thinking of a more troop centered army. With an army that is so beast and battle group centered as this one, if I were to pair it with a Doomshaper2 list that was also beast heavy, if the opponent has an army to answer that problem then It will just help him a bit too much in his list selection. At this time, I am thinking about a dude swarm style Madrak2 list or a Calandra list. The Madrak2 list would be designed something like how Jay Larson designed his from Chain Attack. I would have two units of Warriors and two units of Fennblades. The difference is that I would run a CA in both the Fennblades. This is just more to my flavor. The Calandra list would be more of a moving the army up and tie things down thanks to Star Cross. On feat turn, the army could do a reliable amount of damage. This step will take a bit of work as well to see which one would help ask questions that my Gunnbjorn list does not or answer ones that it has trouble with.
There you have it. The newest version of my Gunnbjorn list. After several games to find the weakness, I think this new design will help close a few more holes and help the list as a whole. No list can be perfect but through practice and tweaking it, you can make a list as strong as possible. Theory is good and helps with the first step of list design, but actual game play can provide so much more insight into how it actually works. If you have a list you think you will like, play it, test it and learn it. After several games you will start to see what needs to be worked on and help figure out what you can take out to add things to help close holes that you did not expect at first. Below are the notes I came out of each game with. Some are more informative than others but they all help guide the new build. It is ok to ask the other player what they thought post game. It can help you find things that you originally did not see nor thought of during the game. For me, it was the threat extension and was to put it into the list. You may not agree with everything that is suggested but it helps show you options. One option one of my locals and fellow PGs suggested was to drop the Warriors down to a minimum unit to help save points. I did not agree with this. I saw them as a better tar pit if they had more than just the six models of a minimum unit. It was simply a different approach to the problem at hand then what I would have come to myself. This has, however, lead me to the idea that if I like the CA on my warriors but feel like I can live with four less models (bringing me down to eight total in the unit), I can drop those to add the SSC or Saxon (if I find that I really need access to Pathfinder on my Warriors) in as well. My plan is to try this new build and see how I like it before making any more changes. So get out there, make a list for yourself and put it to the test. The most important thing is that you have fun playing it.
Game 1: Khador Jack Heavy
-hard time punching through armor using range tactics. Needed to use Rage on 3 beasts at least to do damage in melee with reliability, but still could not clear out 2 of the 6 jacks. The other 4 took several turns to do so.
-boosted Pow 8 blast damages still don’t do much vs. arm 20 models even on average dice rolls
-During turn that I had to send my beasts into combat, I generated about 16 fury. If I did not have whelps in the list of available at that time I would have had at least 2 beasts frenzy. If I had to do that a 2nd turn I would not have been able to manage the fury properly. Assassination run was the 2nd time and it was do or die.
-Gunnbjorn has to use his whole stack every turn. None left for transferring. During Range turns, 3 for Guided Fire, 1 for upkeep of Snipe and 1 for Far Strike and 1 to boost damage uses the whole stack. During Melee, 3 castings of Rage ( 1 on D&S, 1 on a Bomber & 1 on the Mauler itself to allow it to use fury to produce more hits) uses the whole stack.
Issues with camping caster
-Fully camp casters that can drop 5 damage every swing makes it tougher to pick between buying more attacks or boosting damage.. WIth so few attacks available, each one matters.
Warriors are easy to pick off
-Widowmakers were able to pick off 4 to 5 Warriors a turn with out issue. I need to up their defence or get them tied up in melee quicker. They did distract from the core of the army though.
Range Game on point
-Was able to have 2 solid turns of boosted attack rolls with little chance of freezing like planned
-4 heavy troll beasts can do work in combat, just need proper support
Notes on Interest:
- Feels strong on bottom of one or top of 2. Premessure to stay just outside of threat range from charges. Pop feat and make the other side have to either run or just reposition. After these turns It have had very little effect on the game
Unexpected Animus use
-Did not expect to use Rage as much as I did. I know close combat will always happen, but did not expect to use that animus as much as I did. Felt like it was needed to make sure I did any damage.
Find room for Stone unit.
-+2 arm could help
Game 2: PoM Reznik2
Going 2nd hurt. Could have used the first turn to line up shots for 2nd turn
Remember what the list was designed to do and why the models were selected. Do not play their game, play yours
Feat works well at Bottom of 1. Screwed up the turn for opponent. He only had 1 real rang threat and it could not do much during that turn.
Beasts are good but not being able to get into melee if the opponent stays out side of 9 inches is hard. Need to add threat extention somewhere.
Whelps & Knot are good and are staying in the list. Help w/ fury management and rerolls are always nice… if dice will work better…
Learn to juggle Explosivo vs Rez 2. Could have done more damage if I was able to move that around more.
Shield Guard is something to look out for in this edition and with this list. Target prioritization is really important.
The core beast package in this army is solid. 2 bombers, 1 mauler & D&S do work.
The Fell Caller did not do much this game. Not as good a flanker as I thought. Two weapon master attacks sound good but has issues with doing damage when you need it.
Warriors were misdeployed
-flanked with them but they couldn’t get to the zone till it was to late & He scored 3 points in a turn
Find place for Axer. Helps deal with threat range issues with rush. Would Lynissa be a good option instead? 7 points cheaper but can only hit 1 target & has to hit
Game 3: CoC Lucant
Issues dealing w/ stupid high armor
Rough terrain is an issue (no natural pathfinder in list)
Threat range is a problem
Too many buffs, need more tokens to indicate what has rage, puppet strings ect.
Warriors Tied up a unit the whole game. Tar pit well
Feated bottom of 2 this time. Stayed out of threat range of the most the damage causing range attacks till then. Caused the delay to happen a bit more and with attrition swing
Was told list caused more extra attacks then he expected. May have issues with clock. Agree, will need to start practicing with clock
Over all getting more comfortable with the list & knowing how to play it. Right now it is the amount of stacking effects that I need to remember
Game4: Kromac2 beast heavy
Chose to go second. Bad Idea. Always pick to go first if possible. This was a fast heavy army so the line of engagement was on my board edge
Hyper Aggressive is not a good thing to face with this army. All my shooting adds to their range of melee. Either attack & get them in combat quicker or don’t and not have damaged them.
Melee threat extension is needed.
Ashly did some work but never seems to make up his points
Drop Fell caller & Ashly to add Axer
Drop Fell caller to add Lynessa and either a Swamp Gobber Cre or Fellgust
Pair will need to be a circle drop
Issue with armor over 20 on key turn
Game 5: vs High Reclaimer POM
Went second. Popped feat end of turn one
Feat still feels very much a control feat. makes it so the other side really can not do much that turn if it is done right
Played on clock: 30 mins to set up and play 2 turns. Need to speed up. Less tank time
If opponent did not forget Killbox, I would have been in trouble. He would have sprayed me down w/ cleansers and it would have been a rough few turns. His spacing was good so that a blast would hit one model, 2 at most. My massive amount of AOEs would have been as effective as 6 single slug range shots. And the few models I could kill would have been returned via His feat.
Threat range extension is needed for sure
Ashly & Fell caller did very little.
Fellcaller handed out pathfinder but the other functions were not very helpful in the list. When in combat, seems not even able to damage. Odd for something with weapon master and two attacks.
Ashly shot twice, one time damage dice spiked and killed a Venger, second time rolled average and did no damage at all. ‘
Chef is really a filler & has never done much to help the army.