One of the really great benefits of the journeyman league from Privateer Press is that it forces the basics. I am fairly new to the Mark 2 version of the game but I did play for a while way back in Mark 1 so it isn’t something that I felt compelled to do to learn the game. That being said, I really wanted to chance to slow grow this army and learn how to play it well.
One of the things I learned back in another life as a corporate trainer was how much more one learned when writing about a subject. I thought this would be a fun way to start putting down my in-game observations to share what I have learned and, hopefully, in writing them out learn a bit more. I was also curious how many times I could write “learn” in a sentence. And obviously, if any readers have anything to share that would be great
Since this is my first analysis it might be a bit rough and disjointed but hopefully later on it will be a bit better.
Lord Carver, The Bringer of Most Massive Destruction (esquire the third) is the warlock in the officially recommended battle box for the Thornfall Alliance.
Carver’s stats are pretty decent but nothing great. His defense is a bit on the low side for a warlock but his armor is a tiny bit higher. He is faster than most of his army and with the reach on his weapon his threat range is shy of his control area which means you should never fail a charge unwillingly even with mobility (more on that later).
His weapons are both pretty impressive, however. His melee weapon, Hand of God (or HoG if you want to have fun with pork flavored puns), has a hefty power+strength of 15 and reach in addition to the standard magic that all casters have. This combined p+s is enough that he can reliably kill pretty much any warriors and most cavalry in the game without breaking a sweat. He’ll hit a def. 14 on an average roll. The downside to his melee attack is that it is only a single attack. This combined with his mediocre fury stat of 6 means that he won’t be able to go on a rampage and decimate units of warriors or even a heavy warjack/beast once you figure in the necessity of boosting to hit. If only he had thresher!
If he is in danger of being swamped it is probably better for him to shoot with his sawed-off scattergun. This gun is a non-magic 6″ spray. The power on it is a decent, but not amazing, 12 which means you should be able to deal with lighter warrior models as long as their def isn’t too high. His rat is just okay. Where the gun gets really good is when you notice it has a rate of fire of 2. That is right, he can do 2 str 12 sprays per turn which can really clear out infantry that are trying to jam him. Additionally, if you need a bit extra stopping power, you can fire both barrels and trade that rate of fire for +4 to the damage result as a *attack.
Next up let’s take a look at his spell list. He has 4 spells on his list and as a warlock can also use the animi of the war beasts in his battle group – I might mention the use of an animus, but they will be discussed in greater detail in my Thoughts On… that model.
Batten Down the Hatches – This spell will take up fully half of his fury and in most cases you will be casting it without batten an eye. See what I did there? Seriously, this spell increases the armor of models in your battlegroup (including Carver himself) at the cost of a loss to defense. Additionally it makes you immune to knockdown so I guess you might say that it gives you a better defense than you would have if you were knocked down. It isn’t an auto-cast however. You need to be particularly aware of units in your opponents army that ignore these bonuses as in most cases they will only ignore the bonus but not the penalty. Also, bear in mind that war beasts have a decent defense and the farrow beasts have a decent armor to begin with. There might be times when the only threat to you is a bunch of infantry that are going to be doing dice -4 or -5 without the buff and only hitting on a 7. In that case, you might be better off taking a couple of minor hits and hopefully getting a couple of misses on you. I haven’t actually run the math on this, by the way. If you are good at it, I would be curious what your results are. Immune to knockdown is absolutely brutal against those models whose feat is a knockdown effect. This also helps out against things like headbutts and throws. If you felt like it you could put up batten down the hatches and then have Brine double handed throw the warhog at something to knock it down. The war hog would still have to forfeit his movement but could then pound on whatever was knocked down. It is pretty risky though because you could go out of Carver’s control area and lose the effect from Batten Down the Hatches. Overall it is a great spell though and one you will use a whole lot. It isn’t an upkeep spell so you need to plan on paying the full cost every turn for it. Conversely, since it isn’t an upkeep it can’t be dispelled.
Mobility – Another great spell. As the name implies this spell greatly improves your mobility. Like Batten Down the Hatches Carver casts this spell on himself and it is not an upkeep. This is huge because that means you can stack the effects giving you both more resilient and faster war beasts which are always a good thing. Mobility increases the speed of battlegroup models as well as giving them pathfinder. Since it is a speed bonus it means that your run doubles the bonus rather than adding it straight at the end. Pathfinder is a beautiful thing as well since having our slow war beasts get stuck in terrain is painful. It also allows you to charge over linear obstacles or through forests meaning you can use them for a defense bonus to help offset the penalty from Batten Down the Hatches or give you the option of not casting it for a turn and trusting on a higher defense to protect you. Also it combines well with Rift in giving you more options in activation order as you don’t have to worry about locking your own models down. It won’t leave you much fury left over but flexibility and options are good.
Quagmire – This is a really interesting upkeep spell. It gives enemy models in base to base contact with the unit/model a defense modifier of -2 while also preventing them from moving other than to change facing. The obvious use is to prevent things from trampling over a unit of brigands or locking models in place for a turn since you can’t usually move after doing your combat action. This can be very useful in scenario play for keeping a model out of a control zone. Also the -2 is what I call a “soft boost”. What I mean by that is that it isn’t quite as good on average as a normal boost but still helps break the curve. This soft boost also makes war beasts a good target. Anything that helps your war hog (or Carver himself in a pinch) get more hits can only be a good thing allowing you to save those forces for extra attacks. If Carver were a fury 7 caster I would advocate casting it on turn 1 and upkeeping it for the rest of the game. As it is, there are so many turns in which you will want to cast Batten Down the Hatches and Mobility you will probably be better off having that emergency transfer for whatever sneaky thing you missed that your opponent is about to do to you.
Rift – This is a decent power 8″ aoe spell. The aoe on it is 4″ which is pretty sweet on its own but it also remains in play through your opponents turn as rough terrain. If they are lacking on pathfinder this can be a huge inconvenience and go a long way to making sure that your hogs are the ones doing the charging. Bonegrinders give you an extra 2″ range helping to offset the short range of the spell. It is fairly expensive, but you can still use that and pathfinder and have that emergency fury I advocate which helps with some of the order of activation issues that could come up.
This brings us to his feat – “Hog Heaven”. This feat gives all farrow models in his control area an dice of damage and Overtake. It is important to remember that it is only farrow models meaning that those other support solos like Gudrun the Wanderer and Saxon Orrick will not benefit from his feat. Also it is only while in his control area so it is possible to overtake out of his control area and lose the overtake on future attacks and the extra dice worth of damage. It is a pretty straight forward feat which I like to use pretty early in order to give myself an advantage on big models by taking out opponent jacks/beasts.
I made a mistake in dismissing him as a boring caster when I first read him over. Lord Carver, BMMD esq III can be played in a straightforward manner as a beat-stick but he also has some tools which enable you to play him a bit more patiently and tricky than it would seem at first glance especially by blocking off movement with rift and quagmire. A great thing to keep in mind is that he is a bandit king and play him appropriately. He is not going to stand up in melee to the likes of the Butcher but he has the shenanigans to ensure that he doesn’t have to.