Monday, 9 September 2013

Gabbin' about Gatormen : Bloody Barnabas

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So last time out I talked about preparing some Gatormen army lists now that I have an actual collection to choose from. So I'm going to do an article on each of the four Blindwater Congregation warlocks, how to use them best and which models they synergise with best, concluding with some army lists at various points levels.

Bloody Barnabas starts off with a good array of stats. He has high STR and MAT, decent ARM which gets better in melee with an average SPD, DEF and FURY. His RAT is poor, but he has no ranged attacks anyway, so that doesn't matter. He's on a medium base, so he's harder to screen than a small based warcaster/lock.

Barnabas has four spells available to him, plus the animi of whatever warbeasts you select for his battlegroup.
  • Flesh Eater is a damage spell with average range and a decent enough POW. In addition, any model boxed is removed from play (which has its advantages) and Barnabas or a living warbeast in his battlegroup heals D3 damage. I don't cast this a lot, but it might be useful in situations where you would be spending the FURY to heal a warbeast's aspect anyway. I don't use this spell very often, as with Barnabas' middling FURY you need to boost to reliably hit many targets, and it costs 3 FURY to cast in the first place.
  • Iron Flesh. A good DEF buff with a minor SPD reduction, for 2 FURY. This one is a really useful spell and can be upkept to boot. I usually cast this on a Gatorman Posse on the first turn of the game. Just beware of its limitations, firstly the target has a SPD penalty and can't charge as a result. Secondly, it can't be cast on your warbeasts (apologies to anyone I might have done this against in the past. If you cast this spell on a unit but want to charge, you can allow it to expire in your Control Phase, activate the unit to charge and then have Barnabas recast the spell in his own activation, helping to protect your unit against the inevitable retaliation.
  • Swamp Pit creates a 5" AOE area of shallow water anywhere in Barnabas' control range, as long as it doesn't touch a model's base. Amphibious models in the Swamp Pit can't be targeted by ranged attacks. There are so many uses for this spell. Use it to protect Barnabas, your warbeasts or Gatorman Posse from ranged attacks as they advance. Put it in the way of enemy models to slow them down and protect yours from being attacked (but look out for Pathfinder). Throw or slam opposing warjacks into it. Lots of potential uses for this spell.
  • Warpath is Barnabas' second upkeep spell. When a friendly Faction model in Barnabas' control area destoys an enemy model, one member of Barnabas' battlegroup can advance 3". Each model can only use this once per turn. This spell increases your threat range for Barnabas' battlegroup. Your opponent might think his models are safely out of range. I usually cast this spell early in the game, and then upkeep it for the rest of the game.
As for his feat, Black Tide, all non-amphibious enemy models in Barnabas' control range are knocked down. I consider Knockdown to be one of the most useful abilities in the game. If you can use it at the right time, knocking down a large amount of the opposing army, it can be a game winner. Look out for enemy models that are immune to Knockdown or that are Amphibious and therefore unaffected. Another model to look out for is the Covenant of Menoth, if I face one of these a unit of ambushing Bog Trogs can be handy to take it out.

Of all the available Blindwater warlocks, Barnabas is probably the best fighter of the lot. He's got the best iMAT and STR of all the warlocks, and the equal best ARM, which, thanks to his Unyielding rule, gets better when he's engaging an enemy model. He also has Counter-Charge, and 3 melee weapons.
  • Bite, with a decent P&S and Critical Consume, which allows him to remove small based non-warcaster/locks from play, with no need for a damage roll and all the other benefits of removing from play over destroying.
  • Bone Cleaver, same P&S as Bite but with Reach, Magical Weapon and Blood Boon, which allows him to cast a spell if he destoys a living enemy model with this weapon.
  • Tail Strike, with a lower P&S than the other weapons and no special rules.
The combination of all of these abilities make Barnabas a very capable melee opponent. If he does find himself engaged in melee, he can use his Iron Flesh spell and the Bull Snapper's Spiny Growth animus to survive the opponent's retaliation. I wouldn't be recklessly throwing into combat, but it's less risky than with other warlocks.

