The Necromancer’s Guide To Souls, Part Pi: A Thought Experiment

In my interminable series at Capture and Control, I am regularly tasked to provide sample army lists, illustrating the uses to which the spirits of the recently deceased can be put on the Warmachine battlefield.  Occasionally, it takes me a few goes to produce something that’s reliable enough for the C&C readership to appreciate; knowing as I do that they have a focus on effective, competitive play, I don’t want to harass them with something that I’m not pretty sure will work out, that isn’t based on principles that I haven’t tested for myself, or at least observed in the hands of others.

This time out of the gate, I’d like to share a couple of my false starts with you, because I think they’re potentially all right, or at least that they have some kind of novelty appeal.

My original brief was

to find a build where the soul gatherers take the place of warbeasts to an extent, rather than eating the points that you’d normally spend on them, which means we need a soul-gathering warlock who can get by with spending their warbeast points plus a few more and then moving on to stuff that either generates souls efficiently (i.e. dies a lot), uses souls efficiently, or covers for the tactical limitations of the pieces that do the other things.

With this in mind, my first port of call was the sound rejection of the immediate and obvious route to soul wrangling:

Sure, it starts with the scenario-grabbing Kovaas on the board, and it puts the slow-moving Guardians nearer the enemy (and thus top of the hit list for Sniped Long Gunners, Legion Deathstalkers et hoc genuus omne), and it even gives you tons of extra souls to hand out in case you want to field the list in small games and rely on the Extoller’s Tier 3 cache.

However, let’s look at what’s available to that list. I see slow melee infantry, average speed melee infantry without Reach, slow melee solos and short-ranged ranged solos who need to stay safe to help the other pieces do their job. I can actually hear the Cygnar players giggling into their Temporal Barriers from here.

This alternative might be completely stupid, but if anyone wants to give it a spin on Vassal (which I’m reluctant to use, largely because the computer is already used for work, blogging and WoW, and Warmachine is meant to be a thing that takes me away from the screen for a while), I’d be interested to know how it gets on.

Army: Stupid Sexy Zaal
Type: Skirmish (1 caster, 50pts)
Points: 50

Supreme Aptimus Zaal & Kovaas (*5pts)
* Cyclops Brute (5pts)

Nihilators (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Venator Catapult Crew (Leader and 2 Grunts) (3pts)
Venator Catapult Crew (Leader and 2 Grunts) (3pts)
Venator Flayer Cannon Crew (Leader and 1 Grunts) (2pts)
Venator Flayer Cannon Crew (Leader and 1 Grunts) (2pts)
Venator Reivers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (9pts)
* Venator Reiver Officer & Standard (2pts)
Ancestral Guardian (3pts)
Ancestral Guardian (3pts)
Ancestral Guardian (3pts)
Extoler Soulward (2pts)
Extoler Soulward (2pts)
Hakaar the Destroyer (4pts)
Void Spirit (2pts)
Void Spirit (2pts)

The thought process goes something like this:

Zaal has five warbeast points, so let’s get him a beast.  He’s squashy.  Let’s make it a Brute.

Zaal can transfer damage to Guardians and charge them up with his one-fury-for-souls ability.  Let’s give him as many Guardians as we can – hell, we’re not taking warbeasts, we need to make sure that damage has somewhere to go and that fury point is going as far as it can!

We need something that can shoot in this here army, encouraging the enemy to close the distance with us.  Let’s get some Venators!  They can shoot, and they have souls!  Naturally they get the UA, for increased range, mobility and additional CRA participants.  That’s just wise.

Hmm.  That might not be enough.  Let’s get some longer ranged pieces in there!  Two of each Venator artillery piece – that’s two decent POW shots and two Strafes that do the same sort of job as the Venators do when they’re not dropping giant CRAs.  That looks pretty flexible, and again, it encourages the enemy into midfield or they’ll just keep getting shot.