When it comes to writing lists for Bloody Barnabas, I'd start out with a decent battlegroup. I consider the Blackhide Wrastler the best of the Blindwater heavies, and would usually supplement him with another. The Ironback Spitter is a good choice, as his Spit Blast can trigger Warpath for the Blackhide Wrastler. Barnabas can also make good use of the Bull Snapper's animus, Spiny Growth, to increase his already solid ARM even further. A Gatorman Posse is an excellent target for Iron Flesh. A Barnabas army likes to get stuck in to the enemy and his feat and spell list help them to get there faster and in better shape. An alpha strike is important to this type of army. Bog Trogs can also be a useful addition, although he doesn't support them directly, they can be useful for taking out opposing support solos and help out the main force. The Thrullg can remove the enemy's upkeep spells before the warbeasts and Gatorman Posse hit home, while the Totem Hunter can take out the opponent's support solos, although as a character he can sometimes be better in your second list.

As for his Tier list, Apex Predators, it involves taking a lot of the stuff you would be including in a Bloody Barnabas list anyway, but some of the benefits aren't that great. Tier 1 gets you FA U for Gatorman Posse, although regular Blindwater gives you FA 3 anyway. Tier 2 means taking Bog Trog Ambushers, you get +1 on your starting roll. Tier 3 requires two Gatorman Posse units, but allows you to place two areas of shallow water, which again, you get with regular Blindwater. Finally, for Tier 4, you must take 3 heavy warbeasts in exchange for a 1 point cost reduction on heavy warbeasts.

Tier 4 can be difficult to reach in smaller games, as you require 3 units and 3 heavy warbeasts. At lower Tiers, you gain very little advantages over the normal Blindwater Congregation rules. Fortunately, the list isn't very restrictive on what you can take.

Sample army list, 25 points :
Bloody Barnabas, Blackhide Wrastler, Ironback Spitter, Bull Snapper, Gatorman Posse (Leader & 4 Grunts), Croak Hunter.

This list is simple enough. It has a small model count, but nothing is easily killed and it hits hard. I started Barnabas' battlegroup with a Blackhide Wrastler, as he's our heaviest hitter. He's then supplemented with an Ironback Spitter, both for the boostable POW 14 AOE and the ability to deal Corrosion to single wound infantry, and a Bull Snapper mainly for it's animus and as an additional FURY source, but it should be able to deal with many solos if the opportunity arises. After that, a full Gatorman Posse, as they're hugely versatile and one of the best medium based units in HORDES, plus with Iron Flesh and Dirge of Mists for DEF 16 Gatormen. I filled the final two points with the Croak Hunter, who can harass the enemy with thrown spears before charging in with four damage dice against living targets.

Sample army list, 35 points :
Bloody Barnabas, Blackhide Wrastler, Ironback Spitter, Bull Snapper, Gatorman Posse (Leader & 4 Grunts), Bog Trog Ambushers (Leader & 5 Grunts), Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew, Gatorman Witch Doctor, Thrullg

Following on from the previous list, I've added a unit of Bog Trog Ambushers. These little guys offer you some good board control. If they ambush, they have a threat range of just over 14", so either your opponent gives up both his flanks or gives you something to charge, and these guys are no slouches with effective MAT 8 and 11+3D6 damage, with the option for CMA if needed. I've also bulked up the solo area, which will come in handy in scenario play. The Gatorman Witch Doctor boosts your Gatorman Posse, while the Thrullg is useful for disrupting warjacks and stripping pesky upkeep spells from the enemy before you send in the heavy hitters. Finally, the spare point is spent on the Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew, to provide you with further protection against ranged attacks on your way into combat.

Sample army list, 50 points :
Bloody Barnabas, Blackhide Wrastler, Ironback Spitter, Bull Snapper, Bull Snapper, Gatorman Posse (Leader & 4 Grunts), Gatorman Posse (Leader & 4 Grunts), Bog Trog Ambushers (Leader & 5 Grunts), Gatorman Witch Doctor, Gatorman Witch Doctor, Croak Hunter, Croak Hunter.

At the 50 point level, I add another Bull Snapper to Barnabas' battlegroup. You need to keep a regular supply of FURY, so this helps with that as well as allowing for another transfer target if Barnabas finds himself in the thick of things and ends up taking a few hits. I've added another unit of Gators and another Witch Doctor. While you can only have Iron Flesh on one unit at a time, you can switch it between the two depending on need while also giving another unit of Gatormen. If one unit is a good threat, two is even better. The paired Croak Hunters can act as a flanking tag team thanks to their Gang Fighter rule.

At this point, I'll point out I'm no HORDES expert, so don't blame me if you follow this advice and do horribly.

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