Those will be at the back.  What happens if their precious souls are wasted or their line of sight is blocked?  Soulwards, ho!  Plus Soulwards can hurt warbeasts and help the Guardians finish them off, and they can bank souls for the Guardians in case they run out.

What about crowd control?  Well, Void Spirits are good at that, let’s put two of them in.  They can bag scenario points too, being all Incorporeal and stuff.  And… oooh, Nihilators.  I like Nihilators.  They are cheap and chaffy and like to spread out lots, so they can be our area-occupying huge footprint unit.  But they don’t give souls very efficiently, it’s all the Tough they have and all the Berserk they keep killing each other with.

Hang on!  Ancestral rage tokens don’t care who destroyed you – they just appear.  The Nihilators can build those up instead!  If I have a big silly turn with them, maybe slap Last Stand on them to make sure they do some damage, then I can guarantee myself ten rage tokens for the Guardians to get stuck in with!

Okay, that doesn’t look totally stupid, but it’s not exactly conventional wisdom, is it?  Plus it doesn’t have any Immortals in it.  Poor Immortals.  They’re so slow and stodgy, even if they do have heck of Vengeance going on and Guardians making them faster.  But Guardians need souls and Immortals don’t have those.  Sadness.

Hmm.  If only there was some way to make Immortals go faster without Guardians?  Say… I wonder if I can do a whole army around the idea of deceptive speed and moving out of turn?

Army: Soul Survivors

Type: Skirmish (1 caster, 50pts)

Points: 50

Archdomina Makeda (*5pts)
* Cyclops Brute (5pts)
* Bronzeback Titan (10pts)
* Molik Karn (11pts)
* Aptimus Marketh (3pts)

Immortals (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Nihilators (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (2pts)
Venator Flayer Cannon (Leader and 1 Grunt) (2pts)
Venator Flayer Cannon (Leader and 1 Grunt) (2pts)

Hakaar the Destroyer (4pts)

Makeda has Savagery.  Savagery plus Spirit Driven makes Immortals almost fast! I need a Guardian for Spirit Driven.  Hey, Hakaar has Righteous Vengeance, that means he can keep up.  Plus he’s good.  I like Hakaar.

What else moves out of turn?  Kaaaaaarn!  And… yeah, the Bronzeback, that’s got Counter Charge and Beat Back and stuff.  They’ll do.  And let’s get Makeda a Brute so she doesn’t get squashed, she’s only little.

That’s a lot of beasts.  Beast Handlers go in.  And they have souls.

Hmm, I can only process three souls at once.  I could take an Extoller… but Makeda has upkeeps and spells she likes to cast every turn, so let’s take Marketh.  That gives Makeda her fury back so she can hit things with it, and I hear she likes hitting things.

Needs more souls.  Well, I like Nihilators today.  They’d be quite good under Carnage, wouldn’t they?  And her feat can bring them back if they end up killing each other, so I at least get two goes with them.  They might lock me out of a few souls, but my total capacity is eight at once, and these ones recycle… sod it, in they go.  Common sense ain’t the boss of me!

Wait wait wait.  I’ve built a list with no guns in it.  Bad Von!  Bad!  You know you need conventional ranged attacks, otherwise Menoth will say no and Cygnar will stall you and Circle will do whatever it is they do.  Fine, let’s put some field artillery in.  Flayer Cannons are cheap and fire lots of shots.  Maybe common sense is the boss of me after all.

Hmm.  Immortals are still a bit Skornergistic.  The C&C boys won’t like that, they like good lists full of things that aren’t stupid.  Let’s try something with Xerxis instead, and no Nihilators or Immortals or silly slightly self-defeating stuff.  But we can cross-post this, yes, and maybe we can do it all in some sort of weird stream of consciousness style that’ll make everyone doubt our tenuous sanity.

Here endeth the lesson.

By the way, I’m going away for the weekend.  Amuse yourself with the previous five entries, or just go and read Ninjabread instead.  There’s a new guest author over there.  He’s quite good.

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